Friday, January 15, 2021

So You're Coming to Prison.. by Christopher Havens

When I grew up, all I had ever heard or seen about prison was that it was filled with violence, rape, killings, deceit, and a layer of politics dictated by some "convict code". And what could anyone do to prepare themselves for such a place? 

My first feeling while on the bus to prison, while I looked at the miles of razor wire fence, and the guards with guns, was to become that image in my mind of the convict. I felt that if I were dangerous enough, people would leave me alone. That is NOT reality. 

First, if you're very dangerous, you'll simply be expected to do very dangerous things to other people, in which case you become a tool for violence. Second, and the most important, prison does NOT fit the picture that society paints of it. You do not need to become the "convict". 

There are more options, and if you're first arriving to prison, it can be hard to see. But keep in mind that in the the jails and receiving facilities are full of people who are just like you, they're preparing their mind for danger and chaos, and thus *they play the part*. 

You'll notice that the returning convicts telling how "crazy" prison will be. That my friend, is because they are returning once again to prison. They ARE the type that makes this their lifestyle. But be yourself and once you settle into your main prison, you'll see that prison life is precisely what you wish to make of it. Think of it this way. You've suddenly been given x amount of years to learn whatever you wish. So pick one thing. One very specific thing, say, something you've only dreamt about as a child, and learn it. Become an expert at it. Find your passion and build a lifestyle around it. 

Prison is only in your mind.

By Christopher Havens
Visit his website at christopherhavensmath.com



Thursday, January 14, 2021

Will This Trans Prisoner End Up Alone? That's The Fear: Chasing Career Certainty Above Uncertain Relationships by Ruth Utnage

Of this I am certain. I have the confidence and grit to go and achieve my ultimate career goals. I have done things in prison that most will never attempt outside of prison, let alone in prison as a trans woman. What I am not so certain of, finding an intimate partner.

This is where I recall bits of advice telling me that when I stop looking it will happen and to be patient or some nonsense about fate. My truth is that I don't have much experience. I got married in my teens. As in I had to get emancipated. All of which makes me roll my eyes at my choices, my upbringing and my seeming desperation to prove I am loveable.

There's a lot of my past written in these posts. Enough so that I can pretty much kiss any shot of being a CEO of any major publicly traded firm or in political office. We won't even bother adding to the mix my criminal history. Regardless, read enough of what I write and you at least get the picture I am working hard to overcome ... challenges. Some challenges were provided by others and some were created by myself. It is no secret I am determined to root out problems and fix them before I get out. One current challenge I'm facing is believing I'm loveable.

Believing I'm loveable is personal and deeply rooted. It causes a lot of problems for me. Despite being unhealthy, feeling unlovable has provided much fuel for achievement in my personal development, tenacity, and professional growth. While I am proud of my growth I must now face the reality that no achievement will ever make me loveable. I at least understand that feeling loveable is an internal belief.

As much as I want to blame my trans-ness (not being feminine enough), my childhood, my marriage, prison, or God I know that at the end of the day it's me. I must choose to believe I am worth loving. This is where the water gets murky for me. I only know how to measure my value through externalities such as my popularity, opportunities presented to me, status, looks, what i can provide, financial worth, and lovers to name a few. If I am not dating someone I must therefore be undateable. If I am undateable, I am therefore unlovable. Obviously we have some logical fallacies happening here, I can see them even as I type them.

This is a core belief that I am seeking to rid myself of. So far I have done a good job of cleaning things up inside to give myself enough 'space' to work on this main issue. Even so, I could use help. It seems odd to ask externally for help with internal problems such as feeling unlovable because, for me (and perhaps the problem), the proof I am loveable is I will be in love with someone who is in love with me AND we will be together.

I know what I offer in a relationship is valuable, therefore making me valuable to me and others. I must view self-esteem as multifaceted because I have self-confidence and am self-assured, even if its partially faked at times. I do not say things to myself that are self-defeating anymore, now there is nothing...at least it is progress.

