This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”
“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”
“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.
“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”
“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”
100 Plus True Stories
Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511
First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
100 Plus True Stories
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org
Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51
There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55
Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63
Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80
Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88
Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102
Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116
The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123
Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136
Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151
Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158
No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166
At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183
The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200
The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206
Paradise Lost & Found
T R U E S T O R I ES
Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX
From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
T R U E S T O R I ES
with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA
A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
images. AZ I 19 . By 18. 2007. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. desires. so I grew up as an Army brat. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. and drug addiction. 51 Rosharon. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. On March 3. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. Due to anger. By the 8th grade. bitterness. can be revealed to the world. living on many different bases. Nevada in 1968. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. Dennis Forrest. my mother passed away from cancer.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas.
their heaviness. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. Yet. Today. such as putting up books in the library. I am aware of the way their covers feel. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. listening. When I do little jobs. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. and acting. to develop boundaries. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. to search spiritually. and I can look at them neutrally. day out. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. freedom to expand my horizons. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. tomorrow. I rejoice in the art I produce. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. 20 N . and their condition. in a week. For quite a while now. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. Listening now requires my full attention. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. I know I am finally awake to life. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking.
I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. be they physical. In closing. Lamas Rinpoche. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. once I am given the chance. find true freedom. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. my learning continues. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. and Thich Nhat Hanh. I know I will. teachers. love. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. Yeshe. But for now. mental. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. or strangers away. I can easily mix with just about anyone. or spiritual. and compassion and when they do. As a matter of fact. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races.
but didn’t join in the conversation. 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. Kuala Lumpur. She had 22 M . She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. 18 Cheras. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. She broke the news to me as best as she could. I thought to myself. 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. As I listened to my mom. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers.” That same day. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Prashant Devan Kumar. I took in what the kids were saying.
That day. TYC. I remember sitting in the car. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. 23 hours a day. only thinking about those fucking stickers. reflect. their world becomes a mental one. Food is brought to me. juvie halls. imagine. Seg. feel. dream. with life to go. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities.). my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. 24 Queens. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. Every time I am taken out of my cell. I grew up in boys’ homes. and wonder. That’s all we do in these cells: think. not caring that there was no Santa. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. You have to have 23 I . ponder. confined to a one-man cell. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad.
It was a robbery gone bad. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I saw his point and I left things as they were. The next day. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. and I got life in prison.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. and no one gets hurt. watching the clerk close up shop. In the end. 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’d done it a dozen times. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. There were three. run. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. But to 24 . the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. I think now how naïve I was. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. staking out the store from across the street. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I was alone. Trust me. and everything went to shit from there. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money.
Watch the crap. in which the author served as part of the U. if you’re lucky. o. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. I’m not moving. I’m looking at this car. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today. I’m thinking. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Watch the crap. I think about that shit. all observant and such. Crap is strewn everywhere. I mean. Look at the car.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. it’s not going anywhere. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. Big holes. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. not benign crap. I’m keeping my pieces. No way. Yeah.S. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Holes everywhere. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. It’s a mess. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. right.
and mines scatter everywhere. I’m holding my privates. right on the crap. 26 . I’m sick of this crap. from messing my mind up further. Whoever’s firing those damn things. well. this “Desert Storm. grenades. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. but I don’t care. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. I’ve been so careful all of these months.I.I. or tunnel vision.P. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I curse myself for being so stupid.—R.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. cars now. I figured I’d hang on to something. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz.A. hold privates. Now. RPG rounds. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. hundreds of them. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. with maybe a little inscription saying. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. with holes in them all. Good night. I didn’t even see this stuff.” or whatever you call it. How many days have I been awake? Damn. I’m angry. Henceforth see potential to be blown up.. K. I’ve been three steps ahead all along.
maybe. I don’t want to look. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. 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. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I know I’m not dead. His ID card falls out. I do. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. Is 27 . again.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. The pictures don’t lie. It was fun for a minute. It’s hard to tell. but like some sick voyeur. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. I don’t want to end up like him. right? The ones I see are fresh. unless they shortened the fuses. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. I don’t like the burned ones. along with the gaping hole through the skull. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. They look like statues. too. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. No stench. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. Damn. The glazed eyes give it away.
handcuffed. we stepped 28 I . He’ll think of his son every day and cry. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Probably not. If that’s heroism. Mark D. from that war. McKenna Columbus. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. and shackled. I want no part of it.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. the Americans. hoping his son will return from down South. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. we will celebrate. his son—maybe even himself. They’ll never know me. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. They’ll never know what happened to him.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. “Yes. pictures don’t lie. No. The hero died with a scream on his lips. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. that damn war. We’ll have that in common. One by one waist-chained.
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. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. The restless. mountains. In retrospect. indeed. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. 29 . apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards.
NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. for most. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. and. It’s a world of its own where. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. but no one dared speak of them. Hector Gallegos Otisville. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. boredom. This is 30 M . sealed off from everything and everyone. the lunacy of a previous occupant. a vacuum of uncertainty.100+ Looking around me. in some cases. 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.
My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex.. but I had no luck. Will Ferrara. And this all happened from one day to the next! The experiences that I have gone through have changed my perception of gender and the fleeting sensation of love. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. She has a son now. 24 Lawrence. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. MA 31 ..
I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I grew up spoiled rotten. stole an airplane. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . I was always sad. but that made me feel worse.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. and began robbing banks. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. 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. flew to Florida. Three years later. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. After 15 years there. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. where I am today. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I always felt lonely. 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. I escaped. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember.
16 Richmond. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. and then my house caught on fire. Now. or mine. It wasn’t her fault. I started therapy. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. I had friends and a boyfriend. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. but there was something missing.T R U E S T O R I ES me. This made me feel good. so I always tried to help them. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. 33 I . and was put on progressively stronger medication. but I was already highly unstable by then. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. It’s going to be hard to get better. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. but only for a little while. Lights come on. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. and I am doing a lot more for myself. When I started middle school. Cars speed by. This year. Momo. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school.
nothing to eat. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes.100+ homeward bound. no one to call. I have met a variety of people in prison. G. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. your feet hurt.T. You think to yourself. You have nowhere to go. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. it’s only a matter of time before a person seeks food or shelter on his own terms… I am serving 39 to life under California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . This is why. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. under the three strikes law. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. It’s cold. God has been looking out for me. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. I have been fortunate.. for one reason or another. you’re hungry.. 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. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. nowhere to sleep. many homeless people end up in jail. I am still alive.
I was the laughingstock of the local police station. My husband. In their eyes. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. I thought it was my husband. We all had a few too many. I immediately told my husband and we left. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. Nonetheless. I must have asked to be raped. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law thought that I must have provoked it somehow—their beloved Joe would never do something like that… I was the slut. my case was thrown out of court. During the car ride home. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I brought it upon myself. his brother. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. My husband and I filed a police report right away. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. They say most 35 . So Joe walks free. Without warning. My husband and Joe came to blows again. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. and the rest of the family awoke. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying.
“At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. and I made it without becoming one of them. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. My first eight years in prison were rocky.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. but I am always in a good mood. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . Zephyr Chicago. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. I just took the money and ran. Men ask me. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. I love to write books and short stories. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. or crooked politician. and for the past 10 years. for all the good it’s doing me. I’ve been a model inmate. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. When I got locked up. trying to survive among savage men. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. We had six kids—with so many kids. drug dealer. I keep getting turned down for parole. you almost have to be a bank robber. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. while the victims get a life sentence.
not die. anger. George Hughes. I turned fourteen. compassion. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. And it all transpired in 37 O . tears. sadness. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. but I put the truth out there for all to read. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. 63 Burkeville. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. That summer. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. they are good people with good hearts. 1982. I love writing. and my innermost thoughts and desires. At fourteen. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. Writing is like having an affair. but all’s well in the end. and us three kids. I share love. laughter. flavors that today I’d die for—well. like taste good food. my parents became legally separated. the car. Mom got a new apartment. When I’m writing. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy.
100+ less than an hour. sister. I went over to the shoe department. I was in State Prison. My friends would have surely made fun of me. at fourteen. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. and me. So I decided to steal. looking down at my new wet shoes. In 1982. Once outside. Then I put on all three new shirts. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. I burst through the front door. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. On the very last day of summer. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. “Mom. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. Like an NFL running back. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. but here it was. and inexplicably. I wasn’t too concerned. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . And by the age of eighteen. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. not enough to panic. By fifteen. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. Once inside. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. I took off like a bat out of hell. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. sprinting as fast as possible. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. picked out a pair. and put them on.
When I was finished with him. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. I asked why I was being arrested. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. they said. OH 39 I . punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. Obviously shocked. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. 18 Mowrystown. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. To my complete surprise. Six days later.
mind. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. My mom’s eyes held a million words. 40 N . It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I was ready to be judged and convicted. and mean words. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. and lack of feelings. hitting and abusing her. The judge gave me life without parole. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. During my trial. It was good to see them together. ignorance. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. From then on. how he cared for her. in the same room. with a common goal. I deserved to do some time and make amends. At nineteen. In the depths of my heart and soul. fights. though he never loved her. I felt that what I did was wrong. the others are there to pick him up. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. and when one falls.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. but the fact is I did. I killed someone. my mom and dad came to visit me. and soul. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. Before. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family.
CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. I came from the desert. Spoon Jackson.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. but my will to survive took over. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. Money never used to be an issue. Besides. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. fleeting hope. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. but they all have lives. I need to budget. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. but I see only the negative things. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. and violent unrest. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I was naïve. but I take no initiative to start the process. 50 Represa. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. I’m getting older. but now everything seems tight. I have no friends in this new city. smiles.
I even see things in a more positive light now. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. In the few months that I’ve been writing. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. Idris Samuel. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. a dead father. the only escape that I found was with a knife.100+ before I go to bed. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. brought up in me. For someone like me. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. inconspicuous notebook. 42 I . My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. Ontario. 27 Toronto. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. I’m not stuck in one place. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. go into a small. my pen is capturing everything. but moving slowly in the right direction. I see that in spite of my depression. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. All of those negative ideas. mixed with big dreams of happiness.
How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. While in prison. But then. it merely put them on hold. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. As I look back on the role that the drug played. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. While incarcerated. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. a need for the chemicals in the formula. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. never directly addressed. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. light-headedness.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. It had become a habit. new problems arose. While on probation in 1995. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me.
J. the present is much. and once it does. I’ve always had low self-esteem. I am a different person. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Never waste life.100+ stable. you will be twice as strong. Now the reality I face is my own life. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. Wantz Salem. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. 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. but my reaction to them is not the same.E. but I never thought it would result in depression. Think about who really loves you. 13 44 I . The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. much clearer. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. Anonymous. And the present is where I have to live. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. Although the future is less than rosy to look at.
writing helped. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. 45 G . 51 Corcoran. I have turned my attention back to God. The son of a research chemist. Now I try. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. Thomas Michael Fox. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. cultural arts centers. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. After getting sober in 2001. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. community centers. I began to start to feel differently about myself. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. 1958 in Elgin. I ended up in prison for life. Illinois. alcohol.
The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance.100+ youth programs.and 12-year-olds. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. vatos locos. at the age of 17. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. 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. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. and indigenous themes. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. When I was in second grade. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. prison scenes. This history. On the day the winner was to be announced. my school sponsored an art contest. The second and third place runners-up were announced. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . migrant workers. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. Then. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. Mexican revolutionaries. my name was called.
Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. And yet. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. Today. watching every move during a strip search. a new tradition: poetical muralism. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. there was no turning back. Siquierod with Cisneros. metaphors. I consider myself first a poet. and crazy juxtapositions. José Boner Boscobel. camouflage the cut marks. manufacturing the rope. cash. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . Securing the tools. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. a freehand artist second. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. Octavio with Orozco. and obtaining the other articles took time.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. I fuse images using words. The guard was two feet in front of me. a hacksaw blade. I had to get in the same cage. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption.
It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I was through and bent back the bars. The cage was shaking and rattling. but the meshing distorted clear vision. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. 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. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. I was balls-to-the-wall. It was going according to plan 48 . I slung the rope over my shoulder.100+ primitive. my arms were screaming. doubt. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. I was going. or nerves. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. and I was sweating a puddle. but they could see every move I made. already packed with the gear. In a few minutes. I could see everything. D-day. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. There was no time for hesitation. every muscle was taut.
There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. I was lying on the rooftop.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. But that feeling of open air on my skin. cages. guards. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. D. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. needed more knots… whatever the problem. I should have made gloves. from doubt. The rope burned through my fingers. It was too thin. I know from consequential. I’d escaped. but couldn’t move. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. free from fear. I attempted to crawl away. it was too late for solutions. CA 49 . from regret and anxiety. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. through what I’ve gained and learned since. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. Babb Corcoran. Yet. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. but now I would to fall to my death. I know I’ve never been freer. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. outside the confines of the jail.
which never came. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. 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. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. he just kept hitting rock bottom. not losing his license. Alcohol would always come first. There was no wake-up call. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him.I.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic.U. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. nothing. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. and by the time I did. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . no matter what. but the key was jammed. He attempted to shut off the ignition. it was too late. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. One time. not getting pancreatitis.s.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. I thought I loved him. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment.
CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. victimless cash. I had lived an interesting life. that was for sure. Crimes were what thieves. not a crime. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. In my 33 years. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Adela Tedesco. I had seen and done a lot. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. and sexual predators committed. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. 23 Hollywood. drugs were simply a hustle. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. thugs. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. Unfortunately. who in the present. simply liked the quick. free dope. To me. a man with a past.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back.
Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. the entire world of academia. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. I’m surely not the devil. I argued it at every level: in the media. I understand the necessity for law and order. things are different. our families. it protects the innocent. at this fateful juncture of my life. not the solution. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. at stake: my entire life. and with whoever. Then there are those of us.” There are the pro-drug war. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. I’m arguing against it one more time. for all practical purposes. While I’m no angel. this time. as an activist.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. Yet. either. I participated in the discourse. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. Now. at the university. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. CA 52 . tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. It helps those unable to defend themselves. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed.
coming up my legs. There are always consequences. 24 Little Compton. So many people believe that they are invincible. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. They destroy lives. my stomach and chest. However. and nothing good ever comes of them. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. Lance Corson. I felt it starting at my feet. that nothing will ever happen to them.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. riding through space in 53 O . but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. One of the guards supplied it. there are new users every day. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. 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. until it took over my whole being.
Then I nodded off. I needed a fix. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. There were monsters with long tails down there. I was terrified! I found myself falling. only inches left to stand on. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. I stood in the corner. I was freezing all over. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. The floor closed up as I hit it. my back to the wall. My body was curled. across my stomach. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. falling. I walked around with my arms in front of me. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. dying for a fix. bad. and I could feel the cramps coming. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. my heart pounded violently. My muscles 54 . The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. My stomach was cramping. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. gritting their teeth. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there.100+ the dead of darkness. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. I began to shake all over. holding on to my elbows. falling.
” Now 55 . “No more. got down on the floor and beat me with it. Mother. jumped out. 2002. Mom grabbed a frying pan. and 10. She opened the back door and said. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. God and I both love you. George Hughes. steal. wetting the bed. not shoveling the sidewalk right. But I wasn’t. and sell anything and everything. not cleaning the dishes right. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies.000 other small. 66 Burkeville. My mother passed away on October 2nd. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. including their own souls. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. lie. There was no fix at hand. 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. “Get out of my house. not scrubbing the floors right. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. playing too loudly. If I were on the street. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. One day. I kicked at her. to get a fix. petty reasons.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. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach.
TX 56 . I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life.100+ I can never say it to her. Melvin William Joseph Vogt. 67 Amarillo. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. I don’t hate my mom. I don’t dislike her.
Sex & Seduction .
45 Montreal. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. and fulfillment after the first time. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. This is what occurs at 18. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. an orgasm. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. But for the young woman. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. it will occur over time. I 59 M . and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. Terri Giosia. Québec.
Momo. Now. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. Do it because you want to. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. we had sex. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. 16 Richmond. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. I always tell my friends. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. At the beginning of high school. it won’t be your last. I did it for me. We decided we were ready. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. If you know your body. not because he wants to. that even though it’s your first time. who are ready to lose their virginity. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. We have known each other since before we can remember. I will spare 60 I . It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. Don’t be scared. I think it has to do with my very giving nature.100+ beg to differ. When we were little. people would assume we were twins.
he wields 61 I . at a “well-supervised” party. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. Later in the evening. I grabbed her. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. interesting story to tell. we said. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. I ran into my best friend. AK. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. and crying ensued. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. and we locked ourselves in. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. Almost at the same time. squealing.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. Obviously laughter. that is not what is important. anyway. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm.
it’s like having a little harem. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . Christie. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. However. changing his urine bag. feeding him like a baby. 54 Sydney. or backstabbing us to our bosses. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. He basks in their attention. if the woman is appealing enough. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. and showering and grooming him. however. NSW. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. tempt. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. being sarcastic. but girly mags are his main source of info. turning him over.100+ considerable power by yelling. rubbing his feet and back. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need.
unless a lot of alcohol is involved. body language. Without confidence. It is stating the obvious. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. smile. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. His hand rested on my forearm. the golden rule for seduction. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. Once that is accomplished. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. this type of seduction is an illusion. a look. one cannot seduce. 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. his complete awareness of 63 I .T R U E S T O R I ES confident. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. beyond a shadow of a doubt. as upon sobering up. It is not real. With a glance. a smile. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. However. That is. Québec. 45 Montreal. it’s possible to seduce anyone.
A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. My ways were haphazard. but my anticipation was no longer tender. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. but my pretensions made no difference to them. Never had a burden been more welcome. for they would make me look like a weakling. Always the seeker. I felt his back tensing against my hands. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. his lips fell on my hips.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. Windoftheclyde. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. 27 Santiago. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. True to their word. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. In a shadowy whisper. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. he breathed my name. On the brink of a thrust. I pleaded with them not to show up.
Small Miracles .
