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
Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. desires. living on many different bases. bitterness. images. Malachi Ephraim Florence. On March 3. Dennis Forrest. AZ I 19 . I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. By 18. and drug addiction. 51 Rosharon. 2007. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. my mother passed away from cancer. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. By the 8th grade. Nevada in 1968. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. Due to anger. My father was a career serviceman in the Army.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. so I grew up as an Army brat. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. can be revealed to the world.
I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. in a week. and acting. For quite a while now. listening. day out. freedom to expand my horizons. and their condition. tomorrow. and I can look at them neutrally. When I do little jobs. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. to search spiritually. Listening now requires my full attention. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. their heaviness. I know I am finally awake to life. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. such as putting up books in the library. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. to develop boundaries.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. I rejoice in the art I produce. Today. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. Yet. 20 N . I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. I am aware of the way their covers feel.
or spiritual. find true freedom. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. and Thich Nhat Hanh. As a matter of fact. or strangers away. love. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. But for now. once I am given the chance. Yeshe. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. mental. In closing. my learning continues. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. Lamas Rinpoche. and compassion and when they do.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. be they physical. teachers. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I know I will. I can easily mix with just about anyone.
” That same day. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. Prashant Devan Kumar. She had 22 M . “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. 18 Cheras. 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. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. but didn’t join in the conversation. As I listened to my mom. Kuala Lumpur. I took in what the kids were saying. 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.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. I thought to myself. She broke the news to me as best as she could. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year.
and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. TYC. 23 hours a day. not caring that there was no Santa. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. confined to a one-man cell. I remember sitting in the car. only thinking about those fucking stickers. 24 Queens. and wonder. Seg. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. juvie halls. their world becomes a mental one. reflect. Food is brought to me. imagine. 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. Every time I am taken out of my cell. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. That day. I grew up in boys’ homes. I’m a dude from the ‘hood.). I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. That’s all we do in these cells: think. dream. with life to go. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. feel. You have to have 23 I . ponder.
and I got life in prison. I saw his point and I left things as they were. I was alone. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. Trust me. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. and everything went to shit from there. I think now how naïve I was. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. run. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. In the end. watching the clerk close up shop. I’d done it a dozen times. It is something that I truly am sorry for.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. But to 24 . I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. It was a robbery gone bad. 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. and no one gets hurt. staking out the store from across the street. There were three. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. The next day.
not benign crap. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. I mean. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. 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. Watch the crap. 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. Holes everywhere. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. o. I’m looking at this car. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. all observant and such. It’s a mess. in which the author served as part of the U. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it.S. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. No way. it’s not going anywhere. Look at the car. if you’re lucky. right.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. I’m thinking. I’m not moving. Crap is strewn everywhere. I’m keeping my pieces. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Big holes. I think about that shit. Watch the crap. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. Yeah.
I. hold privates. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. I’ve been so careful all of these months. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. and mines scatter everywhere. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. or tunnel vision. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. I curse myself for being so stupid. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. Good night.—R. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. this “Desert Storm. right on the crap. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. grenades. cars now. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I didn’t even see this stuff. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two.” or whatever you call it. with maybe a little inscription saying.P. Whoever’s firing those damn things. K.I. but I don’t care. I’m sick of this crap. from messing my mind up further. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. with holes in them all. I’m holding my privates. 26 . stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. Now. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone..” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. How many days have I been awake? Damn. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. well. hundreds of them.A. RPG rounds. I’m angry. I figured I’d hang on to something.
vehicles are everywhere. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. I don’t want to look. too. I do. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. The glazed eyes give it away. It’s hard to tell. unless they shortened the fuses. I don’t like the burned ones. It was fun for a minute. His ID card falls out. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. but like some sick voyeur. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. 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. No stench. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Damn. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. The pictures don’t lie. again. Is 27 . I know I’m not dead. right? The ones I see are fresh. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. I don’t want to end up like him. They look like statues. maybe.
we stepped 28 I .” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. that damn war. We’ll have that in common. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. we will celebrate. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. hoping his son will return from down South. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. from that war. Probably not. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. his son—maybe even himself. I want no part of it. If that’s heroism. Mark D. They’ll never know me. “Yes.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. pictures don’t lie. handcuffed.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. the Americans. and shackled. McKenna Columbus. They’ll never know what happened to him. The hero died with a scream on his lips. One by one waist-chained. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. No.
T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. indeed. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. In retrospect. The restless. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. mountains. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. 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. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. 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. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. 29 . That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. 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. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere.
in some cases. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. the lunacy of a previous occupant. a vacuum of uncertainty. and. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. It’s a world of its own where. Hector Gallegos Otisville. boredom. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. I found that I was not alone in this realization. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. for most. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty.100+ Looking around me. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. sealed off from everything and everyone. This is 30 M . but no one dared speak of them. While I was in there. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting.
My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle.. She has a son now. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. Will Ferrara. 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. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. but I had no luck. We used to have a very healthy relationship. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. 24 Lawrence. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. MA 31 . and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary..
but that made me feel worse. Three years later. I always felt lonely.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. where I am today. After 15 years there. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . stole an airplane. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I escaped. 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. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. and began robbing banks. I was always sad. 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. flew to Florida. I grew up spoiled rotten. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. They never really understood that there was something wrong. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later.
but only for a little while. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. Cars speed by. but there was something missing. I had friends and a boyfriend. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. When I started middle school. This made me feel good. Momo. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops.T R U E S T O R I ES me. Now. I started therapy. and was put on progressively stronger medication. so I always tried to help them. 16 Richmond. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. Lights come on. It’s going to be hard to get better. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. but I was already highly unstable by then. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. or mine. This year. and I am doing a lot more for myself. and then my house caught on fire. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. 33 I . It wasn’t her fault.
This is why. you’re hungry. You think to yourself. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. I am still alive.T. It’s cold. You have nowhere to go. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk.100+ homeward bound. nothing to eat. nowhere to sleep. your feet hurt. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. 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. for one reason or another. I have met a variety of people in prison. 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. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. many homeless people end up in jail.. G. I have been fortunate. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. God has been looking out for me. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.. under the three strikes law. no one to call.
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. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. I thought it was my husband. Without warning. My husband and I filed a police report right away. My husband and Joe came to blows again. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. They say most 35 .” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. and the rest of the family awoke.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. My husband. We all had a few too many. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. my case was thrown out of court. In their eyes. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. So Joe walks free. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. I must have asked to be raped. I brought it upon myself. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. his brother. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. Nonetheless. I immediately told my husband and we left. During the car ride home. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same.
Zephyr Chicago.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I love to write books and short stories. and for the past 10 years. Men ask me. you almost have to be a bank robber. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . We had six kids—with so many kids. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. trying to survive among savage men. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. drug dealer. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. or crooked politician. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. I just took the money and ran. but I am always in a good mood. I keep getting turned down for parole. while the victims get a life sentence. and I made it without becoming one of them. When I got locked up. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. I’ve been a model inmate. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. for all the good it’s doing me. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer.
the car. I share love. and my innermost thoughts and desires. George Hughes. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. At fourteen. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. 1982. my parents became legally separated. Mom got a new apartment. not die. 63 Burkeville. I turned fourteen. tears. and us three kids. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. they are good people with good hearts. I love writing. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. laughter. but all’s well in the end. That summer. sadness. flavors that today I’d die for—well. but I put the truth out there for all to read. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. When I’m writing. compassion. Writing is like having an affair. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. anger. like taste good food. And it all transpired in 37 O .T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next.
and inexplicably. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. sister. “Mom. and put them on. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom.100+ less than an hour. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. and me. In 1982. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. picked out a pair. And by the age of eighteen. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. By fifteen. looking down at my new wet shoes. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. I went over to the shoe department. I took off like a bat out of hell. On the very last day of summer. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. not enough to panic. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. I wasn’t too concerned. sprinting as fast as possible. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . So I decided to steal. at fourteen. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. Like an NFL running back. Once outside. Once inside. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. but here it was. Then I put on all three new shirts. I burst through the front door. My friends would have surely made fun of me. I was in State Prison. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on.
This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. OH 39 I . “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. they said. When I was finished with him. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. 18 Mowrystown. I asked why I was being arrested. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. 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. Obviously shocked. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. To my complete surprise.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. Six days later.
in the same room. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. 40 N . Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. and lack of feelings. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. how he cared for her. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. and soul. The judge gave me life without parole. From then on. mind. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. I felt that what I did was wrong. During my trial. and mean words. I deserved to do some time and make amends. ignorance. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. hitting and abusing her. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. I was ready to be judged and convicted. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. At nineteen. and when one falls. though he never loved her. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. my mom and dad came to visit me. fights. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. with a common goal. My mom’s eyes held a million words. Before. but the fact is I did. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. I killed someone. In the depths of my heart and soul. It was good to see them together. the others are there to pick him up. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen.
Spoon Jackson. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. but now everything seems tight. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. but I see only the negative things. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. fleeting hope. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. but my will to survive took over. 50 Represa. I’m getting older. Money never used to be an issue. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. I need to budget. smiles. but I take no initiative to start the process. Besides. I have no friends in this new city.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. I was naïve. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. and violent unrest. I came from the desert. but they all have lives.