I have a lot of love to give and a willingness to give it. I have a lot to learn and a willingness to learn more. I have a lot of growing to do and a willingness to admit it. I have a lot of life left to live and a willingness to share it with someone else.

With Love
Ruth Utnage



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Prison Mathematics Project by James Cody Goodwin

I am just past my twenty fourth year in prison and I could not be more excited.

If someone would have told me that math would change my life I probably would have never spoken to them again for fear that whatever delusion they had may be contagious.

Yet math has altered my reality in a most unexpected and awesome way.

Let me create a little perspective for you.

I was state raised in California. I was an angry destructive child who did terrible in school and math was the absolute worst thing in the world to me. Math made me feel stupid and hate myself. Perhaps the mind numbing doses of medications I was forced to take played a part in my struggles with school. But to a kid whose world was pain and sadness and loneliness math was the last thing I wanted to have to do.

That insecurity stayed with me throughout my life. I was just not smart enough to succeed in math and that was that. I would add it to a long list of impossibilities that include never having a family or seeing the outside of prison.

I began my prison life as a juvenile at the age of seventeen for murder. A life on the streets, homeless, led to drug use and crime and excitement and terror and eventually prison. When the Judge sentenced me to forty years in prison I felt like I was going home. Growing up in the group home system in California had prepared me for entrance into prison. I was returning home.

Next came years in solitary. Assaults, New crimes, riots. I considered myself to be dead and the world beyond prison was not a real thing. So what I did could not possibly matter.

Eventually I grew up and out of past ways of thinking and began looking for other things to do and other people to surround myself with. It is hard to find good people among those trapped in prisons culture of self destruction. But I did. My humanme family and my fiancee are foremost among those who have helped me change my world.

For about eleven years or so there has been a battle in the courts in regards to juvenile sentences. Long story short, I am among a large number of individuals serving time they were sentenced to as minors. Recently our cases were taken off stay and we were all looking at resentencing and those of us who had served twenty years or more were looking at possible release. Imagine our excitement. 

King and Pierce county decided to appeal the recent Washington state supreme court decisions to the United States Supreme court so back on stay we go. In the past this turn of events would have been an end of the world event.

To my surprise, when I received this news my first thoughts were ' Yes! I can complete math 87 and 100 before I get out and enroll in college!.' Then I thought of my fiancee and my humanme family and how they would take the bad news and that was when I became a bit despondent.

So, math changed my life to the point that even news of possibly serving more years in prison after already serving twenty four, and thus being able to study mathematics was a cause for excitement. What the ??!

The Prison Mathematics Project and the Social Mathematics Experiment gives me that inner freedom.

by James Cody Goodwin 764730



Monday, January 11, 2021

The Power of The Letdown... by Rory Andes

"My life is not full in spite of disappointment, it's full because of it."

If not for all roads leading to this very second of my life, I wouldn't know the successes I've known and appreciated them to the degree I do. It's been the letdown, the setback, the disappointment that creates the clearest of perspectives. Absolutely none of it is easy, nor should it be, but in the disappointment, I've grown the most. In that growth, I've done things like worked hard on healing my wounds and understanding where I hurt others, I've experienced true empathy by feeling the pain of those around me and I understand how to self empathize. If I didn't really feel my own disappointment, could I truly appreciate theirs? In that disappointment, could I appreciate all the silver linings?

By doing so, there is a fullness and a richness I've never known before. It's the kind of thing that you can explain and write a book about and discuss and draw a map over... maybe even drop a blog from time to time, but unless you've experienced and embraced that disappointment, you simply won't know how full your life truly is. My life is half over, my family mostly deceased, I haven't a penny to my name and I stand in a prison by actions of my own design... From all outward accounts, I've been a disappointment to myself and the world I live in. And I promise you I had to get to this point to see just how full my life truly is. I have a voice, I'm clear of thought, I'm healing, and my potential is beyond my own wildest dreams, all because of a string of disappointments. Ask yourself, "How amazing are your disappointments and how grateful have you grown of them?"

by Rory Andes

If things were easy, would they be worth it?

