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Writing Exchange 2006-2018

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Siskiyou, El Dorado, Placer, Fresno, 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 2018: May 24; June 27; July 25; More To Come!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

08-09 Writing Exchange IV (Coast to Coast)

December 19, 2008

Entry #44
Man its rough getting back into society. I just got released from the hall on the 19th. I've been in there 135 days. It was my dad's birthday. I felt real crappy because he had to come to court and pick me up on his special day. My birthday was on the 18th. I spent it in a cell. Now that I'm out everything feels so alien. I have freedom. I can eat when I want, I can ride my bike, and I can take a bath for as long as I want instead of 3 minute showers at 6:30 every morning. I get to play with my dog. I get to sit on a toilet seat instead of a cold steel toilet that doesn't have a cover and you know has been pissed all over for years. There is so much excitement, yet there is so much temptation. Yesterday I found a pipe I hid in my room before I got locked up. The smell of the resin in it brought back memories and feelings that I forgot about. I wanted to smoke so bad, but I knew if I did it would lead to other things and very soon another cell. I decided to give it to my dad so I wouldn't make a wrong decision. Instead of telling me I did the right thing he got angry, accusing me of putting it there since I've been home. I got so pissed. I've been going to NA meetings every day... well at least trying to. My dad doesn't think I will relapse again. He has too much confidence. He doesn't understand how important these meetings are to me. My first day out he wanted me to work with him and I kept reminding him about the meeting. He just blew it off. I hope I'll be able to stay clean. In a way I miss parts of the hall. I miss the staff. I miss the teachers. I miss the writing exchange. I miss the quiet nights reading for hours on end. I miss the loud nights when everybody is going crazy and having fun. I miss the structure. But most of all I miss the feeling that it can only get better. Now I have so much to lose.

Entry #46
If I could change two things I have done in the past, it would be hard to choose what I would change. I have many regrets in my life. Yet I am still very young and I’m going to change my life, so I won’t have any more regrets.
The first thing I would go back and change or redo would be the summer after my 6th grade year. I would say no to my friends Tyler and J.B. when they offered me some weed. This was my first time getting high and it had an enormous impact on my life. It changed me for the worst and it made me blind to that fact. After that day I have just been doing stupid stuff, ruining my family and me. Everything didn’t happen that day but it was the gateway into a life that I had no idea about.
I began going down the wrong path. I started stealing and doing whatever I had to do just to get high. This was a total waste of my time and life. Also, I hurt so many people in this process. I have let too many people down and hurt my family tremendously. I didn’t care because I was high.
My plan now is to make my family proud once I get out of here. I am going to graduate from high school, get a job and do the right thing. I can’t wait to get and prove myself.
The second thing I would change would be to be taken back to my freshman year so I could do my best in high school. I would go to every class, sit in the front row and try my hardest. I now know that education is the most important thing in my life. School didn’t matter to me. All that matter to me was hanging out with my friends and chasing a high. That idea sure didn’t get me anywhere.
Now I am deficient 142 credits and I’m going to have to work my butt off to graduate. This all happened because I slacked off in the beginning of high school to have fun. Yeah, right, look where it got me. I plan on going to college and make my family proud. I’m still young and I still can accomplish all of my dreams. I am glad I got a reality check now. Thank you, to everyone helping me change and God bless you.

Entry #47
They say I’m nothing
I say whatever with aggression.
My life is suffocating.
My Mother would say I’m a good kid.
Reality says I’m an at-risk youth with a violent temper.
Emotions say happiness in confusions.
Yesterday says a foul pain drenched in misery.
Today says I see a grey confusion.
Tomorrow says life goes on.
My future sees a successful young man.
My present sees a depressed cloud.
My past sees me in a shocked fear.
My friends say I’m one of a kind.
My enemies say something insulting just to piss me off.
My heart says I have to be free
I will forever say who I am, me.

Entry #48
I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I wish I could go back and do over. One of those things would be never running away from my grandma’s house.
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would never have run away and I would still be at my grandmas. I really believe that if I was still living at my grandmas, I would not be sitting here today. My grandma always tried to keep me on the right track but I didn’t appreciate it. So that’s one of the things I wish I could do over.
The second thing I wish I could do over would be never dropping out of school. That was a very stupid decision on my own behalf. Now I’m really behind on credits, so the work is going to be four times the amount of work and four times harder. All I did was make things so much harder on myself than they really needed to be. Everyone told me that I would regret it in the end, they were right! So now it’s up to me to change my ways and get myself together. It’s going to be hard but nothing is impossible.

Entry #50
I remember the day that my brothers and sisters got taken away from my mother. I remember the police coming into my house and arresting my mom and dad. Then this CPS worker came and tried to take me away. I held on to the door with all my might, screaming for my mother that if she lets me stay I will be good. I started to cry like a waterfall running off the side of a mountain. As the CPS car started to drive away and I saw my mother saying I love you .As I sit here writing this entry I have not seen my mother since. I wonder if she thinks about me. I wonder what she looks like and why she never fought to get us back. I have not seen my mother in over 10 years. I have grown up living my life and getting high all the time.

Entry #51
It’s been a few years since we have talked.
You know it is hard to look up to people.
It is hard to look up to you when you are in there.
So I made my mind up and I am no longer looking up to you: to no one.
I will look to myself, just taking life as it comes.
I have not been attending school like I should be.
I had court yesterday and got an additional 6 months on probation.
Some people say I am falling into your footsteps, but really they do not know me.
I’m not like you.
I’m not robbing people for no reason.
I changed from all of that. I’m no longer that gangster.
I have found love.
If you really knew me you would know the person I really am.

Entry #52
When I was younger my mom was always sick. She has a chemical brain-imbalance. It has affected her a lot over the years. She gets real ill and can’t move much. She gets pale and so weak that she can’t even pick up a plate. I was always told by mean people that my mom was going to die because of it. It always hurt me because I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t stop the pain. My mom also had a problem with wanting to be loved so she would look for love in all the wrong men. About a year ago she was married to a man that I thought was different. But a little while ago I noticed the pain he was causing my mom. It turns out he’s just like all the others who beat and hurt my mom to make themselves feel better.
I guess what I’m trying to say is if I woke up tomorrow and a miracle was happening it would be that my mom would be able to wake up and not feel any pain. To wake up and not have to deal with the men who put her through day-to-day torture. To see this would be a miracle itself.
But in reality I know I can’t change this and I know I will never wake up to a miracle. So the miracle I will make happen when I go home is to make my mom proud and let her know that I’m sorry for all the things that I, along with others, put her through. I know when I go I will see a true miracle. The miracle I’ve always wanted.
The miracle of seeing my mom smile a smile of TRUE happiness and to see her proud of her only daughter.
I love you mom and always will.

