Saturday, October 31, 2020

Is The World A Better Place? by Marshall Byers

Heck yeeeeeeaaaah it is! Only because Jennifer-Sun-Shine-Byers is with us. Yep, that's right people of this round thing we all live on. Before my big sis was born, this earth was dry as a biscuit, like saltine crackers with the worst dry mouth. When J.B. was born, she burst forth from a galactic nebula. She hit the earth so hard, upon delivery she created the Catalina wine mixer! The earth was thirsty my friends. So drink up folks, and celebrate today, because it's Jennifer's birthday.

Love you soooooooooooo-sooooooooooooo very much. My existence would be lumpy and oh so boring without you big sis. Heck yeah.

Tons of love,
Marshall Byers



Friday, October 30, 2020

Experiments In Teaching and Learning by Christopher Havens

The meetings with Edmonds are becoming something truly special. I refer to these meetings as the Edmonds collaboration. Here, we strive to change from within through our exploration of math. It's beautiful because of our dynamic with each other. Each other in this context is community. Here I refer to both the staff and the inmates. We all work and explore math together during this precious three hour block. To me, the act is beauty.

This quarter, our meetings have a focus on Counting and Probability. This had always been my weak area. Probability has become something different to me lately, since over the last several months I have embraced it and made it a part of my every day. The content we cover is basic, but we study at a deep level, capturing the philosophy of math and even its history. The lessons we learn are often applied to life in some way.. My group is unique because many of them are anomalies in our prison system. That is, they are dedicated to self-rehabilitation, and they focus on seeing that justice is given as they pay their debt to society. Some of them are not very mathematical either! But I am using their strengths in the teaching and hoping that it affects the way they learn.

Three of my group are public speakers.. All writers you have all been following. Each HumanMe writer was tasked to give a 5-7 minute speech on very specific problems. I passed the problems to the speakers according to their level of understanding of the problem. First, Rory had a very specific difficulty with a problem asking to find the number of positive integers between a and b inclusive, when a<b. Marshall stumbled with a problem asking how many multiples of a specific number lay in a specific interval. Ruth took an intuitive leap and asked why she couldn't short cut in a certain way. Each of them were given 1 week to prepare speeches on their problems.. much like you might see at a Toastmasters meeting. The rules are the speeches must last 5-7 minutes. You may use visual aides. You can use a white board.

The idea behind my thinking is that in planning a speech, they would be forced to describe and speak of the problem, and the nature of the problem in an intuitive way to themselves, thus helping them to understand the problem at a deeper level. They will also learn to present in front of a class. They will learn where to stand so that the class can follow their thread of thought on the whiteboard, so that they are not obstructing their work. How to speak clearly and articulate math to an audience. This can be applied to any situation where they must convey complicated chains of reasoning to a group.

So here we get to the learning experiences... We'll need feedback from you as you read this. And please, don't be afraid to ask questions. I'm signing off, leaving you to the experiences of Rory, Marshall, and Ruth. Have a wonderful day.

Christopher



Thursday, October 29, 2020

When We Change... by Rory Andes

"I'd rather sit in prison than release to a broken world..." - Lance

After several years of viewing the world through a very shattered lens, I came to prison and learned the art of healing and the science of change. Truth be told, I know a lot of people who fundamentally changed for the better. None are perfect, but they exemplify progress. So with years of creating a new life and profound changes, the world that originally shaped some of their worst selves becomes a daunting place to go back to. In a toxic election season, a global pandemic keeping the world on fire, civil unrest in every news story, and a job market that's tough for those who DIDN'T commit a felony, the idea of systemic changes in prisons scare some incarcerated people who may potentially be eligible for an early release. What kind of world are they walking into when they've worked so hard to change everything?

