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
I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. desires. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. images. 51 Rosharon. 2007. By 18. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. Malachi Ephraim Florence. On March 3. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. Dennis Forrest. Due to anger. AZ I 19 . I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. living on many different bases.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. bitterness. so I grew up as an Army brat. Nevada in 1968. and drug addiction. my mother passed away from cancer. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. can be revealed to the world. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. By the 8th grade.
tomorrow. I know I am finally awake to life. such as putting up books in the library. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. in a week. to develop boundaries. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. For quite a while now. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. Yet. I am aware of the way their covers feel. and their condition.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. day out. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. Listening now requires my full attention. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. Today. and acting. listening. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. to search spiritually. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. freedom to expand my horizons. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. their heaviness. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. 20 N . for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. and I can look at them neutrally. I rejoice in the art I produce. When I do little jobs.
I can easily mix with just about anyone. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. love. or strangers away. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. or spiritual. As a matter of fact. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. teachers. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. and compassion and when they do. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. But for now. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. my learning continues. once I am given the chance. I know I will. In closing. and Thich Nhat Hanh. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. Lamas Rinpoche. mental. be they physical. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. find true freedom. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. Yeshe. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I really salute Malaysians 21 P .
She broke the news to me as best as she could. Kuala Lumpur. but didn’t join in the conversation. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. She had 22 M . 18 Cheras. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. Prashant Devan Kumar. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. As I listened to my mom. 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.” That same day. I took in what the kids were saying.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. I thought to myself. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. 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.
Food is brought to me.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. feel. their world becomes a mental one. with life to go. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. Every time I am taken out of my cell. reflect. juvie halls. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. and wonder. Seg. dream. I remember sitting in the car. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. not caring that there was no Santa. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. 24 Queens. imagine. only thinking about those fucking stickers. That’s all we do in these cells: think. TYC. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. confined to a one-man cell. ponder. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. 23 hours a day. You have to have 23 I . NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. That day. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. I grew up in boys’ homes.).
but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. 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. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. It is something that I truly am sorry for. It was a robbery gone bad. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. 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. I saw his point and I left things as they were. I was alone. and everything went to shit from there. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. The next day.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. I think now how naïve I was. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. Trust me. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. and no one gets hurt. In the end. I’d done it a dozen times. But to 24 . and I got life in prison. There were three. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. watching the clerk close up shop. run. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done.
in which the author served as part of the U. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. Watch the crap. I think about that shit. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. right. it’s not going anywhere. I mean. not benign crap. Watch the crap. I’m looking at this car. all observant and such. o. I’m not moving. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. It’s a mess.S. Holes everywhere. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today. I’m keeping my pieces. Big holes. if you’re lucky. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Crap is strewn everywhere. Look at the car. I’m thinking. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. No way. Yeah. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Gary Salinas Iowa Park.
RPG rounds.I. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere.P. right on the crap. cars now. I didn’t even see this stuff. I curse myself for being so stupid. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand.A. I figured I’d hang on to something. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. well. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. with maybe a little inscription saying. hold privates. I’m sick of this crap.. Now. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. Whoever’s firing those damn things. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. I’ve been so careful all of these months. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. How many days have I been awake? Damn. I’m angry. or tunnel vision. 26 . I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. from messing my mind up further. grenades. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. with holes in them all. hundreds of them.” or whatever you call it. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. K.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. I’m holding my privates.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. this “Desert Storm. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war.I.—R. Good night. and mines scatter everywhere. but I don’t care.
vehicles are everywhere. unless they shortened the fuses. They look like statues. His ID card falls out. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. I do. I don’t like the burned ones. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. along with the gaping hole through the skull.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. but like some sick voyeur. It was fun for a minute. maybe. 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. again. It’s hard to tell. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. Is 27 . The glazed eyes give it away. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. too. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I don’t want to end up like him. 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. right? The ones I see are fresh. I know I’m not dead. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. The pictures don’t lie. I don’t want to look. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. Damn. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier.
Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. and shackled.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. we stepped 28 I . the Americans. that damn war. we will celebrate. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. McKenna Columbus. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. The hero died with a scream on his lips. pictures don’t lie.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. We’ll have that in common. hoping his son will return from down South. Probably not. If that’s heroism. from that war. handcuffed. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. Mark D. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. “Yes. I want no part of it. They’ll never know me. No. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. One by one waist-chained. They’ll never know what happened to him. his son—maybe even himself.
The restless. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. In retrospect. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. mountains. 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 tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. 29 . 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. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. indeed. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere.
for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. Hector Gallegos Otisville. for most. boredom. This is 30 M . What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. It’s a world of its own where. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. the lunacy of a previous occupant. and. in some cases. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. I found that I was not alone in this realization. While I was in there. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. but no one dared speak of them. 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. a vacuum of uncertainty.100+ Looking around me.
24 Lawrence.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. She has a son now.. MA 31 . who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. but I had no luck.. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. 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. 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. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. Will Ferrara.
where I am today. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . and began robbing banks. and where the connecting of words on paper was the only thing that kept me from connecting my neck to the ceiling by way of a knotted sheet. flew to Florida. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. I was always sad. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I always felt lonely. After 15 years there. 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. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. but that made me feel worse. stole an airplane. I grew up spoiled rotten. I escaped. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. Three years later. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember.
I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. Lights come on. but only for a little while. When I started middle school. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. This made me feel good. Now. but there was something missing. Momo. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong.T R U E S T O R I ES me. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. but I was already highly unstable by then. I had friends and a boyfriend. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. 33 I . It wasn’t her fault. or mine. This year. I started therapy. and was put on progressively stronger medication. so I always tried to help them. and then my house caught on fire. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. 16 Richmond. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. Cars speed by. It’s going to be hard to get better. and I am doing a lot more for myself.
You have nowhere to go. 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. I am still alive. you’re hungry. nowhere to sleep. It’s cold.100+ homeward bound. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. I have been fortunate. your feet hurt. This is why. God has been looking out for me. I have met a variety of people in prison.. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.. 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. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . under the three strikes law. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. G.T. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. no one to call. for one reason or another. nothing to eat. You think to yourself. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. many homeless people end up in jail.
he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. My husband and Joe came to blows again. Nonetheless. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. his brother. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. They say most 35 . and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. My husband. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. and the rest of the family awoke. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. I thought it was my husband. I immediately told my husband and we left. During the car ride home. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. 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. We all had a few too many. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. I must have asked to be raped. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. my case was thrown out of court.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. So Joe walks free. In their eyes. I brought it upon myself. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. Without warning. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. My husband and I filed a police report right away.
while the victims get a life sentence. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. Men ask me. or crooked politician. I just took the money and ran. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. and I made it without becoming one of them. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. We had six kids—with so many kids. I love to write books and short stories. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. and for the past 10 years. but I am always in a good mood. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. trying to survive among savage men. for all the good it’s doing me. No one was hurt or kidnapped.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. you almost have to be a bank robber. When I got locked up. I’ve been a model inmate. drug dealer. My first eight years in prison were rocky. Zephyr Chicago. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . I keep getting turned down for parole.
the car. That summer. sadness. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. I share love. they are good people with good hearts. my parents became legally separated. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. like taste good food.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. but all’s well in the end. and my innermost thoughts and desires. 63 Burkeville. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. but I put the truth out there for all to read. tears. I turned fourteen. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. anger. laughter. compassion. George Hughes. And it all transpired in 37 O . I love writing. At fourteen. and us three kids. Writing is like having an affair. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. When I’m writing. 1982. not die. Mom got a new apartment. flavors that today I’d die for—well.
My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. at fourteen. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. I wasn’t too concerned. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. Like an NFL running back. “Mom. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . By fifteen. Once inside. In 1982. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. Once outside. not enough to panic. On the very last day of summer. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. sprinting as fast as possible. I burst through the front door. Then I put on all three new shirts. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. and inexplicably. and me. I went over to the shoe department. And by the age of eighteen. sister. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. I was in State Prison. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. looking down at my new wet shoes. and put them on. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. So I decided to steal. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. My friends would have surely made fun of me. I took off like a bat out of hell.100+ less than an hour. picked out a pair. but here it was. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief.
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. I asked why I was being arrested. To my complete surprise. 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. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. Six days later.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. OH 39 I . I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. 18 Mowrystown. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. they said. Obviously shocked. When I was finished with him. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges.
My mom’s eyes held a million words. though he never loved her. The judge gave me life without parole. the others are there to pick him up. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. I killed someone. and lack of feelings. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. but the fact is I did. It was good to see them together. ignorance. In the depths of my heart and soul. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. Before. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. From then on. how he cared for her. I deserved to do some time and make amends. During my trial. I felt that what I did was wrong. hitting and abusing her. and soul. and when one falls. fights. I was ready to be judged and convicted. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. my mom and dad came to visit me. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. At nineteen. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. and mean words. mind. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. 40 N . in the same room. with a common goal.
the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. but now everything seems tight. and violent unrest. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. fleeting hope. but I take no initiative to start the process. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. smiles. I came from the desert. I need to budget. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . 50 Represa. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. I have no friends in this new city. but they all have lives. Money never used to be an issue. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. Spoon Jackson. but my will to survive took over. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. I’m getting older. 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. Besides. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. I was naïve. but I see only the negative things. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life.
brought up in me. but moving slowly in the right direction. Ontario. my pen is capturing everything. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. 42 I .100+ before I go to bed. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. Idris Samuel. I see that in spite of my depression. I even see things in a more positive light now. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. a dead father. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. go into a small. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. 27 Toronto. For someone like me. All of those negative ideas. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. In the few months that I’ve been writing. inconspicuous notebook. mixed with big dreams of happiness. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. I’m not stuck in one place. the only escape that I found was with a knife. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another.
Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. light-headedness. it merely put them on hold. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. While on probation in 1995. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. new problems arose. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. It had become a habit. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. While incarcerated. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. never directly addressed. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. While in prison. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. a need for the chemicals in the formula. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. But then. As I look back on the role that the drug played.
I am a different person. you will be twice as strong. And the present is where I have to live. Wantz Salem. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. but I never thought it would result in depression. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. I’ve always had low self-esteem. but my reaction to them is not the same.100+ stable. and once it does. much clearer. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. 13 44 I . Now the reality I face is my own life. Never waste life. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. the present is much. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. Think about who really loves you. it’s too short and too precious. Anonymous. J. Although the future is less than rosy to look at.E.
Now I try. 1958 in Elgin. alcohol. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. cultural arts centers. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. Thomas Michael Fox. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. I began to start to feel differently about myself. Illinois. and pornography. 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. After getting sober in 2001. 45 G . CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. 51 Corcoran. I have turned my attention back to God. I ended up in prison for life. community centers. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. writing helped. The son of a research chemist.
I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. at the age of 17. When I was in second grade. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio.100+ youth programs. Mexican revolutionaries. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. and indigenous themes. This history. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. prison scenes. The second and third place runners-up were announced. migrant workers. my school sponsored an art contest. Then. my name was called. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. On the day the winner was to be announced. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium.and 12-year-olds. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. vatos locos. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars.
creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. metaphors.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. a freehand artist second. a new tradition: poetical muralism. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. manufacturing the rope. a hacksaw blade. there was no turning back. and obtaining the other articles took time. The guard was two feet in front of me. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. I fuse images using words. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. I had to get in the same cage. And yet. and crazy juxtapositions. I consider myself first a poet. José Boner Boscobel. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. camouflage the cut marks. Octavio with Orozco. cash. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. Securing the tools. Today. Siquierod with Cisneros. watching every move during a strip search. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage.
I was through and bent back the bars. I could see everything. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. every muscle was taut. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. and I was sweating a puddle. my arms were screaming. I was balls-to-the-wall. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. The cage was shaking and rattling. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. In a few minutes. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. 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. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I slung the rope over my shoulder. but they could see every move I made. It was going according to plan 48 . or nerves. but the meshing distorted clear vision.100+ primitive. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. doubt. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. D-day. I was going. already packed with the gear. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. There was no time for hesitation. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out.
I was lying on the rooftop. It was too thin. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. from doubt. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. But that feeling of open air on my skin. I should have made gloves. Babb Corcoran. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. but now I would to fall to my death. I know from consequential. CA 49 . with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. but couldn’t move. The rope burned through my fingers. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. D. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. I attempted to crawl away. I’d escaped. outside the confines of the jail. My freedom had lasted only a few moments.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. free from fear. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. needed more knots… whatever the problem. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. Yet. I know I’ve never been freer. cages. it was too late for solutions. through what I’ve gained and learned since. guards. from regret and anxiety.
Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. it was too late.U. There was no wake-up call. Alcohol would always come first. no matter what. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. which never came.I. he just kept hitting rock bottom. but the key was jammed. nothing. 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.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. One time. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. He attempted to shut off the ignition. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D.s. not losing his license.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. I thought I loved him. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. and by the time I did. not getting pancreatitis. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais.
I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. To me. drugs were simply a hustle. who in the present. 23 Hollywood. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. I had lived an interesting life. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. not a crime.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. simply liked the quick. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. I had seen and done a lot. free dope. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. victimless cash. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. Crimes were what thieves. that was for sure. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . Adela Tedesco. In my 33 years. and sexual predators committed. thugs. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. a man with a past. Unfortunately. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade.
Then there are those of us. Now. I’m arguing against it one more time. Yet. While I’m no angel. this time.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. at the university. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. either. It helps those unable to defend themselves. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. and with whoever. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. our families. it protects the innocent. as an activist. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. the entire world of academia. things are different. at stake: my entire life. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. I’m surely not the devil.” There are the pro-drug war. I participated in the discourse. CA 52 . tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. I understand the necessity for law and order. not the solution. for all practical purposes. I argued it at every level: in the media. at this fateful juncture of my life.
I felt it starting at my feet. there are new users every day. coming up my legs. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. 24 Little Compton. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. my stomach and chest. that nothing will ever happen to them. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. even though they know that there are great risks. One of the guards supplied it. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. until it took over my whole being. So many people believe that they are invincible. and nothing good ever comes of them. However. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. Lance Corson. They destroy lives. There are always consequences. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. riding through space in 53 O .
only inches left to stand on. bad. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. My stomach was cramping. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. falling. I walked around with my arms in front of me. The floor closed up as I hit it. and I could feel the cramps coming. across my stomach. I was terrified! I found myself falling. gritting their teeth. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. holding on to my elbows.100+ the dead of darkness. There were monsters with long tails down there. My muscles 54 . I stood in the corner. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. My body was curled. I was freezing all over. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. falling. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. my heart pounded violently. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. Then I nodded off. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. my back to the wall. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. dying for a fix. I began to shake all over. I needed a fix. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end.
such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. If I were on the street. 2002. Mother. got down on the floor and beat me with it. steal. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. 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.” Now 55 . lie.000 other small. But I wasn’t. She opened the back door and said. and sell anything and everything. George Hughes. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. My mother passed away on October 2nd. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. 66 Burkeville. playing too loudly.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. and 10. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. One day. including their own souls. I kicked at her. Mom grabbed a frying pan. jumped out. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. “Get out of my house. God and I both love you. There was no fix at hand. wetting the bed. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. petty reasons. “No more. to get a fix. not shoveling the sidewalk right. not scrubbing the floors right.
100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I don’t dislike her. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. 67 Amarillo. TX 56 . I don’t hate my mom.
Sex & Seduction .
Terri Giosia. 45 Montreal. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. But for the young woman. I 59 M . Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. and fulfillment after the first time. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. This is what occurs at 18. 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. an orgasm. Québec. it will occur over time.
who are ready to lose their virginity. We decided we were ready. not because he wants to. people would assume we were twins. I always tell my friends. 16 Richmond. We have known each other since before we can remember. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. When we were little. Do it because you want to. it won’t be your last. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. At the beginning of high school. If you know your body. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. Don’t be scared. I did it for me. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. Now. I will spare 60 I . CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives.100+ beg to differ. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. we had sex. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. that even though it’s your first time. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. Momo.
AK. I grabbed her. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. that is not what is important. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Obviously laughter. interesting story to tell.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. at a “well-supervised” party. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. and we locked ourselves in. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. I ran into my best friend. he wields 61 I . we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. Almost at the same time. Later in the evening. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. anyway. and crying ensued. we said. squealing. 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. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me.
however. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. 54 Sydney. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need.100+ considerable power by yelling. rubbing his feet and back. feeding him like a baby. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. and showering and grooming him. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. He basks in their attention. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. tempt. being sarcastic. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . even though he has no feeling from the neck down. NSW. it’s like having a little harem. turning him over. However. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. changing his urine bag. if the woman is appealing enough. 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. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. but girly mags are his main source of info. or backstabbing us to our bosses.
seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. as upon sobering up. body language. With a glance. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. However. a smile. a look. it’s possible to seduce anyone. Without confidence. 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. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. It is stating the obvious. smile. beyond a shadow of a doubt. Once that is accomplished.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. his complete awareness of 63 I . which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. Québec. 45 Montreal. this type of seduction is an illusion. the golden rule for seduction. That is. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. It is not real. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. His hand rested on my forearm. one cannot seduce.
Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. but my pretensions made no difference to them. he breathed my name. for they would make me look like a weakling. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. Windoftheclyde. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . I felt his back tensing against my hands. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. On the brink of a thrust. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. In a shadowy whisper. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. My ways were haphazard. Never had a burden been more welcome. his lips fell on my hips.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. Always the seeker. but my anticipation was no longer tender. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. True to their word. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. 27 Santiago. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. I pleaded with them not to show up. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane.
Small Miracles .
amongst the prison population. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. At times. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. With a twist of a key. I should hate the cell. in the darkness. I’m on guard seven days a week. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. It becomes routine. I know that no one can get in without the key.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. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. As a person. Late at night. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. but once inside my cell. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. rather familiar. 67 T . In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. and often after a long day. I am human. I’m locked in.” Out there. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I do my deepest thinking there. I even welcome the closing of the door. I know I have to be locked in.
the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. and I write my loved ones there. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. these sounds are tranquil. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. The cell is a hellhole. despair. read a book. Ironically. When the cell door shuts. The cell is my castle until I reach home. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. while here in prison. It never is truly quiet here. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. The walls seem to hum.100+ I pray in the cell. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. I’m alone. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . a melody of pleasant proportions. the cell is a paradox because in reality. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. and loneliness. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. I don’t hear anyone talking. To the outside observer. To be honest. listen to the radio. yet. I have not experienced silence in years. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. or write a letter to my family or a friend. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. The cell door is now closed. but I’m in good company.