My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. 27 Toronto.100+ before I go to bed. Idris Samuel. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. For someone like me. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. a dead father. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. I’m not stuck in one place. In the few months that I’ve been writing. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. my pen is capturing everything. brought up in me. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. 42 I . the only escape that I found was with a knife. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. I even see things in a more positive light now. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. inconspicuous notebook. but moving slowly in the right direction. go into a small. I see that in spite of my depression. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. All of those negative ideas. Ontario. mixed with big dreams of happiness.
But then. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. While in prison. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. it merely put them on hold. light-headedness. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. It had become a habit. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. a need for the chemicals in the formula. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. While incarcerated. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. While on probation in 1995. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. never directly addressed. As I look back on the role that the drug played. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. new problems arose. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present.
but I never thought it would result in depression. but my reaction to them is not the same. much clearer. and once it does. 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. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. J. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. Now the reality I face is my own life. 13 44 I . Wantz Salem. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. the present is much.100+ stable. I am a different person. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. you will be twice as strong. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass.E. Anonymous. it’s too short and too precious. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. Think about who really loves you. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Never waste life. And the present is where I have to live. I’ve always had low self-esteem.
Thomas Michael Fox. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. I have turned my attention back to God. cultural arts centers. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. community centers.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. Now I try. 51 Corcoran. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. 1958 in Elgin. I began to start to feel differently about myself. writing helped. Illinois. I ended up in prison for life. 45 G . After getting sober in 2001. The son of a research chemist. alcohol. and pornography. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs.
On the day the winner was to be announced. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. prison scenes. at the age of 17. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . vatos locos. my name was called. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11.100+ youth programs. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. Then. When I was in second grade. This history.and 12-year-olds. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. Mexican revolutionaries. and indigenous themes. migrant workers. The second and third place runners-up were announced. my school sponsored an art contest. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance.
Today. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. The guard was two feet in front of me. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. I had to get in the same cage. cash. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. there was no turning back. I fuse images using words. a new tradition: poetical muralism.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. and obtaining the other articles took time. watching every move during a strip search. José Boner Boscobel. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. a hacksaw blade. manufacturing the rope. I consider myself first a poet. camouflage the cut marks. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. Octavio with Orozco. a freehand artist second. And yet. Securing the tools. Siquierod with Cisneros. metaphors. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. and crazy juxtapositions.
and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. but they could see every move I made. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. I was balls-to-the-wall. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. and I was sweating a puddle. already packed with the gear. every muscle was taut. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. or nerves. In a few minutes. 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. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. my arms were screaming. There was no time for hesitation. I could see everything. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. doubt. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on.100+ primitive. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. I slung the rope over my shoulder. I was going. I was through and bent back the bars. but the meshing distorted clear vision. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. It was going according to plan 48 . The cage was shaking and rattling. D-day. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap.
I should have made gloves. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. through what I’ve gained and learned since. from doubt. But that feeling of open air on my skin. from regret and anxiety. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. I attempted to crawl away. it was too late for solutions. I’d escaped. I was lying on the rooftop. guards. outside the confines of the jail. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. Babb Corcoran. cages. CA 49 . D. I know I’ve never been freer. but now I would to fall to my death. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. The rope burned through my fingers.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. free from fear. needed more knots… whatever the problem. but couldn’t move. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. It was too thin. I know from consequential. Yet.
” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. and by the time I did. I thought I loved him. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. nothing. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. not losing his license. it was too late. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.I. he just kept hitting rock bottom. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W .100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D.s. Alcohol would always come first. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. 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. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. which never came. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight.U. One time. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. not getting pancreatitis. There was no wake-up call. but the key was jammed. He attempted to shut off the ignition. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. no matter what. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated.
thugs. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Adela Tedesco. 23 Hollywood. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. I had seen and done a lot. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. drugs were simply a hustle. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I had lived an interesting life. simply liked the quick. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. To me.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. Crimes were what thieves. Unfortunately. a man with a past. that was for sure. free dope. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. In my 33 years. not a crime. victimless cash. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. who in the present. and sexual predators committed.
our families. I’m surely not the devil. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. things are different.” There are the pro-drug war. Then there are those of us. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. it protects the innocent. Now. for all practical purposes. not the solution. I argued it at every level: in the media. and with whoever.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. I’m arguing against it one more time. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. at this fateful juncture of my life. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. at the university. this time. I participated in the discourse. While I’m no angel. either. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. the entire world of academia. It helps those unable to defend themselves. as an activist. Yet. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. CA 52 . There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. at stake: my entire life. I understand the necessity for law and order.
I felt it starting at my feet. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. coming up my legs. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. They destroy lives. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. until it took over my whole being. However. and nothing good ever comes of them. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. So many people believe that they are invincible. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. 24 Little Compton. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. even though they know that there are great risks. my stomach and chest. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. There are always consequences. riding through space in 53 O . that nothing will ever happen to them. One of the guards supplied it. there are new users every day. Lance Corson. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil.
I stood in the corner. falling. across my stomach. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. dying for a fix. my back to the wall. gritting their teeth. bad. My stomach was cramping. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. falling. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. my heart pounded violently. I was terrified! I found myself falling. only inches left to stand on. holding on to my elbows. My body was curled. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin.100+ the dead of darkness. I needed a fix. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. My muscles 54 . I began to shake all over. There were monsters with long tails down there. The floor closed up as I hit it. I walked around with my arms in front of me. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. Then I nodded off. I was freezing all over. and I could feel the cramps coming. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs.
If I were on the street. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. playing too loudly. “Get out of my house.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 opened the back door and said. not shoveling the sidewalk right. 66 Burkeville. jumped out.” Now 55 . I kicked at her. not cleaning the dishes right. petty reasons. God and I both love you. not scrubbing the floors right. steal. 2002. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. and sell anything and everything. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. lie. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. George Hughes. But I wasn’t. My mother passed away on October 2nd. to get a fix. Mom grabbed a frying pan. Mother. There was no fix at hand. including their own souls. One day. wetting the bed. 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. and 10.000 other small. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. “No more. got down on the floor and beat me with it.
I don’t dislike her. TX 56 . Melvin William Joseph Vogt. 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 hate my mom. 67 Amarillo. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her.100+ I can never say it to her.
Sex & Seduction .
you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. an orgasm. This is what occurs at 18. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. it will occur over time. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. Québec. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. I 59 M . Terri Giosia. 45 Montreal. But for the young woman. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. and fulfillment after the first time. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. 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.
At the beginning of high school. We have known each other since before we can remember. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. I always tell my friends. Now. that even though it’s your first time. We decided we were ready. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. I will spare 60 I . I did it for me. not because he wants to.100+ beg to differ. people would assume we were twins. we had sex. it won’t be your last. Don’t be scared. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. 16 Richmond. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. Do it because you want to. who are ready to lose their virginity. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. When we were little. Momo. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. If you know your body.
anyway. Later in the evening. interesting story to tell. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. we said. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. squealing. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. I grabbed her. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. and we locked ourselves in. Obviously laughter. and crying ensued. Almost at the same time.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. I ran into my best friend. at a “well-supervised” party. he wields 61 I . that is not what is important. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. AK.
This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. but girly mags are his main source of info. tempt. Christie. it’s like having a little harem. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. 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 basks in their attention. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds.100+ considerable power by yelling. NSW. rubbing his feet and back. being sarcastic. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . or backstabbing us to our bosses. however. if the woman is appealing enough. turning him over. feeding him like a baby. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. However. changing his urine bag. and showering and grooming him. 54 Sydney. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice.
his complete awareness of 63 I . That is. smile. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. However. the golden rule for seduction. one cannot seduce. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. a smile. It is not real. It is stating the obvious. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. Without confidence. With a glance. a look. 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. this type of seduction is an illusion. it’s possible to seduce anyone. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. Québec. 45 Montreal. Once that is accomplished. as upon sobering up. beyond a shadow of a doubt. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. His hand rested on my forearm. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. 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. body language. unless a lot of alcohol is involved.
he breathed my name.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. for they would make me look like a weakling. his lips fell on my hips. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. Windoftheclyde. I felt his back tensing against my hands. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. 27 Santiago. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. I pleaded with them not to show up. Never had a burden been more welcome. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. but my anticipation was no longer tender. Always the seeker. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. On the brink of a thrust. True to their word. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. My ways were haphazard. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. but my pretensions made no difference to them. In a shadowy whisper. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead.
Small Miracles .
The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. It becomes routine. I know that no one can get in without the key. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. in the darkness. rather familiar. and often after a long day. I do my deepest thinking there. I am human. I should hate the cell.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. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. amongst the prison population. I even welcome the closing of the door. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I’m locked in. I know I have to be locked in. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. 67 T . It’s merely that while I’m in prison. I’m on guard seven days a week. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. I cry in the cell where no one can see me.” Out there. As a person. but once inside my cell. With a twist of a key. At times. Late at night.
