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    Pinups, Contraband & Aging On Stage

    The Perfect
    Father’s Day Card?

    I considered sending this card to my dad in prison for Father’s Day. Christian said it would never pass inspection to reach him. “Way too pornographic,” he said. “Yes, it will,” I insisted. “There’s not even nipple!”

    When Dad is released we will all definitely need therapy.

    Dad loves the risqué vintage postcards I send him. They, umm, fill a void since he’s incarcerated and pornography is prohibited. I stopped sending them for a while when things got harried and overwhelming for me. In short, I built & opened QED, Mom came to live with us, I got sober from booze & sugar only to get cancer. I had a whole lifetime crammed into three years. Who has time to send half-nude pinups to their jailed Deaf dad, ya know?

    While I was trying to stay alive and keep QED afloat, Dad was sending long lists of questions, needs and wants in every letter. Finally, I begged him to lay off. “Give me some time and space! Life is really hard for me right now!”

    He was sorry; he didn’t want to be a burden, but maybe I could send a quick pinup postcard? “I really like and miss those,” he said. I felt terrible for him, alone and lonely. You want some Sorority Sluts, Dad? You got some Sorority Sluts!

    To offset the ickiness and make use of my time and the stamp, I wrote some serious business on the card. I need power of attorney so I can help him with his pension applications & look into getting him dentures now that the TDCJ is changing their policy. This card ensured me that he’d read my note!

    While the TDCJ had no problem with Sorority Sluts, the Father’s Day pinup of the lady on the bearskin rug was indeed returned in an envelope stamped in red ink and capital letters, “DENIED.” Not for the content, but the lack thereof. I sent it blank w/the blank envelope it came with which makes it contraband and can be used as currency. Logical in hindsight. #TheMoreYouKnow Dad desperately wanted to know what he missed and begged me to send it back. This time I had to write in it, so I chose to send him the biographical history of the artist behind the pinup.

    Gil Elvgren was an American artists born in Minnesota and whose work was mostly in adverstising a Brown & Bigelow, a company founded in 1896 and still operating today. Many of his pinups were painted on the noses of military aircraft during World War II.

    While digging around for Elvgren’s bio, I came across the original model photo as well as the work of Dutch artist Erwin Olaf. I remembered when Olaf debuted his “Mature” series in New York in 2001 which featured women between the ages of 61 and 89 reconstructing in the style of pinups by Elvgren, Alberto Vargas and others. It dominated the press here in NYC for a few days and sparked conversations about sexuality and aging. One of his recreations that I recalled from 2001 was a mature lady reenacting the “Bear Facts” pinup by Elvgren. It was only when seeing it again I put it all together. Funny how things go in circles.

    This led me to read article: Aging, Performance, and Stardom: Doing Age on the Stage of Consumerist Culture. As I and my performer friends are now solidly in mid-life or older, it’s interesting to see how we adjust from the type of stories we tell, the audiences we cater to and how we spend our free time. Personally, I found Olaf’s photos pretty saucy and inspiring. But the big question is: will the TDCJ find the *real* photo of the mature lady’s “Bear Facts” contraband or not? Christmas is around the corner, so we’ll find out soon! ;-P

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    Prison Bound

    I’m’ taking a whirlwind trip to TX to visit Dad in prison this weekend. The warden approved an extended 8 hour visit over 2 days. That helps make up for the last few years of owning QED and having cancer and so couldn’t visit him at all.

    Bonus: the 1st weekend of the month = pictures! This will be our 1st pic together in 6 years. Wow! When I finally got to visit him last year, it was wasn’t picture day, but its probably for the best as he was really emotional and broken from his terrible dental situation and the disappointment of being separated by glass with a shortened visit. I had gotten there pretty late in the afternoon after church let out, so they were too busy to allow a contact visit and needed to make room for other visitors. This time, I plan to be there right at opening hours 8am-ish so even if there’s a long wait I’ll have plenty of time.

    We’ve already compiled a list of things to talk about. He’s anxious to share his stories of being locked up, so I’ll see what he thinks of a documentary or blog or other mediums to channel all the pent up anger and frustrations that’s been brewing for 17+ years of incarceration.

