Monday, August 31, 2020

Cheese Cake Bliss by Marshall Byers

I just had a moment of pure bliss, however it was a little bit to blissful. My former celly Red told me that he would make us a cheese cake today. I had forgotten all about it and went on with my day. I had a wonderful day out in the summer sun. Around 3:45 we are locked in our cell and counted like fish in a pet shop. This usually takes one hour, then our doors open up for dinner at 4:30. I was sitting on my desk with my back against the wall swinging my bare feet to the beat of "Juicy" by Lizo playing on the radio, when I heard Red shout "Get your cheeeeeese cake here!" like they do at baseball games with hotdogs or popcorn. Yeah, say it out loud, it's super fun.


This joyful delight hit my taste buds like a Mike Tyson upercut, which caused my head to snap back. Oh my yummy goodness. Red made this cheese cake with a hunnybun crust, and topped with chocolate frosting. To those of you that don't know what a hunnybun is should immediately go out an stuff your face with one of these. I think this sweet combination of hunnybun meets cheese cake brought back in time would have stopped World War One and Two. This cheese cake was so damn scrumptious one eyeball rolled back in my head and wouldn't come back for a short time. Uuummmmmmmm cheese cake.

Living In The Moment,
Marshall Byers



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Dating Outside One's Own Race. Why Is This A Taboo Subject Still? by Ruth Utnage

Recently I was told I was "tainted meat". Being called "meat" didn't feel very nice and neither was the implications of being "tainted". In fact, it infuriates me and makes me feel judged, unfairly, and brings me back to childhood when even "good Christians" would tell you to date within your own race.

I was told this because I refuse to only admit an attraction to white men and women. I have attractions to people from all races, all continents that produce people have people that are attractive to me. What really burns me is the fact that I went to write about this very topic before and what crossed my mind is that I will be judged even harsher and more openly because I am saying that I am willing, and have already, dated men and women who aren't..GASP!, white. But why is this a source of contention for anyone else?

Racism is still alive in its antiquated form as well as its new form, what some have called "neo-racism". It's evident in the world I live in, especially when I say "he's cute" referring to a black man and someone says "figures, a white girl is attracted to a black man."

As if it is a problem...or wrong... or any of their business...as if I should be filtering my brain to weed out things the people around me don't approve of.

The bigger issue here isn't the people around me making judgments about my attractions its that white men around white women still feel comfortable enough to say things like "tainted meat" in judgment of what they feel they are entitled to. It's okay for some white woman they don't know to date a black man or whoever else, but not their white women, as if that's really a thing.

And I apply this to all races, BTW. It's not just whites who are guilty of "protecting their race" under the auspices of heritage protection and race pride. These beliefs are rooted in fear and misguided notions of superiority and entitlement. I can't tell you how many women I know who won't seriously date a man of another race because they fear the judgment and disappointment of their inner and outer circles and, more specifically and to the heart of the matter, their mother and/or father. What women wants to see her fathers face turn to shame?

This floats into territory of language, nationality (we are such and such (i.e. Greeks, Latinos, Polish, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc) marry a such and such and make your family proud, as if anything else will bring disappointment or shame). I know this is hard for people to contemplate especially when it hits notes so close to home. We are naturally good people and sometimes we have to face hard truths about ourselves and what we have had forced on us from our parents' parents' parents' parents' time.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469 


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Brother James G. by Marshall Byers

I was up dancing on my bunk to Cindy Laupers "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" recently, yeah just loving life as usual. My buddy, brother, WU book club pal James G. was up on his bunk setting cross legged making magic cards. We are both on the top tier, only on different wings. I could through a rock and hit his window (I wouldn't though because that's against the prison rules). I recently found out they made a movie about his life when he was a child. Its title "James and The Giant Peach". Did you know that was a true story?

Who lives next to you, or across the street that makes you smile? Do you ever go out of your way to make a difference in someone's day?

Love Will Find A Way,
Marshall Byers 


Friday, August 28, 2020

Political Discourse... by Rory Andes

Yesterday I was witness to two separate people absolutely driving themselves mad to pound their political views on others. One even worked himself into a physical posture as though to disagree would be the same as striking him in the face. My two examples sat on both sides of America's current divide. One wasn't better than other, one was "more correct". They both saw two very different sides of today's issues. A difference our country was founded on, because it made room for all these views and, traditionally, we found dignified respect for the viewers. However, is this the new method of handling our views as well as treating our neighbors? On any given day, with any other difficult issue, neither of these people are aggressive or a slave to the ego that needs to make them the "most correct" or the "only choice" on any side of the issues. But for some reason, politics changes things.

