Friday, February 26, 2021

Go Fund Me Page for Ruth

Some of Ruth's friends have put together a go fund me page for Ruth, here is the link if you want to see what they have to say or if you would like to contribute to her worthy cause.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-ruth-utnages-reentry-after-prison

Thanks for all your support and for following all our guys on our webpage.


Last Birthday In Prison by Ruth Utnage

Today is February 25th and it is my birthday, my last birthday in prison. I am now officially 39 years old. I came to prison when I was 29. I have spent my 30's behind razor wire. I have to say, though, I don't regret it.

I regret what I've done to get here, that I betrayed a community, trust, hurt someone. I deserved my time in prison. But I am not mad I was here. I needed it. Now, I know my prison abolitionist friends and readers are cringing at that statement, but it doesn't change that it is true. I'm glad I came here.

I deserved prison, the separation from community, exile. I did wrong. I proved myself unfit for societal residence. I had a lot to learn ya'll.
I was messed up.
I was living a big ole' lie.
I needed therapy for elements of my childhood.
I needed to meet Rory, Christopher, Renee, James, Marshall, Steven, Jade, Taylor, Laney, Catherine, Veronica, Dad, Aryn, Juan....and so, so many more.

I've met officers and staff that I sincerely don't know who I'd be right now had I NOT come to prison. I mean, we're talking serious influence here. If any of you knew me over a decade ago and you seen me today you wouldn't even recognize me. Not in appearance, action, or speech. I am not the same person I was, and thank God.

This birthday isn't being celebrated as my "last one in prison" instead its more of a "thank God I get this opportunity to prove I am a worthy and safe community member"

Thanks for helping me feel so happy.

With Love
Ruth 



The Gift of a Book by Ruth Utnage (older post)

Turning the page of a book with my fingers and feeling the texture of the paper under my fingertip is as much reading for me as smelling the aroma of food is for eating. For me. In prison we don't have access to anything we want and a friend of mine, a fellow girl, has a particularly significant like, Marilyn Monroe.

She's liked Marilyn Monroe since she was a child and even went so far as to get a portrait of the famed star tattooed on her arm. For her, she represents her ideal femininity, something I strongly identify with as a fellow trans woman.

As Christmas in 2020 comes faintly trickling in as a sliver of normalcy among the most abnormal year in most of our history's I wanted to connect with all of my loved ones. We all needed it. I crave the gift of human touch so much now I quite literally dream about it the way a marooned man at sea might dream of hamburgers. I want to hug everyone, all the time. For me, the next best thing is bringing emotional warmth to those I am able. I just need to see "happy" in all its forms.

So I got a few books on Marilyn Monroe sent in, one of the books was a special book to my friend, a family member of hers when she was a teen had found a biography on Marilyn Monroe in the teens room and thrown the treasured book away. The teens parent attributed such things to why their child acted feminine. It crushed her. I found the book and an additional one with all kinds of photos. Once I received them I quietly wrapped them in last months newspaper, carefully creasing the edges, forgetting that newspaper turns fingers black, like soot.

Gifts carefully wrapped in hand I went and found my friend. Because of the pandemic and outbreaks in our nations prison systems we never know when lock downs are coming, so I handed her the gifts at first opportunity because we just never know. Of course, receiving a wrapped gift in prison is not common so she was a little surprised and as I told her she would need to hang onto them until Christmas she handed them back to me and said "Here, hand these back to me real quick". Confused I took the two packages and handed them back to her, at which point she feigned surprise and proceeded to tear the holy crap out of the wrapping paper and shrieking delight.

The first was the photograph book. She happily thumbed through it, eying the second package for a few minutes until finally she couldn't take it anymore and declared "I'm opening this one too."

She slowly unwrapped this one, exposing the book underneath, falling silent. "I had this book when I was a teen and it got thrown away, it was my favorite."

That hug meant a lot. To me. It was tight and warm and genuine. I asked "Are you happy?" The response was a squeeze. That meant more. To me.

Books have been life altering for me in prison. They are more than something to display as a cool background while some talking head on TV spouts about something awful again, they are a way for us to transmit happy.

Someone sent me a few books of my own last night. Expect some reviews again soon!

Give a book to someone special.

With Love
Ruth



Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Woman I Call "Family"... by Rory Andes

When I first met her, she struck me as a worthwhile person to get to be friends with. That's not always an easy find in prison. She was fairly new to the unit and immediately on the hunt for something to make her life more full of progress and hope. People like her stand out in amazing ways because of this brand of hunger. As time went on, I invited her into my own personal life, my travels, my deeply emotional struggles. She gave good advice and helped me see beyond the pain I was in, the trauma I had trouble managing.