    Meanwhile, here are pics from 2012. #DeafinPrison

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    Prison Bound

    I’m going to Texas this weekend for a whirlwind trip to catch up with some folks! First up, Austin to see Brendan & Jenn Dodd McLoughlin and my dear old friends queso & tacos.
    Sunday I’ll drive to Huntsville to see Dad in prison. Our last visit in July 2013 was not a pleasant one, because Dad had an angry outburst with a female guard before he & I even had our first hug. “Premature evisitation,” I called it. 
    Visiting Dad in jail is like riding Coney Island’s Cyclone. It should be fun but it beats me up & makes me angry I paid to ride it again. But I did leave with a souvenir photo!
    Since then I’ve limited our contact to letters. I’ve warned him to be on his best behavior. No souvenir photo this time. only has photographers  on the 1st weekend of the month. I’ll bring about 10 pounds of quarters for the vending machine and a wireless bra for myself.
    I hope to meet a fellow CODA & prison interpreter afterward and then will head toward Conroe for dinner with my 6th grade social studies teacher.
    I won’t have time for much else, but hope to be back in Montgomery in June for our 30 year high school reunion. Eep! 
  • All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Family & Life,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    I’m Approved! I Can Receive Video Calls from My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a few frustrating phone calls* with customer service for registering my cell phone with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Purple Video Relay Service. My last name is different from Christian’s who is the account holder of my AT&T cell phone account. Hoo boy, did the patriarchy take umbrage with that one. That meant we had to be in the same room to call in and register. Harder than it should be as we’re often together after business hours.

    Anyway, I got word today that I am approved. I can receive video calls from My Jailed Deaf Dad. Great! Great? Grreeaaat. I don’t know. We’ll see if I immediately regret this. I can confidently say that I won’t have any problems with the rules, thankyouverymuch. Egads.

  • All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Give Me an “O”. What’s That Spell? Vagina!

    People are curious about vaginas. Specifically, those in American Sign Language (ASL). I’m used to bizarre searches landing folks on my sites, so when I noticed a surge in traffic to my websites for people searching the term “ASL Vagina” I didn’t think much of it. That is until my friend Sarah shared a link to this article about the Oregon Ducks in the NY Times.

    When fans of the Oregon Ducks hold their hands in an “O” shape to cheer on their team, they are “screaming” the ASL word for “vagina”. (Click photo at right.)

    The headline says it all: Oops.

    Technically, the sign for “vagina” is flipped with the index fingers pointed toward the ground, the thumbs toward the sky and the other fingers tucked under as presented in the following examples.

    — At left is a spread (heh) I got in Time Out New York to promote “ASL in the Raw” at the now shuttered Comix.
    — In the center, I perform on a Drink at Work show at the now shuttered Ace of Clubs. (Hmmm….I’m noticing a trend.)
    — And, at right, the First Lady shows us her family values.


    But as you can see from the drawing below of My Jailed Deaf Dad’s prison tattoo, the Tasmanian Devil is hungry for some, umm, “kitty”, and the reverse “vagina” is shaped by two “I love you” signs joined together. It’s lousy with double entendres.

    While Oregon Ducks fans aren’t really shouting “vagina” in ASL, they come close. And when you’re a young kid talking about the human body, close is good enough.

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    Picture Day!

    It was picture day at prison, so I wore stripes. Dad didn’t look scary like he did during the last visit when he had a shaved head and sallow complexion. This time he had hair (not a gray to be found even at almost 65 yrs of age!) and had a nicer, more flattering pair of glasses. He had taken the lenses out of his ugly “Buddy Holly” prison issued prescription glasses and shaved and shaped them by sanding them down on concrete to fit inside the more attractive frames of a pair of cheap reading glasses. The ingenuity!

    I bought two photos thinking we would get a picture together and one of Dad by himself, but he protested. Why would I want a photo of just him? I really don’t know. He is enamored of the photo of him in his old cowboy hat (The same hat one of my aunts plucked out of Dad’s belongings after his arrest and gave to her grandkids to play cowboy and Indians. Not cool.), and I thought he’d want a more recent one of himself.

    When I think about it, though, why would he want a solo shot of him in prison whites? I jokingly suggested he could use it to find a lady friend online. He said, sure if I’d help him find one. Ummmm, no. No, I will not help him find a lady friend. At least not until he admits he tried to kill the last one. So we used the two pictures to take close up and full body shots.

    Dad and I had a great visit. We discussed banal things like his wanting a new pair of New Balance sneakers to current events such as the liberation of Libya and the Occupy Wall Street movements and random subjects like bullfighting and child molestation. Dad said a doctor once told him that if a girl has sex before she’s had her first period, her vagina is irreparably stretched. What? Huh? GAH! I want to look it up, but I don’t want that Google search infecting my computer’s history. HA! Lord, my dad and I have some of the weirdest conversations.

    We also talked about his upcoming review by the Parole Board. This June will be the first time he is eligible for parole. I explained the process and we both agreed it’s unlikely he will be released. He wants to be, of course, but I don’t think he’s ready. He’s never admitted guilt, taken responsibility or had any counseling to address his drug and alcohol abuse and anger management issues. The latter, I discovered, is because the prison doesn’t provide an interpreter for those services. That is a direct violation of basic ADA laws. I’m going to look further into this, because those issues are exactly what landed him in jail in the first place. Without dealing with those demons, he will simply hurt someone else or their property and be back in the clink.