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Sunday, January 10, 2021

Book Review: "Number: The Language of Science" by Tobias Dantzig by Ruth Utnage

"Number: The Language of Science" by Tobias Dantzig is a book for the inner ' math nut in you. The author details the birth of mathematics among the sciences and pulls curtain back on math's not so perfect upbringing.

I am not a math girl. I'm in math club called the "Social Mathematics Experiment" here in prison and our teacher, an actual math nut (Christopher Havens) challenged the group to read this book and orate a book review. So here we are. I will admit this book had me doggie paddling in the ocean with some real big swells and most of the mathematical concepts that are detailed out I did not understand. But the historical aspect Dantzig presents kept me interested enough to read words in groups and take in formulas I did not and still do not comprehend.

Below are 3 quotes from the book that sort of tell the reader where my interests really connected and while I am embarrassed I cannot repeat to you how Cantor's contributions to mathematics shaped how we understand the world I can say this:

1.) "...it is not easy to deny the existence of something that has received a name." Tobias Dantzig, number: the language of science

2.) "Remove the barrier, extend the field, and the impossible becomes possible." Tobias Dantzig, number: the language of science

3.) "By trying and erring, by groping and stumbling- so progressed our knowledge." Tobias Dantzig, number: the language of science

I connected with the 2nd and 3rd quotes for a much different reason than the 1st. Quotes 2 and 3 spoke to an imagination within me that I appreciated. I spent hours during quarantine scribbling number sequences and using dimensional subtraction to understand patterns and create something artistic but mathematical and what I ended up with is pure delight. For instance, if you the mixed fraction 1 1/2 and put an exponent of 0 on it and create a whole set of them with incrementally larger exponents (i.e. 0, 1, 2, 3,...etc) by the time you get to the power off 10 we have a decimal that is large enough it makes you rethink handwriting any more. They were certainly large enough that my ambition to write to the 30th power was rethought and divided by 3. Nonetheless, using dimensional subtraction on those decimal places revealed a neat pattern to me, one which I shall let the reader find on their own.

In the end this book created within me a spark of connection with math because it allowed me to see that math is not a subject already created and is left to be read about and utilized by the fewly gifted but something to create from our minds to understand the world. Mathematics is born from "trying and erring..." like me. Like me, I have a name, Ruth and it is hard to deny my existence because here I am, with a name, like Mathematics has a name, Mathematics. It exists and while it presents this perfect front that wills the most talented a mind to engage with it, just below the surface it is very fragile. Kinda like me.

Yeah, Math...me and you are gonna be alright.

With Love
Ruth Utnage



Saturday, January 9, 2021

Talk of the Town... by Rory Andes

With the new year comes new hopes for changes in our prison system. Throughout the continuing Covid crisis, budget issues have reared its head time and again, spurring deeper consideration about how to reduce prison populations. Several options have come up and all of them worth valid discussions. Concepts like parole, resentencing, more time awarded for good behavior, age related release, reduction of sentencing enhancements, and juvenile reform (which is among the most needed) are being talked about among the free world and inmates alike. But among all of these viable options, there's not a lot of talk about how to support the implementation.

As it stands currently, the budget constraints have impacted the amount of staff available on a daily basis. This includes counseling staff that are responsible for the guidance of an inmate's prison sentence and, ultimately, their release. Most counselors are already behind in routine reviews and the legislated process for release is so cumbersome that it takes a lot of resource to get someone out of prison. If the system is already under pressure, how will adding more need for release involvement by staff help? I understand that there are lot of moving pieces in the background that inmates aren't allows to know, but there really is no talk about HOW to get people out and reduce the runaway prison population. But the talk of the town says that's it's coming.... I hope the system can be held accountable for making the people change along with the system.

by Rory Andes

Things need to change...

