Ask me anything
“ I want to be beautiful for myself. Not for anyone or anything but for myself. ”
25 Things To Do Before You Turn 25
1. Make peace with your parents. Whether you finally recognize that they actually have your best interests in mind or you forgive them for being flawed human beings, you can’t happily enter adulthood with that familial brand of resentment.
2. Kiss someone you think is out of your league; kiss models and med students and entrepreneurs with part-time lives in Dubai and don’t worry about if they’re going to call you afterward.
3. Minimize your passivity.
4. Work a service job to gain some understanding of how tipping works, how to keep your cool around assholes, how a few kind words can change someone’s day.
5. Recognize freedom as a 5:30 a.m. trip to the diner with a bunch of strangers you’ve just met.
6. Try not to beat yourself up over having obtained a ‘useless’ Bachelor’s Degree. Debt is hell, and things didn’t pan out quite like you expected, but you did get to go to college, and having a degree isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. We will figure this mess out, I think, probably; the point is you’re not worth less just because there hasn’t been an immediate pay off for going to school. Be patient, work with what you have, and remember that a lot of us are in this together.
7. If you’re employed in any capacity, open a savings account. You never know when you might be unemployed or in desperate need of getting away for a few days. Even $10 a week is $520 more a year than you would’ve had otherwise.
8. Make a habit of going outside, enjoying the light, relearning your friends, forgetting the internet.
9. Go on a 4-day, brunch-fueled bender.
10. Start a relationship with your crush by telling them that you want them. Directly. Like, look them in the face and say it to them. Say, I want you. I want to be with you.
11. Learn to say ‘no’ — to yourself. Don’t keep wearing high heels if you hate them; don’t keep smoking if you’re disgusted by the way you smell the morning after; stop wasting entire days on your couch if you’re going to complain about missing the sun.
12. Take time to revisit the places that made you who you are: the apartment you grew up in, your middle school, your hometown. These places may or may not be here forever; you definitely won’t be.
13. Find a hobby that makes being alone feel lovely and empowering and like something to look forward to.
14. Think you know yourself until you meet someone better than you.
15. Forget who you are, what your priorities are, and how a person should be.
16. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate your every move, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don’t settle for experiencing .000002% of what the world has to offer because you’re afraid of getting on a plane.
17. Make a habit of cleaning up and letting go. Just because it fit at one point doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever — whether ‘it’ is your favorite pair of pants or your ex.
18. Stop hating yourself.
19. Go out and watch that movie, read that book, listen to that band you already lied about watching, reading, listening to.
20. Take advantage of health insurance while you have it.
21. Make a habit of telling people how you feel, whether it means writing a gushing fan-girl email to someone whose work you love or telling your boss why you deserve a raise.
22. Date someone who says, “I love you” first.
23. Leave the country under the premise of “finding yourself.” This will be unsuccessful. Places do not change people. Instead, do a lot of solo drinking, read a lot of books, have sex in dirty hostels, and come home when you start to miss it.
24. Suck it up and buy a Macbook Pro.
25. Quit that job that’s making you miserable, end the relationship that makes you act like a lunatic, lose the friend whose sole purpose in life is making you feel like you’re perpetually on the verge of vomiting. You’re young, you’re resilient, there are other jobs and relationships and friends if you’re patient and open.”
How Do Court Reporters Keep Straight Faces?
These are from a book called Disorder in the Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget..
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He’s 20, much like your IQ.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid
ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death..
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
TW: Ableism, torture - The invisible punishment of prisoners with disabilities
July 27, 2013
As he has every year since taking office, President Obama will likely mark the July 26 anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with a public statement supporting the act, while acknowledging that its aim of equality is far from realized. Last year, he said that “despite the gains we have made, independence and freedom from discrimination remain out of reach for too many individuals with disabilities.” Possibly no group of people understands this so deeply as prisoners.
At the Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, California, 49-year-old Ricky Thomas was one of about 100 people with mental disabilities who was earlier this year housed in the psychiatric wing, known as Unit 9. Prisoners there wear special white and green uniforms—but that’s not all that sets them apart. “We don’t get no programs, no school, no church, no outside,” Thomas said. “We come out of our cells for two hours a day, sometimes. It’s not every day we come out.”
Thomas began complaining about the jail’s conditions in 2011. He says that as a result of his complaints, a prison doctor took away his walker. With spine issues from a car crash and a diabetes-induced nerve disorder, not having a walker meant Thomas couldn’t travel the distance to get his daily insulin shot for two weeks, until the jail’s physical therapist re-prescribed the walker. Other men in Unit 9 are afraid to speak out, he said, fearing similar retaliation. “Every time you voice your opinion…you’ll be lying on the ground, by force.”
Thomas’s story is not unique. Five years have passed since the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others started working on a class action lawsuit to force the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Last last year, a judge finally granted class-action status to the case; meanwhile, prisoners in jails across the county have continued to say that they have to crawl on the ground for lack of mobility devices. ACLU lawyer Jessica Price is frustrated by the County’s inaction. “Each person who has to crawl around on the floor is, to me, an emergency, and it’s just not being treated that way,” she says.