    And, just like clockwork, he proved me right. I had stepped away to get us more drinks and candy from the vending machine. As I walked back I saw a “guard” trying to tell Dad something. I say “guard” in quotes because at about 5′ tall and over 60 years old, she isn’t guarding anyone or anything. She is simply there to greet family and tell them which table they’re assigned to. Apparently while I was getting snacks, Dad had gotten up to throw away our trash. He did this twice, walking back and forth. That’s a no-no. Oops. I would’ve just said sorry and made a mental note not to do it again. Not a big deal, right? Well not to Dad.

    Being scolded was enough to make him furious. His face was so screwed up with anger, his skin flushed red and eyes turned black as he flipped his arms and hands angrily at her to get lost. I intervened and as she walked away I reminded Dad to not cause trouble. “Your mantra needs to be, ‘Parole Board, Parole Board, Parole Board.'” With that he laughed and his normal color was restored.

    But that flash of rage he demonstrated about a minor thing while he was completely sober, the contempt he carries for authority and rules and the disrespect he showed an elderly woman was enough for me to see that no, no he shouldn’t be released. A knot in my throat formed and tears welled up. My father is broken. And all the king’s horsemen and all the king’s men, can’t put my dad together again.

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    Ward & June in the 21st Century

    This week started out with Christian and I acting like Ward and June Cleaver. Christian woke up early (?) to head into his Manhattan office (?!) to work while I stayed home (!), went to the grocery store (???) and made dinner (#$@&*!!!!).  If I didn’t know better, I’d say these were Signs of the Apocalypse.

    In reality, Christian’s office is just a temporary home this week as he ramps up to film a pilot for a cable TV network this Thursday. It’s a game show he’s been working on for over two years and suddenly it feels like it’s being whipped together in a week. I’m scared and excited for him, but mostly scared. You give birth to these things and then your baby is thrust into the care of another person. Hopefully the nannies don’t drop the baby on its head.

    And while I did stay home, it was to Skype with my editor and work on my memoir. The cooking part came because, well, I was famished. I ran a few miles as part of training for the next half marathon I’m running and needed some nourishment in a bad way. On the way home I grabbed some groceries and the mail which contained a new letter from My Jailed Deaf Dad. He needs dentures like I need oxygen but he says the prison dentist won’t assist. So, I spent a good two hours researching prison rules, case law, and a dentist in Huntsville, Texas who makes “house” calls.

    So, yeah, I suppose we are the 21st Century’s version of the Cleavers, if June had a homicidal father in jail with missing and rotten teeth.

    Our cast has an abundance of Eddie Haskells, but our dog and rabbit will have to count as Wally and the Beav.

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    Seven Years Ago

    Seven years ago, I was hanging out with a “B” as in “boy” -illionaire till the wee hours of the morning. At one point he grabbed my hand and deliciously whispered into my ear, “Kambri, when you live in my world, you can do anything you want.”

    Indeed, in his world, you can.

    At the same time, 1,542 miles away, Dad was stabbing Gloria.


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    Too Old? Too Sexy?

    Click the photo to see the answer inside of this year’s handmade card sent to me by Dad for my birthday. What a treat to see it in my mailbox today. He never fails to crack me up. (In case you can’t see the details too well, the front has a square panel cut out, revealing what looks to be buttocks.)


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    The Internet Sucks Sometimes

    I went to wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook and saw his status that said my grandma is on her death bed.



    I didn’t know.

    I didn’t leave a note. What was I going to say? “Yay, happy birthday, my grandma will soon be dead but, hey, you made it another year. Yippee!”

    My brother didn’t know either. Well…he does now. Life in the digital age is strange new territory. The internet has made keeping in touch easier but the social etiquette of things isn’t all laid out nice and neat. I think it’s safe to say, though, immediate family should be informed before a status update. Or maybe Twittering an actual death is the best, most modern way of spreading the news. It worked for David Carradine.

    So, now I have the task of telling my dad that his mother might be dead very soon. She’s 92 so it’s not like it’s not been a long time coming, but he’s been asking about her a lot lately. Not because he’s worried about her so much. He’s more interested in protecting the furniture he made her and other material things. He has nothing and so he broods and worries and frets and boils over and hems and haws and…well…you get the picture. He’s got TIME on his HANDS.

