Sunday, July 31, 2005

Quote of the Week (30)

"The least of us must be the greatest of us when you consider that even the slowest child in the race will cross the finish line. On the research team, even that one of least skill will know the answer when the team discovers it."

- Coyote, an elder

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Job Fair for Ex-Cons

I read in the S.F. Chronicle that there was a job fair in Oakland for those who came out of prison. That reminded me how difficult it was for someone with a criminal record to get a job.

A friend of mine who has a prison record was turned down each time he applied for a job that he was overqualified for. He had to lie in his application to finally get a job. Once the supervisor got to know him as an honest and hardworking person, my friend told him about his past. The supervisor accepted him with open arms.

It's all about not judging the book by its cover. I wonder if there'll ever be a job fair to hire Asian ex-cons.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Total Exposure

Ever since I got out of prison and got in immigration detention, the Chinese media has been covering my life story and developments in my deportation case closely. With exposures in the newspapers, TV, and internet, the whold world knows my story.

My mom told me that some people recognized her and my dad when they go shopping, eat in the restaurant, and see the dentist as my parents. She told me that people often express support for me to them.

Just a few years ago, my parents were doing their best to hide the fact that I was in prison because they couldn't hold their heads up due to the shameful crimes I'd committed.

Today, they've totally embraced reality and spoke proudly of my transformation. There is no shame in that.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thinking of those who are ill

Some of my friends are being plagued by different forms of health issues. I want all of you to know that I'm thinking of you and wishing you speedy recovery.

Please take this time of healing to focus on your health and reflect on your lifestyles. Your community needs your longevity presence.

Health is wealth. Please get well soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Justice for David Wong

After serving 18 years in New York State prison system for a murder that he didn't commit, David Wong finally may be returning to his homeland in China.

Once David was released from prison, ICE detained him for deportation since he's not a U.S. citizen. Though the Free David Wong committee and Asian community in New York want to fight for his stay, the injustice of the U.S. system and 18 years of incarceration wore him down. All he wants is to be freed. I don't blame him

How many 18 years does one person have in a life time? How much, if there is a monetary figure, can compensate for 18 years? Hopefully, the civil lawsuit that is pending in David's case can give him some compensation.

Good luck, David. Please never forget your experiences and share them with others. You can make a difference wherever you may be.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hearing Update

The judge granted us a continuance to hear my case. My next scheduled hearing is on October 24, 2005 at 9 a.m. I'm sorry that I can't explain the details of my case. It's rather complicated so I don't want to confuse anyone.

There was an awesome turnout of supporters that attended the hearing. It's no wonder that I felt so relaxed and peaceful all day.

I want to give a shout out to all the youth who came out to show support. Though I didn't get to see you, your presence was felt.

I want to send my love to Anmol for flying out of New York to attend the hearing and for always being there for me.

Deep appreciation for Eric Mar for the continuous support and being at the hearing.

To my family and all the friends who were in the courthouse: Without your presence, I won't have hope and strength to keep on fighting.

For those who were there with me in spirit, I felt you. Until the next time - stay connected.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Soccer Games

My right ankle swelled up from being kicked in the same area four times. I was playing soccer for the first time in years. We had to use the basketball as a soccerball and T-shirt as marks for the goal posts.

I remember when I was a kid in China I played soccer almost everyday. It was a sport I enjoyed playing over all others. However, I lost interest in soccer after I came to the U.S. I don't know why.

I had fun playing soccer in the sun this afternoon in the scorching heat.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Shelly and Eddy's Marriage Haiku

Love defies boundaries
No kiss feast or honeymoon
It's all in the mind

In the presence of my parents, sister, and Shelly's four close friends, we were happily married tonight.

There is nothing traditional about our marriage. We're just two pieces of a giant puzzle finding our places to complete and fulfill our mission.

We're joyful and looking forward to embrace our future.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

From the Palace to the Prison

So, I had my friend buy me the book "From the Palace to the Prison."

When I looked at the cover of the book, it had two quotes from Eminem and Paris Hilton. The introduction is by John Grisham, Forward by Denzel Washington, and special chapters by Martha Stewart, Marilyn Manson, Donald Trump, etc...

I was thinking that I may have wasted $28.28 of my friend's money. Then I flipped through the book and came across some interesting comments by the author Sherman Manning on the Prison Industrial Complex.

I'll have to read the book before I decide whether it's a waste of money.

Please stay tuned...

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Dollar Factor

Throughout my incarceration, my family has spent thousands of dollars on attorney fees to fight for my freedom. Luckily, I've had an attorney from the Prison Law Office, Keith Wattley, who represented me pro bono in many of my parole hearings. Also, I have friends like Pablo Dosh who had raised legal funds for me in times of need.

Now that I face my continual fight for freedom in the U.S., money has become a huge factor in my decision to fight or flight. As I watch my sister and brothers hard earned money disappearing day by day in paying for legal fees, my chances of getting relief in my immigration case is still unknown.