How a negative world receives a releasing prisoner is very similar to how a broken home receives a traumatized veteran (if you find yourself scoffing at the comparison, I feel my experience qualifies me to make it). New life and new perspectives can also house new fears and when the media exposures to the free world are brutal and negative, some find peace in the progress incubator they've learned to create in prison. When we become incarcerated, it's because society deemed us too awful to be among it. But, judging by the constant barrage of negativity, when will society change for the better? It has some very worried inside, because they've actually worked towards a better change...

by Rory Andes

Some incarcerated people need a little hope from you too...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Anxiety of Getting Out of Prison on a Second Chance: Just One Girl's Insecurities by Ruth Utnage

I have a plan. It's unique to me and of my own design. Actually, I have a system of plans. I made a Pre-Release Plan, Release Plan, and a 5 Year Goal Plan just so I understand what I'm going to do with myself in and, ultimately, out of prison. My plans assuage my anxiety that when I get out I'll be met with mass resistance and hatred.

In the recent months I have had 2 people I worked with very closely with get out of prison. One created a 5 Year Goal Plan under my guidance and the other gave up on it (it is challenging because it does force you to envision and imagine your own success, see end of article for how to get one done for yourself). The one who gave up on it struggling to find a job and their way. The one who spent the time struggling through the plan is not just doing well, they are setting a very high standard for post-release success. This tells me a lot about the system I developed as well as what kind of mentality I'm going to need for success.

I only have 2 examples of highly successful people (in my eyes) that have released from prison and they both have several things in common. One, they utilized external resources and asked for help. Two, they spent countless hours with meticulous planning and documented every step they will take to accomplish their way. Three, when they got out they did not waste time, they got out thinking they did not need "to adjust to this new world" and instead chose to optimistically engage as if they belonged there already. Four, they are fiercely independent minded. I have these qualities and I know it. By all rights I am prepared. So why the anxiety?

Because, what if I fail?

There, I said it. I'm scared of failing. I feel like there is a maniacal clown with a cricket bat pacing outside the gates of this place waiting to crack me across the face as soon as I open the door to freedom. Of course I say this metaphorically, the clown being societies nonacceptance of me either as a trans woman, someone who's committed a sex offense, or my life time of poverty and all the mannerisms that go along with it, or maybe all of the above.

While the clown imagery may be a bit dramatic I have to face those realities in here. I'm viewing the entire world through the lens of prison and its damaging psychological impacts. In my eyes I am getting out into a world where hugs are illegal, sunglasses represent danger and hostilities, military dressed people are dangerous and represent my boundary, I could go on and on. While I understand logically those things are not true my body is tensing automatically in response and I am left dealing with it. Bracing for impact both physically and emotionally. But I do have one confidence. Remember those successful people I was talking about? They both dreamt big, were afraid to fail and what that would mean for them, and they both got out out and had to adjust their entire plan. But we planned for that. Instead of learning to control our future and the path to get there, we learned strategy.

That's my secret though. That's what they didn't know, I wasn't teaching them to meticulously plan their future, I was teaching them to strategjze so that as new obstacles and information came they could react in a way that kept them on the path forward without the fear of "now what?".

I got that. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I afraid of failing and looking foolish? Yes. Is that gonna stop me? No. I'm still going to get out with my second chance and send proverbial ripples throughout this world that will impact others in positive ways.

A note to the Universe: here I come to claim my spot and thanks for saving it.

To learn how to create your own 5 Year Goal Plan, write me and we can begin to plan your own strategic future. Are you up to the challenge?

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, October 27, 2020

A more Human Me. by James Goodwin

I have discovered something about myself.

When I feel betrayed, powerless or harmed I take pieces of myself, who I am, and discard them. I think it makes me feel new. As if the person who was hurting is no longer me. No longer vulnerable.

I am a creative. That is my core identity. I have painted, drawn, written, beaded and at one time or another I have thrown each of these things away.

I no longer draw, paint, bead, tattoo, etc.

Something happens that leaves me exposed, that hurts me or causes me to feel weak, I take something I love about myself, some part of who I am and I kill it. I get rid of everything that is a part of that aspect of self and I move on. In this I feel new, less the version of myself that was hurt and when I ran out of creative expressions of my self to sacrifice I begin discarding hobbies.

