Two New Publications

11/5/20

I love seeing my name in print and in the past month two projects of mine have come to fruition. This makes me very much of the happy.

The first is “Basic Whichery”, a zine about the basics of Wicca for prisoners. In it I discuss the ethics of Wicca and how to practice Wicca when one has none of the ritual gear traditionally associated with witchcraft. It can be found in the zine library of PrisonerCorrespondenceProject.com

Also, just this month, On Time was released. Edited by Anthony S. Buoni and Alisha Costanzo, it is an anthology of speculative fiction short stories published by Transmundane Press that all have to deal with, you guessed it, time. The book itself is very well done and I am honored to have my story published along side all the other wonderful authors in it.

November is Novel Writing Month, so I invite all of you to first curl up with a good book and get inspired, then bust out the pen and paper and tell your own story.

Departure and Arrival

2/3/21

My departure from Monroe Correctional Complex was a rushed slipshod affair. I was not given a covid test before leaving, which seems like an irresponsible and downright dangerous oversight to me. Of course, they probably missed that considering they gave me 24 hours notice that I’d be leaving. However, it wasn’t so rushed that the male c/o’s who were transporting me missed the opportunity to give me one last strip search. Thankfully, due to covid, it was only down to my bra and panties. It was a special transport, so all my property was tossed in the back the SUV for the drive over. Amazingly, the DOC spending zero dollars to ship all my stuff is in no way preventing them from charging me 8 bucks a box after the first two. All in all I’m shelling out 60 bucks to keep the DOC from throwing away all my stuff.

The drive itself was uneventful, other than the c/o being a terrifying driver, going 75 in a 50 and nearly merging into another car, twice.

Even after getting out of the SUV and being handed over to the c/o’s at WCCW it still wasn’t real to me. I’ve been transferred to a woman’s prison.

The first and greatest shock I received was not being strip searched immediately upon arrival. Instead I was put through a TSA style body scanner. And other than the c/o telling me about a buildup of scar tissue in my abdomen (which kinda freaked me out) it was a vast improvement over the alternative.

Next was all the bureaucratic nonsense of entering a new facility. Clothing, medical, mental health, PREA screening, blah, bla-blah, bla-blah blah blah. Finally I was put in a cell and left alone. Alone. As in, without TJ. And I started crying again just like I’d started crying the day before when they told me to pack. The difference being, TJ wasn’t there to wrap me in their arms and make me feel warm, safe, cared for, and above all loved.

Their absence has made it more real for me.

A while later, feeling spent, I began to explore the cell. The graffiti on the inside of a prison cell and especially the graffiti on the inside of a cell door, can tell you a lot about the culture of a given facility. For example, the cells in Walla Walla are plastered with swastikas, the numbers 13 and 14 (which have been repeatedly scratched out and rewritten), clown faces, crowns, and various tag art made from the ink of flex pens. This accurately reflects the culture of Walla Walla which is seeped in gang violence, hate, and xenophobia. Likewise, at Monroe, there is some of the above, but far more instances of “so-and-so is a snitch” or a b-word, or a f**. This also accurately reflects the culture of Monroe, being a dropout facility and many people there working for INI.

Here at WCCW, the inside of RDC-A-103 has 4 instances of “Criminal Lives Matter” and 2 of “Black Lives Matter” all tagged/carved in different styles (suggesting they were done by different people), one anarchy A, a couple tags representing people’s hometowns (possibly gang related) and over 2 dozen tags along the lines of “A loves B” “A and B forever” or “I love you A”. This, I think, is a good sign. I believe I can find my way to something resembling happiness in a place where the thing which moves people to slowly and painstakingly chip through industrial strength prison paint is love.

Thoughts on “Antagonist in the Church”

Editor’s note: content warning for references to childhood trauma

12/28/20

Recently, the leadership of the pagan group here at TRU, the “Squirrel Holler Circle” agreed to read a book recommended to us by one of our elders. He gave us the caveat that “yes it is a Christian based book, but it has good tools in it for dealing with difficult people.”

