Day 012: I’ll keep this little bit of personality

September 2, 2008 | Tuesday

YESTERDAY, WHILE I was “outside,” I was ordered by an official to shave, and I refused. I know the consequences (restricted from going out at all) and have weighed it against my current circumstances. When I got locked up years ago, I was but a teen-ager and hardly able to grow facial hair. Throughout all these years of incarceration, I have been conditioned to shave my growth because it’s against prison policy. A mustache and beard mean a sort of individuality. Rebellious. Something unique to a grown man.  This the prison administration would erase. They’ll erase anything of a man’s personality and self esteem. The Texas prison system has become a thing of retribution and oppression instead of rehabilitation. Ultimately, it’s society who will suffer the burden of this regressive mentality. Almost two decades later, that something as simple as growth on my chin could be an evil that would confine me in a cell 24 hour a day makes clear the world I have lived in. I am now a man, grown and able to grow facial hair. I think I’ll keep it. Besides, I am on the worst possible classification status, with loss of all privileges and visits limited to one a month. My possible execution within sight. Yeah, I’ll keep this little bit of personality.

Don’t know if I should be glad or sad, but a friend has just been brought to Death Watch. His name is Jose Briseno. I’ve known “Joe” since the night I arrived on Death Row. I recall that night as if it was just yesterday. Earlier that day, I had been sentenced to death. When I was placed in the initial cell, it was late, like 10:30 or so. Above me was Joe. On the one side of me was Jim Wilkens, and on the other was Juan Garza. I had with me half a dozen tacos my mom had asked my attorney to give me for lunch. My appetite was lost after the sentencing, but that night I offered Jim some tacos. Jim became a good friend, as did Joe and Juan. Both Jim and Juan are gone, and now Joe is here. He’s on the section next over, but since I’m not able to get out of this cell, it may be days before we talk. I will send him a note, however.

Two others have also arrived. Both named Martinez. David and James. The former I know, the other not so much. I know the one called Jim. The other Martinez was next to me a few days, but we hardly spoke back then because he began telling me that he was an arms dealer who had worked for a classified outfit. Please, dude!! What novel did you read?!

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4 Responses to “Day 012: I’ll keep this little bit of personality”

  1. Ann Chapman Says:

    Good for you, Roy! Keep that facial hair as long as you can hold out. Be yourself….for those of us who love you.

  2. Isabelle Says:

    No one will be able to erase your personality, Roy.
    Stay yourself.

  3. Françoise Casanova Says:

    So many years yet!
    They made of man of you, Rogelio – what a high price to pay – able to make his own choices, even if difficult.
    Nothing more precious than self esteem.

  4. Kiki Says:

    I don’t know about others but this entry made my hair stand up (and that’s quite a sight!!!) – GOOD ON YOU Rogelio…. You don’t seem to have much to loose, so keep your personality (which, incidentally, is NOT something you are likely to loose) and your integrity as long as you may! Since I am way behind reading your entries, I might know differently later on, but right now this stands for what I think at this moment of reading your diary.
    I am also praying daily for you, including your soul in God’s might and power, together with two new babies growing in friends’ whombs and another friend who’s dying and might have left up right now… God’s heart is wayyyyy bigger than ours!

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