Archives for category: Friends

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!

——————————————————————————————————

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.

 

 

 

 

***************************************************************************

… 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.)

imagesCAUFKWM1

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.

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

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.

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.

A harmonica

We sit inside a lodge near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is 1990 and all the young people are going off onto a boat, where they will come back and say with a crooked grin, “We had to eat the raw fish lunch.”

Leslie, myself and a few others have stayed behind, feeling a bit ragged in a large hunting lodge, alone, empty time, tired.   I have an enormous sore throat.  I feel hot red fur going from the back of my throat down to the back of my ankles.  Well, yes I do exaggerate.  But this is coupled with the fact we are in the middle of nowhere, in the tundra maybe that’s what it’s called.”  I will later incur a toe plague which will itch interminably as we wait at the Ulan Ude Airport, and I will be hustled away to some hallway in an inner corridor and a Russian lady with white hat and lab coat will apply green stuff on my entire foot liberally.  This green stuff will remain stuck on my whole foot for the length of the full 63 days on tour with a musical group in Siberia,Ukraine, i.e.,Kiev, L’Vov.  I was like an aging rock star, no voice, green feet, stuck in the back of the chorus.

In L’Vov, we will hear rumors of a revolution which will turn out to be two arguing forces yelling at one another in a downtown park, and where we have found a coffee place and gorgeous pastries, but that’s another story.

Leslie walks into my room, a large woman, with a very small harmonica.  She sits on my camp-type bed and plays,  Notes, small, steady and true fall into my heart.

A knock at our door.

We open it, and a doctor whom we met the previous week, on instinct stopped by to visit.  He gives me stuff for my throat, and I am agog by the fact that we are so isolated, in a strange city, trees, roads, fish and the vastness of Lake Baikal, and my very unspoken needs are met.  It’s like that.

Leslie plays and plays, and I settle into my bed, comforted.  She then says, ‘I had a dream last night.  We were all knots in a fisherman’s net.  When my knot went down because of something I did that was negative or plocha, Russian word for not so hot, bad, I pulled the whole net down a little.  Then she said, pausing to pipe out My Old Kentucky Home’s first few bars, “When my knot when up, I also brought up all the knots with me.  We are all knots in a fisherman’s net.”

Sore throat and all, those simple words, framed in amber notes of harmonic beauty, stayed in the inner lining of my soul.  And that’s the news from Lake Baikal this week, where the fish are full-bodied , the lake is wide and pure, and all the people in the lodge go home deepened and filled with the wonders of humanity.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

My friend Pili Pili Saka who is on my blog roll is prolific. There’s a sort of cool breeze to his thoughts, his prose, and I find myself admiring his mind a great deal. He wrote about Salvation, and I had been at a discussion regarding that same term last night; not the literal, cause hackles on the neck arise, type of discussion, and then he discussed north and south, and in this case Africa, calling to my mind the different young authors of incredible talent I have written, one of whom wrote about Biafra – north and south, and then finally the tennis balls Pili Pili speaks of call to mind a piece I wrote after my twin’s passing. So I offer it here:

Lobbing
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
i sorrow for a twinging tooth
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
a back tooth like an old couch waiting for Goodwill

sorrow was two weeks ago standing in front of
my twin’s coffin, she in her blue bridal dress of old
me, alive, sorrowing for the little girl on a tricycle
sorrowing for her life of dripping Rorschach ink

wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
sorrow has gone up like a balloon on a helium sortie
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
thwatting away epic events tumbling through and around
the people on the earth’s stage

order, thwats, pops, bops, all metronome-like
in their reassurance, the steadied beat of routine
comfort, sorrow, joy, laughter, anger, all runs together
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents

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;

French Lessons

 

 The Fabulous Mizz V, not only the best blogging teacher in town, with enormous patience and cutting edge creativity, also speaks French.  These lessons will be highly worth it.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Here is a copy of John’s obituary.

John Howard Kavelin January 7, 1944 – July 18, 2009

John died as he lived — with joy, gratitude, wonder, and amazing spiritual clarity and wisdom, defying the effects of brain cancer diagnosed 15 months ago. John was a devoted member of the Baha’i Faith and embodies its teaching to “let your vision be world embracing rather than confined to your own selves.” He gave joy to so many as an art director and imagineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. When he was little, he was called “Mr. Toad” because he moved so fast. He later designed “Mr. Toad’s wild ride” at Disneyland. John received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Brandeis University. His 40-year career as a designer spans the worlds of opera, theatre, exhibit design, television and film. John is a 17-year veteran of Walt Disney

Imagineering as an art director and show producer, He was the lead designer for “Asia” at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and spent 6 years in Japan as Director of Design and Production for Tokyo Disneyland. In 1990, John, his sister Linda Kavelin Popov and brother in law Dr. Dan Popov founded The Virtues Project, a global initiative inspiring people of all cultures and beliefs to live by their highest values. It began on Salt Spring Island in 1988 and spread to more than 96 countries and has been endorsed by the United Nations and the Dalai Lama.

