Tuesday, November 30, 2004

An Unforgettable Month

It's the end of Novermber. I wonder if I'll ever forget this month. I didn't forget September of 1999, the first time I was granted parole. I doubt that I'll forget the second time.

What's most unforgettable was the constant love and support that people from the free world have given me! I will never forget that.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Rat Gots to Go

Today I decided to sort through my 5 file boxes of paperwork so I could send some of them home.

Most of the paperwork is legal documents that pertain to my three pending cases in the courts. They take up a lot of space as the case progresses. I can't wait to get rid of all the paperwork when the cases are resolved.

As I opened the last box against the wall of my bed, I notied a pile of shredded paper. Instantly, I knew it was the handiwork of the rat. I dumped all the stuff on the ground to clean it out. Then I saw a hole the size of a fist in the small box containing my jailhouse lawyer's manual. Luckily, the rat didn't chew on the manual.

I don't understand why the rat decided to chew through my paperwork. There's no food in the box.

Maybe the rat is working undercover for the prison. Huh?

Well, there's a sticky pad with a piece of cheese on it waiting for the next time.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Silence Please

After each visit an officer will strip search me. It is a humiliating and degrading routine that I despise and want to get over quickly. However, the officer doesn't feel the same way at times.

Today is one of those days the officer feels the needs to chat. The dialogue goes like this:

"Hey. You got a D number. Where have been been hiding?"

The officer is surprised that I looked so young, but have a D number. Based on the letter of my prison number, one can determine how long a person has been in prison.

"I have been around here & there." I take off my boots.

"Not here. Were you in Pelican Bay?" He searches my boots.

"No, I was in San Quentin." I take off my pants.

"Out of all the prisons you've been too, which one do you like the best?" He searches my pants.

"None of them." I take off my boxers.

"Which pen do you prefer to stay in?" He searches my boxers.

"None." I take off the rest of my clothes.

He laughs and looks through my naked body as I open my mouth, run my fingers through my hair, bend over & cough, lift my testicles, and show him the bottom of my feet.

I just wish that he would keep his mouth shut.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thinking of Yuri

I was reading an illustrated book about Yuri and thought about a few things people could do to celebrate her amazing life. Wouldn't it be super-awesome to have a stamp of Yuri, a street named Yuri, a school named Yuri, and a community center dedicated to Yuri?

My friend and young sister Kei Fischer illustrated a book dedicated to Yuri. It's called My Life as a Freedom Fighter: The Story of Yuri Kochiyama. It's published by the Institute for Social Justice and Education in San Francisco. Kei utilized her artistic talent to illustrate a book so children will learn the amazing life of Yuri. What a wonderful book it is!

I'm fortunate to have a copy of Kei's book. I hope the book will be mass produced. It's a must-read book for children.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


It's 6:30 in the morning. I am getting ready to do some work in the office. All of a sudden, three special squad officers appear outside the office. They order me and three of my coworkers to step out of the office and put our hands behind our backs. We comply.

The officers search our pockets and pat us down. They look at the contents of our pockets closely. After everyone is searched, they order us to leave the area. Another officer brings in a K-9 dog to sniff the rooms. That's when I realize that it is a surprise drug raid. They don't find anything.

There is so much drug trafficking in the prison that it has a special K-9 unit. They go on drug raid missions all the time. The prison sets aside special funds for the K-9. However, drugs are still everywhere.

It is not a good way to start the day - being jacked up & searched.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My First Depo

The deposition lasted four hours. I was in control. I was able to apply the skills that my attorney had taught me. I answered the Deputy Attorney General's questions truthfully. I paused, thought about the questions, then spoke concisely. I was dancing to the tempo of jazz instead of waltz. My first deposition has been a valuable experience.

Two attorneys from the Asian Pacific Islanders Legal Outsreach were present at the deposition. They were my guardians to ensure my rights were protected. THeir nurturing presence encouraged me. I was in good hands.

