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, December 12, 2016

Entry #1320
I remember when I was young, living in Mexico. I remember the small restaurant where my dad would buy soup and we would sit on the curb and eat.  Those were the days. The reason we were in Mexico was because my dad got deported for beating my mom with a beer bottle. I remember getting really sick where my whole family thought I was going to die.
I remember coming back to the U.S. My mom got into drugs really hard. I remember her leaving us alone for days and even weeks at a time. I remember when I was seven or eight, my mom’s boyfriend beating us and throwing my one year-old brother across the room and trying to fight him but  getting beat again.
I remember going to school and everybody looking at me weird. This was because I had bruises all over my face, body and arms.  And then teachers wondered why I haven't been to school in months. I remember telling them I fell from the ladder on my treehouse and I guess they wanted to believe me.
I remember being at home taking care of my sister and brother. Stealing from stores to feed my younger siblings. I remember my sister and brother scared and crying because the wall was banging and being slammed because our mom was being beaten for some reason and I knew we were next. I remember hiding my siblings so they wouldn't get hurt. I remember my brother and sister looking at me from the cupboard while I was getting beaten with a broken chair leg because my mom ran while he was beating her, so when she ran he came to us.
I remember my cousin letting me ride with him on his motorcycle.  I remember the bag of pesos he gave me and my sister.  I remember the candy and the spinning tops we would set off on the ground.

Entry #1321
The Knock
I remember getting ready for Halloween, my make up just about to fall into place.
I remember hearing a knock.
I remember running to the front door and looking out the window – no one was there.
I remember hearing another knock.
I remember running to the back door and looking out the window – police.
I remember running to my room, to where I thought would be my friends. POLICE!
I remember the officer opening the back door.
I remember being in my sleepwear, because I didn’t want to get my outfit dirty and stained with Halloween make-up.
I remember standing outside in the cold.
I remember officers everywhere.
I remember asking one to get me some pants and a sweater.
I remember texting my mom and telling her to come home.
I remember my friends walking towards my house for their lunch.
I remember talking to an officer and looking over to see my friends and their worried faces.
I remember the officer telling me to put my hands behind my back.
I remember the clicking of the handcuffs.
I remember my black tears running down my face, staining my favorite joggers.
I remember feeling as if I should scream.
I remember crying so hard, I was wheezing.
I remember a loud door slamming.
I remember feeling I wanted to die.

Entry #1322
To Get Help
If you really knew me, you would know I can only take so much.
If you really knew me, you would know I didn’t have a mom there for me.
You would know I also didn’t have a father figure to look up to.
If you really knew me you would know I didn’t stay home much.
You would know I didn’t really have a home, anyways.
If you really knew me, you would know I was running around stealing cars with people I shouldn’t have been hanging around with.
You would know people began to tell me I would end up dead or in prison.
If you really knew me, you would know my brother and sister weren’t there when I needed them most, but that they were there more than my father.
If you really knew me you would know I have a problem with school.
If you really knew me, you would know I wasted so much time and now I am trying to better myself.
If you really knew me, you would know I’m going to rehab.
You would know I never thought I would be the one going somewhere to get help.

Entry #1323
I Made The Choice
I remember the old days when I thought I had everything. I thought sitting in a basement smoking dope, looking like a bag of bones was the life I wanted. I remember doing anything I could do to get another sack of dope. Didn't care how big or how small; just happy I had more. I remember when I had all the friends I wanted and I slowly watched them all leave because they didn't smoke the drugs I smoked. I remember them telling me to stop, telling me I was better than that. But I didn't care what my friends or family had to say, I just cared how I was going to get my next pipe-load. I remember I wouldn't eat for weeks or months at a time; so close to death, but I felt so alive. I remember not knowing where I was going to sleep, if I was going to sleep at all...really didn't care much for sleeping. I was missing out on so much of the world. Rarely saw the day time. I remember hanging out with people I didn't like because they had drugs I wanted or needed to smoke. I remember not going home, not going around my family cause I didn't want them to be disappointed in me. Well, that's what I told myself. The truth is I had more love for a white substance that controlled my life than my own family. Dope was like a name tag. It told me what and who I was. I remember giving up on relationships because I didn't want them to see how bad I was. I didn’t want them to know. I couldn't take the disappointment.  Avoiding that shame was really the only thing I cared about a tiny bit more than dope. I also remember the day I got locked up; it was the same day I realized I was living a horrible life and it really needed to change. I couldn't do it by myself though. I finally realized who I was. I realized I didn't need dope. I finally realized I was better than who I was trying to be. That's the day I made the choice to never smoke dope again. I made the choice that I am going to live a righteous and successful, drug free life.