I never recognized that I was doing this. until today.

I recently got into playing magic the gathering and as the cards are not allowed in here we make our own and the construction of hand made decks was more fun for me then playing because it incorporated so many creative skills that I enjoy. I just gave away everything to do with this game I enjoyed, hundreds of hand made cards that represent hundreds of hours of my life.

Obviously something has happened in my life that leaves me feeling hurt or powerless or some other crippling human emotion.

I was talking to my little sister about my theory of what I call the 'Incarceration Infection'. The ways in which long term imprisonment infects and poisons the incarcerated individuals ability to create and navigate interpersonal relationships. Especially those incarcerated individuals who began their imprisonment as juveniles, who literally grow up in prison like I have.

I think that this tendency to 'kill' pieces of myself is a symptom of my Incarceration Infection.

I think that when all the 'stuff' has been removed, I will most likely begin fleeing from the people in my life. I will distance myself from them. I should probably figure my stuff out before I get to that point.

When I was growing up in prison. Everything and everyone was an influence towards self destruction. I became less and less a 'human me' and withdrew from hope. I learned to love being in solitary confinement for years at a time because as I became more and more a nothing it was comfortable to have nothing.

I feel that pull towards nothingness now.

Because hope can hurt.

Especially when big pieces of that hope is represented by people and relationships that leave you vulnerable.

I just used the following analogy to communicate how I felt to someone very important to me:

I feel like we are standing side by side holding up shields for each other, protectively, against the world, and you keep lowering yours leaving me vulnerable to danger.

So I have communicated this, now what do I do?

Where do I go from there?

In the past I would dehumanize myself, withdraw from the world and embrace hopelessness.
But whatever changes I have made to myself over the years won't let me walk that path anymore. Won't let me go backwards. I should be happy about that I guess, happy for this evidence of positive progress in myself, but I'm not.

It hurts.

Like holding onto fire.

Maybe that is what it means to humanize yourself and in doing so humanize everyone else.
Holding onto fire, bearing the pain of terrible situations because letting go would mean defeat and if you can just bear the flames long enough then maybe the horror of burning flesh will become something new and beautiful.

Maybe when the fire dies out and the smoke clears the struggle to hold on will have forged something worth having hurt for.

A more human me.

James



Monday, October 26, 2020

Back In Class - Math With Professor Havens

Stepping back into a formal learning environment after being away for 14 months feels like eating chocolate cake for the first time. Delectable.

Our very own Christopher is teaching a small select group of students the finer points of mathematics. Actually, the class should be called Mathematical Joy 101 because it is less about "doing" math and more about enjoying math, having fun with it.

There is no pressure and no gpa's, no grades, no certificates or degrees and what that actually translates into is freedom. Freedom to let our minds wander and be insecure and that allowance of insecurity builds confidence to play and interact with a subject that was once intimidating. But it is actually more than that, it's community as well. Check this out.

I walk into this quaint room with three education faculty members from Edmonds Community College (wonderful place, edcc.edu, please support them because they support us!) and a few familiar faces from around the institution. Interestingly, we have a mixed bunch of people who are not only super friendly (Marshall, Rory, Muhammed, and I) but who take our education very seriously. When we walked into that small room it wasn't just walking into a classroom again for the first time in 14 months, it was feeling synergy again.

Our teacher, Professor Havens, wrote a number pattern on the board

1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 31

We spent a good 90 minutes pretending to listen to him while we furiously scribbled different ideas in our notebooks to understand what the number pattern was, where it came from and why the stupid 31? I knew that it was something to do with a triangle but I couldn't figure out how, something from the far reaches of my memory was teasing forward.

Then a hint was given, Pascal's Triangle.

That's all I'm gonna say.

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



Math Anxiety To Math Excitement by Marshall Byers

Last Friday I started a new class. Yeah, I actually signed up on purpose for a math lecture series. My life has dramatically improved because of math. I find it very peculiar that I study math to relive stress today, and just a short time ago I would get a nose bleed from counting my finger's and toe's.

