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Turkey Day 2022 by Wayne T. Dowdy


Happy Thanksgiving Day to those who celebrate the American holiday! And even to those who don’t celebrate holidays, I hope each of you are filled with gratitude for all you have in life to be thankful for: start with the functioning body parts and the air you breath to see another day.

Turkey Day USA! For me, I celebrate each day because of the life I’ve been blessed with living, which is less than what I want, but is much better than what I had when I posed for that picture inside the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia in the 80’s.

Healthwise, I was in much better physical condition back then than I am now, of course, but in regards to what really counts, today I am in better overall condition.

The positive aspect from that experience and others I was fortunate to have survived, is that I did walk out the prison doors and lived to fight another day. And decades later, continue to have a life worth writing about, which I do often in hope of inspiring others or to otherwise affect a positive change.

The most success in my writing career has become writing on Quora.com where I have over 1.2 million views on my profile page and Life Inside and Out. Should you decide to subscribe or to check out a free subscription, I am paid a small commission. Visit my profile to learn more: Wayne T. Dowdy or click Here to subscribe to Quora Plus.

Should I focus on writing about the negative, I could write for days and still fail to tell everything that I dealt with throughout the years. A wonderful thing is that I could also write for days about the good things that I have experienced and feel fortunate to still be able to sit before my computer screen and type.

Finding the bright side of life can be a challenge if filled with self-pity because life is not happening the way I feel it should. But when I stop for a moment to remember where I came from, and then accept that things are working the way that the God of my understanding wants it to be, then I can breathe in a be grateful for the moment, knowing that I am blessed to have been around for all these years and to have accomplished the things that I have during the last few years.

My plan for the next few months is to focus on changing several things that I have the power to change in pursuit of accomplishing more than I have since my release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons on August 28, 2018. Then maybe next Turkey Day I will write about some spectacular events; however, I am probably going to stop paying for this website and end it for several reasons I may write about in an upcoming post as Revising A Life or Life After Release.

In reflection of 2022, I am grateful for many things, including being given the opportunity to appear on a public television station, which you may watch the YouTube version of by clicking the link in Revising a Life-10 for a Steadfast Journey-Bridging the Gap, with the lovely, Dr. Micshell Milsap, or by clicking the following links where I appeared in Wisdom Episode 10 and another Walking With God. Please check them out and click to like and subscribe to her channel. Thanks!

May your heart be filled with more gratitude this year than most, even though the World affairs have deteriorated. If you pray, remember Ukraine and those who suffer around the world.

Personal Magazines-2

Original Rear Cover

Personal Magazine by Wayne T. Dowdy

October 15, 2022, Update: Since I last updated this I posted an interview on Smashwords.com, which still needs work because the automated links to my previously published books shows two books not available in their Premium Catalog for expanded distribution because I use links to Amazon.com (Rivals). Under Pressure and Under Pressure-Motivational Version may be purchased on Smashwords, but all of my other books are distributed to numerous eBook retailers.

The reason all of my books do not appear under the Interview is because I am listed as the publisher of all of my other books, which is true, but I am also the author. Just a matter of technical issues. If you want to read my interview, please click HERE.

March 1, 2021, Update: My publisher posted this blog for me while I was held inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Before writing it, I learned that the technical aspects (content) is what determines whether a publication is a magazine versus a book.

My concept of a book was based on physical characteristics (e.g., a compilation of text and or photos bound in a spine and cover, rather than text and or pictures on pages stapled together in the center).

I learned what constituted a magazine after Confrontation Magazine, the Literary Journal of Long Island University, published a submission of mine that the editor chose to publish as a Letter to the Editor, titled, Prison and Khordorkovsky.

The content, not the binding and cover or other physical characteristics, makes a publication a magazine. By combining genres, I unintentionally made Essays and More Straight from the Pen a magazine instead of a book. 🙂

Here is a modified version of what was originally posted before my release.