69 I . think. we have been there before. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. in it were four angels. I ultimately decide to give power to despair.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I’m human: I feel. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. “Let us show you the way. They looked invincible. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. showing another dimension.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. bleed. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. though their faces were human-looking. and I was filled with awe. 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.m. I also laugh. Michael McLean Beacon. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. love. In a small. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. I was lying in the dark. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. cry. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. and have the power to choose. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly.
obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. This was a kingdom on a large sun. “Oh no. I saw a van coming straight towards me. Misty. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. knowing order reigned in the next world.100+ white. waiting to make a left turn. there really wasn’t any time to react. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. Auckland. but time operates differently there. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. guarded from dark forces. 70 I . I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I thought to myself. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. 54 North Shore City. At that instant. circular spaceship.
Ever since that day. It was a very surreal experience. I sat there thinking to myself. In the breast pocket of my jacket. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. Hey. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. Where we die should be no less important. 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. It is important to find the right place for an ending. I chose Mount Sanitos. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. a brand new box of pills. I considered the importance of what I was doing. “Wow. 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. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . “Sorry about that. including me. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. 38 Methuen.
things were… strange. The guardians were gone. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me.100+ someone else got hurt. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. my hand slipped and I fell. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. Four pills left. When the east finally began to warm. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. then a shift. dropping off my recycling. For a moment. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. It was still night. no one was looking for me. There were shapes of people around. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. Necessary and common. Blood was caked on my forehead.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. On the far side of my fall. There was a flash of light. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. closing my bank accounts. like someone hit the reset on my brain. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. I finally reached the top. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. but they sensed me there. thinking it could be the police. I panicked. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . I must have blacked out. “He’s here. I cowered. The guardians stayed with me until dawn.
Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. but I had never been depressed before either. I was making sandwiches. and then dragged myself towards it. and it’s doable. At one point. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. as I did. I also know that I’m never alone. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. Then a second piece of bread fell. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. hitting me on the left ankle. Everything after that has been pure profit. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. That was my break-even point. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. Then I saw the trail a little to my right.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I realized it was just a stone. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. so I continued making the sandwiches. I think of myself as having happily died that night. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I was living alone. I’ve been to zero. it got so bad that I became depressed. When I got up in front of the cabin. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . Three days later. I had never done that before.
we got pregnant again.” 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. the day before Valentine’s Day. but there was only one piece on the floor. “I am the bread of life. Needless to say. so we should not be depressed. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. Jesus is always with us. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. He is still there. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.” Two years ago. whether we see Him or not. When I returned to the kitchen. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. Our little (well 74 I . I was very puzzled. Three months later.100+ of bread.
Kelly.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. And he is our own personal little miracle. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. we will always think about the baby that we lost. It was a good partnership. I did not waste it on the bland mush. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . WV A Taste of Honey honey. Don’t get me wrong. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. But this event puts it into a whole different light. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. 30 Martinsburg. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. but left the bees plenty for the winter.
UT 76 . But man cannot live on honey alone. The other half I saved for later.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I thought. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I thanked God for a taste of honey. and also. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. but it seemed to last an eternity. 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. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. James Burns Gunnison. I had been free. I had smelled the spruce. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. 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. the mountain laurel. and the wildflowers. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. For a moment there.
Ironically.S. but it ultimately killed him. he got shot in the left side of his chest. Gavai Kona. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. He may have survived the Vietnam War. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. After years of alcohol abuse. During a skirmish. There was a spark in her eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. a pack of cigarettes. Army during the Vietnam War. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. I 77 I . smoking saved his life. her actions were terrible and painful. Despite this miracle. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. He had a lighter. 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. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes.
” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. That is when I saw the stain. Miriam. “Good night. reached for an empty hanger. when my brother Bardo and I got home. he looked at me. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. Bardo. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. and hung up my dress. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. but she ignored me. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. “You’re not the only one. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. The next thing I knew. NY 78 . I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. my mother called me. Miriam McKenzie. I tightly hugged him back. I walked to my closet. With tears in my eyes. “Good night. While he was hugging me.” He also told me that when I finished eating. and I did. Bardo came out.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. One day. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. and said.” he said. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. 41 Bedford Hills. I heard him whisper. the dress ended up on my face.” I said through my tears. With powdered soap and water. as I put the dress on the hanger. I turned to go to my room.
Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. No gym. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. There was no yard to speak of. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. I could wear my own clothes. We installed a swamp cooler. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. no weight pile.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. a pipe with running water for a shower. built wooden bunks. the “buffaloes” roamed. a stereo. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. I had conjugal visits. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. When money arrived. bought a TV. no track or ball field. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. But in Mexico. incoming calls only. Everything from 79 M . the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. cook what I wanted. An aisle ran the length of each building.
and even prostitutes. drugs. if I changed. A man could buy food. but it was an identity that was poisonous. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . for the right price.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. for anything else.S. art supplies. J. filthy. the ontological slap in the face. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. I was allowed to keep my identity. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. clothing. I wanted out. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. booze. the world would reflect that change. and it has. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. appliances. lumber. and dangerous. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. in my head.C. True. I reasoned that. much like my thinking. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. I arrived at the school cafeteria. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. Amberchele Canon City. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens.
his father embraced me in the hallway.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. In my mind. When I did not press charges. my assailant approached me and apologized. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. the atmosphere was tense. With time. It had been an ironic twist of fate. however. I flirted with the idea of getting even. I yelled for help. After that incident. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. a free-for-all ensued. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. the judge dismissed the case. I had been stabbed. That made all the difference in the world. Fernandez Miami. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. encouraging him during the fight. As we spoke. it stopped bothering me. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. I stood by my friend. When I saw my assailant in court. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. But when others got involved. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. After the trial. As I turned to look. my membership in the gang became obsolete. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. FL 81 . Enrique M. His father attended the hearing.
Matters of the Heart .
Boy. was I wrong! I admire my first love. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. I am 41 years old. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. I will accept all of him. the good and bad. no matter what answers you receive. I never get tired of listening to him. He’s my first Jan Richards. I have known my first love for more than a year. One would think that because I have experienced life. 41 Dallas.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I would have been in love before. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. and I am in love. I could not 85 T . He is strong. He is honest. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. He is smart. This is it! This is my first true love. my first true love. I want to know everything he knows. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her.
I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. and that the connection will endure. and the connection that we share. 27 Tehran. but now I want to leave him. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I decided to visit her. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. she kissed me for the first time.100+ eat. I hope we will get married one day. Suzy. my first love. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. 59 Dayton. too. I will never forget her. he came back to me. I was browsing . I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. I feel so alone. Mansour. Without her. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. The morning after I arrived. We both respect and value each other very much. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). After two years of online chatting and phone calls. it’s been like heaven. Although we are divorced.
and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. I would never have gone out with him. There was something fascinating about this “older man. everything was great. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. and I am so jealous. Shurley. Then within six months. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. and now all I have are insecurities. He was a tall. I worry all the time. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. slender.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. At first. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. and he was in fifth grade. brown-haired young man. He played with my head. He stripped down my confidence. If it were up to me. His name was Travis.
Kitty Mayo. My reflections of Travis developed years later. Often. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. and gangbangs—it all occurs. 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. She has little education. hotel. 29 Hilo. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . I have no doubt that he was my first crush. all in retrospect. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. 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. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. wanting him to protect me. threesomes.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. anal sex. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. I just remember wanting to be near him. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. or inn in the continental United States. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous.
T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. regulations. or risks. The laughs come fast and free. Love. send her shopping. 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. She needs no coercion or con. religion. The female is as rebellious as the offender. 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. who want to keep her hair and nails done. finances. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. take care of her kids. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. Hours seem like minutes. It comes like a thief in the night.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. TX 89 . True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. pay her rent. It’s an amazing thing. rules. The attraction is mutual. The conversations flow smoothly. housing. Sometimes personalities just click. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from.
90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. the tears pouring down her cheeks. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. suitcase is a difficult feat. on a tour of Oxford. destined for Minneapolis. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Boston College. Two months later. and yes. and I told her she was strange. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. but I know I don’t want her to leave. three floors down. we went out for coffee. I wonder when.. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. my tears will come. Massachusetts. And three months and two weeks later. and mine. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. she told me the same thing. I told her I loved her.M. Outside her window. Skidmore College.. One month later. We are in her attic bedroom. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. I’m not sure she’s my other half. and if.” I have no idea what he means. the distance between her school.100+ Four A. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. 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. She’s packing her last suitcase. Three months later.
until four a. and I had a crush on . 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. At four a. Theoharides. I walk her to the bus station. write a love poem.m. I had written the poem already. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. And tears stream down my face. needless to say.m. still two bottles of wine later. Alexander J. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. and I have to walk her to a bus station. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. 22 Amherst. comes. after another bottle of wine.. and place it on the hood of his car. “I’ll miss you.m. At three a. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car.” she says.. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed.. after a bottle of wine. she falls asleep. so I decided to go the subversive route. At two a.m. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag.