Entry #1324
5 Things I Am Grateful For Today
One thing I am grateful for today is another day of living. If I had not woken up this morning, I would not have been able to have breakfast, come to class, or do my best in my pod today. The second thing I am grateful for is I am having my drug therapy group after school today, because without it I would not know how to live and cope with my feelings being sober, especially outside of Juvenile Hall. The third thing I am grateful for today is being able to see my mom and my puppies for visiting after dinner today, and seeing them always makes me feel better about my day. The fourth thing I am grateful for today is the special visits I am able to get from my puppies, because if I would not be able to see them for two months I would flip out. The last, and fifth thing I am grateful for today is being sober. If I was not sober today or any other day, I would not be grateful for any of these things I have mentioned.

Entry #1325
Being Here
If you really knew me, you would know the names of my household family members. You’d also know I miss them dearly. You might not think of me as a family man from the first glimpse but deep down I would do anything for them. Even though I am in here I still try my best to comfort them when I call. I try not to make them worry even though we all know this isn’t a place for good kids. No matter how miserable it could be sitting alone in a cell for hours on end, when they call I tell them everything’s alright and don’t let them know anything is wrong. I try to play off that it's ok so they don’t have to worry. You’d know I couldn’t tell my family and have my little siblings worrying about me while there's nothing they can do to help. I'm sure they'd be devastated if they knew the feeling being here gives someone.  

Entry #1326
Sea Salt
I remember living in San Diego having a good life before my mom started using meth.
I remember waking up and actually wanting to go to school.
I remember people being real about everything and not lying.
I remember when I didn't think about gangs.
I remember not having to visit my dad in prison.
I remember when he was out and not being able to talk to him because he was high on heroin and kept on nodding out.
I remember smelling the sea salt in the air.  
I remember  waking up and ditching school to go get high with friends.
I remember thinking about my home and the people that are fake.
Now all I see is people chasing dragons and twisting pipes like it's the right thing to do.
Now all I see is my dad still in prison but trying to change his life around for the better.
Now all I smell is the drugs in the air or smelling all the meth labs around my neighborhood.
I remember stealing cars so that I can get by day to day. Now all I see are brick walls of being locked up.
Now I see my mom doing good and staying clean off of everything so that she can set an example for me and my brothers.

Entry #1327
I Remember
When people told me
I have a problem with
I remember when I
Wouldn’t let myself
Believe it.
I remember when I would argue with my parents
Over drug use.
I remember when I
Would steal money from my parents
To support my habit.
I remember when I would
Walk far distances to get what
I needed.
I remember
When I would lie to my
My parents about where I
I remember

Entry #1328
I remember having a 38 on my waist to keep me safe.
I remember all those gun shots.
I remember my parents telling me I'm choosing the wrong path for my future, but I still did it.
I remember my counselor telling me I can do better, but I never listened.
I remember my teacher saying he saw a bright future ahead of me.
I remember getting put on and thought I was a big deal.
I remember all the fights.
I remember having to watch my friend get beat up and being unable to do anything. I remember getting my first tattoo.
I remember the days having so much money and spending it all on the same day.
I remember having seven bands in my pocket. So much I could barely fit it and being so dumb to carry that much.
I remember catching my first case.
I am done with this lifestyle.   
I see myself starting my own business and proving to those people that doubted me that I can become someone that they would never have thought I would become.