What is certain is more money is needed to keep fighting.

So the question in the back of my mind has always been - should I fight or flight?

Only money can tell.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dearest Mom

"I have no feelings for my Mom. She has never shown me love ever since I can remember," the young Latino man confides to me. "I want to write one last letter to her to let her know that I love her for giving me life and that she'll always be my Mom. However, I don't know how to write, can you help me?"

How could I refuse a request like that? At 11 years old, the streets became that young man's parents. He was searching for love and friendship that he didn't get at home.

That story sounds all too familiar as I recall hearing it throughout my 7 years of working with troubled youth and talking to young adults in the prison.

Who is to blame for such a common story?

I can only do my best to write those last letters for those who feel compelled to make amends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Day Off

Today is my turn to take a day off. Normally, I would've had to wait two weeks to get a day off because there are fourteen other workers. Each one of us rotates to get a rest day. I was able to get the day off earlier because a worker was deported and I took over his job. I'm no longer the extra man. I'm the milk man.

I slept in, exercised, read newspapers, listened to music, and wrote letters. I'm looking forward to my next day off.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Freed at Last

After being locked up for nearly 25 years, my friend Rico has finally made it back to the free world.

Rico was granted parole under three different governors. Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, and Arnold Schwarzennegger. The first two governors rejected his parole. About ten days ago, the current approved his parole. I guess the third time was the charm for Rico.

Rico is in a treatment program in San Francisco. He wants to use the program as a transition back to a world that's foreign to him. It's a smart move.

While in prison, we had discussed going to some sort of retreat center or monastary for a couple of months before re-entering society after we're paroled.

Our plans came true - I'm in the forced retreat detention of ICE and he's in a treatment center in S.F.

Next, we'll have to get our brothers Mike Ngo and Stephen Liebb out.

Then, it'll be all good.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Desperately Needed Counseling

What's worse than having problems in a relationship?

Having relationship problems during incarceration.

I spent about 45 minutes listening and counseling this young Latino guy who's having problems with his wife. He was lying on his bed under covers and stressing. I was analyzing and breaking down his cause for stressing. I even wrote a poem for him so he could express his feelings to his wife, and I gave him an origami heart to go with the poem. That seemed to cheer him up a little.

There are many incarcerated men and women who are stressing over their relationship problems. I hope they can find someone who can be there for them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Quote of the Week (29)

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

- Langston Hughes

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Involuntary Tears

For the first time in years I cried.

You too would've cried if you had to cut ten onions and didn't close your mouth.

Lesson of the day in culinary art:

Keep your mouth shut when you're cutting onions, unless you want to cry.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Just some messages

Happy Birthday Maia!

Happy Birthday Bradley!

Hi Nine: Hope you were out there for the G8 "meeting."

Chun-Pei, got all your letters, origami paper, and "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee." Enjoy yourself.

Dr. Lisa, work hard and play hard.

Keep the sun shining.

As of today, my scheduled hearing on July 26 is still on. You'll get an email with updates. Thank you for tuning in and supporting me.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pots and Pans

I was cleaning pots and pans for three meals today. That's six hours of almost nonstop scrubbing, washing, rinsing, and putting things away. I'm on my feet most of the time.

At the end of the day, I have greater appreciation for all the culinary workers who are getting paid minimum wage or less. They truly earn their money.

So the next time you eat in a restaurant, please flash those workers a smile or words of appreciation.

I'm learning the working of running a kitchen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pearls of Love

"Do you know how to draw?" a young Latino guy asked.

"No, but I know how to write poems," I answered.

"Oh, do you have any love poems so I can look at them? I want to send one to my girlfriend," he inquired.

"I do have some love poems, but that's personal. However, I can write one just for you. Sit down and let's talk." I couldn't resist the opportunity to write a poem of love.

In a love poem, the words are like pearls - it's pure.

I sat down with the Latino guy and he started to pour out his heart to me. I wish his girlfriend was able to hear what I've heard as he reminisced about their love.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Culinary Worker

For the first time in my incarceration I took a job as a kitchen worker. Ever since I learned how to read and write, most of the jobs I'd held were as clerks. I was one of those pencil pushers who work in offices.

I moved from the dorm setting to a cell setting again. I live in a small cell consisting of a steel bed, stainless steel toilet and sink, and a small table.

I wanted to live in the kitchen worker assigned area because I need some quiet and privacy to write creatively. Now that I'm here I have no excuses not to write.

FYI: my visiting schedule for the duration of my stay in this area is as followed:

Thursdays 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Sundays 7:45 pm to 8:45 pm

I started work as the extra man of a crew of 15 workers. I'll get a chance to learn to do everyone's job.

There's a first time for everything.

P.S. Whoever sent me the "Vintage Baldwin" book - Thank you.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Getting Bail

One of the Chinese detainees applying for political assylum received bail today. He said he's so happy that he can do a hundred pushups.

