JH Artwork

JH Artwork

Writing Exchange 2006-2019

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Placer, Fresno, San Francisco, and Butte County. Students are given journal topics and asked to write what needs to be written. Several entries are handpicked from each classroom site and posted to the blog anonymously. Students at each site then read the material together, discussing the writing and connecting with others.

Planned Exchanges

Planned Exchanges 2019: October 25 (Flash Fiction); November 29; December 20.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Entry #1849
Just Getting Started
        For the majority of my life I was surrounded by drugs: my dad did drugs, my brothers did drugs. I never cared for them but I wasn’t against them either, I just thought of them as helping people with pain to get through the hard days. I never wanted to get sucked into that kind of lifestyle where days flew by and nothing felt real. I’ve seen the consequences of my brothers getting messed up in the head from using, not trusting anyone and feeling like everyone was against them.
        Later on I did get caught up with drugs but not in the way you think. I was selling them in mass amount. My brothers would have me go make deals for them and go get the product. But I would never do the supply even when it was offered. I wasn’t going to get addicted because there was so much around that if I did get addicted I would become something I wouldn’t want to be.
        When I moved back here was when things got a little rough. I was about 13 and got in an accident and had oxy prescribed to me. I got addicted. I’ve always had bipolar depression, but with the oxy’s and the pain, it all got worse, causing me to go into a bad place. I started to smoke weed to get the edge off and it worked for years, until I got kicked out and I was living on the streets. I was 16 at the time.
        I was couch surfing, and sleeping on the streets for about 3 or 4 years. I was with my homie and we bought Xanax and that’s when I got addicted to those because they took everything off. I felt numb, no pain, no memories, nothing. I had a really good job. I was trying to get back on my feet and get a place of my own however with the Xanax I started missing days and not showing up and that ultimately got me fired.
        After that I quit doing drugs, got my job back, and went back to school. I was still on the streets which made every day a struggle. I managed, up until my boss told me he had to let me go because my work permit only allowed me to work weekends and he needed someone full time. That put me in a bad position.
        I owed my friend money form staying with him and his parents so I went out one night and robbed a house to get some money or something to sell. I was caught on the scene when the cops arrived. Four months later, here I am sitting in Juvenile Hall serving 14 months.
        I may have had a bad path and not the best cards but this is not and will not be the end of my story. I have a lifetime to do right and make something of myself. I began four months ago when I got placed in here.

Entry #1851
Curing Blindness
I've realized over these past six months,
I've been blind this entire time.
Blind to the thoughts in my head, misinterpreting their meanings.
Blind to how people are feeling, and turning them away.
My mind has changed so much; it's honestly quite scary.
I have learned the errors of my ways and I want people to see,
I'm not a monster! I'm not a murderer! I made a mistake; but that doesn't define me!
I'm a hard worker! I'm determined! I've changed for you and for me!
I know you don't like me putting others before me. I've been working on loving myself.
I understand now, all those things you've told me. I'm sorry it took so long for me to see.
I'm going to fight the urge and negativity! I'm going to rise to spiritual prosperity!
I'm going to make the world see; that the past is always behind me!
Giving me guidance, teaching me, reminding me through memories and mistakes and experiences. For the longest time I thought I was losing my mind.
I'm proud to tell you I'm doing just fine. Thank you for believing in me.
I couldn't have done it without you. My mentors, my family, and my boo, from me to you.
Straight from my mind, I'm not blind I can finally see what is meant to be for you and me.

Entry #1852
My little corner of the world 
In my little corner of the world is violence and pain, 
I’m in a crowd yet lonely, 
Tried to rise above but held back by those who say they love me, 
The past haunts me but not by my own choice, 
My honesty is bad and my lies are believed, 
I accept my faults, my strengths, my weaknesses, and my feelings, 
But yet I am expected to fail, 
My achievements are overlooked, 
My failures glamorized, 
I know nothing, 
I am not responsible, 
A disappointment is what I am made to be, 
Loneliness is my best friend, 
Dreaming is my pastime, 
Understanding is my desire, 
My little corner of the world is priceless. 

