November 21 - Aries - Life is good and about to get even better. You can't quite believe that? Well you will when you begin to see that everything is going your way at last. Keeping a positive attitude is easy when so many positive things are happening.
it's been snowing lately, and the air blowing through the window frame is cold. now it really feels like i've been here for the better part of a year; i've watched all the seasons go by. it's strange because instead of the approaching winter, i feel the onset of spring -- that excitement about spending more time outside, the plans and hopes and sense of new beginnings that usually come with the longer days and warmer winds. i'm getting ready to leave this place! i can hardly believe it. only one day left now to finish all the books i'm reading (according to jail superstition, if you leave an unfinished book behind you're destined to come back to finish it. you'll also come back if you write on the walls and if you don't point your shoes towards the cell door when you take them off you'll never leave). soon i'll be packing up, throwing out or giving away all the little things that have made this place a bit more comfortable: the poster of Marilyn Buck taped to the cardboard back of a pad of paper and propped against the wall at the end of my bed and the photos -- of nature, a burning cop car, my friends' dog -- taped to laundry detergent boxes, because nothing can be taped to the walls here or the guards come and rip it down. the pencil holder made of a toilet paper roll on my desk, the orange peel potpourri in a flattened out meds cup on the shelf. the empty chip bags and mr. noodles cups for food storage, the old newspapers waiting to be burned in the Native Sisters' Fire, the chessboard, the articles and short stories people have sent in the mail. i can't say that i'll miss this place, but i might miss having to make do with so little such that every small possession is a prize.
i also know that i'll miss a lot of the people that i've met. there are some good folks here, and the past week or so has felt a bit like the last few days of high school with the exchanging of contact information and the preparation for sad goodbyes. i'm trying not to have too many regrets, but one big one is that i didn't get to know more people better, that i didn't choose to spend more time in the common room just listening to their stories and hanging out. it feels like a wasted opportunity. i'm also realizing as i pack up and sort through folders of half finished projects and incomplete blog posts just how much didn't get done -- not to mention how much mail went unanswered. still, all in all, i'm happy with the time i spent here.
of no small importance is that i made it through this sentence unscathed! and for that, many thanks and much love to you all for your support. i'm not leaving here bitter and i don't regret the decision i made to do this time, or my involvement in organizing against the G20 back in 2010. i'm no more afraid of the state than i was before, i'm no longer afraid of prison, and i certainly don't intend to put up and shut up when i get out. if anything, my time at Vanier Centre for Women has taught me a lot about how injustice and oppression play out in the cop shops, courts and jails of Ontario. i wasn't much of a prison justice organizer before but i will be now. so thanks to you, state, for giving me some of the information and tools i need to be more of a pain in your ass. and to those of you who do this work: i might have knowledge, contacts or experience you can use, and i'm really inspired to help. please use me as a resource! ask me anything. don't worry about bringing it up, nothing terrible happened to me here -- this is an experience i want to remember, not forget.
i know i've said this before, more than once, but i think it's worth repeating: people like me with good health and privilege, connections and resources and community support, can survive quite easily in a place like this. not only that, we can be an asset to other people here. not everyone can maintain a blog or afford a newspaper; not everyone has friends with landlines who are willing to send texts, emails messages; most people aren't in a position to file a human rights application or get answers to their legal or immigration questions from friends and allies who are also lawyers and paralegals; very few people are connected to independent media or know mainstream journalists who may be interested in what they have to say. those of us who can do those things can be a valuable resource in a place like this. not coincidentally, many of us have privilege on the outside that will translate to privilege on the inside. we are the people in the movement who should be out there risking our freedom. and we need to stop framing it as risking "losing an organizer" because there is a lot of work that can be done on the inside and a lot that can be done to develop better networks between prisoners and prison solidarity activists. so instead of holding back in the struggle (holding back the struggle?) because we're afraid of incarceration, we should do what needs to be done and see a jail sentence -- if one comes -- as an opportunity.
and not just a political opportunity either, under what other circumstances would i be able to put almost a year aside to step back from my life and get some perspective? jail takes everything away from you all at once, and by showing you what you miss shows you what you value the most. i'm grateful to have had the chance to reflect on what's really important.
this is my last post from jail and it's been hard to write. i'm far too distracted by the thought of getting out to pull together any grand sweeping ideas. what i can say is that being here has confirmed what i knew coming in: that jails aren't full of violent people society needs protection from, and that if we lived in compassionate, supportive communities where people's needs were taken care of there would be very few inmates at Vanier Centre of Women. the difference is that now i can names and faces and stories to the stats and political theory -- which makes it all more real, more sad, more urgent.
there is so much left to say. i want to write about the guards and the job they do, the gendered nature of prisons, the absolute lie that is "innocent until proven guilty" and the farce that is the "un-coerced" guilty plea, prison labour, the tension between prison reform and prison abolition but those things will have to wait. i'd also like to take some time to fill in the gaps, because while i've tried to describe the things i thought you'd want to know, i'm sure there's much that i missed. if you have questions please send them to email@example.com and i'll do my best to answer them. for the most part though, as of the new year i'm hoping this blog will be written by other inmates. anyone with a prison experience to share can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it to boredbutnotbroken, p.o., box 183, guelph on, n1h 6j6. please feel free to spread the word. and thank you for reading, and for your feedback.
so this it is, folks. in less than 24 hours i'll be out! i've asked so much of you over this past year and relied so much on your support, that it seems inappropriate to end with a request. . . but i'm going to anyway. those of you who know me know that i'm not really comfortable being the centre of attention. please don't treat me like some sort of "celebrity" -- that will make things weird and awkward. i'm the same person i was a year ago, i just happen to know a little more about the prison industrial complex than i did before. and i really, really can't wait to see you :)
Thank you for reading this story...
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.
If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.
We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing.