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Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

It came upon us like a wave, like a big tidal wave. How many feet will this one grow? We still don’t know.

The reports in China rolled in shortly after we celebrated 2020, a new decade and 10 fresh new years, but there were many miles to count in between, so we didn’t pay attention to the numbers. This isn’t the first; lots of diseases start here. We’ve seen it before. It wasn’t long until we were hearing about the virus seeping into almost every home in the Wuhan region, prompting the Chinese to scramble to build hospitals to care for the sick. The buildings were constructed in six days. …


Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash
Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash
Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

I’m writing this now in an empty room. For the past 10 years, he would have been curled up behind me on the bed, patiently waiting for me to finish working so that we could go get a snack, a treat, or peek outside. He was a loyal companion who loved unconditionally and watched my every move as I walked from room to room around the house. He would sit by the bathroom door and gaze up at me while I applied makeup before a night out, and I always wondered what he was thinking. Did he think I was pretty? …


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A little over two years ago, a man stuck a gun in my forehead and demanded my purse and belongings. He did the same to the person I was with, while also threatening me that if I didn’t comply, he would blow my companion’s head off.

We were lucky. For whatever reason, the trigger was never pulled. …


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From L-R: Riverside House Facility Director, Candido Tejada, Me, Desmond Meade, Riverside House CEO, Cleveland Bell

Those of you who have been following my essays on Medium know about the work I did teaching creative writing in one of our state prisons here in South Florida through Exchange for Change, and I hope that my articles adequately expressed the profound impact that weekly experience of spending time on the inside had on me. …


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Photo by Fifaliana-joy on Pixabay

When the Assistant State Attorney called to inform me that the man who held a gun to my head had taken a plea deal for 17 years in prison, I cried for the first time in over a year and a half since the carjacking. Her voice quivered with excitement. She was happy because she knew I would be relieved to not have to testify in a courtroom with the gunman sitting in front of me. Prosecutors also have a strong sense of justice, and she knew this man belonged in prison for a long time. …


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There has been a lot of chatter back and forth on this topic, so I felt the urge to chime in — not about a specific situation, necessarily, but about the issue in general.

I have a problem when people claim the passage of time is an indicator that a sexual assault victim is not credible or is simply using her victimization as a weapon. Poll any three women and ask them if they have ever been sexually assaulted to any degree at any point in their life, and I bet at least two of them will have a story to tell — whether they name names or not. Many of those incidents happen in high school or college when hormones are raging and alcohol is plentiful, but boundaries are thin. …


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As we get older, some of us may find that we aren’t where we expected we would be at a certain age or time in life. While each of us may have different ideas of how life is supposed to be, when we stop and look around at friends and colleagues reaching certain milestones of socially-acceptable levels of “success,” we may decide that those markers aren’t even what we really wanted out of our own lives. …


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Nobody wants to get locked up, although ‘locked up’ is a matter of perspective. There can be people who are out who are in prison mentally and emotionally and worse off than those who are behind bars.

-Wesley Snipes

Part of my job as an inside facilitator is to monitor letters my guys send out to “partners” in a university class on the outside. Each week, I get about 20 handwritten letters from my incarcerated students that are intended to be read by first-year university students who are studying issues related to incarceration at a local university. …


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“Without perseverance, talent is a barren bed.”

-Welsh Proverb

Writer’s block affects all of us who claim to be one of those strange “writer” types. Even in my class on the inside, the guys gripe about contracting this condition from time to time. On the outside, we might blame distractions such as busy schedules, a demanding job, or perhaps even a mundane, uninspiring life for contributing to a general laziness when it comes to writing. We get so busy that we just don’t have time to devote to jotting down thoughts and scripts. How can we concentrate on silly essays and articles when we have much more important things to do like laundry! …


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Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.

– C.S. Lewis

***

I put myself in prison to heal. This seems like an odd place to do that, but as I mentioned in one of my earlier articles, it was less a choice I made consciously, and more of something I knew I needed to do to work toward letting go of painful experiences that had built up over the preceding six months.

In the moment that had rendered me completely powerless in the way that occurs when your life and the life of someone you care about is threatened in a violent manner, and you are completely at the mercy of someone else’s decision to pull a trigger that may send a bullet into your forehead, I made a promise to myself to regain my power somehow. Understanding that I would never have that moment back, and also appreciating that the night had not gone differently, I knew I needed to contribute to the universal system in a positive way in order to feel as though the energies were back in balance and to reclaim the control I had lost. My way of doing that may seem unconventional to you, but something I’ve learned about myself in this journey, specifically over the past year, is that I’m not uncomfortable with my unconventionality. …

About

Jacqueline Coleman

Wine Columnist at Biscayne Times & Contributing Writer for others. Storyteller. Copywriter for Hire. Former Prison Creative Writing Instructor. Oenophile.

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