Entry #53
I hate coming to school. All it does is bring these tears running down my face. It is so stressful. All I want is to get high. My whole world is so messed up. I get high due to the pain. The only person who loves and cares about me is my mom. It’s so hard on me. I need help. I need happiness, yet I feel like I am trapped in a dark hole and I can’t get out.
My real name is waterfall
Yesterday my name was sunshine
Today my name is fire
Tomorrow my name will just be falling from a cliff.
I see a smile
It looks as if it’s free as a bird
My name once was sensitive

Entry #55
Emotional bullets hurt so much more than the real thing. Emotional bullets cause so much more damage.
Mother to child: I hate you (bang!)
Father to child: I’ve never been more disappointed in you (bang!)
Father to child: You were an accident (bang!)
Mother to child: You were just a mistake (bang!)
Father to child: I can’t believe you turned out to be such a worthless piece of **** (bang!)
All these piercing bullets are hitting in two places, the heart and the mind. These bullets are bullets of betrayal. Anyone shot by these bullets will understand.

Entry #56
If God gave me a miracle it would be for me to have my mom back. I miss her so much it’s not that she is dead; it’s that the streets have her and won’t give her back. She is either getting high or running the streets. It’s like what I did to her the way I would make her feel when I would run the streets. That’s how I feel now. It’s like the roles have switched with us. I feel like a part of me is gone now. She was my sister, my best friend, and my mom. I feel so empty without her. She would be the miracle of my dreams, just to hold her, to kiss her all over. I wish I could have my mom back. She was the only person that I could really relate to, she would always be willing to listen and not judge me for what I’ve done or who I have become. She used to sing me to sleep, take me to go to the doctor, play with me; go to weird places with me that I thought at the time were cool. She would take me to work; we would have so much fun together. I just wish I could have her back. That would be my miracle. For her to stop the drugs, to say no. To instead of saying yes, say I love my baby too much to do that.
I love you and miss I you so much!!!

Entry #57
My real name is holy crap
Yesterday my name was sitting pretty
Today my name is pain
I see myself going to sleep
It looks bizarre
Secretly I know my name is partly sunny
My name once was absent growth

Entry #58
If I had a re-do on two thing I have done in the past, the first thing is my drug addiction. It has made me into a person that I and my family don’t even know. I have found myself in a place that I never thought I would be in. Every time I pass a jail or juvenile place, I would always say I am never going there, but never say never. If I could go back in time, I would go where I first started drugs and run the other way. I know I can’t so I will take this time as a learning experience so I can change my negative thinking into something that I wouldn’t realize till I was there.
The second thing is how I treated my family. I have put so much sorrow on my family that every time I think about it, it makes my skin crawl and a wave of sickness comes. My family has always wanted the best for me. They would spoil me so I would stay home, but money couldn’t buy what I wanted. I wanted to be free, not held by rules. I have worked on my relationship with my family and we are slowly making progress towards being happy again.

Entry #60
Locked up for the holidays eating nasty food,
Locked up for the holidays giving attitude,
Locked up for the holidays I wish I was out,
Locked up for the holidays I went the wrong route,
Locked up for the holidays ready to fight,
Locked up for the holidays stressing all night,
Locked up for the holidays in this cell,
Locked up for the holidays about to raise hell,
Locked up for the holidays getting told what to do,
Locked up for the holidays thinking about you,
Locked up for the holidays, here all alone,
Locked up for the holidays I wish I was home…..

Entry #61
I am 16 years old I am incarcerated I am doing time for a crime I am in a gang I am going insane I am missing my loved ones I am broken in two I am going to be a dad I am proud and mad at the same time I am confused I am in another world I am in the world of no freedom I am missing the old days I am missing my homies I am me and no one could change me If I could go back in time I would change the things that came to mind I would change my drug of choice Which led me to the world of destroy The world that got me incarcerated Which got me thinking and concentrated On the mistakes I did that were complicated If I could go back in time I would change the things that came to mind I would change the path I chose to pick Which now I know that I was tricked The path that made me who I am Which now I know that I’m not the same The young loving kid that I was before But only if I could go back in time…

Entry #62
What do I fear? The thing I fear the most in this world is that I will be a failure. A failure to me is something like a bum. Will I be one of those people in prison serving life terms. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think about my life. Who’s going to be my wife? What career or job am I going to have? Am I going to end up in prison or be out on the streets? These are the type of questions I ask myself almost everyday. Every night I think about this. I say to myself, “I’m going to do good tomorrow,” but I always end up in a bad situation. I end up here in this place, being locked up for a dumb mistake. From now on, I plan to do good in here-and when I get released. Instead of saying something at night, I’m going to wait till I awake and say to myself, “I’m going to do good today.”

Entry #63
Being locked-up for the holidays is something I regret. Now I have to face the consequences of my choices that led my family to sadness and depression. I realize what my family is going through and I have to change my life. In the past years growing up were the worse and never good. My life was like a tool, but that tool has never worked for me. So now I have to do something different to find my destiny. I see my past and learn from the mistakes I have made. I could really say that I have made a better change for me and all the other people around me. Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way. All of us came from some of the hardest backgrounds but we all are the strongest. If I can do it then everybody else can do it too so don’t give up on me.

Entry #64
If I could go back in time, I would change the way my ears were closed to my parents. I would listen to what they were trying to tell me. If I would have, my life would have been very different, but for the better. I used to think nothing about the lectures my Dad and Mom would give me, but as a stubborn teenager, I figured they just didn’t make sense. I also wish I could change the people I decided to hang out with. Sometimes people are your worst enemies. The crazy thing about it is you don’t even know it. They just smile and say, “What’s up?” I just wish I had chosen a different path because the one I took led me to misery and shame. I miss and love you mom and dad! Sorry.

