Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Good Life

A good life is to be able to watch a dying star at its final moments of glory as its ever exploding nebula captures your imagination in perpetuity.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Accepting Stress

Accepting the things that we cannot change is something we have to master to overcome or avoid stressful situations.

A ten-year-old girl and her classmate told their teacher at school that her mother was mad and treated her badly at home. The teacher called the police. The police contacted Child Services and took four kids away from the mom. Six months later, the mother finally got her kids back from foster homes. The truth came out in court. The girl didn't listen to her mom, who had asked her to put her clothes away. The mom yelled at her. She didn't like it and told her friend in school, who told the teacher. The mom lost her kids for 6 months.

The dad, who is in immigration, was stressed out over the family situation. He couldn't sleep until the kids were home. In such a helpless situation, how can the dad accept the things he cannot change?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Random Thoughts

Whenever we are suffering, we want to draw strength from whatever sources we can find to bear it. One of the effective sources is to think about others who are suffering more than us or less fortunate than us. It's true that when you think you have it bad, someone else has it worse than you.

That's why it is so important for us to appreciate the good and simple things that are in our lives. At the ame time, we have to acknowledge those who are less fortunate than us because they're our teachers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blindman's Blue

It's almost midnight when the deputy wakes me up. For a brief moment, I think he is telling me that I am leaving again. Instead, he asks me to translate for a CHinese detainee who is having some medical issues.

The Chinese detainee is having stomach problems. He can't hold down any food and the excruciating stomach pains are keeping him up all night. The medicine that he gets over the counter only provided him with temporary relief. He says he need a different diet because he's from northern China.

I tell him to tell the doctor what he wants, but he says the translator over the telephone is not able to relate his need ot the doctor. He says not knowing the English language is like a blindman in prison. He can't wait to go back to China.

The deputy is able to provide him with the relief he needs until he sees the doctor in the morning. He's lucky the deputy is a generous one.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Quote of the Week (99)

"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can ever go wrong."

- Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Vote for Their Favorites

In a conversation with my parents, they'd informed me that they voted for Arnold as governor. They also voted for Leland Yee, Alice Lai-Baker, all the Asian American candidates and those who had helped with my parole.

My mom said when they went to the Capitol to solicit political support for my parole, these people were helpful. She never forgot those who had taken time to listen to her concerns and those who had assisted to her.

My parents may not know all the politicians' campaign promises or directions, but they know those who were nice to them.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Helpless Helpers

"Do you guys have any questions for us?" Two ICE agents asked a group of immigration detainees.

"Yes, I would like to know when my next court date is," a detainee inquired.

"I'm sorry. We can't help you," the agent replied. "We're from Sacramento, so we don't know anything about your case."

"Anyone else need help?" The agent asked.

The next guy wanted to know when his flight was leaving to return to his country.

The agent didn't know and suggested to the detainee that he write to his deportation officer.

So the guys wondered why the agents offered help without knowing anything.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Day to be Thankful

We should alwyas have something to be thankful for. Even Ann Frank, who hid in the attic from the Nazis for years to avoid death, was thankful for being able to look at the tree by the house through the tiny window.

I am thankful for the love and support my family and friends have been giving me. Whenever I can feel love during my darkest times, I know all of you are suffering with me. And whenever I suffer, your love intensifies to keep my alive.

I am thankful for being a part of your lives.
I love you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Full Release

The deputy woke me up at two o'clock in the morning and told me to pack all my things up for Full Release. I was surprised, but I was feeling calm. The first thing I thought of what that my fellow workers's dream about my leaving came true.

Full Release could mean two things: one was that I was being released from County Jail custody and transferring to another federal facility; two, I was being released to go home or deported.

I asked the deputy to double check to see where I was going. He said I was being transferred to a facility in Bakersfield, Kern County.

I couldn't believe that after ebing in Yuba County Jail for 20 months, I was leaving. It took me awhile to pack my things into two boxes.

The overcast of San Francisco awaited me. After I'd informed my family and guardian angel of the sudden development, I was ready for my flight to Bakersfield.

My parents came to visit me to say goodbye since it would have been extremely difficult for them to go visit me in Bakersfield.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It Could Happen

In the afternoon, most of the kitchen workers like to take a nap before they have to go to work. As some of you know, you can be napping for ten minutes and experience REM (rapid eye movement). REM is when you're in a dream state.

A fellow worker woke up from his afternoon nap and told me that he had a dream about me and a Peruvian guy leaving. He said his dreams come true sometimes.

