I’m Someone Time Forgot – Chapter From ITFO

 

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I’m Someone Time Forgot 

 

Jamie was stressed. It created a restlessness inside him he couldn’t get under control. He craved the feeling of walking. To go outside in the fresh air and push his legs to walk his full stride, and feel his arms swinging by his side. He wanted to walk with purpose because there was someplace he wanted to be.
     He wanted to walk and breathe deep until his body was exhausted. He couldn’t do that in his cell with only two full steps of walking space before he had to stop and turn around. If he was outside the cell, walking down the hallway, he could walk in a slow, shuffling stride of about twelve inches, the length of the chain between his ankles. If he went any faster he would fall on his face. Since his hands were cuffed behind his back it would be a pretty nasty fall. Even so, the more he craved walking, and couldn’t, the more stress he felt.
     He knew what Sonni would say, “Chant about it.”
Taking in deep breaths to chant was like meditating and it had a calming effect. But right now he felt too hopeless to chant because everything in his life was out of control. It was so hot and that made it hard to concentrate. How was he going to make it through the remaining years he had when he could barely make it through the day?

Earlier, Jamie asked to be taken to see the doctor because he was having bad dizzy spells. All the doctor did was tell him to get some rest. Beyond that there was nothing he could do for him. What did that fool think he did all day in a segregated cell?
     Jamie was afraid of falling. He had a couple bad falls during seisures and there were only hard things to fall on. He had some bad cuts and around here cuts got infected. The nurse always let injuries get infected before they did anything about it because they didn’t think there was any need to keep it from getting infected. Then, getting it treated by the doctor took time. Nothing ever happened fast. Infections could be prevented but they didn’t see it that way.
     The doctor don’t treat nothing until it’s about ready to kill you. He seemed to hate his job, especially the inmates, like they weren’t worth helping. He never even said hello, or anything like he hoped you would feel better soon. A smile of friendliness? Forget that. It was part of his job to make you feel like shit because you were in here.
     He didn’t like treating inmates. There were some scary ones he wouldn’t want to be around either, but he didn’t need to make sure everyone who needed to see him knew you were inferior to him because he was a doctor.
This job at the prison was probably the only job he could get. Why would you be a doctor in here if you could get a job a somewhere else? Did they even have a valid license that hadn’t been revoked?
     Jamie was lightheaded and passed out a couple times and now this fool told him that to fix it he was to go rest? Wasn’t it part of his job as a doctor to find out why it was happening, especially because of his epilepsy? Was it too far above what the prison allowed for the “adequate” medical care the law dictated. Ordering rest as a treatment didn’t cost the prison a cent. Running blood tests does. That ate into the profit they made off the inmates being here. They were kept alive with minimal food and care like other caged animals.
     Sleep was beyond him at night because all he did was toss and turn. When he finally did fall asleep he would jerk himself awake. He was sure it had a lot to do with not knowing what was happening with his family on the outside.
     He constantly thought about them, especially when he was trying not to. He hadn’t heard from no one in his family for a long time. Maybe no news was good news but he still needed to know. How was his son? Morgan wrote sometimes but she often put a lot of time between her letters.

Jamie lay on his bunk thinking about everyone he knew, one at a time. He didn’t have the mental strength to stop. When he got depressed this always pushed him further down the hole, and then he wanted to let it all go, but he couldn’t stop himself. He felt he was someone time forgot.
Out of sight, out of mind. He didn’t exist for them anymore, until he got out. No one thought about the effect it was having on him right now as he lived it.
     During these times of depression he always said he was going to give up, cut them off and never write to nobody again. He said that over and over through the years. He needed to hear from the people in his life who knew he was in here and that rarely happened. Almost no one took the time to do that to let him know they cared or write to tell him what was going on out there. No one cared that little Jamie needed him. Being in prison made it doubly hard for his son. He needed a relationship with his dad. All this made him terribly lonely.
     He was worried about Morgan. She was working two jobs. She had no choice with kids to take care of. He needed to be able to do his part and couldn’t, and that made him feel guilty.
     Sonni was sick and that was probably why she hadn’t written or come to see him in her dreams. Maybe she was saving her strength. Not knowing, he could only guess when it was time for her to get the liver transplant she was waiting for. She wouldn’t know until the last minute, so there wouldn’t be time to tell him.
     When too much time passed between letters he always worried the time had finally come, that she was in the hospital and no one would be there with her except her husband. No blood family. A time when family should be there to wait for her to wake up and know she was okay – to support her and make her feel loved. He knew deep down that this was going to happen. No matter what differences there were, her family should be there. They didn’t live too far away. The writing was on the wall and he felt bad about that. He knew what it felt like and would there if he could. He knew he would.

This was the worst thing that kept him awake at night, tossing and turning. It seemed to him that family thought they had the right to hurt you the most. It was important to him and important to Sonni to be there for each other. It’s hard to go through things like this and be alone. It messes up your head and makes you feel helpless to not be able to help. If only he could shut off the thoughts.
     He liked calling her Mom. She knew he needed family and because she was his son’s grandmother they really were connected like they were family. It meant a lot to him because she stuck by someone like him the way she did. Some people look down on people in prison and treat them bad even after they get out like they weren’t already punished enough. She didn’t see him as a bad person. She never tried to make him feel bad. If she wanted, she could be angry at him because he did something that made her daughter’s life hard, but she didn’t. Now she was the only connection he could count on who always remembered he was here.
     Now she needed him to be there and he wasn’t good for nothing and was letting her down, too. He loved her because she took the time to be good to him. He wanted to do the same for her.
     It wasn’t unusual to hear this same story in here. He heard it plenty of times. Family stopped writing or visiting, or the drive was too long, or they got tired of being asked for money, like somehow the inmates found a way to get the things they needed without doing something that could have far reaching consequences. So they stopped answering letters. Maybe they didn’t want to know what was happening inside. Maybe they couldn’t scrape together twenty bucks between them to put on his account. A lot of dudes were on their own with no help. He had Sonni. He would never forget that.
     Jamie knew his family hadn’t stopped loving him. They just didn’t know how to show it. Maybe they took his love for granted. He would love them no matter if they wrote. And he would, he always would, but it was hard to keep making excuses their absence. He knew they had their own problems to deal with. He wanted to know what was going on in their lives and they didn’t tell him. But he knew what was going on Sonni’s life because they wrote to each other. He could pray for her about that and feel like he did something to help because he needed to do something besides sit here.
     Whether someone prayed to God or simply prayed and put it out there, it was the focus of the prayer and the mental energy that went into it that mattered the most. So he prayed urgently that she was okay. He needed her to be okay. He didn’t want to be without her. She was all he had.

Jamie looked up at the sound of banging on the cell doors. It broke into his thoughts and he stood up to go stand at the door. It was time for the meal cart to bring dinner. It had lots of shelves with trays stacked on top of trays. He was hungry tonight. There hadn’t been much for the mid day meal except two baloney sandwiches with nothing but a slice of meat and cheap bread. That wasn’t enough for a man his size.
     He thought about a real sandwich. Lots of meat, tomato and lettuce, two slices of cheddar cheese with lots of mayo and pickles, too – and chips. That made him hungry. He laughed a little. He shouldn’t torture himself like that.
It had been a good while since he had a hot meal. No matter what they brought to eat it was always cold when it was put through the slot. Sometimes he thought they never heated the meals at all.
     The trays were prepared ahead of time and kept frozen in big freezers in the kitchen and were brought to them just as they were. They couldn’t prepare them at mealtime. How were they going to serve hot food to all the inmates? Were they going to heat them up in microwaves, or prepare trays one at a time like they would at a hospital? Fat was congealed on the meat like it hadn’t been heated again. It was bland, no seasoning of any kind. It was horrible food and he was always afraid of getting sick eating it.
     The dudes in gen pop ate hot meals because they walked to where it was served. He was trying to get back to G4 so he could walk to chow. In the chow hall it was important to have eyes in the back of your head because you never knew who was gong to start trouble with you, but it was worth it for a hot meal. It wasn’t exactly fine dining but it was better than what was slid through the food slot.
     Jamie had lost a lot of weight since he was locked up because he couldn’t choke down a lot of what was given to him to eat because it was so bad. No use complaining about it, though. It wouldn’t change anything. Jamie looked down at himself. It was getting hard to keep his pants up. He hadn’t been this skinny since he was a kid, and he was chubby then, too.
     He heard laughing and the bang of a food slot slamming shut a few cells down.
     “Oh, you thought you was gettin’ food tonight?” he heard one of guards say, laughing.
     “I’m sorry,” he added sarcastically, drawing out the words. “I guess they forgot about you in the kitchen.”
     A few seconds later he heard, “Too bad if you’re hungry. It’s not my fault. It’s too late to go get more. I’m not your servant and I’m not going to make a trip to the kitchen just for you.”
     The guard’s voice started to get a threatening edge to it because the dude in the cell wouldn’t quit talking and getting louder, too. The guard only worked here. He didn’t make the rules. If he wanted to keep his job he did what he was told, and he was told to bring food to only some of the inmates. Was he supposed to care if they were hungry? They were fucking criminals. They should be glad he brought them anything at all. Sometimes he felt like a goddam babysitter.
     “So I guess it’s no dinner for you tonight,” the guard sneered as he turned to walk away. “You’ll have to wait until morning. Deal with it,” and continued on to the next cell.
     His drawn out Texas twang had a nasally sound like he had a marble stuck up his nose. It grated on Jamie’s nerves like hearing fingers scraping up a chalkboard.
He could hear the dude in the cell raise his voice, calling him every name he could think of, but that only made the guard laugh. He turned around and stood there, far enough away from the door, hands on his hips where he couldn’t be reached through the bars. What a dick.

