union journeyman | writer | husband | sober since 2005 | former prisoner | Dhammacariya | Contributor: VICE, Marshall Project, Washington Post
Oct 2 • 22 tweets • 5 min read
As a white man in prison, trying to fit in / survive meant having to act like the white supremacists I lived with were my people. It meant following their racist “rules” of segregation and hatred. Refusal to follows those rules would have been dangerous for me.
It meant listening to nonsensical racist stereotypes and not having the wherewithal to object. It meant hearing the n-word regularly and cowering in my inability to say anything. Despite the necessity of my inaction, I still feel shame about this today.
Oct 1 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
I remember when I stopped going to twelve step meetings I was nagged by the narrative about it being the first step toward relapse. I told my therapist about it. She said, “Your sample is biased. I see and know plenty of folks who stop going to meetings and stay sober”.
I realized that every person who stopped going to meetings, relapsed, and came back to meetings to tell their story was part of a very select sample. It completely ignored the people who left and stayed sober. Why would they ever come back to a meeting to talk about it?
May 10 • 12 tweets • 2 min read
Every bad thing that we remember & that causes us to react differently than we did before is not trauma. Every reaction that results specifically from bad things in the past is not “being triggered”. Such flippant use of language is disrespectful to those with actual trauma.
I remember reading somewhere that trauma represents an event or series of events so terrible that it forces one’s personal narrative of life to break. So, no, that sudden but rather run-of-the-mill breakup with your partner of 3 months is not trauma.
May 9 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
PSA. I save $20 per full tank of gas by using premium (91 octane) instead of standard (87). Driving a ‘21 Toyota Tacoma, I went from $0.36 per mile to $0.27 after switching. With 2.5 fill-ups per week, I save $200 per month.
Note: this will not work with every vehicle type. I tried the same experiment with a ‘12 Toyota Prius a few years ago and it did improve my gas mileage a bit, but not enough to compensate for what appeared to be faster oil burn off.
May 5 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
Holy crap I made pho from scratch and it was amazing.
I’m trying to transition to vegetarian. I’ve tried in the past but always failed because I was trying to eat the same meals just without meat. It wasn’t sustainable. This time around, I’m learning to cook veggie meals from cookbooks, starting with one night per week.
Apr 26 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
My local union, #IBEW 617 of San Mateo, is accepting applications for the 5-year inside wireman apprenticeship. Starting pay is $24.50/hr, journeyman wage is $74/hr. Formerly incarcerated people are free to apply! smjatc617.org/applications/
This is a way to go to school free-of-charge, make money while you do so, and earn more than $140k/yr when its all finished. Stated wages don't include fringe wages - total package is $119.40/hr.
Apr 24 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
As a former drug addict, multi-felon, and high school dropout who nonetheless attended Berkeley, I’m here to tell you that your grades and test scores serve as baselines but not the actual measures for admittance.
As strange as this may sound to some folks, you have to be an exceptional student AND you have to be an interesting person (or at least make it seem so). How else are you going to stand out amongst the tens of thousands of equally qualified (academically) applicants?
Apr 23 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Today, I have been sober 17 years.
I thought I was going to be serving a life sentence in prison. I got high and took myself to court. hahnscratch.com/2017/04/23/sur…
Dec 24, 2021 • 7 tweets • 3 min read
My union knows I’m out of work because of my recent heart surgery. I got this in the mail today, just to help out because they know I need it. Two thousand dollars. #UnionStrong#ibew
I didn’t ask for or apply for assistance. Our executive board literally voted to help me while I was still in the hospital. I’m truly grateful, particularly because some help is needed but I likely wouldn’t have asked for it.
Oct 21, 2021 • 21 tweets • 4 min read
Prisons are built on the labor of the incarcerated. The already-inflated budgets of correctional departments would be exponentially higher if the incarcerated population weren't relied upon to keep the prisons operating. Let's dispel some illusions and talk about prison labor...
Prisons are like small cities or nations. There are imports of raw goods, exports of manufactured products, and a labor force (incarcerated) that keeps the prison going. Food processing, trade work, trash collecting, administrative tasks, etc are all executed by prisoners.