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Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272



Friday, January 8, 2021

Battlegrounds by Ruth Utnage

It feels like I value the things I've had to fight for the most. Like hormones. I had to battle to get them. It was an ugly battle that lasted for 18 months and involved many people, a story I will write when I am no longer incarcerated because it was so ugly. While almost every girl around me got theirs without a battle at all I kept being the "one off". While the reason for this is somewhat sinister and involves a very strange medical professional who no longer works here (thankfully), it doesn't change that I had to fight like hell.

That battle left an impression on me that I will never forget. I will never view another male mental health provider with immediate trust again in my life and I will never again allow myself to be the "one off" or "slip through the cracks". But it does leave me preparing battlegrounds in areas that perhaps I don't need to.

For instance, every 2 weeks I receive a shot of Estradial. Estradial I had to fight like hell for (in some fashion), for nearly 5 years. I get quarantined and see that I am going to need my shot right in the middle of this thing. Quarantined in prison means you ain't going anywhere. So the week leading up to my magic injection day I reminded the nurses taking my temp everyday of my upcoming injection, they got tired of me. Then lo and behold on the day nothing came. But I had already built a mental battleground, prepared to have to fight for my meds, just like before.

Here's the thing, I did have to fight for them. All day. At the end of the day a reluctant, tired, and overworked nurse came to the door with a syringe full of woman juice and asked apathetically "Where do you want it?". Crisis averted.

This got me thinking though, what if I never said anything? Would that same apathetic and overworked nurse still came to deliver my meds? I don't know but I have been trained to expect a battle for the things I value most. This seems especially counter-productive with highly valued things like relationships. I value them very much and place higher value on relationships I must "battle" for which leaves vulnerable to manipulative and critical people (the 'battle' here being someone who doesn't accept me and is critical as opposed to supportive). This particular problem has roots in my early childhood, battling for the love of someone who simply didn't want me, my own birth parents.

Now while these things are legitimate in that I feel them, it doesn't necessarily need to translate into creating battlegrounds where patience reigns king. I have to question "am I needing to fight for this or am I simply impatient or entitled?" Hard mirrors to look in, you know what I mean?

I think this is called growth.

With Love
Ruth Utnage



Thursday, January 7, 2021

Less Talk, More Action... by Rory Andes

I woke up this Sunday morning, flipped on the news, and caught the tail end of a panel discussion consisting of a Harvard health professor, a federal prosecutor, and bipartisan criminal justice advocates who all agreed that the US needs to commit to decarceration, the reduction of prisons. The Republican said it made sense fiscally, the Democrat said it made sense societally, the health professor said it made sense medically, and the federal prosecutor said it made sense judicially. There's been resounding acknowledgement of European models of criminal justice success, heavy data on the negative social impact of American communities for overincarcerating, and academic, even scientific, approaches to instituting real, meaningful and positive changes to a very broken system. Yet, here we are... doing nothing, expecting nothing, and just talking in circles.

If I can flip on a national news channel on a Sunday morning and hear this continuing discussion, why can't the changes be implemented? This was the same discussion being had at the beginning of Obama's first term (and I'm sure years before I started paying attention). Twelve years later, it's still the same talk, but maybe even by more from both sides of the aisle. In the last couple of years, there's been very little movement in helping the overall problems. When one thing gets decriminalized, another takes its place as the "worst of society's dieases" that can only be cured through long internments in cages. How about we just get to the heart of real issues and remove the "business" being done in the name of justice and add that money into the community, where the problems should be fixed. A little less talk and a lot more action is in order to change a system that's short of anything useful except cash, and let's save the Sunday morning news shows for anything other than problems we should have already fixed...

by Rory Andes

End the caste system that enables these inactions...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

My Theme Music For Kissing 2020 Good-Bye by Ruth Utnage

This year has been...well..you've all experienced it too, no need to repeat the obvious.

