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
the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. my mother passed away from cancer. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. By 18. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. desires. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. Dennis Forrest. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. Nevada in 1968. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. bitterness. On March 3. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. 51 Rosharon.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. AZ I 19 . and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. By the 8th grade. Malachi Ephraim Florence. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. images. Due to anger. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. can be revealed to the world. and drug addiction. so I grew up as an Army brat. 2007. living on many different bases.
Listening now requires my full attention. freedom to expand my horizons. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. listening. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. Today. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. I am aware of the way their covers feel. and their condition. I rejoice in the art I produce. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. such as putting up books in the library. I know I am finally awake to life. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. tomorrow. in a week. Yet. When I do little jobs. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. to search spiritually. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. and I can look at them neutrally. day out. to develop boundaries. and acting. their heaviness. 20 N . For quite a while now.
and Thich Nhat Hanh. I can easily mix with just about anyone. love. teachers. find true freedom. Lamas Rinpoche. or strangers away. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. But for now. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. once I am given the chance. and compassion and when they do. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. In closing. be they physical. As a matter of fact. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. my learning continues. Yeshe. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. I know I will.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. mental. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. or spiritual. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world.
I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. Kuala Lumpur. She had 22 M . She broke the news to me as best as she could. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. I thought to myself. I took in what the kids were saying. As I listened to my mom. 18 Cheras. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. 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. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. 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. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Prashant Devan Kumar.” That same day.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. but didn’t join in the conversation.
reflect. I grew up in boys’ homes. only thinking about those fucking stickers. imagine. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. and wonder. confined to a one-man cell.). dream. TYC. 23 hours a day. their world becomes a mental one. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. I’m a dude from the ‘hood.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. 24 Queens. Every time I am taken out of my cell. That’s all we do in these cells: think. Seg. Food is brought to me. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. That day. not caring that there was no Santa. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. with life to go. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. juvie halls. You have to have 23 I . It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. ponder. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. feel. I remember sitting in the car.
But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. and no one gets hurt. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. It was a robbery gone bad.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. It is something that I truly am sorry for. staking out the store from across the street. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. Trust me. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. run. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. I saw his point and I left things as they were. There were three. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. and everything went to shit from there. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. watching the clerk close up shop. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I think now how naïve I was. I was alone. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. But to 24 . I’d done it a dozen times. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. and I got life in prison. The next day. In the end.
S. Big holes. right. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. Look at the car. o. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. all observant and such. Watch the crap. I’m thinking. Holes everywhere. I think about that shit. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. No way. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. Crap is strewn everywhere. in which the author served as part of the U. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. not benign crap. I mean. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. Watch the crap. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. I’m keeping my pieces. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. it’s not going anywhere. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. if you’re lucky. Yeah. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. It’s a mess. I’m not moving. I’m looking at this car.
I’ve been so careful all of these months. How many days have I been awake? Damn. 26 .” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. grenades. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. right on the crap. hundreds of them. I didn’t even see this stuff. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. RPG rounds. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. this “Desert Storm. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. cars now.I. hold privates. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. Whoever’s firing those damn things. I’m waiting for the lights to go out.. Now.A. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. with maybe a little inscription saying. with holes in them all. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. I’m holding my privates.—R. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone.I. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. I figured I’d hang on to something. but I don’t care. from messing my mind up further. I curse myself for being so stupid.” or whatever you call it. well. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. or tunnel vision. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. K. I’m sick of this crap. and mines scatter everywhere. I’m angry.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two.P. Good night.
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. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. but like some sick voyeur. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. along with the gaping hole through the skull. They look like statues. Damn. His ID card falls out. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. Is 27 . I know I’m not dead. maybe. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. I do. I don’t want to end up like him. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. The glazed eyes give it away. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. The pictures don’t lie. It was fun for a minute. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. vehicles are everywhere. again. It’s hard to tell. No stench. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. unless they shortened the fuses. right? The ones I see are fresh. I don’t like the burned ones. too. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. I don’t want to look. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground.
we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. and shackled. We’ll have that in common. They’ll never know me. I want no part of it. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. the Americans. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. The hero died with a scream on his lips. No. handcuffed. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. Mark D. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. McKenna Columbus.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. One by one waist-chained. pictures don’t lie. Probably not. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. we stepped 28 I . If that’s heroism. his son—maybe even himself. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. hoping his son will return from down South. we will celebrate. They’ll never know what happened to him. that damn war. from that war.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. “Yes.
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. 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. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. In retrospect.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. 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. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. indeed. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. 29 . That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. mountains. The restless.
It’s a world of its own where. boredom. and. the lunacy of a previous occupant. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. Hector Gallegos Otisville. for most. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. While I was in there. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. a vacuum of uncertainty. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. I found that I was not alone in this realization. This is 30 M . sealed off from everything and everyone. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. but no one dared speak of them.100+ Looking around me. in some cases.
It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. MA 31 . 24 Lawrence. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. She has a son now. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. but I had no luck. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. We used to have a very healthy relationship. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me... My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. Will Ferrara.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. 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.
Robert Hal Brame Coleman. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . but that made me feel worse. flew to Florida.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. 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. stole an airplane. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. They never really understood that there was something wrong. Three years later. 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. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I grew up spoiled rotten. and began robbing banks. where I am today. I escaped. After 15 years there. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. I always felt lonely. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I was always sad.
Lights come on. Cars speed by. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. This year. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. and then my house caught on fire. This made me feel good. but there was something missing. 33 I .T R U E S T O R I ES me. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. 16 Richmond. so I always tried to help them. It wasn’t her fault. When I started middle school. or mine. I started therapy. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. Now. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. I had friends and a boyfriend. It’s going to be hard to get better. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. but only for a little while. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. but I was already highly unstable by then. and I am doing a lot more for myself. Momo. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away.
Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk.100+ homeward bound. God has been looking out for me. no one to call. many homeless people end up in jail. 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. I am still alive. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. I have met a variety of people in prison. you’re hungry. This is why. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. You have nowhere to go. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. under the three strikes law. G. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics.. You think to yourself. nothing to eat. I have been fortunate. nowhere to sleep.T. It’s cold.. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. your feet hurt. for one reason or another. 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.
my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. My husband and I filed a police report right away. Nonetheless. My husband. During the car ride home. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. So Joe walks free. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. I must have asked to be raped. and the rest of the family awoke. I brought it upon myself.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I immediately told my husband and we left. In their eyes. I thought it was my husband. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. They say most 35 . and he will never see or speak to his brother again. his brother. We all had a few too many. my case was thrown out of court. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. Without warning. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. My husband and Joe came to blows again. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. 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. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me.
Zephyr Chicago. drug dealer. for all the good it’s doing me. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. or crooked politician. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. When I got locked up. while the victims get a life sentence. We had six kids—with so many kids. Men ask me. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I’ve been a model inmate. you almost have to be a bank robber. but I am always in a good mood. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. and I made it without becoming one of them. I love to write books and short stories. and for the past 10 years. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I keep getting turned down for parole. trying to survive among savage men. I just took the money and ran. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I .
anger. George Hughes. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. I share love. tears. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. laughter. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. they are good people with good hearts. and us three kids. And it all transpired in 37 O . That summer. not die. my parents became legally separated. I love writing. Mom got a new apartment. and my innermost thoughts and desires. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. At fourteen. I turned fourteen. Writing is like having an affair. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. the car. but all’s well in the end. compassion. like taste good food. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. 1982. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. 63 Burkeville. but I put the truth out there for all to read. flavors that today I’d die for—well. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. sadness. When I’m writing.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next.
picked out a pair. By fifteen. “Mom. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. but here it was. And by the age of eighteen. at fourteen. My friends would have surely made fun of me. and inexplicably. I wasn’t too concerned. sprinting as fast as possible. I took off like a bat out of hell. So I decided to steal. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. looking down at my new wet shoes. and me. and put them on. Like an NFL running back. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. I burst through the front door.100+ less than an hour. not enough to panic. Then I put on all three new shirts. sister. In 1982. I went over to the shoe department. On the very last day of summer. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. Once inside. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . Once outside. I was in State Prison.
I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. To my complete surprise. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. Six days later. they said. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. When I was finished with him. OH 39 I . “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. Obviously shocked. 18 Mowrystown. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I asked why I was being arrested. 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. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary.
In the depths of my heart and soul. with a common goal. and soul. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. how he cared for her. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. I felt that what I did was wrong. I deserved to do some time and make amends. fights. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. and mean words. I killed someone. and when one falls. It was good to see them together. Before. During my trial. though he never loved her. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. From then on. 40 N . hitting and abusing 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 see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. my mom and dad came to visit me. At nineteen. mind. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. in the same room. I was ready to be judged and convicted. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. the others are there to pick him up. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. but the fact is I did. ignorance. My mom’s eyes held a million words. The judge gave me life without parole. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. and lack of feelings.
but I take no initiative to start the process. I was naïve. fleeting hope. Besides. I have no friends in this new city. but now everything seems tight. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. Spoon Jackson. but I see only the negative things. I’m getting older. 50 Represa. but they all have lives. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. 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. I came from the desert. but my will to survive took over. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. and violent unrest. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. Money never used to be an issue. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. smiles. I need to budget. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality.
the only escape that I found was with a knife. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. I’m not stuck in one place. but moving slowly in the right direction. I’ve still been able to grow as a person.100+ before I go to bed. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. All of those negative ideas. my pen is capturing everything. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. For someone like me. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. Ontario. go into a small. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. In the few months that I’ve been writing. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. mixed with big dreams of happiness. brought up in me. I even see things in a more positive light now. a dead father. inconspicuous notebook. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. Idris Samuel. 42 I . 27 Toronto. I see that in spite of my depression. Now that I can look back at my thoughts.