Of all John’s creative projects, the two most meaningful to him were The Virtues Project and the design for the Baha’i World Congress in New York in 1992. John’s sweet nature, loving friendship and wise mentoring will be deeply missed by his family and countless friends. A celebration of his life will be held Friday, July 24th at 11 AM at Harbour House and all are welcome.

From Linda Popov regarding service, celebration, memorial for John Kavelin:

Saturday, July 25, 2009 10:26 PM, CDT
Dearest friends,
Tommy just read aloud many of your guest book entries to members of our family gathered at Spirit Lodge. Our hearts have been deeply touched by the outpouring of your love and support. How wonderful to know we have this amazing global family, especially at this time when joy and sorrow have embraced, as our father used to say. Tommy’s daughter Zhena who lives in Sweden came from Puerto Rico withTommy and Farahnaz. My son Craig came from San Francisco, son Chris from Australia and Tommy’s daughter Nava from Haifa, Israel! At John’s burial, a small, exquisite circle of friends and family accompanied by a piper recited prayers, sang, and each placed a rose on John’s casket. More than 100 attended yesterday’s celebration. The visual presentation of photos of John’s life including a portion of the dvd of the 20th anniversary conference will be available soon on line. We wish all of you could have been with us for this amazing celebration of John’s life. We did it up right, decorating the hall with tapestries and paintings from John’s home, & lots of flowers. Tommy sang so beautifully as did others. My eulogy was met with many tears and lots of laughs as well. I feel we all need to stay in touch for a while. Dan and I are going away for a week. After that I will send you thoughts on where to make donations in John’s name. Tommy and all of our family join me in sending you our heartfelt love and gratitude. Linda

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



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!


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.

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

A young friend, Carmel Clavin, is interning at the Middle East Institute and has published an article on Henna which is delightful and informative. She’s on page 5. Check it out!

http://www.mideasti.org/files/March_08.pdf




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.


Kathy was on vacation from Trinidad and sent this picture taken in the Cayman Islands! hilarious; love it! everyone misses her!

Okay, so meanwhile Ralph, stalwart husband of Sue, married 58 years, published a booK – PICTURE IN THIS BLOG – which is a fine, fine comment and quite scholarly too, of the BOOK OF REVELATION, which one Christian minister commented on:

“The Book of revelation is one of the most remarkable and upsetting books in the collection of writings revered for nearly two millennia in the Christian West as the Holy Scripture … Schreiber neither turns away from Revelation because of its highly violent themes and images, nor is he content with the idea that this document describes what will happen all at once at some future time, indeed at the “end of the World.” Rev. Dr. Jeffery Utter

and from Judge James F. Nelson

“Ralph Schreiber took on a prodigious task in his commentary on the Book of Revelation. future scholars will often look back upon this effort with great appreciation. This book bodes to bring humanity closer together as it helps them understand more fully the events of history. It gives a unique view of humanity’s approach to unity by presenting history as stages of development in which the concept of progressive revelation becomes clear.”

In Memory of Sue Schreiber (January 28, 1924-December 2, 2007)

You know I could go on in my best high school valedictorian manner about Sue aka Lillian Schreiber, but that’s not who we are, nor what I remember. So I’m going to go for images and moments and hopefully people will see well beyond the curved up, quiet, still gracious form, who endured her last days with precious little complaint. Tremendous care surrounded her a lot of courtesy from a couple of very good guys like Ralph, Janet, Peggy, Jo and others. She appreciated every one.

Sue wasn’t one who walked into a room and commanded space, because she was a gentle little thing. She did have though a tensile strength, a fortitude to endure, and sustain others.

She must have started out as a sliver. I think she was surprised by her ending days, with such curved bones, almost like a detached moon crescent, but she was still a sliver emitting a quiet grace. Inside that ravaged body of hers lay a spunky self, and a tremendous capacity for endurance. I think she got the attribute of patience down, really down, and Abdu’l Baha said that was the hardest quality.

My husband Bill and I are often noted for our obsession with pug dogs. I love the phrase, “A hell of a lot of dog packed into a small space.” That was Sue, “A lot of soul crammed into a small space.” She doesn’t have to worry about small spaces any more. She’s a bird released from her cage.