I have not experienced silence in years. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. I don’t hear anyone talking. listen to the radio. and I write my loved ones there. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. To the outside observer. yet. The cell door is now closed. while here in prison. but I’m in good company. Ironically. the cell is a paradox because in reality. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. a melody of pleasant proportions. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison.100+ I pray in the cell. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . It never is truly quiet here. read a book. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. and loneliness. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. or write a letter to my family or a friend. these sounds are tranquil. The cell is my castle until I reach home. The walls seem to hum.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. despair. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. The cell is a hellhole. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. I’m alone. To be honest. When the cell door shuts. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame.
“Let us show you the way. in it were four angels. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. In a small. and have the power to choose. 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. bleed. though their faces were human-looking. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. I’m human: I feel. showing another dimension. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. Michael McLean Beacon.m. love. we have been there before. I also laugh. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. cry. and I was filled with awe.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. They looked invincible. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. think. 69 I . NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. I was lying in the dark.
I lived in a house for what seemed like years. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. Misty. guarded from dark forces. 54 North Shore City. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators.100+ white. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. Auckland. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. “Oh no. but time operates differently there. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. I thought to myself.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. there really wasn’t any time to react. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. At that instant. 70 I . I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. circular spaceship. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I saw a van coming straight towards me. knowing order reigned in the next world. waiting to make a left turn. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along.
would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. Where we die should be no less important. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. I considered the importance of what I was doing. including me. a brand new box of pills.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. It was a very surreal experience. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. I chose Mount Sanitos. “Wow. “Sorry about that. It is important to find the right place for an ending. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . I sat there thinking to myself. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. 38 Methuen. Hey. In the breast pocket of my jacket. and in the hand-warmer pocket. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. Ever since that day.
The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. like someone hit the reset on my brain. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. but they sensed me there. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. “He’s here. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. When the east finally began to warm. Necessary and common. I finally reached the top. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. There was a flash of light. no one was looking for me. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. It was still night. Blood was caked on my forehead. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . then a shift. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. On the far side of my fall. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. For a moment. Four pills left. my hand slipped and I fell. I panicked. dropping off my recycling. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. closing my bank accounts. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. things were… strange. I cowered. thinking it could be the police.100+ someone else got hurt. There were shapes of people around. The guardians were gone. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. I must have blacked out. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone.
I had never done that before. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. Then a second piece of bread fell. but I had never been depressed before either. I also know that I’m never alone. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. Three days later. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. I think of myself as having happily died that night. hitting me on the left ankle. so I continued making the sandwiches. and it’s doable. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. it got so bad that I became depressed. I was living alone. I’ve been to zero. At one point. as I did. I was making sandwiches.T R U E S T O R I ES was. Everything after that has been pure profit. That was my break-even point. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. When I got up in front of the cabin. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I realized it was just a stone. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. and then dragged myself towards it.
“I am the bread of life. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. He is still there. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. so we should not be depressed. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. but there was only one piece on the floor. whether we see Him or not. we got pregnant again. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. Three months later.” 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.100+ of bread. Needless to say. Jesus is always with us. When I returned to the kitchen. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. Our little (well 74 I . I was very puzzled.” Two years ago. the day before Valentine’s Day.
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. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. Don’t get me wrong. And he is our own personal little miracle. But this event puts it into a whole different light. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. Kelly. we will always think about the baby that we lost. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. WV A Taste of Honey honey. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. It was a good partnership. 30 Martinsburg. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. but left the bees plenty for the winter. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year.
The other half I saved for later. but it seemed to last an eternity. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. UT 76 . But man cannot live on honey alone. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. and the wildflowers. I thanked God for a taste of honey. I had been free. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. James Burns Gunnison. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I had smelled the spruce. 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. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. For a moment there. and also. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I thought. 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. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener.
my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. but it ultimately killed him. smoking saved his life. 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. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. During a skirmish. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. He may have survived the Vietnam War.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U.S. Ironically. He had a lighter. After years of alcohol abuse. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. Despite this miracle.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. Army during the Vietnam War. There was a spark in her eyes. a pack of cigarettes. Gavai Kona. he got shot in the left side of his chest. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. I 77 I . her actions were terrible and painful.
the dress ended up on my face. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. but she ignored me. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. as I put the dress on the hanger. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. and I did. That is when I saw the stain. reached for an empty hanger. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. “Good night. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. I heard him whisper.” I said through my tears. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. I walked to my closet. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. when my brother Bardo and I got home.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. Miriam. NY 78 . While he was hugging me.” He also told me that when I finished eating. he looked at me. I turned to go to my room. With powdered soap and water.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. One day. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. and hung up my dress. “Good night. Bardo came out. With tears in my eyes. and said. The next thing I knew. Bardo. 41 Bedford Hills.” he said. I tightly hugged him back. Miriam McKenzie. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. my mother called me. “You’re not the only one.
and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. bought a TV. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. When money arrived.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. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. I could wear my own clothes. We installed a swamp cooler. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. cook what I wanted. But in Mexico. a pipe with running water for a shower. no track or ball field. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. Everything from 79 M . An aisle ran the length of each building. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. No gym. There was no yard to speak of. the “buffaloes” roamed. I had conjugal visits. no weight pile. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. built wooden bunks. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. a stereo. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. incoming calls only. an old metal hotel phone with no dial.
the ontological slap in the face. for anything else. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. filthy. in my head. art supplies. clothing. and even prostitutes. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . I reasoned that. drugs.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. if I changed. True. lumber. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. but it was an identity that was poisonous. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. Amberchele Canon City. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. much like my thinking. the world would reflect that change. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. A man could buy food.S. I arrived at the school cafeteria. and dangerous. and it has. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. appliances. I was allowed to keep my identity. booze. for the right price. J. I wanted out.C. The direction was clear: freedom was in here.
After the trial. a free-for-all ensued. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. Enrique M. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. the judge dismissed the case. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. After that incident. it stopped bothering me. As we spoke. Fernandez Miami. His father attended the hearing. With time. I stood by my friend. I flirted with the idea of getting even. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. my membership in the gang became obsolete. When I saw my assailant in court. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. I had been stabbed. It had been an ironic twist of fate. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. In my mind. the atmosphere was tense. his father embraced me in the hallway. however. But when others got involved. FL 81 . I yelled for help. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. encouraging him during the fight. That made all the difference in the world. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. When I did not press charges. As I turned to look. my assailant approached me and apologized.
Matters of the Heart .
One would think that because I have experienced life. 41 Dallas. no matter what answers you receive. This is it! This is my first true love. I never get tired of listening to him. He is smart. I want to know everything he knows. He’s my first Jan Richards. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I have known my first love for more than a year. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. I could not 85 T . the good and bad. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. Boy. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. and I am in love. He is honest. I am 41 years old. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. I would have been in love before. I will accept all of him.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. my first true love. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. He is strong.
27 Tehran. 59 Dayton. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. and the connection that we share. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. Although we are divorced. I hope we will get married one day.100+ eat. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. Mansour. I decided to visit her. he came back to me. I will never forget her. and that the connection will endure. I was browsing . but now I want to leave him. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. We both respect and value each other very much. Suzy. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. The morning after I arrived. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. I feel so alone. she kissed me for the first time. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. it’s been like heaven. my first love. Without her. too.
I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. At first. I would never have gone out with him. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. everything was great. Then within six months. and I am so jealous. His name was Travis. He was a tall. brown-haired young man. He played with my head. 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. I worry all the time. slender.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . He stripped down my confidence. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. Shurley. and he was in fifth grade. and now all I have are insecurities. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. If it were up to me. There was something fascinating about this “older man.
anal sex. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. all in retrospect. 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. My reflections of Travis developed years later. 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. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. and gangbangs—it all occurs. or inn in the continental United States. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . Kitty Mayo. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Often. threesomes.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. wanting him to protect me. 29 Hilo. I just remember wanting to be near him. She has little education. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. hotel. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous.
I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. The attraction is mutual. The female is as rebellious as the offender. 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. who want to keep her hair and nails done.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. The laughs come fast and free. religion.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. send her shopping. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. It comes like a thief in the night. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. pay her rent. housing. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. or risks. It’s an amazing thing. take care of her kids. Love. regulations. TX 89 . 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. Sometimes personalities just click. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. finances. She needs no coercion or con. rules. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. The conversations flow smoothly.
destined for Minneapolis. three floors down. One month later. Two months later.100+ Four A. And three months and two weeks later. the tears pouring down her cheeks. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. Three months later.M. on a tour of Oxford.. I’m not sure she’s my other half. Boston College. Skidmore College. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . I first met her at Heathrow Airport. and I told her she was strange. I told her I loved her. and yes. my tears will come. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. we went out for coffee. but I know I don’t want her to leave. she told me the same thing. She told me the upright bass was sexy. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. and mine. Massachusetts. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. Outside her window. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. the distance between her school. suitcase is a difficult feat. We are in her attic bedroom.. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. 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. I wonder when. and if. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. She’s packing her last suitcase.” I have no idea what he means.
At three a. Theoharides. still two bottles of wine later. comes. after another bottle of wine. I walk her to the bus station. At four a. until four a.. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. needless to say. “I’ll miss you. after a bottle of wine..m.m.m. 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. and I had a crush on . and I have to walk her to a bus station. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. and place it on the hood of his car. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. so I decided to go the subversive route.m. write a love poem. she falls asleep. I had written the poem already. And tears stream down my face..” she says. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. Alexander J. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. 22 Amherst. At two a.
