I Have Not Written in Weeks Because I've Been in Prison

I Have Not Written in Weeks Because I've Been in Prison

Thankfully, it isn't what it sounds like.

I know the title may come as a shock, but it's absolutely true. While articles are due at 5 p.m., I am on my way to the Lackawanna County Prison by 5:30 p.m. No, this is not some wild college night gone wrong that landed me in prison. I have been volunteering with the women at Lackawanna for about three weeks now. Once I had informed my mother that I would be working in a prison, she was naturally concerned. "You couldn't have picked safer volunteer work?" she said, and I mean, I could have, but this one stood out. The program we do with the women is creative writing, so it fit my interest. I will be working with these girls for six weeks and so far so good.

The first time I went to the prison was just a tour. I have never stepped foot in one before, so I was pretty anxious. After having my ID checked and handed a pass, it was time for us to go in. The interesting thing is, to get to the classroom you have to walk past the male prisoners. They don't see many women and my group is all girls and one guy, so you can imagine how this went. They were rowdy when we walked in and out of the prison. This has continued every week since. There are many wild and inappropriate reactions that I can't help but awkwardly laugh to myself about.

The following week was my first week working with the women. After watching way too many prison drama shows on Netflix, I was nervous. Thankfully, that nervousness didn't last long. The girls came into the room and sat themselves with their friends in whatever groups they wanted. My group consisted of myself, two other girls from school and two women from the prison. This week specificity we were working on blackout poetry. Not only did I get to see the talent these women have, but I learned a lot about them. One of the women writes songs and loves to preform with her music group here. The other woman plans to manage them and has dreams of being an actress. People sometimes forget that prisoners are people too.

Now I am around three weeks into the program, this being my week off. I think it has been such an amazing experience. Sometimes it's hard when it's a Wednesday night and I'm overwhelmed with schoolwork, but I know I have somewhere to be. Taking the time to talk to these women honestly makes my night. I get to see some of the amazing talent they have (believe me it's amazing, I've come close to tears), we get talk about our week and we have some pretty funny moments. I mean, who better to make jokes about committing crimes with than prisoners? I have found the program to be rewarding and inspiring to me as a person and to my writing. I also learned not to judge as harshly. Yes, these women have committed crimes, but who am I to judge someone off of one aspect of their life? I would recommend this experience to anyone. I have learned so much and hope to keep learning more from the program.

Cover Image Credit: WNEP

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14 Fraternity Guy Gifts Ideas, Since He Already Has Enough Beer

Frat boys are a species of their own and here are some exciting gifts they will be ecstatic to receive!


What more do frat boys love than alcohol, partying, and just acting stupid? Here are some gifts that help fulfill all of those needs for the frat boy in your life!

1. Beer holster belt

Whats better than one beer? Six beers! This fashionable camouflage accessory can be used for tailgates, beach days, formals and everything in between.

Price: $8.49

2. Phone juul holder 

You know those cardholders everyone sticks on the back of their phones? Well, now a Juul holder for your phone is on the market! This will save your favorite frat boy from ever again losing his Juul!

Price: $10.98

3. Animal house poster 

This Animal House poster is a classic staple for any frat boy. This poster will compliment any frat house decor or lack thereof.

Price: $1.95

4. The American Fraternity book

Does the frat boy in your life need a good read for Thanksgiving or winter break? Look no farther, this will certainly keep his attention and give him a history lesson on American fraternity heritage and tradition.

Price: $28.46

5. Beer pong socks 

These snazzy socks featuring beer pong will be loved by any frat boy. As for the way to any frat boy's heart may, in fact, be beer pong.

Price: $12.00

6. Condom case

This condom carrying case will not only protect condoms from damage but also make frat boys more inclined to practice safe sex, which is a win-win situation!

Price: $9.99

7. Frat house candle

Ahhh yes, who does not like the smell of stale beer in a dark, musty frat house basement? Frat boys can make their apartment or bedroom back home smell like their favorite place with the help of this candle.

