Introduction Part 1

Don’t care to read?

Click play to listen directly from Richland Correctional Institution. And after each post be sure to check out the song that I left you.

I heard a statement once that said, “Hell is the absence of God’s voice in one’s life.” I’m not one to speak about who or what “God” really is, and if I had a personal idea of Heaven and Hell, I would say that it leans outside the box of traditional Religious views. However, some of the experiences I’ve endured in the past couple of years brought me to a point of remembering that statement… and I guess you could say that, lately it has began to resonate a little bit with me.

Before I move on any further, maybe I should explain who I am and my current circumstances. Besides the names “asshole”, “drug addict”, “whore”, “junky”, and other seemingly incorrigible titles, people know me as Mark. However, 15 months ago, while writing in a jail cell, I concluded I didn’t like what my name stood for. And so I decided that anytime I write, expressing the essence of my spirit in utter honesty, my name will be titled as

For the time being there is no need to elaborate on its meaning, but this is how you will know me. Out of the small handful of friends that I have, some like the idea of the name, and others make humorous remarks that I may have consumed too much LSD in my lifetime. Either way, when this ink translates my soul onto paper, it becomes my world, my art, my realm, and my existential escape into a mental sanctuary. And if I can satisfy my expectations and meet my own standards to paint a picture for you; to reach your heart, or inspire you… then I am no longer the person who some may used to have known as a drug addict or criminal. I am fulfilling the man who I strive to be. Nice to meet you. You can call me Pureheart. It’s a little weird, I know – but just stick with me, because it’ll eventually stick on you.

I write this to you with a notebook on my lap, sitting indian style on a top bunk in a prison dorm. I’ve been incarcerated almost 18 months now and I have about 4 months left before my release. I have a couple good friends who encourage me to write, and now, somehow, in this crazy innovative world of mass media, here I am communicating with you. From a very dark place of solitude, violence, and pain – where concepts like “hope” and “happiness” are insidious and typically unheard of – I reach out to you with blind courage, seeking truth of purpose, and the attempt to connect with your heart in any way that life sees fit. I believe we as human beings must learn how to identify with one another, to act in love and selflessness to the next man – opposed to comparing, and reacting in fear and repulsion. That is of course, for those of you who would like to make the world a better place, and believe that our actions in this life play a role in doing so.

I’m obviously nothing close to a saint. I’m not a preacher. I’m not pushing religious or political views, and I’m definitely not trying to establish some freaky esoteric cult. I am one man who is currently in prison. Like many other people in this world I’ve struggled with my own pain, hurt, regret, and loss. And all I want to do now is be a better man. I want to feel a sense of substantial wholeness in my life. I’m not talking about the often insipid validations that we can sometimes make priority or measure our wealth with. Not the money. Not the sex. Not who looks like the better parent, or who has the better job. I’m talking about in the end. When you’re lying on your death bed with absolutely no clue where you’re really going or what’s about to happen. When all that…”stuff” that once had so much importance in your world means nothing in that moment. What will you think of yourself then? What will measure your wealth, or bring wholeness and satisfaction to your heart? I like to think that maybe I could leave behind a legacy. A legacy of good spirit. Whose lives did I effect for the better? Who did I love, and who did I help? Who knows that I love them, and did I do anything in this life to make a difference for the better or act in essence of my heart?

You may not have been as bad of a person that I’ve been or feel the insatiable need for atonement and charity that I do. But maybe you have your own void inside that needs to be filled. And maybe… just maybe, I can help you, or inspire you to understand or find out what that is. In turn, it would help me just as well to believe in a purpose and something bigger than the world I’ve personally known. And if anything, I can simply leave you a piece of myself. So if you’re willing to listen, then I’m willing to tell you.

You may wonder what I’ve been through in my own life for me to qualify enough to say that I know pain, or that my influence or experience can somehow make a difference. Maybe through enough time, with an open heart and open mind, you can progressively register what I have to say with an underlying moral value.

I’ve lost nearly anything and everything that I’ve ever loved in this life because of the choices I’ve made. I’ve hurt many people, thrown away beautiful relationships that I can never get back, and found myself in positions that I never thought I would be in. Most of my closet friends that I grew up around are all dead from either suicide, murder, or overdose. After so long in darkness, the concept of family is no longer familiar to me and has been quite foreign for many years now. Most of my family will not speak to me, and if they do it’s pretty short and awkward. To be quite honest, I don’t really consider myself a part of a family at all. Besides a small handful who continue to stick with me and believe in me, I am basically just a “distant relative” to the others who exist.

I went from a decent middle-class upbringing, to a very cold and dark life. As the years went by, I’ve watched so much of the world that I once loved crumble before my eyes and die away. The funerals of friends. The hurt. The disappointment on people’s faces as I stood, disgusted in myself – skinny – ashamed – sunken in with track marks that crawled up my arms. Sleeping outside in the cold under a pile of leaves because I had nowhere to go. Carrying guns in paranoia, or getting robbed and pistol-whipped left for dead bleeding on the cold cement. Crawling on a jail cell floor, shitting myself and vomitting simultaneously as I punch myself to make the internal pain go away. Chanting Hail Mary’s in pathetic desperation because I’m too numb to cry anymore.