So I figured, all right, I’ll read it. Gods know we have more than our fair share of difficult people in prison. Here is my book review of Antagonist in the Church by Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D. Supporting citations listed at the end of essay.

The book begins with the assumption that some people are just evil and proceeds go teach the reader every low-down underhanded trick for playing at dominance and control within an organization. (pg. 24, 109-126).

When people act out selfish agendas, are disruptive, and/or do anything they can for attention, it’s not because they are “evil,” it is because they are obviously hurting. This book teaches the reader to how to identity someone in pain, then marginalize and dismiss their suffering “for the greater good.” (pg. 41-46, 46-50, 164)

I say NO!

According to this book I would have been an antagonist starting at the age of six, when my Gramma died and I wasn’t able to come to terms with her passing. Later, once I was carrying the traumas of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and psychological abuse, instead of having conversations with me about those traumas, they tried an exorcism and tossed me in the psych ward. Behold, the twin joys of PTSD and autism.

The reason I see for the existence of this book is because some Christian churches refuse to believe someone in their church could cause such harm to another person in their congregation. Or worse, they believe the Bible says their actions are righteous, that they are to have “dominion over the beasts of the field, and the fish of the waters,” that “a wife should serve her husband as her husband serves Christ,” and “spare the rod, spoil the child.” These are things I regularly heard in church as a child. The toxic scripts of this book advocates the exact toolbox used by clergy, priests, and pastors to cover up the harms caused to the children in their church.

However, if instead of playing power games, we make space for conversations about trauma and navigating the world with neurodivergence, then we can build healthy churches. I know this is true because there are already churches that put the needs of their congregation first and I would not have the PTSD that I do if I had grown up in one.

When we center conversations about trauma and what needs they have which are not being met they generally have one of two reactions. They either get on board with talking about their damage or they flee as if the Wild Hunt was nipping at their heels. This requires people to come together, create a safe space, and begin from a place of compassion and vulnerability.

As you will see from the following notes and exerpts, this is the exact opposite of the type of culture proposed by this book.

I give Antagonist in the Church zero stars.

pg 19, “antagonists are antagonistic by nature”
pg 24, First occurrence of the word “evil” in reference to antagonists.
pg 29-30, Describes a “three strikes, you’re out” approach of escalating conflict and consequence, this is a carceral logic.
pg 32, “The grim fact is most antagonists neither expect nor want forgiveness.”
pg 41-46, Every single “personality” trait listed as belonging to antagonists has nothing to do with a person’s personality and can be linked to to PTSD and neurodivergence.
pg 46-50, Weaponization of oppressive psychiatric frameworks against people identified as antagonists.
pg 53, 59, 61, 62, Red flags identifying antagonists include referencing nameless others (protecting other’s confidentiality), taking notes, situational loser (being willing to lose in a given situation), cause (taking up/championing a particular issue), school of hard knocks (learned through experience), are all presented as problems when they are actually negative framings of leadership qualities.
pg 109-126, This is possibly the most toxic part of the entire book. It describes how to intentionally leverage microaggressions and manipulate others through a leverage of power.
pg 113, “If possible, avoid meeting with an antagonist at all.”
pg 115, “The time for you to establish control is when you set up the meeting.”
pg 118, This page in summary: Always make the antagonist wait before a meeting.
pg 119, “Forego inviting the antagonist to sit.”
pg 119, “Sit around a table with the antagonist across from you.”
pg 119, “The height of your respective chairs is important. Sitting higher than another [person] can give a slight, but definite subliminal advantage in the situation.”
pg 120, “Offering a beverage can […] make a person feel comfortable, which you don’t want to do. […] Forego this gesture of hospitality.”
pg 164, “There is no such thing as a ‘former’ or ‘past’ antagonist […] relapse is extremely common with antagonists.”

Under New Management! Thank You Megan and Simone.