The emergency spans well beyond Louisiana and includes mistreatment of prisoners with different medical issues. In Alabama, HIV-positive prisoners, who wear white armbands identifying them as “infected,” live in a dorm where they can’t participate in substance abuse, work-release, or other programs. A federal judge deemed the practice discriminatory in December 2012. The only other state to segregate its HIV-positive inmates, South Carolina, announced on July 10 that it would stop its practice of segregating all HIV-positive prisoners; currently, even those with sentences as short as ninety days are sent to maximum-security facilities. Meanwhile, a pending lawsuit in Maryland targets the lack of assistive devices for deaf inmates, without which prisoners cannot effectively communicate with guards or use the phone to call people on the outside. Three more accessibility-related lawsuits involve corrections departments in Arizona, Montana and Pennsylvania.
For all these scattered lawsuits, there could easily be more. ACLU spokesperson David Fathi points out that the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act limited the scope of prisoner-initiated lawsuits, making it more difficult to challenge poor conditions. “Congress has quite deliberately made it harder for prisoners to enforce their rights in court,” he says. Given the scale of mass incarceration in this country, it would be impossible to sue all states into compliance—and court orders don’t consistently result in material changes. So prisoners with disabilities and their allies are beginning to push for alternatives. Rather than litigate a solution, one would be to simply incarcerate fewer disabled people. As states across the country seek to rein in spending on incarceration, healthcare for prisoners with disabilities is particularly costly. The Federal Bureau of Prisons initiated a “compassionate release” program for people experiencing terminal illnesses or incapacitation as early as 1984, and at least twenty-seven states offer some form of geriatric release, but these programs are rarely utilized because of narrow eligibility criteria and daunting restrictions. According to Human Rights Watch, the only ground the Federal Bureau accepts for compassionate release is a terminal illness with up to a year of life expectancy, and the bureau has to petition on a prisoner’s behalf; the prisoner can’t petition on their own. The Vera Institute explains the reasons for so few geriatric releases include “political considerations and public opinion; narrow eligibility criteria; procedures that discourage inmates from applying for release; and complicated and lengthy referral and review processes.”
Of course, the biggest difference could be made by decriminalizing the poverty experienced by many (ordinances targeting panhandling and loitering disproportionately affect disabled people, for example), as well as decriminalizing certain drugs.
In the absence of such meaningful changes, prisoners with disabilities will continue to be subject to some of the prison system’s worse excesses, for example, punitive solitary confinement. At the Los Angeles County jail, Columbus Grigsby, a Vietnam veteran diagnosed with PTSD, suffered two strokes that paralyzed the left side of his body in 2008. Apparently noticing that his right leg worked fine, jail administrators planned to take away Grigsby’s wheelchair and put the 55-year-old in the general population, which scared him, since he would have a hard time defending himself against any attacks by non-disabled prisoners. But prison staff also had a reputation for violence. Grigsby had witnessed another disabled man experience painful retribution for refusing to allow his wheelchair to be taken away. “They dumped a guy out of his wheelchair [onto the ground], and the deputy dragged him to his cell,” he said.
Grigsby nonetheless decided to resist. For his refusal to give up the wheelchair, Grigsby says he was punished with weeks of solitary confinement and denied contact with the outside world, which aggravated his PTSD. Even though doctors had concluded that a wheelchair was medically necessary for him, the guards seemed convinced that men such as Grigsby might be faking their disabilities in order to be placed in a potentially less-violent, all-disabled dorm. Because prisoners with disabilities often cannot access the “good time” programs available to others—and which are known to reduce recidivism—ACLU attorney Jessica Price calls it “particularly egregious where people have disabilities as a result of their service to this country, who are now incarcerated and unable to access the [imprisoned veterans’] programs that are designed for them, just because of their disability.”
Of course, the healthcare needs of disabled prisoners are not seen as a problem for those private companies that thrive off lucrative government contracts to provide healthcare. Correctional Healthcare Companies, for example, provides services for more than 70,000 inmates in twenty-seven states. In 2009, California—whose prison healthcare crisis led to a Supreme Court ruling ordering it to reduce its prisoner population—spent $845 million on privately contracted healthcare for prisoners. “This is the logic of the prison industrial complex,” says Eric A. Stanley, co-editor of the book Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Stanley and other activists are wary of the idea that reforms will bring major change. “The system isn’t broken” for companies like Correctional Healthcare, or for the many other corporations that benefit from mass incarceration.
As long as men like Grigsby or Ricky Thomas remain behind bars, they will depend on nonprofit organizations like Disability Rights Advocates, one of the organizations suing the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of the Santa Rita jail’s prisoners with disabilities, to fight for basic things like accessible toilets and a grievance process. Thomas has another idea for how to improve conditions: holding abusive guards accountable. “In (Unit 9),” he said, “they need to install cameras to protect us. It’s supposed to be a safe haven for us, and it’s not.”
And suddenly the ghetto didn’t seem so tough
And though we had it rough, we always had enough