It's time again for my Year In Review, aka Year End View, aka Rear End View, depending upon one's perspective. As I wrote such a review last year here, this second year now qualifies as a holiday tradition.
* As for my semi-active social life, there were 52 Dr. Pepper Nights on Thursday evening with my inmate buddy who left here on December 31st. He should have a short stay at a halfway house before spending the last 5 months of his sentence in home confinement. He's one of the many here who should have never served any prison time. In fact, his case should have been civil and not criminal. But he's used his time of incarceration to become better in many ways. He's a good man, talented musician, and ardent Trump supporter who predicted before anyone else that Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. I proved yet again my pathetic political prognostication prowess by betting him a pint of Blue Bell ice cream that Trump would carry only the great state of West Virginia against his equally deplorable Democrat opponent. He never let me forget that. The only comeback I could muster was that Trump did in fact carry West Virginia as I predicted. His departure will leave a hole in my social calendar, as it was the only event on it.
* Throughout the year, I continued to attend the Buddhist meditation service on Thursday, the Catholic mass on Friday, the Protestant service on Sunday and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints service on Monday. Clearly the most enlightening has been the LDS service. I'm naturally drawn to a group who so loves Jesus and people, has no debt, no paid ministers, and the best choir ever. They also uniquely have an Christian afterlife theology that's slightly more universal and hopeful than what I've been used to. In typical LDS fashion, the group has grown from 3 to 10 while sending home a couple of "missionaries" sans white shirts and bicycles.
* On December 21st, President Trump signed into the law The First Step Act, a much needed prison and sentencing reform legislation. It doesn't do as much as it could have, but it's a first step in hopefully a new direction of criminal justice at the federal level. I wrote about it here when it passed the House last May.
* The biggest prison life-changing event in 2018 was the arrival in mid October of Freddy, a 7 week old Golden/Labrador Retriever mix puppy whom I'll be training for the next 15 months for Canine Companions for Independence. It meant that I'm no longer living in the main west side open barrack, but in a separate room with 3 other trainers and 4 dogs on the east side with more room and a door. By Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp standards, it's as good as it gets. I've written about Freddy here, and will no doubt continue to do so throughout 2019 because he's my constant companion and HE IS AMAZING.
* Hundreds of years ago, St. John of the Cross wrote, "God's first language is silence." Thomas Keating added, "Everything else is a bad translation." Keating, the Trappist monk and giant of the Christian faith, died at the age of 95 on October 25, 2018. When I read of his death, these words of his came to mind: "Death is only a part of the process of living...Either we learn how to live in comunion with others, or, quite simply, we're not ready for heaven and are already in hell...There is only One Love that will lead and carry us across when we die. If we are already at home with Love here, we will quite readily move into heaven, Love's eternal home. Death is not a changing of worlds, as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely explanding."
* I've been blessed with good health and with good friends here, who provide laughter and thoughtful conversations, and friends in the "free world" who visit, write, and send me interesting reading material. Sometimes we have more fun here than should be legal, but let's just keep that on the down-low.