Entry #1854
No Reason or Purpose
        When I was younger I was surrounded by drugs and alcohol, and as I got old I started using weed, drinking and popping pills. I did it because all my friends did it and it made me feel good and accepted into the friend group I was involved in. But it did help sometimes when I would go through a break up or when something difficult came in my path, I always resorted to popping pills and drinking with my friends.  After a while I was drinking every day and night going around stealing for no reason or purpose. It first started out as stealing food, then bottles, then money, bikes, cars, and guns and it became a normal thing for me and I would always do it under the influence of alcohol or pills. I ended up stealing from my parents and family which was the worst mistake of my life because now I’m locked up and won’t be out until next year some time.

Entry #1855
A Tragic Event  
A tragic event that happened in my life was when my grandpa died. It taught me to not give up and keep striving. This was a hard time in my life. I lost someone that was very important to me. It gave me strength to do my best in school during that time. Even though I was hurt, I prayed to God to help me and guide me through this rough patch in life. This happened two or three years ago but I still feel the same type of hurt like it happened just yesterday.  As I got older, I got better at coping with my feelings. I got a lot better at putting things behind me. I was always the type of person to put my feelings in my pocket in public but in private, I will let my emotions out.  

Entry #1856
I am poem 
I am red because it is the color of blood  
I am a triangle because it is cool 
I am running because I am always chasing chickens  
I am “BANG” because it is the sound of a gun 
I am a big dog because they are ruthless 
I am transporting by Kodak black because it is orange like my pod 
I am 31 because it is the number of my birthday  
I am a McLaren because I am luxurious 
I am a rocking chair because they are relaxing  
I am a guitar because they are harmony 
I am Mexico because it is exotic  
I am gold because it is worth a lot of money 
I am a pine tree because they grow tall 
I am afraid of dying because I want to live forever
I am not easy to trust people because people switch up 
Entry #1857
        When I was young my life was good. My dad was in and out of my life but other than that it seemed perfect. One of my big brothers used to kick my ass, but that’s a normal house hold of boys. I used to get into mischief and get into fights at school and around the neighborhood…normal business. But then my grandma died and all hell broke loose.
        She was the glue to our big family. I didn’t see most of my extended family after that. My mom and dad were devastated. My dad split again and went back to running the street. My mom started hanging with the wrong crowd and started selling.
        One day I woke up to being told my mom was in prison. She was with some dude when he strangled another man to death with a belt. Story was, as usual, that she didn’t know anything and he told her to give her a ride to pick up some things and she was in the car by herself when the cops pulled up. One of my brothers at the time was here in Juvie where I’m typing this right now. My littlest brother went with one of my mom’s friends, which a couple of my aunts thought was the best decision. Me and my older brother stayed at my family’s apartment with my older cousin Brittany until the rent couldn’t be paid. Me and my brother were already very close and knew are way around things. We left the apartment and were doing what we had to do.
        We had the nicest clothes and had money. Isn’t that all what teenagers want? Well not us. We wanted our life back. We had a hole in out chests because our family was destroyed and we knew things could never be the same. We had friends but it felt like we were walking the earth, just the two of us, alone. I stared living with a girl, while my brother lived with one of our other friends or something, I can’t remember. We never slept outside or anything because we had people that were there for us. We did our best to return the favor to our friends in our own ways.
        I was already into fighting, hustling and everything that came with it, but it was all getting worse. My mom got out and tried to fix things for us. The damage had already swallowed us though and our lives were already committed to this routine we lived. My mom got back my littlest brother and my big brother got out of camp. Things couldn’t go back to normal though. We moved into my grandma’s house but behind the scene things were bad there too.
        Me and one of my brothers still ran amuck. Our family got a trailer up in the mountains but me and my brothers were always in town because there was nothing to do up there. My mom started messing up again and we lost the trailer. We all split up once more and later I found out my dad was locked up.
        He got a hold of us and told us he was going to change his ways. He got out and was turning things around. Me and all my brothers except one were with my dad staying at my uncle’s (my dad’s best friend’s). I was back and forth between there and a girl’s house. Things were good for a while. Then my dad left yet again and we still all stay at my uncle’s after he left. I started to getting really involved in some serious things while my dad was gone. I continued these things until I was caught with a gun. That landed me here, in the same place my brother used to be. But you know what they say, “Everything is a learning experience.”

