This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”
“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”
“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.
“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”
“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”
100 Plus True Stories
Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511
First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
100 Plus True Stories
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org
Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51
There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55
Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63
Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80
Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88
Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102
Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116
The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123
Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136
Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151
Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158
No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166
At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183
The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200
The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206
Paradise Lost & Found
T R U E S T O R I ES
Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX
From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
T R U E S T O R I ES
with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA
A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
images. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. my mother passed away from cancer. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Nevada in 1968. On March 3. desires. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. so I grew up as an Army brat. 2007. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. and drug addiction. Dennis Forrest. 51 Rosharon. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. can be revealed to the world. By 18. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. AZ I 19 . and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. living on many different bases. bitterness. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. By the 8th grade. Due to anger.
20 N . Today. and acting. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. I rejoice in the art I produce. Yet. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. day out. freedom to expand my horizons. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. and their condition. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. to develop boundaries. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. When I do little jobs. such as putting up books in the library. and I can look at them neutrally. I know I am finally awake to life. Listening now requires my full attention. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. in a week. I am aware of the way their covers feel. their heaviness. tomorrow. listening. For quite a while now. to search spiritually. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures.
find true freedom. once I am given the chance.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. mental. my learning continues. and compassion and when they do. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. In closing. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. But for now. or strangers away. I know I will. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. love. I can easily mix with just about anyone. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. teachers. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . Lamas Rinpoche. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. Yeshe. As a matter of fact. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. and Thich Nhat Hanh. or spiritual. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. be they physical. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community.
MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus. I thought to myself. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. but didn’t join in the conversation.” That same day. As I listened to my mom. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. Prashant Devan Kumar. 18 Cheras. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. Kuala Lumpur. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. Think about it: Where else in the world can you find an Indian marrying a Chinese person and producing a Chindian son like me? Growing up in this nation has really taught me to appreciate the gift of peace and harmony. She had 22 M . I took in what the kids were saying. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. She broke the news to me as best as she could. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions.
). their world becomes a mental one. confined to a one-man cell. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. That day. I grew up in boys’ homes. 24 Queens. Seg. not caring that there was no Santa. TYC. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. juvie halls. feel. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. imagine. That’s all we do in these cells: think. with life to go. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. Food is brought to me. Every time I am taken out of my cell. You have to have 23 I . I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. dream. 23 hours a day. only thinking about those fucking stickers. and wonder. reflect. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. ponder. I remember sitting in the car.
but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. But to 24 . Trust me. watching the clerk close up shop. run. In the end. and everything went to shit from there. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. I think now how naïve I was. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. I was alone. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. and no one gets hurt. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. The next day. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. It was a robbery gone bad. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. I’d done it a dozen times. There were three. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. and I got life in prison. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I saw his point and I left things as they were. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. staking out the store from across the street.
Crap is strewn everywhere. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. I’m looking at this car. in which the author served as part of the U. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Big holes. Watch the crap. if you’re lucky. No way. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today.S. I’m keeping my pieces. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. It’s a mess. I’m thinking. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. all observant and such. Watch the crap. I think about that shit. Yeah. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. it’s not going anywhere. o. Look at the car. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. not benign crap. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . right. I mean. I’m not moving. Holes everywhere. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade.
and mines scatter everywhere.I. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. with maybe a little inscription saying. 26 . a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone.A. I’ve been so careful all of these months.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. hundreds of them. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. but I don’t care. Whoever’s firing those damn things. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. this “Desert Storm. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. How many days have I been awake? Damn. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. K.P. I’m angry.” or whatever you call it. I didn’t even see this stuff. RPG rounds. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. I figured I’d hang on to something. Good night. cars now. from messing my mind up further. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere.I. grenades. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. well. Now. I’ve been three steps ahead all along.—R. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. I’m holding my privates.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. hold privates. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. right on the crap. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it.. with holes in them all. I’m sick of this crap. or tunnel vision. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I curse myself for being so stupid.
T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. right? The ones I see are fresh. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. but like some sick voyeur. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. They look like statues. Damn. The pictures don’t lie. No stench. The glazed eyes give it away. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I do. but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. His ID card falls out. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. vehicles are everywhere. again. It’s hard to tell. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Is 27 . Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. too. maybe. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. I don’t like the burned ones. I know I’m not dead. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. I don’t want to end up like him. It was fun for a minute. unless they shortened the fuses. I don’t want to look.
and shackled. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. The hero died with a scream on his lips. “Yes. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. Probably not. we will celebrate. They’ll never know what happened to him. from that war. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. that damn war. They’ll never know me. No. pictures don’t lie. the Americans. his son—maybe even himself. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. handcuffed. One by one waist-chained. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Mark D.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. If that’s heroism. hoping his son will return from down South. He’ll think of his son every day and cry.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. we stepped 28 I . McKenna Columbus. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. I want no part of it. We’ll have that in common.
the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. indeed. mountains. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. The restless. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. In retrospect. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. it seems ironic and rather sadistic that it was the “in your face” moments such as these that served as a reminder of the cynical path that fate had paved before me. 29 . The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison.
100+ Looking around me. Hector Gallegos Otisville. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. sealed off from everything and everyone. a vacuum of uncertainty. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. This is 30 M . in some cases. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. boredom. the lunacy of a previous occupant. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. for most. While I was in there. but no one dared speak of them. I found that I was not alone in this realization. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. It’s a world of its own where. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. and.
My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. but I had no luck. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. Will Ferrara.. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. And this all happened from one day to the next! The experiences that I have gone through have changed my perception of gender and the fleeting sensation of love. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex.. She has a son now. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. MA 31 . I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. 24 Lawrence. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. We used to have a very healthy relationship. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me.
After 15 years there. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I was always sad. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. and began robbing banks. I escaped. I grew up spoiled rotten. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. I always felt lonely. flew to Florida. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. Three years later. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. but that made me feel worse. and where the connecting of words on paper was the only thing that kept me from connecting my neck to the ceiling by way of a knotted sheet. stole an airplane. where I am today.100+ Staying Sane n 1983.
I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. 16 Richmond. and was put on progressively stronger medication. 33 I . but I was already highly unstable by then. I had friends and a boyfriend. Lights come on. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. This made me feel good. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. but only for a little while. so I always tried to help them. but there was something missing. It’s going to be hard to get better. and then my house caught on fire. It wasn’t her fault. This year.T R U E S T O R I ES me. Momo. Now. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. and I am doing a lot more for myself. Cars speed by. When I started middle school. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. I started therapy. or mine. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away.
most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. It’s cold. Some of these individuals have not been able to come to grips with the overwhelming reality of serving life sentences that they don’t deserve. This is why. nowhere to sleep. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. it’s only a matter of time before a person seeks food or shelter on his own terms… I am serving 39 to life under California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. no one to call. for one reason or another.T. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A .. You have nowhere to go. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I have been fortunate. nothing to eat. You think to yourself. I am still alive.. under the three strikes law. G. you’re hungry. many homeless people end up in jail. I have met a variety of people in prison.100+ homeward bound. your feet hurt. God has been looking out for me. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes.
I must have asked to be raped. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. My husband and Joe came to blows again.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law thought that I must have provoked it somehow—their beloved Joe would never do something like that… I was the slut. and the rest of the family awoke. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. I thought it was my husband. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. Without warning. I brought it upon myself. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. my case was thrown out of court. I immediately told my husband and we left. During the car ride home. My husband and I filed a police report right away. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. In their eyes. Nonetheless. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. I was the laughingstock of the local police station.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. My husband. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. his brother. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. We all had a few too many. So Joe walks free. They say most 35 .
drug dealer. and I made it without becoming one of them. I love to write books and short stories. Zephyr Chicago. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. I keep getting turned down for parole. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. My first eight years in prison were rocky. for all the good it’s doing me. trying to survive among savage men. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. but I am always in a good mood. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. Men ask me. We had six kids—with so many kids. or crooked politician. while the victims get a life sentence. I just took the money and ran. I’ve been a model inmate. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. and for the past 10 years. When I got locked up. you almost have to be a bank robber.
the car. I love writing. When I’m writing. 63 Burkeville. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. and us three kids. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. not die. That summer. sadness. And it all transpired in 37 O . George Hughes. 1982. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. but all’s well in the end.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. laughter. I share love. anger. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. like taste good food. Mom got a new apartment. flavors that today I’d die for—well. I turned fourteen. compassion. but I put the truth out there for all to read. they are good people with good hearts. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. and my innermost thoughts and desires. At fourteen. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. Writing is like having an affair. my parents became legally separated. tears.
sister. at fourteen. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. By fifteen. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. I went over to the shoe department. And by the age of eighteen. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. not enough to panic. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. sprinting as fast as possible. My friends would have surely made fun of me. Once outside. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. On the very last day of summer. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. but here it was. In 1982. So I decided to steal. Then I put on all three new shirts. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I was in State Prison. I burst through the front door. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. and me. picked out a pair. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. “Mom. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. I wasn’t too concerned. and put them on. Like an NFL running back. looking down at my new wet shoes. Once inside. I took off like a bat out of hell. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself.100+ less than an hour. and inexplicably.
OH 39 I . AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. 18 Mowrystown. I asked why I was being arrested.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. When I was finished with him. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. Obviously shocked. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. Six days later. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. To my complete surprise. they said.
