Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Untitled poem

I live
through another day
so I can
wait for the life
I am dying
to live
I must
live for something
before I am willing
to die for something
so I live

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Excuse Me

"Excuse me, may I slap your face just once?"

Hello?! Just because someone says "excuse me" doesn't mean that he has the green light to do whatever.

Somehow, I remember the story someone told me in prison during the late eighties about the powerful words of "excuse me." A guy steps on another guy's shining boots and keeps on walking. Another guy stabs a guy. A guy gets hurt all because he didn't say "excuse me."

Excuse me. How easy was that?

Monday, May 29, 2006

There's Always Next Year

Last year on the same day, I thought that I wouldn't be spending another birthday in lockup. Again, I'm wrong. After 20 birthdays, I think it's time for me to stop making the same wish.

Today I hope for tomorrow.
Tomorrow I hope for the next year.
Next year I hope for another year.

Death hits Indonesia.

Today, I celebrate life.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Quotation of the Week (73)

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Arise, ye prisoners of the earth!
For justice thunders condemnation,
A better world's in birth.
No more, tradition's chains shall bind us,
Arise ye slaves, no more in thrall.
The earth shall rise on new foundations,
We have been naught, we shall be all.

'Tis the final conflict,
Let us stand in our place
The internationale
Shall be the human race!

We want no condescending saviors
To rule us from a judgment hall.
We workers ask not for their favors,
We must consult for all.
To make the thief disgorge his booty,
To free the spirit from the cell,
We must ourselves decide our duty,
We must decided and do it well!

- The Internationale

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Freedom is not Everything

What's more important than freedom? Freedom with a purpose in life. Without it, people are only existing. To exist without a purpose is an insult to the miracle of life.

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's up, Fu?!

How do you like to have the last name named Fu?

Come here, Fu! He smiles.

How are you doing, Fu? He smiles.

Come on, Fu! He smiles.

Go to work, Fu! He smiles.

He smiles because he doesn't understand that some people are playing him for a fool.

He smiles when he realizes he has been fooled, just like the way Ralph Ellison describes what the Invisible Man's grandfather has taught him - 'yes' them to death.

He smiles as he thinks of hugging his toddler son, as he is flying across the Pacific Ocean.

What's up in China, Fu?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quick Update

Every Thursday, an ICE agent comes to the jail to answer questions for immigration detainees. When I asked the agent about my case, she said that the judge hasn't made a decision yet. She stated that the judge can make a decision anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. I've been waiting for four weeks for the decision. I guess I should be hearing some news in a week or two longer.

The waiting continues...Thank you for checking in.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Solid as a Diamond

Diamonds are a girl's best friend, so the saying goes. Diamonds are also my best friend because the way my mother has been there for me all my life is solid as a diamond.

Whenever I think of my mom, I can't help but feel her immense love for me. No matter what happens, I know that I can count on my mom. That's a blessing that money can't buy.

I love my mom.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Good Old Days

The NBA playoff games have been fantastic. I look forward to seeing a live NBA basketball game, perferably sitting at the sidelines.

I remember sitting at the sideline watching my mom run up and down the basketball court when I was in China. My mom was the star in a professional basketball team. She was awesome.

I also remember sitting at the sidelines at the soccer games where my dad's team played. I always enjoyed those times my dad and I got to spend time together.

Those were the good old days.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Let's Talk about Numbers

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are almost 2.2 million people behind bars of prisons or jails in the U.S. That's 1 in 136 U.S. residents.

The U.S. consists of 4.6% of the world's population, but it represents 22% of the world's prison population.

In California, there are about 170,000 people locked up in its 33 prisons, of which 21 were built in the last 16 years.

Only one university was built - U.C. Merced.

I still wonder how many Asian Pacific Islander Americans are part of the 2.2 million who are incarcerated.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Quote of the Week (72)

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."

