Prison, Day One
by Piper Kerman

I am tired and my body deserves a much-needed rest. The effects of prison life are exhausting. I’ve aged since I’ve been here. I can feel the tightening of my bones and the soreness of my muscles. I need a nap everyday and I can’t go to bed too late or I won’t be able to function successfully the next day.

My existence is monotonous and at the end of the day I am still an inmate. I can take off my blues and put on my state issued pajamas, bit I am still an inmate. Cannot detach myself form the stigma, and my job as an inmate is, quite literally, never done.

Being an inmate is a career in which I have an extreme amount of pressure and responsibility heaped upon me. Several requirements and demands made of me which are subject to change at any given time, depending upon which staff member happens to be in charge or what shift it is.

There is no time for relief when the pressure might not be so great and the only incentive is the acquiring of gain time days, which aren’t nearly enough, for the purpose of being released early. The requirements to meet the eligibility for that incentive however, are next to impossible!

Being an inmate takes everything you have! It’s like having an out of body experience in which “you” must come out of yourself and use all manner of determination, self-preservation, sacrifice, compromise, strength, and extreme measure of self-discipline to will yourself to do what is required…to will yourself into being an inmate.

The experience of being an inmate could be likened to one of those survival reality shows, only it’s not just physical, it’s mental, emotional, and spiritual…It’s unbelievable! I have never seen such chaos, confusion, and disorganization on a routine basis, in all my life. I am appalled at the lack of professionalism and humanitarianism displayed by the staff. It’s ridiculous and many times illegal as well as a violation of our constitutional rights. I often wonder to myself whether or not they have spouses or children and that thought makes me shudder!

I stayed home from work today for no valid reason other than I needed a break, time to relax. I was kidding myself. There is no such thing in this very small and dreary world. I lay here completely drained, but unable to sleep because I’m subconsciously anticipating some catastrophe or crisis of some sort, whether it be another “shakedown” (raid) or the other inmates on the verge of killing on another over whose chair it is!

I am wide awake, but I am dead tired! The pain in my neck and shoulders from tension and stress are obvious signs of my exhaustion and frustration. I’m over it and my nerves are frayed. Can I get a massage? No. Can I just decide to take a leave from work and go on vacation for a little R&R? It’s not happening. Can I even just go into the ‘privacy’ of my own room and go to sleep? Not likely. I am, unfortunately, an inmate and being an inmate is insane!