Today was week two. I woke up tremendously excited ready to give a five to seven minute lecture on my homework question. The question I had to teach the class..."How many multiples of 5 are between 333 and 4444?"
Let's see if I can express it in a comprehensive way to you.

333, 334, 335, ..., 4440, 4441, 4442, 4443, 4444. I put some of the numbers up for a visual. If we are working with multiples of 5, then we need to go to the first number in our number series that 5 goes into evenly, which is 335.

Let's put a sequence of numbers in our number series that only have multiples of 5. 335, 340, 345,..., 4435, 4440. Now divide those numbers by 5.

67, 68, 69,..., 887, 888.
Now subtract. -66, -66, -66,..., -66, -66
--------------------------------------------
1 2 3 ,...., 821 822

There are 822 multiples of 5 between 333 and 4444. Woooooh! If your confused I apologize. Learning math is a beast all on its own, let alone teaching it. I like to think of myself as a baby giraffe. Today I gained a little confidence, hope, understanding, and shared a bundle of laughs with incredibly fun loving people. Heck yeah!

I Love My Life,
Marshall Byers



Math Lecture on 10/23/20... by Rory Andes

Here's the setup....

"Given two positive numbers a and b, with b being greater than a, find a formula for how many numbers are between a and b inclusive."

I gave a seven minute micro-lecture on this formula. I emphasized the terms "positive" and "inclusive" not only as a matter of the problem, but as an element of pro social engagements. In the space of delivering this formula (which I was shaky on) to my closest friends, we stand positive for each other and inclusive in each other's lives. We operate a lot of problems this way, not just math. And to feel the tension of standing in front of them to give a presentation on information that I'm not that confident in delivering, I'm glad I'm in a positive, inclusive environment. With giving the speech comes a real responsibility to know what I'm saying and how to say it. My friends' understandings may be at stake...

The other element I worked on was how to find the number "1" as the start in a sequence of the numbers represented here. Why "1"? It's a start... like age, we start at one and count consecutively. I was able to give a semi confident speech to great friends on a topic I could make more relevant to the way I see the world and when it was over, my friends clapped. It was positive and in an environment that includes all confidence levels of mathematical understanding. In the terms of Christopher, I'll work on my "mathematical maturity" to give a better presentation on the hard facts of complex math problems, but until I grow a bit, I thank goodness I'm taking this ride with people I care about...

by Rory Andes

"More math, more understanding"...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, And Body In The Healing Of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. by Ruth Utnage

I've heard about this book my entire prison sentence. I don't know why I have avoided it, well, I guess I have an idea. I never really thought it applied to me. As I'm going through two different treatments right now I see it not only can apply to me, it does so directly. Funny it should land in my hands one more time but this time at the request of someone I believe in wholeheartedly.

The book troubles me. As I read it my chest constricts, my stomach knots and my jaw clenches. These things that I hold onto to keep me "safe" and to make me feel secure are the very symptoms of trauma, or better known as PTSD. That actually makes me feel ashamed, not better. I keep reading the book not in excitement that healing and help can come from it but more out of morbid curiosity. What else is wrong with me?

Alas, I'm not one to back away from the challenge of self-discovery. Thus far my rehabilitation has not been neatly wrapped and bow tied. It's been messy and inconvenient. It kind of feels like I aged 35 years in just a few years, like my maturity finally caught up to my body. I don't know what to expect from here on out reading this. I'm reading 4 books simultaneously and all of them are super intense and wonderful reads (Captive Gender: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex by Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition by Liat Ben-Moshe My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem and The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, And Body In The Healing Of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.) that speak to some level of trauma healing. I don't really believe in coincidences.

My problem is I view my trauma as a neat freak views a mess, something to be rid of. Like an infestation to call an exterminator for. A flaw that people judge me for, even if they don't, which causes me to shut people out. I couldn't bear the idea that someone knows I'm "broken" because in my mind, and part of my childhood trauma, that "brokenness" equals bad person that no one likes.

