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  • - I know we're gonna come out of this all okay.

  • We're a lot stronger than we think we are.

  • (upbeat music)

  • Hi, everyone.

  • Michael Franzese here.

  • I'm sure many of you are familiar with me on Buzzfeed.

  • I've done a number of things,

  • former caporegime, Colombo family in New York.

  • But what many of you may not know

  • is that I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement.

  • I actually spent 29 months and seven days in the hole,

  • a six-by-eight cell, 24/7.

  • And people, I gotta tell ya, that's not easy.

  • Now why I think this is appropriate to talk about today,

  • obviously, many of us are being confined or quarantined,

  • we can't leave our homes,

  • and some of us are really struggling with that.

  • But let me give you some good advice,

  • and let me tell you what I went through.

  • Many of you know that I walked away from that life,

  • and you can't do that.

  • So there was a contract on my life,

  • people were pretty upset with me,

  • and I was actually in solitary, they alleged,

  • for my own protection.

  • In addition to that, the government was trying very hard

  • to get me to cooperate against my former associates,

  • and I refused to get on the stand,

  • and as punishment, basically,

  • when they put me back in prison, they kept me in solitary.

  • Being in solitary, being alone,

  • not able to look at television, no internet,

  • I would get the newspapers five or six days later

  • after they would come out.

  • The worst enemy I had was my clock.

  • I didn't want to know what time it was.

  • Every day was pretty much the same.

  • There was no differentiating the days,

  • and sometimes, the only time I knew

  • that the day was different was by the food

  • that they gave us.

  • There was a time there when I thought

  • I might spend the rest of my life in that hole.

  • And I'll be honest with you, that was pretty scary.

  • It was pretty rough thinking that, this was it.

  • Fortunately, we're not in that situation.

  • And I'm gonna give you some tips,

  • some things that you might do

  • that I did when I was in solitary

  • that might help you pass the time and get you through it.

  • If I didn't have books to read,

  • I don't know how I would have made it, honestly.

  • My wife sent me in over 400 books,

  • and anything that I'd get my hands on, I would read.

  • Fictions, nonfictions, novels,

  • anything that kinda just took me out of that hole.

  • It was important, because when you read,

  • it takes you out of the place that you're in.

  • You kinda get involved in the story

  • and you get immersed in it,

  • and you stop thinking of your surroundings.

  • So read as much as you possibly can.

  • I'm not telling you to read the newspaper

  • and go online and read all of the stuff that's on there.

  • Read books.

  • Don't be glued to your television set.

  • We're looking at the news 24/7, some of us.

  • We hear conflicting reports.

  • We hear bad reports.

  • We hear people coming down with the virus.

  • Get your information, and then get away from it.

  • You don't want this to bring you down day in and day out.

  • Listening to the news every day is not gonna change it.

  • Be informed, know what's going on,

  • but don't divulge an over-appetite on the news.

  • Not good.

  • On the internet, a lot of false information

  • is going around there.

  • Don't panic over information that you're getting on the Web.

  • Make sure the source is proper,

  • and just do what you're told,

  • and that's how we'll get through this thing.

  • Exercise, get your body fit, very important.

  • When I tried to keep myself going, I mean, I exercised.

  • I did pushups.

  • I did sit-ups.

  • I did chin-ups when I was able to.

  • You don't have to have a gym in your house.

  • You don't have to have weights and so on and so forth.

  • You can improvise.

  • But if you have 'em, use 'em.

  • A lot of times, you got 'em in the house

  • and you don't use 'em.

  • You got 'em, use 'em.

  • Exercise, get your body fit, very important.

  • For some of us that are not in great shape,

  • this might be a good time to get that diet right.

  • You know, when I was in the hole,

  • I'll be honest with you,

  • I lost, I think, 20 some odd pounds.

  • Four times I got food poisoning

  • from different things that they served.

  • So I stopped eating a lot of stuff in there.

  • I actually survived on cereal, bananas, and Cup-A-Soup,

  • anything that was packaged that I would trust and eat.

  • If you're confined to the house, you can eat properly.

  • You don't get the right foods.

  • This is the time to do it and focus on it,

  • and really make that something important.

  • It's your own personal body.

  • It's your own health.

  • You should do that.

  • Think of things to do around the house

  • that you never had a chance to do.

  • You know me?

  • My office.

  • I finally, we just moved into this home

  • a little less than a year ago,

  • and I still had boxes that I hadn't emptied out yet

  • and I hadn't looked at.

  • Well, we now have a chance to do that.

  • Things that you never thought you were able to do,

  • you had no time to do, now's a good time.

  • One of the things that I've found so comforting

  • was really listening to music.

  • Music can be so uplifting.

  • When I had that Sony Walkman and I had that earphones,

  • I mean, they just took me out of the cell

  • for quite some time.

  • I'll never forget, one of the most difficult times in prison

  • and especially in solitary, in the hole,

  • was during the holidays.

  • You're thinking about your family.

  • It's a tough time in there.

  • You're all alone.

  • It's like every day is the same,

  • but you do know it's a holiday.

  • I'll never forget, one Christmas Eve,

  • I was honestly pretty depressed.

  • I mean, you're young and you get depressed,

  • and I was just laying down on my bed,

  • and I had my earphones on,

  • and a song came out that I'll never forget.

  • Mary's boy child Jesus Christ

  • - "Mary's Boy Child."

  • And for some reason, that song just uplifted me that night.

  • I started thinking about positive things,

  • and it just helped me get through the night

  • and actually through to Christmas Day.

  • So music can be a great, great source of encouragement,

  • so put those earphones on.

  • Get some quiet time by yourself.

  • Some of you have kids running around the house, I know.

  • But get some quiet time and listen to some uplifting music.

  • Boy, I'm telling you, it really helps.

  • It was 25 years ago that I was released from prison,

  • but, I mean, when I think about it,

  • it becomes so vivid to me,

  • I can put myself back in that cell in a second

  • when I close my eyes and I think about it.

  • You know what was the worst thing for me?

  • Worrying about what my family was doing every day.

  • I'll tell you one thing that happened.

  • At midnight every night,

  • I used to get the phone just for a minute.

  • Well, one night, I get that phone,

  • and I looked forward to that so much to talk to my wife,

  • see what my kids were doing,

  • and my father-in-law picks up the phone,

  • and I said, "What's happening?

  • "Where's Connie?"

  • And he said, "The kids are in trouble.

  • "She had to take them to the emergency room,"

  • and then the phone shut off.

  • It shut off.

  • I couldn't call back.

  • I had no idea what happened.

  • I didn't know if there was an accident.

  • It was the worst 24 hours of my life

  • until I was able to get to the phone

  • at midnight the following night.

  • They were fine.

  • But that 24 hours, people, I wanted to die.

  • I really mean that,

  • 'cause I thought maybe I lost my family.

  • I didn't know what would happen.

  • It wasn't till maybe I was halfway through it

  • that I started to feel,

  • okay, maybe I really am gonna get out of this situation.

  • But we have it good today, people.

  • Confinement or quarantine in the house

  • is not as bad as we might think it is, trust me.

  • I'll admit, we've never been through

  • anything like this before.

  • I certainly don't remember anything like this

  • in my lifetime, but you gotta get yourself uplifted

  • and encouraged, and you gotta know

  • that we're gonna get through this thing.

  • So hopefully, I've been a little bit of an encouragement

  • to you.

  • Again, if I got through 29 months and seven days

  • in solitary, a six-by-eight cell, 24/7,

  • nothing around me, I know we're gonna come out of this

  • all okay.

  • We're a lot stronger than we think we are.

- I know we're gonna come out of this all okay.

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