3/26/21

I began thinking about having something like this digital space to get my voice out into the world back in August of 2017. I began seriously writing for it in January of 2018. Megan has been the only reason I’ve been able to keep this up for the last three years. They are truly awesome. Through the DOC’s drama, the mail room’s censorship, me going to the hole three times, me changing facilities twice, and a whole pandemic, Megan held it down. They corrected the worst of my spelling and grimmer mistakes, pushed back when one of them was poorly written, came up with the titles for each and every one, and loaded them up. Megan is a friggin’ saint. I mean, they’d have to be to put up with me, right? So thank you Megan, for all the work you’ve put in. I this project never would have gotten started without you.
Well, now I have to announce the end of an era. Megan is handing off management and editing to Simone. And I have to say, Simone is super awesome and is the only reason this project is going to be able to continue. So a big thank you to you as well.


A lot has changed for me in a very short amount of time. That is the phase my life is in right now. So above all I am thankful to Megan, Simone, and all my other friends who help me to gracefully handle all this change.

Medical Care in Prison

12/28/20

Recently Crosscut.com did an exposé about the WA DOC Medical. They found that the number one cause of death of incarcerated people in Washington State is preventable .medical complications and neglect. As someone who lives in a Washington prison, I find this kinda sorta just a little totally friggin’ scary. It is a known thing that getting medical care is really hard in the WA DOC, but I didn’t realize that it is actually harder than I had previously thought.

People do not get sent to a hospital until they have a foot in the grave. A person has to be unresponsive, bleeding out, or at a similar level of crisis before the DOC considers calling an ambulance. Before that point, a person has to have difficulty breathing, be bleeding fairly badly, be unable to stand/walk or have flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms to declare a medical emergency for immediate medical attention from DOC medical. Otherwise we are told to send a kite.

The trouble is… sending a kite doesn’t exactly work. I can send medical all the kites I want, and they will respond to most of them by saying “you will be scheduled.” However, they steadfastly refuse to actually tell us when a appointment will be. Which means if there is a mistake on the callout we won’t know that we’ve missed an appointment and have to get rescheduled.

I’ve spent over a year trying to get a meds adjustment to my HRT. The issue I am having is that Spiro is causing me to have an elevated resting heart rate. This has been well documented. However, instead of just changing my script, they are having me do orthostatic blood pressure and pulse checks every day for a week, again.

My problem is fairly straight forward and honestly, could have been handled with a single, 15 minute appointment. Instead, I have had 9 different appointments over the course of the last year where I have had to reexplain this every single time.

People with thornier issues are at even more of a disadvantage. A friend of mine with diabetes just had an eye removed because the DOC will not do preventative care. He’s already lost 2 toes. Another with a catheter had to have emergency surgery last year because they won’t give him new catheter supplies or do preventative care to keep him from getting bladder infections.

These are just the tip of the iceberg and represent the problems which existed pre-COVID. But now… It is terrifyingly bad. If we don’t get the vaccine soon for medical to have the capacity for normal operations, it’s going to just keep getting worse.

The Permanence of the Death Penalty

12/28/20

I’ve been struggling to come up with something to say about #45’s execution orders. It’s super fucked up that if somehow these people could get a stay of execution for just a month that they would live longer. But at the same time that doesn’t actually mean they would never be executed. Democrats allow and utilize the death penalty too. The only reason this is getting press is because the Democrats are using it as one more thing to demonize #45. If these executions were occurring under the watch of an outgoing Democrat President then I doubt it would get even a tenth the attention.

The lack of media attention on state sponsored crimes against incarcerated people is super messed up in and of itself. Case in point, there has been very little coverage regarding the immigration detention centers Obama built where so many people die from abuse, violence and neglect. But that’s another story for another time.

Even if Biden pledged to not authorize any federal executions, there is no guarantee that the next President after him (most likely Vice-Prosecutor Kamala Harris) won’t be perfectly comfortable with state sponsored murder. The problem is bigger than #45, it’s the punitive criminal justice system itself.

If the death penalty was brought to an end tomorrow, everyone on death row would, most likely, have their sentence deferred to life without the possibility of parole. which is still a sentence of “die in prison”. This is because the ACLU (and other similar organizations) has for decades used rhetoric claiming that life in prison is a humane alternative to the death penalty, a move which has served to legitimize carceral logics and stymy attempts to get rid of life without parole and lower mandatory minimums.

