Proof My Brain No Longer Works

August 23rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve started working on the section about the Penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island (backstory: I’m writing a book about Blackwell’s Island for Algonquin Books). I find this great quote by Charles Dickens describing the stripes the men wore, and I wondered if the women wore stripes as well. But I couldn’t find a reference to what the women wore anywhere, not in decades of annual reports, or newspaper articles, etc. I also couldn’t find a single photograph of the female prisoners, although I found a couple of drawings, which kinda looked like the women’s dresses were striped, but it looked more like the technique they used to employ for shading.

Then I remember I have this great article by Emma Goldman, who spent a year in the Penitentiary. Surely she would think to include a detail like that! I’m looking around on my computer, but I don’t immediately find it. Where did I put it? And what was the title again?

Here’s the part that proves my brain no longer works. Recap: I’m specifically trying to find out if the women wore stripes. So, I suddenly remember the title of Goldman’s article. It’s, “My Year in Stripes.” But do I realize then that I now have my answer?? NO. I was just happy I remembered the title, and I read through the article, not realizing until I got to the line about what they wore that the answer was in the title. Idiot!

An arrest I recently walked by in the 14th Street subway station.


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  1. 4 Responses to “Proof My Brain No Longer Works”

  2. By Julia on Aug 25, 2016

    I think your brain works just fine.

    As for the arrest, I’m confused. Where are the cops? I can’t believe that any of the people I see there are cops, not even the orange shoelaces guy whose feet we can see.

  3. By Stacy Horn on Aug 25, 2016

    NONE of them looked like cops. They all looked like they were around 18.

  4. By Julia on Aug 26, 2016

    I would be scared to death to be arrested by people who don’t remotely look like cops. I would be thinking the whole time that terrible things were going to happen to me because they couldn’t be cops. If I had the wherewithal, I’d even resist arrest, thinking they weren’t cops. What kind of hell is that to put people through? (A rhetorical question – I wouldn’t think you had the answer!) Good grief.

  5. By Stacy Horn on Aug 30, 2016

    Yeah. Anybody could say they were cops. I’m sure they showed their badges, but anybody could fake a badge. It’s scary to think of.

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