Jacking their food happened at at least for one meal a getting food. There was no reason for this. Messing with the inmates might feel like a sport to the guards but it would end up causing a lot of problems for all of them. You can only push people just so far before they come back at you.
     The guards were finding ways to make the segregation inmates miserable. No one was going to stop them. They were probably encouraged to do it. Even if they all filed a grievance about it nothing would come of it.
     It didn’t do it at every meal, but it happened enough times to make them all worried about being hungry. The food might not be worth feeding a dog, but it was the only food they had. Sometimes, when they brought a tray half the food was missing when they put it through the slot.
Some of the dudes planned to get even with the guards because they had nothing to lose if they got in more trouble. Some were going to be here for most, if not all of their lives anyway. They didn’t care.
     The day before, an inmate cut an officer pretty bad when he didn’t get his food. A lot of these dudes had a weapon of some sort they had made. They could get creative when finding materials they could sharpen and turn into a something they could stab into someone. This dude was waiting for just the right time and he cut him. He was lucky he didn’t kill him. What did the guards expect? They thought they could be assholes and no one would try to get even? These dudes had all the time in the world to plan what they were going to do.
     Fires were set inside the cells and there were no fires extinguishers anywhere to put them out. It caused a lot of chaos and it was a mess to clean up. Others flooded the halls by stopping up the toilets and overflowing the sinks. It stank in here. The heat made it worse. Imagine breathing in that stink with every breath you take and you can’t get away from it.
     Jamie didn’t want to be included when the officers retaliated so he drank a lot of water when they passed him by with no food and didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to react emotionally. It wouldn’t do no good. It wouldn’t make them bring him food, so he was better off in the long run if he just let it pass.
     Joining in when they started getting crazy wasn’t a good idea, either. He tried to stay cool. The last thing he wanted was to do something stupid he would later regret that could get him written up or have more time added to his sentence.
     That is where this was headed if it didn’t stop. He guessed that was what Sonni meant when she wrote about cause and effect. What he chose to do right now could affect his future and he needed to make the right choices.
     The officers were taking it out on everyone on account of that guard getting cut. It wasn’t right, making all of them pay because of what one dude did, but that is the way they did things in here. There is no justice on the outside and there is damn sure no justice on the inside.
     Jamie tried to do his best to cope with everything, but sooner or later he knew something would happen. Things got crazier every day as it got hotter. Tempers rose. Days went by. Hopefully things wouldn’t get any worse.

The next month didn’t get any better. Each day was like the one before it. When the heat started rising in March everyone knew it was fixin’ to be a long, bad summer. No way they were going to spend the money for AC unless they were made to do it legally.
     Money the prisons paid out to families 11 people died was less than the cost of installing an AC or heating system. The winners cold get pretty cold, too. There were a few articles written each year but nothing was done and when it got hot the next year they wondered if would be bad enough to make the prisons fix it. The newer prisons were built with it, but not the older ones.
     Jamie passed out from the heat one year. When someone gets that hot, and they haven’t been given their meds every day, it puts those people in danger who have high blood pressure or diabetes and other illnesses like him with epilepsy. But it keeps happening.
     This year bad heatwaves were happening everywhere in the country, even up north. It seemed like it was getting worse every year. It was up over a hundred for weeks. That meant it was doubly hot for inmates in the south.

It was mid July and Jamie hadn’t heard from Sonni in more than a month. She had been saying the doctors told her to expect July would be her turn for a transplant because she was getting close to the top of the transplant list, but there wasn’t an exact day and all kinds of things could go wrong.
     The reason she moved up the list so fast is because two cancer tumors were growing in her liver. If one more developed they would take her off the list because her chance of surviving the transplant would be less. If one got out of the liver it would over, too.
     He wished he knew why she hadn’t written. If something happened, what if no one told him? The more he thought about it the more he worried. Add to it that it was so hot breathing was an effort and the water that came out of the faucet was rank. Terrible as it was he couldn’t drink enough of it. He couldn’t drink enough of it because he was so dehydrated.
     There was nothing to do and nothing new to read. He didn’t feel like re-reading his books again or more time so he took out his letters and began reading them from the beginning. They were in order by the date so it was almost like reading a book. Some of the letters were almost memorized. He knew all the good parts. He held the images they created in his mind and tried to imagine living inside the stories.
     He laid back down on his bed and had almost fallen asleep when he heard the mail cart outside his door along with his name being called.
     “Cummings. Mail.”
     Jamie jumped off his bunk and moved the few feet to the door. A Jpay letter was pushed through the slot. He thought it was from Sonni until he looked closer. It was from her sister, but she must have used Sonni’s Jpay account. He recognized her first name.
     The waiting was over. It was finally over. The relief was overwhelming. She had the liver transplant two weeks ago and was home now. She hadn’t been able to write or type, that is why he didn’t hear from her. He was right in feeling so unsettled. He had been worried about her because he didn’t go this long without hearing from her, but she was okay. The stress of waiting was finally over. They had talked about the transplant happening for a long time.
     The letter was dated, July 17th, 2012 and this is what her sister wrote:

“Sonni has asked me to write to you. She finally had her liver transplant on Sunday July 1. The six-hour surgery went well. She spent 10 days in the hospital and they have finally sent her home to start the slow healing process. Her recovery is amazing. She wants a normal life so bad.
When I visited her on Saturday she told me she had received a letter from you. It will be some time before she can sit at her computer but she wanted you to know her long wait and surgery were finally over. She looks like my sister again, not a puffed up marshmallow. I know from our talks she cares alot about you and she didn’t want you to worry.

Take care and I know she will write herself as soon as she is able.”

On August 6, he got his first letter from her. He could tell it wasn’t easy for her to type. He was relieved to finally hear from her. Life was going to be rough for her for awhile but she made it this far and the transplant was over now.

” dear jamie-im getting a little better every day. slow and hard. i tried 2 send u money but my card was out of date. i have 2 call 4 a replacement. im learning how to walk n talk all over again. i am bored we each have a cell but i know that yours is much worse. i chanted nam myoho renge kyo so hard in my head-screamed it. pain meds dont work on me and i have felt everything they did 2 me.but ive turned a corner n its a little better. i think of u every day hoping u werent 2 worried. everyone has their own choices and does things that cause unhappy things to happen. my grandfather taught me from childhood – To thine OWN SELF be true. no one can know u really. some think once a loser always a loser. that isn’t true because i guess that would makes me a loser 2 – former drug addict and all that comes with it. i just didnt get caught. u arent a loser. neither am i. i have to go. nurse is here. be good! Mom”

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Letter to Jamie 2012 – Waiting For Liver Transplant

Sonni Quick April 2017

Many of you know I am doing a rewrite of Inside The Forbidden Outside, What a journey this has been since I decided Jamie’s story needed to be written.  It is not because his story is so unusual, but because there are so many people who have lived the same story.  There are different characters but the underlying theme is the same.  People need to better understand this story because too many still say the line, “If he did the crime he needs to do the time.” How do they know if he did the crime?  How do they know the underlying reason why so many live this story? 

If someone only listened to or read mainstream propaganda, which is getting worse, why would they believe anything to the contrary? They might also believe the white race is more deserving, privileged, more intelligent and less likely to do drugs or commit crimes, especially since there are so many more people of color in the prisons than white people. No part of that statement is true. Many white people can’t stand the thought they aren’t superior to other colors.  When a race has been trampled on as much as the black race and other minorities are catching up, there is an all out effort to keep white prison corporations as rich as possible off the backs of people they don’t like to continue this false illusion.

But wanting to write a book is not as easy as knowing how to spell and where to put a period.  It has taken me a couple years of writing and studying to get this far. Working with a story editor this time has given me a much better grip on what I’m doing. Anyone can self publish an inferior product and not be able to sell their book, but this is far too important to not do the best I can.

Since no one sees every post I put out, and if you are interested in what I’m doing, please subscribe to my newsletter below.  I put out an issue about once a month on different justice issues with an update on the book.  I don’t send you several emails a day like some do.  I hate that.  I also don’t have time to do that.

I am combing through 4-500 letters Jamie and I have exchanged to pull out the most important ones to use. These letters are like a diary that hold his growth into a man and our growth in communication. His effect on my life has been tremendous.  It has also been a two-way street. We would not have made it this far without each other.

********************

sick me
I’m sitting on pillows because of bedsores. I couldn’t walk by myself. My husband took me outside each day because it was Spring. Clogs were the only thing I could get my feet into

To explain where this letter is in time, I had moved from Key West, FL to Pa in August 2010 to get on the liver transplant list at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. My local Dr couldn’t help me anymore. My body had swelled with fluid and I looked like a beached whale.  They couldn’t tap me anymore to drain fluid because it was everywhere, even in my skin.  I already had two tumors in my liver and if I developed a third they would take me off the list and tell me to have a nice life. I won’t get into the details because it is fairly gross. When the liver became available the Drs told my husband, but not me, that I literally had days to live. I was bedridden and couldn’t type or hold a pen or feed myself,  but I had a laptop beside me and I typed letters with one finger.  I had no doubt I’d be okay.  I still had too much to do. Jamie’s letters were a major source of encouragement. The transplant took place July 2nd of this same year.