She did such a good job at simply listening, I was able to find empathy for my own situations. Again, that's a hard find in prison. Most will commiserate, but in the process, they feed the negativity. They will encourage you to be angry, anxious, maybe even vengeful for the circumstance. But not her. She became my wholly positive sounding board, a professional life observer. In turn, I saw just how perfectly imperfect she was and why she saw the world through such distinguished eyes. I marveled in her drive to correct her flaws. I found her limitless humanity within the flaws themselves.

Before long, I was invited into her own family. Not just the ones she calls family among her community in prison, but the one outside that you only trust with people who will treat them gently and with kindness. The lifelong family that holds a person's heart forever and always. It's not only a humbling honor, but it's an important responsibility. In some ways, she trusted me with an unspoken stewardship to be in contact with the most important person to her. I took this responsibility seriously and this loving family gave me a voice. For the first time in much of my life, she and her family gave me a place to free the tragedies I harbored deep inside. For the first time in almost a decade, this wonderful friendship created something I longed to have in my daily sphere... the love of family. She... became... family.

She's become family to so many in here. She's been a champion of causes, a life strategist, a pillar of our community, a confident advisor. This woman I love like family celebrates her last birthday this year in the far off land of prison. The most striking elements of who she is grew when she left her freedoms behind and each year draws her closer to flawlessness. She found herself and takes time each day to help someone else find a little more inside themselves. But, she's been gone a long time, growing and changing. Her mother lost a someone, but gained an independent daughter and I know she must be proud to get her back.

Everyone that knows Ruth is proud. Proud of her, proud to know her, proud to mature with her help in a land of devastating outcomes. My life has been blessed by Ruth and as I get ready to say goodbye this year and we in prison hand her back to a world waiting for her redefined beauty, we do so knowing she has done everything right. She's empowered, intelligent, resilient. She'll be missed, but never forgotten. This will be only a temporary distance though, because one day, on the other side of this confinement, we'll catch up for the holidays or on her many future birthdays. After all, that's what you do with the ones you love and she's a woman I call "Family"...

by Rory Andes

Happy Birthday, Ruth. The world is waiting for you...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Laying a New Foundation: Modernizing Our Correctional System by Ruth Utnage

Is it possible to lay a new foundation under an old frame? I think not. The frame and structure must be dismantled and set aside whilst a new foundation is set in place of the old one. If the structure can be dismantled in sections, the foundation can also be set in sections. One must be careful of the structure because a structure divided is weak, susceptible to damage and collapse.

Our prison system is much like this analogy, which I must thank author Isabel Wilkerson and her book "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" for inspiring such a clear analogy of systemic structuring and how we, as human beings, can conceptualize our complex reality in much simpler and more familiar terms. (I do not know who sent me this book, but THANK YOU!!!!)

The American phonological systems needs a new foundation to accommodate a newer rehabilitation structure. We cannot fit an updated frame on an old foundation. As we have come to know ourselves better as a species we know now what we did not 200 years ago. Rehabilitation is a complex topic, with many elements to consider and a foundation built on disgraced ideologies will not suffice for what we now clearly understand but still struggle with how to build. I suggest a new foundation, for a new structure, better suited to accomplish what our collective goals are.

We are an intelligent species, you will not convince me that the best we have come up with to manage wrongdoings is cages in concrete in chain link under razor wire, guarded by semiautomatic rifles and washed out trigger fingers still hanging onto the glory of times long gone. No, I will not accept such ignorance as our best.

We humans are a beautiful species not meant to caged or subdued. We tend to cage what we adore and apparently caging one another is no exception but the rule.

Let's change that.

With Love
Ruth A. Utnage



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Officer Johnny Virus-seed... by Rory Andes

He's the happiest guy in prison today. This job is the best thing he's ever had and he likes the money. His family respects him for doing a tough job in a scary place. He's respected by his peers for being a quick learner. He's a "Teamsters" teamster. No need to mandate overtime for him, because he'll be the pal of the crowd and cover anyone's shift. You want him to cover the Covid isolation unit? You bet! He's on it! He's got brass balls and has his sights set on being sergeant one day. He'll do the worst job with the best attitude...

Then he goes back to his assigned post immediately after and risks dragging the Coronavirus across the vulnerable population. His happy go lucky, can-do demeanor is ground zero for transplanting the virus from those that are infected to those that aren't. In his mind, he's just doing his job, doing his part. To the incarcerated, he's walking past them with a gun in his hand and the safety off, an accident of lethal consequence waiting to happen. Being eager to please and a team player may very well be a death sentence to an aging prison population with no way to escape Officer Johnny Virus-seed. It's happening everyday, even when they say it isn't. Support Johnny's ambition, but keep his ass away from me...

by Rory Andes

We are on edge and observing everything...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Case For Negative Integers (Revisited!) by Ruth Utnage

I once wrote an almost satirical piece challenging the validity of negative integers. But, I was reading this book titled "How The Mind Works" by Steven Pinker and in it he briefly describes the physical action of a firing neuron, "A synapse has a strength ranging from positive (excitatory) through zero (no effect) to negative (inhibitory)." It was the natural usage by our brains of "negative" that provided some context to me on how negative integers actually exist.

I know my original argument can be easily defeated via currency. If you have $10 and you owe $3 of your original $10, you are now $-3 (negative 3) and simultaneously $7 (positive 7). The point being the $-3 is a fact. It exists because it was used to deduct a certain determined amount that the $-3 represents precisely and exactly.

What I find so interesting is that our brains also use negativity, as an inhibitor. I want to find out more about this process, in due time I'm sure.

So who cares about any of this? Well, me. I like to understand and understanding must sometimes come from mistakes, sometime uninhibited play and freedom of thought. The case here is uninhibited freedom of thought. Will thoughts such as these lead anywhere? Who knows, but I do know one thing, if I were to be asked to determine the validity of negative integers as their own number, I now have an answer.

With Love
Ruth 



Friday, February 19, 2021

The Walk Of Womanhood (The Cross Transgendered Women Bear?) by Ruth Utnage

"I had a recent conversation with one of the guys here," the woman began "and he brought to my attention that they would be more comfortable if you walked more like a woman. I've noticed that you walk like a man."

"Oh, I see, " I turned my eyes toward the door, everything in me was beginning to scorch with anger, instead I set my eyes on the woman across from me and lifted my chin slightly above parallel "well, there is a reason I don't switch my hips when I walk,"

"Well, " she interrupted impatiently "it would be easier for everyone if they could recognize you as more feminine, your walk would help, I'm just trying to help."

That was a real conversation...in a real prison, with a real transgendered woman (ME!!). Really infuriating too.

Several months ago I let go of what others might think about me and wore tighter fitting pants, did my makeup, got my hair done super cute. In short, I looked good. I have curves and I know it, I just don't typically flaunt them. But that "turning up" really ignited some jealousy in some of the other trans folx around here, not to mention drew a significant amount of attention (to include some men telling me it wasn't "fair" to have to see me so pretty and them not be able to get with me). So I said "screw it" and went up a pant size, threw my makeup away and butched it up, so I didn't create any more waves. After all, I just want to get out of prison and in 8 months I'm doing just that, with or without makeup.

But then that conversation happened. It occurred to me that I am being judged no matter what I do. It further occurred to me that this is the cross transgendered woman bear (and I'd have to say all women). We're judged when we are too feminine and judged when we're not feminine enough. When our makeup is on point then our clothes get judged. When our appearance is flawless then it's our speech or walk or past or whatever other insecurities they may have.

I am not going to spend my life pandering to the whims of others trying to get the approval of people who have nothing to do with my future or success.

What I am going to do is do me. If I sashay and switch my hips so hard it looks like I'm bending my back that's my business. If my clothes fit me the way I like and I look in the mirror and finally feel beautiful and worth it, that's my business too. Because I just figured out that no matter what I do, some people's gonna hate.

The sad part is it took my 38 years to finally understand it wasn't even me they didn't like, it was themselves. They were never looking at me or talking to me, they were looking into a mirror only seeing their own reflection and passing judgments.

Next time my response is going to be flawless, like me, it'll be a simple "Thank you" with a tight smile and a walk away that would set fire to a runway. Fierce.

So ladies, be you, be fierce, finally be happy because the burden of womanhood shouldn't be a burden at all. Let it be a joy.

With Love (and JOY)
Ruth


 

HumanMe.org Is Being Redesigned (Changes Coming Soon!) by Ruth Utnage

It has been a long time since I began lgbtqprisonsupport.com (my first blog, which was turned into humanme.org in 2019). Over time I felt too limited by the label of lgbtq and support. HumanMe was and is a much better fit for my overall goal, which is clearly stated in our Mission Statement:

As a perseverant, self-developed and independent organization HumanMe helps create safer communities by educating leadership to recognize, embrace, and empower those who have chosen to positively change despite all forms of incarceration.

My vision for HumanMe is to create a nonprofit organization that provides a set of standards for incarcerated individuals to uphold to use their sentences for true rehabilitation. We will provide long-term mentorship for incarcerated individuals and eventually consulting and guidance for state run institutions to provide the environment necessary for students to learn as opposed to convicts to flourish.

In order to accomplish this we need a platform that is more comprehensive than a templated personal blog. We need something that we can grow into is opposed to outgrow before we even launch. This new platform will provide just that.

Some of the features that will be included are:

- Better mobile viewing
- Writer profiles
- Space for us to feature other organizations
- Videos and Podcasts
- Most popular/most viewed content
- Statistics
- How to help
- and much much more!

We are excited for this and hope that our evolution isn't too much of an inconvenience and that you will continue to visit is often!

We will keep you updated often!

With Love
Ruth Utnage


 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Prison Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Recipe: From Ruthie's Transgender Cook Book by Ruth Utnage

Ingredients:
1/4 lb Brown Sugar
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 lb Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 lb Hershey's Chocolate (2 - 4.4 oz "XL Hershey's" bars)
1 No Bake Cheesecake

I have not made this yet but here's how I'm gonna make it for my birthday in prison:

-Melt chocolate slow in double boiler pan on low heat
-mix peanut butter and brown sugar together and cook in microwave for 3 1 minute intervals until well mixed and brown sugar is completely melted, mixture will be liquidy.
-Add marshmallows to mix, do NOT stir, microwave 30 seconds, then stir. Mixture will turn into a nougat (this is your Reese's mix).
- Let cool until room temp.

- Open graham cracker crust and mix with melted chocolate, form into pie pan and let cool (this may take some time, the chocolate should cool rapidly with the graham crackers, if not, lay saran wrap on top of mixture and press a pie pan over top to form crust, place in freezer or fridge until cool and holds form)
-Make cheesecake mix (usually 1 1/2 cups cold milk) mix thoroughly with Reese's mix, will be very thick!
-Place mixture into pie crust,

Chill and serve with love Home Slice...

With Love
Ruth 



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Oliver Sipple... by Rory Andes

I read a piece of forgotten history recently that moved me. It was story about a Marine veteran who, in 1975, stopped a woman from taking a second shot at then president Gerald Ford. It took place outside of a hotel in San Francisco and the woman, Sara Jane Moore, had pulled a .38 cal pistol from her purse and fired directly at President Ford's head, missing it by a few feet and chipping the wall behind him. Before she could pull the trigger again, a large blond man standing behind her grabbed her arm and threw her to the ground. He was just another in the crowd, someone who wanted to see the President. His name was Oliver Sipple and he was completely shaken by the event. Oliver had served two tours in Vietnam and, while injured in the service, was suffering the subtle, yet more devastating effects of PTSD. Springing into action had opened wounds inside him, but the worst was yet to come...

In all the media fanfare, reporters dug deep into this hero. Oliver went by Billy Sipple and was originally from a conservative Michigan town. Billy was also friends with Harvey Milk and was a quiet, however connected, member of San Francisco's gay community... A membership his family in Michigan had no idea about. Without his consent, the media made his sexual orientation the headline. He was completely outed and his family back east found out this way. His parents disowned him publicly. As his fame rose in the community and people were trying to get a hold of him, most inquiries were directed to the police's sex crimes division. In 1975, it was assumed by a misunderstanding world that gay men were pedophiles and perverts and in San Francisco, the gay community was monitored by that section of their police force. As his life was unraveling for his heroic deed, the President hadn't even called to thank him.

In time, President Ford did write a letter thanking him and asked if he could do anything in return for his selflessness. Oliver Sipple asked the President if he could have something nice to say to his mother and father, in a phone call or letter, to try and patch up some of this mess that was becoming his life. Ford did not. The last family member to remain in Sipple's life was his brother George. Ultimately, Oliver sued the newspaper for $15M for exposing such a private element of his life without his consent. After it drug on for nine years, the case was thrown out. Oliver didn't win. There were elements of the gay community who were pleased that his heroics, and orientation, were so public. They felt it was an equalizer that showed gays were capable, strong, and confident. Oliver took the brunt of that publicity and it destroyed him.

He spent his veteran's disability check at the bar as soon as he got it and lived a life circling the drain after he saved the President. The trauma was too much. When his mother died, his father wouldn't even allow him to attend the funeral. The gay friends he had in San Francisco had mixed reviews about him then. Some thought he wanted to be closeted because of his lawsuit against the newspaper and turned their backs on him. Those that accepted him were dying at an alarming rate because of the AIDS epidemic that overtook the gay community in the 1980s. In the end, Oliver was found in a chair in his one room apartment, a bottle Jack Daniels sitting by him, television on and severely bloated. He had been dead for roughly ten days by the time he was found. Oliver's friend, Wayne Friday, had noted that Oliver would buy rounds of drinks at the bar for more people than were at Sipple's funeral. He was buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno at the age of 47.

"I believe in human life and I believe that this country stands for human values... including life and freedom. I am first and foremost a human being who enjoys and respects life, but I feel that I... I feel that a person's worth is determined by how he or she responds to the world in which they live, not on how or what or with whom a private life is shared. These are my words and they're my feelings." - Oliver Sipple

by Rory Andes

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Misunderstood Transgender: Rebecca by Ruth Utnage

Rebecca is among the most unaccepted transgendered people in prison that I know. She began her transition long after she began balding. Her reputation as a hot head and for being a bit...loose...precedes her everywhere. This makes her repugnant to many, but not to me, it makes her brave.

Here is this bald-headed woman with missing teeth and an attitude that is deserved and well-defined. In the face of hatred and being called an old creep, in the shadow of other girls who are "more passable", she stands on her own two feet. She stands on the foundation that women long before us built. Foundations where giants stood and proclaimed the words of freedom to the world in the face of the world and demanded to be respected.

That's Rebecca. Who's only flaw is liking men half her age, which, let's not get it twisted is still men in their 30's. And if a 60 something transgendered woman can still pull a gent in his 30's, God bless that sister because she's doing something right.

I have mad respect for Rebecca because she truly embodies the tenacity of the transgendered population and the courage it takes to live in your own truth. Whether that truth is to follow your own faith versus your parents or cultures or whether that's to do the right thing when it seems that nobody else wants to, we can all identify with Rebecca.

With Love
Ruth



Monday, February 15, 2021

Frikis... by Rory Andes

What would you do to truly be free? Would you inject yourself with HIV, knowing there was no treatment for AIDS, just to enjoy liberty? Ponder that... let that soak in... to be free, you must die of AIDS. That was the option presented to a whole generation of young Cubans in the 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union. In post Soviet Cuba, after the fall of European Communism, Cuba was on its own. Young Cubans had been catching some cultural elements of freedom from American radio waves from Florida and found the music and ideas refreshing. They called themselves Frikis - metal heads, punk rockers, what many young Americans took for granted. But, to ensure order, Cuba cracked down on them. In the suppression, these young Cubans found a need for freedom and while some tried to escape to America, some resigned to a place the Cuban government didn't care about... the sanitariums. The only way to get there for young, healthy, idealistic Cubans was to be terminally sick. In comes self injecting HIV.

These young Cubans died either trying to sail makeshift rafts to Florida, or died from a horrible illness. And they died with honor about the freedoms of their choice. It's their sense of choice that calls to me. As I look around this prison, we all have a choice to be free. We can have everything the young Cubans weren't allowed to have, to include our opinions and sense of self. So, the challenge becomes, what to do with that freedom? Finding stories like that of Los Frikis really moves those of us who actively take part in changing our lives. We have all the freedom in the world right here, right now to be exactly what we want to be... we simply have to do it. Our prison are these gates and walls, not what's in the mind. While some struggle to realize this, ask yourself, "What would you do for true freedom?"

by Rory Andes

Prison is what you make it...

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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



Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Self-Care Of Cooking by Ruth Utnage

I've discovered something about myself that I hope I never lose, I love to cook for others. In prison "nothing is free", which isn't true, but I seriously love to cook. Today I made a pot pie for someone the size of a 5.5 cup Tupperware bowl.

First I crushed up 4 sleeves of crackers, added melted butter and warm water and made a dough. The process of kneeding dough with my hands, the very act of incorporating my muscles into something felt therapeutic, it felt right. It also, for me, feels feminine. Then I pressed most of it into a bowl to make a pot pie crust (I save a portion to make the crust's top.

Then I melted cheese, jalapeƱo provolone and bacon chedder, into a thin sauce in 2.5 cups hot water and added 2 pouches of country gravy mix.