Entry #65 I fear the darkness I fear the flick of a switch I fear it’s unforgiving harshness I fear the never ending pitch I fear not seeing my brothers again I fear not seeing emotions anymore I fear not having fun with them I fear being behind a locked door I fear missing everyday life I fear not being told to do a chore I fear missing a son or wife I fear not having the chance to be rich or poor I fear being myself I fear messing up bad I fear being stacked away on a prison shelf I fear sitting alone knowing what I should have had I fear losing my will I fear being a robot I fear not being able to chill I fear doing something I know I should not.

Entry #66
It’s one of those days where I just don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I want to sit there with a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes. I realize that if anything would change I wouldn’t know what to do. I sat up all night long thinking why has my life gone this way? Why have I been dealt such a raw deal in my life? I’ve never known what it’s really like to have both parents around for support. Like a lot of other people I turned to drugs and other things I shouldn’t have. It was messed up and in a violent situation.

Entry #67
My little brother has made the most positive impact in my life. I say that because he has shown me that no matter what obstacle you face, there is always a way to defeat it. My little brother is going to be 13 on January 28th. He has dyslexia, which causes him to see numbers and letters backwards. Even though he has dyslexia, he is still an honor student. When he was young I used to help him with his homework and he would never understand any of his work. I used to get so frustrated that I would stop helping him at times. But as the days went on, he got older and his problem got worse. My little brother didn’t want my help after awhile. So I sat back and watched him struggle to do his work. He soon started to read out loud and bring home straight "A" report cards. I was really proud of him. I am still proud of him. He never gave up, and for that I truly admire him. Today my little brother lives in North Carolina with my uncle. He is still the young man I remember, but just a little sharper. All the time, I wish he was my big brother.

Entry #68
If I had a re-do button in my life, I would change a lot of things. I would change the way I’ve acted as a selfish human being. I would re-do the wrongs and make them right. I would be a better father figure in my daughter’s life.
If I had a re-do button I would live life to the fullest. I would live life in the fast lane, like I’m eighteen with a bullet. I would re-do the bad six months of my life in a cell. The six months in here was like hell. In three more months I will make my bail. It really sucks being locked up for the holidays, not out there in the real world having a dollar to save.
So let me re-do this story over and end it like I am sober. So if you really want something good in sight, take it from me and re-do your life.

Entry #69
If a miracle happened, I would open my eyes and see light shinning everywhere. I would see a window with flowered curtains and smell potato’s and eggs cooking in the kitchen and hear laughter and joy all around me and know exactly where I was.

I want to wake up and see my grandma in the kitchen and see her damn curtains that annoy me. This would be such a miracle. Hearing laughter knowing I never really did anything to hurt my family or make them cry. Knowing I never ran away, sold my body, or touched drugs. Being so innocent.

If I woke up to find one miracle that miracle would be my life going back to 3 years old all over again. I would know not to go down that road, not to talk to that guy and stay in school. That life is much better if I don’t try to be something I’m not.

I would be very surprised and happy. My life has not been terrible but it has not been good. I never thought I would use drugs or even get locked up because of the fact both my parents do it and have been. I wanted to be different. I ended up doing bad.

That miracle would be the best thing for me. I would very happy. Starting all over could be bad and it could be good. For me I know it would be good. Being with my family and being a school girl. I use to think it was boring and now I wish I could have stayed that little girl. I always think to myself now it’s never too late. I can still be that girl. I have a future and it’s all up to me.

Entry #70
I should a dropped that blunt
I could a dropped that blunt
But I wouldn’t drop that blunt

I should a been home this Christmas
I could a been home this Christmas
But I wouldn’t drop that blunt

If I could re-do it
I could a dropped that blunt
I would a dropped that blunt
And I should a been at home

Now I know my life should be better
It still could be better
And I wouldn’t even pick up that blunt

Entry #71
I’ve been locked up since 07, and two Christmases have gone by.
Now I’m stuck in my cell questioning why.
A tear comes to my eye because I know what I’m missing.
All I have is time, so I sit here reminiscing. I’ve got a story so please listen and pay attention
My sons are looking for a dad that isn’t there.
Fear is that they‘ll fallow me.
I don’t want that because I’m the devils prodigy.
Obliviously I’m living evil and wicked.
My minds twisted.
These cuffs are driving me insane and crazy.
The weed got my eyes hazy but still I can count on something when it’s all said and done.
The next time I’m out I’m going to stay out for my two sons’.

Entry #72
I remember when I was 19 months to 2 years old. My mom and dad’s house was a pig sty and at the house the bottles were often weeks old. I remember cockroaches and dead animals. My mom and dad always used a belt with us. My grandma and grandpa took us in from my mom and dad’s house. When I was 3-5 years old my aunts took us to work when my mom and dad dropped us off. When I was 10 years old the adoption was final with my new mom and dad who were my grandparents. I got a job when I was 16. I am trying to get a job again. Sometimes I wish I was 19. I hope to open up my own hobby shop someday.

Entry #73
I write things to get things out for myself…not for other people to think they know me. Regardless of anything I write here and regardless of anything I tell you, it’s just writing on paper and meaningless. There aren’t such things as “miracles”. Maybe there might be something new and exciting but it’s not a miracle. No, it’s not. I honestly don’t care to impress. That’s not why I’m here. If you don’t like me or things I do, IDGAF. Don’t talk to me then. It is simple as that. I’m not working to earn friends. I have the people I want in my life already. Don’t get me wrong, I’m down with meeting new people. I’m just not “looking”. What I’m not going to do is sit here and tell you all I’ve been through because it doesn’t matter anymore. What I will tell you is, I’m a 16 year old female. I do what I want, not what other people want. I stand out no matter where I am. I’m nothing you would imagine. Nothing like anybody you know. Listen to what I tell you about myself, not what other people tell you about me.

Entry #74
I am a man
A man with two hands.
I am a human,
A human with nothing.
I am a drug addict,
An addict who needs help.
I am a son,
But a son with no heart.
I am a criminal,
A criminal who’s hard-headed.
I am a brother,
But a brother who never loves.
I am a gang member,
But a gangster who wants change.
I am who I am,
I am who I am,
I am who I am.