I had experienced dreaming about being in one place and ended up being there. I don't disregard anything in this amazing and mysterious world that we live in.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Fork in the Road

Many years ago, I was in a Table Topic Competition where I had to give a two-minute speech. The topic of the night was "A Fork in the Road". However, I didn't know what the idiom meant. I was still unfamiliar with some of the English language. Being a quick thinker, I used humor and spoke on the fork. I came in second in the competition.

Today, I'm facing A Fork in the Road in my case. Whatever I decide will change the course of my life.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Quote of the Week (98)

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart must stand in the sun, so must you know pain."
- Khalil Gibran

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cherish the Living

My heart goes out to my Jewish brother Stephen who'd lost his mom.

Losing a loved one is difficult to deal with, but losing a parent during incarceration triples the pain. That's what thousands of life prisoners have to deal with - the suffering of losing someone they love.

How do people grieve the loss of their parents or children? Somewhere in China, a teacher has asked his grade school students to write down on a piece of paper the names of five people they love the most. Then, he asks them to cross out one name at a time and imagine that the person is no longer in their lives. Almost all of the students feel sad and cry as they cross out the names of their loved ones.

Dying is a natural process that we must learn to embrace. It is how we cherish our loved ones while we are living that's important.

May my brother find the strength to carry on.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No More Delays

It took two weeks for me to get treatment for my ear. According to the nurse's explanation, the cause of the delay was lack of communication between medical staff and that my problem wasn't considered a priority.

I had filed a grievance concerning the delay in providing treatment for me. Hopefully, other detainees don't have to experience the same situation. I'm glad I can hear well again.

I'm grateful for a friend's concern. She had solicited a doctor's diagnosis of my condition. The dotor was able to specify the symptoms accurately. It was a blockage of the external ear canal from earwax.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Naming a Baby

As my sister's due date is coming up next month, she still hasn't made up her mind on a name for the girl. She asked me to come up with a few name choices.

How does someone start picking a name for an unborn person? Do you look it up in a book with 15,000 baby names? Do you pick a name from soneone you admire or from a relative? The sound of a name is important. We all know how cruel kids can be with name calling. Picking a name can get even more complicated when the kid is biracial or biculture.

I'm glad that I get to participate in the baby name-picking process.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Final Appeals

My attorney has filed a stay of deportation to stop the government's deportation process pending my appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court.

I have two appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court. One is an appeal on the Board of Immigration Appeals' dismissal of my appeal challenging the immigration judge's decision to deport me. The other is challenging the constitutionality of the government keeping me in its custody for over 18 months.

If I lose those two appeals, my case will be over and ICe will deport me.

I don't know how long the appeals are going to take and what the chances are of my winning them. It's all bad for the home team right now.

I am debating what next step will be. Thanks you for staying on top of my situation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We all have doubts during different periods of our lives. Some people ask themselves,
"Am I worthy to be loved?"
"Am I pretty enough?"
"Do I have what it takes to be a teacher?"
"Why do I go to graduate school?"
"Why do I have to suffer?"
"Why do I fight so hard to stay in this country?"

Sometimes the answers will come to us and other times we remain baffled. Then a few years pass by, and we reflect on whether we have erased these doubts from our lives.

I have not doubt in my mind that I want to move on with my life. I understand my actions will have a ripple effect in this world.

I am waiting to let it rip.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Travel Document Interview

It's an ominous day. The sky is overcast. There is scattered rain throughout the day amidst the fog that is hovering over the city of San Francisco. The whole feeling of the environment is depressing.

My appeal in the Board of Immigration Appeal is dismissed as expected. However, we do not think it will be that quick. The government obviously have it out for me and wants to make sure to get rid of me.

That's why I am in San Francisco today to sign forms to apply for my travel documents for China. It does not mean that I will be deported immediately. It's just the beginnings process.

I don't have the exact details of what will happen next. I will share then with everyone when the time comes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Quote of the Week (97)

"I would rather be ashes than dust; I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot; I would rather be in a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow than in a sleepy and permanent planet; the proper function of man is to live, not to exist; I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them; I shall USE my time."

- Jack London

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Missing My Folks

I received some more pictures of my nephews from my mom today. They look so handsome. I just can't get over the fact that I have missed being their uncle. Come to think of it, I've missed having a relationship with my three cousins. They probably don't even remember me by now since we have not communicated for over 20 years. That's crazy, I know.

I will actively pursue a relationship with my relatives when I am able to.

