Writing Exchange 2006-2015

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Lassen, Placer, Fresno, San Mateo, 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.

Exchanges currently planned for 2015: January 28; February 25; March 25; April 29; May 27; June 30; July 29; August 26

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Entry #934
End of the Month
I grew up poor. Even though I've always been poor, I've managed to make it. Feeling hungry, waiting to find a way to get food is hard. We depended on food stamps and when we ran out at the end of the month, my mom would have to steal and sell drugs to get money, just to put food on our table. Having no money has physically broken my family apart. We had to separate after not being able to afford our rent when it was due. Separating me, my sisters, my mom, and our dogs was the hardest thing. We all had to find somewhere to live, someone who would take us in. Even though not having money has made our lives a struggle, it still brings me happiness in the end because when I lay my head down at the end of the night, I know that my family will always make me happy no matter the situation. We don't need money to bring each other’s spirits up and we are always there for each other no matter what struggle we go through in life. That’s the best feeling in the world. I have learned that money isn't “all powerful,” because it still hasn't managed to take away my love, joy, and family.

Entry #935
Fast Money
Money is not an object, but instead a privilege and occasionally a token of happiness. Growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money, so we were in and out of shelters. Over the years I began to believe that was to be my motivation in life, and so far it is. I strive to be happy in this life but there are so many things bringing me down that it is hard to smile and pretend everything is okay when it isn't. Money is low and times are hard. Should I chase fast money and risk my freedom so my family won't have to struggle? Or just go to college and apply for jobs that probably won't hire a felon with two strikes? It's a hard decision to make and sometimes the only right thing you can do is the wrong thing. Some people are born rich and claim they are happy, but how do you know what happiness is when you haven't experienced depression, stress, and sadness? That is why most of the happiest people in the world were born poor and earned their money the right way. I strive to be like them, but it's funny what fast money does to a person.  

Entry #936
Dark Days
I’m told I’ve been through a lot, but the thought never occurred to me
It was a rite of passage to watch my white and gray J's turn to scarlet and Burgundy
And I wasn’t even plagued by a single nightmare or a flashback
Just elevated my game, went from knife ware to a black strap
Living life like a match pack all lit up as one
Burning bright in the night
Leave an impact before I’m done
I know a war will come for a man who wants peace
But that seem like a paradox
Because the wars never cease
Like the war in the East, I was about the bread
Running up in the house, XD pressed against the head
But the past is dead, and I’m struggling to cope
Gotta look up
One year off of dope

Entry #937
Is Anybody Home?
Growing up, we didn’t have it all. Nothing but our imaginations to entertain ourselves with. As I grew older, I came to understand that money makes the world go around. My brothers and I didn’t have money, but we had the ambition to chase it. Tired of working a 9-5, I turned to the streets. The money was coming in quicker and in very big amounts.

Now, there’s has to be a catch to all these thousands. Little did I know it was my freedom. This is just the fast life I got into.  It’s like I signed a contract without reading the rules and regulations. Now it’s too late to back out. All for the love of money. When you knock on the devil’s door, someone will eventually open it.

Entry #938
I Hate Reunions
I wake up to a loud click to the cold steel doors; I realize I’m locked back up, coming out of a great dream that takes me out of this facility.
Stuck in a state of confusion, in and out for 4 years is taking its toll on me, commissary is getting empty, pod mates just reminiscing,

Happy as can be…
Took a hit of some weed...
Back on the streets...
Kissed my double styro cup...
Now I can’t stop leaning...
Hit the plug up...
I got everybody fiending…

I’m back…
Everybody greeting, happy to see me, kind of sad that this place is a reunion.  I guess it really is true, “What goes up, must come down.” I’ll be home sometime next year off probation. Once I leave there’s no coming back. Maybe I can graduate to the federal penitentiary with my brother.…..No,  I’m tired of the damn cells.