With all the ups and downs one album fits my temperament nicely:

Artist: Bullet For My Valentine
Album: Temper Temper

Of course lots of good music came out this year (just to clarify, Temper Temper came out several years ago) that is on my playlist, among my favorite artists with new music out this year is Mulatto, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B. But Bullet For My Valentine sums up my feelings for 2020.

With Love
Ruth



Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Benevolent Desistance Organizations... by Rory Andes

One of the most successful inventions that I have seen created for society have been benevolent organizations dedicated to the service of the community by like minded people. As a kid, my parents were involved with the Elks and the organization always had an iron in the fire about some work to be done for the less fortunate. I remember my dad involved in charitable drives for children with disabilities. They had their own hall, their lodge, and the families of the members collected on holidays and weekends for other service work. This is repeated in more familiar terms for me with groups like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, service workers with a common background who are mutually supportive... What if?

What if an organization existed dedicated to those who took their greatest failures and turned them into powerful strengths, those who are such active criminal desistors with a background of being justice involved, that their service work is the honor of the communities they exist in? People that worked their hardest, turned their whole lives around, and give it all back as a benevolent service among like minded people... To me, this would be a way to embraced, then debunk, the scarlet letter that exists for felons and it would be what's right for the community. I envision an organization charter that doesn't tolerate backsliding, helps correct it, and celebrates success. One that makes the world a better place through inspiring service by supporting and contributing to the organization's members and the community. An act of benevolence. What if? And if I'm on to something, share a thought about it...

by Rory Andes

Help me change the world, or at least someone's world...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Monday, January 4, 2021

Conquering Mathematics by Ruth Utnage

I see math as a threat. Sometimes I feel like it's the bully of intellect. I shouldn't see it that way, and I don't always see it that way, but I do sometimes.

I'll make headway on understanding some things and then hit a barrier that utterly confuses me making me feel as though I've met the bully in the hallway again. Take calculating velocity for instance, 2-dimensionally is not so hard but introduce 3-dimensional velocity and now we have my mind officially and formally bullied into a small corner.

I want to learn linear algebra so that I understand matrices and vectors better. I find physics to be fascinating and I know that major swaths of physics is mathematics. Understanding 3-dimensional spaces mathematically, like velocity, is an important precursor (as far as I can tell) to understanding how to make sense of quantum physics and quantum theory, which is something I find to be wonderfully fascinating. Problem is I don't have the natural intelligence to just begin, so I am starting in matrices.

To learn matrices and am learning velocity.

Velocity is kicking my behind right now.

One part that confuses me is when I calculate degrees using COS and SIN. I input my degrees and my speed and the distance and I get some decimal number (14.41421) which my textbook says translates into 10 times the square root of 2. Neat. How was I suppose to know to reduce that long decimal point to the square root of 2 if I didn't memorize the first 5 digits of the square root of 2?

I have so many questions that I feel are basic. Like, why can I not simply enter 14.41421 as a vector component? How do I know to reduce it to a square root and when?

I don't want to be intimidated by math anymore. I want to enjoy the things I like. I want to read Einstein's ERP paper and understand his argument and the decades of research to prove him wrong. I want to learn the mathematical language of photons and think about how two photons can exist in theoretically different parts of the universe and still mirror one another.

I don't want to solve major and/or ancient math, I just want to be able to understand.

Actually, I have a need to understand. I think I might take this thought with me to my grave. And I know it begins in mathematics.

I mean, I'm digging in and hoping that someone will come along who can help a lady out.

With Love
Ruth



Sunday, January 3, 2021

If Earthworms Had Machine Guns... by Rory Andes

The ground was wet and cold. It had been raining on the front line for days and the trenches were soaked. Nestled just below the surface, it grew hard to breathe. The decision from worm headquarters had to be made. Just before daybreak, the call came down to start the evacuation of the soggy soil when the rain let up. As it did, the fog sat heavy and concealed their movement. They had to move to higher ground, but days of slugging through the front made them slow, even awkward. But, if they could just make their break through the bush, the long blades, they could keep their formations out of sight.