I used pepperoni, salami, and chorizo as the meat. I cooked each one, saving the grease to coat the pie crust and use as a frying agent in the microwave. Then I cooked the crust.

In another bowl I thickened the country cheese gravy.

Once that was done I mixed the ingredients inside my pie crust, added my top and cooked it in the microwave until the top was firm.

While the whole thing was delicious for the person I made it for, the real joy was in the preparation. For me, it wasn't a pot pie at all, it was a creation. I know that pot pie will have been the first one that man has eaten in prison, I made something humane.

That is therapeutic. Maybe not for everyone, certainly for me though.

I also like to clean. Especially when I am stressed. Lol.

Whatev's. Not sorry.

With Love
Ruth



Saturday, February 13, 2021

Social Mathematics Experiment, 2/5/21... by Rory Andes

We had to witness another Covid casualty... We had our last class for an indefinite period of time because of DOC's absolute iron fisted approach to dealing with the pandemic (and it's only fueling tensions over the usual mismanagement). While we did get to break down some quadratic equations and develop the fundamentals of proofing systems of work, it came with a heaviness because we knew it would be our last time to be together for a long while.

So, we took half the class to drill into laughter and talk about release strategies and define the things to know about the world beyond prison. This was an important conversation because folks like Marshall and Ruth may very well be out of prison by the time they consider starting our class back up. So, just like any good family gathering, we enjoyed the time we had, talked about what lies ahead and just existed in the moment. It was a little math, a little social, and a lot of learning about a variety of things. This class will be missed and I hope we can come back together sooner vs. later. So far, the Social Mathematics Experiment has been a huge success that's lived up to its name.

by Rory Andes

I'll miss this class...

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



Friday, February 12, 2021

I Got Magic In My Life by Ruth Utnage

I don't know why, I don't know how but I just keep winning. Life keeps blessing me in abundance.

I can't help it I'm winning constantly. My friends are winners. My dreams are the dreams of the highly favored. Like Chance The Rapper says "I got magic, I got magic, I got magic in my life..".

It's a mindset. A lifestyle choice. I wake up each morning and I tell myself I'm spoiled by the Universe. I just can't help but win. It is what it is. The pandemic was bad for a lot of people but not for me, all it did was highlight how much I'm winning in life.

Crazy...

With Love
Ruth



Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Beautiful Book Dispatches from Ray's planet, A journey through Autism. by Claire Finlayson. by James Cody Goodwin

Hello world! I want to tell you all about an amazing book I have read. the book titled above. It is a beautiful and soulful book about love and family. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think it would be especially suited for book clubs. I wish that this could have been one of the books we read in the U.W. book club and I hope that all the wonderful humans out there who were members of the U.W. book club find this book, read this book, and share this book. It is written by one of the kindest and most loving people I have ever encountered. Honestly, I can't say enough about this book, please check it out.

James Cody Goodwin



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Mathematics: Guilty Pleasure by Ruth Utnage

I'm reading a book right now that my friend Christopher gave me called "Mathematics: through the eyes of faith" by James Bradley and Russell Howell. It's not my usual read but it certainly has my attention because it sparks my imagination. For instance, did the Creator create mathematics or did the Creator use mathematics (as in mathematics existed before the Creator)?

While the answer isn't all that important I must say that my brain is still interacting with the subject. I'm interested. That's incredible to me because right now I'm not thinking about how "hard" or scary" math is. Yet, it's still on my mind.

I really like the idea of creating a mathematical safe space for me to explore the concepts of math without any expectations or consequences. My taxes or grades don't suffer because I'm wrong. I get to have fun.

I need more of this. What if other bodies of knowledge were just as easy to interact with?

With Love
Ruth



Monday, February 8, 2021

How The Corona Virus Pandemic Has Helped Me Re-Prioritize by Ruth Utnage

I heard this posed as a question on the news recently and I wanted to answer it. Mainly because when I think about the pandemic I typically think about the negative. I believe in balance and the opposite of negative is positive.

Things I've re-prioritized because of the pandemic is mostly wrapped up in one, human connection. I have chosen brothers and sisters in and out of prison and the pandemic has separated me from all of them. I never took them for granted, but, I spent more time pre-pandemic thinking about how I'm going to buy my high rise penthouse in downtown Seattle instead of how I am going to show love to my family.

I'd say that's the biggest one by far. Additionally I have re-prioritized finances. Keeping a stock of food and daily products is on my mind, as is extra money in my account in case I cannot work. I was quarantined for 15 days and lost a half of months pay, in a place where you only make $.65/hr...that's a lot of money.