 

 

Date:   1/11/2012 12:12:59 PM
Sent To:        JAMES CUMMINGS

Dearest Jamie – life always goes up and down. Even for people who think they have everything so many of them aren’t happy, get depressed, and feel as though they have problems they will never get out of. But it is really all in the mind and how you view things will determine how you feel. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. I can’t imagine having a family who cares so little and who will think only of themselves when you get out and how hard it was for THEM. Rise above. Develop an inner strength that will see you through the tough times. For Xmas I am going to get you a subscription to a weekly newspaper that I read. You will understand better what I am saying. It is all about having hope. You know I am not a Christian. I am a Buddhist. The philosophies are very different. We don’t pray to an outside source to change things for us. We learn to change from the inside out. Every day I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is time for you to try something different to help you figure out your life. You tried going to church.  You tried Islam. Nothing gave you the answers you were looking for. Now it is time to help you find them. I promise you this will change your life. Here is how to sound it out. If you counted to six evenly over and over you would have the rhythm. One- two -three- four- five- six. In music it is called 6/8 time.

1.Nam ( the a is pronounced like ahh) It doesn’t matter if it is pronounced right or not.
2.myo ( like a cat’s meow but with and o ) It is the attempt that matters.
3.ho Try to say it a hundred times. When you get comfortable
4.ren- ( like rent ) with it, direct your mind to pray for what you need.
5.ge ( like gay ) Jamie, I would not have been doing this for 24 years for no
6.kyo (like myo ) reason. The more you chant, the better. I have often chanted for 3 or more hours at a time. You will feel better and your head will feel better. People will notice the change.

You are such a worthwhile person. Some days it is hard. There is good and evil. Things will happen to try and make you stop. Don’t let anyone stop you. It isn’t easy doing this through the mail, but when you start getting the World Tribune and read and learn, it will make more and more sense. This is the best present I can give you.

I’m doing a little better every day. The pain is decreasing and the excess fluid is going down from the new medication. Mike said I look like a drill sargent since I don’t have much hair except for a little buzz on the top! It used to be down to my waist. Oh well . . . it grows back. I don’t want anymore chemo that is for sure. It was that procedure that I think gave me the infection I had. But at least they caught before I got any sicker. I do have good drs. Thank goodness I have medicaid. I can’t imagine what 3 days at Hershey Med costs. Probably more than I make, or used to make in a year. So, next stop – transplant here I come!!

Little Jamie will never hate you. He doesn’t really understand, but children are very forgiving. He only wants his daddy. I was lucky for Xmas because I still had quite a few toys and books left from closing the store. I knew Megan had no money so I wanted to make sure everyone had 3 or 4 presents under the tree – including Megan. I gave Jamie a 3-D puzzle of a pirate ship that Alex helped him with. I think that was the best thing for him. It wasn’t just a toy to play with and then forget about. He could be proud that he helped make it. I had puzzles for 3 yr olds that was good for Cozmo. I got clothing for Alex and Alyssa – important things in school. Can you believe that Alex will be 15 on March 2?? He has grown to be a good kid. Meg has always been a strict disciplinarian and it is paying off – even if her daughter hates her at least every other day!

Megan has not forgotten you even though it often feels that way. She gets so quiet when I talk about you. Afraid to think too far into the future.

I won’t let you give up, Jamie, that’s the way I am. You can tell me when you feel bad. I would carry your burden if I could. Lots of love, Mom

p.s. Sounds like you had a great xmas meal. It makes the little things so appreciated. I wish you could get care boxes.
Also – I am going to pay off your med fee. It doesn’t give you any money yet, but toward the end of the month I’ll put a little on your account so you can get some things you need.

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Guards Are Always Right. Inmates Are Always Wrong

black hands on cell door, prison guard brutality
source credit: pittsburgurbanmedia.com

Today I started reading through old letters I sent Jamie. This one is six months old and it was written at the time after he had just lost his new privileges of being able to make phone calls and have contact visits – for three weeks. It was devastating to be sent back to lock up again after it took him another two years to reach a level where it was allowed. It happened because of lies by guards and no one would listen to you. The guards are always right and the inmates are always wrong – every time. If a guard does not back up whatever another guard says he, himself, will be retaliated against. When that happens it is hard to keep your anger from making you lash out.

nmrk0731
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of a lion, there what illness can be an obstacle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mention daimoku which is a Nichiren Buddhist chant – Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.  Like meditation it allows you to have better control of your mind, your thoughts. Practicing Buddhism has been very good for Jamie.  It has been part of my life for a very long time.  I started teaching Jamie Buddhist concepts and how to apply them at least 6 years ago.  Being in prison is more difficult than you can imagine, knowing the years you lose, you will never get back, and the abuse you will have to take will be humiliating, because it is wrong and there is nothing you can do about it.