Entry #75
When I was a little boy I saw a lot of things a little boy should not see. I saw my mom selling dope so we could have money for food and a home to live in. Because of her record she could not get a job to support me and my little sister. So she did what she had to do for us. Seeing her do that made me want to do the same thing, so I did and I got locked up just like her and now I’m here. Why was I so stupid for selling dope? I saw my mom sell drugs and what happened to her, but I still did it. I feel so stupid for knowing the consequences for my actions and still doing it.

Entry #76
My greatest fear can not be explained on a sheet of paper. As for the reason, it has a space in the “Fear Column” in my mind. That, however, is a different story. The reason my fears hit me so strongly is the fact that they are very real possibilities. These possibilities would cause me to resort to my old ways. Me being 17, the “old ways” wouldn’t seem to be so bad. That’s the mistake everyone makes, trying to compare their lives to mine. Old ways to me were the worst times through my life. Now I have a child dependent on my mind. I love him so much. It hurts me so much that I had to miss his 1st birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s. Being locked up is something I’m through with. I get out January 24th 2009; I terminate probation February 28th, 2009, forever to be me.

Entry #77
If I had to redo two things I have done in the past, I think it would be me using drugs and stop going to school. I would change it dramatically because drug use stoned my life and expansion of knowledge. This is why I stopped going to school, but I can still do it. Drugs also stopped my performance and my pursuit of sports. I hope I can still excel in sports. I would just change those two things because now I am going to have a son. Now it is harder for me especially as a parent, I have to get ready for the real world and life. No more depending on my mother and father. I have got to get ready.

Entry #78
I should a stayed in school
And not dropped out
Now I look like a fool
Can’t get a job now
I should a learned from my mistakes
And never came back
That’s not all it takes
Cause my education still lacks
I would a been the first
To graduate
Now I’m like the third
To be in this whack ass place
I would a been well educated
My thinking skills are close to none
My mind hasn’t yet accelerated
I feel like I’m hella dumb
I could a been rich
Living of my wealth
My palms hella itch
I need to get my mail
I could a been smart
And not slow
I was messed up from the start
At least I think so
It’s all over with
Forget the past
I’m gonna do my own thing
And collect my cash

Entry #79
I’m going home for Christmas.
I’m going to have fun with my family on Christmas.
I’m going to eat tamales on Christmas.
I’m going home for Christmas and no one is going to stop me.
I’m going home for the holidays.
I’m going home for Christmas what a wonderful day.
I’m going home for Christmas I couldn’t wish for anything more.
I’m going home for Christmas I hope I don’t screw up.
I’m going home for Christmas I can’t wait till then.

Entry #80
My name is tarantula,
I swim in water,
I protest against love,
I waggle like an ogre,
I impulse physical activities,
I hate my eight legs,
I hate my Aunt Sally,
She’s ugly like a goblin.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Writing Exchange III

Journal #34
I am going through a maze
That to me had no ends
I made a lot of mistakes
I hurt a lot of friends.
I am going through a maze
That I have put myself in
It is up to me to change
And find a way to win.
I am going through a maze
Made up of hard times and trouble
I try to maintain the pain
That always seems to double.
I am going through a maze
And I can’t seem to see
Because I let my past
Hurt and blind me.
I am going through a maze
And I’m getting very dizzy
I let the drugs get in the way
And my memories are getting fizzy.
I am going through a maze
And I’ve been here for a while
I feel my time running out
It’s getting hard to smile.
I am going through a maze
That I’ve been in for so long
I think I’ve found a way to get out
Yes, the light is getting strong.
I am going through a maze soon everyone will see me
And all the changes I’ve made
I will be all I can be.
I was going through a maze
But that was in the past
Now I’m so much different
I’m finally free at last.

Journal #35
Everyone eventually digs themselves into holes. Whether they’re deep holes that are hard to get out of, or shallow holes that they can hop right out of, we have all been or will be there. I happen to be one of those people that have dug themselves into an extremely deep hole, like a trench. It is a deep, dark, cold place. I go hungry here.
I can’t live in this hole. There is no light, no water, or anything that is a necessity for life: yet I live in it every day.
Everyday I have opportunities to make this hole deeper or fill it up. Most of the time, I choose to fill it up. Whenever I get close to the top, I see a paradise. A place with constant warm weather, a nice sandy beach, palm trees, you know. How about this, you imagine what a paradise would look like… that’s what I see when I get close to getting out.
I never get out though. Right when I am about to get out, I fall deeper than where I started. I can’t fully explain why I constantly fall. It is probably because of my poor decision-making, drugs, and probation. How would you get out of a place that has a constant hold on you? It’s harder than it sounds, actually. Imagine climbing up a vertical cylinder with 100 pounds on your back; that’s what it feels like when I try to climb out.
When I actually attempt to climb out of this trench-like hole, I am trying to get to my paradise. Everybody wants to get to a better place, right? This place is imaginary to me; I have failed so many times that it seems like a mirage when you’re walking in the desert. I don’t believe I can get there any more than somebody can get to the mirage that they see in front of them. I do believe that I can get near this place, but I will never fully climb out of my hole.

Journal #36
I am climbing out of a hole filled with nothing but darkness.
I see a little bit of light and believe I should follow this path to live.
A hand reaching out to me for protection, wealth, and a new life to live.
Smoking funny things that make me believe I am happy
Instead, I realize the only thing that truly makes me happy is my baby girl.
I see her face and I smile.
I haven’t seen her for a while.
Our love is different.
I am out.
Out of the darkness.

Journal #37
I’m just coming out of a small cell, from hurt and upset. Once I get out I see water, hills, the sun is setting, and two birds are flying home. I was locked up because I committed a crime. It was hard to change my old ways. I ran to old friends that got high, drunk, and did crimes. I’m trying to go to a place I call happiness—most people call it heaven—where people don’t suffer physical and emotional pain. I believe this place exists and I’m very confident I will get there by serving the Lord. I read the Bible every day and night.

