Archives for category: Daily life

ote:  Esther:  My husband died November 2014, and I faded out of my SorryGnatWorldCitizen blog; I am still a sorry gnat on the spiritual path of becoming a giant eagle, but measurement of who I am these days is not my quest.  I am still connected to TC, a privilege I feel, and am posting her latest newsletter.  I noticed in the LA Times today, someone got 23 years for murder, and TC and her mom, have been in prison for ever; her stepfather abused her forever, but she and her mom, Barbara, didn’t receive battered woman status.  Prayers are the best thing when all seems hopeless.  She’s spunky, and is amazing I think.

The Uncaged Voice

4th QTR, November 2015

Dear Family of Friends,Has it really been nearly a year since last Christmas? They say that time flies when you‘re aving fun. I reckon it also flies when you‘re not counting the days, but instead, counting your blessings. We have more than we can count, and then very recently, had one that is the equivelent of the cherry on top. I‘m referring to the attorney and law professor that agreed to defend Mom‘s case pro bono! Who said that lightning doesn‘t strike twice? We beg to differ. This is Mom‘s second pro bono attorney, but technically, it is the third one to look at the case on her behalf. We believe this third time is a charm, and well, things are looking up!

This is the season of gratitude, and hopefully more love and humanity, and less violence. This is when people stop to actually focus deeply on what they have, more than on what they do not. What we are most grateful for is all of the family of friends who embrace us from across the miles with a letter in the mail. We are so blessed to have such angels in our lives, and we can never thank you enough. That connection to the free world makes all the difference. Each one of you, in r own way, makes a world of difference.

Thank you so very, very much.Love, Peace, and Light,TC and Mama ‚P‘

Prison Lingo

For those in the free world, you may sometimes be a little unclear on what we‘re talking about if we don’t explain our prison lingo. We usually do explain our use of such slang or shorthand but there are times when we are simply on a roll in our letter and neglect to be more informative. So here’s a little Prison Lingo 101.

BPH: Board of Parole Hearings, a.k.a. The Parole Board. When I say I’ll waive my BPH for two years, I mean I will request to not hold my parole hearing for two years.

ADA: It could mean Assistant District Attorney or Americans With Disabilities Act, depending in the context.

AD-SEG: Administrative Segregation, or The Hole.

805: The building number for the infirmary.

OTC: Out to court; transferred back to county jail.

OTM: Out to medical; transported to medical office or facility in the local community for treatment.

C/O: Correctional officer.

I/M: Inmate, as in I/M Paulinkonis

C/C: A double classification called “c-over-c” – basically punishment status for the I/M‘s who don‘t want to work, keep testing dirty for drugs, or are habitual behavioral problems for staff.

LTOPP: Long Term Offender Pilot Program. It is provided to I/M lifers 2-3 years prior to next BPH hearing           

Q & A with T.C.

 Q) Why waive your BPH for 2-3 more years? Couldn‘t you do more for Mom from the outside if paroled?

A) Everyone believes that, but I have carefully evaluated the facts, options, and worst case scenario. I can do more for Mom once I go OTC to begin a new trial. There is evidence that we haven’t openly discussed in letters on this format, but please people, I know what I’m doing. Everyon’‘s hearts are in the right place and so is mine. Once I am released, I’d never be truly free until my mother is released too. A new trial means new evidence and exposure of exculpatory facts that BPH and the DA hid for years. Parole is not an option.

Q) But, wouldn’t you have more benefits on parole?

A) Yes, That and a lifetime leash. My being paroled does not help Mom. If it doesn’t help Mom, it’s not an option.

Q) Okay, so what are your options, released without parole?

A) The short answer is that I’ve done a lot of research. I have sent out inquiries, many not acknowledged with the courtesy of a response. The good news is that I found a re-entry for only seniors aged 50 and over. Being that we are fed up with Romper Room on drugs around here, we’d love a place strictly for real adults. I wrote the Executive Director and await a response.                                                        * *   

A.R.C.‘s Ride Home Program

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) is formed of mostly formerly incarcerated people. ARC sends ex-felons to California state prisons to pick-up long-termer parolees on their release date. Long termers are people who’ve served ten or more years while the outside word has changed. ARC reduces culture shock.

I read about ARC in The New York Times Magazine and I agree that such a program needs to exist. The parolee is met at the prison release area by a couple of guys, ex-cons themselves, who offer the parolee a cell phone to call home, and a ride to a restaurant where they can be served a hot meal without having to stand in a line to get it, or be threatened if they get up out of their seat until told it’s time to leave. For the long termer, that goes against the conditioned behavior that has been instilled in them for years, day after day. They need to relearn life, free and in public, and ARC is there to help them do just that.

The two-man team of ARC drivers take the parolee to the DMV to get a photo I.D. card, and to a nearby department store to get new clothes. The parolee doesn‘t have to touch the $200 gate money they were given. ARC gradually inches the parolee back into the free world during the day trip, before dropping them off at their destination, usually a re-entry program.

This ride home program is currently only for male drivers to pick-up male parolees. That led me to ask why not a female driver to pick-up female parolees? And the light grew brighter! I am in the process of contacting an attorney who is one of the ARC board members who was responsible for helping all non-violent Third Striker inmates released in the aftermath of 2012 changes in law. I want to ask him that question, but more importantly, I want to ask why not me? He teaches law at Stanford University, and well, why not me? Why not a ride home or to a re-entry facility for women who’ve been locked away while engineers taught cars to drive themselves? It’s a whole new world out there and women need reduced culture shock too. Where I see a need I see a purpose. Time for some equality. I am woman – hear me roar!

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Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

Ms. Hepburn wrote this piece when asked to share her own beauty tips. It was read years later at her funeral. Thank you to Carol Rischette for sharing with us, now we can share with others. Here are words to live by.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.            For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.            For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.            For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.            For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others

tear

Army of Woman await their men’s return from Baghdad

Troop Day by Sally M. McNeil (USMC)

Troop Day was held at CCWF on 10 Oct 15 by the Veterans Support Group (VSG) and Dependents Support Group (DSG). It was planned many months in advance, and my day began at 0500 hours.

VSG and DSG planned Troop Day to honor the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). We planned a PFT (Physical Fitness Training) for the women who wanted to participate. Think Boot Camp. Each participant had to complete as many push-ups and sit-ups as they could in two minute test times each. Once that was done, they took to the track for a two mile run, seeking their personal best. Some struggled on the PFT, and some plowed through it like the warriors they could have been.

The PFT is meant to keep soldiers conditioned and physically fit to withstand going to war, in the deserts of the Middle East, jungles of Vietnam, or the mountains of Afghanistan. It takes endurance to fight in a war. They don’t cancel a war because it’s a scorching 133°F or a chilling -22°F. Wars are fought seven days a week for 24 hours a day. Holidays are not observed or honored by the enemy. They‘ll attack when we’re not ready, so you have to have three shifts a day for 24 hours of surveillance. It is the assurance that the enemy cannot sneak up and attack at the dawn of a day.

Conditioning is important along with support from the American people. As prisoners, we may be incarcerated, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that we still love our country and are proud of the branch of service that we represent and served in.

I was in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. I served my country honorably, and CDCR can never take that away from me. Being a Marine prepared me to endure 20 years of imprisonment. I‘ve kept myself conditioned and do my time like a prisoner of war. I will survive my incarceration due to my military discipline and training.

I am a Three Blue Star Mom. All three of my children have been to war. My son, John Jr., is a Green Beret who has been to Afghanistan three times. My daughter has been to both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She had to leave her son with my niece as she went off to honorably fight for our country. My children were welcomed back with wonderful greetings from the press. However, that did not happen for my three uncles who fought in the Vietnam War. Because of this, I painted a yellow ribbon to respectully welcome back all Vietnam veterans. The back-drop of the ribbon was cammoflauge in an array of green, brown, black and beige. It was displayed in the gym during Troop Day for everyone to see … and reflect upon.

For me personally, Troop Day meant thanking the VFW‘s Vietnam vets. They were given a hard time when they returned from the war. I want to thank all of the veterans who did not receive a hearty welcome back home to their land of the e. God bless them, and God bless the U.S.A.Thank Veteran’s for Giving Day

It‘s not a day off of work or school to play video games or to finally reorganize your spice rack.

It‘s not just another day on the calendar. Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance and gratitude. It’s a day to mourn the loss of lives cut down in their prime, or to have a sincere empathy for those still alive but forever changed. It’s a day to not take their personal sacrifices for granted.

Some came home but far too many didn’t. Sadly, there are those still fighting the battles in their minds. It isn’t like a bad day at the beach. It isn’t a forgotten memory. They remember. We need to remember them. Even if it is only to say a prayer, go on; God is listening. For those who can, visit woundedwarrior.org and give what you can. They need us.

Is it any wonder that in November, Thanksgiving falls just two weeks after Veteran’s Day? Let that be one of your reasons to celebrate – the service of our military personnel. They certainly deserve to be appreciated and remembered.

Ed. Note: Wounded Warrior has come under criticism for the limited amount of their funds that they spend to directly support veterans. Please consider researching other reliable organizations to send donations.

 

 

 

 

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… And I Am Grateful

 

Somewhere on the streets of Guatemala there is a ragged child who hasn’t eaten since yeasterday. The pain of their growling stomach is only one of several stages in starvation, something they know all too well.

Somewhere along the Ivory Coast, a man can feel the warmth of the day fade away, ebbing from daylight as the sun begins to set. He cannot see the blend of yellow and orange hues that paint the sky, his vision long gone from wounds suffered in a bloody civil war.

Reading a discarded issue of National Geographic, I see the vivid reality of childen without shoes, I see someone who must carry heavy barrels of river water to their mud hut, I see faces of people who truly know what it is  to live a hard life.

And I feel grateful.

Somewhere, there’s a woman wrinkled by time who weeps over the ashes of a war that has taken good men from her family, and some grandchildren too.

In the ruins of Syria, innocent people trying to escape inevitable death by terrorism scrape together what little they have in order to seek a new life in Europe. Some cannot afford the life vests to protect their childen for the desperate sea voyage but they risk the challenge all the same. And children become another statistic taken by the sea – innocent and so young.

With tears in my eyes, I am grateful.

In many places across America there are people trapped by floods or hikers lost in the wilderness because they took a wrong turn. Perhaps a child sleeping on the couch is struck by a drive-by bullet and hangs on in the ICU. So much misfortune, so much pain, loss, and inhumanity. It all makes me that much more grateful to live the life I’m living.

I‘m not saying that I’d want to re-live my entire childhood or this prison experience all over again if I had the chance not to. But I cannot deny that both have made me more resilient for what lies ahead. My experience has given me a strength that I otherwise would not have. I am a better, stronger woman for the journey. It has introduced each of you into our lives, and we would not want to erase that. And with heartache, with life’s struggles, wounds and scars, character is born. I am a better daughter, friend, and confident for the entire experience.

And for all of that, I am grateful.

 

To Quote a TV Show 

One of the television shows I watch is Madam Secretary. On the October 25th episode, the daughter of the Secretary was caught up in a scandal. Apparently, she made the mistake of taking selfies of her boyfriend (The President’s son), and herself in bed. A former secret service agent out to avenge being fired took possession of the lost cell phone that held the photos and not only released one risky photo to the media but also threatened to release the rest if not paid handsomely not to. Once he was caught, the daughter of The Secretary wanted 15 minutes alone with the guy. Clearly, she had something to say.

The two were put in a room where she broke the ice by asking about his family. She asked questions about him. He answered politely, but then finally he said, “Look, I don’t know what you want from me.” She looked him in the eye and ever so calmly replied, “I just wanted to get to know you better. I didn’t want to reduce you to the one bad decision you had made.“ Something he had done to her.

I grabbed a pen and wrote those lines down. I love a good quote and this was enormous! Those words spoke volumes about each and every one of you who have met us only through the written word and not yet in person. It spoke directly to my heart. Thank you to each of you who took the time to get to know us better and did not reduce us to the one bad decision I made on New Year’s Eve, 1988. And thank you for letting us in return get to know yyou. Thank you.

From The Heart 

Years ago, I heard another quote but I cannot recall where I heard it. I only know that I wrote it down:

“What hurts us the most, that’s where we find our strength – that’s what keeps us going.” 

Words to live by.

Some of you tell me how impressed you are by my strength to carry on after all we’ve been through. Some are even more surprised at my tolerance and patience with the long, drawnout process of this appeal for a new trial. Many have told me that they’d have lost patience by now. So, how do I do it? What hurt me is what keeps me going. He’s not allowed to win every battle, even in death. My stepfather is not allowed to define my character by his own flaws.

First of all, I’m really in no big hurry to leave Mom here alone without me. I do have to leave at some point but I‘m not in a hurry. I’m on God’s timetable, not my own. If I had the choice to rush into court for a new trial clear back in say, 2005, I would not have been as ready as I am now, nor would I have the evidence that questions the DA’s integrity. So yes, God knew what He was doing all along. The DA thinks that they are running the show, but I know better.

I have the will to face down the dragon. I don’t know how to give up, so quitting was never an option. I kept the faith, allowed hope into my heart, ran with patience the race before me, and well, like the song says, “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.” I can relate deeply to the lirics in :Fight Song:”

Like a small boat, on the ocean            Sending big waves, into motion            Like how a single word, can make a heart open            I may only have one match, but I’ll make an explosion            This is my fight Song, take back my life song            Prove I’m alright song, my power’s turned on            I don’t care what no one else believes –            I still got a lot of fight left in me!

So, I say from the heart to you – my strength come from a power greater than myself. My willingness to face demons from the past and ressurecting old ghosts is all part of doing what this girl has got to do. And yes, it would be a badge of honor to hear them say, “You fight like a girl.” Your darn right I do. Right into the New Year and beyond! Its’ time to fight lik a girl!

Happy Christmas & New Year,TC and Mama P

Teresa Paulinkonis                                                                  Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis

W45118     513-5-3U                                                             W45120     513-5-3L.O. Box 1508                                                             P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                           Chowchilla, CA 93610

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

imagesCAUFKWM11359165214-protest-at-holloway-prison-supports-women-prisoners-rights_1750354The Uncaged Voice
4th QTR, 2013
Available free upon request at: elayneclift@gmail.com

Dear Family and Friends:
So much has happened this year, the fourth quarter is already here! We have been grateful for every blessing, and each of you is counted twice. Thank you for joining us on this journey of hope, faith, change, and personal growth.
In this issue, we asked a few inmates to write about their personal journey, with emphasis on the positive. We are very grateful for their willingness to be honest and forthcoming, using this forum as a stage to share from. One woman in particular requested that her identity be confidential, and as always, I will honor that.
I understand that many have questions about how my parole hearing with the BPH went on September 11th so I wrote a summary report that I hope makes the realities of that experience absolutely clear. It would not be clear without a little history that led to the decision; therefore, I included that, as not all readers have been privy to the facts.
As always, we hope this edition finds you doing well, safe from harm, and embracing each day as the gift that it is. We are grateful for your support, and ask that you continue to share this publication in any way available to you, even on Facebook, blogs, etc. Knowledge is to be shared. Each writer is a living testimony, as they too celebrate their uncaged voice.
Namaste,
TC & Mama P
SB-260 Update
When California Senator Loni Hancock introduced the Senate bill, SB-260, in March 2013, she knew it would be a battle. The bill recognized that juvenile offenders differ from adult offenders, mainly due to the lack of brain maturation. Hancock pushed this bill because she believed in experts like Lawrence Steinberg and advocates such as Human Rights Watch, who were speaking out about the barbarism in sentencing youth under the age of 18 to lengthy life sentences in adult prisons. I’ll refer to them as JOSAA.
SB-260 passed on May 20, 2013 by a vote of 27:11, and again on July 2, 2013 in the Public Safety Committee by a 4:2 vote. Whew! The big vote on September 6, 2013 by Assembly members was 51:21 in favor of passage. We’re happy to report that Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on September 16, 2013.
This does not mean that all juvenile offenders will automatically be released. It simply means that there will be an opportunity to be found suitable sooner than they would have using the adult matrix set term protocol. The matrix is determined by case factors. So far this is what we know:
• Any JOSAA with 15 years or more will be eligible for parole after 15 years, but only by a special BPH panel.
• Those serving life sentences will be eligible after having served the base term of their actual crime; this means minus the enhancements that got stacked on top.
• Adults don’t begin life term until they enter state prison, which means county time does not really count at first until after found suitable. JOSAAs will begin their life sentence or determinate term from the day of initial arrest and incarceration. All time credit counts.
o Example: A 16 year old, sentenced to 25 years-to-life for homicide, plus an additional 10 years for a gun enhancement, is received in prison in 1998. Her time begins at arrest in 1996, with the 20 year base of the life term, minus the enhancement. In other words, she is eligible for parole in 2016 instead of 2028.
For more information on SB-260 go to http://www.hrw.org or call Elizabeth Calvin: 310-477-5540. Thank you so much for all of your support in passage of this vital bill. Everyone who helped made the difference. Thank you!
Not Everything About Prison is Negative, by Cora Murry
My story begins on August 3, 2003 when I arrived at prison a very angry person. When I was sentenced to 24 years, I thought it was the end of the world. It seemed like a lifetime away. I had only one thought and that was to make a name for myself behind these walls. Fighting was an outlet for my anger until my dear friend, Shawn, reprimanded me. She bluntly got my attention with “Cora, you’re not going to succeed like that! What about our plans?” At that moment, the light came on. It was clear that if I was going to make it in here I wouldn’t get very far by fighting. From that day forward I managed more control over my emotions and began planning for my future.
About eight months later I obtained a job on the yard crew. I performed my duties so well that I was recommended for a seamstress job at my facility yard clothing room. All I knew about sewing was what little I had gained from watching my mother years earlier. However, I accepted the job offer to stay on course with reaching my ultimate goal of working at Joint Venture. In order to achieve that goal I needed to build a strong resume. I was hired as the clothing room seamstress.
After doing well in that job for six months I applied for a position at PIA Fabric, a warehouse setting very similar to the 1920s sweatshops. I was quickly hired but the position required that I move from B-yard to C-yard, leaving the very peers who had mentored me to that point. It was scary relocating like that, but I adapted to new people, roommates, and the yard change in general. If nothing else, prison forces adaptation and you can either resist or go with it, and in this case, it was a new path toward my goal. I left the seamstress job at $36/month for the PIA job at $75/month. My goal at that time was to receive my five cent an hour raises every three months in order to raise my earnings to upwards of $100/month. Given all of the overtime and Saturdays that I worked I was well on my way.
I added being a WAC member to my responsibilities. WAC stands for Women’s Advisory Council. I became a voice for the women who couldn’t, or simply did not know how, to speak up for their prison rights. I spent one year doing this, keeping myself busy with as many positive activities as possible. Life was good by prison standards – until May 5, 2004.
I had done well for myself and was reaching goal after goal. Then I received the call that every prisoner fears, which is to report to your counselor’s office for a personal phone call. That was the day that my family informed me that my beloved mother, Alma Murry, had passed away. My flame began to flicker as I felt the oxygen leave my body. I had never been more crushed. I cried for three straight days in my solitude of bereavement, and then I knew that I had to make a decision. I could pick myself up and move forward or rebel in my pain, losing my job while other inmates waited to fill my position. I did exactly what my mother would have wanted me to do: I pushed forward, refocusing on my goal anew. I didn’t quit.
Exactly one year later, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, I was hired at my prison dream job: Allwire Electric Company, operated under the prison title of Joint Venture. I had made it! I went from one goal to the next until I reached my then ultimate goal. I started at the legal minimum wage as opposed to pennies on the dollar and did well for three years until 2008, when 15 others and I were laid off due to reduced work production. Still, I’m grateful for all that I learned.
My next goal is to be hired at PIA Dental. I earned my GED on August 5, 2013 and now intend to pursue my AA degree. It hasn’t been easy but I’m living proof that hard work and dedication does hold priceless rewards. In sharing my story, I hope my message is loud and clear: a lot of positive things can be achieved in life, even in a place like prison. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved thus far, but I’m still a work-in-progress. You can do anything you set your mind to, and like me, you too can be your own success story.
What Happened?!?
There are a good many of our friends scratching their heads, trying to wrap their brains around what happened at my parole suitability hearing on September 11, 2013. Given my positive prison record and impressive C-file, many cannot grasp the idea that not only was I denied parole for three more years, but that I asked the panel to permit me to stipulate to such a decision. I will do my best to explain how that sort of thing happens.
First, we need to time travel backwards to the year 2005 when my first suitability hearing was held. Prior to any hearing, all lifers must submit to a psychological evaluation that not only digs into their past but assesses their risk for recidivism likelihood. The BPH relies on these reports, providing them with the professional opinion of a licensed psychologist, which carries a lot of weight in that room. I had 602’d the report for its inaccurate assumptions and biased declarations that I have since proven false, but my 2005 hearing was held with that 2005 analysis used heavily against me. I learned something that year: I learned to fight lies with real evidence. But, what lies?
My interview with Dr. Hartung had lasted all of 45 minutes, with three phone call interruptions, one of which was so private he had me step out of the room for about seven minutes. I had answered questions about my childhood including the ugly truth of abuse. I explained how when I was five years old I was a chronic bed-wetter and my parents had me see a doctor to fix the problem. I told him, “They scheduled me for surgery. A surgery that was not necessary, because I didn’t have a bladder problem; I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it. The smell of urine appalled him, so even at five years old I had figured out a way to protect myself.”
In his report, however, Dr. Hartung had said that I had completely fabricated the story about the surgery. He wrote that not only is such a surgery for chronic bed-wetting unheard of at such a young age, but that I was narcissistic to think that I could manipulate him into believing the story of a conspiracy against me by my parents and the doctor for this unnecessary surgery. I never said it was unnecessary in the cruel sense of a conspiracy. I said it was unnecessary because I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it.
Oh, it gets better.
During our interview, on at least three occasions, he asked me if I had ever set fires or tortured animals. I was annoyed when he asked the third time. I’m in prison for killing my stepfather, yes, but I’m not a serial killer, for Pete’s sake! However, in the printed report, the good doctor based part of his claim that I lied about the sexual abuse on the fact that I had denied being an arsonist or sadist. I was raised to respect other people’s property and everyone knows I love animals. I don’t know what textbook he got his theory from, but not all incest and rape survivors resort to arson and sadistic acts of animal torture.
In a nutshell, he called me a sociopathic, narcissistic, antisocial liar without empathy or remorse. He called me a freakin’ liar! I was so outraged to have my voice shoved to a dark corner like that I decided to put that anger to good use. Instead of acting out, I responded with a mission to prove that Dr. Hartung’s report wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. I had to find the evidence, so I wrote every hospital in the Bay area until I obtained my medical records, and I had the proof staring me in the face. I not only had records of what led up to the surgery and the surgery itself, but other medical records that, had my trial attorney done this research before the 1992 trial, the jury would have had an entirely different perspective. Armed with those documents, I was actually grateful that Dr. Hartung set my anger on fire because it sent me into action. No survivor likes to be called a liar. As a matter of fact, it is that very fear that prevents most victims from speaking out. It takes guts and raw courage to speak up and it is almost condemning to not be believed when you do. Thank God I was already ten years into my recovery when that happened; otherwise I may have just shut down. However, I had found my voice. I didn’t shut down. And I didn’t shut up.
In 2008 I had a roommate named Echo who advised me that I could put a free ad in the Craig’s List website to draw attention to our case. We certainly couldn’t afford legal counsel so I thought, why not place an ad? I asked Steve and Carolyn to place the ad for me and they did, using their email address for responses. There were several hits which eventually led to my mother and I both gaining pro bono legal representation.
In 2009 I was scheduled for my subsequent parole suitability hearing, therefore [sent] to see a psychologist to perform a new assessment analysis report. I explained that I had legal representation that was putting together a Writ of Habeas Corpus and that I had already waived my 2009 BPH hearing because of this. He agreed that holding the lengthy interview would be irrelevant if I was not holding my hearing and also seeking to go back to court. He excused me from the interview, then once I left he proceeded to evaluate me without my being present. He used the 2005 report as his test subject instead of using me for that purpose. If that is not illegal, it should, at the very least, be deemed unethical. In essence, the 2005 report was still haunting me.
Fast forward now to 2013. I had to tell you all of that in order for what I’m about to tell you to make sense. When changes were made to BPH policy after passage of Marsy’s Law, it was determined that all psychological evaluations of lifers up for parole would carry a shelf-life of five years. The 2009 report is still valid until about 3rd quarter, 2014.
Due to the unethical nature of the 2009 report, my state-appointed legal counsel, Michele Garfinkel, requested of the panel that I be allowed to postpone my hearing so that I can be re-evaluated for a fair and impartial hearing. The panel denied that request. Michele then asked to speak to me privately to review my options, which we did.
Okay, I could go forward with this hearing using that foul report full of false accusations and risk what could have amounted to about a five year denial of parole. Michele, however, patiently explained the benefits of option #2 which was clearly in my best interest. I chose to stipulate to the minimum denial of parole which was three years. By doing so, I could wait out the shelf-life of the 2009 report and then take my medical records and evidence of abuse into an entirely new interview process for a new evaluation. That should help nip presumed assumptions of sociopathic lying. Well, I’m hoping that seeing the proof will make a difference. After a year I can file a 1045A formal request to have my next hearing held prior to the three year wait. Yes, in other words, I still obtained a postponement to obtain a new evaluation, but we’re calling it a three year stipulation of denial of parole. It’s just part of the political process. Had I faced the panel with the warped 2004 report it certainly would have been freedom suicide. This is not a matter of manipulating the system. I see it as a matter of using their written policy as a means to pursue my path to freedom, even if it requires that I file extra paperwork in order to do so.
I’m very satisfied with my decision and definitely grateful to Michele for her careful explanation of the law and my legal options. She says she does BPH law because she believes in the process. Her demeanor and professionalism was evident that those were not just words. Any lifers interested in a competent and caring BPH attorney, contact Michele Garfinkel, 1611 S Street, Suite 202, Sacramento, CA 95811.
There’s Nothing Funny About It
While it is true that the California state prison system has become a warehousing debt maker to hold inmates bulging at the seams, it has also warehoused the mentally ill. With the closures of many of the psychiatric hospitals, those patients need to be placed somewhere to obtain the help they need. They are being housed in prison, where they may not necessarily receive the medical attention that they need. Budget cuts have decreased the available staff and options for the mentally ill are limited.
Inmates who hear voices walk the grounds here, arguing and socializing with those voices. Those of us who cannot hear their voices are clueless as to what they are going through. There is nothing funny about an individual who is struggling on the brink of sanity and insanity. However, there are those who point, laugh, and even mimic the women devoured by inner demons in a fight for control. It is sad. It is preventable. It is inappropriately on display to be ridiculed by those who are fortunate not to be one of the mentally ill, lost in a wasteland of voices and finger-pointing. It is a lot of things, but funny it is not.
I learned that prison has a pill-popping policy that is their answer to everything. Now mind you, I can grasp that in some cases people need a pill for this or that. In 1995 I was having trouble sleeping. I was battling my own demons of the past. The staff here in white jackets wanted to give me Elavil, a psychotropic medication. A mood changer. I didn’t need a pill, I needed to talk. However, being overworked and understaffed, they would rather give you a pill and send you on your way. Since I refused pills to numb my pain they removed me from the list to be seen. By the way, the guy who did that was eventually walked off the job for inappropriate sexual behavior with a patient. Need I say more?
There are a good many individuals who are doing well with the use of medications but what about the ones on the walkway who argue loudly with the voices in their heads? The ones who officers walk right past? The ones who are getting the short end of the stick? They don’t belong in prison. They belong somewhere where they can receive help. Real help.
CCWF has a policy in place called EOP – Enhanced Outpatient Program. There is a unit in the receiving yard that houses those not ready for assimilation into the general population of inmates. There are rooms in each of the general population units that have “step-up” rooms. They are called that as a means of stepping up [or transitioning] from EOP. If the women can’t make it there they are returned to EOP. What is sad is that there are many who really aren’t making it as opposed to barely hanging in there. Since these step-up rooms are in G.P., we are all mingled together. If the EOP/Step Up inmate attacks one of us, they get a pass. No repercussions because they are deemed mentally ill. If we defend ourselves we can get a write-up. So not only are they vulnerable in this situation, but we are as well.
There are a lot of things broken in the penal system, but especially at the level of incarceration. There are people who do belong here, most certainly, but there are way too many who should be in a different environment. Definitely not criminal isolation. So when you are saying your prayers, add one for the mentally ill prison population. Someone needs to care about them, and if it’s not the system, it needs to be us.
When You Complain, You Remain by Niki Martinez
Who among us just gets frustrated and walks around saying, “I hate this place!” or “I’m sick of being here!”? We all have those days. And it puts you in a crappy mood. But I need to remind you: when you complain, you remain! It tends to set the tone for your day, your attitude and your perspective. It is so easy to get caught up in the mentality of “I hate it here.” But what we need to realize is that it could always be worse. When we change our perspective, we change our attitude, and when we change our attitude, it affects our lives! Why walk around feeling crappy, making life worse than it has to be, because we choose to? We have to know what thoughts to ignore, and respectfully, what people to ignore.
Too many people are negative and discouraged because they don’t like where they are. It’s just not where they want to be. They missed the unlock, their roommate locked them out, they’re stuck at the gate, they want in, they want out, they can’t wait for the door to open to go program, they get to work and they’re still irritated. They want to shop, they come back and they’re mad about being locked out and not getting this or that! They are always fighting against something. They are always trying to be somewhere else. We really need to begin to understand that change begins in us, not in our circumstances. The wrong attitude will keep us right where we are! So often, we find ourselves fighting our way to happiness, thinking it’s some sort of destination. We’re always trying to reach somewhere else and then we will be happy. “Once I shop, I’ll be happy.” “If I could just move then I’d be happy.” “If I had that other job, if I could move off this yard…” Or the bigger one that all of us are so convinced of: “If I could just get out of this prison, then I’d be happy.”
When we think of it like that, it only holds us back from our own happiness. A better approach is “This is where God has me right now and until He moves me, I’ll be happy right now, right here.” It is our choice. Our happiness doesn’t involve our circumstances or our place of residence, it involves our perspective and our attitude. We have to be determined to enjoy our lives no matter where we are living them. And when we understand that God has us exactly where He wants us, and when we learn to be happy where we are, He will take us where we want to be.
If we want to see God open new doors, the key is to bloom right where we are planted. We cannot wait until everything becomes better before we decide to have a good attitude. We have to be the best we can be right where we are.
When we change our approach, slow down, and just enjoy the journey, or take in all the journey has to offer, we will arrive where we’re supposed to be, but our lives will be much more fulfilled. And then we will be blessed with the perspective that it was all worth it. Instead of looking at what w don’t have, be grateful for what we do have. Somebody in this world would gladly trade places with us. Somebody would love to able to breathe like us, or be able to walk like us or see like us. Somebody would love to living where we are living.
Complaining only delays better days.

Choices by Christina Francis
Life is about choices- good and bad, positive and negative – and the consequences of actions taken because of the choices we make. My own choices led to my being a juvenile offender sentences as an adult. I entered State prison only three months after turning 17 years old. At that time I was the youngest person housed at CCWF, not exactly the claim to fame one strives to reach. I was instantly defined as a lost cause and led to believe that this was true. My truth. Not knowing any better, I embraced that [stigmata]; that is how I began serving my life sentence.
Through many trials and tribulations, today I now know that this is not true. That it need not be my legacy. I’ve learned in my own way to turn that around and to re-evaluate my views and values. Incarceration really is the biggest time out ever. It has brought me face to face with the here and now. Although I am separated from the outside world, prison has offered me the grand opportunity to stop and think about the natural flow of life, and to reflect on my place in it.
It has not been easy to grow up in a women’s prison. To be raised in such a volatile and angry environment. My vision, hope and faith were distorted by the daily madness; I simply let it envelop me and became a part of it. I somehow settled it in my mind that not only would this be where I will die, but that I was okay with such a desolate reality.
Over the years, however, that 17 year old kid has grown up, and in that development process I forced myself to look deeper into my core issues. I did not do this alone, but with the help and support of good friends who had pure motives and who hoped to see me reach my true potential. It took time but I found that it really is possible to overcome challenges. It took all the super-human dedication and effort that I could muster, but I grew tall enough mentally to see over the mountains of what I perceived as impossible. I’m content with the struggles that I’ve encountered. In life, every struggle, every circumstance of pain and chaos is in itself a lesson in progress. I have gained wisdom and personal strength through this philosophy and it allows me to perceive and respond to things as they are.
Growth requires limitless courage and through the experiences that taught me that I now believe that anything is possible. Before I could ever take control and rebuild my life I needed a firm desire to make my wishes sincere and real in every way. The more progress I made, the closer I drew toward becoming a useful person with a purpose in life. I learned that making excuses for not growing and feeling sorry for myself and my predicament was wasted energy. The negative sources of stagnation that I surrounded myself with only delayed my growth process – time I can never get back. When I hear someone say that I never had half a chance, I hear a voice of knowing that says, “You create your own chances, or lack thereof.” And I know this is true. At least for me it is.
I am a true believer that an inner drive for growth will push you forward; I’m living witness to how you can conquer many obstacles by demanding such commitment to personal growth. Being incarcerated, I have little control over many aspects of institutional life, but I have control over myself, how I see things, and most certainly, how I react to all of it. We can choose to advance or sit in our self-pity and rot. The choice is ours. As for myself, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and progressing forward. Doing so has made all the difference. A difference I now embrace.

I Saw God Today by Patti Garrison
I saw God today,
In the sunrise;
Beautiful hues of pink and purple,
Brush strokes in the clouds;
Painted by a master painter.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is beautiful.

I saw God today,
In the forest;
Awed by the majestic trees,
Which have stood against
Winds and storms, yet stand proud.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is strong.

I saw God today,
In the eyes of a man;
He rises early to feed the hungry,
And help the needy,
His only reason being that help is needed.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is kind.

I saw God today,
In the actions of a woman;
She stopped to help a homeless man.
She extended her hand and he was hesitant,
Until he saw her smile.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is compassionate.

I heard God today,
In the laughter of a child;
So pure and sweet,
Filling the air,
With happiness and innocence.
Yes, I saw god today,
And I can tell you, He is joyous!

I thanked God today,
For allowing me to see and hear Him,
In the simple, yet beautiful everyday things,
Which surround us all,
If only we take the time to notice.
Yes, I thanked God today,
And I can tell you, I am blessed.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving by Strictly Anonymous
I, like anyone else, have a story to tell. I believe we are all the walking proof of our pasts. While my story may not be pretty, the truth is that for prisoners it never really is.
In high school I never really had very many friends. The jocks all thought they were gods, the cheerleaders were total snobs, and the in-crowd could see that I was more out than in. I felt like an outsider looking in to a world that didn’t care if I even existed. I felt alone in the world.
And then I met him. He made me feel like I mattered. He actually wanted my time, my attention, to hear my own thoughts; he even asked about my dreams. His name was Jeff. I was 16 years old and in the 11th grade. Jeff, however, was 21; he worked as a forklift operator at a large warehouse. He made money that he readily spent on me. I had never felt so special in all my life. For the first time, I felt loved.
Because of our ages we had to keep our relationship a secret. Even from my sister, who almost always knew what I was up to due to her snooping nature.
We had been dating for over a year when Jeff hit me for the first time. I never saw it coming. He kept it invisible to the peering world by leaving marks only where clothing hid the bruises. Somehow he had convinced me that it was my fault. That I made him so mad at me I had it coming. I actually believed that.
In a relationship like that things never get better. Ours got worse and when he realized he had gotten me pregnant, he expected me to get an abortion. Hiding the relationship was one thing, but hiding an abortion from my devout Catholic parents was a whole other idea. Jeff and I argued over this. I was 17 years old by then and he kept telling me how he could get in trouble if I didn’t get the abortion. The final straw was when he began to threaten that he’d kill the baby himself. I imagined his kicking me in the stomach. I agreed to the abortion to escape that sense of a beating. The next day I disappeared from his life.
Jeff couldn’t contact me at school and he couldn’t contact my family for fear of statutory rape charges. What he didn’t know was that I’d told my parents the truth. It was all I could think of to do. First I told my mother, then with my mother’s support, my father too. I went to live with my aunt in southern California and spent my son’s first two years under her roof. She was my saving grace. I was able to get a job and my GED with her help and daily encouragement. I made a life for myself in southern California and life was good. Jeff was only a memory.
When I was 24 years old, my son Dalton was six and in school. I was working at an office building that had a front desk with security personnel. One day I was called to come down from my office to see a visitor at the front desk. I was told his name: Jeff had found me. I felt my breath get trapped in my lungs. The walls were closing in. I couldn’t even speak for the first few seconds. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet him at the front desk, but I warned Perry, the security officer, on the phone, “This may not end well. Please stay nearby.” Perry assured me and I reported to the desk.
Well, this story actually did end well. Jeff asked me to sit on a couch in the lobby with him and he proceeded to tell me how he had found me. It wasn’t very hard; I had never changed my name. He assured me that he had grown up, changed his ways, and was a better man than the immature person I had left behind. He apologized and then he asked, “How is life? Tell me about the baby.” I told him he had a son. I gave him ten minutes, and then had to return to work, but agreed to meet him in a very public place – a restaurant. I showed him photos and literally let him see his son grow up in pictures. Our son. My intuition was that Jeff really had changed.
Although Jeff and I never got back together again, we were able to maintain a personal relationship of respect and I introduced him to Dalton. After about three months, Jeff relocated to southern California to be closer to his son. They have formed a beautiful bond and I am grateful for that. Had I held on to my anger, hatred and mistrust of Jeff, I would have robbed my son of the privilege of knowing his father. I chose to accept Jeff’s apology, and I truly forgave him. Once I did, I was freed from the past.
A few years ago, I took the law into my own hands against a coach, to protect Dalton. The law didn’t like my idea of a mother’s love and I was sentenced to 16 years in State prison. However, Jeff brings my son to see me twice a month and on holidays. My one act of forgiveness has come back to me over and over again.
When I began telling my story, you may not have expected this ending, but what it amounts to is this: Life is beautiful, even in prison.

Hey, Sports Fans!
Joe had tickets for the Super Bowl with a seat on the 50-yard line. As he sat down he noticed that the seat next to his was vacant. He asked the man on the other side if anyone was sitting there.
“No,” the man replied. “That seat is empty.”
“This is incredible!” Joe said. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super bowl and not use it?”
The man looked up and said, “Well, it actually belongs to my wife but she passed away. This will be the first Super Bowl we haven’t been together since we married 23 years ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Joe. “Couldn’t you find a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”
The man simply shrugged, saying, “No. They’re all at the funeral!”

From the Heart
I remember my first trip to Yosemite National Park in 1982 with a few of my co-worker friends. We drove late at night so didn’t see much scenery going through Mariposa. We couldn’t see much more than darkness around us beyond the bit of road in the headlights. It wasn’t until daybreak that we really saw the beauty of the valley floor. It was nearly intoxicating.
After checking in and locating our canvas tent cabins the four of us set about exploring the park. We headed straight for the tourist spot of the magical and fantastic Yosemite Falls. The way the mist kissed your face you knew you were somewhere special. I wasn’t the most religious person in the world and even I felt as if I’d been misted by God.
Garfield, Lynn and Lori were good company as we hiked up the fall, the slippery wet rocks beneath my boots. We could feel the change in altitude taking effect, the higher we went. I think it was my legs that felt the burn equal to what Garfield’s lungs did. That’ll teach her to smoke! Lori and I wanted to go up higher but Garfield couldn’t make it, and well, abandoning her wasn’t an option. We did make it to a high pool where we could sit on some boulders and just take it all in for a moment. It was absolutely magnificent. Here was clearly a landscape that paintings could not do justice to, for it was a creation not of man, but of a power greater than that.
In those few minutes before we trekked back down the falls I took it all in. I breathed it in. I soaked it up like a sponge and I have kept it all these years. It was one of those experiences that photos cannot convey but can only capture frozen in time. In those few minutes, I truly appreciated that I had the opportunity that not everyone does. I’ve met many women here that never had that chance. And every time that I do, I feel blessed all over again.
So I say from the heart to you: Don’t ever take anything for granted. Not your knowledge, mobility, senses, or next meal. Don’t take it for granted that you can breathe or talk or have clothing and clean water to drink. It is said that the best things in life aren’t things, but everything. I agree. When you struggle, it is part of your life’s blueprint, and even the butterfly must struggle out of the cocoon before it can fly. A woman goes through pain when her child is being born but she is grateful for the priceless gift. Stop and think about the people you haven’t spoken to or seen in awhile. Then tell them that you’re thinking of them. You just may make their day. Better yet, they are given the opportunity to make yours. Works for me. May you all have a safe, healthy, happy holiday season.
Love and Peace,
TC and Mama P
T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 (514-16-04U) W45120 (514-15-02L)
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508 Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508

(In typing this newsletter, some minor edits were made for clarity. Words in brackets indicate that the handwritten version was unclear.)

EstherandElizabeth, 6 years old birthdayliz near end 1
Full of Days

I am old and full of days, and I know this because I get gift certificates in the mail, small bordered, blue; staccato messages to me approaching a distinctly marked age, as not like my twin’s age of 68 when her soul pierced the body’s shell and flew onward and upward, and when I had a feeling or wrote something like, “We will see each other once again -against the dark space and within the illumined lands of God, and we will remember our days as three year olds, sitting on tricycles of resplendent fire engine red and sturdy wheels, not yet aware of the rivets and tunnels we would face in our growth as twins and as souls, an intertwining of hate and love.

Fraternal twins. She from my father’s stock, the ones that produced fine men and maybe a sister or two who vaulted into business, and he, our father who was very much on earth, despaired at his life, the alcoholic wife, the kids like cartoon blocked figures with hair all over them, reminiscent of cave days, as witnessed by their teenage grunts from, “Where are you going?” and their toned and chanted response, emitting from their closed lips, “Out.” And indeed they went out.

The older girl, older in months; neighbors say they are all Irish twins, born within so many months of the other, tskk, tskkk. The older sister, yeah, you know the one who won the Margaret O’Brien Look Alike contest in Boston? Oh yeah her, she went out, out indeed.

She conceived a child as she melted into the arms of her teenage lover, the one who laughed and came from a poverty so cruel, and she was sent away to a home for pregnant girls, and all I can say is, “Thank God, she didn’t live in Ireland,” the Ireland of the Magdalene Sisters, in whose convent, young girls of impure type were housed in terror. For it was a time of sheer cement walls and slaves blending in, Irish girl slaves, those who might have had an impure thought or wrested themselves away from a pushy boy, or better yet, did the dirty deed and used the portion of her body referred to as “down there.”

Out also went the twins who by this time had finished throwing pitchforks and ice choppers at one another, but who had graduated to nasty, slime-ridden comments, of “I’m not sitting in the car, next to Esther,” or she, of the famous Hebrew Queen’s name, ran away from the Randall G. Morris Elementary black tarred school yard before Liz could cream her, she ran blocks and darted through the back door of the twelve- room house on Fernwood Road, in West Roxbury, and double locked the old brass locks against an avenging twin.

Not quite like the caves and battles of Beowulf and Grendel, but darn, didn’t Liz thrust her fist through a small paned window and reach down and unlock both locks and burst in and pin the curled up Esther into the coat rack of old winter coats and jackets?

And then that twin and her queen-named counterpart would, miraculously at twenty-one, be kind to one another. The catalyst for such kindness was a brain stem injury on behalf of our sports figure, Liz, of the mighty fist, which rendered her, well let’s just say, “Rendered her.” From those days of miraculous recovery, a mother had died, the father remarried, the sister gone and married; the brother disappearing and last heard was a used car salesman. We proceeded to fill the pages of our lives and we would always help each other out in a crisis. One day of cumulus clouds in Caldwell, Idaho, she passed on, at age 68 of cancer. The first bracket of the hyphenated, “tell-the-twins,” passed, piercing the body’s shell, her soul going on, leaving husks of giant blades of a sad, sad life, but at peace and loving her boys, one who would marry a pure soul and produce golden children, but that is another story.

The story is now 7-8 years later, I, Esther, who was born twelve minutes later, am approaching that demarcation known as “Full of pages of life,” of skin like parchment paper, but also of still ever sturdy hips.

And so this has turned out to be a prose poem, for what does the poet do? They pierce the state of the mundane and rise to astonishment as words from an unseen ocean spill and spill out onto the earth of one’s mind.

imagesThe Uncaged Voice
2nd QTR, 2013-04-25
available free by request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends
You will notice that we‘ve changed the name of this newsletter. The truth is, we‘ve thought about it for a year now, and the new name came to me while I meditated out of this place. It moved me so The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter is now renamed TheUncaged Voice.
This newsletter began many years ago as an easy way for us to better inform family, friends, and pen pals of the realities of our life behind the walls. It was mostly updates on health status and BPH matters. The more I wrote, the more vocal I became, the more informative my writing became. Along the way, I discovered I had a politically outspoken revealer within myself. Then I began to seek other prisoners that had something to say. We may be in prison, but this newsletter has carried our uncaged voices out to society. With every one of you that posts it on your blog, web page, or copies and circulates it, you help us spread not only the truth, but our reality for others to see. Please continue to help us expose our words ….. our voices.
In this issue, the topic tended to focus on moms. I sat down to write, and blam! There it was. This will likely not reach you until after Mother‘s Day, but it is dedicated to all of the moms out there. You have the hardest job in the world. I knew it was hard when I was a kid, and that‘s when I decided I‘d rather just be responsible for a pet cat. Works for me.
Anyhow, I‘ve asked a few others to share their own thoughts, feelings, and realities in this issue about what it is like to either be a mother in prison, or to be in here away from their mother. Everyone has a different story, so I hope to be able to share other women‘s experiences, other than my own. I have my mother here with me, so every day is Mother‘s Day. For most however, prisons are built in the middle of nowhere, and then a community grows around it as jobs become available. Therefore, visits are never guaranteed, but they make all the difference.
Please share this newsletter with others. Hear our voices.
Happy Mother‘s Year!
TC and Mama P

Life Scripting – written by Wilma Kilpatrick
I know that while there are many free citicens reading this newsletter, many prisoners do as well. I would like to inform both groups of people about a class at CCWF calle Life Scripting. I do hope to encourage other prisoners to enroll in it.
Life Scripting is a very positive and informative 80 hour class that I recommend to those that have the opportunity to participate in it. It has taught me techniques in how to deal with negative energy regarding people, places, and things. It also guided me onot a path of self-discovery as I learned how to get in touch with my inner child. In doing so, I was able to gain insight into why I did many of the things I have done, and to grasp a clearer perspective into my thinking patterns. Negative habits cannot be broken unless they are recognized and addressed when you‘re ready to be honest with yourself, this class can help you.
Oh, sure there‘s a lot of writing! Anyone too lazy to write, need no apply. Change requires work and effort. For those willing to take a step in a new direction, this class offers hope for a better self-reflection. Participants are educated in the four key areas of self, family, relationships, and society, by arming women with the psychological strategies needed to make healthy, personal choices. The lessons motivates the students to want to alter their social and anti-social behavourism.
My personal experience allowed me to witness the unique approach the class exercises in helping women heal from their own traumatic experiences. Many suffered mental, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuses as children that left scars that lingered into adulthood. They‘re taught how to reframe, which is to rethink and look at things differently.
From what I understand, many of the Free Worlder‘s reading this newsletter are avid writers, some members of writer‘s clubs and guilds. Maybe there‘s an avenue there to seek something similar, if not at YWCA or local women‘s shelters that can recommend resources. For those at CCWF, I cannot stress enough how much you can get out of this class. Take advantage of this golden opportunity while we have volunteers that sacrifice their time to offer us hope for a new improved self.
Thank you for letting me reach out to you all.

