#128 Grades of Honor, book ONE (retro)

April 5, 2010 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

Grades of Honor, Prison book One

It is just after 10:30 am as I start this but before I do…


My goodness, I was watching some of that game when the Lakers were up by 20 points, and I figured, “oh well, looks like the series will be tied”. Then I check on it again and see that it is cut down to 2 points, and I watched the rest.

Now many of you who know my old blogs know I am a Laker fan, since I used to live in Los Angeles, but this year I am kinda split. Yes, I am still a Laker fan, but I am a purist in sports too. I have always respected Kevin Garnett and how he plays with so much heart, and I really want to see him win a ring before his career ends.

And don’t get me wrong, I am a heavy Laker fan, but I am not a FANatic. Notice that the word “fan” comes from the word, “fanatical”, which leans on the extremities of pulling for a team. I love sports, but come on folks, it’s just a game.

Anyway, today there is a lot of smoke in my town. Raleigh, the capital of NC, has had (or as I understand it, HAVING) some forest fires and the smoke has been blown over 50 miles into our town…and it is pretty rough.

Just walking to the mailbox on the corner was difficult; I won’t be going outside today unless I really have to.

Anyway, I wanted to break down my books for some of you. A few of you have asked me about my books, and which I might advise you to purchase. Well, to me, each book covers a particular part in my incarceration, so maybe it’s best if I just explain some of that to you, and share a part from it.

We’ll start with my first book of Grades of Honor.

I know I said this before to some of you, but because I have over 100 blogs, some people don’t jump all the way back to read those blogs…I mean, we’re talking about 300 pages or more.

The title of the series is based on a play off the words “honor grade”. In NC prisons, this is another word for minimum custody, which is where I finished my sentence. It was there that I learned that in prison, there is a code of honor for each person, and for each person it is different…thus the gradations or “grades” of honor.

If you are interested in my books, then let me talk to you for a few minutes about book one. I wanted to start this project with the original idea of trying to cover my entire incarceration in a book or two, but I realized that I had far more info to share than I thought. I didn’t have some big-time publisher, and I needed to try to create some venue of revenue so I could continue to write. So I decided to write and publish it myself. Ironically, I was encouraged most by people of prison support sites; the irony in that is that they wanted me to write a book, but after I did, nobody wanted to give me the time of day when I talked about it…but they wanted me to keep sharing posts on the site.

Anyway, Grades of Honor, book one starts out the moment I was called from my county jail cell for transport. Technically, the incarceration didn’t start there; it started 17 months prior which is how much time I spent in that jail cell (other than the first 10 days).

Grades of Honor, book one, allows me to address the initial shock of going to prison, especially from the eyes of a first time felon. How does a guy who has never been to prison, or been in any legal trouble EVER deal with going to prison?

What I wanted to try to get across to the reader is the realism of not just what I saw, but what I felt deep inside. Lots of times I talk to you guys about being hopeful, being faithful and being positive…this story does NOT start that way at all. This was a point in my life where everything was dashed against the rocks. Lots of you have been in a situation where it looks like a total and complete failure. Lots of you have a loved one in prison and you feel that everything is over. It’s just so hard to see any sunshine when everything looks like you’re in the middle of a hurricane.

I know how you feel. I was there too.

Grades of Honor, book one covers my first 6 weeks in prison. Why is this important? Because in NC prisons, most inmates go to a “processing prison”, where the state extracts certain info about the inmate before classifying them to a more permanent prison. You see, most people think that as soon as the judge brings the gavel down, the inmate does like the famous line in Monopoly, “go directly to jail”.

Uh…doesn’t quite work like that.

Besides, there is a difference between “jail” and “prison” anyway.

When you first enter the DOC (Department of Corrections) an inmate has to be evaluated for classification. Lots of factors determine that, like your charge, the length of your sentence and many other things. This process can take anywhere from about 6 weeks to 8 weeks. Once the DOC determines where you will be sent, and as soon as bedspace is available, you will then be sent from the “processing prison” to your more permanent prison.

This is what my first book is about.