    I worry that when she does pass, he will enlist me with another laundry list of To Dos. Ask about this, make sure about that. Well, guess what, Dad? If you weren’t in jail, you could do this yourself because I really don’t care about *things*. I’ve shed myself of house and home and junk more times than I can count. I like being portable. I don’t want cars or furniture or stuff.


    But…he has no advocate. No one is listening to him and that’s a big bugga boo for him for so long. To not be heard.  So, if he needs help in being heard, I’m the only one here to give that to him.

    And I will.

    And I’m not sure why.


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    A Petty Officer and a Gentleman

    Moving in to your horse’s barn because your trailer got repossessed is what some folks might call a low point. It was time for a drastic change, so my parents moved us to the big city of N. Richland Hills, TX.

    It was there — when I was 16 — I met a 22 year old Sailor. It was love at first sight. It was greatest four weeks of my life. The Petty Officer from Akron, Ohio, was shy, tan and muscular and drove a white Trans Am with a fake vent on its hood. Mom said he looked just like JFK, Jr. The movie Top Gun had just been released so when I first saw him covered in grease from working on an F-14 Tomcat I thought my uterus would crawl out of my vagina and snatch him whole and devour him like a hungry Venus flytrap from a Roger Corman flick.

    Read the rest at LoveDaddy.org.

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    Hot Off the Presses

    Christian must be in the Dec/Jan 2009 issue of Cosmo Girl. You know how I know? He got a piece of hate mail complaining about a derogatory Jonas Brothers remark he made.

    I regularly submit jokes from comedians to an editor at Reader’s Digest. When a quote is used, the comedian gets paid $100. Not bad! In the December 2008 issue, they used a dating anecdote by Katina Corrao so they sent me a copy for her press kit.

    On the same page is a funny deaf joke I’d heard before but had forgotten about. It made me recall a few other deaf jokes that My Jailed Deaf Dad has told me over the years. I’m going to send some in on his behalf and hope they use them. How cool would that be to see his name in print? Plus, he could really use the money since I just sent him $60 and renewed his USA Today subscription for a year for $175. I told Dad that’s the last I can spend on him this year until after we buy a place. Since winter is on its way and his Texas jail cell isn’t heated, he needs new thermal underwear. He could stretch that $60 OR maybe he can earn some money off the stories he loves to tell and buy some longjohns with his very own cash.

    I never even had an allowance growing up, and now I’m trying to teach my dad how to budget his.

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    Requisite Bucket List Post

    I was 23 years old when my divorce from the sailor was finalized. After six years masquerading as a Midwestern housewife, I was free to be Me. Trouble was, the definition of “Me” had yet to be determined. I decided this huge upheaval of my life would not be for naught. I would reclaim my lost youth by creating a list oh-so-creatively titled “Things To Do Before I Die.” However, I never had a plan on how I would accomplish a single thing.

  • My Jailed Deaf Dad

    >This New Year’s Eve, Drink Less. Smoke More Weed.

    >One of my major goals for the last two years has been drink less, smoke more weed. I’ve actually written it out: Get an agent, write a book proposal, drink less, smoke more weed.

    Growing up with my parents, nothing good ever really happened when drinking was involved but a lot of my fun childhood memories involve weed. I never really smoked it that much in comparison to my parents and brother but it was part of the family framework.

    Read the rest over at Love, Daddy.


  • Acting,  Comedy,  My Jailed Deaf Dad,  NYC

    About Last Night

    Last night marked the 15th time I’ve gone on stage in NYC as myself. Sure, I’ve been on stage hundreds –maybe even thousands– of times as an actor back when I used to do that sort of thing, but that’s different. It’s an entirely other beast presenting something you’ve personally created to an audience with no 4th wall to protect you. Each time gets easier and I am, I think (hope), better and more confident.

    Beginning next Friday at “The Family Hour with Auntie Sara” I’m going to try telling a longer story divvied up into “episodes”. I hope this will help me craft more details and jokes into my stories that I always feel like I have to rush through because we only get 6 or 7 minutes on stage. The next story I will begin with next week should wrap up in three weeks total giving me a good 21 minutes worth of new material. I might even video tape them for my Love, Daddy blog and add captioning for my hearing impaired readers. It would be time consuming so it’s a lofty goal. Don’t hold your breath.

    Meanwhile, tonight at Ochi’s Lounge begins a new open mike show called “Ochi’s Motel” run by John Morrison, creator of “Morrison’s Motel.” It will be every Saturday from 6:00 – 8:00 and you can throw your hat in the random ring by emailing John at ochismotel[at]gmail.com. Drink at Work follows with their hit variety show and ends the night by challenging audience members to Guitar Hero. I love the little performance space I’ve created. John loaned us some fancy lights, we’ve expanded the cheap menu and the comedians and audiences can’t say enough about how warm and fun the room is. I think you should come check it out soon, don’t you?

