It's Friday a.m. and all I can say is TGIF. No happy hour awaits, no sushi-combo at the local Japanese restaurant, no vanilla latte at Starbucks, no binge watching Walking Dead on Netflix. But do I care? Well, maybe a little... But that doesn't mean I don't look forward to weekends here with a passion. Most people think I'm crazy.
Except for my time amongst Type-A New Yorkers after law school, I have never been around so many weekend haters as here in prison. Why is that? Interesting question. I suppose, in part, it's for some of the same reasons those New York investment bankers and lawyers sat at their desks all weekend long: to avoid reality, to hang out with colleagues, to pass the time, to avoid thinking about what miserable lives they led. Being here (and being in New York) I've come to realize that quite a few people don't deal all that well with unstructured time. Without hobbies, without reading, without exercise, time becomes the enemy, an exercise in boredom. Faced with an hour or two, they're at a loss.
What I've learned in my time here is that time is flipped on its head from what it is on the outside. In regular life, between work and family and chores and commutes, there never seems to be enough time. In here, it's the opposite. No family, no chores, no commutes = way too much unstructured time. As an economist will tell you, when there's too much of a given good, it's value is debased. That's the case in prison with time. The only things we have more of than time are milk and rules and guards. Time, as a result, is something to be dreaded, something to be wasted. The problem with the weekend? Way too much unstructured time.
The trick to a productive stay in prison (and no, that isn't an oxymoron: I firmly believe that prison stays can be productive) is successful time management. I'm not perfect at it - I waste time and procrastinate just like the next guy - but I really do try. When given the opportunity, I fill my time with reading and writing and yoga and walking. Those things are just interesting and fun for me. And the whole time I'm busy with those activities I'm thinking to myself: thank god I'm not weed whacking. I do get bored but for the most part I manage to schedule my weekends with things I like to do. Plus a few naps.
On the flip side, many of my friends in this joint fall into a funk. They play endless hands of cards or stare at the clock or nap for hours or force themselves to lift weights when they really don't want to. Eight or 12 straight hours of free time stretches out like an eternity. They miss their jobs, however menial and demeaning they may be: at least when you're slopping up after cows or driving a riding mower time tends to speed on by.
I'm off now to weed whack, to put in those last few hours of prison time before my "me time" starts. I can't wait. TGIF.