Did you know she started out in South Dakota, born on a farm, and later and went to a one-room school? She would ride a pony back and forth to school bareback. One day in the sixth grade, she fell asleep on her pony, coming home from school. That pony just took off lickety split, ran under a tree branch, knocked Sue off her keester, and kept going. Sue laughed about that forever.

Sue’s Mom, Nora, adopted Mertie because the flu epidemic killed her parents, and later when Sue’ mom died, and Mertie who was about 12 years older was married, Sue went to live with Mertie and Don. Sue adored Mertie, spoke of her many times throughout her life. Anyhow, I know Sue had 3 years of college but somehow left and went to work in Seattle. When she met Ralph, he took her to dinner at his parent’s house right away, and she liked him and his parents. I thought Ralph and Sue married in three weeks, but she said, “No, 2 ½.” “The first 35 years were the hardest,” she said one day when we were talking in her kitchen. She had health problems up the kazoo, and odious migraines.

I remember watching Sue and Ralph holding hands in 1985 or 1986 at a Baha’i Conference in San Francisco. These last 10 or so years were hard for her, as she gradually went blind, and just plain out struggled physically. She didn’t complain. I honestly don’t know how she did it. I would have been chewing up corners of my blanket or putting my face in a dog bowl growling. She valued Ralph’s steadfastness and constancy greatly. I don’t think a day went by when she didn’t mention to me how lucky and how protected she was. She loved her kids, grandchildren and the Baha’i community.

She was a thin little thing most of her life, eating Bieler soup, which from my point of view is a hell of a lot of green beans and precious little else. She ate it by the vat load, because that’s what resurrected her immune system. She liked ice cream and put it on the kids’ cereal every now and then, and when Ralph had his quadruple or whatever bypass, she started eating ice cream every night, and one day, she wasn’t skinny any more.

The biggest thing about Sue is she worked on not ever even thinking badly about anyone, let alone not saying anything negative, She understood the human condition, and to me personified the quote “The greatest pilgrimage is to relieve the sorrow laden heart.”

She loved books and found a used book about the Baha’i Faith and came home and told Ralph about it. That was in the early 60s and from then on Ralph and Sue’s home filled with people and all manner of Baha’i gatherings. Sue knew how to listen, and she understood things like addiction, or broken hearts or just plain someone being tuckered out, and she kept a lot of us women going through some grubby days.

She loved the Baha’i Writings. Her favorite prayer was the Tablet of Ahmad and its wondrous phrase, “By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.” She loved books about Abdul-Baha and Baha’u’llah, and she was steadfast and served. Finally, there’s a quote from the Seven Valleys, mystical writings of Baha’u’llah, “Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is folded”? This quote personifies Sue. I hope I was worthy of her friendship. I loved her dearly.

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

Just got newsletter for TC and her mother Barbara, battered women, in jail for life? maybe, for defending themselves against abusive husband, stepfather; bad trial. It is being looked at by an advocacy group; but their prison is Chowchilla, and this is typical fare, the description below of what happens. If you have time anyone, prayers for TC and Barbara and all in Chowchilla would be appreciated; much love esther

Dear Family of Friends,
On Monday, August 6th, mom nearly choked to death in the darn Chowhall. We
tried to stretch our canteen and quarterly Box Food, by goin to the chowhall
for dinner. After one bite into her cheese pizza, mom began to choke and
gag. I gave her water, but it didn’t help. She began to have trouble
breathing. So, I handed her a paper towel and directed her to cough as hard
as she could into it. At that point, I really didn’t care about anyone
else’s loss of appetite. I was scared, but remained calm. After 3 hard
coughs, mom felt the substance in her throat dislodge, but it wouldn’t com
all the way up. She reached in and with 2 fingers she pulled a piece of wire
out! It was about 1 1/2″ long with sharp edges at both ends that cut her
throat and tonsils a bit. She’s okay now, but people wonder why we don’t
want to eat in the chowhall. If it’s not the inmate’s deficating and
urinating in the area where dishes are washed, it is a piece of wire in the
pizza.

