So I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been busy doing it instead. Busy busting my ass every day instead of crying and complaining about how unfair life is. Nobody put me where I was but me. Me, my addictions, and my poor choices. But all that’s behind me. I’ve done a complete 180.
I think the last time I wrote I was 60 or 90 days out the gate. I had just started working for glass company. Well I had screwed up and in a blink of an eye I almost lost it all. I let my pride get in my way and I didn’t think before I spoke. I just reacted like I was back in the yard and not on a job and just like that I almost said good bye to my job and most likely freedom. Thank God my boss is the type of person to talk, offer advice and give second chances. He doesn’t hold grudges and in ten minutes he acted like nothing ever happened. He sat down with me and we talked. He told me what he needed from me (tone it down, less aggression, less prison talk…). It was all I knew, 16 yrs of bullshit and the stuff that got me there. Nothing positive. Nothing edifying. That’s all I knew.
Now here it is, five more days and a wake up. I get to wake up and walk up out of here and start the next phase of my life. Now is when the real test begins. THE real trial. But I have a strong foundation. I saw it through, close to five months, working steady for 4 of them. Haven’t missed a day. Got into a routine that I won’t change. Up at 5:45am every day and out the door by 7am. I’ve accomplished a lot in this short period of time. I built up my credit. I bought a car. Drove right off the lot in a new Cadillac. Just five months ago I was asking people for money for commissary.
Life is good. It’s so good when you aren’t chasing behind something. It doesn’t matter what it is, drugs, alcohol, sex, all meaningless stuff. Now I’m establishing myself in society again. I’m working on me . I’m fixing relationships that have been destroyed in the past. I set goals and I’m working hard trying to accomplish and fulfill them. But most of all I’m happy. Happy and at peace.
I just finished up another thirty days out here in the free world where nothing is ever free. Enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family - my first Thanksgiving in a very long time. It was the first one I got to spend with my niece, who was only 10 months old when I got convicted. It was a great time! The food was great but the love and laughter were the best.
That said, I guess I need to get used to some disappointments as well. We don’t always know how or what another person is thinking or feeling. Even though they may smile to your face and tell you one thing, they are thinking and feeling the total opposite. It will be okay. As much as it may hurt, I'm here and will prove everyone wrong. To all the HATERS and all the people hoping and wanting to see me fail, please know that it's not going to happen. You are my motivation. When I came out this time I knew I would be on my own, and that I was going to have to do this by myself. I’m good with that - I always seem to thrive during adversity. After Thanksgiving, I never expected to spend Christmas alone but that is exactly what I'll be doing. Why? Who knows, but as I said, we are not mind-readers.
Work is going really well. I love what I'm doing. I'm learning a lot and trying to absorb all I can. The guy I work with has been doing this for a very long time and he's a great teacher. He explains everything step-by-step as he works so that I understand what is happening. Sometimes, I’m even a step ahead of him. I guess when you actually like what you are doing and who you are doing it with and for, trying harder to be better becomes easy.
I like my boss. He's a good guy. A straight shooter who I believe cares about us. Not just about his business or his customers but about his workers also. When I had to deal with not getting a home pass last week I was able to go in and talk with him about it. He gave me some pretty sound advice but more importantly, he listened to me. On Friday he ordered some food and had a little celebration. It was nice. Good food, Christmas music and a bunch of laughs. As we walked out, he handed out envelopes. You can call it a “bonus” but he called it a little token of his appreciation. Everyone got something – even me (the newbie who has been there only 5 or 6 weeks!).
So this is it for the moment. I'm working hard and saving money (opened a bank account). I handled my driver's license suspension from Massachusetts. All these things seem so trivial but I know that had I not been staying here, none of them would have happened. I proved it already when I was originally released and made it all of 41 days. There was no halfway house that time. My mother helped me get an apartment – which at $1100/mo was too expensive. Add cable, electricity, and phone and that’s a lot of money for someone unemployed. I panicked and 41 days later I was right back where I came from listening to the dumb comments from cops “You must not like freedom” or “You must like it here!”. Nobody likes prison. It sucks, but it's what we know and on some level, it feels “safe”. I remember the P.O. threatening to send me back and I said: “Go ahead”. She asked, “what's wrong with you, you want to go back?”. I said “no but don't threaten me with that because I'm not scared of prison, I know how to do prison. It's out here that I have problems with relationships, working every day, paying bills. That's what scares me. Not prison.”
But I’m doing it. I'm following the rules and I'm not going back. I'm going to prove the haters wrong. I can do this. We'll see where I am on another day. I have plans and dreams and I'm going after them this time.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And Happy New Year!
First Christmas with my niece!
So I just completed my first thirty days here in the free world. I wish I could tell you it was simple or an easy task like it is for most of the people reading this, but for me it wasn't. Now I'm not telling you it was impossible because it wasn't and I'm still here, I'm just saying it took a lot of work, a lot of determination and drive.