Entry #1858
Then My Third
        Childhood is supposed to mean good memories and good times. For me it means abuse and bad memories. There are things that I can’t talk about. Some kids get a good childhood, some get a middle ground and others get a terrible childhood. Me, I got the latter one. It started at my birth. My biological mother was a meth addict and was using when she was pregnant with me, so when I was born, I tested positive. When I tested positive, they took me away and put me with a foster parent until I was adopted at the age of three by cousins. Now, let’s fast forward five or six years, my adopted mom said some shit and I was taken away again. I went to my second one then my third one. After that I went to my first group home, then my second, then my third. This process repeated until I was sixteen. Now I’m locked up until I’m seventeen and a half.

Entry #1859
      Drugs are a big factor in my life. I have never done any type of hard drugs like meth or heroin, but I’ve done just about everything else. I was introduced to weed at the age of 9 by my dad. He smoked all the time, so me and my brothers thought that it was a cool thing to do. Eventually we started to steal weed from my dad and smoke it whenever we got the chance, and ever since then I have been getting in trouble because I smoke weed.
        My dad never cared about weed, he would even smoke me and my brothers out from time to time, but my mom cared a lot. She tried to do everything to stop me from smoking: she grounded me, whooped me, made me do chores, anything you could think of, but it just made me more determined to smoke and to hide it from her.
        Eventually things got worse.  I just stopped caring and moved in with my friends. I smoked and drank every day, occasionally drinking lean, popping pills, snorting cocaine, and doing acid. When I lived with my friends I did all types of stupid stuff to get money. Let’s just say that every time that I’ve been locked up I’ve been high or drunk.
        When I get out this time I’m going to stay sober and try to find a job and get my life back on track so I can forget about this place and this part of my life.

Entry #1860
Maturing from Pain
        When I was a kid. Growing up was exciting. It was also difficult at the same time. I would enjoy myself learning how to shoot guns with my uncles. Also, I was learning how to fish, how to ride quads, and dirt bikes. I liked going riding with my uncle and friends. We would go to the Pismo Dunes. We would also go to the drag races. I entered and lost, but I finished in third place. What I like most was BMX Freestyle and to be around my uncle because he taught me many things. I learned how to do tricks and hit dirt jumps. I was only in fifth grade when I started biking. I stopped biking when I hit tenth grade, but I still know how to bike.
        I played football for two years in a row. I also played baseball for two years in a row as well. Those are my two favorite sports. I stopped playing sports and started to drink and smoke. I started because my cousins were shot and almost killed.  One of my cousins who was closest to me almost died before my eyes. It put my family through so much pain. I saw a lot and have been through a lot. Then I started to hang with my cousins and their friends. I slowly started to affiliate with the gang. I was only in sixth grade when all that happened.
        I saw my step pops shot and killed from a distance. What hurt more was that my little brother was there and saw his dad killed. I was only in eighth grade. It felt like every year things would get even harder than they already were. Two years later my brother was shot and killed. That really messed me up mentally and physically. I matured more from pain than age.

Entry #1861
Two Ounces of Heroin
        Drugs. Drugs are the root of all of my problems in the last couple years. Let’s start when I was 14 and was at my homie’s house around a bunch of older white boys all smoking dope. One of them asked me if I wanted some and I said, “Yeah,” and inhaled that dope smoke for the first time. I was in love. This may sound bad but I loved the feeling so much I just couldn’t put the pipe down for a while. It turned my life upside down. I got a job while I was high and even though I was able to work properly I still wouldn’t sleep for days on end and would go out partying after work.
        Then smoking it just wasn’t cutting it. I wanted to get higher. I went to one of the homeboys and asked him for a clean needle and started slamming. Once I started slamming it was a wrap. I also started slamming heroin and doing speed balls and my mind just went bonkers. One night after being up for like 5 or 6 days, I thought it would be cool to rob the sheriff’s search and rescue then the golf park. That’s when I got locked up. I got out on probation and first day out went to the boys and started using again.
        I was back to the same schedule of getting high, f-ing around and getting in trouble. This time I stabbed a guy and ended up back inside. After that I thought I was invincible and could get away with anything with just a little amount of time. After the fire, I got out and bought a cheap rv and started hanging out in the bad neighborhood and with the OGs. I started selling big amounts of both heroin and meth. This time I was staying up for 10 to 14 days and just getting way out of whack. I was committing all kinds of crimes, robbing a lot of people at gun point and just living that terrible life. I was on the run for like 3 months and got caught up on just a violation. Thank God!
        It was enough to get me stuck in here for 14 months. It is not the life I want to live anymore. The drugs took my sanity and family and now I’m working hard to get them both back and never want to go through this pain again. When I got locked up I was coming down off heroin so bad I wanted to die. I never felt or went through anything that painful ever in my life.
        It feels really good now to be sober and not having to worrying about robbing people or getting shot over 2 ounces of heroin on a drug deal. That was the scariest part of it all. I’ve seen people die off overdoses and get shot over just a small bit of heroin because some dude was dope sick. It messes you up and when you continue to do it you start to lose emotion. I am better with my family now and am getting certified for welding, so when I get out I can go home and be with my family again.