Obviously I'm talking about it now so it's no secret, but it's something I'm actively working on.

So far this book makes me self-conscious because so many of the symptoms of trauma are reflected in my day-to-day life that it is alarming to me. It is making me think "Jesus, am I that bad?". But with all challenging topics for me come new opportunities to conquer yet another element of me and build myself more resilient and tenacious. Though it is an internally challenging read, I'm glad I started it so far (even if sometimes I want to chuck it across the cell).

Any thoughts?

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, October 21, 2020

Catching Stones by Ruth Utnage

Can you think of a time when a stone was thrown at you and it hurt?

There is a story in the bible of an "adulteress" who is about to be stoned and Jesus intervenes by asking who among the stone throwers is without sin. I like that story because I identify with the adulteress. Stones don't have to be made of stone you know. They can be words that hurt like stones, labels that crush like boulders or looks that sting like rocks being thrown.

I'll ask again, can you think of a time when a stone was thrown at you and it hurt? I bet you can without much effort it's kind of what makes us human.

But I also identify with the stone throwers. I've called people names and worse than that, I've slung mud and boulders and pebbles and stones.

Being trans in prison having committed a sex offense makes you feel like your about to walk out of prison into the center of town square and brace yourself for stoning. It kind of makes you wonder why you ever wanted to leave prison before you ever actually leave prison. The level of decent human interaction us girls get is limited. Staff can be so vicious and sometimes they don't have to say a word. Silence can be worse than any stone.

Cis-women (not all, of course) have no problem reminding us we are not "real" women. Men too. Stone thrown. We are not women, we're "trans-women" or "transgender", but not women, boulder applied. We are forced to walk into a men's bathroom and wait for a urine covered toilet seat in a crowd of men who either salivate to get you cornered and act out some twisted fantasy because we're nothing more than objects (stone) or they shake their head and laugh because we're just some dude who sits to pee (stone). Staff gets a kick out of the jokes that are said while were in there, especially after we asked to use a different restroom because its inappropriate for a women to use a men's restroom with a bunch of men in it and we are told no. Even though there is another option 20 feet away. Stone. It's the whistles when we walk to the gym, and the snide remarks. It's being called a prison tranny fag, daily.

The hope is that we can get out and be done with this, be free from stones being hurled at us from the agency called our state. Washington is supposedly "liberal" and accepting but from what us girls understand the state imposes more acts of violence than any convicted felon ever has or ever will. I've had to catch more stones from state employees than from anyone incarcerated, by far, and I've had to eat some pretty big stones from my fellow incarcerated folk.

Something I've realized is that I have gotten better at catching stones. I care about people and even though I hurt others, as have we all, I know that it feels awful to get hit with a stone while others watch. It's a shame that makes you feel worthless. So I try to catch as many of them things as possible because I hate watching it happen as much as I hate feeling it.

Maybe you could be a stone catcher too? Whad'ya say?

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, October 20, 2020

The Gift... by Rory Andes

"Grind, and when you're too tired, too weak, too alone to grind another minute, remember this - This is where all the losers quit. Never Quit." -Ruth

I received this quote on a business card this week from one of the most influential women of my current life, my sister Ruth. You see, we used to be cellmates and I remember her digging into this quote back then and the words have POWER in them. In this space, in this place, and even in this life, it might seem easy to give up... on anything and everything. But what happens if I did? If I did, I will have effectively pissed away a life I've grinded into existence. The most meaningful shit isn't easy and when I walked into prison, I was a quitter. Maybe even a loser...

The power in this little quote has a new meaning, a new message, every time I look at it. I know I still have a lot of work ahead and some of it will push me past my limit, but I have the reminder by someone I love and who loves me, and I have the will and ability to push past healing and hope, to muscle all the way to greatness.

