One Foot After The Other (and Don’t Look Back)

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The only legacy of real value you leave behind when you leave this earth is the effect you had on other people. It is powerful because you can change lives – for the better or for the worse. Affecting someone’s life means they will affect others. Lift them up or drag them down. In that way you live on through others long after you are gone.

What you do, say and think always has a consequence. We see that work in a negative way when parents, teachers and preachers teach children to be prejudiced and judgemental toward others in many ways. They grow up to be racist adults, or teens who bully classmates they think are inferior. They were taught to think like that.

Instead, think about how you want to affect the world around you. Take responsibility for all you do and don’t blame others for your life. This is what I have taught Jamie. He is responsible for his life as we all are. I have tried to show him through example. I’ve tried to teach him what he had no chance learn going through his youth. I’m sure his mother loved him. That love is unconditional, but we can only teach what we know.

The more you give the more you get. You reap what you sow – what goes around comes around, no matter what faith you practice. I practice Nichiren Buddhism. It has taught me more about myself than any other teaching. It taught me compassion for all people, not just people you decide is worthy based on your chosen faith. It taught me how to live and I’m still alive – so I can finish what I’ve started.

Life has been upside down the past few months. I didn’t have time to put out a newsletter  because there are only so many hours in a day. Many people have followed the blog at My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison and read blog posts about the reality of prison and how it affected his Jamie’s state of mind. I hope to think that being there for him and  knowing someone cared, helped him get through days when he felt like giving up. He couldn’t understand why his family wasn’t there to help him go through the extreme loneliness of a prison cell.

When I tried to encourage letters and explained to his family how lost Jamie felt I was told, “Just because he got hisself in trouble doesn’t mean my life stopped.”

I was then told, ” I’m not going to answer this because you’re really starting to piss me off.”

“My telling you the truth pisses you off?” I replied. “If I am wrong about any of this, please tell me where.”

“Really, it’s not your concern,” I was told. “Jamie lies a lot.”
That’s a good one. It’s hard to keep a lie going for ten years, especially when there is no reason.

“It is my concern,” I replied. “Tell me what the lie is.”

Silence

I couldn’t understand that attitude. This came from a blog post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” These excerpts were taken from that post. It still brings me to tears. I was helping his brother and for that I got slapped down. How dare I care. He’s the father of my grandson but his welfare was not my concern. 

I do not write about this in the book. I don’t say how I feel. The book isn’t about them. The most I say is how lonely he is not understanding why no one writes to him and I don’t mention any names.

Trying to finish the book and making the money to pay an editor has been a challenge. Opening an online store to make money has been fun – but more expensive than I thought. I didn’t know what I was doing. I paid marketing companies for guidance. I worked it and now I think I have a nice looking store with good products and I work on getting it in front of people every day. Slowly sales are picking up. Now I’m building a new website around the store that will have more to offer than just items to buy to give it value. I’ve learned, though, that making money the first year in business is difficult. Just staying afloat with enough sales to cover overhead eats up the most of the hours in my day and all of the profit. Most business apps have monthly fees. There are fees on top of fees.

My health is declining. I’ve been fighting for more life for 20 years when Hep C was diagnosed. Everything that could go wrong, has. I was stupid in my early 20’s and through a boyfriend I did IV drugs. It didn’t last long, but it was too late. But everything happens for a reason. What has it taught me about myself? So much. Symptoms started in my mid 30’s. I have fought hard to stay alive and today cancer is showing its head – again –

Radiation on my head after ear removal

The ugly scar you can see part of near the bottom of the photo toward the left is a botched skin graft that was supposed to heal into a thin line that eventually would fade. It is 6 months old and painful to touch because it cut into nerves. It’s more than 3″ long and still inflamed. The Dr wants to shoot a bunch of needles off cortisone into it. That will be painful. The red ball on top of my ear that looks like a wad of gum is where my ear was cut off. The skin graft was supposed be fashioned into a place my glasses arm could rest. A kinda sorta ear . There is nowhere now to put an arm from glasses. The bandaid is the biopsy site where the lump is. But hey! My hair color is real!

I’ve had several issues with cancer. Liver cancer and skin cancer – common with liver transplant patients. Which was in 2012. In Oct 2018  I had skin cancer and a pie wedge was cut out of one ear. It didn’t stop in January I ended up the top half of that ear cut off. “I am confident I got it all,” the Dr said. But he didn’t. I had radiation and it burnt off the hair on the side of the head. It didn’t stop it. Now it is spreading  internally and I have a lump on my neck. On July 15th I am having surgery – a neck dissection – to cut out all of the lymph nodes on the side and back of my neck and more radiation. If it spread further then it’s chemo time. My body can’t fight it because I’m on anti- rejection meds to suppress my immune system to keep the liver. I have lived so far for a reason.

