Orange is the new Black

I just got done reading Orange is the New Black.  If you don’t know, it’s about a woman who is prosecuted on a minor drug charge and given a small sentence in a minimum security prison in Conneticut.  Piper Herman, the woman who wrote the book and did the time, had money so she was able to get a good lawyer and get a good deal from the government.  She was out in 13 months.

One thing I noticed though, was, even incarcerated, Piper had a better life than I did, and, when she went home (after the halfway house) she was totally free. to live her life perp free and to have friends, relatives and her husband and her own business.

But I want to talk about how her life was even better incarcerated.  Prison, even minimum security, must be miserable, but even an inmate has more rights than some ti’s.  Some of us “carry our prison” on our backs.

First, the things she was deprived of:

  1. Clothes.  She had to wear khaki pants and shirts at all times.  No dressing up.  The only alterations were grey sweats, white long underwear and an ugly brown winter jacket.  She did get to wear makeup, however when she had the funds to get it at the commissary.  They had just forbidden the sale of nail polish then but some inmates found a way to get it.
  2. Living Space.  She had to share a tiny cubicle with another inmate in a room full of other cubicles and inmates.  There was no privacy.
  3. Freedom.  She did not leave the compound until she became the government’s witness against someone else right before her release.
  4. Respect.  The CO’s, or guards, disrespected inmates and they had to take it or they would be punished or put into solitary.
  5. Privacy.  The showers were communal.  Also, she was strip searched after every visit.
  6. Food.  She describes the food as sort of crappy and sparse, but inmates learned to cook things from the commissary in the microwave and create delicacies that were off the official menu.  She says she lost weight there.  She looks a little overweight now.

Here are the things Piper had in the slammer that I, as a ti, don’t.

  1. Friends.  She had lots of friends on the inside.  She only got harassed once during her stay there.  She always had someone to talk to and made close friends.  No one denigrated her for her race.  No one threatened to fight her.
  2. Visitors.  She had tons of visitors from the outside including her fiance.  They came whenever they could and also mailed her tons of books and gave her money.
  3. Some freedom.  She was allowed to be outside without supervision.  She went on walks on the track and spent work breaks outside without supervision or harassment.  There was wildlife there in the country setting.
  4. Work.  She had a a skilled job inside the compound even though it paid an abysmal 1 dollar an hour.  The minimum wage “inside” was only 14 CENTS an hour at the time.  In essence, days were shorter spent working, but it was slave labor.
  5. Books.  She read as much as she wanted in the slammer with her friends and family mailing her long letters and tons of books.  No perp threatened her if she read books or wrote letters or a journal.
  6. Peace of mind.  She did not get Voice to Skull destroying her every day with threats, insults, insinuations, etc…  She could live inside her head without a cruel “monitor” there.
  7. Exercise.  She walked the track 4 miles a day to avoid gaining weight on the starchy prison fare.  She was also part of a Yoga group.  Prisons also provide weights and basketball hoops, etc…for male inmates.
  8. Recreation.  Prisoners at her compound did a lot of needlework like crocheting and knitting.

Now let’s compare my life.  My life is not the same as all other ti’s.  Some ti’s get incessant physical torture so “beatings” are added to some ti’s lives as well.  Piper did not get beat by the CO’s when she was in there.  Here is my life in comparison:

  1. Clothes.  I don’t have to wear a uniform but the perps don’t let me wear certain colors and if I do wear them I get “punished” with extra harassment or even worse things.  I also get threatened for the color nail polish I wear.  I’m also not “allowed” to wear my hair in a ponytail, up, or even put back by a headband.  I have to wear it down everyday.  I think people in the prison were allowed to put their hair up.
  2. Living Space. I have an apartment, which used to be nicer until the Nightmares and the Mice.  I used to have my bed in the small bedroom until I started getting evil nightmares and started to sleep in the living room.  I used to have a loveseat to sit on which faced my now absent TV but when I got infested with Mice I got rid of it and don’t want any upholstered furniture now.  I have space in this apt but am lonely and have very poor furniture.  I sleep on an airbed since my landlady used to deal with people who had bedbugs and I was afraid.  Also, I expected to move anytime and did not want to schlep a mattress.  The perps discourage me from housekeeping and even threaten me.  I feel this is only a place to stay, not a home, so I don’t decorate it.  Plus I can get “punished” for what kind of decorations I put up.  The inmates decorated their cells and were required to keep them clean with very little cleaning supplies.
  3. Freedom.  I can leave my apt. but seldom do.  Usually, I need someone to drive me around since I am afraid of being jumped or having cops called on me for anything if I’m out alone.  I get harassed by my “neighbor” if I sit on the porch and get harassed if I sit out at night in summer in back.  The other neighbors will come out and start laughing at me, the neighbor behind me has spotlights trained on my door and the new neighbors across the alley have a motion detector light that goes on for anything and turns night into day.  The construction workers hoot and laugh or scream “Hey!!!” during work hours even if I just go to the window.  They are working a block away but still must harass me.  If I want any privacy outside, I’d have to go out very late and hope the neighbors are asleep and that there is no human wildlife in the alley to harass me.  My neighbor put a chink in his fence so the light shines on me even if I sit down, so I have to sit really low down or even lie down to avoid the light.
  4. Respect.  I, also, have to “take it” or be in trouble.  If I react, the perps either get great pleasure out of it or call the cops or go and snitch on me to someone who can hurt me.  I either get pity because I’m “mentally ill” which is sickening, or, get treated with hostility or mockery.
  5. Privacy.  I can take a shower by myself but am mocked and told what to do in the shower with V2k and my spying landlady.  I am never not watched and mindread even in remote areas.  I even hear the little shits when I’m on the toilet.  My landlady also runs overhead to see what underwear I have on.
  6. Food.  I don’t have to eat prison food, but, am judged for my weight and get V2k in stores threatening me not to buy things.  I find things missing or changed when I get “home”.  I overeat to try and comfort myself but end up feeling bloated and horrible.

