Friday, March 30, 2018

LGBT Empowerment Does Not Mean LGBT Exclusivity, Necessarily

The people I care most about are the LGBT community. I love them and loathe them in the same breath at times. In the end they are my peers though.

I learn from them daily, how they overcome hidden stigmas and bias. How they cope with a world that, despite what Hollywood portrays, still does not accept them. Not them, us. I could easily go back in the text and rephrase the "them's" with the appropriate "us's", but I like the mistake because it allows me the ability to correct it. We should never fear correction, there is no shame in it.

What we need is empowerment, not a savior. We need the proper skills to do things for ourselves on our own. Not necessarily because we will, but because we need equality, the ability and confidence to know that we can mitigate situations appropriately just like others. The same point is driven by most activists who represent a disenfranchised and marginalized community.

The tendency is for someone with a skill set to come in and want to lead the disenfranchised, well meaning, but it keeps us beneath. Albeit unintentionally. The right thing to do is to take a conciliatory position and guide the disenfranchised through the process transferring the knowledge for autonomy and, ultimately, self-confidence.

In the LGBT community we have straight allies, and we love them. We must remain diligent to understand who is leading us in our efforts for equality. Are our allies empowering us to become self-sufficient or are they simply wanting to lead us? We must scrutinize ourselves and our own motives as well as our allies.

Knowledge is power. Get some.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"

Thursday, March 29, 2018

There Is A Top Ramen, Should There Be A Bottom Ramen?

A friend of mine asked me this the other day. We get to buy Top Ramen and I have to wonder if I wouldn't enjoy Bottom Ramen more?

I mean, I hate topping, not my thing er, Top Ramen that is. Perhaps if there was a Bottom Ramen with different flavors like...I don't know, Beef Steak and Guy Sauce.

Who knows, a little carbs and sodium is not always bad I guess.

:-)

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Hamster Wheel

I've done all I can to change, up until this very moment where I am listening to CNBC at 5:30 a.m. while sitting in my bunk drinking tap water warm instant coffee...and appreciating it.

I have been in prison since September of 2011, incarcerated since May of 2011. I have undergone some changes, actually, a whole bunch of them. I get to cleaning out my closet and addressing some old news, sometimes I try and make sense of why I did what I did. Sometimes I think I have forgiven myself, sometimes I even think I can move on.

I do programs, I read books, I seek help. I apply change after change, try this and try that. Financial Peace, Redemption, CFT, Anger Management, Thinking For A Change, MACS, FACS, Book Clubs, therapy, mental health counseling, peer support groups (some of which I've created), entrepreneurship certificate courses, Associates degree program, Several workshops, leadership seminars, cultural events, and let's not forget workforce training and religious counsel.

The perpetual cycle I find myself in is a motivator for continuous self-improvement. To constantly evaluate and reevaluate my changes, to always be looking inward.

I wonder how many people outside of here do the same thing? I would think lots of people do, right? Society has always done their best to hide their mistakes, their worst. I do not have that option, otherwise I will just fade away and all of this would have been for nothing. I have to make this count for something.

I cannot just sit quietly, I refuse, to just do my time and leave this place into the dark recesses of society where I will live my life in dark shame. I refuse. That's what this is about, bringing my mistakes to light so they can be examined and fixes can be applied to others who show the same characteristics, and beyond. Prevention.

I wonder what life will look like in 4 years.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, March 26, 2018

I Dreamed Of Mail By Jeff Utnage

Last night while my mind was left unattended,
While my body repaired itself from the days breaks,
While I tried to make sense of the days problems,
I dreamed of getting mail.

I heard my name get called,
It almost didn't sound like me,
My heart became a waterfall with no end,
I dreamed of mail.

Little piles of unsorted papers,
I could barely read the printed names,
Then someone handed me four envelopes,
I dreamed of mail.

Three names I didn't know,
People who reached out to me,
I wondered if they were LGBT,
I dreamed of mail.

I will never know,
I woke up and there was no mail,
Just manifestations of intrinsic desire
I dream of mail.

I used to pray for mail,
A habit I stopped long ago,
Even God couldn't make people care, so,
I dream of mail.

But it's only a dream,
Letters I never get to open,
Illegible names on remembered envelopes,
I dream of mail.

by Jeff Utnage

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Social Movements In America Today

What warms my heart from where I sit in prison is the activism emerging. Funny how one divisive president takes office and then two of the largest movements I have seen happen within the first 18 months, women's movements and gun control.

I am encouraged by these movements because of their sheer size. The gun control movement had millions of people nationwide taking to the streets peacefully. Women's movements too.