Journal #38
I am climbing out of a hole. I am a kodiak bear. Winter is over and I am done with hibernation. I venture off into the woods of the vast forests of Canada. As I am wandering the woods, I learn and get familiar with the fruit and berry bearing trees and bushes. I come across a stream that was made by the melting snow and rains before I had emerged from my long sleep. The stream had good sized rainbow trout and Chinook salmon for my taking.
I am the only bear around and I am lonely, but happy because the hunting is good. When I finished gorging myself I pause for a long cold drink of spring water. I continue my search for other bears and find none. A moose was roaming around casually until it saw me and it rapidly bolted off into the distance. I go back to my cave for a nap because I am wiped out from my uneventful, yet exciting first day out of hibernation.

Journal #39
Everyday I arrive home with tears coming down my face. Tears from my dad calling me a low life piece of shit. Tears from my mom hating too. Everyday I wish I had love. Everyday my family fights and I get hurt. Guys who show interest in me do so because of my looks, not for me. People come and go each week. I just beg for happiness, kindness, and for the fighting to cease.

Journal #40
I’ve made it through dark times
Even though the crimes I did
Put my life on the line as a kid
I now know I could have died at a young age
I now see my life was full of hatred and rage
I couldn’t behave when it came to authority
I now know I let the wrong people influence me
What created my trials and tribulations were drugs and gangs
But now it’s hard for me to try to change
It feels like I’m stuck in this game and there’s no escape
The only way I can leave my gang is in my grave
I’m trying to go to college
So I could better myself and get some knowledge
But first I got to start with my high school diploma
Its hard being a kid raised in *****, California
I know I’m able to make it
So I have to take it one day at a time
I know it’s going to be hard but, I have to leave the dark times behind

Journal #41
I’m climbing out of a hole. It is hard to get out. The moment I get out the air feels dry, sticky and humid. It smells like dirt as though it is polluting the air. I notice the whole town is a disaster. It looks like the whole area has been through World War III. There was a massive tornado from two funnel clouds that collided with each other.
I was digging a hole in my backyard to plant a tree for my mother. Everyone else was inside as it started to rain and hail very hard. My hole was about five feet deep and I slipped into it because the ground was muddy and slippery. When I fell into the hole it was hard to get out; then out of nowhere with the rain still coming down, I saw lightning and a huge tornado started. I stayed in the hole until the tornado passed by. I was very thirsty and hungry.
When I got out of the hole, everything was destroyed. There was no life on earth except for me. I’ve been here for about three years and I feel lost.…will anyone ever find me?

Journal #42
The institutional life is a hard way of living.
It makes me think prison is the end.
I’ve been locked up for fifty five days.
It’s one thing or another, in just so many ways.
I’ve tried to do what is right.
While they just make sure the cuffs are real tight.
It all leads to my addiction.
I feel like my life is a debate between fact and fiction.
It’s like they got me behind the eight ball.
I’m like a magnet stuck in juvenile hall.
I’m tired of being behind walls.
I’m tired of these real short calls.
I’m tired of only getting to see my daughter twice a week.
The big bill I get from Evercom.
I tired of hearing all my girl’s lonely cries.
I’m tired of it.
I just can’t take it anymore.
They don’t care.
They just shut and lock the doors.
Everything will end up budging or bending.
The best thing I can do is put this all behind me.
The best I can do is set myself free.

Journal #43
All the thoughts in the insane mind that swirls in an abyss.
Down the back of my mind and through my soul or conscience to build up more anger.
To take the control back from myself.
Buds forever mine to smoke to get the clip for the gun to fire a round into my unwilling thoughts that rot my soul.
My soul gun downed like an animal.
With a hole in my head and pipe in my hand, I twitch myself to sleep.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Exchange #2 October 27, 2008

This exchange includes writing from the day treatment classroom in Oroville, day treatment in Paradise, one classroom from Butte County Juvenile Hall, and three classrooms from Fresno Juvenile Hall.

Journal #11
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t real,
But wishin’ doesn’t mean you don’t have to steal.
I can wish and wish that I don’t have to feel
Or that my heart’s made of stone, covered with steel.
I can wish on a shooting star that shines so bright.
I wish I had somewhere to stay at the end of the night.
I wish I felt like I was worth,
But wishin’ and hopin’ won’t make my world perfect.
I wish I could focus long enough in school.
I wish I would just follow the rules.
I wish I was as smart as I used to be,
But no matter how much I wish, the cops always follow me.
I wish I could just stay out of trouble.
I wish my mom wouldn’t say she’s gonna burst my bubble.
But no matter how hard a mountain wishes it can be turned to rubble.
Well a wish is a wish, and a prayer is a prayer.
Life isn’t even, and it sure isn’t fair.
Why shouldn’t I give up if no one cares?

Journal # 12
On Tuesday, July 22, 2008, I was still in bed around 12:00 am. I was supposed to go to summer school when my sister came and woke me up at 6:00 am to go to school. I was still tired from last night and didn’t want to wake up. So as time passed she left to school and I was still sleeping in my bed.
As I was still laying there in the bed my parents came into my room and asked why I didn’t go to school. I told them that I was still tired. They told me that if I wanted to go to school they were willing to take me, but I refused. It was only 9:00 am. They left somewhere and I just went back to my bed to lie down.
Time went by and it was 11:00 am and some of my friends came into my room because my other sister let them in to wake me up. They woke me up and said, “***** get dressed because we are going camping.” I said that I didn’t want to go but they pressured me to go. So I got dressed and asked them how are we going to go camping? One said, “Don’t worry about it, I got it from my uncle.” “Don’t worry about it, what do you mean?” I said. He ignored me.
So I went outside and the sun was shining like a light bulb. I got into the car and saw that nothing was wrong with the car. We left my house. As we passed a couple of light poles something strange happened. A cop car just stopped in back of us and there were four SUVs’ in front of the car I was in. We turned and passed a green light but stopped on a red light. All of a sudden there were about ten cop cars around us.
I made a mistake on that day. I could have just stayed at the house and could have gone to school. If I had a chance to go back in time I would and maybe I wouldn’t even be in here in the first place.