Scarlet Rose. and well-being. but because of them. 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. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. I was 21 years old. Galilea. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. NH Love Is for yourself. not despite of their shortcomings. 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.100+ I sped away. 28 Albuquerque. 24 Lincoln. Unfortunately. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . desires. needs.
It isn’t just for one man and one woman. 30 Arecibo. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. 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. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. no? Saturday came. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . But a girl can dream. As you can imagine. making our relationship grow stronger.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It can be between two men and between two women. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. I imagined something romantic. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. PC. We are the yin and yang for each other. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant.
A baby was on the way. my family. and you have always been the one. so I left everything behind: my career. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. “I did it for love. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and my life. and I live there now. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I regret so many things. I regret it. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. and so many tears. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I chose my hell. so many mistakes. and I thought I was immortal. Our relationship is 15 years strong. 36 Lennon. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I tried to be perfect. I love you. Life is not supposed to be this way. Michelle. Maybe he was too old for me. but he was mine. but he wasn’t in love with me.100+ lifetime. maybe he was strange. and I tried to fight for my dreams. and we are raising a daughter as well. Mare.” I told myself. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares.
We now have a beautiful baby girl. Lately. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. My ex and I are currently in high school. It’s a bad habit.T R U E S T O R I ES life. 95 I . I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. I don’t know. We are going to graduate soon. but we’ll be living separate lives. Yeyo. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. but as for love. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but I can’t control it. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. If I were to start my life all over again. though. but we’re not together anymore. we fell in love. and it lasted about a year and a half. Kikis_fairytale. 18 Olmito. 27 Athens.
and a smile that could melt a heart. Aila Balic. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. it keeps growing. He was a southern gentleman with manners. yet doesn’t make me want to die. but as much as I try to stop. 96 M . my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. It is a scary feeling. “I may have a guy at home. We started talking and before long we just clicked. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. 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. looks. I gasp for air. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. I thought to myself. but it just happens. I imagine the two of us together all the time. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. I shake. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. Every time I see him. I don’t want to. In the summer of 2009. but things had been slowly going downhill. and I have no control over my actions. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. Although I didn’t know it at the time. talent. We spent my final day together. 18 Brooklyn.
and it took all I had not to cry. I went to say my goodbyes. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. 26 Acapulco. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. I explored my options on the ride home. In life. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. Ethan. Guerrero. There weren’t any wedding planners. too? Hayley. Why not have our cake and eat it. I couldn’t believe it was over. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. no guests. and no hassle: just us. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. We wanted . We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. for showing me the truth about love. but now it was time to make a big decision. family and friends can witness our marital union. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. Thanks.
It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. Clearly magic was happening between us. was a devoted wife. I guess. but life is not fair. I will go home one day. 1997. On May 15. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. 2006. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. as well as me. For Louise. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. at age fifty-two. She was . Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. This story has the makings for a great ending. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. Some letters were erotic. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. I had not felt that way in years. On March 27th. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. and made me happy in so many ways.
000 on our wedding. I will miss you. If we had to do it again. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. beautiful flower arrangements. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. George Hughes. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. Louise.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. DON’T. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. in August. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. Farewell. And in the end. VA A Joining of Two. However. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. Please save 99 M . we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. 63 Burkeville. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. We had a nice ceremony. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. but for our family members. but we had our wedding 7 months later.
29 Lowell. 100 A . and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. the wedding doesn’t matter. On the day of the wedding. clad in a miniature tuxedo. my voice echoing through the church. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. When we finally reached the priest. forest green dress.100+ your money because in the end. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. “Are you two getting married. too?” he asked. “NO!” I yelled at him. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. the rings were handed over. Priscilla. In the fall of 1987. Even at 3. When the time came to walk down the aisle. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well.
my cousin. Finally. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. not right away. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. until amorous love became filial affection. not right before my eyes. On the long list of things I hate. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. all I remember being told was. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. 23 Somerville. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. Adelle Brown. and I had no idea where to go. camera flashes. at some point. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. and I started to ignore 101 I . All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. and forest green. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. but before I knew it. I was blinded by lights.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. I had gotten used to him and he to me. The emails became short and purposeful. three of them will always be: priests. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face.” When the doors opened. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. slowly and gradually.
I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. For now. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. but that memory is now alien to me. and let him do the same. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. 102 I . I keep trying to push him away. I stopped caring about spending time together. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. I am not that person anymore. He was no longer my top priority. nor is he. 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. torturous waste of time. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. I am not that unhappy. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. for him. January Paris. I remember why I fell in love with him. This mundane. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. I am content to just exist. and started avoiding him. or lack thereof.
which never came. Donna J. Johnsbury. and if I were allowed to live with my father. They are still together. Alas. I thought that if they divorced. my parents did not divorce. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. St. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. VT 103 . I would have done so. it would have been more difficult.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. and I’m glad they are.
Despite Diagnosis .
then slips away unseen. You are immersed in it. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. clean. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. bide your time. leaving you there to bleed out. not let it get inside you. alone. and when you get to the other side. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P .” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. wash.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. sometimes it’s neck-deep. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. go in with your homeboys. Wait till the “others” get out. skidding. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. In prison. to survive it. Take showers in shifts. cartwheeling. and dry yourself. vermin. you must wade carefully through the sewage. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. you can cast off your filthy clothes. and sometimes it’s over your head. not because of knives but for their germs. and filth swimming and floating along with you. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. Prison is a sewer. Some don’t. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways.
I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W .100+ of the prison sewer. I started having eye trouble. The problem was not eradicated. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. And they die. become a part of it. wondering if I will ever go home. I regained some of my physical strength. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. they inhale deeply. a cracked skull. I was told I had a brain tumor. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. take it all in. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. Charles P. As the years passed. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. As for me. When I awoke. Months later. 59 Daytona Beach. so I went to an optometrist. meningitis. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. Norman.
Pete. and all came out negative. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. Fueled by the media.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. Tasmania. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. 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. 21 Devonport. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. traveling all the way down to my elbows. My cerebral fluid was not draining. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. After 4 or so weeks. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. just to be sure. so in spite of having protected sex.
My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. so he donated his blood. I was constantly in the hospital. My father was the only one with the same blood type. 28 Portland. Throughout my childhood. We all had sad faces. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . but even that wasn’t enough. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. One time. Every time a nurse would come in the room.100+ as well. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. The day I turned five. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. so my body was dying. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. so she took me to the doctor. For instance. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). Jolene.
This never happened outside. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. the judge can expedite all he wants. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. in college. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. I vomit constantly. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. the jail has delayed it. the check-in nurse says.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. and 100% cured. At Perryville. Today I am 19. “Well. I’m 15 pounds thinner. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. fightingsurvivor19. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. Maybe it’s a nightmare. and they both cried tears of joy. Maybe it’s not really me. Three months later. 19 Pembroke Pines. There is no kindness. my oncologist was determined 111 I . and very pale. I am back at Estrella Jail. hoping to get rid of me to save money. Five days later. nearly bald. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy.” When my chemo starts.
Eventually. and nine months later. the doctor comes in. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. No more nausea. I know I’m an inmate. begging for what I’m missing. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. When my treatment is over. An hour later. I start the laborious grievance process. In here. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. I am sent back to my room alone. He recommends a tumor 112 . I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. then every six months for two years. there is complete indifference. He answers my questions. 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. I have three more chemo sessions. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. burning instead. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. I vomit until there is nothing left. But this protocol is not followed. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. Despite the rigid schedule. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. when I’m supposed to be healing. and then annually. My life is literally in their hands. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years.100+ that my nausea be minimal.
This is about the State. That is why I am afraid. AZ 113 . I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I can deal with that. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. mismanaged. and I am helpless against its inadequate. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. Six months later. As a result. always look for a reason to be glad. my life is in the hands of the State. no positive imagery can change my situation. That’s really hard in here. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. 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. it still hasn’t happened. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. incompetent. uncaring power. 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. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. Their stories touch me on so many levels. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are.
I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Two months after I started chemotherapy. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. 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. Dinorah Torres. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. CA A 114 . Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. she was looking ahead. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. making plans for the future. he began to distance himself. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. Despite all this. without even knowing it.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. and I felt helpless all the time. Later. but when he found out that treatment could last years. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. A year into my treatment. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. 33 Santa Barbara. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face.
He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. for an addict’s. 18 Tacoma. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. for a smoker’s lungs. shape. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. One year she was cancer-free. never had any kids.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. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. The following year.” 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. Hayden. She was longdivorced. How sad. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. It just 115 I . and had lived alone for decades. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away.
UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. not even decades after giving up smoking. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. Cornwall. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I .A.G. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. F. Penzance. and now he could lose his own life because of them. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. Whatever the percentage. He lost his wife to cigarettes. on the part of Texas officials. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis.
9. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 8. and house them accordingly. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. Separate gang members from non-gang members. and typecrime. 7. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. 3. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. 2. 6. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Classify prisoners by age. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. A few suggestions: 1. 5. be as humane as possible. sentence length. 4. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. whether here or abroad. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. You can see how dangerous it is.
This could be a start.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. Daniel H. TX 118 . 48 Huntsville. Harris.
The Transience of Permanence .
I’m a state-approved janitor. maybe an estate. which has its effects on me as well as on him. In the penitentiary. For “free-world” folks. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. I feel the dread on my flesh.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. If I give him that. discussions. then the whole world has done the same. TX I 121 . he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. death is merely a passage or rite. some acceptance. plans. He understands that my time with him is short. especially on death row. death out there now looks relatively easy. In plain talk. even inside me. a last will and testament. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. All is forgiven. Each morning when I arrive at work. I swear. or SSI. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. Christopher Best Livingston. He desperately seeks some understanding. 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. From what I’ve seen in here. Some days. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate.
Suspicious. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did.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. today. It isn’t working. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. I choose not to spend another day in this place. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life.” And I’m not talking about parole. It’s called “checking out. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I’ll try again later. Shit. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. Light-headed. yet relieved that I took action.” “taking it to the vent. and it can be done right now. G.T. Shit. Very suspicious. Fuck God. I am feeling very ugly inside.” or “moving on to the next phase. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. 122 T . Fuck them.
The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . He slugged the other half into the wall socket. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. After that. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. 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. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers.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. not in the clinical sense. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. but a symbolic one. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. Mike Rothwell Ione. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth.
in essence.100+ love of his family. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. gold. sterling silver.With his incarceration. killed that greater part of himself. Hector Gallegos Otisville. He has. the lover he wishes to be. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. In the world beyond prison walls. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. year after year. but life—even at 103—seems too short. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. my big fat Italian grandmomma. In this sense. and the person he never grew to become. diamonds. 124 N . NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. the son he failed to be. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. he may as well be dead. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. the father he cannot be. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. matriarch of the family. pearls.
My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. key chains. as if no one else is 125 D . albums. necklaces. Mary Higgins Reading. she never wore it. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. The following day. The first thing one notices is the quiet. Who would believe that a swastika. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. pre-WWII. 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. dating from the roaring twenties. except for a fundamental difference. 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. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. blankets. and handcrafted dolls.
he realizes that all hope is gone. survivors of the victim’s family. 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. At other times. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. Hathorn Livingston. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. It is like God’s “time-out” room. An ache settles in his belly. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. In remembering. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. TX 126 . Gene W. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. there are only four or five people. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. the fights he had in grade school. media representatives. making it ominously quieter.100+ there. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. such as his first pet. the officials are stoic and judgmental. but the mind rebels.
he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). 127 E . In October 2004. if at all. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. he was barely over five feet tall.” and “lost” test results.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.” Freddy complained to me one day. “Every doctor has a different opinion. after a slew of “unreadable. Time was of the essence. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict.” “partial. and they all tell you something different. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. Over a period of a year. Sleep came with great difficulty. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. He was a genuine character. he had become thin as a rail. a combination drug therapy. no one.” I forget why. his body was covered in tattoos. and his memory showed signs of failure. including Freddy. really took it seriously. Once muscular. and his head was shaved clean. Since he always complained. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. I saw no real reason for worry. trying to get someone to do something. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life.
looking through the glass at our little one. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. only resignation. He vomited blood one morning. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. “By the time they did something. Freddy was my friend. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant.” he told me. and he was afraid. it was too late. They tried giving him formula. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. and now he’s dead. They killed me. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F .100+ Months passed. By October. but no treatment was administered. We named him William Kenrick.” There was no anger in his voice. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. 2005. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. “If they got at me 18 months ago. but he threw it up. they probably could have saved me.
he went. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. But I knew something wasn’t right. as soon as I held him. But I swear.m. He will always be my first baby. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy.” And as soon as everybody was there. And oh. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. I love him more and more each day. just let go. my first child.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. The next day. and whispered. Despite the pain. At 3 days old. fight for it. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. Then I start crying again and eventually. if you can still make it. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. At 1:30 a. 32 Las Piñas City. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. my first son. a smile formed on his lips. And I knew though he was gone. which was declared a success. I turn numb. the smell… His sweet. Someday. PHILIPPINES 129 .. milky scent is still there. only he was already lifeless. And for that. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. “Baby. I still think of him. his heart rate slowed. he had to undergo an operation. But if not. only to realize that he’ll never come back. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. when I visited him. NCR. Jenelleish. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time.
After my dad’s death. he was really fantastic. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. I went through many phases. roller-skating. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. fishing. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. Dad une 15. I miss him deeply. Malachi Ephraim Florence. But I didn’t cry. Facing the cell door. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. My dad liked to sing and dance. he died suddenly and tragically. in a better mood than usual. I didn’t shed one tear. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. But as a father. and listening to music. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. I was close to my father. I dreamed about him every single night. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. enjoying the early morning light. But after 5 years of marriage.100+ I Miss You. from denial to 130 I .. yet his passing was significant to me.m.
happily single. I sent my aunt. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. with great parents and friends. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. As a last minute thought. a Christmas card. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. How sad that now sounds. hate to indifference. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I drank to escape and forget. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I realized that what happened was out of my control. 45 Montreal. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. Québec. the final and hardest phase arrived. her youngest 131 I . as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. Terri Giosia. had no meaning. However. I am now 45. After a long period of time. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. Life lost its luster. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live.
I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . But after all the miserable hospital visits. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. he said. especially when you are only seven years old. my poem may mean nothing.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. To the academic world. For two years. she called every person she knew and read that poem. Soon after. Dennis Forrest. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. The night before. Not only did she call him.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. The doctor gave her three months to live. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my mom had been taken to the hospital. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. 51 Rosharon. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying.
I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. 16 Rexburg. but to help them through things the best you can. My life was changed forever. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. My dad softly called me over. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. and even worked from home so he could be there.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. It went on and on. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. He took care of my mom. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. the house. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. and us. 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. “Daddy. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. My father continued hacking. too weak to walk to her bedroom. Aubrie. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . This experience has made me stronger. where it was warm. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news.
but the last time inexorably approached. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business.100+ asked. healing wounds. You settled your differences. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. I said things I’ve always regretted. I admire what you did. collect. A prisoner friend. exhaled. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. and that was a good thing. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. who knew my family well. so I recognized it in both of you. not speaking. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. Over the past few years. He said things. I begged him to quit for years. the reason I’m saying this. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. when I first met your family several years ago. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. like you did. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. so I stood there. Even when he was here last time. There were hard feelings between us.” 134 .” He was just twenty-four at the time. real sick. closed his eyes. son. I knew he wanted to say something. I could tell. as did my mother. and he was gone. You see. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. from a prison payphone in the dark. I could see that you loved your father. with complications from lupus. Don’t ever smoke them. too. but he died before I got the chance. but emphysema got him first. We feared lung cancer. He looked at my brothers. I had unfinished business with my father. I wanted to make it up to him. waiting him out: “Charlie. and he loved you. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan.
He had jumped off the tier headfirst. 59 Daytona Beach. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. FL Slash nstead of going to court. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. It was the least I could do. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. Norman. leaned his head on my shoulder. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. While there. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. I decided to slash my wrist.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. Charles P. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. My cellie threw up. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. His tears soaked into my suit coat. 135 I . “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand.
I don’t anymore. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. “Six months. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. His eyes were half open. Evidently. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.T. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. 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. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity.100+ “Well.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet.” G. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck.
perhaps. CA 137 . 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. there was only solemn silence. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. stood there for several seconds. For the first time since I was there. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. He had everyone’s complete attention. hung it back up on the wall. With a bit of a dramatic flair. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. But not at this moment.T R U E S T O R I ES was. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. It was so still. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. Then. Even the crazy guys had shut up.
Hidden & Forbidden .
forcing myself in. a football player. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off.” As I say this. I’m telling myself that she wants me. but I haven’t picked up a girl. that it was a setup. I knock on the door. it’s her roommate. but also to pick up girls. When it’s time to leave the club. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. I say. For twenty years. popular on campus. sentenced to six years in prison. I’m thinking.” I say. I was convicted. it’s a habit of ours. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. not only to have fun. and a ladies’ man. in front of a white jury. my fraternity brothers. but it’s not my girlfriend. barging into her apartment. we can have sex. I want some sex. I only saw what I wanted to see. I want to be with a girl.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. Because she was white. a member of a fraternity. I was black. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. 1982. the white system. 141 I . I’ve had fun. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. and it was my word against hers. and I’m in college.” I step towards her. she was white. It opens. angrily. if no one else is here. “I came to see my girl. racism at its best. she’s home alone. “Your girl is not here.
