Pops and Parole – What Does It All Mean??

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mugshotI woke up on a Thursday morning remembering that Dad’s parole hearing was taking place at that moment. We’d all been preparing for the last couple of years – hiring Dad’s parole attorneys (he was now on his fifth), gathering countless boxes of legal paperwork, organizing letters of support for his release, coaching him on the IRR’s (insight, responsibility and remorse.) Based on what I’d heard about parole hearings, I didn’t expect Dad to be released first time around, just like in Shawshank Redemption when the inmates keep getting denied. Man I loved that movie.

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The Year In Woods – 2013

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Happy New Year good friends near and far! Reflecting on this past year has been quite difficult, actually I’d say the second hardest year of my life next to Dad’s murder arrest. I have shed more tears and felt such loss, but as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So here I am to prove it. But I have to ask, who the fuck are these THEY people?

momchemo

January I hit the ground running as Mom’s breast cancer was a bit more serious than originally expected. At first her treatment post-surgery was radiation. I like to call this “cancer-lite.” But then her doctor prescribed 4 rounds of chemo and that’s when it got real. City of Hope is the best hospital ever and she got rockstar treatment. Now cancer-free 6 months, cheers to that! Continue reading

The Year In Woods – 2012

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Happy New Year everyone! I selfishly had so much fun writing last year’s Woodsy recap that I thought I’d sit down, have a tasty beverage,  and reflect on all the events that took place, or I took place in, “wink wink” this last year. I also welcome the challenge of only being able to pick a few select nuggets out of all that excitement! And away we go….

Instragram

So in January, I rediscovered Instagram. I signed up for it when it first launched a couple of years ago and just didn’t get it. Facebook, Hipstamatic, Tumblr, Flickr – it’s all too much!! But I decided to give IG another chance and was instantly hooked! I felt like an amateur photographer – I looked at everything around me differently, imagining different filters, angles, and wondered “Is this IG worthy?” I spent this year capturing moments, places, people, thoughts. I followed friends and others who’s lives I admired, dogs I adored, cars I coveted. My friends became annoyed with me constantly on my iphone like a teenager. Instagram is like a window into your world that you’re willing to share with others. I think it can be amazing. Facebook for me became a thing of the past until they bought Instagram – that was a bummer #bigtime. Continue reading

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Prison Since My Dad’s Conviction

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1. The term used when a prisoner hides contraband up inside his person – Keystering – and thank you Dad for that detailed description.

2. Inmates can ferment fruit and packets of bbq sauce into wine, taste at own risk.

3. Inmates can make a sharp knife out of toilet paper, kind of like paper mache style.

4. Prison guards steal any mail they may want, e.g. magazine subscriptions, packages of food, electronics.

4. Contrary to prison life in movies, inmates don’t have computers or access to the Internet, unless you’re Martha Stewart.

5. Inmates don’t ask other inmates what they are in for unless they offer you their sentencing papers.

6. The prison pecking order starting from lowest to highest is: sex offenders, including pedafiles and rapists, law enforcement, informants, drug dealers, murderers (but not of children).

7. If your Dad’s appellate attorney is the same as Phil Spector’s, be careful what you may write about Phil Spector.

8. MCI is a racket and has the toe-hold on the collect calls. Rumor has it sometimes they purposely drop calls so you have to pay for the first minute again.

9. Stamps are considered a form of currency.

10. If you are in a prison fight, even if you’re the one being beaten and not beating, they’ll put you in the hole.

The Year In Woods – 2011

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I find every year to be full of so many events, I really need start writing them all down. Some funny, some sad, many shameful but never any regrets. I started off the year strong, my 2011 resolution was to get back into shape after eating and boozing my way through the Big Apple these last few years.

So in January off I went to Park City, Utah with friends for a ski trip. My second run of the second day I skied past the Glory Hole run with my friend Tim, who said he was “gonna hit that.” He made me laugh hard and took off ahead of me. I turned to the right, still laughing, caught an edge and fell hard down the hill. Why I always fall underneath the busiest ski lift I’ll never understand, so I had quite an audience.

As I tumbled, I could feel my left ski turning one way and my left leg turning the other until I heard a loud snap, like the world’s largest rubber band. I was lovingly taken care of by hottie ski patrolmen–one was named Tinker, no really. In the end I tore my ACL completely but the experience led me to discover my new favorite drink, the pickle back.  We went to the Sundance Lodge, I had to hobble in my crutches and knee brace. Tim ordered us a round of pickle backs – a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice. Initially disgusted, I was quickly proven wrong. Tell me what you think. Continue reading

How I Helped The LAPD And Sheriffs Capture a Crips Gang Member

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Last week I went home to my precious motherland of Los Angeles to visit family, friends and pops in prison. I was looking forward to palm trees, beautiful weather, driving and my staple Chin Chin Chinese chicken salad. I arrived Wednesday evening and on Thursday spent a day of relaxation at my new-found gem Korean spa. I partook in an hour-long body scrub, a milk massage and dipped into the hot, medium and cold jacuzzis – refreshing. The next day I continued my spa week by getting a facial. My facial went longer than expected and I had a meeting at 3pm. I looked at the clock and decided I could either squeeze in a quickie mani-pedi or get my favorite Chinese chicken salad and Chin Chin’s on Sunset. 20 years ago, I used to work at Playboy on Sunset Boulevard. It was my first job after college. I used to eat that damn Chinese chicken salad about three times a week and I still craved it after all these years.

