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, June 5, 2013

This month, students were given the following prompts:
1. I can remember his/her words like it was yesterday, “…………
2. What or who can always make you laugh, even when you are having a frustrating day? Do you go to  videos, board games, comedies, a friend, or your pets when you need laughter in your day? Make a list of your go-to sources of laughter. Write down one story that illustrates how an event cracked you up!

Entry #265
I Can Remember
I can remember his words like it was yesterday. The words that made me the person I am today: "I love you, and I’m sorry, but daddy is back in jail." I was speechless and I didn’t know what to say. I told my dad I love him and to please be home soon. My dad’s trial lasted a full year. I went to every court date. I felt lost without my dad. He was my everything. I was daddy’s little girl. At his last court date, I was in the room with little faith. My whole family was crying and I didn’t understand what the judge had just said. Wow, 48 years to life. When my family left the court room I sat there and cried. The only thing I could think of was that it was all my mom’s fault. I hated her. My mom started going crazy. She started beating up whoever was in her path. She started slamming dope. I started to not have a care in the world. I only had my mom to look up to and now look at me, on my way to a second group home. None of my family on my dad’s side wanted me, because I have created a bond with my mom. I know at one time I hated her, but on those drunk nights when all I wanted was my dad, my mom was there for me whether she was on drugs or not. I wish I could be in her arms right now, telling her how much she meant to me.
"I love you and I’m sorry, but daddy’s back in jail."

Entry #266
Missing You
I remember my baby sister's words like it was yesterday. It was about a year ago over the phone. She said to me with tears in her voice, "Mom once told me we would always be in her heart together or apart, now this is from me, to you." Hearing those words made me crumble, realizing I missed her more than anything at that moment, more than I realized before. That was the last time I heard my baby sister's voice. We have been apart for far too long. She writes me constantly, but it's just not enough. I have a need to hear her voice, to hear in her tone that she is okay. Nothing else seems to really matter. She is like my better half. The one and only that keeps me going; she gets me through each day. I miss you, sister. I will be home soon, to stay for good.

Entry #267
The saddest moment in my life was when I was taken away from my biological parents and put into foster care. It was never really my choice being in foster care at the age of four years old. The choice to be made was whether I go into a better environment or whether I stay in that environment I was in. I remember being taken away from my parents; I can say it was the saddest, scariest, moment of my life. I remember kicking, screaming, yelling and fighting back, so that I wouldn’t have to get in the county car.
I also remember when the social worker told me, “You will be able to see your mother again.” To a four year old that means right away, not in sixteen years or maybe never. Now that I am getting older, I start thinking, where are my parents? Are they even alive? Will I ever be able to see them again? That goes through my mind 24/7. Asking the final question, will my parents accept me for who I am?

Entry #268
One person who is always there to cheer me up when I’m feeling mad, sad, or upset is my baby sister. Like when I was out this time, I remember one of my older sisters stepping on a nail, which made her cry. So my baby sister walks up, sits right next to my other sister and begins to cry, for no reason. My older sister was still hurting because of the nail, but what my younger sister did made her laugh hysterically.
Another time this type of thing happened was with one of my dogs. Well it was a puppy at the time, and wasn't potty trained. The dog pissed and shit everywhere one day before I came home from school. I had to clean it up because it was "mine." Yeah I did it, but was so mad afterwards because of how much time was wasted on it. When I get home from school I usually go and find my baby sister, but this time I was upset so she came and found me. She asked what was wrong, I said "puppy.” She walked up to the puppy slapped it, then ran off.

Entry #269
Trap House
Ever since I was about five, I remember seeing people in and out of my house: crimes, smoking dope, and supporting the trap house. I remember the day child protective services came to my school and picked me up. That is when my life really changed for the bad. I just didn't care anymore.
I went to placement for about a year. Then I returned back home and it was just different. It was weird and I didn’t like it. My mom changed and stopped dealing and doing drugs. She became a Christian. I still remember my mom saying I need to change my life around and that I was heading down the wrong road in life, but to be honest, I didn’t want to change. Change is hard and I wasn’t willing to try.
I loved the life I was living and then a few years ago I got locked up and realized if I don’t change now, I will be coming here a lot. The day I got out I tried to change but found out I didn’t want it enough. I started smoking weed, taking pills, and drinking. I got locked back up and just kept coming back over the years. I started cooking, selling, and smoking crystal meth. I remember leaving the trap house the day I got locked up. I went and sold a half oz and then went to the store. I was so high I didn’t even really care I got locked up until the next day when I was coming down.