As the landscape changed and they approached the rocks, it became clear to them that they were near a massive change in topography, one unmarked. They hit the clearing that wasn't on their map. It was long and black, a mix of tar and rock, and during a different season, maybe even during daylight, it might have been too hot to cross. But they had some cover of the twilight, fog and the sheen from days of rain and cold mornings like this were a part of their tactical plan. In order to hit the high ground, they had to make their move, exposing them to more dangers than they could ever imagine.

Low crawling across the wet asphalt, inch by inch, they crossed the vast clearing. Then came the horror of the unexpected. The giant shiny pillars, legs, rising from the waterline that were attached to the black underside of their enemy. Without options, the order was given..."FIRE!". All around erupted the sounds of machine guns. The initial engagement did little to rattle this enemy. A giant yellow beak attempted to snatched a couple of the team members from the left flank, yet the earthworms bravely fought on, shooting and moving and the bird withdrew. The shiny black beast suddenly ruffled its feathers and realized he was outmatched. With a giant swoosh, worms were blown about as the bird lifted off. Almost as quickly as the firefight started, it was over and the head counts of the battalion of earthworms proved that they hadn't lost any of their numbers.They had won the day and continued their march to the dry trenches on the hill to secure a new base. It goes to show, if earthworms had machine guns, birds would go hungry...

by Rory Andes

Even the biggest enemy can be pushed back...

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Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272



Saturday, January 2, 2021

What's Bigger Than That (WBTT)?: Documenting a Personal Brainstorming Session by Ruth Utnage

What's my next big move? What do I need to seriously plan for?

It has been pointed out to me that I should not be worrying about smaller problems such as employment and school or Iphones because those things are spread available. Instead I should be planning my power moves. Someone in my life said I should lower my expectations which tells me that I am on the right track, I have learned that instead of lowering my expectations I need to raise them much, much higher.

So what do I turn my attention to?

I have decided that working for DOC initially is probably not an option, I think. I am not back-burnering the plan but I do need to refocus my attention on the more likely way to make money for me, which appears to be in HR, because I latched onto that. So let's brainstorm:

Getting into HR, what's bigger than that?

Becoming an HR manager, WBTT?

HR Consulting, WBTT?

Owning an HR consulting firm/entrepreneurship, wbtt?

Creating a system. What kind?

The goal setting process. Mentorship process. and do what?

Start a business or non profit. if it was a biz, what would the service/product be? I can only imagine it as an application or a system that is done via tech. Except the mentorship process, that could be a system that is applied instead of one that is technology based. So maybe I need to separate them and use the goal setting process as a tool of the mentorship process. So maybe the service is a mentorship/life coaching service with proprietary goal setting and goal planning/strategy systems?

If that was the plan, what's step 1? Step 1 would be documenting the process and detailing the goal app/system and protecting it.

Okay, what's step 2? Step 2 is getting help with developing the app. I have to challenge this, you have been seeking help coding and received no help, isn't this why you took computer programming- so you can do it yourself? Well, yeah, but it's beyond my abilities.

You're thinking too small. Think bigger, wbtt?

R and D? What if we began seeking a business partner? What if we sought to partner with a developer where they did the technical side of things and you did the business side of things. Get investors or donors.

Now we're thinking in the right direction. So this is where our minds need to focus on:

1. Systematizing our process and documenting everything into a usable personal format that we can immediately apply.

2. Look for customers to use the system on, gather market data. Document said data such as:

a. time spent on each customer
b. measured outcomes (success rates)
c. estimated time saved with technology ( the app)
d. what works, what is universal vs what is individualized
e. how much time does the customer actually spend interacting with the system and is it sustainable? What is the attention span of a customer in this type of life planning? How much time is a person willing to spend planning their future?