The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. I know that no one can get in without the key. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. As a person. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. and often after a long day. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. I should hate the cell. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell.” Out there. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I do my deepest thinking there. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. I even welcome the closing of the door. amongst the prison population. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. in the darkness. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I know I have to be locked in. but once inside my cell. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I am human. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. With a twist of a key. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. I’m on guard seven days a week. 67 T . rather familiar. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. It becomes routine.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. At times. I’m locked in. Late at night.
my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. while here in prison. The cell is my castle until I reach home. but I’m in good company. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. To be honest. or write a letter to my family or a friend. I don’t hear anyone talking. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. When the cell door shuts. The cell is a hellhole. The cell door is now closed. these sounds are tranquil. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. To the outside observer. yet. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. read a book. I have not experienced silence in years. the cell is a paradox because in reality. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . a melody of pleasant proportions. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. despair. It never is truly quiet here. The walls seem to hum. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. listen to the radio. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. and loneliness. and I write my loved ones there. Ironically. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. I’m alone.100+ I pray in the cell. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket.
I’m human: I feel. think. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. “Let us show you the way. love. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. in it were four angels.m. 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. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. In a small. though their faces were human-looking. we have been there before. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. 69 I . and I was filled with awe. They looked invincible. Michael McLean Beacon. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. bleed. I also laugh. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. and have the power to choose.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I was lying in the dark. showing another dimension.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. cry.
there really wasn’t any time to react. At that instant. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. circular spaceship. 70 I . knowing order reigned in the next world. Auckland. waiting to make a left turn. guarded from dark forces. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. 54 North Shore City. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. I saw a van coming straight towards me. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. I lived in a house for what seemed like years.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I thought to myself. “Oh no.100+ white. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. Misty. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. but time operates differently there.
I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. including me. In the breast pocket of my jacket. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. and in the hand-warmer pocket. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. Where we die should be no less important. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. Ever since that day. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. It is important to find the right place for an ending. 38 Methuen. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . I chose Mount Sanitos. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. I considered the importance of what I was doing. Hey. “Wow. a brand new box of pills. I sat there thinking to myself. “Sorry about that. It was a very surreal experience. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives.
Blood was caked on my forehead. I cowered. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. then a shift. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. I must have blacked out.100+ someone else got hurt. On the far side of my fall. “He’s here. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. When the east finally began to warm. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. Necessary and common. like someone hit the reset on my brain. things were… strange. The guardians were gone. but they sensed me there. I panicked. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. dropping off my recycling. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . my hand slipped and I fell. There was a flash of light. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. no one was looking for me. Four pills left. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. For a moment.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. It was still night. closing my bank accounts. There were shapes of people around. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. I finally reached the top. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. thinking it could be the police. and rescuers would be a lot more excited.
so I continued making the sandwiches. and then dragged myself towards it. Then a second piece of bread fell. I was making sandwiches. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. but I had never been depressed before either. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. I had never done that before. I was living alone. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. and it’s doable. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I’ve been to zero. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. When I got up in front of the cabin. At one point. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. as I did. That was my break-even point. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D .T R U E S T O R I ES was. hitting me on the left ankle. Everything after that has been pure profit. Three days later. I think of myself as having happily died that night. it got so bad that I became depressed. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. I also know that I’m never alone. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. I realized it was just a stone.
Needless to say. we got pregnant again. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. When I returned to the kitchen. so we should not be depressed. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage.” He had come to me just as I had asked Him to three days before! I interpreted this phenomenon as follows: when the bread cannot be seen. the day before Valentine’s Day. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. He is still there. I was very puzzled. but there was only one piece on the floor. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. Our little (well 74 I .100+ of bread. Jesus is always with us. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. Three months later. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Two years ago. whether we see Him or not. “I am the bread of life.
It was a good partnership. 30 Martinsburg. And he is our own personal little miracle. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. we will always think about the baby that we lost. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. I did not waste it on the bland mush. WV A Taste of Honey honey. But this event puts it into a whole different light. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. Kelly. but left the bees plenty for the winter.
I had smelled the spruce. I thanked God for a taste of honey. the mountain laurel. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. The other half I saved for later. But man cannot live on honey alone. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. and also. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. UT 76 . I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I had been free. but it seemed to last an eternity. For a moment there. James Burns Gunnison. and the wildflowers. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. I thought. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday.
Gavai Kona. Despite this miracle. There was a spark in her eyes. After years of alcohol abuse. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. but it ultimately killed him. her actions were terrible and painful.S. I 77 I . These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. he got shot in the left side of his chest. His doctors surmised that he became infected with hepatitis via a blood transfusion he received in Vietnam when he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. Army during the Vietnam War. Ironically.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. a pack of cigarettes.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. He had a lighter. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. During a skirmish. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. smoking saved his life. He may have survived the Vietnam War. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended.
That is when I saw the stain. Miriam.” He also told me that when I finished eating. Miriam McKenzie. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. when my brother Bardo and I got home. One day. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. I turned to go to my room. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. the dress ended up on my face. but she ignored me. Bardo. I walked to my closet. With tears in my eyes. 41 Bedford Hills. The next thing I knew. as I put the dress on the hanger. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. I tightly hugged him back. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. “Good night. NY 78 . “Good night.” he said. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. and hung up my dress. my mother called me. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. and I did. Bardo came out. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. and said. reached for an empty hanger. With powdered soap and water. While he was hugging me. I heard him whisper.” I said through my tears. he looked at me. “You’re not the only one.
so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. An aisle ran the length of each building. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. incoming calls only. no track or ball field. built wooden bunks. Everything from 79 M . Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. There was no yard to speak of. cook what I wanted. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. bought a TV. a stereo. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. We installed a swamp cooler. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. no weight pile.T R U E S T O R I ES A Change In Outlook y stretch in a Mexican jail was just like the film Midnight Express. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. the “buffaloes” roamed. No gym. a pipe with running water for a shower. I had conjugal visits. But in Mexico. When money arrived. I could wear my own clothes. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. Each building contained its own separate shantytown.
filthy. drugs. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. and even prostitutes. clothing. and it has. appliances. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. I reasoned that. and dangerous. if I changed. in my head. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . I was allowed to keep my identity. but it was an identity that was poisonous. the ontological slap in the face. the world would reflect that change. for the right price.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. lumber. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. art supplies. A man could buy food. I arrived at the school cafeteria. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded.S. Amberchele Canon City. J. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. for anything else. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. much like my thinking. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. True. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens.C. I wanted out. booze.
a free-for-all ensued. my membership in the gang became obsolete. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. When I saw my assailant in court. Fernandez Miami. After the trial. however. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. With time. Enrique M. When I did not press charges. It had been an ironic twist of fate. my assailant approached me and apologized. As we spoke. I stood by my friend. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. After that incident. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. the atmosphere was tense. His father attended the hearing. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. But when others got involved. I yelled for help. FL 81 . his father embraced me in the hallway. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. it stopped bothering me. As I turned to look. That made all the difference in the world. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. the judge dismissed the case. I flirted with the idea of getting even. In my mind. I had been stabbed. encouraging him during the fight. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member.
Matters of the Heart .
He is honest. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. I never get tired of listening to him. I will accept all of him. no matter what answers you receive. He is strong. 41 Dallas. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I have known my first love for more than a year. I would have been in love before. and I am in love. I want to know everything he knows. my first true love. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. He’s my first Jan Richards. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I am 41 years old. the good and bad. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. This is it! This is my first true love. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. I could not 85 T . He is smart. One would think that because I have experienced life. Boy.
IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. Without her. 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. The morning after I arrived. too. Mansour. and the connection that we share.100+ eat. he came back to me. I hope we will get married one day. I was browsing . We both respect and value each other very much. I will never forget her. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Although we are divorced. it’s been like heaven. I decided to visit her. 59 Dayton. she kissed me for the first time. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. my first love. Suzy. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). 27 Tehran. but now I want to leave him. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. I feel so alone. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. and that the connection will endure.
I worry all the time. Shurley. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He stripped down my confidence. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. His name was Travis. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. I would never have gone out with him. If it were up to me. and I am so jealous. slender. At first. He played with my head. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. There was something fascinating about this “older man. everything was great. He was a tall. brown-haired young man. and he was in fifth grade. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. Then within six months. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . and now all I have are insecurities.
low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. Often. threesomes. wanting him to protect me. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. 29 Hilo. She has little education.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. all in retrospect. My reflections of Travis developed years later. or inn in the continental United States. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. I just remember wanting to be near him. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. Kitty Mayo. hotel. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . and gangbangs—it all occurs. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. anal sex.
I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. 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. finances. or risks.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. take care of her kids. send her shopping. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. It comes like a thief in the night. The attraction is mutual. Sometimes personalities just click. The conversations flow smoothly. The female is as rebellious as the offender. Hours seem like minutes. rules. 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. Love. It’s an amazing thing. religion. 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. TX 89 . pay her rent.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. who want to keep her hair and nails done. The laughs come fast and free. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. regulations. housing. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her.
Massachusetts. She’s packing her last suitcase. Outside her window. my tears will come. One month later. and I told her she was strange. We are in her attic bedroom. we went out for coffee. suitcase is a difficult feat. I told her I loved her.M. she told me the same thing. She told me the upright bass was sexy. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. three floors down. Three months later. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. but I know I don’t want her to leave. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back.. on a tour of Oxford. I’m not sure she’s my other half. Two months later. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. I wonder when.100+ Four A. the distance between her school. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field.” I have no idea what he means. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. and mine. and yes. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. destined for Minneapolis. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . and if. the tears pouring down her cheeks. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. And three months and two weeks later.. Skidmore College. Boston College. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way.
and I had a crush on . Theoharides. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. I had written the poem already. comes. and I have to walk her to a bus station. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. so I decided to go the subversive route. after another bottle of wine. At four a. 22 Amherst. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. Alexander J. after a bottle of wine.m. and place it on the hood of his car. until four a. “I’ll miss you. At three a.. write a love poem. 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. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him.m. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. At two a.m. And tears stream down my face. still two bottles of wine later. I walk her to the bus station.” she says.m. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car.. 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 falls asleep. needless to say..
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. but because of them. I was 21 years old. NH Love Is for yourself. Galilea. desires. Scarlet Rose. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . needs. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. 28 Albuquerque. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. not despite of their shortcomings.100+ I sped away. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. Unfortunately. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. and well-being. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. 24 Lincoln.
It can be between two men and between two women. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. 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. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. As you can imagine. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . making our relationship grow stronger. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. 30 Arecibo. But a girl can dream. PC. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. I imagined something romantic.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. no? Saturday came. We are the yin and yang for each other.
MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. and my life. I chose my hell. Mare. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. Life is not supposed to be this way. but he wasn’t in love with me. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. my family. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . and so many tears. and we are raising a daughter as well. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. and I thought I was immortal. and I tried to fight for my dreams. and you have always been the one. Maybe he was too old for me. “I did it for love. 36 Lennon.100+ lifetime. so I left everything behind: my career. I love you. Michelle.” I told myself. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and I live there now. I regret so many things. I regret it. A baby was on the way. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. so many mistakes. but he was mine. I tried to be perfect. maybe he was strange. Our relationship is 15 years strong. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives.
My ex and I are currently in high school.T R U E S T O R I ES life. 27 Athens. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. but we’re not together anymore. Lately. Kikis_fairytale. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but as for love. We are going to graduate soon. we fell in love. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. but I can’t control it. If I were to start my life all over again. and it lasted about a year and a half. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. but we’ll be living separate lives. 18 Olmito. We now have a beautiful baby girl. I don’t know. 95 I . I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. Yeyo. It’s a bad habit. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. though.
but things had been slowly going downhill. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. but as much as I try to stop. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. I gasp for air. and I have no control over my actions. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. He was a southern gentleman with manners. I shake. Aila Balic. I thought to myself. I don’t want to. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. We spent my final day together. I imagine the two of us together all the time. It is a scary feeling. but it just happens. yet doesn’t make me want to die. “I may have a guy at home. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. 96 M . Every time I see him. Although I didn’t know it at the time. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. In the summer of 2009. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. talent. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. and a smile that could melt a heart. We started talking and before long we just clicked. 18 Brooklyn. looks. it keeps growing.
but now it was time to make a big decision. family and friends can witness our marital union. for showing me the truth about love.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. Thanks. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. We wanted . I went to say my goodbyes. no guests. and no hassle: just us. and it took all I had not to cry. 26 Acapulco. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. In life. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. I couldn’t believe it was over. Why not have our cake and eat it. Guerrero. too? Hayley. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Ethan. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. I explored my options on the ride home. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. There weren’t any wedding planners.
I had not felt that way in years. On March 27th. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. I will go home one day. and made me happy in so many ways. as well as me. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. at age fifty-two. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. For Louise. but life is not fair. 1997. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. Some letters were erotic. was a devoted wife. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. Clearly magic was happening between us. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. This story has the makings for a great ending. She was . 2006. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. I guess. On May 15.
We had a nice ceremony. Farewell. beautiful flower arrangements. 63 Burkeville. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. Please save 99 M .000 on our wedding. If we had to do it again. And in the end. DON’T. in August. Louise. but for our family members.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. However. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. I will miss you. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. George Hughes. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. VA A Joining of Two. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. but we had our wedding 7 months later. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world.
too?” he asked. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. 100 A .100+ your money because in the end. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. On the day of the wedding. the rings were handed over. Priscilla. my voice echoing through the church. When the time came to walk down the aisle. When we finally reached the priest. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. forest green dress. clad in a miniature tuxedo. Even at 3. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. “NO!” I yelled at him. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. the wedding doesn’t matter. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. 29 Lowell. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. “Are you two getting married. In the fall of 1987.
23 Somerville. slowly and gradually. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. three of them will always be: priests. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned.” When the doors opened. all I remember being told was. On the long list of things I hate. Adelle Brown. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. Finally. The emails became short and purposeful. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. and forest green. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. not right away. I had gotten used to him and he to me. at some point. and I had no idea where to go. not right before my eyes. camera flashes. and I started to ignore 101 I . Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. I was blinded by lights. my cousin. but before I knew it. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. until amorous love became filial affection.
I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. January Paris. or lack thereof. for him. I am not that unhappy. For now. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. I am content to just exist. This mundane. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. and started avoiding him. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. and let him do the same. 102 I . torturous waste of time. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. but that memory is now alien to me. nor is he. I am not that person anymore. I keep trying to push him away.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. He was no longer my top priority. I remember why I fell in love with him. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I stopped caring about spending time together. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less.
VT 103 . and I’m glad they are. it would have been more difficult. I would have done so. which never came.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. They are still together. Alas. Donna J. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. St. and if I were allowed to live with my father. Johnsbury. my parents did not divorce. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. I thought that if they divorced.
Despite Diagnosis .
go in with your homeboys. and sometimes it’s over your head. cartwheeling. and filth swimming and floating along with you. Take showers in shifts. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. You are immersed in it. Wait till the “others” get out. clean. Sometimes it’s waistdeep.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. you must wade carefully through the sewage. and dry yourself.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. vermin. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. bide your time. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. skidding. leaving you there to bleed out. not because of knives but for their germs. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. wash. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. In prison. not let it get inside you. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. alone. you can cast off your filthy clothes. then slips away unseen. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. sometimes it’s neck-deep. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Some don’t. to survive it. Prison is a sewer. and when you get to the other side.
meningitis.100+ of the prison sewer. they inhale deeply. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. take it all in. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. a cracked skull. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. And they die. I regained some of my physical strength. so I went to an optometrist. 59 Daytona Beach. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. As the years passed. Norman. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. The problem was not eradicated. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. Charles P. Months later. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. When I awoke. I was told I had a brain tumor. I started having eye trouble. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. As for me. wondering if I will ever go home. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. become a part of it.
and all came out negative. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. Tasmania. My cerebral fluid was not draining. so in spite of having protected sex. 21 Devonport. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. Fueled by the media. traveling all the way down to my elbows. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. Pete. just to be sure. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. After 4 or so weeks. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. I had to endure antibiotics being pumped into me for a number of weeks through a PICC line in my arm and I was on these for many days once I returned home. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread.
100+ as well. We all had sad faces. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. For instance. 28 Portland. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . Jolene. Throughout my childhood. so my body was dying. One time. but even that wasn’t enough. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. so she took me to the doctor. My father was the only one with the same blood type. Every time a nurse would come in the room. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. I was constantly in the hospital. 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. The day I turned five. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. so he donated his blood. my mom noticed my skin was yellow.
Three months later. I am back at Estrella Jail. There is no kindness. 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.” When my chemo starts. Five days later. Maybe it’s a nightmare. Today I am 19. hoping to get rid of me to save money. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. nearly bald. and 100% cured. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. Maybe it’s not really me. the check-in nurse says. my oncologist was determined 111 I . I’m 15 pounds thinner. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. in college. 19 Pembroke Pines. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. “Well. and very pale. At Perryville. the judge can expedite all he wants. I vomit constantly. fightingsurvivor19. This never happened outside. the jail has delayed it.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery.
He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. there is complete indifference.100+ that my nausea be minimal. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. 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. Despite the rigid schedule. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. I am sent back to my room alone. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. He recommends a tumor 112 . In here. when I’m supposed to be healing. and nine months later. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. then every six months for two years. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. I have three more chemo sessions. burning instead. I vomit until there is nothing left. and then annually. My life is literally in their hands. the doctor comes in. begging for what I’m missing. An hour later. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. Eventually. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. No more nausea. But this protocol is not followed. He answers my questions. I start the laborious grievance process. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. I know I’m an inmate. When my treatment is over. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file.
it still hasn’t happened. That is why I am afraid. 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. and I am helpless against its inadequate. no positive imagery can change my situation. my life is in the hands of the State. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. Their stories touch me on so many levels. uncaring power. always look for a reason to be glad. That’s really hard in here. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. mismanaged. This is about the State. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. AZ 113 . many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. As a result. incompetent. 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. Six months later. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. I can deal with that.
but when he found out that treatment could last years. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. she was looking ahead. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. A year into my treatment. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. Dinorah Torres. without even knowing it. CA A 114 . I hated to look at myself in the mirror. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. 33 Santa Barbara. and I felt helpless all the time. he began to distance himself. Later. Despite all this. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. making plans for the future. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer.
my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. for a smoker’s lungs. How sad. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. shape. One year she was cancer-free. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. She was longdivorced. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. It just 115 I . 18 Tacoma. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. and had lived alone for decades.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.” 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. never had any kids. Hayden. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. for an addict’s. The following year.
not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison.G. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. not even decades after giving up smoking. on the part of Texas officials. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Whatever the percentage. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. F.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about.A. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. Cornwall. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. Penzance. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. and now he could lose his own life because of them.
4. 2. and typecrime. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. whether here or abroad. 9.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. 6. 7. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. Classify prisoners by age. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. 5. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. and house them accordingly. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 8. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. You can see how dangerous it is. 3. sentence length. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . be as humane as possible. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. A few suggestions: 1. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Separate gang members from non-gang members.
48 Huntsville. Daniel H. TX 118 .100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. This could be a start. Harris.
The Transience of Permanence .
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. a last will and testament. If I give him that. then the whole world has done the same. I feel the dread on my flesh. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. which has its effects on me as well as on him. I swear. From what I’ve seen in here. In plain talk. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. or SSI. In the penitentiary. All is forgiven.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. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. plans. Christopher Best Livingston. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. TX I 121 . he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. even inside me. For “free-world” folks. Each morning when I arrive at work. some acceptance. He desperately seeks some understanding. He understands that my time with him is short. especially on death row. death out there now looks relatively easy. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. Some days. maybe an estate. I’m a state-approved janitor. death is merely a passage or rite. discussions.
Fuck God. Light-headed. and it can be done right now. It’s called “checking out. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. today.” And I’m not talking about parole. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life.T. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. G. Very suspicious. Suspicious. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. Shit. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. I am feeling very ugly inside. Fuck them. yet relieved that I took action.” or “moving on to the next phase. I’ll try again later. It isn’t working.” “taking it to the vent. People in the day room are getting suspicious.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. Shit. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. 122 T . I choose not to spend another day in this place. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain.
The vast majority were done in by their own hand. After that. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. Mike Rothwell Ione. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. 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. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. but a symbolic one. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked. not in the clinical sense. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers.
took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. and the person he never grew to become. matriarch of the family. In the world beyond prison walls. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. in essence. the father he cannot be. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. the son he failed to be. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes.With his incarceration. but life—even at 103—seems too short. the lover he wishes to be. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. diamonds. He has. gold. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. In this sense. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. pearls. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. Hector Gallegos Otisville. 124 N . the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. killed that greater part of himself. my big fat Italian grandmomma. he may as well be dead.100+ love of his family. year after year. sterling silver.
It brings fresh tears to my eyes. except for a fundamental difference. 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. The first thing one notices is the quiet. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. pre-WWII. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. 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. necklaces. The following day.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. and handcrafted dolls. dating from the roaring twenties. albums. as if no one else is 125 D . she never wore it. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. Mary Higgins Reading. key chains. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. Who would believe that a swastika. blankets. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now.
Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. It is like God’s “time-out” room.100+ there. 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. he realizes that all hope is gone. such as his first pet. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. TX 126 . but the mind rebels. Gene W. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. 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. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. survivors of the victim’s family. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. the fights he had in grade school. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. An ache settles in his belly. the officials are stoic and judgmental. Hathorn Livingston. making it ominously quieter. there are only four or five people. At other times. media representatives.
T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. and his memory showed signs of failure. a combination drug therapy. Over a period of a year.” and “lost” test results. I saw no real reason for worry. and they all tell you something different. “Every doctor has a different opinion. trying to get someone to do something. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. 127 E .” Freddy complained to me one day. He was a genuine character. his body was covered in tattoos. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Since he always complained. including Freddy. and his head was shaved clean. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal.” I forget why. after a slew of “unreadable. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. really took it seriously. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. In October 2004. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. he had become thin as a rail. if at all. he was barely over five feet tall.” “partial. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Once muscular. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. Time was of the essence. Sleep came with great difficulty. no one. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors.
Our son was diagnosed with malrotation.” he told me. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. and he was afraid. Freddy was my friend.100+ Months passed. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. they probably could have saved me. By October. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. but no treatment was administered. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. it was too late. They killed me. We named him William Kenrick. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. “If they got at me 18 months ago. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. but he threw it up. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. and now he’s dead. looking through the glass at our little one. They tried giving him formula. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. He vomited blood one morning. only resignation. “By the time they did something. 2005. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant.” There was no anger in his voice.
if you can still make it. But I swear. as soon as I held him. He will always be my first baby. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. just let go. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. At 1:30 a. But if not. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. only he was already lifeless. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. I turn numb.. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. Jenelleish. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. he had to undergo an operation. I still think of him. my first child. milky scent is still there. Despite the pain.m. At 3 days old. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. Then I start crying again and eventually. only to realize that he’ll never come back. But I knew something wasn’t right. and whispered. my first son. Someday. a smile formed on his lips. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. NCR. PHILIPPINES 129 . 32 Las Piñas City.” And as soon as everybody was there. “Baby. And I knew though he was gone. And oh. which was declared a success. And for that. the smell… His sweet. when I visited him. The next day. his heart rate slowed. he went. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. I love him more and more each day.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. fight for it.
Malachi Ephraim Florence. from denial to 130 I . Facing the cell door. I dreamed about him every single night. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. I went through many phases. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. I was close to my father. I miss him deeply. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. My dad liked to sing and dance. After my dad’s death. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. Dad une 15. But after 5 years of marriage. fishing. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. he died suddenly and tragically. I didn’t shed one tear. roller-skating. But I didn’t cry. he was really fantastic.m. in a better mood than usual.100+ I Miss You. enjoying the early morning light. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. and listening to music.. But as a father. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. yet his passing was significant to me.
However. had no meaning. Terri Giosia.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. her youngest 131 I . the final and hardest phase arrived. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. Québec. happily single. 45 Montreal. with great parents and friends. After a long period of time. I sent my aunt. I realized that what happened was out of my control. As a last minute thought. I drank to escape and forget. How sad that now sounds. hate to indifference. a Christmas card. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. 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. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. Life lost its luster. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. I am now 45.
The doctor gave her three months to live. But after all the miserable hospital visits. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. she called every person she knew and read that poem. Soon after. For two years. Not only did she call him. The night before. my mom had been taken to the hospital. especially when you are only seven years old. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my poem may mean nothing. he said. Dennis Forrest. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. To the academic world. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. 51 Rosharon.
and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. and us. 16 Rexburg. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. “Daddy. 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. Aubrie. and even worked from home so he could be there. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. My dad softly called me over. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. My life was changed forever. where it was warm. My father continued hacking. too weak to walk to her bedroom.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. This experience has made me stronger. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. He took care of my mom. but to help them through things the best you can. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. the house. It went on and on. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I .
He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. I said things I’ve always regretted.100+ asked. Even when he was here last time. when I first met your family several years ago. I had unfinished business with my father. and he loved you. but emphysema got him first. so I stood there. I admire what you did. and he was gone.” He was just twenty-four at the time. He said things. healing wounds. from a prison payphone in the dark. You see. exhaled. like you did. Don’t ever smoke them. real sick. with complications from lupus. son. I knew he wanted to say something. I begged him to quit for years. too. collect. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. He looked at my brothers. so I recognized it in both of you. but the last time inexorably approached. and that was a good thing. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. but he died before I got the chance. as did my mother. offered me his condolences the best he knew how.” 134 . He had held out for longer than anyone expected. not speaking. We feared lung cancer. the reason I’m saying this. You settled your differences. I could see that you loved your father. waiting him out: “Charlie. I could tell. who knew my family well. A prisoner friend. I wanted to make it up to him. Over the past few years. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. There were hard feelings between us. closed his eyes.
“Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. My cellie threw up. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. 59 Daytona Beach. 135 I . and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. I decided to slash my wrist. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. It was the least I could do. leaned his head on my shoulder. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. While there. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. Norman. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. Charles P. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. FL Slash nstead of going to court. His tears soaked into my suit coat.
” “What are you facing?” I asked him. Evidently. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.100+ “Well. His eyes were half open. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. “Six months.T. I don’t anymore. 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. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. 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. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders.” G.
loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. With a bit of a dramatic flair. Even the crazy guys had shut up. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. It was so still. But not at this moment. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. 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. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. there was only solemn silence. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. hung it back up on the wall. stood there for several seconds. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. He had everyone’s complete attention. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. perhaps. CA 137 . For the first time since I was there. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione.T R U E S T O R I ES was. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. Then. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater.
Hidden & Forbidden .
“You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. I’m thinking. I was convicted. Because she was white. 1982. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. it’s her roommate. “I came to see my girl. I knock on the door. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. but it’s not my girlfriend. I say. It opens.” I say. For twenty years. I’m telling myself that she wants me. “Your girl is not here. popular on campus. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. she’s home alone. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. sentenced to six years in prison. my fraternity brothers. I only saw what I wanted to see. I was black. and I’m in college. we can have sex. the white system. I want some sex. it’s a habit of ours.” As I say this. barging into her apartment. but also to pick up girls.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. and it was my word against hers. I want to be with a girl. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride.” I step towards her. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. but I haven’t picked up a girl. When it’s time to leave the club. forcing myself in. a member of a fraternity. she was white. 141 I . I’ve had fun. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. if no one else is here. a football player. in front of a white jury. and a ladies’ man. not only to have fun. that it was a setup. racism at its best. angrily.
We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. So I tried. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. faithfully. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. forced attractions to women. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. especially with men. The fantasy of grandchildren. for them. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. if I were to have a place in this world. a wife. For sixteen years.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . I had known that I was a disappointment. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen.100+ Today. pure houseboat. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years.
I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . One day. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. all too well in fact. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. boring corduroy-wearers. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. my sadness never faltered. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I am finally happy.. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. And I knew. 19 Hooksett.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. I wrote a script. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. with whom I constantly fought and argued. At seventeen. that my parents felt the same. only for who I pretended to be. When I arrived. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. So I confessed my truths. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. Daryl F.
We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. His self-confidence saved the day. This brought about a case of stage fright. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. but I always suspected that he was gay. one male and one female. Kent. being a noble and resourceful man. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. 30 Maidstone. Knowing very little about astrology. We didn’t date. 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. Philippa. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. carried on like a trooper.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. it was swallowed hook. He dated one girl 144 I . and sinker. Nicholas. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. I was literally paralyzed. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. line. especially for clothes.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy.
When he told me he was gay. she was always a tomboy. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. As for my female friend. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. Waterville. but I never really suspected she was gay. My friends just did . Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. especially since I had always suspected it. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. However. Jayne L. I didn’t really think anything of it. My parents said I was not gay and that they were going to send me to an island where nuns and priests would “fix” me. 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.
100+ me. who is from Peru. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. We feel the judge was very homophobic. If I were a man. but I am a woman and therefore.” so we had to go back to court. I fear losing my partner. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. We are not giving it to her.” I did. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. gays and lesbians are persecuted. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. They even sent me to a shrink. Right now. After three years worth of evidence gathering. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. 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. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation.” Within 10 days. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. too. not me. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. knowing that if she 146 . the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. As if things couldn’t get any worse. “Never mind.
the most effective teacher. the Ultimate Truth. These days. 35 Tampa. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. We lost everything. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. no different than any other heterosexual couple. TX 147 I . 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. Aileen Diaz. If anything. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. William Steed Kelley Huntsville.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. has taught me compassion. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain.
I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. 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. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. I probably would have been better off not knowing. I still love and respect him. Eloise Lebreton. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. and I would never throw it in his face. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. I feel like an idiot. 30 Detroit. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. better not to tempt fate. You have to always be 148 C . my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. Now. But on the other hand. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. On the one hand.
I was allowed to play with a friend. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. Louisiana. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. I lived in Shreveport. After church. But if someone’s determined to “check out. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. They help.” then there’s not much they can do about it. One way is to keep doing those pushups. Mike Rothwell Ione. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5.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. No matter how upbeat you may feel. so you better learn to keep it at bay. It’s always going to be there. 149 A . I have told few people of an incident that has caused me to despise myself for being a coward as well as Christianity and all its hypocrisy.
was too much to handle. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. My friend’s mother yelled. and abuse. Yurshta. He screamed in agony. She barged into the room screaming. at my tender age. NC 150 . molestation. Christian Missionary Alliance. another ultrafundamentalist sect. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. lit the gas stove. 47 Old Fort. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. “You think this hurts motherf’er. I have been an atheist ever since. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. especially my mother. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. her face contorted in rage.
Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. demeaning. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. Gaby Hermann. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. I had nine miscarriages. Any kind of abuse. should not be tolerated. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. whether physical or emotional. I swear. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. NETHERLANDS Harsh. I did not get angry with him.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. 26 Essen. I have never been physically beaten. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged.
100+ with me. Sonia. 36 New Delhi. I was forced to call the cops. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. Then one day. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. INDIA 152 . 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.
Eerie Encounters .
although I’ve never seen one. I can see the people. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. I listen for a moment to a strange.m. I don’t need to see to believe.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. In my nightmare. 28 Salem. but I’m getting tired. just a quarter of a mile farther. swishing sound. slight. We cannot be alone. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. Aquatic Park. They are looking beyond me. I keep swimming. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. my 155 I . even Ghirardelli’s. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head.
The waves crash. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health.100+ arms are getting heavy. And then. 45 Delano. The walls murmur. I hear something in the distance calling me. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. MA 156 T . out beyond the breakers. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. I’m only treading water. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. beginning to feel numb. Foster. And about a week after that. I awake. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. When I was 18. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. I am silently alone. About 5 years later. summoning me. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. Am I going crazy? Frank E. 24 Lawrence. to the deep water. Will Ferrara.
On our way to the hospital. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. too. 56 Alfonsine. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. Almost twenty days later. my mouth stopped bleeding. I dreamt that I was in Italy. In the following days. ITALY 157 I . my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. while still aboard. Ravenna.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. at my uncle’s funeral. In October. Not long after. From that moment on. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. I felt sick and went to sleep. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. Shocked. showing us that we were right. One night. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. I immediately called home. While alive. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. In the dreams. a strange heat enveloped my body. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. and we had no choice but to drink it.
It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. its feet dragging along the ground. but late for work! Paddy J. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. I stood up and looked at its face. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground.. I remember shaking like a leaf. as whatever I was looking at was far away. but they continued moving and stretched me out. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. 19 Monaghan. I landed at the feet of the creature. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. staring straight ahead. It was pitch black. I was squinting.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. It was then that I woke up. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. It was my dad! At that moment.
I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. Hiking along the trail. I was in the bathroom. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. As I placed my canteen in the water.” I thought. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. When I returned home. One evening. Fernandez Miami. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. echoes from long ago. thinking about nothing. 159 W .T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. It was at this moment that I saw. As nighttime fell. my mind completely blank. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. the vision of a tall. When I turned to look. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface.” someone who knew the area told me. it had disappeared. thin man. That left me speechless. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. Enrique M. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. “I’ve been here before. “That place is haunted.
He walked towards me. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. However.100+ He was wearing a long. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. I have not had any such vision since. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. standing in that same spot. His face was shrouded in darkness. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. Then. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . Devon. and the vision was gone. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. hooded. still completely covered by the hood. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. when I entered the King’s Chamber. grey cloak that covered his entire body. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. I remembered being there before. I have no idea what the vision meant.
I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. and activated it.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. and don’t believe time is always linear. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. Misty. I came back to my present “reality. 54 Auckland.” Now. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. transferred his intelligence into my brain. AK. During this moment of déjà vu. Then my former self stood in my body. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. the kind of dream that even in 161 W .” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose.
a little more settled. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. In my dream. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. a little more aware. D. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. and a little less afraid. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. 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. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I’m 59 now. drifting like seaweed. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I woke up taking short gulps of air. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. 162 I .100+ broad daylight seemed real. They knew what was about to happen. I’m willing to see where it takes me.B. facing myself. but I didn’t. Lonn. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. 59 West Roxbury.
I had no fear at all that I was going to die.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. and quickly drifting away. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. when I moved 163 G . Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I started to read a lot of books. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. I learned the term years later. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. Jayne L. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. After that. as I had in Spain. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. which struck a barrier. I watched shows on television. and we started to spin really quickly. and then was finally able to label my experience. I survived the accident with no major injuries. “I need to get back. Later. completely powerless to stop it. but with a different outlook on life–and death. Since I was only 4 years old. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. Waterville. The driver lost control of the vehicle.
he said. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. but with no success. a few steps from the altar. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. just one year before meeting Gabriele.100+ to Massachusetts. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I got slowly closer. One night. 37 Madrid. But for me. I knelt down on a pew. facing him. it’s one of my many pastimes. A year later. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. Smiling kindly. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is only going to a different level. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro.
To be sure. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. so I left. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. in January 1991. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. While I stared at him. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. Through telepathy. I felt all his fear and pain. but he had terrible secrets. and I tried to help him. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. we became involved. ITALY 165 . striking me like a storm. 56 Alfonsine. Ravenna. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. Then one night. struck by his suffering. He vowed to marry me. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. I told him not to joke.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. Through telepathy.
I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. He tipped his hat and smiled. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. Soon after. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. On some nights. NH. Then all of a sudden. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps.100+ I See Spirits spirit. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. During the five trips I made out there. I developed . I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.
Tom “Wolf” Elliott. then they turned off. and into the sky. and then disappear. who was also an amateur photographer. strobe for 30 seconds. she suddenly pointed and yelled. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. On one of my last visits. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. up a tree. and meet. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. accompanied me. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. 70 Waltham. Other times. MA 167 . about 50 yards down the tracks. First. Later. On one occasion.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. but then. We saw the usual lights in the sky. a state psychologist friend of mine. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. fly to some central point. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. As I returned to where Betty was parked.
At Home & Abroad .
I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. as proof of dignity. had to show the INS hard-working hands. with a 3-year-old son. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. but eventually we divorced. and great America. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. Russian caviar. where all were welcome and. but life had a different destination in mind for me. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I once had plans to live in London. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . German perfume.” My father used to talk of Hungary. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. We married and had a daughter. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. not financial statements. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. Lately. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. Colombian. and completely broken by life. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. or Puerto Rican dialect. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia.
the Dolphins. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about.100+ Greece. 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 . We don’t feel less American because of that.S. 54 Leominster. 36 Lennon. we love Bach. on the contrary. We all suffer when this happens. Mare. it reminds us that this country is great. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. Nidia F. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. 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. 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.
my . Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. Then during the fall and winter months.S.S. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. Later in the summer.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. and migrant camps. illegally because. cars. 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. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. harvesting crops. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. My father is Mexican. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. Many times. apart from being unconscionable. D. so I decided to move to his. I had family there. we stayed in Livingston.C. it would have been too dangerous. while my 173 Every year from June until September. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. 27 Washington. We lived in tents.
