Thursday, February 11, 2010

#21 How to prepare after prison

How do you prepare after prison?

It is after 10pm as I am writing this, I hope that some of you had the chance to read some of my retro blogs, there are many I can share here. As you read it, you may start to get some sense of what I am about, and what I am trying to do. My goal here is to generate readers and support so that maybe I can do some greater things with this blog, and maybe even make a living doing it.

I’ll get to the title in a sec, but I am still depressed after losing about 1000 pages of my writing due to a system recovery. I had been needing a new computer for the last two years, but having to deal the best with what I had. It was just a matter of time before it started to mess up, and sadly it happened sooner rather than later.

But today I got up and noticed that the parts of the tree that fell yesterday were still there. If you have read my blog on this, you know that Wednesday there was a lot of wind, and one of our neighbor’s pine trees cracked and fell down, across the street. It was a big tree, not tremendous, but still pretty big, and it blocked the street. My brother and I got up and moved part of it to our side, and the other half on the other side of the street, where my neighbor lived.

Today I noticed that the city only picked up the part on his side, and I wondered why. I thought maybe they missed it and would come back but mom told me that they could not pick it up because the parts of the tree debris sat between small trees on the corner of our house, and as such, they were not obliged to pick it up.

So you’re thinking, that is our fault, right…wrong.

This is one of those examples that I could easily tie into how an ex felon can try to do his best to change, but the fact that he is an ex felon would count against him. Many ex felons are not wrong because they DID wrong, they are wrong because the law said the opposite of what they did.

Now don’t lose me here, I am not saying that if a guy robs a bank, he is righteous, that is not what we are talking about here. We’re talking about a guy that did his time, and is trying to get his life together, but loses a chance to get a job because of background checks. Its almost like it is against the law to hire an ex felon…but everybody expects that person to walk on water.

Much like our situation today. Yesterday, during a windy day, me and my brother cleared out a street by ourselves, moving a tree out of the way and moving it to both sides of the street, so it would not hamper any traffic. Tell me why that is wrong.

You can’t.

But we still suffer the penalty because the city won’t pick up those big pieces of tree that are now in our yard. They claim that they are not obliged to pick up debris if it sits between trees in a person’s yard. Sounds legit, right….wrong.

There are two main issues here that the city does not acknowledge. First, those trees were in our yard before we even MOVED to this house…they are not our trees. And second, by city law, you cannot cut any tree that is less than 3 feet from the city street. Those trees are less than 1 foot from the curb, meaning by law we can’t cut them even if we wanted to. Those trees are considered city property, and as such we can’t cut them down.

But yet, by their own law, they won’t pick up that tree debris because our entire front yard is lined by these trees, meaning there is no place we can put it that it can be picked up. Its like my mom said, maybe on second thought, we should have put all the debris in front of our neighbor’s house…but we thought we were doing the right thing.

And if we set it on the street, a car could run over it or hit some of the larger pieces and then what? I can see the city holding us responsible. So all that good hearted work we did yesterday seems to have amounted to zero, in fact a negative 5. Tomorrow I will call the city and explain this, and see what they are going to do about it. If they do nothing, we may just have to heave the crap on the street and let the city deal with it…as they should have originally.

But again, a reminder that sometimes in doing good, you can still be slapped in the face. I say this in reminder to the title and an email I got today from a valued reader, and she told me about some guys that were in prison, and how some were preparing to be released. She wondered, how can they prepare for life outside of prison?

This is a very tough question, one I have been trying to answer in theory ever since I got out…with not too much progress.

Sometimes the best laid plans are just thoughts in a man’s head. You can sit in prison planning about getting a good job, earning a living, looking after a family or starting a family, and think you have all the details planned out…but life outside of prison can completely change it all.

I so thought that once I got out, I could pick up my fragrance business, do some writing, and earn big money after I got out. I loved writing, and my fragrance business actually did well before my life turned upside down. I figured, just do the blueprint and see the same success, then build on it.

But life as an ex felon is like inheriting 100 demons, who have the green light to screw up your life at every turn, while any angels you call to are on an eternal coffee break. I tell you guys this, I KNOW God has heard my calls, nothing so spiritual could have not heard my cries while I was in jail, while I was in prison, and while in my bedroom on my knees.

There is NO question God has heard my ask for help…but I sit here wondering, why hasn’t things changed? I knew life after prison would be hard, but I also believed it could get better, especially if you believed in a God that answers prayer.