I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. It had become a habit. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. As I look back on the role that the drug played. it merely put them on hold. While on probation in 1995. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. a need for the chemicals in the formula. While in prison. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. it became a hindrance when I was 43 .T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. light-headedness. new problems arose. But then. never directly addressed. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. While incarcerated.
I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says.E. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Wantz Salem. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. but I never thought it would result in depression. Anonymous. Think about who really loves you. but my reaction to them is not the same. I’ve always had low self-esteem. J. 13 44 I . Now the reality I face is my own life. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. and once it does. it’s too short and too precious. much clearer.100+ stable. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. Never waste life. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. you will be twice as strong. the present is much. I am a different person. And the present is where I have to live.
After getting sober in 2001. I have turned my attention back to God. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. writing helped. 1958 in Elgin. Illinois. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. The son of a research chemist. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. community centers. 51 Corcoran. 45 G . I began to start to feel differently about myself. Thomas Michael Fox. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. Now I try.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. cultural arts centers. alcohol. and pornography. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. I ended up in prison for life.
hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. and indigenous themes. The second and third place runners-up were announced. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. This history. migrant workers. When I was in second grade. On the day the winner was to be announced. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. Then. my name was called. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. my school sponsored an art contest. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio.100+ youth programs. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice.and 12-year-olds. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. prison scenes. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. vatos locos. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. at the age of 17. Mexican revolutionaries.
and sixty feet of rope to the roof. there was no turning back. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. I had to get in the same cage. José Boner Boscobel. a freehand artist second. The guard was two feet in front of me. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. manufacturing the rope. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. I consider myself first a poet. and crazy juxtapositions. And yet. a new tradition: poetical muralism. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. Securing the tools. metaphors. camouflage the cut marks. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . and obtaining the other articles took time. Octavio with Orozco. Siquierod with Cisneros. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. I fuse images using words. a hacksaw blade. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. watching every move during a strip search. Today. cash.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. and ultimately smuggle street clothes.
I was balls-to-the-wall. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. I was through and bent back the bars. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. There was no time for hesitation. It was going according to plan 48 . but the meshing distorted clear vision. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. D-day. my arms were screaming. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. In a few minutes. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. or nerves. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. I was going. but they could see every move I made. I could see everything. I slung the rope over my shoulder. already packed with the gear. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. doubt.100+ primitive. and I was sweating a puddle. 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. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. every muscle was taut. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. The cage was shaking and rattling.
deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. cages. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. I attempted to crawl away. free from fear. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. from doubt. but now I would to fall to my death.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. through what I’ve gained and learned since. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. It was too thin. I should have made gloves. needed more knots… whatever the problem. I know from consequential. it was too late for solutions. from regret and anxiety. I’d escaped. CA 49 . so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. but couldn’t move. Babb Corcoran. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. I know I’ve never been freer. D. outside the confines of the jail. I was lying on the rooftop. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. guards. But that feeling of open air on my skin. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. Yet. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. The rope burned through my fingers.
and by the time I did. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. He attempted to shut off the ignition. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . which never came. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him.U. There was no wake-up call. 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. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. not losing his license. I thought I loved him. One time. no matter what.s. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. Alcohol would always come first. he just kept hitting rock bottom. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. not getting pancreatitis. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D.I.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. it was too late. but the key was jammed. nothing. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight.
a man with a past. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. not a crime. thugs. I had seen and done a lot.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. free dope. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. To me. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I had lived an interesting life. Adela Tedesco. that was for sure. and sexual predators committed. 23 Hollywood. who in the present. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . In my 33 years. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. Unfortunately. Crimes were what thieves. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. simply liked the quick. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. drugs were simply a hustle. victimless cash. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down.
at stake: my entire life. CA 52 . It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. our families. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. Yet. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. not the solution. It helps those unable to defend themselves. as an activist. things are different. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. and with whoever. I’m surely not the devil. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. at this fateful juncture of my life. I argued it at every level: in the media.” There are the pro-drug war. While I’m no angel. the entire world of academia. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. at the university. this time. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. for all practical purposes. it protects the innocent. I understand the necessity for law and order. I participated in the discourse. Now. Then there are those of us. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. I’m arguing against it one more time. either. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism.
my stomach and chest. and nothing good ever comes of them. However. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. that nothing will ever happen to them. They destroy lives. riding through space in 53 O . coming up my legs. there are new users every day. Lance Corson. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. 24 Little Compton. until it took over my whole being. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. One of the guards supplied it. So many people believe that they are invincible. I felt it starting at my feet. 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. There are always consequences. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. even though they know that there are great risks.
bad. There were monsters with long tails down there. I was terrified! I found myself falling. falling. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. falling. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. Then I nodded off. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. and I could feel the cramps coming. I stood in the corner. my heart pounded violently. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. my back to the wall. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. holding on to my elbows. I was freezing all over. across my stomach.100+ the dead of darkness. The floor closed up as I hit it. I walked around with my arms in front of me. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. gritting their teeth. I needed a fix. only inches left to stand on. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. dying for a fix. I began to shake all over. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. My body was curled. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. My stomach was cramping. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. My muscles 54 .
and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. not scrubbing the floors right. Mom grabbed a frying pan. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. petty reasons. wetting the bed. There was no fix at hand.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. not cleaning the dishes right. My mother passed away on October 2nd. One day. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. including their own souls. 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. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. If I were on the street. 66 Burkeville. But I wasn’t. Mother. God and I both love you. I kicked at her. jumped out. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. and sell anything and everything.” Now 55 . George Hughes. got down on the floor and beat me with it. 2002. to get a fix. and 10. not shoveling the sidewalk right. steal.000 other small. She opened the back door and said. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. “No more. playing too loudly. “Get out of my house. lie. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach.
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 hold hard feelings toward her. 67 Amarillo. Melvin William Joseph Vogt.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hate my mom. TX 56 . I don’t dislike her.
Sex & Seduction .
I 59 M . you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. Terri Giosia. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. But for the young woman. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. it will occur over time. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. an orgasm. and fulfillment after the first time. Québec. 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. 45 Montreal. This is what occurs at 18. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman.
who are ready to lose their virginity. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. If you know your body. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. I did it for me.100+ beg to differ. Don’t be scared. We decided we were ready. not because he wants to. Now. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. At the beginning of high school. that even though it’s your first time. people would assume we were twins. we had sex. When we were little. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. We have known each other since before we can remember. Do it because you want to. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. it won’t be your last. I will spare 60 I . I always tell my friends. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. 16 Richmond. Momo.
or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. at a “well-supervised” party. I grabbed her. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. squealing. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. Later in the evening. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. AK. we said. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. Obviously laughter. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. and crying ensued. anyway. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. he wields 61 I . and we locked ourselves in. Almost at the same time. interesting story to tell. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. that is not what is important. I ran into my best friend. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection.
being sarcastic. however. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. He thinks he understands how to make women happy.100+ considerable power by yelling. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. turning him over. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. NSW. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. 54 Sydney. rubbing his feet and back. if the woman is appealing enough. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . tempt. but girly mags are his main source of info. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. feeding him like a baby. 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. Christie. changing his urine bag. or backstabbing us to our bosses. it’s like having a little harem. He basks in their attention. However. and showering and grooming him.
body language. one cannot seduce. With a glance. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. 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. Québec. it’s possible to seduce anyone. Once that is accomplished. beyond a shadow of a doubt. a look. his complete awareness of 63 I . as upon sobering up. this type of seduction is an illusion.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. It is not real. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. the golden rule for seduction. Without confidence. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. 45 Montreal. However. That is. 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. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. His hand rested on my forearm. a smile. It is stating the obvious. smile.
A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. for they would make me look like a weakling. Always the seeker. but my pretensions made no difference to them. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. On the brink of a thrust. 27 Santiago. he breathed my name. In a shadowy whisper. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. Never had a burden been more welcome. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. I felt his back tensing against my hands. but my anticipation was no longer tender. Windoftheclyde. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. I pleaded with them not to show up. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . True to their word.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. My ways were haphazard. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. his lips fell on my hips.
Small Miracles .
I cry in the cell where no one can see me. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. 67 T . I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten.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 do my deepest thinking there. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. I’m on guard seven days a week. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. At times. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. in the darkness. With a twist of a key. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. Late at night. but once inside my cell. I should hate the cell. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I know I have to be locked in. amongst the prison population.” Out there. and often after a long day. 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 even welcome the closing of the door. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. I’m locked in. As a person. I am human. rather familiar.