During my trial. I killed someone. but the fact is I did. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. 40 N . I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. At nineteen. and mean words. ignorance. I felt that what I did was wrong. and soul. hitting and abusing her. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. From then on. Before. mind. It was good to see them together. The judge gave me life without parole. I was ready to be judged and convicted. with a common goal. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. the others are there to pick him up.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. my mom and dad came to visit me. and when one falls. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. though he never loved her. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. I deserved to do some time and make amends. My mom’s eyes held a million words. in the same room. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. how he cared for her. In the depths of my heart and soul. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. and lack of feelings. fights. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy.
but my will to survive took over. I was naïve. and violent unrest. but I take no initiative to start the process. Money never used to be an issue. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. but they all have lives. I have no friends in this new city. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. but now everything seems tight. 50 Represa. smiles. I’m getting older.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. I came from the desert. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I need to budget. Besides. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. but I see only the negative things. fleeting hope. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. Spoon Jackson.
My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. Ontario.100+ before I go to bed. inconspicuous notebook. but moving slowly in the right direction. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. my pen is capturing everything. All of those negative ideas. a dead father. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. Idris Samuel. mixed with big dreams of happiness. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. the only escape that I found was with a knife. 42 I . It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. For someone like me. brought up in me. I see that in spite of my depression. go into a small. I even see things in a more positive light now. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. I’m not stuck in one place. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. 27 Toronto. In the few months that I’ve been writing.
While in prison. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. While incarcerated.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. never directly addressed. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . new problems arose. light-headedness. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. While on probation in 1995. a need for the chemicals in the formula. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. it merely put them on hold. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. It had become a habit. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. As I look back on the role that the drug played. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. But then.
13 44 I . And the present is where I have to live. J. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor.100+ stable. much clearer. Never waste life. I’ve always had low self-esteem. I am a different person. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. you will be twice as strong. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. Anonymous. Think about who really loves you. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. it’s too short and too precious. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. Now the reality I face is my own life. the present is much. but I never thought it would result in depression.E. and once it does. Wantz Salem. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. but my reaction to them is not the same.
By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. After getting sober in 2001. community centers. 45 G . 1958 in Elgin. I have turned my attention back to God. Now I try. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. and pornography. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. 51 Corcoran. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. alcohol. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. I ended up in prison for life. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. cultural arts centers. Illinois. Thomas Michael Fox. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. I began to start to feel differently about myself. The son of a research chemist. writing helped.
hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. On the day the winner was to be announced. Then. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. and indigenous themes. migrant workers. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message.100+ youth programs. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. The second and third place runners-up were announced. at the age of 17. prison scenes. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. This history. my name was called. vatos locos. my school sponsored an art contest.and 12-year-olds. When I was in second grade. Mexican revolutionaries. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium.
a hacksaw blade. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. a new tradition: poetical muralism. And yet. José Boner Boscobel. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. watching every move during a strip search. Octavio with Orozco. a freehand artist second. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. Today. The guard was two feet in front of me. Siquierod with Cisneros. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. manufacturing the rope. and obtaining the other articles took time. cash. and crazy juxtapositions. there was no turning back. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. I fuse images using words. camouflage the cut marks. Securing the tools. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. metaphors. I consider myself first a poet. I had to get in the same cage.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end.
I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. I was going. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. doubt. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. There was no time for hesitation. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. or nerves. every muscle was taut. already packed with the gear. D-day. It was going according to plan 48 . crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. In a few minutes. but the meshing distorted clear vision. my arms were screaming. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap.100+ primitive. The cage was shaking and rattling. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. I could see everything. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. but they could see every move I made. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. I was balls-to-the-wall. I slung the rope over my shoulder. and I was sweating a puddle. I was through and bent back the bars.
through what I’ve gained and learned since. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. The rope burned through my fingers. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. from doubt. outside the confines of the jail. cages. Babb Corcoran. Yet. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. CA 49 . But that feeling of open air on my skin.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. needed more knots… whatever the problem. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. I know from consequential. D. It was too thin. free from fear. I’d escaped. I should have made gloves. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. but couldn’t move. I was lying on the rooftop. I attempted to crawl away. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. I know I’ve never been freer. but now I would to fall to my death. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. guards. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. it was too late for solutions. from regret and anxiety.
and by the time I did. but the key was jammed. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. There was no wake-up call. Alcohol would always come first. he just kept hitting rock bottom. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. not getting pancreatitis.I. which never came.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic.U. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . it was too late. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us. no matter what.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain.s. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. nothing. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. not losing his license. I thought I loved him. He attempted to shut off the ignition. One time. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him.
drugs were simply a hustle. victimless cash. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. who in the present. that was for sure. not a crime. and sexual predators committed. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. I had lived an interesting life. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. Crimes were what thieves. simply liked the quick. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. I had seen and done a lot. To me. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. a man with a past. Unfortunately. free dope. 23 Hollywood. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. thugs. In my 33 years. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. Adela Tedesco. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back.
who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. things are different. I’m arguing against it one more time. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. I argued it at every level: in the media. at this fateful juncture of my life. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. and with whoever. I understand the necessity for law and order. as an activist. Now. I’m surely not the devil. our families.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. Then there are those of us. it protects the innocent. not the solution. Yet. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. It helps those unable to defend themselves. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. at the university. I participated in the discourse. While I’m no angel. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. the entire world of academia. either. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. for all practical purposes. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. CA 52 .” There are the pro-drug war. this time. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. at stake: my entire life.
I felt it starting at my feet. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. One of the guards supplied it. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. Lance Corson. even though they know that there are great risks. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. However. and nothing good ever comes of them. They destroy lives. 24 Little Compton. my stomach and chest. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. There are always consequences. coming up my legs. there are new users every day. until it took over my whole being. that nothing will ever happen to them. So many people believe that they are invincible. riding through space in 53 O .
legs bent and drawn towards my chest. holding on to my elbows. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. I needed a fix. I walked around with my arms in front of me. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. bad. my heart pounded violently. The floor closed up as I hit it. Then I nodded off. and I could feel the cramps coming. dying for a fix. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. My stomach was cramping. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. I was freezing all over. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. I was terrified! I found myself falling. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. my back to the wall. My muscles 54 . gritting their teeth. falling. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. I stood in the corner. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. There were monsters with long tails down there.100+ the dead of darkness. falling. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. I began to shake all over. My body was curled. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. only inches left to stand on. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. across my stomach.
My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you.000 other small. wetting the bed. She opened the back door and said. petty reasons. God and I both love you. not cleaning the dishes right. My mother passed away on October 2nd.” Now 55 . jumped out. But I wasn’t. 66 Burkeville. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. You want to be a tough guy then make it on your own and get out!” So from 9 to 19½ I lived on the streets. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. George Hughes. and 10. I kicked at her. One day. There was no fix at hand. “Get out of my house. not scrubbing the floors right. got down on the floor and beat me with it. not shoveling the sidewalk right. steal. If I were on the street.T R U E S T O R I ES exploded with cramps and I fell from the cross as convulsions wore me to a thin frazzle. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. Mom grabbed a frying pan. Mother. and sell anything and everything. “No more. including their own souls. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. lie. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. to get a fix. 2002. playing too loudly.
I don’t hate my mom.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. I don’t dislike her. TX 56 . 67 Amarillo. Melvin William Joseph Vogt.
Sex & Seduction .
you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. Terri Giosia. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. I 59 M . an orgasm. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. and fulfillment after the first time. But for the young woman. 45 Montreal. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. so after 20 seconds it was all over! You’re never told that a young man of the same age is not going to give you an orgasm. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. This is what occurs at 18. it will occur over time. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. Québec. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly.
that even though it’s your first time. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. We decided we were ready. When we were little. I did it for me.100+ beg to differ. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. Momo. We have known each other since before we can remember. If you know your body. I will spare 60 I . who are ready to lose their virginity. not because he wants to. people would assume we were twins. At the beginning of high school. Do it because you want to. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. it won’t be your last. 16 Richmond. we had sex. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. Don’t be scared. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. I always tell my friends. Now.
We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. and we locked ourselves in. interesting story to tell. I grabbed her. Obviously laughter. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. Later in the evening. at a “well-supervised” party. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. I ran into my best friend.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. and crying ensued. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. AK. squealing. Almost at the same time. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. we said. that is not what is important. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. anyway. he wields 61 I . “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm.
tempt. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. 54 Sydney. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. NSW. being sarcastic. turning him over. However. changing his urine bag. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. rubbing his feet and back. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . it’s like having a little harem. but girly mags are his main source of info.100+ considerable power by yelling. and showering and grooming him. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. or backstabbing us to our bosses. if the woman is appealing enough. however. He basks in their attention. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. feeding him like a baby. Christie. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty.
seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. With a glance. smile. His hand rested on my forearm. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. Once that is accomplished. That is. yet the very mysterious secret about “how to be more seductive” lies within you: it is how you feel about yourself and what you look like and having that emanate outward. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. his complete awareness of 63 I . 45 Montreal. a look. However. one cannot seduce. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. beyond a shadow of a doubt. it’s possible to seduce anyone. this type of seduction is an illusion. It is stating the obvious. a smile. body language. as upon sobering up. It is not real. the golden rule for seduction. Without confidence. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. Québec.
27 Santiago. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. I pleaded with them not to show up. Windoftheclyde. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. In a shadowy whisper. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. On the brink of a thrust. True to their word. his lips fell on my hips.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. My ways were haphazard. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. but my pretensions made no difference to them. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. Always the seeker. I felt his back tensing against my hands. Never had a burden been more welcome. for they would make me look like a weakling. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. but my anticipation was no longer tender. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. he breathed my name.
Small Miracles .
I’m on guard seven days a week. It becomes routine. in the darkness. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. Late at night. amongst the prison population. I even welcome the closing of the door. and often after a long day. With a twist of a key. I do my deepest thinking there. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. but once inside my cell. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. I know I have to be locked in.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. rather familiar. As a person.” Out there. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I know that no one can get in without the key. At times. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. I am human. 67 T . but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I’m locked in. I should hate the cell.