Journal #13
I always knew it would never last, things spinning so damn fast.
The teardrops I shed. The laughter I had hoped to have spread….for you.
I always knew that time was fatal, because we didn’t have a sweet second to spare. But we did spare them. And soon our time together would die…..tick tick tick tick ttt-ick and it did and it made me sick!
Couldn’t feel you, couldn’t touch your lips to mine….couldn’t yell and hear it…couldn’t cry and wipe the tears away. Couldn’t even have one more day!
Goodbye is all I would say.

Journal #14
Obscurity as tangible as night
Conjuring a reminiscent thought
A feeling taste sensation or sight
Exemplifies a moment I forgot

I hesitate before I reminisce
Teetering by the chasm of the past
Then dedicate myself to the abyss
My consciousness is overthrown at last

I plunge into the canyon of the mind
Which tears itself from me as I descend
Specters replace the light I left behind
Memory and life must come to an end

I’ve felt the searing pain of frozen air
The agony of fire roaring blind
Of all my torments none compare
To these old shades that prey upon my mind

Journal #15
I remember those days in the sun
I remember life with my gun
I remember nights of joy
I remember when my mom had her baby boy
I remember times that went straight
I remember the barbed wire gate
I remember my mom’s crying face
I remember drugs that were laced
I remember singing those songs
I remember smoking out of my bong
I remember drive-bys and gang fights
I remember every gang banging night
I remember life with my family
I remember being locked up for New Year’s Eve
I remember nights at my homie’s house
I remember those girls and that small, tight, blouse
I remember enjoying life in different kinds of ways
I remember getting arrested that day
I remember my little brother laughing and his cute little smile
I remember those lonely nights in juvie
I remember my family and my true friends
Now everything is just so different from then

Journal # 16
I was a bad person
I remember when I brought my street life home and almost got my mom shot
I heard the juvenile hall door shut
I saw my homeboy get shot
I worried about getting locked up again
I thought my life was headed down the drain
I am trying to be a better person
I think I am untouchable
I need to get off probation
I try to do good things
I feel so angry and sad
I forgive my mom for making me this way
I will do something with my life
I choose to do something with my life
I dream of having money and a good family
I hope I am successful in life
I predict I will probably just be in prison or dead
I know I will still try
I will change

Journal #17
If you really knew me you would know that I am a real party person and that I get into a lot of trouble when I party.
If you really knew me you would know I have been to the Hall so many times it’s like my second home and I don’t intend to go there because I choose to, it is because I make bad decisions.
If you really knew me you would know that I have a lot of problems with my family and friends.
With my family it just goes from one thing to another, splitting and going their own ways, and leaving other people or things behind.
If you really knew me you would know that I don’t have friends or a best friend, I have what you call associates. For a while I haven’t been able to trust anyone or been able to tell anyone how I really feel about things. Yeah, I know, really sad, but if you looked at where I’m coming from you would understand.
If you really knew me you would know I am a person with a lot of anger and stress because I don’t want to live my life like this in the future, I want to be able to do something good with myself.
If you really knew me you would know that deep down inside I am a caring and friendly person. I may say things that I may not mean, but that is not who I really am. I have a warm heart that’s craving passion.
If you really knew me you would know that I am looking for a man with loyalty and respect. Not a thug that doesn’t care about you. It just doesn’t fit my happy ever after picture.
If you really knew me you would know that I am a person who wants to succeed in life and I have goals I want to accomplish.

Journal #18
It’s so dark. I can’t inside my mind. Nothing shines. All that’s left is a black of abyss of sorrow, sadness and fear that’s buried in there. Can’t you hear my cry’s of tomorrow. I can’t, there’s no time to borrow. There’s just a hidden form of sadness. I cut my wrist in every direction; I don’t care if anyone shows me any kind of affection. Watching the time endlessly pass by in the middle of a quiet day, but in my soulless eyes it’s just a pitch black sky. It goes so high, but falls so low. I’ll row the boat of life. I sit in a crippling corner and try to keep sane. Watching the crimson tears flow from my veins. Life has a suffocating grip. Welcome to the black abyss. Meet the host …..Death

Journal #19
I remember the day I committed my crime. I just wasn’t thinking that I would do time. Now in my head are regret, sorrow and worry. And you with my burden, I wish to bury. I was the one who was fueled by drugs, walking around beating innocent guys. Now I am scarred because when I dream I can still see the fear, pain, and agony in their eyes. Sneaking out at night going on a money mission, is what led me to the camp-paralyzed in this position. The more I think about it, the more it leaves me wishin’ that instead of robbing people I took my little brothers fishin’. Now in here I have to worry if they’re following in my steps. If they are, then that is one thing I will refuse to accept. Now I view life from a whole different perspective. To be there for my loved ones is my number one objective.

Journal #20
If you really knew me you would know I love my horse Annie, and my other two horses. If you really knew me you would know my favorite color is green. If you really knew me you would know my favorite band is the Kotton Mouth Kings. If you really knew me you would know I love my pit bulls Baker and Sprit. If you really knew me you would know I am an addict. If you really knew me you would know I love riding my horse under the starry sky. If you really knew me you would know my best friend is **********. If you really knew me you would know my favorite movie is Tank Girl. If you really knew me you would know my favorite TV show is South Park. I you really knew me you would know I show my horse in O.P.R, C.G.A, and P.R.R. If you really know me you would know I’m a state champion for C.G.A in 2006-2007. If you really know me you would know the fears I face. If you really knew me you would know the pain in my heart. If you really knew me you would know I want to be a vet some day. If you really knew me you would know I want to move and go to college in Humboldt some day. If you really knew me you would know some of these things about me.

Journal #21
I remember when I was a little kid, I didn’t have anyone.
I wish I had someone to be there for me, but I was alone.
People were there for me only when they were on drugs. Without drugs, they acted like I wasn’t there. When other people recognize me, it feels nice. But when your parents don’t it feels sad. Sometimes I let people be there for me, but sometimes I don’t. When I am mad I don’t want anyone to be there for me. When I need it I’ll ask for help. If they try to help me, I will take it. But when I am mad I won’t, I don’t know why. Is it because I’m stubborn or is it because I think that I can do it myself?

