Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Visa Petition Interview

As I was still recovering from my last trip to San Francisco, I made another trip to the City today. This time I was there for my much-anticipated interview with the Customs and Immigration Service Agency.

The purpose of the interview was tot authenticate my wife and my marriage. An official interviewed my wife and I separately along with my attorney's presence. It was a new experience for my wife and me. Without going into great detail, we thought the interview went well. We're still waiting for a decision from the CIS Agency. Let's hope we'll get some good news so we can move onto the next phase of my deportation case.

I'm grateful for everyone's prayers and positive thoughts.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sick from the Trip

The 19-hour roundtrip from Yuba to San Francisco was so torturous that I became ill. I have a fever, runny nose, and cold sweat. All I did was drink lots of water and sleep - that's when I wasn't working.

Was the trip worth it since I was able to walk on the street for the first time in 20 years? Of course. I guess that's a small price to pay for a taste of freedom.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Quote of the Week (56)

"Each passing Spring Festival reminds me that my family is not whole. Yet, love continues to blossom within the family because a loved one is missing to complete the circle."

- Zheng Xiao Fei

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cherishing Freedom

Yesterday's trip to the City lasted 19 hours. I got up at 3am and returned at 10pm. All trips to the City are excruciating. However, sometimes it's worth the suffering.

Another highlight of yesterday's trip was running into someone who was paroled after 21 years of imprisonment. We knew each other for many years and were living in the same building before I left prison.

He was supposed to have been released if the governor did not block his parole for the first time. He was waiting to be released early last year. The governor waited until the deadline and rejected his parole. He was devastated. However, he didn't give up. The second time, the parole board granted his parole and the governor released him.

I couldn't believe it when I saw him in Yuba County Jail. He's not a U.S. citizen so he faces deportation. He's not fighting to stay, and chooses to go back to Israel. He does not want to do anymore time. We sat together on our way to San Francisco like when I first got out of prison. He coudln't stop smiling and looking out the window. We were cherishing our freedom with handcuffs on our hands.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Walking on the Street

For the first time in twenty years, I walked on a street in San Francisco without handcuffs and shackles.

I had an appointment to do a medical check up in a clinic located in the City. An immigration agent put an ankle weight on my right leg for security purposes and drove me to the medical clinic. He parked at the corner of the street and we walked half a block. It was around 11:20 in the morning so the streets were not too crowded. I walked past many beautiful people and brightly lit stores. The mixed aroma of the food and pastries filled my nose. The sound of cars, cable cars, and people soothed my ears. My eyes were busy transmitting images to my mind.

I sat in the clinic waiting area among other people. I filled out forms, talked to the nurses, completed the examinations, and walked out into the street.

The entire experience seemed like a scene from a movie, yet I wasn't overwhelmed by it. Everything felt natural. I belong out there.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


"I feel like dying," the forty-year-old detainee tells me in tears. All I can do is listen as he vents his heartaches to me. All my embrace-and-let-go, don't-stress-about-things-you-can't-control, and focus-on-learning-English pep talks don't help change how he feels. So I listen, I acknowledge him and listen.

Who knows how many grown men all quietly cry in their bed in the middle of the night?

Who can hear their pain?

We all need to listen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Missing Daylight

I went to the roof exercise area for the first time in about a week. It's good to breathe in some fresh air. However, I haven't seen the sun for awhile. Being confined in a cell and working in the kitchen prevents me from seeing daylight. It's always a blinding experience to see the sun.

I miss playing in the sun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Chinese Healthcare

I remember whenever I needed medical attention in China, my parents would take me to the local clinic and the nurse or doctor would take care of it. There was no worry about midecal bills or not being able to get help. After all, medical clinics and hospitals were government owned. They had the people's health interests in mind.

Today, the Chinese healthcare system is mostly privatized. Gone are the barefoot doctors who roamed the rural regions of CChina providing healthcare services. Like any capitalist system, the money interest superceded the healthcare of millions of peasants who helped build CHina.

It's so true that money corrupts.

Monday, January 23, 2006


When a good friend told me she's doing an Alternative to Violence Project workshop in the Susaville Prison, it brought back some good memories.

I was involved with AVP for about 6 years. From a participant to becoming a co-facilitator, I had learned many valuable skills and befriended many wonderful people. I wanted to do a workshop with my friends on the outside one day. We can all use some bonding and Alternative to Violence.

Be on the lookout for an invitation one day.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Quote of the Week (55)

"Why are so many people afraid of the dark? After all, some of the most vicious atrocities have occurred in broad daylight."

- Zheng Xiao Fei

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Where Are Their Voices?

Some of my friends and I have been working on publishing an anthology of Asian prisoners' writings. We've received many submissions from mail prisoners, but none from the females.

According to data on individuals in "correctional institutions" from the 2000 census, Asian female prisoners represent 0.74% in the U.S. and 2.19% in California.

Although the Asian female prisoner population is extremely low, it would be educational to hear their stories. They should not be neglected.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Latest Update

As of today, my next deportation hearing is set for February 6th. I thought the hearing was going to be postponed because I haven't been to my visa interview. Then I received news that the interview is scheduled for the end of the month. Therefore, the February hearing is still tentatively on schedule. However, the date can change depending on the outcome of the visa interview. I don't like to put everyone through different changes, but it's out of my control.

Please stay tuned for new developments. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Second Chance

A fellow detainee won a second chance to start a new life in the U.S. He shared his future plans with me. I could see through his eyes his genuine desire to change his life and become successful in his endeavors. I shared his joy of a new beginning.