One last piece, help. I think about how I and others can work together to solve each others problems. Including others in my needs and asking to be included in theirs is important to me. Especially when those needs are attached to successes of some sort.

How about you?

With Love
Ruth



Sunday, February 7, 2021

Covid Keyboards... by Rory Andes

Recently, through a court ruling, some select inmates received the economic stimulus intended for relief of the Covid pandemic. While this has been a hotly debated topic among the free world, some inside have received their checks anyway... and they definitely intended on stimulating their fair share of the prison economy. Because what people in prison can purchase is very limited, to have the most expensive item available holds status for those that, through a lack of community respect, require a dominant status in prison. Here, one of those items are electronic piano keyboards... and with their status comes the obnoxious and unauthorized use of them as a loud stereo to play radios on. They become a neighborhood menace used to audibly torment an entire cell block. Sleep is eliminated, peace of mind is eliminated, the social betterment is erased entirely...

None of this is allowed, yet it's happening at a prolific rate right now. Unit rules and department policies are only as good as the enforcement of such. When someone gets fed up with hearing loud music that they shouldn't have to, much like a real community, you should have the right to file a complaint with the authorities. And here they do, also. But as of recently, when someone files the complaint, the authorities have singled out the protestor among the music listening offenders. It creates hostile environments and adds another element to the building powder keg of explosive tensions. All for no good reason, I might add. If 75 people can hear the music, one officer can as well. I wish they would keep in mind what policies need to be enforced and protect the people that have to suffer at the hands of others who could care less about a community... either yours or ours.

by Rory Andes

The department's name includes the word "corrections". Try it...

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Careers Built On The Backs Of The Transgendered Community by Ruth Utnage

There are some trans activists and academics that I seriously wonder how they sleep at night. They write article after article printing their name like money on the internet in the name of trans prisoner activism and then advance their careers as experts in trans prisoners.

Yet, yet...those same 'experts' have never set foot in a prison. They do not know our plight or the challenges we face on daily basis. I read their incessant articles of passive self-grandiosity on the backs of my brothers and sisters and my stomach turns in disgust as I read each word.

Seeing pieces of trans prisoners lives in the mouth of someone who has never met us or spoken with us.

I will not always be shouting through the proverbial fat fingers of the government covering my mouth, attempting to keep me silent like owned property. One day soon, this year in fact, I will be free and it will be well understood that we can speak for ourselves. We have voices and we will be heard. Our stories will be told. Our lives will be improved. We will be the ones to speak about what happens to us in here. Not someone who has never met us or has created whole organizations and personas that revolve around our marginalization yet have never bothered to speak with us.

It will not always be as such. Expect to see a lot of written material about our lives come forth, live and direct from the mouths of the marginalized.

With Love
Ruth



Saturday, February 6, 2021

Uncertainty by Ruth Utnage

It has been 10 years of constant incarceration. I got locked up in 2011 and this year, I'm getting released. I don't know how else to say I'm nervous except I'm nervous.

Let's not get confused about my ability to overcome that nervousness and succeed. I'm about to get out and crush life. That's that. But the anxiety of walking out that door in 9 months feels a bit like being birthed into a whole new world. The timeline of 9 months is not lost on me that a new being (me) is about to be born from the prison gates. I came to prison in one form and am leaving a new form. Living life as this new me is what keeps me up at night.

My anxiety about release isn't about being institutionalized but rather having no experience as a woman in the free world.

I have just one request. If you see a trans woman and she appears a bit out of place. That might be me. I ask that you give her a little extra grace and send her some positive love in the Universe. I will need it. That will help make things a little less uncertain.

With Love
Ruth



Friday, February 5, 2021

Skinny Jeans... by Rory Andes

When I came to prison, skinny jeans had just started taking hold among men. Women were well into skin tight jeans, but men had just started. It was around the same time men started the ridiculous practice of "man buns" as a hairstyle. Over the years, I've met plenty of free world men that have either volunteered for the prison, or male family members in the visiting room, or even some of the work I've done with twenty-something male students who were entirely too large and awkward to try to sport the look. But, as the years have gone by, it looked as though the skinny jean nightmare wouldn't be ending anytime soon...

