Saturday, October 20, 2012

Life Is Good

Passive Voice/Transitive Verbs
Abstract Subjects
Linking Verbs (S-LV-SC)

The warden threw question after question at me, but I just threw them right back. Though she was in complete control, I knew her scheme had a weakness: counter-questions. This made the warden very angry, and the reality of the situation was that she was never going to let me out. According to G, the plan was to not break out of prison--but to talk out.

G was the warden’s angel, but really he was merely a sheep in wolfs clothing. When I returned to the cell last week, G wanted me to know something important. There was a little secret no one in the prison knew--he was teaching the warden too. I once was lost; but now I am found. At least that is how it felt when I knew the warden was mortal. This new information changed everything, and as with new information comes a new game plan.

The warden and her panel of demons were all but pleased with how I was making a mockery of our meeting, but I was ready to reveal the secret weapon. I asked her, “Warden, do you know what a linking verb is?” As she looked to her colleagues, I knew G left out this major element of writing while tutoring the her. “ not know Mr. Stew.” The warden was found.

I said, “Warden, how could you not know such a basic part of writing when my cell mate G was teaching you without the prisons knowledge? Is this not a prison of the mind?” As she began to blush, the warden could not believe her darkest secret had been revealed. I had to hit her with a final knockout punch, “You see warden, how can you run a prison--that is filled with those who are guilty of illiteracy--when you are just as guilty as everyone of them?” I said. “If you are just like me why am I in this jumpsuit, and you’re in a suit?” She became angry.

The panel could not believe their ears. As the warden began to be belittled with questions, I was informed by the prison guard to return to my cell. G met me at the doorway with a giant bear hug, but nothing was yet set in stone. The warden, cold and broken, carried a brown box of office items out of the prison. When she passed my cell, I smiled at her with a silent reminder--I won.

There is one lesson we can all take from my time inside this prison, don’t take someone like G for granted. The lesson seems simple, but without experiencing it first hand you will never know its true impact on reality. When I exited the prison, I knew I was no longer partially whole--I was finally complete. Life is good.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Plan

Adjectives out of order
Transitive verb (past,present)

Because my meeting with the warden is fast approaching, I could only dream about one thing: freedom. The warden, gritty and steely-eyed, does not let her prisoners out easily. You can merely sit in your chair, scared and tense, and pray that she sees the light inside your black hole of a soul. Not many people see this light, but I know she has seen a change in me since G arrived.

As I returned to my cell, I knew G would be waiting for me. I could see his shadow, long and burly, as I slowly creeped up to our cell door. His eyes, wide and blinding, glared down at me as if I was in some kind of trouble. He wanted to know why I hadn't been studying with him the last few weeks. I explained that my review was coming up and I had a lot on my mind. G was not pleased, but there was nothing I could do to make him happy. So I washed my face, and went to bed. I lie in bed, wondering what tomorrow will bring--if anything.

Three days went by before we finally talked again. And I knew there was only one person who could prepare me to get out of this hell--G. Though we did not know where to start first, we had to have a plan. Should I show her all of my writings from the last six weeks, or beg for my pathetic life? I figured she would enjoy watching me suffer, but G and I worked too hard for this to end so guttlesly.

I waited outside the wardens office, knowing the fate of my life rested in the hands of a corrupt system. The door so loud, deafening my ears with every swing, slowly creeped open. As the warden approached me, I could see my life flash before my eyes. Mind racing, heart booming, I gazed out the nearby window one last time. I approached the lone chair in front of the panel of prison officials--their eyes evaluating my every move--and nervously sat down.

After each question, I took one deep breath and said a silent prayer. The warden praised me for attempting to help the other inmates with their grammar in the previous weeks; though, she was not fully convinced I was doing it all out of good will. What was my real plan, she asked. I answered the question, and took a deep breath.The warden looked to her colleagues, and then stared back at me.  She was not satisfied.

After that, I knew there was no hope for me. It became a game to her, as if I was a puzzle she was trying to solve--quickly. Though she did not know, I was also playing a game. The warden knew I would slip up, but so did G. He said that all I had to do to make him happy again was to follow one last lesson: the plan.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's A Beautiful Day

Adjectives out of order

As G and I sat on a courtyard bench, there was one word that came to my mind: happiness. Finally, for the first time in almost twenty years, I was actually enjoying myself behind these prison walls. Maybe it is the addition of G into my life, I cannot say exactly. But since he has arrived it feels like the world makes sense again.

The courtyard is a relatively simple area, wide and rectangular. You can see the prisoners, battered and broken, sitting along the walls and benches that scatter across the open field. It is a rather melancholic site if I have ever seen one--but not today. No, today is a day of rejoice. A day to admire all that is beautiful in the world, even though our world is only 6500 square inches. There are so many things I miss about being free.