Every day I was out pounding the pavement trying to find work. I went to more places than I can remember. I have a stack of business cards to prove it because I had to bring back by proof that I had been there. I guess I live in my own fantasy world because there are cranes up all over South Florida and I just assumed I could walk on to any job site and get hired. Well, it doesn't work like that anymore. Finally, just by chance as I got off the bus near the halfway house, there is a building going up and I ask if they are hiring. “YES” I can't believe it. Right around the corner from where I stay, 6 months worth of work, it's exactly what I want.
I explained my situation to the guy and he gave me an application. Then he says, “Look around you. You've been out of the work force a very long time. I only have one White worker and no African Americans, so I hope you speak Spanish. Actually, I do. So I filled it out and sure enough that Friday I get a text from the office manager of the company asking me for a color copy of my state driver license and SS card. I send these to her and ask “Can you give me a call please, I need to ask you something”? You see, not only do I have to tell the employer about my past and where I'm staying, but I also have to have them sign some documents affirming their acknowledgement.
In construction almost everyone is a convicted felon but I guess companies don't want to be reminded of it. As soon as I told the woman about the paperwork she started to stutter and said: “I need to ask someone about that let me call you back.” As you might have guessed, the call never came. I reached out to her and told her straight up about my situation. I told her my case is from 2002. How I was into the club scene and making fast money but the only ones who truly made money were the lawyers and government. I explained that I messed up 16 years ago and am just trying to get my life back together. Her response? “Fudge the feds and the lawyers who took all your money. You did your time and everyone is entitled to a second chance. I'll sign your paperwork on Monday enjoy your weekend.”
Monday came and when my “employment specialist” faxed the documents over to be signed, a funny thing happened… Tuesday rolled around and all of a sudden there was no work. I had gone out and purchased tools, a work belt, and a hardhat over the weekend only to find out there “is no work”. They told me to call the project foreman who hired me so I do. He tells me there was a misunderstanding as he had just laid off 2 guys on the previous Friday. Games.
So I'm back to the grind and just to get my legs back under me I agree to work day labor one day for minimum wage. In Florida that’s only $8.50/hr. That will never happen again.
I stopped in at one job site and this guy swore to me that he would make something happen… he just needed to “speak with one of his foremen”. A day passes, then another day. I call but am not able to reach the guy. Then, I went back and stopped in. The guy is too busy to meet with me – a real problem solver this guy is - and he tells me “Nothing in life is free. And freedom has a price”. Really??
Bottom line, it all boils down to luck, timing and who you know. Being in the right place at the right time. Shortly after this, I get a phone call from a good friend in NY. Naturally, I have his name and number stored as a contact in my phone and when the call came in I happened to be at the halfway house standing next to another resident. He sees the name of the caller and asks me ”Is that the same guy from Porterhouse?” I said “yeah”. Turns out they know each other. I put them on the phone and 2 days later I'm going for an interview at the place where this resident is working. I speak with both owners (husband and wife) and they are both beautiful people. I don't believe they ever looked down upon me. They treat me with the utmost respect. I believe the husband is one of those guys you can talk to about anything and he'll help you or figure out a way to help.
Now I’m working for a local business and I LOVE MY JOB! Tomorrow I start my 3rd week and all I want to do is learn as much as I can. I feel at home there, like part of a family and I look forward to getting up to going to work each morning.
I know there are sometimes other entities or powers at work and we just don't see it at the time. And I guess this is the job I'm supposed to be doing right now. I'm thankful and grateful and because of that, I try extra hard at just as a sign of gratitude. I too will pay it forward. I also know that this is my time. I will shine. I will prosper. His hand is upon me. Thanks!!
The decisions we make in life are very important. Some may affect us only short term but others may affect us for years to come and I'm living proof of that. This is a story about bad decisions. About making some really poor choices in life and how they affected me for many years that followed. My choices cost me 16 years of freedom and life which I'm still paying. I'm not totally free yet and am still not sure if I really ever will be.
Strap in as I take you on my journey and give you a glimpse into the last 16 years (and counting). You will get a taste of what it was like to “live the high life” back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s in South Beach. The nightclubs, beautiful women, fancy cars and homes. Then to the underground drug world that fuels it all. I'll introduce you to a world not to many of you see. Trips to Mexico to buy drugs, deals gone way bad, being ripped off and even murder… I’ll share some stories about Federal and State courtrooms and trials, and about a man literally fighting for his life and freedom against a government that doesn’t play fair. I’ll take you inside the Federal prison system, not the “country clubs” portrayed on TV. We’ll tour the inside of a USP, a maximum-security prison, where drugs and murder are standard.
Now, 16 years later, I will share with you what it's like to walk out a free man – who isn’t entirely free yet. The many rules and restrictions I have to follow and the never ending fight with demons inside me. The struggles to fit in, be accepted by society and my search to find a job.
This is a true story - nothing fake about it. Feel my pain and experience my joy as I get acclimated back into society. Make no mistake, everything – even freedom – has a price.
My days and nights at a glance
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Hard to believe this day is here. But I'm finally one step closer to home. Stay tuned
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It's been a struggle getting a job. Nothing has been easy but this day is just a few days away and I couldn't be more happy.
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The very FIRST Thanksgiving I'll be able to spend with at home with my family in more than 16 years. A lot to be grateful about!
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Someone recently told me "Freedom has a price" - they were not joking!
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