Journal #22
If you really knew me you would know I’m a nice guy
If you really knew me you would know I don’t like to cry
If you really knew me you would know I’m one of those people that are shy
If you really knew me you would know I don’t like disrespect or lies
If you really knew me you would know my life is bad and really crazy
If you really knew me you would know my life is sad with a little happy
If you really knew me you would know I have love for you
If you really knew me you would know I’ll be glad to help you too
If you really knew me you would know I can do good, but chose not too
If you really knew me you would know I always try to do what I got to do
If you really knew me you would know my family is first to me
If you really knew me you would know inside I’m dying of my stupidity
If you really knew me you would know I hate living in reality
If you really knew me you would know I hate getting locked up
If you really knew me you would know I’m not a quitter

Journal #23
If you really knew me you would know that my life is not that great
If you really knew me you would know that I am full of hate
If you really knew me you would know my that my life has been one big game
If you really knew me you would know it’s been me against the world, and me full of shame
If you really knew me you would know that I am just an addict, who loves to get high
If you really knew me you would know that this is my last time to try
If you really knew me you would know that I really want to stop
But If you really knew me you would know that all I was saying when this happened was, “I hate that stupid cop”.

Journal #24
All through my life me and my parents never really got along…we still don’t. It got to the point where I don’t see or talk to my mom anymore. It’s really kind of depressing that my mom pretty much washed her hands of me, my brother and my sister. My sister did more to raise us than my mom did. And now my sister’s in prison because of our stupid drug and parole policies. She missed out on a lot of her childhood because she was raising us while my mom was doing what she felt like. My dad has attempted to be there for us. My stepmom has done more in a week for us than my mom’s done in a year. I guess I should be really glad my stepmom and dad are there for us. It’s just that it gets old staying at dad’s house all the time working and going to school. I am kind of glad but it still gets old.

Journal #25
What do I regret? I regret picking up that machete, sliding it down my sweatpants, and running down the street to help out a “homie”. See, I don’t dress a certain way or shave my head. We are artists. We love to catch rooftops and freeway spots. But there are haters no matter what you do.
The three of us got into the parking lot of my “homie’s” apartments. I heard a car peeling out on the main street. Since I had the machete I didn’t jump the brick wall into the apartments. So I ran towards the main street. That’s when I saw the rival crew member. He had his back facing me with his shirt off. He had a golf club and a butcher knife in his hands. I felt in this killer mode of some sort. I was looking at my “homie,” being backed up into the middle of the street. He was holding a mini-sized baseball bat. I started looking both ways before pulling the 3 1\2 foot machete out. No one was around at all. I slid it out ready to do damage. That’s when he turned around slowly. We caught each others eyes; I could see everything he felt. He was scared for his life. A look I could not even put into any words. Not even the best actor could look like he did. I went to chop him, but then he turned to get into his car. The knife dropped and the golf club did too. He got in and shut the car’s door. That’s when I thrusted the machete about eight times through his window. I heard the car’s engine revving real loud. He was trying to put the car into gear. But the car was stuck in neutral, and would not go anywhere.
I could hear all kinds of glass shattering to the floor. I then started to blackout, and couldn’t remember anything. It all happened too fast. The next thing I know I’m on the run from the cops with nowhere to stay. Now I am in juvie with only 2 days left until I am supposed to get out. I have been here for fifteen months. I have missed so much. A single action cost me so much more.

Journal #26
One thing I regret is being a bad role model to my little brother. I regret ever showing my little brother what goes on in my world. I regret telling him how to distribute marijuana and ecstasy pills, encouraging him to do it, and how much each amount was worth. I regret showing him how much money I made from selling marijuana and pills. I regret letting him take his first puff out of the bamboo bong when he was only in the third grade. I regret showing him how to smoke chop and explaining what chop is. I regret teaching him how to make a bong from things around the house. I regret bringing my friends, who are gang members, over because now he is doing what I did: hanging with young soon-to-be-gang members, smoking, not obeying my mom’s orders, and talking back. He just turned eleven. I regret all the negative activities.

Journal #27
I regret a lot of things in my life. This is just one of them in my life. My dad trusted me driving his truck. At first, I did what he told me: go to the store, school, etc. I took advantage of his trust and I would ride around the neighborhood, speeding down the streets at least 50, almost 60 mph. I would be going off-road and burning rubber. All that fun got down to the engine. I burned the clutch and that right there cost money. My dad bought a new clutch for $450 dollars, plus he had to pay for the mechanic to fix it. My dad would not let me drive his truck anymore.
After a couple of months he let me use his truck again. So, again I started doing the same thing, but this time I started doing more things, like power-braking the truck and so on. So guess what: the engine blow up on me. Man, my dad was mad! He had to buy a new car for $5,000 thanks to my choices. Now I regret doing all that because my dad works hard for his money and I just don’t think about things like that when I’m having fun.

Journal #28
There are so many things I wish I could take back like hurting my family. I was so messed up with my drug addiction I couldn’t see the pain I was causing. My family understands now what I am going through and they are supporting me one hundred percent.
When I was out doing drugs I got in a car accident with my boyfriend. He was driving and we were fighting because he wanted to go to a party but I wanted to go to his house and hang out and sleep. So we were yelling at each other and he ran a red light and crashed into this guy’s car. He is still in a coma. I didn’t even get a scratch. It feels like my heart is broken. I wish I would have driven because I would have paid attention to what I was doing and I wouldn’t have started yelling. I would have gone home.

Journal #29
The day I most regret is the day I ran away to *******. It was at the end of February, 2008. I got in a strange guys car and he wouldn’t bring me back. I had my moms’ cell phone and I needed to take it back to her because she was nine months pregnant about to pop and I had her only help line. I felt so bad because I ran away and she really needed me at that time. I love my mom with all my heart and I would never do anything to really hurt her but I hurt her too. I was so messed up on drugs I wasn’t really me. I want my mom to know I’m really sorry. I regret that with all my heart. I am now sober and happy I’m about to get out of here. I’m going to go home to my mom where I belong. When I get out I’m going to do good and make my momma proud. We have been through a lot and now it’s time to just get along and be family.

Journal #30
I remember when I started smoking weed. I was thirteen and I thought that I was so cool. I thought it was the greatest thing ever since I saw many influential people in my life smoking and enjoying their selves. I thought that it would make me feel more like an adult. But I know now all it was doing was slowly affecting my mind frame, thinking and my decision-making skills. Now I’m in juvenile hall in a drug program looking ridiculous when I thought I was looking cool. I look back and think to myself and ask could I have made a bigger mistake. The answer I repeat in my mind is constantly “yes, yes, and yes” so I plan on turning my life around and starting over.

