I’m convinced that having a certain rhythm and balance to life is vital to my physical, mental and spiritual health. But the reality is that being an inmate at Bastrop FSC represents a significant lifestyle change for me. My rhythm has been disrupted. Some inmates have for many years worked their way through the federal prison system to get to a camp, but for a 62 year old whose criminal background amounted to a defensive driving class every three years, the transition has been challenging.
Developing a routine that works is a trial and error process that requires time and intentionality. After 100 days here, it could be said that I am not unlike the character played by Bill Murray in the movie Ground Hog Day.
The day begins with my alarm at 5:15 am. As the lights don’t go on until 6:00, I make my bed and get dressed in the dark quietly because there are 7 sleeping people within four feet of me. This was challenging at first, but now, not so much. My food service job begins at 5:30am. I am humbly proud/proudly humble to pass along that I have moved up the Chow Hall employment ladder and am now responsible for vegetable preparation for the entire camp. Apparently vegetables need preparation before being eaten. Who knew this? More about the job later, but usually I’ve completed work each weekday by noon.
From noon until 3:00 pm dinner, my time is free to clean up (as I usually look and smell like a rodeo goat by then), rest, read, and write. We have “count” at 4:00 after which I usually exercise, read, write or work on Spanish, or as we say, “Espanol”, until 7:00 pm.
In addition to the Sunday services, there are various religious activities during the week, most of which begin at 7:00 pm. Bible study is on Monday and Tuesday, along with a Chapel Service on Wednesday, a meditation service on Thursday and usually “Bad Christian Movie Night” (my definition) on Friday. I usually only go on Tuesday and Thursday because I work on Sunday and, as my dad used to say, “It doesn’t take as much church for me as it does some people.”
In the evenings, I have time to read, write, meditate, play spades, or laugh with friends about this weird place until the 10:00pm count and lights out.
The weekend schedule is modified. If I get all my veggies prepped, I have Saturday off to watch college football on one of the outdoor TVs in the exercise pavilion. I have been able to watch all the Baylor/Big 12 games and most ACC and SEC games. The other conferences are on, but who really cares?
I get to work at 6:30 am on Sunday and try to get veggies and salads prepped for at least Monday. Visitation here is from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, but most of my visits so far have been on Sunday. Inmates are not just allowed, but encouraged to miss work for visits.
Sunday evening is reserved for my TV night with “60 Minutes” and “Madame Secretary” which is faithfully watched here, like it is everywhere, by aging baby boomers…at least based on the advertising, if you get my drift. If you don’t, apparently there is big money to made in the war against ED, menopause and other ailments. I still have found it a good idea to stay out of the TV room, so I watch these outside in the exercise pavilion even when it’s cold.
On Monday, it restarts for me, just like for most of us.