The cell is my castle until I reach home. a melody of pleasant proportions. The cell is a hellhole. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. despair. When the cell door shuts.100+ I pray in the cell. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. yet. Ironically. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. The walls seem to hum. while here in prison. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. I’m alone. read a book. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. I don’t hear anyone talking. The cell door is now closed. listen to the radio. and I write my loved ones there. and loneliness. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. or write a letter to my family or a friend. these sounds are tranquil. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. To be honest. To the outside observer. the cell is a paradox because in reality. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. I have not experienced silence in years. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . It never is truly quiet here. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. but I’m in good company.
showing another dimension.m. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. think. cry. and have the power to choose. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. 69 I . bleed. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. we have been there before. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. in it were four angels. I’m human: I feel. 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. love. “Let us show you the way. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. In a small. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. though their faces were human-looking.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. They looked invincible. I also laugh. Michael McLean Beacon. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. I was lying in the dark. and I was filled with awe.
but time operates differently there. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I saw a van coming straight towards me.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. Misty. circular spaceship. Auckland. knowing order reigned in the next world. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. 54 North Shore City. guarded from dark forces. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. there really wasn’t any time to react. I thought to myself. 70 I . I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. At that instant. waiting to make a left turn.100+ white. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. This was a kingdom on a large sun. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. “Oh no. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped.
I considered the importance of what I was doing. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. In the breast pocket of my jacket. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. “Sorry about that. I chose Mount Sanitos. including me. Where we die should be no less important. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. I sat there thinking to myself. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. and in the hand-warmer pocket. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. It was a very surreal experience.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. Ever since that day. “Wow. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. It is important to find the right place for an ending. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. a brand new box of pills. Hey. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . 38 Methuen.
The guardians were gone. I cowered. Four pills left. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. then a shift. closing my bank accounts. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. Blood was caked on my forehead.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. but they sensed me there. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. I finally reached the top. On the far side of my fall. It was still night. like someone hit the reset on my brain. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . my hand slipped and I fell. There was a flash of light. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. When the east finally began to warm. “He’s here. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. thinking it could be the police. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. There were shapes of people around. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. no one was looking for me. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me.100+ someone else got hurt. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. I must have blacked out. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. things were… strange. Necessary and common. For a moment. dropping off my recycling. I panicked. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp.
I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . but I had never been depressed before either.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I think of myself as having happily died that night. I’ve been to zero. hitting me on the left ankle. I realized it was just a stone. I had never done that before. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. so I continued making the sandwiches. it got so bad that I became depressed. That was my break-even point. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. and it’s doable. Then a second piece of bread fell. and then dragged myself towards it. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. I was making sandwiches. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I was living alone. Three days later. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. Everything after that has been pure profit. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I also know that I’m never alone. as I did. When I got up in front of the cabin. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. At one point.
He is still there. Jesus is always with us.” 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. I was very puzzled. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. “I am the bread of life. Three months later. but there was only one piece on the floor. whether we see Him or not. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. we got pregnant again. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. the day before Valentine’s Day. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. so we should not be depressed.100+ of bread. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. When I returned to the kitchen. Our little (well 74 I . Then we had ourselves a little miracle.” Two years ago. Needless to say. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason.
Don’t get me wrong. 30 Martinsburg. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. But this event puts it into a whole different light. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. we will always think about the baby that we lost. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. Kelly. WV A Taste of Honey honey. but left the bees plenty for the winter. It was a good partnership. And he is our own personal little miracle. 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. I did not waste it on the bland mush. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold.
I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. and also. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. UT 76 . when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. The other half I saved for later. James Burns Gunnison. 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. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. the mountain laurel. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. For a moment there. But man cannot live on honey alone.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I thought. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. but it seemed to last an eternity. I thanked God for a taste of honey. I had been free. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. and the wildflowers. 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.
Gavai Kona. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. There was a spark in her eyes. Ironically. he got shot in the left side of his chest. 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. her actions were terrible and painful. He may have survived the Vietnam War. I 77 I . a pack of cigarettes. Despite this miracle. smoking saved his life. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. During a skirmish. Army during the Vietnam War. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. but it ultimately killed him.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. He had a lighter. and a mirror in his left breast pocket.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. After years of alcohol abuse.S.
” he said. when my brother Bardo and I got home.” He also told me that when I finished eating. “Good night. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. I tightly hugged him back.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. and said. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. One day. as I put the dress on the hanger. Miriam McKenzie. That is when I saw the stain. and I did. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. and hung up my dress. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. he looked at me. The next thing I knew. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. With powdered soap and water. I turned to go to my room. “You’re not the only one. Miriam. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. the dress ended up on my face. 41 Bedford Hills. NY 78 . I walked to my closet. Bardo. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. Bardo came out. I heard him whisper. reached for an empty hanger. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. but she ignored me.” I said through my tears. While he was hugging me. “Good night. With tears in my eyes. my mother called me.
We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. no weight pile. a pipe with running water for a shower. There was no yard to speak of. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. An aisle ran the length of each building. built wooden bunks. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. bought a TV. a stereo. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. We installed a swamp cooler. I could wear my own clothes. Everything from 79 M . cook what I wanted. no track or ball field. I had conjugal visits. When money arrived. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. the “buffaloes” roamed. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. No gym. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. incoming calls only. But in Mexico.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. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards.
the ontological slap in the face. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . A man could buy food. appliances.S. filthy. I was allowed to keep my identity. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. for anything else. clothing. booze.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. I wanted out. for the right price. J. I reasoned that. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town.C. and it has. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. if I changed. lumber. I arrived at the school cafeteria. in my head. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. much like my thinking. drugs. Amberchele Canon City. art supplies. the world would reflect that change. and even prostitutes. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. True. but it was an identity that was poisonous. and dangerous.
In my mind. however. With time. it stopped bothering me.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. my membership in the gang became obsolete. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. the atmosphere was tense. his father embraced me in the hallway. the judge dismissed the case. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. I had been stabbed. Enrique M. I yelled for help. FL 81 . my assailant approached me and apologized. Fernandez Miami. After that incident. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. a free-for-all ensued. That made all the difference in the world. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. When I did not press charges. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. His father attended the hearing. When I saw my assailant in court. 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. After the trial. I flirted with the idea of getting even. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. As we spoke. It had been an ironic twist of fate. I stood by my friend. encouraging him during the fight. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. As I turned to look. But when others got involved.
Matters of the Heart .
but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I want to know everything he knows. I could not 85 T . TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. I have known my first love for more than a year.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. no matter what answers you receive. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. 41 Dallas. He’s my first Jan Richards. One would think that because I have experienced life. the good and bad. He is strong. my first true love. I am 41 years old. Boy. I would have been in love before. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. I will accept all of him. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. He is smart. He is honest. was I wrong! I admire my first love. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. and I am in love. This is it! This is my first true love. I never get tired of listening to him.
She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. I decided to visit her. I hope we will get married one day. but now I want to leave him.100+ eat. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. I was browsing . After two years of online chatting and phone calls. Without her. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Although we are divorced. too. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. and the connection that we share. he came back to me. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. I will never forget her. 27 Tehran. The morning after I arrived. she kissed me for the first time. We both respect and value each other very much. my first love. I feel so alone. it’s been like heaven. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). 59 Dayton. Mansour. and that the connection will endure. Suzy.
He stripped down my confidence. brown-haired young man. If it were up to me. His name was Travis. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. and he was in fifth grade. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. everything was great. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. At first. slender.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. There was something fascinating about this “older man. I worry all the time. and I am so jealous. Shurley. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. He was a tall. Then within six months. and now all I have are insecurities. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. He played with my head.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. I would never have gone out with him. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me.
100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. wanting him to protect me. 29 Hilo. hotel. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. threesomes. She has little education. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. and gangbangs—it all occurs. My reflections of Travis developed years later. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. or inn in the continental United States. Often. I just remember wanting to be near him. all in retrospect. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. 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. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . Kitty Mayo. anal sex.
send her shopping. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. regulations. The attraction is mutual. Love. Sometimes personalities just click. housing. pay her rent. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. It’s an amazing thing. rules. The female is as rebellious as the offender. She needs no coercion or con. finances. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. It comes like a thief in the night. TX 89 . Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. who want to keep her hair and nails done. 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. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. The conversations flow smoothly. The laughs come fast and free.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. Hours seem like minutes. take care of her kids. or risks. 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. religion.
my tears will come. Skidmore College. Outside her window.M. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. she told me the same thing.100+ Four A. One month later. but I know I don’t want her to leave. And three months and two weeks later..” I have no idea what he means.. We are in her attic bedroom. and if. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . Massachusetts. Two months later. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. destined for Minneapolis. the distance between her school. and mine. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. I told her I loved her. we went out for coffee. She’s packing her last suitcase. I wonder when. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. on a tour of Oxford. three floors down. the tears pouring down her cheeks. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Three months later. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. Boston College. 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. and yes. I’m not sure she’s my other half. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. suitcase is a difficult feat. and I told her she was strange.