Entry #939
Paper with a Number
I have done some despicable things just for a piece of paper with a number and a picture on it, from drug dealing to robberies. Money is what runs this tiny little blue dot we call earth. Money can be the most fantastic thing that can happen to someone, along with the worst thing to ever happen to a person. It can change you as a person along to changing how people perceive you. In my life I have experienced having huge amounts of money and I have experienced having no money. It really took over my life at that time; I became so money hungry that I made a point to hurt people just to get what I felt like I needed. I would sell things to people I knew, and I knew in my heart it would just hurt them in the long run. As long as it would make me some of that money I was so entranced, it made me think it was okay. I've gone from rags to riches but in the end none of that matters because that is part of the reason I am where I'm at today...Stuck in a cage unable to contact the majority of my loved ones. If you can't memorize an address or a number then you’re simply out of luck.

Entry #940
Changing Course
Not being given a second chance…
It's been more like 15-20.
I've set myself up for failure time and time again.

The chance of my lifetime has come,
I'm escaping this county along with all the memories, and the fake Homies.
20 years from now, the smell of musk won't repulse me,

I'm going to a rehab
I’m going to find the old me!
Not going to be that 17 year old girl that's lonely.

Pathetic clouds have parted and the sun has escaped,
no longer stuck in the drugs living for the minute,
I'm now living for each day

Entry #941
The Beat
I didn’t grow up wealthy, I didn’t grow up poor
But my past life experiences kind of left me sore
When times got tough, illegal money was the option
I was tired of going to work, hitting the button to clock in
When temptation kicked in
My mind was nowhere else but locked in
There’s a moral to the story
I clearly wasn’t thinking if I was just focused on the glory
Only time can tell
I’m just waiting to hear the bell
No one really knows if there’s a heaven or a hell
And its good to have beliefs
But when you’re living in the streets
There’s nothing else to depend on
But your heart and hearing the beat.

Entry #942
Healthy and Stabilized
In my life money has affected me dramatically. My cousin got shot because of money, my mom was never home because she was always working for money, my dad was always getting locked up because he was either gambling, selling drugs, or doing other things for money. My brothers were always doing something dumb for money too.

In my household, we were in the middle, not poor or rich. My family always seemed to make it though because everyone was always helping out. This didn’t necessarily change my view of life, but it made me realize that in order to get what you want, you had to work hard so that started me down this path.

I never really did anything good for money other than being in rehab for two straight years and earning allowance there. I mostly committed crimes for it. Money does make me happy because it keeps me and my family healthy and stabilized.

Entry #943
Invisible Warfare
My life sometimes feels like a brick in the wall
empty and just blended with them all
I feel like I'm going to fall from the sky
I'm not afraid to die

Long nights my spirit fights
It's messed up to walk around with
No eternal light
Immortality is the key

I seek compassion
But my mind comes into play and
Positivity flees as selfish deeds replace
I drift into a chaotic place

The world feels like an evil game
Full of pain as my mind refrains
That is not my destiny
I have to quit stressing

Entry #944
Pain & Sacrifice
I grew up very poor in the ghetto of Fresno. I always wanted money, Gucci belts, Coach purses. I always wanted that.

I didn’t have family either, so I wanted that too. But how far does money get you? Money does not get you as far as love, care, support, health or even shelter.

I wanted to better myself and do something with my life.

I craved money so bad I sold drugs, I prostituted, I escorted, I stripped. Just to get that money.

Later I found out there were other positive ways to get money like writing, drawing, singing, rapping, giving advice, doing hair and nails.

There is more to life than just money. Does money go with you wherever you go? No.

You get so much more out of not having money than having it.  I don’t need money to survive.

I need a family. I need support. I need care and motivation. Most of all, I need inspiration. I don’t need someone to give me money and tell me to go do whatever I want.

I need someone to acknowledge what I can do right and give me a pat on the back. I need someone to love me so I have a shoulder to cry on. I don’t work for money, I work for free. I am not who money wants me to be, I am who I chose to be.

Entry #945
Money, green as Sin,
I've witnessed things that shouldn't have been,
From that I've got a messed up life,
Liver disease, I've seen my grandma die,
My ma and dad used to cheat and lie,
They used to steal my things just to get high,
My mom, she's M.I.A,
Won't write back and it makes me cry,
My dad’s just as bad,
Every time I get close it makes him livid,
He’d say, "Money is never enough. To get through life you’ve got to be tough,"
Five years later I'm living in the Hall working out,
Standing tall but I want more out of life,
No more drugs no more strife.