I own a magazine, two actually. Imagine that, having a personal magazine for the world to read. When I created ESSAYS AND MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN with Midnight Express Books, I did not think about it as a magazine, but that’s what it is, regardless of what I thought. All it takes to have a magazine these days is a website to post them on, or some system to publish it by putting it in print for everyone to read.

What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that I had twelve superb essays to share with all who wanted to read about a variety of topics that involved the infamous “Me.”

ESSAYS ABOUT WHAT? Essays about survival against the odds; essays about love and pain; essays about the cost of crime on human lives from a personal perspective; essays to inspire, to shed light on life from a different perspective; essays that show life inside the American criminal justice system; essays that show the price I paid to become a better man; essays, poetry, and a short story that offers something unique to the reader.

FREE ESSAYS: I periodically make some essays available for free, one of which is “No Sympathy,” at this time. Check my authors page for an additional ones. Make a request and I will offer a free coupon code (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

For your taking time to read this blog, I offer another free essay for your reading pleasure. Use Smashwords Coupon Code MQ86S to download a free copy of “An Airport Ate the Neighborhood” from my author’s page (click on the link listed in the above paragraph). Enter the coupon code near the end of the process as if you are purchasing the essay. The free offer is only available at Smashwords.com and valid until December 31, 2022.

You may also purchase the essay for $0.99 at several online outlets. For downloading on a personal computer, use the html format option.

WHAT’S THE “MORE” IN THE TITLE? I wanted to give my readers more for their money, so I added three select poems and one short story, which is what converted my essay collection into a magazine by definition. My personal magazine. I hope you start reading it today by downloading a copy from your favorite eBook retailer. If not that, at least order yourself a paperback from Amazon.com or from your favorite bookstore, which I will really appreciate.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons case manager read Essays and More Straight from the Pen and commented that it contained a lot of wisdom, has parts to make you laugh, and others that were touching; a well-written book and good read. He said he read in a couple of days. For that to come from a prison staff member, it’s a great compliment and one that made me proud of what me and Midnight Express Books put together.

Treat yourself by reading it today and then share it with others.* Many people have told me they found something to identify with in it and that it helped improve their outlook upon life.

I did a similar experiment with my first novel, UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D. Things haven’t worked out as I planned. When I created UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D., I accidentally turned it into a magazine, too. For more on that one, if you haven’t done so already, please read my other blog post, “PUBLISHING & UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.” So, I own two magazines. 🙂

Happy Independence Day-2022

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://straightfromthepen.com/2022/07/04/happy-independence-day-2022/ — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/wayne-t-dowdy/support

Transcription

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Electronic Chain-2019

Update APRIL 10, 2021: Many things in my life have changed since I wrote Electronic Chain over two years ago after I finally completed a 420-month federal prison sentence. That day was a long-time coming and one I often wondered if I would live long enough to see as a free man.

When I look at the photo that I took of Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia, on the day of my release, I am reminded of the times I had to have permission to walk out the doors and through the gates to walk down the street to catch a bus to go to an approved location, such as the Georgia Department of Labor to continue my fruitless job search, or to Grady Memorial Hospital or to the Mercy Care Clinic for health-related issues.

Free at Last, Kind of

The first time I got a pass to leave the premises, when I was kind of free at last for a few hours, I remember standing at the end of the street at a bus stop, feeling like a dog must feel when freed from its leash.

It had been thirty calendar years since I had walked in the free society without a chain strapped around my waist, handcuffs on my wrists, and leg shackles biting at my ankles as I tried to act normal while wearing such unfashionable jewelry.

Returning to Dismas Charities was not always as bad as what one may think for a man who spent decades of his life bound by chains, who lived behind concrete and steel walls, with the outside perimeters decorated with row-upon-row of razor wire designed to slice the flesh of anyone crossing over it into a different world.