I want to make a reminder, as a veteran and as a prisoner. Be respectful of the liberty to view the world the way you want. Some people have died to ensure Americans can see the world exactly as they wish. Some people have lost everything to mistakes, to include their voice, their vote, and their autonomy. Don't use your opportunity to engage your differences to destroy your neighbor, his ideals, or your self respect. It's as though to get to decent political conversations, you need some variety of political safe word... And safe indeed. Far too many subjects "trigger" people into rage. Why? Just disagree, right? Nobody's safety needs to be jeopardized over a discussion. Perhaps in the course of politics, we've lost our morality in the art of the debate. Let's hear it for an election year and the lunacy that goes with it...

by Rory Andes

From prison, I can say, "Be good to each other out there."

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Do I Set Goals That Are Too Lofty? (LOL! Sure, whatever you say...) by Ruth Utnage


When I think to myself about my goals, I understand they're lofty. Being an HR consultant, working for DOC to help institute serious changes in culture, get my grad degree...and probably my PhD, eventually live in downtown Seattle, in a condo, financially set, have a prominent role in my community, and oh yeah, be a totally free woman (with hopefully great teeth, lol).

Yeah, I get its lofty.

I can hear at least one person in my life saying "Yeah, but Ms. Utnage, that's not good to set unrealistic goals in your position with your history, what if you fail and now you have nothing realistic to fall back on."

Of course I have alternative plans...

Like ask for help, or restructure what I want against realities or simply pivot in a better direction. The point of going bigger than what you might be capable of is to prove that you are actually capable of so much more. If I was setting big goals without having already put in serious time and energy into other "impossible" tasks, I'd roll over and play the role as the obedient felon I'm seemingly being asked to be who is satisfied just working some low paying job and not victimizing people. But I'm so much better than that and have a lot more to offer than being someones pet monkey trained to chime my symbols when they say so.

Nah, I'm going to go do it. You want to place your money on someone with drive, moxie, and grit mixed with a little bit of desperation and confidence. That's me.

There are a few programs and people that are going to get my full attention throughout my life going forward because they believed in me when literally nobody else would and they are:

Disability Rights Washington - Trans Injustice Project - Danny Waxwing, Atty. (Seriously, this man gets whatever he wants from me, that's that)

Defy Ventures Washington - Whole staff and volunteers

Post-Prison Education - (these people are amazing! Ari and Taylor, OMG!!!, freaking rock stars!)

And there are more, like my Mother, Valerie who has been a rock solid support person for me even when people told her not to be. Thanks for not listening, to everyone in my life.

Let's go do some amazing stuff together!

Too lofty?! How about not lofty enough?!

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)


Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469 


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

http://gf.me/u/yqqt4c by Marshall Byers

I am currently floating with fuzzy happiness, deep gratitude and absolute appreciation for all the love and support with the GoFundMe.com campaign. Wow, what an honor to be involved in such a beautiful experience. I admire each an everyone of you for your involvement in this celebration of my up an coming release from prison. Heck yeah! Wooooooh-hooooooow! Less than eleven months. July 5th 2021.


Compassionately Motivated,
Marshall Byers


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Value of Cognitive Change... by Rory Andes

Do you know what the value of cognitive change is? Do you have any idea how it may impact you, your community, your true sense of safety? Yet the public wants to ensure that inmates achieve a level of this through prison. Then I challenge you to look deeply at your prisons (and because you pay for them, they are YOUR prisons to inspect). Make sure that they are satisfying your expectations. But don't just take their word for it, be bold enough to educate yourself about the possibilities.


