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