Unfortunately. 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. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone.100+ I sped away. needs. 28 Albuquerque. desires. I was 21 years old. but because of them. Scarlet Rose. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. 24 Lincoln. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. not despite of their shortcomings. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. Galilea. NH Love Is for yourself.
My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. As you can imagine. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. I imagined something romantic. But a girl can dream. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . It can be between two men and between two women. PC.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. no? Saturday came. 30 Arecibo. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. making our relationship grow stronger. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. We are the yin and yang for each other. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see.
I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I regret it. and I tried to fight for my dreams. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. so I left everything behind: my career. Maybe he was too old for me. and I live there now. Life is not supposed to be this way. but he wasn’t in love with me. the woman that he had been dreaming of. my family. but he was mine. and my life. maybe he was strange. A baby was on the way. 36 Lennon. Mare. “I did it for love. and you have always been the one. Our relationship is 15 years strong. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. and so many tears. I love you. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . so many mistakes. and I thought I was immortal.” I told myself. I regret so many things. I tried to be perfect.100+ lifetime. Michelle. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. and we are raising a daughter as well. I chose my hell.
If I were to start my life all over again. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. and it lasted about a year and a half. We are going to graduate soon.T R U E S T O R I ES life. Yeyo. we fell in love. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. 95 I . but as for love. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. My ex and I are currently in high school. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. Kikis_fairytale. I don’t know. 27 Athens. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. though. but I can’t control it. It’s a bad habit. but we’re not together anymore. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. Lately. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. but we’ll be living separate lives. We now have a beautiful baby girl. 18 Olmito.
Aila Balic. It is a scary feeling. I gasp for air. yet doesn’t make me want to die. Every time I see him. We started talking and before long we just clicked. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. talent. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. I shake. but as much as I try to stop. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. I don’t want to. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. Although I didn’t know it at the time. I imagine the two of us together all the time. He was a southern gentleman with manners. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. “I may have a guy at home. 18 Brooklyn. I thought to myself. and I have no control over my actions. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. looks. In the summer of 2009. but it just happens. but things had been slowly going downhill. 96 M . it keeps growing. We spent my final day together. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. and a smile that could melt a heart.
and no hassle: just us. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. for showing me the truth about love. Guerrero. family and friends can witness our marital union. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. I went to say my goodbyes. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. In life. but now it was time to make a big decision. 26 Acapulco.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. no guests. I explored my options on the ride home. I couldn’t believe it was over. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. We wanted . Why not have our cake and eat it. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. too? Hayley. and it took all I had not to cry. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. There weren’t any wedding planners. Thanks. Ethan.
We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. 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. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. at age fifty-two. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. as well as me. I will go home one day. 2006. On May 15. For Louise. but life is not fair. I guess. I had not felt that way in years. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. On March 27th. 1997. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. Some letters were erotic. Clearly magic was happening between us. was a devoted wife. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. This story has the makings for a great ending. and made me happy in so many ways. She was .
000 on our wedding. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. but we had our wedding 7 months later. in August. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. Please save 99 M . Louise. 63 Burkeville. And in the end. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. beautiful flower arrangements. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. George Hughes. Farewell. If we had to do it again. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. We had a nice ceremony. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. I will miss you. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. VA A Joining of Two. but for our family members. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world.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. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. However. DON’T.
100 A . and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. “NO!” I yelled at him. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. On the day of the wedding. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together.100+ your money because in the end. too?” he asked. Even at 3. the rings were handed over. In the fall of 1987. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. my voice echoing through the church. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. When the time came to walk down the aisle. “Are you two getting married. 29 Lowell. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. forest green dress. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. clad in a miniature tuxedo. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. When we finally reached the priest. Priscilla. the wedding doesn’t matter.
and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. Finally. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. I was blinded by lights. On the long list of things I hate. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. The emails became short and purposeful. slowly and gradually. but before I knew it. and I had no idea where to go. all I remember being told was. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. at some point. three of them will always be: priests. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. my cousin. not right away. until amorous love became filial affection. and I started to ignore 101 I . I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. Adelle Brown. camera flashes. and forest green. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around.” When the doors opened. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. 23 Somerville. not right before my eyes. I had gotten used to him and he to me. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. The reasons I had married him were no longer there.
I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. 102 I . but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. and started avoiding him. for him. and let him do the same. I keep trying to push him away. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. This mundane. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. torturous waste of time. but that memory is now alien to me. 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. I stopped caring about spending time together. nor is he. For now. I am content to just exist. January Paris. I am not that person anymore. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. He was no longer my top priority. or lack thereof. I am not that unhappy.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. I remember why I fell in love with him.
I would have done so. VT 103 . St. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. and I’m glad they are. it would have been more difficult. I thought that if they divorced. which never came. my parents did not divorce. Johnsbury.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. and if I were allowed to live with my father. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. Alas. Donna J. They are still together.
Despite Diagnosis .
clean. skidding. not let it get inside you. to survive it. Some don’t. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. and when you get to the other side. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. wash. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. not because of knives but for their germs. and dry yourself. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. then slips away unseen. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. go in with your homeboys. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. You are immersed in it. you must wade carefully through the sewage. Wait till the “others” get out. and filth swimming and floating along with you. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. Take showers in shifts. sometimes it’s neck-deep. Prison is a sewer. and sometimes it’s over your head. vermin. bide your time. cartwheeling. you can cast off your filthy clothes.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . leaving you there to bleed out. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. In prison.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. alone.
a cracked skull. Norman. And they die. I regained some of my physical strength. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. 59 Daytona Beach. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. Months later. I started having eye trouble. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. I was told I had a brain tumor. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. Charles P. The problem was not eradicated. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. As for me. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again.100+ of the prison sewer. wondering if I will ever go home. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . become a part of it. meningitis. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. so I went to an optometrist. When I awoke. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. they inhale deeply. As the years passed. take it all in. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet.
I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. Pete. and all came out negative. After 4 or so weeks. so in spite of having protected sex.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. Fueled by the media. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. 21 Devonport. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. just to be sure. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. Tasmania. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. My cerebral fluid was not draining. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . 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. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate.
I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. One time. so my body was dying. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. Jolene. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. Every time a nurse would come in the room. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. My father was the only one with the same blood type. The day I turned five. I was constantly in the hospital. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. but even that wasn’t enough. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. For instance. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. We all had sad faces. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. so he donated his blood. so she took me to the doctor. Throughout my childhood. 28 Portland.100+ as well. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age.
the jail has delayed it.” When my chemo starts. my oncologist was determined 111 I . “Well. Maybe it’s a nightmare.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. I am back at Estrella Jail. and very pale. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. Maybe it’s not really me. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. and they both cried tears of joy. I vomit constantly. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. and 100% cured. There is no kindness. This never happened outside. Three months later. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. I’m 15 pounds thinner. in college. Today I am 19. 19 Pembroke Pines. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. hoping to get rid of me to save money. At Perryville. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. nearly bald. Five days later. the judge can expedite all he wants. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. the check-in nurse says. fightingsurvivor19.
and then annually. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. He answers my questions. An hour later. I know I’m an inmate. No more nausea. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. then every six months for two years. He recommends a tumor 112 . I have three more chemo sessions. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. I vomit until there is nothing left. the doctor comes in. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. and nine months later. But this protocol is not followed. I start the laborious grievance process. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. Despite the rigid schedule. 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. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. when I’m supposed to be healing. burning instead. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. In here. there is complete indifference. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. Eventually. begging for what I’m missing. When my treatment is over. I am sent back to my room alone.100+ that my nausea be minimal. My life is literally in their hands.
All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. As a result. incompetent. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. and I am helpless against its inadequate. mismanaged. This is about the State. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. That is why I am afraid. always look for a reason to be glad. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. no positive imagery can change my situation. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. AZ 113 . 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. uncaring power. I will use my fear to strengthen my resolve and use the Glad Game to strengthen my joy and maintain my balance in the midst of chaos. That’s really hard in here. my life is in the hands of the State. Their stories touch me on so many levels.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. it still hasn’t happened. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. I can deal with that. Six months later.
Dinorah Torres. A year into my treatment. she was looking ahead. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. making plans for the future. without even knowing it. and I felt helpless all the time. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. CA A 114 . she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. I hated to look at myself in the mirror.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. Later. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. but when he found out that treatment could last years. Despite all this. 33 Santa Barbara. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. Two months after I started chemotherapy. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. he began to distance himself. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer.
for a smoker’s lungs.” 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. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. and had lived alone for decades. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. It just 115 I . shape. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. How sad. One year she was cancer-free. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. Hayden. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. The following year. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life.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. for an addict’s. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. She was longdivorced. never had any kids. 18 Tacoma.
He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. on the part of Texas officials.G. Cornwall. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . not even decades after giving up smoking. and now he could lose his own life because of them. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. He lost his wife to cigarettes. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. Whatever the percentage. Penzance.A.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. F.
9. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. 5. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. 6. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. 7. 2. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. You can see how dangerous it is. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. 4. A few suggestions: 1. sentence length. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . and typecrime.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. 3. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. be as humane as possible. whether here or abroad. and house them accordingly. 8. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Classify prisoners by age. Separate gang members from non-gang members.
100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. This could be a start. Daniel H. Harris. TX 118 .
The Transience of Permanence .
a last will and testament. death out there now looks relatively easy. even inside me. I swear. maybe an estate. plans. which has its effects on me as well as on him. In the penitentiary. All is forgiven. From what I’ve seen in here. 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. especially on death row. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. If I give him that. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. then the whole world has done the same. Some days. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. death is merely a passage or rite. I feel the dread on my flesh. He desperately seeks some understanding. For “free-world” folks. In plain talk. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. I’m a state-approved janitor.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. or SSI. TX I 121 . He understands that my time with him is short. Christopher Best Livingston. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. discussions. some acceptance. Each morning when I arrive at work.
I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour.” or “moving on to the next phase. Light-headed. Shit. Fuck them. I am feeling very ugly inside. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I choose not to spend another day in this place. Suspicious. today. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. It’s called “checking out. I wrap the cut in toilet paper.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. G.” “taking it to the vent. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. It isn’t working. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. Shit. and it can be done right now.” And I’m not talking about parole. People in the day room are getting suspicious. 122 T . Fuck God. Very suspicious. yet relieved that I took action.T. I’ll try again later. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle.
He slugged the other half into the wall socket. 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. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. but a symbolic one. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. After that. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. not in the clinical sense. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. Mike Rothwell Ione. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I .
one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. He has. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. diamonds. the father he cannot be.100+ love of his family.With his incarceration. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. the lover he wishes to be. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. 124 N . killed that greater part of himself. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. the son he failed to be. my big fat Italian grandmomma. pearls. year after year. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. gold. but life—even at 103—seems too short. in essence. In the world beyond prison walls. matriarch of the family. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. he may as well be dead. and the person he never grew to become. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. Hector Gallegos Otisville. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. In this sense. sterling silver. The day her body is brought to the graveyard.
Who would believe that a swastika. as if no one else is 125 D . Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. Mary Higgins Reading.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. except for a fundamental difference. dating from the roaring twenties. The first thing one notices is the quiet. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. necklaces. pre-WWII. and handcrafted dolls. The following day. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. 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. key chains. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. albums. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. she never wore it. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. 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. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. blankets. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather.
wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. there are only four or five people. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. It is like God’s “time-out” room. the fights he had in grade school. but the mind rebels. such as his first pet. he realizes that all hope is gone. At other times. Gene W. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories.100+ there. Hathorn Livingston. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. making it ominously quieter. the officials are stoic and judgmental. 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. survivors of the victim’s family. media representatives. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. An ache settles in his belly. TX 126 . Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. In remembering.
Sleep came with great difficulty. no one. Once muscular. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.” Freddy complained to me one day. if at all. his body was covered in tattoos. really took it seriously. He was a genuine character. In October 2004. after a slew of “unreadable. a combination drug therapy.” “partial. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. he was barely over five feet tall. 127 E . Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004.” and “lost” test results. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). I saw no real reason for worry.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. including Freddy. Time was of the essence. and they all tell you something different. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. Since he always complained. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. Over a period of a year. trying to get someone to do something. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. and his memory showed signs of failure.” I forget why. “Every doctor has a different opinion. he had become thin as a rail. and his head was shaved clean.
Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours.100+ Months passed. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. Freddy was my friend. Freddy died alone the night of December 29.” he told me. and now he’s dead. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation.” There was no anger in his voice. only resignation. it was too late. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. 2005. but no treatment was administered. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . looking through the glass at our little one. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. He vomited blood one morning. They killed me. and he was afraid. We named him William Kenrick. They tried giving him formula. but he threw it up. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. By October. “If they got at me 18 months ago. “By the time they did something. they probably could have saved me. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant.
T R U E S T O R I ES utero. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. But I swear. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. my first child. And for that. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet.. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. and whispered. the smell… His sweet. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. Someday. NCR. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. I love him more and more each day. as soon as I held him. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. milky scent is still there. my first son. if you can still make it. just let go. he had to undergo an operation. fight for it. I still think of him. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. Jenelleish. Despite the pain. when I visited him. PHILIPPINES 129 . 32 Las Piñas City. his heart rate slowed. which was declared a success. only to realize that he’ll never come back. He will always be my first baby. he went. And oh. But I knew something wasn’t right. But if not. Then I start crying again and eventually. a smile formed on his lips. “Baby. And I knew though he was gone.” And as soon as everybody was there. only he was already lifeless. At 1:30 a. I turn numb. At 3 days old. The next day.m.
I was close to my father. I didn’t shed one tear. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. from denial to 130 I . He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker.100+ I Miss You. Dad une 15. enjoying the early morning light. After my dad’s death. But as a father. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch.m. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Facing the cell door. I miss him deeply. in a better mood than usual. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. But I didn’t cry. fishing. But after 5 years of marriage. I dreamed about him every single night. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. I went through many phases. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. roller-skating.. he was really fantastic. and listening to music. he died suddenly and tragically. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. yet his passing was significant to me. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. My dad liked to sing and dance.
from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. I drank to escape and forget. with great parents and friends. I am now 45. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. I sent my aunt. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. As a last minute thought. the final and hardest phase arrived. Terri Giosia. Québec. 45 Montreal. hate to indifference. I realized that what happened was out of my control. a Christmas card. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. Life lost its luster. happily single. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. her youngest 131 I . yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. had no meaning.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. However. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. After a long period of time. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. How sad that now sounds.
The night before. she called every person she knew and read that poem. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . he said.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. The doctor gave her three months to live. But after all the miserable hospital visits. especially when you are only seven years old. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. my poem may mean nothing. To the academic world.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. Dennis Forrest. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. Not only did she call him. 51 Rosharon. For two years. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. my mom had been taken to the hospital. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. Soon after. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment.
It went on and on. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. but to help them through things the best you can. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. the house. “Daddy. My life was changed forever.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. 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. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. My dad softly called me over. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . where it was warm. and even worked from home so he could be there. 16 Rexburg. He took care of my mom. This experience has made me stronger. My father continued hacking. too weak to walk to her bedroom. Aubrie. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. and us. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love.
He said things. so I recognized it in both of you. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes.100+ asked. not speaking. but he died before I got the chance. I had unfinished business with my father. healing wounds. Over the past few years. but the last time inexorably approached. I begged him to quit for years. son. but emphysema got him first. real sick. and he was gone. He looked at my brothers.” 134 . Don’t ever smoke them.” He was just twenty-four at the time. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. who knew my family well. too. with complications from lupus. the reason I’m saying this. closed his eyes. You settled your differences. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. so I stood there. when I first met your family several years ago. A prisoner friend. I wanted to make it up to him. waiting him out: “Charlie. We feared lung cancer. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. I knew he wanted to say something. I could see that you loved your father. Even when he was here last time. You see. I admire what you did. collect. I said things I’ve always regretted. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I could tell. exhaled. like you did. and that was a good thing. There were hard feelings between us. as did my mother. and he loved you. from a prison payphone in the dark. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death.
The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. It was the least I could do. Norman. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. I decided to slash my wrist. While there. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. My cellie threw up. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. His tears soaked into my suit coat. 135 I . Charles P. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. FL Slash nstead of going to court. 59 Daytona Beach. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. leaned his head on my shoulder.
” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . Evidently. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.” G. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. His eyes were half open.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. I don’t anymore. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life.T. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences.100+ “Well.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. “Six months.
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. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. Even the crazy guys had shut up. hung it back up on the wall. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. perhaps. stood there for several seconds. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. CA 137 . carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. Then. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience.T R U E S T O R I ES was. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. For the first time since I was there. But not at this moment. It was so still. He had everyone’s complete attention. With a bit of a dramatic flair. there was only solemn silence.
Hidden & Forbidden .
but it’s not my girlfriend. I was convicted. I want to be with a girl. a member of a fraternity. not only to have fun. sentenced to six years in prison. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. I’m thinking. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. I was black.” I step towards her. It opens. barging into her apartment. When it’s time to leave the club.” As I say this. 141 I .” I say. forcing myself in. I want some sex. she’s home alone. 1982. it’s her roommate. but I haven’t picked up a girl. in front of a white jury. she was white. a football player. and a ladies’ man. popular on campus. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. I only saw what I wanted to see. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. it’s a habit of ours. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. if no one else is here. we can have sex. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I’ve had fun. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. and I’m in college. I say. I knock on the door. Because she was white. “I came to see my girl. the white system. but also to pick up girls. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. angrily. racism at its best. that it was a setup. my fraternity brothers. and it was my word against hers. For twenty years. “Your girl is not here.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7.
for them. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. I had known that I was a disappointment.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. pure houseboat. a wife. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. For sixteen years.100+ Today. So I tried. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. forced attractions to women. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. if I were to have a place in this world. 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. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. faithfully.
boring corduroy-wearers. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. One day. only for who I pretended to be. So I confessed my truths. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. my sadness never faltered.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. Daryl F. At seventeen. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I am finally happy.. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. I wrote a script. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . 19 Hooksett. all too well in fact. that my parents felt the same. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. When I arrived. And I knew. with whom I constantly fought and argued.
line. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. Kent. He dated one girl 144 I . We didn’t date. it was swallowed hook. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. His self-confidence saved the day. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. I was literally paralyzed. but I always suspected that he was gay. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. Knowing very little about astrology. Nicholas. This brought about a case of stage fright. one male and one female. 30 Maidstone. and sinker.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. being a noble and resourceful man. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. 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. especially for clothes. carried on like a trooper. Philippa.