The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. yet. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. The cell is a hellhole. The cell door is now closed. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. and loneliness. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. these sounds are tranquil. or write a letter to my family or a friend. despair. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. I’m alone. It never is truly quiet here. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . I don’t hear anyone talking. Ironically. I have not experienced silence in years. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. To the outside observer. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. a melody of pleasant proportions. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. the cell is a paradox because in reality. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. The walls seem to hum. while here in prison. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. To be honest. listen to the radio. When the cell door shuts. The cell is my castle until I reach home. read a book. but I’m in good company. and I write my loved ones there.100+ I pray in the cell.
Michael McLean Beacon. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. though their faces were human-looking. think. bleed. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p.m. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. and have the power to choose.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. “Let us show you the way. in it were four angels. I’m human: I feel. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. They looked invincible. we have been there before. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. I was lying in the dark. I also laugh. cry. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. showing another dimension. and I was filled with awe. 69 I . a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. love. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. In a small.
but time operates differently there. circular spaceship. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. At that instant. Auckland.100+ white. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I saw a van coming straight towards me. “Oh no. I lived in a house for what seemed like years.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. I thought to myself. knowing order reigned in the next world. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. 70 I . 54 North Shore City. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. guarded from dark forces. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. waiting to make a left turn. This was a kingdom on a large sun. Misty. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. there really wasn’t any time to react. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe.
there was a pint of blackberry brandy. I considered the importance of what I was doing. It is important to find the right place for an ending. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. Ever since that day. It was a very surreal experience. Hey. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. and in the hand-warmer pocket. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . 38 Methuen. In the breast pocket of my jacket. “Wow. I sat there thinking to myself. Where we die should be no less important. I chose Mount Sanitos. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. including me. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. “Sorry about that. a brand new box of pills. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me.
When the east finally began to warm. things were… strange. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. “He’s here. There was a flash of light. thinking it could be the police. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. There were shapes of people around. The guardians were gone. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. my hand slipped and I fell. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. I finally reached the top. It was still night. but they sensed me there. Necessary and common. dropping off my recycling. I must have blacked out. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. then a shift. Blood was caked on my forehead. On the far side of my fall. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. closing my bank accounts. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. I panicked. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. like someone hit the reset on my brain. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. Four pills left. no one was looking for me. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. I cowered. For a moment.100+ someone else got hurt.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it.
CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. and then dragged myself towards it. so I continued making the sandwiches. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. and it’s doable. Then a second piece of bread fell. Everything after that has been pure profit. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. I was making sandwiches.T R U E S T O R I ES was. When I got up in front of the cabin. I had never done that before. it got so bad that I became depressed. as I did. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. hitting me on the left ankle. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. but I had never been depressed before either. I’ve been to zero. That was my break-even point. At one point. Three days later. I also know that I’m never alone. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I was living alone. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I realized it was just a stone. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . I think of myself as having happily died that night.
That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. Three months later. so we should not be depressed. Our little (well 74 I . He is still there. Needless to say.” He had come to me just as I had asked Him to three days before! I interpreted this phenomenon as follows: when the bread cannot be seen. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. we got pregnant again. but there was only one piece on the floor. When I returned to the kitchen. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. the day before Valentine’s Day.” Two years ago. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. I was very puzzled. Jesus is always with us. whether we see Him or not. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.100+ of bread. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. “I am the bread of life.
we will always think about the baby that we lost. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong. It was a good partnership. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . I did not waste it on the bland mush. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. Kelly. but left the bees plenty for the winter. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. But this event puts it into a whole different light. WV A Taste of Honey honey. And he is our own personal little miracle. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. 30 Martinsburg. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year.
I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. I thought. James Burns Gunnison. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. and the wildflowers. and also. the mountain laurel. so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. I had smelled the spruce. The other half I saved for later. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. For a moment there. I had been free. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. UT 76 . I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. but it seemed to last an eternity.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I thanked God for a taste of honey. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. But man cannot live on honey alone.
and a mirror in his left breast pocket. her actions were terrible and painful. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. Despite this miracle. but it ultimately killed him.S. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. His doctors surmised that he became infected with hepatitis via a blood transfusion he received in Vietnam when he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. smoking saved his life. Gavai Kona. He had a lighter. I 77 I .” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. a pack of cigarettes. During a skirmish. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. There was a spark in her eyes. After years of alcohol abuse. he got shot in the left side of his chest. Army during the Vietnam War. Ironically.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. He may have survived the Vietnam War. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises.
I turned to go to my room. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. and I did. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. With tears in my eyes.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. I heard him whisper. I tightly hugged him back. the dress ended up on my face. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. NY 78 . The next thing I knew. Miriam. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. and hung up my dress. “Good night. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. when my brother Bardo and I got home. Bardo. I walked to my closet. While he was hugging me. but she ignored me. he looked at me. “You’re not the only one. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. Miriam McKenzie. and said. One day. as I put the dress on the hanger. That is when I saw the stain.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. “Good night. reached for an empty hanger. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. my mother called me.” he said. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. With powdered soap and water.” He also told me that when I finished eating. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. 41 Bedford Hills.” I said through my tears. Bardo came out.
no weight pile. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. I had conjugal visits. We installed a swamp cooler. No gym. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. But in Mexico. There was no yard to speak of. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. the “buffaloes” roamed. a pipe with running water for a shower. a stereo. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. I could wear my own clothes. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. bought a TV. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. An aisle ran the length of each building. cook what I wanted. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. no track or ball field.T R U E S T O R I ES A Change In Outlook y stretch in a Mexican jail was just like the film Midnight Express. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. Everything from 79 M . We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. When money arrived. built wooden bunks. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. incoming calls only.
there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town.C. for the right price. drugs. if I changed. the ontological slap in the face.S. appliances. I arrived at the school cafeteria. booze. True. much like my thinking. in my head. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . J. and it has. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. lumber. and even prostitutes. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. I wanted out. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. the world would reflect that change. for anything else. I was allowed to keep my identity. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. A man could buy food. filthy. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. clothing. I reasoned that. art supplies. Amberchele Canon City. but it was an identity that was poisonous. and dangerous. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens.
Enrique M. Fernandez Miami. I stood by my friend. In my mind. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. As we spoke. it stopped bothering me. a free-for-all ensued. the atmosphere was tense. my membership in the gang became obsolete. When I did not press charges. When I saw my assailant in court. After the trial. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. his father embraced me in the hallway. I yelled for help. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. But when others got involved. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. the judge dismissed the case. my assailant approached me and apologized. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. After that incident. With time. I flirted with the idea of getting even. His father attended the hearing. FL 81 . It had been an ironic twist of fate. encouraging him during the fight. however. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. As I turned to look. That made all the difference in the world. I had been stabbed. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member.
Matters of the Heart .
41 Dallas. my first true love. One would think that because I have experienced life. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I would have been in love before. I have known my first love for more than a year. He is honest. I will accept all of him. and I am in love. He is strong. He’s my first Jan Richards. the good and bad. This is it! This is my first true love. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. was I wrong! I admire my first love. no matter what answers you receive. I want to know everything he knows. I could not 85 T . Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. Boy. I never get tired of listening to him. He is smart. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I am 41 years old. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her.
I will never forget her. The morning after I arrived. 59 Dayton. and the connection that we share. Although we are divorced.100+ eat. I decided to visit her. I feel so alone. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. Mansour. Without her. he came back to me. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. 27 Tehran. too. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). We both respect and value each other very much. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. but now I want to leave him. it’s been like heaven. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. I was browsing . After two years of online chatting and phone calls. Suzy. my first love. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I hope we will get married one day. she kissed me for the first time. and that the connection will endure.
and he was in fifth grade. Then within six months.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . At first. He stripped down my confidence. I worry all the time. He was a tall. His name was Travis. I would never have gone out with him. There was something fascinating about this “older man. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. and I am so jealous. Shurley. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. slender. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. If it were up to me.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. everything was great. brown-haired young man. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. He played with my head. and now all I have are insecurities.
hotel. all in retrospect. and gangbangs—it all occurs. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. or inn in the continental United States. She has little education. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. Kitty Mayo. My reflections of Travis developed years later. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. wanting him to protect me. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. Often. sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. anal sex. threesomes. I just remember wanting to be near him. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . 29 Hilo.
The laughs come fast and free. who want to keep her hair and nails done. take care of her kids. The attraction is mutual. housing. She needs no coercion or con. TX 89 . finances. Sometimes personalities just click. pay her rent. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. It comes like a thief in the night. I can name a few females on this very unit who have been terminated for improprieties and braved embarrassment and dirty looks to return to visit their “friends. or risks. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. The conversations flow smoothly. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. Only the restraints of the environment and the consequences keep it subdued like a lid on the pot until want turns to need and a window of opportunity opens for the lid to be lifted. Hours seem like minutes. rules. The female is as rebellious as the offender. send her shopping. religion. regulations. Love.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. It’s an amazing thing. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted.
” I have no idea what he means. Outside her window.. And three months and two weeks later. we went out for coffee. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. Skidmore College. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. three floors down. She told me the upright bass was sexy. the tears pouring down her cheeks. She’s packing her last suitcase. but I know I don’t want her to leave. suitcase is a difficult feat. We are in her attic bedroom. the distance between her school. I wonder when. and yes. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. on a tour of Oxford. Two months later. she told me the same thing. my tears will come. destined for Minneapolis.100+ Four A. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back.M. I told her I loved her. and mine.. Boston College. I’m not sure she’s my other half. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. and I told her she was strange. One month later. Three months later. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . and if. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. Massachusetts.
and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. “I’ll miss you. and place it on the hood of his car. 22 Amherst. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. And tears stream down my face. needless to say. comes.. and I have to walk her to a bus station. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates.” she says. she falls asleep. At two a. I walk her to the bus station. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day.m.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. At four a.. still two bottles of wine later. I had read an article in Cosmo that a great way to attract your secret crush’s attention would be to buy him a box of expensive chocolates.m. write a love poem. so I decided to go the subversive route. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. after another bottle of wine. until four a. At three a. Theoharides. after a bottle of wine. I had written the poem already. Alexander J.m.. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car.m. and I had a crush on .