I read a news article the other day that suggested that baggier pants were coming back in fashion. Could it be?? I felt overjoyed about the prospect of reentering society having survived the pandemic of men wearing denim that was too tight and brutally hideous to look at. When I see a man wear jeans this way, I cringe. It's the same cringe that would come when someone reads tabloid headlines out loud to an audience of no one in the line at the grocery store. You just feel so embarrassed for them, because clearly they can't feel it for themselves. I guess, when I look for another social benefit of prison, I can say, "During my time in prison, I survived a terrible fashion trend..."

by Rory Andes

Ya gotta find the victories where they land...

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Life as a Trans Woman in Prison by Ruth Utnage

Talking about life inside prison as a trans woman is a bit overwhelming because there is so much ground to cover. Our experiences cannot be described accurately by others. Cisgendered male prisoners do not and cannot understand our situations nor do well meaning free-person support. Having said that, if I don't talk about it, I have discovered that others who have never experienced us as a group have zero problem writing about us in absolute speculation and accepting every perk that goes along with their communal notariety.

So talk I will.

First of all I love my incarcerated sisters and brothers. They are special human beings who experience objectification and dishonor at the hands of others while still walking through life with their heads held high. Despite demands to be sexually unavailable and closed off they still manage to wipe off the stink of whispered sexual propositions into their ears and carry on without much judgment for that same double-tongued person.

We are forced to move in with men and navigate policies meant to protect us, such as PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act), and are designed to target not just the offensible rape but the just as "offensible" homosexuality. Under these same policies we are not allowed to live with one another, even for safety's sake without a bureaucratic fight that most do not know how to begin with. After all, DOC does give instruction on how to navigate their policies. The option is usually to settle for someone and hope for the best. But reporting violence is a rare occurrence not because we are afraid of being labelled something unsavory, like a snitch (after all, being labelled trans is far worse often times), but because if we are assaulted it is already widely accepted that we invited such a thing by our very existence.

Widely held assumptions about us include:
If we wear makeup we are "seeking attention"
If we move in with a man it's because we are seducing them, not because we were forced to
If we wear form fitting clothing it's because we are "whores" on not because we are attempting to feel feminine
We are always seeking sex
We are promiscuous
We must be dating someone
We will sell our bodies...

I could go on and on. We are still subjected to the scrutiny that if something negative happens to us we are responsible for that. That our existence is optional. I think the last one is the one that incenses me the most. If some had it their way I would have remained Jeff, the man. Miserable and hidden behind the suffocatingly masculine facade I have been locked inside for decades. If not in prison physically, remain in prison psychologically. I no more have choice to be a woman than you have to be male or female. If I have a choice to be "masculine" then so. do. you. If I have the choice, then so do you. Think about that.

We are told daily, literally every day, that if we want to act like women then we must also carry the mantle of women, which is to be objectified. Not only that but that we must learn to like being stared at and to like it when we are told our "butt's look good" and to feel flattered instead of insulted. This happens so often that I have developed automatic responses to such lunacy.

I am going to begin to speak up and out about our lives as incarcerated trans women because I cannot stand being spoken for when I am capable of doing so myself. It's akin to going on a date and the date ordering on your behalf without consulting you at all and expecting you to feel grateful for silencing you.

Well, watch me get up and walk my fine self right on out that door and make a big 'ole scene before I go home.

With Love
Ruth Utnage



Thursday, February 4, 2021

OJ's Vaccine... by Rory Andes

I saw a news story that showed outrage over OJ Simpson's social media posting of him getting his Covid vaccine. By all definitions, he IS the prime demographic according to the current healthcare standards. He's elderly, he's of color, and truth be told, between years of football and prison, I can guarantee his body isn't in peek performance. Perhaps it's even downright compromised. But, most haters in regards to this story took issue with that last part... Prison. OJ was in prison and released, and according to the people who find the vaccine in the same thread as any other coveted substance, he is wholly undeserving to have his health protected before others.

But is he? As someone who has paid his established price for the crimes he was convicted of committing, I'd argue that he's put himself back on an even playing field with other senior citizens, especially those of color, who are eligible for the Covid vaccine. If you feel differently than this, then I would also argue that you must feel there is no need for law and justice. The government acts on behalf of the citizens when adjudicating crimes. Either you trust them to do that or you don't, but any way you slice it, that's their job... only their job... regardless of how much some chickenshit social media troll wants to kill OJ without having blood on his hands. To start a firestorm over a black, elderly man getting his vaccine seems to be... dare I say... even a bit racist. Good luck, OJ, and stay healthy (just like everyone else deserves to).

by Rory Andes

The problem with lines are that you have to be in them and wait your turn...

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Rory Andes 367649
MCC-TRU
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