Entry #270
It Was Like Yesterday When She Told Me
I can remember my mom's words like it was yesterday, "What happen to you? You were never like this... it's so unlike you... I wish you were the young little innocent girl I used to take care of when you were young. You lied to me. I can't believe I trusted you. I loved you and you gave my hopes up. No matter what you do I’m always going to be here. Please, when you come home change, be the better person; stop doing what you're doing and realize what you’re doing is not going to be a good role model. Remember he's looking up to you; he's a very smart kid honey."
Just this one time I thought, just one more bit of trouble that I'll cause and I'll stop. I should've listened to her. If I did, maybe I would've never gotten in trouble. Seeing her visit it me in here tears my heart apart. Having her walk from my house just to come visit me, when she's already crippled, kills me. What if I stopped and listened when she told me not to do it? I'd be home wearing my own clothes and shoes. I wouldn't be wearing these busted up shoes and cheap T-shirts. Seeing her when I walk through that blue door to visiting, tears me apart. Maybe if I'd listen and think before my actions I wouldn't be in here, worrying about my young three year old and my family. Those words sting; it hurts to hear her say this. Sitting here, excited about the day I get out. I’m happy that the day I walk out I won't have to deal with my probation officer because I'll never be seeing her again. More to say, all I have left is 6 more days with biscuits and gravy to go and I’m done with probation.

I’m tired of being locked up.
I’m tired of not doing the things I use to love doing the most in life.
I’m tired of trying to get people’s attention.
of being used.
of being walked on.
of fake people.
of all the lies.
of arrogant people.
of being stubborn.
I’m tired of telling my mom what I’m going to do with my life. Instead I will just do it.
I’m tired of people bringing up the past, yesterday was history, tomorrows a mystery.
I’m tired of people bringing down my success.
of following people’s rules.
of what the system has us dressed in.
of being on my toes like a ballerina, so my points won’t get smoked.
I’m tired of being on a behavior contract for 5 months.
I’m tired of running away from my problems.
of being called “weak”.
of my loved one’s being on dope.
of my family having to bring my baby to visit me and leaving without me.
I’m tired of little boys using me and all that my heart has to offer. They think I’m just for show and tell.
I’m tired of time having to heal my broken heart.
I’m tired of my pillow being soaked with tears.
Most of all, I’m tired of waking up from a nightmare and finding no one by my side to hold me and tell me, “Everything’s all right”.
I’m sick and tired of being tired and oh so tired of being sick.
It’s about time that I show the quiet strength I had in me for all these years.

Entry #272
Message to My Mother
I wish I could tell you how much you mean to me. You have been there most of my life. You have made an amazing person and I wish you were here now to comfort me. You were the one who taught me everything I know. You made me really strong. You taught me how NOT to raise my kids. I just wanted you to know even though I have been into trouble and that your gone, when you eventually get out of prison, I will be the one there for you. You made me think of the person I want to be. I could be like you, a dope fiend in prison, or I could become someone. I love you mom. You mean more than the world to me.

Entry #273
She is Ten years younger,
Knows to make me smile
She’s starting a world of wonders,
Knows to make my day
In winter times we always cuddle,
She knows all my ways
We carry the same dimples,
And share the same last name
When we go to sleep,
I always give her “the tickles”,
She gives me faith in believing
Around her I always laugh,
When she makes a funny face
I feel she is all I have,
The butterflies in my stomach,
She plays doctor when I’m sick
The warmth of her love,
Touches me more everyday
She says I’m the best sister,
A chance of never ending luck,
A promise made forever,
To never forget one another.

Entry #274
"Daddy's lil girl"
The days go by slowly and I’m here waiting impatiently, a victim of this. I realize it's hard for me to change my ways, obviously since this is my 8th time here; will it change? Sometimes I wonder, "Do I get it from my dad?" Maybe.... I don't know if being a criminal is genetic. Sometimes I think it is him, maybe not? Especially since I only see him once a year, maybe more if I’m lucky (it depends if he's locked up or not.) Seeing my dad fresh out of prison as a youngster seemed like it was a good idea, obviously it was not. Who would've thought "Daddy's lil girl" would do what I've done? Why do they even call me, “Daddy's lil girl?" I wonder. That fool hasn't been around. I don't even call him "DAD", I just say "Aye." and he knows it's me, his "One & Only Baby." It was sad, when I was on the run, I decided to call him and he didn't he didn't even know who I was, and when he finally understood, he came at me with so much; I knew he was high, all I heard was words mixed together. Yep, he was on that "Dope Game." Being locked up, I look back on life and what I've been through. It's hard looking back.... My dad's done some crazy shit and I think I’m slowly on my way there, and I realize what I’m doing; I try to stop but it's hard and when I realize what's going on, I’m already here locked up. I guess things could be worse if I had my dad’s addictions. Hopefully this is the last green t-shirt I will wear, but it's all in my hands.