24 Lincoln. desires. 28 Albuquerque. and well-being. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. not despite of their shortcomings. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. needs. Galilea. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. NH Love Is for yourself.100+ I sped away. Scarlet Rose. I was 21 years old. but because of them. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. Unfortunately. I never had the guts to go up to him and tell him how I felt so nothing ever became of my “love” from afar.
My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. But a girl can dream. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. making our relationship grow stronger. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. We are the yin and yang for each other. It can be between two men and between two women. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. 30 Arecibo. PC. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. no? Saturday came. I imagined something romantic. As you can imagine.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis.
36 Lennon. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. A baby was on the way. and so many tears. Maybe he was too old for me. and I live there now. but he wasn’t in love with me. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and my life. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . so many mistakes. I regret it. and you have always been the one. “I did it for love. Our relationship is 15 years strong. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. maybe he was strange. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time.” I told myself. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. Mare. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and we are raising a daughter as well. but he was mine. I chose my hell. so I left everything behind: my career. Michelle. my family. I love you. Life is not supposed to be this way. and I thought I was immortal. and I tried to fight for my dreams. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. I regret so many things.100+ lifetime. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I tried to be perfect.
T R U E S T O R I ES life. We now have a beautiful baby girl. I don’t know. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. If I were to start my life all over again. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. and it lasted about a year and a half. 95 I . Kikis_fairytale. but as for love. we fell in love. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. 18 Olmito. It’s a bad habit. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. but we’ll be living separate lives. but we’re not together anymore. though. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. Yeyo. 27 Athens. Lately. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. but I can’t control it. We are going to graduate soon. My ex and I are currently in high school.
I imagine the two of us together all the time. In the summer of 2009. but as much as I try to stop. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. but it just happens. Every time I see him. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. We started talking and before long we just clicked. “I may have a guy at home. I gasp for air. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. and I have no control over my actions. He was a southern gentleman with manners. 18 Brooklyn. It is a scary feeling. and a smile that could melt a heart. but things had been slowly going downhill. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. it keeps growing. I thought to myself. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. looks. I shake. talent. We spent my final day together. Aila Balic. Although I didn’t know it at the time. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. yet doesn’t make me want to die. I don’t want to. 96 M .
There weren’t any wedding planners. We wanted . MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. but now it was time to make a big decision. and no hassle: just us. In life. and it took all I had not to cry. I went to say my goodbyes. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Thanks. for showing me the truth about love. Ethan. Guerrero. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. family and friends can witness our marital union. no guests. too? Hayley. I explored my options on the ride home. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. Why not have our cake and eat it. I couldn’t believe it was over. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. 26 Acapulco. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical.
but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. I guess. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. was a devoted wife. Clearly magic was happening between us. as well as me. This story has the makings for a great ending. On May 15. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. but life is not fair. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. I had not felt that way in years. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. 2006. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. For Louise. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. at age fifty-two. She was . We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. I will go home one day. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. 1997. On March 27th. Some letters were erotic. and made me happy in so many ways.
Please save 99 M . we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. I will miss you. but for our family members. George Hughes. However. VA A Joining of Two. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. DON’T. If we had to do it again.T R U E S T O R I ES life and made me a better man by helping me see the light when I lived in darkness. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. Farewell. Louise. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. but we had our wedding 7 months later.000 on our wedding. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. beautiful flower arrangements. 63 Burkeville. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. in August. We had a nice ceremony. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. And in the end. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding.
I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. “NO!” I yelled at him. 100 A . When we finally reached the priest. Priscilla. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. In the fall of 1987. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. 29 Lowell. Even at 3. forest green dress. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. too?” he asked. On the day of the wedding. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. “Are you two getting married. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair.100+ your money because in the end. When the time came to walk down the aisle. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. clad in a miniature tuxedo. my voice echoing through the church. the wedding doesn’t matter. the rings were handed over.
not right away. Finally. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. until amorous love became filial affection. The emails became short and purposeful. slowly and gradually. not right before my eyes. I had gotten used to him and he to me. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. camera flashes. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. but before I knew it. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. 23 Somerville. and forest green.” When the doors opened. three of them will always be: priests. On the long list of things I hate. Adelle Brown. at some point. and I had no idea where to go. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. my cousin. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. and I started to ignore 101 I . MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. all I remember being told was. I was blinded by lights. The reasons I had married him were no longer there.
I stopped caring about spending time together. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. January Paris. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I am not that person anymore. 102 I . I am content to just exist. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. for him. and let him do the same. torturous waste of time. I remember why I fell in love with him. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. or lack thereof. but that memory is now alien to me. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. I am not that unhappy. nor is he. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. This mundane. and started avoiding him.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. He was no longer my top priority. For now. I keep trying to push him away.
T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Johnsbury. I thought that if they divorced. it would have been more difficult. I would have done so. Alas. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. St. my parents did not divorce. which never came. and I’m glad they are. Donna J. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. VT 103 . and if I were allowed to live with my father. They are still together. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working.
Despite Diagnosis .
leaving you there to bleed out. and filth swimming and floating along with you. sometimes it’s neck-deep. In prison. alone. Some don’t. Prison is a sewer. wash. vermin. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. bide your time. and dry yourself. you can cast off your filthy clothes. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. Wait till the “others” get out.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. and when you get to the other side. skidding. clean. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. then slips away unseen. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. to survive it. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. You are immersed in it. not let it get inside you. go in with your homeboys. and sometimes it’s over your head.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . not because of knives but for their germs. Take showers in shifts. cartwheeling. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. you must wade carefully through the sewage.
become a part of it. wondering if I will ever go home. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. meningitis. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . so I went to an optometrist. a cracked skull. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. Norman. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. When I awoke. Months later. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. I regained some of my physical strength. take it all in. 59 Daytona Beach. they inhale deeply. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. As for me. I was told I had a brain tumor. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. Charles P. As the years passed. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. I started having eye trouble.100+ of the prison sewer. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. And they die. The problem was not eradicated.
I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. Tasmania. After 4 or so weeks. and all came out negative. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. I had to endure antibiotics being pumped into me for a number of weeks through a PICC line in my arm and I was on these for many days once I returned home. just to be sure. My cerebral fluid was not draining. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. 21 Devonport. Pete. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. so in spite of having protected sex. Fueled by the media. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature.
Every time a nurse would come in the room. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood).100+ as well. so my body was dying. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. 28 Portland. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. One time. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. so she took me to the doctor. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. so he donated his blood. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . Throughout my childhood. My father was the only one with the same blood type. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. For instance. Jolene. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. I was constantly in the hospital. but even that wasn’t enough. The day I turned five. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. We all had sad faces. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying.
FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. the jail has delayed it. There is no kindness. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. “Well. I am back at Estrella Jail. and 100% cured. Today I am 19.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. Maybe it’s a nightmare. nearly bald. the judge can expedite all he wants.” When my chemo starts. the check-in nurse says. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. and they both cried tears of joy. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. At Perryville. 19 Pembroke Pines. I’m 15 pounds thinner. hoping to get rid of me to save money. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. Maybe it’s not really me. in college. Five days later. and very pale. Three months later. This never happened outside. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. my oncologist was determined 111 I . I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. I vomit constantly. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. fightingsurvivor19.
when I’m supposed to be healing. there is complete indifference. He answers my questions.100+ that my nausea be minimal. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. begging for what I’m missing. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. But this protocol is not followed. Despite the rigid schedule. the doctor comes in. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. I am sent back to my room alone. I know I’m an inmate. then every six months for two years. burning instead. I start the laborious grievance process. I have three more chemo sessions. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. No more nausea. In here. When my treatment is over. Eventually. He recommends a tumor 112 . I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. and then annually. I vomit until there is nothing left. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. An hour later. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. and nine months later. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. My life is literally in their hands. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins.
Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. uncaring power. That is why I am afraid. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. my life is in the hands of the State. Their stories touch me on so many levels. I will use my fear to strengthen my resolve and use the Glad Game to strengthen my joy and maintain my balance in the midst of chaos. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. it still hasn’t happened. mismanaged.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. This is about the State. incompetent. That’s really hard in here. As a result. AZ 113 . All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. Six months later. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. I can deal with that. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. and I am helpless against its inadequate. always look for a reason to be glad. no positive imagery can change my situation. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence.
one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. Two months after I started chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. CA A 114 . Later. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. and I felt helpless all the time. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. Despite all this. she was looking ahead. 33 Santa Barbara. he began to distance himself. making plans for the future. but when he found out that treatment could last years.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. A year into my treatment. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. without even knowing it. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. Dinorah Torres.
or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. shape. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. Hayden. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. She was longdivorced. How sad. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. and had lived alone for decades. for an addict’s. 18 Tacoma.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. The following year. never had any kids. One year she was cancer-free.” What kind of doctor says something like that to a patient? That’s like telling an intravenous drug-user that his/her veins and liver are in good shape. It just 115 I . The exposure to carcinogens is still there. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. for a smoker’s lungs. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter.
F. Whatever the percentage. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. not even decades after giving up smoking. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison.A. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Cornwall. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . on the part of Texas officials. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked.G. Penzance.
Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. 6. Classify prisoners by age. and house them accordingly. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. 5. You can see how dangerous it is. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. sentence length. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. A few suggestions: 1. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . 3. Separate gang members from non-gang members. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. be as humane as possible. whether here or abroad. 8. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. 4. 7. and typecrime. 2. 9. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine.