I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. especially with men. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life.100+ Today. if I were to have a place in this world. So I tried. faithfully. For sixteen years. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. forced attractions to women. for them. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. pure houseboat. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. I had known that I was a disappointment. The fantasy of grandchildren. a wife.
having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I wrote a script. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. all too well in fact. 19 Hooksett. my sadness never faltered. that my parents felt the same.. with whom I constantly fought and argued. At seventeen. When I arrived. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. One day. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. And I knew. boring corduroy-wearers. Daryl F. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. I am finally happy. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. So I confessed my truths. only for who I pretended to be. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. and the burden of hiding was spirited away.
he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. Philippa. being a noble and resourceful man. it was swallowed hook. 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. but I always suspected that he was gay. His self-confidence saved the day. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. This brought about a case of stage fright. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. He dated one girl 144 I . one male and one female. especially for clothes. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. and sinker. Nicholas. We didn’t date. line. Kent. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. I was literally paralyzed. Knowing very little about astrology. 30 Maidstone. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. carried on like a trooper.
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. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. Jayne L. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. When he told me he was gay. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. However. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. My friends just did . but I never really suspected she was gay. she was always a tomboy. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. especially since I had always suspected it. As for my female friend. 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. Waterville. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. I didn’t really think anything of it. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me.
As if things couldn’t get any worse. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. who is from Peru. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. 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. Right now. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. “Never mind. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years.” so we had to go back to court. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. He had no concern for my partner’s safety.” Within 10 days. I fear losing my partner. too. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. gays and lesbians are persecuted.” I did. If I were a man. but I am a woman and therefore. They even sent me to a shrink. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. knowing that if she 146 . A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time.100+ me. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. We feel the judge was very homophobic. After three years worth of evidence gathering. We are not giving it to her. not me.
no different than any other heterosexual couple. 35 Tampa. 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. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. TX 147 I . the Ultimate Truth. These days. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. has taught me compassion. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. If anything. the most effective teacher. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. but we did not lose ourselves. Aileen Diaz.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. We lost everything. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. 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.
my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. But on the other hand. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. On the one hand. I probably would have been better off not knowing. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. I still love and respect him. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. I feel like an idiot. You have to always be 148 C . but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. and I would never throw it in his face. Now. better not to tempt fate. Eloise Lebreton. 30 Detroit. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone.
” then there’s not much they can do about it. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. No matter how upbeat you may feel. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. Louisiana. 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. Mike Rothwell Ione. They help. After church. so you better learn to keep it at bay. I was allowed to play with a friend.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. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. 149 A . 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. It’s always going to be there. But if someone’s determined to “check out. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5.
She barged into the room screaming. Yurshta. molestation. NC 150 . 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. “You think this hurts motherf’er. was too much to handle. My friend’s mother yelled. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. especially my mother. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. Christian Missionary Alliance. I have been an atheist ever since. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. her face contorted in rage. 47 Old Fort. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. another ultrafundamentalist sect. and abuse. lit the gas stove. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. at my tender age. He screamed in agony.
he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. demeaning. I swear. whether physical or emotional. 26 Essen. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. I have never been physically beaten. Gaby Hermann. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse.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. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. Any kind of abuse. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. I had nine miscarriages. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. I did not get angry with him. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. should not be tolerated. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . NETHERLANDS Harsh.
He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. I was forced to call the cops. INDIA 152 . Delhi. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.100+ with me. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. Sonia. Then one day. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. 36 New Delhi.
Eerie Encounters .
I don’t need to see to believe. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. We cannot be alone. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. They are looking beyond me. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. I listen for a moment to a strange. swishing sound. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. I can see the people. I keep swimming. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. but I’m getting tired. Aquatic Park. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. In my nightmare. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. slight. just a quarter of a mile farther. Why would we want to be? Clarette. even Ghirardelli’s. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. 28 Salem. although I’ve never seen one. my 155 I .m.
I hear something in the distance calling me. Will Ferrara. beginning to feel numb. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. 24 Lawrence. I’m only treading water. And about a week after that. Am I going crazy? Frank E. About 5 years later. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. MA 156 T .100+ arms are getting heavy. The waves crash. I am silently alone. And then. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. out beyond the breakers. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. I awake. to the deep water. When I was 18. 45 Delano. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. summoning me. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. Foster. The walls murmur.
Almost twenty days later. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. One night. While alive. I immediately called home. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. showing us that we were right. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. From that moment on. In October. In the following days. 56 Alfonsine. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. my mouth stopped bleeding. Ravenna. Shocked. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. too. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. at my uncle’s funeral. a strange heat enveloped my body. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. I felt sick and went to sleep. In the dreams. while still aboard. On our way to the hospital. Not long after. ITALY 157 I . He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I dreamt that I was in Italy. and we had no choice but to drink it.
its feet dragging along the ground. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. but they continued moving and stretched me out. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. I stood up and looked at its face.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I remember shaking like a leaf. as whatever I was looking at was far away. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. staring straight ahead. I landed at the feet of the creature. It was my dad! At that moment. 19 Monaghan. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. It was pitch black.. It was then that I woke up. but late for work! Paddy J. I was squinting.
I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. thin man.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. it had disappeared. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. my mind completely blank. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. I was in the bathroom. Enrique M. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. When I turned to look. When I returned home. the vision of a tall. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. Fernandez Miami. 159 W . I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. “I’ve been here before. It was at this moment that I saw. “That place is haunted. echoes from long ago. As I placed my canteen in the water. One evening. That left me speechless. Hiking along the trail. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. As nighttime fell. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore.” someone who knew the area told me. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall.” I thought. thinking about nothing.
grey cloak that covered his entire body. He walked towards me. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. hooded. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. I have not had any such vision since. Then. when I entered the King’s Chamber. However. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. His face was shrouded in darkness.100+ He was wearing a long. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. and the vision was gone. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. I remembered being there before. still completely covered by the hood. Devon. standing in that same spot. I have no idea what the vision meant. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu.
transferred his intelligence into my brain. leaving the center in which I stood untouched.” Now. Misty.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. I came back to my present “reality. During this moment of déjà vu. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. Then my former self stood in my body. 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. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. and don’t believe time is always linear. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. and activated it. AK. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. 54 Auckland.
Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. I’m willing to see where it takes me. 59 West Roxbury. facing myself. drifting like seaweed. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. 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. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. Lonn. I woke up taking short gulps of air. 162 I . but I didn’t. a little more aware. and a little less afraid. D. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion.B. They knew what was about to happen. In my dream. a little more settled. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. More and more debris ruptured from every direction.100+ broad daylight seemed real. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. I’m 59 now. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.
Later.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I survived the accident with no major injuries. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. and we started to spin really quickly. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. After that. but with a different outlook on life–and death. when I moved 163 G . which struck a barrier. I learned the term years later. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. The driver lost control of the vehicle. Since I was only 4 years old. Jayne L. “I need to get back. I started to read a lot of books. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. and quickly drifting away. as I had in Spain. completely powerless to stop it. I watched shows on television. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. and then was finally able to label my experience. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. Waterville. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable.
There is only going to a different level. Smiling kindly. it’s one of my many pastimes. facing him. 37 Madrid. just one year before meeting Gabriele. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. But for me. at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. a few steps from the altar. he said. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . A year later. One night. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I got slowly closer. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989.100+ to Massachusetts. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. I knelt down on a pew. but with no success.
but he had terrible secrets. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. He vowed to marry me. 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. Through telepathy. so I left. ITALY 165 . To be sure. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. 56 Alfonsine. Then one night. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. Through telepathy.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. in January 1991. and I tried to help him. While I stared at him. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. Ravenna. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. struck by his suffering. we became involved. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. I told him not to joke. I felt all his fear and pain. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. striking me like a storm. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy.
a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. Soon after. During the five trips I made out there. Then all of a sudden. NH. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. On some nights. He tipped his hat and smiled. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. I developed . I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty.100+ I See Spirits spirit. 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 remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. accompanied me. Later. We saw the usual lights in the sky. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. MA 167 . fly to some central point. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. then they turned off. a state psychologist friend of mine. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. On one of my last visits. and then disappear. and into the sky. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. As I returned to where Betty was parked. Other times. On one occasion. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. she suddenly pointed and yelled. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. strobe for 30 seconds. about 50 yards down the tracks. 70 Waltham. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. First. but then. who was also an amateur photographer. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. and meet. up a tree.
At Home & Abroad .
but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. but eventually we divorced. 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. where all were welcome and. Colombian. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. I once had plans to live in London. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I .” My father used to talk of Hungary. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. Russian caviar. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. We married and had a daughter. as proof of dignity. or Puerto Rican dialect. and great America. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. German perfume. not financial statements. and completely broken by life. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. had to show the INS hard-working hands.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. but life had a different destination in mind for me. with a 3-year-old son. Lately. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world.
it reminds us that this country is great. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. Mare. 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.S. 36 Lennon. while others are trying to cheat the system. on the contrary. we love Bach. Nidia F.. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . the Dolphins. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. Morales.100+ Greece. We don’t feel less American because of that. 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. We all suffer when this happens. 54 Leominster.
and migrant camps. We lived in tents. Later in the summer. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. 27 Washington. we stayed in Livingston.S.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. My father is Mexican. while my 173 Every year from June until September. cars. it would have been too dangerous. D. illegally because. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. harvesting crops. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. apart from being unconscionable. I had family there. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. Many times. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds.S.C. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. 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. my . I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. so I decided to move to his. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington.
