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!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Entry #659
Waiting For My Turn
Every day I wake up from a deep dream that's taken me far from this cold facility. I lay on my bed half asleep hearing angry steel bolts "cling" with doors opening and closing, waiting for my turn. As I wait I stare up at the delusional white ceiling and think to myself, "Why is it I put myself here over and over again if I hate this shit so much?”
A million thoughts run through my mind, something similar to, "What could I have done different not to get caught?” or “Why didn't I throw the bag out when I had the chance?"
It took many long lonely nights to realize that I should be asking, "Why did I even have it in the first place?”
Was I running from my troubles? I didn't want to end up back here.  Maybe that could be it. Or it could be that fast life mentality. Those inspiring movies my bros and I grew up watching:  Good Fellas, Scarface, Blow, and Cocaine Cowboys.  Being a drug lord fugitive was something I wanted to be a part of.
This mentality brought me to 3 minute showers, beat up Bob Barkers, shabby attitudes and blind misguided inmates. Locked up.
I’m waiting for my commitment to end so I can give it my all, so I make myself and family proud for once. I try so hard to dodge the discipline that comes my way.  I tend to feel targeted and alone. Maybe it's just me? Regardless, this gives me time in my cell to pace around and think about my future. I'm ready to pursue happiness.

Entry #660
As A Young Boy
Time would go by and me and mom would go to a big building with a bunch of windows just to see dad, but I kind of just thought that was normal.
I would only see him for a while and I would ask him, “Why are you here?” but he never responded. As a little kid I kind of just thought that was normal.
As I got older he came home and very seldom went back to that big building with a bunch of windows and I kind of just thought that was normal,
It took me a while to realize that every time he went back to that big building with a bunch of windows, it wasn’t really normal.

Entry #661
I am stressed and I think it would be good to get it out on paper. I’m about to spend my last day as a minor in juvenile hall. Yes, I’m about to turn 18. I am getting off probation when I get out and getting cut loose on all my charges in Colorado. Sure it sounds like I shouldn’t be stressed... but I am stressing on the things that are happening on the outs that I cannot control. Like the fact that my little brother is being bullied by my big brother who’s trying to act like a father. Or that my girlfriend and my mom are at each other’s throats, literally fist fighting. Or that I am going to be homeless again as soon as I get out. So yeah, I’m stressed but I just need to remember that I can’t change anything while I’m in here. I can just hope for the best for when I get out. I am just going to try to stay positive, get into school, get a job, get a place of my own, and beat my addiction to the ground so it won’t bother me anymore.

Entry #662
A Good Shooting
People are tryin’ to get in my way; I used to call them friends, but I've done some thinking and realize they're lost and miserable. I've found my way and now I'm moving on. I don't have time to let anyone hold me back because I'm shooting for the stars. I also need to get out of my own way. But I'm ready to do my thing, no worries.

Entry #663
I Need Change
I wish I could change but, it's hard… all I know is the streets. I wish I could stay away from the street life. I wish I could make money in a legal way. It’s hard to get a job because I have two felonies, so I run back to the cold streets, trying to not get killed out there. There are all types of obstacles, wondering how long this life is going to last and trying to live to see another day. Is life is just a game? I’m locked up; I tell myself to change. Damn I need to make a change.     

Entry #664
Clean For Today
I appreciate NA.
I appreciate NA for all it has come to bring me in my sobriety, and for all it continues to bring and show me. I feel like a little kid learning to walk again, but these steps take me to a different path.
I appreciate the people in my life.
I appreciate how they stuck with me through the hard and the bad and the ones I met through NA who ended up meaning more to me than my so called "friends"
I appreciate food and sleep.
I appreciate the morals I have come about with sobriety.
I appreciate not having size 00 pants too big for me.
I appreciate not having to worry if a needle is used or if I’m going to contract Hep C.
I appreciate being able to say I never had to do anything I didn't wanna do to get a sack.
I appreciate my track mark scars.
I appreciate my track mark scars for always reminding me about my struggle, but also reminding me about one of the greatest learning experiences in my life.
I appreciate not always having to look behind my back, not just for cops but for anyone in the game. The game is a free for all. No one is your friend.
I appreciate getting arrested for showing me that everyone snitches, even your "friends" and for showing me I’m a lot better off sober than staying up for 20+ days and having to sleep for a week straight.
I appreciate meth.
I appreciate meth for giving me memories I will never forget, good or bad, but memories that I can look back on now and learn, laugh or move towards forgetting. I appreciate meth for showing me what true friends and family are, and for putting the people who are now in my life there.
I appreciate being clean just for today.