My transplant doctor told me they lose more transplant patients because of squamous cell carcinoma than anything else. The fight is on.

I say this only because. . . I don’t know why I’m saying it other than it has complicated my life further and I’m trying to figure out where to put it in my head. I spent 12 years writing to him and 3.5 years writing this book and recording the music and videos to promote it. It’s given me a reason to keep going. I have to finish it.

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I wanted to write this book for the many people who have been through prison and understand the psychological effects of long term isolation. I want the profit from the sale of the book to help Jamie start his life again and be a father to his son, my grandson. Certain people have tried to turn this into something ugly. People enjoy negative gossip. They have no idea what this book is about. They have never read it or asked about it, but they’ve known I’ve been writing it.

Now Jamie is out, and the book isn’t complete yet. I need money and I’m stressing over the lack of it. I need to pay professional editors to work with me. This is why I started the store. Thank goodness he didn’t have to do the entire sentence and was paroled four years early. Now he can see his son, his only child.

I had just finished radiation from the last surgery and I couldn’t be there when he got out. No one was there. For thirteen years he was “Inside The Forbidden Outside. ” It was his first time being on the outside and he had to take a bus to his brother’s house. He had no way to call me even if he could. I was on a train headed back home because I found a lump on my neck.

A friend of 40 years, another musician, also a Nichiren Buddhist (and my 2nd ex-husband) suggested I start a gofundme campaign. It is really hard to ask for money. He told me there would be people who understood. I was amazed because I already have had a couple contributions. If you read the campaign you’ll see I will be sending them a free copy of the book and music when it’s published.

I estimate I have about 6 chapters to rewrite. This is the 2nd draft. With a story editor to guide me I’m sure there will be revisions. I can’t put out a book that is less than professional. There is also sequel planned, because this book only goes in time from 2006 to 2016. The sequel picks up there and goes through getting out and re-entry. Cancer isn’t going to stop me from finishing. But maybe, because of what is happening I should extend the chapters beyond 2016.

A BIT OF JAMIE’S EARLY LIFE, BEFORE PRISON.

To understand Jamie’s story a little more if you haven’t been to the blog and read the pages at the top ot any early affiliates

Jamie  spent so much of his life removed from society, never learning how life works. Four years in juvenile detention starting late in his 16th year, to keep his little brother from being sentenced after hitting a cop with a broom when he forced his way into their home. The cop knocked down their mother and broke her wrist. They wanted to send a little boy to juvenile detention for defending his mother because someone needed to be responsible and it just wasn’t going to be the cop. There have been many articles in the media showing cops doing the exact same thing to other families, but back then in the late ’90s the internet wasn’t what it is today.

The attorney convinced Jamie to do his brother’s nine month sentence, except they had no intention of letting him leave until he was 21. By then he was so depressed he was kept in a different facility far from home for incarcerated youth with mental issues. Epileptic seizures and having no family near was wrong.  He lost the rest of his youth and high school years. When was he supposed to develope the wisdom and social skills he needed to understand to get through life. Who were the right people to be friends with? So he picked the wrong people to be friends with. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends put him in prison before his son was born. I took care of my daughter until my grandson was a year old when she left to go back to Texas.

I helped Jamie through his prison sentence because everyone in his life who should have been there for him – wasn’t. No one helped him after the first year.  Letters and visits were as rare as snowstorms are in Texas. Money for things he needed, such as stamps and hygiene products or paying his medical fees were paid by me as well as books to read, extra food, ( he’s a big man) and even candy to bribe the guards.

Our letters are a journey through what went on his head. The emotional toll. He suffered through the heat with no air conditioning – summers when he passed out from the heat, and when guards cuffed his wrists and legs during a seizure, or when 5 guards picked him up and rammed his head into a wall or wouldn’t let him see a dentist when his impacted wisdom teeth got infected.

I will be there for him to lean on until his knowledge and experiencecatches up with his 36 years and he is a confident, strong man with a life of purpose.

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Surviving After-Inside the Forbidden Outside-GoFundMe

 

Click on the link below to go to the actual Gofundme campaign page. 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/surviving-after-quotinside-the-forbidden-outsidequot&rcid=r01-156113009536-8d936ff586f5470e&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_m

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I need help to help someone else. For twelve years I was the only one who cared enough to help this man. It has taken a lot for me to ask for it. But I can’t do what I need to do without it. Here is my story:

The video explains who Jamie Cummings is and the book I am writing, Inside the Forbidden Outside, along with recording a music soundtrack of original piano improvisations for each chapter as well as music videos you can find on Youtube. This music aids the journey just as music accompanies a movie. I may be naive but I can see this story as a Hulu or Netflix series as the chapters go through quite a few prisons he was sent to around Texas. The feedback I have gotten from many people who have experienced even part of what I have written has been overwelming. There have been hundreds of comments.