Now look, I am not sitting here with a halo over my head, glowing like some radiant being from Heaven, I am just me, a guy that did time, but also is trying to help others. But for the life of me, it has been most difficult trying to make headway in prosperity when society in general does not care about ex felons in the least.

How do you prepare for that?

I sit here trying to find the right words to encourage a mom, a wife or someone who needs a positive answer. Even with a college degree, I can’t get a job, and I have even given free labor to try to land jobs, only to get screwed out of pay or position. Sure, anybody can say it’s the economy, and part of that is true, but my expertise has been in communications, and even in the worst of times I found employment there, its just that I keep getting screwed by cheap people. If you had told me that a pastor of a church, and a religious radio station would take advantage of my help, then get rid of me, I would have called you a liar.

But such has happened.

How do you prepare for life after prison when society is so trained to look for your sins, then judge you? Every person who has done time has to consider this. Yet many will be fortunate to find work quickly, and get right back in the flow of life. To be sure, there are many men and women that did time, and are now leading a great life…even maybe a very prosperous one. But many can’t get a leg up on it, and are continually falling in the cracks. One perfect example was the guy I blogged about that fell behind in child support, and went to jail. It is hard for him to get a job when nobody his hiring, and nobody is hiring ex felons. It creates an endless loop where the word of the law does not take into consideration the situation…kinda like that broken tree that fell across the street that the city is too lazy to pick up.

When I blog, I am sharing with you my life in the open, what goes on good or bad. I really, really wish I could blog about the trip to Disneyland I took, or the new car I bought for mom, or how I paid off my student loan debts or how I contributed money to a local food bank or church….all those sound great…but those are as distant as Mars to me.

Its disappointing when I look at it that way, and for that reason it takes great effort to look at the glass half full rather than half empty. I have to folks, if I don’t look it in a positive way…I’d be dead already.

Trust me folks….I mean that.

Somehow, someway, I simply have to believe that even after all this time, something good has GOT to turn my way…without a bunch of negative things with it. Its like a scripture in the Bible that says the blessings of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. I suppose that means if for some reason a person gets a blessing of $10,000 one day, he won’t get shot and killed the next day.

Talk about cruel irony.

And yet, I have to believe that sometime before I turn 99 years old, preferable MUCH, MUCH sooner than that, things will turn my way. I’ve been out of prison since 2001, many of you that read my older blogs a few years ago know that, but to this date, my life has been much as it was the day I got out. No better, but no worse.

All I have to believe is that things HAVE to get better. I have blogged about happy things, I have blogged about disappointing things. I have talked about being positive while in prison and when bad times hit while you are in prison. I have talked about being positive after prison, and bad times after I got out. I have given up on prison writing more than once, and have picked it up again.

Somehow, someway, this has to work, or my life has been worthless the entire time. I don’t suppose Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey will be supporting my blogs anytime soon, it sure would help, but I felt that if I can keep this up, somebody will believe that this crazy nut who calls himself Nolaw will start to believe that what I write is sincere.

My preparation after prison was based on somebody giving me a chance to do some good, but also for somebody to allow me to make a living…I mean, if I can’t do that, why bother leaving prison? Given a choice to live in the streets and starve or live in prison, the person with a desire to survive will take the prison…but that costs tax payers, doesn’t it?

But get this folks…for a LOT of ex felons, that is also part of the preparation after prison. If things don’t work out, one can always go back to prison, if for nothing else, to survive and have meals, clothes on their back, and a roof over their head. Am I saying I thought of that…absolutely not. But many do. It becomes a secondary plan in preparing for life after prison. If they can’t get a job, if parole or probation is too much, then some will opt to just go back to prison.

Nobody WANTS to do that folks, but it happens. Nobody waiting to get out is planning on going back, they want to be able to succeed in life. They want a second chance, they want to obtain that American dream…aren’t they deserving of that if they have paid their debt to society? There is no law that says the American people have a right to continually persecute those who have done time…but our society is directly trained to do just that.

So if you are preparing for life after prison, strongly consider building up your strength mentally and spiritually, the physical body means nothing in the “real world” because no matter how strong you are, if you can’t get a job, you can’t earn money. I have actually written other blogs on how to prepare for life after prison, but today I just had to speak on this end of it. Anyways, it is after 11pm, so I better stop blogging. Feel free to email me and ask about other prison issues, or ask how you can support my blogs. Until then…

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