Entry #665
Now that I am incarcerated I can’t help but think how I’ve taken all the love and care from both of my parents for granted over the years. I’ve always known that they love me but now that I’ve been away from them for nearly two months I now fully and completely comprehend that when they say they would do anything for me that they really do mean it. In the past I never fully believed them when they said that simple but powerful sentence because I always thought that I was just a drug addict and that no one would do anything for me because who could love a piece of dirt drug addict? I also guess that it’s impossible to truly understand the love a parent feels for their child until you yourself are a parent and considering that I am not a parent yet this is a factor of why I never believed them. But looking back and thinking about everything they’ve done for me, all the money spent on rehabs, all the time invested, all the tears shed, all the wasted energy spent for my well-being, I now realize that they would truly do anything for me (as long as it is legal and in my best interest) no matter how bad I have already hurt them or have messed up. While I am incarcerated they still come 2 or 3 times a week to see me even if they have to miss work! With all the times I’ve hurt them and they still come to see me, if that doesn’t show love then I don’t know what does. I now truly and honestly appreciate my parents and all the love and care they have given me over the years and still continue to give me.

Entry #666
What’s Going On In Life?
 Before I got locked up I was homeless and it was my fault we lost out home. I wish I could take it all back but now I can’t. My older brother and sister have moved on. Now I’m locked up with my mom staying with her friend in a motel, not knowing when she will get money to even get herself some food. It’s all my fault. I think of it daily and now my release is all depending on her getting a house because my PO said he might not let me out or he might have me go stay at a foster home for awhile. 5 more days and the choice will be made.

Entry #667
Healing Souls
Fathers home
Mother lies alone in bed
And weeps,
Oldest brothers in the streets
For the baby to eat,
Says he has friends
Knew it was the real struggle
When hunger was calling them
By name,
Pains in the stomach
And they never seem to go away,
Mommas on her knees
Pleading with auntie to let them stay
Knowing deep down that this is the only way,
Mommas telling him,
“Son please don’t cry,”
Says she’s got them covered
But there are tears in her eyes,
Living from motel to motel
Fearing what’s coming next
Child custody revoked
Now mommas little angels
Are scattered
Living with strange folks,
But all just yesterday this seemed like a joke
Couldn’t comprehend
That day by day
Daddy was spending the money
On dope,
Youngest son crying and screaming
Saying,“Momma please don’t go,”
Lost and forgotten was the family’s dream
To take a vacation and hit the road,
All they ever prayed for was
For God to heal their souls.

Entry #668
One Day
      One day I came home and my brother started calling me names and he went after me. I told him to stop and he didn’t and I beat him up. He tried to call the police but I wouldn’t let him, so he tried to leave. I stopped him by twisting his arm pretty hard. The next day I went to school and told my counselor, who told the principle, and she called the police. They saw the cuts on my arm so they took me to the hospital and they kept me in handcuffs. After we got to the hospital they wrote me up a ticket. I asked, “Why did you give me a ticket?” They said it was, “because of your brother’s arm.” I went to the crisis center. I spent the night there and it really sucked so the next day I went home and called it a day. I went to school on Wednesday and probation showed up.  Now I’m back in the hall.

Entry #669
I have been trying to get court off my mind and the judges voice out of my head telling me if I keep on living this way I'm going to, “end up dead." I don’t care what this system has to say. When I hear those comments from the judge my heart fills with hate. People don't know the life that I lead or the crazy thoughts that run through my head. I hate when people try to judge me by the way that I look or me past. I made big changes, but people don't seem to care. I keep hearing the judge’s voice, telling me that I'm a menace to society, that I don't deserve to have my freedom, or that I will never make it in life.
I'm tired of people thinking that they know me or how my future will turn out. I will show the judge, the DA, and the rest of the court that they were completely wrong. I am going to be successful when I get out.

Entry #670
Smoking Hot
When I turned fourteen I thought "Today is the day." It was my first day of seventh grade and I had a crush on this girl for a couple years. I told myself I was going to ask her out. It was second period P.E. She was in my all my classes except History so I thought, “Better now than never,” right?  Wrong. I walked across the street to smoke a cigarette. As I did my crush asked me why I was over there.  Fumbling, I said nothing but "Just getting a soda from my aunt." She said "OK, but hurry. P.E.'s about to start, and get me one too." And she walked away. Of course my aunt didn’t live there, but she didn't see me pull a cigarette out of my pack, so I was OK. I headed back to school, found her, and said," She didn't have another one, sorry." She didn't know I was a smoker or a juvenile delinquent so I said, “Screw it” and asked her out.  She said, “Yeah.” We’ve been together ever since.

