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Mama Love insisted that if we were home that the boys would eat together.  Most nights she would eat with us, the exceptions being if we had pissed her off severely or if my father was home.  If he was home, then they would eat together in the living room or the study.  As a family we spent a lot of time around each other.  I can remember wondering why, when I went to my friend’s houses, why they didn’t eat together, or spend as much time around each other.  A big reason behind learning to cook was just wanting to be around Mama Love.  My younger brothers had no desire to learn; their interest in food began and ended with the placement of food on the table.  I selfishly wanted to,and got to, spend time with her that was ours alone.

When I first moved in with the Fortunes, there were already two older boys there, Nate and Mark.  Nate was long-term foster care – he had lived with the Fortunes for around eight years.  After I’d been there for a year, Nate graduated from high school and moved back with his biological family.  Mark was adopted by the Fortunes exactly a year before I was and was the oldest until he graduated and moved out (well, he stayed for a year after graduation, “finding his way” and all that.)  For about four years after I was the oldest son and with my father spending more time out of the house than in it, I was the de facto head of the household, with most if not all of the responsibilities that came with it.

Mama Love had over fifty foster kids during her time working with DHS, so I have spent more time wiping butts, giving baths and telling bed-time stories than some parents I know.  We used to get looks when we went out because of how many of us there were and the fact that some of us were lack and some of us were white.  My father is 6’6″, 280 pounds and black and Mama Love was a red-headed, short, white woman.  Mark was around 5’9″, stocky, almost pudgy white, with short, spiked hair.  I was and still am a 5’9″ dark, full-blooded Haitian, Leo (another adopted-brother) a 6’6″ light skinned half-Jamaican.  James, a biological Fortune, was young, white with bright red hair (think of the kid from “Jerry McGuire,”) glasses and freckles, while Tony (adopted brother) was young, half-black / half-white with green eyes.  I never looked at my upbringing as different.  It was just the way my family was.

My mother was the keeper of my secrets, hopes and dreams.  She was the one person in my life that has ever loved me unconditionally.  As my father and I were too similar to talk, share, or even like each other much, she was by default, my mother and father (him not being around much helped as well.)  While, in fairness, my adopted father did teach me some aspects of how to be a man, some lessons I needed (like to always take responsibility,)  other lessons that shaped me at an early age have left me wondering the cost, i.e. the ones about how men never show emotions like pain and hurt, or how men never cry and rarely apologize.  It was Mama Love who really taught me why it is important to be a man.  How it is your actions and not your age that make you a man, and that the two best things that I can do for my loved ones are as follows: firstly, if you really love someone then you are there for them at all times, not just when you’re needed, and secondly that it is more important to make sure loved ones have what they need rather than what they really want.

I remember walking into the house after school or practice (I played three sports: football, basketball and baseball, so almost every day after school I had practice or games and wouldn’t get home until four or five at the earliest) and being greeted by the smells of cooking food and the sounds of my brothers.  It was as if when I opened the door to my house I entered another world.  The sounds would hit me as soon as I opened the fake wooden-paneled door, depending on the time my brothers would be in the room on my right, “the library” (which is where we had desks and computers for homework or personal use) doing their homework quietly.  Well, it was supposed to be done quietly, but, when have boys ever been in a group and ever done anything quietly?  In fact, it was when we were quiet that we were up to something.  As soon as we stopped making noise you could count on Mama Love coming to investigate.

When I would shut the door the smell of cooking food would permeate my nostrils.  It was as if my house was a cocoon that opened itself up and embraced me with sounds and smells of love, like they were just waiting for me to come home and now my night, my family’s night and our house’s night was complete.

(More to follow.)

As I am,

Prince

danny.2014

Hi, Circle.

Here’s more on stress here, and ways of coping.

We have a gym here, the only downside to that is there is only space for about three people to do a workout video.  There is also exercise equipment, you know, like the elliptical, bicycles, tread climber, and of course yoga mats and exercise balls.  Once again, there is not enough room for more than three to four people to work out in there at a time unless you are over in the corner on one of the machines.  We have some very dedicated women who work out faithfully everyday here.  Which is fine, but what about people who want to try to get their body back and just try to be as healthy as they can be?  There is neither time not space for them to do that, and if they work, the net day working out at ten o’clock at night is just not really in the cards for them.

We also have a rec yard.  You have to walk to circle twenty six times to have walked a mile.  WE have a volleyball net and a basketball net.  I like to play volleyball and basketball on the outside but not on the inside.  See, I don’t like to go outside because we are fenced in and we have barbed wire on the top of the fence.  I imagine that it is like that in other prisons (!) However, when you have twenty-five years or so left it can be a little depressing.  We can also play cards and buy our own decks, but how many times can you play spades or cribbage?  I mean, it is fine for the time being, but playing it repeatedly can get a little monotonous.  Don’t get me wrong though, I like to play card games.  We even make up our own card games.