Journal #31
I remember being free
I remember doing anything I wanted to
I remember just wanting to be me
I remember cigarettes and dipping chew
I remember my family and friends
I remember how the days had no ends
I remember I remember watching the bowl be sank
But now all I remember is that night
I remember all that blood
I remember that fight
I remember it good
Now there are no cigarettes or dipping chew
There’s no more dank
Now I only remember what it’s like to be free

Journal # 32
I regret hearing screams
People asking what it means
I regret the sirens coming after me
I regret Juvie
I regret doing drugs
Messing up and hanging with thugs
I regret seeing that face in the mirror
It looked like a person with fear
Confused, I watched the tear
I don’t wipe my face for crying
I keep my head up high, take a breath, and sigh
I may regret a lot of things in my life,
But never the stress or the strife
Most of all, I don’t regret my life

Journal #33
6:30 I woke up and got in the shower. I got dressed.
7:15 I’m ready for school so I hit the pipe. I’m so high.
8:15 My parents are up. So I steal a cigarette and smoke it.
8:45 I’m at school.
12:00 I got pissed off so I left campus. I stole a bottle of Jack Daniels from Rite Aid.
12:30 I drop the bottle off at my aunt’s and leave for a while.
1:30 I return to my aunt’s house and get picked up by the cops.
2:30 My mom picks me up at the police station.
9:00 I go to bed good night.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Exchange #1 October 2008


Journal #1
An Innocent Young Man
A young boy that is sad because he is
Looking for his mom that left him when he was six
On my first day of school I was scared.
To comfort me, my mom wasn’t there for me.
An innocent young man locked down.
I find myself locked up in a cage.
An innocent teenager that committed a crime
Will I forget the bad things when I was a young man?
I go to my High School
And meet a counselor.
I learn about how to turn my life around.
Now comes the time that can prove that I changed.

Journal #2
An Innocent Angry Kid
A young, angry kid lost in the struggle.
Looking for guys who killed my mother and father
On my first day of school I got kicked out.
To comfort me, no one but the drugs I did.
An innocent, angry kid that didn’t listen
I find myself kicked out of my home and on the streets for 8 months.
An innocent, angry kid raised by a ‘hood.
Will I forget where I came from and when I started hurting people?
I go to ************
And meet a kid named David.
I learn about drugs, gangs, and hurting people.
Now comes the time for me to just stop caring.

Journal #3
If you really knew me you would know I hate drugs,
But I have been around them my entire life. I know the people who will do anything to get high. When I did coke, it was rolled up in a joint. I took two hits.
They always ask, but I say no.
My parents used to sell for money. My cousin went to prison for selling dope.
For a few days, I saw white stuff in a plastic bag in the motor home.
He said it was salt for beer. It was salt.

Journal #4
An innocent white girl
With a young untaught mind
Looking for a love
Anywhere of any kind
I put on a mask on the first day of school
I want to be perfect
I try to be cool
I look for friends
To comfort me
I try so hard to hide the troubles
That people put on me
But it always seemed to double
It got harder to carry
A sweet innocent child
Who was sweet and cute one day
Then the next went wild
And threw her life away
I go to sleep at night
With thoughts of how life could be
With friends and people all around
And a family that loves me
I get locked up and get a chance
To change and learn about me
I know I will be sober and fun
When the real test comes and I am free

Journal #5
If you really knew me you would know I have a destructive temper.
If you really knew me you would know 80% of my family thinks I am a monster.
If you really knew me you would know I try to control it.
If you really knew me you would know I often fail.
If you really knew me you would know my room is full of holes.
If you really knew me you would know my father left my life when I was four.
If you really knew me you would know I am alone in the world.
If you really knew me you would know I fake my image of a funny loving person.
If you really knew me you would know I hate most of my life.

Journal #6
A young kid trying to get stoned
Desperately looking for someone to care
On the first day of school to last I was blown
Just to comfort all his despair
An innocent young teen
Finds himself locked up before the age of fifteen
An innocent child discovers it’s not just a dream
Will he ever forget the pain that he’s seen?
He goes back to city to try and behave
And meets the one, his future wife
Who teaches him that there’s much more to this life
And that was the moment his life had been saved

Journal #7
Do you hear me shout your name?
Do you hear me scream in shame?
Do you here me cry in my sleep? Do you weep when I weep?
Do you feel bad when I get sad?
Do you even share some of my pain or is it all a game?
Do you even care?
Do you even hear?
I’m doubting if you feel. Do you feel?
This sadly is my shame but all the more your twisted gain.

Journal #8
An Innocent Lost Soul
A young child, at age seven
Looking for a home sent from Heaven.
On my first day of school I got lost on the way.
To comfort me, I find my place to stay.
An innocent boy caught on the edge.
I find myself lost and moving to the ledge.
An innocent man fighting for his life
Will I forget my feelings that night?
I go to the ultimate forbidden place
And meet the devil, face-to-face.
I learn about the evil people do.
Now comes the time I choose to go through.

Journal #9
A young man waiting to be found
Looking for help all around
On my first day
I got down
To comfort me I take a hit from the pipe
An innocent man locked up in a one man cell
I find myself cutting words on my arms
An innocent man waiting for his time to be up
Will I forget the pain I put my family through?
I go to school
With a smile but behind it their pain
I learned that I’m not the only one with pain
Now comes the time where I put my finger on the trigger
Now I’m a gangbanger thinking about my crimes knowing
That it’s never going to get better
The only thing I can do for now is hope to God
I’m not going to be the next victim

Journal #10
An innocent Cherokee girl
A young tan girl that’s funny and caring
Looking for her dad, but can’t find him anywhere
On my first day of school I’m lonely, lost and scared
To comfort me a pretty boy was there
An innocent Cherokee girl
I find myself ugly, small and helpless
An innocent Cherokee girl
Will I forget people love me always?
I go to church and meet a preacher
I learn about the Lord
Now comes the time to believe and have faith