I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car.m. needless to say. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. “I’ll miss you. and I have to walk her to a bus station. she falls asleep.m. I walk her to the bus station. so I decided to go the subversive route. after another bottle of wine. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. still two bottles of wine later..T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him.m. and place it on the hood of his car. 22 Amherst. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. and I had a crush on . At two a. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates..m. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed.” she says. I had written the poem already. write a love poem. And tears stream down my face. after a bottle of wine. Alexander J. At four a. until four a. At three a.. Theoharides. comes. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. 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.
which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the .100+ I sped away. but because of them. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. not despite of their shortcomings. Galilea. desires. 24 Lincoln. NH Love Is for yourself. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. 28 Albuquerque. and well-being. 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. Scarlet Rose. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. Unfortunately. I was 21 years old. needs.
perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. We are the yin and yang for each other. PC. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. making our relationship grow stronger. As you can imagine. It can be between two men and between two women.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . I imagined something romantic. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. 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. no? Saturday came. 30 Arecibo. But a girl can dream. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. 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.
so many mistakes. I love you. Michelle. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. “I did it for love. Our relationship is 15 years strong. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . but he wasn’t in love with me. 36 Lennon. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. and so many tears. and I thought I was immortal. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I chose my hell. maybe he was strange.” I told myself. and I live there now.100+ lifetime. and my life. and we are raising a daughter as well. Mare. and I tried to fight for my dreams. A baby was on the way. and you have always been the one. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. the woman that he had been dreaming of. but he was mine. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. so I left everything behind: my career. I regret it. I tried to be perfect. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. my family. I regret so many things. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. Maybe he was too old for me. Life is not supposed to be this way.
but I can’t control it. I don’t know. My ex and I are currently in high school. but we’re not together anymore.T R U E S T O R I ES life. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. It’s a bad habit. 27 Athens. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. If I were to start my life all over again. Yeyo. though. Kikis_fairytale. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. but we’ll be living separate lives. We are going to graduate soon. we fell in love. We now have a beautiful baby girl. 95 I . Lately. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. 18 Olmito. and it lasted about a year and a half. but as for love.
96 M . 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 imagine the two of us together all the time. Aila Balic. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. “I may have a guy at home. We spent my final day together. In the summer of 2009. but as much as I try to stop. and a smile that could melt a heart. I shake. and I have no control over my actions. but it just happens. He was a southern gentleman with manners. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. Although I didn’t know it at the time. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. but things had been slowly going downhill. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. talent. I thought to myself. I don’t want to. looks. it keeps growing.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. It is a scary feeling. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. 18 Brooklyn. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. Every time I see him. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. We started talking and before long we just clicked. yet doesn’t make me want to die.
Guerrero. family and friends can witness our marital union. no guests. There weren’t any wedding planners. for showing me the truth about love. and no hassle: just us. Thanks. but now it was time to make a big decision. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. We wanted . Ethan.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. In life. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. Why not have our cake and eat it. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. I couldn’t believe it was over. I explored my options on the ride home. I went to say my goodbyes. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. 26 Acapulco. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. too? Hayley. and it took all I had not to cry.
We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. Some letters were erotic. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. and made me happy in so many ways. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. was a devoted wife.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. I will go home one day. as well as me. On May 15. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. She was . On March 27th. at age fifty-two. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. I guess. 1997. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. Clearly magic was happening between us. This story has the makings for a great ending. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. For Louise. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. but life is not fair. 2006. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. I had not felt that way in years. Louise had a heart attack and died at home.
but we had our wedding 7 months later. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. And in the end. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. 63 Burkeville. We had a nice ceremony. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. beautiful flower arrangements. My husband and I spend upwards of $10.000 on our wedding. but for our family members. Farewell. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. Please save 99 M . If we had to do it again. VA A Joining of Two.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. I will miss you. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. in August. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. DON’T. However. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. Louise. George Hughes.
and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. 29 Lowell. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. Even at 3. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. “NO!” I yelled at him. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. clad in a miniature tuxedo. In the fall of 1987. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. forest green dress. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair.100+ your money because in the end. Priscilla. my voice echoing through the church. When the time came to walk down the aisle. On the day of the wedding. the wedding doesn’t matter. 100 A . too?” he asked. “Are you two getting married. When we finally reached the priest. the rings were handed over.
all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. not right before my eyes. three of them will always be: priests. but before I knew it. Finally. slowly and gradually. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. all I remember being told was. my cousin. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. not right away. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. 23 Somerville. Adelle Brown. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. at some point. and I had no idea where to go. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. until amorous love became filial affection.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. and I started to ignore 101 I . I had gotten used to him and he to me. I was blinded by lights.” When the doors opened. The emails became short and purposeful. On the long list of things I hate. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. and forest green. camera flashes.
I stopped caring about spending time together. nor is he. I am not that unhappy. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. January Paris. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. 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. and started avoiding him.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. torturous waste of time. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. This mundane. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. I remember why I fell in love with him. I am not that person anymore. but that memory is now alien to me. for him. or lack thereof. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. For now. and let him do the same. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. I keep trying to push him away. He was no longer my top priority. 102 I . but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. I am content to just exist.
and I’m glad they are. which never came. St. it would have been more difficult. They are still together. Johnsbury. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. VT 103 . I thought that if they divorced. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. Even if he hadn’t allowed it.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Donna J. Alas. my parents did not divorce. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. and if I were allowed to live with my father. I would have done so.
Despite Diagnosis .
cartwheeling. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . Take showers in shifts. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. vermin.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. not because of knives but for their germs. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. Some don’t. In prison. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. clean. sometimes it’s neck-deep. go in with your homeboys. you can cast off your filthy clothes. leaving you there to bleed out. to survive it. skidding. not let it get inside you. and when you get to the other side. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. and sometimes it’s over your head. Wait till the “others” get out. Prison is a sewer. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. alone. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. and dry yourself. you must wade carefully through the sewage. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. and filth swimming and floating along with you. then slips away unseen. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. You are immersed in it.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. bide your time. wash.
As for me. Charles P. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. Months later. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. 59 Daytona Beach. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. When I awoke. I regained some of my physical strength. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . meningitis. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. The problem was not eradicated. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. a cracked skull. become a part of it. Norman. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. so I went to an optometrist.100+ of the prison sewer. I started having eye trouble. And they die. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. As the years passed. they inhale deeply. wondering if I will ever go home. I was told I had a brain tumor. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. take it all in. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery.
21 Devonport. After 4 or so weeks. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . Tasmania. traveling all the way down to my elbows. so in spite of having protected sex.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. and all came out negative. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. Fueled by the media. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. Pete. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. My cerebral fluid was not draining. I had to endure antibiotics being pumped into me for a number of weeks through a PICC line in my arm and I was on these for many days once I returned home. just to be sure.
One time. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). My father was the only one with the same blood type. For instance. We all had sad faces. but even that wasn’t enough. Throughout my childhood. so she took me to the doctor. Jolene. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. so my body was dying. Every time a nurse would come in the room. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. I was constantly in the hospital. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. so he donated his blood. The day I turned five. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. 28 Portland. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria.100+ as well. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W .
and very pale. This never happened outside. in college. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. and 100% cured. Maybe it’s not really me. I vomit constantly. At Perryville.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. nearly bald. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. the jail has delayed it. hoping to get rid of me to save money. fightingsurvivor19. the judge can expedite all he wants. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. Maybe it’s a nightmare. and they both cried tears of joy. 19 Pembroke Pines. “Well. Today I am 19. There is no kindness. I am back at Estrella Jail. Five days later.” When my chemo starts. the check-in nurse says. my oncologist was determined 111 I . I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. Three months later. I’m 15 pounds thinner.
100+ that my nausea be minimal. In here. and nine months later. My life is literally in their hands. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. I start the laborious grievance process. I have three more chemo sessions. He answers my questions. Eventually. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. Despite the rigid schedule. when I’m supposed to be healing. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. An hour later. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. the doctor comes in. there is complete indifference. 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. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. I know I’m an inmate. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. No more nausea. But this protocol is not followed. begging for what I’m missing. He recommends a tumor 112 . the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. burning instead. When my treatment is over. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. I vomit until there is nothing left. then every six months for two years. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. I am sent back to my room alone. and then annually.
an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. That is why I am afraid. AZ 113 . my life is in the hands of the State. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. mismanaged.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I can deal with that. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. This is about the State. Six months later. always look for a reason to be glad. uncaring power. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. As a result. incompetent. no positive imagery can change my situation. and I am helpless against its inadequate. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. Their stories touch me on so many levels. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. 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. That’s really hard in here. 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. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable.
and I felt helpless all the time. Despite all this. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. CA A 114 . With an innocent gleam in her eyes. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. making plans for the future. she was looking ahead. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. Dinorah Torres. 33 Santa Barbara. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. he began to distance himself. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. 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. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. but when he found out that treatment could last years. Later. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. without even knowing it. A year into my treatment.
shape. for a smoker’s lungs. 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 following year. for an addict’s. One year she was cancer-free.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. It just 115 I . never had any kids. How sad. 18 Tacoma. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life.” 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. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. She was longdivorced. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. and had lived alone for decades. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. Hayden. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO.
My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis.G. not even decades after giving up smoking. on the part of Texas officials. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. 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.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. his oldest daughter to cigarettes.A. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. He lost his wife to cigarettes. F. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Cornwall. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Whatever the percentage. Penzance.