Grades of Honor, book one, allows me to share with you the sights, sounds, feelings and beliefs of an inmate in every way I can, and to share it as honestly as I can with the reader. I want to share with you some of the first words I wrote about this situation, which pinpoint my feelings at that moment in time. This comes from page 4 in my first book:

The following is from “Grades of Honor” book one:

Life temporarily ended for me that day I was called from my single cell in county jail. My heart jumped when from behind the steel door of my cell a female officer called to me and told me to start packing my belongings since I was about to be shipped. It was the end of my faith that some miracle could turn this situation around. My faith in a God that hears prayers ended, and shock shot through my body. I could not even answer the first time. The female officer had to call me a second time, to which I then answered. This was it; I was going to prison.
Up until then, I had spent close to 17 months in county jail, and for nearly every hour I fought internally for hope against hope that something, anything, might change this terrible situation to something I can shout for joy over. I will not go over the first year and a half here; maybe another time, because to me, the prison system begins here. I sat down on my bed in the small cell and felt numb all over. If there was a way I could kill myself at that moment and quickly, I may well have done it, and welcomed death far more than I would have welcomed this God I was praying to for so long.
I remembered from the other inmates that I had a chance to talk to from my tenure that it is best to carry nothing since you won’t be allowed to keep anything anyway. I was very fortunate that my mom was able to visit me very quickly before I was whisked away; I saw her fears and tears as we bid goodbye for the last time. I had to be strong here; my heart was ripped from me, as well as my faith, but I could not let mom see that in me. She told me once how it was strange that she was supposed to visit me to strengthen me, but it was the other way around. Because I would not let failure show to anyone else but me, I kept as positive as I could when around anyone else. In my cell alone, I could cry a million tears for me, my family and my pathetic life, and how it is so screwed up. But now, in front of mom, I had to keep it together. She would cry anyway, because I was leaving, but why make this harder than it has to be?

You really need to understand what I am trying to share here. It is easy to look in it and try to find convicting remarks…frankly you can keep that to yourself, I didn’t share this so some self-righteous idiot can try to tell me what they think I ought to know. This is my truest feeling of the first moments of knowing that you ARE going to prison. Not that you MIGHT…but that you ARE going…and you’re going NOW.

I tried my best to hold some amount of faith in the idea that maybe things could turn out for the better, that miracles can happen. I knew I wasn’t perfect, far from it, but I also knew that surely I can hope for some mercy. But at that moment, it all drained from me when the call came for me to start packing. This, in essence, is where Grades of Honor begins.

It goes further than maybe even I can imagine, since I’m just a guy writing stuff. I mean, how far are you willing to believe in God, even in the worst case scenario? Anybody can dance and rejoice when all is good, but where’s all that joy when you are in the midst of a terrible storm? Anybody can read my first book and point fingers at me and what I did wrong in my faith, but would YOU have done any different? Who knows?

It’s not a book to make me better than anybody, it’s just a chance for me to explain what prison is like and how it can affect a person. This first book of Grades of Honor is 77 pages long. It is likely to be the shortest of the series, other than maybe the time I spent in Guilford Correctional, but I have not gotten to that part yet. Remember, I was only here for 6 weeks, so it wasn’t like I could write 1000 pages on it. This was also the time before I started keeping journals, so I was going off memory on what happened. Some things stood out pretty well, some were vague. Still, I think there is plenty in the book for anyone to understand where I am coming from.

And if not, I also add what I call “pauses” to my story. If I am writing something in the main story and come across something that might need explanation, I will take a pause to explain it to you. Think of it like making a footnote or something like that. That way, I try not to lose anyone while I am talking about something. If I make a comment about canteen, I might take a “pause” to explain some things about that to you. To me, it helps the flow of the work better.

All my books are currently bound (a reader reminded me that the word “binded” is incorrect, I agree) at Staples and put in a nice cover before I sent it to the person who requests it. I always add a couple of other things, like maybe a prison card or two, or a prison encouragement certificate, or some other documents on prison issues. I think it is as attractive as I can make it with the resources I have. Some of you have my first book, and I am grateful for your support. The glue-binding is pretty much the same technique they use for printed books anyway, so it looks pretty good; better than stapling or punching holes.

Well, that gives you an idea about my first book. If you are interested, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com and ask me about the prices or how to support my writing. I certainly appreciate any support I get. And while you’re doing that, let me know if there is something you want me to talk about. Remember, you’re not alone in your problems; if you have a particular problem, it is a sure bet that there are dozens, or hundreds of people that may be in a similar situation. So if I blog it out, I might help more people.

Oh well, gotta fly.


Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#127 Projects in the works (new) #129 Grades of Honor, book 2 (retro)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 205 other followers

%d bloggers like this: