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
AZ I 19 . By the 8th grade. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. 2007. Dennis Forrest. Due to anger. 51 Rosharon. desires. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. so I grew up as an Army brat. images. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. living on many different bases. On March 3. my mother passed away from cancer. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. Nevada in 1968. and drug addiction. bitterness. By 18. Malachi Ephraim Florence. can be revealed to the world. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in.
Listening now requires my full attention. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. and acting. day out. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. in a week. For quite a while now. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. to develop boundaries. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. I am aware of the way their covers feel. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. Yet. When I do little jobs. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. to search spiritually. I rejoice in the art I produce. I know I am finally awake to life. 20 N . their heaviness. freedom to expand my horizons. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. and I can look at them neutrally. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. such as putting up books in the library. Today. and their condition. listening.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. tomorrow.
and Thich Nhat Hanh. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. Yeshe. or strangers away. be they physical. mental. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. and compassion and when they do. Lamas Rinpoche. I know I will. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. teachers. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. love. In closing. But for now. As a matter of fact. I can easily mix with just about anyone. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. once I am given the chance. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. find true freedom. my learning continues. or spiritual. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. Brigitte Pauli Memphis.
As I listened to my mom. 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.” That same day. Prashant Devan Kumar. but didn’t join in the conversation. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. She had 22 M . Kuala Lumpur. 18 Cheras. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. I took in what the kids were saying. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. I thought to myself. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. 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. She broke the news to me as best as she could.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. 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.
not caring that there was no Santa. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. TYC. Seg. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. juvie halls. You have to have 23 I . Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. feel. ponder. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. imagine.). 23 hours a day. That day. Food is brought to me. I grew up in boys’ homes. only thinking about those fucking stickers. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I remember sitting in the car. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. confined to a one-man cell. and wonder. with life to go.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. dream. That’s all we do in these cells: think. reflect. their world becomes a mental one. 24 Queens. Every time I am taken out of my cell.
and everything went to shit from there. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I was alone. I saw his point and I left things as they were. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. run. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. The next day. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. But to 24 . and I got life in prison.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. and no one gets hurt. There were three. staking out the store from across the street. It was a robbery gone bad. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. 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 called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. I think now how naïve I was. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. Trust me. In the end. watching the clerk close up shop. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. I’d done it a dozen times. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here.
It looks like a spaghetti strainer. No way. Watch the crap.S. It’s a mess. right. in which the author served as part of the U. it’s not going anywhere. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Holes everywhere. I’m keeping my pieces. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. I’m looking at this car. Watch the crap. Look at the car. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. o. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. if you’re lucky. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. I’m not moving. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. I mean. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. I think about that shit. all observant and such. Big holes. I’m thinking. Yeah. not benign crap. Crap is strewn everywhere. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull.
Now. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. or tunnel vision. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. How many days have I been awake? Damn. with holes in them all. well.I.” or whatever you call it. I’m angry. with maybe a little inscription saying. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. Whoever’s firing those damn things. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. from messing my mind up further. I curse myself for being so stupid. RPG rounds. I figured I’d hang on to something. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. and mines scatter everywhere. this “Desert Storm. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz.P.A. Good night. I’m holding my privates. grenades.—R. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. cars now. hold privates.I. 26 . but I don’t care. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. I’ve been so careful all of these months. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand.. K. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. I didn’t even see this stuff. hundreds of them. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. right on the crap. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. I’m sick of this crap. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two.
I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. but like some sick voyeur.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. I don’t want to look. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. They look like statues. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. No stench. It’s hard to tell. unless they shortened the fuses. The glazed eyes give it away. maybe. Damn. 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. right? The ones I see are fresh. I do. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. vehicles are everywhere. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I don’t want to end up like him. I don’t like the burned ones. It was fun for a minute. I know I’m not dead. too. His ID card falls out. Is 27 . The pictures don’t lie. again. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out.
If that’s heroism. We’ll have that in common. from that war.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. his son—maybe even himself. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. “Yes. and shackled. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. pictures don’t lie. The hero died with a scream on his lips. that damn war. hoping his son will return from down South. we stepped 28 I . One by one waist-chained. They’ll never know what happened to him. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. Mark D. They’ll never know me. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. Probably not. the Americans. we will celebrate. No. handcuffed.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. McKenna Columbus. I want no part of it.
mountains. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. The restless. 29 . a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. it seems ironic and rather sadistic that it was the “in your face” moments such as these that served as a reminder of the cynical path that fate had paved before me.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. In retrospect. indeed. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. 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.
eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. a vacuum of uncertainty. 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. and. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. the lunacy of a previous occupant. Hector Gallegos Otisville. sealed off from everything and everyone. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. I found that I was not alone in this realization. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. While I was in there. boredom. in some cases. but no one dared speak of them. This is 30 M . It’s a world of its own where. for most.100+ Looking around me.
She has a son now.. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach.. Will Ferrara. 24 Lawrence.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. but I had no luck. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. MA 31 . It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. 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. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. 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. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed.
I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. I always felt lonely. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. I escaped. I grew up spoiled rotten. Three years later. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . but that made me feel worse. flew to Florida. where I am today. I was always sad. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. and began robbing banks. They never really understood that there was something wrong.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. 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 was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. stole an airplane. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. After 15 years there.
Momo. but there was something missing. Cars speed by. It wasn’t her fault. but only for a little while. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. This year. I started therapy. When I started middle school. and then my house caught on fire. It’s going to be hard to get better. but I was already highly unstable by then. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. 16 Richmond. 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. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. so I always tried to help them. and was put on progressively stronger medication.T R U E S T O R I ES me. This made me feel good. Lights come on. Now. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. or mine. 33 I . I had friends and a boyfriend. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. and I am doing a lot more for myself.
many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. God has been looking out for me. 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. G. many homeless people end up in jail. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. I am still alive. I have been fortunate. nothing to eat. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . you’re hungry.100+ homeward bound. You think to yourself. nowhere to sleep. under the three strikes law. your feet hurt. for one reason or another.. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. You have nowhere to go. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. Some of these individuals have not been able to come to grips with the overwhelming reality of serving life sentences that they don’t deserve. I have met a variety of people in prison.T. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk.. no one to call. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. It’s cold. This is why.
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 . I immediately told my husband and we left. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. My husband and Joe came to blows again. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. 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. I brought it upon myself. 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 husband. Nonetheless. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. During the car ride home. I must have asked to be raped. and the rest of the family awoke. Without warning. my case was thrown out of court. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. We all had a few too many.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. his brother. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. So Joe walks free. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. In their eyes. I thought it was my husband.
No one was hurt or kidnapped. We had six kids—with so many kids. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. Men ask me. while the victims get a life sentence. but I am always in a good mood. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . and for the past 10 years. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. trying to survive among savage men. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. I just took the money and ran. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. for all the good it’s doing me. drug dealer. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. or crooked politician. I love to write books and short stories. I keep getting turned down for parole. Zephyr Chicago. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I’ve been a model inmate. and I made it without becoming one of them. you almost have to be a bank robber. When I got locked up.
tears. George Hughes. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. laughter. flavors that today I’d die for—well. but all’s well in the end. 1982. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. and us three kids. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. like taste good food. I turned fourteen. the car. 63 Burkeville. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. but I put the truth out there for all to read. That summer. I love writing. And it all transpired in 37 O . VA One Bad Decision n July 8. anger. and my innermost thoughts and desires. When I’m writing. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. not die. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. compassion. Mom got a new apartment. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. At fourteen. my parents became legally separated. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. they are good people with good hearts. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. Writing is like having an affair. sadness. I share love.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next.
something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. not enough to panic. but here it was. Like an NFL running back. In 1982. I went over to the shoe department. I wasn’t too concerned. and inexplicably. My friends would have surely made fun of me. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. On the very last day of summer. Once inside. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. I took off like a bat out of hell. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. Once outside. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. And by the age of eighteen. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . picked out a pair. I was in State Prison.100+ less than an hour. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. So I decided to steal. sister. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. Then I put on all three new shirts. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. I burst through the front door. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. looking down at my new wet shoes. By fifteen. sprinting as fast as possible. “Mom. at fourteen. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. and put them on. and me.
OH 39 I .T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. 18 Mowrystown. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. Obviously shocked. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I asked why I was being arrested. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. To my complete surprise. When I was finished with him. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. they said. Six days later. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out.
It was good to see them together. and when one falls. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. but the fact is I did. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I deserved to do some time and make amends. and soul. I was ready to be judged and convicted. how he cared for her. though he never loved her. mind. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. with a common goal. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. I felt that what I did was wrong. my mom and dad came to visit me. the others are there to pick him up. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. The judge gave me life without parole.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. During my trial. and mean words. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. In the depths of my heart and soul. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. Before. I killed someone. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. fights. My mom’s eyes held a million words. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. hitting and abusing her. From then on. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. At nineteen. ignorance. 40 N . and lack of feelings. in the same room.
I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. I’m getting older. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. fleeting hope. I have no friends in this new city. but I take no initiative to start the process. Spoon Jackson. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. 50 Represa. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. but now everything seems tight. and violent unrest. but I see only the negative things. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. Besides.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. but my will to survive took over. smiles. I was naïve. I need to budget. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . I came from the desert. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. Money never used to be an issue. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. but they all have lives.
I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. I see that in spite of my depression. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. but moving slowly in the right direction. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. go into a small. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. inconspicuous notebook. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. 27 Toronto. Ontario. All of those negative ideas. brought up in me. my pen is capturing everything. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. 42 I . For someone like me. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. Idris Samuel. the only escape that I found was with a knife. I even see things in a more positive light now. I’m not stuck in one place. a dead father.100+ before I go to bed. In the few months that I’ve been writing. mixed with big dreams of happiness.
All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. It had become a habit. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. As I look back on the role that the drug played. light-headedness. But then. it merely put them on hold. never directly addressed. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. While in prison.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. new problems arose. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. a need for the chemicals in the formula. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. 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. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. While on probation in 1995. While incarcerated. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. it became a hindrance when I was 43 .
The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. it’s too short and too precious. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says.100+ stable. the present is much. I am a different person. I’ve always had low self-esteem. and once it does. but I never thought it would result in depression. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Anonymous. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. much clearer. you will be twice as strong. but my reaction to them is not the same. 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. Think about who really loves you. Never waste life. Now the reality I face is my own life. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor.E. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. J. Wantz Salem. 13 44 I . And the present is where I have to live.
through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. I have turned my attention back to God. Thomas Michael Fox. and pornography. 51 Corcoran. 45 G . 1958 in Elgin. cultural arts centers. After getting sober in 2001. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Illinois. community centers. alcohol. I began to start to feel differently about myself. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. I ended up in prison for life. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. The son of a research chemist. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. writing helped. Now I try.
and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . The second and third place runners-up were announced. 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. my school sponsored an art contest. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. my name was called. Then. On the day the winner was to be announced. migrant workers. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. at the age of 17. and indigenous themes. prison scenes. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio.100+ youth programs. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. When I was in second grade. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. This history. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight.and 12-year-olds. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. vatos locos. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. Mexican revolutionaries.
and ultimately smuggle street clothes. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. and obtaining the other articles took time. José Boner Boscobel. metaphors. manufacturing the rope.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. I had to get in the same cage. 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. I consider myself first a poet. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. Octavio with Orozco. Today. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . cash. I fuse images using words. The guard was two feet in front of me. And yet. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. and crazy juxtapositions. a new tradition: poetical muralism. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. Securing the tools. there was no turning back. Siquierod with Cisneros. camouflage the cut marks. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. watching every move during a strip search. a hacksaw blade. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption.
but they could see every move I made. and I was sweating a puddle. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. doubt. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. In a few minutes. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. but the meshing distorted clear vision. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. already packed with the gear. my arms were screaming. I was going. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. every muscle was taut. I was through and bent back the bars. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. D-day. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. It was going according to plan 48 . Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. I could see everything. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. or nerves. The cage was shaking and rattling. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. I was balls-to-the-wall. I slung the rope over my shoulder.100+ primitive. There was no time for hesitation.
I attempted to crawl away. from doubt. needed more knots… whatever the problem. but now I would to fall to my death. from regret and anxiety. cages. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. CA 49 . My freedom had lasted only a few moments. It was too thin. Babb Corcoran. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. But that feeling of open air on my skin. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. but couldn’t move. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. D. I know from consequential. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. it was too late for solutions. free from fear. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. I’d escaped. outside the confines of the jail. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. I was lying on the rooftop. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. through what I’ve gained and learned since. The rope burned through my fingers. Yet. guards. I know I’ve never been freer. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. I should have made gloves.
he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. not losing his license. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. He attempted to shut off the ignition. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. no matter what. not getting pancreatitis. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. but the key was jammed.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. it was too late. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment.U.s. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. I thought I loved him. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. which never came.I. One time. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. There was no wake-up call. and by the time I did. he just kept hitting rock bottom. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. 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. nothing. Alcohol would always come first.
Adela Tedesco. I had lived an interesting life. In my 33 years. victimless cash. Unfortunately. I had seen and done a lot. To me. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. free dope. simply liked the quick. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. 23 Hollywood. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. a man with a past. Crimes were what thieves. who in the present. and sexual predators committed. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. drugs were simply a hustle. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. thugs. not a crime. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. that was for sure.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back.
at stake: my entire life. and with whoever. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war.” There are the pro-drug war. I understand the necessity for law and order. I’m surely not the devil. I’m arguing against it one more time. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. things are different. While I’m no angel. the entire world of academia. CA 52 . Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. I participated in the discourse. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. It helps those unable to defend themselves. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. our families. Yet. for all practical purposes. at the university. I argued it at every level: in the media. this time. it protects the innocent. Then there are those of us. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. not the solution. as an activist. Now.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. either. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. at this fateful juncture of my life.
24 Little Compton. there are new users every day. riding through space in 53 O . RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. Lance Corson. and nothing good ever comes of them. One of the guards supplied it. even though they know that there are great risks. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. They destroy lives. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. my stomach and chest. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. until it took over my whole being. I felt it starting at my feet. However. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. that nothing will ever happen to them. coming up my legs. There are always consequences.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. So many people believe that they are invincible.
The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. only inches left to stand on. There were monsters with long tails down there. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. The floor closed up as I hit it. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. falling. Then I nodded off. I walked around with my arms in front of me. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. my heart pounded violently. and I could feel the cramps coming.100+ the dead of darkness. I began to shake all over. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. My body was curled. dying for a fix. bad. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. My stomach was cramping. I was freezing all over. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. holding on to my elbows. falling. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. across my stomach. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. my back to the wall. My muscles 54 . The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. I needed a fix. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. I stood in the corner. I was terrified! I found myself falling. 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.
and sell anything and everything.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. petty reasons. 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. “No more. not cleaning the dishes right. But I wasn’t. 66 Burkeville. not scrubbing the floors right. Mom grabbed a frying pan. Mother. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach.” Now 55 . If I were on the street. not shoveling the sidewalk right. 2002. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. to get a fix. I kicked at her. George Hughes.000 other small. and 10. playing too loudly. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. One day. wetting the bed. She opened the back door and said. got down on the floor and beat me with it. steal. God and I both love you. lie. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. including their own souls. jumped out. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. My mother passed away on October 2nd. “Get out of my house.
TX 56 . Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I don’t hate my mom.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t dislike her. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. 67 Amarillo.
Sex & Seduction .
it will occur over time. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. and fulfillment after the first time. so after 20 seconds it was all over! You’re never told that a young man of the same age is not going to give you an orgasm. I 59 M . He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. Québec. 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. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. 45 Montreal. an orgasm. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. Terri Giosia. This is what occurs at 18. But for the young woman.
Momo. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. At the beginning of high school. I always tell my friends. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. people would assume we were twins. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. that even though it’s your first time. not because he wants to. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. 16 Richmond. We decided we were ready. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. I will spare 60 I . Now. Do it because you want to. Don’t be scared. We have known each other since before we can remember. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. we had sex. it won’t be your last. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. who are ready to lose their virginity. I did it for me.100+ beg to differ. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. 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. When we were little.
Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. at a “well-supervised” party.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. he wields 61 I . But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. Almost at the same time. interesting story to tell. I grabbed her. we said. Later in the evening. squealing. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. and crying ensued. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. I ran into my best friend. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. that is not what is important. Obviously laughter. and we locked ourselves in. anyway. 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. AK.
He basks in their attention. feeding him like a baby. and showering and grooming him. 54 Sydney. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. if the woman is appealing enough. or backstabbing us to our bosses. however. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . it’s like having a little harem. changing his urine bag. rubbing his feet and back. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. Christie. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. being sarcastic. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. However. turning him over. NSW.100+ considerable power by yelling. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. tempt. but girly mags are his main source of info. 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.
smile. Québec. his complete awareness of 63 I . which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. 45 Montreal. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. His hand rested on my forearm. as upon sobering up. body language. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. a look. beyond a shadow of a doubt. With a glance.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. It is not real. a smile. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. it’s possible to seduce anyone. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. one cannot seduce. the golden rule for seduction. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. However. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. this type of seduction is an illusion. Without confidence. That is. yet the very mysterious secret about “how to be more seductive” lies within you: it is how you feel about yourself and what you look like and having that emanate outward. Once that is accomplished. It is stating the obvious.
Windoftheclyde. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. but my pretensions made no difference to them. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 .100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. Always the seeker. he breathed my name. his lips fell on my hips. but my anticipation was no longer tender. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. In a shadowy whisper. I pleaded with them not to show up. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. for they would make me look like a weakling. On the brink of a thrust. True to their word. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. My ways were haphazard. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. I felt his back tensing against my hands. Never had a burden been more welcome. 27 Santiago. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead.
Small Miracles .
I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. It becomes routine. At times. and often after a long day. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I know I have to be locked in. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. Late at night. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. in the darkness. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I am human. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. I’m locked in. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. I know that no one can get in without the key. With a twist of a key. but once inside my cell. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. 67 T . As a person. I should hate the cell.” Out there. I even welcome the closing of the door. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I do my deepest thinking there. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. amongst the prison population. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. rather familiar.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I’m on guard seven days a week. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell.
The cell is a hellhole. The walls seem to hum. and I write my loved ones there. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . Ironically. To be honest. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. despair. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. To the outside observer. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. but I’m in good company. listen to the radio. It never is truly quiet here. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. I have not experienced silence in years. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. the cell is a paradox because in reality. while here in prison. a melody of pleasant proportions. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. When the cell door shuts. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. The cell door is now closed. I’m alone. or write a letter to my family or a friend. and loneliness. these sounds are tranquil. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. I don’t hear anyone talking. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. The cell is my castle until I reach home.100+ I pray in the cell. read a book. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. yet. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape.
and have the power to choose. in it were four angels. 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. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. I’m human: I feel. Michael McLean Beacon. I also laugh.m. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. 69 I . “Let us show you the way. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. we have been there before. cry. showing another dimension. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. In a small. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. and I was filled with awe. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. They looked invincible. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. love. I was lying in the dark. think. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. bleed. though their faces were human-looking.
This was a kingdom on a large sun. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. Auckland. 54 North Shore City. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I thought to myself. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. guarded from dark forces. but time operates differently there. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. there really wasn’t any time to react. waiting to make a left turn. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. knowing order reigned in the next world. At that instant. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. Misty. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. circular spaceship.100+ white. “Oh no. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. 70 I .
The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. “Wow. 38 Methuen. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . 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.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. It is important to find the right place for an ending. I chose Mount Sanitos. Where we die should be no less important. Hey. I sat there thinking to myself. Ever since that day. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. “Sorry about that. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. and in the hand-warmer pocket. It was a very surreal experience. I considered the importance of what I was doing. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. including me. a brand new box of pills. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break.
Four pills left. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. It was still night. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house.100+ someone else got hurt. dropping off my recycling. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. For a moment. I must have blacked out. The guardians were gone. my hand slipped and I fell. Necessary and common. but they sensed me there. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. thinking it could be the police. “He’s here. I panicked. When the east finally began to warm. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. no one was looking for me. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. I cowered. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . then a shift. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. On the far side of my fall. I finally reached the top. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. There were shapes of people around.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. closing my bank accounts. There was a flash of light. things were… strange. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. Blood was caked on my forehead. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. like someone hit the reset on my brain.
Three days later. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . I was living alone. I had never done that before. but I had never been depressed before either. I was making sandwiches. it got so bad that I became depressed. I’ve been to zero. and it’s doable. That was my break-even point.T R U E S T O R I ES was. hitting me on the left ankle. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. When I got up in front of the cabin. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. Everything after that has been pure profit. as I did. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I think of myself as having happily died that night. Then a second piece of bread fell. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. At one point. I also know that I’m never alone. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. so I continued making the sandwiches. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. and then dragged myself towards it. I realized it was just a stone.
” Two years ago. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. whether we see Him or not.100+ of bread. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. we got pregnant again. the day before Valentine’s Day.” 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. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. When I returned to the kitchen. Jesus is always with us. Three months later. Our little (well 74 I . but I dismissed it and went into the other room. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. so we should not be depressed. I was very puzzled. but there was only one piece on the floor. Needless to say. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. He is still there. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. “I am the bread of life.
When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. WV A Taste of Honey honey. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. But this event puts it into a whole different light. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. It was a good partnership.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. 30 Martinsburg. And he is our own personal little miracle. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . we will always think about the baby that we lost. 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. Don’t get me wrong. Kelly. I did not waste it on the bland mush. but left the bees plenty for the winter. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year.
UT 76 . A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. 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. James Burns Gunnison.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. and also. But man cannot live on honey alone. 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. For a moment there. I thanked God for a taste of honey. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I thought. the mountain laurel. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I had smelled the spruce. but it seemed to last an eternity. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. 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. and the wildflowers. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. I had been free. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. The other half I saved for later.
T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. Ironically. Gavai Kona. He may have survived the Vietnam War. After years of alcohol abuse. Army during the Vietnam War. smoking saved his life. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. I 77 I . During a skirmish. He had a lighter. There was a spark in her eyes. a pack of cigarettes.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. 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. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry.S. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. Despite this miracle. her actions were terrible and painful. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. but it ultimately killed him. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. he got shot in the left side of his chest.
41 Bedford Hills. as I put the dress on the hanger. I heard him whisper. “You’re not the only one. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. Bardo. when my brother Bardo and I got home. The next thing I knew. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat.” I said through my tears.” he said. That is when I saw the stain. With tears in my eyes. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. I walked to my closet. While he was hugging me. “Good night. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. Miriam. and said. Bardo came out.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks.” He also told me that when I finished eating. my mother called me. I turned to go to my room. but she ignored me. and I did. he looked at me. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. “Good night. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. With powdered soap and water. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. reached for an empty hanger. I tightly hugged him back. Miriam McKenzie. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. the dress ended up on my face. One day.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. and hung up my dress. NY 78 .
No gym. We installed a swamp cooler. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. no weight pile. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. When money arrived. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. But in Mexico. Everything from 79 M . and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. cook what I wanted. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. There was no yard to speak of. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. built wooden bunks. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. I could wear my own clothes. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. no track or ball field.T R U E S T O R I ES A Change In Outlook y stretch in a Mexican jail was just like the film Midnight Express. a stereo. bought a TV. the “buffaloes” roamed. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. I had conjugal visits. incoming calls only. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. a pipe with running water for a shower. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. An aisle ran the length of each building.
C. I was allowed to keep my identity. the world would reflect that change. lumber. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. Amberchele Canon City. but it was an identity that was poisonous. I wanted out.S. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. A man could buy food. True. and even prostitutes. much like my thinking. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. the ontological slap in the face. if I changed. filthy. in my head. appliances. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. clothing. drugs. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. for anything else. I reasoned that. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. art supplies.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. I arrived at the school cafeteria. J. for the right price. and it has. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. booze. and dangerous. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt.
But when others got involved. the atmosphere was tense. the judge dismissed the case. my assailant approached me and apologized. After the trial. With time. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. it stopped bothering me. Fernandez Miami. FL 81 . Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. In my mind. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. his father embraced me in the hallway. my membership in the gang became obsolete. encouraging him during the fight. His father attended the hearing. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. After that incident. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. It had been an ironic twist of fate. As I turned to look.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. however. When I saw my assailant in court. That made all the difference in the world. I flirted with the idea of getting even. When I did not press charges. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. a free-for-all ensued. I yelled for help. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. I stood by my friend. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. I had been stabbed. As we spoke. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. Enrique M. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding.
Matters of the Heart .
This is it! This is my first true love. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. and I am in love.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. my first true love. He’s my first Jan Richards. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. I have known my first love for more than a year. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. Boy. I could not 85 T . the good and bad. 41 Dallas. I will accept all of him. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. no matter what answers you receive. He is smart. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I would have been in love before. He is strong. I want to know everything he knows. was I wrong! I admire my first love. One would think that because I have experienced life. I never get tired of listening to him. I am 41 years old. He is honest.
We both respect and value each other very much. 27 Tehran. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. and that the connection will endure. The morning after I arrived. but now I want to leave him. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. Although we are divorced. I feel so alone. Mansour. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. I will never forget her. he came back to me. my first love. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I decided to visit her. too. Without her. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. she kissed me for the first time. and the connection that we share. I was browsing . She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). it’s been like heaven. 59 Dayton. I hope we will get married one day. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID.100+ eat. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. Suzy.
everything was great. I would never have gone out with him. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. His name was Travis.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . If it were up to me. I worry all the time. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. At first. He played with my head. He stripped down my confidence. and he was in fifth grade.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. He was a tall. There was something fascinating about this “older man. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. and I am so jealous. slender. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. Then within six months. brown-haired young man. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. Shurley. and now all I have are insecurities.
Often. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. all in retrospect. or inn in the continental United States. I just remember wanting to be near him. threesomes. Kitty Mayo. hotel. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. My reflections of Travis developed years later. and gangbangs—it all occurs. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. 29 Hilo. wanting him to protect me. anal sex. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. 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. 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. She has little education. I have no doubt that he was my first crush.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age.
I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. The attraction is mutual. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. The conversations flow smoothly. Sometimes personalities just click. Hours seem like minutes. Love. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. take care of her kids. send her shopping. religion. It comes like a thief in the night. who want to keep her hair and nails done. TX 89 . regulations. housing. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. 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. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. 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. 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. The laughs come fast and free. rules. finances. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. pay her rent. The female is as rebellious as the offender. or risks. It’s an amazing thing.
destined for Minneapolis. Outside her window. We are in her attic bedroom. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. And three months and two weeks later. I told her I loved her. Skidmore College. I’m not sure she’s my other half. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . we went out for coffee. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. Massachusetts. she told me the same thing. and if. and mine.. One month later. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. and I told her she was strange. but I know I don’t want her to leave. and yes. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. I wonder when. She’s packing her last suitcase. Boston College.” I have no idea what he means. my tears will come.100+ Four A. suitcase is a difficult feat.. on a tour of Oxford. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. three floors down. the distance between her school. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. Two months later. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. the tears pouring down her cheeks. She told me the upright bass was sexy.M. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. Three months later.
I walk her to the bus station. still two bottles of wine later. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. needless to say. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. after another bottle of wine.m. 22 Amherst.m. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. she falls asleep.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening.. and place it on the hood of his car. At three a. Alexander J.. 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. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. after a bottle of wine. Theoharides. and I have to walk her to a bus station. write a love poem.m. “I’ll miss you..” she says. so I decided to go the subversive route. and I had a crush on . At four a.m. comes. I had written the poem already. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. At two a. until four a. And tears stream down my face.
100+ I sped away. not despite of their shortcomings. desires. 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. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. 28 Albuquerque. and well-being. needs. Unfortunately. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. Scarlet Rose. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. 24 Lincoln. Galilea. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. NH Love Is for yourself. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. I was 21 years old. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the .
making our relationship grow stronger. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. I imagined something romantic. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. It can be between two men and between two women. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. 30 Arecibo. We are the yin and yang for each other. no? Saturday came. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. But a girl can dream. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. As you can imagine. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. PC.
Our relationship is 15 years strong. Mare. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I love you. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and I thought I was immortal. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I chose my hell. and I tried to fight for my dreams. I tried to be perfect. and so many tears. and you have always been the one. and we are raising a daughter as well. Michelle. maybe he was strange. the woman that he had been dreaming of. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. but he wasn’t in love with me. Life is not supposed to be this way. Maybe he was too old for me. I regret so many things. and my life. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . my family.” I told myself. “I did it for love.100+ lifetime. A baby was on the way. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. so many mistakes. but he was mine. 36 Lennon. I regret it. so I left everything behind: my career. and I live there now.
Kikis_fairytale. 27 Athens. We now have a beautiful baby girl. If I were to start my life all over again. though. Lately. My ex and I are currently in high school. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. It’s a bad habit.T R U E S T O R I ES life. We are going to graduate soon. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. 18 Olmito. 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. but we’re not together anymore. but as for love. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. we fell in love. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. but I can’t control it. Yeyo. I don’t know. 95 I . and it lasted about a year and a half.
I thought to myself. 18 Brooklyn. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. Although I didn’t know it at the time. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. looks. 96 M . I shake. Every time I see him. but things had been slowly going downhill. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. “I may have a guy at home. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. Aila Balic. We started talking and before long we just clicked. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. and a smile that could melt a heart. It is a scary feeling. I imagine the two of us together all the time. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. but it just happens. I don’t want to. We spent my final day together. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. talent. I gasp for air. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. it keeps growing. He was a southern gentleman with manners. In the summer of 2009. but as much as I try to stop. yet doesn’t make me want to die. and I have no control over my actions.
tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I explored my options on the ride home. but now it was time to make a big decision. and it took all I had not to cry. 26 Acapulco. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. Thanks. In life. I couldn’t believe it was over.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. I went to say my goodbyes. too? Hayley. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. Ethan. We wanted . Why not have our cake and eat it. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. Guerrero. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. There weren’t any wedding planners. and no hassle: just us. family and friends can witness our marital union. for showing me the truth about love. no guests.
Louise had a heart attack and died at home. On March 27th. 2006. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. at age fifty-two. This story has the makings for a great ending. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. and made me happy in so many ways.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. On May 15. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. For Louise. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. was a devoted wife. Some letters were erotic. as well as me. 1997. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. She was . but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. but life is not fair. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. I guess. I will go home one day. I had not felt that way in years. Clearly magic was happening between us. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit.
My husband and I spend upwards of $10. DON’T. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. If we had to do it again. However. Louise. but we had our wedding 7 months later. beautiful flower arrangements. but for our family members. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done.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. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. George Hughes. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. Farewell. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. And in the end. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. VA A Joining of Two. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. in August. Please save 99 M . I will miss you.000 on our wedding. 63 Burkeville. We had a nice ceremony.
On the day of the wedding. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. clad in a miniature tuxedo. In the fall of 1987. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. my voice echoing through the church. the rings were handed over. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. 29 Lowell. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. 100 A . I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. Priscilla. “Are you two getting married. “NO!” I yelled at him. When we finally reached the priest.100+ your money because in the end. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. forest green dress. When the time came to walk down the aisle. too?” he asked. Even at 3. the wedding doesn’t matter.
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. Adelle Brown. slowly and gradually. until amorous love became filial affection. and forest green. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around.” When the doors opened. 23 Somerville. On the long list of things I hate. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. three of them will always be: priests. but before I knew it. and I started to ignore 101 I . my cousin. and I had no idea where to go. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. not right away. all I remember being told was. camera flashes. at some point. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. I had gotten used to him and he to me. The emails became short and purposeful. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. I was blinded by lights. not right before my eyes. Finally.
100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. He was no longer my top priority. or lack thereof. This mundane. January Paris. 102 I . yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. I am not that unhappy. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. 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. torturous waste of time. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. for him. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. and let him do the same. 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. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. For now. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. I stopped caring about spending time together. and started avoiding him. nor is he. I remember why I fell in love with him. I am not that person anymore. but that memory is now alien to me. I keep trying to push him away. I am content to just exist.
as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. and if I were allowed to live with my father. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. I thought that if they divorced. it would have been more difficult. They are still together. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. VT 103 . Johnsbury. St. Donna J. my parents did not divorce.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Alas. which never came. and I’m glad they are. I would have done so. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted.
Despite Diagnosis .
then slips away unseen. you must wade carefully through the sewage. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. In prison. wash. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. not because of knives but for their germs. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. alone.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. clean. Prison is a sewer. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. cartwheeling. bide your time. leaving you there to bleed out. and sometimes it’s over your head. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. and filth swimming and floating along with you. to survive it. Wait till the “others” get out. Take showers in shifts. vermin. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . go in with your homeboys. not let it get inside you. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. and when you get to the other side. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. Sometimes it’s waistdeep.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. and dry yourself. Some don’t. You are immersed in it. sometimes it’s neck-deep. you can cast off your filthy clothes. skidding.
Charles P. As the years passed. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. And they die. take it all in.100+ of the prison sewer. I regained some of my physical strength. they inhale deeply. As for me. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. 59 Daytona Beach. Months later. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. I was told I had a brain tumor. become a part of it. so I went to an optometrist. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. meningitis. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. When I awoke. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. Norman. wondering if I will ever go home. I started having eye trouble. The problem was not eradicated. a cracked skull. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body.
I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. Pete. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. so in spite of having protected sex. I had to endure antibiotics being pumped into me for a number of weeks through a PICC line in my arm and I was on these for many days once I returned home. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. and all came out negative. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. After 4 or so weeks. Tasmania. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . Fueled by the media. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. just to be sure. 21 Devonport. My cerebral fluid was not draining.
Jolene. so she took me to the doctor. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . so my body was dying. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. Every time a nurse would come in the room. One time. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. Throughout my childhood. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. We all had sad faces. The day I turned five. but even that wasn’t enough. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. 28 Portland. I was constantly in the hospital. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. For instance.100+ as well. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). so he donated his blood. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. My father was the only one with the same blood type.
” When my chemo starts. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. and 100% cured. hoping to get rid of me to save money. the check-in nurse says. Today I am 19. the jail has delayed it. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. in college. I vomit constantly. Three months later. Five days later. and they both cried tears of joy. and very pale. Maybe it’s a nightmare. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. This never happened outside. There is no kindness. At Perryville.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. nearly bald. I am back at Estrella Jail. Maybe it’s not really me. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. 19 Pembroke Pines. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. I’m 15 pounds thinner. “Well. the judge can expedite all he wants. fightingsurvivor19. my oncologist was determined 111 I .
but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. I vomit until there is nothing left. burning instead. the doctor comes in. when I’m supposed to be healing. My life is literally in their hands. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. I know I’m an inmate. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. then every six months for two years. I have three more chemo sessions. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. In here. and nine months later. No more nausea. He recommends a tumor 112 . Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. Eventually. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. there is complete indifference. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. I start the laborious grievance process. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. An hour later. begging for what I’m missing. But this protocol is not followed. Despite the rigid schedule. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. When my treatment is over. He answers my questions. and then annually. 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.100+ that my nausea be minimal. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. I am sent back to my room alone.
As a result. AZ 113 . I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. I can deal with that. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. my life is in the hands of the State. always look for a reason to be glad. no positive imagery can change my situation. it still hasn’t happened. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. uncaring power. and I am helpless against its inadequate.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. mismanaged. Six months later. 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. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. This is about the State. That is why I am afraid. That’s really hard in here. Their stories touch me on so many levels. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. incompetent. 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.
Dinorah Torres. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. Despite all this. making plans for the future.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. 33 Santa Barbara. without even knowing it. he began to distance himself. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. she was looking ahead. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. but when he found out that treatment could last years. A year into my treatment. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. and I felt helpless all the time. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Later. CA A 114 .
He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. for an addict’s.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. shape. It just 115 I . She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. How sad. One year she was cancer-free. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. never had any kids. and had lived alone for decades.” 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. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. She was longdivorced. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. Hayden. 18 Tacoma. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. for a smoker’s lungs. The following year.
it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her.A. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. He lost his wife to cigarettes. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. on the part of Texas officials. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . his oldest daughter to cigarettes.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. F. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Penzance. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. Whatever the percentage.G. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. Cornwall. 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. not even decades after giving up smoking.
6. 5. Separate gang members from non-gang members. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 4. 8. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. 9. be as humane as possible. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. You can see how dangerous it is. A few suggestions: 1. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. 3. and typecrime. and house them accordingly. 2. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. whether here or abroad. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. Classify prisoners by age.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. sentence length. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. 7.
100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. TX 118 . Harris. This could be a start. Daniel H.
The Transience of Permanence .
TX I 121 . In the penitentiary. maybe an estate. discussions. He desperately seeks some understanding. then the whole world has done the same. Each morning when I arrive at work. In plain talk. I swear. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. some acceptance. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. a last will and testament. For “free-world” folks. Some days. death out there now looks relatively easy. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. plans. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. All is forgiven. If I give him that. He understands that my time with him is short. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. I’m a state-approved janitor.T R U E S T O R I ES LIVE from Texas Death Row! ’m a Texas prisoner and I work on death row. death is merely a passage or rite. especially on death row. 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. which has its effects on me as well as on him. or SSI. From what I’ve seen in here. I feel the dread on my flesh. even inside me. Christopher Best Livingston.
It isn’t working. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. G. today. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Shit. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. I’ll try again later. Very suspicious. Fuck them.100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound.” And I’m not talking about parole. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I am feeling very ugly inside.T. Fuck God. yet relieved that I took action. Shit. Light-headed.” or “moving on to the next phase. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell.” “taking it to the vent. 122 T . I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. It’s called “checking out. and it can be done right now. I choose not to spend another day in this place. Suspicious.
The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . After that.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. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. but a symbolic one. not in the clinical sense. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. Mike Rothwell Ione. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together.
the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. my big fat Italian grandmomma. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. the father he cannot be. in essence. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes.With his incarceration. the lover he wishes to be. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. sterling silver. In the world beyond prison walls. and the person he never grew to become. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. he may as well be dead. but life—even at 103—seems too short. year after year. the son he failed to be. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. 124 N . matriarch of the family. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. Hector Gallegos Otisville. gold. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. pearls. He has. diamonds. In this sense. killed that greater part of himself. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever.100+ love of his family.
she never wore it. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. as if no one else is 125 D . except for a fundamental difference. Who would believe that a swastika. 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. Mary Higgins Reading. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. necklaces. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. key chains. The following day. blankets. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. albums. dating from the roaring twenties. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. The first thing one notices is the quiet. pre-WWII. and handcrafted dolls.
survivors of the victim’s family. Hathorn Livingston. At other times.100+ there. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. media representatives. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. Gene W. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. In remembering. making it ominously quieter. TX 126 . his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. such as his first pet. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. It is like God’s “time-out” room. 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. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. he realizes that all hope is gone. the officials are stoic and judgmental. but the mind rebels. there are only four or five people. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. the fights he had in grade school. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. An ache settles in his belly. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials.
an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. I saw no real reason for worry. if at all. he was barely over five feet tall. he had become thin as a rail. Once muscular. “Every doctor has a different opinion. really took it seriously. and his head was shaved clean. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004.” Freddy complained to me one day.” “partial.” and “lost” test results. Since he always complained. Over a period of a year. a combination drug therapy. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. Time was of the essence. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. 127 E .” I forget why. including Freddy. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. no one. Sleep came with great difficulty. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. trying to get someone to do something. his body was covered in tattoos. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. and they all tell you something different. after a slew of “unreadable.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. and his memory showed signs of failure. He was a genuine character. In October 2004.
We named him William Kenrick. “If they got at me 18 months ago.” he told me. They killed me. but he threw it up. “By the time they did something. and he was afraid.” There was no anger in his voice. it was too late. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. They tried giving him formula. He vomited blood one morning. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. they probably could have saved me. looking through the glass at our little one. but no treatment was administered. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. and now he’s dead.100+ Months passed. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. only resignation. By October. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. 2005. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. Freddy was my friend. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago.
he had to undergo an operation. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. He will always be my first baby. my first son. which was declared a success. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. And I knew though he was gone. his heart rate slowed. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. At 1:30 a. But I swear.. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. fight for it. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. Despite the pain. I love him more and more each day.” And as soon as everybody was there. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. NCR. milky scent is still there. if you can still make it. And oh. The next day. only to realize that he’ll never come back. and whispered. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. he went. Then I start crying again and eventually. just let go.m. At 3 days old. my first child.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. I turn numb. 32 Las Piñas City. a smile formed on his lips. PHILIPPINES 129 . Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. But I knew something wasn’t right. But if not. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. “Baby. Jenelleish. Someday. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. And for that. the smell… His sweet. only he was already lifeless. as soon as I held him. I still think of him. when I visited him.
2008: I awoke today around 5 a. I went through many phases. After my dad’s death. I miss him deeply. But as a father. I was close to my father. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. My dad liked to sing and dance. yet his passing was significant to me. he was really fantastic. But I didn’t cry. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. and listening to music. Dad une 15. But after 5 years of marriage. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. roller-skating.m. I dreamed about him every single night. in a better mood than usual. fishing. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. enjoying the early morning light. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. Facing the cell door.100+ I Miss You.. he died suddenly and tragically. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I didn’t shed one tear. from denial to 130 I .
I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. had no meaning. I drank to escape and forget. After a long period of time. her youngest 131 I . a Christmas card. hate to indifference. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. I sent my aunt. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. How sad that now sounds. Life lost its luster.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. Québec. 45 Montreal. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. the final and hardest phase arrived. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. with great parents and friends. I am now 45. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. Terri Giosia. However. As a last minute thought. I realized that what happened was out of my control. happily single.
Not only did she call him. 51 Rosharon. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. he said. she called every person she knew and read that poem. Soon after. For two years. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. But after all the miserable hospital visits.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. especially when you are only seven years old. The doctor gave her three months to live. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. Dennis Forrest. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. my mom had been taken to the hospital. my poem may mean nothing. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. The night before. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. To the academic world.
It went on and on. My life was changed forever. and us. and even worked from home so he could be there. “Daddy. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. This experience has made me stronger. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. the house. where it was warm. My dad softly called me over. 16 Rexburg. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. I learned about the will to live and the value of life from my mom who wanted to hold on long enough for us to remember her. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. My father continued hacking. too weak to walk to her bedroom. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . Aubrie. but to help them through things the best you can. He took care of my mom. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months.
and that was a good thing. There were hard feelings between us. son. the reason I’m saying this. You settled your differences. Even when he was here last time. I admire what you did.” 134 . I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. He looked at my brothers. not speaking. waiting him out: “Charlie. Don’t ever smoke them. like you did. You see. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. I had unfinished business with my father. so I stood there. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. closed his eyes. I could see that you loved your father. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. real sick.100+ asked. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. with complications from lupus. healing wounds. I begged him to quit for years. collect. who knew my family well.” He was just twenty-four at the time. We feared lung cancer. I said things I’ve always regretted. but he died before I got the chance. I wanted to make it up to him. exhaled. and he was gone. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. I knew he wanted to say something. I could tell. so I recognized it in both of you. Over the past few years. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. from a prison payphone in the dark. as did my mother. too. and he loved you. when I first met your family several years ago. but emphysema got him first. but the last time inexorably approached. A prisoner friend. He said things.
He had jumped off the tier headfirst. While there. leaned his head on my shoulder. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. Charles P. I decided to slash my wrist. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. 59 Daytona Beach. FL Slash nstead of going to court. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. My cellie threw up.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. It was the least I could do. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. 135 I . I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. His tears soaked into my suit coat. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. Norman.
100+ “Well. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .” “What are you facing?” I asked him. I don’t anymore.T. 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. 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.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. Evidently.” G. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. “Six months. His eyes were half open. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders.
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. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. For the first time since I was there. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. With a bit of a dramatic flair. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater.T R U E S T O R I ES was. there was only solemn silence. But not at this moment. It was so still. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. CA 137 . Even the crazy guys had shut up. perhaps. hung it back up on the wall. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. stood there for several seconds. Then. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. He had everyone’s complete attention.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I’m telling myself that she wants me. forcing myself in. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. I was convicted. I want to be with a girl. racism at its best. she’s home alone.” As I say this. a member of a fraternity. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. the white system.” I step towards her. barging into her apartment. but I haven’t picked up a girl. I only saw what I wanted to see. “I came to see my girl. Because she was white. but also to pick up girls. 141 I . and it was my word against hers. but it’s not my girlfriend. When it’s time to leave the club. not only to have fun. I want some sex. my fraternity brothers. I say. if no one else is here. It opens. it’s her roommate. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. and I’m in college. For twenty years.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape.” I say. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. “Your girl is not here. in front of a white jury. angrily. that it was a setup. we can have sex. 1982. I’ve had fun. I’m thinking. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. I knock on the door. it’s a habit of ours. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. I was black. popular on campus. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. and a ladies’ man. she was white. a football player. sentenced to six years in prison.
The fantasy of grandchildren. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. pure houseboat. For sixteen years. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . faithfully. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. a wife. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. if I were to have a place in this world. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. especially with men. I had known that I was a disappointment. So I tried. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. for them.100+ Today. forced attractions to women.
that my parents felt the same. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. only for who I pretended to be. And I knew. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. with whom I constantly fought and argued. I wrote a script. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas.. my sadness never faltered. 19 Hooksett. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. all too well in fact. I am finally happy. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. So I confessed my truths. Daryl F. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I .T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. boring corduroy-wearers. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. One day. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. At seventeen. When I arrived.
Nicholas. Philippa. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. carried on like a trooper. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. Knowing very little about astrology. 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. We didn’t date. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. but I always suspected that he was gay. and sinker. especially for clothes. His self-confidence saved the day. I was literally paralyzed. line. Kent.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. This brought about a case of stage fright. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. He dated one girl 144 I . one male and one female. being a noble and resourceful man. 30 Maidstone. it was swallowed hook.
As for my female friend. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. but I never really suspected she was gay. she was always a tomboy. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. Jayne L. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. Waterville. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. especially since I had always suspected it. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. I didn’t really think anything of it.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. 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. When he told me he was gay. 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. My friends just did . However.
we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. who is from Peru. 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. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. We feel the judge was very homophobic. We are not giving it to her.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. too. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. but I am a woman and therefore. Right now. After three years worth of evidence gathering.” I did. As if things couldn’t get any worse. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. If I were a man.” Within 10 days.100+ me. They even sent me to a shrink.” so we had to go back to court. gays and lesbians are persecuted. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. knowing that if she 146 . not me. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. “Never mind. I fear losing my partner.
TX 147 I . I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. 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. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. These days. but we did not lose ourselves.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. If anything. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. We lost everything. no different than any other heterosexual couple. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. Aileen Diaz. the most effective teacher. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. has taught me compassion. the Ultimate 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. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. 35 Tampa.
MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. On the one hand. I still love and respect him. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. But on the other hand. better not to tempt fate. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. You have to always be 148 C . but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. and I would never throw it in his face. 30 Detroit. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. 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 used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. I feel like an idiot. Eloise Lebreton. Now.
No matter how upbeat you may feel. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. It’s always going to be there. 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. so you better learn to keep it at bay. They help. I lived in Shreveport. Mike Rothwell Ione. After church. I was allowed to play with a friend. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. But if someone’s determined to “check out. One way is to keep doing those pushups. 149 A . CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. Louisiana. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree.” then there’s not much they can do about it. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable.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.
47 Old Fort. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. molestation. Christian Missionary Alliance. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. at my tender age. her face contorted in rage. My friend’s mother yelled. especially my mother. “You think this hurts motherf’er. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. Yurshta.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. and abuse. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. was too much to handle. I have been an atheist ever since. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. lit the gas stove. NC 150 . He screamed in agony. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. 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. She barged into the room screaming. another ultrafundamentalist sect.
I have never been physically beaten. should not be tolerated. 26 Essen. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. Any kind of abuse. I had nine miscarriages. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage.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. NETHERLANDS Harsh. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. I swear. I did not get angry with him. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . whether physical or emotional. Gaby Hermann. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. demeaning.
I was forced to call the cops. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. Sonia.100+ with me. Delhi. 36 New Delhi. INDIA 152 . so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. Then one day. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce.
Eerie Encounters .
Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. Why would we want to be? Clarette. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. I listen for a moment to a strange. but I’m getting tired. 28 Salem. They are looking beyond me. I keep swimming.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. just a quarter of a mile farther. I don’t need to see to believe. In my nightmare. We cannot be alone. I can see the people. Aquatic Park. even Ghirardelli’s. my 155 I . Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. slight.m. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. although I’ve never seen one. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. swishing sound.
when I notice that I am looking down at myself. About 5 years later. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. MA 156 T . It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I am silently alone. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. The waves crash. 45 Delano. And then. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver.100+ arms are getting heavy. I hear something in the distance calling me. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. And about a week after that. beginning to feel numb. 24 Lawrence. Will Ferrara. to the deep water. Am I going crazy? Frank E. I’m only treading water. summoning me. When I was 18. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. Foster. I awake. The walls murmur. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. out beyond the breakers.
In the following days. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. On our way to the hospital. Not long after. While alive. too. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. showing us that we were right. In the dreams.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. my mouth stopped bleeding. 56 Alfonsine. One night. Shocked. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. and we had no choice but to drink it. From that moment on. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. In October. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. Ravenna. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. I immediately called home. while still aboard. a strange heat enveloped my body. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I felt sick and went to sleep. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. ITALY 157 I . I dreamt that I was in Italy. Almost twenty days later. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. at my uncle’s funeral. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth.
It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. I was squinting. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. It was pitch black. but late for work! Paddy J. but they continued moving and stretched me out. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. I stood up and looked at its face. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. I remember shaking like a leaf.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. staring straight ahead. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. as whatever I was looking at was far away. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. 19 Monaghan. It was my dad! At that moment. I landed at the feet of the creature. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. its feet dragging along the ground. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . It was then that I woke up.. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed.
for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface.” someone who knew the area told me. As I placed my canteen in the water. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. 159 W . Hiking along the trail. One evening. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. my mind completely blank. As nighttime fell. When I returned home. “I’ve been here before. “That place is haunted. It was at this moment that I saw. I was in the bathroom. Enrique M. echoes from long ago. it had disappeared. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. thin man. thinking about nothing. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. That left me speechless. Fernandez Miami.” I thought.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. the vision of a tall. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. When I turned to look. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen.
I remembered being there before. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . His face was shrouded in darkness. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. He walked towards me. I have no idea what the vision meant. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. but somehow I knew that he was bearded.100+ He was wearing a long. Then. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. when I entered the King’s Chamber. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. and the vision was gone. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. However. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. Devon. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. still completely covered by the hood. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. I have not had any such vision since. hooded. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. standing in that same spot. grey cloak that covered his entire body.
Then my former self stood in my body. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls.” Now.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. 54 Auckland. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. and don’t believe time is always linear. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. Misty. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. transferred his intelligence into my brain. and activated it. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. During this moment of déjà vu. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . AK. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. I came back to my present “reality. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose.
More and more debris ruptured from every direction. In my dream. facing myself.100+ broad daylight seemed real. a little more aware. but I didn’t. Lonn. They knew what was about to happen. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. I woke up taking short gulps of air. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I’m 59 now. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. trying to breathe… It wasn’t until one of my teachers started discussing the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher that I realized what I’d seen. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. 162 I . and a little less afraid. drifting like seaweed. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. I’m willing to see where it takes me.B. a little more settled. D. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. 59 West Roxbury.
Waterville. which struck a barrier. I learned the term years later. when I moved 163 G . but with a different outlook on life–and death. Jayne L. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. I started to read a lot of books. and we started to spin really quickly. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. and then was finally able to label my experience. “I need to get back. After that. I survived the accident with no major injuries. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. The driver lost control of the vehicle. Since I was only 4 years old. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. and quickly drifting away. Later. as I had in Spain. I watched shows on television. completely powerless to stop it.
I knelt down on a pew. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. I got slowly closer. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . 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.100+ to Massachusetts. just one year before meeting Gabriele. it’s one of my many pastimes. Smiling kindly. A year later. facing him. 37 Madrid. But for me. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. There is only going to a different level. One night. he said. at my friend Viola’s insistence. 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.
He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. and I tried to help him. ITALY 165 . so I left. Through telepathy. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. in January 1991. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. Then one night. but he had terrible secrets. While I stared at him. we became involved. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. struck by his suffering. striking me like a storm. He vowed to marry me. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I told him not to joke. 56 Alfonsine. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. Through telepathy. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. To be sure. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. I felt all his fear and pain. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. Ravenna. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams.
He tipped his hat and smiled. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. I developed . we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. NH. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. Then all of a sudden. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. On some nights. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day.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. Soon after. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. During the five trips I made out there.
“Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. she suddenly pointed and yelled. fly to some central point. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. up a tree. then they turned off. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. and meet. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. We saw the usual lights in the sky. and into the sky. On one occasion.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. accompanied me. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. Other times. 70 Waltham. strobe for 30 seconds. and then disappear. MA 167 . but then. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. As I returned to where Betty was parked. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. First. On one of my last visits. a state psychologist friend of mine. about 50 yards down the tracks. Later. who was also an amateur photographer.
At Home & Abroad .
German perfume. but eventually we divorced. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. Lately. Russian caviar. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture.” My father used to talk of Hungary. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. We married and had a daughter. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. but life had a different destination in mind for me. and great America. and completely broken by life.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. where all were welcome and. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . I once had plans to live in London. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. or Puerto Rican dialect. as proof of dignity. had to show the INS hard-working hands. Colombian. not financial statements. with a 3-year-old son. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris.
He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U. We all suffer when this happens. MI There seems to be a misunderstanding about Patience is a Virtue immigrated “backwards” (to Mexico from the United States) to be with my husband. We don’t feel less American because of that. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. 54 Leominster. 36 Lennon. on the contrary. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. we love Bach. Morales. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. Nidia F.S. Mare.100+ Greece. while others are trying to cheat the system.. the Dolphins. it reminds us that this country is great.
It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. Later in the summer. while my 173 Every year from June until September. 27 Washington. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. so I decided to move to his.S. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. illegally because. we stayed in Livingston. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year.C. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. D. harvesting crops. and migrant camps.S.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. My father is Mexican. it would have been too dangerous. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. I had family there. cars. Many times. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. We lived in tents. my . apart from being unconscionable. Then during the fall and winter months.
they didn’t work. I struggled to learn to speak. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.” “wet. halfway through my junior year. read. Early on. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. I was embarrassed by my first language. this was not a quick or easy transition. Not only were the white students 174 . This is where I went to school. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. they had the opposite effect. mostly beans and tortillas. we took our baths in a big washtub.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. However. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. In fact. Because of school. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. I realized that I was out of place in school.100+ father worked for a local farmer. clothes passed down to me from my older brother.” “greaser. and write in English. I was held back in kindergarten.” or “spic. School was a struggle from the beginning. Spanish. However. In high school. 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. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. our bathroom was an outhouse. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. In grammar school.
