Letter #11 from UPIII



Recieved 26th June 2018

JVA Köln, 16th June 2018

Hey friends,

its jail-Mike here again with another letter about life in prison. How y’all doing? I hope you’re eating enough vegetables to make up for the amount I’m not.

I thought I’d conduct a self plenary today, because I miss them, and people here don’t give a shit about what I’d like to be called or the pronoun/s I prefer. So, lets begin.

Hey to those reading this, you probably know me as UPIII or Mike or whatever else but I feel a reinvention of myself is called for – three months in prison with another on to go will do that apparently – so I’d like to be called either UPIII (I actually like this, in a strange way that it feels like an old friend, I sign all my drawings here as UPIII so its a part of me) or Vahra, if UPIII feels too clinical/unfriendly/like I’m not really a person-ish to you. (Pronounced Vah-rah.) And I prefer the pronoun/s they or she. Right, now moving on the the jobs I feel responsible for today:

1. Wash clothes. Again. After the ones from yesterday dry on the shoelaces tied across the bars.

2. Take a nap. I haven’t been sleeping well for, oh I don’t know, the entire time I’ve been here. So this is important, trying to get on extra hour or something in somewhere.

3. Invent ways to occupy my time. Writing letters, drawing and reading are old favourites. It’d be useful If I could just google “what can I do with all the time I now have” or something but no internet. There’s only so much I can practice German (I might even be able to hold a conversation when I’m free) or do yoga or walk up and down the cell. Also writing stories, reorganizing my things, doing a “spring clean” of the shoebox (I found out the walls are actually supposed to be white, not cream), rereading letters, flicking through photos (which I have to give to the guards to get any more, even though I only have a handful left after giving most away to friends, that’s “the rules”), dance to some shitty song on the radio, sharpen pencils, meditate, whistle, brush my hair (I have never had so little knots in it) or teeth (wow, so minty clean, not even slightly furry), remake the bed, fold cloths, I don’t even know what else. Water my toilet paper plant (the carrots grew mouldy and I had to say goodbye) who is now constantly flooded. I could make a chess or ckeckers set out of toilet paper I guess, if I horde my rations for the next two weeks (one roll per week usually on Friday). Any help with ideas is appreciated!! What do you do to occupy your “nothing” time?

4. Deal with my emotions etc. in a healthy way involving X10. (I still feel guilty, sad, helpless and exhausted.)

5. Write back to some more letters, because they’re all super great and I love them and I want you to know I’ve received them.

6. Find a pen, I hate the scratch-scratch of pencil. Or just this one. I lost my favourite little stubbly one 🙁 (note – ask at Freistunde).

7. Draw on calendar and write in all the birthdays I’m missing (I’m sorry friends! I still love you! I’ll be back soon!)

8. Throw glitter everywhere in protest of the distinct lack of fruit and vegetable related items I am given at lunch. I ordered six kilograms of bananas for “shopping” which arrived Wednesday. Its Saturday. They’re all gone.

9. Follow up from 8., think about all the fruit/vegetables I miss eating. Mangoes. Oranges (I can’t even order these and they’re one of my favourites). Kiwi fruit. Apples. Bananas (yes, I haven’t eaten a banana in four hours. Too long). Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberriers, I miss them so much). Melons. Grapes. Peaches. Nectarines. Mandarines. Plums. Even just “basic” vegetables! Carrots. Tomatoes. Onions. Potatoes (I get potatoes here, but they’re soft boiled and tasteless. I’ll order some in the next shopping I think, and oil, and paprika, for chips!) I hate to say it but I’d probably even cry if I was given a single brussel sprout. Oh wow I just remembered avocados!! I’d love some avocado and tomatoes an toast with salt and pepper, maybe a little basil. Or bruschetta! I have to stop now, I’m about to cry with how much I just want to eat something that isn’t bread, rice or over boiled potatoes. I can order shopping next Friday. Maybe I’ll just order one of every fruit and vegetable on the list. Just for some colour.

Oh just a “fun” thing, in the shopping list I can order a pineapple, but I have nothing to cut it with but a butter knife. Like, “here, have this wonderful thing but you can’t eat it”. Ugh. I also very much miss pineapple. Even just the smell of fruit. Aww.

10. “Spring clean” again, either today or tomorrow, because there is some “box inspection” thing next week. Something like a rental inspection or something. Oh wow friends! This 8m² thing I exist in for 20+ hours a day must be spotless! No photos! Tidy! No dust! I wonder if this is what the army is like? It reminds me of school, locker and desk inspections and other stuff, I don’t miss those. I wonder if anything really belongs to us or are we renting everything? Are we renting our lifes too?

11. Return books and write an “Antrag” for more. (I found out “Antrag” means “request”). Also Antrag for groups, visits to staff, to the doctor to say I’m “not gluten free” (somehow, again, “vegan” and “gluten free” are apparently the same thing). For Monday though, “no post on weekends”. (Books arrive Monday.) If I forget the book Antrag on Monday I have to wait until the next Monday for books.

12. Keep laughing, it passes the time and feels good. Fund humor in the little things; the dripping tap they never fix, that “vegan=gluten free”, how annoying it must be for the state not to know my name, that I’m the youngest in this house so I can be as much of a kid as I want (the first sentence I learnt in German was “I am a little chocolate monkey and I want to live in a big treehouse”, obviously the most important too – it hasn’t failed to get a laugh yet), so many more things (I’m running out of space so I’m going to stop listing them). It is shit being here but at least I can find something to laugh about.

And I think that concludes this little plenary. I’ve just done a quick reread and actually don’t mind being called Mike either, if you’d prefer that. It’s cool. Mikey. The many Mikes. “Prison Mike.” UP but not a number. “UP Mike”.

Anyway, I hope you’re all well and looking after yourselves, stay safe, stay strong, stay wild, stay brave.

To those I’ve met, I miss you. To those I haven’t, I hope to meet you sometime. To you all, I love you and I stand with you. Solidarity forever.

For the forest, for us, for the future. Keep fighting.

<3 UPIII/VⒶhra/Mike

One thought on “Letter #11 from UPIII”

  1. Dear UP III,
    yesterday I visited your friends. I do not know any person in particular, but it was good to say hello, it was good to see the forest again. Though sad. A path has been cleared, but not even throughly, „lovingly“, as a gardener would do, taking a branch away here and there. No. Drying branches are lying around, half broken off the trees. A way I remember being few more than a footpath, now is a way, broad enough for cars to pass. But I do not want to talk about sad things – you are so brave, so I rather cheer you up. I supported and brought things along, needed things, food and pallets. There is nothing criminal about bringing presents, so off I went, warmly received and welcomed.
    I took some photos of the forest, one blurred, because I didn’t stand still enough. Two photos, which talk to you: „Hey, UP III, we are the trees, the ferns, the undergrowth, the birds, the air, the flies, the birds, the foliage, the smell, the destructed barricades and the good mind of the people here, rebuilding them. We Are Here! And we will be here! We wait for you! We are in your soul, each and every single tree, fight and song. We don’t forget you, we do not give you up. Be it four months, they WILL pass. One after the other. And then you come back. We will give you a heartful wellcome. We, the trees, the activists – and also the many sympathisants, who are with you in their hearts, just as I am, as many are.
    So here are the photos, talking to you, calling you, laughing with you, laughing, because life is beautiful. And not one of the representatives of the system who want to tell you, life is but a sad place, can silence us, talking like this to you.

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