This little card now hangs on the wall, right next to a reminder given to me by the other "most influential" female in my current life - a cutout of a small hand with the words "You Are A Rock Star" written in each of the fingers by my daughter. I have a few wonderful reasons to be that rock star who grinds my way to the best life I've ever lived...

by Rory Andes

When it sucks to push forward, keep pushing forward...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Monday, October 19, 2020

Sharpie'd Nails and Mayonnaise Hair Treatments by Ruth Utnage

Those of us locked up have to be inventive to handle our needs and wants, especially for health and beauty. Here's a few things I've encountered.

Mayonnaise hair treatment. A friend with very kinky, long, thick hair from South America heard from one of his loved ones that mayonnaise is good for hair, especially hair that gets out of control frizzy, so he tried it. Now, I can't attest to it controlling his frizz but I will say it smelled shockingly good. Weird right? He smelled wonderfully attractive and I cannot tell you why, but mayonnaise in his hair equals smell good.

Another one is Sharpie'd nails. Since there is no fingernail polish some girls will use sharpies and "paint" their nails. Now, I'm not a fan of this. Don't get me wrong, I've done it because it does help feminize me mentally, but it feels very trailer park bourgeoise. The point is we can paint our nails but I've learned alternate means to accomplish this with regular acrylic paint and clear coat. Simple.

I've heard of others too like soda bottle enemas, lemon juice highlights, flat ironing with a clothes iron. Ooh, perhaps most interesting was when I first fell, this person made an oil lamp out of 2 paperclips, a pencil eraser tin tube, a plastic lid, cloth and a little baby oil then proceeded to turn his desk into a griddle. The man made fresh cookies and hot sandwiches all the time, it was like walking past a food truck, "Get yer' fried bologne sandwich he're!"

Recently I've learned to cook in the microwave. I've evolved from burritos and a bowls of top ramen to Quiche's and homemade pot pies to calzones. My most recent love, cake. Not some flat dense mush that hardens after a day, but moist, fluffy, chocolate cake made from cheap chocolate creme cookies and seltzer water. Yeah. Next I'm working on making homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

I guess part of me wants to encourage creativity. Prison can be this awful place where you learn very unhealthy things but it can also spark creative innovation in healthy ways, thinking about problems in the light of scarce resources. I'd bet lots of companies would like to have someone like me on their payroll to help think outside the box.

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, October 18, 2020

The Invasion... by Rory Andes

Now that we have the COVID-19 protocols in place in here, we know how to manage the infections and psychology that goes into controlling large groups of people. We'll need this, you know. The visitors need us to stay a certain space away and not crowd them. It'll keep us both healthy. I know they are just on the other side of the moon waiting for our world to get a little more unruly so that the aliens can help us put the world back together. But we have to be ready. Make sure you social distance and cover your mouth. Our germs are different and we're bad at instructions, so the prison is working hard and we'll be trained correctly, before they come back...

If you're perplexed at this idea, imagine how I felt when I had to hear this diatribe at lunch the other day with someone who has spent DECADES in prison. I would believe that, without any solid information from conventional sources, those that have been removed too long will simply invent information to feel informed. The man that said this doesn't come off as a typical lifelong mental case stuck in a prison, but as someone who has been broken BY prison. He truly believes that all of the COVID-19 pandemic talk is to pave the way for behaviors needed for alien visitors. Relax, this man isn't getting out anytime soon, but please feel compassion for his mental state and lack of information. Aliens won't be a problem. Not being included in the knowledge of the world is, though. That is destroying more inmates than you might realize...

by Rory Andes

I could talk about these conversations everyday. It's heartbreaking...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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






Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Personal Journaling Project on the Book "My Grandmother's Hands" by Resmaa Menakem by Ruth Utnage

Throughout the book there are these "Body Practices" that ask you to perform some sort of task that is designed to ground you in the here and now. The author describes "...feel their way back into their bodies, and then to remember and reclaim them." This particular sentence struck me especially important once I completed the first Body Practice.