Like I said at the top, I’m really struggling with coming up with something impactful about these executions. I feel like this is yet another situation which is just so fucked up that all we can do is name the dead and speak truth to power as best we can.

Already executed:
Daniel Lee
Wesley Purkey
Dustin Honken
Lezmond Mitchell
Keith Nelson
William LeCroy
Christopher Vialva
Orlando Hall
Brandon Bernard
Alfred Bourgeois

Still to be executed on January 12, 2021:
Lisa Montgomery
Cory Johnson
Dustin Higgs

Screened for Lies

12/28/20

When my father taught me to play Texas Hold’em Poker I was not told it was called Texas Hold’em. I was told it was called “Dr. Pepper Circus Cards.” It was a reference to an old 1970’s commercial which advertised “Keep healthy by Drinking Dr. Pepper at 10, 2, and 4!” Thus, it was Texas Hold’em with the 10, 2 and 4 wild. I was in second grade and just starting to be accused of lying and being defiant at school. We played circus each night for a week then my mother joined the nightly game for another week. Afterwards, we never played again. Looking back, I realize they weren’t actually interested in playing poker with a 7 year old; they wanted to see if I possessed the skill of lying. I think they didn’t want to believe I was a liar. Their rationale went something along the lines of, if I couldn’t lie well enough to play poker then I couldn’t lie well enough to be guilty of what I was accused of at school. The problem was that I had already long since learned the most important lesson of my young life: adults don’t care about what is actually true, they only cared about what they say is true. So I already had about a year of practice at being a convincing liar at this point of my life and I was more than well aquatinted with my parent’s tells. It only took me a few days to understand the game and get a sense of what a good hand looked like, and after that it was literal child’s play. I didn’t win a lot, but I didn’t lose the game too horribly. Of course, I didn’t realize that by holding my own, even a little bit, I had proven myself a skilled liar and lost any chance of my parents defending me against the school.

I don’t know why this story has been on my mind lately. It doesn’t have a moral, or really anything resembling a conclusion. It’s just this thing that happened when I was a kid which hasn’t bubbled up out of my memories for a very long time. Perhaps that’s the lesson. We are never quite free of all the weird crazy shit that happened to us as children and sometimes the best we can do is come to peace with the loose ends.

Isolation and Excuses in COVID-Era Prison


12/28/20

COVID sucks massive donkey balls.

This is the third scare that’s happened at TRU which may or may not be an outbreak. All three times it was a DOC staff member working in the kitchen who tested positive which resulted in all the kitchen workers being put on quarantine. So far we’ve gotten lucky. That’s what it is. Even with all the screening and all the testing and the masks and such, it still makes it in. We’re just biding our time until our luck runs out, which is scary.

But let’s set that aside for a minute. COVID-19 has given the DOC the perfect excuse for destroying all the programs and visiting that they’ve always hated, which has made things in here even tougher.

I haven’t had a visit in a long time, but I see the way it wears on the people who normally do. Especially those with kids. I like to do my time by being involved with classes and clubs. Not having that makes it much more difficult to stay connected to other incarcerated people who are also on a positive wavelength, which in turn makes it more difficult to stay out of trouble myself. Also due to COVID-19 is a massive reduction in the amount of time we can go outside because the yard schedule has been divided up between the four units for social distancing purposes. This impacts me quite a bit because normally I go to yard and surround myself with other people who won’t try and hit on me or proposition me. But most of those people are in other units, so if I go to yard I end up having to dodge people I normally stay in my cell on the unit to avoid. Which is fine if I’m planning on power walking for the entire hour of yard, but what I want to do is lay down on the grass and just soak up some calm earth energy and get a sun.

And here’s the real kicker. Even with them having shut down all these programs and visiting which the DOC have been blaming for the prison’s drug problems for years, there’s still hella drugs making it into the facility which means it’s not visiting or volunteers.

It’s the cops.

