Letter #15 from UPIII



JVA Köln, Wednesday, 20th June 2018

Hey hey friends,

how are you all going? I’m okay, day in day out everything is the same.

I feel like a broken record. “I’m okay, things are okay, I’m still here, still waiting.”

I can’t even remember what I’ve written in the previous letters. I hope whatever it was that you’re not worried about me. I am okay, in a relative sense, I’m just super tired and would love to have a few good hours of sleep y’know?

Prison itself I don’t find exhausting, it’s the people. I hear the same problems everyday; “I miss my friends” me too, “I miss real food” same, “my back hurts from the beds here” yeah, “my case isn’t going anywhere” I’m sorry, I wish I could help.

I don’t mean to complain, usually I really wouldn’t mind, but now I’m facing a void here (again) not knowing how much longer I will be staying in prison for, and I’m not sure how I feel.

Maybe it’s because the situation is different – there is very minimal chance of “immediate release” - that has sapped the energy out of me. The “bounce”.

I think it’s the routine though too, the lack of “real” exercise, the lack of feel good chemicals afterwards. The “bleh” feeling.

I dance in my box, but pretty much have to do it “on the spot” so I don’t hit the cupboard, bed, desk, toilet or any walls.

Also, twice a week showers are not a great incentive (try “showering” with a 20cm x 20cm cloth in a bucket of cold water that you can only just fit your feet in, and not flood the floor and somehow get clean – it’s definitely possible but not at all something I look forward to doing).

Yeah, if I really wanted to I’d just, y’know, do it but somehow being forced to be uncomfortable (I often choose to be uncomfortable but not being given a choice is absolute shit) makes me want to try and be as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.

So, no heavy/hard exercise (unless it’s a shower morning or day before a shower). Which I will definitely make up for when I get out of here. I can’t wait to be able to stretch my legs and run!!

I went to art group earlier (good timing too, it always makes me feel better) and sat on a desk under a window and just breathed in the fresh air and admired the trees.

One of my friends (who has been here over a year) came and sat with me and we both got emotional looking down into the beautiful tree lined courtyard (there are no trees in our yard) and smelling the flowers who’s scent carried on the breeze up to us.

I tried to say “I miss nature” (“Ich vermisse Natur”, I think) and she nodded. “Ich hoffe, wir bald kommen raus” (I hope we come out soon).

My German is not very good yet, but I’m practising when I can (I can’t hold a complete conversation at the moment, I don’t know enough words and/or recognize responses, soon though I hope!).

 My friends likes when I try and speak German, and she’s super happy (as are a few other people) to have a “native English speaker” in prison so they can practice too.

So I really try and consider whether (when asked) if a sentence I, or one of my friends, says is “correct” English.

Honestly I don’t even know half the time. I just say “I understand what you said” and leave it at that. I’d even go as far to say some people here speak “more correct” English than I do and it’s their second/third language (one friend here speaks about seven languages, I think it’s a super good use of prison time – they just learnt off other prisoners).

Even “school English” (what the people here studied at school) is amazing. I spent seven years “learning” Italian and can count to three; that’s a pretty good summary of the school I went to.

Also three years of Japanese, and I remember next to nothing. It was the same information year after year presented in the most boring “I don’t give a fuck if you learn anything way that I (along with everyone I know) just tuned out.

Germany really has it’s shit together in regards to teaching English. I wish my school system did, or even for English (the only language I’m fluent in!) because there is a serious gap in education.

It’s not even a joke, I’m glad I’m really into reading to see “new” words and find out what they mean (in English, crazy shit that I have trouble explaining the meaning of English words to people here so they can give me a German word for the English word).

Like, I understand how the word is used, but trying to explain what it means is totally different and strange.

One from the other day was the word “accurately”. I spent five minutes trying to think of an example. Couldn’t find one. “It’s like exact, but used more in science/math/measurement contexts, like ‘that clock has the accurate time’, was the best I came up with.

It wasn’t very good though, I don’t have a German word for “accurately” yet. The closest is “gnau” (exact) but I don’t know if that’s right.

Words also mean different things to different people: think undies/panties/knickers. Your definition is probably different to mine. Undies to me is the ‘casual’ word, panties is ‘vulgar’ and knickers are something grandmas wear.

I don’t have a dictionary so I can’t check if this is the “accepted” definition but there you go.

For a fun experiment go ask a friend what they think of when you say “chair”. I picture this cool plywood recliner by Alvar Aalto, my best friend a padded desk chair. I guess that is kind of like word “meanings” - different to everyone. Which doesn’t help when trying to learn a language. Because my definition may (probably isn’t) the same as a dictionary. Oh well.

I think that’s it for now. I was told a little while ago over the intercom I have a visit at 7.45am tomorrow, breakfast is at 6/6.30am and its now 10.05pm. Oops.

Stay safe everyone, stay strong, stay wild, stay brave. I miss you, I love you, I hope you’re okay. Please take care of yourselves (not just physically!) and I’ll write again when I have the energy.

For the forest, for the future. Keep fighting.

<3 UPIII/VⒶhra

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