End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. sentence length. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. You can see how dangerous it is. whether here or abroad. 2.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. 7. Classify prisoners by age. A few suggestions: 1. Separate gang members from non-gang members. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. be as humane as possible. 4. 8. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . 3. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. 9. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. and house them accordingly. 6. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. and typecrime. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 5.
100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. TX 118 . 48 Huntsville. Daniel H. This could be a start. Harris.
The Transience of Permanence .
Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. death is merely a passage or rite. Some days. then the whole world has done the same. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. In the penitentiary. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. From what I’ve seen in here. I swear. If I give him that.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. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. plans. Each morning when I arrive at work. All is forgiven. He desperately seeks some understanding. discussions. Christopher Best Livingston. even inside me. I feel the dread on my flesh. In plain talk. I’m a state-approved janitor. 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. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. which has its effects on me as well as on him. especially on death row. He understands that my time with him is short. a last will and testament. For “free-world” folks. maybe an estate. TX I 121 . some acceptance. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. death out there now looks relatively easy. or SSI.
I choose not to spend another day in this place. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. and it can be done right now. G. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. Suspicious.” or “moving on to the next phase. today. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison.” And I’m not talking about parole. yet relieved that I took action. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. Shit. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. Very suspicious. Fuck them. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Fuck God. Shit. Light-headed.” “taking it to the vent. I am feeling very ugly inside. 122 T .100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell.T. It’s called “checking out. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I’ll try again later. It isn’t working.
The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I .T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. not in the clinical sense. Mike Rothwell Ione. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. 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. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. but a symbolic one. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. After that. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit.
The day her body is brought to the graveyard. gold. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. and the person he never grew to become. In the world beyond prison walls. the lover he wishes to be. we return home and open her jewelry boxes.With his incarceration. matriarch of the family. the son he failed to be. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. but life—even at 103—seems too short. 124 N . in essence. my big fat Italian grandmomma. the father he cannot be. He has. pearls. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. sterling silver. Hector Gallegos Otisville. In this sense.100+ love of his family. he may as well be dead. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. year after year. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. killed that greater part of himself. diamonds.
Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. blankets. key chains. except for a fundamental difference. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. 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. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. necklaces. Mary Higgins Reading. 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. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. as if no one else is 125 D . Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. she never wore it. albums. and handcrafted dolls.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. The first thing one notices is the quiet. Who would believe that a swastika. The following day. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. dating from the roaring twenties.
he realizes that all hope is gone. It is like God’s “time-out” room. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row.100+ there. In remembering. Hathorn Livingston. 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. making it ominously quieter. TX 126 . Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. the fights he had in grade school. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. the officials are stoic and judgmental. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. there are only four or five people. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. At other times. but the mind rebels. survivors of the victim’s family. Gene W. such as his first pet. An ache settles in his belly. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. media representatives. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things.
and they all tell you something different. including Freddy. if at all. 127 E . Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. and his head was shaved clean.” Freddy complained to me one day. a combination drug therapy. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. Time was of the essence. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. trying to get someone to do something. he had become thin as a rail. Since he always complained. I saw no real reason for worry. Over a period of a year. Sleep came with great difficulty. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. and his memory showed signs of failure. Once muscular. no one. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. really took it seriously. He was a genuine character.” and “lost” test results. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life.” “partial. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. he was barely over five feet tall. “Every doctor has a different opinion.” I forget why. In October 2004. his body was covered in tattoos.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. after a slew of “unreadable.
The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. He vomited blood one morning. and he was afraid. Freddy was my friend. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. but no treatment was administered. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F .” There was no anger in his voice. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. and now he’s dead. they probably could have saved me. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. “If they got at me 18 months ago. 2005. They killed me. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. it was too late. looking through the glass at our little one.” he told me. only resignation. We named him William Kenrick. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. but he threw it up. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. They tried giving him formula. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. “By the time they did something. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville.100+ Months passed. By October. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain.
The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. as soon as I held him. and whispered. just let go. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. But I knew something wasn’t right. He will always be my first baby. I still think of him. Despite the pain. At 3 days old. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. the smell… His sweet.. he had to undergo an operation. when I visited him. fight for it.m. And I knew though he was gone. The next day. only he was already lifeless. milky scent is still there. my first son. NCR. 32 Las Piñas City. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. his heart rate slowed. But if not. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. my first child. Someday. “Baby. I turn numb. I love him more and more each day. PHILIPPINES 129 . I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. But I swear. which was declared a success. a smile formed on his lips. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. At 1:30 a. he went. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. And for that. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. only to realize that he’ll never come back. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. if you can still make it.” And as soon as everybody was there. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. Jenelleish. Then I start crying again and eventually. And oh.T R U E S T O R I ES utero.
from denial to 130 I . in a better mood than usual. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. After my dad’s death. fishing. But I didn’t cry. and listening to music.. he was really fantastic. But after 5 years of marriage. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. Facing the cell door.100+ I Miss You. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was close to my father. I miss him deeply. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. I didn’t shed one tear. Dad une 15. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. I went through many phases. yet his passing was significant to me. roller-skating. My dad liked to sing and dance. I dreamed about him every single night. he died suddenly and tragically. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. But as a father. enjoying the early morning light. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music.m.
a Christmas card. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. 45 Montreal. Terri Giosia. I sent my aunt. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. hate to indifference. I realized that what happened was out of my control. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. with great parents and friends. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. Québec. had no meaning. her youngest 131 I . from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. As a last minute thought. the final and hardest phase arrived. Life lost its luster. However. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. How sad that now sounds. happily single. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. After a long period of time. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I am now 45. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I drank to escape and forget.
He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. The doctor gave her three months to live. But after all the miserable hospital visits. To the academic world. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. 51 Rosharon. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. Dennis Forrest. especially when you are only seven years old.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. he said. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. Not only did she call him. my mom had been taken to the hospital.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . my poem may mean nothing. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. The night before. For two years. she called every person she knew and read that poem. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. Soon after. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure.
ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . 16 Rexburg. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. This experience has made me stronger. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. too weak to walk to her bedroom. the house. and us. but to help them through things the best you can. It went on and on.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. Aubrie. 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. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. My father continued hacking. My dad softly called me over. “Daddy. and even worked from home so he could be there. where it was warm. He took care of my mom. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. My life was changed forever.
exhaled. Even when he was here last time. like you did. from a prison payphone in the dark. I had unfinished business with my father. real sick. waiting him out: “Charlie. but he died before I got the chance. Over the past few years. when I first met your family several years ago. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes.” He was just twenty-four at the time. who knew my family well. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. healing wounds. with complications from lupus. and that was a good thing. but the last time inexorably approached. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. closed his eyes. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. not speaking. and he loved you. I begged him to quit for years. Don’t ever smoke them. the reason I’m saying this. I said things I’ve always regretted. so I stood there. You settled your differences. son.100+ asked. I knew he wanted to say something.” 134 . I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. but emphysema got him first. I could tell. and he was gone. I wanted to make it up to him. He said things. A prisoner friend. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. I could see that you loved your father. We feared lung cancer. collect. There were hard feelings between us. I admire what you did. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. so I recognized it in both of you. too. You see. as did my mother. He looked at my brothers.
and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. While there. FL Slash nstead of going to court. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. It was the least I could do. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. 135 I . Norman. 59 Daytona Beach. I decided to slash my wrist.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. leaned his head on my shoulder. My cellie threw up. His tears soaked into my suit coat. Charles P. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit.
Evidently. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders.T. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask.” “What are you facing?” I asked him.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.” G. I don’t anymore. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. “Six months. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. His eyes were half open. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. 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. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .100+ “Well.
carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. It was so still. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. Then. stood there for several seconds. Even the crazy guys had shut up. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. For the first time since I was there. With a bit of a dramatic flair. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor.T R U E S T O R I ES was. perhaps. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. hung it back up on the wall. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. He had everyone’s complete attention. there was only solemn silence. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. 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. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. But not at this moment. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I was convicted. that it was a setup. I only saw what I wanted to see. if no one else is here. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. 141 I . racism at its best. I say. I want to be with a girl. 1982. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. in front of a white jury. When it’s time to leave the club. I’m telling myself that she wants me. and I’m in college. Because she was white. It opens. I’ve had fun. the white system. but also to pick up girls. forcing myself in. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine.” I step towards her. my fraternity brothers. barging into her apartment. she’s home alone. sentenced to six years in prison. and a ladies’ man. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. “I came to see my girl. a member of a fraternity. angrily. I want some sex. “Your girl is not here. I’m thinking. a football player. and it was my word against hers.” I say. we can have sex. not only to have fun. it’s a habit of ours. but I haven’t picked up a girl. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. I was black. it’s her roommate. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. popular on campus. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. she was white.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7.” As I say this. but it’s not my girlfriend. For twenty years. I knock on the door.
and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. forced attractions to women. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. I had known that I was a disappointment. faithfully. a wife. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. for them.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . So I tried. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that.100+ Today. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. pure houseboat. For sixteen years. The fantasy of grandchildren. especially with men. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. if I were to have a place in this world.
alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. boring corduroy-wearers. all too well in fact. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. that my parents felt the same. my sadness never faltered. When I arrived. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. And I knew. I wrote a script. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. One day. I am finally happy.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. 19 Hooksett.. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. only for who I pretended to be. So I confessed my truths. Daryl F. with whom I constantly fought and argued. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. At seventeen. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I .