I won't tell you what the instructions are, I suggest doing this project as a whole 'thing', but I can tell you that for the first time in my life I apologized to my body. I took a stock of myself, my insides, where hot and cold was, where tension lay, where I was relaxed and I have to admit, I learned about myself. I learned that I have been neglecting my body and leaving it to its own devices and even working against it. For instance, I noticed that I have tension in my brow and forehead, my core is hot and my legs cold.

Now, at this point I'm not thinking about racialized anything. I'm thinking I've been neglecting my body and I need to talk to my therapist about self-care and body scanning. But hey, I'm done with the first chapter of this book and I already feel like I have learned something about myself. At this point, I'm fully invested. I felt a little on the hoaky side at first, but after about 20 seconds I realized that this author is onto something.

I look forward to more, I need more of this!

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 



Friday, October 16, 2020

A Change Can Come Through Personal Connections by Rory Andes and Whitney Mitchell

Why It Matters

Coming to prison is a massive detriment to the social fabric and still it happens for a reason. Good or bad, society needs to be guarded from people who pose a danger. But through the carceral process and the introduction of rehabilitation, the social fabric needs to be woven again to include those incarcerated. But how? One sure method is through pen pal services and direct connections between the outside world and prisoners. Communication leads to humbling acceptance. Isolation and neglect are a devastating effect on the very idea of desistance. If one doesn't matter, why try? Or so it may be perceived by the incarcerated who may feel they've lost it all by their actions in a critical moment of life mismanagement. Pen pals and free-world friendships are a gift of belonging, a gift of that craved acceptance, and a motivator towards living with betterment and social commitment in mind. Many people in prison simply need to know that they are missed and still matter. Telling them that may change the very nature of how they do their time and how they focus their energies towards the good. Direct communications are coveted lifelines to humanity, a humanity that is beneficial regardless of a person's past.

My Reasons

After roughly seven years of incarceration, I had already lost a lot and my sense of my humanity was following. While I was making great gains to better myself in very profound ways, I still felt a deep loss by the vast ocean that stood between me and the world I longed to get back to. After experiencing what inmates call the "five year fall off", where community support dwindles and ties to family and friends strain or dry up completely, I found myself facing the very elements that brought me to prison in the first place. I am a combat veteran and after my service time and a dysfunctional marriage, isolation lead to the worst of my self imaging and behaviors. Coming to prison was a gift, but it only provided so much. I had to matter to my community again, too. In a moment that can only be described as a mental health crisis, I sought help inside and with it, I reached out to an inmate pen pal site in hopes for a voice from outside. I was in a very dark place and while I outwardly acted indifferent by this disconnect from the free world, inside I was being ripped apart. I wanted to belong, but I could only reach one way and I had to have faith that someone would reach back.

Her Reasons, In Her Words

When I discovered that writing inmates for friendship was possible, I was a bit hesitant. Like most people, I had my own personal biases about people who were found guilty and then incarcerated. As I thought more about it, I realized that many of these people would be freed back into society, and should be given the opportunity to connect to a world they'd one day enter. If true rehabilitation were to take place, it would have to eventually include guiding people back into the free world. I also thought that those who won't be able to rejoin the free world should still be able to vicariously see and experience all it has to offer. People in prison may not physically be in the general public, but that doesn't mean they don't have things to offer it. Although I don't lead an adventurous life, I thought that still offering a glimpse of my world would be valued. I teetered back and forth on whether I could truly open myself to people who were incarcerated, but then I thought to myself that being incarcerated doesn't automatically turn someone into a monster. In some cases, as I've seen with many of my friends, they seem to be more mentally adjusted as they have had time to reflect on their actions and appreciate the true meaning of compassion and friendship. There is an openness and desire to be better that is not often seen in those who haven't faced judgement for their actions. Overall, I feel grateful for my friends and I wouldn't trade them for anyone!

