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!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Entry #241
Demons in my Sleep
Why does stress have to be so powerful? I stress myself so much that it feels like my head is going to blow up, like when a bullet traveling at full speed strikes an apple and leaves nothing but a whole bunch of little pieces. I often ask myself, "If my mom wouldn't of walked out on me when I was three years old, would my life be the same?" What if I was raised by my mom and dad like a normal family? Would I still be in this situation? I often get sad to the point that I just want to give up hope, but a little bit of faith always keeps me going.

At the age of 13 my best friend was murdered. I was stressing so much, and at the time I just had so much in my mind. My uncle was never there for me so it was extremely hard for me to stay out of trouble. At the age of 13 I got kicked out of his house. Those were some of the roughest years of my life. There was nobody there for me to talk to or to give me a hand when I was in need. I was always out in the streets making money to support myself. I was a 13 year old on my own. Always out there hustling just to keep my stomach full and clothes on my back.

One of the older homies found out that I had a messed up life at home he started to support me a lot more. His mother was always looking out for me. They told me all the time that I have so much potential to become someone in life, so they did all within their power to guide me in the right direction. I was handed the tools that would help me become a success in life but I always put them to use in a negative way.

Our mom, which is his mom, took me in under her own roof. She raised me ever since I was 13 years old. I honestly regret putting her through all that stress. Now she is worried to the max because my chances of getting out are extremely low. I just want my mom to know that I love her with all of my heart and that I am sorry for putting her through all this pain. Just because of my actions my mom and family are suffering. I got no problem doing the time, what tears my heart apart is seeing my family go through all the pain. Hopefully I get a second chance in life so I could actually prove to my mom how much I love her.

All these thoughts going through my head make it hard for me to stay focused. For instance, the other day I got some bad news. My lawyer told me that he does not want to take my case to trial because the chances of me facing the rest of my life in prison are very high. I hate having to be myself because there are days when I can’t even sleep at night. It tears my heart apart not knowing how much time I’m going to be doing. I hardly hear from my family, and it makes me feel so unwelcome. I know that I have to try my best to stay focused. Being locked up sucks because it limits my choices in things to do that will help my stress less. Drawing pictures and writing music help me stay focused and keep my head off this stressful situation.

From now and on I am going to ignore all these voices in my head, and all these demons in my sleep. These are just some obstacles in my way. I have too much faith and pride to let these mess me up. I am proud of myself and it is up to me to make a change in this world. “Yes I’ve been shot at a couple times, but I’m not ready for death. The man up in the sky, that’s my bulletproof vest."

Entry #242
Time to Change
It's the sound of that steel door closing at exactly nine o'clock. The fact that I have to ask someone for a roll of toilet paper or a spoon to eat with. The constant patdowns and cell searches. These things tell me that it's about time to change.

Entry #243
Sudden Tragedies
My first memories at school: I remember elementary and the excitement I once had. As I grew older and matured I fell off my game and went through sudden tragedies that forever scarred my brain. From getting taken from my mother and placed into a foster home to watching my father die slowly of cancer. Shortly after he died I gave up on life. So did my mother.
She started selling and smoking dope. Watching her smoke her life away and getting sucked up, becoming a whole new person was hard to handle. I grew tired of it and ran away to my friend’s house. Not long after that my mom was trying to quit smoking dope and wanted me back but I didn’t believe her. She tried talking to me but I was too angry and called her a “tweaker”. I didn’t regret those words until I heard a week later she had passed away. I was on the computer listening to music when I found out. All I could do to cope with the situation was to cry.
Later on that year I got locked up for residential burglary. I was locked up for a month and got out on felony probation. I chose to move out of the bay area where I grew up. I hated it at first but I adjusted and grew fond of the continuation school in the small town. My grades rapidly improved and so did my attitude towards school. I was back on track before I knew it and for the first time of my life I hade b's and c's. I know my parents would be proud, so that’s why I continued working hard. I'm currently locked up for a violation of probation but that’s just a minor speed bump in my race of life.

