“‘Peace, pot, microdot. It’s just a phrase old hippies use.’
'How are you doing?' 'Good, except I just found out the world was going to end in 2012.'
Now that I know I’m leaving this job, I feel compelled to write again. I feel ashamed I haven’t written down the things that have and haven’t mattered. After you immerse yourself in a world for a while, it seems normal. These people I’ve talked to day in and day out seem like people I’ve known for a while. Stories I’ve heard before. Will I ever forget how to talk to the recently released? They are still in prison, some of them. Prisons in their minds. Many of those that have sat across my desk are not memorable, maybe because they think they don’t need to be remembered. Monosyllabism is the quickest way to freedom - freedom from connection, others. I am the other, and have never pretended not to be. I have to google ‘peace pot and microdot’ because of my lack of experience with LSD, with prison jargon. Maybe because I’ve been here long enough, I have heard enough stories of Hep C and running the yard and write ups for not wanting to work in the kitchen (dish soap is harsh, and you can’t sneak salt into the food) - maybe all these things turn into just another day on the job. But how about the people that tell me these stories? Some of them recount prison stories with pride, some with shame, some with marked indifference. Some refuse to share these stories all together. And here I am, the benevolent voyeur, trying to pry betterness out of them. I tell them that this was their past, not their identity, that they have changed. Most of them agree, repeating it. But those who agree, and then up in prison again, how about them? Do they remember lessons they’ve learned, out here, in there? In there, out here. Again, again. The rat race, the safe place. The cycle. It all seems obvious, that they should never have been inside. Is that the final lesson I will learn? That no matter what people say to get out and stay out, it is what we as society does to them to get them there in the first place?”
—Written March of 2010, the day after I found out I was going to grad school, after a few week hiatus from writing at the job.