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September 30, 2012
While you read this try and hear The Doors playing in the background for the right feel. Just kidding, trying to lighten the mood. Well, this is my last post. I am hoping and praying that by the time you read this I have not botched this suicide attempt.
We end where we started some four years ago. My first post was titled, "Why & Why Now?" It applies now as well. This is, by its very nature, going to be self indulgent and maybe a little maudlin. So most of you who read my site won't find this of much interest. As Alanis Morissette might say, this could be messy.
First, nothing sudden about this. I quit my job in March - turned out my boss on Wall St was a quasi-criminal and I was getting ensnared in his legal problems - and had three months of financial reserves. I tried to find another job, but as I expected, a felon who is a Level 3 sex offender stands no chance of gaining meaningful employment. So I decided, if by July 1 I couldn't find anything, I would take this route. By the end of June I manged to figure out how to last two more months and kept looking for work. I am just too old to be homeless and start over one more time. I don't have it in me. You may have noticed that starting in June I was posting new installments of J'ACCUSE every few weeks instead of 2x a year. I knew the end was coming and I wanted to get as much of the story out there before time ran out.
I realize the timing, weeks after Ray Harding's death, would appear to have some linkage. All I can do is repeat that this was planned originally for June, long before I knew he was ill. I will say I am glad I outlasted him, even by a few weeks. I sure as shit hope I don't have to see him in the afterlife. Not that we believe in it, but that would be a sure sign that I've wound up in Hell.
You know for most people every second of life is precious: Just another sunrise, just another dusk. Just one more. Even for sad and lonely people, the prospect of a brighter tomorrow is enough to keep them going.
Personally I've always subscribed to the Woody Allen view of life as he expressed it in Annie Hall: "Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. Horrible is blind people, paraplegics - I don't know how they get through life. Miserable is everyone else." That's just how it's been for me since I was young: a miserable life with pockets of happiness. I don't mean to sound self pitying; I've suffered from mental illness and have spent most of my life in deep depressions, so it's natural that I would view the world that way.
I marvel when I read these stories about sex offenders in Florida who make their lives living under a bridge due to Miami's and the state's residency restrictions. Life has to be really precious for you to live that way with no hope of improvement. Working harder or going to college is not getting you out from under that bridge - the state has condemned you there regardless of how you improve your life. Believe me, if I were told I'd be living under a bridge, I'd be on top jumping off. And in the end, Florida and other places want exactly that: they want you to move out of the state or kill yourself; that's what these residency laws are about.
So no, life doesn't have the same meaning to me that it does to other people. I have no family or friends to give me pause. Having to spend every single day by myself with no one to talk to can take its toll after a few years. Work was great in that I had some people to interact with. But other than that the only people I would engage with were merchants when I shopped for groceries, got my dry cleaning or had my car fixed. It was enough for awhile, but not enough to live for.
And then there's Seabright. It's hard to write this. I've spent every day since November 2003 trying to forget my dog, Seabe. The thought that I left him behind has wracked me with guilt. I can think of the worst abuses of prison and not get emotional. But any sighting of a dog on the street or on TV starts me crying. For that last four years I worked next door to the New York Stock Exchange. That street, Broad Street, has bomb sniffing dogs all along the street - they're all Labradors, like Seabe. I would walk an extra block to work every day so I could avoid seeing those dogs. When I had to pass them I would turn my head as I walked because I couldn't bare being reminded of Seabe. If you're not a dog owner - or have never met Seabe - this all sounds nuts. I know, I used to be that way too before I got him.
When I left the halfway house I had a very hard time finding an apartment because I had to have a place for Seabe when I got him back. I finally found a place that accepted dogs. I knew at the time I couldn't afford to get him back right away, I didn't make enough money. To say I was living paycheck to paycheck would be an understatement. Many weeks I would end up having to suffice on less than $5. I left for work every day at 7am and didn't return till 7pm. I couldn't afford a dog walker or day care for him, let alone food, toys and vet visits. But I had hope my finances would improve and I could get him back. That never happened. And then after 2 1/2 years some neighbor of mine discovered who I was from the NYS website, complained to the landlord and they evicted me. I couldn't find another place that I could afford that would accept pets. Suffice to say if I had Seabe I wouldn't be taking this route. It was too hard to leave him once - not that I could have controlled that back in 2003.