Entry #244
What makes me happy is being with my family at home. Right now I am locked up. My grandma coming to visit me makes me happy. My mom has never been in my life and my dad has been locked up since I was five. When I get out my grandma (my dad’s mom), sister, brother and I are going to go make dad happy by visiting him in June. Dreaming really makes me happy, especially, while I am locked up, except when I have nightmares. There are so many happy people out there with jobs and all kinds of happy things. Don’t judge me, if you are happy, I am happy.

Entry #245
The Monster
What I do to cope with the struggles in the life? I live the crystal meth life. I use to run the hill out there thinking I was someone, a "big roller" as some might say, but when I get locked up I realize THE MONSTER has gotten a hold of me. It screwed up my teenage life. I come in to the hall and see my brothers/homeboys in the pod across from me just wondering what THE MONSTER did to them, knowing that I have an addiction. All I can do is try to lie and say I don’t. Sometimes it gets old lying about it so I finally faced the fact that THE MONSTER has taken over my life..I spend endless hours in my room thinking about THE MONSTER, the drug that messed my life up. When I was out I never thought that THE MONSTER would take me out like that. I know that one of these days I will climb to the top again with my brothers across the hall. I still remember looking at my cousin the day I got locked up. I thought I was looking at death itself.

Entry #246
In Truth
The Tears in Cupid’s Eyes
The day you chose to leave me
It rained constantly outside
In truth, I swore the rain to be
The tears in Cupid’s eyes.
I ran outside to feel the rain
And I stayed outside awhile
When the rain was done along came the sun
And this was Cupid’s smile !

Entry #247
Maybe One Day
What I do to help my stress in here the most is probably sleep and read some books. It’s a whole different place in here. It makes me just want to take off on some trash talker, but I don’t need more time. I really don’t know where to turn or even how? But maybe one day it will hit me in the head on what to do in this life. I’ve been reading the bible, trying my best to put my faith in something, you know? I just want God to take all this bitterness and anger out of me so I can just be me, and not miserable. What I do to cope on the outs is drink, and smoke cigarettes. Yeah, all the stuff I shouldn’t do, but when I get back on the outs I'm going to be a better man. Although I don’t know how much time I’ve got, I’m going to put everything in God’s hands and not in my own anymore.

Entry #248
Just Being Alive
What makes me happy is being at home with my family and the girl I love. It makes me happy when other people are happy. These things make me happy even when I am in the worst moods because some things just help me in ways I can’t explain. I’m happy when I throw a barbeque or a party because these things make me feel alive knowing that I can put things together and have fun in different ways than getting in trouble. I am happy when I’m in the hood with my boys knowing we keep each other safe. It makes me feel like I have more of a reason to be around. I’m happy on the coast because it’s so quiet and relaxing to be where I don’t have to think or stress about stupid things. I’m happy just being alive; I am 18 and ecstatic with LIFE.

Entry #249
Best Friend
How I de-stress is talk to my bunky; I tell him what's wrong and just to get my mind off what I’m stressing over. Because most of the time it helps when you get the pain out of your head and then I feel more calm and relaxed. Sometimes I just sit in my cell thinking about the old times when I was all ways kicking it with my brother and realize that I won’t be hanging out with him for a few years makes me kind of depressed.
When we were together all the time he was like my best friend. I could tell him anything just like he could tell me anything. I think he will be gone for about 13 years or more, and I hope I’ll be able to go see him whenever I get a chance to. He’ll probably be all tatted up by time he gets out. I wouldn’t doubt it at all. I hope when he gets out that he won’t get locked back up again.

Entry #250
School Years
As of today when I look back at my school years it brings back how much I learned about the negativity in my family. I am reminded of how much my father beat my mother for asking him to take us to school. I never cried about having to walk to school even in storms, for fear of my father. I always thought, “Why was my father still in my life if he never wanted to try?” I never figured out the answer. Now, I realize that the years that I spent in school were really years with the fear of failing and tears of being scared for my mother.

