Love you soooooooooooo-sooooooooooooo very much. My existence would be lumpy and oh so boring without you big sis. Heck yeah.
Tons of love,
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.
"I'd rather sit in prison than release to a broken world..." - LanceAfter 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?
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 have discovered something about myself.
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.
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?"
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'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?
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.
"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." -RuthI 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...
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.
Why It Matters
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.
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
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Rory Andes 367649
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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.