Here are the other things that Piper had and I don’t.

  1. Friends.  None.  I have two people who talk to me but aren’t really friends because they don’t believe I’m a ti.  One of them is on again off again with me and the other has just fallen out with me and wants nothing to do with me.  My landlady pretended to be my “friend” for years to gain info on me to get me better.  My cat is sort of a friend when she’s awake.  At least she does not insult me or tell me I’m mentally ill.  When I was “inside” at the mental hospital, only about two patients talked to me.  The others harassed me so bad along with the head of the ward I ran off.
  2. Visitors.  Only the two above.  Only one of them spends any time here.  I feel no need to decorate.  I used to have Board Meetings for our apartments here and would clean for that, but that was it.  My sister came here ONCE to see me.
  3. Freedom outdoors.  Very little.  I used to take daily walks despite all the perping and skits but when the police started to harass me and I saw dead animals, I pretty much stopped.  When I saw my OLD LANDLORD at the park looking it over as if he owned it, that was the last time I walked there.  By that time, they had rigged the park for intensive V2k so the park was no longer a getaway to read, write, or relax.  I get watched/harassed by neighbors and passers by when I sit outside unless its very late and even then…
  4. I do no meaningful work.  I even had to leave a 2 hour a WEEK job due to increased harassment. I used to do the 2 hours there and volunteer there and take classes there as well.  I also volunteered once a week to cook dinner at the shelter where I stayed when I was homeless.  I lost that as well due to increased harassment and the cold attitude of my “boss” who would not stand up for me against them.
  5. Books.  I take a risk reading after having had a V2k threat about reading and how if I read library books I would be tossed outside in the snow and no one would care and I would die a slow death.  I hope V2k’ers get their just desserts.  I also made a stupid vow to only read Christian novels so that limits my reading the books I really want to read.  The perps first limited me to 50 pages a day, then tried to lower that, then the threat. My books would always become way overdue because of the threats and limits to reading.  If I do read, I take a risk.
  6. Peace of Mind.  Most days are spent in the throes of depression and anxiety and PTSD due to the constant gangstalking and V2k.  I am frequently suicidal but never try it since the perps really want me to do it to go to Hell.  Little things to get my mind off of it are merely time-passers, usually videos.  I have even been “forbidden” to listen to my favorite pastor.  I’ve also been forbidden to listen to Zeph Daniel, who is really the only Christian ti I trust.  I think Simon has taken all his videos down now.  My prayers are desecrated and God seems absent.  I wish I could go on painkillers for artificial peace of mind.
  7. Exercise.  None.  I don’t go on walks alone, don’t walk with others anymore and got “punished” for trying Yoga.  Since I have been driven around, I don’t even walk to the bus stop and back.  Occasionally I take public (perpic) transportation and do some walking but it’s rare.
  8. Recreation.  I used to crochet and cross stitch.  I also took classes in Ceramics and Flower Arranging.  I tried to pick up Crochet again but the perps limited my color choices and I brought home black yarn.  Then, I tried to crochet and got V2k and a verrrry interested cat.  I have not been to the amusement park or movie theater for years.  Before the perps clamped down I was making a very fancy painted gourd and was interested in making soap and candles.

As you can see, my life as a ti is much like the life of a prisoner.  I have some things Piper did not but lack more things she had, even in prison.  I hear that prison is getting tougher and tougher and that creature comforts are kept to a minimum and even basics must be bought.  Increasingly, prisoners are in Solitary, sometimes for their whole sentence.  They go crazy most of the time.

Piper Kerman’s life in prison was unpleasant but enriching in a way my life could never be, and, when she got out she was FREE and not in the prison without bars called gangstalking.  She is an advocate for prison reform now as well as her job.