Inmate Manuscripts / Publication Opportunity
Everyone has a story to tell. It could be a mystery of pure fiction, or an account of their incarceration experience. It could be of fantasy, science, or romance. It can be an open no-puncher-pulled memoir that exposes all of their well kept secrets as a means to tell the world, „I will no longer be silenced!“ We all have voices.
Prisons Foundation wants to publish inmate manuscripts. All genres welcome. They will not be screened, or censored. All work will be scanned as received, no editing will take place, so that means errors and all will be published. Proofreading is your responsibility prior to submission. You work will be placed on the internet for free worldwide reading on thier website, http://www.prisonsfoundation.org, and will remain there indefinitely (unless a problem arises where at their discretion, it needs to be removed). Anyone can view, read, even download your work at no charge. However, you do retain full rights to your book, should you later wish to later seek commercial publication for profit.
No manuscript will be returned. If you want a copy for yourself, either make one prior to submission, or wait for it to be published online and have a friend or family member go to the above website to download it for you.

Below are guidelines you must follow to publish your book. Your book will be rejected and will not be returned to you if it does not follow them.
1. Every page of your book must be on 8 ½ by 11 paper and unbound.
2. Nonfiction and fiction books must be over 100 pages and no more than 500 pages.
3. Plays, screenplays, poetry, music books, art books and comic books must be over 20 pages and not more than 150 pages.
4. A self-addressed stamped envelope showing your prison address must accompany your book so they can inform you of its imminent publication and verify that you are indeed the author.
5. The cover of your book must contain your name, title of the book (not to exceed 10 words, including subtitle), date, whether the book is nonfiction or fiction, a brief paragraph about it (to entice readers to read your book) and both your prison address and your outside permanent address.
6. Legal motions, transcripts and court records (unless they are brief and part of your book) will NOT be published.
7. If your book includes photos or drawings, they must be glued firmly to 8 ½ by 11 paper exactly where you want them in your book.
8. Use only one side of each sheet of paper (though you can use paper with one side previously used for another purpose as long as you mark out the side that is not part of your book).
We also recommend that you number and put your name on every page, write or print your book legibly and get another prisoner or staff member to edit your book before you send it.
Send your book to:

Prisons Foundation
P.O. Box 58043
Washington, DC 20037

She Did Not Fail Me by Randi Sorlon
It‘s getting harder and harder to do time. This prison sentence is of my own doing. I cannot play the mental battlefield game of, „If I had only done this. If I had only done that.“ There is simply acceptance. However, my actions have affected others, especially my mother.
I‘m not going to go on a merry-go-round of excuses for what may have led me to commit my crime. My mother did the best she could with me, and while I feel like I let her down horribly, I want her and the world to know that she did not fail me. It is I, who failed her.
I‘ve missed a multitude of holidays and one-on-one talks with my mother. I haven‘t been there for Christmas or her birthday, let alone Mother‘s Day all of these years. For years, she took care of me, my every need, and here I am at a point where role reversal should be in place, yet I‘m not home to take care of my mother, who is in failing health and aging more rapidly from the stress I‘ve caused her to endure. You could say, she‘s one more victim of circumstances I caused. Whenever I start to think to myself about how hard this sentence has been, I stop and remind myself that it is harder on my mother.
I make each day in this caged in world, not knowing if she made it through the night. Is her heart still beating? Do her lungs still take in air on their own? Has she not given upp all hope of our being reunited? Will she make it out here this year to see me? If not in May, what about by December? I wake up each day not knowing but more important is what I wake up each day that I do know. I know that I haven‘t made life easy for my mother, when all she ever did, was try to make it as easy for me as she possibly could. And I know one more thing. I know that she loves me unconditionally. The question is, what did I do to deserve that?

She Never Stood a Chance
One day, a little girl was born into this world, the product of either and unplanned pregnangcy, or quite possibly rape. For, what other reason would the birth mother have for being so angry that the child was born at all? The mother, not wanting to have anything to do with the child, passed the newborn off to her own sister to raise.
The newborn was raised by her aunt and uncle, but was none the wiser. She was clueless that they weren‘t her real parents. She believed that her cousins were her four siblings. She believed she was loved in a family that she was born into. However, as fate would have it, her little world was rocked and as a teen, she was dropped off at her birth mother‘s front door. Highly aggitated by the unexpected circumstances, the birth mother greeted the child with a slap across the face so hard that she saw stars. She was clearly an unwanted burden.
It didn‘t take but a minute for the live-in boyfriend of the reluctant mother, to make sexual advances upon the child, now a teenager in girly development. Discovering that the mother had no intention of protecting her from being molested and raped, the teen walked across San Jose to the police department to report the situation. There were no reprecussions for the adults, but the teen ended up in the foster care system. While there are many cases with wonderful stories in foster care, the same cannot be said for this one girl in particular. She went from foster home to foster home, being molested, raped, sadomized, and threatened to remain silent. Her terror and horror had only multiplied by her not remaining silent. She never stood a chance.
She did finally end up in one good foster home, but her ride on the Terror Train was about to end, as she was nearing the age-out date: her 18th birthday. Not long after that, she met a man that made her feel like someone finally cared about her. And maybe he did. At first. But, before long, he was proving to not be husband material, but by then, they had already been married. Another few layer of self-esteem evaporated by the time their second child had been born. And it was about to get worse.
Her husband wanted to „live to ride and ride to live.“ He wanted to ride with the Hell‘s Angels, chase women, and live a wild and crazy life that came from being connected to that particular motorcycle club. He wanted it more than his family he had already helped create. He wanted it so badly, that he agreed to let 30 to 40 of them come into his home and do dispicable things to his wife to prove his loyalty to the H.A‘s, putting them before any women, any thing. He wanted it that bad.
The first time it happened, it‘s any wonder she survived it. When she knew it was about to happen again on a different night, she made plans to avoid it. She fed and bathed her babies early and put them to bed. The infant and her three year old sister would be safe, as the H.A.‘s would never cause harm to a child. Believe it or not, no matter what one may wish to say against them, the don‘t hurt children. There really is a moral compass there after all. Before they could arrive for a second round of Boys will be Bullies night, she left the house. She didn‘t know where she‘d go, but her feet took a hike and she ended up at a bar. And that is when she met Mr. Nice Guy.
Nice Guy struck up a conversation with her, and she found him to be empathetic. He listened to her. By the end of the night, before she left to return home hoping it was safe, Nice Guy handed her a $100 bill. He told her the best thing to do was to get her babies out of that house. The money was to hole up and hide out in a motel room. The year was 1964, and you received a lot more stay in a motel room for $100 back then. He assured her that there was more help to come, and there was.
The girl was now a woman with two children and barely escaped a nightmare. She had help. She and Nice Guy began to spend more and more time together and he eventually married her. He adopted her children as his own, giving them his last name. He provided healthcare, food, clothing, a roof over their heads, every necessity for daily function and survival. He worked full-time, was a good provider, and treated his wife with respect. Her whole life had turned around. It was almost too good to be true. Well, not almost …. it was too good to be true. It took several years before he changed, but unlike the H.A.‘s, this guy didn‘t have a moral compass when it came to crimes against children. That is another story in itself. He was however like the others in his deviant acts against his wife. It comes on gradually and gets worse over tiime. That‘s how abusers do it. He was indeed an abuser.
After all those years in foster care, she thougth the worst was behind her. After those years in a hopeless marriage, she still had thought the worst was behind her when Mr. Nice Guy became her knight in shining armor. But it only got worse.
If you were to ask her why she never left him, she has more than one reason. First, she loved him. Defects and all, he was the man that not only rescued her, he also secured a future for her children that would not involve the foster care system. Secondly, between her childhood and two husbands, she had absolutely no self-esteem or confidence in herself that she could function alone, for she had always had a man telling her what to do. And third, he had told her that she owed him because he rescued her and her children. That if she left him, it‘d be the last thing she‘d ever do. Fear had once again ruled her life and both dominance and control were in some one else‘s hands, not her own. She was defluted, defeated, and empty. She was trapped in a home that felt more like a prison. In a sense, she was a sex slave, but because they were married, it wasn‘t deemed rape even without her consent. Oh, sure, now they call it spousal rape, illegal by law, but they didn‘t in 1988 to the best of my knowledge it wasn‘t until the 1990, but I‘m not sure.
I felt badly for this woman, for her past was one big open wound. I felt anger at the husband, because he was my stepfather, and that woman is my mother. All her life she was somebody‘s victim. She never really stood half a chance from the day she was born. I feared he‘d eventually kill her – and who‘s to say he wouldn‘t have? My fear kept me from thinking clearly, and I put myself into a position that ended his life, but affected so many others. My actions resulted in her coming to prison because she felt responsible that I killed him. In her mind, if she hadn‘t told me about his series of sexual violations and buttery, she believes I‘d never have gone to their house that night to stand up to him. What she doesn‘t realize is, none of this is her fault. I didn‘t need her to tell me anything at all. I could see it in the tears in her eyes, the bruises of perfect handprints around her wrists. I saw it in a black eye. I heard it in the tone of her voice. It was evident in her fading joy of life, her state of mind as a darkness called depression was engulfing her. I didn‘t need her to tell me. I knew. And I felt like a coward for not having stood up to him before then. Her past wasn‘t her own doing any more than that night was. I‘ve crtainly learned that there are other ways to deal with perpetrators in non-violent ways, however, it has been pointed out to me that the fact remains: My mother has not been raped, sodimized, beaten, bullied, or victimized by violent intent since the day I killed my stepfather 24 years ago.
From the day my mother was born, she‘s been in one type of prison or another. Right now, it is this manmade one in Chowchilla, even an LWOP sentence is up for parole consideration after 30 years. She‘s served 71 years. Technically …. A little girl was born in Jan Jose November 30, 1941 … and she never stood a chance. Tell me, where is the justice in that? Is it any wonder Lady Justice was a blindfold?

The Raw Truth About a Prisoner‘s Mother‘s Day by Cora
Every woman in prison eperiences their own Mother‘s Day. Some are mothers that have the privilege of visiting their children. Most have their mother‘s who want to visit them. And some enjoy the privilege of both. A good many have a good, happy story to tell, but no all of us do.
I am 48 years old, and mother to five children aged 17 to 31 years old. When I came to prison, my children were still in school. I left them in a changing world, but promised that they would still see me no matter what. Twelve years ago, that promise seemed realistic, but over a decade later, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen my children. On a number of occasions I broke down and begged other family members to bring my children. I felt so powerless.
Throughout the years, my mother‘s vision deteriorated, and blindness was setting in. I finally got my mother, health concerns and all, to agree to chaperone my children to visit me. That was the year that she died of heart attack. That was 2005, eight years ago, and when my heart began to harden. The pain is unexplainable, as I deal with this double-edged sword each Mother‘s Day now.
As Mother‘s Day approaches again, I‘m beginning to feel the nervous energy and anxiety, that includes sleepless nights, and when I do sleep, nightmares. This is the wrost holiday or the year for me, because it represents a day of celebration with the children that I gave birth to ….. only there aren‘t any reunions or celebrations. I perceive the day that I received my sentence, as the day that active motherhood ceased to be a reality. And I miss it every single day.
The Dept. of Corrections declares that they favor and wish to encourage family visits, however that is not so simple for many of us. For many of us, we‘ve been relocated several hours away from our loved ones. My family lives five hours away, and in this economy, it is not cheap to travel halfway across the state for such reunification. This is not something you can prepare yourself for. It‘s not something I added to my Bucket List. The truth is, my decision one day has led to my children and I growing apart. It is my burden to face.
That God for the Get on the Bus Program (GOTB). It is a community contributed opportunity for children to be brought on buses on Mother‘s Day weekend to see their mothers in prison. The GOTB takes care of gas, transportation, and food for the families to eat at their visit, as many are economically strapped, if not just downright dirt poor. My second daughter who is now 22 years old, began coming with GOTB when she was 16 years old. All that was required, was a chaperone. She has a dream that the governor will reduce all 85% prison terms to 65%, which would get me home to her much sooner. In the meantime, she tries her best to keep our family together.
One year, my daughter came with GOTB, and I noticed that she had bruises on her legs. She didn‘t want to talk about it, but I discovered that another family member had put their hands on her in frustration. Why? Because she fell asleep on the toilet at 4 A.M. getting ready to come see me. I had to promise her that I wouldn‘t say anything. To do so, would have resulted in my family terminating any future visiting plans. How would you deal with such a revelation on Mother‘s Day, in a room with dozens of children and several correctional officers that would have seen a negative reaction as violently disruptive? I honored my daughter‘s plea for not reacting or speaking out on it. No and easy decision to make, nor to live with.
My two oldest boys, aged 21 and 30 now, stopped coming to visit or write when they joined their new family: gangs. When my younger son had a chance to visit me, the authorities refused to allow him in due to his birth certificate being too worn. He was enraged and stood out in front of the prison screaming, „Free my mother if you won‘t let me in!“ That day, my sister was allowed to visit with me while they had my son visit in a trailer where he cried in bitter defeat. I spent 15 minutes listening to her tell me how vital it had been for me to see my son that day. He was dealing with peer pressureto join a gang. He needed to talk to his mother. That was two years ago.
Here it is again, Mother‘s Day is once again upon us. Like many, I can‘t see my own mother, for she‘s left this world. Like many, I can‘t see my children, for I left their free world and reside a world away in prison. The anxiety and stress sets in. I‘ll be a nervous wreck on the Saturday before the holiday, and I‘ll dread the inevitable … dozens of women on the walkway, in the unit, and even those in my room, greeting me with, „Happy Mother‘s Day!“ It hurts to hear it, because I have a few thoughts that ramble around in my head, and deposit themselves in my heart. First, will I get to see that little boy I left 12 years ago, who is now 17? Second, will my daughter travel safely, let alone make the trip at all? And third, what about my two oldest sons in the gang? When will I see them again? No, no, no …. will I see them again?
As I write this, I cry. I have tears rolling down my cheeks, it‘s hard to breathe and the lump in my throat is getting even larger. Call it regret or maybe remorse. Call it loss or devastation. No matter what you call it, it is the consequences of being a mother in prison. And that is a hard pill to swallow. It‘s also, the raw cold truth.

I‘ll Never Know – by The Truly Remorseful
I dont know what it is like, I‘ll never be able to epress enough,
To be alone on Mother‘s Day, Remorse for what I‘ve put you through,
To never again, feel her embrace. And I will never truly know,
I don‘t know what it‘s like, I don‘t feel sorry for myself,
To be a mother who lost her son, On Mother‘s and Father‘s Day,
To be her the second weekend of May, What I do is think of you,
Coming all undone. As I hit my knees and pray.
I‘ve never known that pain,
The loss, the ordeal,
Losing a child so young,
Then being told my would would heal.

Unconditional Love Without Boundaries – written by Niki Martinez
I have been extremely fortunate throughout these 19 years that I have been incarcerated. Many times I feel so unworthy and undeserving of the unconditional love that is so freely given to me.
I have caused tremendous pain and devastation, and I have hurt so many people because of my actions. I have continuously failed my parents throughout the years, and disappointed them in ways that no parent should ever have to deal with. I have brought them excessive heartache that I constantly created in „this world“ with my own self-absorbed, self-destructive hehavior. How ignorant I was!! I never took my parents for granted, but I can honestly say, that I didn‘t appreciate them as much as they should be appreciated and valued. They definitely deserve so much more and better that what I have given them. They are precious, priceless gifts froom God that I truly cherish today. It blows my mind, swells my heart, and humbles my spirit, that after all these years, after all of the disappointments, agony, and shame – they still love me and are still by my side.
I remind myself constantly that they don‘t owe me anything. They do not have to accept my collect calls or come to visit. They do not have to take care of me, and they don‘t have to even care. My iniquitous crime and actions brought me to prison – and yes I was only 17 years old at the time, but I am the one who committed the crime. Not them. I created this catastrophe. I ruined, destroyed, and shattered lives, families, and communities. When the world judged me as a vicious, teenaged monster, my parents seen their precious child. They could have easily walked away and gone on with their lives, but I must say, thank God for my parent‘s love. It has been the ultimate force that has definitely carried me through the years. My love, gratitude, and appreciation for them is completely immeasurable.
My Dad‘s love is unconditional and so fulfilling. He has blessed my life with his love, his care and concern, his dedication and his presence. He travels all the way from his home in Chicago to visit me at least twice a year. He even rides his Harley out here in the summers. He spends days on the road just to get out to California to see me. Talk about love! He even brings an entourage of friends and family to come and visit me just to make sure I feel the love, and that I will know that I am loved. How amazing is that?!! I haven‘t made it easy on him, but his love is endless. It has been empowering, and his love is what keeps my heart beating – literally – to this very day. My Daddy is a phenomenal father, and yes I am extremely fortunate and beyond blessed.
My Mom has been the ultimate blessing to my life. The agony that she has had to endure because of me, has been inconceivable, yet she still showers me with unconditional love. She has been there to comfort me when I felt like I was falling apart. She has been there to encourage me when I felt like I couldn‘t stand to do this time another day. She has picked me up and carried me when I felt defeated. She fed my spirit hope when all I could think about was giving up. She has taught me the lesson of faith, and blessed me with her knowledge, wisdom, and of course, her love. She has given me the greatest gift that any mother could give their child – and that is to know Jesus. She has been on her knees praying for me every single day for two decades. No matter how much trash and devastation I have brought to the table, she continued to love me, and she never gave up on me. My mom has helped mold me into the woman that I am today … with morals, ethics, integrity, and the love of Jesus in my heart. She is truly an inspiration and I pray to aspire to be half the woman that she is. I am so honored that she is my mother. She has saved my life, my spirit, and my soul. It is only by the grace of God, and the wisdom and love from both my mother and father, that I still have my sanity, my health, and I am with a faithful heart and an encouraged soul.
I continue to breathe every day not only because of my parents, but for them, God has blessed me with the capability of breathing on my own, and I thank Him every day. What a gift!!
I am blessed with wonderful parents: Jesus, Jesse, and Gladys. I thank God for my life, and that they are all in it. Cherish those whom love you. Happy Mother‘s Day. Happy Father‘s Day. And God bless you all.

Q & A with T.C.
Q) How is the VSP to CCWF transition going?
A) Hmmm … to quotate an officer, „I haven‘t seen so many disrespectful, angry at the world, youngsters in all my life! They think they can do whatever they want!“ Apparently, the rumors we had heard for the last 15 years about VSP being strict with structure were, just that – rumors.
Q) What‘s up with Folsom housing women?
A) They don‘t live with the men. They can only house 403 women, and in an open dorm setting – no cells. Basically, they sleep iin cubicles like in an office building, so no electrical appliances are allowed.
Q) Whatever happened to that Correctional officer that got arrested?
A) Sergeant Edward Tovar, who volunteered at a local high shool as a girl‘s softball coach, took a plea bargain to avoid a trial. He was sentenced in Madera County court on March 27, 2013 to a lousy 128 days and 5 years probation for multibple charges of child sexual molestation. He got a slap on the wrist, and the D.A. had the nerve to say, „He‘s not going to have it easy.“ Why? Because he lost his job as an officer? Because he has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life? Because he is jubject to random polygraphs? How does that serve justice? I can just imagine the outraged parents when they heard it‘d be days served, and not years. He was a mandated reporter. He was in a position of authority and trust. Ask anyone. He got off easy. That‘s the census here. Go on, Google it. Once you have all of the facts, you may agree that being in a position of authority does have certain privileges.
Q) How is the Medical there these days?
A) The Medical Receiver, who was federally appointed to oversee all of the 33 state prison Medical Depts., has slashed the budget and spending from $600 million to $300 million across the board. A lot of medical procedures and surgeries requested by doctors, are being denied. A local hospital in Cororan has had to close their doors and let go of staff, because the bulk of their business was the nearby Cororan State Prison for men, where 10.000 inmates are housed. Yes, ten thousand! So, with costs slashed, it is bound to directly affect the well being of chronic cure inmates.
Q) What happened to CCWF trying to kill of the rabbits there?
A) You can‘t keep a good rabbit down! While many were victims of rabbitcide, our furry little friends put on their bunny armor and refused to go down without a fight. They‘re everywhere! And these little guys are picky eaters. They won‘t eat lettuce, but give them apples and bread and they‘ll love you for life.
Q) Any more news about the 85% rumors?
A) An inmate told me that a friend of hers got word from her mother via telephone, that affective June 1st it should be in effect. The mother apparently had a letter signed from Jerry Brown himself. Whether 85% term inmates will drop to serve only 65% of theyr term, remains to be seen. I‘ll believe it when it happens.
Q) Any other rumors you can speak on?
A) No, but I could make something up. You‘d be surprised how fast a rumor will spread in here, and what gossips will believe.

A Letter to God
Dear God,
I want to thank You for having kept my mother and I together all of these years. There were times when circumstances beyond our control separated us, but You kept placing us back together ever since county juil. In our darkest hour, You let us share our own light with one another. Thank You.
I don‘t know what it is like to not be able to talk to my mom on Mother‘s Day. I don‘t know what it is like to wonder if I will ever see her again. I don‘t need to rely on the phones or mail system to express my love. While her being in prison for a crime I committed is not fair at all, I do see the bright side. I do see that I have not missed the last 23 years with her physically present in my life every day. There are a good many here that wish they had this blessing. I do see the blessing that it is, really I do, but I also see the downside, Lord. I can‘t help but to see what is right before my eyes.
Above all others, You know how hard prison has been on my mother‘s health. The older she gets, the younger they come in here, and I stop to wonder, „who raised some of these people?“ In March, my mom could have walked out of here and paroled to Crossroads, but her fate was decied in October 2012 that that was not to be. Not yet. I‘m sure You have Your reasons, although the panel had their own. I don‘t want to question Your will, but I‘ll admit that there are times when it is easier to pray The Lord‘s Prayer, than it is to exercise it.
My mother is tired. Anyone with half a brain can see it. I believe the only thing that keeps her hanging in there, is me. You‘ve given us a couple or close calls with her strokes, and it scared the heebie-ba-jeebies out of me each time. The fear of not knowing if she‘d return from the hospital, or be physically independent if she did. That‘s a fear that many lifers and others here experience with their own mothers in society. The question too fearful to voice! Will I see her in the free world again?
God, I know You have millions of people in Your ear all day long, and believe me, I do not envy You of Your job, but I want my request officially in Your Prayer Request Book …..
Lord, if You have any plans to take her home to You, could You please not let it be in here? Please, let her be free to pet a purring kitten once again, to make her homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread, to sleep in a real bed, and know what a bubble bath feels like again. I don‘t know how I‘d react if You took her before the system set her free first, but I can assume I‘m likely to lose it. She‘s here because of me. I was only trying to protect her that night. My way did not work, obviously. So I ask that You protect her Your way. I pray that my request reflects Your will. Nobody knows what it‘s like to be. Nobody, but You. Please don‘t let me be held accountable for two deaths.
In Jesus‘ name, Amen

On a Lighter Note ….
So much emotion in this issue of the newsletter, huh? Well, to lighten the mood a moment here, I want to share one of the funniest jokes I‘ve seen in awhile. It was sent in by Lisa Santimaw a few moths or more ago. It goes like this …

Mr. And Mrs. Fenton are retired, and Mrs. Fenton always insists that her husband go with her to Wal-Mart. He gets so bored with all of the shopping trips. He prefers to get in and get out, but his wife loves to browse. He racked his brain to find a way to get out of having to tag along. One day, Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from Wal-Mart:

Dear Mrs. Fenton,
Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may ban both of you from our stores. We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. All complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below.

Things Mr. Bill Fentoon has done while his spouse was shopping in Wal-Mart:
1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people‘s carts when they weren‘t looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone. ´Code 3‘ in house wares … and watched what happened.
4. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M on layaway.
5. September 14: Moved a ‚CAUTION – WET FLOOR‘ sign to a carpeted area.
6. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he‘d invite them in if they‘ll bring pillows from the bedding department.
7. September 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, ‚Why can‘t you people just leave me alone?‘
8. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.
9. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.
10. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the ´Mission Impossible‘ theme.
11. December 6: In the auto department, practiced his ´Madonna Look‘ using different size funnels.
12. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled ´PICK ME!‘ ´PICK ME!´
13. December 21: When an announcement came over the load speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams ´NO! NO! Its those voices again!!!!´
And last but not least.
14. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, ´There is no toilet paper in here!´

From the Heart
The telephones attached to the white painted cinder block wall don‘t really look like much to the casual observer, but if you ask Dee Dee, Becky, or especially Niki, they‘ll tell you that they are a lifeline to the outside world. The policy requires our family and friends to set up ability to hear the voice of their loved ones. The bills are paid before the calls are made, but still when they accept the charges of those collect calls, it screams, „I Love You! You matter to me!“
Whether a letter or just a signed card, the fact that we are worthy of a little of your time and a 46 cent stamp speaks volumes. At Mail call when the officer says your name, what they‘re really sayiing is, „Someone out there thinks you‘re pretty darn special.“
We would be lost and lonely, hopeless and empty of any fight left in us if not for the love of family and friends. I speak for all prisoners, not just mom and myself. The first and third verses of the Blake Shelton son „God Gave Me You“ says it all. Here‘s the first part of that song:
I‘ve been a walking heartache / I‘ve made a mess of me
The person I‘ve been lately / Aint who I wanna be (but)
You stay here right beside me / And watch as the storm blows through
And I need you …. cuz
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubts
And for when I think I‘ve lost my way
There are no words left here to say
It‘s true … God gave me You.
So, I say from the heart … not just on Mother‘s Day, Father‘s Day, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, do we celebrate each of you in our lives. Dear loved one, please know that your love and support makes everyday a personal holiday in our hearts. And that is straight froom the heart!
Namasté,
TC and Mama P

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

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The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter
1st QTR, 2013, Available free at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
With a new year upon us, we look forward to what we hope is a good year of changes for the better, and new insights as we face each day as it comes.
The 4th quarter of 2012 was especially stressful on Mama P and myself and we prepared her for her parole hearing. She went into that hearing room hopeful, given the good fate of many lifers before her who received parole grants. Have you ever been at the beach and had a big wave crash down upon you and literally knock you off of your feet? You think to yourself, „what in the hell just happened?“ as you try to regain your composure? Yeah, well it was like that. That is the best way to describe it. It sort of takes the breath out of you.
On top of the parole hearing, which got put off until it was held in October, we had other prison politic‘s taking place as well. If it wasn‘t the transfers of women from VSP coming over in droves, it was the stress level of those around us. The air was thick with it. We had a lot going on in our minds. A lot of „what now?“ questions. Yes, we were so self-absorbed in our own world here behind razor-wire fences, considering our own futures, that for a little while, we forgot what it meant to relax.
And then it happened. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When something that horrific takes place, it puts things in perspective for you really fast. You‘re grateful it wasn‘t your child. You‘re glad you have someone to hug, your loved ones to talk to. Why is it that people wait for tragedies like this before they wake up and realize they‘ve taken others for granted? I challenge you to live each day like tomorrow may not come. I you care about someone, tell them. Don‘t assume that they already know and don‘t need to hear it. People need to hear it. A little effort on your part can go a long ways. For every day that you wake, be thankful. For every breath that your lungs automatically take in, be thankful, for there are countless others who cannot on their own.
Folks, for every day that you can rise out of bed, be it in the free world or prison, be grateful that you can. There are six school staffers and twenty innocent children who cannot. There are 26 families who can no longer say, „I love you“ to listening ears. We have that chance every single day. Don‘t take it for granted. Please, for the love of God, don‘t assume they don‘t need to hear it. You never know what kind of day they are having. A few kind words from you could make all of the difference.
I challenge you to love …. and love well.
Happy New Year,
T.C. and Mama P

About Mom‘s Parole Verdict
We understand that many of our loyal supporters have questions about what happened during Mom‘s parole hearing. We‘ve been asked what was asked, what was said, how it all went. Please understand that we‘ve reported what we thought was sufficient to help y‘all understand why mom was denied parole. Her legal team wants to keep any such statements to a minimum. We need to respect that. They are acting in her best interests and will continue to do so. Calling their office to voice your opinions isn‘t going to help matters.
According to the law as it is written, mom can file a special form called a 1045A Petition, to request a hearing sooner than five years. If she has her ducks all lined up like the BPH recommended she do, she could possibly be reheard in three years. It‘s all a matter of more time.

You Be the Judge
Let me introduce you to Steven C. Martinez.
While serving his 157 years to life sentence at Centinela State Prison, he was attacked by two inmates and stabbed in the neck. The laceration of his spinal cord caused instant quadriplegia. Martinez requires 24 hour around the clock care, and will so for the rest of his life. He can barely turn his head, yet has zero motor skills in his arms and legs, nor control over bowel and bladder functions. He is not expected to ever regain any, let alone all of these bodily functions again.
Would you say he qualifies For Medical Parole under legislature act 3550 for medically incapacitated inmates? The parole Board denied his petition For Medical Parole due to his heinous crime and his aggrivated potential towards violence against women. Oh, you need more facts, don‘t you? Well in that case, read on.
In 1998, Martinez deliberately drove his car into two young women, pinning one beneath the vehicle. He then grabbed the incapacitated woman by the throat, broke her nose by punching her, and threw her into the backseat before driving her to a secluded location. That‘s where the worst part of his crime was committed upon his bloody and battered victim. I‘ll spare you the graphic details evident in his convition list of charges! Forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, rape with a foreign object, assault with a deadly weapon, battery causing serious injury, hit and run causing injury, and finally, kidnapping.
While in custody, he‘s threatened custody staff and nurses with great bodily injury, even provoking responses about knowing where they live. He was constantly verbally abusive using both vulgar and derogatory name calling to berate the nurses who tried to help him. Being that he was completely reliant on medical staff due to his paralysis, you‘d think he‘d be more respectful. That is not the case. He threaterned them on a regular basis, so is denial of Medical Parole, Poetic Justice?
So, you be the judge. Although paralyzed with no hope of normal motor skills ever again, does he pose a threat to public safety? The BPH thought so. And so, he appealed their decision, to which the 4th Dist. Appelate Courd ruled in his favor. They ordered the release of Steven Marinez, subject to whatever conditions The Board deems appropriate.
Before you say yes or no on this sensitive issue of Medical Parole, let us not for get that there was a young lady who was savagely raped over and over again by this guy. There‘s a part of her that‘s paralyzed as well for the rest of her life. Why should she be robbed of justice just because Martinez picked the wrong fight with the wrong inmate? Yes, he‘s paralyzed, but his mentality is that he‘d do it all over again if he could. Lifers are not allowed to be paroled until we change our way of thinking. The Board is very adamant about this criteria for parole. Does paralysis change that?
So, if you were in the position to decide the fate of inmate Steven Martinez, would you agree with the BPH, or with the Appellate Court? And more importantly, no matter what you decide, could you sleep at night with that decision?

Change – Submitted by Snoop, Aka Raphael
Long ago someone taught me that people enter our lives, some for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. Expect nothing to remain the same. For it is in the order of change that some thins must grow. It is also in the order of change, that some things must go.
Expect a change to come. Change will come whether you welcome it or not. It must first be recognized before it can ever be utilized. Change implements new ways and ideas in doing things. It is the order of change that brings about prosperity. You must seek to prosper in everything you set out to do, but the ideas must be done with the order of change.
Ideas begin as a thought, which are seeds that have been planted in the fertile ground of your mind. If you want change to manifest in your life, you must change the way you think. In order to do this, you must change your heart. Your mouth will speak whatever is in your heart. So, if you are speaking ignorantly, idly, or just plain old hating, that‘s what‘s in your heart and what you see in your life is the very manifestation of it. You must change your heart so that your speech can change. You are actually creating your future with the words you are speaking today. Change what you‘re speaking to words that bring life, words that will build you and the next person up.
Seek not to destroy others with angry words of malice. Remove envy and jealousy from your heart. These are the very things that will surely tear your hopes and dreams apart. Indeed you are committing suicide. You are killing whatever good that may have began to grow in yoru life before you could ever see it blossom. That‘s why some people think that speaking words of faith don‘t work. While waiting for the very thing they were hoping for, they killed the manifestation of it by speaking unencouraging words into the atmosphere against the thing they were hoping for, or against someone else. You reap what you sow. You planted a seed of death into your own garden. Now you may never see the manifestation of it simply because you trampled on someone else‘s garden.
Change your heart, so out of it will flow rivers of living water that will empover you to speak words of life, building and edifying yourself and others. From these seeds that you plant will return unto you a harvest of the very thing you were hoping for. Your garden will surely grow and bring forth nothing but good.
Dare to do different that the rest. Don‘t be persuaded to fall back just because no one else is taking this courageous stand. Be committed. Greatness requires everything that you have to give and more. Greatness will never go on sale, nor does it come cheaply. You must pay the price to obtain greatness. Don‘t allow anyone or any circumstance to detour you from your commitment to achieve greatness.
You must know that change can be a desperate thing. In the order of change, it can make on quite uncomfortable. It is the very thing needed to take you into your destiny. It will cause you to enter different choices and decisions in life in an effort to transform your into the new and improved you, preparing you for your future. I‘ve experienced a temendous amount of change in my personal life this past year. To be honest, it was quite disturbing at first. Nevertheless, I had to embrace the change in an effort to grow. When God closes one door on you, He will always open another door for you, allowing you to begin again.
In order to become an innovator of change, one must simply set out to gain knowledge, get understanding of that knowledge then, utilize wisdom and discretion based upon what you‘ve learned. Without knowledge people perish, so don‘t be ashamed, cry out for it.
Whatever you want outta life you simply have to get acqainted with what it will take to acquire it. If it is just to survive in life, then find out what it will take to achieve it, meditate on it constantly, then set out to accomplish it. If you set your sights higher and you want ot have a career and be successful at it, then research your field of choice and if at that time you still decide that is what you want to do, then go get it with all that you have to give. Don‘t shortchange yourself by taking shortcuts, because the time will come when your knowledge will be tested. If you are in school, do your own homework, ya dig? Save yourself the embarrassment of your conversations not measuring up to your degree.
Some people remain in their current position in life due to their lack of knowledge. They don‘t acutally know what it will take in life to go from their current status to one of elevation. The knowledge is out there, but some feel as if society owes them something and want society to come look for them and drop it in their lap. These people become stagnated and never grow up.

Q & A With T.C.
Q) How is Mama P doing after parole denial?
A) One day at a time. The blow of „No“ hurt, but she still gets up and faces each day. Depression is normal in such a situation, but she‘s coming back into her usual self. She has me right here beside her. If need be, I‘ll hold her up.
Q) How has the VSP to CCWF transition gone?
A) More smoothly for room #/6 than for some others. This cell has been blessed by the hand of God since I‘ve been in it beginning in July 1995. Mom and I are the only CCWF originals, the other six are all VSP, but let me tell you, they are a good crew. Some real keepers for sure.
Q) Is it true about the 85% going to 65% time credit?
A) That rumor hasn‘t been true since it began circulating over a decade ago. I have more of a chance of seeing Big Foot out my back window wrestling the Locness Monster.
Q) What‘s up with Marsy‘s Law and how it affects old lifers?
A) Old lifers, meaning those sentenced prior to the voter approved Victims‘ Bill of Rights, ADA Marsy‘s Law, are still being denied parole at terms consistent with the 2008 approved law. An inmate named Michael Vicks, not the pitbull fighting ring football player, but some other guy, filed an appeal on this matter. As a lifer sentenced prior to 2008, Vicks appealed the BPH denial of parole that they kept in accordance with Marsy‘s Law. The California Supreme Court granted review, however no decision as to the legality of the BPH decision has been determined yet. It should be noted that whatever the court rules in the Vicks case, will affect all lifers convicted before the effective date of the amendments applied in 2008.
Q) What does Prop 36 mean for Third Strikers now?
A) Okay, there‘s a lot involved here. First of all, not every third striker qualifies for resentencing. If one has a serious or violent felony as their current offense, they are not edigible. That long list includes the intent to cause great bodily harm. In order to get resentenced, any Third Striker that qualifies, needs to file a petition for recall of sentence under the newly created Penal Code 1170.126 to get a hearing. It must be filed within two years, so any Third Strikers reading this, need to march their butts to the Law Library.
Q) Whatever happened to Richard Masbruch?
A) After he met his march at CCWF, he got transferred to VSP and placed in a sort of protective custody medical ward. A friend at CIW reported that he was transferred there in October, again in PC. Word is that he‘ll remain on that status until his previous victims all transfer or parole from CIW. At such time, word is that he‘ll be released into the General Population. Nothing like setting a prihana loose into a pool of little fish, and acting like nobody will get hurt. I guess CDCR hasn‘t accepted yet that Richard is a threat to all woomen and that will never change, because he won‘t change.
Q) Do you have access to vitamins and other supplements?
A) Yes. They sell a multivitamin on canteen here, plus our quarterly box vendors all offer a list of the approved options. They offer Omega-3 fish oil and Glucosamine chondroitin, as well as your alphabet variety.
Q) Will CDCR house inmates in the dayrooms soon?
A) We hope not, but once we‘re at capacity, they‘ll need to house them somewhere. They can‘t just start taking us out back and shooting us. The odds are that they‘d house in our dayrooms before they ever did the gym. So much for the Supreme Court‘s ruling to reduce over crowding, huh?

December 14, 2012
I see in my mind‘s eye
Children playing in the street
They hold no fear now
Of whom they may meet

They‘ve never been safer
Than they are at this time
Where there is no sickness
No evil ….. no crime

Children playing with each other
Adults they‘ll never be
But as childen in heaven
Twenty angels with wings

On streets of gold they play
In fields they pet a lion
While here on earth families mourn
Day after day cryi‘n‘

And the teachers that died beside them
Making the ultimate sacrifice
Continue to watch over them
Until their parents arrive

They are safer now
Than they could ever be
These twenty innocent children
Angels with wings

Take Nothing for Granted
Whenever I stare at the walls in my cell, i am reminded that I can see. My mother has failing vision, and there are several who lost their vision today before the noon hour. I thank my God in heaven, I am not one of them.
When I awake each morning to the cold reality that I am in prison, i am thankful that I awake at all. I thank God that I have a bed to sleep in – it may be a cracker thin pad on a metal cookie sheet, but it‘s a bed all the same. I have blankets, a pillow, and a roof over my head. I pray for those who aren‘t so fortunate. I‘m reminded that although we lost our home in the aftermath of our arrests, we are not homeless. We are not at the mercy of the elements on the street.
When I‘m released to morning chow to race around the track for a meal I have no intention of eating, I thank my God for the mobility to do so. I‘m thankful for the option to eat when so manu don‘t know where their next meal will come from. I‘m grateful to be given the opportunity to be a blessing to my mother and a friend, who don‘t let that food go to waste.
When the dayroom is so loud that I can‘t hear myself think, I am thankful that I can hear at all. Somewhere in Afghanistan, an American soldier will lose his hearing to an explosion. He may lose more. I‘m not only thankful to his service, I‘m grateful it is not me. I‘m not that brave.
Every morning when I hear my mom in pain as she struggles to get out of bed, I stop whatever I am doing to help her. I am grateful that we‘ve been blessed to be together these last 23 years, even if not always in the same cell. I‘m grateful that every day is Mother‘s Day. I‘m thankful she‘s still alive and that my stepfather didn‘t kill her. I thank God for letting me see her each day. There are so many without that daily blessing.
What are you grateful for? When is the last time you voiced it? And what are you waiting for?

From The Heart
Let me take you an another journey down my Memory Lane.
The year was 1981 and I was 16 or 17 years old. My best friend since the fourth grade was Nancy Caruso, and in our Junior year of high school, her parents went on vacation. A long week of teenage fun, no parents, and the house all to ourselves. Gee, where is this going?
Nancy‘s sister, Cathy, had recently gotten married, and there was more than a case of beer left over in the garage. So, with her parents gone, her brother (over 21), agreed to say if asked, that he took a 12-pack. We had ourselves a little gathering of no more than five girls in the house. Because we couldn‘t take too much of the beer, we decided in our adolescent minds that drinking two bears each with a straw, would be equivelent to say four beers. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
I had already had two beers, but Tracy was going to go be with her boyfriend two doors down, and gave me her open beer. Insert straw, will drink. That is right around when I did my Angus Young impersonation to „Whole Lotta Rosie“. We had the AC-DC tape in, and it was during „Let There Be Rock“ that the aire accumulated witin me from using the straw, made a most distubing announcement to my senses. I ran for the bathroom. It served me right, too! I puked my guts up. I‘ve always been a lightweight, I‘m not much of a drinker, and this is partly why.
I spent a good amount of time hugging that toilet like a long awaited lover. The intimacy with a toilet is so unbecoming, but there I was in all my glory ….. RALPH!
At some point, someone needed to use the toilet, so they helped me to the couch with an empty paint bucket, just in case, and not to paint. I remember Tracy was there, having come back. Next thing I knew, I was out.
The next morning I went to check on the bathroom, to clean it. Nancy had done it the night before and told me that I owed her one. I didn‘t really have a hangover, but remembering how I felt the night before never left me.
Cut forward to the day after Nancy‘s parents came home. Nancy and I had returned from Winchell‘s Donuts, and her mom asked if we wanted to play Spades. She hand been laying solitaire, and quickly shuffled the cards waiting for us to sit at the table. We were into our third or fourth hand when out of nowhere Mrs. C asked, „So, who got sick in the bathroom?“
You could‘ve heard a fly fart.
We were both looking down at our cards, and jolted our heads up looking at each other. Busted. Cold busted. Neither of us was open to being the first to respond. We both wondered if her brother, Rick, had already given us up. Our silence was met with information.
„Look, I‘m not mad, I just want to know what I missed. When I returned home, the blue rug was ont the bathroom floor. I changed the rugs before I left, so for it to be back oon the floor, tells me that Nancy cleaned the bathroom and changed the rugs. And Nancy never changes the rugs. Never! So that tells me that someone got sick. So, I looked in the garage and I fould empty beer bottles in the opened case. So, who got sick?“
Busted. Bold busted. Rick didn‘t tell on us. Our own immature ways told on us, but Nancy didn‘t A true friend till the end, she let me tell on myself. Her mother held my secret, never telling my mom, who would‘ve blown a gasket … and a few blood vessels too probably, ranting, „I raised you better than that!“ Yeah, well truth be told, I cherish the memory.
I learned a few things that weekend. First of all, don‘t , I repeat, don‘t drink beer through a straw! That‘s a big No-No. Secondly, if you do, it is strongly advised that impersonating Angus Young‘s wild guitar antics is a really bad idea. But, more importantly, it‘s vital to know who your friends are. I once heard a joke that a good friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting right there beside you iin that hole and say, „whew that was fun!“ Nancy was that friend. She let her mother answer her own question more or less, and then allowed me to tell on myself.
Over the years, I‘ve had many friends in and out of my life since Nancy and I parted ways prior to my arrest. She had her life with Bob, I had my life as a workaholic. In prison, I‘ve had people flow in and out of my life like water through a sieve. One however, has been there through thick and thin … through witnessing my heartache after betrayal, and even in those moments of shared silence, our hearts spoke volumes to one another.
I met Dee Dee Sala in 1999 while we were both enrolled in a Vocational Info-Tech class. We hit it off immediately. In the over 13 years that Dee Dee has been my Best Friend, we have not had a single argument. Not one disagreement. We listen while the other speaks, and we also hear what they are not saying. We have shared secrets and dreams and hopes. While my mom will always know me best, Dee Dee will always know me better than anyone else. They key to this friendship is an open line of communication. But also neither of us takes the other for granted or has that „what‘s in it for me?“ mentality. So often, I‘ve been hurt by those that have impure motives or a lack of appreciation for what I bring to the table of friendship. An open line of communication is the key to any healthy relationship and especially my friendship with Dee Dee.
And so I say from the heart … learn from this past year what hurt your feelings, and see what lessons you gained in those connections. If a friend made you feel jilted, is it a matter of perspective, or a matter of ethics? If you wish that your friends would be more open with you, are you willing to be equally open with them? Can you tell your friends anything and know it won‘t go anywhere? Why or why not? Friendships are like gardens … you need to cultivate them, tend to them when you can see that they need attention, and not wait to see something dying before you do.
I‘m not one to make New Year‘s Resolutions. I never believed in that sort of thing, but if I did, I‘d say that I would cultivate my garden of friendships, continuously. If tomorrow weren‘t to come, at least today, my friends know that I love them and that my heart beats stronger because of them. I wish you could all have a friend like Dee Dee, but that‘s not to say that you can‘t be a Friend like her. Hever, ever assume that they know how you feel. Tell them. In notes, cards, the smallest of gestures … everyone likes to feel special. If you‘re reading this, you are!
Namasté, TC

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

imagesCA9U2AM5Dancing the Tunes

I am a woman of rich inner means, of hips which widen, and of feet which grow clumpier as the years go by.  The word “dance” does not call to me as it did in my younger years.

At twelve, my twin Liz climbed out of a tree, swung into the back door of our twelve- room house, and ran up stairs to our bedroom.  We shared.  She drew a line down the middle of the room.  No crossing.  Twins are like that.  But on Friday nights at 7.30, all the twelve year olds in our town dressed in either suits for the boys or dresses, stockings and shiny patent leather shoes for the girls.

Harry Raymond’s Dancing School, Friday night sessions ,were held weekly in a sagging huge yellow house with white trim on Centre Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, near the Shawmut Bank.  My father or mother drove us, and we sat in the back seat feeling like victims in a Black Mariah, wheels silently thwopping towards Harry’s.

Dressing for Harry’s was weekly penance.  Red silky type dresses; made by my mother, with tiny cloth buttons and Peter Pan Collars.  Under the dresses, the dreaded undershirt, and down further the garter belts which were like magnets to the seamed beige stockings we reluctantly hauled over our young girl thighs.

This was a mournful time for us; a time we didn’t fight, too locked into the mutual tragedy of garter belts – long floppy rubberized stretchy thin bands with hooks on the end.  The clips at the end were like a snake’s mouth – open, slide over nylon stocking, close, and clip, a metal slider of small proportions would pull the length of the strips tight.  Ugh.  A beginning rite of passage where I would learn women’s looks are for pleasing, pleasing men.  Am I okay?  All right, as in are my seams straight?  Liz and I were poised on the edge of some type of womanhood, reluctantly brought into the fold of How Do I Look, Does This Please?  Will He Like Me?

Once left off on the curb, we clumped up beat up wide stairs next to a rickety white banister and head towards the powder room.  Jannie Cleary with her curly red hair seemed unfazed.  I wondered if she wore a bra, maybe that’s why she seemed to carry an aura of confidence. “She likes boys,” Liz whispered to me with a downward twist of her mouth.

We filed out and sat on chairs in a huge circle around the edges of the ballroom.  We sat like cows watching Harry Raymond, a thin double for Liberace, glide across the floor, moving by each young girl saying, “Girls’ legs are meant to be closed.”  Then, each week he’d tap Liz’s ankles with his slim black and gold cane, and say, “Ladies do not sit with their legs apart,” because Liz always sat as if ready to spring upon a horse and ride off into some elusive West.

First we learned the Fox Trot, l clump, 2 clump, 3 clump, sway together 4.  During the week at Ruthie Anderson’s house, we danced the fox trot with each other.  Ruthie was Protestant, and we were Roman Catholic.  Our mothers were best friends – daring in a world of people who kept to their own.

Then we learned the waltz – l, 2, 3 – l, 2, 3, feet stomped instead of slid  on the old wooden floor as we stood like fledgling dancers auditioning for a musical.  Eventually we sweated through the waltz.

imagesCAXX4KJA

 

 

 

 

 

Girls had to sit and wait to be asked to dance. The boys liked Liz; she was cute and sporty.  I sat there like a female Prince Valiant, a large red square of silk, my hair a dark clump of blunt and my bangs sort of straight, but not really.  My throat filled with doubt, as one by one, the seats around me emptied.  Finally after thinking I’ll just put my throat on a hook, tall, small-headed, round-chinned Holland Morgan stood silently before me.  His brown eyes questioned me, and his right eyebrow went up as in a “why not,” and we wordlessly cobbled our dancing feet together..  A fox trot.  Step, Step, Step and Step; learning to hoof in a measured square to a musical beat.