Entry #275
To You:
I’m sick of these sad days
Tired of the salty tears on my face
Wishing my life could be erased
Not even one letter for me in this place
Waiting for that visit that doesn’t come for days
Another 24 and still no letter to help my pain go away
I wish I could tell you the story of today's court date.
Even if I could, you would probably push me away
So this is my letter to you saying I wish I could hate you and tell you please stay away.
I’m tired of you not caring and being the cause to my endless pain
I hope one day you will change
Back to the real you, not this new you that to me seems so strange
Come back to me again when you are ready to stay. I will still be here waiting for that day even though it saddens me to say I will love you forever and no one can get in the way.
I hope you have a nice life while I’m locked away and you are free to play.
Hopefully I stay away long enough to make my heart heal from its horrible break, but maybe on my release day we will carry on this relationship from back in the day.
It's the vision in my eyes and it’s here to stay.

Entry # 276
Strife Life
Writing what needs to be written,
Is like having a gift that needs to be given.
Everyone has a story to tell,
Some about living life in a cell.
All sweet memories of yesterday,
Begin to slowly fade away.
But now I’m in here for a while,
So I might as well put aside my anger and smile.
I’m closing the door on all my hatefulness,
Replacing it with pure gratefulness.
For my family; and the ones who are there,
Although my actions might say that I don't care.
In my heart I know what's right,
But my body just wants to put up a fight.
My life motto in here is "easier said than done",
Because once I get out all I want to do is have fun.
I just live in the moment,
The system being my opponent.
When will I realize what I want out of life?
Until then I have to put up with the strife.

Entry #277
Memories of the words swept away with the wind
Thoughts of an inevitable end,
Memories of love that couldn't withstand
Washed away with movements of the puppet masters hand
Memories of loyalty that mean no more
Lies and deceit hide the trap door,
Memories of the monster that stole my childhood,
I try to do good, but I am misunderstood.

I can remember my cousin’s words like it were yesterday, we had just got back from Los Angeles around 11 p.m. Just a few hours before that around 6 p.m. we had been in a car accident. Everyone was alright, me, my cousin ______ and my other two cousins. We left the car at the accident and it was towed to the police station for evidence. Then we returned home. My sister gave us a ride. When we had come off the grapevine my cousin thanked me for inviting him. He shook my hand and said ‘’I love you cuz.’’ I said, “ love you too cuz.” He spent the night at my house then early the next morning he left home. After that I didn’t talk to him for two weeks. I was staying a night at my brother’s house with my dad. Around 3 a.m., my dad woke me up crying and said my cousin had been in a car accident. He didn’t make it. I started to cry. I will never forget his last words to me. Rest in peace. He was like a brother to me.

Entry #279
I can remember my brother’s words like it was yesterday, “Try your best in high school, and whatever you do, don't fail your freshmen year." Then what did I do? I did the opposite of what he said, and failed every single class during my first year of high school. I knew he was disappointed in me, even if he didn't actually tell me that. I acted like I didn't care, but inside I knew I didn’t just fail the school year I also failed my older brother.

Entry #280
It’s the same stuff, just a different day here in Juvenile Hall. Every morning when I wake up I wonder if I’m going to have a good day. It seems like I have more bad days lately. The never ending conflict makes it hard to live in peace. The constant threatening and trash talking makes me paranoid and jumpy. This situation sucks because I don’t want to get into trouble, but I can’t punk out. It's like I’m stuck in a whirl-pool getting drug down. Freedom seems so far away but at least my sentence isn’t lifelong. I can’t wait to be home.

Entry #281
I can remember her words like it was yesterday, "Son, I love you. Please stay out of trouble." At 1:00 that same afternoon my house got raided. I took off running. About four blocks down the road probation caught up with me. I was booked into juvenile hall. I've only been here for two months so far and I hate it! Time seems to be going by really slow. I feel like I’m going to be in here forever. The only time I enjoy being here is when I’m asleep because in my dreams I’m with my family at my house, and that’s the place I want to be more than anything.