And this is why COVID-19 sucks massive donkey balls. Because the cops are desperately scrambling to find anything and anyone to blame other than their fellow officers. So much so that they are dropping the ball on keeping us and themselves safe from COVID-19.

Amber Update

Megan here, Amber wanted people to know that she has been transferred out of MCC – Twin Rivers Unit to the Washington Corrections Center for Women. The DOC has FINALLY allowed her to transfer to a women’s facility after years of her and others advocating for her to transfer. This is a huge deal and she has a lot of different feelings about it, which she will talk about on here once she is able to.

She transferred earlier this week and has to remain in quarantine for two weeks before being moved into closed custody. I spoke to her on the phone yesterday and she is doing well (considering everything). If you are on her JPay, she will not have JPay access right away but will in the near future.

An Intersectional Struggle

Trans liberation, racial justice, (dis)ability accessibility and abolition are more than yet another “cause” for incarcerated LGBTQ folx. They are a part of our desperate struggle for survival.

The intersectionality of the multiple oppressions of the PIC renders our voices mute. The state says we do not matter. And the world dismisses our deaths in the same way it belittles our lives. As the punchline to a joke.

The problem is not that the world is intentionally out to get us, though it may feel that way sometimes. The problem is that the world has no intentions towards us whatsoever. Foucault wrote that the power of the state is no longer built on the power to kill, but on the power to let die. This is just as true today as it was 50 years ago when he wrote it. Lack of intention means that we fall through the cracks of care, concern, and wellness. This results in us being allowed to die by inches, day after day after day until we are attacked and unable to survive it. Or worse, we attack ourselves with a ferocity no one else could muster.

The result is the same. Another tragedy. Another name to recite on a list which is already far to long. Another story to be told and retold until the lesson in it is wrung dry of all wisdom. And we are once more left empty. Numb. Parched.

In the face of this state-sponsored apathy, intentional acts of kindness, grace and beauty are the most revolutionary acts of all. This is what I demand of myself and this is what I ask of you. Water each other with compassion.

Black Lives Matter.

Trans Lives Matter.

Thank You.

Sneaking Sounds into Prison

In 2013 or 2014 (I don’t exactly remember) the WA DOC contracted with JPay to provide music and email services to incarcerated people. One of the big incentives for prison administrators to do this was cassette and CD players have a small electric motor in them which some people would use to make tattoo guns. The introduction of JPay caused the elimination of boomboxes and Walkmans. Technically, if someone already possessed one they were supposed to be able to keep it. However, for the next 6 months c/o’s used every excuse they could find or invent to take them away during cell searches. Mine was taken under the pretext of me being accused of loaning it to people. Not quite sure how that worked because they took it off of my desk in my cell. Other people lost theirs because, in closed custody a few years prior, if a boombox had an antenna, then the property officer would remove it. At the time this seemed fair enough because it was a telescoping metal stick. On the other hand, when that property officer left a bunch of people lost their boomboxes because without the antenna it was now “altered.”

Before all the specifically cassette players were taken away, they were a major source of resilience for incarcerated people. The rule was that cassettes had to be new and come from an actual music store or other real vender. So what people would do is have their people record things on very official looking manufactured cassettes. Lionel Ritchie was weirdly popular for this. Instead, cassettes would have custom mixed tapes, underground rap, indie music, messages from loved ones, recordings of speeches, and porn. The WA DOC obviously didn’t like this mostly because they are extremely fascist and think they need to control, oppress, and dominate every facet of our lives.

Now that JPay is the only means for us to get music, it too has been leveraged towards getting various recordings into the prison, though not nearly as effectively. This is because while people outside prison have the ability to upload albums to JPay, those albums are then available to everyone nationwide with a JPay kiosk in their prison. Also, because the DOC of multiple states review the content of things uploaded to JPay, it severely limits the content of what can be uploaded. It’s amazing how many songs on there have “radio edit” in the title when they never have been nor will they ever be on the radio. I find it very heartening that regardless of what pissant BS the PIC cooks up, people still find a way to spread the joy of resilience.