Entry #251
The Wrong Way
What if I had chosen a different way to live? One without hustling or having to stay strapped all the time. I would have had time to spend with my mother, and show her the love and respect she deserved before she passed last year. I probably would have never wound up in a dump like this, wearing worn out green shirts and some busted Bob Barkers.
At 17 years old I have been through and seen some of the grimiest things; things most people only see in R-rated movies. All of these events left me on a broken road with no right way to go.... but I want out. All of those who have done me wrong have guided me on my way into a better life. Every time I was beat down it just made me stronger. The wrong way built me....

Entry #252
What Keeps Me Going?
Juvenile Hall is full of fools,
And many lame- rules.
Wanting so badly to go out for a toke,
Life here just one sick joke.
Always come in never-knowing,
So you wonder what keeps me going?
My family; and the distant hope of going home,
Maybe this time I'll manage to not roam.
Life is full of boundaries and choices,
Unfortunately I listen to all of the negative voices.
I continue to repeat old habits,
Bounce from place to place just like a rabbit.
I told everyone last time would be my last,
I just react on my impulses a lil' too fast.
I told the judge I was done,
With living life on the run.
Please send me back to where I belong,
I won't repeat the same ol' dance and song.
But take a look at me now,
Everyone always asks me how,
Such a sweet lil' girl,
Took such an evil twirl.
Some call it a dance with the devil,
Myself, I’ve had several.
Now my chances are all used up,
My future a volcano about to erupt.
I'm not going to stay somewhere I don't want to be,
Just take a look at my history.
I do as I please,
Take my consequences with uncertain ease.
Yes, I am filled with regret,
Done some things I will never be able to forget.
But underneath I'm still that sweet lil' girl,
Just got caught-up in the realities of this modern world.
She'll be back one day,
But until then this is where I'll stay.

Entry #253
Drug Love
What do you do when your mom is addicted to dope and acts younger than you? What do you do when the only person who cared or had your back passed away? What do you do when the person that loves you the most is in need and you are locked up. Life is at its worst point for this person and all I can do is sit in a cell and wish I was there for her. I need to get out of here so I can support her and comfort her through these rough times. It hurts getting letters that tell me she's having a harder time than me and I’m the one doing time.

Entry #254
Countless Times
I just don't fit in at regular high schools. Somehow I always manage to find myself in trouble. Whether I get caught fighting, ditching, or just getting sent out of class. I always end up at the principal's office or in the back of a cop car. I've been suspended countless times and expelled twice in one year. Finally they just told me I can't go back to school at all. After that I ended up in juvi attending school in juvenile hall. Got out and went to a continuation school before getting suspended there too. I finally left. They ended up bringing me back. Now I’m here at school in the hall again, the only school I can't get kicked out of.

Entry #255
Here I Am
Here I am back at this blank place where I sit looking at the white walls. I wonder if I will ever stay out of this place. I think to myself in my cell, well I have come a long ways because when I first started coming here it was like a zoo because I was so out of control. I think that was because I was very immature. But now my struggles are to not let people get to me. It’s hard though and the only thing stopping me from doing something about it is that I have a mom, brother, dog, and family I love out there waiting for me. The one thing that is always on my mind is my mom because she is the only one that will come visit me and the only one who ever listened to my problems. She is my best friend and I keep letting her down. Hopefully this is my last time typing on one of these Alpha Smart things because I never want to come back to this place.

Entry #256
I’m sitting with thoughtful thoughts and entering a room becomes naturally warm.
My thoughts are now sitting next to me when you leave. They become shivering cold.
Now life is about going round with never ending karma with self made materials. Who do those materials go to?
Life ends with you and your thought’s alone.

Entry #257
I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. It’s my niece’s b-day next month on the 16th...
My papas passed away last week. Well, it’s not my real dad but he’s been more of a dad in my life than my own dad. I love him to death, R.I.P dad. I’ll see you on the other side...My cousin got hit by a train the second day I was in here. They had just stolen a bottle and got caught so he started running and tried to make it before the train came but he slipped and got hit and got dragged 600 feet... All I can say is that he’s up there putting food on the table for my little girl. I miss her to death but he’s up there having a good time with her, that's all I can do is sit here and hope they’re happy. I love you guys and I’ll think of my little girl everyday for the rest of my life until I’m up there with her.