Friday, November 10, 2006

TV What?

The TV has been taken from the kitchen tank for five days and I like it. I didn't have to go tell the guys to turn down the TV after ten o'clock each night of to keep their voices down. It's been quiet so I got a much needed break from the babysitting.

I'm looking forward to babysitting my niece who will be arriving in December.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Second Time is a Charm

Congratulations to Jane Kim for winning a seat in the San Francisco Board of Education! Not only did she win, she had the most votes out of all the candidates. Whoever ran Jane's campaign did an awesome job.

The youth and their parents can count on Jane to be a strong advocate for their education interests.

Thank you for supporting Jane.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


A friend sent me the book Island, poetry and history if Chinese immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940. I've had the opportunity to read some of the poems in the past, but haven't had the chance to read the book. Now I'll be able to learn the history and the creative writings by Chinese immigrants of a different generation.

As I glanced through the pages of the book, poem 24 captured my attention:

I, a seven foot man, am ashamed I cannot extend myself.
Curled up in the enclosure, my movements are dictated by others.
Enduring a hundred humiliations, I can only cry in vain.
This person's tears fall, but what can the blue heavens do?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Twenty-four years ago today, my family and I set foot on American soil to start a new life. Who would have thought that I would spend twenty years locked up in American prisons?! My parents emigrated to the United States so we children could have better opportunities to succeed. My two siblings were able to appreciate and took advantage of those opportunities. It took me longer to embrace them.

Now that I'm ready to start a new life that I should have begun twenty-four years ago, I may not get a chance to do so. However, I still consider myself a success.

Hopefully, my success will continue on American soil.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Guilty Before Proven Innocent

The jail corporal ordered the TV taken from the kitchen workers for a week as punishment. The justification was that a deputy found a disposable razor in a different living area which only the kitchen workers had access. The razor is considered a contraband unless you're a kitchen worker. Since only kitchen workers are allowed to have razors, the one found in another area must have come from the kitchen workers. It was simple logic.

Well, what the corporal failed to realize was that the kitchen workers are not the only ones who have access to razors. Two other working areas and the mainline population have access or have possession of disposable razors.

Somewhere between the adminstration and staff, there's a breakdown in communication. When a supervisor does not know the operation of the jail or does not investigate when an incident occurs before dishing out collective punishment, something is wrong.

The sad thing was that when the corporal was informed of the truth, he refused to change his decision or listen to reason. He did not allow anyone to challenge his authority.

Somehow, a quote came to my mind: "You're either with us, or you're against us."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Quote of the Week (96)

"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved -- loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."

- Victor Hugo

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Smell of Memory

The smell of dinner rolls baking in the oven aroused my senses and took me to my childhood memories. There was a bakery across the street from the apartment I lived in on 42nd Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. The bakery displayed a variety of pastries in its glass counter. I would smell the sweet and enticing aroma every morning. However, for reasons I can't remember, I'd never go inside the bakery to look at the pastries nor did I buy any. But at the Church's Fried Chicken at the next intersection, I was a regular customer.

I wonder whether that bakery is still there.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Falling on Deaf Ears

After 9 days, two sick call requests, and 2 assurances from the nurse, I still have not seen the doctor. Therefore, my right ear continues to suffer from a temporary loss of hearing.

Such is the reality of medical neglect in detention. It's not the first time and it will not be last. And I speak and understand English. Can you imagine what kind of treatment non-English speakers are getting?

I filed a grievance to demand treatment for my ear immediately. Let's see what happens. Hopefully, my grievance does not fall on deaf ears.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ice Breaker

"That guy's been locked up for 20 years," a county prisoner blurted out upon seeing me enter the GED classroom.

Everyone focused their attention on me. Some of the guys had a disbelieving look on their face. I looked at them and smiled. One guy asked, "How old are you?" Before I could respond, the teacher asked him to take a guess. The guy said I looked like I was 21 years old. Of course, they didn't believe it when I told them my real age.

Somehow, the duration of my confinement has become an ice breaker. I don't blame people. I would be curious too if I knew someone who had been locked up for 20 years.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy New Month

The month of October came and went. Since my appeals are going through the legal process the only thing left to do is to wait for the court's decisions.

In the meantime, I'm stuck in immigration custody at the expense of the federal government - $100 a day.

It gets frustrating for me at times knowing that I could be out in the community helping people instead of doing dead time in custody. However, I do understand that once I get over this hurdle and win my stay in this country, the whole world will be in my hands.

I hope the new month will have good news for me.