Prison can be a place of deep change and powerful growth. There are methods to create valuable cognitive change inside. But ask yourself, "how do these get implemented?" And how can the community make best use and establish best practices to ensure their expectations are being met? The requirement and responsibility to change falls on the person who needs to. Where it happens and how, falls on the people you pay to do that. Know that you have a say in what a prison produces. Make your expectations known, understand the value of cognitive change, and hold your prisons accountable. It's your money... Make sure it's paying for progress...

by Rory Andes

Things can only be better if you take a stand and make it that way...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


Monday, August 24, 2020

Help Figuring Out My Attachment Schema? Anyone? Anyone? by Ruth Utnage

It's a long shot, but I need help understanding and subsequently reconfiguring my attachment schema. I am fully aware that this is an implicit social memory function formed in early childhood.

I assume that there is some 'system' used to understand a patients attachment schema, else it wouldn't be a "schema" unless someone spent the time and energy to systematize our early attachment patterns into a "schema".

I know it's a long shot that anyone even knows what I'm talking about, but, it is important to me because I am working on understanding myself as completely as possible. I feel that understanding where my social patterns derived from and how they bias my current social endeavors would be helpful because I want to have deep, fulfilling relationships with people. I want my friends and loved ones to know that I value them and sometimes that's hard for me to show and display affection/appreciation/love/intimacy and I don't always want that to be the case.

Any help would be wonderful.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Tommy Two Guns by Marshall Byers

Today I had a early A.M. visitor. I heard a knock at the door, it was a tap-tap to be exact. Now, for insight to the general public, you just don't open your prison door to any tap-tap until you look out the tiny window to see who it is first. There he was standing with paintbrush in hand smiling ready to work. Tommy Two Guns is the institutions handy dandy painter, we go way back. He's an all around good guy to have on your side, even for a silly favor as this one I'm about to tell you.


I've been scared of spiders forever. I grew up in a house where they mass produced wolf spiders under the floor or in the walls. Yeah, the ones that run around at lightning speed, jump and hiss and sometimes tie you up at night, then beat you with a pillowcase with bars of soap in it. These evil wolf spiders not only terrorized me, they attacked the Fraggel Rock community repeatedly until them little dudes moved away. I loved Fraggle Rock as a kid, I can still sing their theme song.

Tommy Two Guns laughter woke my neighbor up while expressing my favor of him. I moved into a different cell last month, I now have the best view of the sunset, its much more quiet too. I cleaned the hell out of my new cell, however this prison cell has a ton of paint chips up the walls and ceiling, plus a tiny hole under my bunk. These imperfections cause my eyes to dart to them, thinking they must be spiders! No exaggerations, I've had many of these tiny unwelcomed executioners visit me.

Tommy Two Guns painted and puttied while giggling to his hearts content. I still wake up every morning and scan the room. Look, if spiders would just verbally announce themselves I could possibly coexist with them (but not the wolf ones).

Abundantly Loving with Arms Open,
Marshall Byers


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Renegotiating the Social Contract... by Rory Andes

It could be argued that "Joe Citizen's" obligation to society is to abide by the peoples' laws and pay taxes. And if he doesn't detract in any way, like crime, this obligation is just fine. He's doing his part. But occasionally there comes a point when he defaults on his obligations to society... he commits a crime. Now, tax burdens of all forms fall on his neighbors to establish justice and the public confidence becomes shaken by his inability to do what's required of him as a citizen. He has to atone and make it right. And then...

With the end of criminality, with a firm future based in desistance, is it good enough to just say, "See? No more crime. I'm doing my part..."? I argue not. I feel that some level of community service should be a mandate to finalize the end of a sentence (and it should have an end, but that's another argument). I feel that being able to identify the situations that led to crime and becoming an educator against them should be the new cross to bear. Of course, there are exceptions for those that have mental health obstacles that may prevent them from meaningfully contributing to community service after release, but then again, their criminality needs to be handled entirely differently than it is today.

When the social contract is broken, it's the right of the community to request a renegotiation. And rightly so, within reason. But simply being law abiding and tax paying is the status of those absolved of a criminal status. To get there, those who have served a sentence have to put just a bit more in the cup of community life and honor their renegotiated social contracts...

by Rory Andes

When you take a bit too much, you have to give a bit more back...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


Friday, August 21, 2020

Biden/Harris For President- Protect The Voices of the People by Ruth Utnage

Our Democracy is under direct threat because of Trump and his sycophantic cabinet. I didn't believe that 2-3 years ago. If you go back and read other content from me I've been a Trump economy supporter but a Trump cabinet disapproval list, if that's a word. Until recently. Trump's true colors shined for me glaringly obvious with his little stunt that attacked trans peoples' protections. That was my moment of true opinion change.