Entry #1862
I’ve been locked up for the holidays four times. I don’t think I’ll have a much better time at home because I’m in a group home. The last three years, I’ve been to five group homes and I’ve ran from all of them. I don’t know what the holidays are going to be like at home. I do know how it’s going to be here. A church comes and brings a lot of food like pizza, soda, tacos, burritos, and more foods. I think it’s more fun here than at home! 

Entry #1863
I am an orange because my hair is bright orange. 
I am a heart shape because I am loving. 
I am a race movement because I like fast action. 
I am the sound of money being counted because I am priceless. 
I am a lion because I am fierce. 
I am a country song because most people don’t like me. 
I am the number one because I am the one and only. 
I am a Jeep because I like to explore. 
I am a TV because I like to entertain people. 
I am a JalapeƱo popper because I am popping. 
I am a trumpet because I am loud and hard to play. 
I am first place because I never lose. 
I am fire because I am hot. 
I am a pomegranate tree because I’m juicy. 
I am afraid of being lonely because it makes me feel great when I surround myself with people who love me. 
I am beautiful because I am me. 

Entry #1864
10 Toes--2Feet 
What makes me want to press ahead to never give up, to persevere through the drama to reach where I need to be?   
Well, there is this saying that I really believe in, “What has not killed you yet will only make you stronger.” I remember that phrase because of my past. I realize that what I went through before may not be as serious as what I’m going through at that moment. 
I use that phrase to motivate me to the fullest.
I tell myself I am not who I was because of my past.  
I am a solid strong individual. 
I also keep in mind to keep pushing forward through the drama, there is not anyone in this world that will get me where I want in life, but myself, not a soul. 
I was about nine years old, on my own. No mother, no father. I grew up real fast, learning life skills and how to be an adult. There were many things and places someone at my age should not have seen or been through. All the abandonment made me solid and cold hearted. All the fake love and lies that I bought into made me question everyone and everything at all times. Growing up on my own made me who I am today. This is why I keep pushing through the drama and moving forward. 
Head up, not down. 
Ten toes until I am down. 
Two feet until I am in the ground. 

Entry #1865
Trying to Move Forward
At the age of 12 I was a young Hispanic running around the streets and up to no good: robbing and smoking weed. My first time being arrested was also at 12 years old.  It didn't stop me from chasing money and ditching school. I didn't realize the way I was living was a problem, popping bottles, kicking back and chilling. After all that fun you end up at the wrong place wrong time. Thinking to myself should I turn myself in just to get things done?

Entry #1866
Family Evolution
A tragic and stressful situation that happened was my parents separating. I couldn’t control that it was happening, I was just there watching it. I stayed out of it, acted like it wasn’t bothering me. I was just hoping the situation would stay the same and that it would all work out. But, at the end my parents separated. It did get better because even though they are not together they’re on good terms and both are still here for me. I am used to it now. I am close to both of them and love them both. I still grew up with all my siblings, their separation didn’t mess us up. I used to get stressed about it because I would have to go back and forth to my mom’s and dad’s houses. Finally I just stayed with my mom for a couple of years and life was good because I’m my momma’s boy. Now that I have been locked up, I will be moving with my dad to have someone keep me in check.