- George Eliot

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Designated Babysitter

Maturity and wisdom come with time, so does responsibility. Over the years, I have resolved many conflicts that could have resulted in extreme violence. I take pride in my conflict-resolution skills. At the core of those skills is communication. Pride and ego are two culprits that often break off the line of communication. Having a level head to keep the line of communication open is a learned skill. That's why I'm always able to take care of myself. At the same time, I'm able to help others in making peace. However, sometimes I find it tiring to babysit a group of grown men with childish mentalities. I guess that's why some say with power comes great responsibilities.

Friday, May 19, 2006


The TV show Lockup depicts prisons across the country. Tonight, it featured San Quentin State Prison. As I watched all the familiar places inside the prison, I felt drawn to it. After all, I had spent 12 years of my life in that prison. At the same time, I felt detached from it because I was no longer a physical part of it.

Not many people who have done time in pirson want to go back for any reason. For me, I don't mind going inside of San Quentin one day as a visitor to teach the prisoners that they can turn their lives around as I've done.

Then maybe there will be a TV show depicting those successful parolees who have had to overcome numerous struggles to stay free.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Say No to Drugs

Since I've been in detention I've encountered many drug addicts. Their behavior is childish, obnoxious, self-centered, and spacey. They have attention span problems. I have to conclude that their drug adbuses have fired their brains. Knowing that, I think back to the years I spent counseling troubled youth on the damaging and lasting effects of drugs. They wouldn't listen to any reasoning even though they had seen pictures of a healthy brain and a brain after drug use. The majority of those kids believed that bad things wouldn't happen to them. As I look at the adults that I have witnessed in detention, I'm seeing the effects drugs had on those invincible youth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

No News is Good News

It's the middle of the third week and I still have not received the judge's decision on my deportation case. I know everyone is anxious to find out the outcome. Thank you for your concern and patience. I'm also grateful for those of you who continue to keep me in your prayers.

As you can imagine, I want to find out what happens so that I can move on wtih my life. I've been in immigration custody for 14 months fighting for my stay in this country. I want to be out amongst all of you so I can make my contribution to society. Yet, I'm fully aware that my future is plagued with uncertainties. That would be a good thing. Spontaneity is one my specialities. I'm just waiting to embrace.

Please stay connected. You sustain me!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Remembering Songs

Singing was a part of my life for about three years. Of course, that's not counting the time I sang by myself and with friends.

When I was in the Catholic choir in San Quentin, I must have sung over a hundred songs. Some of the songs stuck with me even today. So when the Chinese guy showed me a book of Christian songs, I was surprised to remember many melodies. The difference with the songs was that they included Chinese lyrics. Now I'll be teaching the guy to sing in Chinese.

Singing is good for the soul.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Detention 101

Whenever I have an opportunity, I always share my three priorities as a detainee to others: stay healthy, stay safe, and stay focused on getting out. Staying healthy means eating well, exercising regularly, and thinking positively. Staying safe includes respecting self and others, changing bad habits, and learning communication skills. Staying focused on getting out consists of knowing all documents concerning one's case, staying in touch with the lawyer and exercising good judgment.

The rest is about time.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Quote of the Week (71)


There were women then
My mama's generation
Husky voice - stout of
With fists as well as
How they battered down
And ironed
Starched white
How they led
Headragged Generals
Across mined
To discover books
A place for us
How they know what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it

- Alice Walker

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dealing with Death from Within

When a prisoner deals with the death of a family member, he or she has to embrace it from within. Aside from getting support from family members and friends, fellow prisoners can make a difference. One form of support from prisoners is often the signing of a condolence card. Besides that, time for reflection in solitude is crucial.

My friend Stephen lost his father recently. I'm glad that a good friend is by his side to help him through this tough time. My thoughts are with him.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hold Your Pee

The female deputy refused to take the detainee to the bathroom just two doors away.
"I only have time for one."
She took one guy to urinate after walking about five minutes to the classroom. The detainee had been waiting for fifteen minutes to go to the restroom. It would have taken two minutes of her time to let the guy use the restroom. She decided to walk away.

That's the way the story goes.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Above the Law

"She was no innocent victim. She was trying to live the hip-hop lifestyle." That's what the San Francisco police officer said after he shot 17-year-old Sheila Detoy to death 8 years ago (S.F. Chronicle Open Forum 5/11/06). To date, no one is held responsible for Sheila Detoy's death, nor has anyone apologized to her family. Lawyers for the Police Officers Association even protested "that the statute of limitations had run out because so much time elapsed before charges were filed."