Sometimes it was a relief to walk back inside the gates of the halfway house, after walking up a long hill in one of the less-favorable neighborhoods of Atlanta, where the prostitutes and dope fiends hustled the streets to meet their needs for survival in a cruel world.

For me, returning to the boundaries of Dismas Charities was a relief because I was back into a more familiar atmosphere, where I didn’t feel like an alien or caveman.

Behind the gates was where I was supposed to be until told I could leave and not return; the day I longed for but somewhat feared because of the risk of returning to a jail cell if I failed to meet the expectations of the United States Department of Justice or any of the many local law enforcement agencies in Metro Atlanta.

I thank God daily for me not having to live in that environment anymore, where my activities were governed and regulated by program statements and policies, often interpreted by people who lacked the required intelligence to grasp the concept behind broadly-written words.

However, to be fair, I need to clarify that not everyone in authoritative positions lacked intelligence or abused their authority because the policies gave them the power to do so.

Some were good men and women who did all they could to help me and others to walk out of the prison doors and to become better individuals.

I am grateful for several staff members who fell into the latter category, as well as for the ones I have dealt with since my release, none of whom have shown any ill-intent toward me and have helped me to successfully reintegrate into society.

LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE

Today, I live and eat well and don’t have to do a lot of walking to go to and from desired locations. That is because I own and drive a vehicle; work 40-hour per week, have automotive, life, medical, dental, and vision insurance. The walking I do is by choice, or necessity, not because it is my only option.

Alexander West Park, McDonough, Georgia

I am ending this update with a few photos to show that life is good and with the hope of inspiring others who have been released from prison to never give up and to work towards finding a better way to live out here, even when times get rough.

It took me eleven months to find a job, more so because of my age than criminal history, but I never gave up or thought about reverting to my old behaviors.

The God of my understanding has bigger plans for me than being in a cage, and for that I am grateful.


The Night Before I Lose An Electronic Chain

Dismas Charities, Atlanta, Georgia, Residential Reentry Center
March 8, 2019
Dismas Charities, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Anticipation may be one word to describe what a person experiences in knowing he or she awaits the finish line of a challenge that took thirty-years, six-months, and twenty-two-days, to reach.

MY DAY: March 8, 2019: On the day of my total release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, my weary mind recalled sleeping from about 1:00 am until 3:30 am.

My eyes popped open and refused to close, so I succumbed to the pressure and got out of bed to begin a day I had awaited; a day I didn’t think I’d ever see after my arrest on August 18, 1988.

Miracles Do Happen! I believed I would die in prison or be killed escaping. I was wrong! 

When I went to sleep on March 8, 2019, I slept longer than I had in years, maybe because of having completed my 420-month federal prison sentence. Being relieved of the pressure from carrying a heavy burden for three decades of my life, lightened my load.

Not having to worry about getting up to charge an ankle monitor helped me sleep better, too, I’m sure.

(I viewed the ankle monitor strapped to my ankle as an electronic-chain, which I had to wear to go on home confinement. If I had not agreed, I would have had to stay at the halfway house (Residential Reentry Center.))

That morning I signed some papers and a staff member at Dismas Charities removed the electronic-chain. From that point on I was technically freed from the custody of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, an agency I spoke out against for years while under its control.

Leaving Dismas Charities, a loved one invited me to a celebratory meal at a Waffle House. I accepted! He treated me to steak and eggs, with hashbrowns smothered and covered.

And high-dollar coffee, in comparison to the cost of a cup in 1988!

Not at Starbucks!

I was shocked to learn a cup of coffee cost $1.50 at a Waffle House!

[Breaking News: On March 13th, I drank coffee at a Waffle House in downtown Atlanta and paid $2.00 for a cup. My brother-in-law said the previous cup was $1.90, not $1.50] Much cheaper than StarBucks!

Then the next day, I ate even better. I’ve been treated so well by family and friends since my release, it’s hard to say when I ate the best. I have eaten a lot of tasty food, at a lot of high-dollar-restaurants, none of which served better food than what I ate during family gatherings on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.