Chanting, with the deep breathing you have to do, lowers your stress level.  High stress also makes his epileptic seizures  more frequent. This allows the person inside to shine. We have to understand the right thing to do, instead of responding emotionally.  But chanting doesn’t mean you will always do the right thing.  We are human.  We learn from our mistakes. Changing our habits and our reactions is a life long battle with ourselves. But I believe – asking someone or something outside ourselves to fix our problems that cause us unhappiness.  Change must come from within.  Chanting gives you time to think about your life and take responsibility for your actions.  It is about gaining the wisdom to make the right decisions to change your life – to see things in a different perspective.

Living in a prison is about as close to the concept as hell as you can get. Buddhism does not look at hell as a place you go to when you die, but rather a life condition you live in here on earth. What better describes that life condition than a maximum security prison.

This letter was sent using jpay.com, a system set up for most state prisons, not federal. I can type an email letter, or send money through them.  To send a letter costs one “stamp” per page.  To send a picture is one stamp.  Two pictures is two stamps.  The advantage is they get it faster, and my typing is easier to read than my handwriting!  I do write, though, because I know it is a more personal connection.

 
Date: 5/11/2015  5:18:10 PM
Sent To: JAMES CUMMINGS
Attachments:

Hello son,

Just a quick letter today. I wanted you to know that I did talk to Ms Johnson in classification. She said you had to go to the UCC (prison court) on May 12 for a case. She said she didn’t have anymore information. She said after that you would be released, but she didn’t say released to where. Jamie, you can’t fight them. I know this is so hard. You worked so hard and waited so long for your privileges but they always find a way to knock you down even if they have to lie to do it. I know they didn’t do you right. You need to keep the bigger picture in mind and put all the rest of the garbage out where it belongs – in the trash. I know it’s hard.

You probably won’t get this letter in time – but chant daimoku (Nichiren Buddhism) before you go to court.  Center your mind. Stay calm. You have grown so much and learned so much, but that doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes sometimes. The harder we try to change, life throws curve balls at us to keep us down. But if you remember there is something to learn from everything, you will be okay. This will  be over one day. It will be behind you and you will have a chance to live again. Have faith in that. You will have a life and it will be a life you will be proud of. All of this  you are going through is making you the person you are. A person with compassion. A person who will always know what it is like when the chips are down. You are learning things through all of this. I will be chanting for you tomorrow to be strong. Have no doubt, Jamie. Keep your dreams in the front of your head.

You might find this a bit funny. You REALLY upset Bill (my egotistic brother-in-law who uses his knowledge of the Bible as a way to feel important, but doesn’t apply any teachings inside the covers to his own life) with that plastic Christian remark you called him. If the shoe fits, wear it. My sister and family had a field day ripping you and me to shreds because of how much he “helped” you, and you had the nerve to expect him to follow through with the things he said he could do for you,.  I should have known better. You bruised his inflated ego. If it weren’t true it wouldn’t have bothered him so much. He knows what he did – he just didn’t want anyone else to find out about it. He said were ungrateful. It must have made him feel good to rip apart our relationship. Well, I hope he enjoyed himself. After all he is such a sincere Christian. You are a much better man than he is. The law of cause and effect applies to him as well. Hearing those words, “Cause and effect” makes him go berserk with rage.  But isn’t it the same as, “You reap what you sow”?

reap what you sow

My mom wants to have a happy family. It ain’t gonna happen any time soon. I wouldn’t go to any family affairs if they invited me, which I doubt they will – because I don’t like to be around plastic people either. I have other people in my life who know who I am and care about me. After almost 5 years of trying to have a family since I moved here – I give up. I just can’t live life they way they do. I can’t pretend.  But remember – the best revenge against people like that is to have a good, happy life. Live with the principles you know to be true. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

On that note – write me asap and let me know what’s up. What a mess this all is. I love you. Never forget that.

Your mom

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My letter to Jamie at Huntsville Prison

I have posted so many letters from Jamie to me.  Today I decided to post one of my letters to Jamie.  This one was written earlier this month.  I usually write him about every week, but lately, since he lost his privileges and has been alone more, I’ve been writing more frequently.  I haven’t gotten a letter in the past couple weeks and it could be for a variety of reasons like being out of stamps and not allowed to go to the commissary, or he might be too down, or a letter is in the mail.  I try not to worry.  If I go for too long I call the prison and make sure he’s still there and okay.  I usually send my letters through http://jpay.com  His inmate number is 1368189.  if you wanted to write to him, it’s easy, and costs the price of a stamp.  If you don’t want to register with them.  Send him an email to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com and I will forward it to him through jpay.  He’d write you back if you left a return address.  If you aren’t comfortable with that, tell him to send his reply to me, and I will email it to you.  It doesn’t have to be long letter.  Just something that would put a smile on his face!

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prison Mail

May 5th 2015

Hello Son,

Is it stupid to ask how your day was today? Probably. It’s going to be a long hot summer. Starting off with something positive, Mike and I are setting up this year’s garden. Since I don’t think he gets enough exercise – no amount of suggesting it to him has any effect.  I can see this year it is an effort and he poops out quickly. Not that I can say anything different for myself. Being shut in the house all winter because of the cold does take an effect on muscle tone. I’m sure you feel it, too, but you still have the advantage of youth on your side.

The weather has been wonderful, and on the humid side, but I love humidity when compared to cold. We’ve been laying down an extra couple inches of fertilized dirt and I started planting vegetables and flowers. I’ll send pictures when it actually has green stuff growing in it! yes, I’ve had some sore muscles, but it’s a good sore because these muscles needed to be abused a bit.  Bending over is the only good position to be in for my back.  it separates the spine so it’s less painful.

I finished writing part of a chapter today. I have to look and see which ones I haven’t sent you yet. I started another blog. I think I told you. It has only partial chapters in to created interest. This one is about medical issues and this is only one part of the chapter – the time you had to go to the dentist to have some teeth cut out. Please read it and see if it is missing anything.  You wrote about it in two letters.  I so understand the pain you were in.

I know you don’t like to write about this, but your epilepsy has played a very major part in your life, and the way you have been treated at the prison during seizures has been so wrong. Honestly, how are they now? You sometimes tell me when you’ve had one, but how often do they occur and how different are they. I want to write more about medical experiences.  Seizures are different for different people.  I know it’s been hard on you since the day you were born.

I looked it up on the web to read what everyone else said, but each person experiences something different because they might be caused by some other problem. Will you tell me more about them? Your mother said you were born having a seizure and for a long time you had them one after another back to back. You couldn’t have been able to go to school, could you? She told me she never let you out of her sight – you could never go and play at friend’s houses or have sleep overs because she was afraid you’d have a seizure. Megan told me once that your siblings used to laugh at you and kick at you sometimes when you were having a seizure, but I don’t know if that was true. Is this why you didn’t have many friends? You must have been very lonely as a child. I haven’t done much research on it yet, but what is the long term affect? It can’t be good. Your mom said you had brain surgery when you were about 12 and it was able to stop some of the bleeding and it cut back on how many seizures you had, but it didn’t stop them completely. I know you’ve had quite a lot of seizures while you’ve been in there. I remember you told me once that you woke up from one to find you were cuffed – for their protection.

Because getting good medical care inside prison is a big issue for many people, I read about it a lot. This is why I want to write about this medical issue of yours and how it’s been treated, to come out in this book. You also mentioned in different letters in different years about the problem with your knees swelling and it’s been painful. I know you asked about getting the fluid drained and the dr said it would never be approved. A very simple procedure that would have helped the pain and they wouldn’t do it. You said once they told you had arthritis except that isn’t a symptom of arthritis I don’t think – at least it isn’t a symptom I ever heard of. Is this still a problem for you? You wrote about for several years at times. If there is anything else medical – even if it is someone else, if you can, tell me about it.

In your mid teens when you started hanging with the wrong people – I did the same thing. I was 17 when I started smoking pot but it wasn’t until I was 18 and left home that I got into harder drugs. I was always a loner and I didn’t know how to make friends. I couldn’t see why anyone would want to even be my friends, but when I did speed I was able to be outgoing and fun to be around. It helped me be a different person. I dropped out of college and mostly I hung out in pool halls and bars. I became a really good pool player – could beat most everyone unless they were pro.  There many things I was involved in that could have gotten me in trouble. But it didn’t.  I wasn’t a bad person, just a screwed up kid – just like you. You are paying such a high price for your mistakes.  Hopefully we will be able to create some good out of it and help other people through your experience.

Also – you should have got your stuff back by now – your books and other belongings they took away, but I will soon order you some more books. Well – better go to bed. Sleep well. Try to chant some D’s and keep your energy focused in a positive way and keep your future pictured in your mind until it becomes a reality. I’m right there with you. Remember that. Love, mom.

Jamie Cummings Blog and Sonni Quick’s Piano Music

hoto credit: cooperpiano.com
hoto credit: cooperpiano.com

In addition to being a writer, I am foremost a musician. My instrument is piano and I have played for 53 of my 60 years, and have taught for 42 years. I spent years singing and playing piano in piano bars and with various bands. I had to give that up 13 years ago due to health problems, but after that, my music changed. I no longer played what other people have written and play only what comes from me. I only improvise, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to have a way to record it when I’m playing at home. I still stop at every piano I see in any club or piano setting and play for free. Now I write music for this website. Music is on some of the posts. I like to close my eyes, preferably in a pitch dark room so I have no distractions and play whatever emotion I’m feeling. To me, it’s not only about the notes you hear being played, but also the spaces in between where the sound of the notes come together.

Then I don’t listen to it for a few days. When I play it back and I am sometimes amazed by what I hear because the emotion is there. I can’t repeat anything I record. I would just sit and play something else. Here is a link to the last post that has my most recent recording: https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/02/08/in-prison-who-do-you-have-to-care-about-your-day/ There is a link at the menu button on the top of the main page https://mynameisjamie.net/ that has a link that says piano music links. After that, the most important post to read starts with “I want to encourage you. . .” the entrance to the blog that tells you how to navigate it..

When my book, InsideOut, is released, I want to include with it, a CD of the music I have written and posted on this site. It is strange knowing that more people have heard the music of Sonni Quick this past year on the internet then they ever did before when I was playing live.  Maybe it is my second chance. For quite a long time, I thought my identity was gone. Not being able perform and spend time in recording studios anymore was a loss where I felt much grief, as if a leg had been cut off. For so many years my identity was that of a musician and I didn’t feel I had the right to call myself that anymore. Who was I? It was a difficult question to answer. It has taken awhile to realize that identity didn’t disappear, it was just hiding until I found it again.

After nearly losing my life due to liver disease and cancer, making the most of my life now has changed my perspective. Jamie helped me through that illness and recuperation and being confined to my bed for nearly three years. His letters of encouragements were something I looked forward to. As soon as I was well enough and I could type again. ( I had to relearn many things) I started writing http://mynameisjamie.net and also http://watchandwhirl.com. My music has all been inspired by my feelings when I write about Jamie. Many are sad because it sometimes gets overwhelming when the writing gets heavy. That is when I go to the piano and play. Now I can just plug my piano into my computer instead of putting my Nook near the speaker, and the quality of the recording is better. The music and the blog go together.

Aren’t there sometimes people who come into your life and you feel like you’ve known them forever, and there is a bond there that feels different from the way you feel about other people you meet? You feel there is a reason they came into your life? People come and people go out of our lives.  Why is it that some people become special?

Please leave a response, and use the yellow stars. In a club people can clap and tell me personally what they think. Now your written response is all I have. All criticism is also welcome. If you want to join other people who want to know how the book, InsideOut, is coming along, with the possibility of future purchase, please fill out the comment form below.

And also, in advance, thanks, Sonni Quick

Prison Email Through jpay.com

emailWhen I write to Jamie I often write to him through an email system http://jpay.com. I can send him an email letter or send him money. I also buy the “stamps” it takes to send the letter that are the same cost of a regular stamp and it costs the same as a regular stamp cost and changes when stamp costs changes, although none of this money goes to the government. You can buy books of stamps of just a few up to 40 stamps. If anyone were to want to send him an email his prison number is #1368189 and he is in Texas. I know he would be very surprised, and when other people have written to at different occassions, he has written back.

I was going through old letter that I wrote him and I came upon this one written 3 1/2 years ago. i thought it was interesting because it was the first time I talked to him about writing a book. The idea of this blog hadn’t entered my head yet, but at this point we did have five years of of letters accumulated. i haven’t even gone back into these letters yet because they are in a box in my garage and it is way too freezing cold to go look for them. Besides, I still have letters I haven’t gone through. It don’t think when I took it on how much work it was going to be. I also didn’t know what a labor of love it was going to be, or the possible impact it was going to have on his life. I don’t regret a minute of it.

I will be going through more of my letters to him to find ones that are relevant to letters He wrote to me – since these are letters “shared” between us as the tag line goes. It took a lot to get him to start opening up more and talking about things that are private. He also wasn’t used to anyone thinking his life was special in any way. he was more embarrassed or ashamed of being there. That has been awhile back now. he’s dome a long way and has grown into a person I am proud to know.

From: Sonni Quick
Date: 7/18/2011 7:27:19 PM
Sent To: JAMES CUMMINGS

Hello my son. I just wanted to make sure that you knew I put more money in your acct. Also, I ordered the mag sub and bought you a new book from Amazon. It’s being sent from Texas by a company that sells new books, but I just thought of something. Even though it is new the box won’t say Amazon. So you might not get it. Will they let you know at least? If they won’t let you have it then I’ll get another one for you from Amazon.

I have an idea that I want to do so let me know what you think. It will take a lot of work from you. I want to write the story of your life – from as far back as you remember. All the details of who you are and what it was like growing up. All the truth. If you give me the facts I will write the story. You might not think you have anything worth saying, but I do. You’ve had a hard life. I’ve done some research and there isn’t much out there that explains how someone gets to where you are. I think we could write an interesting book ( The beginning of Inside Out) and who knows where it might lead to. I have someone who is going to help me because there are lots of rules to writing. Maybe it could help your parole. It would also give you something to do with your time. Think about it and tell me what you think. There are some things I know about you but there is a lot I don’t know. Take care. Love, Mom

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Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years.  It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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