Where Our Friendship And My Rehabilitation Collide

After a few months of listing on a pen pal service, I received a letter and with it, the experiences and motivations to continue to grow with my community in mind. I wasn't isolated anymore even though I am in prison and how I've thought about community reflected in deep and meaningful exchanges. The regular communication with free society gave me a great sense of self worth and the beauty of friendship. The communication has ensured another element of my rehabilitation and continued desistance - what I do matters because I'm not alone. I was able to bear the ugliest parts of my life and my new friend gave radical acceptance, something I had struggled to do for myself. She showed me it was possible. She showed me that what I do and who I am matters. In turn, I work diligently at providing her with genuine compassion and friendship because she also matters. She, through reaching into prison, cultivated a healthy contribution to community for us both. We both have skin in this extremely important game. As a therapeutic piece of my own reentry planning, my community involvement is paramount to life after prison, a value driven life, and seeing my best self come alive. I have friendship and connection, and I have someone in the free world to share it with. Today, because of this direct personal involvement, we drive other incarcerated people to find that same hope.

By Rory Andes and Whitney Mitchell

About the contributor - Whitney is a 25 year old nursing student from North Carolina who started doing inmate outreach in 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic in the US. She contributes to her local community through charitable services and values a better society. She enjoys creative miniature modeling and animal rescue efforts.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Okay Ladies, Let's Talk About Bellies by Ruth Utnage

Since I've started my hormones to feminize, my body has been FREEZING! Your girl's been super cold, fingers and toes is always icy. With such constant temperature woes my thoughts go to warmth, warm body, cuddling and who would produce warmth.

So naturally, a little body fat on someone to cuddle with sounds PERFECT! I find myself looking for that right amount of girth on their bellies that is not too much but enough to let me know that at night time they turn into a personal space heater.

Is that wrong?

I might need me a partner who has some meat on their bones. LOL.

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



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

** Updated ** PrisonMathProject.com by Rory Andes

Do you know a mathematician? Maybe you know one who likes social justice, too? A mathemagician! If you're interested in something amazing, just check out the work of our own math wonder, Christopher H. and see the brilliance he's bringing to open the minds of the incarcerated. After you take a peek, feel free to talk amongst your own circles and inspire them to get involved... with math, of course.

by Rory Andes

If you see something, share something...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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

https://globalnews.ca/news/6948285/prisoner-math-genius/




Monday, October 12, 2020

Reading-Writing Project: "My Grandmother's Hands" by Resmaa Menakem by Ruth Utnage

My Grandmother's Hands was sent to me by a mentor of mine from Post-Prison Education. It is about understanding racialized trauma. In fact, it's sub header is "Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies".

I am actively reading this book and have decided I am going to confront myself and my inner racial tensions via writing as I wrestle with difficult subjects while I read My Grandmother's Hands. I am going to be vulnerable and honest. In this spirit I don't know how much I'm going to write about it, how often or what's going to come out, but as it does, I'm going to write it down and publish, just as it is. Maybe we'll learn nothing together, maybe we'll learn a great deal, I don't know.

So far, I'm nearing the end of Chapter One which is laying the foundation for the rest of the book. I'm a data girl and need to understand what concepts I'm about to work with so I appreciate this chapter as it describes the idea that trauma is in the body, as in the body responds, not just the mind. Trauma is unique and unfortunately I can see myself in the descriptions of trauma that the author describes as dirty pain, a response to trauma that leads to not dealing with it.

I am excited to embark on this journey because I was raised in a highly racialized Midwest and still have to tamp down feelings that I know are bias and sometimes downright racist. I know I am subject to micro-aggressions and as much as I want to not do or experience those things, I can see room for improvement.

This subject gets further fueled by my own experiences as a transgendered woman. I experience bias, gender tensions, micro-aggression and sometimes blatant hostility and not just from white people. A black man I loved was calling the trans community "fags in make-up" as well as other taunts weeks before he left prison. I think that this book will help me understand how to free up my resources for other things. I'm excited about that.

I hope I experience your compassion along this journey. To read my updates on this, look for the title "A Personal Journaling Project on the Book "My Grandmother's Hands" by Resmaa Menakem".

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