Entry #1329
Makin’ Me Look Bad
If you really knew me, you would know that I am a really nice person (sometimes) and I like to do adventurous things. Sometimes those adventurous things cause me to get hurt, but I really don’t care as long as I have fun and enjoyed doing it. I love Mexican food and I hate people that are negative or rude. If you really knew me you would also know that I am constantly either getting locked up or getting in trouble, but that does not mean I am a bad person. I just tend to do bad things that makes me look like a bad person.

Entry #1330
This is not the first time I’ve been locked up on the holidays. This is the first time I’ve ever been locked up. Since last January I’ve been here. I will miss my family and the good breakfast. I hope Christmas is not that bad here. I am going to make a paper tree and get myself gifts such as chips, pop tarts, and other snacks and also composition books, markers, and hopefully good books to read.

Entry #1331
If you really knew me, you would know that my mom’s in prison and has been since I was five years old.
You would know that my grandpa is doing a life sentence without parole.
You would know that my other grandpa is dead.
You would know it makes me boil inside when I hear people talking bad about their parents.
If you really knew me, you would know how much I hurt inside.
You would know how many secrets I hold.
If you really knew me you would know how grateful I am for my dad and grandma.
You would know why I’m trying so hard for them to turn my life around.
If you really knew me you would know that I use guns to solve my problems.
You would know I don’t really understand why I do that, but it resulted in 14 months.
You would know that it kills me to see the hurt in my dad and grandma whenever I see them or hear their voice.
If you really knew me, you would know that I am going to make a change in my life for them.
You would know I don’t really care what people around me think about me anymore, because in the long run who's going to be with me still?  I’ll tell you who: my dad and grandma.
You would know that all I want to do is be happy and make my family happy.
You would know that I finally realize there’s a lot more to life than being the cool kid or the tough guy. It’s finally getting through my thick skull, slowly, but surely.

Entry # 1332
A Single Kiss
There are a lot of things I've seen in my life
I've seen people die, addicts fly, and a lot of important people to me cry.
My mother made me into an angry being.
No remorse for someone left bleeding.
Intoxicate my brain to suppress my feelings.
I don’t care if you live or die.
I don’t even care about my own life.
I’ve burned more bridges than a dragon's blaze.
I got hate in my heart with a fiery gaze.
I'm the schizo people usually avoid,
If you think we're friends, you're just another toy.
People say that hell is a place for the damned,
But I think Satan’s no more than a sham.
I'll show the shadows what darkness really is,
My life is dedicated to create an evil bliss.
But she can pull me out with a single kiss.
When evil expects me to comply,
She takes me to a world outside of my mind.
I love my baby, she's my most valuable crime.
She's my love; I’m addicted in ways that don’t attack my brain.
When my baby leaves me alone, my heart goes insane.     

Entry #1333
Running Away from my Problems
I’ve been running from my problems for a little while. Well, maybe it’s been longer than a little while, seems like everything’s going out of style. Put on my shoes and try to walk a mile, still wake up and wear a fake-ass smile. Don’t know how I’m supposed to help myself. Won’t really help to go and kill myself so I hope that my heart can just heal itself. Wish I could just be myself. I don’t even want to see myself. I’ve been running away from my problems for a little while.

Entry #1334
Will It Really Be OK?
I remember growing up with my mom.
I remember never knowing my dad, and my mom working to provide for us.
I remember telling her that everything would be okay, to take her pain away.
I remember going on the wrong path to try and forget about the past.
I remember my mom begging me to do the right thing, but I blamed my dad for never being there for me.
I remember my mom crying and asking me what happened to her little boy, and telling her that smoking pot brought me joy.
I remember getting out of juvenile hall but still not listening to my mom.