Then, as if Zeus threw a thunderbolt into my mouth, I heard myself motor mouthing about dogs, our once poodle who died.  Holland knew of this sad event.  I spoke droolingly of our beige non-altruistic pug and our copper-toned farting boxer.  Words poured out of my mouth like an overfill of chicklets spilling out..  I don’t remember his response.

Years later, when I was twenty, I met Holland again.  He was a friend of my step-brother.  I fell in love with him because of his writing.  He called me Cynthia one winter night as we walked over to Howard Johnson’s for coffee in Kenmore Square, and I was shattered.  He was at Dartmouth, and I worked down on State Street for attorneys.  I lived with roommates near the back of Fenway Park, near Kenmore Square.

I still dream of Kenmore Square because my mother died one icy day in our apartment on Bay State Road. Old issues maybe, or deep wounds, not all caught up by the therapist’s dustbuster.   Liz and I were seventeen.  We had a pug and a boxer, and Liz and I would walk them across Storrow Drive, and walk by the river, the wind whipping through us in the winter.  It was a good day when I realized, after Holland, after Bob, after blah, blah, I wanted what they had:  words, empowerment, not to be lost.  I was a dance in progress, and it’s taken a long time to become myself.  I no longer wear stockings with seams, although they are coming back, and I’m glad that time period is over.  Some people want to go back when times were good.  Good for whom, I might ask.  Then I think it’s all some sort of a dance – this life – a dance indeed.

imagesCA2GPRGH

I sit here on the anniversary of my marriage to my husband who is now 78, and I say to my 74-year-old self, “Self, did you think 27 years ago you’d be sitting here contemplating verbs and old age and giving out sage advice, sage being not only a spice?

I vividly remember our wedding, my dusty pink Laise Adser dress with pastel green nubby cloak with hood, like Meryl Streep wore in the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Bill and I fit like Bogie & Bacall, like bookends of similar but different backgrounds. We remember radio. We were Catholic. We were from the right-hand side of the United States, and we both love pug dogs. Is this the basis of a spiritual relationship? It is.

There’s more this story – how I met him after he had been a Baha’i for two weeks; how I had to go back to being a legal secretary, having left my cubicle four years earlier to return to college; how we had income which was good in the beginning, and how I just before I met him I made the insane decision to buy a radio for my car. We met, we laughed, we matched, and in a dream one night our DNA code swirled around us in figure 8’s. That’s what I call, “It’s a sign.” Yeah, we did a lot of that too.
I made a list of qualities wanted in my unseen mate, and this list fell out of a book a year after we were married. Everything on this long narrow list, “Sensitive, spiritual, humor,” was there – I turned to him waiving the list of scribbled hopes, and said, “I forgot to put tall,” but if so, I wouldn’t have married my husband who is about an inch shorter than I.
It’s been an action packed life. We moved seventeen different times. I had health issues which I’ll speak of at 80 or so. We traveled across Russia, visited Siberia, and lived in Ukraine and Belarus, before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We also lived with my second mother-in-law who told me one day, “You carry the heavy stuff for him,” and now it is the day of our 27th anniversary.

I sit here with a hiatal hernia, and a suspiciously ingrown toe. I am in my red and black PJs – contemplating words used for aging. Baby Boomers take note. “Use strong verbs – might I suggest “lurch” and “cope.”

My marriage, and a plethora of other happenings, healed me, and now we both face the final frontier. I finally have self-acceptance and self-appreciation, except for an occasional Thursday of black condemning thoughts. It is a time of great inner wisdom and also a time when my body becomes like an old truck spending more time in repair. An ashtray falls out, gets fixed and doors fall off. The unknown is with us every night when our sliding door shuts. Allergies descend upon my husband at every weather change, and it feels like the English Channel roars through my ears, until I turn and rub his back to his snuff, snuff, cough, cough away. I am like someone spraying the end of the contents of the Raid Can.

Again it is also surviving a twin’s passing first if you want to know, and it’s being grateful for skin that looks young thanks to a friend’s gift of Clarins. It’s having a pool house with very low rent and landlord kindness. It was having heart and gall bladder surgery within days of each other and surgeons writing off their fees, but not telling me. It’s standing up to my last breath for the oneness of humankind, and always helping someone every day. It’s living beyond the fringe and not having 401K’s and not giving a rat’s ass, but rather living in a quirky world where status is a blind removed from my mind knowing wealth follows poverty and poverty follows wealth , and I think of the quote, “ O Children of Dust – Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor …” and even when my cash flow is minimal, I listen.

It’s having lingering fears in a dark hour at night, when I get up to pee and hope when I am very old, I will not be a burden, and I don’t want my family to take care of me, because I’ve lived with two mother-in-laws. It doesn’t work very well.

It’s every day having something slow me down, feeling crappola, but then again getting up, like a Russian Matroishka doll who bops up repeatedly after falling, and like a Russian Woman who is strong, and other women also, it’s seeing the beauty in so many faces, and loving the nobility among the anonymous. It’s having two themes fascinate me – man’s humanity to man and man’s inhumanity to man. I don’t mind dying, it’s the getting there, and I want to have integrity and nobility. So far I’ve managed to have dignity in the extreme times of my life, but one never knows his or her ending. It’s also having great kids, family, grandchildren and friends.

It’s living with more soul than body, and not ganging up on myself for having a peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast, and drinking lemonade, a good kidney stone prevention. It’s always turned towards something greater, a Divine Presence, and yet being willing to throw my whole being over a cliff for the wellbeing of the world.. It’s always learning, always seeing the wisdom in all things, no longer have shoulders tense up about every issue on earth.

Moderation to some degree has come to me. Trust, like surfing the opaque waves, is there also, but I have to guard this feeling until my last breath, and maybe one silent no breath. It is a life of purpose and humility with a whispered hope that I’ve left the world a little brighter.

This was terrifically fun and well done; Steve’s a buddy, and the biggest encourager (word?) for my work. I’m reading this in my pjs; hmmmm

I just spent one hour trying to get a Wordle on to my blog, my next adventure.
AM GOING WORD FISHING THROUGH DECEMBER 12, and have to wean myself off Facebook, my Blog, others blogs. I’m teaching 4 classes at moment; subject to change. I started a novel during Nano Wrimo month, and an opportunity to work on it further calls me. I’ll miss everyone, but it has to be done.

<Wordfishing at the Casbar, Old Town words, rainer maria rilke, pug dogs, Boston, whitey bulgher, lost loves, cubicle despair, the many lives of Baby Cakes Nelson, life reviews, Ross Dress For Less, destiny smeshtiny, let go, unemployed, Bubba, Bumpa, pug dogs, forces of light and darkness, 4 pound baby, oneness, being a Virgo, twin, pain, health, relationships, aaargh relationships, hot tears, successful candidates, prey, cabby hats, FISHINGFORWORDS

gotta get to this
Life at Fosselmans

oink, oink

Reader, are you there?  I haven’t been posting, because I’m so busy clicking and clacking everyone else’s wonderful blogs, and teaching writing, and laying down on the floor in a faint because of  the workshop’s wondrous voices, and other stuff too.  Did I tell you it’s been hot, ugh, hot?  The older you get, the more you feel it.

Generalized statement.  Once, when the earth was young, I was born in the Village of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, and I had a twin, normal weight, and we were born in the Boston Lying-In Hospital –part of Peter Bent Brigham (not the ice cream place) or something like that.  I was 4 pounds so I stayed, and Liz, my twin, Elizabeth Deegan Bradley, went home at scheduled time.  I was a 4 pounder named Esther Graham Bradley.  We completed the phrase “4 children within 3 years.”  My sister Mary Ellen Bradley (Meb) was above us and John Williams Bradley a little older –they were Irish twins.

Six months in our career beginning in Dirt City we had whooping-cough, so bad, that Children’s Hospital took us for free.  My father was an economics major from Harvard, but was out of work.  In September, before whooping-cough, the Hurricane of 1938 swash buckled and swash bent houses and boats, and the lights went out in West Roxbury.

Somehow we survived, and we grew up, fraternal twins.  Long story short, Liz, (everyone else called her Elizabeth) died at 68, in Idaho, her family near her.  I have written about this in my book You Carry the Heavy Stuff (a series of essays, poetry, range of depth, and range of writing voices) (Lulu.Com and Amazon.com and Author’s Garage (smile).  Liz was born 12 minutes before me.  Today, as I was brushing my teeth, I thought, what if 12 minutes could be viewed as a day a minute.

I decided I have at least 12 years to hustle and get my gritty, well I’ll be a yellow-bellied chuck wagon prose out on the page.  I may last longer, but I do have aortic valve replacement, blah, blah, and blah, blah, blah – get the full story when I’m 92.

Friday, I went to Nordstrom’s with a good friend who uses Clarens Products on her skin.

She had 2 free facials, and gifted me with one.  It was heavenly, an adventure, and we had lots of catch-up and laughter and old friends’ perceptions to toss at each other over a divine green as green could be, and red as red strawberries could be, and blackberries, and coated sugared pecans, and, and, and we started out as she went for the first facial at 11.30.

Reader, I think I made it home by 6.30 or 7.00 p.m. to my waiting Bill. It was glorious, and the next day my skin, my face, was as soft as a baby’s butt.  I have good skin; don’t know why, and Pam, the skin care specialist, asked what kind of self-care I did, and what I used for my face, because it was great.  Reader, I said, “I throw on water, rub it with a towel, and hit the road.”  It’s worked so far.  But September 29, Janet and I are going back to an adventure at Nordstroms – she’s picking me up at 6.3o a.m. at the end of my driveway – I’ll blog about it.

Sunday, my wondrous daughter-in-law Laura wasn’t feeling well, so Nico, Nicholas, Nick, my 6.5 son came up; Janet of the famed skin care story met us at the restaurant, and Bill and I rode with Nick to a Greens Restaurant on Colorado, near Vromans.  Excellent and not overly pricey.

Then, the plot thickens, as my waist would in a parallel universe.  I have never gone to Fosselman’s Ice Cream, open since 1919, http://www.fosselmans.com/ and I decided to try it.  Nick had a map drawn by Laura, and Bill, myself and Nick headed towards Alhambra, via Los Robles, long, some winds, and took a right on Main, got a little lost, took a U-turn, and there is was on the right hand side.  I must tell my friend and encourager, our friend and encourager, Steve Pulley, who originally told me about Fosselmans being the best ice cream ever.  I grew up going to Bailey’s in Boston, downtown Boston, once a year, and Brighams on the side, and used to be so skinny I could eat all the ice cream sundaes I wanted.

I had 2 scoops of heavenly vanilla ice cream, lots of fudge sauce, delicate, strong, and marshmallow – something I called in my high school years, a “vanilla, fudge, marsh,” and because I had a good lunch, good slices of beef, nor normally eaten, I felt okay.

Today I awakened and cooked stir fry, Tofu and Veggies, as the days of ice cream and splendor are coming to an end.  I then took my hefty gift certificate to Vromans in Pasadena, the best independent bookstore around, and bought 2 more writing books, and 3 memoirs I probably won’t see in the library.

Reader, tomorrow I will be 74, and for the most part I thrive.  I thrive I think because of my Faith, Mr. Bill my husband, my pal, may laughing buddy and snuggler, my kids, his kids, our grandkids, my Faith Community (Baha’i Faith) and all those incredible people in my workshops and in my expanded blog life.  How lucky can an old gal get?

So I just thought I’d share this.  I am very happy at the moment, and indeed, grateful for all I have.

Funny.  From the blog Embracing Homelessness – this person is an incredible writer, and I am privileged to know her.

Reader:  Janine, a wonderful member of our verbally weird and adventurous, skilled, blabby CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforWriters – suggested a prompt overusing adjectives.  Here’s my take:

Muffy Kincaid, that lustrous blonde with just a wee bald spot on the top of her head, revealing a dot, a splot, a mere quiver of pink flesh, under which spot, a brain whirred, as if agile and liquid,

and our Muffy conjured up ways to attract Alfred to her yoga class, in which she would point her long, long, long, long, limber, limber, limber legs and elegantly formed, mushroom like in its splendor big toe to the dappled white ceiling which was in tiles if you want to know, and they were becoming loose,

as Harry Raymond, a swish of a guy, who stood on head in his irritable, Terrible Tempered Tommy Bangs moments of anger, sweating, frustration, brought on by glaring at the cellular, no  – not cellular — oh why had our Tommy Bangs, histrionic hero of the Yoga Loaf, on the top floor of a bakery, a hot, hot, hot floor, why could he not, indeed, could not find fame, and then our little mischievous Muffy, with a nickname of misky tisky, conjured again, under that pink spot of the brain,

having listened carefully, her spike-like cilia open to Harry Raymond’s needs and desires, thought, “Why I can kill 2 birds with one stone,” and thought Alfred twisted and twined his “Hi I’m from the Maine Woods,” thick lumber-like legs, would come and discover the lascivious twists and turns of

Dear Muffy, who not only thought under that pink spot on her head, but lusted, yes, our audacious mild mannered heroine Muffy admitted to lust,

and if she could entice Alfred into a yoga studio, surely Alfred would receive a memorable metaphoric epiphany and envision, using his yet to be developed connecting skills under his skull, yes our Alfred, had  a skull, but opposites attract, pink spots vs. skull and

Alfred from Maine would visualize throwing Muffy into the clover and violating her in the vilest way, all the while, thinking, this all started because I left my man cave, my man ways and went to Yoga, and Harry Raymond, that insipid white crow of a man, actually had some tricks up his sleeve with which to twitch and turn and perhaps thrust (oh dear an inflammatory thought) and so I would end this earnestly written tale with the motto,

“Yes the Muffies of the world, can conjure, and the Harry Raymonds of the world, will live to see another economically assured day, in this time when men of reptilian brain, and smaller anatomy down there, trot and scheme behind the crooked corridors of power.

Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

l  a n g u a g e  a f t e r  t h e  1 0 0  y e a r  w a r

 

The Nouns were in control in the neighborhood of Verbiage.

Adjectives were forced to end their 100 Year War.

This war was known as the Great War of Planet Earth in the Days of Rhetoric Only.

Verbiage, like a fireplace bellows of yesteryear,

had simply exhausted its wheeze and could no longer

control the Nation.

Politicians would no longer be described adjectively.

Thus, our President could be described by the Press as, “A   

man whose eyes narrowed when a syllabic word entered the

toy store of his mind; a man whose Rubber Ducky drowned

when his bath water became higher than what is necessary for

the average leader; or, a man who could bob eternally on the

Ocean of Platitude.”

This leader called up his country’s Reserve Marines again.

These Marines were sent to a land which resembled a cannon

to which they would become fodder. They would obey their

mission, climb into these cannons, and be shot out over the

land of buildings which no longer resembled buildings.

Naught would be seen but structures of rubble which resembled

cookies crumbled in the hand of a monster as tall as the

sky.

The Congress would not be allowed to use descriptions

which included the much abused adjective. This caused some

consternation, for our Congress knew of the paucity of adverbs

when running for election. The Congress member

would no longer be able to crawl into that vat of adjectives

filled with words guaranteed to portray an individual Congress

person righteously and puffily. These adjectives, I might

add, are thrown carelessly into this vat, like screen plays in

Los Angeles, like potato chips in a Lays truck which had escaped

from their Bag Containers.

The Nouns issued an edict: “Stick to the Facts, Jack.

Straight Facts for a Straight Land,” a land which had lived adjectivally

and splendiferously for too long, thereby wreaking

an ecological knowledge gap of a very long five years. Politicians

had appeared on the NewsHour program with Jim

Lehrer, and on what used to be Peter Jennings’s NewsHour,

and on Tim Russert, to reveal Sunday after Sunday (or was it

Monday after Monday?) narrow gamboling minds and nuances

of the political dance. These very same politicians verbally

trolled linguistically along to thinly expand titles such as

“Theatre of Operation,” “War Games” and, last but not least,

the most abused noun in the world, Democracy—Democracy

became a gutted, slutty word, misused and stretched like

hardened taffy in a candy machine after the summer crowd

had gone home.

A rape of the Nouns had occurred. What choice did the

Nouns have but to take over the Nation? They cried out,

“Aack, aack, aack! No more.”

And so as this tale is difficultly told, but blessed for its attempts,

all the while failing in adverbial splendor, time will tell how language

controlled its environment so that facts and integrity might emerge again

 children of the world forget that “Truthfulness is the foundation

of all human virtues” (Ruhi Book 1 – Reflections on the Life of the Spirit)

Lynne Hippler and I participated in a remote viewing/healing process about a week ago, on me, the happy subject.  What follows will dip into that type of therapy. Perhaps I should mention, I was a 4 pound baby, had a heart quirk (2 aortic valve openings, instead of 3) which was discovered when I was 53 (smile).  I have done traditional and alternative healing for years.  First one in family to get the childhood diseases, had Mono twice, and when 42, returning to the University, had Epstein Barr Virus, which the medical profession didn’t acknowledge.  What followed were hilarious essays way after the fact.  I was single mom with obstreperous but wonderful young boy, living on campus with him, going to school, hanging in.  I had sold everything to go back to school.  Immune system plague followed me for years.  It liked me, what can I say.  Went to Russia/Ukraine/Belarus, a dip in Siberia.  Home, stenosis of aortic valve, and more, too much to mention.  Health returns through surgery, antidepressents, a good psychiatrist, rolfing, walking, fresh air of Seattle, and a loving husband.  I have had other sagas, but that’s for another day.  So I am pretty much like an old engine which keeps on chugging, and help is found in varied ways.  Below is one of these ways.  I hope you enjoy.

Esther:  You read my Without A Net, a Sojourn in Russia and emailed me.  It turns out we have mutual friends.  I offered to send you my second book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and then you said you would like to thank me for the book by giving me a remote treatment from where you live, in Norway. Mind you, I am in Pasadena. (Readers:  I have lung and heart stuff, and toot around like a good used truck).Of course I said yes because I’ve done a lot of body work and this intrigued me.

Esther:  Do you have a definition of your practice?

 Lynne:  I give alternative treatments, both onsite and remote.  I’m a Registered Nurse and Zone Therapist, and I’ve helped to form The Norwegian Healer Association and was a member of their first board. 

Lynne: I’ve worked since 1984 in the alternative field.  The methods I use are:  Zone Therapy, Healing, Nutritional Counseling, Energy Balancing, Caring and Counseling Conversation, Electric Acupuncture, Stones and Crystals, Affirmations and Visualizations, Bach Flower Remedies, and Remote Treatments.

 Esther:  You also give remote treatments for animals don’t you?

Lynne:  My intention is to help people and animals to get balanced and feel better.

Esther: I had a Rolfer who practiced on horses.  I called him “Mr. Thumb” because he had so much strength in his hands.  I was Rolfed months after open heart surgery, and it was exceedingly helpful.

Lynne:  Yes, Rolfing has a lot to offer.

Esther:  How did you get started in this type of practice?

Lynne:  It all started when I was working as a nurse in a hospital in Hammerfest,  Norway.  One day, while assisting a patient into a wheelchair, I injured my back.  I had difficulty sitting for a while, and while I was attending my Saami language class (the Saamis are the indigenous peoples of the North Calotte), a friend sitting next to me said, “You should contact my sister.  She’s the only Zone Therapist in Finnmark (the most northern part of Norway).  I did, and after six treatments, I was much improved.  Soon after this I moved to the eastern part of Finnmark to Tana.

While there, I started having problems with my stomach and was sent to the hospital three times.  While in the hospital, I had the good fortune of getting acquainted with a resident doctor who got to know me and then told me to, “Go home and heal yourself.”  And, I did.  Still, I knew that I didn’t know enough, and in fact hardly knew anything at all.  So I contacted the Zone Therapist who lived inHammerfestand said I wanted to become a Z.T.  I asked where she had gone to school.  She gave me the name of her instructor and the school in Oslo.  I applied and was admitted to a 2-year course of study.  I graduated in 1986.  During that time I also learned how to use the pendulum (The pendulum measures energy, i.e. you place it over an area and note which direction it rotates and how large the circle is. This tells you about the energy of the object).  My instructor said, “You have warm hands.  My instructor was also a homeopath, so we learned about homeopathy too.

Esther:  Do you practice this inNorway?

Lynne:  Yes I do, as well in Sweden, Finland, and the States when I am visiting in those countries, or if people want a remote treatment.

Esther:  What are your other interests, professions?

Lynne:  I received a B.S. degree from the University Of  Iowa (USA) in Therapeutic Recreation in 1966.  During my years inEurope I became a Registered Nurse and a Zone Therapist, as well as studied various other forms of alternative treatment.  I was also a member of the first board for The Norwegian Healer Association.

Esther:  Can you give the reader an image or two of what you experience when you view someone from afar? 

Lynne:  When I am doing a remote treatment, I need it to be quiet around me.  I try to create a spiritual atmosphere, and I want to be open to the guidance that comes to me. 

Esther:  I now know they should be lying down quietly, just breathing in and out, calm, and no disturbances.  I tweaked that a bit, but was in a good tranquil space.

Lynne:  Yes.  It is important to have a quiet atmosphere around the person receiving the treatment. It’s also very important that there are no electrical devices close by, i.e., TV, radio, microwave, computer, etc.  They can emit electrical energy that gets in the way of what I am trying to do.  For the same reason, it is important not to eat or drink during the treatment, because the body should be free to receive what is happening and not have other duties to take care of, i.e. if you are giving it food or drink to deal with.

Esther: So take us down the reader path of remote viewing, healing from afar. 

Lynne:   In addition to what I said above, I try to be as open as possible to receive the necessary guidance and then do what seems right. Nothing is planned ahead of time. At the end of the treatment I use muscle testing (kinesiology) to test if there are any affirmations, exercises, diets, etc. that would be helpful to assist in “getting balanced and feeling better”. These are sent in an email to the person who received the treatment. I also encourage people to contact me by email if they have any questions or comments.

Esther: You may use me as an example if you wish.

Lynne:   I don’t discuss what I specifically do during any treatment.

Esther:  Why are you in Norway?

Lynne:   That’s a long story…..The short version is that I decided to move toFinland in 1973, after having become a Baha’i in 1971. At the time I had never been out of North America and I felt there was a lot out there in the world that I could do and experience and many friends out there waiting to be met.

I lived in Finland from 1973-1980, graduating from nurses’ school in 1980. Things worked out in such a way that I moved to Norwayafter I graduated, because some friends suggested that I might like to live in Norway. So, I moved. I have always been open to new and different ways to do things, etc.

I have been a Norwegian citizen since 1985.

Esther:  What are your hopes for the future?

Lynne:  I very much enjoy living in Norway.  It is my home now, so I can’t imagine moving to another country. As far as how I live the rest of my life, I hope I can be useful to others as long as I can, in whatever ways I can, and to enjoy life to the fullest!

Esther: Any other comments?

Lynne:  I’m glad that I bought your first book, Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia.  That’s why I got in touch with you, and now here I am sharing with others through you. Very interesting how things work out, isn’t it?

Esther:  What other types of work do you do?

I also do translations from Norwegian to English, in case that is of interest to anyone. While I was in the States from 1996-2006 I did some work with genealogy – letters and books that people, originally from Norway, wanted translated.

If people would like to contact me, here is my website: http://www.behandlingsplassen.no.

Lynne:  Below is the text of the email I send out to people who are interested in a remote treatment:

This is how my remote treatments work:

We agree what day and time of day we will have the treatment.

($XX USD or $XX CD is deposited into my account.

You send me an email when this has been done, and then I do the remote treatment at the agreed upon time. Most people experience that it is best to be quiet during the treatment,

i.e. to lie down, just like you would during a physical treatment.

Please turn off computers, radios, TV’s, etc. The treatment lasts one hour.

Usually there are some treatment suggestions I have after the treatment,

and I will email those to you.

If you have any questions or comments, please email those to me: Lynnehi9@live.com

My bank account in Washington Mutual Bank/Chase,Palm Desert,

California is: 440 2088 060.

Thank-you for your interest,

Lynne Hippler

Jon Klæbosv. 1 C

8019 Bodø

Norge/Norway

47 786-03744

Website:   www.behandlingsplassen.no

(Reader, I experienced a state of calm, but towards the end of my session, I felt enormous fatigue.  Her advice to me was right on, and I might add, exceedingly helpful.  Healing is a process, and I’m glad I was part of this process.

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

prison wire at Chowchilla

Ten or so years ago, I read a request in the Women’s International Writer’s Guild newsletter.  A small 3 line or so request, which I am updating to the present day (Mother’s Day 2012).  Readers, further into my posts, you will find entries of T.C. Paulinkonis, her mom, Barbara, and life at Chowchilla Prison, a too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter prison, where T.C. sends, and I receive, or I send, and she receives mail.  She has been in prison for 22 years.  Her mother may soon be released, due to age and infirmity and go to a halfway house. You will have to decide whether you want to be a penpal or not.  I did, and I’ve never regretted it.  First her current plea: “Imprisoned woman seeks pen pals and contact with the outside world.  Please send SASE w/1st letter to: Teresa Paulinkonis (W45118); P. O. Box 514-16-4U); Chowchilla, CA 93610.”  She needs mail.  Contact with the outside world keeps these women alive.  She and her mother were battered women.  T.C. was also sexually abused repeatedly by her stepfather, and one day she retaliated.  They didn’t get arrested under the “Battered Women” concept.  They have been exceptional prisoners for 22 years.  She started a newsletter.  My relationship with her is one of mutual respect and love.   I didn’t ask her for quite a while what the nature of her conviction was.  It came out gradually.  Her mother is ill, has botched eyesight because of a procedure within the walls, and I believe has fibromyalgia, and a host of other ills, such as diabetes. Barbara Paulinkonis is coming up for her parole board hearing in August and may be released.  TC has an attorney (a volunteer firm) who is working on her release also. TC and her mom are in the same cell, and now Barbara can’t even make her bed, so TC takes on all extra work.  She is an incredible daughter, and never complains.  Her mother and TC are very loving and appreciative. You must send any request to her exactly as stated.  I have sent envelopes which were the wrong shape, or sent too many stamps, and not known cardboard cards are not accepted, and each time, TC or any prisoner, for that matter, must pay for the whole package being returned and they make about 12 cents and hour. There is a lot I can say.  It’s an entirely safe procedure.  Let me know if you take action.  When I am very old, and I lay down my bones, I’m sure there’s lots I could have done.  but writing to TC has been a mutual blessing, and I hope I have served her in some small way. Love and Happy Mother’s Day to all, and just Happy Day to all who love and serve.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

 

New York Times Best Seller

A Mostly True Memoir - a must read

So, you are ambling along in the library, and you check into your books on hold. Did I mention, I’m a memoir addict?

Okay, okay, the author? Jenny Lawson, and she’s called “The Bloggess,” Yep, I  ordered a book based on the cover, and of course that it’s a memoir. A white rat who looks in need of dental work, wears a stunning black velvet cape, with a red  silk lining.  His rat feet look like a DSW size 10? He has a white ruffled tutu type collar, the kind used in Medieval days, which if you want to know seem just like yesterday.

Okay, okay, the author? She’s called “The   Bloggess,” and did I meet her in my Name is Not Bob Blog April   challenge, MNINB?  I’m Not Bob April Challenge (MNINB) caused a loose knot in the sky, a gnarled rotting elbow on a tree, to fall on my neck and pressure  stress liquids into my brain.

I don’t know where I discovered Jenny Lawson, but  Reader, I read this book while slammed with the process of April Challenged which Not Bob gave to us bloggers, and I laughed, and chuckled, and snuffled   and snorted at midnight, in the quiet ambiance of our 2-room pool house of   the high ceilings and spillage of computer material, books, whatever.

Okay, sorry for the hot dogging, but The Bloggess,  aka Jenny Lawson, wrote “A Mostly True Memoir,” and that works for   me. She had me on the rat cover. I love the abandoned warrens of her mind,   picture Kafka-toned jokes as her thoughts trot ahead of us readers, twisting,   turning, always into belly laughing and chortles. She is snarky in deed, and   she got me on “folded vagina,” and claimed my heart and soul when I   discovered she had a Pug, Barnaby Jones.

The book is filled with huge metal chickens,   small creatures of the stuffed kind (her father was a crazy Taxidermist).

Reader, what is one to do with chapter titles   like, “Stabbed by Chicken,” “Hairless Rats Free for Kids   Only,” and an enchanting view of detachment from a bizarro childhood,  and interstitial laughter and views of a marriage with an wonderfully funny  man.

I read the first few pages and thought, maybe   I’m too old for this contemporary writing, but when I finished this book,   Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson’s writing claimed me.

My brother–in-law called me “The   Bro-ess,” and now I, the Broess, am on the devotee path of one Bloggess.   Kudos to all who write

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  http://hereismars.wordpress.com/  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart.   http://hereismars.wordpress.com/ (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.)

http://swpulley.wordpress.com, long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing.

http://bahaithought.blogspot.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/02/04/rainn-wilson-soulpancake/, I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.

http://www.bendsintheroad.com/  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.

http://elenagorokhova.com/  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.

http://creativityontheloose.com/   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine

http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.

http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot

http://catewrites.wordpress.com/feed/   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-cat-boys-are-tree-huggers.html

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces.

http://livingbackstreet.blogspot.com, a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website.

http://holessence.wordpress.com/ one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

terrifically informative re writing

http://debbieohi.com/home/atom.xml  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.

Larry: The Most Famous Feline in England.

 

I’m reposting this from http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/larry-the-most-famous-feline-in-england/

 

She’s an artist, and I like her blogs.  I find this one enchanting.  Best to all!

aargh

I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

Brandi’s prompts today or yesterday from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/ and my response today:

Tell us why you became a part of this fabulous league of writers!
2. “According to the hard-hitting journalism of cosmos…”
3. Of all the skeletons in my closet, you are my favorite.

List your personal comfort foods, bonus points  if you tell us why each one is comforting.

————————————————————————————————————

One day, when the earth was young, and bubbling, in a cute kind of primordial way, I was sitting, driving, thinking, wondering, if I were anorexic and a fiction writer, could I, just possibly, write about all the skeletons in my closet and how I admired their paucity of flesh.
Exactly dear reader. They had no flesh.

Then I mulled over which type of comfort food I was in the mood to eat.  I couldn’t decide on either bowlS of Hagen Das vanilla ice cream with buckets of Hersey syrup or my old standby; that balled-up-in-a-fist peanut butter and jam sandwich on wheat if you please, but a friend, a writer from CHPercolator sent me an
email encouraging me. He encourages well, and to all I note.

Soooo, long story short, I had just finished several advanced writing classes with Jack Grapes,http://jackgrapes.com/grapes_approach.php –  superb writing workshop leader, and I had blasted out of the gate of Write Like You Talk, into Write Like You Sing, Absence of Field, Teeth and Mouth writing (feel your mouth and teeth going over syllables and words you produce), Write Like You Sing, (think Martin Luther King, or Dickens, “It was the best of times, the worst of times…”) literary, heavy on the multisyllabic, so reader, you catch my drift. Are you with me? (Straight talk) and I thought  why not try CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforwriters, and the rest is history. Two years later, enter into my crooked pathways of a brain, a book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff – (Lulu, Amazon, my house), a combination of writing styles, homage to Oakley Hall, Jack Grapes, and stuff from their workshops, plus my responses
to CHPerc prompts.

The lesson: A little prompt goes a long way.

So how do you feel about prompts?  Writing Workshops?  Do they help?

P.S. Open House to my blog, no visitor turned away, sign up, and we’ll dance together among the words.

my name is not bob challenge

learning modes

Reader, may I call you reader.  help me in my hour of trouble and affliction.  Here’s the deal.  I’m blogging.  Bless me Lord, for I am blogging.  I am FB-ing, with about 700 of my cronies around the world.  I twitted over to tweet and succumbed, barely.  I checked my name, Esther Bradley-DeTally, against Google, Bing, and a whole bunch of little places with interesting names of which I have forgotten.  In other words, I am in Brain-Stretch, big time.  Before I toddle through this page with episodic thoughts, first let me say, My Name is Not Bob is great, and Not Bob is a generous man.  As a respondee to my blog, Keith, of the winsome words with a touch of dry flour around them, said, “Bob sounds like an inspirational fellow.”  Indeed he is.  As you are my fellow bloggers.

I am concerned about my long-time 7-10 hard-core followers, since my blog has grown, and since this challenge came along. I fear they all could fit inside a telephone booth, but I’ve been known to exaggerate.

I am back from the dentist – 2 crowns needed, and as I walked in the door,   I received a call from an older woman I revere.  She called to tell me a writing suggestion given years ago in one of my workshops changed her life.  It was simple, “Make a timeline,” and in her early years, she was heavily burned at 2, her father died in a fire later, she added all the good transformational stuff, and saw the wisdom and purpose of all things and people in her life, even the original accident, for which she had numerous plastic surgeries.   We yukked and jawed, and I got off the phone buoyant to have given a shred of anything light to this incredible lady who is now 88.

So far so good Reader.  Are you with me?  Do you catch my drift? I had a tuna sandwich, picture a round tuna with bits of green heap, the heel of my hand smashing two slices of bread around it and my eating it as I walked to my laptop.  Open I am Not Bob.  April 11 – challenge.  This is so wonderful.  I read down to Not Bob’s list of five popular URL shorteners.  I checked out http://bit.ly because Not Bob said, “This is my favorite.”

I cannot be responsible for the way my eyes which rolled around like loose pinballs shooting out of an Arcade game because of broken curly wires.  I went to the Techy God for explanations:  Wikipedia.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

URL shortening   Pro:

is a technique on the World Wide Web in which a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) may be made substantially shorter in length and still direct to the required page. This is achieved by using an HTTP Redirect on a domain name that is short, which links to the web page that has a long URL. For example, the URL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_shortening can be shortened to http://bit.ly/urlwiki or http://tinyurl.com/urlwiki. This is especially convenient for messaging technologies such as Twitter and Identi.ca, which severely limit the number of characters that may be used in a message. Short URLs allow otherwise long web addresses to be referred to in a tweet. In November 2009, the shortened links on one URL shortening service were accessed 2.1 billion times.[1]

Normally, a URL shortening service will use the top-level domain of a country that allows foreign sites to use its extension, and is a common ending in the English language, such as .ly (Libya), to redirect worldwide using a short alphanumeric sequence after the provider’s site address in order to point to the long URL.

Another use of URL shortening is to disguise the underlying address. Although this may be desired for legitimate business or personal reasons, it is open to abuse and for this reason, some URL shortening service providers have found themselves on spam blacklists, because of the use of their redirect services by sites trying to bypass those very same blacklists. Some websites prevent short, redirected URLs from being posted

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

There are con views so as readers you can Google Wikipedia, but I think to myself, “not right now Esther.”  Later.  I can shorten my own words within Twitter Texts, and because I drip, exude words in every other social media area, shortening my URL doesn’t seem to amount to a hill of beans.

That said, I’m off to read Best Blogs:  I do so like Rain Wilson’s Soul Pancake, http://soulpancake.com/; now there’s a mind with many tunnels.

 

 

 

Reader, may I call you reader.  This is a response to my blog of yesterday about being an old gal with a 35-year-old voice.  You see that blog had its genesis in CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseforWriters – a yahoo site.  My friend Steve encouraged me.  Steve is responsible for my latest book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and ChPercolator.  It’s free; we only encourage, never criticize, check it out.

Keith is a funny writer, and any email or comments from him make me yuck and chortle.  Steve and I even drove down to Disneyland area, Anaheim area, to visit Keith and his wife, who were in from New Jersey.  Keith also wrote a blurb on the back of Carry Heavy Stuff, and this is his response to my blog of yesterday, soon to be yesteryear:

I underlined Bob sounds like an inspiration person because it was so deadpan.  Yes, I roll on floors over stuff like this.

Re: SUB: Dingbat and stuff

I often think that I was born in the wrong century, which is a great joke either on myself or the calendar professionals (The people who put cute animals, religious pictures and girls in swimsuits over individual months). Facebook? Twitter? They’re all the rage right now and I admit that both E.A. Poe and C. Dickens would have been all over them and so too would J. Caesar and Ramses Jr. I just can’t get into it. Maybe I’m lazy or maybe I’m reticent about new things that are all the rage (I never had a moon rock and I never saw a single episode of “Miami Vice”). If there is a disease called “fuddy-duddy-ism” then I must have it.
Is that at all related to being a dingbat?
Are frabjous and frabulous synonyms?
If I had a canary I would let it perch on my shoulders.
Bob sounds like an inspirational person.
My mother-in-law and you could climb mountains together.
What, what, oh what ever happened to the cardboard pug?
Jessica wouldn’t be that fictional writer/sleuth who murdered all those people and then hypnotized someone else into confessing to the crime? It’s just too much of a coincidence that she lives in a tiny hamlet in Maine with the highest murder rate in the world when she’s home and someone gets murdered wherever she travels. If that’s the same Jessica I would exercise caution.
whimsied time with granddaughter

Jessica and I make cardboard pug

I am a missing dingbat.  I retreated last night to desserts, and I awakened this morning, with snakes snarling and hissing on my head, a nervous tension, and just disgruntled wormy thoughts that wouldn’t even coalesce with one another.  I think that fits under missing dingbat category.

If I had a canary, it would be tempestuous, or lascivious, or frabulous, and mirror the excesses of my personality which I sometimes think goes into spillage too much.  I’d like to retreat to the desert, but instead will go for a walk, under the trees in Pasadena.

The reason for all of this.  I am in a “I’m Not Bob Challenge”.  I’m Not Bob is this wonderful man’s personal blog, (He’s a Writer’s Digest person)  and he’s helping us would-be, be, being, and all range of bloggers and writers to meet the challenge of expansion, construction too.  Each day the anonymous amongst us arise and blow out our thoughts in Twitter, i.e., “I jmp ovr mts & Valleys, and I wl nt hiss at LinkedIn”, type of thing.  Then we hook up FB pages, or simply chat, and sometimes, like today, my hands will click over the keys, which click sounds like Old Puggy’s (God rest his lardy soul) nails on linoleum at Grandma Anna’s place.

I’m becoming an old gal writer, whose voice is 35,  and I am  like a mountain goat.  It’s a saga, this trudging up the mountains of words.  Some days are tempestuous, a word in one of my CHPercolator prompts today, and one I’d use more if I were in a multisyllabic mode.  Today I feel more Germanic, almost high boots and marching because I’m frustrated by my inabilities or level of knowledge (think ankle level) on the computer.

Today I’ll stick to dingbat, and walk heavy hoofed for hopefully 5 miles, and then my ding will be danged, and tomorrow will be another day.

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

The T.C. & Mama P Newsletter – First QTR, 2012      Free online at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

It is with great exultation that we bring in 2012. Why? Well, because it means we all got through 2011. It also means that we have a lot to look forward to. There are lifers receiving parole grants and most of them are definitely going home. Jerry Brown is letting the Board of Prison Hearings do their job. Good ol‘ JB is OUR governor!

This year Mama ´P´ is once again going to appear before the BPH to seek a parole grant. There really isn‘t any legal reason for them to deny her parole. She will be represented by Elisabeth Peterson at that hearing, which will likely be held in October.

While her legal team is seeking parole, my team is seeking a new trial for myself. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is being filed at the first level as a form of appeal for relief. That level is the Superior Court that held our make believe trial. In a nutshell, my Public Pretender should have had me psychologically evaluated and probed an investigation once allegations of abuse were raised in testimony. Legally, she was obligated to provide me with an adequate defense, but she tied my hands and sealed my mouth. And, we all know that I‘ve found my voice and will not deny the past any longer. My fight could take months or over a year. It all depends on how far we need to take this battle.

In either scenario, 2012 holds hope for each of us. It also holds hope for the many lifers who have served well past their matrix. It costs far more to keep productive, aging, lifers in prison, that to release them to a second chance and allowing them to integrate back into society. We can assimilate. Really, we can. There may be a tad of culture shock after decades in captivity, but that is to be expected. Maybe JB can put The Happy in our New Year. Let us hope so.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama P

Help Is Available

For the many lifers reading this newsletter, I believe that knowledge is to be shared. As you strive to achieve whatever you can to impress the BPH, they really show favor to any self-help that you seek or accomplish. I want to help you add a little more ammunition to your arsenal for the battle ahead.

I already covered in previous newsletters, the vital necessity of insight into your crime, and that the BPH finds book reports on self-help programs available through correspondence efforts listed below.

Turning Point was created and is conducted, by ex-cons. They offer a total of 20 lesson plans in which you can earn a series of certificates. BPH favors this program.

Creative options offer Parenting, Anger Management, and other studies, also by way of correspondence. Like Turning Point, this one is free.

The PASS Program offers two semesters of courses on a variety of topics from Victim Awareness, Addiction, Domestic Violence, Conflict Resolution, and Re-entry into society, just to name a few of the ten topics. This program however, costs $500. What prisoner can afford that? If you can, I suggest that you enroll and get your achievement certification in Personal Psychological Development. Yes, BPH favors this too.

Turning Poing                                 Creative Options                              PASS Program

2049 S. Santa Fe Ave.                  P.O. Box 808                                       P.O. Box 2009

Los Angeles, CA 90021                                Lyons, OR 97358                               San Francisco, CA 94126

What It‘s Like For Me by Cora Lee Lee

It was a morning, like any other. I was on my way to my work assignment, saying hello to a good many women that I had said good night to about twelve hours before. It was like any other morning until the words I heard stopped me dead in my tracks. I must‘ve looked like a trapped animal with nowhere to turn. My mind was reeling. This wasn‘t how I wanted to start my day.

„Mrs. Cora! I was looking for you. I just got back from court and I rode up with your sister. Y‘all look just alike! She says she loves and misses you. She can‘t wait to come over the wall to see you.“ She. Can‘t. Wait. To see you.

This woman went on and on about mys sister, but all I could hear at that point, were my own thoughts. I was caught up in the thougth that this could not be and that I didn‘t really need this in my life. I mean, was I being punished? The idea that she was here – my sister – tightened my stomach and had my mind whirling with spontaneous anxiety. My entire being was distress. I acknowledged this woman‘s words, but my smile was feigned.

Before I go any further, let me stress that this is not one of those cute prison formed relationships. There‘s your prison mom, which you met here. She didn‘t give birth to you, nor did you know each other in the free world. So, there‘s prison mom, or sister. Then, there‘s the real deal. Bloodline. The sister in question here is my bloodline. That makes a world of difference. And unless you‘re a lifer or long-termer doing time, and you have a family member in prison with you, I doubt you can say you know how it feels, even if you empathize.

I‘ve been down a decade now with ten more years to go. It‘s been a struggle to take care of myself and survive. Each day may seem the same, but sometimes there are challenges. For instance, the cells hold eight women, but more often than not, at least ten or more personalites. Prison is a stressful place. I will not sugar coat it. And people have a really nice way of getting on your last nerve … without ever trying. So, who needs the added stress of, „Hey, your sister is here, and she wants to see you?“

Please don‘t misunderstand me … I love my sister. What I don‘t like, is that she did the same thing to me that other people have done. You see, this isn‘t her first trip to prison, it is her second. On her first round, she made parole promises of how she‘ll never forget what prison is really like, and she‘d be there for me once she got home. Parole promises includes taking pictures and sending not only photos, but money and writing regularly. A parole knows all too well that prison is a lonely place that can make a heart feel desolate and empty inside. Parolees know that mail call is a lifeline to the outside world and it takes money to survive in here. The chowhall food is inedible, they don‘t provide adequate clothing for the inclement weather, and they consider indigent status to be one dollar or less. If you have one penny over a dollar yes one lousy dollar, then you‘re not considered indigent. You can‘t even buy two bars of soap for one dollar, let alone the necessary hygine items for the mouth. My sister knew this. She experienced this. And then, she left me with false promises and a broken heart, for I fel abandoned and forsaken. I have had my share of phony parolee promises made to my face, only to become added disappointment in the reality of prison life. I just didn‘t expect it from my own flesh and blood.

Two years in society may feel like, well, two years. Ah, but a couple of years at CCWF can feel like double that. Yet, here she is two years lated, „I‘m back!“ Yes, back and disarrayed from the life she chose out there to be in the predicament she is in now. Back at CCWF looking worn from the wear of her decisions. However, while she‘s been gone, I‘ve been working diligently on myself to be reassimilated back into society. As I watch women return to prison over and over again, I strive to get out. It‘s insulting when they act like it is funny, yet I scratch my head with a WTF look on my face. They act as if they just don‘t care about their freedom. Well, I care about mine, and I‘ve come to not only learn, but to accept, that I‘m doing this trip alone. I‘m the one who‘s working on me. I‘ve been really steady about avoiding the many distructions that can impede progress … and then my head was spinning at the news of the arrival of my sister.

I do not receive halftime credits. I am working everyday to one day to be free. In the meantime, I join others to fight for the rights of women, and to battle Battered Woman Syndrome. Lifers and long-termers fight to be freed, yet parolees find humor in „I‘m baaaack!“ Like T.C. says – it‘s a slap in the face of freedom. And it breaks our hearts, because all we want is a chance to get back out there to our loved ones, and not see the inside of these walls again. That‘s all we want. We work tirelessly toward that goal.

So, taking all of that into consideration, what does it feel like to see a loved one come to prison? It hurts deep down inside. It hurts so deeply that you want to go into the shower and cry your eyes out. That‘s really the only place that is semi-private in which you can go for a personal bawl release. You want to just let it out before it dominates you. It hurts folks. It hurts like hell.

So, for all of you sisters and mothers, cousins and nieces and so on, please do not feel offended by my bluntness and honesty. We would rather that you‘re in a world that we are painstakingly working hard to return to, that for you to be a number behind these walls. That‘s why they offer a visiting room for us to meet. The free world is where we both need to be … where I long to be. And that is where I want to be reunited with my loved ones without anyone telling us that our time is up. If you‘re reading this from the free world, stay there. I hope to not be too much longer. Don‘t give up on me. And Sis, I love you. Thank you for your blessing to share this message. You never know who needed to hear it.

Anything Is Possible

When I was just a kid, I never really considered what I would do with my future. I think I was just hoping I‘d have one. I think the first time I considered my future was when the recruiters made their rounds my senior year in high school.

I almost did it, you know. I almost signed the final document that was the equivelent of selling my soul to Uncle Sam. Now, don‘t get me wrong. I love my country. My heart bleeds red, white, and blue. I support your troops. I even pledge allegiance to a flag I have hung over my cell door. God, she‘s beautiful. However, if I joined, it would have been too final.

The Army. I nearly joined the Army after being fed that bogus storyline about how my best friend and I could go in on the Buddy Program. Why Army? I wanted to be all I could be. Well, to be honest … Navy was out because I‘m water challenged, and the recruiter fed us lines about traveling to exotic lands, meeting new and different people, and trying new and unusual foods. I raised an eyebrow. Foods? I love food, but nothing still alive staring up at me, and nothing slimy. I despise slimy.

I didn‘t sign the document. Not only because I knew he was insulting my intelligence about the Buddy System, but because I would have joined for the wrong reason. It wouldn‘t have been for love of country, but necessity of escapism from my childhood at home. But, my core reason was that I didn‘t think I was capable of killing complete strangers. I just never really liked guns anyway.

Well, look at me now! I‘m on my 23rd year of captivity in the death of my stepfather. I never could have predicted this at 18 years old. I‘d have told you that you‘re crazy if you thought I could take a life. Anything is possible.

Stuff doesn‘t just happen. People make it happen by choices, decisions, and actions. Right about now I wish I was in some third world country eating something slimy, because slimy is better than this. Howevere, like everyone else here, I made a choice and I‘m living with it. But, do you know what? This place has helped me to be all I can be. The government still got me, but I probably would‘ve been more productive in the Army.

Moral of the story? Choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

Comfort Care Where? By: La Donna Robinson, A CCWF Hospice Volunteer

I have spent nearly every Monday night for the past four years, and eleven (11) months, in the Skilled Nursing Facility in the CCWF Treatment Center. I am a Comfort Care Hospice Volunteer, and I would be lying if I said that the comfort and the care are always present.