TX 118 . Daniel H. Harris.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. This could be a start.
The Transience of Permanence .
For “free-world” folks. then the whole world has done the same. which has its effects on me as well as on him. I swear. I’m a state-approved janitor. If I give him that. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. He understands that my time with him is short. Most people have the freedom to push life’s most sensitive and controversial issue out of their minds or at least deal with it conventionally and on their own terms: family tradition. or SSI. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. discussions. maybe an estate. TX I 121 . he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. even inside me. death out there now looks relatively easy. In the penitentiary. All is forgiven. Some days. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside.T R U E S T O R I ES LIVE from Texas Death Row! ’m a Texas prisoner and I work on death row. plans. a last will and testament. especially on death row. I feel the dread on my flesh. Each morning when I arrive at work. In plain talk. From what I’ve seen in here. death is merely a passage or rite. some acceptance. He desperately seeks some understanding. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. Christopher Best Livingston. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate.
Fuck them.T.” “taking it to the vent.100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. I choose not to spend another day in this place. I’ll try again later. Very suspicious. Shit. Light-headed.” or “moving on to the next phase. 122 T . G. I am feeling very ugly inside. It’s called “checking out. Suspicious. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison.” And I’m not talking about parole. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. yet relieved that I took action. and it can be done right now. It isn’t working. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. today. Fuck God. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. People in the day room are getting suspicious. Shit. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life.
but a symbolic one. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. Mike Rothwell Ione. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. After that. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I .T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked. not in the clinical sense. The vast majority were done in by their own hand.
We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. 124 N . diamonds.With his incarceration. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. He has. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. he may as well be dead. pearls. in essence. In the world beyond prison walls. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. the son he failed to be. year after year.100+ love of his family. gold. matriarch of the family. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. killed that greater part of himself. the father he cannot be. but life—even at 103—seems too short. In this sense. Hector Gallegos Otisville. and the person he never grew to become. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. sterling silver. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. the lover he wishes to be. my big fat Italian grandmomma.
Mother airs out the house to get rid of Nonna’s scent! I’d have always thought one would cherish the smell of one’s dear momma. all the clothing in my nonna’s wardrobe is folded into garbage bags and given away except for a gorgeous full-length Persian lamb coat that is given to my sister-in-law who wears it so well. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. pre-WWII. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. as if no one else is 125 D . Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. necklaces. Mary Higgins Reading.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. she never wore it. albums. The first thing one notices is the quiet. except for a fundamental difference. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. key chains. and handcrafted dolls. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. dating from the roaring twenties. Who would believe that a swastika. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. blankets. The following day. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row.
Gene W. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. It doesn’t bother them that a human being is sitting in the cell thinking of events or people from the past that made him happy. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. At other times. TX 126 . While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. the officials are stoic and judgmental. survivors of the victim’s family. In remembering. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. Hathorn Livingston. media representatives. the fights he had in grade school. such as his first pet. he realizes that all hope is gone. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. but the mind rebels. An ache settles in his belly. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. there are only four or five people. It is like God’s “time-out” room.100+ there. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. making it ominously quieter.
he was barely over five feet tall. and his head was shaved clean. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. his body was covered in tattoos. trying to get someone to do something. Once muscular. and his memory showed signs of failure. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. and they all tell you something different. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). really took it seriously.” “partial. he had become thin as a rail. In October 2004.” Freddy complained to me one day. I saw no real reason for worry. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.” I forget why.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Over a period of a year. 127 E . “Every doctor has a different opinion. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. Since he always complained. Time was of the essence. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. including Freddy. a combination drug therapy. He was a genuine character. if at all. Sleep came with great difficulty. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. no one. after a slew of “unreadable.” and “lost” test results.
“If they got at me 18 months ago. They killed me. and he was afraid. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. but he threw it up. He vomited blood one morning. and now he’s dead. Freddy was my friend. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. They tried giving him formula. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. 2005. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. By October. looking through the glass at our little one. We named him William Kenrick.” There was no anger in his voice.100+ Months passed.” he told me. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. “By the time they did something. they probably could have saved me. but no treatment was administered. only resignation. it was too late.
milky scent is still there. I turn numb. But I knew something wasn’t right. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. only he was already lifeless..m. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. He will always be my first baby. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. just let go. Someday. The next day. which was declared a success. “Baby. he went. the smell… His sweet. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. But I swear. Jenelleish. At 1:30 a. my first son. Despite the pain. And for that. And I knew though he was gone. NCR. my first child. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. and whispered. Then I start crying again and eventually. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. his heart rate slowed. But if not.” And as soon as everybody was there. And oh. PHILIPPINES 129 . I still think of him. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. a smile formed on his lips. fight for it. I love him more and more each day. as soon as I held him. when I visited him. if you can still make it.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. At 3 days old. 32 Las Piñas City. he had to undergo an operation. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. only to realize that he’ll never come back.
Malachi Ephraim Florence. yet his passing was significant to me. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. I miss him deeply.m. My dad liked to sing and dance. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. in a better mood than usual. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. I didn’t shed one tear. After my dad’s death. enjoying the early morning light. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. But I didn’t cry. fishing. Dad une 15. But as a father. I dreamed about him every single night. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. he died suddenly and tragically. roller-skating. I was close to my father. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. Facing the cell door. I went through many phases.100+ I Miss You.. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. But after 5 years of marriage. he was really fantastic. and listening to music. from denial to 130 I .
yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. As a last minute thought. However. the final and hardest phase arrived. with great parents and friends. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. How sad that now sounds. Terri Giosia. I realized that what happened was out of my control. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I am now 45. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. a Christmas card. Québec. Life lost its luster. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. hate to indifference. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. I drank to escape and forget. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. After a long period of time. I sent my aunt.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. her youngest 131 I . had no meaning. 45 Montreal. happily single. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006.
many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. Soon after. The night before. she called every person she knew and read that poem. Dennis Forrest. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. especially when you are only seven years old.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. my mom had been taken to the hospital. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. 51 Rosharon. To the academic world. he said. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. But after all the miserable hospital visits. Not only did she call him. my poem may mean nothing. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. For two years. The doctor gave her three months to live.
the house. 16 Rexburg.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. My dad softly called me over. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. I learned about the will to live and the value of life from my mom who wanted to hold on long enough for us to remember her. My life was changed forever. but to help them through things the best you can. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. My father continued hacking. This experience has made me stronger. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. and even worked from home so he could be there. “Daddy. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. It went on and on. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. Aubrie. and us. too weak to walk to her bedroom. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. He took care of my mom. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. where it was warm. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I .
when I first met your family several years ago. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. offered me his condolences the best he knew how.” He was just twenty-four at the time. I had unfinished business with my father. Over the past few years. There were hard feelings between us. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. You settled your differences. like you did. but emphysema got him first. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. so I recognized it in both of you. closed his eyes. real sick. You see. from a prison payphone in the dark. He looked at my brothers. I knew he wanted to say something. and he was gone. so I stood there. with complications from lupus. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business.100+ asked. but the last time inexorably approached. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. exhaled. Even when he was here last time. as did my mother. not speaking. the reason I’m saying this. and that was a good thing. I begged him to quit for years. but he died before I got the chance.” 134 . and he loved you. collect. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. who knew my family well. We feared lung cancer. A prisoner friend. I wanted to make it up to him. healing wounds. too. waiting him out: “Charlie. Don’t ever smoke them. son. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. I could see that you loved your father. He said things. I admire what you did. I said things I’ve always regretted. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. I could tell.
While there. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. Norman. FL Slash nstead of going to court. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. His tears soaked into my suit coat. leaned his head on my shoulder. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. 135 I . I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. 59 Daytona Beach. I decided to slash my wrist. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. My cellie threw up. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. It was the least I could do. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. Charles P.
His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. I don’t anymore. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Evidently. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life.T. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck.” G. His eyes were half open.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. “Six months.100+ “Well. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .
just one word bellowed out of his mouth. Even the crazy guys had shut up. stood there for several seconds. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. perhaps. He had everyone’s complete attention. there was only solemn silence. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers.T R U E S T O R I ES was. With a bit of a dramatic flair. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. Then. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. But not at this moment. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. It was so still. Was he going to say a few kind words about the recently deceased? Maybe warn us about the dangers of unchecked depression? A short lecture. hung it back up on the wall. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. For the first time since I was there. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. CA 137 . San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I’m thinking. It opens. a football player. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. but I haven’t picked up a girl.” I say. it’s a habit of ours. my fraternity brothers. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. popular on campus. barging into her apartment. Because she was white. that it was a setup. “I came to see my girl. if no one else is here. a member of a fraternity.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. I’m telling myself that she wants me. she was white. not only to have fun. “Your girl is not here. racism at its best. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. 1982. I knock on the door. but also to pick up girls. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. she’s home alone. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. I was black. I want to be with a girl.” I step towards her. I was convicted. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. but it’s not my girlfriend. When it’s time to leave the club. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. 141 I . I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. I want some sex. I say. I’ve had fun. and it was my word against hers. For twenty years. the white system.” As I say this. sentenced to six years in prison. in front of a white jury. forcing myself in. angrily. and I’m in college. I only saw what I wanted to see. it’s her roommate. and a ladies’ man. we can have sex.
a wife. especially with men. So I tried. Ricky Quarles Vacaville.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. The fantasy of grandchildren. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence.100+ Today. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. for them. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. I had known that I was a disappointment. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. For sixteen years. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. faithfully. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. if I were to have a place in this world. forced attractions to women. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. pure houseboat.
and the burden of hiding was spirited away. all too well in fact. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . my sadness never faltered. I wrote a script. I am finally happy. And I knew. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. At seventeen. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. One day.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. that my parents felt the same. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. Daryl F. boring corduroy-wearers. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. with whom I constantly fought and argued. only for who I pretended to be. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. So I confessed my truths. 19 Hooksett. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. When I arrived..