Entry #1335
If you really knew me you would know I’m a drug addict.
You would know I love drugs.
You would know I hate them too.   
If you really knew me you would know my whole family has been affected by the drugs I do.
If you really knew me you would know I can’t stop doing them.               
If you really knew me you would know I robbed my mom's house and stole her car too.
Entry #1336
Lonely Thoughts
I hate that I have ever came into the system,
Cold nights and locked doors,
Feeling all alone with no court date.
I have always done this alone,
no one beside me,
just my thoughts of going home.
I hate myself for doing wrong,
wishing I could go back and fix my sins,
now I’m 15 possibly going to the pen.
I hate that I always ran,
Thinking I was cool and about to go ham.
I hate that I had to leave my daughter,
only three months old, now she can’t even see her father.
I hate when I go on the run,
Filling my body with drugs just to feel numb.
I hate that everything I’ve done has turned out being wrong…..             

Entry #1337
Life Changing
I remember being loved
I remember being me
I remember being a kid
I remember things I will never forget
I remember my first crush
        my first love
        my first kiss
I remember things I will never forget
I remember having faith
        having fun
        having friends
I remember things I will never forget
I remember doing bad things
        doing people wrong
        doing cocaine
I remember when my life changed and it would never be the same
I remember things I will never forget
I remember going to school
        going psycho
        going blank
I remember things I will never forget
I remember staying fresh
        staying fly
        staying saucy
I remember things I will never forget
I remember chasing girls
        chasing dreams
        chasing money
I remember things I will never forget
I remember facing my fears
        facing facts
        facing death
I remember when my life changed and it would never be the same, therefore,
I remember things I will never forget

Entry #1338
Walking In
I remember my mom getting put in the back of a cop car.
I remember sleeping on benches and judgmental ******.
I remember stealing food from grocery stores because I had no money.
I remember stealing people’s drugs to sell so I could have money.
I remember getting high, hoping it would numb the pain.
I remember not having clothes to change into the next day.
I remember running from the cops because I stole someone's clothes out of their house.
I remember not eating anything significant for weeks because I didn’t have money.
I remember shooting at someone because they shot at me.
I remember walking into Juvenile Hall four months ago.
I remember…

Entry #1339
Raging Again
I remember long angry family fights.
Followed by dark, lonely, drug-filled sleepless nights.
I remember hearing my mom cry and tell me to get dressed and to leave the house.
She was always arguing with her lame-ass so called spouse.
I saw holes in doors and broken glass.
If I wasn't so young I would have kicked his ass.
I remember getting older and day after day,
I would smoke and drink to try and push the pain away.
Sipping this and hitting that,
It never worked because when I sobered up all the pain plus more came right back.
I remember staying with friends, house to house.
Late one evening I awoke and rose from their couch.
My friend in his room with his girlfriend, not hearing a sound.
I sat there waiting but he never came out.
His mom started crying, arguing with her man.
All those memories and that anger began raging again.
I reacted on instinct, no words to spout.
The man walked in front of me cursing and yelling.
Then BOOM!! I just knocked him out.

Entry #1340
My Decision
I remember growing up with no dad.
I remember picking up recycling cans to pay the rent.
I remember growing up in a house with no food, and not having my family to feed me and my brothers every day.
I remember kicking back drinking with my older brothers, smoking our lives away while my mom wasn't home.
I remember making money the wrong way for me and my brothers to have food for another day. I remember seeing my mom cry everyday, and me and my brothers going up to her, hugging her, telling her everything's going to be okay.
I remember telling myself I'm going to change, but look where I'm at, just stuck in another mess. I remember being out, going out to the park and play, but once my rivals showed up, it was no fun or games.
I remember growing up wondering if my life would ever change. But it's up to me to make the decision to live my life the right way.
I remember a year ago telling my little brother that he's not going to be in gangs, a year later seeing him walking and running, hoping he's going the right way.
I'll always be there for you no matter what anyone says.