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a scary, lonely place to be. Many have passed on from there to a better world. Of course it is never easy to see one of our own die from an incurable illness. We silently pray that it doesn‘t ever happen to us, hope that they die a painless death, and sit patiently in wait until they pass to the other side.

These women are often referred to as „The Forgotten“, as some of them have never been seen by those in the General Population area of the prison, and are often not included in the special event s provided by the institution. Some are wheelchair bound, and some simply can not leave the SNF because immediate medical attention must be readily available should something go wrong. I know for a fact that just because they are forgotten by some, does not mean they are forgotten by all.

The General Population inmates pulled together and provided many personal items for Christmas presents for these ladies. There were hats and scarves (it is usually cold in SNF to aid in the reduction of germs), hygiene items, stationery and stamps, and much more. The G.P. inmates went out of their way to ensure that these ladies knew they were in our hearts during the holidays.

The SNF is not what it once was, and as with anywhere and anyone; one bad apple shouldn‘t spoil the whole bunch. Of course there may sometimes be a nurse who is having a bad day, or doesn‘t exactly like the idea of sharing her space with inmates, but for the most part, our sisters in the SNF are treated with loving care. When they aren‘t they make sure it is known so that we, together with the staff, can make it a more comfortable place for them. After all, for most of the women in SNF, it is a permanent home. Our job as Comfort Care members is to provide exactly what the name says; Comfort and Care. We are not junior nurses and it is never our intent to compete with the medical staff, or to dole out advice to patients. It is only our intent to ensure that our sisters who are often left excluded, do not die alone in a place designed to prepare for death.

I thank the women of the General Population for supporting the Comfort Care Memebers in our endeavor. They are always waiting with a kind word, or a question about their peers who they seldom see, but hear of quite often. You too, are appreciated, and your concern, prayers, and efforts to not go unnoticed.

Sincerely,

La Donna Robinson

A Letter To God

Dear God,

I‘ve had my heart broken with the loss of a friend who never hurt me like other have. He was one of the few men that I could feel comfortable being alone with. He never betrayed my trust or took my kindness for granted. He never abandoned me when it felt like the world had come crashing down. He never made me feel unnatural, although I was more of a square in his round peg world. His heart was always true.

I know that for all of us, our time on earth is temporary. I accept that you cross our paths with others for purposes we may often not be privvy to. When you crossed my path with Wolf‘s, you not only blessed my life, you filled a void in my heart. In the aftermath of my arrest over 22 years ago, he stood by me and the though of abandoning me was unthinkable. Just like the true nature of his name, he was loyal, protective, and one of Your most precious gifts to this world. Although our time on earth is temporary, love knows no boundaries … at least not in my heart.

Lord, thank You for the years that I was blessed with Wolf as my friend, teacher, and Big Brother. He accepted my contrasting lifestyle and joked that I was a big marshmallow on the inside. He was 100% of a 1%. He was betrayed and left for dead, but eventually found Carley, the love of his life. God, how she filled the emptiness of his broken heart. I don‘t know if she‘ll ever know how much he loved her, but she was his everything. She‘s probably the only reason he fought so long to stay in this world, but his time ran out, the road ended, and he left us. Our hearts are broken, but thank You for the many years that You blessed each of us with Wolf.

It was my hope to enjoy Burger King and wine coolers with him again. It would have been nice to just sit together and acknowledge that we each survived this long journey. While it saddens me to not have that opportunity, it disheartens me to think of all of the people who never had what I had with Wolf. All of those people who never knew him. Boy did they miss out!

Lord, do You think You can be a little patient with him? He‘s been separated from his Harly and his pit bull for quite a long time. He‘s going to want to enjoy both for awhile. He may be a little late to Orientation.

Thank You for the years, the memories. Thank You for the kinship, the relationship that was stronger than my own bloodline. It hurts to lose him, but I trust he‘s in good hands. Oh, and can You please tell him that he still owes Shorty ride down Calaveras Road? Thanx.

Endless Love,

Your Daughter,

Teresa Christine

Shout Out!

If there are any inmates reading this that want to contribute with an essay, opinion editorial, or share thoughts, experience, or give readers something to ponder about, talk to T.C.

Yep, I‘m the easiest person to locate. We all have something worthy to contribute. Sometimes, we just need to be invited to step atop the platform and let ourselves be heard. Don‘t worry if you‘re not the best writer. I will gladly proof and polish anything considered for print.

Crime After Crime Available on DVD

Deborah Peagler, AKA Tripp, had a story that needed to be told. By doing so, it may save lives. Yoav Potash documented Tripp’s life into a film that is now available on DVD. The documentary tells of her legal battle to seek freedom after being sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison. I have shared her story and release in this newsletter before, as I also sadly informed of her death due to stage IV lung cancer. Tripp did not die in prison. She had nine awesome months of pure freedom before she lost her final battle, but she embraced each and every moment knowing that God smiled upon her.

I want you to know my friend. I want you to hear her story, from her perspective. Please support this film by going to www.crimeaftercrime.com and ordering a copy and watching it. I cannot stress it enough; You need to hear her story, which involved perjury evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. Think you know the legal system? This film will get you to think twice.

And She Calls us the Criminals!

Ever heard the term, “who’s minding the store?” Yeah, well, it goes to question who is in charge of who or what. Inmates have been saying for years that half of the psychologists in the prison system need a shrink themselves. I recall Dr. Majid, not sure of exact spelling. I called him Disco Daddy in reference to his unprofessional misconduct. He wore his wildly colored satin shirts open to mid-chest with his dark curly chest hair exposed within numerous gold chain necklaces. They had this creepy looking fellow conducting a sexual abuse survivor group in which he allowed one girl in particular to expose herself two sessions in a row. The only reason he prevented a third attempt was because the other women complained of being victimized by her aggressive attention seeking behaviorism. Oh, and I should mention he was eventually fired for of all things, sexual misconduct.

Then enters the picture of questionable antics of social behaviorism, Courie Ann Martinez. She is a CDCR Senior Psychologist Supervisor. Her employment duties included overseeing a team of clinicians at CSP in Sacramento, AKA New Folsom. That team treated inmates with mental issues, but I’m not certain if she had any rules in documents that may have influenced the Parole Board’s denial to any lifers. It is possible at the very least, given her title of authority.

In April 2011, Martinez had used sandpaper to rub raw her hands, torn her blouse to expose her breasts, had her friend punch her in the face wearing boxing gloves, and cut her own lip with a pin. She then called 911 to report that she had been beaten, raped, and robbed. She even urinated on herself to appear that she had been beaten unconscious. It was rather convincing.

Why would she do all of that? To set-up someone? No, not even close. Martinez wanted to manipulate her husband into moving to a safer neighborhood. Yes, this all concocted to get hubby to move out of their Sacramento home to a place more desirable. I’ve seen women in prison do some pretty ridiculous things to get a bed move, but Martinez really outdid herself. She may have even gotten the idea from an inmate who actually needed to be relocated for protective custody due to a sexual attack. Martinez, her friend, and two co-workers told police of the scheme in December 2010, resulting in the arrest of Martinez and her friend, Nicole Snyder. They are charged with criminal conspiracy.

So, in the end, Martinez has lost the respect of her colleagues, once convicted, will lose her job, and she also lost her husband who filed for divorce upon finding out of her scandalous play acting. It also makes on question just who is watching who in the prison system. Ain’t it nice to know where your tax dollars are going, though?

“Why Didn’t She Just Leave Him?”

“Why didn’t you just leave him?” is a question that many victims of sexual abuse are asked by people who don’t know any better than to ask that question. Anyone who hasn’t been abused cannot possibly understand what it is truly like to be a victim. They can empathize to a significant degree, but to truly know what it is like is not possible. I can read of a soldier’s experience in wartime, but I will never know what it’s like to be under enemy fire like that. Sadly, you had to have experienced it to know the depth of ignorance in a question like, “Why didn’t you just leave him?”

There are hundreds of women in the California prison system that couldn’t leave their abuser, or may have tried to, only to face the wrath of no mercy. My mother is one of those women. She knew that leaving my stepfather was the unthinkable act of suicide. There were a few times when she could care less about her own safety, but had to contemplate the consequences to my sister and myself. Abusers are skilled at brainwashing their victims into believing that they are worthless, uneducated, and most importantly, that “If you leave me, it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.” You see, they make leaving an option equivalent to death.

From the time that she was born, My mother never stood half a chance. She was passed from one abuser to the next, right up to her second marriage to my stepfather. I asked her why she didn’t leave him. I didn’t know better at the time. She did her best to explain that she loved him, and that she’d be lost without him. In the next breath she would tell me of his threats to not let her leave him. It’s all very confusing for both the victim and those who love them and want to help them to a safe place, wherever that may be.

The threats were real. So was the abuse she suffered. It was all as real as the black eye that George and Rick testified to seeing, and the bruises that spotted the canvas of her body …  an ugly portrait of domestic violence.

From time to time, I’ll hear someone say that they can rest assured that their children are safe with family while the prisoner does their sentence. Yeah, okay, but 93% of the time it is someone that the child loves and trusts that betrays and violates them. Do we ask children why they didn’t just leave the home or circumstances? No, of course we don’t. That would be irrational and insensitive. They are vulnerable and easy prey, as are victims of any abuse, regardless of age. Abusers attack those who appear to be, or are simply vulnerable. The victim doesn’t see escape as an option without dire consequences.

Picture if you will, an elderly man who runs the corner liquor store. It’s been robbed three times in the last two years. It’s always possible that on any given day, he could be robbed again. He could even lose his life in a robbery. So, why doesn’t he just close up shop? It’d be safer to not stay, right? He stays because he loves the store and he hopes that it won’t happen again. And even if it does, nobody looks at him like he’s stupid for staying, or tells him he brought it on himself by not leaving.

Why didn’t she just leave my stepfather? Well, for one she loved him for who he used to be, and hoping he’d stop being who he had become. She stayed because I never told her that he sexually abused me for so many years. She didn’t leave because she had been a kept woman all of her life and was always under the thumb of a male dominant figure from childhood. She kept hanging on to the hope that it had already gotten worse and that it  was time for it to better. My mother had no self-esteem in her tank and believed him when he told her she’d never make it without him. My mother didn’t leave him, because she didn’t know that she could, and she certainly did not know how.

If you know someone that is being abused by someone they love, don’t ask why they don’t leave. Be a friend and ask, “What can I do to help?” For someone in mom’s shoes, just offer your heart, and the rest comes naturally.

… But I‘m Okay

As a child I did not know,

Any better than I do now.

I wanted to escape my path,

I just didn‘t know how.

There are times I can feel his fingers,

Wrapped tightly around my throat.

Most times he cannot reach me,

For I hold onto hope.

In the early seps of recovery,

I felt adrift like flotsam.

I had no idea that,

This day would ever come.

It may not always be easy,

But I know the Survivors battle cry.

We will not raise the white flag,

And our spirit will never die!

It‘s been a long, long, road,

The journey a struggle now and then.

But, I‘m not that once fractured victim,

And I‘ll never be her again.

I breathe in hope with faith,

Seeing the brightest color on the palest day.

God, it feels so good to be alive!

The past left its mark, but I‘m okay.

From The Heart

I want to tell you a story about a little boy named Joey. I‘ve written of this experience in my memoir as well as in personal correspondence. In the process of writing this newsletter, the memory of Joey crossed my mind as I felt his footprints run across my heart. I‘d like to believe that is God‘s way of telling me that the story needs to be told again. So, here we go.

It was about December 1982. I had gone to Yosemite with several of my co-workers, and my best friend, Lori. I was only 18 years old. We had one of those heated cabins in Curry Village in the valley floor not far from the infamous Yosemite Falls. The cabins were meant for no more than four people, but there were five of us in the cramped space. All was good on the first night until somebody lit a cigarette in the cabin. I couldn‘t breathe. For anyone that knows my history, cigarette smoke is a trigger for me. It messes with me mentally and emotionally, puttin me back into the backseat of my stepfather‘s 1964 chevy. In 1982 I had still concealed my secret, and my co-workers didnt know better. Lori knew the trigger was somehow related to my stepfather, but never pushed me for too many details. She knew enough to not attempt to stop me from charging out the door of the cabin into the snow. And as a friend, she knew to not let me go out into the dark alone. She grabbed our jackets and joined me.

Once outside, I was able to breathe again. I couldn‘t tell her why it happened, but she saw the relief on my face. I began to walk toward the parking lot and edge of the tree line. Our feet left deep impressions in the packed snow; I could feel the cold through my hiking boots. She asked where I was going, and I honestly did not know. I simply felt moved to keep walking, and so she walked beside me.

As we came to the edge of the lot, that‘s when I heard it. I didn‘t know what I was hearing at first, so I asked Lori to be quiet so I could listen. Being that she knew my nature to play practical jokes, she insisted that I not do so out in the dark of night in the woods. She was picturing Jason and Michael Mayers in those slasher films. I insisted that I was serious. I held my finger to my lips, and that‘s when she heard it too. Crying. We heard somebody crying. We walked around the trees into the parking lot and that‘s when we saw him. He was about eight years old and all alone. My heart broke.

He looked up at us, two strangers looking down at him. He was croushed beneath a tree, surrounded by bushes. It was as if he were hiding. I knew from experience that hiding doesn‘t always work, and I feared what he my be hiding from. I introduced myself, crouching to his level. It took all of a few seconds to get him to trust us. That made me grateful that it was us that found him, and not someone else more sinister.

He told us his name was Joey. He had left the cabin that his family was staying in, because his parents had begun to argue. They argued a lot. Joey felt responsible for this particular argument because he knew why they were fighting. Apparently, it was his birthday, and he could go werever he wanted for his birthday. He chose Yosemite, but that‘s not what his father wanted. His parents were arguing over where his father felt they should have gone, while his mother defended Joey‘s choice. I almost didn‘t know what to say. Almost.

I got Joey to stand up and walk with us to the ice rink at the other end of the dark parking lot. The area was well lit, and there were lots of people around. His parents had to have noticed him gone. If they begin a search anywhere, my best guess was that they‘d go to the rink and ranger‘s office. I recall looking around the lot that could‘ve held danger for any child, especially one as distraught as Joey. Our paths crossed for a reason. He was shivering, so I gave him my jacket.

When we reached the rink a short time later, Joey walked directly to a space where a controlled fire sparked flames of warmth. He sat before the fire, his small hands up, palms flat toward the flames. My eyes scanned the area, but not a single park employee in sight. The ranger office was closed until morning. Joey took his little blue gloves off to feel the fire‘s heat more directly. We sat and talked about how he felt bad that his parents were fighting, and Lori and I kept telling him that it wasn‘t his fault. I must‘ve thought of my own stepfather. By that time I had learned that my parent‘s arguments were not my fault.

After a short while before the fire, and with Lori‘s not being able to locate any staff personnel, we decided to walk Joey back to his cabin. We weren‘t two sure of what to do, but his parents would certainly want him back, right? We couldn‘t take him to our cabin, we couldn‘t find a ranger and we certainly couldn‘t leave him abandoned in the night. We headed for the cabins, hoping we weren‘t going to make matters worse for an eigh-year-old boy.

Near the edge of the lot as you enter into the treeline, was a line of logs that encircled the boundary. The whole area was slushy from melting snow and mud mix. I had Joey climb on my back as I carried him piggyback across the slush and up the hill. In the distance we heard voices, but jubled together, shouting. The we heard it clearly, „Joey! Joey!“ being shouted by a woman‘s hysterical voice. He got excited, explaining that the woman was his mother. As we came up the hill a little more, we could see her in the snow, not knowing which way to search. He yelled directly into my ear, „Mom!“ I bent to let him slide off of my back, and he ran through the snow to reach her. What a sight! They embraced, and my smile suddenly faded when I saw him. The father. Lori and I made our way towards them and explained where we found him and that there weren‘t any rangers to contact or notify the parents. I explained that the though it was his fault that anyone may not have been happy that night. They embraced him together, telling heim what we told him: children are not responsible for the actions of an adult, no matter what the circumstances.

Joey‘s parents thanked us for returning their son safely to them. Before parting ways, his mother handed me my jacket, and thanked me again before we all called it a night.

The next morning, as we stepped outside of our cabin, we noticed Joey and his family leaving the park. They were far off in the distance, but they had their belongings in hand, just reaching the lot. I hoped in my heart that he would have a safe journey, both home and in life. Lori stood beside me and watched as the wather warmed the care up to leave. It was chilly, and I dug my hands into my jacked pockets, and I felt it. The soft yarn of Joey‘s little blue gloves were shoved into my pockets. He had put them there while around the fire. As I removed them, the car pulled from the lot, and I clenched those gloves, putting them back into my pocktes.

My path crossing with Joey‘s wasn‘t by chance, but by the grace of God. That little boy didn‘t just leave his gloves in my pockets, he left his name in my heart. I see that face from time to time when the cold forms in winter. I see that dark curly hair and tender eyes filled with tears. I see pure innocence. Every now and then, his little feet run across my heart and remind me that tenderness and humanity are the greatest gifts wrapped in love that we can give to the world. He also reminded me that in childhood, we are all innocent. All of us. Yes, even me. That little eight year old boy is an adult now. I often wonder how he is, where he is, what life delivered him in spiet of his home life. And I pray for him. Still, to this day, I pray for Joey.

I kept those gloves in a safe place clear up to the day of my arrest in 1989. The were blue with white snowflakes on them. They were a memory of one day when my humanity and compassion where tested. They were a reminder of a child‘s innocence.

So, I say from the heart to you … You dont have to wait for a child to be lost to show your own sense of humanity or compassion. You do not need to wait for an invitation to participate in an endeavor of the heart – just go find a cause that could use two more hands, and get involved. There‘s no need to wish you could make a difference, just go out and do it. There are soldiers returning from Iraq and elsewhere. Show them that you love them as much as they love their country. Don‘t know were to begin? Contact your local V.A. Hospital, and ask what you can do to help. There are millions of people who could benefit from a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, just someone to talk to. It could be a stranger, or someone as close as home. From the heart, I cannot say it enough, a little love goes a long, long, ways. Just imagine if we all did it together. Yes, what a beautiful, beautiful world!

Always From The Heart

T.C. & Mama ´P´

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                             Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                                       W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509                                                                                                    PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                                  Chowchilla, CA 93610

Image

A string of laughter is all the trees lining our long driveway, the bamboo, the eucalyptus, all laughing, small nasty chuckles, because once again, I am thatched headed, in pjs and not walking.  It was a choice, but then the lure of words, the Zen of quiet air pushing out of the fan under my laptop; which if you really must know, I found this fan at a garage sale for $1.00, mighty fan.

A string of laughter makes me think of kites flying over Afghanistan, that land of dust and caves, and cities, and brave women’s hearts, and children’s tears, and when the kites are allowed, they fly into the air, twisting, turning, colors.  What are the colors of kites in the Afghan air? And someone’s heart exults, and then of course, there’s the birds.  They were banned during the time of the Taliban, and now I hope they are back, and I will sit back, and stop clickety clacking across the a, ;.s;. k, dk’s and think in peace you can’t own the sky..  It’s been tried, but the sky is ours, and then a heavenly invisible low long drawn out chuckle, like God was a Westerner with a Cowboy Hat, and then a belly laugh which translates into winds over the mountains, cleansing air, and Scattering Angels of the Almighty seeking the hearts of righteous men (generic of course); women too, and then what do I think.

Hmmm, a string of laughter is a word sky, where the sun and the moon negotiate, because now there’s lots of new solar stuff out there, and it might be a night game of “Olly, olly oxen free… ready or not, here I come.” Or maybe lawn bowling will be the game of choice, except it would be sky lawn ball, and then there are balloons, another topic altogether. Some balloons laugh, go up on a string, and twist out of grasping hands of greed.

You can take a lot of things away from people:  money, a place to live, shoes, health, but laughter always springs from some invisible source, and laughter moves the ribs up and down and up and down, and you can’t take that away.

how to be a racial transformer

from Colorlines.com, Hatty Lee’s infographic, ARC toolbox, research, activism, media, Rinku Sen, ARC President – arc@arc.org.

This organization gets things done; they put “hope” back in the horizon! I hope it’s okay to publish this

those were the days

Years ago
when I drank vats of Tab/Diet Soda, you name it, I was what I drank, jagged
edged, thin, with an immune system storing grudges.  Before that when I was 21 and had moved away
from my suburb of West Roxbury and lived in Brookline with my stepmother and
father, who were away a lot, I smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a whole
pot of coffee every Sunday morning, and needless to say, what I became was
someone with little red pimples on her face and a twitch in her gait, and then
after giving up 3 packs of cigarettes a day, no longer drinking, scotch or
anything else, and getting a pit bull grip off of sugar, but not ice cream, I
became a round person, said roundness appearing and staying, like cement
successfully poured, because after open heart surgery, by pass and a new
plastic aortic valve, I craved milk and ice cream and then I lived in Russia
before that, and we ate ice cream from a cart on the street, in the frozen
winter, because there was no such thing as dairy, and we also ate a lot of
katoshka,(potatos) so that’s when I paid more attention to my being a soul, but
a soul with wide hips, and of late, I am an older lady, coming into her own,
claiming health and well being, but in parsed patches of time, and eating more
regularly, and eating vegetables and dark greens except when my blood gets to
thick and the powers that be in the medical field, the valley of the blood
laboratories, tell me, too thick, not good, or too thin, then I go into the
greens again, and all of this points out to maybe once a 4 pound baby who was
born with the theme of need in the 4 pound folds of skin which didn’t have the
ability to plump out until she got to be 50 and hormones and all, and if I eat
incorrectly; isn’t that a wonderful phrase, considering all models in the past
were on heroin so they could be thin or 90% of them, and I notice if I numb
myself with food or playing solitaire at the end of the day; I’m avoiding life,
and food can do that, and that’s when I pull myself up the next morning, and
pay attention to the prayers I utter humbly to the heavens, and ask for help in
not being such a rebel with food; but it all started with my giving my daily
required cod liver oil pill as a child to our large French Poodle, and she
lived to be very old, and I went on to immune system crappola, but now, wisdom
and moderation have elbowed their way into my path, so I’m just another
moderately wide waisted writer, trying to eat after she writes, trying to walk
after she writes and thinking, who is it just so easy to slab peanut butter on bread,
fold it until you hold it, and take off, not paying attention to details.  Details work when you write, so now, my
little word epiphany thanks to Michelle’s prompts tell me, triangulate details
into your food old girl; that way you’ll have the strength to continue
NanoPrimo.

The T.C.
and Mama P Newsletter – 4th QTR, 2011Available free at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

Here we are, fourth quarter
already! This year seems to have passed by quickly, well for mom & I at
least. Hopefully 2012 does as well, taking us steps closer to freedom. Good
things are happening for lifers these days, so perseverence has its benefits.

Although many readers of this
newsletter have knowings for years, there is the occasional question of what it
is like to be a lifer. Some are amazed at the audacity of the legal system to
sentence kids to life in prison, let alone how a teenager accepts, adapts, and
matures in captivity. We will touch on these topics in this issue.

As a lifer myself, it is a sense
of vulnerability to open one‘s self up to the risk of forming and building
bonds in such an environment. The hardest part isn‘t telling the true hearts
from the vultures … no the most difficult thing is having to say so many
good-byes. People pass through here like water running downhill. Some are the
rare exception that remain in your life once they parole, but most do not. So,
good-byes are the hardest part, except when the one you say adios to are
another lifer. Those are the best good-byes ever! We have some of those to
report on as well, so let‘s get started here.

May this issue find you healthy,
safe, and feeling loved. We wish you a pleasant holiday season.

From
The Heart

T.C.
& Mama P

 

The Lost Child (By La Donna
DeLane Robinson)

There were approximately 25 of us … seated around the long brown table in
the dayroom at Los Padrions Juvenile Hall. It was dinner time. I was one month
into the age of 17 years old and my 16 year and 3 month old codefendant sat
loyally by my side.

I looked up from the Styrofoam plate where all the food was mixed together,
forming some sort of multi-colored daleidoscope of inedible forms and textures,
and gazed around the table at all the lost young souls such as my own. I then
suddenly screamed at the top of my lungs, „I´m never going home!“ You could
have heard a cotton ball hit the floor it was so quiet in the room. Then
another juvenile facing a life sentence quietly said, „Me neither.“

My codefendant instantly began crying because she knew that if I felt I
wasn‘t ever going home, she wasn‘t either. Cries and wails began resonating
around the room, as 10 of the 25 came to the same realization. We were the kids
who would never see daylight in a free world again. Counselors ran from all
over in an attempt to comfort us all-to no avail. There is no comfort for
children who are penitentiary bound, quite possible for the rest of their
lives.

I felt like I had no reason to do anything positive. I had zero esteem,
zero motivation, and zero positive outlook on my future. I was ashamed that my
mother had to come visit me in juvenile hall every weekend for two
years-something missing church, which was her lifeline, to do so. As if that
wasn‘t bad enough, I had a list of ´demands´ that I wanted fulfilled each and
every week. The judge had given me court orders for shoes, personal jeans,
weekday visits (whenever needed), phone calls (whenever needed) and may others,
and my need for these items were merely a juvenile game I played to see who in
my family felt the guiltiest for my situation. I got bored with that, and like
all kids too, I found something else to play with … God. But during my time
of playing around in church, which was my only means of seeing all my friends
and the boys who wrote me kites during the week, a man named Makadoo came to be
a guest speaker at church one Sunday. I can‘t say he immediately changed my
life, but he had a big impact on it. He was a parolee who had served many
years, and said it was God that saw him through his time and into freedom. He
started telling us all the self-help groups, classes, vocations and
accomplishments he had achieved. I wanted that.

As soon as I got to the Youth Authority, I got my G.E.D. (I had just
finished the 11th grade when I was arrested). I received my certification in
Airline Reservations and worked as an agent for TWA for three years. I became a
certified animal groomer, and continued to take numerous groups and classes.
When I was one month shy of turning 25 years old, I was sent to state prison to
finish out my time because I had been tried as an adult, but I kept striving
when I got here. And even though I‘m not quite where I want to be, I‘m far from
where I was. I‘m not a scared kid anymore with now view of the future, I‘m a
strong dedicated, determined, grown woman … ready for the world.

 

Liz and I Were Talking, and
…….

I was speaking to Elisabeth
Lozano recently about the status of SB9. As many readers have already learned
in previous issues, Liz is a juvenile offender sentenced to an LWOP sentence as
a teenager. As a matter of fact, she didn‘t even kill anybody, but was
sentenced as an adult under the felony-murder rule (she was there, that‘s all
it took). SB9 would drop an LWOP sentence on a juvenile offender like herself
down to 25 years-to-life if said juvenile offender has merited good behaviour
and proven rehabilitation. Well, the legislators voted on SB9, and once again
there were holdout votes to do the right things. Some legislators are downright
leary of appearing soft on crime, even if it is to demonstrate some level of
leniency and mercy on kids who made irrational decisions at age 16 or 17 years
old. Don‘t get me started on their brain capacity! However, it‘s not over.
There is still hope. The bill will be reconsidered in January, and hopefully
everyone can meet in the middle and quit bickering over the fine print and
restrictions. To further educate yourself on this topic or to see how you can
become involved in much needed revisions of the law, please visit these
websites! www.fairsentencingforyouth.org and www.juvies.org

Liz also wanted to share her
thoughts on the release of lifers this year. „In the almost 17 years that I‘ve
been here, I have never seen so many lifers go home! The most I had seen prior
to this year, was two. Two lifers in 17 years, then 12 this year alone, and one
more next week (before we went to press).“ Liz kept a list of the lifers that
were finally recognized for their transformation and rehabilitation, they are
as follows: Emily, Leeann Nabors, Marcia Bunney, Karen Narita, Sadie, Molly
Kilgore (who loves you, girl?), Fabi, Linda Rodrigues (you‘re in our prayers),
Mary Shileds, Gina Sirgent, Gilda Duran, Alicia Hanna, and by the time you‘re
reading this, Jasmine Brandl will also be released.

Lifers have been political
prisoners for years, but now we‘re marching to the beat of a different drum …
that drum is to the beat of Jerry Brown. He‘s letting the Parole Board do their
job and not second guessing their every decision. After all, that‘s why they
get paid over $100k a year plus benefits. Brown is not using the prisons for
human warehousing of lifers like his predecessors did. He‘s letting our prison
record speak for itself, and how ironic is it, that THAT is the law? A governor
that follows the law. What a concept!

It should be noted that the
recidivism rate for lifers released on parole, is less than 1%. We aren‘t the
problem. We aren‘t the ones incurring court costs, arrest fees, and all of
those secure transportation tabs. No, we‘re just doing time, trying to get out
of here, and watching that revolving door of parole violators. We are ready to
prove that it is completely possible to be released from captivity, adhere to a
productive role in society, and not violate parole. If anyone is gungho about
proving it, it is a lifer. All we need is a second chance. Just one second
chance. And believe me, we can do it. Whether sentenced to life in prison at
the tender age of 16 or 17 year old, or as an actual adult at age 25, we can do
this. The year 2011 has been just the beginning. We embrace the new year and
what 2012 has to offer. I‘m telling you folks, things are lookin‘ up!

 

Book Reports for BPH

The Parole Board has been very
open and welcoming for lifers doing and presenting book reports at their parole
hearings. They of course, are interested in any self-help topic such as
depression, suicide, domestic violence, varions forms of abuse, and so on.
They‘re particularly interested in any material related to the life crime. I‘m
fed up being on waiting lists for counseling, but never receiving any such
groups. So, I do book reports to fill that void. It at least demonstrates
effort towards self-help. The Board wants to see such an effort.

I created a Book Report form to
present a uniform presentation. Are you a lifer that needs a hand? Talk to me.

 

Why Do Lifer Support Letters
Need To Be Updated?

The average non-lifer parolee
usually doesn‘t have a job lined up before they are released. A good percentage
of them scramble for somewhere to live, if not crashing on a relative‘s couch
until they can. Not a single non-lifer parolee has to prove that they are a
changed person, have a job, a place to live, or the support of citizens in a
free societly. They do not have to have their transformation validated, let
alone documented. Maybe that‘s why they are more likely than lifers to return
to custody. Let‘s remember, lifers have less than a one percent recidivism
rate. Funny though, we‘re the ones who are constantly having to prove
ourselves. For years, it felt like a dress rehearsal for a dinner party that would
likely not happen. Things however, are looking‘ up!

Why must family and friends
write letters to support of a lifer‘s release? It is evidence that we have a
network of shoulders to lean up on and real people who see the value in us.
Allies are vital in any battle.

Why is one letter written in
2005 not still good in 2009 and 2012? Well, the Parole Board technically would
like to see letters updated every six months as a show of consistency and
solidarity in the lifer‘s personal relationships. It goes to demonstrate strong
ties and the likelihood that we may not be so antisocial after all.

Does it need to e an entirely
new letter each time? No, you can simply resubmit a previous letter with a
current date. However, should the prisoner have any additional achievement that
have been acquired since the date of last letter, such as counseling,
vocational training, GED, college courses and whatnot, it is imperative to
include that as an appendage to the existing document.

The more letters a lifer
receives for each parole hearing, the more elevated their chances of a parole
grant.

 

Recently Asked Questions

Q:  Is Valley
State Prison going to house men instead of women?

A:  It appears
that the rumors are true, although Sacramento Big Wigs are steadily denying any
such plans. The local community agreed to a women‘s prison, but not a men‘s
prison. The Supreme Court ruling mandated that the state reduce their prison
population, so in an attempt to comply, VSP will be closed to females by or
before May 2013. To reduce male prison population without excessive early
releases, it is likely that VSp will house anywhere from two to three thousand
male prisoners. Sacramento however is denying it as local residents have
participated in very public opposition.

Q:  Is there an
Assembly or Senate Bill to reduce lifers sentences?

A:  That is a
verbal rumor that has yet to produce any documented proof from the Bill Room at
the state capitol. So, it is safe and best to say that NO such bill exists. I‘d
be more than happy to be proven wrong with clear documentation.

Q:  Is there a
hold on money orders now, like on personal checks?

A:  Yes,
thanks to some fraudulent individuals, there is a 30 day hold on all money
orders and checks. The only monetary contributions to an inmate‘s account that
goes straigth through and is accessible to spend within 2-3 days of
transaction, is an electronic financial transfer from your credit card. All you
need is our first and last name, booking number, and internet access to either
Jpay.com or inmatedeposits.com. all donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Q:  To correct
the horrors of your institutionally prepared meals, is it not possible to
arrange a surprise Health Dept. visit?

A:  No, for
security reasons (or excuses of convenience), all such on grounds visits must
be pre-arranged. That allows officials time to cover the truth, present a
facade, and pass all tests.

Q:  Will CCWF
be serving holiday meals Thanksgiving and Christmas?

A:  Yes, it‘s
actually two of the best meals all year long. It may not be like at home, and
we won‘t have the company of the ones we prefer to be with, but we will be
surrounded by some pretty darn good people, so can‘t complain too much.

 

What It‘s Like

At least once in the last few
years, each of us has heard somebody else say, „But you don‘t know what it‘s
like to be me!“ It is true that we may not know what it is like to be the next
person, but in the same breath, they do not know what it is like to be us. We
may be able to have empathy for one another, and in some situations, to relate
to given experiences and remarkable circumstances, but what is it like to be a
lifer? How many people want to grow up to aspire to go to prison and become a
lifer? The high school yearbook has a title caption for Most Likely To Succed,
but not Most Likely To Go To Prison, let alone be a lifer. It‘s just not
rational.

So, what is it like to be a
lifer? Well, to begin with, you have to wonder who your true friends are once
you‘re sentenced and all of those high hopes of freedom are dashed. The reality
is that it is easy to be a friend when the world around you  is good, but who is really willing to stand
in the rain and be your umbrella? Who won‘t care that the mail carrier sees
that they receive malil stamped in bold print that it is being sent from a
prisoner? One of society‘s misfits? Who is left when the crowds and media are
gone, and is willing to keep the lines of communication open? After all, life
can be busy and hectic, so if you‘re worth 15-30 minutes of their time to write
even a one page note or simply sign a card, count yourself richly blessed. I‘m
telling you folks, you want to know who your friends are? Just get arrested.
Want to know who your true friends are? Receiving a life sentence will deliver
a sober and lucid message like none other. Anyone can be a fair weather friend,
but it takes effort and loyalty to be a true friend.

As the years pass away, a lifer
will have seen dozens times of roommates filter through their cell like water
through a seive. We see a multitude of faces, hear a myriad of ficitious
stories, and get lost in the countless names – far too many to remember. Almost
all of my cellies over the years have had five years or less to serve, and
nearly all said that this was their last trip. At least 2/3 of them whined
about their sentence and whimpered over how much they miss their children –
children being raised either by other family members or the court system. They
are all boo-hooing, „My babies, my babies, I miss my babies!“ Not everyone
comes back, but when those same prisoners violate parole, you gotta ask, „what
about your babies now?“ As a lifer, we hear a lot of B.S. and the manifestation
of well spoken promises that equate to broken hearts of innocent children. I‘m
not judging them, I‘m just saying … we wish we had that chance. Non-lifers
make us wish we could swap sentences and show those repeat offenders how it is
done. Recidivism can be erased, and we‘re the ones to prove it possible. Nearly
every life term prisoner is a first offender. All any of us wants is a second
chance. And we would certainly make the most of it.

If it‘s not the parade of parole
violators or the phony stories about the make-believe houses that they have in
the free world (while they‘re on indigent status here), it is the day-in,
day-out monotony that gets tiring. Wake up, go to work or shcool, return to
your unit at day‘s end, and occupy your mind and time. How you occupy that time
is a matter of choice. Most of us are doing whatever we have to do to get out
of here, which includes, but is not limited to, group networking such as 12
steps meetings or going to the law library. Some are working on college
courses, while others are finding themselves in various church services. A
lifer doesn‘t just do the time, they do productive time. We want it to count
for something other than the resulting punishment for violating society‘s
mores.

You may not know this, but
many-a-lifer honestly lives with a sincere balance of remorse and regret. We
must live each day knowing that because of our actions, there is another who
does not. Speaking for myself, I still see flashes and still frames of that
horrid New Year‘s Eve when I killed my stepfather. There are fragments of
memory still missing, but I remember enough to grasp the realization that he‘s
not alive because of me. Not because of his actions, but because I chose to
stand up to him to protect my mother. And trust and believe, about the week
before New Year‘s Eve, I‘ll go through anxiety and experience nervous energy
and guild-ridden restlessness. It‘s pretty much an anniversary thing. I believe
a good many lifers go through this when the anniversary of their own crime
comes around. It reminds us that we‘re human, and that we have a conscience …
and we pray that you never know what it is like to live with lifer‘s guilt and
regret. If you do not know how it feels, we can honestly say that you don‘t
know what it is like to be us. That‘s a good thing.

While we live with our choices
and pray for the family and friends who lost a loved one, we also take great
efforts to find ourselves. I‘ve done more growing up in prison than I ever did
in my freedom days. It has a lot to do with letting go of my personal baggage
and looking beneath the temporary bandage I placed over the open wound that my life
really had become. I let down walls of denial, I finally looked into the mirror
at my reflection, and changed course. I needed to cease whishing I had a better
past and just accept that I could have a brighter future. It sounds so simple
when I word it like that, but it took years of self-help recovery and a
dedication to change the way I thought. Any educated person will tell you that
life is a matter of perspective, but what about when you‘re looking through
someone else‘s eyes? All of those self-help gurus really can teach you a fresh
way to view things. An open mind is an amazing thing. Many of us may have
arrived here with a chip on our shoulders or a protective shield put up, but
time can fade that as maturity kicks in. We grow, we learn what self-absorbed
pain blinded us from seeing, and we develop into better people that we‘d like
to call a friend.

So, what is it like to be a
lifer? Well, you wake up each day knowing it won‘t be much more different than
the last, but you face it with hope. You feel the burden of not being with your
family on the holidays – or any other day, and you know there are hearts broken
because of this. The average lifer harbors emotional turbulents that only they
can put into words, but the lack of any real therapy in this facility causes
them to turn to the only ones who really understand them: other lifers, a
kindred of sorts. What is it like to be a lifer? We watch parolees leaving
everyday who don‘t have to have a parole plan, while we struggle to obtain
housing and employment from behind these walls. We watch people leave through
the revolving door of recidivism, and we have no guarantee of when we will
leave, but we do have hope. I believe it is hope that keeps me striving, and
faith that keeps me sane, otherwise this experience would have driven me crazy
by now.

„You don‘t know what it is like
to be me,“ is something you should be grateful for.

What is it like to be a lifer?
I‘ll tell you, it‘s not easy, but we‘re doing the best that we can. The truth
of the matter is, we couldn‘t possibly do it without you. You are our lifeline.
You mean everything to us. It‘s not as easy course to sail, but it‘s a whole
lot easier knowing that after the storm, you‘ll be there on the solid ground of
the shore to welcome us home. What more could a lifer ask for? I‘m telling you
folks, you make all the difference, and we love you!

 

A Letter To God

Dear God,

When it comes to thanking You,
where do I begin? I know, believe, and accept that nothing is possible without
You. That no matter what the situation, Your hand is in it. So, where does a
girl begin?

Thank You, and I truly mean
that, for my mother, I would have gladly sacrificed my many other gifts
througout life just to have been blessed with her. You made certain that my
sister and I were protected from any harm by placing her in the role of
protector and mother, both synonymous of each other. So I guess if I begin
anywhere, infancy is a good place to do so.

When I was at Kaiser Hospital at
the age of two, turning blue in my mom‘s arms and the nurse told her to wait
her turn in the waiting room with the other people, thank You for putting that
Mama Bear growl into her. I‘m not lucky I survived that both of spinal
meninitis … I was blessed. I was blessed by mom‘s being adamant that I be
seen and saved, and by Your hand that mercifully brought me back from the brink
of jeopardy. Thank You.

I didn‘t realize in the fourth
grade that it was Your doing that I was more intellectually advanced than the
other kids. I didn‘t quite understand why I kept completing my work too
quickly, or how I came to write poetry at age nine, but I did. Thank You for
Mrs. Halverson and the dictionary and thesaurus. It wasn‘t easy being the
abnormal fourth and fifth grader, the odd one out, but I sure am grateful now.
I promise to put what You‘ve blessed me with to good use in positive and
productive ways.

I remember that day on the dock
at the San Leandro Marina … You know the one. I think that is when I was at
my darkest, most desolate place in my life. I‘ve never returned to that abyss
since. I don‘t even know how to swim. It would‘ve been all over for me had I
jumped into that dark, cold water. In the pounding rain without a soul in
sight, I was moments from complete forfeit, when You whispered into my ear,
„You really don‘t want to die yet … you just don‘t want to live the life that
you are living. It gets better, so get up and go home.“ It took awhile before
it got better, but of course You were right. Thank You for the soft wisper that
saved my life. I never felt that alone since.

Do You remember that day on
Palameras Canyon Road? Of course You do! That was a close call! I guess I
wasn‘t alone after all, and I don‘t mean You, I mean him. Whoever that sinister looking guy was that came over
the ridge from the creek bed. When I peeled dust out of there and saw him in my
rear view mirror coming towards my tailgate, I knew in an instant that it was
You that warned me. Some call it sixth sense or intuition, but either way, You
put it there. Thank You.

You seem to have had to come to
my rescue several times now that I look back on my life. I kept my Guardian
Angel busy, huh? You kept extricating me from what would have been an early demise,
because You had plans for me. Plans I could never have imagined. You crossed my
path with so many others that I otherwise would not have had the privilege of
meeting. Every connection I‘ve made has had purpose and life lessons to teach
me. You‘ve had me be both student and teacher, and it has been an honor.
Somehow, Thank You seems somewhat insufficient, but it is all I have to offer,
for You already have my heart … so thank You, God … Thank You.

I know that I‘m still a work in
progress and that there is much You still ask of me. Please, use me as a tool
and vessel at Your will. Take the gift of words you‘ve blessed me with and
guide me to where and how You wish me to put it to instrumental use. I don‘t
know the plans You have in store for me, but I have faith in Jeremiah 29:11, so
hey, I‘m waiting. I have so much to be thankful for, including friends and
their loving support, and my aunt and uncle in Long Beach that haven‘t forsaken
us. I can never thank You enough. Never.

We‘ll talk again real soon.

Your Loving Daughter

Teresa
Christine

 

Skilled Nursing Facility?
… Yeah, Right!

If you were a patient at a
hospital that showed visible signs of uncleanliness that could lead to
cross-contamination and quite possibly MRSA, staph infection, and God knows
what else, would you discharge yourself from that hospital to go to a more
sanitary one?

If you were left unattended to
lie in soiled bedding because the nursing staff didn‘t adequately check on you
in timely intervals on a schedule of rounds, would you call for a nurse? Would
you feel like you were inconveniencing them? If the nurses simply could not be
bothered, would you elect to leave that hospital for a more sustained one?

If you answered in the
affirmative to those questions, please imagine that you are an inmate at the
Paris-Lamb Hospital, which is the infirmary here at CCWF. They have the nerve
to call it a Skilled Nursing Facility. There are dozens of patients on a
regular basis that are subjected to medical neglect and conditions that can be
lead to disabling, if not deadly contaminants. There are those who live in
daily humiliation and degradation, who cannot find a voice to speak out. They
fear retaliatory action that could only result in their situation worsening. I
have tried for over a year now to find someone brave enough to speak out. I
will change the names of the patients, nurses, and my source to protect their
identities and privacy (and retaliation). What you are about to read,
unfortunately, is all too true.

 

TC:  For this
interview, I‘ll refer to you as Bobbi. What makes you a reliable source to
speak out about the inhumane medical treatment at Paris-Lamb Hospital at CCWF?

Bobbi:  I
am assigned to work at the so-called Skilled Nursing Facility. I went to shool
twice a week to be trained in how to be a housekeeping porter there. I also
received hands-on training. I see a lot that goes unreported.

TC:  Are you
certified in this work?

Bobbi:
Yes, as a specialist in Housekeeping and Janitorial.

TC:  What are
some of your duties?

Bobbi:  To
prevent cross-contamination of diseases, high levels of bacteria, and cleaning
the patient‘s rooms, crisis center, Administrative offices and soforth.

TC:  What would
you say is your most important rule there?

Bobbi:
Acting as if everything is exemplary of a five star hospital. Putting on
a show whenever the Warden or Sacramento Big Shots come to do a walk-through.
Other porters and myself have to go through great efforts to make the odor of
urine and feces diminish with overpowering scented cleaners.

TC:  Urine and
feces?

Bobbi:
There is a check-in paper on each patient‘s door that states the patient
was checked on by a nurse in 15 minute interval walk-throughs. But, when you go
to their room to see if they need their linen changed, the smell of an outhouse
hits you in the face! The check sheets are all lies. If the nurse really did
check on the inmate, why did she not stop to get clean linen on that bed? Why?
Because they don‘t care. It‘s nothing more than a paycheck. The inmate patients
are nothing but job security to them.

TC:  Is it your
job to assist the patients?

Bobbi:
No, I was told not to. I was warned that I could be fired for my acts of
humanity, but I do it anyway.

TC:  Give me an
example, would you?

Bobbi:
Okay … I heard Ms. Cason yelling for help one day, and nobody could be
bothered. She was a double-amputee that could not get to the toilet on her own
accord, so to help prevent her soiliing herself in her bed, I assisted her to
the toilet. There‘s also April, who is under weight and had a stroke. She needs
help to the toilet, and in certain times of desperation, she has managed to
somehow make it to the hallway with feces running down her legs, her nightgown
soaked, and sadly, even her hair.

TC:  Where are
the staff durin all of this?

Bobbi:  In
a lounge area without a care in the world.

TC:  Have
patients received flesh infections due to this?

Bobbi: Absolutely! The acid in the waste eats at
their flesh.

TC:  Let‘s say
April soiled herself – does she get bathed?

Bobbi:
I‘ve seen it more than once … the nurse will take a patient to the
shower without their shower shoes to protect their feet from the infectious
floor. I‘ve offered to go get them and the nurse will say that they themselves
were going to go retrieve them. Oh really? And leave the patient unattended in
the shower? I‘ve even had to go grab the patient‘ shower basket so they‘d
actually have soap to bathe as opposed to a simple rinse off.

TC:  That‘s
disgusting.

Bobbi:
Tell me about it. You know what else is disgusting? They wash the crisis
center gowns with the dirty mops in the same load of wash. And while you‘re
making faces, it gets worse … All soiled linen goes in a large garbage bag,
and by soiled I mean all bodily fluids like urine, feces, vomit, and blood.
Then the porters must reopen those bags and count all the items. It‘s horrid!

TC:  They
couldn‘t pay me enough to do that!

Bobbi:  If
you refuse to do it, that‘s a refusal to program that results in a CDC-115
write-up and punishment. Worse yet TC, you‘re a lifer. You can‘t afford to take
a 115 or a refusal to omply to authority, before the Parole Board. You would
have no choice. We are only inmates. We don‘t matter to the powers that be.

TC:
Aren‘t  they supposed to use yellow
and red bags? When I worked in laundry, we had yellow contamination bags.

Bobbi:  So
does the infirmary, but they must be part of the budget cuts because they throw
all the soiled stuff into regular trash liners and make us sort it all out.
You‘re supposed to use yellow water soluable bags that can be tossed directly
into the wash mashine in the bag, which breaks down with contact to water.
Bloody items go into red bags that only staff is supposed to handle.

TC:  And that
doesn‘t take place?

Bobbi:
Never. They just put it all together and wash it in one load. Nothing
gets destroyed.

TC:  Bloody
contaminants are routinely incinerated in a furnace at a real hospital.

Bobbi:
This isn‘t a real hospital.

 

This isn‘t a real hospital. It
is a hospital in name only. There are patients with bed sores from not being
turned over regularly. There are blind patients who hear the meal tray being
delivered and dropped off in front of them, but nobody tells them what is on
the tray, or what portion is what on the tray. Given the contamination in the
kitchens and infirmary, would you eat what you couldn‘t see without some level
of fear?