Entry #946
Money Talks
Money has affected my life in a pretty bad way. My parents would always fight over money, stress over money, break up and make up for the money all the time. One day they got into it real bad and finally separated.

My siblings and I would fight, too.  My older brother stole all my money one time. My brothers would steal from me often. This made me really mad.

My mom didn’t work until her and my dad separated. My mom met my step dad and then she had to work two jobs too. When I was 12, my mom had to stop working because she was pregnant and we got really poor. My step-dad’s check was low, everything just went downhill until my sister turned one and thank god things got better.

This affected my outlook on life because I learned that money controls people. Money talks. Money causes issues for people who are stressing for enough money to get food, clothes, and to live under a roof.

I have done so many things for money. I stole from a lot of places and people and sold things for a good amount of money. When I was younger I would babysit or clean the entire house for money.

Money makes me happy because it fed me when my mom wasn’t worried about me. I had to make money on my own to meet my needs. I used to do whatever I could for money.

Before I got locked up, I was on my own and money was the only thing I had. I learned to love money.

Entry #947
I look out my window and what do I see? Street walking zombie people strung out on D.
It’s scary and sad how this life can be.
I can’t handle my emotions so I’m steady puffin on tree.
On the run again I’m deep in the street,
And I’m trying my hardest not to tweak.
What fills my heart with all of this pain?
Maybe it’s God’s punishment for saying his name in vain.
I pray for better days as I survive this dreamy haze.
Stuck in this lifestyle like a drug infested maze….

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
A street walking zombie person strung out on D.

Entry #948
they call me a witness
try and put me on the stand
I didn't write anything down
I didn't say anything man
I guess I am a witness
when it comes to poverty
hustlin the street
hopefully police don't bother me
I guess I'm just a witness
to what the drugs can do 
hitting licks, robing people
that’s a fiend for you
I’ve never been a witness
when it comes to the riches

Entry #949
When I was growing up, I had no money. I still have no money. Whenever I did get money, I would spend it almost immediately. Sometimes I would be able to hold onto money for a few days but then I would spend it on something like the county fair, even though I would be on my own when I went.

If I grew up wealthy, I would have a swimming pool deep enough to practice scuba diving. I wish I had money because I might not be where I am now. Heck, I could be studying to be a fireman right now as we speak, but I’m not. I’m stuck here looking at a possible two years at CYA.

Entry #950
To Fix Us
Baby why do we do this to each other,
why do we hurt one another,
we know we’ll be together forever,
I hate when we fight, it makes it hard to sleep at night,
without you bay life would never feel right,
sitting here crying, tears falling down,
slowly losing my sight,
what happened to us bay we used to be tight?
Now were always mad, making each other sad,
we have to fix us baby, don’t let our relationship go bad,
we have been through way too much to stop here,
losing you out of my life is my biggest fear, I stand in front of this mirror as I wipe my face tear by tear, wishing that you were here whispering I love you in my ear,
every day your gone my heart aches in pain,
my heads not sane, your my backbone,  
if I was old you would be my cane, I’m the tree you’re the rain,
without you I wouldn’t grow,
 I’m the boat you’re the paddle, without you I wouldn’t go,
don’t you see that you keep me strong?
Every day with you is right but every day without you is wrong,
 I’ll be out soon baby, not too long.

Entry #951
Rigor Mortis
I been through the struggle and I’ve seen the worst in people,
Man were living in hell, were surrounded by evil,
I got the devil sending whispers in my ear, I try to block him out and pretend I cannot hear
It ain’t workin’
I slowly feel the demons taking over like a virus in my soul, getting worse as I get older
I can’t fight them
Yeah, their inside of me, got nightmares taking over dreams, every single thought I think, even when I close my eyes to go to sleep
I can’t escape my, born into hate;  I really want to change but it’s a little too late….
I’m dead.