We also have a library where people can take out up to four books at a time.  I have read a good amount of books since I have been here.  I have a big reading list also, but many of the books on my list cost money, which is something that I don’t have for such frivolous items.  Women here have televisions, radios, CD players, and of course there are that few that have Play Station 2s.  Once again, I am not one of those lucky women.  I have a radio, but that’s about it.

I love to crochet; in fact, I was in the process of making thread bags with little pictures graphed into them.  I made blankets with pictures, or words graphed into them also.  However,the thing that I like the most is graphing with thread.  I really like a challenge; the more difficult the task is the more I tend to like it.  That’s a big stress reliever for me.  I am trying to do independent study so I can have a career when I am released.  I love to learn new things (I guess you could say that I’m a bit of a nerd.)  I would love to study ornithology and maybe someday get to work with birds.

Lastly, the ways that most women cope with stress here is keeping contact with the outside world.  I know that I try to keep contact with the outside world a lot.  I just wan to know that someone on the outside is still thinking about me.  It seems like to most women here that they are forgotten about most of the time.  That is why a lot of women look for pen pals to correspond with; that way they can feel like they are still loved and that people actually care about them.  I know that having a pen-pal that would like to get to know me and maybe even go further when I get out has made my stress level decrease a hell of a lot.

Write me!

Love,

Arline

arline.july.2017

Hey, Circle,

Where can I start about the sources of stress in here?  There are so many forms of stress from the guards screaming at the top of their lungs to your family not being able to come and see you because they were two minutes late for the check in.  That is complete bullshit.  If you as me especially when your family drives two and a half hours to see you.  In fact, there are a few women in here where their family  members drive over seven hours to come and see them and they were denied because they were late.

I can tell you that it is like antelope in mating season here now.  We just got eleven new people that came up from the pods.  That may not seem like a whole lot of people but when there is just over eighty women up here in the women’s enter and 10% of those women that you are used to seeing everyday leave for pre-release or get to go home on home confinement or are just released can cause a whole lot of stress.

Some women here are still in segregation because they can’t handle all the stress here.  I was one of those women, only I was not put into segregation.  I just stayed in my room and never came out except for meds and sometimes meals.  I am here for a good chunk of time and I decided that when I first got here that I was going to sleep my bid away.  This worked for almost two years.  However, there were some women here that I am so glad to have met, just wish that it were under different circumstances they would come to my door and bang on it and yell, “You get out of that bed right now and you come out here and play spades with us.”

I can tell you that that really boosted my confidence that there were women here that actually gave a shit about me.  See, we are like a family here.  There are a few women that you want to get to know, and then there are a few that you can either take or leave.  Lastly, there are the few that NOBODY can stand to be around because these women are so negative all the time and are evil manipulating bitches, if you will.

Well, got way off track,there but ways that we cope with stress is crocheting or knitting.  That is not something that we are able to do as of now, because they took everything in the last raid that we had in the beginning of April. Some short timers here took it into their own hands to say that their roommate was threatening them with crochet needles.  Mind you that there has not been a problem here in over 14 years with the crocheting and knitting.  I guess it just takes one person to screw it all up for all of us, huh?

  • To be continued.

Love,

Arline

arline.june.2017

Dear Circle:

On believing in either hope or God.

R = Responding instinct. To me they are one and the same because I believe that hope comes from Allah. This hope can be found in my favorite Surah (94): Bismallah Arakman Araheem.
1. Have we not expanded thee thy breast?
2. And removed from thee thy burden
3. That which did gall thy back?
4. And I reeaised hight the esteem in which thou art held?
5. So verily, with every difficulty there is relief.
5. Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.
7. Therefore, when thou aart free from thine immediate task, still labor hard,
8. And to thy Lord turn all thy attention.

I must admit to being shocked when I first realized the importance of hope and religion in philosophy. I thought that it was something that I brought to th3e equation, rather than a vital part. I feel a vast sense of relief that it goes hand in hand because I can’t not separate myself from my faith. As I have grown as a man my views and beliefs have simplified, which has allowed me to stop putting so much time and energy into things that I cannot control or sometimes even influence. Epicureanism preaches the deliberate, continually renewed choice of relaxation and serenity, combined with a profound gratitude toward nature and life, which constantly offers us joy and pleasure, if only we know how to find them.
As I am,
Prince

danny.graduationPrince and his date, Samantha, at the Gardiner High Senior Prom

I’ve been a little depressed as of late, myself.  You know how guys in jail can get.  I had some guy tell me I should have killed myself after Zina, “She went out gangsta.”

I was thinking, “Yeah, and she left our son and me here.”  as I walked away.  This guy is obviously not the brightest bulb in the box.  Still, it left me angry at Zina again.