Wonderful 69th birthday. I awakened earlier than normal, feeling healthy after a fantastic Chinese massage yesterday. Said a prayer for my sister, Liz, recently passed, my twin and began my first birthday day without her presence. Interesting. So many friends emailed or called; i felt very spoiled. Roberta dropped by; great talk; went off to a gathering; then met interesting lady at Peets for long talk, and also ran into actress acquaintance and has nice exchange. Donna emailed; wanted someone to go up to Hill and Orangegrove for Move-On, at 6; she was bringing Blanche her Bassett, and it only involved holding up a sign for not wanting the war. I don’t participate in anything for civil disobedience, but went to this on the principle of the matter. Then Steve from the restaurant, one of our gang came out from his condo, nearby. Then we, the three of us, went to local Mexican Restaurant; food excellent. I only had soft taco as I had peanut butter sandwich earlier; and we had such a great time; donna gave me a lovely bracelet which has a story and helps cancer research, and I’ll post when i find the information. We just had a nice evening, and then the restaurant came along with a huge Mexican sombrero, red, and a guitar and some flan with whipped cream and a candle and maybe some chocolate sauce; can’t remember. I had one small bite and made them eat the rest. I am off sugar and white flower. We dropped Steve off, and donna came home and Bill, Donna and I chatted wonderfully while Blanche leaned against Donna. Great way to end day; lovely, lovely birthday. I have such wonderful people in my life. Will attach picture.



Violetta took pics of us for her photography class!




Kathy is back in Trinidad, but sent pictures of her recent 3 day trip to Mr. Carmel in Haifa and also a picture of her back in her legal
robes in Trinidad. Great pics! Everyone misses her.

SOPHIE THE PUG; we just visited her in La Quinta for several days, along with Margaret, Michael and Nikki, and we were thoroughly spoiled. Ah gratitude!


A son’s photo of his father’s Sodoku. I see divine calibration, numbers metaphor for a soul of an intricate mind. I see numbers bold and shaky, like the psyche’s bookends, fading upwards into a white haze, the haze of the abstract soul, too dimensioned to put lines and borders, and yet a soul who uses numbers as in a love affair with the abstract, the chaotic order of one’s life. I see whimsy, fascination and wonder in the photographer’s view, the unexpected, unexplained, but definitely, do not lose this image in history’s sloughing off of past moments. I see image and moment and Basquat’s suggestive art, and above all I see love of the man for the son, and the son’s Golden Braille Images touching upon a small piece of our world in wonder.

Donna’s, aka South Lake Italian Kitchen, Lake Avenue, East Side, between California and Pasqual, gathering place of the diverse who love to laugh and share. Donna, whose love encloses us all. How lucky can we be?
Be still my heart – Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
From: DStarr2491@aol.com
To: DStarr2491@aol.com
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 11:25 PM
Subject: SLIK Updates December 19th and January 3rd, 2007

HI Friends Of SLIK,

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love it because it’s a holiday we all can all share together. You can be Jewish or Catholic or Bahai or Pentacostal or even Athiest. You can be from any ethnic group or any social class….from uptown to downtown ………old as dirt or a babe in the woods……You can even be a Republican…..but the best part of it is that none of that matters…not important….insignificant…… It’s just a holiday that asks you to give “thanks” with people you love while fighting over a drumstick. That is a beautiful holiday and I wish I could be fighting over that turkey leg with each and everyone of you. Grrrrrrr.

I also want to give you our updated SLIK Legal News. The arbitration has been set for Jan.3, 2007. All I have to say about that is …..and Happy New Year to you too!

And finally, some good SLIK news to share. Blossom (our basset hound) will be celebrating her 12th birthday on December 19th again. But this year she’ll be sharing the red carpet with Jeanette and Steve Lamb who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Needless to say this year’s theme is silver. I am very much looking forward to this fun party. I hope you all can come over. You know we’ll have ton’s of dessert out front to share with everyone in the neighborhood….and champagne on the inside for the many toasts I plan to make.

Until then, I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving day.

Paws For peace,
Donna


Bill is 80% better, and we went for an early dinner at Donna’s SLIK (South Lake Italian Kitchen). We are really a crowd there, like Cheers, without the alcohol. Donna is a basset hound devotee, and has fabulous photos of her dog Blossom whose birthday party is December 19th; we all go, she rents a red carpet, i tell you. The pictures of Blossom grace one wall: Blossom with big hat and pearls; Blossom with this, and that, what a beauty. Sort of like a Vogue gallery for bassets. I first met Blossom 5 years ago, as she sat outside of the restaurant, belly sagging to the ground, an unashamed woman, and I said to her, “You look like you’ve had a full life Blossom,” and she agreed. 5 years later, Donna with another Basset, Blanche, and a thousand stories and events in our memory bank, i thought, I have been selfish. Put up a pic of a basset for goodness sake, so in honor of Donna, a pure lover of humankind; here’s a picture. Now i am going to put it in; this is an art i just learned today!