The book and music take the reader inside Jamie’s head to experience the emotional trauma living quite a number of the 13 years inside a solitary cell in adseg, administrative segregation, a fancy word for solitary where he spent most of the years. I am 2/3 through the second draft as I have finetuned the story. You can read chapters at mynameisjame.net .

The music soundtrack makes this book unique. You can stream it at sonniquick.net  The book cover is done and is at the beginning of of every post at the blog that is a chapter. I also opened an online store to make money, but it is new and it takes awhile to cultivate a customer base. It is only for the continental US so far.  You can see it at Watch and Whirl Shop

This story needs to be told. It isn’t unique. It is the story of many people locked up who couldn’t afford an attorney. I wanted this to be complete before he got out, but he was unexpectedly paroled 2 weeks ago and had to go stay with family who had done little for him through the years. The proceeds from the book will help him be able to start his life. 36 years old with the life experiences of a teenager.

It tells the story of what severe deprivation can do to a human being. It goes through medical crises in prison caused by inadequate medical care and having epilepsy. You can feel the depth of his depression at not being able to see his only child, born after he was incarcerated, and his loneliness waiting for someone to visit who rarely came.

No one would take his son to see him. He was afraid he would hate him because he was locked up. I went to Texas every couple years, but I couldn’t go enough. So we wrote many hundreds of letters, his diary of sorts. As I near completion I have no way to pay a professional editor to look it over.

I can’t let him down. I promised I’d be there – to help him get an education, help guide him, help him find a way to survive. To help write the sequel, have him help with the business end, get him a computer and teach him how to make money online, and learn how to help others. He is the father of my grandson. He is family more than most of my own family. We have been there for each others through letters and they would break your heart.

I am on disability and have been recently fighting cancer – again. The video you saw was made early this year before I started treatment again. I have been unable to get to Texas to see him since 10/17. I have been determined to finish the book, but I have read too many self-edited books to take a chance with its success because I couldn’t see something wrong.

A couple months ago I went online to the TDCJ website – Texas Department of Criminal Justice – and found out he was approved for parole. They hadn’t even told him. 2 weeks ago he walked out the doors, with an ankle monitor. There was no one there to meet him. I had known no one would be there for him. I wanted so much to be there but it happened so fast I couldn’t. He was parole to the outside without any preparation. He made his way by bus to his brother’s house who had only visited him once in ten years.

The money I want to raise isn’t for me. I have tried to do this on my own.  A friend recommended I try this site to raise the money.  I want to go to Texas to go over the manuscript with him. He needs a laptop to work with me as I write the last chapters before editing. I have 70,000 words. I estimate it will end at 95,000 words. Writing through the years I am at 2012. It ends at 2016. The sequel picks up from there and goes through re-entry and all of its issues.

Thank you for any help you can give. I make this promise. The names of every single person who helps will be listed in the book. With any donation of $15 I will send you a free ebook and music when it is published and with $25 or more I will send you a signed copy of the book and downloadable copy of the album. I will give anyone who asks, a record of how the money was spent.

 

Jamie’s Parole, the Book, and Watch and Whirl

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As I insert this photo of Jamie I thought of how nice it would be to have new pictures. This is from my last visit October 2017.

My Apologies For Disappearing Lately

The last six weeks or so I haven’t posted much. Before that I spent more time writing the book instead of blog posts so most posts were chapters or music. Life got complicated and I’ve needed 36 hours a day to stay on top of it. In addition I’m going through radiation on my head for another bout of cancer. But since this blog is for Jamie I will begin with the most important news. Jamie’s parole news.

Jamie was approved for parole. I found out online before he found out. I received a letter asking me to check on the parole hearing he had LAST AUGUST, because no one would tell him anything. I’ve been in high gear ever since.

I was doubtful about him getting parole because he had nothing to work with. No trade, still in agseg and no certificates to show he had done anything to improve himself – because the prison wouldn’t let him.

There are different kinds of parole, different levels of releases, which was new info for me. It depends on the crime, or if it was for drugs and even if he had been a user, because they don’t want ex-inmates to hook up with the same people again. There are plenty of ways to get drugs in prison so if you’re an addict you don’t have to get clean. But drugs were not Jamie’s thing and he didn’t go near it inside. There are also different kinds of supervision if you are paroled, and how often you have to see a parole officer. There are also fines you might need to pay.