There are many poeple in detention who deserve a second chance to turn their lives around. Of course, there are others who haven't made an effort to change. However, everyone deserves an opportunity to present his or her case.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dissent At Your Own Risk

The GED teacher was talking about U.S. history and politics. I was listening and dissenting when it was appropriate. The teacher said that I should go to China and see how the government ran the country. I said if I went back to China, I might get executed because I would be criticizing the government for its unjust treatment of its people. Unless I shut my mouth. I wouldn't be able to survive in China. The teacher said that there was no freedom of speech in China. I disagreed. There's selective freedom of speech in CHina as well as in the U.S. If one speaks positive things about the government, it's all good. If you speak ill of the government, watch your back.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Miss President

I remember a saying in China: "Women hold up half the sky." It spoke of the equal contribution of women in society. Though the reality of women being treated equally in all spheres of life is far from ideal, it's getting better in some countries. The latest elections of Presidents in Liberia and Chile is proof of progress.

I can't help but to wonder whether the United States of America will every elect a woman as president.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Embracing the Dream

It's the celebration of Dr. King's birthday. Embracing the dream that Dr. King had envisioned is everyone's responsibility. Freedom, Opportunity, and Equality for everyone is and should be the dream shared with everyone in the world. However, as long as exploitation exists in a class system, that dream will continue to be deferred.

The world can't wait to realize that dream.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Quote of the Week (54)

"Whenever an opportunity comes along for you to help someone, seize it. Or else you'll miss a chance to be closer to god."

- Zheng Xiao Fei

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Another Day Off

It's my turn for a day off after two weeks of work. It's a day I look forward to because I get some quiet time by myself. I haven't been feeling too motivated to be creative lately so a little time to think about my priorities is needed. After all, doing nothing and doing something are all part of going with the flow.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Facial Hair

As a kid, like most kids, I wanted to grow up faster. It seemed like older people had more fun. Having facial hair was one way to look more mature, but I didn't have any at age 15. I tried shaving every day and rubbed ginger root above my lip and on my chin as some teenage friends had suggested. It didn't work.

Today, I'm glad that I don't have that much facial hair. I saw how tedious it was for people to shave. I only have to shave once a week.

Maturity is not measured by facial hair.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What Are You?

"What are you?" inquired a woman on the phone.

"I'm a human being," I automatically responded.

"Oh Yeah? I mean, what nationality are you?" She rephrased the question.

"I'm Chinese," I said.

"Are you mixed with anything?" She was on a roll.

"Yes, I'm mixed with earth and some dirt." I don't know how I came up with that answer. "It's nice talking to you."

That was the exchange I had with a female friend's friend.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Postage Increase

Yesterday, the cost of sending a letter went up by 2 cents. Since I send out an average of 45 letters a month, that'll be a 90-cent increase. Each penny adds up since I live with my family.

I'm waiting for the 2-cent stamps to use up my stamps and stamped envelopes. Apparently, the jail wasn't prepared for the postage increase because it hasn't started selling new postage yet. My outgoing mail will be delayed. Please be patient with me.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Quote of the Week (53)

Healing of the mind is not possible without forgiveness.TO forgive requires compassion for self and others. To forgive does not mean to forget. Through forgiveness one can find hope and a peaceful mind.

- Zheng Xiao Fei

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Twenty Years of Gospel

I don't think anyone can listen to Yolanda Adams's gospel song "Victory" and not feel its beat and joy.

Today is my twentieth anniversary of being locked up because of the crimes I committed against an innocent family of four. I will always regret my actions that caused suffering to others and myself.

I wish my life could have turned out differently, but that's not reality. The reality is, I am exactly where I should be at this moment and being who I am.

As I ended today watching the movie The Gospel, I realized that my twenty years of incarceration is like a series of gospels. I'm finding my way home.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Talking Fast

I was talking to my sister on the phone and I heard my nephew speaking rapidly like he was in a rush. Then he got on the phone to wish me a happy new year. Afterwards, I told my sister that my nephew spoke so fast because he was afraid that she was going to leave home for her job. It was a joke. My sister laughed. My sister's job demands her to work long hours and travel abroad frequently. It's always great to be able to talk to her. I know how my nephew feels.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Book Connection

When my friend told me that he'd read about twenty of the approximately seventy books I passed onto him when I left prison, I was all smiles. He's asking me to recommend more books to him. It's such a great feeling to know that someone else appreciates those books as much as I did. It's all knowledge.

I'm thankful to those friends who have been supplying me with all these books. I have solid book connections.

Role Model

I never think of myself as a role model to anyone. I just do my best to stay consistent in improving myself and allow my actions to express myself. As Bob Marley sings, "You can fool some people sometimes, but you can't fool all the people all the time", people's eyes are crystal clear. That's why I don't need to prove myself to anyone. I just do the necessary things - the rest comes with the territory.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Snail Blogging

I wish I could be sitting in front of a computer and typing my own blog entries. I would probably be on the computer all the time sharing with the world. But I don't have any access to a computer, so I have to rely on my friend to type my entries for me. I'm grateful that my friend has never complained about reading my chicken scratches or typing the entries. Therefore, I do what I can to meep my comments short. I don't want to burn my friend out.

Until I'm out in the free world, snail blogging will have to do.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year Resolutions

My New Year resolutions are as follows:

1. I'm going to win my stay in this country.
2. I'm going to spend quality time with my family and friends.
3. I'm going to get an anthology of Asian prisoners' writings published with the help of my friends.
4. I'm going to start a traveling affirmation book.
5. I'm going to go on a speaking tour to schools, community organizations, universities, and juvenile halls to share my experiences and raise awareness.
6. I'm going to work for a youth organization and save some lives.
7. I'm going to reach back and help those who are in prisons.
8. I'm going to cherish my freedom.

Let's see how many of these resolutions I can keep.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Quote of the Week (52)

To see a world in a grain of sand
and a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and Eternity for an hour.

- William Blake