I was literally paralyzed. it was swallowed hook. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. Knowing very little about astrology. line. 30 Maidstone. The audience was riveted by his magnetic personality and his cultured accent even when he said the Sun makes a revolution around the Earth every 25.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. and sinker. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. one male and one female.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. especially for clothes. but I always suspected that he was gay. His self-confidence saved the day. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. carried on like a trooper. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. Philippa. This brought about a case of stage fright. Kent. being a noble and resourceful man. Nicholas. He dated one girl 144 I . We didn’t date.
When he told me he was gay. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. Waterville. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. I didn’t really think anything of it. My parents said I was not gay and that they were going to send me to an island where nuns and priests would “fix” me. Jayne L. she was always a tomboy. but I never really suspected she was gay. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. especially since I had always suspected it.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. My friends just did . Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. However. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. As for my female friend.
the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. I fear losing my partner.” Within 10 days.100+ me. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. but I am a woman and therefore. They even sent me to a shrink. After three years worth of evidence gathering. knowing that if she 146 . and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. “Never mind. I was also advised by the dean at my junior high school to quit school and get a GED since the “students were not prepared for my lifestyle. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. We feel the judge was very homophobic. If I were a man.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. gays and lesbians are persecuted. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. who is from Peru. not me. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. As if things couldn’t get any worse. We are not giving it to her.” so we had to go back to court. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. Right now. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. too.” I did.
Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. These days. If anything. has taught me compassion. the most effective teacher. Aileen Diaz. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. the Ultimate Truth. TX 147 I . William Steed Kelley Huntsville. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. no different than any other heterosexual couple. 35 Tampa. she would be detained upon walking off the plane for speaking out against the homophobic Peruvian government and their police brutality! We are going through some tough times right now. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. the only thing that really matters to me is truth.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. but we did not lose ourselves. We lost everything. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. it has made us stronger and brought us closer.
MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. and I would never throw it in his face. Eloise Lebreton. I still love and respect him. You have to always be 148 C . I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. But on the other hand. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. On the one hand. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. I feel like an idiot. I probably would have been better off not knowing. Now. 30 Detroit. better not to tempt fate.
I have told few people of an incident that has caused me to despise myself for being a coward as well as Christianity and all its hypocrisy. They help.T R U E S T O R I ES on guard against succumbing to conditions that can spawn a state of mind so foul it can cause a young man in the prime of life to want to leave this realm. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. 149 A . Mike Rothwell Ione. I lived in Shreveport. One way is to keep doing those pushups. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. After church. I was allowed to play with a friend.” then there’s not much they can do about it. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. so you better learn to keep it at bay. Louisiana. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. It’s always going to be there. But if someone’s determined to “check out. No matter how upbeat you may feel.
molestation. her face contorted in rage. NC 150 . and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. Christian Missionary Alliance. Yurshta. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. at my tender age. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. was too much to handle. especially my mother. “You think this hurts motherf’er. and abuse. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. another ultrafundamentalist sect. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. He screamed in agony. She barged into the room screaming. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. I have been an atheist ever since. lit the gas stove. My friend’s mother yelled. 47 Old Fort.
T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. I swear. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. Gaby Hermann. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. Any kind of abuse. whether physical or emotional. I had nine miscarriages. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. I did not get angry with him. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. 26 Essen. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. should not be tolerated. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. I have never been physically beaten. demeaning. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. NETHERLANDS Harsh.
I was forced to call the cops. Then one day. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. INDIA 152 . Sonia. 36 New Delhi. Delhi.100+ with me. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.
Eerie Encounters .
until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. I don’t need to see to believe. my 155 I . Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. slight. although I’ve never seen one. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I keep swimming. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. swishing sound. Why would we want to be? Clarette. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. Aquatic Park. We cannot be alone. I listen for a moment to a strange. They are looking beyond me. In my nightmare.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. just a quarter of a mile farther. but I’m getting tired. 28 Salem. even Ghirardelli’s.m. I can see the people.
summoning me. Foster. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. About 5 years later.100+ arms are getting heavy. And then. 45 Delano. beginning to feel numb. Am I going crazy? Frank E. I am silently alone. Will Ferrara. And about a week after that. 24 Lawrence. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. MA 156 T . I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. The walls murmur. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I hear something in the distance calling me. When I was 18. to the deep water. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. out beyond the breakers. I awake. The waves crash. I’m only treading water. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river.
From that moment on. Shocked. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. On our way to the hospital. In October. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. while still aboard. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. 56 Alfonsine. a strange heat enveloped my body. One night. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. In the following days. too. Not long after. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. I dreamt that I was in Italy. my mouth stopped bleeding. ITALY 157 I . Almost twenty days later.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. I immediately called home. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I felt sick and went to sleep. In the dreams. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. at my uncle’s funeral. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. showing us that we were right. and we had no choice but to drink it. While alive. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. Ravenna. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth.
The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. but they continued moving and stretched me out. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I stood up and looked at its face. its feet dragging along the ground. I remember shaking like a leaf.. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. but late for work! Paddy J. It was then that I woke up. 19 Monaghan.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. as whatever I was looking at was far away. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. staring straight ahead. It was pitch black. I was squinting. I landed at the feet of the creature. It was my dad! At that moment.
I was in the bathroom. As I placed my canteen in the water. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. That left me speechless. When I turned to look. echoes from long ago. the vision of a tall.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. Hiking along the trail.” I thought. One evening. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. When I returned home. it had disappeared. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. 159 W . “I’ve been here before.” someone who knew the area told me. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. thin man. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. Enrique M. It was at this moment that I saw. Fernandez Miami. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. thinking about nothing. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. my mind completely blank. “That place is haunted. As nighttime fell. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall.
carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I remembered being there before. and the vision was gone. I have no idea what the vision meant. standing in that same spot. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. He walked towards me. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. still completely covered by the hood. Devon. hooded. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. Then. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. when I entered the King’s Chamber.100+ He was wearing a long. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. However. I have not had any such vision since. His face was shrouded in darkness.
AK.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. I came back to my present “reality. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. transferred his intelligence into my brain. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame.” Now. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. During this moment of déjà vu. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. 54 Auckland. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. and activated it. Misty. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. Then my former self stood in my body. the kind of dream that even in 161 W .” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. and don’t believe time is always linear.
Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet.B. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. facing myself. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. D. a little more aware. drifting like seaweed. I’m 59 now. They knew what was about to happen. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. trying to breathe… It wasn’t until one of my teachers started discussing the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher that I realized what I’d seen.100+ broad daylight seemed real. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. and a little less afraid. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. a little more settled. 59 West Roxbury. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I woke up taking short gulps of air. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I’m willing to see where it takes me. 162 I . slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. In my dream. but I didn’t. Lonn. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.
Jayne L. and quickly drifting away. completely powerless to stop it. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. and then was finally able to label my experience. After that. as I had in Spain. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. Since I was only 4 years old. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I survived the accident with no major injuries. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. Later. I watched shows on television. and we started to spin really quickly. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. “I need to get back. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. I learned the term years later. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I had no fear at all that I was going to die.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. The driver lost control of the vehicle. I started to read a lot of books. Waterville. when I moved 163 G . It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. which struck a barrier. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up.
Smiling kindly. it’s one of my many pastimes.100+ to Massachusetts. but with no success. facing him. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. One night. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. But for me. I knelt down on a pew. a few steps from the altar. he said. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. 37 Madrid. I got slowly closer. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. just one year before meeting Gabriele. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. A year later. at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is only going to a different level. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later.
in January 1991. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. 56 Alfonsine. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. Through telepathy. struck by his suffering. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. striking me like a storm. we became involved. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. I felt all his fear and pain. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. He vowed to marry me. To be sure. ITALY 165 . While I stared at him. so I left. I told him not to joke. Through telepathy. Ravenna. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. and I tried to help him. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. Then one night. but he had terrible secrets.
On some nights. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Soon after. I developed . I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. During the five trips I made out there. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. He tipped his hat and smiled. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. Then all of a sudden. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them.100+ I See Spirits spirit. NH.
it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. As I returned to where Betty was parked. We saw the usual lights in the sky. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. about 50 yards down the tracks. strobe for 30 seconds. a state psychologist friend of mine. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. but then. Other times.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. and then disappear. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. and into the sky. fly to some central point. who was also an amateur photographer. and meet. then they turned off. 70 Waltham. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. up a tree. Later. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. she suddenly pointed and yelled. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. First. accompanied me. On one occasion. MA 167 . On one of my last visits.
At Home & Abroad .
Russian caviar. or Puerto Rican dialect. Lately. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. We married and had a daughter. I once had plans to live in London. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. but life had a different destination in mind for me. where all were welcome and. as proof of dignity. Colombian. with a 3-year-old son. not financial statements. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. and completely broken by life.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. German perfume. and great America. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. but eventually we divorced.” My father used to talk of Hungary. had to show the INS hard-working hands. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee.
We don’t feel less American because of that. We all suffer when this happens. 36 Lennon. it reminds us that this country is great. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia.. Mare. Morales. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. MI There seems to be a misunderstanding about Patience is a Virtue immigrated “backwards” (to Mexico from the United States) to be with my husband. while others are trying to cheat the system.100+ Greece. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . the Dolphins.S. 54 Leominster. Nidia F. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U. on the contrary. we love Bach.
so I decided to move to his. harvesting crops. 27 Washington.C. apart from being unconscionable. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. My father is Mexican. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. We lived in tents. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. while my 173 Every year from June until September. my . It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. I had family there. Later in the summer. Then during the fall and winter months. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. and migrant camps.S. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant.S. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. it would have been too dangerous. we stayed in Livingston.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. illegally because. cars. D. Many times.