As for my female friend. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. When he told me he was gay. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. but I never really suspected she was gay. My friends just did . He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. However. Waterville. Jayne L. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. 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. I didn’t really think anything of it. especially since I had always suspected it. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. she was always a tomboy.
knowing that if she 146 . Right now. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. If I were a man.100+ me. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. I fear losing my partner. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. who is from Peru. but I am a woman and therefore. too. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. We feel the judge was very homophobic.” so we had to go back to court. not me. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. 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. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. They even sent me to a shrink. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. As if things couldn’t get any worse.” Within 10 days. 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.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. We are not giving it to her. “Never mind. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. After three years worth of evidence gathering.” I did.
T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. TX 147 I . We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. If anything. no different than any other heterosexual couple. These days. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. the most effective teacher. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. 35 Tampa. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. but we did not lose ourselves. the Ultimate Truth. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. We lost everything. has taught me compassion. Aileen Diaz. 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. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain.
better not to tempt fate. I feel like an idiot. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. But on the other hand. I still love and respect him. 30 Detroit. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. Now. You have to always be 148 C . my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. I probably would have been better off not knowing. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. On the one hand. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. and I would never throw it in his face. Eloise Lebreton. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother.
No matter how upbeat you may feel. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. Mike Rothwell Ione. so you better learn to keep it at bay. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. It’s always going to be there. But if someone’s determined to “check out. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. I lived in Shreveport. After church. 149 A . I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES on guard against succumbing to conditions that can spawn a state of mind so foul it can cause a young man in the prime of life to want to leave this realm. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm.” then there’s not much they can do about it. They help. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. Louisiana. I was allowed to play with a friend. One way is to keep doing those pushups.
Christian Missionary Alliance. her face contorted in rage. My friend’s mother yelled.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. was too much to handle. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. 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. Yurshta. another ultrafundamentalist sect. lit the gas stove. at my tender age. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. molestation. I have been an atheist ever since. She barged into the room screaming. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. 47 Old Fort. “You think this hurts motherf’er. He screamed in agony. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. especially my mother. and abuse. NC 150 . It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person.
Any kind of abuse. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. NETHERLANDS Harsh. I had nine miscarriages. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. demeaning. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. I swear. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. I did not get angry with him. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. 26 Essen. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. whether physical or emotional.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. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. should not be tolerated. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . Gaby Hermann.
He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. I was forced to call the cops. Delhi.100+ with me. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. Then one day. INDIA 152 . 36 New Delhi. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. Sonia.
Eerie Encounters .
slight. I can see the people.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. I don’t need to see to believe. They are looking beyond me. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I keep swimming. 28 Salem. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. swishing sound. just a quarter of a mile farther. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. I listen for a moment to a strange. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. even Ghirardelli’s. but I’m getting tired.m. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. In my nightmare. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. Aquatic Park. Why would we want to be? Clarette. We cannot be alone. my 155 I . until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. although I’ve never seen one.
watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. And then. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. The waves crash. I’m only treading water. 24 Lawrence. summoning me. I am silently alone. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. beginning to feel numb. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. I awake. MA 156 T . I hear something in the distance calling me. to the deep water. Am I going crazy? Frank E. The walls murmur. Foster. Will Ferrara. And about a week after that. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter.100+ arms are getting heavy. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. When I was 18. out beyond the breakers. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. About 5 years later. 45 Delano.
So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. On our way to the hospital. I dreamt that I was in Italy. While alive. I immediately called home. showing us that we were right. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. a strange heat enveloped my body. 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. One night. ITALY 157 I . 56 Alfonsine. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. In the following days. too. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. Ravenna. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. In the dreams. Almost twenty days later. my mouth stopped bleeding. I felt sick and went to sleep. From that moment on. while still aboard. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. at my uncle’s funeral. and we had no choice but to drink it. In October. Shocked. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore.
everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. 19 Monaghan. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. staring straight ahead. I remember shaking like a leaf. I stood up and looked at its face. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. It was pitch black.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. but late for work! Paddy J. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. It was my dad! At that moment. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. It was then that I woke up. but they continued moving and stretched me out. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I landed at the feet of the creature.. I was squinting. its feet dragging along the ground. as whatever I was looking at was far away. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer.
I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. One evening. It was at this moment that I saw. That left me speechless. “That place is haunted. thinking about nothing. I was in the bathroom. thin man. my mind completely blank. When I turned to look. Hiking along the trail. When I returned home.” I thought. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives.” someone who knew the area told me. As I placed my canteen in the water. 159 W . I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. Fernandez Miami. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. Enrique M. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. “I’ve been here before. As nighttime fell. it had disappeared. echoes from long ago. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. the vision of a tall.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen.
All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. still completely covered by the hood. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. when I entered the King’s Chamber. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. I have not had any such vision since. I have no idea what the vision meant. He walked towards me. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . and the vision was gone. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle.100+ He was wearing a long. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I remembered being there before. However. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. Devon. Then. His face was shrouded in darkness. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. hooded. standing in that same spot.
and activated it. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. 54 Auckland. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. Misty. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. During this moment of déjà vu. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. I came back to my present “reality. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. Then my former self stood in my body. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. AK. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. transferred his intelligence into my brain.” Now. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. and don’t believe time is always linear.
I woke up taking short gulps of air. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. 59 West Roxbury. In my dream.B. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.100+ broad daylight seemed real. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. and a little less afraid. drifting like seaweed. D. They knew what was about to happen. a little more settled. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. Lonn. I’m willing to see where it takes me. 162 I . Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. I’m 59 now. 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. a little more aware. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. but I didn’t. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. facing myself. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. More and more debris ruptured from every direction.
I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. The driver lost control of the vehicle. “I need to get back. which struck a barrier. Since I was only 4 years old. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. when I moved 163 G . I learned the term years later. Waterville. and then was finally able to label my experience. and quickly drifting away. but with a different outlook on life–and death. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. I survived the accident with no major injuries. as I had in Spain. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. I watched shows on television. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. and we started to spin really quickly. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. completely powerless to stop it. Later. Jayne L. I started to read a lot of books. After that. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up.
I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week.100+ to Massachusetts. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I knelt down on a pew. it’s one of my many pastimes. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. Smiling kindly. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. but with no success. But for me. There is only going to a different level. he said. I got slowly closer. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. facing him. just one year before meeting Gabriele. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. 37 Madrid. at my friend Viola’s insistence. a few steps from the altar. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. A year later. One night.
struck by his suffering. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I told him not to joke. He vowed to marry me. so I left. ITALY 165 . While I stared at him. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. we became involved. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. Then one night. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. Through telepathy. striking me like a storm. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. and I tried to help him.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. in January 1991. but he had terrible secrets. 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. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. 56 Alfonsine. Ravenna. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. Through telepathy. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. To be sure. I felt all his fear and pain. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later.
I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. During the five trips I made out there.100+ I See Spirits spirit. On some nights. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. Soon after. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. I developed . a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. He tipped his hat and smiled. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. Then all of a sudden. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. 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. NH.
We saw the usual lights in the sky. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. up a tree.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. strobe for 30 seconds. Later. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. then they turned off. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. On one occasion. and then disappear. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. who was also an amateur photographer. and into the sky. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. First. As I returned to where Betty was parked. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. 70 Waltham. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. MA 167 . “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. Other times. and meet. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. about 50 yards down the tracks. On one of my last visits. a state psychologist friend of mine. but then. she suddenly pointed and yelled. fly to some central point. accompanied me.
At Home & Abroad .
” My father used to talk of Hungary.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. not financial statements. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. with a 3-year-old son. German perfume. but eventually we divorced. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. Russian caviar. as proof of dignity. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. or Puerto Rican dialect. I once had plans to live in London. had to show the INS hard-working hands. and great America. where all were welcome and. Lately. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. We married and had a daughter. Colombian. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . and completely broken by life. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. but life had a different destination in mind for me.
We all suffer when this happens. 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. 54 Leominster. Mare. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. the Dolphins. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I .S. on the contrary.. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. while others are trying to cheat the system. Nidia F. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia.100+ Greece. we love Bach. it reminds us that this country is great. 36 Lennon. 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. We don’t feel less American because of that. Morales.
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. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman.C. so I decided to move to his. illegally because. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. 27 Washington. while my 173 Every year from June until September.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. harvesting crops. we stayed in Livingston. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. My father is Mexican. it would have been too dangerous. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. We lived in tents. and migrant camps. I had family there.S. apart from being unconscionable. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. D. Later in the summer. my . In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border.S. Many times. Then during the fall and winter months. cars.