I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all the attorneys from the Asian Pacific Islanders Legal Outreach for their unconditional support in my pursuit for justice.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Celebration

The Muslim community had its 'IYDUL - ITR.' It's a celebration of the completion of feasting during the month of Ramadan. I was invited to attend the celebration and participate in its program. I was supposed to speak on "What is the importance that education has on spiritual awakening &/or consciousness? What is a man? THe collective? Why not you? The present," compete in a poetry slam, and perform in a play as "Intellectual" called "Minding the Mind." I felt honored for the invitation and was ready to participate in the program. However, I didn't make it because I had an attorney visit.

I spent two hours talking and listening to my attorney who was preparing for my deposition with the Deputy Attorney General tomorrow concerning my civil rights lawsuit. I have never done a deposition before, so it was exciting for me to learn the skills of answering questions. My attorney was a good teacher.

The Hmong community celebrated its new year. I was invited and able to make it to the feast after my visit. The guys cooked all day and had a variety of dishes. THere were twelve people present. The food was plentiful and delicious. The company was in harmony.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Scared and Helpless

My mom fell from the stainless steel stool and I watched it happen. She landed on her back and grimaced in pain as tears flowed from her eyes.

My six-year-old nephew Andrew was playing with my sister while I was talking to Mom about the details of my parole hearing. My sister was holding Andrew's fingers and they were pulling each other. Andrew pushed Sis and she started falling sideways and hit my Mom. Mom lost her balance because she was concentrating on what I was saying. I watched Mom fall and did nothing.

I rushed over to check to see if she was hurt. Mom tried to get up but she couldn't. I asked her to sit up and wait awhile. Then I helped her get off the ground. Mom wiped the tears from her eyes and said that she was all right. She said she was scared that she might have hurt her tailbone. I asked her to stand up to make sure that she wasn't hurt, but she seemed all right.

After Mom fell on the ground I was scared that she might have broken a bone. I wish I couldn't have run over to catch her fall. I felt so helpless as she was falling. It seemed like she was falling in slow motion. I just couldn't do anything. I don't like feeling helpless.

My parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew came to visit me. They're happy that I'm one step closer to uniting with the family. It felt good to be in the presence of family.

I'm relaxed that Mom wasn't hurt.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Out of Order

My friend Perry dropped by to visit. It was a pleasant surprise since I haven't seen him for about a year. Aside from Anmol, I don't get visits from my male friends too often. I guess I'm more of a ladies' man.

As I waited by the door to get strip searched at the end of the visit, I observed the interaction of a family of four African Americans. They were standing by the vending machines where all the sweets and snacks were stocked. The parents were engaged in conversation. The daughters were standing near them. The younger girl wanted something from the machine. The mom told her that it was out of order and showed her the sign taped on the machine. The girl pressed the turn button and the goodies were turning. She called out to her mother and told her that the machine worked. The mom insisted that it was out of order. The girl couldn't understand why because she watched the machine turn inside, so she kept on yelling for her mother to look at the machine while she pressed the turn button. The mom turned around and started to slap the girl on her arm until she stopped talking. Then the mom went back to her conversation with her husband. The girl stood dumbfounded.

The vending machine was not the only thing that was out of order.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Best Throne in the House

I live in a building with 347 people at its max. There are two tiers in the building & each tier has 12 dorms that are designated by alphabet letters - A through L for the lower tier and M through X for the upper tier. Each dorm holds 12-16 people depending on its size. Some have 5 double bunk beds, others have 7. However, each dorm has 2 triple bunks.

The bathrooms are communal. There are 2 small bathrooms on the top tier that have 3 porcelain toilets and 7 sinks. The 2 larger bathrooms on the lower tier have 6 toilets and 7 sinks. For privacy, there are some high plastic dividing inserts between toilets.

Everyone's favorite toilet is the last one against the wall, the furthest from the entrance. It provides the most privacy because when you turn your head to the left the wall is there instead of someone's face.