Entry #282
The Unexpected
I can remember his words like it was yesterday, "Do good. Don't trip off the little things, just know your family cares an we'll always be there for you. Now stay out of trouble." Not even an hour later I’m sitting in here, the hall, for two gun charges. Isn't funny how things work out? It was the last thing I expected, sitting in the back of a cop car as they search for more evidence. This is what happens from being in a gang. Things have been getting worse every day. My homie was shot dead, others jumped an stabbed. My brother was sitting in prison. At least he is out now. He just got out like last week. I won't be surprised if he’s back in soon though with how crazy it's getting on the streets. There's no telling. All I hope is that our litte brother doesn't follow in our footsteps. I’m about to get 90 days and put on EMP. I’m trying to do good. I want to be there for my mom and my little brother and point him in the right direction. Well all I can do is wait and hope the best at court cause I’m not even commited and I've been here 30 plus days already. Here it goes, the unexpected.

Entry #283
Will Power
What people fear most is dying. But to me what I fear the most in life is out to be in the streets mentally dead as a drug addict. I fear being lost, broken and lonely with no place to call my home. It saddens me to know that this might be a possibility in my life. If I don’t make the right decisions, I pray day and night for God to strengthen my will power so my family won’t bury me young.

Entry #284
I wish I could see the day
The day you put a smile on my face
I write to you and you ask why there are tears
But you don’t understand my pain over the years
Because dad you haven’t been here
But I don’t look at you as a mistake
I look in the mirror and see something beautiful everyday
Dad I put my life on a wait
Because I was waiting for that day
I can never sleep
Just thinking about what it would be like if you were here with me
Going to the mall to shop for shoes and ice cream
Daddy just please come home
Because I feel so alone
So you could be here
To wipe away my tears from my eyes
And I could live a better life
But instead I wake up to a scream
Because you being here is just a dream
Dad I miss you
So please come through.

Entry #285
Missing My Family
I’m a kid having a kid and it’s hard for me being in here and not out with those I love. My girls upset that I’m in here again, but she wants me to get the help I need so I can become better person. I’m going to be a good DAD and I know I can. People tell me that too. I’m trying to change so I can go home. Being locked up is not the place for me. I have a family of my own and need to be there for them. The judge tells me I can be in here until I’m 18 because of my ways. I just found out I’m having a baby girl I’m so happy, but not happy because I’m here. It really sucks that I messed up. I hope that I’m there for my baby’s birth.

Entry #286
MUSIC to My Ears
Something that can always make me laugh no matter what I’m going through, is music. When I listen to music it completely changes my mood. I can be having the worst day ever but once I listen to music it makes me think and remember certain things and I start to laugh. I even start to laugh at what was bothering me before. It’s kind of frustrating that we do not get to listen to music a lot in here.
If we were able to listen to music in here I think more of us would be in a better mood. Also, laughing all day. Music is a good way to create a great laugh when needed.

Entry #287
Real Friends
I’ve been bullied my whole life. Still to this day I get bullied. It’s either about my nose and how it looks. Some people just bully me because I’m small. I got kids who want to fight me for no reason.
But of course I know that there’s going to be bullies wherever you go. Someone’s always going to judge you. The first bully I ever dealt with was a girl. Before, she was my friend. After she started spreading rumors and being mean to me, I stopped talking to her. I realized that your real friends are the ones’ that are there for you.

Entry #288
I can remember her words like it was yesterday, “Sorry won't fix this one," my Grandmother said angrily over the phone. Now that I am back in here I know I will be here for awhile. That feeling of why is this happening to me went away after the first day. I know why I am here: for being stupid, doing things I am not supposed to. But worst of all and what really gets me is the feeling of letting everyone down, including both friends and family. I told them I would never put them through it again, but here I am.
Well I know my family still loves me and this is just another obstacle in life but I'll make it through, and when I am out this time, I am not coming back.

Entry #289
This isn't my story to tell.
I wake up, shower, go to the cell, and sleep for a bit. Then go eat breakfast, walk in the classroom for school, P.E., my cell, school, lunch, and school again to 3 pm. Then it’s back to the cell, group, large muscle, cell, dinner, cell till 6:30. 6:30 and on, is rec, if I didn’t get any time outs.
Go turn in for the night at nine, go to sleep, and wake up, and do it again.
I’m glad that this isn't my story to tell....

