Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year-End Reflection

I'm in a better position today than I was last year at this time. I'm no longer in prison, although I'm still imprisoned. That too, will change in good time.

As I reflect on all the struggles and triumphs that transpired throughout the year, I'm reminded of the importance of people power. Without every single person who is connected to me in one way or another playing his and her part, life as I see it would not have been possible.

Thank you for everyone's powerful presence in my life. Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in this world.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Dear RWN & Anonymous etc...

My life somehow took on many turns and I've become a public person. I put myself in this position. Therefore, no one needs to worry. I'll be talking about my crimes publicly for the rest of my life and others will talk about them after I'm dead. Please be patient.

As you said, "I don't know you." However, you're quick to judge and condemn me.

You righteously proclaim that you work in a job upholding the law, but you fabricate charges against me, twice.

You profess that you speak for victims of crime. So do I. For the past 12 years, I've been using the crimes I committed and their devastating impact on victims as examples to deter at-risk youth, gang members, and adults from committing crimes. We're on the same side, but we use different methods. Why do you want to take away my voice in speaking for the victims?

You expressed that "[I] do not now or ever deserve to be given a second chance to become a productive member of this country." It's too late. Since I've changed my life, I've been a productive member of this country.

Also, no amount of negative comments from your anyone else can persuade me from helping people, feeling proud of my transformation, and continuing to be a productive citizen on this earth of humankind.

Thank you for your acknowledgement of my honesty. Just because you didn't see me do it previously doesn't mean others haven't seen me of that I haven't done so.

Happy New Year! May love, compassion, forgiveness, and peace find their way to your heart.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Nobody Knows

It's been my day off from work, so I had a chance to watch the movie by Kore-Edu Hirozaku Nobody Knows.

The movie was inspired by a true story that had shocked Japan. A young single mother left her four children in an apartment to fend for themselves. The 12-year-old boy had to take care of his younger siblings. To avoid eviction from the landlord, he was the only one allowed to go in & out of the apartment. In the end, one kid died from an accident and the rest continued to fend for themselves.

The scene where all the kids decided to leave the apartment after being inside for months made tears rushing out of my eyes. I felt happy and free for them. I was thinking about how I haven't had the chance to go outside to see the world in almost 20 years.

I know that day will come.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The More You Know...

There are a billion and one websites on the information superhighway, so everyone is vying for your attention. When my friend Marc decided to create his website from prison, he was going through a socially conscious transformation. He was devouring books and asking questions about his relationship with the community and life. He created a website to provide a space where prisoners could share their thoughts through creativity. Because, the more society knows about those incarcerated, the more society knows itself.

If you haven't logged onto, please go and check it out. We should always support and encourage people who are doing positive things.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Red Love Peas

Oh, the red love peas that grow in the south!
There are a few, only a few
of them burgeoning in the spring.
Gather as many as you can, my lord.
They are said to be most potent
in making you miss me.

This poem by Wag Wei (701-761) reminded me of when I was a kid picking up red love peas with my friends. Those peas were bloody ready.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Time is Doing Me

Today is one of those down days when I don't feel like doing anything. Aside from working, I just kick it in my cell and dayroom. Even though I have plenty to do, I don't feel motivated to do anything. I'm allowing the time to do me because I need to take a break from doing time.

Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Quote of the Week (51)

"The name of my boy is 'Abilass', not 'Baby 81'."

- Murugupallai Jeyarajah (Father of a child rescued from the tsunami)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Polar Express

Polar Express is one of the best animated movies I've seen, not that I've seen that many animated movies. The characters in the movie are realistic. The movie is good enough to make me and four guys laugh in awe. It's not a bad way to spend the evening.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Little Angels

Lately, I've been receiving some pictures of children from friends. Each time I see those kids, they're bigger. Of course, that's the natural process - they grow. I just didn't anticipate how fast they'd grow.

My friend's twin boy & girl looked like two little angels. I wish I could give them a big hug.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's My Duty

The Chinese detainee held onto my hand for about a minute and thanked me for helping him learn English. He didn't remember my name because he always called me "teacher". It's the last GED class before the holiday vacation. He wanted to express his appreciation in case we don't see each other again.