Since when does a murder have a statute of limitations?

Where are all the victims' rights groups?

How can Sheila rest in peace when there is no justice?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Things Overheard

#1 "It's over. I'm going to die. I have to wait another month to back to court."

#2 "I've signed my travel documents. I'll be leaving in a couple weeks."

#3 "I've got $50,000 bail. The judge said I can't break any law."

#4 "I'll have to go back to court next Monday. My attorney didn't even show up to court."

Four immigration detainees' reactions after coming back from court.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It Could Happen to Anyone

When I read about the death of the 80-year-old Chinese man robbed on the streets of San Francisco, I immediately thought about my dad. Something like could easily happen to him or any senior citizen.

The cold part of that elderly man's death is that no one was charged in the crime. Someone had robbed him in broad daylight and got away with it. Instead of asking why such a senseless crime could happen, people should work on how to prevent such crimes from happening.

It takes a community to stop the violence.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Simplified vs. Traditional

As China emerges into being an important player in the international political and economic community, the use of its written language has become a debated issue.

There are two Chinese writing systems, simplified and traditional (or the complicated version). The simplified writing was introduced in the 1950s by the Communist government to increase literacy. The traditional version has been around for a couple of thousand years of so. The difference, aside from historical, is that the simplified characters have less strokes than the traditional ones.

I'd learned how to write the simplified version when I was growing up in China. However, after I cam to the U.S. I learned how to read and write the traditional characters. Today, I find myself writing both versions in my limited Chinese. I would prefer to master both styles of writing.

To me, I'm writing Chinese.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Quote of the Week (70)

Sometimes our thoughts and feelings
are our most prized possessions

and then there are times
to let go of your possessions
and wander

-Saul Williams

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I know that Yuri would probably like to celebrate her birthday low key, but how often can someone celebrate being alove for 85 years? As Yuri Kochiyama turns 85 on the 19th, let's shower her with the love and compassion that she has given to all of us.

For those who may not have felt the extraordinary presence of Yuri, please check out the book by Diane C. Fujino, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Who would have thought the Battle of Pueblo on May 5, 1862, would have such an effect in the U.S. today? As the celebration of people of Mexican decent begins, the battles to fight for their equal rights in their country continue.

For the Mexicans who are in immigration detention, there is no celebration here. It's just another day in captivity.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sore Loser

What happens when a bunch of men play sports together?
They get competitive. Winning is their objective.

When I was going to school in China, I would participate in track and field events. I still remember the school slogan taught to the students at the meets: "Friendship is number on, competition is number two." I think that influence stuck with me to today. I play hard by giving my best when it comes to sports. However, I don't have problems accepting defeat. I don't like losing, but as long as I give it my best, that's good for me.

During team sporting events, you can pick out who the sore losers are by listening to the one who complains the most or watching a person who acts violently.

Friendship is number one for me when it comes to competition.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Prison Tale

When this Chinese guy told me that he had been in a Taiwan immigration prison, I was curious. He told me that the first month there was the toughest. Aside from the three meals, one hour of TV and sleep, the rest of the time was spent meditating and reciting prison propaganda. If the guards didn't like you, they would beat you with their batons. Other punishments included holding a bucket of water while squatting. There were times each person was allowed only 3 gallons of water for showering. The only good thing about being in the prison was being with many prisoners from his village.

Because Fujian provice is so close to Taiwan, many people sneak over to work. Once those people are arrested and deported, the government will detain them for 40 days and fine them. Deportation is mandatory. There is no asylum.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


She dreams
of the status
that comes in a card
called green

the green paper
that pays for her dream
will take her
to stop the screams

she sleeps
to chase after
another chance to

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Day without Immigrants

If there is a day where all immigrants in the U.S. march on the streets, I think 90% of the population would be outside. But of course, reality is, too many people have forgotten their origins.

As millions of people protest on the streets across the country about immigration reforms, I wonder how many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indians are out there.

Power to the people.