It feels like it’s been forever, since the last time I sat down and wrote anything! I mean, I’ve sat down with the intent to write… dozens of times, but it was feeling forced and unnnatural. Maybe it was a rut created by what’s been going on with the COVID-19 crisis, compounded by some of my own personal issues… both internal and external. I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that I gotta shake this shit and get back to moving forward with my responsibilities… it’s just been such a struggle to sit down and put my focus where it needs to be. I mean, I’m LITERALLY sitting here right now, under self-inflicted duress from internal forces & pressures, to try and kick my shit in gear!

I see this is also becoming a bigger concern in the streets now too, with all the social distancing & self-isolation that’s been going on. I’ve seen so many conversations on TV about how people are handling this time at home and being kinda isolated from the rest of society. Most people are fortunate enough though, to be able to utilize the advantages of the time… with the ability to stay in contact through telephone, social media, video calls… people have never been afforded any better mechanisms to bridge the distances that are being created with these “stay at home” orders! I know it’s been about 4 weeks since I wrote the post “A Global Crisis… a battle with fear, the media and a lack of understanding” and in that time, so much has changed!! I’m sure that everyone can agree, that the way we live our lives and the way we interact with each other barely resembles what it was a month ago… and at this rate, who knows what 4 more weeks from now will look like?! I just hope that some people can see it now and better relate to the types of depression and other mental illnesses, that plague the prison systems… where we’ve been socially distanced and isolated from family, friends and society for years! And I say this just in the hopes that these issues can have a light shown on them, with a little more relate ability… than maybe 6 months ago?!

I think we’re all feeling a lot of new pressures, fears and uncertainties… that I don’t really think anyone coulda seen coming or been able to prepare for. I mean, we’re able to view through the news and talk to our people about whats going on in the streets, but it’s still kind of un-relatable and not “real” when we live inside these fences cut-off from it all. And that can be the same for people reading these posts, I imagine? People who might find it hard to understand or relate to what we might go through? Honestly, being free and being in prison is never meant to feel the same… but this is clearly the closest it’s gotten to relatable circumstances. At least in the aspect of the forced confinement, fear and an uncertainty of what the next day is gonna bring… combine that with the “stir crazy” factor and we’ve reached a point, where those 2 lives have found shared common ground and hopefully of potential for future understanding?!

As I said, I’ve been wanting to sit-down and write… I’ve got a million things that come to mind each day. Of course, that’s part of the problem and not the solution, cuz trying to focus on just 1 has been a task! Then, over the past couple weeks, the effects of COVID-19 have become so much more visible inside these fences. It started with the blow-up of cases in the streets… Michigan (really the SE area of Michigan) has become a hot-spot and the #’s jumped dramatically, almost every single day. Thank God my family & loved ones have gone untouched by this infection!! But, others in my life haven’t been so lucky and several of their loved ones have lost their lives during this horrible crisis. Then, once it hit our prison system… those #’s blew up just as quick! Currently there are around 400 positive cases with 9 inmate deaths… it’s like I said in the post “A Global Crisis…”, that we essentially live in a self-contained petri-dish which nurtures, grows and helps ANY virus or infectious bug to thrive. Which is the reason we get updates everyday and the # of infections and deaths continue to rise with each new update. This has led to the current practice, that has ALL prisoners & staff required to wear masks everytime we step outside our cells. So, we’ve definitely felt the impact in here… way more than when this 1st began and our days continued on the same.

I’ll say this though… I saw where Ohio is now going to test ALL prisoners at a facility, where any prisoner tests positive for COVID-19. We’re so close to the Ohio border, that we get their news stations and I was impressed with the implementation of this step. Because it seems like the facilities that have positive tests, in Michigan, just continue to get more and more postive tests! I know this facility just had 1, then 2 more came back positive today. But they also claim they have a “step-down unit” here where they ride-in prisoners from OTHER facilities, who’ve tested postive… but are currently “recovering” and then house them at THIS FACILITY. I don’t know if you understand or not, just how much these guys love to gossip and spread rumors… mostly based on other rumors, conspiracy-theory-based guesses and COMPLETELY IMAGINARY facts and information. Truely fake news!! I understand social media can be the source of some very imaginative ideas, misinformations and just far-out rumors or theories…. but until you sit in one of these TV rooms or amongst some self-proclaimed scholars on the yard… you’re missing some very entertaining conversations. So, just imagine the implications of a bus full of prisoners riding into the facility (who all tested positive for COVID-19) and 1 day after that… the 1st case was suspected on the yard here?! So, now I do my best to self-isolate in my cell… if only to avoid having to hear all the craziness on the yard!

So, whichever side of these fences you reside… our lives are currently consumed with:
-the same social distancing;
-the same practice of “staying at home” (either voluntarily or involuntarily… depending on the side of the fence);
-the same habit of wearing masks, when we do step outside;
-the same OCD-like hygiene practices;
-the same feeling of being cooped-up and trying not to lose it;
-the same excessive amounts of idle time & the challenge to occupy it;
-the same uncertainties of what the next day is gonna bring… or how the Government (Prison Administration) is gonna handle it;
-the same concerns & confusions stemming from a flip-flop Government and dueling political news outlets;
-the same questions of when & how things will get back to normal?

So, we’re in unprecedented times, having to deal with never-before-seen circumstances (in my lifetime, at least) and as we’ve seen on the news, in our communities and even within the prisons… some people have really stepped-up, in this time of crisis. A lot of those differences we’ve held between us, have all been erased by the common bond that’s been formed through our similar struggles! I only hope that this same attitude can live-on, when the dust finally settles on this current crisis. And we can use this newly found common ground, to try and better understand each other and move forward with it?!

I can’t say what’s gonna happen, when the infections finally stop?! I can’t say how people will be, when there are no more deaths from COVID-19?! But with how we’ve all had to drastically change our lives and deal with other people… do we really wanna go back to the “normal” we were before all this happened?? This is the real challenge… where do we go from here and how can we make things better?

I hope that everyone continues to be safe and stay healthy!!

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