Martine is there now, John is working there. He bumped into her today at the Gardens, wrapped in a haze of beauty and peace! March 5th I will commence my 9 day Pilgrimage!

A week of intensity. A writing group member experiences loss, someone dear or more than someone dear struggles. It seemed as if 90% of my hang-out-love-em-to-pieces was experiencing struggles of the push-a-rock-up-the-mountain kind last week. Sunday, today, air clear, we are off to see Jan from New York, with whom we rendezvous once a year in some coffee house and motor mouth about life. Then we go to a reptile place in Huntington Beach for Jessica, our granddaughter’s birthday,” oh be still my heart. My heart skips rope at the thought of doing so.

Friday night, we went to Kathy’s house, and she deals with conflict resolution and arbitration in her work world at the Western Justice Center. She hosted a Devotional for Racial Unity, and her oak floored apartment, was lit with small candles; two gemoetric clear vases filled with flowers sat like bookends on the coffee table, and across the back of her white couch were stewn tiny little red petals of Chrysanthenums, and there was more. We had a great group, all younger than Bill and I. Konjit is from Ethiopia, Kathy from Trinidad, Violetta from the Congo, and recently from Paris, Laura, also from Western Justice, Latino, said a prayer in Spanish, David, from China, me from Boston, Bill from western New York. Did I miss anyone, yes, John, born here, first generation Persian-American. Laughter and intense conversations vaulted the walls, and I thought, “If we all held race unity devotionals around the city, wouldn’t it be a different city, a beginning, a tilling of the hard earth of hurt and misinformation.” Oops; news from Cardiologist; heart valve good for another 25 years on Earth’s great big track; I have to adjust to new meds which keep my blood pressure slightly above lying still moth, barely breathing, but that’s nothin!

Kathy and Laura are friends of the Faith, and I was so touched by Kathy’s offering. We have begun walking together and as soon as I can really hoof 3 miles, will be back on soon.

Saw a friend in the hospital; older, soo beautiful, the way her white hair swept off her face, a tiny little thing, needs someone to stay with her at home, day and night, but she’ll recover!

Piece de resistance, Jim took Bill, myself out to dinner to join John at Parkside Grill, and I had a wonderful fish, as did Bill, topped with flowers, and felt, if i were to have a last meal, “I’d choose this.”

The theme of Children of the Half Light played out a lot this week, and it first came up when we were fortunate to hang out with Rod, and we really are on the crust of change. “The world’s equilibrium” has been “upset” by the emergence of this new order, and I think, “you bet your sweet bippy it has,” and I am also on the theme of our tests, personal, perhaps collective (if it works on one level…) are divine calibrated, not from a punitive God. I have found that whatever darkness i have to face and go through, there is some light or blessing, or insight at the end, and I emerge, deeper, more carved out; a barnacle or two off my soul, and so it is i suspect for a lot of us.

okay enough for now; did I mention that Kathy has mud pie and i ate a hefty piece?
oh dear….tomorrow is another day!

A MUST READ; read BassiBabba’s post; re Anderson Cooper

Don’t think political position; just read the story about the little girl and then continue, even though your heart may break!

Hi, Carolyn Strickler gave me this card last night.It says “Take 2 flies and feel better.” She’s one of the gang at South Lake Italian Kitchen where we hang out, and Donna, its owner and lover of humankind par excellence has been bringing us dinner the last few days; Carolyn also created a US postage stamp; not real, but it’s a cartoon of a round face guy in long or tall cowboy hat! i love the frog stuff. life is busy; not writing yet; reading wonderful quotes; just wanted to publish this picture and say how much i loved everyone in my life.

from John Amir-Abbassi,
September 9, 2006

Gratitude streams forth from hands
Words sprinkled across a page
Love flowing across a bridge

God and I
Dancing
Side to side
At times close
At times far
But always connected

Through hands
Outstretched
Beseeching
Needful and Indebted

My Master, I bow to you
I dance to the song that you compose
I move to the tempo that you orchestrate

Do with me what you will
In this dance, I do not lead

Here’s something from Thomas Merton

Identify Me

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can determine the identity of any person.”

Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

Carmel, once pictured in my book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, sitting next to Puggy who had his tongue hanging out of his mouth and looked frustrated because he was dressed up as a bride, and she sat next to him with her tongue out, is now grown up and her hands and possibly legs are featured. She is a model for henna tattooing, and she goes to Kent State-great modeling job for a student; you go girl!

http://www.mehandi.com/shop/index.html

http://www.hennapage.com/