    How about on Monday the 3rd when I perform on “Slumber Party”?

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    Visiting Hours

    The prison in Huntsville, Texas was a lot less ominous than I was expecting. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful . . . from the guards who inspected our rental car, to the guards who checked us in and scanned us, to the guards who supervised the visiting area. Even the other prisoners were . . . well . . . nice.

    I halfway expected to burst into tears upon seeing my jailed deaf dad. I imagined him in an orange jumpsuit and flip flops, shackled and with a beaten spirit. Instead, he came into the visiting area with his trademark strut clad in tennis shoes, a white short-sleeved shirt over white thermal underwear and white pants, and gave a big smile and wave through the glass.

    “See, there’s nothing to cry about,” I assured myself. “He is totally fine. Totally.”

    The eight years that have passed since I last saw him have not been kind. He has more tattoos and a receding hairline (no gray, though!) which is to be expected of a man fast approaching 59 years in age, but his teeth. . . I don’t know what happened to them! A few of his top back teeth have been pulled and a few others knocked out and his formerly beautiful white front teeth are deeply yellowed with spacing in between them that was never there before. The gaps from his missing teeth cause his cheeks to sink a little more than normal, making him appear skinnier than he already is.

    His glasses are broken from his many fights with other inmates. Every time he adjusted them, I noticed how perfectly the metal frame fit into the fleshy divots on the bridge of his nose. Another man’s fury imprinted on Dad’s face.

    “Who did this to you?” I thought. Angry. Disgusted. Embarrassed. “I’ll fix this. They can’t do this to you. We’re better than this. Aren’t we?”

    “What made them do this to you?” I revised internally. “You provoked them, didn’t you? You accused them. You called them names. You insulted them. Just keep to yourself, Stupid.”

    His glasses haven’t escaped injury either. They are clumsily taped together in various spots and the nose pads are broken off. His dingy thermal shirt, which has sleeves too short to fit his long arms, are stitched in some places and holey in others. I started noticing how the uniform of every other prisoner had a bright white hue. Dad’s was a dull ecru at best.

    There is still an impish charm that even the strongest steel bars can’t cage. It is so apparent in his smile and eyes and they way he tells a story, that my boyfriend Christian and I both wanted to give him all our money. Buy him new clothes and glasses and whatever food and books and periodicals he wanted. This is the same charisma that has allowed him to charm woman after woman after woman — none of whom are deaf — to fall in love with him, learn sign language and open their homes to . . . a scoundrel.

    I spent much of our four hours together translating to Christian as my dad regaled us with tales of his various escapdes from his days in the “Free World”, many which involved either weed, drinking or gambling. At one point we were all laughing so loudly everyone around us stopped and stared. One story he shared:

    A family friend, Clyde, also a deaf-mute, was riding in his car with his young, hearing daughter Cherie. At a stop light a stunningly beautiful woman pulled up beside them. Clyde, wanting to get her attention and look cool, cranked up the radio and began grooving in his seat to the “music” he could feel but not hear while staring over at the woman. Cherie kept tugging on his arm trying to get his attention and Clyde kept brushing her off before finally getting annoyed and turning to see what Cherie wanted to tell him. “WHAT?” Clyde angrily signed. Cherie pointed to the radio and signed back “You’re dancing to the NEWS!”

    The next day we repeated the process of driving two hours from downtown Houston, having the car inspected and us getting scanned. The chocolate chip cookies and gum I had stuffed in my pockets remained undetected. I was hoping for an hour or two of a “contact visit” so I could pass him my secret stash. A stick of gum sells for $1.00 on the inside. That fat pack of Juicy Fruit could result in a whole lot of loot for Dad! I caught Christian, a proud smile on his face, watching me try to turn a $20 bill into a square tiny enough for Dad to hide in his shoe. “You’re so awesome,” he beamed.

    This time we were greeted with a more tired looking version of the man we had seen the day before. He signed, “I just woke up, took a sh*t, brushed my teeth, sat down when the guard showed up and said I had a visitor.” He looked tired and perhaps a little depressed. He had a very long list of items he wanted to be sure to tell us before our time ran out.