Entry # 671
A New Perspective
I grew up around always having a nice clean house and a stocked fridge as well as any other necessities. Additionally, I had things I just wanted for the hell of it and I was almost never told no. The friends that I'd had since 1st grade (who were also the only people my parents allowed me to hang out with), also lived under similar conditions. I'd never heard of the "ghetto" or "drugs" or people who weren’t as lucky as me. I honestly thought it was just a myth for the longest time until about the 4th grade when I began to hang around with this one girl who eventually became my best friend at that time. I remember that I thought she didn't dress as well as my other friends, but to a 9-year-old that didn't really matter, and besides she had a great personality. I remember asking my dad after school every day for months if she could come over or me go to her house, but for some reason he always said no and always had some excuse I would never completely understand. Eventually he was able to see I wasn't going to give up and said yes. I still remember the shock and amazement on her face as she walked through my house saying how big and clean it was. I was confused because most of my friends’ houses were twice as big and nice. Then I offered her some food and she was shocked at the variety and how much we had. She said she never had food at her house. I think it was at that moment I learned not everyone was like me in that aspect, and while I'd been comparing myself to people better off than me and taking what I had for granted, I never thought of those who were less fortunate. It turns out my friend lived in a run-down 2 bedroom house with 7 other people supported by a single parent and she was lucky to get a meal a day at home and showered maybe once a week. I was angry with my parents for holding me back from the realities of life just to hold onto their "reputations", but I was grateful to have experienced life through a new perspective. Now whenever I start to feel bad for myself, I think of the people worse off who have no control over their situations, and it gives me hope and determination to get through my struggles and help others with theirs.

Entry #672
I Thought It Was Normal
What's normal for me is not normal for you,
My life is a mystery, and here is your clue:
I was raised around fighting and I was raised around drugs,
So when I grew up they were both things I loved.
I never knew better, it's how I was raised,
Only figuring what’s wrong after I aged.
I'm just a little too late,
because I'm now locked in the hall,
The thing that I hate.
My behavior was implemented; it was something I learned,
I don't blame my family because life threw me a curve.
I did what I did because I thought it was normal,
But now I look back and I picture the horrors.
I now see the errors in my actions,
I done messed up, I don't deserve compassion.

Entry #673
I appreciate my grandma because she is all I have.
When my mom passed, she was there for me the whole way.
If it wasn’t for her I don’t know what my life would be like.
I thought I could look up to my sister but she needed help herself.
I appreciate my grandma because she doesn’t have to do the things she does for me.
I appreciate my grandma for being herself, telling it how it is and not holding anything back from me.
I appreciate my grandma because she loves me and I love her.
I appreciate my grandma because she feeds me, takes care of me, bought my clothes when I was young and  took me to the doctor  when I got sick.
I appreciate my grandma for being here; she come visits me, came to my courts dates, and will come to get me when I get released.
I appreciate my grandma because she’s my heart and the main love of my life. 

Entry #674
Rebellious Life
Not being home in my bed fast asleep at three in the morning, but instead up with the homies chilling… I don’t know, I kind of just thought that was normal. Being rebellious and running away… I don’t know, I kind of just thought that was normal. Hating on my mom, being rude to my family… I don’t know, I kind of just thought that was normal.

Entry # 675
I appreciate the rehab I am going to for accepting me so that I can become a better me. I appreciate my mom for packing all my things while I’m locked up so that my stuff will be ready for me when I leave the hall and head to rehab. I am so excited to go to my new group home and start working and focusing only on me and my recovery. Only a few more days and I’m out of here, thank God! I can't wait to put my real clothes back on and wear some make-up. The best part is I can eat real food again. I love pizza and I've been craving it for weeks now... Only a few more days and I can have some! I have about $27 dollars in my intake stuff, just enough to get my nails done! Yes, yes, yes! I'm so excited to leave and go somewhere brand new: new people, new school, and new home. I just hope it's going to be the best place, like the perfect place for me to be and start over. I can feel this is going to be a start or a new beginning. Sacramento here I come!

