Basketball (Sort Of)

Hello and welcome once again to the Roost. It has been a little bit since last I wrote a post for you, and for that I am truly sorry. I have mostly recovered from the search I wrote about last time… mostly… I have been busy remaking some of the things taken. (Like the paper tube extension I use to hold this three inch ling “golf pencil” I write with, a laundry line I must make out of raw material and spin into cord like you can buy at the store to hang up wet clothes, sheets, etc. on) and I have been sharpening pencils, of course… something that sounds simple to most of you, but when you live in a cage and aren’t allowed to have anything sharp, it can be a challenge at best. (In theory, we are supposed to be able to request that pencils be sharpened…but the pencil sharpener in this wing has been broken for about a year or so…. good luck making that request.) But as I said, I am now mostly recovered. Could use a few more amenities… but I am far enough along to continue my postings for you.

There is much rumor flying all over the place about the proposed close-custody experiment I already wrote about… there is little point in relating rumor so I will wait until something more concrete manifests to fill you in. If what is being said comes to pass…well, it is interesting.

For now, however, I believe I told you I would let you know about the basketball program that is currently going on. So let me relate that as best as I can.

Unlike the close-custody experiment– where an unsolicited form is brought around to sign or not, and once signed, the person “agrees” to be housed around all manner of riff-raff including but not limited to child molesters and killers, rapists, and the like. (This faction of a prison population is in general not tolerated well… the rest of us have children, families, etc. on the outside, and these types of individuals are looked upon as a “bane to society among the bane to society” so to speak.)

For clarity, prison populations (in Arizona, at least) are separated to cut down on violent behavior. You have GP, which is general population, and SO, which is sex offenders. SO are given their own “units” to keep them alive.)

But to get back on point here….for the basketball program we put in requests on who we wish to go out into the enclosure with. Make no mistake, there is an “approval process”, during which the request goes through security checks and several levels of administrative red tape in order to try and make sure a person is not just trying to “get to” someone… but after all that, provided all the checking passes muster, two people are allowed to go out into a 30×20 chain link enclosure with one naked (no net) basketball hoop in it.

We are not jut thrown into these enclosures and left to our own devices… oh no. We are chained in our cell (after a “strip search”) and escorted under guard to these cages, then unchained throuhg a hole in the gate.

Then, I am in an enclosure…for the first time in almost two decades, unrestrained with another human being. Now, this is someone I know and if all the security checks have worked, someone I get along with, so we shake hands and try to act “normal” (that is, like a person who has not been denied human contact for decades.) This is pulled off with varying degrees of success. but I assure you, it is on many levels odd at best.

We are not alone. There are two more enclosures that may contain general population, or they may contain sex offenders or any manner of protective custody population. Also, there is a guard present. This guard has a high-powered version of a paintball gun, essentially. This device holds rubber projectiles that that contain a dry powdered form of the active ingredient found in pepper spray. That, however, is not really the deterrent. That comes from being hit, close range, repeatedly, by a solid projectile that is akin to a rock fired from a sling shot. I believe the number is seven– the number of times they are supposed to shoot you in the body before they start taking head shots, the pepperballs leave large welts in the center of a good-sized bruise…but it is not unknown for them to break the skin either.

But compared to what we originally have, there is an upside. The enclosures are outside the prison buildings (but still within the perimeter fences of course) and one can see some greenery (whatever passes for it anyway) off in the distance beyond the fences. But one needs to be careful about looking too long. When your world has been about ten feet at a time for decades, eye strain and the headache that comes along with it is not pleasant. But there are birds to see as well. They come right up to the enclosure, sometimes perching within the chain link. They look at you, almost like people would look at animals in a zoo. I know I am being anthropomorphic, but I wonder if they get the irony of the situation. But in truth they are only looking for a handout… still, some seem to have a sense of knowing in their gaze.

But after two and a half hours of “basketball” we are chained, brought back to our block, allowed to take a shower, and then deposited back into our cells to work on processing all that just occurred. The overload of mental stimulation can actually be exhausting. Not being in contact with another person in decades, green things, sky overhead with clouds in it (planes flying over, too!) the “knowing” little birds… in actuality not that many people choose to go out. People put in for it, and then after once out, that was enough for them. Can’t say why; I only associate with GP and we do go out as often as they let us. There are some of “the others” but not all that many. There are rumors about the ones that won’t go out… but a place like this is rife with rumor, so unless one indulges in “drama” it is best to ignore the majority of it.

But over time, one gets used to all the informational input…. re-learns to focus one’s eyes on points of interest and relegate the other things into the background. (When one first goes out there they are kind of like a dog excited to go on a walk, wanting to smell everything… only, in our case, it’s wanting to look at everything.) It is kind of difficult to relate, I suppose. When you haven’t seen a tree in a long time, you want to look at one as thoroughly as you can when the chance arises. Even a scraggly, mostly sticks, desert tree. And that goes for everything! I have found myself just looking at the small rocks laying in the dirt just out of reach through the fence…for a fair piece of time, too. I have even seen a raven! And looked for as long as it let me. (Until she flew off.) A rare and coveted treat indeed. (To be honest, that alone would keep me going out… just the chance of seeing her–or perhaps him?–again.)

Not a lot of actual basketball going on…not for me, anyway. Living live ten feet at a time has messed up my depth perception so much I rarely throw the ball hard enough to hit the rim (unless I am ten feet or less away from it) but I am content, more or less, with just looking at things I have not seen in many, many years. I plan on not ever taking it for granted again. Just watching and listening to birds chirp, seeing a cloud slowly float by… it is all very precious to me now, and I want it to stay that way. I won’t let myself become ignorant of what is important again… I know you have heard it before, but you don’t know what is important, or what you will miss, until it is lost to you…take my word for it.

So, that is what basketball is like. I hope i painted an accurate picture for you with my words.

(Before I go I would like to say that, just last night, I received my very first correspondence from someone who reads Muninn’s Roost and wrote to me because of it. Thank you, K.R., your card means a lot to me, and you have a letter coming back to you soon!)

Well, that is all I have for this time. Not sure exactly what my next post will be like, but I do have an idea. Hopefully, I will get that our soon. But in this place, making plans beyond a day or two is not advisable…so we will see…

In the mean time, please remember to thank my dear friend Anna, without whom none of this would be possible.




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