When I go back and add up all the moments along the way I recognize that Trump in the White House means ego rules and he said as much when he was asked if he would accept the results of an election that meant he didn't win it. He said "I'm a sore loser". That's a bad look for our country's leadership, which should reflect the ideals and values of its people.

Are Americans egotistical sore losers? Is that our value system? It's not mine. And that's the point I'm trying to make, Joe Biden needs to win this election not because he's going to change everything and has all the best answers for my children's childrens children, but because if Trump goes another 4 years every non-white, non-republican, non-sycophant-die-hard-Trump-supporter in the country's voice is officially silenced in the ears of our Republic.

...and I'm not cool with that.

We need the sensibility of Joe Biden, the calming tide he brings. America needs a rest from incivility and restless nights. Trump could be the last true voice of white America's hetero, patriarchal, misogynistic ideology. And together, by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, we could silence that voice we've been listening too for hundreds of years, send a message to everyone that we are going to progress as a country, period.

I am not allowed to voice, but I still have right to speak.

My biggest fear was getting out of prison broke and I liked that what little money I do have is in stocks, doing well, giving me a few dollars after release (no seriously, it's literally like $50), but if that $50 means the people I love are being hurt, still,...well I'm not okay with that.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)


Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469


The Permenter Affect by Marshall Byers

I felt a shift beneath my feet the day Miss Permenter hit the streets. Planet earth gained a beautiful human. In fact, I've seen her dancing on the tops of every skyscraper downtown Seattle. You go girl! She has a magnetic personality. I think she is made of three parts glitter, two parts pizzazz, and the rest is that feeling you get standing next to a giant sound system.

I've been yelling out my window "Renee! Wooooooh-hooooow, yeeeeeeeaaah! and of course Heck Yeah!" Can you hear me? Where the hell have you been girlfriend?

If you get the incredible opportunity to meet Renee, you'll grow taller and feel loved because she has the ability to impact your life in such a unique way.

I wrote down one of Renee's quotes as she gave a speech, "We must make a choice to take a chance, or our lives will never change." We all walk a little off kilter since her release, like those old V8 commercials.

Extraordinary Vitality,
Marshall Byers 



Thursday, August 20, 2020

 The Intimacy Of Eating Together and COVID Protocols    by    Ruth Utnage


COVID-19 has really caused changes within the prison system that I'm not sure outweigh the dangers COVID presents. As inmates our sources of support are heavily dependent on other inmates, I'll speak for myself here, my sources of day-to-day support relies heavily on other inmates. COVID safety measures are really impacting that.

Parts of our brains as human beings are dedicated to reading faces that move, not masks. Wearing masks 100% of the time is beginning to effect our ability to connect socially as it is, let alone heavy restrictions on where and when and with whom we can go places, if at all. Besides not being able to see faces and parts of my brain potentially atrophying, I am also missing key moments to engage in intimacy, like eating.

The family dinner table can be a cornerstone in anyone's life, inmates are no different. Meal times are key elements in how we engage in socializing and create social bonds. It's a moment of potential vulnerability and a time where we want to set aside our armor and take care of our bodies life sustaining needs, like eating. Its not just preference for certain company, it's actual neurological stimulation that is necessary for human health.

COVID protocols are making these moments, and they truly are just a few moments, difficult to get. A time where me and a friend can sit down across from one another and talk, without masks, where we can see each other. You'd be surprised at how important those moments become when they are no longer available.

Tonight I went to our dining hall, where we are only allowed 2 at a table, I walked with a friend. Because it is 2 per table it's standard to fill every table in a sequential order. Usually I count the people in front of us but tonight I was one person off and I was the last one for the row, which meant my friend and I don't get to sit down and eat together, no social bonding tonight.

Instead I was forced to sit with someone I do not know and what little I have interacted with them wasn't pleasant. That person is not well-liked and while I make my own judgements and walk my own path, eating is intimate, like I said. It's a time of vulnerability, where the mask comes off. Those moments are rare these days...

