What I Learned in Prison

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I have been living in the California desert for awhile now, renting a room in a a family’s home.  My almost seven-year marriage to a Turkish man broke up, and he is living somewhere on the streets of Los Angeles, stuck in his paranoid delusions that everyone is after him.  He leaves voice messages on my smartphone, though I had to get a restraining order against him, and he should not contact me.  I hope he goes home to Istanbul for medical help.  I feel alone, as the desert wind howls across rocks and sand, as autumn sun cools beneath clouds.  Better to be alone than yelled at, used . . .

My children are young adults now, and we stay in touch as much as possible in this Hollywood fantasy world we navigate.  I hope we meet face to face soon.

The best part of my life is the prison where I teach male inmates what they need to get their high school diplomas:  English reading, writing, social studies, and science (my inmate clerk helps with the math).  My classroom is the last one on the left, near the moving white gate and blue door that leads to the desert yard.  I must have my special ID and my keys on a chain to enter this prison.  I must wear professional clothes (like black slacks and a collared shirt, sensible shoes, my hair clipped back, and no identifying jewelry showing).  I pass through 9 gates.  A young guard in his khaki uniform with silver badge says, “Morning, ma’am,” as he holds the heavy door for me at Central Control’s Sally Gate.  I peer into the dim room filled with camera surveillance screens and many keys.  I walk along a shiny hall kept clean by inmate porters, illumined by overhead electric lights.  The morning sun almost blinds me as it slants through the yard opening.  I reach for the metal door handle where up to 24 men wearing blue “CDCR” (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) uniforms that also spell out “PRISONER” are already using the computers that line 2 sides of the room.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” I say as I step in and move to my wood desk up front near the smart board and file cabinet.  I carry no radio or weapons.  A Correctional Officer (CO) is always somewhere nearby in the long hallway on the other side of the bar-enforced glass windows of the classroom.  I unlock the file cabinet and take out the phone.  I get a box of pencils, a few erasers, some whiteboard markers, calculators, and my flower-covered folder which holds papers I carefully marked so that my students can rewrite.

“Good morning,” they reply.  My clerk hauls out the big plastic box with textbooks and sign-in sheets from the back cabinet that holds our little library of literature, novels, and dictionaries.  “How are you, today, Ms. Williams?” one or two students ask.

“OK,” I reply as I organize items on my desk and sit down.  “There are clouds outside.  Do you think it’s going to rain?”

I like to think the clouds are angels hovering over this austere desert place, wings outstretched above anger, boredom, sorrow, loneliness.  Wings that also bring hope–an elusive thread we all hold on to, the wispy white line that will lead us out of dark caverns and toward the light. Continue reading

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Love Is Not from a Distance

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Love is not from a distance;

up close and personal, it comes close enough

to pierce us

like an arrow through the heart, a spear.

Can we get the hook out?

Love is the unexpected baby on its way to a stone-cold world.

How did you get in there, so soon?

I will try to love you, and I will often fail.

I feel you hiding in my secret place, moving

like a white swan’s feathers (or maybe black)

brushing up against me, about to take flight

over waters of a vast lake, splashes of yellow against blue,

ripples in growing circles toward the rising sun

too bright to look at directly, creating, consuming . . .

You are not really mine; I borrow you for a time (too short).

I will hold your small hand tightly, sad to think that

maybe after yours grows big enough to break away

–you will forget me– Continue reading

Letter from a Murdered Mom

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I bought a beautiful old handmade writing case at a thrift store in the California mountains.  A wildcat crouched in trees on it, yellow against green and brown, carefully stitched with leather.  The store clerk asked $5, but I talked her down to $4 because I always seem short of money.  I thought I’d use it to keep my part-time college English-teaching papers in, for classroom use or Starbucks.

When I zipped it open, I saw the old-world style of neat suede pockets for business cards, pens, and letters.  A small “Made in India” stamp marked one side.  When I reached into an inner, hidden pocket, I uncovered an old letter.

Typed with an old-style typewriter on faded yellow paper, it bore a date and names and details I felt unworthy to read, like a voyeur into someone else’s private life.  It was a letter from an American mother to her daughter.  It mentioned names, events, and details.  Folded inside it was a hand-written note about getting bifocals and a scratch-sheet of home mortgage calculations.  It also held a surgeon’s business card and a Retail Clerks Union receipt stamped with a full name, date, and social security number. Continue reading

My Brighton Heart Box

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I wrote some texts from my smartphone to my youngest daughter’s smartphone.  That’s how writing works these days.  I sent her photos, too, and tried to share my heart by showing her what hides in my old Brighton tin heart box.  I hope my 3 other children, from whom I never hear, read this too–and mothers everywhere, who save things for children in hopes of giving them bits of treasure gathered over a lifetime (and sometimes a world of travel).  Please enjoy this and feel free to share:

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Jessica, are you OK? Do you still have your phone? You know, I lost a lot of our treasures in my travels across the globe, but I managed to keep a few. The 1st photo is sterling silver and crystal, my ring from Turkey, official Arwen pendant and fern pin with matching earrings from New Zealand, Brighton crystal earrings I bought from a Lake Arrowhead Village store in the California mountains when you were little and we all lived together there. I am saving these for you. You are precious to me–and even more to Jesus, who made us and loves us and came down from Heaven to heal us–painfully–and rise again. He patiently polishes the tarnish, smooths out the tangles, and connects broken links of our lives–like this sterling silver necklace from Italy that I hold in my hand.

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Darkest before Dawn

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“Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” Psalm 30:5.

Sometimes it seems as though the night will never end.  I am writing the 4th book in my “Survival” series, “Darkest before Dawn.” I survived cancer, car accidents, loss of my family, abusive men, and teaching English overseas for 5 years–in Russia, Turkey, and China.  What more must I survive?  How can we all survive what is coming?

Have you ever noticed that it really is darkest–and coldest–before the sun rises?  I often have trouble sleeping and have stayed up until dawn.  Just knowing that the sun will rise gives me hope.  Then, ironically, when that yellow orb breaks upon the eastern horizon, I can relax and go to sleep.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  In the book of Revelation (written by John), Jesus is “the bright and morning star.”

I often do my writing at night.  If you like my blog, please check out my books.

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Opioid Epidemic’s 2 Sides

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About the #heroin epidemic: those who take “legal” prescription #opioidssuch as #oxycodone or #morphine are no better than those who take street black. It all comes from the same #poppy flowers of #afghanistan. Heroin was invented to get people OFF morphine. Do not #judge. Help and say “#loveu” instead. This #tiffany #lamp has a #light side and a #dark side, but it is the same #thing, found in a #drug #house.

Read how I overcame legal prescription addiction to morphine, Atavan, and Ambien.

Fire Cover

 

Shabbat Shalom

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For #galgadot, #wonderwoman, who has been banned in many countries for being #israeli–a #poem: My little #silver #star of #david slipped off my silver neckchain. “Am I no longer #jewish?” I wondered as I kneelt to find it. As if more than 3000 years of #history could be erased, God’s ancient #prophesies#yeshua— everlasting #torah, #temple, golden #candle sticks, #jerusalem, #spirit, #blood, and #stone. I have never #stepped a foot in #israel, but it will ALWAYS be my #home. #shabbotshalom.

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