Because of school. Spanish. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. This is where I went to school.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. In high school. In grammar school. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. However. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. mostly beans and tortillas.” or “spic.” “wet. and write in English. we took our baths in a big washtub. I was embarrassed by my first language. In fact. Early on. However. I was held back in kindergarten. read. they didn’t work. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. our bathroom was an outhouse. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.” “greaser. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. 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. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. halfway through my junior year. I realized that I was out of place in school. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. they had the opposite effect. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. School was a struggle from the beginning. Not only were the white students 174 .100+ father worked for a local farmer. I struggled to learn to speak.
MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. I wasn’t Mexican. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. you know. I was born and raised in the U. I didn’t seem to fit in. not even two dollars. a gringo wearing a tie. an enclave 175 I . My private class is in La Rinconada. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. I wasn’t white. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. Raul Ybarra. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. They will pay. to the Mexican students. Although I was of Mexican descent. but on the inside I acted like a white person.S. 50 Boston.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. and I had lost most of my Spanish.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. To white students.. “One hundred soles tonight. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. “Now don’t run away on me.” I remind myself. in theory. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. the usual.
I have classes with her kids. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. never mind 176 . are washing dishes in the sink. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. They don’t speak to me or to each other.” I say. It’s ají amarillo. with chicken bulging from its sides. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. No way. as big as a sandwich. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. I am cheered by the recognition. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option.” “I know she’s not here. If these families don’t find happiness here. even your own paycheck.” “That’s okay. you are not Peruvian. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. Remember. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. Matt. I eye the tamal on the counter. she told me to come inside and wait. I sit at the kitchen table.” “The señora is not here.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. “She’s not here. Two maids. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her.
An hour later. The room grew eerily silent.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. They looked at each other to see who would answer. It was the end of the month. Chin up.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. 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. and we were all waiting for our first check. I hear three honks. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. Mrs. others were given a song and dance. Some received their checks. “That’s what we all hope. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. 177 . and springs out the door to the entrance. That is the hard part: hiding the need. payday. 40 Amesbury. I was told to come. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. and I came. Matt Wirzburger. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. No way am I going home empty-handed. Wipe any sign of need from your face.
It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. Karen Manhattan. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. NY 178 . I felt that I had “made it there. I wasn’t alone. the whole city was there. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I was in the city “on business. The streets were numbered.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. It was well worth it. As dusk turned to darkness. and only then. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. the city awoke and came to life. It was then. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. A few blocks seemed all the further with my high heels already torturing me and the nerves regarding the pending interrogation nagging at the nucleus of my psyche. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. After the much-anticipated grilling session. With briefcase in hand. yet spaced widely apart. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet.
” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole.. sarcastic. dry. we don’t. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. Welsh.” or “U. bitter. they helped a great deal. Irish. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i.S. real ale. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. etc. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.” “The States.” or “Yankland”. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.A. Scottish. 10) The English. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English.” “Pop Idol.e. 7) Humour is subtle. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. it’s “America. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 4) Beer drinking is an art.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. and sophisticated. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. The 179 . French. 12) It’s not the “U. and you must learn the difference between lager. and stout.S.”. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II.
Canadian. Rolling Stones. apologise profusely for it. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies.m. Gavin S. they’ll take the non-Yank.100+ Beatles. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. and body weight is stated in stones. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”.. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. If caught being rude. 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!). it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it).m. South African. FL 180 . 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). 23 Jacksonville. Pink Floyd). not pounds.
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. my parents and I arrived at . Pearl Harbor. 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. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. We discovered Diamond Head. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. Native and unique to Hawaii. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. crimson berries. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. We took off from the claustrophobic. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. Although decades have passed. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. and Waikiki Beach.” which spans in black swirls over the island. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair.
” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding.100+ large. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. 29 Tultitlán.” Despite my pitiful German. B. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. I remember wanting to return… H. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. ovular. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. Estado de México. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. Gutierrez.
T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. I knew it was war. However. crying. we were the enemy. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. green hills and plains. checked 183 In late October 1998. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. Gisela. I experienced an unexpected. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. Standing in St. 21 Lübeck. I packed up my leased . this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. Schleswig-Holstein. but never forgotten. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. that it was them or us. however unfounded that emotion may be. destruction everywhere. eerie feeling. For the first time since the early eighties. Along the road. and running in all directions. I even felt a bit guilty. To them. I imagined civilians screaming. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. Marien’s church in Lübeck.
Brigitte Pauli Memphis. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. delightful little restaurants. and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings. TN 184 .100+ into small motels. I spent days at the Pueblo. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. and visited various museums. There is always a scent of sage in the air.
The Toughest Job in the World .
which is about 45 minutes away. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. Needless to say. I knew what to expect. Krista. For child number two. I planned a Caesarean.m. after being able to share this special bond. At 3:30 a. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . my husband and I went to the doctor’s. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. we did not make it to the hospital.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray.. My due date of June 19th came and went. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. For our first child. he did just that. So. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. so on the 20th. We were told that I could be induced at this point. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out.
I had no concept of rent. car payments.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. and Tarzan of the Apes. The car would stop. and my mother would call us for breakfast. the smells of biscuits. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. Daddy would get out. and read each one aloud. but fairly frequently. The Texarkana Gazette. Not every week. and two more on the way (my brothers. Alley Oop. bacon. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. It was just the three of us. Joe Palooka. lie down. spread them open on the wood floor. prop himself up on his elbows. My . Dan and Tom). He’d take off the rubber band. not working as he was the rest of the week. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. take out the Sunday comics. All was good in the world. Friday evenings were always a thrill. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. He’d slowly read the comics to me. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. By then. grocery bills. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. I’d lie beside him in the same pose.
Sebastian. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. and lights. 189 The first time I saw my son. I cried.220 grams. Not with .) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. (On Friday evenings. tubes. begging him for a ride in the new car. They said he was beautiful. a frown on her face. 1. and his weight. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. Finally. but because I thought I had failed. but I never realized it. Norman. Times were hard. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. 59 Daytona Beach. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. or at least pretend to. I went to a place filled with noise. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. I felt desperate. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car.T R U E S T O R I ES him. Charles P.
I talked to him. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. He was so fragile and exposed. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. leaving my baby behind. I was discharged. Relief. Outside. 36 North Andover. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. I gained knowledge. I became determined to care for him. Lisa. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. pride. Each week. and mourning. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. besieged by guilt. and hope flooded me. patience. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. After a week. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. fear. I ached to still be pregnant. and I prayed. and confidence. Over time.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. At long last. I began to sob. I sang to him. wanting to 190 I . I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I cried. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy.
I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. or having trouble with the police. At about 3 a. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. driving to our new “hunting spot. or gangs. I don’t have any desire to find out. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. pet. Though I was only twelve. my father and I were in his truck. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. Right now. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. Suzanne. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. or getting into drinking. we weren’t there to look at.m. and I 191 I . Tonight we were there to get meat for the house.. I remember what I was like as a teenager and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle my wouldbe children when they become teenagers. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. But tonight. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. drugs. and I was twelve years old. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. or feed the deer.
forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. You can take a picture and freeze time. checked for traffic. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. I snuck up to the fence line. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. . I didn’t even have to call the deer. By the time he got there. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. 43 Jessup. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. We drank beer on the way home. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. they were already there. I took my spot and waited. a second of your life. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Steven Small. with the click of a camera. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours.
sipping a chocolate shake. Kelly. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. Sitting on a stool at the counter. 30 Martinsburg. but something was unleashed in me. moments are forgotten. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. I didn’t expect much. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. but those moments stay behind. Life goes on. Part of me wanted to pull her away. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. and sadly. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. I 193 M .T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. without a care in the world. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. I cherish every moment captured. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. New moments are constantly being created. Don’t we all wish we could be this free.
” she said with tears 194 . when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Some streetwise kids set me straight. She quit school to marry him. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. I do my best. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. Dorothy. He had promised to take care of us.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. It was in seventh grade. Her green eyes sparkled. Everyday. I was proud to be her son. without any explanation.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. One day. crisp. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. I couldn’t take it anymore. and well fitting. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. the afternoon waitress. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. Someday they’ll put you through college. he left. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. “Your Mama works for tips. my first year in middle school.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. “I did my best. “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. “Those aren’t for spending. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail.” One day. Mama was beautiful. Those are old coins. collectables. John. and a few coins went into my piggybank. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting.