In order to effect change that will make our streets safer we must organize giant movements that have clear goals. We must make one change though, stop demanding the government change.

We do not need the government to police our judgments. If people are treating other people bad, guess what? Make that behavior uncool. As a society we can trend stuff like cloth and colors and toys so that millions of people must have them. We can also do this with behavior.

Let us use our influence to effect a trend that will make humanitarian behavior trendy. If we can do it for pants and underwear, surely we can do it for kindness. I think we would all be amazed at the changes a little kindness will make.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"
 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Avoiding Sexual Harassment: A Few Pointers

As LGBT people we run into all kinds of weird situations. Not just us either, women too. Men are taught that the word no is simply a barrier to yes. I could get into why this is, but that's for another post. For now we will stick to stopping sexual harassment before it gets offensive.

1. As soon as your offended, say something. It does not have to be angry, or make a scene (unless you need help, then make a big ole scene). Try saying something like "Whoa, that was aggressive and creepy." But say it as if you meant it. The point here is to be direct and honest.

2. Another method that is simple and honest is to say, "I don't like that, don't do that again." Being so direct will usually end the behavior. If it is consistent or your not being taken seriously, make sure your body language is matching your words, i.e. don't say it like your joking, be serious. If that doesn't work then...

3. Make a scene. Be loud and say for others to hear exactly what's going on. Example: Your LGBT and everyone knows, but this one guy keeps brushing your tush with his hand when he walks by. At first you thought it was a mistake and let it go as harmless, but he did it again and this time he smiled. So, put him on blast, tell him for everyone to hear just how you feel.

4. If you witness someone being harassed, say something. Don't wait, dont hesitate. i.e. "Hey, that's really aggressive, are you comfortable with this?" We are using words like aggressive, inappropriate, distasteful, classless, unwanted, harassing. Making the person see that they are crossing boundaries is crucial.

These tips will usually result in a quick apology, which is what you want. You aren't trying on make enemies here, just nipping something in the bud before it turns into something that is uncomfortable later on. 

So these tips are for situations that are somewhat common and are the lead ups for bigger problems. We are trying to AVOID being victimized, not wait for it.

There are situations that warrant more aggressive action like immediate reporting, calling for help, even fighting. But you really want to set the precedent that you are intolerable of this stuff, by being vocal and direct every time it will send messages to everyone around you that you are not to be played with.

Know your companies policies on harassment, don't be afraid to use them. Outside of work don't think you have to tolerate this crap either. This stuff is really effective in day to day life.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Preventing Crimes: What About The Really Bad Ones?

I have this idea about preventing victimization. In prison we create support for one another by making little community groups. Psychology uses peer based groups for therapy, communities use groups for supporting one another.

What I think would help is to create stronger community support. Bring communities together and include everyone, even the ones who are struggling. Especially the ones who are struggling, and start the much needed support in everyones lives.

But what about the really bad ones? The ones who have been to prison and are now free? The ones who have committed terrible acts like child rape, burglarized an old lady, murder, what about them? Obviously I have an answer, but it may not be the one you want.

Learn from them all you can. Ex-inmates are a wealth of information on criminal behavior and how to prevent it. Untapped I might add. I have been in prison for seven years now and nobody has asked me how my crime could have been prevented. Do you hear me? NOBODY!

Why? It is either because everyone knows already or because they do not want to know. However, if given the choice of how do I prevent rape, murder, and robberies or not preventing them... well, obviously we would want to prevent them.

Personalize it, think about a loved one. You have a choice:
1. Your loved one is victimized, somehow
2. Your loved one was not victimized

Which one would you choose?

We as a community must learn from our mistakes. Learn from mine, I have so much to teach.

But, so do you.

Let's learn and teach together.

Get in contact with me. Get over your fears, your anxiety, your whatever holds you back from reaching out to me. Just do it.

Here's my contact info
Jeff Utnage 823469 D-610-2
MCC-TRU
P.O. Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

Or email me through
jpay.com
You will need my name and DOC#
Jeff Utnage 823469

Will reply to everyone. Even the timid.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"
 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pride event in prison for prisoners (updated link)

Good Afternoon everyone,

I am writing to tell you about a Go Fund Me page for the inmates at Monroe Correctional Facility to put on a pride event in June to co-inside with the Pride Parade.

I have started it off with my own donation and I ask that you consider helping the LGBTQ community in prison to put on their own event.

They think they only need $300 to cover the expenses that they will incure by putting on an event.

Please help. The web address is: https://www.gofundme.com/pride-event-in-prison-for-prisoners. Anything you can do to support them is greatly appreciated.