He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. This brought about a case of stage fright. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. 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. being a noble and resourceful man. one male and one female. Knowing very little about astrology. it was swallowed hook. line. I was literally paralyzed. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. 30 Maidstone.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. Philippa. and sinker. We didn’t date. Nicholas. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. especially for clothes. carried on like a trooper. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. His self-confidence saved the day. He dated one girl 144 I .000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. Kent.
He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. but I never really suspected she was gay. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. I didn’t really think anything of it. especially since I had always suspected it. As for my female friend. However. Waterville. My friends just did . 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. When he told me he was gay. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. Jayne L. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. she was always a tomboy. 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.
We are not giving it to her.” Within 10 days.” so we had to go back to court. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. As if things couldn’t get any worse. If I were a man. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin.100+ me. Right now. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. “Never mind. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system.” I did. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. After three years worth of evidence gathering. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. too. We feel the judge was very homophobic. who is from Peru. They even sent me to a shrink.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. knowing that if she 146 . not me. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. gays and lesbians are persecuted. but I am a woman and therefore. I fear losing my partner. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. 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.
Aileen Diaz. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. 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. the most effective teacher. has taught me compassion. no different than any other heterosexual couple.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. 35 Tampa. These days. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. We lost everything. TX 147 I . William Steed Kelley Huntsville. If anything. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. the Ultimate Truth. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. but we did not lose ourselves. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance.
I still love and respect him. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. On the one hand. But on the other hand. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. I probably would have been better off not knowing. Now.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. better not to tempt fate. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. You have to always be 148 C . Eloise Lebreton. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. and I would never throw it in his face. I feel like an idiot. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. 30 Detroit.
I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. Louisiana. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. 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. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. But if someone’s determined to “check out. so you better learn to keep it at bay. Mike Rothwell Ione. I lived in Shreveport. They help.T R U E S T O R I ES on guard against succumbing to conditions that can spawn a state of mind so foul it can cause a young man in the prime of life to want to leave this realm. It’s always going to be there. No matter how upbeat you may feel. 149 A . One way is to keep doing those pushups. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. I was allowed to play with a friend.” then there’s not much they can do about it. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. After church.
“You think this hurts motherf’er. at my tender age. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. another ultrafundamentalist sect. 47 Old Fort. her face contorted in rage. molestation. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. NC 150 . It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. lit the gas stove. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. was too much to handle. She barged into the room screaming.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. Yurshta. He screamed in agony. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. and abuse. Christian Missionary Alliance. My friend’s mother yelled. I have been an atheist ever since. 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. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. especially my mother.
Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. NETHERLANDS Harsh. I did not get angry with him. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. I had nine miscarriages. demeaning. should not be tolerated. Gaby Hermann. I swear. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. I have never been physically beaten. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. 26 Essen. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . Any kind of abuse. whether physical or emotional. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse.
INDIA 152 . so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. I was forced to call the cops. Sonia. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.100+ with me. 36 New Delhi. Then one day. Delhi.
Eerie Encounters .
I can see the people. Why would we want to be? Clarette. In my nightmare. 28 Salem. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. I listen for a moment to a strange. my 155 I . but I’m getting tired. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. just a quarter of a mile farther. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. I keep swimming. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. although I’ve never seen one.m. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. We cannot be alone.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. They are looking beyond me. I don’t need to see to believe. slight. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. Aquatic Park. even Ghirardelli’s. swishing sound. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special.
When I was 18. to the deep water. Am I going crazy? Frank E. I am silently alone. I awake. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. 45 Delano. And about a week after that. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. Foster. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. And then. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. I hear something in the distance calling me. Will Ferrara. summoning me. beginning to feel numb. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. 24 Lawrence. out beyond the breakers. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. The walls murmur. About 5 years later. The waves crash. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. MA 156 T .100+ arms are getting heavy. I’m only treading water.
In October. too. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. and we had no choice but to drink it.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. From that moment on. a strange heat enveloped my body. Ravenna. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. Not long after. showing us that we were right. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. I felt sick and went to sleep. On our way to the hospital. While alive. In the following days. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. while still aboard. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. Shocked. 56 Alfonsine. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. I immediately called home. Almost twenty days later. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. One night. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. ITALY 157 I . In the dreams. at my uncle’s funeral. my mouth stopped bleeding. I dreamt that I was in Italy.
I stood up and looked at its face. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . It was then that I woke up. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. I remember shaking like a leaf. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I landed at the feet of the creature. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. 19 Monaghan.. staring straight ahead. as whatever I was looking at was far away. its feet dragging along the ground. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I was squinting. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. but they continued moving and stretched me out. but late for work! Paddy J. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. It was my dad! At that moment. It was pitch black.
Enrique M. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. As nighttime fell. That left me speechless. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. echoes from long ago. the vision of a tall. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. it had disappeared. As I placed my canteen in the water. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. 159 W . It was at this moment that I saw. Hiking along the trail. Fernandez Miami. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar.” I thought. thinking about nothing. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. I was in the bathroom. my mind completely blank.” someone who knew the area told me. “I’ve been here before. When I turned to look. thin man. “That place is haunted. When I returned home. One evening.
His face was shrouded in darkness. and the vision was gone. However. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. grey cloak that covered his entire body. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. I remembered being there before. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. standing in that same spot. He walked towards me. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. 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 . hooded. still completely covered by the hood. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. Then.100+ He was wearing a long. I have no idea what the vision meant. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. I have not had any such vision since. Devon. when I entered the King’s Chamber. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles.
leaving the center in which I stood untouched. and don’t believe time is always linear. I came back to my present “reality. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. the kind of dream that even in 161 W .” Now. During this moment of déjà vu. 54 Auckland. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. transferred his intelligence into my brain. Then my former self stood in my body. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. and activated it. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. AK. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. Misty. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well.
slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. 162 I . They knew what was about to happen. Lonn. facing myself. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I woke up taking short gulps of air. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation.100+ broad daylight seemed real. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. 59 West Roxbury. D. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. I’m willing to see where it takes me. I’m 59 now. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. a little more aware. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. a little more settled. and a little less afraid. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. 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. In my dream. drifting like seaweed. but I didn’t.B. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.
ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I survived the accident with no major injuries. when I moved 163 G . I began flailing and screaming in my mind. as I had in Spain. Waterville. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. Later. I started to read a lot of books. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. Since I was only 4 years old. After that. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. and quickly drifting away. “I need to get back. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. but with a different outlook on life–and death. and then was finally able to label my experience. The driver lost control of the vehicle.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. and we started to spin really quickly. completely powerless to stop it. which struck a barrier. I learned the term years later. Jayne L. I watched shows on television. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet.
he said. I got slowly closer. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. A year later. I knelt down on a pew. Smiling kindly. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. but with no success. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . facing him. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. it’s one of my many pastimes. just one year before meeting Gabriele.100+ to Massachusetts. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. a few steps from the altar. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. But for me. 37 Madrid. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. There is only going to a different level. at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. One night.
He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. but he had terrible secrets. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. I told him not to joke. While I stared at him. 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. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. Through telepathy. Then one night. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. 56 Alfonsine. I felt all his fear and pain. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. so I left. Ravenna. striking me like a storm. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. Through telepathy. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. and I tried to help him. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. To be sure. we became involved. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. He vowed to marry me. ITALY 165 . I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. in January 1991. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. struck by his suffering.
I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. Then all of a sudden. During the five trips I made out there. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. I developed . Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. NH.100+ I See Spirits spirit. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. On some nights. He tipped his hat and smiled. Soon after.
about 50 yards down the tracks. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. Other times. who was also an amateur photographer. accompanied me. First. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. As I returned to where Betty was parked. a state psychologist friend of mine. MA 167 . and into the sky. 70 Waltham. Later. On one occasion. strobe for 30 seconds. We saw the usual lights in the sky. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. but then. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. and then disappear. then they turned off. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. she suddenly pointed and yelled. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. and meet. up a tree. fly to some central point. On one of my last visits.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon.
At Home & Abroad .
where all were welcome and. not financial statements. Russian caviar. or Puerto Rican dialect. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . had to show the INS hard-working hands. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. and completely broken by life. but life had a different destination in mind for me. as proof of dignity.” My father used to talk of Hungary. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. with a 3-year-old son. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. but eventually we divorced. Colombian. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. We married and had a daughter. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. I once had plans to live in London. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. German perfume. Lately. and great America. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture.
while others are trying to cheat the system. 36 Lennon. 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. 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. on the contrary.100+ Greece. We don’t feel less American because of that. Nidia F. we love Bach.S. Morales. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. it reminds us that this country is great.. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . We all suffer when this happens. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. 54 Leominster. the Dolphins. Mare.
I had family there. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. My father is Mexican. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. Then during the fall and winter months.C. Later in the summer. D. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. my . my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. so I decided to move to his. we stayed in Livingston. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. Many times. it would have been too dangerous. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. and migrant camps. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. illegally because. cars. 27 Washington. apart from being unconscionable.S.S.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. We lived in tents. harvesting crops. while my 173 Every year from June until September. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U.