The sad truth is that there is
little that can be done to prove these human violations. Whenever the warden or
big shots plan to visit the facility, they need to make notification. That
allows the authoritarian figure heads to mandate that Bobbi and the others
clean house and make the staff look good. The place looks and smell clean, but
more than that, the patients suddenly receive adequate treatment, although only
temporarily. It is impossible to surprise attack the infirmary due to red tape
and policy protocols that prevent a true revelation from ever occurring. It‘s a
matter of self-preservation.

What we need, is for someone with
a real spin for the truth to pose as a patient at Paris-Lamb. Not even the
warden would be privy to the fact. Maybe a reporter who wants to do a real
investigative piece. The only way to see the truth, is to come to it. As strong
as my immune system is, even I‘m not brave enough to volunteer residency in the
infirmary. I‘ll report from a distance, not matter how disturbing the truth may
be. Sometimes, it‘s the only way to tell the world.

 

From The Heart

Many years ago, I began reciting
a different version of the Serenity Prayer that felt closer to my heart. The
word THINGS is changed to PEOPLE. The prayer goes like this:

Lord, grant me the serenity to
accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the
wisdom to know that it is me.

I did not come to prison to
change how others think, feel, or most certainly behave. As a matter of fact,
human behaviorism is an individual decision regardless of any exterior
influences. I came to prison as part of my life blueprint. This is a place of
soul searching and personal growth. It can also be a place of self-stagnation
for some. It is said that we need to think outside the box. I say, we need to
think outside of ourselves. While what others think of us is a variable in our
psyche, if we can think outside of ourselves and see through the eyes of
others, then and only then, are we capable to fully evaluate ourselves.

Self-evaluation has been a major
facet in the remolding of who I was, into who I have become. I used to be
self-absorbed in my own emotional turmoil from a past I had no control over. I
used to question my own value to the human race as a whole and where I fit into
the Master Plan. I once felt inadequate to speak up and be heard, yet I
developed a voice that not only spoke up, but spoke out against abuse and
violence. I metamorphosed from pain in the shadows harboring an open wound, to
an advocate for a good cause. I still self-evaluate myself on a regular basis,
but instead of looking for the bad, I look for the good. It is what you seek
that you will likely find.

Part of my growth process these
last 22 years, has involved self-inventory and evaluation. However, it has also
required both acceptance and tolerance … lots and lots of tolerance. While
this is truly a „house of healing“, there are still some diabolical
personalities in the mix no matter where you are in life. When I was a teenager
my mom made it clear that I would become whoever I hung with, so I made mostly
conservative decisions within my small circle. I still do that to this day.
After all, i am working on getting out of this camp. Any illogical choices
would be paradoxical to my design for freedom. So, I tolerate the intolerable
and insidious, while I embrace the genuine attributes of some of the most
wonderful women I‘ve ever had the privilege of knowing … yes even in a place
like this … especially in a place like this.

So, I say from the heart to you
… whether you‘re reading this on your computer screen or a hardcopy delivered
to you, you‘re pretty darn special to us. If somebody that we gave a copy of
this newsletter to has chosen to share it with you, then you‘re pretty darn
special to them, and they wanted to share that message with you. It makes no
difference your religious following, education, or the size of your bank
account, you have a major role in someone‘s life. I‘m grateful for every single
person in my life. Each of you has been a teacher, and I‘ll be a student till
my last breath. Regardless of what I have ever found in my self-evaluations or
the poor decisions I have made, you have stood by me. You have stood by my
mother. If another lifer is sharing this with you, you have stood by them. As
we continue to pursue betterment within ourselves, as we strive to come home,
we are grateful for you. So, when we say Happy Thanksgiving, please know it‘s
all about you.

Namasté

T.C.
& Mama ´P´

 

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                  Pauline
“Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                           W45120
514-16-41

PO
Box 1509                                                                                        PO
Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                         Chowchilla,
CA 93610

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to occupy a normal body not hissing black smoke becuz I ate two (2)
pieces of a very high white cake with creamy frosting, and flaky white innards
of cake, cake, cake, tinged, blessed, dewily dropped in heavy cream frosting,
and one was consumed after half a veggie burger at Tuohey’s Coffee Shop.

Said coffee shop is known for its sundaes and
has been around since God invented earth.

So yesterday was Mr. Bill’s birthday celebration, and he was 77 last Thursday if
you want to know, and Mr. Bill is My Mr. Bill and why I get to earn that title,
I dunno, but let me tell you this man is my bill, my guy, and a resplendent
devotee of creamy white cake with strawberry filled icing, and life has been
icing on the cake if you know what I mean, cuz that’s good, but we have had
kitty litter days and days of granular tests, and they always feel like the day
after you eat sugar.

You see, yesterday I occupied, I am happy, with Laura, Nick, Tory, Bill and we were at a
round table, a round table, imagine that, at Twuohey’s; spell it many ways type
of gal I am, and we had our fud and then Laura had brought the cake from
Frederico’s or some place exotic and in her Laura way, she put unusual candles
and both Tory and Laura and Nick gave resplendent cards, and I had given Bill
one earlier in the week, one ready for him at 6 a.m. if you want to be exact.

So we get home, and the desire that occupied my mind, first part of the day to walk 6
miles, left as if on winged horses, and my bed looked wide and inviting and
smooth sheeted, and the phone somehow got off the hook, and I slept for a solid
hour or so, while Bill watched SC and Stanford, a gripping football game, and I
don’t even know what they are doing on that field except falling all over each
other and making an Orthopedic student happy for his future client income.

I crashed, burned, slept and got up and pulled out the other half of the vegetarian burger which was round and brown,
and nicely bunned, and I ate it rapidly because I was on another get the last
few pieces of cake, pour the big milk jug into the circular plastic turquoise
glasses and inhale and slug and don’t forget to breathe. Of course at
midnight I sat on my couch having anxiety attacks, and then I went to bed and I
think I moved furniture and had nightmares and resolved nothing, except my
pancreas was probably pissed as hell at me, which is why I’ll end with I’m
going to some concert by Marvin something or other with Janet my long time
friend from Boston, cuz she has an extra ticket, and in my mind’s eye, I think
if only pajamas with feet were an acceptable outfit, I’d wear them.  So now, I’m taking the ruins of my body,
which had been over occupied with sugar, towards our train sized cubicle of a
kitchen, and I’m going to find protein and healthy food, and then pray the
occupation of help I’ve been poisoned by strawberry creamed soldiers goes away
soon.

PS my brain is too sugared out to fix the margins that scooted over to the right.  the nerve!

The Barbarian Nurseries: A NovelThe Barbarian Nurseries: A Novel by Héctor Tobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious, fantastic, delicate, strong prose, and author nails a view of life from combinations of views. A Mexican immigrant maid and a clueless, but well meaning family, said family totally unaware of the lives around them, or for that matter, each other.

His writing is fantastic. A profound book which needs to be inhaled by all. I inhaled it, yes I did. I am now going to look for Hector Tobar’s other books – Translation Nation and the Tattooed Soldier. Mr. Tobar is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer prize willing journalist and a novelist. Writers would “kill” for his phrases – Barbarian Nurseries is a must read!

View all my reviews

Awakened to cup of coffee in bed; staggered to computer; am on Word Press this am with thatched head, but Persecution of a Christian Minister in alarm shot my body full of, “Post this on SorryGnat,” and lo and behold, good old Word Press offered a prompt: When you are most happy?

Dear WP Question Person,

I am most happy when I drive up my driveway and my husband comes out of our small pool house and is just there, but then of course there are days when I spot pug dogs through my inner radar and Kismet, by the end of the day, I am sprawled on a pavement, petting said beastie, even though my friends shake their heads at my constant devotion to Pugs, and still I am most happy when I see writers emerge from their cardboard boxes which were labeled “I don’t write, I can’t write,” and like last night, offer revisions of the Three Little Pigs, turn the story on its head by having the first pig (of straw, and lazy, darned lazy if you ask me), and find out this little pig had invested in derivatives, and now, only now, when red stiletto heel click along New York streets, in huff puff, click, click, hurry to my job, don’t know how long it will last,” all the while these red stiletto heels, which if you want to know, can have outer soles of turquoise and magenta print, if the person, wearette of said stiletto, is well heeled financially, and now on to more than feet, because this is about happiness, and I’m most happy when I think some day, despite the crocodile kingdom here on earth, and dripping juicy mouths in political power (not all) (there are nice cats and dogs in the mix in leadership in this country), but back to the question, my tummy and my heart, and my soul are in sinc (not sink) (another day, another tale) when I see on the horizon, signs, not of Humvees built as slug bugs for war and destruction, but hands, thin hands, old hands, wrinkled hands, long tapered fingernails, fingers bumpy and sludgy and chewed, tough hands covered, dark hands, covered with dust, Kardashian hands pampered and isolated, but all hands, get to the point, writer, reaching out around this Parker’s Pen Color of Blue Ink Planet hold one another, some grasping one another, and despite a world gone tilt, bonkers, and a world which may be screaming, “I miss my hormones,” is lurching towards maturity, even though the crocodiles, hereinafter called The Crocs, salivate and slide towards a fugue state of power, illusive and unattainable, because some day we will be one, and every baby born (visualize Kunte Kinte(sp) holding his richly brown velvet baby son to the sky, and someone in Idaho lifting a peaches and cream baby up to trees stretching as if hands up in praise to their unseen Divine Essence (Higher Power too Germanic in tone to put here), and that day when each baby will be perceived, cherished, regarded as a “Trust of the Whole,” and we will get about our planetary work, and that’s a good Tuesday morning reason for being happy, because happiness is not an outside thing in that it’s just about pleasure, but reader, if you have been patient enough to go through this all, would you consider that abiding joy, and release from oppression and We Are One is our divine right?

This isn’t to say there are not a gazillion other reasons, like listening to a young doctorate in realization of astrophysics, skate across the sky and explain planetary dust in such a fascinating way as she reads in a basement in a store called fair trade, on Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, if you want to know, where a bunch of us writers laugh and cavort and toss bon mots of principles, concerns and an occasional jello recipe around – that makes me happy, and one other thing, because I’m on my way there – giving people voice; how on God’s Green Earth did I get so lucky to teach at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, said WR is an offshoot of Friends in Deed, an ecumenical group, and the WR is a day haven for women to take showers, do laundry, get decent food, most to commune with one another, and to participate, those who wish, in writing and slipping on their newly acquired writing voices to the cheers and huzzahs of the group, (we are way beyond Vogue and Marie Claire magazine), and I guess I can sum all of this “oh how we dance” piece in it’s about service, “walking the mystical path with practical feet” and helping one another and seeing everyone as a soul in progress or process and realizing we are just at the beginning of this journey. So those are my Tuesday morning reasons. (Quotes I’ve used come from Baha’i Writings or my own stuff reader, and if you know how to use spell check on this here Word Press, I’d be grateful till the end of the day.-E)

From…. WorldUnityMedia.com/ Quote of the Day, Sat., August 13, 2011

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Author: Bahá’u’lláh, Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, Page: 346

Here’s something from my book
You Carry the Heavy Stuff It’s a writing prompt and written in a particular style. Kurt Vonnegut (God Bless you Kurt Vonnegut) said, write 4 lines across the page every night; don’t show it to anyone, but just do it. These were my 4 one day, and the word soul just showed up, like it wanted to be on the word train within this piece. This is also something under Jack Grapes’ (best writing teacher of all time) teaching in that he calls this type of piece To Be Read and Sung, okay enuf said, 4 lines:

Read and Sung
Do not ask of your shadow’s future. Do not dwell on your shadow’s past. Do not ask what others think. Rely not upon the delusions of the many. Do not turn away from certitude and a multisyllabic path. Do not listen to politicians’ rhetoric. Do not become a sleeping mute, a junk yard dog. Do take yourself and shadow on a dual path. Take a soul to lunch this week. Better yet, take your soul with you. Best yet, be your soul.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Share Quote of the Day with friends.

Reader, my on line writers’ group, CHPercolator, prompts Post July 31, 2011:

You mean life is more than material for books?
Seeds of crazy believe
Black marks march across the page
Working like a canine for very little money
Mended, the floor of my soul was finally strong enough to bear my full weight.

The floor of my soul is doing pretty good now, occasionally it has the strength to do an oingo boingo, like a brand new trampoline! Yesterday, my soul went oingo boingo all day. You betchum Red Rider, The funny thing about souls and weight, when you lean into fine tempering your soul through life experience, or just pulling the splinters and shards of same off the floor, once you get it down, get your soul mended strong enough to bear full weight, it becomes gossamer light.

Which brings me to a gossamer event yesterday of two people who found each other, Red and Jan, and their wedding. No black marks march across the page on this wedding; nope letters of every hue; flamboyant pink, awesome yellow and rainbow blue and ultraviolet appeared in the sky.

Some people might say what kind of seed of crazy are you ingesting old girl, and I tell you, most of the time I live in the land of practicality. Years ago I worked like a canine for good money as a secretary in law firms, good law firms, and now I work like a joyous canine for maybe not as much money, but I am like an abused greyhound dog, or Black Beauty the horse, remember Black Beauty, finally out sharing the pasture of words and events and how to do this and write like you talk, sing, dance, you know. You catch my drift.

A lot of people comment on how much I read. Okay I admit turning our one and only walk in closet top shelves into a library, despite the fact that we live in a two-room pool house might be excessive, but they leave such a lovely glow in my heart. Yes, books glow, but I tell you this reader; are you still with me? I tell you, life is more than material for books!

See you around the trails, around the bend.


It was 1992, and my husband Igorovich insisted we drive to the Wisconsin Cheese Farm to photograph shelves and glassed in cases of cheese, no abundance of lack as in our city, Dnepropetrovsk, where cheese was called sere to my American ears.

We were newly on our honeymoon and I was to bring Igorovich back to my home in Boston, to a family which prided itself on their standing within the generations. My great grandfather had been Sheriff of Suffolk County in the early 1900s, and with a name like “Keliher,” I gathered he’d come over before the potato famine.

But history or generational placement was far from my mind, that hot day when odors of cows and an occasional sniff of sweet grass relieved the tedium of flat stretch after flat stretch of highway, only relieved by country stores, with 12 empty rocking chairs lined up as if to say hello, come to Cracker Barrel and find root beer candy, sarsaparilla drinks from the past.

But no, Igorovich, as I was soon to learn was a “pusher,” and a bull dog, and I a small Chihuahua personality myself, was not match to his drive and intention. But it wasn’t all “plocha” awful, that day as we drove off the highway ramp, the only Edsel for miles, the only car for miles, because I had heard of a writing group on the “net,” as they say.

We parked in the dusty graveled parking lot, headed towards a low slung, ranch style building covered in a wine-colored wood, and as we opened the air conditioned doors, air, cold air blasted us back an inch or two.

Igorovich was rubbing his meaty hands together, reverting to Russian, “Horoshow, Horoshow,” which to my 2 year old level of Russian meant good. What was it about me, my tiny, small persistent personality? I always feel for men in uniform, and Igorovich met me in the open air market (a euphemism for shock of beef on hooks, wedding gowns next aisle over, potatoes which looked abused, and I was asking for Smetana, and Sleevki, one or the other, they are dairy products, don’t have my smetanas and sleevki’s down. That’s three year old language level.

It was love at first sight, and I called him Sleevki Igor, and now cheeses and abundances of the dairy kind led me to a serendipitous moment of great impact, almost as great as meeting my beloved Sleevki Igor, but not quite – nothing could replace the smell of raw beef, a handsome young man bending over my tiny form, sweat on his neck, a delightful clean smell of sweat, and muscled arms, oh a girl could go far in those muscled arms.

There inside the Wisconsin Famous for Its Cheeses door, the air conditioning pushing cow ears back, was someone in an enormous cow uniform. The cow had human legs in the front, and cardboard legs resting on a cheese barrel with lots of miniature sculpted baby cows around his tale, as if to say, “I’m prolific,” and “All us cows do our dairy best,” and so while Igor ambled around more cheese shelves than he had seen in his life, and was blasted away by the “how may we lay our lives down in service for you employees,” I sauntered up to the Cow.

How is it, there’s a figure in there. Who are you. Well the cow must have been embarrassed, so a small voice laced trills and bass notes, said I’m today’s new Cheese Representative, and todays, my first day on the job. What’s good, I said, slowing myself into what was going to be a rolling dialogue/monologue, repartee, Camembert or Cheddar ?

The cow’s voice dropped several octaves, almost like the sounds on the planet we can’t hear and said, “Look lady, I’m a writer, and an umployed one at that. For cheese’s sake, don’t push me.”

You are a writer, you in the cow suit, by this time I gathered he was a man.

Yes, and because he was in a cow suit and was a writer, I shouted behond the pickles and ham slices rolled up drolley besides the Swiss cheese, and called, “Igorovitch, Igorovitch, Ididi, my word for go which meant to Sleevki Igor, come here, as it was the only motion word I knew.

Well Igor and I love people in suits, or uniforms, and a man in a cow uniform on his first day at work, and on our first time in a famous Cheese Factory was the beginning of a propitious relationship.

It turned out, this writer and many others whom he knew would turn out bon mots of the laugh and lie down with your belly to the floor, and I learned through this man, “Steve,” whom Sleevki Igor called “Steevovitch Seritskee” became a life time friend, and in the future we would venture to lands like Kansas, and Boston, my family loved cheese, and then in our later years, we would find a small pool house, which fit our immigrant hearts, and to our delight, we would discover Steevovitch Seritskee was now a famous writer, but he lived still in his modest family home in temple City and we were horoshow (good).

Available free on request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
Welcome to another issue of our quarterly newsletter. Your feedback regarding additon of other writers to introduce additional perspectives, has been upbeat and positive. We have continued to request submissions by other prisoners and hope to keep providing new writers in each issue.
In the years that we‘ve published this newsletter, we have only ever once dedicated an entire issue to a single person. That was to Deborah Peagler, AKA TRIPP. Well, that‘s about to change. This issue is being dedicated to Molly Kilgore. Yes, that‘s right Molly! This one is for you!
When Molly received her 7 years-to-life sentence, I was in the eigth grade. She had no idea she would need to witness seven Presidential terms, two wars, and a parade of governors before hope would be rewarded. She stood tall through it all. If you look up the word perseverance in the dictionary it should list names like Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and now … Molly Kilgore. You have no idea what it has been like for her. I‘ve only been locked up 22 years compared to her 33 years, and I can only imagine.
Another think that I can only imagine is the elation that filled her as she was reunited with her family on June 20th. I can only imagine what was going through her mind as they drove her off State property to freedom. Yes. Friends, Molly Kilgore is finally free on parole! It took 33 years, a world of hope, a heart of faith, the support of good family and friends, and most of all, the mercy of God.
On Molly‘s behalf, I would like to thank each and every one of you who wrote those letters to the Parole Board and the Governor. Thank you for signing her petition on the web site that was set up to aid in her plight. Every last letter and signature made a difference. Not only the night before, but the morning of her release, Molly gave me far too much credit. She credits our featuring her in the newsletter as a vital turning point in her battle. While we stood together united to support and plead for her release, it is Molly who served the sentence. It was Molly who never put down her shield and kept facing the dragon in battle. I guess it just made it easier when she had a small army behind her. It inspires and reinforces hope. That‘s a terrible thing to lose, hope is. But she gave us too much credit. It is she who persevered.
So, I say to each of you – thank you for helping us, help Molly. Thank you for being a spoke in the wheel of change. God bless each of you for your prayers and assistance in helping the freedom fight of our Friend Molly Kilgore.
And Molly? Yes, I‘m talking to you, girl. You simply amaze me. There are short timers here sniveling about a parole violation and a lousy ten months to serve. Girl, they aint got nothin‘ on you! I‘m so glad you never gave up. I‘m so happy your family was here to embrace you at the gate. It has been our honor and privilege to help you. It has been a true blessing to call you a Friend. We believe in you. You have so much potential, so much to accomplish yet. Take it one day at a time and don‘t let things overwhelm you. Girl, you already beat the dragon. Now is the time to celebrate your life. Congratulations!
Love, Light, Prayers & Hope T.C & Mama P

Mail Delays
Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding the delay in our responses to your incoming mail. The mailroom is understaffed and slow as molasses in January. A 602 was filed to resolve the problem. We hope for the best.

My Friend Molly Kilgore – Respectfully submitted by: La Donna Robinson

Congratulations Molly, I keep hearing people say, „I want to be like Molly!“ Well, I‘m not one of those people. I don‘t want to be like Molly. I don‘t want to give the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 32 years, 6 months, and 5 days, of my life. Does anyone remember the phrase „Cruel and Unusual“? Well, it is still cruel, that hasn‘t changed at all. But it certainly isn‘t unusual. It has become habitual and routine in the state of California to hold prisoners who are sentenced to an inderterminate sentence, to 20, 30, even more that 40 years in some circumstances. Some of these inmates were sentenced to only 2 years to life, 5 years to life, 7 and 15 years to life long before the mandate of completing the base term even came into effect. In Molly‘s case, she was sentenced to 7 to life, but served the time of someone who was sentenced to two first degree murders. Her prior grants for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings were subsequently overturned by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Molly will forever be loved and remembered by me and will live in my heart for the rest of my days. As the saying goes, „Bye Molly! See ya…but most definitely do not want to be ya.“

Making Amends submitted by Angel Meza
Sometimes, we as humans lose ourselves on the highways of life. We fall short of our direction of just who we truly are, or the values our mother, father, grandmother, and others taught us as we were growing up. So, today let‘s make a difference by making amends.
For years I have struggled with trying to atone for the harm that my actions have caused others. This goes for those that I have harmed both directly, as well as indirectly, through my poor example.
I have a gnawing guilt for those that I misguided through my actions, and whose futures I feel I have robbed by way of my example. Whenever I see or hear about a youngster coming to prison, I am reminded of the painful fact that my own actions contributed to the negative culture that influenced that individual. This awarness …. insight if you will … provides the fuel for my desire to atone.
Over the years I have come to understand that making amends is not an act, but rather a way of life. It is a spark that ignites within you (remorse) and empowers those around you.
As the saying goes, „You can give without loving (an act), but you cannot love without giving (a way of life).“ Making amends is exactly that. You can make amends without being remorseful, but you cannot be remorseful without making amends. Writing a letter to your victim is an act of amending; having the nature of character that seeks to contribute to others is a way of life. One is fleeting, while the other is lasting.

In making amends I cannot undo what has been done, but I can do better than I did. In other words, while I cannot change the past, I can affect the future. By improving on my self, I can positively impact those around me as opposed to the negative results of my previous behaviour. I can be ever mindful of my ability to influence those around me in a more positive manner. Especially the incorrigible youth offenders coming to prison nowadays. It gives me the opportunity to honor my ability to encourage change. Not when I get out, but now. Nothing like the here and now.
We may not be able to fix all of our past mistakes, but we can address the ones we can. I cannot express enough how making the smallest amends can make the biggest difference. Anything doen from the heart is always worth the effort.
Always.

Nothin‘ Like Friends In Low Places
When I first arrived at C.C.W.F., I was warned that you don‘t have friends in prison. I was told that people will use me and take any kindness for weakness. I have been there many-a-time both in the free world and this concrete paradise. I know I‘m not alone, you probably have been used, manipulated, and had your heart broken too. With each relationship, regardless of being platonic or more intimate, I have gained knowledge moreso about myself than other people. Each circumstance was a life lesson that was part of my personal blueprint. Each scenario resulted in a personal inventory.
To this day I still hear that you don‘t have friends in prison. They prefer to say that you have associates. Yes, while I have many associates, I still have friends that are at home in my heart. If you were to ask me what I thought of or feel for Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha or Molly, i lwould tell you that they are my friends, and I love them. Ah, there is that L-word that is thrown around all too loosely in prison. I hear „I love you“ so much that I now joke, „oh, so much love in prison!“ I‘m telling you, if there was half as much love in the middle east as there is in prison, we never would have gone into Afghanistan or Iraq.
What is love anyway? My definition includes being when you care more about someone else than you do your own self. It is unselfish and kind, it is given without expectation of reward. It can be in the smallest actions or compassionate deeds. It is when Dee Dee needs to talk, and no matter how dog-dead-tired I may be, I‘m right there. That‘s what I mean by putting someone before yourself. It‘s when Pops missed Huera when she paroled, and needed a shoulder to lean on, so I volunteered on weekends to work even when it was windy as Chicago and cold as Alaska. It was when Niki needed help with her case to see if she could get a reduction in her ridiculously lengthy sentence. I didn‘t really know a lick about legal research or where to even begin, bu I‘ve learned to navigate my way around the law library and find case law that may be of relevance in her freedom fight. What else would a true friend do? Yes, you do have friends in prison. I have friends in prison, and I love them. Yep, the L-word.
No matter where you are in life … free society or prison, people are people. They are like pebbles on the shore, each unique in their own way. It doesn‘t matter what their ethnicity or background is. Some of the nicest people can be found in prison. There are many people in society that probably shouldn‘t be, so it makes no matter where you are. All that really matters is who the person in the mirror truly is.
To open myself up to another person invites the reality of vulnerability. It requires that I open the door and let them in. While I have my own trust issues due to my own childhood and personal relationships that scarred my heart, I still find and believe that there‘s something good in everyone. When I look back on my life once it is over, I would hope to see what looks like a road map. I want to see my own path having crossed many more in this life‘s journey. With each crossing comes insight, growth and wisdom. There may be hearthbreak along the way, but even an airplane is safer on the ground than in the air, but that is not what it was created for. You have to be willing to take the risk, otherwise you‘ll never know what you are missing. The same is true of love and friendships.
So, whenever I hear someone tell me that you don‘t have friends in prison, I just gotta smile, because they are wrong. I know that I have friends, I have friends in prison. And I honestly believe that they know that they have a friend in me. Just goes to show that you shouldn‘t believe everything that you hear. There‘s always going to be a Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha, Molly or lil ol‘ me to prove them wroing. Why?? Well, don‘tchu know? There is so much love in prison!

*August 7, 2011 is National Friendship Day
So, if you received this in the e-mail or saw your name in print, please know that I am your Friend … and I hope I‘m the kind of someone you‘re glad to call a Friend, and not just an associate. I‘m here for you … and I always will be.

„Da Brain! Da Brain!“

Let‘s talk about the human brain. You know? That thing that weighs about 3 pounds and has about 100 billion neurons with another one trillion supporting cells. The brain has several sections, or structures, all with their own purpose. My focus is on the frontal lobe.
The frontal lobe is where the prefrontal cortex is located. This is where judgment, rational decision making, reasoning, and the logic and understanding of consequences originates from. It governs one‘s capacity for abstract thought, aggression, goal setting, and impulse control. Sounds pretty important, doesn‘t it? It is the power house and command center for cognitive flexibility, however, it is not fully developed until about the age of twenty-five. It is one of the last areas of the brain to mature.
Now, let‘s discuss the temporal lobes. Please, just bear with me, I do intend to make a point. This area contains the limbic-reward system, which includes the amygdala, which regulates emotions that are essential to one‘s survival. This can include fear, pleasure and anger.
The brain is composed of axons, which are like little messengers that communicate across a synapse to a dendrite of a neuron. What T.C.?! In simpler terms, there is a constant circuitry of impulses with a bunch of actions and reactions taking place making it possible for you to read this right now. The axon has a coating on it called the myelin layer, which is like insulation that permits all cognitive funtions. Myelination is a continous process as well, that begins before birth and takes place gradually until adult age.
Okay, so now that you know all of that, let me explain why I presented a biology lesson. You see, there is scientific empirical evidence that the above is all true. We now know that the adoloscent brain is not maturely developed until age 25, with special emphasis on the prefrontal cortex. We are aware that juveniles react emotionally centered (amygdala) because they lack a mature prefrontal cortex that would better regulate emotions in given stressful situation. In realistic terms, a 17 year old is not capable of thinking like an adult, so why is it that our collective society allows retributive justice to be carried outon juvenile offenders, equal to that of more mature adults? The Supreme Court ruled in Roper V. Simmons to ban the death penalty in all juvenile offender cases due to, in their own words, „The court observed that juvenile‘s lack of maturity and comparatively underdeveloped sense of responsibility ofen result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions. Juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, and that the character and personality traits of juveniles are more transitory and less well-formed.“
We live in a society that has heard the evidence, yet lacks the will to help reverse the error in law that they voted into existence. With new emerging science that clearly shows that youth rely upon their emotional center of the brain, which in turn can result in negative consequences, I have to wonder how you can read this and not get mad. I mean, what if were your kid, right? Did you know that between 1992 and 1999, every state except Nebraska passed laws making it easier to try juveniles as adults? Twenty-three states have no minimum age, and last I heard, Kansas and Vermont can try 10-years-olds as adults. Are we still calling ourselves civilized? Is that not barbaric by any measure?
Back to the brain, people. If a 15, 16, or 17-year-old doesn‘t have the biological mental capacity to rationalize a situation in a matter of minutes, let alone the blink of an eye, how can we call them adults? After all, if you sentence them as an adult, you‘re calling them an adult. Want to make a difference? Get involved. Burying our heads in the sand will not fix the problem. Only action on your part will. Go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org or write to them at:

Human Rights Watch
11500 W. Olympic Blvd. #441
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Q & A with T.C.

Q: Did that story about the trip to Yosemite really happen?
A: Yes, it did. I had the time of my life!
Q: What is all the hoopla over releasing prisoners early?
A: On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that overcrowding conditions in California‘s 33 state prisons is a violation of our Eighth Amendment rights in regards to cruel and unusual punisment. It had mostly to do with the prison system‘s failure to provide minimal care to prisoners with serious medical conditions. A three-judge panel in a lower court had stated that „it was an uncontested fact that an inmate in one of California‘s prisons needlessly dies six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.“ The U.S.S.C. has given Governor Brown until May 2013 to reduce the prison population down from 144.000 inmates to 110.000. The prison were built to house only 80.000 people. Only non-violent feons will either be released or transferred to county jails. There are already about 10.000 inmates who have been shipped out-of-state over recent years, but more can fit into such a proposed plan. So in a nutshell, NO they are not releasing murderes, child molester‘s or savage beasts that are in custody for violent crimes. Those news reel bites are mostly of over zealous tough on crime advocates that think every prisoner is another Charles Manson or Richard Ramirez. Without proper data and hard cold facts, people can create the worse scenarios in their heads.

Q: You forgot to list the medical hotline info in last issue.
A: Ooops. To contact the California Prison Health Care Services people in Sacramento regarding your concerns about an inmate‘s inadequate health care, phone (916) 324-1403.

Q: Why are you overcharged so much at your special sales?
A: The fundraiser is a privilege for us to taste or obtain select items that as a prisoner, we would otherwise not receive. We recently had a KFC and Costco bulk item sale, which raised over $9k for charity. Any charge over the actual item price goes to a charitable organization. So if you think about it, a fundraiser/special sale is a win-win for both us and the organization receiving theproceeds. Right soon we are expecting two more sales by or before October. One is Little Caesar‘s Pizza … and who doesn‘t love pizza? The other is another Costco bulk items sale.

Q: What is going on with Marsy‘s Law?
A: Marsy‘s Law, which was ignorantly voter approved using scare tactics, permits the Parole Board to deny a lifer seeking a release date, far up to 15 years until their next possible parole hearing. An inmate named Michael Vicks (not the Pit Bull fighting football player) filed a writ when the BPH denied him parole using Marsy‘s Law as their justificationfor a lengthy denial. Because Vicks was in the system before the passage of the „Let‘s screw over lifers“ law, the BPH should not have applied it to Vicks. The court agreed when they heard his case. Marsy‘s Law only can legally apply to prisoners sentenced to life terms after the law was enacted. In more simpler terms – it does not apply to any lifer given a life term prior to the law‘s passage, January 2009.

Q: Is it true that more lifers are being released now than before Jerry Brown became Governor?
A: Yes. He has made it clear that if the taxpayers are payiing the BPH decision-makers over $100k a year each in salary, plus all of those ridiculous travel expenses, then he will need to trust that they can do their job. He‘s not treatening them like Wilson & Davis did, nor is he insulting them like Arnold did. He‘s not running for any higher office, so he has no personal agenda that would cause him to trample on a lifer‘s hopes. Ole J.B. was in office in the 1970‘s. Yes, he was Governor when Molly became a lifer prisoner, and he‘s Governor to release her. Do you like apples? How about them apples? Yeah!

One of the Things I‘ve Learned in Prison by Jennifer Hall
I‘ve been incarceratedat CCWF since 1993. Over the years I have particiapted in workshops, self-help groups, and numerous other classes which have enabled me to grow as an individual. By far, the most rewarding and challenging class I have taken, is ASL-101 (American Sign Language).
Not only am I learning another language, but it has opened up the door to an entirely new world for me. It takes patience and tolerance to teach this class. My teacher, Ms, Vonnie, is outstanding – not only as a teacher, but at understanding a group of people and being able to transfer that knowledge over to us. What she has taught me I could never have learned from a textbook.
I am learning more than just sign language. I am learning life lessons that are invaluable and will stay with me forever. The compassion Ms. Vonnie has for the deaf community has had a profound affect on me. I‘m looking forward to completing her Religious Signs class, and am excited in taking her ASL-102 class in the fall.
There are many things one can learn in the prison environment … some negative, some positive. I choose to seek the latter of the two. What I‘m learning in these classes offered to prisoners here, has opened my eyes, mind, and heart in new ways for a better tomorrow.
Ms. Vonnie, you rock!

Best Friends For Life:
To Molly May Kilgore, From Vickie Lee George
Molly, I want to tell you (and the world) how much I love you for being a family member to me while I have been in prison. When I first arrived at CIW (California Institute for Women in Frontera for all readers outside of California), I believed in my heart that I would do my 25 years-to-life alone … but then I moved in with you into your cell, and I felt that I was not alone. And I wasn‘t.
Molly, thank you for helping me learn how to do my time by both sound advice and demonstration. Not every new lifer is so blessed. When I count my blessings, I count you twice.
Now that you have left CCWF for new horizons, frontiers and a better life … a well earned life, it takes some time getting used to the fact that your prayers were truly answered. I look down A-Wing and after a minute I realize allover again that you are no longer there. When I was you go throgh the R&R door and you waved good-bye to me, I turned and said „thank you, Lord, for putting my best friend in my life.“
Molly, I wish you the very best out there. You‘ve worked so hard and waited so long for this freedom you‘ve been allowed to embrace. My Friend, I believe in your true potential. Yes, I miss you, but I wouldn‘t want it any other way. Besides, give me a minute … I‘ll be joining you soon.

Love Always – Your Friend – Vickie George

The Kindred

A new roommate moves into the cell and introduces herself. You discuss the house rules – simple structure of common courtesy and respect. They‘re always happy when I tell them that they don‘t have to remove their shoes before entering. More than happy actually … more like relieved. Once they settle in and realize that I don‘t bite and I most likely have all my shots (well, the ones that count), they ask that one question. You know? THE QUESTION. Sooner or later they ask, „so, when are you going home?“ And half of the time they don‘t comprehend when I reply, „I don‘t know.“
Being a lifer is an experience, not for the weak. We are a strong breed. It may have a little something to do with the road that got us here, but it has a lot to do with how the system has affected us too. If you were to ask me what it is like to be a lifer, it would take more than a simple sentence or minute to explain. To say that you‘d have to be one to understand is an understatement.
As a lifer, I have seen more roommates parole from my cell than I can even guess to number. I‘ve been in this same cell for the last 16 years of my 22 years of incarceration. What can I say? I play well with others. There are times when someone on the walkway will get annoyed that I don‘t remember them. They will try to make me remember their being my cellmate six, ten, twelve years ago. Really?! More people have passed through my cell like water through a seive than I can count. If anyone should be annoyed, it is the lifer who watches the parole violators keep coming back through the revolving door. It is like a slap in the face of freedom.
As a lifer, I know that to get close to anyone in here automatically requires trust. The reality though of getting close to a non-lifer, is that the other prisoner will eventually parole. It‘s gonna happen eventually. Our reality is that we watch many others get a second (third, fourth, and often tenth) chance, when all we want is half a chance. When it happens to someone that we care about, we have mixed emotions. On the one hand we are happy for them that they get to leave this place. On the other, it almost feels like a small part of us has died, as they take that part of our hearts with them. We don‘t want to be selfish, and so we let go. With each good-bye, we let go. It hurts … it hurts like hell. Can you imagine saying so many good-byes over a couple of decades? Unfortunately for the lifer, we need not imagine it. If anything, many avoid it by keeping their hearts guarded. Even hardened. However, like the storm clouds in April, a calm comes over you and life goes on.
Ironically, most of my prison friends are lifers. The ones I‘m closest to at least. They understand what it is like to wake up in here every single day and not know when they‘ll go home. They know what it is like to stress with anxiety the preparations of a parole hearing and to be abused by the panel (emotionally, mentally). They have the same fears of either dying in here or being stuck in here when their loved one dies … and not being able to attend the funeral. They have forgotten the feel of a real bed on Christmas morning and the taste of the home cooked meal that only mom could make. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged, condemned, and misunderstood. They comprehend that to quit is to die, and same question what the hell there is to even live for after all. They understand. They are my kindred. They are just like me, but also different.
So, when are you going home?
I don‘t know.

Umm … huh? I‘m a lifer

Oh, I‘m sorry. Why are you sorry?

I don‘t know. My point, exactly.

From The Heart
In the summer of 1978, I spent two weeks at Mt. Cross, a Christian faith based summer camp tucked in the Santa Cruz mountains. I didn‘t go there alone, but with my best friend Nancy. It had the usual campfire sing-a-longs at night, arts and crafts, and whatnot. The first week we were there, we heard about the hike to the summit, a good two hour hike one-way. We passed on it the first week, but come week two, we were gung-ho about making the trip. The thin was, we didn‘t want to look like wimps if we couldn‘t make the grade, so we decided on taking our own practice run. We thought that if we could hike uphill for about half the run, then we were good to go. So, we make plans, told our cabin counselor, Bear, and set out that late morning.
We headed up the incline path behind our cabin, which was set at a short fire line that separated the woods from the line of cabins. On the way up, we had to climb over a couple of downed trees, and around at least one too large to climb. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, we came to a clearing set aside for night campfire. We had met everyone there the week before. It was large enough for a good fifty people to sit on the logs that encircled the fire pit in the middle. Nancy dicided she wanted to take a break and she headed into the circle. I followed her into the wide open space and sat on a log. That‘s when she pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and I reminded her she wasn‘t supposed to smoke in the woods. Camp rule. She claimed she‘d be careful and lit up anyway. I can‘t stand cigarettes, and anyone who knows me, knows why. So, I stood up and as I did, that is when I felt it. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My stomach flipped with anxiety and dread. In an instant, I knew we were not alone. We were not safe. My strong sixth sense said, „RUN!“
I stepped directly in front of Nancy and whispered only loud eonugh for her to hear, „You know how I sense things?“ She said she did. I continued, „Don‘t look around. Don‘t do anything unusual. Just put out your cigarette and lets head back to the cabin.“ She just looked at me like I was pulling a joke on her. „Nancy, we‘re not alone. I‘m leaving. You coming or what?“ I headed to the circle‘s entrance and turned back downhill. Nancy was behind me, uncertain of wheter or not to believe me. Finally, she said, „Teresa – I swear, if this is a joke …“ I turned toward her over my shoulder to tell her that it wasn‘t, and that is when I saw him.

Behind Nancy, higher on the incline, but on the path, was a man. He had white clothing on, dirty and torn. He looked like he crawled out from under a rock. But hat wasn‘t the first thing I noticed. No, the first thing I noticed in the three fastest seconds of my life, were his eyes. Almost not even human. All I could do was yell, „RUUUUUUNNNN!!!“

It wasn‘t until later that I found out that Nancy afforded herself a quick glance overher own shoulder before she began to run behind me. I‘m telling you folks, it doesn‘t just happen in the movies. There‘s always that girl who will ask, „Run? But why?“ One look and she was like the wind on my heels.

I wasn‘t sure if he was chasing us, but I wasn‘t about to slow my pace to find out. What if he wasn‘t alone? I could hear Nancy behind me mumbling jibber jabber all the way down the mountain. The mysterious man bought us a little space when we heard him stuble over on of the downed trees, not landing very gracefully. The clean air burnt my lungs, but I kind of liked being alike, so I kept running.
As we neared the cabins, I began to yell the only thing I could think to yell: our cabin counselor‘s name. Nancy began yelling too. The funny thing is that everyone came out of their cabins because we were screaming „BEAR! BEAR!“ They all thought we were being chased by a bear. Our counselor, Bear, stood with them and grateful to see a crowd all I could do was point into the woods behind us. Nancy was ghost white drained of all color. She couldn‘t even yell anymore. Nobody understood what we were trying to tell them, then suddenly their faces all lifted, looking into the forest at my back. Their eyes displayed amazement and fear all at once. I turned and locked eyes with Mystery Man. His were black as far, possibly also the color of his soul. He made a wide panoramic sweep of the crowd left to right, then right to left. And then he locked eyes with me. He got this crazy little smile on his face, and the he turned and walked back into the woods. He never said a word. I don‘t recall anyone else saying anything either, let alone trying to follow him. He just disappeared out of view.
It didn‘t take long before Pastor Crowley had us called into the dining hall to meet some police looking guys. Forest Rangers or State Police? I don‘t know. They had those Smokey the Bear hats on. Nancy and I were shown a few photos. Instantly, we recognized the guy in the ice cream man uniform. Turned out he had recently escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. I really know how to have a good time don‘t I?
The moral of the story is, always listen to your gut instinct. It is like a compass that will always point you to the North. God put it in each of us to help us, protect us, and guide us. It is when I ignored my gut instinct that life dealt me some of the hardest blows.
So, I say from the heart to you … no matter what you may be going through, regardless of what other may think, always follow your gut. It tells you what is best for you. It is allabout you, and well, you‘re kind of a big deal. The world is a far better place with each of you in it. And if you ever feel a little lost or overwhelmed, call a friend, or, just yell at the top of your lungs. „BEAR!“ Trust me, someone will come running to see what is wrong. Worked for me. Namaste -T.C. and Mama P. me.for

T.C. Paulinkonis W45118 514-16-4U. PO Box 1509, Chowchilla, CA 93610

Pauline (Barbara)
W45118 514-16-4L
PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

HAPPY NATIONAL FRIENDSHIP DAY!

III John, verses 13-15

The wheel of hours was going to be long, and would involve a lot of waiting, just like I’m waiting in this darkened Park Street Subway station, which smells of hot dust and urine, and feels like I am in the vestibule of death, when in reality, I am only on my way to Monday, my first day at a new job.

Reader, can I whine, can I have a plaintive voice. Think of my voice as wine dripping from my mouth and forming letters which complain, and my plaintiveness resembling old tin cup, which when I put my lips on it, curl back and reveal teeth, white, but tired, tired from having to live inside my mouth so long they’ve developed a lacework on their tips. Yeah, the bottom teeth with the dental hygienist said last week, “Oh you have such little teeth. How cute.”

Reader how are 73 year old teeth, the bottom once, which are white, which are precious few, and which are squeezed together as if bunching up in fear, “No don’t take me,” also have had the nerve to show delicate little edges, not smooth lines, and my teeth, I’m afraid are going on to a grey/gray, land of older, older woman, even though I still slash red lipstick on my lips which prune and pout as I ponder the bleak outside world where all the newscasters spewing yellowed print, green print, red print out of their mouths, quickly like blades of steel grass, and they all have opinions. About jobs. It’s about jobs, which is why dear Reader, my life is looking black, purple and I feel a shade coming down, as if it is sundown, and it’s only morning, but I’m off to my new job as photocopier for a law firm.

This law firm is on State Street, where years ago old men wore white spats over their shoes and women in clothe green felt hats, or grey felt, or any kind of felt, color it any way you want, hats, and these hats hid the obedient eyes focused on the rough, knobby cement, glanced at the brick exteriors of old Boston Buildings, spelled the ocean air coming up from the harbor or Harbah if you are a native, and scurried into buildings to be on time for the men they worked for, such as our leisurely white spatted gentlemen circumambulating the Boston Gardens.

This was our out, and it was a good one. Secretaries. Now there’s a word. Reader I once knew practices like Gregg Shorthand even though I took the college courses in high school, I was now and had been a Boston Clerical Girl for years.

Did I mention, at fifty-three I became “temping” later a word exalted to “freelancing,” all words pointing to don’t hire the older woman. Did I mention I wore black a lot, because it was cheap, and slenderizing, a word people don’t use any more. And did I mention I once had a life filled with magentas and yellows and starburst lemon, and grew flowers like the Iris, a delicately laced flower with deep purple hues, and I had dogs that were silky red with long hair, and small little beige squatty little dogs whose curl of tail was beyond creamy, beyond perfection?

But now, I live in the real world. Did I mention when I worked there were no pensions, no this, no that, no insuring one’s end of days with padding of the economic time. I had thought the legal world would protect me, because in the depression of yore legal secretaries found work. Teachers found work. But it is now 2011, and I must work because I could be one step from living in the streets. I will work until I’m 85, or until I can’t see the documents which will come in serried rank, page after page, and I will push, click, staple and fold, and somehow my creaking wheel of hours will end.

Girls with Pink Lipstock
(from Miss Halloran, You Carry the Heavy Stuff, p. 53)
By Susan Zucker – June 6, 2011

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They have their beach towels and bathing suits.
They have money for their lunches.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They wait in front of the house on Clifton Avenue.
It is the most central, after all.
They wait for that one mom to drive them to the beach.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They have arrived at the beach and the ocean is tame.
It is low tide and they spread their blanket and move as one to the sea.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
After getting wet they will dry in the sun.
They will apply their pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, and clump together as one.

Susan Zucker attends my writing workshop, “The Courage to Write,” held Monday nights at Ten Thousand Villages store, a fair trade store and a visual poem in surroundings. Susan is a writer and a friend. She grabbed a line from my latest book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff, opened to an essay on Miss Halloran, and girls coming of age theme and took the line, “Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together,” and wrote her own take – I loved it, still do; hooray Susan.

I’m posting a review from GoodReads, but Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother reminded me of a story of a young girl, popular in the 40s-50s called “Katy Did,” and the idea if i remembered it correctly, she’d pull flower petals off of petals and say Katy Did, Kady Didn’t. So here’s an initial review:

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherBattle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what did I think? hmmmm, let’s see – I felt a lot, i observed a lot, and i liked this author’s honesty and dilemmas. Culture clash, and the reader was full on in it.

It’s hard,because we all have our theories, and then there’s the actual practice. Before my son was born, I thought I’d keep him in little white baby shoes, immaculate, and did I say, he wore brown shoes a lot. I said, “No child of mine will watch a lot of TV,” and I do believe on days unnumbered his face morphed into a square from so much screen gazing.

Wisdom is attained when one is a grandmother. Love is attained from birth of a child. Between the two, we pass on the good stuff, cringe at the dysfunction stuff, and pray and act for the future wellbeing.

I have a wonderful son, and that means, we both had to work at it over the teenage years.

Amy Chua is intelligent, honest and writes well. A friend loaned me this book. the most outstadning feature of this book, besides it provoking great discussions, is her children were not wounded, angry at times, but somehow her love came through. It’s a toss up. Culture pushes parents because originally, survival was the base instinct. In a way, it still was. She met her match with her second daughter, and I suspect the daughters will raise their children in a less authoritarian style.

That said, they are outstanding. At this stage in my life I think too much permissiveness or too much authoritarianism doesn’t work, but there’s a middle way of cooperative parenting.

whatever, I think Amy Chua and family made it through difficult decisions and arrived at greater awareness, and I also feel they are a solid family whom I wish well.