Price: $16.99

8. "Frat" sticker

Frat boys always need to make sure everyone around them knows just how "fratty" they are. This versatile stick can go on a laptop, car, water bottle, or practically anywhere their little hearts desire.

Price: $6.50

9. Natty Light t-shirt 

Even I will admit that this shirt is pretty cool. The frat boy in your life will wear this shirt at every possible moment, it is just that cool!

Price: $38.76-$41.11

10. Natty light fanny pack 

This fanny pack can absolutely be rocked by any frat boy. The built-in koozie adds a nice touch.

Price: $21.85

11. Bud Light Neon Beer Sign 

A neon beer sign will be the perfect addition to any frat boys bedroom.

Price: $79.99

12. Beer Opener

Although most frat boys' go to beers come in cans, this bottle opener will be useful for those special occasions when they buy nicer bottled beers.

Price: $7.99

13. Frat House Dr. Sign

Price: $13.99

Forget stealing random street signs, with this gift frat boys no longer have to do so.

14. Beer Lights 

Lights are an essential for any party and these will surely light up even the lamest parties.

Price: $17.19

Please note that prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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Are You Living Your Full Potential?

It looks different for everyone, and I don't personally think it is an achievement so much as a lifestyle.


All my life I have been told of how much potential I have. I was the salutatorian of my graduating class and never had a bad subject. Now that I am in college, I changed from a "great" major (Actuarial Science) to Public Relations, some may consider me wasting my potential. I have to ask though, how can I be wasting potential if my "potential" does not bring me any enjoyment?

In my nineteen years of life, a large defining experience for me has been my struggle with mental health. I showed signs of an anxiety disorder from a very young age, and by junior high, I was an insomniac and both very depressed and very suicidal. I coped through self-harm, overdosing on household pain meds, and other methods of which I am less than proud. My junior year of high school I was finally diagnosed with moderate to severe clinical depression and a clinical generalized anxiety disorder. Through therapy and medication, I have achieved some semblance of normalcy, but I will spend my whole life on medication and periodically visiting psychologists and psychiatrists. My life perspective tends to be much different than my peers because of this and other factors from my upbringing. From the age of twelve, I lost my fear of death. One looks at life very differently when it's ending no longer instills fear.

However, I refuse to allow this experience to hinder me or do anything less than push me forward. Carrie Fisher was a badass woman who lived her life to full potential and was an inspiration to everyone, and she too had a history of mental health issues and related addictions. I do not think she went into her life thinking about if she would reach her potential as an actress; I think she did reach her full potential though. Potential, in my opinion, is not something we get to choose or control.

Potential takes us by surprise; it grabs our hand and whispers "run!" It is our job to follow and let our lives change- or to refuse and let everything stay eerily the same. The biggest hindrance to living potential, especially full potential, is fear. Sometimes it is fear of change, and other times it is fear of losing everything and maybe not getting all we hope to out of the path of uncertainty. This is especially true for those of us who are not as well off economically. Coming from a family where there has always been an underlying struggle to make ends meet, it is much harder for me to accept a change in direction that involves much less certain money. However, I think this is important for overall happiness, which is, in my humble opinion, tied closely to potential.

A life of full potential brings joy, not only to us but to those around us, and contributes in some positive way to society. We do not all have to be Tony Stark-level philanthropists in order to positively contribute to society. One can be a parent who not only does a great job raising his or her own children, but provides a safe and compassionate place for other children who have befriended their children. This is, in fact, a productive contribution to society; raising the next generation with compassion is a highly underrated role.

I know I am not living my life to my fullest potential at the moment, but I am working on finding what makes me happy and setting myself up for success when the opportunity arises to run with it. I would love to realize where my potential actually lies, but I recognize that I may not understand this right now. We are never going to know everything that is going to happen in our lives, but we have to make sure we have our running shoes on hand when the time comes.

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