My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. Early on. Spanish. this was not a quick or easy transition. In high school. School was a struggle from the beginning. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. they had the opposite effect. However. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico.100+ father worked for a local farmer. we took our baths in a big washtub. and write in English. read. This is where I went to school. Not only were the white students 174 .” “greaser. However. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. In fact.” “wet. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. Because of school. halfway through my junior year. In grammar school. they didn’t work. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. I was embarrassed by my first language. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. our bathroom was an outhouse. I realized that I was out of place in school. I struggled to learn to speak. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo.” or “spic. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. mostly beans and tortillas. I was held back in kindergarten. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.
you know. To white students. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. “Now don’t run away on me. not even two dollars. the usual. I wasn’t Mexican. I didn’t seem to fit in. a gringo wearing a tie. Raul Ybarra. and I had lost most of my Spanish. an enclave 175 I . Although I was of Mexican descent. in theory.” I remind myself. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. but on the inside I acted like a white person. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. I wasn’t white. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. My private class is in La Rinconada. 50 Boston. “One hundred soles tonight. They will pay.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. to the Mexican students.S. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes.. I was born and raised in the U.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru.
then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. It’s ají amarillo.” “That’s okay. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. with chicken bulging from its sides.” I say. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. I am cheered by the recognition. I sit at the kitchen table. are washing dishes in the sink. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her.” “The señora is not here. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. I have classes with her kids. I eye the tamal on the counter. as big as a sandwich. They don’t speak to me or to each other. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. she told me to come inside and wait. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some.” “I know she’s not here. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. If these families don’t find happiness here. Matt. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. “She’s not here. Two maids. you are not Peruvian. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. even your own paycheck. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. Remember. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. No way. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. never mind 176 .” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in.
and we were all waiting for our first check.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. payday. Wipe any sign of need from your face. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. others were given a song and dance. 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. Matt Wirzburger. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. That is the hard part: hiding the need. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. 177 . and springs out the door to the entrance. and I came. Chin up. The room grew eerily silent. An hour later. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. 40 Amesbury. Mrs. I hear three honks. “That’s what we all hope. I was told to come. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. They looked at each other to see who would answer. No way am I going home empty-handed. Some received their checks. It was the end of the month.
” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. the city awoke and came to life. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. NY 178 . As dusk turned to darkness. After the much-anticipated grilling session. It was well worth it. I wasn’t alone. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. With briefcase in hand.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. 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. and only then. The streets were numbered. It was then. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. the whole city was there. 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.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. I was in the city “on business. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. yet spaced widely apart. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. I felt that I had “made it there. Karen Manhattan.
4) Beer drinking is an art. 12) It’s not the “U.A. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.e. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. Scottish. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. they helped a great deal. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. etc. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. and you must learn the difference between lager. and stout. French. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. dry. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. The 179 .S. we don’t.”.. and sophisticated.S.” or “U. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. real ale. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them.” “The States.” “Pop Idol. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic.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. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. Welsh.” or “Yankland”. 7) Humour is subtle. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. sarcastic. it’s “America. bitter. Irish. 10) The English.
Gavin S. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 23 Jacksonville. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. Rolling Stones. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). they’ll take the non-Yank. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p.m. 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. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. FL 180 .. and body weight is stated in stones. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. If caught being rude. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone.m. Pink Floyd). 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. apologise profusely for it.100+ Beatles. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). not pounds. Canadian. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). South African.
my parents and I arrived at . tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. Although decades have passed. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. Pearl Harbor. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. 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. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. 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. crimson berries. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground.” which spans in black swirls over the island. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. Native and unique to Hawaii. We discovered Diamond Head. We took off from the claustrophobic. and Waikiki Beach.
MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. I remember wanting to return… H. B. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country.” Despite my pitiful German. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. ovular. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. 29 Tultitlán. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding.100+ large. Gutierrez. Estado de México. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to .
destruction everywhere. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. eerie feeling. Gisela. checked 183 In late October 1998. I experienced an unexpected. For the first time since the early eighties. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. I packed up my leased . 21 Lübeck. However. I knew it was war. crying. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. Marien’s church in Lübeck. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. however unfounded that emotion may be.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. Along the road. green hills and plains. that it was them or us. Schleswig-Holstein. To them. Standing in St. I even felt a bit guilty. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. but never forgotten. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. and running in all directions. we were the enemy. 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 imagined civilians screaming.
The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. There is always a scent of sage in the air. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. and visited various museums. 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. TN 184 . I spent days at the Pueblo. delightful little restaurants. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. Brigitte Pauli Memphis.100+ into small motels. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing.
The Toughest Job in the World .
he did just that.m. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. Krista. after being able to share this special bond. so on the 20th. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. My due date of June 19th came and went. For our first child. Needless to say.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. we did not make it to the hospital. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. I knew what to expect. For child number two. So. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. I planned a Caesarean. At 3:30 a. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . I was awakened abruptly by contractions.. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. which is about 45 minutes away.
I’d lie beside him in the same pose. lie down. but fairly frequently. Joe Palooka. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. the smells of biscuits. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. and my mother would call us for breakfast. bacon. grocery bills. and two more on the way (my brothers. Not every week. and Tarzan of the Apes. Daddy would get out. take out the Sunday comics. not working as he was the rest of the week. It was just the three of us. The Texarkana Gazette. The car would stop. My . car payments. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. By then. Dan and Tom). spread them open on the wood floor.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. Friday evenings were always a thrill. He’d slowly read the comics to me. prop himself up on his elbows. All was good in the world. I had no concept of rent. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. He’d take off the rubber band. and read each one aloud. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. Alley Oop. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child.
but I never realized it. 1. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy.220 grams. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. I cried. Not with . Charles P. a frown on her face. I felt desperate. Times were hard. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. They said he was beautiful. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. (On Friday evenings. 59 Daytona Beach. Norman. I went to a place filled with noise. Finally. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Sebastian. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. and lights. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. begging him for a ride in the new car. tubes. 189 The first time I saw my son. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. but because I thought I had failed. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. or at least pretend to. and his weight. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks.T R U E S T O R I ES him. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me.
and mourning. I was discharged. Over time. and hope flooded me. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. fear. At long last. Lisa. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. besieged by guilt. I sang to him.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. and I prayed. patience. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. 36 North Andover. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. Each week. and confidence. After a week. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I began to sob. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. I cried. I gained knowledge. wanting to 190 I . He was so fragile and exposed. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. Relief. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. Outside. I became determined to care for him. pride. I talked to him. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I ached to still be pregnant. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. leaving my baby behind. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control.
Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. or having trouble with the police. drugs. I don’t have any desire to find out.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. my father and I were in his truck. driving to our new “hunting spot. and I was twelve years old.m. we weren’t there to look at. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. Though I was only twelve. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. 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. At about 3 a. pet. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. or gangs. But tonight. and I 191 I . Suzanne. Right now.. or getting into drinking. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. or feed the deer. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977.
they were already there. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. . I snuck up to the fence line. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. By the time he got there. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. checked for traffic. We drank beer on the way home. Steven Small. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. a second of your life. You can take a picture and freeze time. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. I didn’t even have to call the deer. I took my spot and waited. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. with the click of a camera. 43 Jessup. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends.
My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. Kelly. I didn’t expect much. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. I cherish every moment captured. and sadly. New moments are constantly being created. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. Sitting on a stool at the counter. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. Part of me wanted to pull her away. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. moments are forgotten. I 193 M . just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. but something was unleashed in me. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. sipping a chocolate shake. without a care in the world. Life goes on. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. but those moments stay behind. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. 30 Martinsburg.
John. Her green eyes sparkled. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change.” she said with tears 194 . “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. and well fitting. I was proud to be her son. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. It was in seventh grade.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. my first year in middle school. One day.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. Someday they’ll put you through college. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. He had promised to take care of us. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. She quit school to marry him. “Those aren’t for spending. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. the afternoon waitress. crisp.” One day. collectables. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. without any explanation. She seemed like the ultimate success to me.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. “I did my best. Some streetwise kids set me straight. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. Those are old coins. I do my best. I couldn’t take it anymore. Dorothy. “Your Mama works for tips. and a few coins went into my piggybank. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. Mama was beautiful. Everyday. he left.
Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. All my love turned into shame. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. a letter came from Dorothy. Mama was gone. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. that’s what it was. There was just nothing I could respect about her. I handed the money back to Dorothy. Oh sure. Something with angels on it. My middle-school friends had seen to that. But something was missing from my letters. They let me go home for the funeral.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. shame for having no Daddy. She’d died of breast cancer. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. I wrote back. After it was over. shame for being poor. Respect. I wouldn’t need it. One day. not love. Mama’s friend at the café. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. TX 195 . Mama sent cookies.. Mama asked if I needed anything. Before she died. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. Mama wrote every day.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. I didn’t go to college after high school..
and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. a man or woman would call out a number. sit back down. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. and devoured them one by one. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . and wait to be called into another room.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. She must have known that I would see it.S. but there were no magazines. When outside. Finally. no television. I looked at the gas gauge and said. “Mom. she answered. “Mom. no books. I opened the glove compartment. She would fill out some papers. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. map.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. a lady came out and said. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. In the front. “Last case for today. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. put them in my lap. “An abortion. Occasionally. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. but her face wore the same void expression.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. When I did. I pulled out all the papers. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. we got into the boiling car.
it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. lack of food. No. 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. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. It wasn’t the welfare office. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. she yelled.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. When she turned to look at me. but someone else.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. sat down beside me and said “Hello. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. when I was ten. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. 37 Mitchellville. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. for me. everybody in the world. Yvette Louisell. or the bills.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. you’re just like Auntie Doll. I was sitting outside on the front steps.
