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My name is Adriel. I am one of the transwomen here in San Quentin. I am 43 years old, and a Taurus. I am Spanish, French, and Yaqui Indian.

I knew by the age of 5 that I was born in the wrong body. But I couldn’t tell that to my parents, because the machismo was running rampant in my home. You were born a boy, you will act like a boy, like that was going to be easy.

I was way too flamboyant for my own good. Luckily for me, my family thought I was going through a phase. It was difficult growing up in a household where you couldn’t feel comfortable enough to talk to someone, so I had to bottle up all my emotions.

I have always loved going to church, but with COVID-19 that is not possible. I am looking forward to going again.  A year without church services is driving me crazy. Church is where I find my inner peace. I find answers to many of my questions in church. For instance, concerning my transition to womanhood, I pray to God day and night about my inner feelings about who I am.

One day I decided that I was  going to be straight-forward with God. I said, “God, You know what is in my heart. This is what I am asking of You: If I am walking in Your Will, let the hormones that You bestowed upon me work to make the changes to my body. If it’s not Your Will, then the hormones won’t have their effect on me. I just don’t like that I am holding back from the growth that needs to be done. I need that inner grace so I can excel at the piano and singing and play the drums better.” Within a month after my prayer, my body started changing. My diabetes was under control and my blood pressure has gotten better. I started feeling a whole lot better. I started feeling like the woman I should be. My focus at church improved, including playing the instruments and singing. Everything was going so great  even my hair began to sprout at the bald spot on my head. I was so grateful that God heard my prayer.

Now that I was transitioning into the woman I was meant to be, my family had a huge surprise coming. What they thought was just a phase is actually who I am. They get to see my truths in the way I think and act, and about my life overall. They might not understand it at first, but that’s ok. I just know that I have changed a lot from the person that I used to be. I am a lot more compassionate, affectionate, empathetic, kinder, friendly, loyal and trustworthy to those around me. My talents have become better as time goes by, and it’s only going to get better. But while these changes are happening, I’m glad that I can still find peace and comfort in my surroundings.

What brings me comfort, you ask?

When I am nervous, stressed or  have anxiety, I go to my comfort food of chips. I  have different categories of chips. If it’s nerves about work, I go to my plain Lays potato chips, they are salty and just plain ol’ good. The salt from the chips soothe me. I know that is weird, but it truly does. You would think I would get high blood pressure, but it is just the opposite, it’s plain uncanny.

When I am edgy about a conflict that takes longer to solve, I resort to Doritos nacho chips. Yummy! The cheese and the taste of the chips helps me think of solutions that other people are not able to come up with. I guess I can say that it is my thinking chip. LOL. Sometimes I eat half of the bag because I usually come up with something that is easy to execute. Other times I end up eating the whole bag because it took a little more brain work to come up with a solution.

When I am jumpy about life, not knowing what is going to happen next, I get out the big guns. Grilled cheese sandwiches. It  varies in what I put in them depending on my stress. There are times I would add chicken chunks,  onions, bell peppers, and  tomato. Or I would put some pastrami with the veggies and sliced pickles. Who doesn’t love pickles, yum!  and I add Jalapeno with a little cilantro-lime seasoning just to give it extra flavor. I just find ingredients and off I go creating a wonderful meal.

There are other times when a sandwich just isn’t enough or the world is too overwhelming; then I make burritos.  I would just do bean and cheese. Other times I would make it with just vegetables and cheese. When you cook it with butter you’ll sound just like Homer Simpson drooling over a donut. Just the other day I used four shredded beef pouches, with three honey turkey meat logs, with black beans and rice. Talk about a party in your mouth. You just felt like slapping somebody. SMACK!!!

When I am sad I go to my Gospel CDs. They bring calmness and joy back into my life. When I lost my dad, what brought me comfort was music. It brought the memories of when my mother and I would play music throughout the house and just have us a good ol’ time. Music and food bring me comfort at the times that I need it the most. Just like my dad used to do….

I would like to introduce you to someone who is special to me. My dad. He meant the world to me. He was my hero. Remember the old Superman show that was black and white? I used to suspect that my dad was actually Superman. I even asked my mother if it was true. She said, “Yes. your dad is really Superman, but you can’t tell anybody, because then they will want to take him away so he can save the world again.” I was in total awe of my dad because he decided to retire and raise me. I looked up to my dad because he would comfort me during an earthquake. I was truly afraid of those. When one would start,  my dad would hear me scream, he would run and scoop me up in his arms and head for the couch. He could cradle me into his chest so I wouldn’t see anything shaking or hear the rumble of the quake.

Growing up, my dad would tell me little corny jokes,  but I had to laugh because he was trying. If he couldn’t make me laugh, he would tickle me until I was breathless, pleading for him to stop. My dad was great. He taught me how to ride my bike and drive a car. I always appreciated him for that. He also gave me words of wisdom. As a child, I was deathly afraid of the dark and I could not sleep in the room by myself. My dad stayed up late, so that I could sleep, before he got to bed. One night he sat next to me and asked me what I was afraid of. I told him that something was out to get me, I heard noises outside. He told me to shut my eyes and listen. It wasn’t that hard to listen since the walls didn’t have insulation, so everything was crystal clear. While my dad sat there I closed my eyes and listened, slowly I started to recognize the noises. Like the pigeons that my dad kept in the backyard, they were cooing and their babies were chirping for their parents. I heard the cat meow. My dog was running around the yard chasing the cats. After a while, I did not feel my dad next to me, but I was not afraid.

When I got into trouble for shoplifting in Santa Cruz, my dad was truly upset and that was the last thing I ever wanted–to disappoint him. He told me that I should choose my friends wisely because I never knew what kind of trouble would come my way. He also told me to observe all things around me. If I did,  I would eventually learn to spot trouble before it came to me. That advice has helped me throughout my incarceration.

I never thought that I would lose my dad while incarcerated, but I did. It was the hardest time for me. But God looked down upon me and had mercy on me. Fortunately, at that time, I had a very cool boss. I thank God for that sergeant. I was able to talk to my dad every day on the phone. I was thankful that I was able to sing to my dad; I sang one of his favorite songs to him over the phone before he was gone. I miss my dad very much, but one day I will see him again.

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