View all my reviews

T.C and Mama ´P´ Quarterly Newsletter, 2nd QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,

It is our hope that this issue of the newsletter finds you doing well. As time goes by, more and more readers have joined us by the sharing of distributed copies with others. We would like to encourage each of you to pass it on to others to read. Esther has posted it on her blog while others have e-mailed their e-mail versions to their friends. Knowledge is to be shared. In some pieces, it may be more perspective than scientific fact, but there‘s nothing wrong with sharing that too. Please feel free to make copies and share with others. For anyone who wants to automatically recevie this quarterly newsletter via e-mail, all you need to do is to send your request to Anna Ingolfsdottir who resides in Iceland. She is my typist and publisher, yes, but she is my friend first. E-mail is annaing@centrum.is

I have asked several other „writers with a number“ to join forces with me by making submissions to include in this quarterly report. Some did not meet the deadline, so maybe next time. In this issue you will be introduced to Gia, a volunteer Health Peer Counselor and breast cancer survivor that helps educate other inmates on health related issues. I‘m proud to have you meet La Donna, a woman I met about 13 years ago in the U-Turn prison prevention program directed at youth-at-risk. Donna Lee, an LWOP prisoner, choose to write on the topic of parole. Her piece was most informative, but I had to edit it to fit in this format, while hoping I kept it well in tact.

Thank you for not judging us. I mean, if you‘re reading this, you‘re either a prisoner or you know one. To those of you who‘ve stood by us over the years, please know that it truly is your strong shoulders that we lean on. Thank you for ever stuff!

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

What Is D.I.D.?

Have you seen the movie, „Sybil“? Sybil had what was termed MPD, or Multiple Personality Disorder. Over the years MPD got a pretty bad name as a defective title for a person who is totally messed up. The MPD was for the most part, replaced with D.I.D., Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Now, I‘m not a psychologist, but I‘ll explain this the best I can.

When an individual is subjected to trauma, and their conscious mind (present tense person) cannot deal with said trauma, they may dissociate. That means to mentally check-out, leave their conscious mind and hide in the safety of the subconscience. When that happens, they may appear changed, or in some cases, in a daze. In those instances when one has dissociated, another personality often referred to us an alter, is developed. That alter personality can be male or female, even genderless. They can be of any age, and not age as the host does. You, being the host. D.I.D. is most commonly brought on in childhood sexual abuse cases. In my case, when I could not deal with the trauma that I was subjected to, I checked out. When she couldn‘t handle it, she checked out and another stepped in. That‘s why they referred to it as multiples.

Each personality has their own memories. Where I have lost time, is when I checked out. The alter that was present is the one holding those memories. In recovery, you attempt to pull the memories together. Trust me, that requires professional counseling. Think of it as a huge jigsaw puzzle, and each piece is a memory. The pieces however belong to more than one personalty. The idea is to piece the picture together. In my case, I really don‘t want to recall whatever I don‘t remember. All that really matters to me is that I know now what I didn‘t know back then, and that is that I did nothing wrong to get D.I.D.

Did You Hear About the Super Jail for Kids?

In the last issue of this newsletter, I asked who would lock-up teens for life and throw away the key. The answer quite simply was: our legal system. Lady Justice wears a blindfold supposedly to not see defendents by race, gender, culture or any other means by which prejudice can be measured on her lopsided scales. Personally, I think she wears the blindfold to avoid seeing how terribly bent the system really is. I mean, how can you not want to fix it once you see it? I discovered an answer to my question that took place in my own backyard, Alameda County. The facts are appalling.

In the late 1990‘s, the state legislature voted to reallocate federal funding that was meant to support the construction of new prisons and to renovate and expand local juvenile correctional facilities. The general concensus was that local juvenile detention facilites were in a state of disrepair. Many of the existing buildings were at least 50 years old and inadequate living conditions. The chief Probation Officers Accociation tried to get voters to agree to a bond measure to remeoly the conditions, but California voters adamantly rejected not only bonds to improve detention centeres, but clearly did not support expanding juvenile facilities or building new adult prisons.

President Bill Clinton‘s administration began making federal grants to partially defray the building of new prison facilities. California‘s share of the pie was a whopping $275 million a year. Almost all of the money was used for renovations and improvements to adult lock-ups, but the grant mandated there be some expansion in custody beds.

The BOC, Board Of Corrections, was given the task of either improving or building new juvenile detention centers. It wasn‘t enough that the adult rate of incarceration was a booming economy for the state, lets add juveniles to the melting pot of the prison industrial complex. The counties all wanted some of that money and began applying for grants to the BOC for their cut. Of the 58 counties, 40 received grants. In the end, it ws a tidal wave of madness that proposed expanding the juvenile bed capacity by 3150 new beds, a 50% hike in total. It should be noted that this took place in the late 1990‘s when juvenile arrests had been on a continuous decline. Hmmm …. follow the money.

Alameda county operated a 299 bed facility in the northern part of the county near the neighborhoods where most of the youth lived. Technically, the place was in such bad shape, it should‘ve been illegal to house mice there, let alone 299 kids. To consider their options, the county hired a firm out of Georgia to evaluate the situation and help prepare an analysis for just cause to build a new juvile center with even more beds. That firm proposed the plan to build a new 540 bed juvenile hall to be located on the site of the old adult county jail, SANTA RITA JAIL (SRJ). The old SRJ was shut down in September 1989, just two weeks before our arrest. It was a rat motel at best. Yeah, lets remodel it and put kids in there. Are they nuts?

Well, that‘s when things became interesting. The site was in Dublin, across from a federal prison, the new SRJ hi-tech county lock-up, and out in the boondocks, meaning it would be more difficult for those youths to receive visits. Public transportation is fairly limited to that area. The site was justified due to the acreage of land. The need was further supported by false data that showed an increase in juvenile arrests. Alameda county applied for funding, having secured nearly $30 million for renovations and an additional $3 million to subsidize bed expansion. The funds only covered a small percentage of the costs for the new facility. They must have figured that once they began, grant money would certainly be given to complete such a big project. They never figured in the funding for staff and operating costs. That‘s like buying a fleet of cars that you can‘t afford to insure or put gas in. Where‘s the logic?

Finally, after all the hoopla, a small group of youth advocates called Books Not Bars (BNB) stepping in to oppose the madness. They pointed out that mostly minorities faced extreme detention, local budgets had taken away from youth programs, public schools and welfare, and that the super jail for kids was nothing more than a political investment for Supervisor Scott Haggerty, in whose district the new super jail would be built. His agenda was to bring a new source of revenue to his district by way of local construction businesses who were bidding for the contract. That‘s when the media got more involved. All coverage, was bad coverage, so the pressure was on. Dublin residents got involved, protecting the new super jail in their backyard. It took the tireless efforts of BNB, the center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Youth Law Center, and several other juvenile justice advocates to shut down the maddening plan for what would have been the largest youth detention center ever heard of. Reasonable renovations and building did take place in Dublin, but not before the persons who sought personal gain at the expense of a bunch of kids where eliminated from the picture. This included personnel changes in high positions of both the Probation Dept, and the Juvenile Courts System.

Prison is an industry of making money. Everyone from building planners and builders, to staff, local businesses, and vendors that win state contracts, all profit from the incarceration of 33 state prisons. And they want to build more. By taking away funds from public education and after school programs, our budget planners reduce the chances that today‘s youth will succeed. It almost seems like a set up. It is long proven that humanities in the arts guarantees a kid a better shot at half a chance and higher self-esteem. So why are our legislators reducing their chances? There are many besides myself that think it is to increase the delinquency ratio, and pack our prisons. And with life sentences being handed out, how can you argue with that? Money is money, right? Even at the cost of today‘s youth. And that‘s a high price to pay.

Juvenile Offender Facts To Consider

· There are approximately 275 California youth presently sentenced ot life without the possibility of parole (S.F. chronicle 12/6/10)

· Within months of the passage of Proposition 21, San Diego was the first county to put the new law to the test charging eight middle class white students as adults for chasing down and beating some Latino immigrant workers. Being there were 8 of them, according to the text of Prop 21, that is defined as a gang.

· No other country outside the United States implements children to be sentenced to LWOP.

· In many cases where a youth was prosecuted with an adult for the same crime, it was the kid that received the heavier sentence.

· Many youth sentenced as adults, had no prior criminal history.

· Each youth offender sentenced to LWOP will cost taxpayers about $2,5 million.

· To continue incarcerating the 275 youth already sentenced to LWOP, will cost close to $ 700 million.

· The principal opponents to Prop 21 included juvenile court judges.

· Neuroscience studies report that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than that of adults. This scientific theory was recognized by the supreme court in Roper V. Simmons as well as Graham V. Florida. The Graham case was ground breaking, as the U.S. supreme court held that it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to LWOP for nonhomicide offenses as well. The Graham case recently affected more than 100 juvenile offenders who received LWOP sentences for nonhomicide offenses.

Parole Denial in Federal Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Swarthout V. Cooke, 562 U.S. (zoll) (Per Curiam, 1/24/11, case 10-333) that California lifer inmates have no right to federal habeas corpus under existing law to challenge a parole decision, based on the „some evidence“ rule. Federal writs are based upon the grounds that one is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. In a nutshell, this ruling states that federal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law. Period.

I Am One Of Many – submitted by La Donna Robinson

My name is La Donna Robinson, and I am serving a sentence of 15 years to life for 2nd degree murder. A murder that was committed at the ripe old age of seventeen. I am now forty years old, soon to be 41, in 3 months.

I don‘t pity myself, and I don‘t feign innocence for the crime of which I know that I am guilty. However. I know I have served my time-nearly double-than that of which I was sentenced.

I have appeared befoe the Board of Parole Hearings approximately eight times, and have been denied each and every time, regardless of the positive psychological evaluations that I have received, stating that I am a „low-risk“ of danger to society if found suitable for parole. I have been disciplinary free since my arrival, have become a certified Airline Rerservation Agent, a certified Animal Groomer, and have received all the necessary hours to become a licensed Cosmetologist. I have received my GED and an AA degree, and have completed too many self-help classes to count.

There are numerous juvenile offenders just like myself who are struggling every day to achieve their freedom. We program every day for up to eight hours, return to the houseing unit to be counted, and immediately report to some self-help class or another. We struggle to remain diciplinary free in a miniature world where we are constantly threatened with „how ´bout I get you a 115 to take to the board?“ We find the strength to support each other no matter how tired we get on our journey because as with any species, when one gets tired one will fall back and wait with hi until he has found the strength to move ahead. We have created our own makeshift family of juvenile offenders who have discovered that it makes it a little easier whenn you know there is someone struggling to paddle in a boat just like yours. We don‘t always like each other, but we love each other, and we are here for each other.

Thank you T.C. & Mama ´P´ for the opportunity to participate in something that reaches far beyond these prison fences. There are people who need to know that there is more than „convicts“ stuck in this place, ther are „prisoners“ who left society when they were too young to legally take a drink of alcohol, or to get a job, or to even marry. What about us? What is to be said for a state that will not allow you to take a drink until the age of 21, but will try you as an adult and lock you away for the rest of your life at the age of 14? There is a lot to be said. But no one wants to be the one to say it.

Juvenile Justice Reform Update – by Elizabeth Lozano

On April 5th, California‘s Public Safety Committee voted 5-to-2 for SB9, which is derived from SB399 that did not pass by two votes last fall. As I‘ve said before, this bill is not a get out of jail free card. SB9 is a bill introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to end life sentences without parole (LWOP) for juvenile offenders. It would require that I prove that I deserve to be considered for resentencing. As an LWOP juvenile offender, should SB9 pass, my fate would lie in the hands of a court judge.

This bill has many stages to go through. Any support by way of phone calls, e-mails, or written correspondence to Assembly members and Senators in Sacramento would help immensely and be appreciated.

In another area of reform, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 23rd on whether police officers ought to consider a young suspect‘s age before Miranda Rights are read to them. (The right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, you know the drill). Currently under Federal Law, a suspect taken into custody is Mirandized. Certain uses of restraint such as prolonged interrogation, handcuffs, and restricted surroundings, add up to custody. Under court law if a „reasonable person“ would feel free to leave, then the rights need not be read. In this case and others like it, children are being expected to obey authority figures and have the thinking processes of an adult. Both technically and scientifically, that is unrealistic.

The case being argued is that of J.D.B. v. North Carolina. Detectives went to a middle shool and escorted 13 year old J.D.B. to a school conference room where officials awaited him. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in this case that since the door was not locked, and he began to speak after agreeing to answer questions, that he must have reasonably understood that he did not need to answer any questions regarding his involvement in property crimes. He was not Mirandized. The U.S. Supreme Court however, granted certiorari, creating what could be a ground breaking case to protect the legal rights of underaged suspect. So far, the last two cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court involving uvenile offender rights were ruled in favor of the juveniles. This case is pending decision.

For more information or to learn how you can become more involved in reform, please go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org.

Breast Wellness – contributed by Gia M. McClain

Let‘s talk about breasts, Baby. Yes, breasts. If someone were to gie you a free gift, wouldn‘t you accept it? Of course you would. I have a gift for you. It is information about self-breast examinations. Now, while both men and women can get breast cancer, the focus of this piece is on women‘s health.

Thousands of women die needlessly each year from breast cancer. Many women automatically assume that during a self-exam, they are looking for a lump. The purpose of the breast exam is to become familier with how your breasts naturally feel, so that when you feel something different, you wil lknow it. This can allow you to get to your health care provider in a timely manner. It will help to ask your healthcare provider for guidelines that are appropriate for your age group.

Within the prison environment, inmates are their own best defense, and in some cases, their own advocate to fight for their own medical rights for healthcare. As budget cuts have come down upon us, there has been a lack of doctors, replaced by nurse practitioners. However, regardless of whether you‘re a prisoner at C.C.W.F. or a citizen within the free society, here‘s my advice as a Peer Health Volunteer:

1. Do a monthly self-exam. It is best to do it about the same time of the month every month, and while you‘re not on your menses (period) or ovulating. You may experience tenderness and discomfort at those times and be less likely to do it properly, or at all.

2. Have a buddy check system, which is a friend or loved one that you contact monthly as a reminder to do the self-exam, and they in turn do the same for you.

3. When you see your healthcare provider, as for a clinical breast exam on a yearly basis. Using your birthday as an easy reminder can make it less likely to forget the last time you had one. Also, ask them to show you how to properly do a self-exam. Far to many women assume incorrectly, missing anomolies.

4. Get a mammogram, set by guidelines of American Cancer Society. Guidelines include age, ethnicity, and family history. Remember, the life you save, may be your own.

A Perspective of parole – submitted by Donna Lee

If you ask a lifer whether parole is a right or a privilege, most will say that it is both. If you‘re sentenced to a life term with the possibility of parole, that opens the door to your legal rights. However, being granted parole encompasses the respect of the privilege of a second chance at freedom.

Life prisoners are a special breed. They work hard to satisfy and meet the nine circumstances tending to show suitability criteria. They learn the rehabilitation tools needed to insure that they can succeed on parole and for therest of their lives. The lifer spends a majority of their time and energy in thinking about the factors that led to the crime and how they can avoid similar situations in the future. With age comes maturity, and the likelihood that the paroled lifer will not reoffend.

Like anyone else, the lifer inmate has goals. Usually, many. Some want to help support family and friends who‘ve stood by them over the years, while others dream of starting up businesses or families. Granted, one released after decades of confinement, the newly released lifer will experience culture shock. That is where re-entry programs like Crossroads can benefit them and help orientate them back into society. The goal however, is to be granted parole first.

The nine circumstances to become suitable for parole can be a challenge to meet, but is achievable. They include:

1. Lack of a juvenile record depicting career criminal behavior.

2. Stable social history that demonstrates you‘ll have the support of family and friends upon release, especially during transition.

3. Signs of remorse (a step in the insight issue)

4. Motivation for the crime (also part of insight)

5. Battered Woman Syndrome, if applicable.

6. Lack of criminal history, – first time offender.

7. Age.

8. Parole Plans, which include employment, housing, and counseling or support groups relative on a case-by-case basis.

9. Institutional behavior.

Even if you‘ve satisfied the criteria, there is a chance thatyou will not be found suitable for parole. It could be the psychological evaluation you were subjected to, or the inability to adequately answer to a panel question regarding insight issues. If found unsuitable, and you believe your rights have been violated in that denial, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus in your trial court. It isn‘t easy to do on your own without legal counsel, but there are a number of jailhouse lawyers who can help guide you through the process. It will not be easy. It can be quite stressful overall. However, when your personal freedom is at stake, you either step up to the plate or you walk off the field and guilt. I say look the pitcher in the eyes, because a girl‘s gotta do, what a girl‘s gotta do, Parole is possible. You just have to want it. You have to earn it.

Donna Lee, LWOP prisoner

Communicado

When we write in our letters, some prison slang or facility terminology comes out. There are words and numbers we use quite regularly, so let‘s define some of that here.

C-file: Central file. Our peersonal prisoner file that contains all of our achievements, write-ups, numerous documents.

UCC: The classification committee that evaluates us yearly.

Program: Well, like robots. To do a good program is to do as you‘re told and expected to regarding school or work assignment duties.

Hooch: Inmate manufactured alcohol, AKA PRUNO.

Recall: This doesn‘t relate to memory. It means return to our cells.

Insight: The Parole Board expects that we can see into various elements of our crime, the full impact and all aspects of it.

Canteen: Not a thermos. This is our local 7-11 store.

805: The infirmary (Bldg. number)

504: Administrative Segregation, death row, EOP (Bldg. number)

602: Appeals process (document number)

115: Disciplinary Action (document number)

EOP: Enhanced Outpatient Program for mentally unstable inmates

The Health Care Issue

Although the information is not plastered up in the clinics and 805, there is actually an Inmate Health Care Inquiry Line mainteined by the California Prison Health Care Services. It allows members of the public and families of inmates to report concerns in regards to our health care from behind prison walls in Chowchilla.

As a prisoner, it is my right to 602 any complaints that I have regarding medical services, or lack thereof. The first step in the complaint process is the 602 grievance form. They allow me only 15 days from incident of complaint to have the 602 filed. The form specifically states that they in turn also have that time limit, however, there is a loophole exception to the rule for administration that inmates do not have. Staff is afforded the right to a time delay. Their prison, their rules. I just live here.

What do we 602 on midical grounds? Per Title 15, Division 3, Article 8, Section 3350 Provisions of Midical and Dental Services, the prison is obliged by law to basically take care of our medically necessary requirements. That includes, but is not limited to reasonable care to protect life, prevent illness or disability, and alleviate severe pain. The problem with defining severe pain is that it has become a matter of opinion. Believe me, if I feel it is severe or chronic pain, I will file a 602 to seek a medical remedy.

I cannot find a section int he Title 15 (Prisoner‘s Bible of Legal Rights basically) that refers to the conditions in 805, where some inmates are housed indefinitely. Pour souls. There are partially paralyzed inmates who rely upon nurses to help bathe them and change their bedding. The problem is that many of those overpaid babysitters don‘t want to be bothered. The Health Peer Counselors that volunteer their time to those inmates on occassion, find themselves carrying out those nursing duties as a matter of an act of humanity. But, nobody wants to make waves. Nobody wants to speak out. And then there‘s me.

Tripp‘s dream

In the third quarter issue of this newsletter, we shared the plight and perseverance of our friend and sister in Christ, Deborah Pegler. We even dedicated that issue in her memory, as she had lost her brave battle with Stage IV lung cancer in June 2010. It has been almost a year since she joined the angels, and I find from time to time, she enters my thoughts like a fresh summer’s breeze. She was my friend, and I loved her like a sister, and I miss her as both.

Before her passing, Tripp, as many of us knew her, had the privilege of seeing a dream come true. She did not want her painful past to all be in vain. She believed that if she could help save just one life by telling her story, then her journey would be complete. Filmmaker Yoav POTASH made a documentary that detailed the repeated beatings, rapings, and torture that Oliver Wilson subjected Tripp to. Much of the abuse was to entertain his friends, but we all know that abuse is about control. Potash leads the viewer through the death of Wilson and Tripp’s 1983 murder conviction. But, it does not end there. The film tells the rest of her story. A story of recovery on several levels and the path she took to freedom. Tripp was incarcerated for 26 years, and was released in October 2009. She spent 9 months with her children and grandchildren before she left us. She did not fear death. She accepted it. She’s one of the most influential and courageous women I have ever had the honor and privilege to have met.

Tripp’s dream was for the documentary to be made. It was completed in time for her to attend a premiere prior to her death. The film debuted to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in February. It is called “Crime after Crime”. See crimeaftercrime.com for more details.

As I’ve said before, I imagine she’s giggling while riding a rainbow on the other side. Even now, she makes me smile.

From the Heart

As a life term prisoner, I know all too well what it is like to be judged – by those I thought were my family and friends, as well as some of the general public. Funny how people think that THIS could never happen to them. If they’re lucky, it never will, but one would have to have worn my shoes the first 24 years of my life to have any idea what it is like to wear them now. People judge people. It is a defect we’ve all been guilty of doing. I’ve long ago learned to shrug it off. I can handle the looks, gossip, assumptions, even the abandonment I’ve experienced from so-called friends, who judged my. Being that I was more of a square in my school years, I had a lot of practice feeling like an outcast. I sort of embraced it. I didn’t need to fit in. Lucky too, otherwise in spring 1989, I would’ve gotten my sensitive lil heart broken…

I was a time bomb inside of myself. I could feel it. I was guilt stricken by my life crime. I couldn’t sleep of rind any peace. I couldn’t erase the images in my mind. I needed to get away from the Bay Area for a weekend, so I asked BREE to join me, Bree was like a sister, but we were total opposites. She was 100% Biker chick. And I don’t mean Schwinn neither. I mean Harley-Davidsons, motorcycle clubs, bearded bedfellas, drugs, the whole nine yards. That includes the mouth, language, and “Are you talkin’ to me?” attitude that comes with it. In a word, Bree was a Badass.

We went to Yosemite National Park for the weekend. When we reached Curry Village, where I had made reservations for a canvas tent cabin on my VISA card, I was in for a shock. They accidentally gave my cabin to someone else for the first night, but we could have it the second night. When I asked where we were supposed to sleep that first night, Bree volunteered us to share that cabin. I kindly rejected. I’d sleep in the back of my mini-truck before I did that. The clerk gave us a room at the Ahwanhee Hotel for the first night. The cost difference was comped to us, so off we were to find this place.

We had to drive up an incline and around a mountain but we found it. Oh my gosh, it was beautiful! We were expecting a motel setting, but what we drove into was a country club setting. I felt like I had driven into the Twilight Zone. I pulled off of the highway into a dirt lot and parked my Dodge RAM 50 between a Mercedes and a Porsche. I saw the people playing that lawn golf game with giant hammers – what’s it called? Croquet. That’s it! I turned to Bree and said, “This should be interesting.”

I was wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt, SOL JEANS, hiking boots, a leather belt with a rodeo buckle, and a buck knife in the sheath. Bree was wearing a t-shirt that she fringed the sleeves off of, skin tight black jeans, knee high Zodiak boots, her arms and chest tattooed with enough ink to print the Sunday paper, and a large handbag hanging off of her shoulder. My hair was short, hers was wild. We looked like we just left the Sturgis Run, and as we left the lot to approach the main lobby, which was a good 100 yards away, all eyes were on us. We stood out, we didn’t fit in. One woman defensively pulled her croquet-playing daughter to her side as if we were hungry cannibals. I just smiled and kept walking. Personally, I think they were trying to recollect if they had seen either of our faces on a Wanted Poster. We were being judged by how we looked. No doubt about it. Someone call America’s most wanted, immediately!

Once we reached the front lobby, I could feel the holes burning into my back from their stares, as the clerk looked up from the front desk and did a double take. I could swear I heard him gasp and his neck crack. I knew what he was thinking. He asked if he could help us, and by that, he meant with directions to where the peasants camp. I explained that we had a reservation to which he said, “oh no…. there must be a mistake.” I handed him the paperwork. He immediately got on the telephone to call Curry Village, probably to cuss them out. Next thing I knew, he looked up over my shoulder with this absolute look of horror on his face. That’s when I realized that Bree was no longer at my side. It had to be her that caught his eye-bulging attention. Sure as water is wet, it was Bree alright. There was a complimentary table sat up in the lobby for guests checking in. It had bread rolls, crackers, cheeses, meats, and lemonade. Bree didn’t need their beverages, because she pulled out her bottle of Yukon Jack to wash down those little sandwiches. She was making little sandwiches and wrapping them up in the large fancy napkins, and stuffing a few in her handbag for the road. I swear it, I couldn’t take her anywhere, but in that moment, I saw her point! Treat us like we don’t belong, she’ll act like she doesn’t belong. However, she was just being herself. The clerk humbly apologized and gave me the key to our room, happy to see us leave his lobby. I bet he lost sleep over it.

After we settled in to our room, we returned to the valley floor for the day. Around 4 p.m. the dark clouds arrived and it began to pour rain. Darkness enveloped us as I drove up the mountain back to the hotel. It sat in complete darkness, as the storm had taken out all of the power. Before we got out of the truck, I opened the glove box and removed two flashlights and an extra package of batteries. We made our way to our room, walking along the outdoor wrap-around porch where people sat at tables with candles flickering as they played cards and chess. One older woman with a snotty attitude asked me, “Excuse me, but how do you rate?” I had no idea why she was so animistic towards me, and I simply said, “Excuse me?” She went on a tirade about how the clerk in the lobby said they only had complimentary candles that were for outdoor use, and how they should fix the lights or refund their charges. I didn’t know how to respond without being offensive. That is, until the rich grouch said, “So, how do you rate? Where did you get those flashlights?” As calmly as I could muster, I replied, “Ace Hardware,” turned, and went to our room. Bree was so proud of me. I’m a pretty nice person, but I had finally had it with the “we’re better than you. They may have been more financially set than either of us was, but at last I had the good sense to bring flashlights and extra batteries to the frickin’ wilderness! Hmpf!

This experience rally did happen. A whole lot more also happened that weekend, but the moral of the story her is…. no matter who you are or where you are, it doesn’t really matter what others think of you. What truly matters, is what you think of yourself. I can look at my reflection in the mirror and not be ashamed of how I treat others. I live my life with Hebrews 10:29 in mind, but I also live by one main philosophy: I make every effort to be the kind of person that I’d be honored to call a friend. And so, from the heart, I simply say, that if you are reading this, it is an honor to call you one.

NAMASTÉ,

T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Reader, have you ever had a bad week? I mean bad in the sense that you lose everything you put down two inches beyond your reaching hands, tired eyes, and you feel as if your personal radar has up and left you, no longer interested in hanging out carrion-like on the garbage heap of your mind.

Yes, it was on Mother’s Day, that esteemed day when syrup flows from the lips of cards, sons, daughters, dogs, husbands, and loneliness for the unmothers, or unmothered, spikes. It’s probably equally a day of despair. Well, reader, can I call you reader? It was a day like any other, except my eyes creaked open, and I said to my husband, God bless his soul for eternity, as he brought me my second cup of coffee in bed, black, soy silk cream and some Stevia, and this is the 25th year of bringing said cups of coffee to me while I lie like an inert seal, just barely clinging to the rocks, I said “Happy Mother’s Day,’ because why not. If we are going to have any kind of day, reader, may I call you Read? Read, we can wish every happy day, mothers, brothers, dogs. What this world needs is more happy days.

Read, this was not the case on Mother’s Day when caffeined up, I approached my desk looking for my Edward Gorey calendar (I love sick humor), and spent the next 3 hours, tearing through all the paper trash: the recipes I’ll never cook; old drafts of writing; coupons, notifications of home loans even tho we don’t own a home, except in our hearts of course, and Read, you do get my drift.

It took 3 hours and I finally opened a keyboard drawer and there it was. Then I had purchased two things of a monetary nature for Baby Nick who is 6’5” and 42, and spent the next hour looking for the second, until a 30 watt light bulb went off in my head and I went out the door, down the driveway, straight to the paper trash bin, and look in, and scooped up the other economic gift. After that, I didn’t dare go out the door.

I felt crazed, and I felt an elevator shaft of doubt, said shaft having been gone a week or two from my young life. But this elevator shaft of doubt came back with a vengeance, and like a morality play, coming through the village square on an old beat up wagon of straw, with actors spilling out of it, and titles of Morality Plays, such as Lipstick Tube of Beauty, Alchemy of Varicosity, and 3:00 a.m. Epiphany, and I clutched these phrases to my heart; I could say bosom but, on the other hand between “chest,” “bosom” and “heart,” – the latter was easier.

My legs are an alchemy of varicosity, and the 3:00 a.m. Epiphany’s I have are usually after awakening from one of the five routine dreams that have visited me for 25 years. These themes are: I’m still working for law firms. I am moving. I am moving with Bill. Last night I was driving a huge van which I couldn’t see out of (do you think I’m too busy)? No need to tell you the rest. I’ll save them for future prompts.

So back to Mother’s Day and what did I do? Read I sat at my computer and worked on it from 2 in the afternoon to 8 or that night, and basically got an Anthology of writers together-at least 80 percent of it. I cleaned up my desk, which if you want to know is littered once more with papers, and I prepared my CHPercolator prompts. If the world ended, I wanted to have them ready. So now, after I notice my thoughts are like an alchemy of varicosity, I’ll end. But reader, I have merely quarried the top layers of my personal depths. I shudder to think of the granite beyond.

Thanks for listening.

PS. I am off to walk and find a tube of lipstick, hoping said tube will make of my visage a lipstick tube of beauty.

This isn’t to say I don’t have regrets or I don’t remember them. Some regrets sweep away easily when manicured estates employ gardeners impeccably blow lawns, long stretching driveways and sidewalks to reveal nary a curved or crisp autumn leaf. I’m not sure regret can be swept away like autumn leaves.. Then again, I loved autumn leaves on the sidewalk, particularly walking back from the library, the West Roxbury Library on Centre Street, my fingertips feeling the rough concrete images of a stone wall along the upper part of Billings Field. I loved walking under chestnut tree branches and kicking thick piles of yellows, burnt orange, tinged red of maple leaves, everything: leaves just thick enough to walk into piles, scuffing. Ever scuffed? It was hard on my brown tie Oxford shoes, the ones my mother insisted were so good for my feet, but still I walked and scuffed and kicked and felt full of warmth and protection as I hugged my books and stopped to smell burnt leaves in the air nearby.

The smell is wonderful, not a good word for a writer to use, but it’s Sunday afternoon, and I haven’t remembered scuffing leaves for eons. Easier to remember the leaves, the scuffs, than the regrets. I regret I never sang for my father, and that I didn’t kiss my mom goodbye, the day she died, and I left that morning in a hurry because I had to take 2 trolleys to high school because were moved to the city, Back Bay if you want to know, by the Charles River near the Harvard and MIT crews, where we walked the Pug and the Boxer even when the wind tore through us.

I certainly wish I had done better with my teeth. That’s a universal regret. Somehow I know this. I wish I had been able to continue piano lessons. I wish I had studied computing, and maybe taken auto mechanics in first grade. But I don’t regret Miss Higgins, my first grade teacher, or my Uncle Bill Johnson, who brought us molasses candy in long oblong boxes, a box for each kid, and the sticky time of it after Sunday roast beef dinner. I don’t regret his cartoons of my mother following our kitty whose tail stuck up to the ceiling, and a string from her rear parts moved along the floor, under the shadow of my mother with scissors. He called this cartoon “The Lost Cord.” I don’t regret the bookcases filled with books, and the absolute privilege I took as a human right, to sit in a huge chair and read, and not be interrupted, because that was normal in my house. “I’m reading,” gave each reader a sacred space.

I regret not knowing my parents, or the other adults for that matter, knowing them as people. I tried with my father, but my mother died early. I regret moments of being a bully, and that’s private and a long ago. I regret being so afraid of things, but don’t want to sweep it away like errant leaves which escape a rake. I regret most that my twin and I were such opposites and lived most of the time in the tension of the opposites. (Reader this phrase is right up there with “grist for the mill” which I use too frequently, but I have dropped, “my dendrites are hanging out.”) We were opposites: when young, she sturdy and athletic to my frail, roller skating, but bookish self. She kept her emotions tucked in like a North Easter, a person from Maine, and yup and nup and her not speaking of emotional revelations fell over her like a yellow slicker preventing rain. I was the emotive, get-into-trouble twin, funny, daring, but underneath probably equally unsettled or frightened. I regret in our later years her wall regarding my beliefs, but I don’t regret going beyond this wall and caring for her 2 years in a row, and in her final days, her reaching out to me, lifting arms from a body ravaged by cancer, and wanting to be held. And hold her I did. Nope, I won’t sweep that away.

Judge James Nelson

A Humble Tribute
(Written to CHPercolator Writing Group)
Esther Bradley-DeTally

Well, I might as well spit it out, and I think the best people to spit it out to is the CHPerc community, because you know what? Are you with me? You guys, and me too, include me, yep, are solid. We have something here, more than exchange of little, Times New Roman 12, words going across the ocean, and up into Wyoming, Nebraska, England, India, Pakistan, and even down in Temple City, California. We are a mix, we guys, and sometimes we rendezvous at restaurants near Disneyland, in Anaheim, (eat your heart out), or sometimes we just smile when a Haiku from Cochabamba trots up to our eyeball level. We are a tender, loving community, and we surf our waves, up, down, across and under.

I first thought about our circle of writers and their compassion for one another. We are Muslim, Christian, Bahá’í, Agnostic, you catch my drift. We are old, young, funny, serious, and all becoming people who sling words around either like the best fried hash in town, or bonbons wrapped in chocolate to kill for. I particularly noticed this underlying theme of caring a few years ago when one of us died, and Mike, Mike the wonderful Army man, often times in the Middle East, had a week off and somehow managed to be in the States, and managed to go to the funeral.

Something happened the other night at 8 p.m. which I’ll get to. Be patient reader. You know it’s all grist for the mill, but you know me. I have to go down and out and twist and turn within the rabbit warrens of my mind, before I spit it out. Yeah, spit it out.

A wonderful man, married for over 60 years to an equally wonderful wife, sat in a quiet family celebration, Bahá’í days of gift-giving and service. He just had dinner, and was sitting in his favorite chair, when all of a sudden, silence, and his huge, huge spirit left the physical world. Yep, this world we all know and love called the blue marble, the planet of names, this Purpose of Physical Reality, this soul workshop. He soared on to the other worlds of God.

This man was the cause of my finding my beloved Faith, a Faith often referred to as the “Spirit of the New Age.” This Faith has carved me out, taken barnacles off my soul. Now, I look at a lot, a lot, a lot, of people and see the Face of God in them. It’s not about lines, or borders, because the human heart doesn’t measure souls that way.

He was like a spiritual father to me and countless others. I will add my relationship to my birth father, although try as he may, was hard for both of us. We seemed to be two peas in the wrong pod. I often felt I never sang for my father, which is the title of a play and a play on words, which means I never was enough. But fortunately, I know deep in my bone marrow, most of us do our best, and if there was sand in my Becoming-A-Pearl-In-My-Shell, this sand grit buffed me up, polished me, for the here and now of today, and as I write these words I think, yeah, I’m an old Poil of a Goil.

So this man Jim, in whose Bahá’í community I live, sat and encouraged every fledgling speaker trying to reflect oneness in the world, shape their words. He also performed the marriage ceremony of my son Nicholas and his wife Laura. He’s visibly gone now. When I first heard the news, I felt a gasp within me and then my thoughts rushed to, “Dorothy, Dorothy,” his wife. They are like overlapping Venn diagrams, circles within, over, around, under each other. We in the local Bahá’í community know our treasures, and passionately love them. We never have taken them for granted. Every minute of their lives they welcomed, hugged, encouraged, and shed love and wisdom unto all of us waiting souls.

I know I’m overwriting. I’m trying to keep this simple. That’s why for you writers out there I’m doing a little bit of “write like you talk” with a “straight talk” phrase thrown in. If I really went into the majesty of this couple, my writing would become so multisyllabic and operatic that my prose would jump off the page.

So instead, I imagine this man who was magnanimous and majestic and prodigious in thought (had to get that word in) in his physical and spiritual presence, now seems to me like a 500 pound canary in spirit. You might say, “His cage door opened, and he went.”

May my life be worthy of all those who serve in this century of change.

Thanks for letting me share, and now, prayers and solace to his incredible wife—I will carry her around in the inner folds of my heart for a long time.

I think in the end, we all end up pulsating with love for one another.

Dear All Out There – this newsletter is from TC Paulinkonis, and I have been corresponding with TC for 8 or so years. We met through the International Women’s Organization of Writers. She’s spunky, has integrity and I thought this letter important enough to put on my blog. Love to all, esther

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 1st QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,
As we face the beginning of a new year and hopefully changes towards a better tomorrow, you will notice a change or two to the format of this newsletter. While I have had no problem making my voice heard in regards to prison politics and select injustices within the system, I thought that it may be interesting to add a few more voices to the true intents of this quarterly report. There are other prisoners who have more knowledge in certain areas, and I thought, „Why not bring them on board?“ So, I did.
In this issue you will be introduced to Liz Lozano, who at the age of 16 was sentenced to die in prison. I am appalled by the fact that our legal system is locking kids away with ridiculously lengthy adult sentences, including LWOP, which is Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Pretty much a detach sentence without the lethal injection. With new focus on legislation to provide those kids at least half a chance as a second chance, I wanted to dedicate attention on the subject. So, I invited Liz, who as both a writer and a jubenile offender sentenced as an adult, is the perfect candidate to take on this issue in each future issue, beginning with this one.
I have invited another prisoner to address healthcare service and the aging inmate population and their concerns. I hope to intoduce her in the next issue, as she was working on a piece about breast cancer when we had to go to press.
This newsletter is intented to address concerns, answer questions, and provide updates and relative knowledge. If you have any ideas to improve it, please feel free to share your thoughts. After all, it is for you, the reader.
May this be a good year, with a new governor, and opportunities for all of us on our paths.
Namasté
T.C. and Mama ´P´

Please Help Free Molly Kilgore
A couple of issues back, I requested support letters to be sent to Molly Kilgore‘s counselor to be shared with the Parole Board. Now, I need fo ryou to do something very simple. I‘m going to write a sample letter below that I‘m requesting each of you in turn write, copy, whatever … just get it mailed off to Governor Jerry Brown ASAP please. I‘ll let the letter speak for itself.

Dear Governor Brown,
I am wiritng on behalf of Molly Kilgore, W14177, currently incarcerated at C.C.W.F. in Chowchilla. Ms. Kilgore has served 32 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. Like most young adults who received that sentence in the late 1970‘2, she was left with the impression that she‘d have been paroled long ago. It should be noted that not only did the courts recommend that she be released once already, but last year the BPH also found her suitable, only to have Governor Schwarzenegger reverse it. The BPH has once again found Ms. Kilgore suitable for parole at a January 12th hearing. I respectfully request that you support the panel‘s findings and grant the parole of Molly Kilgore.
Ms. Kilgore has a thick file of achievements, certificates, volunteerism, exceptional supervisor‘s reports, and extensive self-help participation in courses and groups alike. However, it is more imperative to point out that Ms. Kilgore has had 32 years to grow, change and gain personal insight into the full impact of her crime and victim, as well as the elements involved both directly and indirectly. She has been accepted by the crossroads re-entry program, and has made plans for a productive future that I hope you‘ll allow her to pursue. Please see relative decency in granting her parole in 2011.
Respectfully,
Your name & address
Send to: Governor Brown
State Capital Bldg.
Sacramento, CA 95814

A Second Chance
Where is a lifer to go if they have nowhere to parole to? That is a good question. I have an answer: Crossroads.
Crossroads is a long-term transitional housing program where newly released female parolees can learn how to readjust to life beyond prison walls. After a couple of decades in lock-up, one needs a re-entry program like this. It helps reduce culture shock and recidivism. They are taught substance abuse prevention and avoidance, education, life skills, and Crossroads also offers serious employment-related services. They even help you open a savings account to where you deposit at least ¾ of your paycheck to build up your own financial stability. At the end of yorur stay (about 6 months), you will be more suitable for once again becoming an independently responsible citizen.
Crossroads is ran by Sister Terry Dodge in Claremont, CA on October 26, 2010, she was one of five recipients of the Minerva Award, created by Maria Shriver in 2004. This award recognizes extraordinary legacies of service and contributions to California and the country. The other four recipients were Oprah, Sandra Day O‘ Connor, Carolyn Blaysek (who launched operation Gratitude to send personalized care packages to deployed soldiers), and Oral Lee Brown (who founded educational and financial support to at-risk school children). The Minerva Award winners receive $25k grants to further their work. First Lady Michelle Obama was amongst the many participants in The Women‘s Conference 2010, where the award was presented.
Mama ´P´has applied to Crossroads. This means that volunteers involved with the program will help write letters in support of her release to the Parole Board. They will tell the Board that not only do they have the perfect place for mom to parole to, but that they welcome her with open arms. It is next to impossible to line up a residence and employment plans from behind prison walls, but Crossroads is offering mom both at once. It is the perfect opportunity to help set her free.

Letters of Support Needed ASAP!
Mama ´P´and I are both soon to be scheduled on the calendar for a 2011 Parole Consideration Hearing. Mama in about November, myself in December. There is no way on God‘s green earth that the BPH will ever grant the both of us a release date in the same year, let alone one month apart. My #1 priority has always been that my mother be released first. She doesn‘t belong here. Therefore, while I‘m giving it serious consideration to waive my parole hearing again to take the spotlight off of myself, I‘m also advocating for her release. This is where you come in. I need your help.
If you can read this newsletter, then that means that you can write a letter. There are at least 60 people reading this. Every letter can make a difference. If everyone assumes that out of the other 59 people there will certainly be enough letters written, then we accomplish nothing. I want everyone to assume that NONE of the other 59 people are writing a letter, and start hitting the keyboard.
We aren‘t asking you for financial aid or housing to be promised in your letters. We are only asking that you point out mom‘s good record and clean C-file, and adamantly show support that the BPH allow her to parole to Crossroads. Your letter can include the following facts:
· How long you have known her
· The fact that she‘s been disciplinary-free her entire 21 years of incarceration, which is rare for a lifer
· Her volunteerism in the Sexual Abuse Awareness and prevention Workshops conducted within the prison‘s educational department (with emphasis on non-violent resolution)
· The fact that her dauther, Teresa, has gone on the record countless times accepting full responsibility for a crime that her mother neither committed, participated, or had any knowledge of until nine months after the fact, once they were arrested
· Include considering factors such as her age (she‘ll be 70 at time of hearing), deteriorating health, and the fact that it is costing California taxpayers over $80k a year to continue to imprison her
· You may want to include your personal feeling about what she has to offer society given her life experiences, and your thoughts on the injustice of a denial of parole
· Please include her current parole plans to go straight to Crossroads Re-entry Program directly from C.C.W.F.

There have been some of you who wanted to help in wirting a support letter, but just couldn‘t organize the words. I‘m about to help you with that be creating a sample letter. You can copy it, reword it, take parts of it to incoporate into your own letter, or simply use it as a guide. Whatever you do, please take this request seriously and write those letters and send to addresses below. Thank you!

Original to: Central California Women‘s Facility
Attn. CCI Burretta
P.O. Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Copies to : Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis
Attn. Elisabeth Peterson W45120 514-16-4L
650 Page Mill Road P.O. Box 1508
Palo Alto, CA 9403 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Sample Letter To Support Parole Suitability
Dear Board of Parole Hearings,
Please allow me to address my concerns regarding the consideration of parole suitability for Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis, W45120, housed at C.C.W.F. 514-16-4L.
I have known Barbara for about (ten) years now, and given that her daughter, Teresa, has openly taken sole responsibility for the life crime (that Barbara only learned about after their arrest nine months later), it seems highly unjust to continue to keep her imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. She cannot be expected to make a false confession to seek her freedom.
While enrolled in the Sierra Vista Adult School, Barbara has completed two vocational training courses in Electronics and Graphic Arts. She was one unit shy of a completion in Upholstery when she was reassigned after an annual program review. She also completed courses in Parenting, Substance Abuse, Victim Impact Self-Awareness, and Breaking Barriers. Those courses provided insight into coping with anger management, cognitve awareness, communication, problem-solving, goal setting, victim impact and perception, healing & recovery, as well as resiliency and giving back to society. She added a second Parenting class to her resumé and has used her personal life experiences and traumas to volunteer in conducting dosens of workshops on sexual abuse and Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention to promote healing options and non-violent resolution.
Barbara has remained disciplinary free her entire 21 years of incarceration. She would prove to be an asset to the many victims of abuse at vomen‘s shelters, where she hopes to commit to volunteer work. She has applied to Crossroads, a re-entry program that welcomes female lifers back into society with the structure to provide a second chance. I ask only that you too, give her that chance. Her prison record speaks for itself.
Respectfully,
Your name/address

Q & A With T.C.
Q: You often sign off letters & newsletter with Namasté. What does that mean?
A: NAMASTÉ is an ancient Sanskrit word that means this: The Divine light in me, greets and embraces the Devine light in you.
Q: What is a nexus in regards to parole suitability?
A: I‘ll use myself as an example. I have two disciplinary 115‘s for force and violence. The first was in 1993 against a bully classified as mutual combat. I couldn‘t just NOT stand up to her. The second was in 1998. That one was classified as a battery, a more serious charge. I didn‘t wait to get hit that time. I learned my lesson after receiving a concussion in the 1993 incident. In the latter, I knocked the other inmate‘s hand away from my face and shoved her backwards away from myself. I stepped away myself, not wanting to fight, however, by my knocking her hand away and her body away from me, I was found quilty of battery. This is where the Nexus comes in. Due to the fact that both 115‘s are directly related to violence (regardless of why), the BPH sees it as being the first place. That is the nexus. The connection. The legal grounds that the BPH will use to justify a denial of parole. They‘ll say the nexus proves that I still demonstrate a risk level of a threat to society.
Q: How does a lifer prepare for a Parole Hearing?
A: Technically, if you stay ready, you don‘t have to get ready. It helps to have all of your certificates, chronos for participation in groups and other commendable activities, Supervisor‘s reports, GED/Diploma, and letters of support all in a file and organized neatly. Many lifers go to their hearings unprepared. It takes months to prepare, not just the two weeks before the hearing.
Q: Are lifers required to relive their crime at the hearing?
A: No, not required. I‘ve done so at mine thus far. How will they know how I feel if I don‘t? Remorse is a vital key to true insight, and unless you can look at where you‘ve been and what you‘ve done, you can never truly do a personal inventory. However, at a certain point in hearing after hearing over the years, attorneys have stepped up and said to the panel, „we are not here to discuss the life crime itself, but the woman who committed that crime.“ In other words, your prison record, behaviorism, achievements, and personal growth. After all, that is the real reason behind the hearing: Your progress.
Q: What happens if the BPH denies parole based upon irrational nexus or other excuse not justifiable?
A: In the event you‘re denied, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, especially if the panel did not make a justifiably rational nexus as to why you CURRENTLY pose a risk of danger to society. All of the certificates, chronos and support letters you gathered in support of a favorable finding for a parole grant, can be included as exhibits for the writ.
Q: Can you please tell me again, what can I send in to you?
A: You mean besides all of your well wishes and good lovin‘? Sure, I‘m often asked this question due to the list getting misplaced or memory fading. Here is the list:
· 40 plain or embossed envelopes; white only, no colored envelopes or security type with print on inside of envelope.
· 20 postcards – picture type or postal embossed.
· 40 postage stamps maximum per mailing regardless of face value.
· 10 greeting cards with envelopes (white envelopes only). No musical or 3-D type.
· 4 writing tablets; white or yellow paper only.
· Up to 500 sheets of stationary paper (fancy & cute allowed).
· Money orders made payable to our full name and W#, or by credit card directly to our account via JPAY.com or WESTERN UNION. We receive it within 24 hours.

A Few Statistics To Chew On
· The number of women in prison has increased 800% within last three decades.
· 42% of incarcerated women never completed high school or earned GED.
· Two-thirds of women in prison are mothers.
· More than 147.000 minors have mothers in prison.
· 24% of incarcerated women are diagnosed with a mental illness.
· Most incarcerated womenwith a psychiatric disorder do not receive treatment.