Once guy tried to convince me she may still be alive, “You don’t know.  She could be in protective custody.”  I  swear.  I’m surrounded by lawyers and psychologists in here.  Luckily, I”m a little too bright to fall for this shit.

Still… my grieving for Zina is a manic call back.  some days, I’m fine.  Other days it’s a relentless roller coaster.

Just when I had given up on talking to anyone, I had a guy I didn’t recognize call me “Dirty.(my tag name.)”  We started talking and I  asked him if he knew Zina.  He said yes, “She was a beautiful girl.”

When he said that all these images of her, the really good times came flooding back.  That’s when I realized that that’s how I want to remember her.. as beautiful.

I can’t tell you why or how I endure this.  I do believe there’s a reason I’m still alive.  I don’t know why, but I plan on finding out.

I’d enjoy mail from anyone.  My address is:

Michael McQuade / Somerset County Jail / 132 East Madison Road / Madison, Maine 04950.

Tell everyone that I said “hi!”

God bless,

Dirty

Dirty

 

Hey, Circle.

How are you?  I got your letter this afternoon.  I was glad I could call you guys for hell, you really are the only friends I have had.

I know what you guys are saying about Dark Star, but I doubt I will ever get back with Lori even though I wish that I could but Hell…

I don’t know what DHS has to say about the kids, but you can bet I will see my kids, for I will fight until I die.  I would let them keep putting me back here just to see my kids.

I guess you could say after I get out I will be okay, even if I don’t come back to Maine, for I will always land on my feet for, Hell, God has not let me down yet.

I would say that even if my mom said I could stay there, Cherokee shouldn’t matter for he is eighteen now so who knows.  But I guess you could say I will do something.

I do get out for a walk a few times a week, lifting.  I just have not had the time for that, but I should be getting more time now I am done with DEFY for next monday is the final test for my class but I also been putting a lot of time in the Church stuff as you always see.

I guess you could say I am going to close for now, but I will write you guys more.  Soon I need to find some more stamps for I used the money my mom put on my account on the phone.

God bless,

Joel Dudley

joel

Robin,

As far as my family goes, I don’t know what I might had done, but I guess they are all mad at me or something. Yeah, they didn’t send me a card for Mother’s day and I haven’t gotten a letter from my mom or my son.

I had a girlfriend in here since November, but she left in May to go to rehab. She wrote to me, but I still miss her. I am making a blanket with her name on it. I get to have a blanket, shower bag, make up bag wash clothe and a pair of slippers. I think we an also have three pairs of homemade socks also. My son is with my mom and he has been.

I guess you could say I have an attitude like a dove. I wish that I could have a dove again. You said there is a pic on facebook of me with purple hair. Can you look up stuff like pics and stuff? If you can my pics of my doves are on there.

Well, talk to you later.

Lawless.

arline-lawless-7

Hey Circle,

Sorry it has been a while since I have written.  I am good.  I guess you could say I am happy.  Just my family has pretty much given up on me.  I haven’t been able to talk to my son since God knows when.

I have been crocheting with thread, grappling pictures and stuff.  I love birds.  I have seen a fat little bird going to the dentist.  A red hawk, some crows and of course, seagulls.

If I could be a bird I would be a dove like “Pietrie,” my dove that my little man found in a mud puddle.

Well, write back.

Lawless

arline-lawless-3

Circle:

How’s it going? I guess you could say I am doing good, but fuck, still have not heard from my mother, so to put it: no, I really don’t hear from my family anymore.

I guess you could say I am working on getting my e-mail here, so yes, I hope to get that next week, but fuck, I still need money just to use it (LOL.)

I guess you could say right now I could careless about playing with fire when it comes to writing D.S. For yes, I don’t hear from Lori, but I don’t call right now, I don’t even write her.

So hey, just in case they let me have my email, what is your addy so I can put it on-line for it might work better.

I would say any pictures you want to send me would be okay, for I like them all (LOL.) I don’t see much of my life on the outs.

I am getting a new pair of glasses soon, as I get more money I will need to get a picture for you guys for you know just how it is. Sorry it’s been forever since I wrote for as you see I write the printer here has been down so I couldn’t get labels and you can’t send out mail if you don’t have them. I’m headed out to see if they fixed it tomorrow for I don’t have classes again ’til Monday. Fuck, it has been a long week (LOL.)

I am going to head to bed now, but I will always keep praying for you guys.

God bless,

Father Dudley

father.dudley

What’s really good?

About relationships, sometime I feel as though if it ain’t rough, it ain’t right, and that’s just bad thinking. But nobody ever said I make great choices – hahaha. One thing I have learned from being in here is that a good woman makes all the difference. There are most definitely levels to this issue and a woman either builds you up or tears you down. Behind, besides, in front of every great man is a good woman. Just like the Bible and the Quran say. A woman completes and enhances a man.

Alright, I know this is short, but I’ve gotta end this so it goes out tomorrow.

As I am,

Prince

prince

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Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

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