Parole isn’t cheap. You have to pay your parole officer each time you go. I don’t know if rules are different in each state, but I’d guess they are since everything else about incarceration is different. No prison is ever fun, but some states are REALLY not a state you want to be incarcerated in.

Jamie’s classification is Fl-1. I think it goes up to Fl-7. I contacted the women in a Facebook group called, “Loved ones in Allred Unit”, to see if anyone could answer my questions about parole. They said it would probably get a date in 1-3 months. On Facebook, some of the large prisons have groups so wives, mothers and girlfriends (and the occasional man) can communicate about what is happening at a particular prison – lockdowns, visits and even weddings. They share photos of their loved ones and often just need to talk and share their worry when they haven’t heard from someone inside. Often they are new to the prison system and have questions.

There is also a group for those incarcerated anywhere in Texas, “Loved ones in TDCJ. ” Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Allred Unit is the largest prison in Texas so there are enough people to keep a group going. Even when Jamie was moved to Hughes Unit last year for a program that really accomplished nothing, I maintained contact in the Allred group because they know who Jamie is.

Fl-1 means they have to investigate if he can survive on the outside. They contact family and make sure he has support on the outside. They don’t approve you and set you out the doors. You are moved to a “pre-release” prison where they have resources and try to prepare you – a step – down program. I am still learning what happens next. They have to make sure he has an address to parole to; family or a halfway house. Will he have a job? He had been on disability for epilepsy. Can he reapply? How does he get his epilepsy meds? He has no work history. He doesn’t even have a GED because the prison wouldn’t raise him to a classification that would allow him to take any kind of classes.

Jamie’s family haven’t helped him during these years except at the very beginning, so I wonder what they’ll do when the novelty of his release wears off. Paying his way will take even more money now. What kind of job could he get that would enable him to pay rent IF a landlord would rent to him. He will go to his brothers house who has wife and two very young children. Will his brother begrudge the time and effort support him long enough?? He wouldn’t visit him in prison.

In January of this year his brother visited him for the first time in TEN years. When I tried to convince him to visit a few years ago his response was, “Its not my fault he’s in there.” Excuse me?? Is that a reason? Ten years? Maybe it will be okay, but that attitude doesn’t make me confident. All these years his family knew I was taking care of what Jamie needed and not once did anyone say, “I’ll pay his medical fee this year,”or “I’ll buy his food box this quarter” or put money in his account, even for hygiene. Yes, I have doubts about how this will work out. They can’t pretend they were there for him. How long will his brother and wife be tolerant of Jamie being around – feeding him, buying clothing, driving him places. His brother wouldn’t help him buy a stick of deodorant at the commissary so supporting him until he gets on his feet might be more than he is willing to do. That worries me.

So I’m asking for help from anyone who will.

I wanted to be better prepared. I wanted the book to be published. I understand better what it will take to promote it. I wanted to be father along.

watchandwhirlShop

watchandwhirl.ecwid.com 

ebay.com/str/watchandwhirlshop

On Facebook, just search Watch and Whirl. I don’t have a Url yet. I am also going to be turning my WordPress blog into a business site and put the site there, too.

A few months ago I opened an online e-commerce store in three locations, selling a variety of items from things for your home, nautical furnishings, musical items, jewelry and more. I’m choosy. Some online stores have thousands of items hoping to sell a few, but I only add items I like if have in my own home.

I opened these stores because I am on disability and need to pay a story editor to go over my book manuscript for “Inside the Forbidden Outside.” I also need a line editor. I have worked for four years writing and rewritingas I have learned how to write (and still learning). There are hundreds of letters strewn across half of my bed as I cross check what happened over the years with my letters that are on file online at JPay.com which is how I “email” letters to Jamie. It takes both his letters and mine to piece together his story.

In addition, there is the music I have recorded to go with each chapter. I spent four hours today working on a new recording. This is a much longer process than sitting down and writing just the book. Although I have used fiction to piece the story together, the events that happen in the book did happen. I did have to create some of the dialogue, especially in the dream sequences I use instead of printing parts of letters.

The amount of time I have put into this, if I did a crappy job during the editing phase it would put it all in jeopardy. But I’m on disability. My age and health doesn’t allow me the luxury of working an outside job.  Writing Jamie’s story has given me a reason to keep going. It has been my purpose. We have much to do when he gets out, including writing the sequel – from 2016 until.. . . now and through reentry.

I opened a store. I’ve written about it already – Watch and Whirl – at three locations, because I desperately need to make money. My disability check doesn’t cut the mustard. I have an online location, and a store on Facebook and eBay, which also has auctions.