A Simple „Thank You“
Mama ´P´ wishes to thank whomever has continued to anonymously subscribe her weekly issues of TV Guide. She‘s received it for years now, unaware of the person‘s identity. Your gift has made her TV planning schedule much more convenient, and she thanks you.

Quaker‘s Cancelled Stamps Mission
Since Brad Hathaway began the cancelled stamps project well over a decade ago, the Quaker‘s Friends Meetings have collected stamps of all shapes, sizes, values and countries. The stamps are sold to collectors, with the profits going to worthy causes that include third world countries that don‘t have fresh water to drink, let alone any medical clinics. Through the stamp project it has been possible to build a clinic in Kenya and provide the daily necessities to the needy that we all too often have taken for granted ….. like shoes, or mosquito nets, or food. The project has successfully collected nearly $80k in aid for those in need. Please make a difference. Keep sending me your cancelled stamps off of your mail, careful not to cut or damage the stamp. This is a never ending project. You may not know who you helped, but you‘ll know that you did.

Who Sentences Kids To Life In Prison?
Back in the early 1990‘s in the state of California, there were teenagers being sentenced as adults, and hardly anyone thought twice about it. I was delivered to CCWF in July 1992 unaware of the wave of juvenile offenders that would face the same fate as myself. In may cases, they were dealt a bigger blow than I was. And for some ridiculous reason, it was legal.
An onslaught of liberal legislators wanted to turn their tough on crime focus onto youth offenders. They argued for the passage of AB136, saying that it would only affect a small percentage of youths. In the state of California, in 1994 there were 234 arrests of youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 for homicide. During that time, there was a rise in gang affiliated violence, but not all violence was gang violence. However, leave it to the Republicans to make it appear so.
After the enactment of AB136, future legislative sessions brought forth even more bills to make it all the more easier to try and sentence teenagers as adults. The list of juvenile offenses expanded to include everything from the penal code that could result in an adult prosecution. Futhermore, the burden of proof switched from the prosecutor to the defense team to show just cause why a juvenile offender should not be transferred from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court. Now, I had a Public Defender, so I know what it is like to have an attorney not fight for you. Imagine being 16 years old and having your fate int he hands of an attorney who just doesn‘t dive a damn. I can tell you, I have friends here at CCWF that don‘t have to imagine it. They are the victims of bad laws.
In March 2000, voters were asked to approve a ballot measure called „The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime prevention Act.“ In ballot terms, it was Proposition 21, which rewrote over 50 pages of law related to the California Juvenile Justice System. This includes the decision to try juveniles as adults at the sole discretion of prosecutors without any judical review or hearing.
Prop 21 mandated secure confinement and stronger panalites for a wide range of violations, including vandalism. However, and this is scary, it clarified that juvenile offenses would count under the existing adult Three Strikes Law.
While it was the California District Attorneys Association that advocated for years a law such as Prop 21, Pete Wilson, the governor during this reign of madness embraced it. He made it a big part of his political agenda. He had his sights set on the White House, and his path looked positive, so of course corporate supporters jumped on his bandwagon to help the „Yes on 21“ campaign. They hoped for political favor down the road. Corporations like ARCO, UNOCAL 76, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Hilton Hotels all made a healthy $50k contribution. Chevron contributed $25k. It is not that these corporations wanted tougher laws against youthful offenders; they simply wanted to be in Wilson‘s back pocket if he made it to the White House. Once they were confronted by the public opposition, many withdrew their moral support, but their money was not refundable.
Once Wilson left office, Gray Davis became the new governor and continued to push for the passage of Prop 21. He had a little help from the CCPOA, the prison guard‘s union. They plopped down another healthy contribution of over two million dollars. For them, it is job security. In the big house, the more inmates , the better. It didn‘t really matter if they were kids or adults, just fill the beds!
Most voters do not research the propositions that they vote on. Many go according to the TV ads and press coverage. They thougth that Prop 21 was asking them to endorse a measure to prevent uvenile violence and street gangs. If they knew what it really ws, it would‘ve had less support. Opponents could not raise the big corporate dollars that governors can, and Prop 21 was passed by a large majority of voters. Most, knew not what they had done.
Adolescents, with their frequent cynicism, arrogance, sarcasm, and tough minded approach, may seem to have the analytical and formal thinking skills of a young adult, but neuroscience has proven that the opposite is true. They can be naive, overy sensitive to criticism, and have a lack of understanding to their own egocentric demeanor. At about the age of 14 or 15, they are begin making conclusions using deductive and inductive reasoning. Piaget described analytic thinking as „requiring a certain level of intellectual maturity, brain capacity, motivation, and practice.“ They are still developing impulse control, capacity to plan and strategize, and that doesn‘t include coping skills. When it comes to weighing risks and consequences, things such as personality, culture, and the given sitation, should all be taken into account! Risk taking behavior increases from age 11-18. The younger the youth is, the more serious their consequences of risk taking. A year in prison is far more detrimental to a 16 year old than a 40 year old. Why am I telling you all of this? Because these are the very individuals that Proposition 21 and AB136 focused on. They could have been your son, or daughter, sister, or brother. Heck, they could‘ve been you.
There are prisoners here with me at CCWF that were arrested as teenagers and tried as adults with adult sentences. At the ages of 16 and 17 years old, with no prior criminal history, they received life sentences. There are quite a few with LWOP – Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Who gives a kid a sentence to die in prison and throws away the key? I once read that it is easier to help a kid than to repair an adult. What were those judges thinking? When you give a youth 25, 35, 45 and 50 years to life, I gotta ask, „How do you sleep at night?“
There are over 200 individuals serving LWOP sentences in California prisons, that were basically sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as juveniles. They weren‘t considered old enough to vote and in some cases, to even drive a car, yet same idiot decided they were competent to be treated as an adult once the DA had them in custody. One of those kids was Liz Lozano. I‘ve asked her to make a quarterly contribution to this newsletter as the voice for youthful offenders sentenced as adults. By joining forces, maybe we can get the word out there and get you involved too. All I‘m asking is that you keep an open mind, listen to the facts, look at the inhumane laws, and hopefully you‘ll agree that to lock up a kid and not give them a second chance is deemed cruel and unusual punishment. One bad decision as a juvenile should not constitute locking them up and throwing away the key. Please, read on, get involved, and be a spoke in the wheel of change …..

Youth Offenders Sentenced As Adults by Elizabeth Lozano
My name is Elizabeth Lozano, I’ve been incarcerated for 16 years here at CCWF. I’m serving a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a crime that happened when I was 16 years old. I’m sentenced under the murder felony rule, a person convicted under the murder felony rule is not the one who physically committed the murder. The law does not require the person to know that a murder will take place or even that another participant is armed.
Approximately 227 youth have been sentenced to die in California’s prisons. They have not been sentenced to death: the death penalty was found unconstitutioal for juveniles by the United States Supreme Court in 2005. Instead, we have been sentenced to prison for the rest of our lives, with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release. Our crimes were committed when we were teenagers, yet we will die in prison. Remarkably, many of the adults who were codefendants and took their part in their crimes received lower sentences and will one day be released from prison. Youth LWOP is an effective death sentence carried out by the state slowly over a long period of years. In fact, most of us juveniles serving life sentences without any hope of ever being released feel it’s worse than death.
Neuroscience has found that teens continue to develop in ways particularly relevant to assessing criminal behavior and an individual’s ability to be rehabilitated. The focus on this discovery has been on teenagers’ limited comprehension of risk and consequences, and the inability to act with adult free will. Societies make decisions about what to weigh when determing culpability. California’s law as it stands now fails to take into consideration a person’s legal status as a child at the time of the crime. Those who cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol, sign a rental agreement, or vote are nevertheless considered culpable to the same degree as an adult. Experts say that even at 16 and 17, when compared with adults, juveniles on averages are more impulsive, aggressive, emotionally volatile, likely to take risk, reactive to stress, vulnerable to peer pressure, prone to focus on and overestimate short-term payoffs and underplay long term consequences, and likely to overlook alternative courses of action.
So why is our country so quick to throw away their youth??? In fall 2010, California had the opportunity to give youth sentenced to LWOP a second chance at life; a glimpse of hope, by supporting and passing SB399, a bill that would have resentenced LWOP youth to 25-to-life. Instead, legislation shot the bill down by TWO VOTES!! This bill was not a get out jail free card, it would have only let us get our sentence reduced to another life sentence, and even then we would have had to meet certain criteria to prove we deserved it. Today Senator Yee and other Senators that believe in us youth offenders changing have indroduced a new bill the same like SB399; it’s SB9. It would only have our cases reviewed by a judge who would make the decision to reduce our sentence or leave us at LWOP. To support SB9 or for more information please go to the Human Rights Watch web page: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org

Elizabeth Lozano
W65013 515-3-3L
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, Ca 93610-1508

From The Heart
There are many of you that have told me time and again that you don’t know how I do it … this life sentence. You are amazed at my spirit and how I haven’t let the reality of my situation become an unbearable burden. While you’re amazed at me, I’m amazed at some of the women around me …..
There’s Liz, whom I already introduced to you. Imagine if she were your daughter or sister. Wouldn’t you be disappointed in the system? Okay, so that’s putting it lightly, but feel free to use whatever word you want, you know what I’m saying. If you met her, you’d be amazed at her spirit as well.
There’s Molly Kilgore, who let me tell you, has not let Arnold’s decision to make her prove herself suitable for parole yet again, deflate her good nature. She’s quick to smile and greet me and if I ever witnessed faith in anyone other than Deborah Peagler, I see it in Molly’s eyes. You’d be amazed by her as well.
Then there’s L.R. who has done everything that the Parole Board has asked of her. She’s jumped through all of their hoops, and they finally granted her a release date, only to have Arnold reverse it. Still, she holds her head up, she continues to help those in need, and she fights her fight to return home to Michigan one day. You’d love her spirit!
Oh, let’s not forget all of those kids forced to grow up in Youth Authority and State Prison having been sentenced as adults. Their strength and preserverence leaves me amazed. If you heard some of their stories, you’d be appalled by their sentences, but amazed by their adaptability, spirit, and maturity from the experience. I was almost one of them, and I quess that is why I’m so moved by their raw deal.
So, I say from the heart to you, get involved. I know this issue of the newsletter asked for support for Molly, mom and juvenile offenders, but I wouldn’t ask if my heart wasn’t in it. I ask only that you put yours into it too.
NAMASTÉ
T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-4L
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

CHPercolator coffee house for writers at Yahoo has a group of global, local, “hi I’m from New Jersey,” or in the case of this writer, Pasadena, and a good friend, a town nearby, Temple city. It was my week to supply daily prompts. We all respond, well if we have time, are in town, whatever. You catch my drift.

So I think one of the questions I asked taken from a fantastic book Soul Pancake, was “What are the 5 questions you don’t have answers for?” something like that. Are you with me?

These are responses:

1. Where did God come from?
> >
> > > No one knows for sure but I don’t think it was New Jersey. God did create
humans (On the evolution vs. creationism argument I feel that they’re pretty
much cause and effect; in other words, evolution was the mechanism for creation
– I know I’m in for big trouble now) and a land area that humans call New
Jersey, so in an indirect way, God also created New Jersey. Of this much I am
certain.
> >
> > > 2. What was before the universe?
> >
> > > It’s hard to draw a definitive picture, but I think we can safely rule out
pepperoni pizza as being around back then.
> >
> > > 3. Is there life out there?
> >
> > > Oh yes! Just this morning I was driving to Hackensack where I work and
some life form in an SUV was blocking the entrance to a breakfast nook that I
frequent some of the time.
> >
> > > 4. Who built the pyramids and how?
> >
> > > My grandfather, Stasiu, never actually took credit, but I do know that he
made his own wine and according to legend it was so bad that no one would drink
it except him and he drank every last drop. So I reckon that there was nothing
he couldn’t do when he set his mind to it.
> >
> > > 5. Where did the Mayans really go?
> >
> > There were no Mayans. The whole thing, the pyramids, the ancient scrolls
depicting the end of the world in 2012 and even the eyewitness reports of
Spanish invaders was an elaborate hoax. The Mayan urban legend was born from a
cloud of ennui that circled the globe after the explosion of the volcano
Krakatoa in 1883. People just didn’t know what to do with themselves. Lizzy
Borden found herself a pastime but others decided to construct a paper mache
civilization. It was something like the movie, “Blazing Saddles,” where Sheriff
Bart, the Waco Kid and Mongo build a faux “Rock Ridge” in order to lure the bad
guys into a trap. Leonardo da Vinci apparently drew up the plans which later
fell into the hands of Nostradamus and the whole thing just kind of took off by
itself. Another theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald did it.
> >
> > Kathryn, I hope that these insights will be of value to you.
> >
> > — In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, ChikPMcGee@ wrote:
> > >
> > > I actually have some free time and I have enjoyed reading all the
submissions even though I haven’t commented on any of them. The prompt that
caught my eye today was the one about 5 questions I hate not having the answered
to. Here’s my list:
> > >
> > > 1. Where did God come from?
> > >
> > > 2. What was before the universe?
> > >
> > > 3. Is there life out there?
> > >
> > > 4. Who built the pyramids and how?
> > >
> > > 5. Where did the Mayans really go?
> > >
> > > As you can see I think too much, LOL.
> > >
> > > Kathryn
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >

Writing from CHPerc Prompts of the Day!

I have a touch of guilt as I think of all those shoes lying on their sides on the floor of my newly cleaned closet. This closet I might add is now an extra book room, and clothes have been banished, at least the top shelves of which had clothes, and they now live in the garage. I hear them sometimes when I am secluded in my bedroom. They whine, but I just realized seclude is not an appropriate word to use when one lives in a 2 room pool house with another human being affectionately referred to as Esther’s Velcro Strip.

In case you were wondering or wandering, take your pick, it’s morning, the brain is myopic and hasn’t chosen its neural pathways of the day. I think I could wear Ortho Docks, you know Doc Martens shoos (shoes, shews); and then we could take the phrase “fetters of orthodoxy” and sell it to a pr firm, and maybe by stock in shoes, like the aforementioned Ortho Dock which fell out of my brain, and Foobar on a frozen field, instead of ideas coursing from my head through my arms, fire in the fingertips type of thing.

Lordy, where am I going with this? Nowhere. Everywhere. I do so like a good Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through the bumps and hollows of my brain. It has meaning somewhere, in an alternative universe.

Okay, now someone lists a phrase the proper sacrifice, which calls to my mind nubile virgins laid out on huge twigs stacked to the sky or at least halfway up a mountain, and someone with flame, as matches hadn’t come in yet to the world, and virgins of nubile ways became feminists.

Sacrifice could be proper if one realizes that he/she is just letting go of something lower for something higher. Take the pig for example. He can snort, snort, sacrifice is corpulent life to become bacon, thereby helping the farmer make money, and all those pancake house visitors gruntingly happy. Doesn’t sound good for the pig does it?

So what if some day, this elderly, not so elderly, handmaiden on earth decides, gas prices are Foobar, and she will go hither and thither by foot, delicate long feet, which sport s a toe next to the big toe, and this neighbor of the big toe is longer, whatever that means. Thus this handmaiden of the earth is going to do two things as a sacrifice. She is going to sacrifice part of her meager earnings and buy some Ortho docks, and then, (hear the earth rumble), she is going to walk all over Pasadena. This could be thought of by anyone lucky enough to understand these ramblings, as sacrifice. She helps the foot shoe, doc martens store owner; she boosts the economy, perhaps not all that high minded as our former President had urged us to shop for God, or the nation; can’t remember which. She has reduced her carbon instep to a degree; she does not buy into high prices at the gas line, and she gets to see all the nooks and crannies of her neighborhood, by slowly pacing by Trader Joe’s, where she sees her Velcro Strip driving into the upper parking lot of Trader Joes.

None of this matters, of course; his carbon imprint and sacrifices are his own, and she has just used 5 of the prompts, some more than once, and that is solidly satisfying and a good sacrifice of her time in the morning, when she could be walking, or even brushing her hair, so one might say this little blurb of ink could be considered a proper sacrifice.

Well, I’ll be a yellah bellied chuckwagon. Here I sit; my first night in night class at a school which has big letters A, B, C and stuff like that on their building. It’s the first college dedicated to would be writers, and we get those sentences which we are supposed to respond to.

Is this a Rorschach test? Maybe an entry level Mensa. Are they spies?

Well, here goes. Dear Tester of Baby Writers; just call me Baby Lois after Lois Lane. Lord thank you for guiding me on this rainy night and leading me to the Bulwer Lytton School for Writers, but I notice, Lord, can I call you Lor?, precious few people have joined this class Why are there only four people tonight at the first writing class, Lor?

We each have a gray cloth cubicle, a number 2 pencil and a yellow lined paper, longer than the 8ish by 11ish ones you see at the 99 cent store to write on.

The first question is respond to this statement: “ A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle. – Your thoughts.”

Well, I’ve heard young men and maybe women are too fat to go into the Army anymore, and powers that beeee (bzzzz) are belaboring this. There’s a lot of tskkkk, tskkking on the national scene, but I ask myself, Baby Lois, which would you rather do, die on the battlefield, crumpled up like a smashed in can, amidst smoke, bombs, while the fat cats that decided on this bullshit dance of fighting, sit at white linen tablecloths, with the two forks on the left and the knife and spoon on the right, like my mama told me to set a table properly, and they are discussing the war and the lack of eligible candidates from our nation? Or how about living to eat?

The nerve. Have you ever had a Twuohey’s Hot Fudge Sundae, a foot high? Its fudge sauce is dark and creamy and drips lasciviously over the two huge mounds of Vanilla ice cream. It’s so good I want to put my face in it and mush around.

Have you never eaten at Thai Restaurants and sopped up those crusted large like potato chip thingamajigs after you poured sweet sauce over them?

Have you ever received a Box of Sees Candy at Christmas, and had your finger tips feather touch the curves and squares and indentations and bumps on this candy as your mind has memorized which one is a chewy (chocolate over caramel) and which is nougat?

Have you ever driven into In n Out Burger, wait behind a line of 25 people, and keep your car running – to hell with the gas prices and finally, at 1.33 when your tongue is hanging out, your nostrils have abandoned your face in despair, your order comes through, and it’s with fries too. A hamburger, hot melting cheese like a pole dancer clinging to the sides of the burger, and the fries, cooked with no transfat, and you eat so much your tummy hurts, and you reek of beef?

Hi, I’m Esther, and I’ve done all of this.

Hi Esther, welcome.

Ooops wrong venue.

My point oh reader of this sensuous essay. Would you exchange losing a leg, an arm, or being stressed out for 100 years in a war we didn’t want versus having a large waist which grows, and nothing else does?

Can you be a person with no waist, no need for belts?

Can you put up with pullover sweaters and a slow walk?

The alternative is mud in training, being yelled at, having to be angry and kill, and worst of all doing something when the people of the planet want war cancelled. New definition: war is something people send other people to fight for and they lie about the reason they have to go to fight.

No, better to be a person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the
middle.

Remember, there’s always Weight Watchers.

Writing Workshop-collective voice/group poem
In an elongated white walled basement room, tinges of odor seep through of chicken feed, dog doo, or whatever, from a puppy mill next door, but the writers, the writers say, over the feelings of nervousness, of never having done this, or of just breaking the silence of a Monday night Courage to Write workshop:

I write for necessity,
the beauty of my darkness,
fragments of feelings
connect with my heart,
feel the grace of God’s love.

I write to empty words
out of my head,
dig deeper and open up,
journals, maybe essays,
to do just what I’m doing,
a manual overcoming betrayal,
things I have not said before.

Start my voice, tell a story.
I’m courageous, caring,
do anything with grace,
with God’s help, to share,
heal, teach, grow, express,
play, and read Save the Cat .

I want to create wild art,
film and heal kids, self, and act more.
I want to be a spiritual director, to journal
and develop courage to write,
articulate my reflections,
draw them to deeper levels.

I want to help others
sharing experiences and
work on a biography about my
Finnish American mother-in-law
and my own mother’s
best friend.

I want to teach Science, and I write
to see my friend develop, help friends
invent, enjoy learning.
I read Billions and Billions
Carl Sagan you know.
I want to develop my own voice
and lots of poetry, but slowly
I’m working on a children’s story.
I’m lucky to be an artist, working
on two books, one poetry, the other
my life story.

By day I write
And produce music,
but I really want to be
A screenwriter, a filmmaker,
and I read Story by Robert McKee.

I write because I can,
one of the few things
I do well.

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Baha’u’llah

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.

Fabulous Place


courage_to_write_poster[1]

I’ve been teaching The Courage to Write classes since 1996 or so; started out in western New York. Here in Pasadena, there’s a wonderful Fair Trade Store, Ten Thousand Villages, which is pure heaven. Prices are fair; lots of volunteers, and the work done by people all over the world is fantastic.

We held a writing workshop there tonight; i led it, and I loved it. One small problem – Puppy Mill (store with animals), odors come through; have to bring spray and candles next week. that store is moving; I won’t go in it; can’t stand seeing puppies in a store; horrible way to be raised.

Well the morning started with Lindsey, Matt’s wife, my twin’s son and treasured daughter-in-law FBing about cocoa and one made by some brothers, to which Matt added, a bon mot phrase about other brothers, and I added the paucity of my memory of old jokes, including Prince Albert in a Can.

then writing workshop at Altadena Healing Arts Center; good group; and then quick dash home, look under the bed for those pre-purchased greeting cards, not like a pre-purchased automobile, which in my day simply said, ‘used’ and now to head back to the closet and put on my incredibly chines red silk jacket; found and fit to myself immediately while hoofing through an estate sale, and the other witness Renee will wear red too; we say to each other “we’ll be the babes,” and meanwhile the above pictures show the Western Justice Center, a title deserving a distinct blog input of its own, but time and joy restrain me.

Chiara and Sean are getting married. So despite a horrible shooting in Arizona, politics again. “A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the human heart.” something that needs to be heeded more. Our atmosphere has been infected with coarseness, hate and anger, but Sean and Chiara, Chiara and Sean, are getting married, and it’s time to suit up, and spend a splendiferous afternoon with two wonderful young people, and then tonight book club! Wow


Just read 2 books: I’m with Fatty, Edward Ugel, which is funny, honest, grave, gets to the marrow of addiction, and yet his writing is whimsical, serious, and good. Then i picked up down among the Dead, a year in the life of a mortuary technician, Michelle Williams; which I found to be a good tell it like it is fascinating read.

Busy day, no walking, but some yoga, start a new class Monday, so material all over our small living which I love for its high ceilings. One has the illusion of space. Big event tomorrow, friend Chiara getting married, and another friend Renee and I are witnesses. She’s having a Baha’i ceremony, and then we go off to a small dinner. I’m really happy for her. Haven’t met her beloved, but tomorrow it is.

don’t have a lot to say other than I’m trying to be organized, connect with usual gang of 500 thru internet or locally, and walk, and hang with Bill, my husband and pal of 25 years. Good news is he says he feels strong in the mornings, so now he’ll work on afternoons too, and then night time.

I’m dying to see a bunch of films, but no time; submitted two pieces of poetry to Altadena for contest; the lady liked them, went to a friends ESL class, and boy is she vibrant and loving. i think teaching people ESL is an incredible gift; i have a certificate, but i do better at teaching creative writing. There’s a purity and a vulnerability in learning a new language, and somehow each student is dearly pure and there’s always a lot of love and laughter in the classes.

Okay, nothing to say; trying not to watch the yackedy yackedy of meanness politically; went to fabulous Baha’i fireside at the Nelsons; friend Tadia spoke, fascinating and wonderful as always. I notice for a writer I am using very general worlds but at least i haven’t said well, it was like, it was like a fireside, where we talked about like…

I’m crashing; hope i can squeeze walk in tomorrow; have book club that night; we have read Little Bee and Ape House, but I didn’t get Ape House, i’m still in a queue for it.

hugs to all.

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Our January is grey at the moment, and cold, well California cold, but Bill and I are over our colds, and i am back walking (moving the muscles after 8 days of sniff, sniff, cough, cough). Friend came by and we hoofed down a hill, across a long residential street, picture perfect, winding street, green lawns, trees arching over the street, and me with my coughdrops but no inhaler, hoofed and trudged up another hill, and then she took me for coffee and an Einstein Bros. power bagel.

I am catching up; we live in 2 room pool house, and our sliding glass door sounds like there’s a crocidile stuck in a moat, and the door bumps and bumps and jerks. I am blogging again, tra lee, tra la, and am getting new writing workshop together; 6 weeks at Ten Thousand Villages; a great fair trade store, with artifax, jewelry and stuff from all around the world. It truly feels like a spiritual place, and I think it has to be because it’s based on the Oneness of Mankind, and one feels the connection immensely.

My nephew and his wife are having a baby, and it’s a girl, and they are naming her Elizabeth, which is his mom’s – and my twin’s name, and I love it to pieces. We were known as Es and Bess when we were little, and I always called her Liz, and we sort of are polar opposites, except with the same linguistic twang and mannerisms. She’s more like my father, and I’m more like my mother, but I can tell you we always looked out for one another. I am grateful that on her death bed she turned to me and said, “I never realized, but you’ve always been there for me,” this from a twin who was often disappointed in my Faith’s beliefs, my political views, my inclusive view of life. But still we managed. Last night I had a dream, because she died about 3-4 years ago, that we are okay between one another, and I like that. The first and second year she was sick; she’d cry out at 5.30 in the morning for help, and i’d jump through the ceiling in a dash to her room.

Tomorrow, I get my hair cut. Had it so short this summer, most people liked it except for a dear Persian lady in my community who said, “I hate it,” and I laughed. I wait for months and months, and then some random day I take whatever scissor are near me, and hack at my hair over a small bathroom sink, and then sashay out to people’s comments, “Looks good.” then comes the dread day when my head, look and hair take on an attacked by the North Wind, the West Wind, East and south, War of the Winds, and my poor hair which is with me while my body gets older, just has a hissy and stands up, lays down, and in a way doesn’t play well with the rest of me.

So tomorrow i shall be shorn. Saturday a friend and I are witnesses at a Baha’i wedding, and all involved are excited.

That’s about it for now, move the muscles, drink water, and stay wonderful.

The Legend of The Villa Della Luna

graphics, recipes and prose astound

Look, it’s a Tuesday, just after New Years, an on the run food; sticks to the roof of your mouth and spinal column; no folding, mutilating, stamping, stapling; just throw out 2 slices on whatever, even your knee if you must, grab a knife – slop, spread, seal together, and fist it towards your mouth.

That was before writing workshop, after a walk cut short because stuff calls, and then writing workshop. There’s a book I want to chat about, The Legend of The Villa della Luna which is a book referred to as “The sequel to the Secrets of Pistoulet.

I met this book when i worked for a friend Loretta in Jamestown, western New York, in 1996 or so when she created Literary Tea, an African-American writers (mostly women I think bookstore) and a restaurant. Suffice it to say, her chocolate cake won awards, and the crowed of Lit Tea people all gained 10 pounds, and her place became a hub of great activity.

This book appeared, and I casully opened expecting little, and I gaasped; its a combination of incredible graphics (think Griffin and Sabine) and dear messages and recipes. I sold that book a million times, but never bought one for myself. Last year I was thinking about it, emailed Loretta who is in New Mexico now, for the title. I found The Legend on Amazon, book marked it, forgot about it, until this Christmas when I was so thoughtfully gifted with an Amazon card.

I have the book; it’s amazing, and the part i like is a reference to a tear bottle; won’t say anything else, but I took it to workshop, and we used it for prompts; wonderful. ISBN 1-55670-628-6.

I’m home, dropped off a ton of books at library; picked up reading in Chinese or something like that and a few other things; am gazing to my left at my Port-a-Pug, Christmas gift from a friend, and think, i hear the familiar ding of the microwave; time for dinner and crashing. Nothing earth shattering, but just a hello and my day; great writing from the group today!

My fabulous coat with its arms around Vera in Germany

I sit in my long Jones of New York, dark camel colored coat which comes to my ankles, and type like an eager French Poodle, whose toes (my fingers) click across the floor (keyboard) in anticipation of something.

Well that’s it, anticipation, can’t sing it, but experience it. I anticipate a time this week when my hair will no longer look like it’s trying to figure out all traffic lights at once, whether to go north, south, east or west. I anticipate a cooked breakfast by myself in a few minutes, and a slug at the unwahsed dishes which rest casually in our miniscule sink. The weather flickers sun, and then clouds, and cold is still present, which is good because I need to hoof down a long hill, up a few slow trails of sidewalks, I’m urbanized after all, and throw a week’s worth of holidays, colds, no moving muscles into an invisible trash bin which I might dub Goodbye 2010.

Went to grocery store, so cold, I left, and went to Fresh and Easy. I find I crave fresh fruit and veggies. This is almost a miracle, and I hear my own personal oratorio burst through light filtered skies singing in praise of my insatient soul which wants to cast off her insatiate wants, trills, frills and needs, and be basic and moderate and healthy.

Last year got me in that direction, and yesterday I bought several sizes smaller slacks/trousers/pants; whaddya call those things these day.

I am still a computer nudnick but working on it; a writing class starts, Courage to Write next week in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, an I’m just finishing up on it, and will garner eclectic objects that make noise, are visual, or just say, “Hi I’m an object d’art or d’ump or d’utility,” and “Would you care to write of me in tripplingly on the tongue prose.”

I’ll probably wear my Africa earrings, my Soviet Army Belt (real) and who knows what else. i love teaching, and i am not filled with myself, as I find I go into some zone and stuff flows out.

Okay, that’s today, and i’ve only had a banana; this will not do. Ta ta for now, and glorious days filled with spiritual meaning, and wishes for all of us to get through grunge and grudge alike, and see our interconnectedness.

One more thing: gratitude of the highest order for my wonderful family and for all friends old and many new whom I can gave upon with wonder.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Prayer: A Baha’i Approach” border=”0″ src=”http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-111×148.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer”>Prayer: A Baha’i Approach</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1041260.William_Hellaby”>William Hellaby</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122435751″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
profound, and contemplative, and insightful, and perceptions which lead to action shown.  Madeline Hellaby just died, and I fear this book might not be republished.  It’s a must.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

On the back cover, “To Baha’is, prayer is indispensable:  ‘the core of religious faith,’ writes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i faith, ‘is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.  This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of prayer.

Written by William and madline Hellaby, I’m focusing on Madeline, who just passed.  She writes of “prayer as a living reality–prayer as ordinary people experience it in their daily loves.  ‘How can we practise the presence of God?'” she asks.  Describing with honesty, good sense and humour the various obstacles to effective praying, she finds insight in quotations and examples drawn both from the Baha’i Writings and from a wealth of religious literature, history and day-to-day experience.”

PS I use Alibris a lot to find 99 cent issues of books and up.  I like them.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Mentor” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1273513481m/7840064.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor”>Mentor</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/297212.Tom_Grimes”>Tom Grimes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/121643444″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Oh  Oh, Oh!  I liked this book so much! No, make it loved the book.  I got a Borders’ gift card and hotfooted down the street.  This book called out to me, and the writing is superb.  Tom Grimes takes the reader down the path of working in construction, to waiter, to this, to that; and his writing career unfolds.  He meets Frank Conroy, and this book is valuable for writing, but also the writing process and the struggle and the joy, and I felt as if I were folded within the words and became one with the page.  I couldn’t put it down.  Insightful, dear, honest, revealing, educational, terrific.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

 

 Okay, Regarding Those Buildings in New York and Everything Else Ishkabibbly

 Was there really a person called Ish-ka-bibble?

 Listen you dweet, in my neighborhood on Wren Street, we knew the name ishkabibble, ‘cept we pronounced it ishhhkahhbibbble.  You know what I mean?  Anyone who listened to radio shows in the 40s knew words like that.  What’s more, my linguistic heritage, you dweet, thank you for asking, was on stuff like Baby Snooks, when she was surprised, and Baby Robespierre wasn’t screaming enough “wah, wah, wahs.”

Those “wah, wah, wahs were loud enuf to hit our pointed roof and bounce off gas lit street lights shining dimly on top of old Buicks and Studebakers (now there’s a vehicle – great ashtrays).  Where wuzz  I? My skill lay in imitating Baby Snooks, “Well, I’ll be a yellow-belled chuck wagon.”  Later in the 50s I went on to memorize the Drop of the Hat dialogue, from a play that ran in London and then New York for years.  Now when people ask about balances and present treasurer’s reports, as we so oft do in my young life, I think to myself in large white cloud-like puffy letters, “Many a Mickle Macks a Muckle.”

 Today,  there’s more than one rumble going on.  And because of this question Ishkabibble, and fighting over buildings and rights to worship and mudslinging both ways, another phrase comes to mind, “Come what, come may, time and the hour pass through the roughest day,” and that was a phrase from Hamlet which graced our walls with indigo, green and traces of yellow and magenta  threads on old white linen, framed with a thin black frame.

 There are so many interesting phrases in the world.  Get your mind off buildings.  Guys are all alike.  Start with blocks and where are you?  Ranting and raving about blocks, except now it’s buildings. 

 But that isn’t to say life was so much better in the olden days, olden meaning the 40s, 50s, and perhaps the 60s, cuz brotha, may I call you brotha dweet, good for who or whom?  I’m beginning to think that phrase, you know about a butterfly flying, or flapping — maybe baby just one wing — has repercussions in the next century. I can’t figure it out mathematically because I’m still trying to figure out how Doris got to Harvard Square by bike with pears and mayonnaise, and Dennis is on his way to West Hollywood with kiwi and crackers, and the  time, mileage thing and fight the despair they’ll never meet, even though they are soul mates, except for the fact that Doris does not like kiwi.

 I think there’s a wing of a butterfly in history called point of view.  Everything depends on point of view an English prof once said. Whose point of view?  Now there’s a handy little four word phrase and a dandy question at that. 

 What if the 50s were a great era?  Yeah for white guys who went to the Diner and ate skinny French fries loaded with salt, and didn’t go home, but grunted dialogue between each other, all the while, the white girls, their counterparts, were worried about “will he like me,” and “please God let me get married.” Down the road apiece in starkly structured architectural lines, invisible walls went up.  Walls so invisible and solid, people like Whitey Bulgur and some of the FBI could load drugs into the Boston projects, and blacks couldn’t move an inch, and they had to get on the elevated at some Station after Green street.  That’s when women were worthless if they weren’t married, and they had to wear veils to Catholic Church, for “bless me Mary, I’m a woman, and I’m sorry.”

 I think a lot of things were done under Imperialism, which some call skin color privilege, but nothing’s that starkly simple.  Hatred is awful in any sector. 

 I think the power boys behind the scene, don’t give a rat’s ass about where buildings are.  I think the power boys and girls want what they want and feel entitled.  I think blessed is the heart that listens to the midnight sighing of the poor, and I ain’t just whistling Dixie, or spitting mud, and this all comes from someone who used to seriously believe in Chicken Little falling from the sky.

 Maybe the sky is falling after all. Dunno.  Many a mickle macks a muckle.  Who knows? The Shadow, that’s who.  The Shadow knows, and if a Jungian read these fast flowing words going to goodness knows where, he/she might say, “Ah, the shadow.  And what is your shadow telling you”?  Words, love em, hate em, can’t live without em.

Wow, what a weekend. Saturday went to a Cluster Reflection Meeting in Altadena, held in the loveliest of homes; very user friendly to large crowds. Great people, great conversation, basically we Baha’is encourage each other to contribute to humanity’s well being; and that plays out into children’s classes, devotionals, etc. We don’t do this to “make Baha’is,” but just to contribute to the ongoing advancement of the society and the individual, which includes us totally.

Devotionals are usually with lots of writings from other Faith Traditions, music, and then conversation about concepts. we had so many diverse points of view last night at a friends and the food then was luscious. different people who didn’t know each other found they had a lot in common. It was sort of a 6 degrees of separation type of thing.

Today we heard Judge Dorothy Nelson come and give a report; she was our delegate to the Baha’i National Convention. again, such an atmosphere of love and knowledge in the room. Wonderful. Also had great book club meeting; we discussed The Man From Saigon and I can’t remember author’s name. The writing was superb! We all brought something to eat, had brunch, tremendous conversation and divergent views about the book. Everyone liked it; but our points of view naturally differ because of our different lifestyles.

I don’t have a lot to say, but think despite all the heaviness in the world, and the utter crippling acts of some, there are many hearts and souls who work for the well-being of humanity, from all ranks, religions, traditions, and this weekend, there was evidence of this. We truly are one! Have a good week everyone!

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
    >
    > A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him … a
    > touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy
    > is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is
    > death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering
    > necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating
    > of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his
    > very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out
    > creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really
    > alive unless he is creating. ~ Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel
    > laureate (1892-1973)

 

When I was a young girl, I discovered Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and then I went on to read all of her books.  Since an early age, I read everything an author says.  Last week or so her name came up, and I forget the context, but I discovered Anchee Min’s latest book is about Pearl – a fiction book.  Some critics say not as good as Anchee Min’s previous books which are cliffhangers, but anything she writes I read, and I was so glad to.  It sounded so accurate.

At any rate, I think Pearl Buck probably changed or added immensely to my life as I think we are hungry for other lives, insights, and in essence, we feel as if we are that person – oneness through literature.

A few years ago, a friend said in an email, “This is you,” and then the above quote was imbedded in my email.  I felt an immense relief.  I am in the last chapters with much creativity and contributions ahead, but I remember my younger days of emotional pain, of therapy, tests, struggles, now knowing who I really was.

I think we all go through that forming journey; the who am I, and in our later years, we are answered, and think, “aah that’s it.”  At any rate, I used to cringe that I was so sensitive.  I wished I simply could not feel as much.  People talked about getting in touch with their feelings, and I was trying to stifle them; they were too much.

Still time and writing, and a spiritual path, mine being the Baha’i Faith, where I firmly believe we walk the mystical path with practical feet, a path which has carved me out in order that love for others may fill me, a path of constant change.  I no longer experience that twisting pain of feeling as if inwardly I felt my heart was a bruised peach pit; I have gained insights, clarity, a voice, more laughter, and it’s all a dance in one way.  Still I cannot tell you how solaced and how solaced I still am by this quote of Pearl Buck’s.  It gives relief to the DNA which is standing still thinking will epigenetics reveals its stamp.  Luckily it has, but I know so little.

It’s exciting to have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and still always on the edge of knowing and learning; I sense epigenetics is one of my next themes.

When I was much younger, I used to shuffle along the streets of Boston, scuffing autumn leaves, keeping my trench coat, wrapped tight around my west, and my head was always bent towards the ground.  Years later, I saw the film Housekeeping, I think, based on Marilyn Robinson’s novel which was excellent.  The characters, two sisters, walked the same way.  One chose life and growth and staying in a town after their mother committed suicide, and the other chose traveling with her aunt, hopping trains, vagabonding, in an era, when you could still get away with it.  Did I mention, they both walked with their heads down.

When we lived in Ukraine and Belarus, my head bent down, and a hump emerged right below my neck because we carried so many heavy things.  The Russian way of carrying heavy stuff, is one person on the left carries on handle, and the person on the right, carries that handle.  We schlepped to railway stations, busways, trolley cars.  There’s a joke that on Women’s Day, which is highly observed and beautiful (the streets are filled with people carrying all colors of tulips), on Women’s Day women get to keep one hand and arm free and only have to walk carrying stuff with that arm.  We would roar with laughter when we heard that.

Jokes were funny there.  Someone sitting around a small kitchen with you, having some chai (tea) would point to a poster on the wall of glossy fruit, bananas and particularly red apples, and say in a deadpan voice, “We have food in our museums and in our posters,” but not in real life.  In real life we have cockroaches.”  And we would yuck and slap our knees and then I the table. 

Look up is something I think of when a very wise man said, “If things are going contrary to what you wanted, don’t worry.  Keep your eye on the horizon,” and things will get better.    At least that’s my hope. 

Today at the end of the day, i hadn’t taken my more demand walk, so I threw my backpack on and toddled down the street towards Ten Thousand Villages and bought a mother’s day gift for Jessica’s mom. Then I walked out the door and saw Laura was there.  We hugged and chatted and then i walked.

Kudos to Mrs. Little Jeans http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/ whose blog is light, scientific, spiritual, but mostly whimsical.  I feel as if I catch a ride on a butterfly’s wing each time I enter the pages and read about Ollie and i forget his name, forgive me God.

Enchanting whimsy and delight my time spent in these pages, where my heart softens, my arms feel as if I’m holding a pug, or viewing a cat that is my own for these cyber moments, and laughter of the silent kind causes my ribs to go up and down.

Meanwhile I might just add today was an accomplished day.  Bill saw a physical therapist, feels heartened by guidance, and we had lunch at Corner Baker which means tonight is no cook because we’ll have the other half of our lunches!  Trader Joes where I found the monkey Mollie, after some grandmother loudly told her little grandson, “Look above the pizza,” and then later I go to the checkout and learn I can get a lollipop or a sticker, and it is a brutal disappointment.  I thought i’d win a month’s free watermelon rinds, or free pickings of stuff not eaten, or one free 99 cent card, but still the joy of shopping at TJ’s; the beauty of the glossy fruit, pushing a red shopping cart to and fro and just palling around with Mr. Bill is wonderful.  To heck with Rosie the Monkey, who I am secretly happy is strictly for children’s joy of discovery.

Am very sleepy; will read paper and walk around 4-time fleets so to speak, skates, vaults, you name it; the joy of being an old gal with a buddy, Mr. Bill.  A sunny day, too hot for my liking, but living in a tree-lined neighborhood where some trees arch over any walker as if gracing the walker with protection.  total wow.

s;

Listen up cuz this isn’t about numbers, unless you’re counting meat patties, which are build your own, fresh 100% natural Angus beef, and hormone and antibiotic free if you want to know.  Am I for real, you betchum.  Laura, Nick and be still my heart, Jessica came up, and celebrated early Mother’s Day for this old Sorry Gnat for if you really want to know isn’t sorry at all. 

we went to the counter and it’s in Pasadena next to the Green Street Restaurant, and when my build your own burger came, which to be exact was a Veggie Burger, and lots of buildings on it like grilled onions, red, thin, round onions with tart taste, crisp cool green cucumber slices, slathers of tomato slices, laying on top like a comforter and then the piece de resistance (can’t find my French accents on this pewter), I felt as if I were having a religious experience, and you know what; that veggie burger was light, refreshing, and solidly nutritious, and this wasn’t even a Pepsi moment.

Feeling light and fit and filled with good food, company, and I met the owner, and liked him so much, shook hands.  Well, he had laughed when I said, this is a religious experience, but I wish him well.

So It’s 140 Shoppers Lane in Pasadena, California 91101 and the website is thecounterburger.com

Nice to go to a place where things are so incredibly edible, pretty and no chemicals. My body is in shock and joy.  Shock and Awe that’s it all because of the Counter Custom Built Burgers.  Go there if you haven’t heard of it.

Then I was further spoiled by Jessica who got me a candle with 3 wicks and the most delicious smelling vanilla something or other and Laura and Nick gave me a bracelet which was so totally me. i’d scan it to show you, but not sure; at any rate, it’s like diagonal ivory keys, black and white, angled, and then bracelet is angled too; so me, and then a necklace which is to die for, which I can’t describe now, because i gotta go, and these gifts came from Ten Thousand Villages, a great fair trade outfit on Lake near California, practically next to Starbucks and a must to shop particularly nice for gifts for friends.

We are going to be in the desert on Mother’s Day; same thing happened last year or year before, but Nikki and her husband Shawn will be there, and then Nikki is off to Adelaide, Australia to live, and we will miss her, but her sister Celeste will be happy and her mom and Michael will visit; so all is good on the planet, for this spoiled mom.

Yooo Hoooo Monday, where are you?  Drat, ack, eek.  I lost you.  “I forgot” can be applied to homework, like because my dog ate my homework, I can’t turn it in, or I just discovered I can’t speak Esperanto easily, or I’m not Celtic, Mayan, Troll-like, I can’t turn it in.  Doing this blog is not like homework.  I respond to Pili Pili Saka, the moment his blog comes up.  I’m like an orangy labrador, and I get a whiff of something coming to my territory.  My head lifts from the floor, my cold nose moves up and down microscopically, and then, there it is, Pili Pili Saka. 

Forgot, day swept by with fantastic emails about my book, my participation in a Wilmette Study Course, and an email from dear friend who wrote blurb on back of You Carry the Heavy Stuff.  Mikey likes it; even pili pili compared my writing to a French writer.  Reader, i slid under my desk, yes, by the dust, and the brick, red if you want to know, placed carefully over my email connection link, so as not to disturb and keep me connected.  Such is the old wiring in this incredible little pool house.  Be still my heart.

Yesterday, they filmed Mad Men down the street; I swear I posted that; have to check it out.  At any rate, Bill went to neuro guy who was incredibly thorough and wonderful – it seems severe allergy attack, plus benign positional veritgo, plus anxiety about being so dizzy sick, caused his adrenal responses to shoot up and thus the shakes.  Wow, and now we will go towards solutions!  We are relieved.

Okay I finished a book, The Man From Saigon, a novel, Marti Leimbach, a gripper, writing incredible.  It turns out this writer went to MFA program in Irvine, and that’s where when I began writing, I took classes from Oakley Hall and the other guy, Donald, can’t remember his name, and Roberta….. and it tricked into my curly brain and heart, and i began writing.  Showing, telling, using strong verbs, always 3 at the time.  I never do things lightly.  I’ve pulled back to 1 verb usage, find myself more moderate these days

I am going to reserve Dying Young and Daniel Isn’t Talking by the same author, although part of me shudders to think of adding more books to my list.  While you’re at it, throw in Jesse Ventura’s new book; forget title, yes Jesse Ventura.  He was a Navy Seal and he taught at Harvard, and he has stuff to say.  Who knows, but check it out. 

Okay so to add a more shallow cap to my day, while I finished Man from Saigon, sitting next to Bill on the couch, having done my daily huff puff walk for an hour, we watched TV.  Every now and then at 8 I’d click in Dancing with the Stars to see Kate clump across the floor, and the part of me that used to be a single mother thought, “Good, she’s earning money for the kids.”

You catch my drift reader; blessings and a glorious day and best wishes from Monday who regretfully is speaking Tuesday.

Next post may be about Baha’i Holy Days and stuff like that; hope you stay tuned!

Led wonderful workshop yesterday; went to great devotional  – Baha’i and writings from world’s scriptures read; great music, lovely home, wonderful people, conversation with laughter, spirituality, and great food.

Exhausted today; off I went to Monterey Park for fantastic Chinese Massage – $20, $5 of which is the tip.

Came out semi alive and looser, and crashed, and now on pewter updating life.

Small post-huge day, with bill, quiet; tomorrow neurology appointment for him.

La Pintoresca Library, April 17, 2010

Esther Bradley-DeTally –

(“Everyone has talent.  What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.”  Erica Jong

Finding your voice isn’t looking at the dust balls under the bed to see if you coughed up anything in the dark.  Finding your voice is suiting up and showing up to write about the here and now and to meet other people who have written, not written, or may write.  You will increase your breadth and depth of what you know about yourself, i.e., give written form to the line drawings of life.  Do we know the maps of our hearts?  The Courage to Write offers a way to strip the layers of social niceties, to dig deeply and find the authentic within.

There is no “constructive criticism” within the class, but rather a listening and honoring of each person’s contribution.  For the beginning, we will write in first person, the “I” and it’s a write like you talk.  Are you doomed to write that way the rest of your life?  No.  But this is home base or home on the computer for the writ.  Journaling in the here and now brings forth new vistas!  I will refer to books about writing and teachers of writing whenever possible.  I won’t hesitate to recommend people and books.

WHADDA WE GOING TO DO:  We are going to go through a process, which will take you through various modes of writing.  When I took Teach Writing the Natural Way at Irvine, we learned to mix details, descriptions, dialogue, and academic writing.  Writing is very much like mixing a soup.