Entry #257
Tall Skinny Apathy
What if I was a little bit taller?
What if I was smaller?
What if I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat and a six four Impala?
What if I could smell but not see?
What if I could see but not hear?
What if I could hear but not feel?
What if I could feel but not taste?
What if I could taste but not smell?
What if I was tall?
What if I was short?
What if I was fat?
What if I was skinny?
What if I was happy?
What if I was sad?
What if I cared?
What if I didn’t?

Entry #259
True Colors
It was a hot summer day when I first woke up; I went outside for a cigarette and saw a group of kids across the street playing basketball. A car was approaching towards the park where the kids were playing. I knew something was up. I always had a sense for trouble; four kids jumped out the car and approached the kids playing ball. They started to beat down on the smallest kid and the others ran for their life.

Entry #260
Fading Away
I have to go to school in the hall. I think it is dumb to have to go to school. I have been going and have been learning a lot, like my times tables. I have some of them down and continue to work on them. Now that I go to school, I think it is important because I did not listen to my mom when it was time to go. She always told me to go but I still didn't. My first time when I came in here I knew I didn’t want to be back, so I started going to school on the outs. I struggled so I got mad and left. That was not the thing to do, but I did it anyway.
I like school now and like to play sports like football, basketball, and a lot of other sports. It keeps me going. Even though I am a girl I still like football and hope to play volleyball or basketball in high school. Ever since I stopped playing sports I’ve been getting in trouble: smoking, drinking, and getting arrested for dumb things like that. I love kicking it in the park posted with my girls and the guys drinking, smoking with my homies. That's why I stopped going to school. I thought that was the life, but it’s really not.
I started to see my family fading away from my life and my elders we're disappointed in me. I told myself that I had to straighten up and start to do better. I hate seeing my mom coming in here and seeing me locked up. I love my mom to death. I know she is so disappointed in me so I know I have to change. I have to be a role model for my nephew. I have a niece on the way, less than 30 day and I will not be out for when the baby is born. Hopefully I can get a one day release for it because I want to be there when the baby is born.
Entry # 261
When I get out, I don’t know what I’m going to do
I might go to school or even get a job too.
Anything is better than being in juvenile hall. Lying in a cell staring at the walls.
Thinking about everything I should have done.
But I’m going to live my life and continue to have fun.

Entry #262
War Zone
School, a place where we go to learn, but what are we really learning? While I have learned a lot of good things (math, science, English) I also learned about gangbanging and how to play the game. You may be asking where in hell did this kid go to school? The only thing I can say is that this happens in every school. As I was growing up in kindergarten and moving up in grades, friends stayed the same.
Then in 3rd grade I started noticing that some of my friends wore one color and I've been wearing the opposite one. After a while instead of walking up to my friends to talk, I walked up to them yelling out my hood and my side, forgetting that once we were friends.
As I recently walked through the hood, I remembered the early days in the school yard, playing b-ball. School, man, they should call it a war zone. At one time the fools I fight were my friends. I’m not sure school has taught us the right things. We chose sides, lost friends, gained homies, and now locked doors may be the rest of my life.
Entry #263
Float Your Boat
What if I could Fly what if I could Float what if I had a Boat.
What if I was Mean what if I was Mad what if I Was and What if I Had.
What if I was too Cool for School because I‘m a Fool in a Kiddy Pool.
What if I was Small and met MR.Tall.
What if I met a Cutie with lots of Beauty.
What if I lived in a Hut made out of a Nut.
What if I could Punt a football from the Front.
Entry #264
I Can’t Wait
I’m a different individual, but I don not think I am better then anyone else. I am a kind person, but through the years I have lost my soul. Maybe it was the drugs, or the Christmas Eve I spent alone when I was 12. I’ll never forget that day.
I don’t know how I manage to be thankful. I’m 15 in juvenile hall without anyone to show me love everyday like when I was out. I guess I’m thankful because things could be worse. I could not have a family and girl that loves and writes me everyday. But I do and that makes me go on in life.
I’m going to be here for a couple years, but at least I have an out date. Maybe that’s why I’m thankful, because I have a lot of stuff that others don’t. I can’t wait till they call my name to leave this place