Happy VDay (Valentine’s Day). *chuckle* I gave the 9th, and penultimate, speech necessary for my Competent Communicator certification. The 9th speech is supposed to focus on being persuasive. I had given an early speech trying to persuade the audience to practice gratitude on a regular basis as a way to free themselves from our mental prison at least. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to sway anyone in the long term. For this persuasive speech I decided to choose something that the audience would be more motivated to do. I summarized my arguments on how NDCS is miscalculating the overcrowding and that they have no plan for dealing with the impending emergency declaration. Then I told them about the articles on the new forum, and encouraged them to share the forum with friends and family but that wasn’t the ask. The real pitch was that they join me in writing to all the members of the Judiciary committee about those 2 issues. My voice might not be loud enough to be heard but perhaps if we joined our voices together we can break through and get some attention. I provided them with the names and addresses for the senators on the Judiciary committee. I even gave them a sample letter that they could simply date and sign. Finally, to remove “barriers to conversion,” to use web development terms, I even gave everyone an envelope so they could all send a letter to at least 1 senator at no cost to themselves. I ended on how we are stronger together so let’s make a difference. *smile*

I have been able to coordinate my efforts to shine a light on NE prisons with my efforts in Toastmasters as well as my writing for my UNO creative writing class. One might even call is synchronicity (though I wouldn’t necessarily attribute it to a collective subconscious like Jung would Ha!). It is lucky as I almost didn’t sign up for the UNO class because I was so focused on persuasive, analytical writing rather than creative writing. At almost literally the last minute I dropped a kite in the mail with my sample writing to sign up for the class and I managed to get accepted in spite of my samples not being “creative.” I am really enjoying forcing myself to be creative in my writing, though still being non-fiction that conveys some message about my experience of incarceration. As one of the UNO students who review our writing suggested, I am trying to still make a point while being more personal and creative. Though that kind of writing might not be the best way to show hard data, it makes a far stronger emotional appeal. As any rhetorician will tell you, you need to have an emotional hook to get anyone to even pay attention to your hard logic or data. Pathos before Logos. *smile* I will have to try to continue doing some creative writing even after the class is over. I am looking forward to the “poetry slam” in our last class. I wonder whom all the professor will manage to invite to it.

I was so excited the other day. Turner Classic Movies had The Lion in Winter, one of my favorite movies of all time. It stars Peter O’Toole (Henry VIII), Katherine Hepburn (Ellenor of Aquitain), a young Anthony Hopkins (Prince Richard), and Timothy Dalton (the young king of France). It is a 70’s movie about Henry VIII that is beautifully written and excellently acted. The royal family plotting and verbal sparring is amazingly entertaining. As Hepburn says, “What family doesn’t have its troubles.” LOL! I hadn’t watched the movie in decades so I was impressed at how well it holds up with time. I guess a truly well written script that is superbly acted is ageless. I told McK he should check it out but he resisted. He didn’t like Blade Runner, another of my favorites, so I am curious if he will appreciate The Lion in Winter. Luckily, differences can make for a good relationship too. *chuckle*

McK and I had something of a fight on the phone a while ago. I thought of some research that I heard about a while ago. Some relationship researchers posited that couples who argued more would be less likely to stay together for longer. What they actually found was that the frequency of arguments did not corollate with the durability of the relationship. Rather, what indicated whether a relationship would last or not was HOW the couple argued. If they resorted to personal attacks then the relationship was less likely to last. Those who argued but did it in a civil, respectful way, were more likely to stay together. I am glad to report that McK and I argued without personal attacks, a good argument I guess. *smile*

NDCS published a new orientation manual for newly incarcerated individuals. It is supposed to be distributed when you’re at D&E but they also delivered an electronic version on the phone tablets. The Director wrote an introduction where he talks about the benefits of programming to help prepare us to become productive members of society once we are released. I realized that I object to that concept. We shouldn’t have to wait until we are released. We can and should be allowed to be productive members of society even while we are in here. That is why I created the community forum on here and why I do research on how to improve NDCS. Of course, without the support and help that my friends and family give me I wouldn’t be able to do all of that so I have to give thanks for them all. *smile*

I had a great visit this past weekend. McK and Colin couldn’t come so my mother sent out an email to all my authorized visitors to see if anyone else wanted to come. Gary, Jane and Marty arranged to come together which was good as it was Marty’s first visit. It’s best for someone to visit for the first time with others who can show them the ropes. It makes it much less nerve-wracking when you aren’t alone and have someone who knows the procedures. I hadn’t seen Marty since my sentencing almost 2 years ago so it was great to see him. I’m afraid I talked their ears off. I hope they all enjoyed themselves.

I did have a moment where I broke down while telling them about the story I’m writing about visiting my grandmother in her nursing home. When I left she gripped my hand and in pleading tone ask me only once if I had to go. I recognized that look and feeling from when my visitors had to leave and I had to return to loneliness. She was isolated from her loved ones in the nursing home, just like I had been in the CA prison. I still had to leave her, leave her alone. When I was telling them the story I sort of lost my composure for a bit. I hope it didn’t drag down the mood of the whole visit. Marty told me in an email that it wasn’t uncomfortable. He thought it was probably cathartic.