    — Teach Christian the sign he made up for the phrase, “Come here, asshole.”
    — Smuggle in a $100 bill: He can buy 8 packages of loose tobacco and make over $500 profit and not have to do any of the selling. My $20 just wouldn’t cut it.
    — Get him the Sunday New York Times. Just Sunday . . . you know, to see what the big deal is. Oh, and Discovery Magazine . . . he really loves reading about new technology.
    — Go through his boxes of photographs and send him specific photos.
    — Buy him fancy stationery with matching envelopes. He can sell other inmates a set of two pieces of stationery and one envelope for $0.75.
    — Send a letter on his behalf to his friend Larry who was transferred to another prison after suffering severe beatings at the hands of the guards because they found drawings of nude children in Larry’s cell during a shake down. “Larry is not a child molester, he’s just a flasher! And they beat him like that? Larry said they weren’t drawings of children, just midgets — not dwarves — midgets.”
    — Get him a new pair of glasses. The next time I visit, pretend the glasses are mine during security check in. Then, during a contact visit, we will swap out his old, broken glasses with the new pair I smuggled in.

    And, most importantly:

    — Help him write a letter for an appeal: There was a lack of evidence in his case, he insists. He spent a great deal of time telling me about his version of events the night his girlfriend Gloria* was nearly killed. He dramatically acted out a story: “She was mad because we didn’t have money for more beer. She was already drunk and wanted to fight with me. She tried to kill herself with my knife by cutting her own throat. In the struggle to get the knife away from her, she was stabbed a few times. She wanted me to go to jail for it so she could keep my apartment and all my things. Twenty years? Why me? Why me? Why me?”

    If he doesn’t win an appeal, he has six more years till he is eligible for parole. He shook his head slowly in disbelief. His chin wrinkled and his pursed lips turned downward.

    “I will tie sheets around my neck and hang myself,” he signed.

    “No,” I scoffed, scanning his face for a sign he wouldn’t do it.

    He stared back, scanning my face for one good reason not to.

    We sat silently for a very, very long time.


    *Named changed to protect identity.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Eight Pages of Goodness Graciousness

    I received an eight page, handwritten letter from my jailed deaf dad. He received the five postcards and two letters I have sent since August 5th and the $50 I deposited into his inmate trust fund.

    With his money he bought:

    A new fan – $20
    Radio with awake shaker – $13.60 (He means a vibrating alarm clock)
    Sport watch – $4.00
    Double hygienes – $7.00
    Pint of Blue Bell – $1.50 (Texas brand ice cream for all you yanks)
    24 oatmeal pies – $2.10

    He has a grand total of $0.21 left in his account. (Don’t know where that other $1.59 was spent).

    As for the last item above, he said, “Guess what I got 24 Oatmeal Creme pies and I ate all in 2 days — Damned it. But I feel good to taste real sweeting foods.” That’s totally worth $50. I sent $40 more yesterday so he can buy two sets of dominoes ($9.50), a new padlock ($10.50) and still have $20 to blow on oatmeal pies and other “sweeting foods”. I also bought him this book and a six month subscription to the Seminole Producer for which my cousin Wil is a writer and photographer.

    There was his usual ranting about the thieving, cheating, lying troublemakers in jail and an entire page about the real origin of the HIV/AIDS virus. That it originated in Middle Africa around 1957 but they didn’t call it HIV at the time. Much of what he wrote was pretty accurate, but based on theoretical conclusions. Read the history of AIDS here.

    Finally, he addressed a question I posed in my last letter to him. Figuring the reason he didn’t write more often was that he felt like he didn’t have any new information to share, I wondered if he would be willing to answer any questions I posed to him in the form of written interviews. I proposed that I could compile his stories and perhaps publish them on his own website, create a manuscript or any number of other avenues for writers.

    His reply was an emphatic “YES!” The pages nearly caught fire with his rapid writing and his language became nearly indiscernible. His excitement at my idea has him charged. Here are excerpts from his reply:

    “Kambri, Yes Many years ago, I always want to writing a story about fiction and nofiction with my real life and make up a story. published a book. and make millions dollars.” [Excellent. This is something he has wanted to do and I can help make it happen.]

    “Of course I will write a story every weekly and send you and you make good languages and add more ideas…Yes I will tell you every things about real life of myself. And your mother still not know about I gone to old Mexico They arrested me for possession of Dope. They sentenced me lifetime but I only stay in prison 28 days. That awful story…” [WTF? A Mexican prison? My mom doesn’t even know about it?!?!]

    “Kambri I will write you every weekly 2 different story about real life and nonfiction. One best story is happiness and fun in Paris, France. Bad story in Old Mexico…My Worse life is that I hated being deaf & mute…I will explain you mail order. Its is best fast profit and lots million dollars in few weeks. Its better than published books.” [Mail order? I’m going to have to tell him about the internet.]

    He then switches gears and complains about a guy who wants to fight with him. “Don’t worry,” he assures me. “I will whip and real good bruises & maybe break his teeth. He really need get lesson…” [ARGH! How many times do I have to tell him not to get into trouble! If he gets solitary, he can’t enjoy the commissary, get visits or write to me.]

