Sorry it has taken me so long to update the blog. Just a busy summer. Here is Jeff's quarterly update from July.
I’ve been at Taft Camp for 15 months now. I’ve actually managed to settle in and the days are much easier. At a camp this is called “institutionalized.” I watch whatever movie we get every Friday at 7 pm just because it’s something to do. I’ve figured out what to buy at the store and I even joined a b-league softball league. Most of the activities in which I participate I would not do in my ordinary life outside of prison. For example, I would never play softball. Most of the movies I watch I would never rent much less pay full price to see in a theater. Most of the books I read I would not be able to read because of a lack of time if I were at home. But, these are the ways to pass time here. I have gotten to a point where I actually look forward to the Friday night movie. When I first arrived, I probably watched 4 movies in the first 4 months. There are some weekends where I watch 4 movies.
One of the toughest things that I have had to do over the past 3 months is adjusting to the psychological impact of the completion of my 1st year here. When you start to see the same activities, repeat weather patterns, seasons, and holidays, it’s a challenge to stay focused. I admire the guys who have to do several years here. The redundancy of it would drive me a little crazy. I understand why I play softball when those who know me wonder what I’m doing. It’s new and different to me, and that keeps me a bit more sane. That’s how guys with long sentences avoid the depressing repetition of it all. They play cards, watch tv, play sports, take classes, and do whatever they can to provide some variety.
One of the more interesting things from my time here happened to me last quarter. A guy who was sentenced to 20 months researched prison camps on the web. He came across my blog. It turned out that he was designated for Taft and he contacted me. He arrived at Taft earlier this month (July) and I’ve spent a lot of time with him. It was an encouraging experience for me to realize that this blog is helping other people. I’ve enjoyed talking with this guy (I don’t want to use his name because I haven’t told him I would use his name) and I look forward to developing a stronger friendship as we progress through this time together. I had been struggling with how God is using me here, but I believe God is teaching me not to look for results, but to just remain obedient and focused on Him.
My wife and I both turned 36 earlier this month (Laura on the 4th and Jeff on the 9th of July). This was a difficult time for both of us because our birthdays are close together. We usually go on vacation for our birthdays. I look back at my last birthday and realize how thankful I should be. My wife and I have both matured in our faith during the past year. My wife sees opportunities to use this struggle for God’s glory almost every day. She leads a women’s support group for those who have loved ones in prison. She also facilitates a bible study and hosts a small group at our home. She is constantly sharing with neighbors and friends of her struggle and here endurance through Jesus Christ. I must say I’m very proud of my wife.
On the lighter side of things, the commissary, or prison store, is selling Dr. Pepper again. It will only last for another month, so I buy a lot and try to save it. The store is also selling generic cocoa puffs. I love cocoa puffs. To put this in perspective, I have to work for 6 days to afford a six-pack of Dr. Pepper and a bag of cocoa puffs. In the “real” world, I worked 10 minutes to buy those same items. Buying a 6-pack of Dr. Pepper and a bag of cocoa puffs is like buying a flat screen television for many of you. In other words, it’s a pretty big purchase and big deal here.
In closing, I’m enjoying my new cube with my new bunking. My cube has a window and my bunkie makes me laugh. It has been much easier doing my time in this cube. That’s it for now.