Let the Circus Begin

Light In the Distance…

OUT DATE- 209 Days and Counting

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

Well, by now we all know I managed to get up enough gumption to finally say enough is enough and quit the J.O.B.  We may or may not have known that it would entail my moving from housing unit Sigma A, officially “the Unicor Unit,” to another unit. So when the counselor asked me where I wanted to move to, I was pretty much clueless. Since the Covid we have been mostly separated from  everyone so I had kind of lost track of who was where, in what units and where I would be the best off for the remainder of this bit (sentence).

I remembered one friend, A.C., a Florida fella, and a very decent guy I had gotten to know a bit from the short time we could go to the rec yard and the band room. A.C. is a self-taught musician, a very talented bass player and just an all-around good man. So I told the counselor to move me to Gamma-A Unit, that way I would at least know someone there. The counselor told me to pack my property and go on down there; I was to change places with the “next Unicor victim” who was moving from the cell I was going to into my old cell. I don’t know if that guy had any idea what he was getting into either.

                     IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT

I’ve had enough of the program, 
It didn’t fit my needs,
See I’d been goin’ spiritually bankrupt,
Until some wise words planted the seed...

I can’t remember who said it,
And I don’t even recall when, 
But it seems that it’s so true ,
And applies to the situation at hand. 

Chorus-
If you don’t like the way the world is, then change it.
Just do it one step at a time, 
If you don’t like the way you’re feeling,
Then start by changing your mind.

So it’s okay if it is uncharted land, 
It’s okay if you don’t really have a plan,
Just trust the Creator to help you understand,
And don’t be afraid to take a stand.

With a world gone wild,
With the faith of a child,
With absolutely no control,
Let the future take hold.

And if you don’t like the way the world is, then change it,
It’s not so hard to see, 
Now I remember who said it, 
Yeah, exactly, it was me...

© Steven Maisenbacher “Walks On The Grass”  January 2022

References: “Then Change It” Lyric from Chapter 19, Long Road Home.

Now here’s where I discovered what a load of “stuff” I have accumulated. Whew! I know the rules say not to accumulate too much baggage, but hey, Mamma said not to run in the house when I was just a little guy; didn’t listen to the rules then and kinda sorta don’t now. So I have A LOT of stuff and I had to move it all myself.

Let’s see, clothing wise I have 2 pairs of sweat pants, shirts, some shorts, 6 gray t-shirts, 10 pair socks, and 7 pair underwear. There’s the basic towels and bedding, sheets, blankets etc. I’m authorized by medical to have 2 mats and 2 pillows, so there’s double on all that. Then there is all the other “stuff.” Man, I couldn’t believe how much junk you can accumulate. I had a stack of books and magazines, plus all my paperwork/records and keepsakes; a bunch of bowls, cups, personal care stuff and commissary food items as well as my religious property. In short, just mountains of stuff, enough to fill 4 mesh laundry bags full and another mesh bag as well plus my double mattresses and all my blankets and pillows.

So here I go pushing a cart load. I finally get here and now I have to unpack it all. Exhaustion set in by the time I got 1/2 way thru the unpacking part and I was starving because I had missed lunch. So I stopped in the middle of the move in and ate a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter and sipped on a coffee I had to bum from one of the new guys since I had absolutely no idea what bag the coffee got packed in to begin with. Anyway we’re talking about a serious fiasco. The only thing missing was the circus music, cuz I was dang sure the clown in this production.

After 4 hours, I finally got it done all the way to the bed is made! And I’m seriously ready to go take a shower! I get my stuff together and head down to the end of the tier to the shower. OMG! A hot shower, with a flow of water that is all but enough to peel the hide off ya. I swear I stayed in there till I was wrinkled up like a dang Shar Pei puppy.

But here I was and I had to think about the relief I felt as I walked out on the morning I quit my job and now I’m just as relieved to have heat in the cell, hot water in the sink, and a hot, wonderful, beautiful, luxurious (by my current standards) shower! Best of all, I wasn’t feeling exploited or slighted or taken for granted or whatever. Now I can do the rest of this time with a clear spirit, my state of mind cleansed and already I’m re-charging. I’m more thankful than I can say here that the Creator has carried me thru a time when I was struggling with my sanity, my pride, my ability to problem solve in the “new adult responsible manner” that I have been trying so hard to master.

Even the fact that I’m not working and saving money for my release isn’t driving me crazy. As I long ago decided, my ultimate goal is to become a counselor for troubled youth and that will require going to school. So as “Sings Many Songs” says, school is now in session and my first class is Sociology 101, dealing with new things, new people, new conditions.

I have a new cellmate. His name is Lopez and he’s a white/Mexican youngster from Alabama, in here for only a short while. As I understand his story, seems boys will be boys, he was playing around outside and pointed a laser pointer at a police helicopter that was flying overhead. So they sent him to federal prison for a stupid kid’s stunt, for crying out loud. He’s barely in his 20’s and these people have ruined his life with this mess. For one stupid stunt, he will be branded an ex federal convict and that is going to follow him forever.

What’s worse they dropped me in on him. See, I’m thinking it’s all part of the Creator’s plan for both Lopez and me. For me to try to get thru to him and him to have to hear it, cuz when the doors are locked there is nowhere for him to go. I can be real loud and I can be real blunt and I so wish I had been dealt a “me” when I was a dumb young kid, just heading down a lifetime’s worth of trouble and strife.

But then again, as I sit here and think about this statement, I am glad it unfurled as it has. I am where I am because it’s where I needed to be for the Creator to finally get me to be me. And now I’m kinda liking me, and the things I see in my future and my plans on getting there. That’s pretty cool cuz once upon a lifetime, even I didn’t like me. So here I am in Gamma-A, with a whole new bunch of people. I never knew I was so well known or that so many people knew who I was and all that, till I walked in the door down here and saw A.C. Then he went to all the “fellas” and they made me welcome, but that’s another chapter, or several…


Editor’s Note: The move Walks describes occurred on Sunday, January 30, 2022. He began writing this account the next morning and sent it by email to me in the early afternoon. At that time neither of us knew about the gang-related inmate murders in a BOP facility in Texas which triggered a nationwide lockdown of all BOP facilities just minutes later. This is standard policy in light of the fact that there are some really bad actors in notorious gangs spread throughout the system and it may take some time before it’s considered safe to return to routine procedures. With this in mind, we can reflect on Walks’ comments about his young cellmate. In prison, situations can change in a heartbeat so we must wonder how an unexpected, extended total lockdown is going to go down. Will the wise old man be able to keep the kid calm or will the already troubled kid freak out over being locked in a closet? Either way, Walks will have his hands full. I am reminded of the wise words sent by Walks’ spiritual brother, Ty “The Gift” when he learned of Walks’ untenable situation before his decision to quit his job and move. Perhaps they apply also now. SMS

“When certain spirit’s know that the Creator is sending blessings your way they’ll be sure to attach some tough obstacles to test your strength. Clear ya mind, breathe, an sing some good prayer songs the way they were meant to be sung. Hang in there!” ~ Ty Tyndall

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

One thought on “Let the Circus Begin

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