    “Kambri you know that I”m good gentleman real man — No fool No play — I love you my daughter. Daddy. P.S. I’m happy that I can help with you will make & published book. please.” [Me, too, Dad. Me, too.]

    So there we have it. It looks like we’ll be collaborating on the story of his life. It could be sad, shocking, embarrassing, angering, frustrating but is guaranteed to be interesting.

    Now, what should I ask him first?

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Christmas Cheer

    First, I must say, Paquita is the most well behaved, awesome traveler ever. Humans included.

    I got a bubble gum bath bar from Lush (thanks, Mrs. Batchley) that is making my entire apartment smell like candy. At first I thought, “What an awesome bar of soap!” Then I realized my apartment is just that small.

    From my mom, I received a little bucket of her homemade chocolate chip cookies. You’d be jealous if you knew how awesome they were. My dad is in solitary confinement again, so I didn’t get a card this year. I’m sorry to not get to share his holiday greetings on this, his 2nd Christmas of 20 — if he lives that long — to be spent behind bars. Instead, here is last year’s card & my blog entry:

    Holiday Greetings
    Yesterday I received the first note from my incarcerated father since last May. He’s been busy, I guess. It was a Hallmark Christmas card. The front read, “God made all the nights and days and all the world to sing His praise.” The inside read, “The very sweetest song on earth once brought the news of Jesus’ birth – And as we sing His praise today, may you be blessed in every way.”

    Then my dad wrote a warm and fuzzy Christmas note in his “deaf speak” handwriting that included this sentence, “I had been [in] solitary confinement four times since April for fighting with n*ggers cause me mad because stealings – all offenders are haters, thief, jealous, etc.”

    Don’t you just want to pinch his cheeks he’s just so cute? You know you want him as a prison pen pal for the new year. Don’t lie.

    Come on, he did care enough to send the very best!

    So, yeah, no gifts from my “family” for the umpteenth year in a row and no card from my dad to let me know he is still alive means I had kind of a sucky Christmas.

    After a short visit with Christian’s dad’s family, we all climbed into the car for another long car ride. I noticed a little Christmas gift bag I hadn’t seen before. I was confused before prying open the tag to see that it was for me and that it was from Father Jack, Christian’s uncle who has been, and is still, very ill. He snuck it into the car for me because he didn’t want anyone to know he had broken the “rules” of Secret Santa by buying gifts for anyone other than his chosen recipient. Inside was a wintery coffee mug and marshmallow Santa.

    My heart nearly exploded from the kindness.

    I know he’s a priest and so he gets paid to be kind to people like me, but still, he doesn’t even know about my family “situation”. So then I felt bad for feeling bad about not getting anything for Christmas and not having a place to call home because I have the best gifts ever — every single day.

    A coffee mug and a marshmallow Santa!

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” — English Proverb

    I forgot to send my imprisoned dad a card this year, and I feel kind of bad about it. But, in my defense, they don’t really make cards that say, “I love you. That doesn’t mean I’m going to impersonate an attorney while illegally taping phone conversations in an effort to gather evidence for your appeal in your attempted murder conviction.”

    Yep, that’s what my dad asked of me in his last letter. He timed it just right since I wasn’t sure what to send him. He even wrote, “Will you do and cares me?” (Translation: Do you care for me enough to do what I asked?) Lesson: Steel bars can’t cage the even the weakest passive agression. It is true, a hundred schoolmasters never taught me such things.

    I prefer this quote by Anne Sexton, “It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.” That handsome young buck who lived life fast and furiously was a whole lot of fun. Happy Father’s Day to him.


    Last year’s gift ideas for the incarcerated dad: Here.

  • All Blog Entries,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Just Say No

    In his latest letter from prison, my father writes this sage advice, “Kambri, remember don’t take any dopes and heaving drinkers. please. I’m not smoking & drinking and doping. I hope that you could be believing me?”

    You’re in prison, Dad. You shouldn’t be “drinking and doping”. Criminals these days!

    Father knows best

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Holiday Greetings

    Yesterday I received the first note from my incarcerated father since last May. He’s been busy, I guess. It was a Hallmark Christmas card. The front read, “God made all the nights and days and all the world to sing His praise.” The inside read, “The very sweetest song on earth once brought the news of Jesus’ birth – And as we sing His praise today, may you be blessed in every way.”

    Then my dad wrote a warm and fuzzy Christmas note in his “deaf speak” handwriting that included this sentence, “I had been [in] solitary confinement four times since April for fighting with n*ggers cause me mad because stealings – all offenders are haters, thief, jealous, etc.”