So, tonight I didn't eat. I chose to throw my meal away instead of be forced to be vulnerable and intimate with someone I cannot. So tonight, I go hungry, happily. I simply will not eat with someone I cannot trust, not when I have no other times to intimately socialize available to me. So I'll starve, eating only every other day (when we are told to bring our meals back to our cells) and I will do that until I get sick from malnutrition, go home in 15 months, or am able to sit with someone I trust.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)


Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

 Anterior Cingulate and Prisoners    by    Ruth Utnage


"The anterior cingulate becomes activated when we see others with angry facial expressions..." (Louis Cozolino, "The Neuroscience of Human Relationships" pg. 107)

I read this line and chuckled to myself. Prison is chalked full of angry facial expressions and I wonder what the long-term impacts of exposure to this is on our anterior cingulates. Intuition says that I become desensitized to angry facial expressions, but I know this isn't true.

In fact, I am quite sensitive to angry facial expressions. I spend a great deal of time in conversations consciously analyzing facial expressions for signs of emotional changes. I've done so since I was a kid. What gets me is that for many guys in prison the angry facial expression is normal and the smile is an alert of potential threat. Not in all cases obviously but we are certainly sensitive to situationally out-of-place expressions like a smile in a dangerous place (a sign of madness or pleasure, neither makes a sane person comfortable).

But I can't but wonder what happens to our anterior cingulates when we are exposed long-term to angry facial expressions? What negative impacts this has on my neurobiology. When an officer scowls at me and spits a dark stream of chewing tobacco spit in the grass and wipes his chin for the thousandth time and I know he's disgusted by my mere existence, what does my brain do? Just as important, what does their brain go through in order to produce so much effort in anger? My understanding is that the more an area used the more neurological connections get made, the gray matter is either denser or more abundant in that area. What does that mean for me getting out of prison and reentering the community?

Just a bit of food for thought. What does your environment do, I'd love to hear about it.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)


Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

 Small Protections...   by    Rory Andes


My job in the Army was in Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons defense. After a decade of training in cold war theories and applications, the idea of a chemical weapon attack was massive, scary, and completely manageable. Protecting soldiers from such a monster was what I was trained for and I had a mind for it...

When I was stationed in South Korea in early 2001, I had an exposure to a stark reality I wasn't trained for and I remember at that time it shook me. As I was inventorying all of the defense equipment for the Armored Unit I was in, it all seemed pretty by-the-book stuff. Abrams Tanks have what's called an Overpressure System where it keeps bad air out and away from tank crews. For further protection, I managed all of the masks and suits for the "just in case" scenarios. Run of the mill and by the book, but all very real in the threat of a conflict with the North. But as I was doing this inventory, I stumbled upon something that made me uneasy... it was a small body bag with a port for a filter canister. It was a chemical protection suit for an infant... An infant... The reality was that I lived in an environment where babies could die from chemical or biological munitions. Let's hear it for the small protections, right?

My uneasiness today... I keep seeing images on news stories about schools being able to reopen during the pandemic and it always has some little face tucked behind a cloth mask that appears a bit big. For whatever reason, my mind goes back to Korea when I see the images. I think of the infant body bag with the filter port... The truth is, biological destruction, in my military trained mind, belongs on a battlefield in someone else's country, not in our country's school systems. And it still shakes me...

But, the real kicker for me was when I received a picture the other day of my own eight year old with a cloth mask that appears a bit big for her face, all decorated with kid's prints. It's unsettling how this worldwide pandemic, biological destruction of such devastating impact, has made its way to the face of my little girl. And if your a parent who deals with this everyday, God bless you. For me, I'm taken back to that little body bag from half a world away and wish this thing would be over with soon... for all our children.

by Rory Andes

Be thankful for small protections. Be strong for reasons why they exist...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


Monday, August 17, 2020

 When Self-Discovery Is Acceptable    by     Ruth Utnage


Fair warning, I'm about to get deep here. I have been pretty open about my change process in prison both as a trans woman and a prisoner. But a question plagued me once I realized how much I've actually changed, why couldn't I do it before prison? I mean, all of it.

Here's the thing about prison, I hate it. Everyone hates prison. The people who run it, the people who are in it, then there's the public, you, who mostly hates it. Granted, some are glad it exists, but I think we can all agree that it's not a great place. Given that most generally hate prison, why did I come here and this is the place, the hated place, where I not only found myself but finally felt comfortable or desperate enough to finally seek change?

I found part of the answer this weekend and I, in part, I feel embarrassed, betrayed, and joyous all at once. You see, I've had more epiphanies in prison than I can count and sometimes I've held them in, didn't tell anyone because I didn't think anyone would believe me or I felt that I should have learned that particular 'thing' years ago and I'm embarrassed because I think I'm behind.

Then, I end up wanting to tell someone I love, someone who cares, someone I've disappointed. But it is in that word, disappointed, that my epiphany occurred. I've cannot say that throughout my life I felt comfortable to discover. It was only nurtured in a very specific way, limited discovery, and when a self-discovery occurred I don't recall anyone being excited that I was learning normalcy. Now here I am, sitting in prison still trying to get that inner child nourished in that very specific way and hoping that I'll feel better. I forget that I'm the one changing, not them. I'm the one having epiphanies, not them and part of me feels a little betrayed by the whole thing.

But, isn't that part of maturing? Learning to cope with our emotions over time as we experience new things, as life's complexities challenge us we learn to navigate terrain in new and creative ways, if we so choose. One of those learned things is understanding how to be our own parents, our own guides and mentors, our own cheerleaders. We need to give ourselves loving correction AND loving praise, not just one or the other. This is where I feel joy, overwhelming joy because even though I'm in this place in which hate resides and that most of the planet despises, I've learned to understand how learn. How to be my own parent.

Sometimes in life we need to learn how to love, how to be our own parent who instills in us affection, guidance, correction and praise. It is what it is. You might learn it at work or driving down the road singing most of the words to some song that touches a spot deep inside. Some might learn it from Mom or Dad, an Aunt, a Grandma or all of the above. It might come from a coach or professor or counselor. And it might happen through the worst situation possible where tragedy strikes daily or never at all. It might even happen in prison.

...and that's all okay. You know? It's okay. Us, me, you...we're okay. We ARE learning.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)


Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469


Sunday, August 16, 2020

 A Better Mind...   by    Rory Andes


Recently, I had gone through a bought of deep depression that, at first observation, was associated with PTSD and I hit the wall. I had written "Grief Overlooked..." about what was happening in my mind and the help I sought to combat the pain of my own unbridled traumas. As the therapy has continued over the last couple of months, I'm starting to make real headway in how I see the world. I remember the dreams in my sleep now. I haven't done that with routine since 2003 or so. Today, I have the most brutal of dreams consistently, however, this is a good thing because I can wake up (after eight very solid hours) and recover from them. Then repackage them. The specific subject of each dream reshapes the next time I dream it into something else more manageable. Target up, target down... dream by dream. And my energy is growing. Every session with the psychologist comes with meaning and direction.

The real kicker was the psychiatrist they also have me see. She provided the smallest of silver bullets... a simple blood pressure pill that handles the cortisol my trauma-riddled mind produces. With it, I sleep. And not the away a typical prison medication zombie sleeps. This isn't a psych med, so there is no lasting hangover or grogginess or any of the other things I said I didn't want. I just sleep very solid and dream wildly as my brain defragments the shittiest parts of my adult life. But I had been warned about the potential to pass out from lower BP and going to the restroom in the middle of the night is an absolute adventure. But hey, I'll take it. I'll take every hopeful, capable minute I get from a better mind...

by Rory Andes

I'm amazed by the simple solutions. If you need help, get it...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


Saturday, August 15, 2020

 Influencing Culture Inside Prison (or anywhere)    by    Ruth Utnage


A few years back I had my first run in with culture when I moved from one prison to another and the culture was totally different. At the previous institution there were about 500 (25% of the total population) openly out LGBT people, of which I was one. I requested to be slightly closer to my visitor and was sent to an institution that had a reputation for housing even more LGBT people...a queer mecca. I had gotten so used to walking the yard and seeing a sea of LGBT people that I couldn't imagine more, but I was excited to experience a fully LGBT culture for the first time in my life.

But it wasn't like that at all.

I got to that new prison and I was the only publicly "out" person there and I was NOT well-received. The fact that I had a sex offense was not an issue, but the fact that I was gender non-conforming, that was a real issue. The churches took up issue with me, to include the chaplain and I had no friends. To ease the pain of social isolation I took up drawing portraits and reading about neuroscience, both could be done for free (I had/have no money, I'm a broke tranny!). That got me some income, drawing peoples families like an expensive photocopy machine using graphite, but no friends.