3. Find partner with actual tech skills (need to seriously brainstorm this)

4. Develop biz plan

5. Find investors

This is some heavy stuff. As I'm rolling this around I am also piecing together in my mind that I want to do public speaking about doc's systemic shortcomings and one way to help in one area (inmate self-improvement). This can be an alternate, I could teach mentorship and goal planning/strategy. I have knowledge to present in such a way that it will enlighten those concerned and hopefully motivate those who aren't to get concerned/involved.

I think that public speaking is my entrance point to finding potential partners or to open new doors that may lead to opportunity I am unable to conceptualize currently.

How do I plan for that which I cannot conceptualize?
I don't know, how do we conceptualize infinity?
Well, we denote it with a symbol. Like an "x" factor.

So then, I will also prepare to speak at as many engagements as possible about my experiences and ideas to solve problems, establish that I have a coherent logic with a sound theory, present my experiences to back up my theory, establish additional credibility and look for an x-factor which represents new/unforseen directions because I will deal with and seek outside opinions which will bring amazing new perspectives.

PIVOTS!
Yup. Possible pivots indeed. So maybe its not an "x" factor but a "p" factor, we can denote it "P-Factor" or simply PFactor.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

Email or write me to learn more about this...
Email via jpay.com:
When emailing me please do not use this name (Jeff), I changed my name to Ruth to better align my gender identity (female) but DOC does not change their documents in a legal name change, so we have to sign up using my original name but when you write, please use Ruth as I will not respond to male pronouns or the dead name "Jeff".
Doc#: 823469
Name: Jeff Utnage

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



Celebrating The New Year by Ruth Utnage

I usually don't stay up for the West Coast midnight hour. Usually I watch Anderson Cooper and whatever drunken sidekick he gets in New York and call it a night. This year I'm thinking I'll actually celebrate. Here's how I'm gonna do it:

I'm going to write 2020 on a piece of paper, big ole' print, take up the whole page. Then, at 11:55 I'm going to shred it up into itsy bitsy pieces, very very small and toss them in the toilet. Then at 11:59 I am going to wait with my flushing fingers poised and at Midnight I'm going to flush that mother f****r goodbye.

Happy New Year

With Love
Ruth



Brail for the damned by James Cody Goodwin

We can learn to love anything. I once learned to love nothing.
Buried alive in I.M.U. for years in solitary confinement. Days melt into weeks which bleed into years that become .. nothing.
Nothing new, nothing old. I awoke once in my grave and turned to see whose hand it was I felt clutched in my own. No one's hand, my most constant companion and most faithful friend. A hand I still hold, still feel. A presence unseen, phantom limb.
I searched for hope's corpse within the cracks along concrete surfaces and soon realized I knew not where to begin. So I turned myself inside out and found hope on the underside of my skin.
Hope... it is not what it seems...hope is a silent scream, a pointless appeal to angels that are nothing more than life-like amphetamine dreams.
In this place among tombs the past is your god and the future is long dead and gone.
I began to write the story of my hope. To paint the scenery of something, anything, on the canvas of a nothing.
Scars upon scars I carved in my skin, lines among lines weaving like serpentine sins. A wound for every ghost that haunts my sleep.
At night when I'm lost in darkness alone I trace the paths in my flesh with the one free hand I possess. Unseen they spiral beneath layers of ink. Each a shameful memorial. Collectively they create a brail for the damned. This one a betrayal, here a theft, that one was an act of cowardice, there is etched a death.
On and on a coiling web. At its center an arachnid presence waits. Multifaceted eyes holding images of hope's demise, of a face I hardly recognize.
I shift my focus to that presence unseen, to whisper in ears my most longed for dream, nothing squeezed my hand as if to assure me I am heard and hope is on the way.
I smile and wake to find myself confined
within cracked concrete...
Bound with chains forged...
from scars.
Hope's flesh decomposes in a corner of hell,
A nightmare realm of broken dreams.
A place where my smile is nothing more than the chalk outline of a silent scream.

James Cody Goodwin