Entry  #1341
Like Really
I remember, when all I wanted was to go to school and play sports. I was good at mostly every sport. I was a 4.0 student and played football and basketball and sometimes baseball. Sports actually help me out a little bit. They kept me away from trouble.  I love to play sports. If you knew me you would know sports are my life.
Now when I got kicked out of school I thought my life was over. I started getting locked up, smoking weed, and drinking. Then I started to gang bang. Ever since all that happened my life really has changed. When I’m locked up all the staff tell me I’m good at football and basketball, but being locked up throws away all my talent. I now understand what I do is wrong but to be honest my life is a never ending story of bad.  Every time I try to do well something always has to happen. Something always has to drag me down. I love how I’m good at sports and actually do well in school when I want to do well. But I know there is that side of me that will come out and mess everything up for me. I hate how I can’t stay out of trouble. Trouble always has to find me. No matter how I try to stay away from trouble it always finds me. I need to try, like really try and put my all into going back to school and back in sports and make my mom proud.

Entry #1342
Mountain Dew
If you really knew me, you would know my full name.
        you would know that I am 17 years old.
        you would know I like to be outdoors.
If you really knew me, you would know I like animals.
        you would know where I live.
        you would know how many siblings I have.
If you really knew me, you would know that my favorite kind of food is seafood.
        you would know when my birthday is.
        you would know that I am a senior.
If you really knew me, you would know that my favorite kind of soda is Mountain Dew.
        you would know that I really don’t like school.
        you would know I like to wear 501’s and pro clubs.
If you really knew me, you would know that I like to be adventurous.
        you would know that I don’t like people who think they’re all that.
        you would know that I am 5 ft. 7in.
If you really knew me, you would know that I am the second oldest of my siblings.
        you would know that I only have one tattoo.
        you would know that I don’t let anybody mess with my family.
If you really knew me, you would know that I have one dog.
        you would know that I don’t smoke marijuana.
        you would know that I can’t ever stay off of Facebook.
        you would know what elementary school I went to.
        you would know what middle school I went to.
        you would know that I like to play video games.
        you would know that I am easy to get along with.
        you would know that my shirt size is large.
        you would know that I’m not really good at math.
If you really knew me, you would know who my favorite teacher is at this school

Entry #1343
I remember when I was in here last time it was only 14 days.
I remember I said I was never coming back.
I said I was going to do great because I was going to my Uncle’s.
I remember when I got there, it was great. Then I had an argument with my girl.
I remember calling my Grandfather and telling him “I want to get spun.”
I remember going to the gas station to meet up with him. We left and went to his house and got high.
I remember him taking me to my house and grabbing my stuff. Then he took me to my mom's house and he left. I remember telling her that I didn't want to live with my Uncle.
I remember her telling me that I'm going to have to leave because probation was going to be after me. I left with my girl.
I remember sleeping on the streets in parks.
I remember finding a credit card and using it to buy weapons.
I remember getting locked in the store and the cops came.
I remember lying to them and getting caught up in my lies.
I remember getting taken to the police station, then to the hall, and  now I've been in here for forty six days
And now I am just waiting to get out to support my child and do the right thing.

Entry #1344
I Remember
I remember back when I wasn’t on Probation
When I could do what I want and really be free
Now, I just worry when my PO will see me
I can’t even sit back and smoke weed
I wish I didn’t make the mistakes I did
But it is what it is.

Entry #1345
If you really knew me you would know I don’t like people because if I let them in, they hurt me.
If you really knew me you would know I am in love.
You would know I like to have a good time, nothing but good vibes.
If you really knew me you would know I love the wrong things.
If you really knew me you would know that at nine, I was all grown up already.
If you really knew me you would know any enemy of yours is an enemy of mine.
If you really knew me you would know I love to get lost in the music.
If you really knew me you would know I can’t wait to have a family of my own even though I am scared straight of kids.
If you really knew me you would know I became hurtful/hateful at a young age.
You would know my real mom is up in heaven chilling with my uncle.
You would know I’d rather be blacked out not dealing with any of my problems then to go about it like a real person and get real help.
If you really knew me you would know am 5’5 but I have an ego that’s 6’9
If you really knew me you would know I am searching for better days. Until then I’ll keep praying for them.