Blessings to all.
Valerie

Bird Talkers

I am in a book club put on by the University of Washington. A professor and several of his senior students come in and we discuss the previous month's read. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, The Things They Carried by O'Brien, and now To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee.

I like going because I feel like I get brain food. I soak up information like a sponge and I feel alive. I leave that little room feeling as if I just had a full body cleanse or just got fresh fluids. I leave supercharged.

One of my peers begins to tell this story of how his family lives nearby and sometimes he feels them so close he shouts at the fence hoping they might hear him beyond. But he shouts out to his kids anyway. 

Then be said something beautifully heartbreaking. He says he will take a little bread and quietly feed a few a Crows, Killdeers, or Finch's and give them a message to sing to his kids. He says to them "If you happen to fly over a few kids at this address please tell them I love them and I will be out soon. Sing them my love." 

Then he goes home in faith. He tells his family about what he does and then whenever they see any bird on their property they are extra careful to feed it and listen patiently to any song it might sing because they know its a song of love. 

Pretty special. I feel privileged to feel someones heart like that.

The next time I see a bird and I have an offering to trade, I may just send my love to someone. 

In honor of Marshall and his brilliant love for his family.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Foster's School Of Business at the University of Washington: Your My Goal

I want to be a Human Resource Manager. I want a Master's in Management with an emphasis in Human Resource Management and this can happen at the University of Washington, Foster's School of Business.

So this is me telling the world, I intend on going to this school. I know it is competitive and hard to get into, even harder for someone like me, then you factor my age upon entry and having to work and intern requirement. Let me just say that it sounds impossible, I know. But it is not impossible.

My age gives me wisdom and experience dealing with high stress environments, so does my prison experience. I am patient and extremely driven. I know what it means to fail and I do not like it, I have experienced extreme isolation and thrived in environments where I have zero friends, zero support and everyone in sight wanted me dead, literally, and most of them were more than capable and would have felt no remorse for doing so.
Yet, here I am.

So, world, in 3 years and 9 months, I will be out of this terrible place and I will be enrolling at Seattle University for my Bachelor's degree in business management, find any job that works with me on that, find a place that is within commute distance between the two and I will restart my life.

The good news is I do not have to do it alone. There is a whole team of people who want me to succeed and are prepared to help me, I know this because they patiently have nurtured me while I realized my abilities.

The end goal is to change the world, via a non profit organization called "Anti-Victimization Network" or "AVN". Where I will be on the board, with other passionate people who came from nothing. I will do this with the same heart that got me into a great paying career as a Human Resource Manager in downtown Seattle or Bellevue or ?? where my Master's in Management with emphasis on Human Resource Management obtained through the Foster's School of Business at the University of Washington made that possible. Even for someone like me.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"
 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Name Is

My name causes some to be self-conscious

It has been spoken by presidents, prime ministers, the Queen, Chairs and Co-Chairs, Executives and Boards, Judges and Senators, gangsters and thugs, even entire teams.

My name has been screamed in fits of rage and mixed with the spittle of disgrace

Its been written, scribbled, defamed, shielded, weaponized, and coveted

Then my name remembered it wasn't randomly given

Some whim by a girl who couldn't hold her drugs

My name remembered it was chosen, predestined, ordained by the Universe and carefully placed upon the crown of a baby

My name must be lived up to, it expects greatness

My name demands my reverence because I did not choose my name but my name has chosen me

It waited from the beginning of time for the perfect vessel to carry its weight and after thousands of years and trillions of babies it chose me

It knew the mistakes I'd make, the hearts I'd shatter, the trust I'd betray

But it also knew I'd carry it proudly, without shame, and would not let it down once I understood just exactly what my name expected

Loyalty

My name understands it will change the world because its waited millennia for the right vessel.

That vessel is me

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"

Bargello Nights and Argyle Dreams

Log Cabin and Z's, Bargello's and applique's. Fabric biases and grain, thread colors and bobbin changes.

I want to go to sleep at night and float in a see of satin and silk. Bright hues of cotton squares and strips. Neon blues and patterned greens. Pink skies and purple clouds. Points that are 1/32 of an inch off and it bothers you, but we leave it intentionally because its flawed, like us, little intentional mistakes that you regret at the moment but over time it added to a tapestry far bigger than that moment.

Pin pricks and needle scrapes, accordion folding and half inch allowances. All of it leads to wonderful dreams.

I go to bed most nights excited about bindings and color wheels, watching KCTS on Sundays at 10 to see quilting tips. My own version of Bob Ross.

Yeah, bargello nights and argyle dreams.

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle"