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It's Hot in Prison



Man, It’s Hot in Here

Think about this. Whenever it’s frigging hot outside in your town, think about the inmates inside our prisons. However you feel about their plight, know this...it gets hot as hell inside some of the classrooms where we conduct our writing classes. Tempers flare. Lockdowns occur. Case in point is Chowchilla, the biggest women’s prison in the world. We hold our classes in a small band room. The class is completely full. The electric fan available to us is so gargantuan and loud, it precludes us from using it. So we sit in our tight weekly circle and...literally...sweat it out. Has it affected our attendance? No way. I’ll carry to my grave the memory of all these writers, women inmates, fanning themselves with their homemade paper fans.  Outside of a couple of exasperated gasps, nobody complains. We just soldier on.

Last week our assignment was to write about money. Specifically, Who wants to be a millionaire? And if so, what would you do with the money? Help your community? Revel in bling? Most of the replies were magnanimous, which begs the question, does a life of incarceration, owning very little, change your outlook towards materialism? Prison in many instances, especially in the majority of instances, is a forced vow of poverty. Many inmates don’t have families who send packages, much less visit. Meanwhile, a lot of us these days are taking an interest in living minimally. So looking forward to discussing that aspect of the writing assignment.

One more thing. I visited the Sonoma County Fair this weekend. As what happens when I visit an art exhibit (like the recent Warhol exhibit at the SFMOMA) or something similar, I usually remember to take pictures and print off some of the sights for our incarcerated students. Kinda like bringing the exhibits to them. Anyway, I took a couple dozen pics of the carnival site, principally the deluge of fried food stands with their outrageous artwork. I wonder if anyone really misses those bizarre fried foods like deep fried candy bars. I know I probably wouldn’t. We shall see.


Kent Z