    Don’t you just want to pinch his cheeks he’s just so cute? You know you want him as a prison pen pal for the new year. Don’t lie.

    Come on, he did care enough to send the very best!

  • All Blog Entries,  Comedy,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?

    So, there was a deaf British comic on Christian’s Portable Comedy lineup named Steve Day. His appearance is what prompted me to make a whole night out of Friday. I was fully prepared to applaud with my deaf jazz hands and “chat” the night away. Turns out he doesn’t even know sign language. He is 70% deaf since the age of 18 and hasn’t yet learned a single sign. Not one.

    So I taught him how to say “fuck” and told him a story that made him laugh heartily. The kind of laugh that makes your eyes close, mouth open, and an embarrassingly loud bellow come from your belly. When I retold the story to a chick that walked up during his guffaw, she stared. Blinked. Smiled. Blinked. Hey, he got it, because he’s 70% deaf.

    The story, which does not translate to the written word very well and is, therefore, shortened and dulled as follows:

    A boy I consequently broke up with because he blinked too much — hard intense blinks with purpose and annoying frequency — once came to my place to pick me up for a date. My dad, rarely having the opportunity to be fatherly to a girl like me (fabulously and sometimes painfully independent), decided to greet my date and give me advice before I headed out to play video games and air hockey. He shook hands with said boy and glared menacingly before turning to me and signing stern advice which I ignore to this day.

    His advice? “Don’t fuck.”
    What I told the boy? “He said, “Nice to meet you.'”
    And off on our merry way we went.

  • All Blog Entries,  My Jailed Deaf Dad,  TV & Movies

    Reality Television

    Queer Eye For the Straight Guy
    I have found reality television perfection. Home improvement, makeovers, food & culture tips all mixed with straight men, intent on self-improvement, forced to endure homo-erotic flirtation and humor. I’ve died and gone to heaven. More jock-strap sniffing, please.

    Who Wants to Marry My Dad?
    Where is this shit world headed? Seriously. Let’s trivialize marriage and relationships why don’t we? You want a reality show, then let’s start “Who Wants to Marry MY Dad” because nobody even wants to be his penpal even though I wished it for his Father’s Day gift. You selfless bastards. Oh, so, he tried to kill someone, is that any reason not to like him? Jeez, tough crowd.

    Last Comic Standing
    Dave Mordal is consistently funnier and more real than most people. Who are the crack fiends that think R@lphie May is funny? I want to smack them with their hot spoons till their tender veins burst open.

    What is with Ralphie’s ebonics hip hop rapping?

    The man is white.

    He is from Texas.

    That is not an accent.

    My dinner consisted of a bag of “Hint of Lime” Tostitos, two vodka gimlets and a Brooklyn Lager and then I ranted about reality television. My show is destined for cancellation. I give it till December; set your watches.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad,  Writing


    Today marks the one year anniversary of this right here blog. Technically, I was “blogging” (God, I hate that word) long before today, but it was more of a calendar of my upcoming performances, events, promotions, etc. without much exploitative exposition. I, however, no longer act, model or promote, so it’s all about me and Tex in the City.

    Looking back on my very early entries, I’m so obviously afraid of offending Someone. (Note: “Someone” is defined as a person with a direct genealogical connection to my father.) Since, however, they collectively mean as much to me as my discarded toenail clippings, I have been slowly throwing discretion by the wayside. After all, Daddy Dearest is the blackest of the black sheep of any family and was such long before he was thrown in the clink. (He is nearing completion of the first year of his 20-year jail sentence hosted by the austere Texas Department of Criminal Justice.) I happen to have an exorbitantly large sum of his genetic code pulsing through my system. Love him, love me. Spurn him, spurn me.

    So, offend away, I will. So what if they don’t like my potty mouth or party girl lifestyle, I didn’t try to kill anyone, did I? (Scroll down for answer.)



    Answer: No.

    Come on, did you really have to scroll down to know the answer?

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    One of Five Most Embarrassing Moments

    When: Spring 1988 – Age 16
    Where: UIL State One Act Play Competition; University of Texas; Austin, Texas. Cutthroat and serious competition. We youngsters were on our best behavior.
    Witnesses: Hundreds
    What: Heard a smattering of gasps and giggles mixed in with familiar guttural noises and high-pitched nonsensical sounds reverberating through the sound system. Look up to the stage to observe a deaf-mute man doing his best gyrating Elvis impersonation into the microphone. A few people rush the stage and the emcee wrests the microphone from the offender’s hands. The deaf Elvis doesn’t leave but rather continues to perform more enthusiastically to the crowd.

    The emcee announced, “If he belongs to you, would you get this monkey off the stage?”

    The monkey? My dad.

    Happy birthday, Dad.