Everyone prefers to sit on the best throne in the house.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Little Intruder

People are outraged. A rat has barged in & took up residence in our dorm. It has chewed through plastic bags, paper bags, Top Ramen, Minute Rice, and left dropping everywhere.

The rat was so bold that it crawled on top of my neighbor's chest while he was sleeping one night. He woke up and found the rat staring down at him.

Five out of seven bunk beds fell prey to the rat. My neighbors were fed up with the intruder. With broomsticks and shoes in hand, they pulled out their bags and boxes to evict the rat. After a detailed search of the dorm, the rat was nowhere in sight.

Everyone vowed to catch the rat. Someone suggested catching it in a more humane way by using a trap that wouldn't kill it. Surprisingly, the majority of the people agreed to the idea.

Let's hope the rat can sense its possible defense and move on.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My Big Brother

I remember when I was 13 years old, my big brother Peter bought me an Atari 2600 video game.

After seeing some of my classmates with video games at home, I wanted one. I didn't ask my parents to buy one for me because I knew their money was tight. Peter was working at McDonald's, so I asked him. He didnt' want to buy it for me. I told him that if he bought me the Atari 2600, I would stay home after school to do my homework and play the video games. After some pleading, Peter bought it. I was a happy camper. However, after a couple of months, I got bored of the same games and started going out after school instead of staying home.

Another time, Peter made me a supermodel. I had my first perm that day. I was all dressed up with nowhere to go. Peter took me to his apartment in Berkeley and asked me to pose for the camera. He loved photography and was a good director.

On his birthday, I remember some of the sweet things my big brother did for me. Happy birthday, Bro.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

SQ3 Update

I received copies of pleadings from my attorney who is representing pro bono in my civil rights lawsuit against staff in San Quentin State Prison. It's been over a year since I filed the complaint against the prison for violation of my first amendment right. The case is finally moving forward.

The deputy attorney general will be taking my deposition on November 23, 2004, in Solano Prison. He changed the my first name to Edward in the document.

I look forward to winning this case.

In the middle of the year, my friend Rico went to his parole hearing and was denied one year. Recently, the parole board informed him that the tape recording of that hearing somehow malfunctioned. The decision was void and he will be going to a new hearing in the next available calendar.

My friend Mike filed a writ of habeas corpus to challenge his parole denial. The Santa Clara COunty Superior Court granted him order to show cause. The parole board will have to justify why it continuously used the seriousness of the crime as the main factor to deny parole.

I will give a more detailed update next time. We're still fighting.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Necessary Critters

My friend Anne's cat Luna passed away. They have been friends for 20 years. It's difficlut for Anne to let Luna go. She misses her presence. Luna will be cremated and released into the ocean.

I had a cat when I was in China. I don't remember its name. I was not able to appreciate its presence. I still have a picture of the cat at home.

I remember we had a huge cage of pigeons for awhile. There was a red triangular flag that stuck out of the cage. The pigeons would come back to the cage at a certain time of day.

We also had a tank full of exotic goldfish. The tank looked like a 13-inch color TV. We also raised chicken in the kitchen. The hens laid eggs and roosters were food for special occasions. I think we had a couple of little turtles running around the house.

We all have Lunas in our lives.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Deja Vu

The fog was so think this morning that I couldn't see anything 30 feet away. I dreaded the sight of fog because I was expecting Anmol to come visit me today. Heavy fog meant fog line, which would cancel the delay of programs.

Again, the count didn't clear until about 11 o'clock. I was waiting for Anmol to be here anytime. He flew in from New York to spend the weekend. I haven't talked to him since he left in mid-October. I was looking forward to giving him an update on my parole hearing and kick it with him.

When one thirty came and there was no sign of Anmol, I started to worry. I was afraid that he may had been in an accident. I called my brother-in-law and he was able to get a hold of Anmol, who was on his way to the airport.

He waited outside of the prison during the fog line. However, by the time the visiting process started, there were 250 people ahead of him. He couldn't wait since he had to catch a flight back to New York at 3 o'clock.