I remember as a young man I would scroll through the “Pictures of the Week” on my favorite website and admire all the beautiful images caught throughout the world. Though, one picture sticks in my mind more than any other: Wheelchair Dancers. In this picture we could see a man and a woman dancing in a classic ballroom style; however, their bodies are being withheld by wheelchairs. The woman, frozen and distorted, looked deeply into her partners longing eyes. The man, overwhelmed with love, stares right back into hers.

Because of these pictures, I wish they would allow me to show you the true elegance of the world from our yard. The sky, a giant canvas splattered by blue and white, was simply majestic. The sun so bright, burning our skin with every passing second, gives a sense of life back to the prisoners who once never felt anything at all. When there is so little to look forward to, it seems that the courtyard is a place I can relate to.

The courtyard, a bland and simple design, is a mirror image of what I represent. There is nothing special about who I am. I too am a bland and simple design; though, sometimes G can make me feel like I am more than just inmate number 99019. Sometimes G shows me there is something good inside me. If he was not here to keep me level headed, I would be one place right now: six feet under.

These memories are the ones I cherish the most. I looked to the courtyard clock, two steel arms slowly ticking, reminding me of the few minutes I have left out here. If there was ever a day to cherish with a gorgeous picture--this was it. As we are all called back into the building, I could only look at G and smile. It truly was a wonderful day.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Scabs

Relative Clauses

G has taught me to do more for not only myself, but also for those around me. I started to show the other inmates how to use proper grammar this week. Because I was doing something so generous, the warden allowed me to watch my favorite sport programme: Monday Night Football.
My beloved Seattle Seahawks were able to pull out a narrow victory over the Green Bay Packers; although, it will always be seen as a tainted win. At the final moment of the game, the most bizarre of plays I have ever seen occurred in the corner of the endzone--a touchception. A touchception is when two scabs--replacement referees--call a touchdown and an interception simultaneously. In this case, the touchdown stood as called and gave the Seahawks the win. Oh what a beautiful day it was.

G said it was an interception; I said it was a touchdown. Golden Tate, the receiver, looked to have come down with the ball in his possession. While at the same time, it appeared as though M.D. Jennings, the cornerback, came down with the ball in his possession as well. Whomever you choose is not a problem. Every viewer has their own opinion, and that is why it was such a memorable ending.

G (my anal grammatical friend) related this event to writing a correctly punctuated sentence. He said that the scabs allowing the touchdown to stand is like a teacher telling his/her students they never need to use periods, and she will still give them an A on their papers. While I believe Tate caught the pass, I won’t argue that Jennings caught the ball as well. I guess my view is skewed because I bleed green and blue.

Wayne Elliot (the referee who called the touchdown) is in the middle of a love-hate relationship. While one side thanks him for the play that led to a resolution between the NFL and NFLRA, the other side--Green Bay Packer fans--want their win back. I personally love the man. He gave my team the win and kept the Seahawks off the short end of the stick for once.

When I was free of this prison, the Seahawks were notorious for being involved in games where one or two plays changed the outcome of their season. Whether it was Matt Hasselbeck jinxing them during the overtime coin toss, or the 2005 Super Bowl where a bad pass interference call and a five yard crawl by Ben Roethlisberger led to a game winning touchdown. The Seahawks never got any breaks in the most crucial of times, until now.

I will enjoy this week for a long time. Not only because the Seahawks won, but also because G didn’t drill me with homework all week! Since they are now gone, the Seahawks vs. Packers game will stand as the defining moment of the scabs short reign over the NFL. Scabs, you will be missed (in Seattle that is).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Still Learning

There is a new cellmate in the cell next to ours. He is from Mexico, SO it is not easy to understand him. As we conversed in the lunch hall I tried to speak English, AND G tried to speak spanish (he doesn’t know spanish). Needless to say the man thought we were morons. He did not want to talk, NOR sit anywhere near us because of our awkward introductions.

G said that Spanish was harder than he thought, “You think?” I said sarcastically. G said that there is a lot to the english language I didn’t even know about. He asked if I knew what AAAWWUBBIS stands for, BUT I thought he was just speaking gibberish to me like he did the new guy. G explained that this was an acronym for a list of subordinating conjunctions.

An example sentence he used to explain this was, “AFTER THE FIGHT WAS OVER, WE CONTINUED TO EAT OUR LUNCH.” Without everything after the comma in the example sentence, the statement does not express a complete thought. This depends on something else tacked on after the comma to make sense. ALTHOUGH THIS WAS FAIRLY COMPLICATED, I WAS STILL ABLE TO FOLLOW ALONG AND UNDERSTAND WHAT G WAS TRYING TO SAY. I thought I had a chance to really get a grasp of this concept, FOR I had finished all of G’s worksheets  with decent success.