However. I struggled to learn to speak. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could.” “wet. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. I was embarrassed by my first language.” “greaser. In high school. Not only were the white students 174 . This is where I went to school. halfway through my junior year. School was a struggle from the beginning. I was held back in kindergarten. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. we took our baths in a big washtub. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. they had the opposite effect. read. Early on. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. this was not a quick or easy transition. our bathroom was an outhouse. However. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. they didn’t work. I realized that I was out of place in school. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. Because of school. mostly beans and tortillas. In fact. Spanish.” or “spic. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. In grammar school.100+ father worked for a local farmer.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. and write in English.
but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. a gringo wearing a tie. Although I was of Mexican descent. you know. and I had lost most of my Spanish. I didn’t seem to fit in. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction.S. To white students. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. I was born and raised in the U. I wasn’t Mexican.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. 50 Boston. the usual. but on the inside I acted like a white person. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. Raul Ybarra. My private class is in La Rinconada. “One hundred soles tonight.” I remind myself.. to the Mexican students. in theory. I wasn’t white. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. an enclave 175 I . “Now don’t run away on me. They will pay. not even two dollars. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer.
you are not Peruvian. “She’s not here. as big as a sandwich.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. No way. They will not associate my asking for food with begging.” “The señora is not here. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. never mind 176 . A broke American is beyond their comprehension.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima.” “That’s okay. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher.” I say. It’s ají amarillo.” “I know she’s not here. even your own paycheck. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. Matt. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. They don’t speak to me or to each other. I eye the tamal on the counter. I am cheered by the recognition. Remember. Two maids. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. I sit at the kitchen table. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. are washing dishes in the sink. If these families don’t find happiness here. I have classes with her kids. she told me to come inside and wait. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. with chicken bulging from its sides. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books.
An hour later. Mrs. The room grew eerily silent. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. Matt Wirzburger. and I came. 177 . They looked at each other to see who would answer. 40 Amesbury. “That’s what we all hope. I was told to come. It was the end of the month. MA My Nibble Out of The Big Apple I was wearing an almost-designer-brand business suit I arrived at Penn Station with admirable resolve. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. Some received their checks.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. others were given a song and dance. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. Wipe any sign of need from your face. and we were all waiting for our first check. That is the hard part: hiding the need. Chin up. I hear three honks. No way am I going home empty-handed. and springs out the door to the entrance. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. payday.
100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. The streets were numbered. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. A few blocks seemed all the further with my high heels already torturing me and the nerves regarding the pending interrogation nagging at the nucleus of my psyche. yet spaced widely apart. I was in the city “on business. Karen Manhattan. and only then. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. the whole city was there. It was then. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. I wasn’t alone. NY 178 . the city awoke and came to life. As dusk turned to darkness. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I felt that I had “made it there. It was well worth it. With briefcase in hand. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. After the much-anticipated grilling session.
14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. sarcastic. and stout. Irish. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. dry.” or “Yankland”. it’s “America. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable.S. we don’t.” “The States.. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them.” “Pop Idol. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. The 179 . 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. bitter. and sophisticated.e. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. they helped a great deal.” or “U. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. real ale. 4) Beer drinking is an art.”. and you must learn the difference between lager. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. 10) The English. French. etc. 12) It’s not the “U. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 7) Humour is subtle. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. Welsh.S.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole.T R U E S T O R I ES What I Learned from the British 1) Petrol stations are found at supermarkets and adverts before films. Scottish.A.
and body weight is stated in stones. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. Gavin S. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. Canadian.m. South African. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. If caught being rude. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media.. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. they’ll take the non-Yank.100+ Beatles. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 23 Jacksonville. apologise profusely for it. FL 180 . 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you.m. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 23) American coins don’t have their values on them (How would any foreigner know that a nickel is worth 5 cents and dime worth 10? It doesn’t say!). not pounds. Rolling Stones. Pink Floyd).
I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. crimson berries. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. Although decades have passed.” which spans in black swirls over the island. Pearl Harbor. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. We discovered Diamond Head. We took off from the claustrophobic.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. my parents and I arrived at . Native and unique to Hawaii. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. and Waikiki Beach. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground.
MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. ovular. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. 29 Tultitlán. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding.100+ large. Gutierrez. Estado de México. I remember wanting to return… H.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . B.” Despite my pitiful German.
I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. However. crying. 21 Lübeck.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. green hills and plains. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. Along the road. however unfounded that emotion may be. destruction everywhere. I packed up my leased . I even felt a bit guilty. I experienced an unexpected. To them. Standing in St. I imagined civilians screaming. Marien’s church in Lübeck. we were the enemy. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. For the first time since the early eighties. eerie feeling. checked 183 In late October 1998. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. but never forgotten. Gisela. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. I knew it was war. and running in all directions. that it was them or us. Schleswig-Holstein.
100+ into small motels. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. delightful little restaurants. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. There is always a scent of sage in the air. TN 184 . Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. I spent days at the Pueblo. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. and visited various museums.
The Toughest Job in the World .
T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I planned a Caesarean. Needless to say. we did not make it to the hospital. For our first child. So. For child number two. I knew what to expect. he did just that. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way.m. so on the 20th. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. My due date of June 19th came and went. after being able to share this special bond. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. At 3:30 a. Krista. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. I was awakened abruptly by contractions.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital.. which is about 45 minutes away.
but fairly frequently.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. He’d slowly read the comics to me. car payments. grocery bills. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. and Tarzan of the Apes. All was good in the world. Alley Oop. The car would stop. not working as he was the rest of the week. and read each one aloud. Dan and Tom). and my mother would call us for breakfast. He’d take off the rubber band. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. Friday evenings were always a thrill. By then. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. Daddy would get out. prop himself up on his elbows. Joe Palooka. I had no concept of rent. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. My . then I’d beg him to read them just once more. spread them open on the wood floor. bacon. lie down. the smells of biscuits. It was just the three of us. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. take out the Sunday comics. The Texarkana Gazette. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. Not every week. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. and two more on the way (my brothers. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it.
a frown on her face. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Norman. Times were hard. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. begging him for a ride in the new car. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. I cried. (On Friday evenings. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. 189 The first time I saw my son. I went to a place filled with noise. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. I felt desperate. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. and lights.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. or at least pretend to. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. and his weight. but because I thought I had failed. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. but I never realized it.T R U E S T O R I ES him. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. 1. They said he was beautiful.220 grams. Not with . Finally. Charles P. Sebastian. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. tubes. 59 Daytona Beach.
I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. I gained knowledge. and I prayed. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. and hope flooded me. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. I talked to him. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Lisa. wanting to 190 I . I cried. Each week. fear. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. I ached to still be pregnant. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. I began to sob. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. He was so fragile and exposed. besieged by guilt. After a week. 36 North Andover. I was discharged. At long last. Outside. pride. I sang to him. Over time. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. leaving my baby behind. and confidence. and mourning. Sebastian exceeded all expectations.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. Relief. patience. I became determined to care for him. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood.
or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse.. Right now. driving to our new “hunting spot. But tonight. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. I remember what I was like as a teenager and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle my wouldbe children when they become teenagers. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. or getting into drinking. Suzanne. we weren’t there to look at.m. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. and I 191 I . or gangs. I don’t have any desire to find out. my father and I were in his truck. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. or feed the deer. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. At about 3 a. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. or having trouble with the police. and I was twelve years old.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. drugs. Though I was only twelve. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. pet.
It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. . they were already there. We drank beer on the way home. You can take a picture and freeze time. checked for traffic. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. with the click of a camera. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. I didn’t even have to call the deer. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. By the time he got there. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Steven Small. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. 43 Jessup. I took my spot and waited. I snuck up to the fence line. a second of your life.
Don’t we all wish we could be this free. Kelly. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. Part of me wanted to pull her away. I cherish every moment captured. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. but those moments stay behind. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. New moments are constantly being created. sipping a chocolate shake. moments are forgotten. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. and sadly. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. 30 Martinsburg. without a care in the world. Life goes on. I 193 M . My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. but something was unleashed in me. Sitting on a stool at the counter. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. I didn’t expect much. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one.
collectables. It was in seventh grade. I was proud to be her son. Those are old coins. crisp. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean.” One day. Dorothy. he left. She quit school to marry him. Her green eyes sparkled. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. and well fitting. and a few coins went into my piggybank. the afternoon waitress. “Those aren’t for spending.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. “I did my best. I couldn’t take it anymore. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. John. Mama was beautiful. without any explanation. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. “Why didn’t you finish school so you could get a good job? Are you always gonna work in a café?” It all traced back to Daddy. “Your Mama works for tips.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. He had promised to take care of us. Someday they’ll put you through college.” she said with tears 194 . I rushed home with some questions for Mama. One day. I do my best. Everyday. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Some streetwise kids set me straight. my first year in middle school. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be.
Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. a letter came from Dorothy. They let me go home for the funeral. shame for being poor. not love. that’s what it was. All my love turned into shame.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. I handed the money back to Dorothy. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. My middle-school friends had seen to that. One day. There was just nothing I could respect about her. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. Mama wrote every day. Something with angels on it. Mama asked if I needed anything. Mama’s friend at the café. shame for having no Daddy.. Mama sent cookies. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. But something was missing from my letters. She’d died of breast cancer.. I wouldn’t need it. Respect. Before she died. Oh sure. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Mama was gone. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. After it was over. TX 195 .” John Yarbrough Rosharon. I wrote back. I didn’t go to college after high school.
” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. Occasionally. I pulled out all the papers. She would fill out some papers.S. When I did. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. sit back down. “Mom. “An abortion.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. When outside. map. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. “Last case for today. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. and wait to be called into another room. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. In the front. but there were no magazines. “Mom. a lady came out and said. she answered. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. put them in my lap. She must have known that I would see it. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. we got into the boiling car. a man or woman would call out a number. I opened the glove compartment. I looked at the gas gauge and said. and devoured them one by one.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. no television. but her face wore the same void expression. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. Finally. no books. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. and headed back to my mom’s apartment.
When she turned to look at me.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . No. 37 Mitchellville. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. for me. you’re just like Auntie Doll. It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. everybody in the world. It wasn’t the welfare office. Yvette Louisell. she yelled. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. lack of food. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. but someone else. or the bills. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. when I was ten. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. I was sitting outside on the front steps. sat down beside me and said “Hello. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day.
“You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. but Ma said she would handle it herself. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. After twenty minutes. Ma smiled and hugged me. I got home empty-handed. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. Big John. That little girl was no fool. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. Needless to say. The next thing I knew. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. what had happened. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. “Down the block. got a damp washcloth. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door.” she said. both became angry. She 198 . “Green house. I took Ma’s hand.100+ girl in the world. Then. “No. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. She said love makes you do crazy things. Big John wanted to go down there. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding.
and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. George Hughes. 66 Burkeville. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. VA 199 . are you all right?” He nodded. “My God. “Take it! It’s all there. warning him not to touch us again. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. who had been putting away groceries.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. but we laughed and laughed like never before. screaming. His wife. snatched the bag. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh.T R U E S T O R I ES looked at me through tear-stained eyes and pulled me into her arms and held me for quite a while. stood by the refrigerator. we got a smile. Meanwhile. and left. we got the jewelry back. Then he walked over to the counter. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. Ma ran to him. “You like to beat up on women and kids. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid.
saying. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. you made him cry. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. one of Michael’s many siblings. “Have you not got anything to say?” I began to cry as I stood up and looked at my folks just sitting there on our porch. but my dad sat her back down. screaming. and look. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. saying. “Oh it’s all right. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. you scared the poor boy.” 200 O . My mother had gotten to her feet. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. look what you did. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. I looked over.” the man screamed at me. I hit the ground again. “Don’t look to your folks for help. “Now run on home. more surprised than hurt. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. you little sissy.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. With the fork in one hand. he leaned over me.
and a warm. More mad than sad. I can’t be there to save you.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. Very calmly. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food.” I’ll ever forget what he said. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. trying not to look at me.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. I think. Hours later.” she said as she dried my tears. I ran to my room.” I answered. new shoes every fall. clothes to wear. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. and offered me cookies. just thinking. at the dinner table. 201 . he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. but sternly. Peck was yelling at me. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. “My little wunderkind. “Thinking. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. dry house to live in. Grandma Berg was inside. help Grandma eat this. I looked at her then at my father. She almost whispered.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. One of these days. “No more with the neighbors. my little lipschkin. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. I said. Later.
Your father. He got to me like no other student that year. He was full of jokes. In casual and cruel black and white print. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. and intelligence. He also loved conflict. a name leapt at me. Too much thinking for one so young. Dream the dreams boys dream. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. no more you thinking. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. Sun coming soon. You must be sleeping now. 51 Corcoran. tomorrow is better day.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. CA The Sand Dollar by time. They remain frozen in my subconscious. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. Grandma is old woman. I received a devastating student update. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. Thomas Michael Fox. unchanged . songs. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. but Grandma knows things. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. As I scanned the newspaper. chores to doing. In the classroom. Quiet now. as the elementary students they were.
T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I was mad. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. Stacey Curran Conway. I always wondered if I got through to him. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. Now one found me. just a headstone. I stormed down the beach. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. no one got to me like him. He could always make people smile. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. Reading the article through blurred eyes. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. I smashed my heels in the sand. Then the ocean placed a perfect. an 11-year-old in leather. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . He would nod. I knew his story now. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. But even now. smile broadly. So much wasted. cursing him. and dance away. He wasn’t my first lost boy. but he was the star. MA If Not Me. I saw I hadn’t. 36 Wakefield. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. I hadn’t found one for years. so much lost.
of the students who might never make it to college without help. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream.100+ of what my students can become. In some pretty tough school districts. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. sworn at. pooh-poohed. Finally. and administrators with agendas.” Back then. however. Surprisingly. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. and rehired. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have come to the end of myself. I’ve been insulted. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. I think. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. students with social problems. living wages. RIF’d. I sit 204 . I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I have stood in line. and kept students in line. I have helped a teenager learn how to read.
T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. Unruly students aside. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . and 8th graders. 34 Framingham. much less trusting. Unfortunately. not a real course. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. Zora. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. more wary. 7th.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. I remember having to call up a mother after her son made a comment to the class about having me perform oral sex on him. for a new vision. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. Spanish was seen as an elective. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. at the school where I taught. I would be mortified. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th.
It takes a special kind of person to teach children. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. silence.100+ those who do. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. 29 Norwich. Most were sensible enough to sit. His eyes were constantly glazed over. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. I hope that someday. Sitting. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. Attempting to gain control. I could survive the duration of this profession. Julia Perez. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. remnants of a continuous high. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . Ted continued to wander about. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. If I could survive this class. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. At the start of a usual class. the vicious three-headed hellhound. Even Dante would have struggled in this room.
As the class waited for my reaction. but how was his bite? Move he did. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. Enjoy guarding hell.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. Wait. “Okay Ted. “Take your best shot.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted.” the child said confidently. MO 207 . you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. I decided on the only rational thing. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. I had stunned the high right out of him. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. His bark was mighty. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. I have to call the principal to come get you.
Stacey. 45 Brame. 95 Barchard. 145 Donna J. Eugene Alexander. 135 Christie. 33.C.T. Robert Hal. G. 60 Aleman. James. 166 Antzes. 130 . 122. 202 Daryl F. Matthew. 53 Curran Conway. 102 Elliott.. J. Aila. Adelle. 22 Aubrie. Fernanda. Lance.. Cynthia. 19.. 75 Carrillo.Author Index AK. 155 Corson. 96 Anonymous. 172 Allen.. Aileen. 47 Balic. 44 Anonymous. 51. 37.. 100 Burns. 121 Boner. Sue Ellen. Malachi. 32 Brown. 127 Diaz. D. Tom “Wolf ”. 70 Best. 132 Babb. 142 Dey. 111 Amberchele. Christopher. 166 Ephraim. 61 Clarette. José. 79 Anonymous .
123 Gavai.. 115 Fernandez. 124 Hughes. 179 Giosia. 131 Foster. Frank E. 28. 156 fightingsurvivor19 .B. Mary. 30. 92 Gallegos. 45. Will. George. 74. Enrique M.. 155 Fox. 147 Kelly. 110 Forrest. 144.Errani Emaldi. 164 F.. Pilar. Gaby. Gene W.. 115 Hayley. 17. William Steed. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 97 Hermann. 182 Gonzalez-Caro.. 158 Ferrara. 163 Gutierrez.G. 53.. H. Dennis. 177 Kelley. 98. 62. 125 Hayden. 181 Harris. Thomas Michael. Hector. 59. 128 Jolene. 94 . 200 Galilea. 116 Hathorn. 80.A. 130 Gisela. 197 Jackson. 77 Gavin S.. Elisabetta.. 40 January. Spoon. 36. 151 Higgins. 109 Karen. 162 Jenelleish. Daniel H. Terri. 157. 101 Jayne L.
Nidia F. 183 PC. 86 Mare. Eloise. 172 Mayo. Zachary. 161 Loomer. Michael. Gary. 59 Morales. D. Scarlet. 171 Murff. Kitty. 99 Quarles.. 148 Salinas. Prashant Devan. 93. 91 Rothwell. 73 Lebreton. 107. Charles P. Jan. 23 . 85 Rose. 188 Paddy J. 69. 160 Momo. Santonio. Mike. 136.. 67 Misty. 206 Louisell. Yvette.B. 25 McKenzie. 133. Ricky. 122. Mark D. 148 Lisa. 77 McLean.. 21 LeBeau. 143 Priscilla. 20. Miriam. 189 Lonn. 88 Norman.Krista. 92 Perez. 71 Richards. 108 Philippa.. 187 Kumar. Norton. Julia. Byron. 141 Redfearne. 87 McKenna. 205 Pete. 196 Mansour. Brigitte. 32.. 158 Pauli.
173 Yeyo. Melvin William Joseph. 55 von Fuller. Idris. 15. Steven. John. 95 Yochum. Dinorah. 63 Wirzburger. 191 Sonia. Bronwyn. J. Agatha. 193 Ybarra. 90 Torres. 85 Tedesco. 175 Yarbrough. 16 Shurley. 39 Yurshta. 87 Small. 159 Wantz. 41 Shelly. 34 Zora.. 42 Windoftheclyde. Kurt.. 190 Suzy. Matt. 50 Theoharides. 149 Zephyr.E. 151 Suzanne. 114 Vogt. 203 . Adela. Raul. Alexander J.Samuel.
MA 01840 . Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse. 2009. Massachusetts.A.S. U. Inc.100 Plus True Stories. Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence.
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These firsthand accounts.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.100plusts. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.com. reflect. facing myself. written as memoirs. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. Now you are invited to do the same. Many people are telling their true stories. floating in the air.. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world... What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. Upon being published. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. but with a different outlook on life–and death.. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.. or confessions.com.100plusts. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch..The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. cry. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard.” “A week before my 26th birthday. The best stories were selected for this book. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. These are true stories told by people like you.com $19.99 9 781598 351095 . who were eager to share their experiences. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt.100plusts. illustrate life’s many.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.” “. anecdotes. and remember.
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