She said love makes you do crazy things. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. Big John. I got home empty-handed. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. That little girl was no fool. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. both became angry. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. Needless to say. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. Big John wanted to go down there.100+ girl in the world. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. got a damp washcloth. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. I took Ma’s hand. “Green house. Ma smiled and hugged me. The next thing I knew. After twenty minutes. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. “No. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. what had happened. Then. but Ma said she would handle it herself. She 198 . “Down the block. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed.” she said.
George Hughes.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. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. are you all right?” He nodded. Meanwhile. but we laughed and laughed like never before. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. “You like to beat up on women and kids. warning him not to touch us again. Then he walked over to the counter. we got the jewelry back. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. Ma ran to him. we got a smile. screaming. “My God. 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. VA 199 . His wife. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. 66 Burkeville. “Take it! It’s all there. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. snatched the bag. stood by the refrigerator. who had been putting away groceries. and left. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face.
more surprised than hurt. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. one of Michael’s many siblings.” the man screamed at me. saying.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. screaming. you scared the poor boy. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. saying. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. With the fork in one hand. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. and look. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. “Oh it’s all right. “Now run on home.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. “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. you little sissy. I hit the ground again. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. but my dad sat her back down. look what you did. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. I looked over. My mother had gotten to her feet. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. he leaned over me.” 200 O . you made him cry. “Don’t look to your folks for help.
as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. I think. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. I ran to my room.” I’ll ever forget what he said. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag.” she said as she dried my tears. trying not to look at me. new shoes every fall. dry house to live in. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. I can’t be there to save you. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. Peck was yelling at me. but sternly.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. help Grandma eat this. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. One of these days. clothes to wear. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. and a warm. 201 .” I answered. I said. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. “My little wunderkind. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. Hours later. just thinking. “Thinking. at the dinner table. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. Very calmly. and offered me cookies. Grandma Berg was inside. She almost whispered. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. I looked at her then at my father. More mad than sad. my little lipschkin. “No more with the neighbors. Later.
” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. chores to doing. CA The Sand Dollar by time. as the elementary students they were. but Grandma knows things. no more you thinking. As I scanned the newspaper. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. In casual and cruel black and white print. unchanged . Too much thinking for one so young. tomorrow is better day. In the classroom. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. Grandma is old woman. I received a devastating student update. Quiet now. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. a name leapt at me. You must be sleeping now. He got to me like no other student that year.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. Thomas Michael Fox. He also loved conflict. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. They remain frozen in my subconscious. Sun coming soon. Dream the dreams boys dream. Your father. and intelligence. He was full of jokes. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. 51 Corcoran. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. songs.
Stacey Curran Conway. but he was the star. just a headstone. I hadn’t found one for years. I saw I hadn’t. 36 Wakefield. cursing him. I smashed my heels in the sand. an 11-year-old in leather. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. no one got to me like him. He wasn’t my first lost boy. Then the ocean placed a perfect. MA If Not Me. Reading the article through blurred eyes. So much wasted. I was mad. smile broadly. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. 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 .T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. and dance away. He would nod. I stormed down the beach. He could always make people smile. so much lost. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. But even now. I knew his story now. Now one found me. I always wondered if I got through to him.
I sit 204 . I think.100+ of what my students can become. and rehired. and kept students in line. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I have come to the end of myself.” Back then. sworn at. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. pooh-poohed. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I’ve been insulted. In some pretty tough school districts. students with social problems. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. RIF’d. Finally. of the students who might never make it to college without help. however. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. living wages. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have stood in line. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. and administrators with agendas. Surprisingly. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor.
for a new vision. more wary. and 8th graders. 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. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. much less trusting.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. 7th. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Zora. at the school where I taught. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. not a real course. Spanish was seen as an elective. I would be mortified. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . Unfortunately. 34 Framingham. Unruly students aside. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior.
especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers.100+ those who do. 29 Norwich. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. At the start of a usual class. Most were sensible enough to sit. Julia Perez. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . silence. If I could survive this class. I could survive the duration of this profession. Sitting. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. the vicious three-headed hellhound. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. I hope that someday. Ted continued to wander about. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. His eyes were constantly glazed over. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. Attempting to gain control. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. remnants of a continuous high.
Enjoy guarding hell. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move.” the child said confidently. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. but how was his bite? Move he did.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. I have to call the principal to come get you. “Take your best shot.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. “Okay Ted. Wait.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. His bark was mighty. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. I decided on the only rational thing. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. I had stunned the high right out of him.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. MO 207 . As the class waited for my reaction.
127 Diaz.Author Index AK... Fernanda. 32 Brown. 19. 100 Burns. Robert Hal. 132 Babb. Sue Ellen. 202 Daryl F. Malachi. 45 Brame. Aila. 122. 111 Amberchele. 33. 44 Anonymous. Matthew. James. 142 Dey. Eugene Alexander. 37.T. 166 Ephraim. Stacey. Cynthia. D. 130 .. 75 Carrillo. 96 Anonymous. Christopher. 166 Antzes. 51. 95 Barchard. 155 Corson. 102 Elliott. 135 Christie. 79 Anonymous . 53 Curran Conway. Aileen. 70 Best. 121 Boner. Tom “Wolf ”. 60 Aleman. J. G.C. 61 Clarette. 22 Aubrie. 47 Balic. 145 Donna J. Lance.. 172 Allen. Adelle. José..
Hector. 177 Kelley. 59.. 17. 53. 144..A. 179 Giosia. 109 Karen. 110 Forrest. 163 Gutierrez.Errani Emaldi. 158 Ferrara. 97 Hermann. 30. 123 Gavai.G.. Elisabetta. Gene W. Spoon. 92 Gallegos.. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 116 Hathorn.B. Gaby. 115 Fernandez. 125 Hayden. Dennis. 155 Fox. 101 Jayne L. 157. 200 Galilea. 40 January. 197 Jackson.. 62. 45. 98. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 128 Jolene. 131 Foster. H. Daniel H.. Terri. 77 Gavin S. 192 Kikis_fairytale. Frank E. 124 Hughes. 162 Jenelleish. 28. 151 Higgins.. 164 F. William Steed. 74. 147 Kelly. Will. 80. 36. 181 Harris. Thomas Michael. Enrique M. 130 Gisela. George. Pilar.. 115 Hayley. Mary. 94 .
69... Santonio. 87 McKenna. Kitty. 20. 77 McLean. Eloise. 136. 71 Richards. 133. 93. Miriam. 161 Loomer. 189 Lonn. 25 McKenzie. 59 Morales.B. Mark D. Jan. Julia. Norton.Krista. 73 Lebreton. 32. 158 Pauli. Charles P. 206 Louisell. 187 Kumar. 141 Redfearne. 85 Rose. 183 PC. 91 Rothwell. 188 Paddy J. 86 Mare. 107. 21 LeBeau. 172 Mayo. 99 Quarles. 92 Perez. 23 . Gary. Scarlet.. 88 Norman.. 171 Murff.. 148 Salinas. Michael. 148 Lisa. Ricky. 196 Mansour. Prashant Devan. 143 Priscilla. Nidia F. Zachary. Byron. Brigitte. 205 Pete. Yvette. D. Mike. 67 Misty. 160 Momo. 108 Philippa. 122.
Raul..Samuel. 50 Theoharides. 190 Suzy. 193 Ybarra. 41 Shelly. 34 Zora. Matt. 39 Yurshta. 90 Torres. Agatha. 191 Sonia. Bronwyn. 203 .. Kurt. Steven. 55 von Fuller. 159 Wantz. 173 Yeyo. 85 Tedesco. J. 95 Yochum. 16 Shurley. 15.E. Adela. 114 Vogt. Idris. Dinorah. 149 Zephyr. 42 Windoftheclyde. Melvin William Joseph. 63 Wirzburger. 175 Yarbrough. John. Alexander J. 151 Suzanne. 87 Small.
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Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. facing myself.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. The best stories were selected for this book.. Now you are invited to do the same.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. and remember.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. Upon being published. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. illustrate life’s many. cry. anecdotes. I was diagnosed with breast cancer.. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. These are true stories told by people like you. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. or confessions. These firsthand accounts.99 9 781598 351095 .. floating in the air. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. written as memoirs. but with a different outlook on life–and death.com. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. who were eager to share their experiences.” “A week before my 26th birthday.100plusts.100plusts.100plusts..com $19. Many people are telling their true stories.” “. reflect.. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www.com.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.
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