Whenever a detainee gets bail everyone is happy for him. However, inside they all wish it was them who get bail.

I too wonder when that day of bail or release will come for me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Quote of the Week (28)

Sleeping Convicts in the Cellblock

They dream the sun rising above carved cliffs,
Dawn's transparent nets of mist
Float over the stone,
And stars breathe their last dim flames
Into the crystal pure air of twilight
The whole prison is asleep.
A long song bird alights on the windowsill
With outspread wings,
In beautiful halo of widening dawnlight;
When the clang and grind of steel doors is silent,
It sings to the new day,
Its wings beckoning for flight. Its wings flap,
And a lone feather twirls softly down
From the high rafters.
As it swoops out a broken window.

- Jimmy Santiago Baca

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Salads are for Pigs

One of the things the Chinese detainees complain about is they don't get enough to eat. They often reminise on how many bowls of rice they used to eat. They said that they're hungry two or three hours after each meal.

So when one of the guys offered me his salad, I told him he should eat it because it'll fill him up. He said, "Salads are for pigs." He said the raw vegetables reminded him of food for pigs in China.

I have to agree with him because when I was in China, many moons ago, I've never ate salad with dressings.

Friday, July 08, 2005


When I learned my ABC's in China at nine years old, I learned British English. Therefore, it's difficult for some to switch some of the sounds to American pronunciation.

Today I spent an hour teaching two Chinese guys to sound out the ABC's. They had a difficult time with the letters M, N, and Z. I also emphasized the importance of sounding out the letters at the end of each vocabulary. One word they have difficulty pronouncing was "wrong." They also don't know how to pronounce the "th" sound where they need to stick their tongues between their teeth.

It would be good if they can learn from the "Hooked on Phonics" material so they can follow the cassettes.

I enjoy teaching them English because I'm learning also.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Simple Respect

The more I come in contact with immigration detainees of different ethnic backgrounds, the more I realize the importance of teaching respect to kids at a young age.

I'm surrounded by people who don't know how to say thank you, please, and excuse me. They also don't know the simple etiquettes. They fart at will, grab things that don't belong to them without asking, chew out loud with their mouth opened while eating, use profanity, and don't wash their hands after using the restroom.

Some of these guys have children. I wonder how they'll turn out when they're older.

A little bit of respect can go a long way in life.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chinese Chess

I played three games of Chinese Chess with this Chinese youngster today. He destroyed me. My excuse is I never learned how to play chess when I was growing up. I know how each piece is supposed to move. That's it.

Playing chess can reveal a person's personality. From the three games I lost, I realized that I couldn't see three or four moves ahead; I don't have the patience to stay focused and learn.

I'm more a going with the flow kind of guy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


What does a Chinese, English, Punjabi, and Mexican have in common at 7:30 in the morning on the roof of Yuba County Jail?

Spontaneous Yoga.

After a few games of handball and barwork, I started doing some Yoga poses to warmdown my body. Next thing I know other guys started to follow me. I instructed them the proper technique for the asanas that I was doing.

As I watched the act of spontaniety my heart was filled with joy.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Quote of the Week (27)

"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?

I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.

To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world. Travel through South American, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practice of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."

- Frederick Douglass, 1852

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Change of Environment

At approximately 8 o'clock this morning, I was told by a Deputy to pack my property up and move from my cell to a dorm. I didn't ask to be moved, but I went with the flow. I didn't mind a change of environment after being in a cell setting for almost four months.

The most welcome sight was the view on the second tier of the dorm. I could see some small trees with lucious green leaves through the windows. It was a beautiful and hot summer day.

I played a few games of Ping Pong for the first time in years. I sat with five Chinese guys and ate meals with them. We talked for hours about our lives, experiences, culture, politic, history, and brainstormed on helping the poor children in China's villages. I enjoyed being with my people.

It's good to change environments from time to time. It breaks up the monotony.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Trust No One

It becomes five characters once "Trust No One" is translated to Chinese. Those characters are popular inside prison because they're often tattoed on people's bodies. I've written my share of those characters over the years.

The irony is those people would trust me and other Chinese to translate that phrase for them so they could put it on their bodies permanently.

I guess they have to trust someone sometimes.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Prisoner's Reform Organizational Partnership (PROP)

In July, a Prisoner's Internet website will be launched allowing prisoners incarcerated across the state of California to post literary works, essays, poems, reflections, short stories, and art work.

The purpose of this website is to raise community and public awareness on the real issues hidden behind the walls of prisons. Issues like the current prison conditions, visiting concerns, staff abuse, health conditions, and any other individual concerns prisoners have experienced. The website will provide prisoners the power of expression and full access to the Internet, a tool used daily by millions and millions of people.

My friend Marc is going to coordinate the launching of the PROP website. I'll let you know the address when it's online.

Please stay tuned...