I’m not saying these things to depress you or seek pity from you. I’m letting you know a part of the world from which I came from. I would like to tell you that most of my years were spent doing better things, but we all have our own paths – and this was a path I chose. But now I do strive for better. Now I strive for more. And here I am at this moment, humble in my words and meager in esteem, sharing it all with you. Every one of the things I mentioned is a story. A story that I can’t tell you at once, or may never be able to tell in its entirety. But I’d like to hope that as I share some of my life with you, it can inspire you, or encourage you through your own. A Human Project of sorts.

Please come back next week for Part 2… it gets a lot cooler.


About mstouffer007

Cleveland native. Artist in my own rite. Severe "that's what she said" habit, and an affinity for twizzlers. Will not intentionally kill insects. Enjoy old television such as Donna Reed, Dick Van Dyke, and Taxi. Romanticism with Audrey Hepburn. If you store your syrup in the refrigerator and do not live in the South, I believe you are absurd. You can disgust me by spitting regularly or not washing your hands. Slight OCD tendencies. Please do not leave water running. There are many people and places that go through tedious work just for their water. Writer. Mostly enjoy it. Write best in ritual, discomfort, and chaos. Often abstract in my views and expressions. "Abstract" being a euphemism for crazy. Madman. Observer. Enjoy brilliant poetry. Music hound. Love art and the way it exists in every part of our lives. Have a bucket list. Do not litter. Spoken word. Saul Williams. Black Stacy. Meditation. How much I cuss depends on my day. Spiritual beliefs and practices. No religion. Genesis 32:28. Phil Collins. Against all odds. Some college. Mostly self educated. Probably misguided. Friedrich Nietszche. Drug free. Awesome quotes. Bananas. High intensity cardio. Harry Potter. Freedom. Jessica Alba. Punk rock. Sex. Dubstep. Not a big porn guy. Not against it either. Star Wars. Sean Penn in Haiti. Ralph Nader. Eddie Vedder. Darth Vader. Names that end in "R". Spinning records. Sunsets. Not a good painter. I try. Reader. Herman Hesse. New fan of country. Sometimes confident. Sometimes on edge. Sometimes insecure. Sometimes lost in my head. I do not want green eggs and ham. I do not want them Sam I am. Dr. Seuss. Just because. Where the Sidewalk Ends. Santa Claus. Maybe means yes. Absinthe. Hunter S. Thompson. Gonzo. Things that make you crazy. Things that bring peace. Non-violence. The Tao Te Ching. Adult swim. Clean shoes. I find it extremely funny if someone sits on a chair and it breaks underneath them. Don't know when to shut up. Smile when I'm nervous. Laugh at the most inappropriate times. Not on purpose. Ancient aliens. Abrupt and meaningless endings.
This entry was posted in Atonement, Drug Addiction, Encouragement, Inspiration, Israel Solomon Pureheart, Life, Love, Memoir, Prison, prison memoir, Recovery, Redemption and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Introduction Part 1

  1. Sarah says:

    Nice blog

  2. Carrie says:

    Looking forward to part 2….
    Excellent writing.

  3. sheila martin says:

    Sending you love and prayers

  4. Mark,
    It’s been years since I’ve seen you. I just want you to know/remember that I knew you before all of this. The last thing I want to do is sound like one of those people on Intervention… but I remember how full of life you seemed to be. I remember you as a fun, sweet, caring, and very charismatic individual. Thank you for sharing your blog, your beautiful words, your soul. I look forward to reading more.

  5. cheryl tambor says:

    Very well written, i really loved it!

  6. cheryl tambor says:

    Song choice is pretty sweet too đŸ˜‰

  7. Stephanie Troha says:

    When we were kids, I was always intrigued by your writing, art and ability to see the world through a different perspective. It’s been ages since we’ve seen each other and we both have lead very different lives, but when I heard your voice, it brought back so many great memories of when we were friends. I’ve thought about you many times throughout the years and always hoped that you were in a good place. I hope that for you now and I will continue to do so. I enjoyed your blog and I will continue to read them as you post them. I encourage you to continue to strive to be that man that you want to be because I know he is inside of you. I saw him in you when we were kids. Your words will inspire. I know this because I am reading this as I go through a interesting transition in my life as I write this. Along with the others in your life encouraging you to write, I hope my words will inspire and encourage you to do the same. I hope to see my long lost friend one day, I do miss him.

  8. Kelly Pankuch (Piasecki) says:

    Smart, intelligent, emotional, and uncomfortablly raw, among many many other things that are all beautiful. From what I knew of you this writting does not surprise me and I’m so happy you never lost this most wonderful part of yourself.

  9. boomiebol says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for the follow.

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