How A Violent Prisoner Escaped His Prison

(if I knew what this meant, I'd have been scared)

(if I knew what this meant, I’d have been scared)

The tattoo on his leg was a shield with the initials “EK”.

“What’s your tattoo mean?” I asked.

He was a young-looking kid, no more than 21 I figured, very short blond hair, pale but not soft skin, and hazel eyes.

He didn’t tell me but google did later.

We all carry memories. I don’t know his memories, but I imagine many are violent and dark.

The movers were obviously tired, worked to the bone by the weight of the day. Thirteen dollars per hour moving memories of people they don’t know from one place to another.

Memories are heavy. They weigh us down and sometimes burn.

Some of my boxes, and the memories inside, have been closed for 8 years – since buying the condo as a corporate incentive moving to Portland from Arcata, California – and they’re hard to get rid of even though I haven’t seen them for awhile.

I hold onto them because they may one day help me remember.

Some cause tears: my grandfather’s copy of “The Indian Drum” Mom sent me after he died:

“This was one of Grandpa’s favorite books.
He read it several times and had it re-bound in the 1990s.
I thought you’d like to have it.
Love, Mom”

Others cause joy: diplomas, pictures of dreadlocks and my VW bus. Of road trips and friends in Pantones of the 1990s.


(I wish all my memories felt like this)

(I wish all my memories felt like this)

Many of my memories are in cardboard boxes in the POD container destined for my next place. But memories are expensive. They take up a lot of space. They create stress and use energy. I wish I could take all those memories and apply the Kelvin filter so they become hot July scenes of my childhood, without sunburn. And digitize them so I can walk around with them in my iPad. And transfer them instantly to people I want to know. And see theirs, too.

Like art.

(memories curated by PODS)

(my memories are curated by PODS)

Maybe I’ll ship them to an art show and call it “Container of Memories”; an installation. Maybe someone will buy it for $5Million and I’ll disappear into a coconut grove with the love of my life and we’ll lay around all day every day watching the palm fronds wave in the wind sending postcards to family members. CMYKs of green, tan, yellow, blue and Equatorial halftones in between.

When the movers were done picking the boxes from the condo I sat typing alone on the floor, like I did my first night there 8 years ago. I had more money, I had more things. I’d done more, seen more, knew more people. But what did I really have?

Fresh perspective.

Whenever I’m not feeling right. Whenever I’m feeling down, uninspired, lost, scared, hesitant, I do something. Marc Ecko calls it ACTION. I wrote it on a piece of paper in blue ink and stuck it to my refrigerator door. One letter.



Anyone can do it.

He was another example.

When I need to escape my frustration I repeat the phrase:

“Change context to change perspective”

Everything starts small.

(your ideas matter)

(change the little things and the big things will follow)

If uninspired, I change what I’m doing at that moment to find inspiration. Small things. I jump on, coolhunting, swissmisss, the next web, techcrunch, extragoodshit (NSFW)(Fred is an octagenarian and curation genius) or other sites. I take a break and write down 5 ideas for something. I go walk or run a trail. I drink a cup of coffee or eat something somewhere other than where I am. Changing people can help, too. I get rid of the ones that drag me down and keep the ones that push me up, that I pull up.


I go. Somewhere close, somewhere far, somewhere alone or with someone else.

And I watch. Silence.

If you want something new, right now, you can change your context.

(change context to change perspective)

(change context to change perspective)

EK is European Kindred. An Oregon prison gang associated with the ku klux klan and the Aryan brotherhood, and extremely violent, google told me.

“I was in a lot of trouble when I was younger. I don’t look it but I’m 30. Now I’m just a family man.”

He said he doesn’t like to think about those days. Prison, crimes, assault.

“I have a 2 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. When I look into her eyes, it’s the only thing that matters for me. I think about her all day and it makes me happy, even after 10-12 hours out here. All I want to do is go home and see my family.”

He didn’t go into detail. He said he figured he had to change after he met a girl who changed his view. He found work. He changed direction.

We’re all in our own jails. Maybe it’s a financial obligation. Maybe it’s stuff in a city you no longer live in. Maybe it’s an abusive relationship you keep relapsing into. Maybe it’s actual prison with steel  bars.

But most of our prisons aren’t made of steel. They’re made of our perspective, which is sometimes harder than steel.

You may have bars you live behind, but you have the keys, too.