Sep 2, 2021 • 14 tweets • 3 min read
Yes, I was an incarcerated firefighter and, yes, I put myself in harm’s way. I did this, in part, because it was safer facing wildfires than sitting behind the walls. Yes, it is safer to fight a wildfire than to sit in a prison.
There are a number of other reasons to go to fire camp, ie earlier release, better food, humane visits, closer to nature, etc. I’m not trying to denigrate the heroism of our incarcerated firefighters - but please understanding that going to fire camp is the BEST of all options.
Mar 20, 2021 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
These are called “dummy cages” or “coffins”. Many people who’ve been to prison have been placed in one, including myself. I was put in a dummy cage immediately after discovering that my cell mate was dead - while in the midst of a mild panic attack.
Needless to say, it didn’t help my situation. My dummy cage was plexiglass-lined and hard to breath in; claustrophobia just made me panic more. I ended up crumpling into the bottom of the cage in order to breath through the grating.
Feb 9, 2021 • 22 tweets • 4 min read
Today is my freedomversary. 9 years ago, I came home from prison. Some reflections...
On February 8th 2012, I was in fire camp sitting on a park bench, watching the sun set. It was the last time the sun would set on my incarceration and I knew that, the next time I saw the sun, I’d be free.
Dec 25, 2020 • 16 tweets • 3 min read
While I was in prison, I was the food procurement clerk. It was my job to work with the first cook to design the daily food menu (a 6-week cycle) and then make sure the men were fed on a budget of $2.60 per person per day. The Best Xmas prison meal, a thread...
Believe it or not, it was relatively easy to serve 3 fairly healthy, hearty meals to men for only $2.60 per person per day - because I was buying in bulk.
Dec 11, 2020 • 8 tweets • 3 min read
I’ve seen this floating around lately. While I understand the sentiment of the list, it’s WRONG. Here’s why (thread):
Since we’re trying to place #COVID19 in the list, we also have to include the Spanish Flu. They didn’t do day-by-day tracking of death back then, but we do have monthly tabulations. They’re astonishing.
Dec 11, 2020 • 6 tweets • 1 min read
Thinking that because I am against the death penalty, I must be in favor of murdering people is the epitome of absurdity. Some folks really lack critical thinking skills.
We live in a nation driven by base desires. The refrain, “How would you feel if your loved one was murdered?” belies a certain approach to life that is very American: that what I feel like is what I should be allowed to do. It is actually quite sick.
Dec 11, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
Since 1960, the Federal Government has executed 12 people. Donald Trump is responsible for 8 of them - all of them since July. Tonight, he will execute another.
This is a human being we're talking about here. A human being.
I had a cell mate who took a plea bargain of 7 years to life in 1977. “The matrix” available at the time said he’d be paroled in 14 years if he stayed out of trouble. So he took the deal and he stayed out of trouble. 43 years later, he’s still in prison.
I’m not an expert in this, but my understanding is that people took these indeterminate plea bargains in the 1970’s because the parole board really did let people go home. But then policy changed in the 80’s and folks got stuck behind their plea bargains.
Oct 22, 2020 • 22 tweets • 4 min read
I see the attacks about Biden’s love for his son and it hurts my heart. I was a drug addict, I was in prison for many years, and the unconditional love from my father was pivotal in my journey out of the darkness. Let me talk about it.
Growing up, my Dad was stern. I used to fear him - not in an abusive sense - but in the sense that he was the disciplinarian. He was also angry, something that I now attribute to being overworked and having a crumbling marriage with my mother.
Oct 21, 2020 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
When I vote, I do my best to consider those most affected by my vote. I try to think of the worst possible consequence of a vote, apply that consequence to myself, and decide if I’d be willing to endure it. If not, the choice is clear.
Part of this practice is recognizing that I, as a straight white man without serious financial troubles, will not bear the greatest burden of any vote cast. Thus, voting is almost entirely an exercise in considering the welfare of others.
Oct 21, 2020 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
My local leadership is considering scrapping a $390 million jail construction project after seeing that a decreased jail population - down 1/3 since covid - has led to no spike in crime. This is what I like to see.