It was the thought of being without Seabe and not particularly wanting to go to prison for crimes for which I had no remorse, that helped me to decide that suicide was the right option for me back then. I made my plans and was 3 days away from executing it. I made the mistake of saying goodbye to someone I thought I could trust and he ratted me out. Here's the thing you may find interesting; not a single day has gone by since Nov. 3, 2003 - when I was arrested - that I haven't regretted revealing my plans. It was not a cry for help, I just fucked up by telling someone. Naturally I haven't been suicidal for 8 1/2 years, but at any moment during this entire time if you had asked me whether I wish I had been successful back in 2003 in killing myself, the answer would have been yes. Being imprisoned, poor, friendless and alone is not an existence that's worth having for me. For others, absolutely. But I didn't attempt suicide these past few years because I had some hope things might improve. I now know they won't.
There are some people who go through prison and find religion - literally or figuratively. They find some value in the experience: they got off drugs; they realize the mess they made of their life, etc. That was never me. Federal prison is a miserable, soul crushing experience if you have nothing to come back to - and even if you do. I found no redemptive value in it whatsoever. It showed me a level of sadism and depravity by the powerful over the powerless I hadn't thought possible in this country. It didn't fill me with great hope and joy for the future.
I do not write this in hope of any pity or sympathy. I know full well as I write this that there are Iraq war vets who have come back with no arms or legs and yet persevere. They run marathons, raise families, face their setbacks and move on with their lives. I am in awe of those men. It just ain't me. Not everyone can have their life crushed and come back from the abyss. Some of us just fall in. Not all of us are Harold Russell. I'm not.
Another man may have gone though exactly what I did, brushed off the experience, the injustices visited upon him, and moved on. I know that. I just couldn't. A psychologist I was required to see while on probation diagnosed me with a form of PTSD. I just could not come to grips with what was done to me and what I was made to endure. It caused me to be unable psychologically to move on until I had answers. I believed that all the dozens of people who lied, conspired, perjured and slandered me would somehow be exposed. That I would get some satisfaction from that. But it never happened. There was no justice. And I simply could never get my head around the fact that once the ball got rolling in maligning me, it would continue for nearly a decade. The lies would be compounded and then harden and then used by someone else as fact to do me more harm. By the end I would have had to go back seven steps to right the original lie that was added to and added to and being used against me contemporaneously.
It was like a criminal justice and journalistic game of telephone: A newspaper prints a lie that's then used in court by the prosecution; pre-trial uses that lie from the court and newspaper; the pre-sentencing report (PSR) uses the lie from pre-trial; the BOP uses the lie from the PSR; the halfway house uses it from the BOP; the BOP hands it off to probation; probation writes it up for the SORA court; the prosecutors use it in the SORA hearing; then again for the appeal; and finally by the journalist writing about the SORA hearings. That's bad if it's just one lie about you. Imagine if there are ten.
By the time it reaches the SORA court a lie may have been memorialized in five or ten different documents or transcripts all repeating the same untruth. And at each step of the way the lie is used to do you some harm: impose a restriction; raise a level; curtail your rights further, etc. The basic inherent unfairness of it is just something that wears on you. By the end you would have to forgive not one, but fifty people for harming you. I can't make my peace with that. Especially since, for me, the criminal justice aspect of this is now a life sentence. I simply can't see the reason why I am a Level 3 Sex Offender. No court has ever explained it to me. I've yet to meet or speak to someone who told me it was deserved. And yet, I have to live with these awful lifetime restrictions that the Supreme Court has said are not punishments.
I don't want to spend a life poor, sad, loveless and alone. Waking up to another dawn in that life state just isn't appealing to me for another thirty years, even if that were an option financially. So I've decided my time has run out.
I know that there are still one or two people from my old life who, had I asked them for help in this hour, would have helped. But I don't like making the request and I'm sure they prefer not having me make it.
It's a funny thing. When I was a kid - for reasons I cannot explain - I had a deep sense that I would die young. I know, it's crazy. But it was deeply ingrained in me. I never expected to see the age of 20. When I was 20 I was sure I would never see 30. Ironically, only once I had started to see progress in turning around HDC did I finally think maybe I would have a full life. So I guess this is just the fulfillment of a childhood premonition. Not that 48 is young. Although I have to say, I don't look or feel 48.
It seems wrong to kill an otherwise healthy body. As nutty as this sounds, I sort of know how suicide bombers feel. Yes, of course, their ideology is insane and their goals are horrific, but If you're going to die, you'd at least like your death to have some meaning. Sadly, mine will have none. Here one minute, gone the next. My life will not have been footprints in concrete, but rather in sand; washed away with the next tide. I do like to think in the end that this site actually contributed a little something and may have fostered a little debate here and there. So I am definitely grateful for that.
Am I scared? Sure. However, I watched many episodes of that Jennifer Love-Hewitt show The Ghost Whisperer. I'm hoping there's a light, that my heart becomes unburdened, my chest finally untightens and that I see my grandparents, whom I've missed a lot. If there really is a heaven, I'll see Seabe soon too. I will say this: Having taken the step in Waseca to swallow all those pills, I've pretty much crossed this line before. It makes it somewhat easier once you've done it; it really is a rubicon. Obviously this is as much psychological as it is physical. When I took those 70+ Tegretol plus two dozen other pills in Waseca, I was not expecting to wake up. That was a firm choice, like now, not a cry for help. You know what my last thought was before I drifted off to sleep that night in Waseca in 2003? As silly as it sounds, it was "I don't want to live in a world where Paris and Nicky Hilton are famous." I know, a ridiculous last thought, but that's what it was - I remember it clearly. Of course the actual reason was that I could not face going back to the SHU at the MCC where I was headed back next. Death was certainly preferable to that. I guess now my last thought might be, "I wouldn't want to live in a world where Barack Obama can be re-elected president."
I'm nervous and anxious all the time. I haven't had a vacation in 11 years. I left HDC on a Friday and by the following Tuesday all this had started. That was Feb. 2002. It was a year and half of investigations while I was at my home. Then six months more at my parent's house. Then prison for five years. Then the halfway house were, within two weeks, I was able to find a fairly crummy job on Wall St for the next four years while on probation. I'm just weary of living this life. The last four and half years was all predicated on the hope that better things were just around the corner. But in the end, the money ran out and not much I can do about that when I can't find work.
Anyway, to all of you, and you know who you are, who have written me over the last four years about issues and injustice, I thank you. The human contact, even electronically, helped a lot. I hope my thoughts and insights, even in some small way, helped to bring to the fore some issues not usually discussed broadly. I think we all did some good work on here.
I have made arrangements for the site to stay up for awhile, maybe one or two more years. Obviously there won't be any new content, but I know many people search the site for facts or quotes from old posts. Special goodbyes to RB, EK and GS.
If I have a coda, it's best expressed by Edith Piaf: Non, Je ne regrette rien. Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait. Ni le mal tout ça m'est bien égal. Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs. Je n'ai plus besoin d'eux.
I've rambled on too long. Sorry this was so all over the place. I guess "Goodbye cruel world" would have been enough. After all, who wants to leave a tedious suicide note?
I wish you all the best,
P.S. To whomever has me buried, I don't want a funeral. I just want to me buried somewhere, not cremated. I don't care where I'm buried, but no service or anything like that, even graveside. I hate phoniness and hypocrisy. No one who might attend is anyone I'd want there. If some kind reader would say Kaddish for me though, that would be appreciated. Thanks.
P.P.S. In case you're wondering, this site has the ability to schedule posts to be published at a later date. That's why you're reading this after I'm gone.
Just FYI - Everything written above was drafted in May. I am writing this now Thursday evening as I am about to do this. I've been nervous and fretful for weeks, knowing this was coming. Tonight I am very calm and OK. I've been responding to e-mails this evening and I think people will tell you I was in an upbeat mood. This is now unavoidable, so I'm OK with it. Just wanted you to know that at the end it was fine. RAH