Entry #290
Mama Tried
I can still remember her words like it was yesterday. "One night in juvenile hall or a life in prison isn't worth all the shit you do." That was the last thing my mom said to me before I came in here. When she said that to me all I was thinking was that she doesn't know what she's talking about. Of course she knew. The next night after I talked to her I ended up in here. As the days went on in here I started to think about what she said. She was 100 percent right, it wasn't worth it at all. She didn't mean one night in juvenile hall, she was telling me that once you come here and get used to it, you won't mind coming back. My mom was also telling me to break my habits and live a normal and free life, but like every teenager I didn't listen. Once I got in here I started to think this was worth it but as the days went on I started to realized none of this is worth because eventually it will be the rest of my pathetic and wasted life if I don’t change.

Entry #291
Necessary Changes
I can remember his words like it were yesterday, "You're going to be just like your big brothers, in and out of the hall and prison." Those words still are wrestling in my mind as if they were just said to me. Even though it’s in the back of my mind I still hear it replay over and over again. The funny thing is that was said five years ago. I guess he was right for the most part. My mind just won’t let me accept this, or it doesn't care what he says. I think this time when I’m finally released I will prove it to him that I can change. I don't know why those words that were said so long ago now affect me. Probably because I’m just growing up now and realize it is beginning to be true. Now it's up to me to do as I feel what's right, and I feel the need to change.

Entry #292
I Remember
I remember my uncle's words like it was yesterday "It's like raising your father over again". I was on the run, cut my ankle monitor off, and left. I showed up at my uncle's house high as a kite. He wasn't mad, just disappointed. I was slangin dope making a living doing it big. I kept my friends close and my "knocks" closer. I was riding sick as dirt bikes, I was free as a bird and high as one too. I felt as though I was living the life, until my world came crashing down on me, at the time that’s what it felt like. Now I know that when my whole world changed it was a blessing. My girl turned up pregnant. Everyone started coming down on me like a ton of bricks. My only escape was to turn myself in. Now she writes me and we talk on the phone. She sends the sonograms. I wish I could be with her and part of this whole experience.

Entry #293
The two people that can make me smile or laugh when I’m having a bad or frustrating day, are my brothers. They may not know about my problems or whatever I’m going through, but they bring a smile to my face (Most of the time).
I am the youngest out of the four children my mother and father had. Of course, I’m going to want to be around my older brothers, of course I’m going to bother them, and of course they’re going to put me down once in a while. But in the end we look past all the put downs and negativity towards one another, and move on. Most of the time we just live, laugh, and love the life we’re living, because we know tomorrow is not guaranteed. My brothers are twins but the three of us look alike so we call ourselves triplets. We pull it off very well, but I think we sort of have that triplet, brother and sister bond. I think that is why we get along so well. I can talk to my brothers about anything, well, almost everything, but they listen and I like that. What I love the most is when they can bring a smile to my face or make me laugh. They should be comedians.

Entry #294
My Down Fall
I can remember my friends telling me like it was yesterday, “Don't carry around that gun." I was stubborn. I've been pulled over and asked to empty my pockets while I was strapped and got away with it, so I figured I can’t get away with it again. I was packing that big heat .40 Caliber Smith and Wesson Military and Police edition. Some girl stole it from her mom and gave it to me to show me how much she loved. It was so beautiful I didn't ever want it out of my reach or sight. I can still remember like it was yesterday people telling me, 'You're going to get caught with that." I started taking more precautions after my close encounter with the cops, and not carrying it with me, but after getting in a few fights with some grown men with my homeboys, we figured we can just rob them next time, so back to my old ways of riding around with the banger. One night it all caught up with me and I got arrested for being drunk to where I blacked out and for some reason sat on my girl’s porch instead of knocking and asking to come in at 1:00 a.m. Her mom didn't know who was outside and thought someone was trying to break in. Then BAM!!!! Next thing I know I get slammed in the dirt. Someone tugging at my hands yelling, "Stop resisting!” Worst awakening ever. Now I’m a two time felon. Luckily, I got other felonies dropped, and I’m only looking at possession of a fire arm, and possession of stolen property (the gun). The attempt of burglary got dropped to prowling, and assaulting a peace officer dropped to resisting arrest, fully loaded clip/ magazine, and drunk in public. I could be looking at 7 plus years, but luckily they took it easy on me because it's my first time. Now I know I should listen more to the advice I get.

A Dog’s Life
My dog always makes me laugh even when I’m having a bad day. Every time she sees me she starts trying to jump over or dig under the fence in my front yard to get to me. She was the first dog that I ever owned, so she is real special to me. I got her as a gift from one of my friends. They had a pit bull named rhea that had puppies on thanksgiving. Out of the five puppies in the litter I picked my dog because she looked like a funny little brown bear with a wrinkly face. To this day when I reminisce about the times I use to play with her at home.