I woke up the next morning to G screaming in the night, OR at least I thought he was sleeping. When asked why he was screaming so loud, G replied that he had a bad dream about me writing faulty parallelisms. Faulty parallelisms, that is what you woke me up for? I wanted to kill him, YET I was also intrigued to what faulty parallelisms were. “Oh gosh Stew, they are the worst,” he said. G explained that this is a balance of two or more similar words, phrases, or clauses.

An example that G gave me was, “The girl likes to paint and writing poetry.” The two phrases do not have parallel structure, thus they create a faulty parallelism. “The girl likes painting and writing poetry” is the correct sentence structure of parallelism. WHEN G’S STUDY SESSION WAS OVER, I KNEW THAT MY GROWTH IN WRITING WAS MAKING HUGE STRIDES.

Even though I am still learning a lot of new information in the world of grammar and punctuation, I know there is a lot more I can gain from G’s teaching methods. Man, and to think I wanted to trade cellies on our first day together.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


The prison warden must be in a good mood today, because we got to read the newspaper. You know, just the other day G was telling me how newspapers were a good example of finding S-V-O sentences. S-V-O stands for Subject-Verb-Object, if you really care to know.

G sure loves the Warden after this stunt, he has been nose deep in these articles underlining, circling, even writing the S,V, and O under each word that associates with that letter. I have to admit, this made reading articles I never read before way more interesting.

As I would circle what I thought was the object of the headline, G would tap me on the shoulder and say, “That’s not an object, that is a prepositional phrase.” As I looked at him blankly he said, “You see, the headline says ‘Boy Found at Home.’ The subject is ‘boy,’ the verb is ‘found,’ and the prepositional phrase is ‘at home.’

G proceeded to explain that a prepositional phrase is a sentence that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun, gerund, or clause. As I still looked on at him like the new guy walking down the prison halls for the first time, he pulled out a piece of paper. The paper consisted of two sections of words, one labeled “Prepositions” and the other “Common Particles.”

G explained that words like about, from, and up are examples of a preposition. An example of a common particle would be break down: stop functioning. He also explained that a particle is a verb + preposition combinations that create verb phrasals, expressions with meanings that are different from the meaning of the verb itself. BETWEEN YOU AND ME, THIS IS THE MOST FUN I HAVE EVER HAD WITH G, AND I LIKE THAT. I AM FINALLY SEEING MYSELF IN G’S SHOES FOR ONCE, INSTEAD OF HIM IN MINE.

I couldn’t believe all the information G was able to pump into me this week. Not only did we learn about prepositional phrases and S-V-O sentences, he also taught me about transitive and intransitive verbs. This was by far the easiest part of all the learning I had to do the last week.

G made it really simple to understand, he said that if a verb was followed by a noun to receive the action of the verb, then it was a transitive verb. An example of this would be, “I broke my nose” because the verb (broke) was followed by a noun (nose), making broke a transitive verb. An example of an intransitive verb would be, “I cried” with the noun (I) being followed by the verb (cried). Why can’t it all be so simple?

Well, I have to say that this guy that I thought was so weird is really not that bad at all. He has really changed the way I look at everything he stands for. Maybe someday, when both of us are out of this god awful place, G and I can change the world. Someday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Day

The last few weeks have been quite the change of pace for me. My roommate G has really taken a liking to me, I am just not sure I can relate to someone WHOSE motives are so clear. The relationship is definitely growing between us; however, sometimes he seems to always be a step ahead of me, and that bothers me.

G has been really stressing apostrophe's and I have to admit I really have seen a change in my writing since we met. Just the other day he showed me an old book hidden in the back of our prison library that was written in the 1980’s. In this book a man discussed a study he did on the teaching of punctuation in schools.

I was curious to why G showed me this, but then I read into it and realized that he explains so much more than just the study being observed. Man, G knows how to keep me interacted with what he is trying to teach. It’s almost as though we finally have learned to understand each others characteristics.

The past few days alone have opened my mind so much to how punctuation has not only changed through my time in here and out in the “real world.” This Cordeiro person broke down a simple idea into a way that even an idiot like me could understand. The easiest one for someone locked away for so long was the comparison of punctuation to road signs. Even I can remember how easy it was to overlook the small details, that's what got me locked in here.

G is becoming someone I can relate to now. Since we have been rooming together he has taught me so much about punctuation, even just in these short three weeks I have known him. I think that people look at G the wrong way. Punctuation is known for ITS ability to fool the weak, but G has showed me that punctuation is easy to plot when you know all of the rules. I would like to think that G is a good person. That is my opinion, not YOURS.

My counselor had us do an exercise a few weeks ago where we dissected different punctuation on one sentence. It was not only funny, but also amazing to see how many different ways one sentence can be interpreted. We all knew WHOSE sentence was the best, and it surely mine; however, you could definitely tell the difference between mine and THEIRS. That is OK though, we can only grow from here; at least that’s what I keep telling myself.