It's extremely difficult for those Chinese asylum seekers to adjust to life in detention. They didn't know that they would be held in detention as soon as they set foot on American soil. They have little choice but to deal with the process.

I'm grateful to be able to help make their lives in detention a little easier. Teaching them basic English is one way to prepare them for the struggles awaiting them.

I'm just doing my duty.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's a Family Thing

My mom told me that she prepared gifts for everyone in the family for Christmas except me. She said that she'll have a big gift for me after I go home. Everyone in the family bought gifts for each other and their friends. It's the season of spending money to show that they care for each other.

It's definitely not about celebrating Jesus Christ being born. Then again, the spirit of giving is there.

So, Happy Hannukah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Missing what I don't Miss

I realize that I don't miss the free world. I don't miss the streets. I don't miss my parents' house. I don't miss drinking alcohol. I don't miss many things that the free world has to offer.

After all, I've spent more time locked up than I have been on the outside. I've never been to my parents' house on the street it's on. I can't recall what getting drunk feels like. Having been incarcerated all my adult life, all I know is to live and survive in my environment. I've become a human chameleon, whenever I go, there I will be. I can see myself doing the same thing once I'm freed.

I'll miss not being able to adapt to my environment.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Remembering Beauty

A friend sent me a picture of her two and a half year old son. He has grown to be a big and handsome boy since the time I held him in the prison visiting room.

When I look at the picture of the boy smiling, I can't help but remember how I became friends with his mother. She read about my case in the S.F. Weekly about three years ago. She wrote a letter to the governor expressing her support for my parole and to me. We started corresponding. Then, she came to visit me in prison with her husband and son.

Friendships like that have shown me the beauty of the world. How can I ever go bad?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Quote of the Week (50)

"A mind that is stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions."

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cold Set Up

A few of the guys got sick and the illness spread. I felt a little feverish and my nose was runny. I decided to take a cold set up to prevent catching the cold. The nurse gave me three pills at 50 cents each. Any over-the-counter medicine I requested would be paid through my account.

I hope the $1.50 will do the trick for my possible cold.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Parent's Sacrifice

I listened to a Chinese detainee sharing his reapons for coming to the U.S. He came so that his wife and daughter would have a better life. & it reminded me that a parent makes sacrifices for his or her family.

We should never take our parents for granted.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dear Anonymous

Each time I talk, read, or think about the crime I've committed at age 16, I always feel a strong sense of guilt and shame. I don't think that feeling will ever disappear, even if I live to be 80 years old.

I take full responsibility for my actions. I don't deny or minimize my role in the crimes I had committed. I know what I did and have no reason to hide anything.

I apologize to my victims, my family, and society for the wrongs I've done.

I feel your pain and emotions that come through your words. I'm sorry that you feel that way. You have every right to be angry at that 16-year-old who had committed those crimes.

None of my friends or supporters will ever condone or accept the behavior of that 16-year-old. They love and support me for being who I am, not who I used to be. I'm grateful for that.

If my supporters want to know the details of the crimes I had committed 20 years ago, they can write to me directly.

Just to get the facts straight:

I held the victims captive for over 6 hours.

I did strip naked the female victim, but not at gunpoint.

I did not intend or threaten to rape her.

If you had read what the press wrote about me or checked my file, you would know that.

May peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Big 70

My mom turns 70 years old today. Usually, I would write her a poem, send her a card, or write a letter to wish her a happy birthday. This year, I decided to call her on the phone.

I thought that I would be able to finally celebrate my mom's birthday in person this time. But as reality continues to demonstrate, human calculation cannot supercede fate.

Will I be there for Mom's birthday next year? I'll know when the time comes.

I love you, Mom! Happy birthday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Folding with a Partner

Recently, an origami enthusiast friend had sent me a handful of folding patterns of birds, butterflies, and Santa with a sack. Since I'm a neophyte in folding, I run into difficulties in my attempted folds.

I was folding the Santa with a sack diagram and got stuck. So I asked my beighbor to do with me with. Surprisingly with team work, we were able to overcome some initial difficulties. We were excited. We got stuck again and decided to do it the next day.

I realize that folding with a partner is more fun. Plus, two minds are better than one.

Monday, December 12, 2005


If I remember correctly, Ahimsa means non-violence in Buddhism. Ahimsa was one of Buddha's disciples.