I was born and raised in the U. I wasn’t Mexican. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. to the Mexican students. not even two dollars. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. and I had lost most of my Spanish.S.. To white students. Raul Ybarra. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. They will pay. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. “Now don’t run away on me. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. I didn’t seem to fit in. an enclave 175 I . but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. a gringo wearing a tie. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. in theory. but on the inside I acted like a white person. 50 Boston. “One hundred soles tonight. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside.” I remind myself. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. My private class is in La Rinconada. you know. the usual. Although I was of Mexican descent. I wasn’t white.
They’ll pass it off as an American informality.” “The señora is not here. with chicken bulging from its sides. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. never mind 176 . she told me to come inside and wait. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. Remember. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. No way. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. Two maids.” “I know she’s not here. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. are washing dishes in the sink. They will not associate my asking for food with begging.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. I have classes with her kids. even your own paycheck. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. I sit at the kitchen table. “She’s not here. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. I eye the tamal on the counter. you are not Peruvian. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. Matt. It’s ají amarillo. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. If these families don’t find happiness here. as big as a sandwich.” I say.” “That’s okay. They don’t speak to me or to each other. I am cheered by the recognition.
No way am I going home empty-handed. 40 Amesbury. It was the end of the month. payday. Matt Wirzburger. Some received their checks. The room grew eerily silent. That is the hard part: hiding the need. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. MA My Nibble Out of The Big Apple I was wearing an almost-designer-brand business suit I arrived at Penn Station with admirable resolve. Wipe any sign of need from your face. Chin up. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. An hour later. Mrs. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. “That’s what we all hope. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. I hear three honks. 177 . and we were all waiting for our first check. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. I was told to come. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. and I came. and springs out the door to the entrance.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. others were given a song and dance. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. They looked at each other to see who would answer.
that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. After the much-anticipated grilling session. the city awoke and came to life. As I again made my way down the grid streets. NY 178 . It was then. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. the whole city was there. A few blocks seemed all the further with my high heels already torturing me and the nerves regarding the pending interrogation nagging at the nucleus of my psyche. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. It was well worth it. The streets were numbered. I felt that I had “made it there. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. As dusk turned to darkness. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. yet spaced widely apart. I wasn’t alone. I was in the city “on business. With briefcase in hand. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. and only then. Karen Manhattan.
10) The English. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. and stout. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. sarcastic. it’s “America. they helped a great deal. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”.”. we don’t.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. The 179 .S. and you must learn the difference between lager.. real ale.” or “U. and sophisticated.e. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. French. etc. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. bitter. Irish. Scottish. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i.” “Pop Idol.” “The States. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. 4) Beer drinking is an art. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. 12) It’s not the “U.S.” or “Yankland”.A. dry. Welsh. 7) Humour is subtle.
they’ll take the non-Yank. Gavin S. not pounds. apologise profusely for it. South African. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). FL 180 .100+ Beatles. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 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!). 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you.m. Rolling Stones.. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. Pink Floyd). it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. If caught being rude. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. and body weight is stated in stones. 23 Jacksonville.m. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. Canadian.
I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. We took off from the claustrophobic. Native and unique to Hawaii. Although decades have passed. 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 nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport.” which spans in black swirls over the island. and Waikiki Beach. my parents and I arrived at . I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. 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. crimson berries. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. Pearl Harbor. We discovered Diamond Head. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel.
I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. I remember wanting to return… H. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. ovular. Estado de México. 29 Tultitlán. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. B. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German.” Despite my pitiful German. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me.100+ large. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. Gutierrez.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country.
checked 183 In late October 1998. Schleswig-Holstein. 21 Lübeck. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. Standing in St.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. I packed up my leased . However. we were the enemy. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. and running in all directions. I even felt a bit guilty. Gisela. Marien’s church in Lübeck. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. To them. eerie feeling. however unfounded that emotion may be. Along the road. destruction everywhere. I imagined civilians screaming. but never forgotten. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. For the first time since the early eighties. I experienced an unexpected. I knew it was war. green hills and plains. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. that it was them or us. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. crying.
The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. There is always a scent of sage in the air. I spent days at the Pueblo. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. delightful little restaurants. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings.100+ into small motels. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. TN 184 . and visited various museums.
The Toughest Job in the World .
” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. I planned a Caesarean. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . he did just that. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. At 3:30 a. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. So. I knew what to expect. so on the 20th. after being able to share this special bond. we did not make it to the hospital.. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out.m. We were told that I could be induced at this point. which is about 45 minutes away. Needless to say. Krista. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. My due date of June 19th came and went. For our first child. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. For child number two. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do.
Joe Palooka. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. Dan and Tom). prop himself up on his elbows. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. He’d take off the rubber band. the smells of biscuits. but fairly frequently. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. and read each one aloud. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. and Tarzan of the Apes. I had no concept of rent. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. and two more on the way (my brothers. By then.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. lie down. It was just the three of us. car payments. My . waiting for Daddy to come home from work. bacon. The car would stop. and my mother would call us for breakfast. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. All was good in the world. Daddy would get out. The Texarkana Gazette. Not every week. Friday evenings were always a thrill. He’d slowly read the comics to me. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. not working as he was the rest of the week. take out the Sunday comics. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. Alley Oop. spread them open on the wood floor. grocery bills.
189 The first time I saw my son. but because I thought I had failed. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. but I never realized it. 1. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. Finally. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Norman. (On Friday evenings. tubes. Charles P. a frown on her face. Not with . My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. I went to a place filled with noise. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. begging him for a ride in the new car. I was recovering from an emergency C-section.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. I felt desperate. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. and lights. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy.T R U E S T O R I ES him. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. and his weight. I cried.220 grams. 59 Daytona Beach. or at least pretend to. Times were hard. They said he was beautiful. Sebastian. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment.
I cried. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. I became determined to care for him. I talked to him. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. besieged by guilt.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. Relief. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. Over time. and mourning. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. Each week. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. I began to sob. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. and hope flooded me. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. patience. I sang to him. and I prayed. Outside. I gained knowledge. I ached to still be pregnant. and confidence. leaving my baby behind. After a week. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Lisa. At long last. I was discharged. pride. wanting to 190 I . He was so fragile and exposed. 36 North Andover. fear. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home.
pet. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. Suzanne. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. we weren’t there to look at.m. or getting into drinking. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. I remember what I was like as a teenager and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle my wouldbe children when they become teenagers. Right now. But tonight. and I 191 I . I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. I don’t have any desire to find out. drugs.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. Though I was only twelve. my father and I were in his truck. and I was twelve years old. or gangs. At about 3 a. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. or feed the deer.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. or having trouble with the police. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. driving to our new “hunting spot..
they were already there. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. You can take a picture and freeze time. By the time he got there. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. I didn’t even have to call the deer.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. . Steven Small. I took my spot and waited. with the click of a camera. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. checked for traffic. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. I snuck up to the fence line. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. a second of your life. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. We drank beer on the way home. 43 Jessup.
Sitting on a stool at the counter. Part of me wanted to pull her away. Life goes on. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. Kelly. I 193 M . But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. I cherish every moment captured. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. I didn’t expect much. but those moments stay behind. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. 30 Martinsburg. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. moments are forgotten. without a care in the world.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. New moments are constantly being created. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. and sadly. sipping a chocolate shake. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. but something was unleashed in me.
he left. One day. Mama was beautiful.” One day. the afternoon waitress. and well fitting. I couldn’t take it anymore. crisp. and a few coins went into my piggybank. He had promised to take care of us. my first year in middle school. I was proud to be her son. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. “Why didn’t you finish school so you could get a good job? Are you always gonna work in a café?” It all traced back to Daddy. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. collectables. I do my best. “Your Mama works for tips. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. “I did my best. Everyday. without any explanation. “Those aren’t for spending. She quit school to marry him. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. It was in seventh grade. Those are old coins. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. Dorothy. John.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Someday they’ll put you through college.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be.” she said with tears 194 . Some streetwise kids set me straight. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Her green eyes sparkled. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets.
Mama’s friend at the café. shame for being poor. shame for having a waitress for a Mama.. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. that’s what it was. Mama was gone. All my love turned into shame. She’d died of breast cancer. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. I wouldn’t need it. TX 195 . She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. They let me go home for the funeral. Mama asked if I needed anything. not love. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. Respect.. After it was over. Something with angels on it. shame for having no Daddy. There was just nothing I could respect about her. a letter came from Dorothy. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. Before she died. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Mama sent cookies. I wrote back. I didn’t go to college after high school. Oh sure.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. One day. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. I handed the money back to Dorothy. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Mama wrote every day.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. But something was missing from my letters.
no books.S. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. I looked at the gas gauge and said. we got into the boiling car. I pulled out all the papers. Occasionally. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. When outside. “An abortion.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. put them in my lap. no television. “Mom. but there were no magazines. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . she answered. Finally. and devoured them one by one. and headed back to my mom’s apartment.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. a lady came out and said. and wait to be called into another room. I opened the glove compartment. map. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. When I did. She must have known that I would see it. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. In the front. She would fill out some papers. a man or woman would call out a number. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. sit back down.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. but her face wore the same void expression. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. “Mom. “Last case for today.
she yelled.” 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. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. Yvette Louisell. everybody in the world.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. when I was ten. you’re just like Auntie Doll. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. 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. for me. I was sitting outside on the front steps.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. sat down beside me and said “Hello. 37 Mitchellville. lack of food. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. or the bills. No. When she turned to look at me. It wasn’t the welfare office. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. but someone else. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living.