My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. and write in English. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore.” “wet. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. 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. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. they had the opposite effect. In high school.” “greaser. This is where I went to school.” or “spic. I was embarrassed by my first language. Early on. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. However. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. In grammar school. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. School was a struggle from the beginning. halfway through my junior year. Because of school. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. In fact. our bathroom was an outhouse. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. I was held back in kindergarten. they didn’t work. read. mostly beans and tortillas. I struggled to learn to speak. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. we took our baths in a big washtub. Spanish. Not only were the white students 174 . However. I realized that I was out of place in school.100+ father worked for a local farmer.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. this was not a quick or easy transition.
50 Boston.. To white students. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. Raul Ybarra. a gringo wearing a tie. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. “Now don’t run away on me. the usual. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. in theory.” I remind myself. and I had lost most of my Spanish. I was born and raised in the U. you know. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. They will pay. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. My private class is in La Rinconada. an enclave 175 I .” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. but on the inside I acted like a white person. I didn’t seem to fit in. I wasn’t Mexican. I wasn’t white. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. to the Mexican students. “One hundred soles tonight. not even two dollars.S. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. Although I was of Mexican descent.
It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. I have classes with her kids. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. “She’s not here. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. It’s ají amarillo. I sit at the kitchen table. No way. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. I am cheered by the recognition. Matt. even your own paycheck. you are not Peruvian.” “That’s okay.” I say. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. with chicken bulging from its sides. They don’t speak to me or to each other. she told me to come inside and wait.” “I know she’s not here. If these families don’t find happiness here. as big as a sandwich. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. Remember. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some.” “The señora is not here.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. never mind 176 . Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. Two maids. are washing dishes in the sink. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. I eye the tamal on the counter. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher.
An hour later. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. payday. I hear three honks. “That’s what we all hope. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. and we were all waiting for our first check. It was the end of the month. Wipe any sign of need from your face. Mrs. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 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. The room grew eerily silent. They looked at each other to see who would answer. That is the hard part: hiding the need. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. 177 . Chin up. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Some received their checks. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. 40 Amesbury. and springs out the door to the entrance.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. No way am I going home empty-handed. others were given a song and dance.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. and I came. I was told to come.
I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. Karen Manhattan. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. the city awoke and came to life. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. I wasn’t alone. As dusk turned to darkness. and only then. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. yet spaced widely apart. As I again made my way down the grid streets.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. I felt that I had “made it there. After the much-anticipated grilling session. The streets were numbered. 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. It was then. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. With briefcase in hand. NY 178 . the whole city was there. I was in the city “on business. It was well worth it.
dry. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.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. Irish. it’s “America.” or “U. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. 4) Beer drinking is an art. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. sarcastic. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II.e.S. we don’t. Welsh. 12) It’s not the “U. and you must learn the difference between lager.” or “Yankland”. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. Scottish. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. and sophisticated. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.. and stout. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. etc.”. bitter. they helped a great deal. French. The 179 . but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”.S. 7) Humour is subtle. real ale.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing.” “Pop Idol. 10) The English.A. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” “The States.
Rolling Stones.m. apologise profusely for it. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. not pounds. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). Pink Floyd). South African. FL 180 . 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. or any other English-speaking foreigner. Gavin S.. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). If caught being rude. 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. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 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!). Canadian. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. and body weight is stated in stones. they’ll take the non-Yank. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you.100+ Beatles.m. 23 Jacksonville.
My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. We took off from the claustrophobic. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. Native and unique to Hawaii. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. 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.” which spans in black swirls over the island. and Waikiki Beach. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety.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 discovered Diamond Head. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. Pearl Harbor. crimson berries. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. Although decades have passed. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. my parents and I arrived at . 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. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990.
I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. I remember wanting to return… H.100+ large. ovular. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree.” Despite my pitiful German. Gutierrez.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. 29 Tultitlán. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. Estado de México. B. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning.
Along the road. but never forgotten. checked 183 In late October 1998. we were the enemy. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. eerie feeling. Standing in St. crying. Marien’s church in Lübeck. and running in all directions. I knew it was war. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. destruction everywhere. Gisela. green hills and plains. I packed up my leased . I imagined civilians screaming. that it was them or us. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. I experienced an unexpected. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. Schleswig-Holstein. 21 Lübeck. For the first time since the early eighties. however unfounded that emotion may be. To them. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. However. I even felt a bit guilty.
The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. TN 184 . 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.100+ into small motels. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. There is always a scent of sage in the air. delightful little restaurants. and visited various museums. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. I spent days at the Pueblo. Brigitte Pauli Memphis.
The Toughest Job in the World .
At 3:30 a. Krista. My due date of June 19th came and went.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. I knew what to expect. For our first child. Needless to say. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. my husband and I went to the doctor’s.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. we did not make it to the hospital. So. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. so on the 20th. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. after being able to share this special bond.m. For child number two. which is about 45 minutes away. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. I planned a Caesarean.. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. he did just that. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me.
bacon. and two more on the way (my brothers. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. and my mother would call us for breakfast. Alley Oop. car payments. grocery bills. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. spread them open on the wood floor. He’d slowly read the comics to me. Friday evenings were always a thrill. Not every week. lie down. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. and Tarzan of the Apes. the smells of biscuits. Daddy would get out. The car would stop. Dan and Tom). I’d lie beside him in the same pose. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. My . take out the Sunday comics. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. All was good in the world. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. Joe Palooka. prop himself up on his elbows. but fairly frequently. The Texarkana Gazette. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. I had no concept of rent. and read each one aloud. By then. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. not working as he was the rest of the week. He’d take off the rubber band. It was just the three of us.
and lights. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. but I never realized it. I was recovering from an emergency C-section.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. Charles P. Finally. I felt desperate. tubes. Not with . Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. 189 The first time I saw my son. begging him for a ride in the new car. a frown on her face. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. Norman. 1. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. 59 Daytona Beach. Sebastian. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. Times were hard. or at least pretend to. but because I thought I had failed. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. (On Friday evenings. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. They said he was beautiful. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. I cried. I went to a place filled with noise. and his weight.T R U E S T O R I ES him.220 grams. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires.
I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. Relief. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I was discharged. I’m too afraid of screwing up. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. I cried.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. I gained knowledge. He was so fragile and exposed. fear. besieged by guilt. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. and mourning. wanting to 190 I . and confidence. Over time. After a week. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I sang to him. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. and hope flooded me. Outside. I ached to still be pregnant. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. Each week. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. I became determined to care for him. I talked to him. Lisa. 36 North Andover. I began to sob. At long last. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. pride. patience. leaving my baby behind. and I prayed.
Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. pet. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. and I 191 I . and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. Right now. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. At about 3 a. 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. Suzanne. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes.m.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. we weren’t there to look at. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. my father and I were in his truck. and I was twelve years old. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. drugs. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. driving to our new “hunting spot. Though I was only twelve. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. or having trouble with the police..T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. I don’t have any desire to find out. or gangs. or feed the deer. or getting into drinking. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. But tonight.
100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. a second of your life. By the time he got there. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. Steven Small. 43 Jessup. I snuck up to the fence line. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. . We drank beer on the way home. I didn’t even have to call the deer. with the click of a camera. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. they were already there. checked for traffic. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. I took my spot and waited. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. You can take a picture and freeze time.
Sitting on a stool at the counter. and sadly. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. 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. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. I 193 M . It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. but something was unleashed in me. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. I didn’t expect much. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. Part of me wanted to pull her away. but those moments stay behind. sipping a chocolate shake. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. moments are forgotten. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. Kelly.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. New moments are constantly being created. 30 Martinsburg. I cherish every moment captured. Life goes on. without a care in the world. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean.
Her green eyes sparkled. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. She quit school to marry him. the afternoon waitress.” 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. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. my first year in middle school. and well fitting. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. It was in seventh grade. “Your Mama works for tips. John.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted.” One day. He had promised to take care of us. Those are old coins. “I did my best. Someday they’ll put you through college. I do my best. Some streetwise kids set me straight.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. and a few coins went into my piggybank. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. without any explanation. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Everyday. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. “Those aren’t for spending. One day. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. I was proud to be her son. he left. I couldn’t take it anymore. collectables. Mama was beautiful.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. crisp. Dorothy.
One day. Mama sent cookies. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. But something was missing from my letters. Something with angels on it. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. TX 195 .” John Yarbrough Rosharon. All my love turned into shame. My middle-school friends had seen to that. shame for being poor. that’s what it was. I wouldn’t need it. Before she died. Mama asked if I needed anything. Oh sure. Mama wrote every day. I wrote back. not love. After it was over. They let me go home for the funeral. I handed the money back to Dorothy.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. I didn’t go to college after high school. There was just nothing I could respect about her. Mama was gone. a letter came from Dorothy. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. Mama’s friend at the café. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. She’d died of breast cancer. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money... shame for having no Daddy. Respect.
I opened the glove compartment. When I did. When outside. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. but there were no magazines. she answered. no books.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. and devoured them one by one. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. “Mom. “Mom. a man or woman would call out a number. sit back down. and wait to be called into another room. no television. Occasionally. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. I pulled out all the papers. a lady came out and said. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. Finally.S. map. She would fill out some papers. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. “Last case for today. She must have known that I would see it. we got into the boiling car. I looked at the gas gauge and said. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. In the front. but her face wore the same void expression. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. put them in my lap. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. It was obvious that we were waiting for something.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. “An abortion.
Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. or the bills. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. Yvette Louisell. When she turned to look at me. No. lack of food. sat down beside me and said “Hello. It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. I was sitting outside on the front steps. for me. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. but someone else. she yelled. 37 Mitchellville. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. when I was ten. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. It wasn’t the welfare office. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. you’re just like Auntie Doll. everybody in the world.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living.
“You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. Then. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. “Green house. After twenty minutes.100+ girl in the world. “Down the block. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love.” she said. but Ma said she would handle it herself. “No. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. Needless to say. Big John wanted to go down there. I took Ma’s hand. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. what had happened. I got home empty-handed. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. got a damp washcloth. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. She said love makes you do crazy things. both became angry. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. She 198 . That little girl was no fool. Big John. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. Ma smiled and hugged me. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. The next thing I knew.
Meanwhile. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid.T R U E S T O R I ES looked at me through tear-stained eyes and pulled me into her arms and held me for quite a while. screaming. George Hughes. VA 199 . we got a smile. “My God. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. warning him not to touch us again. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. stood by the refrigerator. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. 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.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. but we laughed and laughed like never before. who had been putting away groceries. we got the jewelry back. Then he walked over to the counter. His wife. and left. snatched the bag. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. 66 Burkeville. “You like to beat up on women and kids. “Take it! It’s all there. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. are you all right?” He nodded. Ma ran to him. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store.
” 200 O . All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. but my dad sat her back down. With the fork in one hand. saying. saying. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. look what you did. “Now run on home. “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. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. you little sissy. I hit the ground again.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. I looked over. one of Michael’s many siblings. “Oh it’s all right. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. “Don’t look to your folks for help. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. you made him cry. you scared the poor boy.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. and look. he leaned over me. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. screaming. My mother had gotten to her feet.” the man screamed at me. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. more surprised than hurt. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat.
Peck was yelling at me. “Thinking. She almost whispered. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. 201 . Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke.” I answered.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. Later. Very calmly. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. and a warm.” I’ll ever forget what he said.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. Hours later. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. More mad than sad. “My little wunderkind. my little lipschkin. new shoes every fall. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. I think. I ran to my room. I looked at her then at my father. dry house to live in. Grandma Berg was inside. but sternly. and offered me cookies. trying not to look at me.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. I said. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. I can’t be there to save you. “No more with the neighbors.” she said as she dried my tears. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. at the dinner table. One of these days. 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. just thinking. clothes to wear.
unchanged . He was full of jokes. tomorrow is better day.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. Quiet now. I received a devastating student update. chores to doing. Your father. Dream the dreams boys dream. no more you thinking. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. As I scanned the newspaper. Grandma is old woman. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. CA The Sand Dollar by time. as the elementary students they were. They remain frozen in my subconscious. You must be sleeping now. a name leapt at me. songs. He also loved conflict. In the classroom. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. In casual and cruel black and white print. Thomas Michael Fox. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. but Grandma knows things. He got to me like no other student that year. Too much thinking for one so young. Sun coming soon. and intelligence. 51 Corcoran. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults.
So much wasted. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. 36 Wakefield. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. He would nod. Stacey Curran Conway. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. so much lost. I smashed my heels in the sand. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . He wasn’t my first lost boy. MA If Not Me. He could always make people smile. I was mad. just a headstone. I hadn’t found one for years. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I saw I hadn’t. Now one found me. I knew his story now. cursing him. no one got to me like him. but he was the star. an 11-year-old in leather. and dance away. Reading the article through blurred eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I stormed down the beach. Then the ocean placed a perfect. But even now. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. I always wondered if I got through to him. smile broadly.
I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. of the students who might never make it to college without help. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. and administrators with agendas. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. Surprisingly. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. and kept students in line. I’ve been insulted. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have come to the end of myself. I have stood in line. however. In some pretty tough school districts. I sit 204 . I think. RIF’d. and rehired. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain.” Back then. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. sworn at. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. pooh-poohed.100+ of what my students can become. living wages. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. Finally. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. students with social problems.
what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. MA Unsung Heroes profession. more wary. Spanish was seen as an elective. 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.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. much less trusting. 7th. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . and 8th graders. Unruly students aside. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. Unfortunately. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. for a new vision. 34 Framingham. at the school where I taught. Zora.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. not a real course. I would be mortified.
It takes a special kind of person to teach children. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. Most were sensible enough to sit. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. If I could survive this class. Sitting. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. Julia Perez. I hope that someday. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. silence. His eyes were constantly glazed over. 29 Norwich. Ted continued to wander about. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. Attempting to gain control. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . and schoolwork were not his hobbies. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. the vicious three-headed hellhound. I could survive the duration of this profession. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. remnants of a continuous high. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. At the start of a usual class. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work.100+ those who do. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. This was Hades and he was Cerberus.
I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. “Okay Ted. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. “Take your best shot. I decided on the only rational thing. I had stunned the high right out of him. MO 207 . Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground.” the child said confidently. As the class waited for my reaction.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. but how was his bite? Move he did. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. Enjoy guarding hell. I have to call the principal to come get you. Wait. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. His bark was mighty.
60 Aleman. Stacey. 95 Barchard. Tom “Wolf ”. Sue Ellen. D. Adelle.C. Lance. 155 Corson. 32 Brown. 33. Matthew. 19. Malachi. José.. 121 Boner. 22 Aubrie. 79 Anonymous . 130 .. 102 Elliott. 127 Diaz. 70 Best. 96 Anonymous.. Robert Hal.. 75 Carrillo. Aila.. Fernanda. 166 Ephraim.Author Index AK. 45 Brame. 166 Antzes. 132 Babb. J. 142 Dey. 44 Anonymous. 37. 51. 111 Amberchele. 135 Christie. Aileen.T. 202 Daryl F. 53 Curran Conway. 100 Burns. James. G. Cynthia. Eugene Alexander. 61 Clarette. 145 Donna J. 172 Allen. 47 Balic. Christopher. 122.
. Terri. Will. 131 Foster..Errani Emaldi. 177 Kelley. 151 Higgins. Thomas Michael. 94 . Spoon. Hector. 200 Galilea.. 163 Gutierrez. 164 F. 92 Gallegos. Dennis. Pilar. 128 Jolene. 144.. 162 Jenelleish.. 28. 98. 179 Giosia. 101 Jayne L. Enrique M. 30. 62. 116 Hathorn.. 115 Hayley.. 110 Forrest. 45. H. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 115 Fernandez. 109 Karen. Gene W. 17. 197 Jackson. 192 Kikis_fairytale..B. 181 Harris. Gaby. 147 Kelly. 40 January. 158 Ferrara. William Steed. 80. 157. 77 Gavin S. Elisabetta. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 123 Gavai. 53. 130 Gisela. 124 Hughes. 125 Hayden.A. George. Frank E. 74. Daniel H.G. 59. 36. 155 Fox. Mary. 97 Hermann.
59 Morales. 86 Mare. Julia. Scarlet. Miriam. 73 Lebreton. 206 Louisell. 77 McLean. 136. D. 160 Momo.B. Ricky. Kitty. Norton. 158 Pauli. Michael. 196 Mansour. 141 Redfearne.Krista. 171 Murff. Nidia F.. 91 Rothwell. Brigitte. 20. 205 Pete. 161 Loomer. Yvette.. Mark D. 67 Misty. 88 Norman. Eloise. 25 McKenzie. 87 McKenna.. 71 Richards. 85 Rose. Jan. Charles P. Prashant Devan. 23 . 92 Perez. 143 Priscilla. Zachary. 93. Mike. 188 Paddy J. 183 PC. 99 Quarles. 148 Salinas.. Gary. 21 LeBeau. 148 Lisa. 122. 189 Lonn. Byron. 172 Mayo. 187 Kumar.. 69. 108 Philippa. Santonio. 32. 133. 107.
55 von Fuller. 203 . Bronwyn. 159 Wantz. Melvin William Joseph. 175 Yarbrough. Matt. 190 Suzy. 42 Windoftheclyde. Steven. Alexander J. Agatha. 34 Zora. 191 Sonia. 87 Small. 151 Suzanne. 114 Vogt. 41 Shelly.Samuel. 16 Shurley.E. 15. Kurt. 173 Yeyo. John. Idris. 90 Torres.. J. 95 Yochum.. 193 Ybarra. Adela. 149 Zephyr. Raul. 85 Tedesco. 63 Wirzburger. 39 Yurshta. 50 Theoharides. Dinorah.
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What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. facing myself.100plusts. Upon being published. written as memoirs. These firsthand accounts.com $19. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. These are true stories told by people like you. Now you are invited to do the same.” “. Many people are telling their true stories.” “A week before my 26th birthday.com. and remember. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www.100plusts.. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. or confessions.99 9 781598 351095 .. cry.100plusts. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. illustrate life’s many. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. floating in the air.. who were eager to share their experiences.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www..com.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. anecdotes. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends.. The best stories were selected for this book.. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. reflect.
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