March 9, 2019: Food-wise, I liked the food at a couple other restaurants better than what I ate at an Outback Steakhouse, where we celebrated my return to the family, but I enjoyed the experience tremendously.

That is because of the time I spent with most of my loved ones, and without me having an electronic-chain strapped around my ankle.

Having an electronic-chain strapped around my ankle, embarrassed me when it showed while I was out in the public; however, I preferred dealing with embarrassment over the alternative (sitting at the halfway house or in prison).

Family Time Made Everything Wonderful!

Celebrating my Special Day Entering a New Life

From FaceBook: I am blessed to have a family who still loves me. This Yummy, Great American Cookie was the final part of my special night out at an Outback Steakhouse to celebrate having closed one chapter of my life and for beginning a new one.

The evening meant a lot because it was the first family outing I experienced in decades without an electronic-chain strapped to my ankle.

There were other loved ones who couldn’t attend for various reasons, but I do want to say that the Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings were really special to me because I got to meet relatives I had never met and to just really experience the gratitude of love.

God blessed me with a wonderful family and I love ’em all!

Roaming the Streets Without an Electronic-Chain

UNLEASHED: My day in the Big City without an electronic-chain

City of Atlanta, Georgia, March 8, 2019

Leaving the Waffle House, my brother-in-law carried me downtown to the Grady Memorial Hospital for medical appointments.

80 Jesse Hill, Jr., Drive, SW, Atlanta, Georia
Grady Memorial Hospital Sits in the Background

“Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. is rated high performing in 1 adult procedure or condition. It is a general medical and surgical facility. It is a teaching hospital.

“Rankings and Recognitions

“To help patients decide where to receive care, U.S. News generates hospital rankings by evaluating data on nearly 5,000 hospitals in 16 adult specialties, 9 adult procedures and conditions and 10 pediatric specialties. To be nationally ranked in a specialty, a hospital must excel in caring for the sickest, most medically complex patients. …”

https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/ga/grady-memorial-hospital-6380130

Grady Memorial Hospital held the Top-Spot for U.S. Trauma Centers for decades, and still does, I believe.

The above I wrote because of how impressed I’ve been with the level of health care provided at Grady, where I had to go upon release from prison because I had health issues and did not have insurance and could not afford it. I still can’t afford insurance because I’m unemployed!

[My experience at Grady does not coincide with other patient ratings. August 7, 2019: Since writing this post in March 2019, my opinion of Grady has lessened but I still give it props for the greater good the hospital serves to the Atlanta area.]

Though my brother-in-law was willing to wait, I did not want to hold him up as I went about my scheduled affairs. Leaving Grady I needed to check in with the United States Probation Office.


U.S. Probation Office Inside this Massive Structure

I left Grady Memorial and walked to the Richard B. Russell Federal Building. Many things changed in society since 1988.

Going into the building I ran into a metal detector, with several government officials guarding its entrance. I had to surrender my possessions, including my SmartWatch, SmartPhone, and backpack filled with a variety of items I knew I needed to venture into the Big City.

Once I cleared the metal detector, all of my possessions were returned, except for the cellphone, which I had to leave with the staff members guarding the entrance. I was given a numbered-token to hold in exchange of my phone until I was ready to leave.

As it turned out, I wasted my time going into the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, because I learned I had to report to another office on Monday, in another town.

While in Atlanta, I gave a urinalysis, but still had to give another one at the correct United States Probation Office. It’s all good, though, I’ve been clean and sober since April 5, 1995.

At the Atlanta office, I did get to speak with the most beautiful probation officer I’d ever seen.

Iplanned to attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that night, but I was so tired by the time I got home at 6:30 pm, after having run around the city and walking over five-miles, that I didn’t even do my typical social media activities.

Maybe all the walking lead to me sleeping as well as I did, without the burden of that electronic-chain and all of the associated factors strapped around my mind and my ankle.