I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. I got home empty-handed. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. The next thing I knew. “Down the block. Ma smiled and hugged me.100+ girl in the world. Big John. She said love makes you do crazy things. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. She 198 . Big John wanted to go down there. “Green house. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. but Ma said she would handle it herself. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. Needless to say. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. That little girl was no fool. got a damp washcloth. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. Then. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. After twenty minutes. “No.” she said. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. I took Ma’s hand. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. what had happened. both became angry.
When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. “You like to beat up on women and kids. Then he walked over to the counter. who had been putting away groceries. snatched the bag. Ma ran to him. warning him not to touch us again.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. “Take it! It’s all there. VA 199 . Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. 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. we got the jewelry back. “My God. are you all right?” He nodded. His wife.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 a smile. and left. 66 Burkeville. Meanwhile. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. George Hughes. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. but we laughed and laughed like never before. stood by the refrigerator. screaming.
my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. one of Michael’s many siblings. but my dad sat her back down. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. My mother had gotten to her feet. “Don’t look to your folks for help. and look. saying. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. he leaned over me. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. With the fork in one hand.” 200 O . Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. I looked over. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. I hit the ground again. “Now run on home. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything.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. you little sissy. saying. you scared the poor boy. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. you made him cry. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started.” the man screamed at me. look what you did. screaming.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. “Oh it’s all right. more surprised than hurt. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. “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 at her then at my father. clothes to wear. I ran to my room. She almost whispered. Very calmly.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. 201 . You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. “No more with the neighbors.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. and offered me cookies. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. just thinking. dry house to live in.” I answered. but sternly. Peck was yelling at me. help Grandma eat this. Later. my little lipschkin. “My little wunderkind. “Thinking. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. Hours later. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. Grandma Berg was inside.” she said as she dried my tears. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. I said. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. and a warm. trying not to look at me. I think. One of these days.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich.” I’ll ever forget what he said. More mad than sad. new shoes every fall. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. at the dinner table. I can’t be there to save you.
” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. Thomas Michael Fox. and intelligence. Your father. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. In casual and cruel black and white print. They remain frozen in my subconscious.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. CA The Sand Dollar by time. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. Dream the dreams boys dream. a name leapt at me. Too much thinking for one so young. tomorrow is better day. I received a devastating student update. as the elementary students they were. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. but Grandma knows things. Quiet now. Grandma is old woman. 51 Corcoran. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. no more you thinking. He also loved conflict. You must be sleeping now. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. chores to doing. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. In the classroom. unchanged . He was full of jokes. Sun coming soon. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. songs. He got to me like no other student that year. As I scanned the newspaper.
I smashed my heels in the sand. I always wondered if I got through to him. cursing him. 36 Wakefield. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. so much lost. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. He wasn’t my first lost boy. Reading the article through blurred eyes. no one got to me like him. I was mad. I stormed down the beach. He could always make people smile. but he was the star. MA If Not Me. Then the ocean placed a perfect. Stacey Curran Conway. I saw I hadn’t. Now one found me. I knew his story now. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. But even now. So much wasted. 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 . smile broadly. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. He would nod. an 11-year-old in leather. just a headstone. I chose to believe it was a gift from him.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. I hadn’t found one for years. and dance away.
sworn at. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. and administrators with agendas. Surprisingly. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. In some pretty tough school districts. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. of the students who might never make it to college without help. pooh-poohed. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I’ve been insulted. and rehired. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I have stood in line. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. Finally. and kept students in line. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. I have helped a teenager learn how to read.” Back then. RIF’d. I have come to the end of myself.100+ of what my students can become. however. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. living wages. I sit 204 . I think. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. students with social problems.
much less trusting.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. 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 a real course. Unruly students aside. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. at the school where I taught. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. and 8th graders. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. Unfortunately. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. for a new vision. I would be mortified. Spanish was seen as an elective. more wary. Zora. 34 Framingham. 7th. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th.
remnants of a continuous high. silence. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. Julia Perez. They were the most hellish group ever assembled.100+ those who do. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . Most were sensible enough to sit. I hope that someday. Ted continued to wander about. 29 Norwich. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. the vicious three-headed hellhound. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. Sitting. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. I could survive the duration of this profession. His eyes were constantly glazed over. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. At the start of a usual class. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. If I could survive this class. Attempting to gain control. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught.
Wait. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. Enjoy guarding hell. “Okay Ted. “Take your best shot.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. MO 207 . Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. I decided on the only rational thing. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I had stunned the high right out of him. His bark was mighty. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. As the class waited for my reaction. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted.” the child said confidently. but how was his bite? Move he did.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. I have to call the principal to come get you.
132 Babb. G.. Malachi. 130 . 95 Barchard. 122. 70 Best. Sue Ellen. 47 Balic. 155 Corson. J.. James. 60 Aleman. 127 Diaz. 79 Anonymous . Stacey. Aila. 111 Amberchele. 75 Carrillo.Author Index AK. 44 Anonymous.C. Robert Hal.. 166 Antzes. José. Fernanda. Eugene Alexander. 100 Burns.T.. D. Matthew. 102 Elliott.. Aileen. 32 Brown. 53 Curran Conway. Lance. 51. Christopher. 172 Allen. Adelle. 145 Donna J. 96 Anonymous. 202 Daryl F. 166 Ephraim. 61 Clarette. 37. Cynthia. 135 Christie. 45 Brame. 142 Dey. 19. Tom “Wolf ”. 121 Boner. 33. 22 Aubrie.
115 Hayley. 62. 164 F. George.. 59.Errani Emaldi. Elisabetta. 128 Jolene. Hector.. Pilar. 181 Harris. Will. Mary. 45..G.. 98. 115 Fernandez.B.A. Daniel H. 158 Ferrara. 162 Jenelleish. 177 Kelley.. 144. William Steed. 80. 147 Kelly.. Spoon. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 74. 197 Jackson. 125 Hayden. 110 Forrest. 157. Gene W. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 30. 77 Gavin S. 200 Galilea. 28. 123 Gavai. 94 . 163 Gutierrez. 109 Karen.. Terri. Dennis. 124 Hughes. 36. 131 Foster. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. H. 130 Gisela. 151 Higgins. Enrique M. 17. 179 Giosia. Frank E. Thomas Michael. 101 Jayne L.. Gaby. 116 Hathorn. 40 January. 92 Gallegos. 155 Fox. 53. 97 Hermann.
Eloise. 187 Kumar. 205 Pete. Prashant Devan. Mark D. Kitty. Mike. 20. Nidia F.B. 92 Perez. 107. Yvette. 148 Lisa. 88 Norman. 122. 25 McKenzie.Krista. Brigitte. Zachary. 59 Morales. Byron. 21 LeBeau.. 158 Pauli. 23 . 206 Louisell. 161 Loomer.. 99 Quarles. 108 Philippa.. Gary. 77 McLean. 133. Ricky. 73 Lebreton. 196 Mansour.. 171 Murff. 188 Paddy J. Miriam. Julia. Charles P. 85 Rose. 136. 67 Misty. 183 PC. 93. 189 Lonn. D. Jan. 86 Mare. Norton.. 87 McKenna. 172 Mayo. Scarlet. 71 Richards. 91 Rothwell. 143 Priscilla. Santonio. 148 Salinas. 32. 69. Michael. 141 Redfearne. 160 Momo.
E. 159 Wantz. Bronwyn.Samuel. 85 Tedesco. Steven. J.. Idris. Agatha. 16 Shurley. 87 Small. 193 Ybarra. 149 Zephyr. 90 Torres. 114 Vogt. 41 Shelly. 15. 95 Yochum. 175 Yarbrough. 63 Wirzburger. 55 von Fuller. 34 Zora. Kurt. 42 Windoftheclyde.. 39 Yurshta. Alexander J. Adela. 151 Suzanne. Melvin William Joseph. Raul. 50 Theoharides. John. Dinorah. Matt. 203 . 191 Sonia. 173 Yeyo. 190 Suzy.
Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. Inc.S. Massachusetts. U. MA 01840 . 60 Island Street Lawrence. Inc.100 Plus True Stories.A. 2009. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse.
in all languages. Publish your book with CBH Books. Inc. We publish all genres. www.com . has created the imprint CBH Books to support excellence in literature.The publishing house Cambridge BrickHouse.CBHBooks.
This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. The best stories were selected for this book. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view..The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. written as memoirs. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. who were eager to share their experiences. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. illustrate life’s many.99 9 781598 351095 .com. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch.” “.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. cry. or confessions.” “A week before my 26th birthday.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. reflect. Now you are invited to do the same.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. Upon being published. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. but with a different outlook on life–and death. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.100plusts. floating in the air. facing myself. These are true stories told by people like you.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.100plusts.. anecdotes. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard...com $19.. Many people are telling their true stories.. and remember.100plusts.com. These firsthand accounts. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.
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