JH Artwork

JH Artwork

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.