I was a relief to know that he's all right. I miss seeing him. Hopefully, I'll get to see him soon.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Fog Line

When I went to breakfast at 6:30 this morning, the sun was beginning to light up half the sky. It promised to be a beautiful day. However, twenty minutes later, the fog rode in and made the hills, buildings, and yard disappear.

The prison administration immediately put the prison on fog line status. That means all movements and programs cease. All prisoners are to return to their buildings for an emergency count. Until all bodies are accounted for, everyone is stuck in the buildings.

The fog only stayed around for ten minutes before the sun chased it away. However, the administration didn't clear the count until 11 o'clock. The delay of programs created hardships on prisoners, their families, and friends.

People who came to visit their loved ones had to wait outside for over three hours. Prisoners who can only go to the canteen on their weekend days off weren't able to make it. Their alloted yard time was shortened.

However, as soon as the count cleared, prisoners who had job assignments had to report to work. Gotta keep the money machine running.

A Relaxing Day

My friend Marc called his dad in Hawaii and told him that I was granted parole. His dad couldn't believe it. Marc was happy for me so he shared the news with his family.

Word travels fast in the prison. When people heard that I was granted parole, they all congratulated me. I try to keep a low profile because I don't want to flaunt my good fortune. There are many life prisoners who are waiting for their turn and have gotten raw deals. I want to be sensitive to their feelings.

I just stayed in my bed area and relaxed. I listened to music and read The Elephant Vanishes by Murakami. It felt good to relax with no worries.

I look forward to the weekend because some friends may be dropping by for a visit.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Step Closer to Freedom

We did it!

The Board of Prison Terms granted me parole in today's hearing. This is only the first hurdle in my quest for physical freedom. In the next 90 to 120 days, my parole as to be approved by the parole board's Decision Review Unit and the governor before the prison can release me.

When the prison releases me, I still have to deal with the possible deportation issue. I'm not a U.S. citizen. Thus, I can be deported back to CHina. There are attorneys in place to help me in the INS dilemma.

I have confidence that things will work out accordingly. I'm patient and open. It's all about one day at a time.

My family is happy and excited at the positive outcome. I remain peaceful. I've been through the same thing in 1998 when I was granted parole. I will not celebrate until I'm physically out in the free world.

I want to extend my gratitude to everyone who has been supporting me, who prayed for me and believed in me. Without your unconditional and unwavering support, I would not have been in the position I am in today. I love all of you!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Day Before My Parole Hearing

I was surprised when my sister answered the phone. It's unusual that she's home in the afternoon. She told me that she'd canceled all her business trips so she could be around to hear the outcome of the hearing. She gave me some last minute instructions on how to concut myself during the hearing.

She had me on speakerphone so my parents could listen and talk in the background. My mom asked me to be humble and not to show off my intelligence. I agreed with her that I needed to tone down my presentation down a notch. Mom reminded me that she served 18 years of my prisoner term with me. I'm acutely aware of that fact. Mom told me that she'd be praying for me. I don't know who or what she'll be praying to since she's not religious.

Dad echoed Mom's sentiment. He told me to be myself. I appreciate everyone's concern. mom asked me to call home as soon as I finished the hearing. It was great to have their unconditional support.

I relaxed and listened to Ishle's "Work is Love" CD. I'm going to sleep early tonight.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Waiting to Embrace

My attorney visited me for two hours this afternoon. He showed me a letter my sentencing judge wrote to the parole board on my behalf. Just like my prosecuting district attorney, the judge supports my parole. That's good news.

We talked about our strategies for the parole hearing. All our documents are prepared. The rest is up to the parole board to review my case and make a decision.

In two days I will find out what is going to happen to my life. Anything can happen...

No matter what happens, I'll have to keep on moving.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

In the Open

I notice that I'm able to concentrate better when I'm doing yoga outside than in the building.

Whenever I do yoga in my dorm, I can't seem to focus on my breathing. There are a hundred random thoughts flashing through my mind. At 5:00 in the morning there is little distraction because most people are still sleeping. However, I just can't concentrate on my beathing as consistently as I want to. But when I'm outside with people around, I'm able to stay focused on my breathing only.