People, places I highly admire who have taught me are: Jack Grapes:  the Pied Piper of bringing out the voice, whose workshops are in Los Angeles.  Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, the writing process book you need for the desert island experience; UCLA Writing Extension Courses; Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life, and a gazillion more.  Any writing teacher’s task (and joy) is to take the writer as far as he/she can go. “This is supposed to be fun,” my UCLA writing instructor, who looked like a maple syrup ad, told a group of us clenched-teeth, stomach-burning students one night.  And you know, it is; so relax and let’s enjoy.

Dynamite.  You all were dynamite.  Website for CHPercolator for writers is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/

I’ll put books about writing list up later….

am crashing; you guys are terrific.

Nothing like a slouch on the couch with a longest time friend; the one who held your baby; or better yet, listened to you as you were 8 mos pregnant and hysterical because your mother-in-law, a Wilshire Methodist, was spending a month or so with you. we have had chicken soup, canned, light, 70 calories, 1 point, and then i had margerine and akmak crackers, and we talked about greed in California, and abuse of power, and then cavorted over to WWII and leaders and the dance of intrigue people did, the leaders, and now Janet my friend is reading the essay about Khatyn in my first book Without A Net, A Sojourn in russia, and i was talking about the oddness of having this place come into prominence on the news because of the death of the Polish President and many other dignitaries.Connection is wonderful; she’s leaving so i’ll end; otherwise i won’t get a post in; gratitude for friendships

Okay, Easter or any major holiday our wonderful landlady has all kids, and grandchildren and friends over; we’re always invited, but i feel vulnerable on those holidays; reminded we have no permanent place. But every other day, not a holiday, am grateful we have a roof over our heads, a comfortable bed, and we live in a nice pool house; small but we do it well.

still i get a hollow toothed feeling in my gut, exacerbated by Bill’s two upcoming appointment with Cardio Guy; and Neurologist. The adventures of being 75 and over. He’s still my pal, my buddy, my love, and vulnerability showed up big today in my scatteredness, trying to get every moment in life in today.

Computer network down today; came on at 5.30; friend asked why the switch to this blog. Because this blog has more life, vitality and a wider array of designs within which to blog.

We saw Crazy Heart for 2 bucks at the Academy; the theatre was crowded. Ran into Rose from my writing group, and her family, boyfriend, beautiful pregnant daughter and two dynamite grandchildren-girls who read and were friendly, and i was happy.

big is still not knowing in a Braille like fashion where the post sign is on this and then how to get it on nablopomo, without looking at my instructions and for missing dookhickies to click. Mizz V put some more on; i should be getting better.

I ran into the door, charging out of her today; big bruise on hand, head okay, so and we are having coffee with our young friends Neda and Johnnie; and that will be a time when safe is a feeling i’ll have stretched out up to the sky and all, and we’ll laugh and scratch, and i’ll come home and do stuff. They are picking bill and myself up.

So big was living without communing with my 400 or so intimate gang of friends, and getting back on just nas i was about to call and get hooked up to india to find out whats happening.

Will write more about Arts Rising but have to go now.

Well I’ll be a yellow bellied chuckwagon!  i’m a gal of a better age and scoopy, funny wisdom and I am as of this day, thanks to a Three -Legged Duck, transferring from an old blog to WordPress.  Words are ice cream cones, lamb chops with white crinkly paper on a smooth glossy China plate, inky letters of solace, snorky snorts of humor and I’m a wordsmith glad to be here.

Weight Watcher Oatmeal Cookie

1 individual container Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal WW – 2 points
1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar -1 point
2-3 tablespoons of egg white
cinnamon or nutmet optional

spray cookie sheet
mix with fork until it sticks together
put on pan and shape into cookie

cook at 350
some say 15 minutes
but i cook it until it gets brown

the Weight Watcher lady said cook one cookie at a time!

bon appetit!!!

Angus was a bassett whose belly hung lo, so low, he make Br’er Fox of “He
just don’t do noth’in but stay low” – he make Bre’r Fox look lak he done a
hundred crunches a day. Do I lie? Well maybe but here on the planet, now
zoom in to the United States of America, where lying is a bad word unless it’s
uttered or uddered by a politician who supposedly drinks too much caffeine
and can’t hold his words in.

Call it evolutionary degrade or skin dissolution or sloth, or beings who are so coarse, they’s like a redundant bunch of cattle, but I thank to mahself as I watched last week’s rodeo show where the people were bestially rood to our presdent; and I
think, “They’re toilet trained, ain’t they?”

And the only answer I gave to myself is “Angus has more manners than that
red faced anger ridden man who yelled “Liar.” If they can hold their
piss; why can’t hold their vitriol? Whatevah happened to the Good Book and
high manners and language. Cain’t we find a replacement for chronic belligerence?

I tell you. I miss Angus. I would hold Angus with my arms stretched around his big belly, hold him in tahms of crisis like in today’s world. “Bestial verbosity,” my Aunt Jenny Who Never Had a Wrinkle in Her Life and ate pork every day would say. But Angus, fell in love with a blonde lady who used to run a restoront down on the Avenue, don’t you know, and he went to live with her, cuz she had another Bassett called Blanche, and Angus sort of hand a hunkering and a hankering for Blanche.

At Blanche’s house, they don’t listen to people saying mean things. I’m glad
Angus is happy. Gotta end raht now, as I’m gonna to send an old poster to the
Senate and the Congress, and it is a medium large poster and sort of sepia faded, don’t you know. It shows politicians in diapers with bandages over their mouths, and in the background, which is really faded, is a fuzzy image of a toilet with a hand chain. The slogan is sort of like Uncle Sam needs you? This slogan tho is how to potty train politicians, one mouth at a time.




YIKES, ZAZOOKS! TARNATION THUNDER, I WAS REPORTED SEEN IN LONDON, SENDING OUT A RUN-ON SENTENCE, ASKING FOR ALL THINGS FOR MONEY! You know I might ask for attention, that’s fine or not fine, depending on the beholder, but asking for money is not my style, via email or any other manner of speaking.

I filed the necessary cyber crime reports; and reader, i had over 700 people on my list. I wonder what they thought. Most people got it. It wasn’t me. Two friends said, “It’s not Esther, because she doesn’t speak in complete sentences.” Some praised my random eloquence, and my friend Donna did the best-she basically thought it a parody written by me and responded that she’d pay, but they’d have to realize, she’d pay in California currency, i.e., I.O.U.’s as the state government pays for goods and services. She put it more humorously, and Bill and I fell to the floor laughing. Just for that one response of hers was worth the whole theft happening.

Thank you one and all for your concern, and apologies for inconveniences. Love to all, Esther safe in California, rolling around in her money!

HOUSE WAS TENTED; JUST our pool house not big one. Bill and I have been really tired from settling a friend’s estate, and we took a two day respite at a local motel, shades of the 30s; rested, read; ate healthy; walked a little; i swam in the pool; and I discovered some new books.

I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE, a Memoir by Lac Su a must; THE PLAN (big Ideas for Change in America) Rahm Emanual and Bruce Reed, looks well written, easily digestible and informative. Read first few pages; Bill interested too. Two more memoirs beckoned Oliver Poole’s Red Zone, Five Bloody Years in Baghdad, and A Comrade Lost and Found (A Beijing Story) by Jan Wong

House moved back into; pipe broken, exterminator people sent their own plumber; nice guy starting his own business; hope it goes well; gas people cam by; nice to have services; i remember in Ukraine if something went wrong, you had to just wait until Monday for someone to fix, like the plumbing went out because the workers were drunk; oh my; a friend sent his poetry; it’s astounding; has a book; lovely; am going to have a cup of decaf, crash, hopefully walk later. Good to be home!

SCAM ALERT, SCAM ALERT

A friend put this more succinctly than I could-i am busy right now telling 900 people on my lists about this horrible Tagged email that whipped through Pasadena and the like. Ugh to Tagged, and Kudos to friends trying to fix it. IT IS NOT A VIRUS, but it’s a violation!

I thought you might like to know that I received the following invitation, apparently from you, but sent through http://www.taggedmail.com. Since I’ve been receiving the same message from other Baha’i friends, I suspect that this is one of the practices of http://www.tagged.com, a social networking site that Snopes.com states:

“[Tagged.com’s] current registration process asks applicants to supply an e-mail address and a password for accessing the corresponding e-mail account so Tagged can ‘match you up with your friends,’ information which the company apparently uses to traverse address books (or other e-mail contacts) and send e-mailed invitations to the addresses found there — invitations like the ones noted above, which deceptively appear to have been sent by the Tagged members themselves and claim that the recipients have been ‘added as a friend,’ ‘sent photos’ or ‘sent a private message’ on Tagged (even though no deliberate ‘adding’ has taken place, nor have any photos or private messages for the recipients been posted for viewing).”

You can read more about this deceptive practice at: http://www.snopes.com/computer/internet/tagged.asp

Recommending some books:

Drawn to the Rhythm, Sara Hall, a gripping, and exceedingly well-written memoir of a woman at 40 or so married, affluent, with children and a verbally abusive husband, who discovers sculling (single kayak type of boat); i am not skilled in naming appropriately some sports stuff; but this was a fabulous book which I found in my favorite used book store in Chico, California. Chico is about 2 hours beyond Sacramento. Also I read Life’s That Way, by Jim Beaver, of his marriage to Cecily Adams (daughter of Don Adams-Get Smart fame) and her incurring lung cancer; about their daughter Maddie, and also well written, insightful and just reflective of so many of the anonymous amongst us facing their Herculean tasks and soldiering on. One more; was another woman and boating; this was A Pearl in the Storm, Tori Murden McClure; rowing across the Atlantic. Yes, you heard that correctly. rowing across the Atlantic, and incredible gripper; what a fierce and wonderful soul.

We are back in Pasadena; think house in Chico selling-it belongs to Ralph who passed, the Ralph of “I’m dying as fast as I can,” at 91 fame; and we are settling his stuff as all kids pitch in and are gigantic help; it’s wonderful to see the Baha’i community, and for me, I am having a lot of healing work done. One is NAET which deals with allergies, and is terrific, my friend Vicki is a Practitioner.

I feel on a newly waxed bathroom floor a week or so ago, and now back in Pasadena, I go to the Altadena Healing Arts center-see Marilyn -last name escapes me at moment, and she is incredible, incredible. She does DNFT – nonforce. com stuff; and more than that. The Altadena Center – healing center is not new in my mind. Friends have raved about it for years.

When you first go in, the flowers in their small garden, seem to burst towards you in profusion of color, health and the whole place has an incredible sense of quiet beauty, knowledge, love, amazing.

So we will probably drive up to Chico Sunday; bill hurt his hand, and we were in emergency care Sunday at Kaiser-great people; we think while cleaning out our garage, dust from 1945 fell on an open cut on his hand; and he has had an extremely painful skin infection. I Googled it, and came up with the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but his hands were not twisted, and his other hand wasn’t injured; so in my brilliant medical diagnosis by Google, I missed the mark. I’ve done this twice with my own stuff and half to laugh at myself.

He’s getting better; taking a nap; and that’s the story morning glories!

from John Kavelin’s blog on health – his health-good news

John and I want to share with you a truly amazing new development, due in no small part to the prayers and positive thoughts you continue to send. Please don’t stop!

John says: I have been wrestling for some time with this feeling of being between two worlds. The medical prognosis seems to have been incorrect. We have been told since the beginning that I just don’t have a lot of time left. So, I told Linda that treading water and holding my breath is exhausting. She asked me “What do you need?” I said “To move forward.” When we explored what that meant, it was to finish the design for a new Virtues Project website that began before my diagnosis. So, we went back to work!!!! We have been consulting with the web designer to finalize my part of the project, which is the design template. Then of course it will take Linda and Dan some time to complete the content.

My sight is better. My energy is more consistent. Linda says I’m sharper than ever in discerning the decisions being made now.
Brother Tommy and his wife Farahnaz are coming tomorrow and we look forward to fully enjoying their visit and doing lots of walking.

I have a keen awareness that healing takes many forms. At this point my physical and mental condition is surprising all of us, and especially the palliative care medical team!

It is wonderful hearing from all of you! It’s regrettable that I simply don’t have the capacity to write to each of you what my heart is feeling when I read your loving messages.

If I could define the three virtues most prominent in my life right now, they are Joy, Awe and Wonder.
Much love to you all from John, Dan and Linda

Input from Linda and Dan Popov regarding John-

John and I went to Saturday market on this cool, but thankfully bright Spring day. His stability is really good and he walks without assistance.

John says to tell you that the steroids that his brain requires to keep swelling down which he has taken for a year have added a lot of weight and he hardly recognizes himself in the mirror anymore. He is also growing a beard and I think he looks quite distinguished. The amazing thing, he says, is that during the year, other than occasional headaches, he has had little or no pain (other than what he calls “grab and stab” during hospitalizations). We will get some photos on Caring Bridge for you soon…

John was asked what prayer he gravitates to now. One is a long healing prayer and another is a Baha’i prayer for the midnight hour: “O Lord, I have turned my face unto Thy kingdom of oneness and am immersed in the sea of Thy mercy. O Lord, enlighten my sight by beholding Thy lights in this dark night, and make me happy by the wine of Thy love in this wonderful age. O Lord, make me hear Thy call, and open before my face the doors of Thy heaven, so that I may see the light of Thy glory and become attracted to Thy beauty. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Generous, the Merciful, the Forgiving. — Abdu’l-Baha

With love from Dan, Linda and John

John Kavelin is in transition with his terminal illness, and his sister, Linda Popov, left a note on “Caring Bridge,” which is site on the net to inform everyone of someone’s illness, joys, challenges, and I thought I would post today’s (April 20, 2009) comment. To describe John would take more than a bucket of words, and my buckets are out today, so suffice it to say, he’s noble, valiant, highly creative, highly loving, giving, and we house sat for him in Pasadena, and the Pasadena Baha’is had the privilege of listening to John and Linda at a fireside at the Nelson’s several months ago.

He has the same kind of brain tumor Ted Kennedy has. John was also the designer of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney, and won awards I believe for his Animal Kingdom in Disney World. He also designed stages, etc. in most major Baha’i conferences. He has a twin Tommie, and a sister Linda, and a brother-in-law Dan. Dan and Linda are living with him in his gorgeous place on Salt Springs Island, called by him Spirit Lodge. So here’s the note: love and prayers to all, and for John and his family. How’d we get so lucky to know them, and for us, in particular, John?

I want to receive Journal update notification e-mails.

Friends, you know from reading our journal that there have been a great many gifts and blessings in the last year for our family. One of the sweetest is the sacred time John and I spend most mornings together. This is an opening for John to discern and to speak whatever is on his mind or heart, and for me as well.
I am realizing that while his short term memory fades, his spiritual acuity is brightening. Yesterday he was saying that in his prayers, he is not asking to go or to stay, but for contentment with what is. He said “It is a commitment to NOW”. So, we are very much at peace living in the now of each moment and each day. Sending you all our love, Linda




Friday, March 27, 2009 – Bill and I took a vakashun day; saw SlumDogMillionaire at local theatre ($2.00) a ticket for matinees, grabbed a sandwich at Corner Bakery, walked. beautiful.

Attaching some pictures of Chico in March, and we’ll go back up April 1st, Wed for 3 weeks and then hopefully down for a while. way to look thin: stand pressed against huge tree; it’s bigger than me; whaddya know.

We are in Chico, and I am using Ralph’s library card. Although he just died at 91, his card lives on and his reading of books has increased greatly. I just finished Postcards from the Edge; anderson cooper, and found it good and tender; and then Eve Ensler’s Insecure At Last – Losing It in our Security Obsessed World – which i regard as a MUST for every concerned soul on the planet. what’s happening outside our doors and inside this nation is big and carving us out. Clearly we are met to serve and care for one another. I cannot recommend this book enough. Love esther



July 11, 2008 – Saturday; airconditioner on. We are taking care of a rescue pug chiuahua for Nicole, Lucy’s mom (the black pug). Katrina, who is a friend of Nicole’s rescued Lila (new name for dog) and is coming today to dog sit while Bill and I go out.

Last night I googled potty training instructions for the dog, and we all are doing much better. The trick is to sprinkle salt on the wet spots and the salt pulls it up, but before we turned into a Biblical looking landscape, I googled advice.

She’s very sweet, and I’ll post a few pictures. She has a light cough, and I hope it’s nothing serious. She meets her new owner hopefuly Thursday, but meanwhile we are on dog duty!

Tomorrow July 9th, is a very special day, The Martyrdom of the Bab, the precursor and independent Prophet/Manifesation, who commenced the Baha’i era. The Bab means gate, and the Bab came after the end of the Islamic era, which marked the end of prophecy, and this era, marked the beginning of the unfoldment of prophecy for humanity. The Bab’s Ministry, like Jesus’ was very short. He was martyred on July 9th; and 20,000 of His followers were slaughtered, and then Baha’u’llah, whom the Bab referred to as “Him whom God shall make manifest,” announced his station in 183, having received it in 1850 while He was imprisoned in a cistern under the city of Tehran, imprisoned in chains of 200 pounds. It is a moment in history people are becoming aware of. Check out Baha’i.org if interested.


May post a pic of Liz and myself, or my twin Elizabeth. Only I called her Liz. A friend photoshopped it; nice! might put other pics up now; not sure; am working on my book Writing on the Fly, editing, final stuff, but probably will have two or more more edits later. The putting out of a book requires a lot of work, but I am impelled, compelled. Bill listens to the NewsHour, and i have to mail a friend who was evacuated from her home in the mountains near Chico; are they mountains are just huge hills. Hmmm; how hard.

Lucy the black pug’s mom is adopting another pug possibly, and we will house sit this little one for a week and then hook up with Lucy’s mom. She was not picked up and has been in the pound and quite sad; my heart goes out to little animals in the pound. It’s not Pasadena’s Pound; somehow i think that’s better. But kind people are working very quickly to help this little pug out, and i may be a Pug Nanny again!

Tmorrow night, the little pug will have had surgery and then be brought to our house until Nicole returns from her travels. We will love her and spoil her and be relieved when she feels better on all levels. They are going to name her Lila! She’s fawn.

Zoe Marie Fransson – latest edition to earth school; fabulous parents, Angela and Wade, congratulations!

Steve Pulley did this. He had taken a photo of me that turned out relatively well, and then put it on postage stamp; ah yes, author, wouldn’t that be a nice stamp! Thanks Steve!

Saturday – day before Mother’s Day. Already celebrated with my son, Nicholas, and Laura, his wonderful wife, and Jessica, his daughter, and Bill, my husband, Now, that I have mastered the art of the comma, and serial names will chat a bit. I’m putting Jessica’s picture up here because it lights up my heart. Also not last or least is Sheli – Jessica’s mom, was able to see her briefly, give her card, hug and view the guinea pigs outside in extended like base camp. Very clever.

Sophie the Pug is doing well. Had hip replacement yesterday, lying on some sort of cushioned mattress, and she comes home today. I haven’t been writing, but friend reading my latest book (only have 2) one of which is in print, the other is waiting in her tutu on the sidelines, Writing on the Fly, and I am pleased with the writing. Somedays I cringe, but that’s normal. Writer’s mood swings – that’s a whole t’other story.

Myenmar, or Burma, more particularly needs big prayers. Hopefully I will reverence that need appropriately. TC the lady I write to in Chowchilla has had a very good law firm take on her case. Yippee. Am emerging from a lot of sleep this week, eleven hours Wednesday night and hopefully I’ll have more energy. A friend at dinner said, “Athe young people at work are dragging too,” and attributed much to the heaviness in the world, which I translate into pundits punditting ceaselessly and solipsistically and sillily, if there is such a word. Plus world conditions and the fact that I suspect the majority of ordinary people in the world hunger to unite and get on with the business of unity. War and disunity and greed and abuse have been practiced to the max; let’s flip around integrity, justice, oneness of us all. Oh dear, I’m in my nightgown, the one with the ugly coffee cups and “love My coffee” on it, and here I go again.

Enough, I just read teachers wanted elsewhere – that’s California for me, and Arizona, nevada, Hawaii, Kansas, Virginia and Texas are looking for good teachers. California stands to cut $4.8 billion in educational funding this year and next.

This started out as a chat, and a posting of Jessica. I clicked on Breast Cancer site, and Hunger, and Animal and LIteracy, try it you’ll like it. I’ve checked into CHPercolator at Yahoo, my writing group of choice, and I’m off into a grey morning into downtown Pasadena, then to pack this afternoon, rest and go to Margaret and Michaels with the hopes Sophie will speed along in her new hip and recover splendiferously.


Lucy the Pug, whom I got to know briefly in her last days, passed. Her owner writes:

It is with a very heavy heart that I’m writing to tell you that Lucy has passed away.

Many of you know that she had been increasingly sick in her final weeks and was suffering repeated and severe bouts of anemia which left her extremely weak, with no appetite and unable to support her body weight. She had a very aggressive form of cancer which caused her to bleed into the tumor. Today she was released from her suffering while her family surrounded her.

I want to thank you all for your sincere concern and support these last weeks. Attached is the last picture of Lucy. Though very sick at the time, her sweet, soulful nature is still apparent.




IN HONOR OF PUGS
Pictures: Pug and me in 1990, taken by an LA Times Photographer after our Siberian trip. Journalist I knew interviewed us. Sophie The Pug, an enchanting picture taken by friend, and Lucy, who is much prettier in person,and is very sweet.

Lucy, the black Pug, in Pasadena is 14 and struggling, but her thick black tail wags with the enthusiasm of a seven year old. Sophie the Pug, in La Quinta, California, owned by Michael and Margaret, is having hip surgery May 9th. Margaret called this morning. She was our Pug’s Second Foster Mom. Ann Clavin was the first. Wait-backup; Ralph Schreiber, took Puggy for 3 months when we first went into Moscow, Siberia, Ukraine. Then when we went to live in Dneperpetrovsk for the year, Ann Clavin took him. Many tales ensued about Puggy, his brattedness, his toes, his moaning and hatred of the snow, and his incessant need to scold for food. Richard Clavin was chief pug carer, and send a picture into The American Baha’i which was published.
Unfortunatley, Pug didn’t endear himself for another year, so we came home that summer and took him to Margaret in the Desert, and more hilarious stories followed. Margaret had never owned a pug before. I might add, Nikki, her daughter, trained Pug so he was basically dog civilized. Gratitude to both Ann and Margaret knows no measure. Well long story short, Sophie the Pug, Margaret and Michael’s beguiling little pug has to have hip surgery. Her left leg seems to have gone kaput. I am staying with her May 11-17th. I will be Cherry Ames Visiting Nurse, for those of you who remember that childhood series, and Bill will take care of Lucy in town.

Pugs, to pug lovers, light up the universe. Someone else might just see a squished in mug, and hear snorts, but to the pug lovers everywhere, their owners see lights in their brown eyes, a creature like reaction to all innuendos, and they are cuddily, will sit next to your soul and shed hairs on it, and grunt. I personally would jump out of an airplane (at 3 feet) to see a pug. So today is an unofficial Pug Day. It’s Saturday, and we visit Lucy today, normally not seen on Saturdays. But hey, grace is grace!

Anyhow wishing all those pug lovers out there a glorious day! Remember, take a pug to lunch this week!

Went to Open Mic Night at La Pintoresca Library. Fantastic. Wonderful poet who does performance art knocked my socks off. Tamara Blue. Just Google her name, and you’ll see her perform.

This is what I read:

Children of the Stolen OnesFor Gloria Haithman December 2, 2004

“Greens” makes me think of
Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my
belly, in Olean, New York, as
crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s
Restaurant on a regular basis
to shoot the breeze; eat her
famous Greens and just to feel
all’s well with the world.

Here in Pasadena, California,
the subject of greens and chitlins
came up. I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie,
her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork
welcomed by her open heart and Best
Greens-Cook-In-The-World Self.

Wednesday night Gloria talked
about the same thing but went a step further.
She spoke of soul food on another level,
the spiritual teachings of love, hope, faith
She spoke to our insides
where there are no colors
Gloria said, “We were not colored
when we were born; we came in
that way,” and I thought
no one crayoned some in, or
bleached others out.

What if, instead of thinking about
The dark ones, the Negroes, the People
of Color, names given by the Takers,
think Black or African-Americans?
Then a phrase measured out, came quietly
into the room, in the midst of a story of
the sisters; the African-American Bahá’í
women who went on a tour of South Africa,
and met some African women who didn’t know them.

These African women, they looked at Gloria,
and Joy and Iris, and Aurore and Beverly and others.
The “Who are they,” question came into their eyes
till one of them said,
“They are Children of the Stolen Ones.”

Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange
velvet couch, those small noble words,
“The Stolen Ones” bombarded my heart,
as I felt my soul sink into a place of
utter knowingness, of reverence
and majesty revealed.
Yes, the rightful appellation.
Measure it out on the tongue, slowly
“The Stolen Ones,”
“Children of the Stolen Ones.”
Feel your heart melt as if
a great and timeless grief has
finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to
to the true nature of an incredible people,
their majestic endurance,
their ancestors;

I’m no artist and don’t know my colors.
I live in a world that thinks it knows
its colors, and colors inside the lines
not outside; the “lines” being
the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004
Maybe we should hear the Sister’s,
our sisters’, call from South Africa
and use lines to wrap around:
Majesty
Dimension
Endurance
Courage

Name every quality our sisters
and brothers, of African Heritage
carry with fortitude,
and you come up with,
in my book,
“The Chosen Ones”

And what if God and his Messengers
and Prophets saw that
these Chosen Ones
endured trials similar
to the Minor Prophets?
And what if the Ancient Beauty
knew His love for
His Chosen Ones,
knew they suffered,
the banishment,
the chains,
the whippings,
as He,
in the Path of God?

And what if this planet
really was a testing ground to see
who could show
courage under fire,
love of God, love of people
despite that the Stolen Ones
and their kin were also robbed?
But wait, here’s another view:
I think the Children of the Stolen Ones
are the Morning Glories of our age!
Their children; their children’s children
It’s the story Morning Glory

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout,
and let us bow
in reverence to our ancestors,
ransomed so we might reframe our hearts
and join each other in history’s future
where lines are a thing of the past
and colors are
loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Language After the 100 Year War

The Nouns were in control in the neighborhood of Verbiage. Adjectives were forced to end their 100 Year War. This war was known as the Great War of Planet Earth in the Days of Rhetoric Only. Verbiage, like a fireplace bellows of yesteryear, had simply exhausted its wheeze and could no longer control the Nation.

Politicians would no longer be described adjectively. Thus, our President could be described by the Press as, “A man whose eyes narrowed when a syllabic word entered the toy store of his mind. A man whose Rubber Ducky drowned when his bath water became higher than what is necessary for the average leader. A man who could bob eternally on the Ocean of Platitude.”

This leader called up his country’s Reserve Marines again. These Marines were sent to a land which resembled a cannon to which they would become fodder. They would obey their mission, climb into these cannons, and be shot out over the land of buildings which no longer resembled buildings. Naught would be seen but structures of rubble which resembled cookies crumbled in the hand of a monster as tall as the sky.

The Congress would not be allowed to use descriptives in the form of the much abused adjective. This caused some consternation, for our Congressmen knew of the paucity of adverbs when running for election. The Congressmen would no longer be able to crawl into that vat of adjectives filled with words guaranteed to portray an individual Congressman righteously and puffily. These adjectives, I might add, are thrown carelessly into this vat, like screen plays in Los Angeles, like potato chips in a Lays truck which had escaped from their Bag Containers.

The Nouns issued an edict: “Stick to the Facts Jack. Straight Facts for a Straight Land,” a land which had lived adjectivally and splendiferously for too long, thereby wreaking a knowledge gap which had caused the five years of last of destruction upon the planet.

Politicians had appeared on the News Hour program with Jim Lehrer, and on what used to be Peter Jennings’s Newshour, and on Tim Russert and explained Sunday after Sunday, or was it Monday after Monday, of their importance, the importance of their minds, the nuances of their minds. These very same politicians verbally gamboled along to thinly expand titles such as “Theatre of Operation, War Games,’ and last but not least, the most abused noun in the world, Democracy – Democracy became a gutted, slutted word, misused, stretched, liked hardened taffy in a candy machine after the summer crowd had gone home.

A rape of the Nouns had occurred. What choice did the Nouns have but to take over the Nation? They cried out, “Aack, aack, aack! No more.” And so as this tale is difficultly told, but blessed for its attempts, all the while failing in adverbial splendor, time will tell how language controlled its environment so that facts and integrity might emerge again before the children of the world forget that “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues.”

one last one

Before the Golden Age

Elizabeth Vargas bids goodbye
from the news –Wait,
how is Peter Jennings?

Now I know
of his kind heart, his last days,
his frailty-but what of his regrets
about those last cigarettes?

Nine eleven – my fingers
probe memory’s silt,
Braille the reality of those days,
find Terror’s Dullard Cousin Disbelief

Our earth stood still on nine eleven.
Together in cylindrical need
we lurched towards one another
a oneness prayer,
no words or syllables or sounds

United, until the politicians
like Crows from New Jersey,
fat cigars hanging from their mouths,
carped, scavenged and hawked
their way up ladders of
avarice and greed.

“The necks of men are stretched out in malice.”*
Crows cavorted long back halls
of politically elite and
Power’s salacious divide.

Language used for
dark reptilian thoughts
separate, the enemy, the other

The Crows, did I say crows?
I meant Boys, Boys at play,
like Gargoyles in a game
Crocodiles shopping for dental twine.

*Baha’i Writings

This is a picture of Lucy, who is 14, and whom i take out for a walk at noontimes. She had to go to the vet today; had blood tests, a biopsy. She’s 14, arthritic, deaf, and somewhat blind. After my pug got old, I learned how wonderful old dear pugs are. Lucy is terrific, loving, cute as a button and yet fragile. I hope she has more time on the planet. She has a wonderful owner. At any rate, she has won my heart. I may not be able to have pugs where I live, but it’s wonderful to meet some, care for them, love them. It’s a real privilege.

Left Mouse Click, Inc.

I have a computer angel, who has a company and fixes all your worries and troubles ever to enter a snarled head regarding computers. His name is Robert Rubino, and his website is above. He came over on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and spent several hours rescuing me, a friend and former neighbor, out of a morass.

I decided to put his name up here and tell you, if you are ever in a jam, he’s your man; sounds rhymy doesn’t it. At any rate, Left Mouse click is a phrase that makes me grin ear to ear today and probably for more days than I can count in the future.

Love to all, esther

Found this image under “four line poem” and note the 5th column, oh well, nothing is black and white. I am prompter for writing group this week; and i think this was something i suggested from Kurt Vonnegut-the basic idea is to write a four line poem before you good to bed; make it as good as you can and don’t show it; the creativity is the reward, but of course, typical writer, i show; 4 lines on computer different from 4 lines pasted into spot; c’est la vie!

Four lines travel across a page

Does “before you go to bed” mean before a nap because my eyelids droop as I am back
From walking urban blocks, for exercise, a checkout at a consignment store, cough drops and Nan bread at Trader Joe’s – bless me father for I won’t eat more than my allotted

My world is bound by cough drops of the herbal kind, a husband who is tottering, a good sign indeed, tottering rather than near death like a week ago, wanted to stay weak and now in Pasadena uptown that is where the streets are wide, and quiet reigns, I think it’s all a prompt this life; one prompt after another, transforming, plunging, changing.

Ever listen to the Zen noise of your computer on promising you life beyond your borders where communication pulsates or lurches, take your pick and you find, you can bear or bare, oh dear, just about anything even misspelling, as long as you are connected to the chair, the floor, outside a squeaky screen door to the ones you love out there and here?

I’d like a dog, the idea of a dog, maybe like the Tarjay (Target) dog, white with gorgeous red eye, or maybe a beigy French bull whose ears point to Mars, both sides, and whose white tummy needs rubbing or maybe a pug to snort and shed pug hairs around his Napoleonic existence, and this is not to be so – time to cruise pug websites instead

My life is made up of beeping sounds of phone off hook so Bill can nap; and 1-800 numbers and an open cough drop bag, a small book The Hidden Words, open books about 25 of them, witness to the attention span deficit of my ways, and images, lots of images, one of Steve Pulley’s email, reminding me I am prompter; a friend indeed

Gotta go take that nap – white velvet pulls at my eyelids, and my bones feel like candle wax melting, and the bed, flat, smooth, near a half opened mullioned window beckons, even beyond the promise of lunch, crisp hot Nan, with golden margarine swimming over its blackened crust, sleep and then health and then be there calls.




February 27, 2008 – A year ago, I was walking with Dom and Vera in Weimar, walking across cobblestone streets, near Bahaus University where Vera getting her doctorate, arm in arm with both of them. Today, I sit here thatched headed, and Bill is nearby. He is totally without energy, lightheaded, and on antibiotics. he’s in Day blah blah of his Saga, which involved an almost all night sojourn at Huntington Hospital’s ER last Wednesday, to which valient friends showed up. Because of his Epstein Barr, his liver is enflamed, and he had a very bad reaction to previous meds. We are just grateful he’s home, and we find ourselves at night sitting on the couch just holding hands.

The above pictures seem to be my themes today, and I have been concerned about Bill whom I call Mr. Bill of late; I feel like a pug dog facing the door waiting for my owner to appear. Tonight, Maryam and I with an assist from Mona, giving the fireside at the Nelson’s on the role of education, but it’s so much more.

Prayers for Counsellor Aghdasi are in order; not sure in my haste to get this in I spelled everything correctly. The fortunate thing with prayers is spelling doesn’t count. Sandra just called and passed out on the floor of Target which we call Tarjay yesterday afternoon. I told her she probably was the dishiest blonde to hit the floor that day. She’s home, after ambulance ride to ER; friends right there, stitches in head and lip, and lived to tell the tale. The ER is still quite crowded she reports. Poor people are struggling with the flu down here.

Couldn’t resist the picture of Bill digging or ready to dig into ice cream. that was in Idaho when we were 24/7 with my sister, and neighbors provided ice cream and we all dove into same as if there was a shortage, or at least I did.

Okay that’s it for the day; wishing everyone well in their myriad footsteps hoofing around their metaphorical neighborhoods. Johnnie is leaving Friday for Haifa, and Ann and Stephan are on a plane, as we speak, going back to Dalian, China.

THIS is the lady I correspond with at Chowchilla. She was sexually abused most of her life and she and her mom are in prison for killing her stepfather/her mom’s husband. The legal work was shoddy, and there’s a certain amount of obfuscation regarding obtaining police records. I have been writing for several years now, and find TC the pluckiest, most grateful lady one could find. People from the “outside” help, and i give a small amount for her tuition which has to be in money order. I had to get permission to write to her, i.e., fill out a form. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, let me know.

The following gives a true account of life in her prison. I pray for her, give her some money, send stamps, and the like. someone from a writer’s group is putting her book together. If anything, can you pray for her?

The T.C. & Mama ‘P’ Newsletter – 4th Qtr, 2007Dear Family of Friends,We hope that this finds each of you doing well. There are nearly 50 of you that receive this newsletter, and I don’t know how many more that it is shared with. Our goal is to help you see into our world behind the walls,and to answer any questions that you may have. Prison is not like thoseHollywood movies. Sometimes it is worse, most the times it isn’t. We want you to continue to share your world with us. The lines of communication go both ways, and it has made an impact and all the difference in our lives. With love and gratitude, T.C. and Mama ‘P

’Wired Pizza Many of you are already aware of the terrifying incident in which mom choked in the chowhall. Please allow me to quickly update those who are not already informed.One Monday night, Mom & I went to the dining hall for dinner. They were serving cheese pizza. After one bite, she shoked on what could’ve proved fatal! A piece of twisted wire with sharp edges was hidden beneath thecheese topping. She was able to dislodge it, but she had to physically remove it from her throat. Some warm salt water and a few spoons of honey helped to heal it.I confess I was scared to death I could lose her, but somehow I remained calm and instructive. I eventually wrote a letter to the man in charge of all inmate prepared food in the prison, Mr. Cook. Yes, that really is his name. I sent him the piece of wire in a clear medicine baggie so he could see what was in her throat. I also informed Mr. Cook of other incidents thathave recently taken place. I cracked my tooth on a rock that I found in my rice. The dentist charged ME $5 to fix it! The prison should’ve covered it.A roommate found a rock in her beans and another found a hard piece of plastic about the size of a lipstick cap in her tuna salad. I told Mr. Cook that he either had some very unsafe food preparation practices taking place,or a sociopath in his hands. He hasn’t replied.Mom has healed and is doing well. We are scared to eat in the darn chowhall.It is one thing to know that the dishes aren’t washed with hot water,because the inmates don’t want to burn their hands. Or that they use the mop sink in that area as a toilet because they are lock inside. It is sickening to know that dried goods like rice, beans, and cereals stored in bulk bags are being served although they have clearly been used by mice to led inside,and even have babies. We’re disgusted by the spread of germs from hands,hair and spittal from talking over food being processed. But when you add wire, rocks and hard chunk of plastic in our food, it is just down rightterrifying. If this were a restaurant in the free world, the HealthDepartment would have shut it down years ago. We couldn’t be so lucky.Health ReportOn Saturday, October 6th, Mom & I both receive our Flu vaccination shots.Hopefully this will help.We’ve been walking at least one mile 4x a week together. Even with her bad feet and hip, she’s out there on the track. She keeps dropping a pound here,two pounds there. She’s pretty happy about that.I believe I have arthritis forming in my right hand, which is aggrivating mycarpal tunnel. Basically, we’re doing good and hanging in there.

How Do You Do That? I have been asked by several of you just how I manage to make shreddedbeef or ground enchiladas in the cell with nothing more than a bowl ofboiling water. Here’s how. First, we need the following ingredients:
1 bag Nacho Chips, crushed
1 can black olives, sliced1 fist of dried onions
1 bag of dehydrated beans (refried)Flour tortillas
1 Jalapeno Pepper, large chopped
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
1 bottle Jalapeno Squeeze Cheese
1 can Meatballs in Tomato sauce
First, you remove the meatballs from the tomato sauce setting sauce aside.Crumble the meatballs into ground beef, add onion, half of chopped peppers and a tablespoon of the olive juice. Put in cup and place as stove. (Note:the stove in this case is the bowl of boiling water closed within a trashliner which holds in the hot steam for surround heat).Add boiling hot water to crushed chips along with the rest of the peppers and 3 tablespoon of squeeze cheese. Cover and let set. The goal is to have a thick masa, not a mushy mess.Once beans are prepared, place a layer on flattened flour tortilla, cover with a layer of seasoned beef, some olives and squeeze of cheese the length of tortilla. Roll, but do not tuck the ends; keep ends open. Place masa a top the rolled tortilla, packing it in good to where the tortilla is hidden beneath. Pour the tomato sauce over the top, more cheese can be added, and top with olives. I usually add jalapeno peppers to the tomato sauce first,but not everyone likes their food as spicy.I place the trays atop “the stove” for about 45 minutes an let them cook.Once the masa is hard I know the meal is ready to be devoured. In prison,one must be creative to make meals interesting. For about 12 cents these items can be purchased at the canteen, and some ingredients are stretchedfor other meals. We usually have very little problem getting someone else to go in on the meal, which helps cut costs. Yes, one can make emciladas on a bowl of boiling water. And folks, that is how I do that!

Many ThanksThank you to those of you who have answered our request for postage stamps.It is impossible for us to keep up correspondence without the necessary
stationary supplies, postage stamps being the most expensive necessity.Thank you for your generosity. We can always use them, and yes, we’ll definitely need some for the holiday Christmas card season. Again, thankyou.Personals I want to thank a small group of people for their contribution to my college education. Whether it was a one time donation, or a semester pledge, you are appreciated. I could never afford it on my own. I never thought that I’d be enrolled in college. However, I’m halfway to my AA Degree, due to the generosity of Lucy & Max, Elayne, Carol, Anna, Nancy, Uncle Frank & AuntiViv, Esther, Bev, Stella, Laura, Xuya, and Kay. Over the last year and half,totalling 30 units, and currently working on my next nine units, I am forever grateful to each of you. I want to let you down. Your investments in my future are my road to success.Mom would like to welcome Paulette, Linda, Dianne, Carol R, and Lisa to theNewsletter Family of Friends.Mom also thanks Julia for the recent subscription to the Native American Newsletter, and welcomes you to our life. This journey is so much better,when not alone.Judy Rose, it has far too long without word from you. Please, if you’rereading this, drop a quick note.Elayne, your knowledge and wisdom has been most helpful in my seeing th eworld through new eyes. I may never be enrolled as one of your students, but you teach me all the same. While friendship continues to blossom, class is always open …. the classroom of life.Carol Peck, had it not been for your patience and diligence in typing mymanuscript, I wouldn’t be as close to publication of my memoirs as I now am.How do I thank you for that? You’ve been wonderful to Mom & I over the years. Our lives are truly touched.Mrs. Bear, you are truly a gem. There are those who see prisoners as the scum of the earth. There are those who see us as getting what we deserve.And then there is you. Not everyone in our life’s path behind the walls has been as negative, but few were as trusting of us as you have been. You seen our true colors; you sensed that we were good people in bad situation. Youdidn’t judge us, but accepted us, and welcomed us into your life. We know life is tough for you right now, and it could be better. Keep up your strength and know that you’re in our prayers.And to everyone else ….. thank you for your priceless friendships, your much needed correspondence, and the support you lend us in our trials and tribulation. If life were a vessle at sea, you are our another that help us remain stable and calm, as shore is closer in sight.

Freedom Fighting Plans Although I have yet to actually draw up my concept plans, Larnette has agreed to build a web site for Mom & I. The plan is to draw the attention o flawyers who could gain a quick review of our case and hopefully offer to legally represent us for free. We only have until January 1, 2010 to file the Writ of Habeas Corpus for Battered Woman’s Syndrome. The web site could also generate public support for our release. I’m not saying that it will, I’m only saying that this is possible to some extent.I want to make sure I haven’t confused anyone, so let me do a quick reviewof where we are right now.The California Habeas Project, is a non-profit organisation of volunteers in San Francisco. They have reviewed our case and agreed that under the newlaw, we may qualify for a several of our verdict based upon the fact that evidence of Battered Women Syndrome was NOT addressed in trial. They’ve agreed to put us on a waiting list for legal aid, however there is no telling when legal aid will be available. It is also unknown if legal aid will be made available in time for us to file our appeal before the 1/1/10deadline. All attorney aid is volunteered, and the list for women like us,is unfortunately very long. So, while we wait for the CHP to assist us, I’mmerely trying to create backroads to the same destination point. I’m tryingto help the CHP to help us.I’ve also asked Carolyn and Steve to place a free ad at the web site Craig’slist. The goal is still the same: seeking free legal aid for justice. If you have any idea of your own, please feel free to express them.Applications for assistance have already been submitted to the California Innocence Project. This is basically a bunch, how students working on your case for school credit. The problem is, us students, they move on, and new students must begin from the very beginning all over again. There are prisoners here who have been waiting 5 years for results. While the CIP haswonderful intentions, they also seek clients who claim innocence. That means“I didn’t do it!” They’ve had our paperwork for a couple of years now. So you can understand the need for more options. We’ll keep you posted on any web site accomplishments.

Make A Difference More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women in the USA will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. They are 2,5 times morelikely to suffer a rape or sexual assault than the general U.S. female.According to article titled Failure To Protect in the summer 2007 edition ofAmnesty International Magazine, 86% of the men who omit these horrible violations against these women, are non-Indians. In fact the majority are white men.Since Alaska became a state in 1959, federal authority took over crimes committed with criminal prosecution if they made any attempt to enforce their own village laws. Tribal councils care prohibited from tryingn on-Native suspects. That would be the 86% mentioned above. This is appalling.Due to nationwide advocacy, congress established the Tribal Title (Title IX)of the Violence Against Women ACT (VAWA) to address specific needs of NativeAmerican and Alaska Native women.I am asking that you help ensure the rights of these women by urging theU.S. government to fully fund VAWA, particularly the Tribal Title (TitleIX). You can do this by writing a simple statement expressing concerns about the levels of sexual violence against Indigenous women and the government’sfailure to punish those responsible. Please ask that the respect and rightsof these women be protected. It doesn’t have to be a long letter. Just copythis last paragraph if words are had to find. This is an appeal for changeand support. Send your letters to:
Rep. David Obey
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
2314 Rayburn/House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Overpopulation Situation We had sent out several letters for several of you to sign and send to JudgeThelton Henderson is one of three on a federal panel of judges who are deciding the way in which the problem will be solved.The letters helped make the dilemma a lot less of a burden. We can rest assured that the beds will NOT be added to our side of the dayroom. Mom & I don’t need to worry about being uprooted and separated. We had feared that they’d need our cell for a community shower. That is no longer a fear. As a matter of fact, there is an unconfirmed rumour that the beds are supposed to be removed from all the dayrooms by the end of the year. At this time, a few housing units still have half of their dayrooms with beds filled. That includes our housing unit.In a recent meeting, the Warden said there are only 2500 beds available in the states 33 prison. I can honestly say that there aren’t any in CCWF.According to the 3 judge panel, non-violent felons and parole violators who are in custody for petty violations, will soon be released as part of their plan to reduce the prison population. They also intend to eliminate the practice of petty parole violation such as address changes being reported to parole officers after the fact. If you report it before you move, then you’re okay. To report it even within hours after physically moving, could result in a flat year violation of parole. The judges agree that this practice is nothing less than job security for prison guards and parole agents. Relief is soon in sight.

Who Started This Christmas Stuff?A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable; andafter hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many selves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time ofthe year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming,taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car.She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it any more and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot.”From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, “Don’tworry, we already crucified Him.” For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

The Shakedown
In From The Cold
Shut in like a fly,
Stuck in a glass,
The last time out
The noise echoes in my head.
the frigid air engulfed me
I can’t think clearly,
frost biting at my heart
A dozen voices so loud,
reluctant to trust again.
They’ wake the dead.
Green suits in the hall,
With a gentle hand
Keys jangling,
a compassion so evident
Latex gloves on hands.
I knew not
We know not why,
what warmth was
This is happening,
until you brought me in
But we all understand.
From the cold.
Stress fills the air,
Chaos on the loose,
The cell door opens wide.
“Step out ladies,”
They always call us ladies,
The sea of green steps inside.

From the Heart On Wednesday, October 3rd, Mom wasn’t feeling very well. As a matter offact, she was in pain from what would prove to be a bladder infection. I had gone to the clinic and requested a favor from my favorite nurses. Being one who never cries wolf, and earning the respect of staff has its privileges. Iwas able to have Mom seen that very hour! Normally, it would take a week.When the RN took Mom into the office, I sat on a bench in the waiting area.I looked up at Jennifer, the nurse, and I said, “I just love her.” Mom was taken care of and when I seen Jennifer the next day, she said, “I told your mom that she’s lucky to have you.” I smiled back, “Yeah, well I’m lucky to have her too.” That got me to thinking, in life, we’re all lucky to have each other. Then again, it really isn’t about luck at all. It’s about blessings.Mom and I are lucky to be blessed with each one of you in our lives. The sharing of your lives, the expressions of your hearts, and the giving of yourselves. We are truly blessed. As Mom’s 66th birthday arrives November30th and your cards find her, we’re reminded of the love and support each of you has for us. We’re lucky to have you.So I say from the heart, look around yourself. Look at your life and everyone in it. It’s more than luck, it is a blessing. Each person in your address book, each path you cross and keep in your life. We’re all lucky to have each other; we’re all doubly blessed. You’re God’s gifts to us.
Happy Holidays,
TCTeresa C. Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Barbara Paulinkonis
W45120 514=-16-AL
P. O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

AS I SAID, i think you have to get on a list to write. There are restrictions: no more than 5 pages, no more than 20 or 40 stamps, no books unless sent directly from well known publishers,bookstores? money has to be in money orders. One fact: they make little money and are charged for stuff, and it’s usually expensive; so they pay for their food. MCI charges extra for them to make phone calls too. At any rate, if nothing else, keep them in your prayers! love esther