I had no idea how many hours it was going to take each day, or what I was going to have to learn to make it work. I’m still learning. I also don’t have the advertising budget that is needed to put out Facebook ads, which has the #1 spot for marketing businesses online.

Yes, I’ve been having some sales success, but not enough to cover the overhead I have accrued with even the monthly fees of being in business. And trying to work on finishing up the book, writing music and taking care of 2 blogs – well, there are only so many hours in each day.

So those who know what I do – and some of you have followed me for 5 years – go take a look at my store. Maybe it will be of interest. Maybe it won’t. It continues to grow and change. All of this is to help Jamie. Now that he is being paroled, the pressure to make it come together is real.

I can’t sell internationally yet, but you could share my store on Facebook on your social media pages. It is all about people sharing.

In the meantime, I have a PayPal account. If you could send even a couple dollars to help, go to paypal.com and send it to the email address set up for him: squick@mynameisjamie.net

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My! My New Online Store

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I’d like you to message me directly at the store using this link. Did I set it up correctly, messaging from a different location? Does it go to you messaging me? I also changed the storefront if you saw the first one.

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My! I feel like I am crazily sprinting down the yellow brick road looking for the Emerald City, which looks just like my new store, Watch and Whirl (the online site, not the Facebook store. The Facebook store will take you to this site), inside a crazy dream and sometimes it scares the bejeezus out of me. I have semi-panic attacks thinking, “What have I done?” This all stems from the need to promote Jamie’s book. I have started this and I am in too deep financially to back out even if I wanted to, so every waking moment is spent on how to make the store work, scraping together money to pay for ads and trying to squeeze out time to write and record music – and to promote them. I can feel the stress and that has taken a lot of deep breathing to stay in control.

If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t you can’t.  You are right about both

Life has been overwhelmingly busy with the opening up of my online business. I will be converting my other blog, Watch and Whirl, into a business blog that will also host my store, and the blog will still be there as well. You can also find the store at Facebook by searching on the words, Watch and Whirl. This project has been more intense than I thought it would be. Advertising money is scarce and put me further in debt. The store will also go onto other platforms like Shopify and Amazon and others after this. I’ve been stocking it with all kinds of neat product, and it is 1/5 full. It is has a long way to grow! If you don’t use facebook and want to go to the online store here is the the URL

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The reason I am doing this because I need the money to hire an editor and to help Jamie get on his feet when he gets out, as well as help him now. Everything happens for a reason. If we open our eyes to the things that cross our life and act on them, we can succeed – if we believe in ourselves and focus intently on success in our future. This is what I have been teaching Jamie. If you doubt yourself you won’t succeed, but you eat it, sleep it and dream it – you can make it happen. I have to show that in my own life – with my music, the book and now this store which will earn me the money to make it a success.

An added bonus is the knowledge I am gaining about advertising and marketing that will be put to good use when the book is done and needs to be promoted. Some people write a book, put it on amazon and then try to learn what to do with it. I have been working on this for over 4 years, while learning how to write and writing a chapter over and over until I feel good about it. I will not put out sloppy product. It won’t sell, and I believe the message it has inside will help many other people who have been through this same situation, along with all of the family and friends who know what the prison system is doing to people. we talk about it but it doesn’t change. There is much many people need to learn so we can stand up and make it change instead of waiting for someone else to do it. When Jamie gets out he wants to be part of that change. But if you don’t have confidence in yourself you can’t do anything.

I’d like you to message me directly at the store using this link. I’ll get back with you as soon as I get it.

Jamie is very important to me. His relationship with my grandson is important. I want them to be happy. I hope this will spill over to my daughters life because she has been angry with me over what I am doing because she wanted to forget about him and go on with her life. But I cannot tell someone that I will be there for him and help him through this 17 years and back out. He has had a bad enough time as it is spending these years in adseg – administration segregation – which is solitary confinement. These years would have destroyed him, but instead he is strong and confident because I have been here to hold him up when the going got tough. I won’t let him down now.

If my message link isn’t working right, go to the store on Facebook and SEND ME A MESSAGE from there. It is either on the front under the store picture or with the “about” info links. I don’t know how you see the store. I can’t interact with you unless you send me a message first. Then, as the store changes and I have neat stuff I can send you updates and you can share them. Facebook is going to shortly kill off the news feed. It is already almost impossible to get info out with paying fb a lot of money. They are going to change to a messaging and groups platform which will stop a lot of the nastiness going on. fb is all about the user experience, not business ads.

One last important thing.  I don’t have international shipping – yet, but your friends and other contacts might live here and you can share things with them.

And if I’m not making sense I’m running on severe lack of sleep. Love you all!