I continue baring my soul. By the way, see the above poster? I can tell you from significant direct experience, nothing could be truer. Political alignments have nothing to do with it. Right, left, conservative, liberal, nothing has ever changed. Our country loves its’ prisoners. The less resources you have, the more likely Uncle Sam will do whatever he can to lock you up. Unless you have spent time with drug dealers, who had no other way to survive, who grew up where this was all they knew, who sold in small increments, only to be locked away for decades, don’t argue the point with me. I spoke with them, I lived with them, I befriended many of them. While I am not a drug dealer, I am no different than they are…..we are all humans, all flawed.
I know that poster speaks the truth not because of what happened to me, I deserved that. But when you talk to your fellow inmates, especially the African-American ones, you realize we live in two Americas. The conversations I had, the men I met, some amazing (as well as some disgusting) people.
For me, wearing a dress is literally nothing as compared to wearing my prison khakis. Yes, I am blessed to be able to go out dressed. I am blessed beyond any words to have the Angel Known as My Wife, she put up with this and my CDing (on the night I told her about what became Kandi, I said I bet you never thought you would be married to a crossdressing felon, we laughed!).
Real world, I will work to my grave and because of my massive stupidity, my wife toils at a job she hates so we have income and benefits. But there is more to the story.
Take a good luck at this picture. What do you see? How do imagine the day went leading up to this picture? Let me tell you a little about this day in the summer of 2018.
I had agreed to work the registration table at a Plexus networking event. I was thrilled to be able to wear this dress. The event was in the evening, so I didn’t begin to get ready until early afternoon. Midmorning I heard something at the door and saw the FedEx truck drive away. Then I got that punch in the gut.
After ten years of being a solid citizen, doing my time and everything required of me, the government though it might be a good time to persecute me further. For fifteen years I reported my retirement funds to them (as frequently required) and a few times over ten years I offered in writing to make reasonable restitution payments. No response. On this day, out of nowhere, they garnished all of my retirement money. All of it. After ten years of not touching it. This should have been done 15 years prior. Devastating. After all of this time, one would naturally assume these funds were available for retirement. To allow me to chart my life accordingly and to wait until I was actually close to a retirement age was simply not right (of course, I am biased).
Question. Anyone ever represent themselves in Federal court? In front of the judge who sentenced you? Who presided over the largest Federal opioid lawsuit against Big Pharma? Against the AUSA, a supposed attorney? I have and I won! I walked into that courtroom only thinking I was there for a hearing to get appointment of counsel because they tied up all of my assets. The judge said no to that, let’s go. I immediately became my own counsel.
I’m pretty damn good in a crisis. The judge agreed with almost everything out of my mouth. That and ten bucks might get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. I was faced with no retirement income and if it were just me, so be it, I could live under a bridge. But they were hurting my wife who had less than zero to do with all of this and I cannot have that. I will not have that! She was just another of my victims.
As an aside, I have seen the ineptitude of the government, up front and personally. The Democrats incarcerated me and The Republicans are persecuting me, so I have no allegiances. I did this to myself. I have completely accepted the responsibilities of my actions. I deserved to be punished, but not like this. The original prosecuting attorney actually spoke on my behalf during my sentencing, knowing I am an honest person, doing the wrong things for the right reason. None of that matters.
In true government fashion, they attacked me and then ignored me, having now done so for a couple of years (COVID was an excuse for government employees, who’s salaries you and I pay, to collect their benefits, salaries and to feed their pensions, while literally doing nothing). The judge actually recommended we settle. The AUSA declined to do so. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about it.
I bet you think I despise my sentencing judge? Quite the contrary. He was fair and reasonable. One more picture here.
This lovely lady works the annual Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio Humanitarian Awards. And at those awards, my judge attends. And I had a brief, casual conversation with the man who sent me away for 33 1/2 months to West Virginia of all places (yes, living in West Virginia was worse than being in prison). Very pleasant and of course, he had no clue. I am simply a number on a piece of paper to him.
So why show you these pictures? To demonstrate what being Kandi means to me. She can lift the worst possible day and bring joy and happiness. Let me state for the record here, I have no significant health issues nor does anyone in my immediate family. Health problems and marital/family issues trump all other issues, even these, so to that extent, I am truly blessed. I seek no sympathy. I just want you to understand my framework for viewing the subject of this blog. We all have problems in our lives. This is mine. Which is why dressing creates no stress in my life, my stressors are elsewhere.
Now you know that I am a transgendered for lack of a better term (acceptance) and a felon (forgiveness). I can tell you, from my own significant personal experience, the country is so much more accepting that forgiving. How do I know?
I have been out well over a thousand times, never a negative experience, almost no nervous moments. Love, hugs, complements, female pronouns, smiles, you get the point.
I toil in a mindless job. Driving a truck is NOT a mindless job unless you do almost the exact thing, day in, day out, for now over ten years. Mind numbing. But it pays the bills and did allow me to be Kandi due to my favorable schedule. I cannot find traditional work as I cannot pass a background check. Since 2004, I have been self-employed, essentially a company of me, fighting, scraping, generating revenues. It is never easy. Second chances only exist for those of means or those with unique skill sets (like professional athletes, for example).
Fast forward to last month, I finally settled with the MFers. They got half of my retirement money, not all of it. But it hurt. Ironically, they took the money on the very day I was told I had an 80% chance of cancer (thankfully, THAT didn’t happen).
Buy me a beer and I can spin some interesting tales about my time in prison as well as my time as Kandi. I wrote what is essentially a blog while in prison (pre-Kandi’s Land, hillbilly style!). Twenty six episodes of pure gold! I have been told I should write a book (by many, many people in many, many different walks of life), my observations then were frankly both hilarious and insightful. They sit in a folder, collecting dust. My inability to navigate the online world renders me useless. While I was “down”, technology sped past me and I have never been able to catch up. I was a nonhuman for a bit over two years. Government inventory.
Not many people can make the following statement: I have met some of the most moral and decent people in prison (granted, having nothing but time allowed me to really get to know certain people) and I have met some of the most warm, caring and strong human beings in our little community, whatever slice of it you identify with. People are never, ever who or what YOU think they are. Only that person really knows what is in their heart.
Now you have a complete understanding of me and my views on the world. Thank you for listening.
I accept complete responsibility for my mistakes.
People will accept you, will forgive you, Uncle Sam….different story. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and that our government only cares about itself, not its’ constituents.