Entry #676
A Chance
 I never thought I had a chance. The only roads I could see led to an early death most likely caused by a bullet or locked away, never to see freedom again. I never wanted that to happen, no one really does, but I learned to be okay with it. Now in my life things have changed and new pathways have opened up. They're not much, but at least now I know there is a chance. Knowing that there is a chance is what changes things and gives me hope for a brighter future. With this chance I now have a choice in what to do with my life. When you see me on top just remember I've been through the struggle, but with a little bit of help I'm getting out. Opportunities are all around me, what I do with them is my decision.....

Entry #677
I Appreciate
I appreciate my son because, he’s a miracle baby!
I appreciate my family because; they never turned their backs on me,
I appreciate school because; I need it in my life & future,
I appreciate my dad because; he never gives up on his kids,
I appreciate my mom because, without her I wouldn’t be here today,
I appreciate my little sister because; it feels good to have someone look up to me,
I appreciate my little brothers because; they always get my day started by jumping on me!
I appreciate my older brother because, I want to be like him and one day have a family of my own,
I appreciate mostly everything in my life because; it’s making me who I am today.

Entry #678
Out At Eighteen
I kind of just thought that crime was a normal part of life. My brothers, dad, and sister were always getting into trouble so I started picking it up over the years. I have been in and out of juvenile hall and even jail once. When I recognize this was wrong was when me and my girl had our daughter. I have been locked up for the first year of her life. When I’m released on my birthday I will need to work to get her back.  CPS has my daughter.  I know this isn’t normal because my daughter isn't home with her daddy that she barely knows me. This really has made a huge impact in my life: getting her taken and now having to fight to get her back. But it made me realize that I want better for me and my family and daughter. We'll my brothers, dad, and sister were always out robbing and stealing cars, bringing home guns and leaving them out on the table. They had drugs all over the house and were often fighting with each other, hurting themselves. Being in and out of crime with an unstable home seemed normal.   Now I know different.

Entry #679
I Appreciate
I appreciate my mom and dad because
Without them I wouldn’t be here,
I appreciate my baby’s mom because
Without her my daughter wouldn’t be here,
I appreciate my daughter because
She filled in my heart the part of me that was missing,
I appreciate mistakes because
Without mistakes means no lessons before dying,
I appreciate second chances because
Without second chances means I didn’t fail,
I appreciate God because
Without God I wouldn’t have anyone to turn to when the storm hits,
I appreciate Faith because
Without Faith I wouldn’t have the strength when I’m locked in this holding tank,
I appreciate life because
It gives me options to be what I really want to be,
I appreciate words because
Without words this page would have been blank,
I appreciate being locked up because
It shows me what I need to work on.

Entry #680
 Everywhere I go that damn fly has been following and watching me. It’s raining. I have a headache. Where's a flyswatter when you need one? Oh that fly just set me off! Always testing me, flying in my face. Hurry up and land. Oh yes, he just landed on the kitchen table. I grab a rag that's hanging on a chair and bam! Finally out of my life. Never gonna mess any of my days up again. The rain stopped and the sun came out. I'm out of juvenile hall.

Entry #681
My Life
I appreciate my family because they are always there for me. My family helps me with my addiction by telling me what it does and how it affects my life. I want to change my life around by getting rid of that habit, because juvenile hall isn’t the place for me. Being here makes me think about a lot of things and how it affects my family. I think about the things can I do to keep from coming back here? My mom picked me up one night when I was stoned. I was embarrassed because I disappointed my mom. She wanted me to stop smoking, get my grades up and attend school. My life has been rough not having a dad to play catch with. I had a father who didn’t love me. That affected me the most, but my mom has always been there for me to give me love and attention I needed. Being different is hard because a lot of people make fun of me and that hurts my feelings. I’m used to it, so I don’t let it get to me anymore. I have learned a lot of new things including that friends don’t last forever, but family is always there no matter what. School has been rough for me. I have always struggled with the fact that I do what most teenagers do. Now that I’m a junior, I’m focused on credits and graduating, successful things like that will get my life on track.

Entry #682
That’s It
Sitting here locked down and tired of it. One reason is because my son might not have my last name, all because I'm locked up and not out. It’s a struggle in my life with all I have to go through. If I would of never got locked up this time I wouldn't have to go deal with half of what I do. But now when I get out everything probably going to be back to how it was when I was out the last time. I don't know if I want it to go back to how it was. I just want to be there for my son and that's it. He’s the only one that I need to be there for, nobody else. I can care less about all the lames acting hard.