It must have something to do with fresh air and open space.

Today I was able to exercise my 70% listening & 30% talking skill when a friend visisted. She took me on a journey and gave me a small taste of her life.

The more I listen, the more I learn.

Friday, November 05, 2004

PC Move

All prisoners know the term Protective Custody, aka PC.

A PC is someone who can't survive in the mainline population among other pisoners for various reasons. The prisoner could be a child molester, rapist, a snitch, or has an enemy or owes others money. When a prisoner fears for his or her safety, he or she can volunteer to go. PC up. It means the prisoner goes to the administration and requests to go to solitary confinement where no one can touch him or her.

There are many drug addicts in prison who can't kick their habit. They will look for ways to get their hands on drugs. Despite the tight security of prison, drugs are prevalent in the system. YOu can almost buy the drug of your choice if you have the money.

Many addicts are dope fiends. They don't have money to buy drugs, but they can't do without. In desperate moments, they pull a PC move. They get their drugs on credit from different drug dealers. Sometimes they can ring up the drug debt to $2,000 to $3,000. Then they go PC up so that they don't have to pay the bills. Many drug dealers fall for that trick.

That's just one of the many PC moves.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Made in Sweatshops

When a new prisoner comes to prison, he's given a "fish kit." The "fish kit" consists of one wool blanket, two sheets, an 8oz plastic drinking cup, a plastic spoon, a plastic fork, a toothbrush, an .86oz tube of generic toothpaste, and a bar of mint chocolate-sized soap.

The prisoner will pick up his other laundry the next day from the distribution area.

The boxers, t-shirts, and socks are made in the Prison Industry by pirsoners as well as many other items. There are other items that are brought in bulk from other countries.

For example, kungfu shoes made in China, white towels made in Bangladesh, wool blankets made in Mexico, etc.

Today I had the luck of getting a Bob Barker Company blanket that is 55% polyester, 30% synthetic fiber, and 15% others. Not everyone gets to have a Bob Barker blanket. I'm sure somewhere in the women's prisons someone is wearing a Kathy Lee Gifford bra.

What do I have to complain about? At least I'm not sleeping under the bridge, begging on the street, or stealing bread...

Right? Right.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's All Good

It's all bad today. Mush on re-elected, Republicans got control of the House of Representatives and Prop 66 got shut down.

I just hope Jane Kim wins the school board. That will make up for all the loss.

It's all good because Bush will run this country down faster than Kerry or changing of different evils.

Just wait and see.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


My dad told me that he voted for Kerry and yes on Prop 66. I didn't have time to ask him why since I only had a couple of minutes on the phone ith him. I didn't know that my parents keep up with politics. They don't speak English, but they know Chinese well. I'm glad that they exercised their right to vote.

I asked the prison guard to vote yes on Prop 66. He said, "Yeah, right, and mess up my job security?" Job security. That's why the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association (CCPOA) put out half a million dollars to campaign against the passage of Prop 66.

Someone attacked a white prisoner. He was bleeding profusely. The prison guards searched everyone on the yard. The victim was taken to the infirmary for treatment. THere was no ID of the attacker, so the administration put all the white prisoners on lockdown.

At a different part of the prison, a group of northern Mexicans attacked a group of white men. The two groups have been at war for a few months. They will be on lockdown for awhile. Some people just can't get along with each other.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Spoiled Writer

Throughout the years, I discovered that I write better when I'm sitting in front of a computer or word processor. I can just type away, paste & cut, save & print. I always type my writings whenever I can. Besides, my handwriting sucks.

The downside of relying on typing my writings is when I have to write with a pen, I get stuck. I'm not good at doing freewrites. I'm spoiled from being able to work at jobs where I have access to computers or word processors. That's why I was never good at in-class finals when I was taking college classes.

The last time I handwrote an article was when I was in solitary confinement. I didn't have a choice.

I'm working on an article right now, just typing away.