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My Recording Session for KCRW’s Radio Show UnFictional

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Thanks both to Gemma Dempsey and Bob Carlson, I was featured on Bob’s radio show UnFictional yesterday, airing Tuesdays at 2:30pm pst and Fridays at 7:30pm pst on KCRW.com/ 89.9FM in Los Angeles. It was an awesome piece and the folks at KCRW are just fantastic. I got teary-eyed listening to myself talk about my story.

You can listen to it here:

KCRW Unfictional – Welcome To The Metal

Father Figure

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Seeing my dad in prison is like seeing a different person. My once powerful father that I looked up to for everything, now dressed in double denim, sometimes shackled and occasionally strip searched. Our visits and phone calls center around his case, the trial, the appeal. Our last family photo of him in his own clothing was taken in early 2000. He has aged significantly since then; we all have. Where there was once a family unit, there’s now four disparate individuals related by blood. I feel like an adult orphan and I blame my father for this. He knows I’m angry with him–for my family’s tenuous situation, his selfishness, and the countless hours spent in jail and prison–but he dismisses my feelings, calling them, in his words, “bitterness.”

However, having now lived through his eleventh year of incarceration, I realize the importance of remembering and preserving the good times and memories I have with my father before his arrest. Amid the feelings of loss and a lack of control over my life, I do still have a father, and the fact that he’s serving a life sentence doesn’t alter that truth. When I see him now, it’s like seeing a shell of his former self with a new personality; as if he was body snatched and replaced with a clone. In these times of frustration, there’s an ever-present yearning to escape–through travel, through isolation, or by acting on self-destructive impulses. So as a means of self-preservation, it’s essential to occasionally honor and give life to the brighter childhood memories, and remind myself that I’m a daughter, a daughter with a father who loves me.

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I Don’t Have Ebola, I’m Just Single

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Twenty years ago Natalie, a close friend growing up, got married one month after college graduation.  At the bridal shower, her mom said, “One day soon, Laurel, we’ll be throwing one of these for you!”  It feels like this happened only yesterday, and it could have.

I spent my twenties working, partying, and sowing wild oats, my thirties were about achievement, self-actualization and coming into my own.

Friends got engaged or married along the way, but I always maintained a fairly large circle of single friends. We had each other and nothing about our lives seemed out of the ordinary.

But still, even in this day and post-feminist age, lurking when I least expect, someone will come out with, “You can only wait so long, Laurel, before you’ll need to settle down, get married and have kids.”

My mom has an entire drawer full of baby clothes for my unborn baby, but I’ve never once been pregnant. Whenever a girlfriend of mine has a baby, mom pulls out a baby outfit with the tags still on, and says, “This was supposed to be for my grandchild.”

Dad calls from prison and tells me, “You really need to think about settling down.”

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Why I’ll Never Get Picked for Jury Duty

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I remember when I was young, and my parents would get their jury summons in the mail. “Oh man, this is the last thing I need,” Mom would say.  Dad got out of it, being an ex-cop.  Growing up, I realized most people avoided their civic responsibility.  Wasn’t this illegal?  It sounded like fun to me, sitting in the court room with all that excitement, seeing all the evidence, aiding in the decision of the defendant’s verdict.

I got summoned for jury duty in Ventura County when I was 18.  I was excited.  I was serving my country, or at least my county.  Dad told me to bring a book, “you’ll be doing a lot of sitting around.”  I sat on a cold wooden pew, gazing out the window, reading my book.  At 4pm, a woman came out, “Thank you for your participation, you are now released.”  Wow, just like that.

I escaped jury duty for another 14 years, until I got another summons in September 2000 – a murder trial in Marin County.  The defendant was right there at the table, 5 feet away from me.  He didn’t look like the murdering type, yet  I looked at him as if he was already guilty.

I filled out a jury questionnaire form.  The trial was set to begin on October 11th.  Phew, I had travel plans to New York City then.  They excused me.

A month later, my father was arrested for the murder of his strip club business partner.  The tables had turned.  My mom, sister and I sat through the jury selection for his trial.  These strangers were going to hear intimate details about my family and decide the fate of my father’s life.  His current sentence was the death penalty.  Dad’s million dollar attorneys hired a jury specialist.  “Believe us, it’s money well spent, she has a great track record,” they assured us.

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