“Buy the nicest headstone you can find. But something was missing from my letters. Oh sure. They let me go home for the funeral. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. I wrote back. There was just nothing I could respect about her. shame for being poor.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. shame for having no Daddy. Respect. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. not love. Before she died. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Mama wrote every day. TX 195 . She’d died of breast cancer. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. Mama’s friend at the café... a letter came from Dorothy. After it was over. I wouldn’t need it. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Mama was gone. Something with angels on it. Mama sent cookies. One day.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. I handed the money back to Dorothy. that’s what it was. Mama asked if I needed anything. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. All my love turned into shame. I didn’t go to college after high school.
sit back down. When I did. Finally. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. “Mom. She would fill out some papers. I pulled out all the papers. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every .100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. a lady came out and said. I looked at the gas gauge and said. “An abortion.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. I opened the glove compartment. “Last case for today.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. but her face wore the same void expression. map. and wait to be called into another room. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. She must have known that I would see it. “Mom. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. In the front. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. she answered. no television. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. When outside. no books. Occasionally. a man or woman would call out a number. put them in my lap. we got into the boiling car. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. but there were no magazines.S. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. and devoured them one by one.
you’re just like Auntie Doll. sat down beside me and said “Hello. When she turned to look at me. lack of food.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. No. It wasn’t the welfare office. 37 Mitchellville. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. everybody in the world. Yvette Louisell. 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. for me. or the bills. she yelled. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. but someone else. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. when I was ten. I was sitting outside on the front steps.
got a damp washcloth. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. Needless to say. “Green house. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. I got home empty-handed. “No. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. but Ma said she would handle it herself. Big John wanted to go down there. That little girl was no fool. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. both became angry. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. After twenty minutes. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. Ma smiled and hugged me.100+ girl in the world. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. Big John. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. She 198 . I took Ma’s hand. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone.” she said. what had happened. “Down the block. The next thing I knew. Then. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. She said love makes you do crazy things.
“Take it! It’s all there. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. who had been putting away groceries. George Hughes. Meanwhile. “My God. VA 199 . I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. screaming. warning him not to touch us again. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. and left. Then he walked over to the counter.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. Ma ran to him. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. we got a smile. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. “You like to beat up on women and kids. snatched the bag. but we laughed and laughed like never before. His wife. 66 Burkeville. stood by the refrigerator. 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. are you all right?” He nodded.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. we got the jewelry back.
screaming.” the man screamed at me. you scared the poor boy. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. saying. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. you made him cry. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. look what you did. but my dad sat her back down. one of Michael’s many siblings. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. saying. “Oh it’s all right. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. he leaned over me. “Now run on home. With the fork in one hand. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. you little sissy. and look. “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 looked over. “Don’t look to your folks for help.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around.” 200 O . my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. more surprised than hurt. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. My mother had gotten to her feet. I hit the ground again.
” she said as she dried my tears. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. Grandma Berg was inside.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry.” I’ll ever forget what he said. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. just thinking. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. but sternly. trying not to look at me. dry house to live in. “Thinking. 201 .” I answered. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. Peck was yelling at me. and a warm. More mad than sad. I can’t be there to save you. “My little wunderkind. “No more with the neighbors. and offered me cookies. new shoes every fall. I ran to my room. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. help Grandma eat this. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. clothes to wear. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. at the dinner table. Hours later. Later. She almost whispered. I said. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. One of these days. Very calmly. I looked at her then at my father. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. my little lipschkin. I think. My job is to make sure you have food to eat.
and intelligence. chores to doing. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. In casual and cruel black and white print. songs. no more you thinking. Thomas Michael Fox. In the classroom. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. tomorrow is better day. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. They remain frozen in my subconscious. He was full of jokes. Dream the dreams boys dream.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. He got to me like no other student that year. As I scanned the newspaper.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. Grandma is old woman. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. Quiet now. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. Your father. He also loved conflict. Too much thinking for one so young. but Grandma knows things. unchanged . CA The Sand Dollar by time. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. You must be sleeping now. as the elementary students they were. a name leapt at me. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. 51 Corcoran. Sun coming soon. I received a devastating student update.
He would nod. I smashed my heels in the sand. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. and dance away. I was mad. 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 . Reading the article through blurred eyes. picturing him in one of my wedding photos.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. But even now. an 11-year-old in leather. no one got to me like him. Now one found me. I knew his story now. just a headstone. Stacey Curran Conway. I hadn’t found one for years. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. smile broadly. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. So much wasted. He could always make people smile. MA If Not Me. I stormed down the beach. so much lost. He wasn’t my first lost boy. I saw I hadn’t. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. cursing him. but he was the star. I always wondered if I got through to him. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. 36 Wakefield. Then the ocean placed a perfect.
I have stood in line. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. of the students who might never make it to college without help. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. living wages. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). In some pretty tough school districts. Surprisingly. I think. however. I sit 204 . I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. sworn at. Finally. students with social problems. pooh-poohed. I’ve been insulted. and kept students in line. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. and rehired. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. and administrators with agendas. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made.” Back then. RIF’d.100+ of what my students can become. I have come to the end of myself.
Spanish was seen as an elective. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. and 8th graders. at the school where I taught. 34 Framingham. not a real course. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. much less trusting. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. Unruly students aside. more wary. Unfortunately. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. 7th.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. for a new vision. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Zora. I would be mortified. 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. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait.
Even Dante would have struggled in this room. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and .100+ those who do. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. remnants of a continuous high. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. Most were sensible enough to sit. If I could survive this class. At the start of a usual class. Ted continued to wander about. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. I could survive the duration of this profession. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. the vicious three-headed hellhound. silence. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. 29 Norwich. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. I hope that someday. Attempting to gain control. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. Sitting. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. Julia Perez. His eyes were constantly glazed over.
T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. Enjoy guarding hell. I had stunned the high right out of him. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. but how was his bite? Move he did. Wait. “Take your best shot.” the child said confidently. I decided on the only rational thing. As the class waited for my reaction. I have to call the principal to come get you. MO 207 . His bark was mighty.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. “Okay Ted.
Christopher. 51. 60 Aleman. 102 Elliott. 166 Antzes. 45 Brame. Fernanda. 79 Anonymous . Malachi. 75 Carrillo. James.. 111 Amberchele. José. Robert Hal. 122. 132 Babb. 96 Anonymous. Tom “Wolf ”.T.. 121 Boner. 172 Allen.. Stacey. 37. 166 Ephraim. 19. Aileen. Sue Ellen. 95 Barchard. 47 Balic. 202 Daryl F. Adelle. 32 Brown. Eugene Alexander. 33. 70 Best. 142 Dey. Aila. 22 Aubrie. 100 Burns.C. D. 44 Anonymous. 135 Christie. Lance. 53 Curran Conway.Author Index AK. 130 .. J. 61 Clarette. Matthew. 155 Corson. 127 Diaz. Cynthia. G.. 145 Donna J.
197 Jackson. 131 Foster. 101 Jayne L. 98. 74. Frank E. 80. 130 Gisela. 128 Jolene. Will. 40 January. 77 Gavin S. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 110 Forrest. 94 . 53. 147 Kelly. 123 Gavai. 179 Giosia.. 115 Hayley. 181 Harris. 177 Kelley. Mary.G. Pilar. Terri. George. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 92 Gallegos. 164 F..A.. 124 Hughes. Elisabetta.. 155 Fox. 144. Daniel H.. 158 Ferrara. 97 Hermann.. 157.Errani Emaldi. 62. H. Hector. Thomas Michael.. 182 Gonzalez-Caro.. Gaby. William Steed. 151 Higgins. 30. 59. Enrique M. 17. 163 Gutierrez. 115 Fernandez. Spoon. 45. 125 Hayden. 116 Hathorn. 200 Galilea. Gene W. Dennis. 109 Karen. 28. 36.B. 162 Jenelleish.
Byron. 21 LeBeau. 93. 161 Loomer.Krista. 71 Richards. 158 Pauli. Julia. 73 Lebreton. 143 Priscilla. 87 McKenna. 206 Louisell. 187 Kumar. 59 Morales. Eloise. 86 Mare.. Norton.B. 88 Norman. Kitty. 20. 92 Perez. 196 Mansour. Ricky. 107. 91 Rothwell. 160 Momo. Jan. 122. 171 Murff. 148 Lisa. 141 Redfearne.. 172 Mayo. 25 McKenzie. Mike.. Mark D.. Miriam. Scarlet. Yvette. Prashant Devan. Charles P. Zachary. 69. 85 Rose. 23 . 77 McLean. 205 Pete. 189 Lonn. Michael. 67 Misty.. 188 Paddy J. Santonio. 148 Salinas. 133. 108 Philippa. Nidia F. 32. 136. 99 Quarles. D. 183 PC. Gary. Brigitte.
190 Suzy. 173 Yeyo. Idris. 42 Windoftheclyde. 149 Zephyr. 90 Torres. Adela. Bronwyn. 16 Shurley. Steven. 34 Zora. 203 . 39 Yurshta. 159 Wantz. 87 Small. J. 191 Sonia. 175 Yarbrough. Kurt.Samuel. 151 Suzanne.E. 95 Yochum. Melvin William Joseph. 50 Theoharides. John. 193 Ybarra. 15. 63 Wirzburger. Agatha... 41 Shelly. Alexander J. Dinorah. Matt. 85 Tedesco. Raul. 55 von Fuller. 114 Vogt.
Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse.S.100 Plus True Stories. 2009. MA 01840 . Inc. U. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse. 60 Island Street Lawrence.A. Inc. Massachusetts.
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..100plusts. written as memoirs. The best stories were selected for this book. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. or confessions. and remember.99 9 781598 351095 .. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. Now you are invited to do the same. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. cry. reflect..I will never be able to look at him the same way again. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. but with a different outlook on life–and death. These firsthand accounts. who were eager to share their experiences. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. Many people are telling their true stories..com.” “A week before my 26th birthday. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. facing myself.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. Upon being published.com $19.100plusts.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www.com. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. illustrate life’s many.” “. anecdotes. no more than a few miles away across the inlet..” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.100plusts. floating in the air. These are true stories told by people like you.
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