July 7, 2014 In a few days I will mark my 5 month anniversary. I’m finding the time moves faster now that I have a constant routine. I’ve also gotten pretty close with the main players on my range, and they’ve accepted me as one of them. I genuinely enjoy spending time with these 4 or 5 guys, whether it’s sharing meals, playing cards, watching movies, or working out. New York City is a frustrating place for me because there is so much emphasis on the individual. It’s hard to feel like you’re part of a community in such a big city. Even though I managed to develop close and important friendships before my incarceration, I felt surprisingly alone. I think part of being human is the need to feel like you belong somewhere. Living in such a massive capitalistic hub like NYC can be alienating because of the difficulty of satisfying our communal needs. Strangely, jail satisfies those needs. Some of the friendships I’ve formed just couldn’t exist anywhere else. Out in the real world, it is so easy to find ways to distract yourself from establishing meaningful connections with people. The distractions are infinite. Here we have no choice but to deal with each other. This can be both stressful and highly rewarding at the same time. Upon reflection, I’ve ignored much of the advice people gave me before coming here. The conventional wisdom for surviving prison is to keep to yourself and “do your own time”. While this advice is good as a foundation, I think it’s also important to be social – to meet people and talk to people – rather than just keeping your head down. Keeping your head down and being a wallflower is surely the safest strategy but it’s far from being the most rewarding one. Guys here always tell me, “You can’t trust anyone.” I think they apply that philosophy outside of jail too. No doubt, it’s of the utmost importance to keep people at arm’s length when you are incarcerated - at least until you get to know them. There are all sorts of snakes, rats, psychos, and crazies walking around here. There are also some very good men. Men who I know I can trust because they mean what they say and say what they mean. In jail there are people of a high moral caliber. Just like in the real world they are a minority, but they exist. Find them, befriend them, earn their trust and let them earn yours. You won’t be sorry.