The story of Ahimsa depicts a ruthless killer who vows to kill a hundred people. After killing ninety-nine, he is chasing his hundredth victim, who happens to be Buddha. However, no matter how hard he tries to catch Buddha, the killer can't get close to him. Finally, he asks Buddha to stop running. Buddha tells him that he is the one who is running. After a long talk with Buddha, the killer puts down his knife and renounces violence. Buddha gives him the name Ahimsa. Ahimsa ends up being one of Buddha's greatest disciples who acts in love and compassion.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams is not Ahimsa, but his actions of promoting peace and deterring youth from joining gangs deserve compassion.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Quote of the Week [49]

"In the long run we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. THe process neer ends. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, December 10, 2005


The Yuri Kochiyama Fund for Political Prisoners is established based on Yuri's belief that "political prisoners are the heartbeat of struggle."

According to the committee of the YKFPP, funds will be utilized to help political prisoners who have urgent needs, including health care and finances. The YKFPP will send $25 commissary funds to and correspond with four prisoners each month.

Diana Fujino, author of Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama, will donate the book royalties to support YKFPP.

Anyone who shares Yuri's belief and vision can help by buying Fujino's book or contribute funds to YKFPP:

Yuri Kochiyama For Political Prisoners
PO Box 80145
Goleta, CA 93118

Friday, December 09, 2005

Paying Forward

I realized a long time ago that I couldn't go back to the past and start things over or catch up on what I'd missed. Therefore, I decided to improve myself educationally, mentally, and spiritually so I could move forward.

In order to pay forward, I had to be honest with myself and accept responsibility for my actions. I'm paying forward regardless of my physical locations because there is no paying backward.

Only paying forward.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Slip of the Tongue

In 1989, I'd made a conscious decision to stop using profanity in my speech. I realized that I was cursing too much without any purpose. Since then I'd successfully minimized the usage of profanity to a bare minimum. I often used other vocabularies to express myself. Many times, some of my friends would tease me about not being able to say the f-word. That's a habit that I'm proud of. However, I did use profanity when I felt it was the appropriate moment to make a point. Those are rare occasions.

Last night in response to someone's outburst, my tongue slipped and used the f-word. I regretted immediately. I didn't feel very proud of myself. It's the first time in a few years since I'd used profanity. It's just not my style.

I want to keep my good habits.

Quality People

A friend asked me whether I think it's diffiult to find quality people.

Since I have so many quality people in my life, I would have to say yes, especially under my unique circumstances. Aside from a handful of women friends who I'd stayed connected to prior to my incarceration, the rest of my friends I'd met in prison. Some of those friends I'd never met. Therefore, all my friends are quality people.

Because everyon'es definition of quality people varies, the degree to difficulty in connecting with them differs. However, as long as you let your light shine, quality people are only light speed away.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Quote of the Week (48)

"There is nothing noble in being superior to some other men. The true nobility is being superior to your previous self."

- Hindu proverb

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Happy Birthday, Nephew

In anticipation of my nephew's seventh birthday, my sister-in-law spent a month preparing for his celebration. She always makes sure that her son gets the best of everything. There's nothing wrong with that. However, I feel that taking amonth to prepare for a seven-year-old's party is excessive.

I wonder whether my nephew will remember his seventh birthday celebration ten years from now.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Drug Awareness and Education

For the past few weeks I've been attending the drug awareness and education group. I've never had a drug problem, but I'm always eager to learn. Even in prison, I'd participate in Alcoholic and Narcotic Anonymous groups. I had only experiemented with alcohol and some drugs as a teenager so I couldn't identify with the disease that had made lives of alcoholics and narcotics unmanageable. However, the 12 steps used in their recovery and their anecdotes prevented me from indulging in alcohol and narcotics.

For me, it's always a good investment to learn more information that can benefit myself and others.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Another Denial

The judge denied my request for bail so that I could finish my deportation case on the streets. That's the result of my cancelled hearing. So after being in detention for 8 months and 21 days, I'll have to stay in custody until February for the possible final hearing.

I don't like being locked up, but it's a part of the process I have to embrace in my fight against deportation. Nothing comes easy for me in life.

I'm still breathin'...