” “greaser. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. this was not a quick or easy transition. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. they didn’t work. they had the opposite effect. I was held back in kindergarten. read. I was embarrassed by my first language. School was a struggle from the beginning. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. However. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. mostly beans and tortillas. I struggled to learn to speak.” or “spic. I realized that I was out of place in school. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. Not only were the white students 174 .” “wet. In fact. Spanish. In high school. halfway through my junior year. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. Early on. However. and write in English. In grammar school.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. we took our baths in a big washtub. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. This is where I went to school. our bathroom was an outhouse. 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. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate.100+ father worked for a local farmer. Because of school.
“Now don’t run away on me. and I had lost most of my Spanish. I wasn’t white. a gringo wearing a tie. in theory. an enclave 175 I . They will pay. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. My private class is in La Rinconada. I wasn’t Mexican. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. not even two dollars. to the Mexican students. but on the inside I acted like a white person.S. Raul Ybarra. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. Although I was of Mexican descent. To white students.. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. you know. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. the usual. “One hundred soles tonight. I didn’t seem to fit in.” I remind myself. 50 Boston. I was born and raised in the U. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes.
as big as a sandwich.” I say. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. No way. I sit at the kitchen table. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. Remember. I have classes with her kids. with chicken bulging from its sides. are washing dishes in the sink. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. she told me to come inside and wait. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. I eye the tamal on the counter. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. never mind 176 . It’s ají amarillo. They don’t speak to me or to each other. I am cheered by the recognition. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. you are not Peruvian. If these families don’t find happiness here. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything.” “The señora is not here. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. Matt. Two maids. “She’s not here. even your own paycheck. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some.” “That’s okay. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima.” “I know she’s not here.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her.
It was the end of the month. I was told to come. 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. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. Chin up. 177 . 40 Amesbury. “That’s what we all hope. Some received their checks. others were given a song and dance. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. and I came. Matt Wirzburger.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. No way am I going home empty-handed. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. That is the hard part: hiding the need. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. and springs out the door to the entrance. payday. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. An hour later. They looked at each other to see who would answer. and we were all waiting for our first check. Mrs. I hear three honks.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. The room grew eerily silent. Wipe any sign of need from your face.
Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. and only then. NY 178 . I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. It was then. As dusk turned to darkness. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. With briefcase in hand. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. I felt that I had “made it there. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. 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. the city awoke and came to life.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. It was well worth it. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. yet spaced widely apart. After the much-anticipated grilling session. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. I wasn’t alone. Karen Manhattan. I was in the city “on business. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. the whole city was there. The streets were numbered.
11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. and sophisticated. they helped a great deal. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. French. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. it’s “America.A. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. Scottish. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion.” “Pop Idol. we don’t.. 10) The English.” or “U. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 4) Beer drinking is an art. and stout. and you must learn the difference between lager.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. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them.S. Welsh.e. The 179 . and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category.” or “Yankland”.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. 7) Humour is subtle. real ale. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. bitter.”. Irish. etc. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. dry. 12) It’s not the “U. sarcastic.S.” “The States.
16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. and body weight is stated in stones. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p.100+ Beatles. Pink Floyd). 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. If caught being rude. apologise profusely for it. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 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!). or any other English-speaking foreigner. Gavin S. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”.. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. South African. Rolling Stones. not pounds. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 23 Jacksonville. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. FL 180 . they’ll take the non-Yank.m. Canadian.m.
and Waikiki Beach. Pearl Harbor.” which spans in black swirls over the island. Although decades have passed. my parents and I arrived at . 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. Native and unique to Hawaii. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. 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. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. crimson berries. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. We took off from the claustrophobic. We discovered Diamond Head. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair.
” Despite my pitiful German. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. 29 Tultitlán. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. Gutierrez. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. ovular. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. I remember wanting to return… H. B. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless.100+ large. Estado de México.
green hills and plains. Standing in St. destruction everywhere. For the first time since the early eighties. Along the road. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. crying. we were the enemy. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. and running in all directions. checked 183 In late October 1998. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. 21 Lübeck. I packed up my leased . this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. Gisela. Schleswig-Holstein. eerie feeling. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I even felt a bit guilty. I knew it was war. but never forgotten. However. Marien’s church in Lübeck. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. I experienced an unexpected. To them. however unfounded that emotion may be. I imagined civilians screaming. that it was them or us.
Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. and visited various museums. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. There is always a scent of sage in the air.100+ into small motels. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. delightful little restaurants. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. TN 184 . I spent days at the Pueblo. 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. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures.
The Toughest Job in the World .
we did not make it to the hospital. So.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. My due date of June 19th came and went. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. so on the 20th. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. I knew what to expect. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it.. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. For our first child. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. For child number two. I planned a Caesarean. which is about 45 minutes away. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . after being able to share this special bond. he did just that. Needless to say. Krista. At 3:30 a. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. I was awakened abruptly by contractions.m.
The car would stop. Friday evenings were always a thrill. and read each one aloud. I had no concept of rent. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. He’d slowly read the comics to me. Alley Oop. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. All was good in the world. By then. Not every week. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. It was just the three of us. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. not working as he was the rest of the week. The Texarkana Gazette. lie down. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. He’d take off the rubber band. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. grocery bills. and Tarzan of the Apes. and my mother would call us for breakfast. car payments. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. take out the Sunday comics. the smells of biscuits. Daddy would get out. Dan and Tom). My .100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. and two more on the way (my brothers. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. spread them open on the wood floor. but fairly frequently. prop himself up on his elbows. Joe Palooka. bacon. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen.
(On Friday evenings. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. 189 The first time I saw my son. Charles P. I felt desperate. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. Norman. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. Finally. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. tubes. and his weight. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. I cried. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. I went to a place filled with noise. or at least pretend to. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. but because I thought I had failed. They said he was beautiful. but I never realized it. Sebastian. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. a frown on her face. begging him for a ride in the new car. 59 Daytona Beach. Times were hard.220 grams. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me.T R U E S T O R I ES him.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. Not with . and lights. 1.
I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. 36 North Andover. I’m too afraid of screwing up. Over time. I began to sob. fear. At long last. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. I talked to him. patience. I cried. leaving my baby behind. pride. Outside. and mourning. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. and I prayed. I gained knowledge. I became determined to care for him. I ached to still be pregnant. After a week. and hope flooded me. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. Relief. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. besieged by guilt. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Each week. I sang to him. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. I was discharged. He was so fragile and exposed. Lisa. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. wanting to 190 I . and confidence.
Though I was only twelve. my father and I were in his truck.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. Suzanne. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot..m. I don’t have any desire to find out. we weren’t there to look at. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. But tonight. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. pet. At about 3 a. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. Right now. drugs. 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. or feed the deer. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. and I was twelve years old. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. and I 191 I . driving to our new “hunting spot. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. or having trouble with the police. or gangs. or getting into drinking. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt.
.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. I snuck up to the fence line. they were already there. a second of your life. You can take a picture and freeze time. By the time he got there. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. I took my spot and waited. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. with the click of a camera. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. We drank beer on the way home. checked for traffic. I didn’t even have to call the deer. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. 43 Jessup. Steven Small. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph.
But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. moments are forgotten. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. I didn’t expect much. without a care in the world. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. New moments are constantly being created. Kelly. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. but those moments stay behind. 30 Martinsburg. I 193 M . she was so excited that she leapt for joy. Life goes on.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. and sadly. Part of me wanted to pull her away. Sitting on a stool at the counter. but something was unleashed in me. sipping a chocolate shake. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. I cherish every moment captured. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one.
Everyday. Dorothy. “Your Mama works for tips. Someday they’ll put you through college.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. John. Mama was beautiful. collectables. crisp. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. the afternoon waitress. He had promised to take care of us. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. She quit school to marry him. Some streetwise kids set me straight.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. Those are old coins. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. I do my best. Her green eyes sparkled.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. he left. “Those aren’t for spending. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. It was in seventh grade. without any explanation. I was proud to be her son. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. and a few coins went into my piggybank. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean.” One day. my first year in middle school. “I did my best. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. “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. I couldn’t take it anymore. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. and well fitting.” she said with tears 194 . Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. One day.
They let me go home for the funeral. not love. But something was missing from my letters. a letter came from Dorothy. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Mama’s friend at the café. I wouldn’t need it. After it was over. I wrote back. Mama was gone. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. Respect. shame for having no Daddy. shame for being poor. Before she died. TX 195 . One day. Mama wrote every day. Mama sent cookies. I didn’t go to college after high school. Oh sure. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. Mama asked if I needed anything. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. that’s what it was.. She’d died of breast cancer.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. Something with angels on it. All my love turned into shame. There was just nothing I could respect about her.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. My middle-school friends had seen to that. I handed the money back to Dorothy. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up..
“Last case for today. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. and wait to be called into another room.S. When outside. and devoured them one by one. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. Finally. a lady came out and said. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. but her face wore the same void expression. When I did. In the front.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. I opened the glove compartment. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. no books.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. no television. we got into the boiling car. she answered. I pulled out all the papers. map. but there were no magazines. She would fill out some papers. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. “An abortion. She must have known that I would see it. Occasionally. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . “Mom. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. I looked at the gas gauge and said. It was obvious that we were waiting for something.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. “Mom. sit back down. put them in my lap. a man or woman would call out a number. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head.
” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O .T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. you’re just like Auntie Doll. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. 37 Mitchellville. for me. she yelled. sat down beside me and said “Hello. 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. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. When she turned to look at me. I was sitting outside on the front steps. No. but someone else. It wasn’t the welfare office. Yvette Louisell. lack of food. or the bills. everybody in the world. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. when I was ten.
I took Ma’s hand. She said love makes you do crazy things. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. Then.” she said. Big John wanted to go down there. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. both became angry. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped.100+ girl in the world. but Ma said she would handle it herself. got a damp washcloth. She 198 . Needless to say. Big John. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. “Down the block. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. After twenty minutes. “Green house. what had happened. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. That little girl was no fool. “No. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. Ma smiled and hugged me. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. The next thing I knew. I got home empty-handed. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger.
“Take it! It’s all there. “You like to beat up on women and kids. who had been putting away groceries. and left. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. we got the jewelry back. Then he walked over to the counter. we got a smile. screaming. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid.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. “My God. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. Meanwhile. Ma ran to him. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. 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. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. His wife. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. are you all right?” He nodded. George Hughes. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. 66 Burkeville. VA 199 . and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. but we laughed and laughed like never before. warning him not to touch us again. snatched the bag.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. stood by the refrigerator.
“Now run on home. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. “Oh it’s all right. one of Michael’s many siblings. saying. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. but my dad sat her back down. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. With the fork in one hand. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. screaming. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. you little sissy. “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. he leaned over me. I looked over.” 200 O . I hit the ground again. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. and look. you scared the poor boy. look what you did. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. My mother had gotten to her feet. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. more surprised than hurt. “Don’t look to your folks for help. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. you made him cry. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. saying.” the man screamed at me.
who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. “My little wunderkind. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble.” I’ll ever forget what he said. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. and a warm. Very calmly. my little lipschkin. and offered me cookies.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. new shoes every fall. Peck was yelling at me. One of these days. More mad than sad.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. 201 . I said. clothes to wear.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. She almost whispered. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. My job is to make sure you have food to eat.” I answered. just thinking. I think. trying not to look at me. dry house to live in. help Grandma eat this. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. at the dinner table. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. “No more with the neighbors. I can’t be there to save you. I ran to my room. Grandma Berg was inside.” she said as she dried my tears. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. but sternly. Later. Hours later. I looked at her then at my father. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. “Thinking.
He got to me like no other student that year. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. Your father. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. chores to doing. no more you thinking. Grandma is old woman. In the classroom. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. He was full of jokes. They remain frozen in my subconscious. You must be sleeping now.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. Sun coming soon. tomorrow is better day. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. but Grandma knows things. a name leapt at me. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. He also loved conflict. Dream the dreams boys dream. As I scanned the newspaper. 51 Corcoran. Too much thinking for one so young. CA The Sand Dollar by time. as the elementary students they were. In casual and cruel black and white print. I received a devastating student update. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. and intelligence. Quiet now. unchanged . quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. songs. Thomas Michael Fox. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim.
36 Wakefield. So much wasted. but he was the star. I always wondered if I got through to him. He wasn’t my first lost boy. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. smile broadly. just a headstone. Stacey Curran Conway. But even now. and dance away. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. He would nod. I knew his story now. Now one found me. MA If Not Me. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. Reading the article through blurred eyes. I smashed my heels in the sand. I hadn’t found one for years. so much lost. I stormed down the beach. cursing him. an 11-year-old in leather. He could always make people smile. no one got to me like him. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. I saw I hadn’t.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. Then the ocean placed a perfect. 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 . I was mad.
In some pretty tough school districts. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made.100+ of what my students can become. living wages. I have helped a teenager learn how to read.” Back then. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. Finally. who trusted what would later come to fruition. however. I’ve been insulted. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. RIF’d. I think. Surprisingly. and rehired. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). of the students who might never make it to college without help. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. students with social problems. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. sworn at. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I have stood in line. and kept students in line. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. I sit 204 . I have come to the end of myself. and administrators with agendas. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. pooh-poohed. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream.
Spanish was seen as an elective. much less trusting. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . 7th.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. not a real course. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. Unruly students aside. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. Zora. more wary. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. for a new vision. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. at the school where I taught. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. Unfortunately. MA Unsung Heroes profession. and 8th graders. I would be mortified. 34 Framingham.
I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. Ted continued to wander about. Most were sensible enough to sit. remnants of a continuous high. silence. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies.100+ those who do. His eyes were constantly glazed over. Julia Perez. At the start of a usual class. If I could survive this class. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. the vicious three-headed hellhound. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. Sitting. 29 Norwich. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . I hope that someday. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. I could survive the duration of this profession. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. Attempting to gain control. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. I threatened detentions for students not in seats.
dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. Enjoy guarding hell. “Take your best shot. As the class waited for my reaction. MO 207 . I decided on the only rational thing. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. I have to call the principal to come get you. Norton Loomer Saint Louis.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. Wait. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. I had stunned the high right out of him. His bark was mighty.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. 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.” the child said confidently. but how was his bite? Move he did. “Okay Ted.
. Christopher. 145 Donna J. 111 Amberchele. 172 Allen. 121 Boner. 37. Aila. 96 Anonymous. J. Malachi. 100 Burns. 202 Daryl F. 142 Dey. 132 Babb. 70 Best. Lance. 19. 32 Brown.C. 61 Clarette. 122. 22 Aubrie. 33. 60 Aleman. 102 Elliott.. José. 155 Corson. Sue Ellen.Author Index AK. G. Matthew. Tom “Wolf ”. D. Cynthia. 75 Carrillo. 51.. 166 Antzes. 166 Ephraim. Aileen.T. 53 Curran Conway. 127 Diaz.. Adelle. 130 . 95 Barchard. 45 Brame. 79 Anonymous . Fernanda. Stacey. Eugene Alexander. James. 44 Anonymous. 135 Christie. Robert Hal. 47 Balic..
Thomas Michael. 125 Hayden. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 177 Kelley. Elisabetta. 155 Fox. 62. 109 Karen. Gene W. 97 Hermann.. Frank E. Gaby. 200 Galilea.. 197 Jackson.. 98. 30. 28. 128 Jolene. 163 Gutierrez. 115 Fernandez.. 77 Gavin S. 94 . Spoon. Will. 40 January. 92 Gallegos. 158 Ferrara. 162 Jenelleish. 164 F. 151 Higgins. George. Mary.. 45. 181 Harris. Dennis. William Steed. H. 115 Hayley. 59.B. 157. 144. 36. 179 Giosia..A. Hector. Enrique M. 123 Gavai. 74. 80. 130 Gisela. 101 Jayne L. Terri.G. 53. 131 Foster.Errani Emaldi. 124 Hughes. 116 Hathorn. Pilar. 17. 147 Kelly. Daniel H... 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 110 Forrest. 192 Kikis_fairytale.
160 Momo. Kitty.. Gary. Mike.B. 205 Pete. 71 Richards. 108 Philippa. 148 Lisa. Julia. 93. Ricky. 206 Louisell. Zachary. 107. Prashant Devan. 86 Mare. Nidia F. 69. 99 Quarles.. 188 Paddy J. Scarlet. Eloise. 133. 87 McKenna. Byron. 91 Rothwell. 25 McKenzie. 141 Redfearne. 187 Kumar. Norton. 183 PC. 59 Morales. Mark D. D. 23 . 77 McLean. Jan.. Santonio. Charles P. Brigitte. 88 Norman.. 196 Mansour. Yvette. 161 Loomer. 73 Lebreton. 172 Mayo. Michael. 171 Murff. 136. 20. 85 Rose. 148 Salinas. Miriam. 92 Perez. 21 LeBeau. 122. 158 Pauli. 189 Lonn. 32. 67 Misty.Krista. 143 Priscilla..
.. 55 von Fuller. Alexander J. 42 Windoftheclyde. 173 Yeyo. Matt. 114 Vogt. 50 Theoharides.E. 190 Suzy. Steven. Raul. 193 Ybarra. 95 Yochum. 90 Torres. Adela. Kurt. 63 Wirzburger. 39 Yurshta. 41 Shelly. 191 Sonia. 85 Tedesco. Agatha. 34 Zora. 203 . Dinorah. Melvin William Joseph. Idris. J. Bronwyn. 87 Small. 151 Suzanne. 159 Wantz. 15. John. 16 Shurley.Samuel. 149 Zephyr. 175 Yarbrough.
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.100plusts.. facing myself. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. Now you are invited to do the same.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.com.com. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.. cry.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www.com $19. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. The best stories were selected for this book. floating in the air.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. These are true stories told by people like you. reflect. but with a different outlook on life–and death.” “. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. These firsthand accounts. or confessions.” “A week before my 26th birthday. anecdotes. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. written as memoirs. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard.100plusts. Many people are telling their true stories. who were eager to share their experiences.99 9 781598 351095 .” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. and remember. illustrate life’s many. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. Upon being published.. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch...100plusts. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.