Friday, June 15, 2012

June 10, 2012

Dear Sis~

It's been pouring rain, off and on, for the past 7-8 days and according to the local weather girl, the next 5-6 days will bring the same.  Everything here in this big concrete prison (which lacks any effective ventilation) is damp and musty; it's like living in an old castle but without any notions of romanticism or adventure, more like the castle's dungeon, in fact.  This morning I saw a few rays of sunshine and thought there'd be a day-long respite so I went ahead with my regular weekend routing of scrubbing my floor, then doing my laundry.  This was a mistake. About the time I finished and began hanging my sheets, T-shirts and drawers on my makeshift clothesline, the heavens opened up and a powerful thunderstorm moved in.  It's been homesteading this area for hours now and the humidity is so thick that water is drizzling down my walls and the decades-old, multi-layered paint is blistering out, with water trapped in balloon-like knots from water weeping right through the concrete.  This happens all over the building whenever we get any prolonged rainstorms.  As you know from your visits, the roof leaks badly all over and the prison is strewn with plastic 5-gallon buckets catching the water.  Doing my own laundry (most of us do it) has become even more of an imperative over the last year or two.  For starters, you cannot exchange your state clothes for clean stuff at the weekly laundry exchange because all the laundry issues now are old, ripped-up rags, stuff right out of a cartoon version of the rags Napoleon's army wore as they withdrew from Russia.  There is no money available here for any new clothing.  The sheets, towels, socks, T-shirts and drawers are almost black with filth; they look like what mechanics use in garages to clean up with.  The laundry has taken to cutting all the sheets in half lengthwise and cutting all the towels in half (sewing up the edges) to try to make things stretch.  More basic than that, though, is that for at least a year, maybe two, the laundry has simply quit using any soap when it "washes" the clothes.  They stuff they pass out stinks worse than it does when it's turned in.  If you do get something from the laundry, the first thing you and have to do is wash it.  Most people do what I do, they bribe someone to get ahold of a couple of new sheets and a new towel, and then they just keep them, washing them by hand every week.  Since we cannot obtain any laundry soap (for reasons unknown they stopped selling it to us 10 years ago) we've gotta use canteen-bought shampoo to do our laundry (VO-5 is the cheapest).  And of course, we've gotta wash all our stuff in our toilets; this sounds gross to the uninitiated, but we keep our stainless steel toilets scrubbed clean.  You then plug it up and flush it until it fills, then add shampoo and laundry and go to work.  This is old-school and is universal in prisons around the country (although 95% of prisons have made this obsolete by offering real laundry services.  But Florida in general and Florida State Prison in particular are 30 years behind the times and the administration seems to revel in its backwardness).  Hell, this prison doesn't even have hot water to the cells.  Anyway, Sis, that's it for now from the rainy Big House.  I'll write again soon when the sun comes out!

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