Eventually I began campaigning for an LGBT support group after I sat down with this person once I finally got a job who was quietly gay, he simply said "I'm dating someone" before I had a chance to even say my name. I was dumbfounded, I truly didn't understand the culture of this place. This was not the "gay mecca" everyone thought it was, it was more like a queer hell. But then I stumbled on something that changed my life, an unintended consequence, cultural influence.

It started when I went to my units supervisor, called a CUS. They are usually off-limits to inmates in most institutions for any type of conversation unless your telling on someone or you're commanded to speak to them. But in this case, I needed help. I told him that I had no friends, no LGBT people to talk to and asked if there was a unit within the institution that had another LGBT person in it so I could move to it. He denied my request citing PREA concerns, which is short for saying "I think if I place two LGBT people near each other they will inevitably have sex". Then he said as much, actually he said "If I was in a women's prison and was the only guy there and we were in a shower I would not be able to stop myself, well, here you are that 'sole' guy in the shower and I don't blame you for wanting to try".

I was furious. But it was this moment that changed so much for me. I left his office in a heated rage and as I walked through the dayroom people began to ask me what my problem was and I was at the point where I no longer cared what anyone thought so I let them have it. I told them that I was told this place was full of LGBT people and instead its full of hate, that in was just accused of being a horny white guy in a shower full of women, and that all I wanted was a few friends and all of them (meaning the people I was speaking to) were to wrapped up hating me to give me a chance and that just wanted some friends.

Suddenly I became a project. People, straight people, began to help me find other LGBT people and make them feel comfortable enough, safe enough, to come out openly. Slowly over a year people began to emerge as out and unafraid and then we began campaigning for an LGBT support group because it was still believed that we were a giant hornets nest of lust by some. But over time, the culture shifted and I paid attention to it. And here's why I write this, you can influence the culture anywhere you go.

Culture at a business is a contained unit, that office or warehouse or site is comprised of the same people day in and day out and you can create the environment you want by understanding where you want it to go and then being bold enough to stand up for it, loudly, and reward people openly for moving toward it. We're not talking about money, we're talking about a verbal thank you for solving a real problem of yours, its finding people who can solve a problem and calling on their expertise and then acknowledging them publicly.

That's part of it. The main lesson here is to stand for something and those who stand for nothing will seek you out. Just make sure that the 'something' you stand for is a truly good thing, otherwise you'll create chaos. Nobody wants to add to that.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)


Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-601-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469


Friday, August 14, 2020

 New Friends...   by    Rory Andes


Because prison is the unrevealing curtain that it is, I always struggle because I want to connect to society in a meaningful way. I've had to reach out through penpal services. I've put myself on a couple lists with hopes to receive any message of friendliness and meaning from a world I intend on joining in a mere three years. To be stimulated in thoughts and hopes, and to talk to someone about fear, joy, life, arts and technology is amazing. To learn someone through their life's lessons that DIDN'T end in a prison sentence is important to me. But just as you may meet someone in your local grocery store or coffee shop and strike up great conversation about new information, inmates don't have that option. We have each other, but I wanted connection beyond these walls. More. The real world...

After months of waiting and anticipation, one person from the other side of the country chose to engage me as a penpal and, I'll be damned, she's incredibly amazing. She provides a lot of dialog and asks so many questions and she reads these writings to see other perspectives and learn who my inside friends are and she's working on her own education and has her own struggles and successes in life. And, I have to admit, I'm beside myself.

I waited a long time, two years at least, to hear a voice from the canyon. It's the voice of an extremely compassionate nursing student. Who would have thought? And she said there's a whole community of people out there who want to talk to us! WOW! At the end of the day, she's made an aspect of my life very normal. I feel like perhaps I was asked about the produce or sale item in my shopping cart and it led into a conversation about who we are and how we fit in the world. What I really enjoy is the fact that I can still meet the world, a community, that I want to be a part of. She's given me wonderful insights for the future. More importantly, her empathy was strong enough to befriend me. I've done a lot of yelling at the edge, but the canyon has echoed back in a beautiful way....

by Rory Andes

Isolation isn't fun. Connect directly to someone incarcerated...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272