These Boots Were Made… Not for Someone Wearing an Ankle Bracelet.

It’s a rainy day in my corner of the world.  I’m sitting on my wood floor with bare feet, recovering from a workout.  The windows in my apartment are open and I can hear drizzle and sirens out on Crenshaw.

I’m glad it’s raining.  It reminds me of living in Washington.  It also makes being locked inside all day feel more normal.

I have my weekly earned leave tonight.  Hooray!  Three glorious hours of freedom to be out of my apartment, where I could almost forget that I’m on house arrest at all if it weren’t for the massive hunk of plastic collared at my ankle.

I always overdress to leave the house now.  Doesn’t matter where I’m going.  I gussy up like a prize pig headed for the county fair.   I’m not saying I spend hours getting ready, but I do find myself making more of an effort than I have in the past.  I see it as an opportunity to refresh.  If I have a chance to roam around in the Free World, I simply don’t feel inclined to do so in the same sloppy attire that I so often wear at home.  On that note, I sometimes even wear heels at home if I’m having company.  Why not?  I’m a girl who’s practically lived in heels and a dress every day of my life since 8th grade, and I’m not going to let a pesky thing like house arrest change that.

Some elements of dressing up are more of a challenge now.  It’s incredible the things that can be taken for granted.  For example:  Wearing boots.  With exception to folded-down Uggs, I have only one pair of boots that I can manage to squeeze into with the ankle bracelet on (and that baby’s not going anywhere for a long time still).  This pair of boots is very high, hitting just above the knee, and the material is a thin cloth.  It takes some doing, but I’m able to pull it through under the bracelet.

I remember the first time I realized that boots would be a challenge this year.  I was at the home monitoring probation office in downtown LA, at my first meeting with my home monitoring officer.  I had parked about five blocks away.  I carelessly wore fitted boots, assuming that there would be some way to wear the bracelet with a boot on.  Within minutes of getting clamped, I discovered that I had been very wrong about that.  I was forced to limp back to my car with only a sock on my left foot, a new ankle bracelet above it, and my boot and a charging cord in a bag at my hip.  It’s the one time that I feel like I’ve ever “out-stranged” the foot traffic in downtown LA.

287 days to go.


Battery Life

“I don’t see any lights on this thing.”

I was hidden behind the servers’ station at work when I felt the color drain from my face.  I went from nervous to nauseous in a second.  My co-worker, who delights in taking advantage of my gullibility by pranking me at every glimpse of opportunity he sees, looked up at me from where he knelt at my ankle bracelet.  He wasn’t kidding this time.

I hurried out of my apartment yesterday morning without charging my home monitoring device.  I’m required to charge it twice a day for about half an hour each time.  My probation officer recommended in our first meeting that I plug in once in the morning, then once at night.  There are three lights on the device- two on one side and one on the other.

I pay close attention to the light on one side, as it indicates battery power.  When the light is green, it’s close to being fully charged, and yellow means it’s not.  The other two, from what I understand, begin blinking when the explosive device is about to go off and sever my foot from my body to prevent me from leaving the perimeter.  Just kidding.  I don’t know what they mean.

The one battery light was green when I when I left in the morning.  I assumed it would be fine, as I’ve waited longer than this before to charge when I’m staying home for the day.

When I settled in at work I was feeling a little nervous about it, so I lifted my pant leg to make sure that the light was still green.  It wasn’t.  It was yellow.  I was working the closing lunch shift, so I had at least five hours or so before I would be able to get to the charger.  I was fairly confident that it would last, but that didn’t stop my mind from immediately jump-cutting to every worst-case scenario that I could imagine.  If my ankle bracelet lost power, would I go back to prison?  No.  That doesn’t make sense.  They wouldn’t haul me back to the big house for just this.  But, what if I do get a violation?  What would happen?  How is it that in this program you’re not even told what would happen?  The fear of the unknown, oh, this could be very bad.  I signed paperwork acknowledging that I am aware that I need to charge this thing twice a day…  I was going to charge it twice though!!  Just once right away when I got home, then once before bed…  Is that going against what I agreed to?  Oh God.

I could feel anxiety pulsing through my body as I continued my shift.  I confessed to my friend what was going on, and he recommended that I call my probation officer to warn her that it might lose power.  I really, really didn’t want to do that because I was still pretty sure that it would last, and it seemed like a good idea to avoid volunteering to her that I didn’t charge it before I walked out.  So stupid to not have.  Never again, never again.

On this program, it simply is not worth taking any risks.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Though I felt justified in that I was planning to charge it twice that day after work, it still ended up costing me a lot.  I stepped away from the floor to leave a message with my PO to warn her that it might power down, and when my co-worker and I couldn’t see the light anymore, I panicked.  My managers permitted me to leave early, but of course they weren’t happy about it.

I drove home as fast as I could, wondering what was going to happen to me.  I kept looking down at my phone, waiting for it to come to life with a blocked call.  Probation always seems to call from blocked numbers.

When I got home, I looked again at my ankle bracelet and saw a flicker of yellow light.  For some reason, my co-worker and I hadn’t been able to see it when we checked at work.  Relief.  This meant that I wouldn’t be eligible for a probation violation, because it didn’t actually lose power.  I still looked like an idiot in front of my PO though.  I lost money at work and irritated my managers.  On top of that, I put myself through an outrageous amount of stress.  If I’d played it safe and charged that little bastard when I woke up, I would have avoided all of that.

For anyone reading this that is in a similar circumstance, I strongly recommend that you do everything that your PO recommends.  Even if it’s not a set rule, like you must charge your bracelet upon waking and then again at a certain time.  If they recommend that you do so- just do it.  Trust me.  It’s not worth putting yourself through what can happen if you don’t.

295 days to go.


Parked

Complications tonight.  Not the kind of complications as in my days of old.  Oh, no.  Things are different now.  “Complicated” tonight meant trying to find a parking space that would go safely without a ticket between now and Thursday evening, because that is the next time I am approved to leave my apartment.  If I decide to wander out to the street before then, I can face serious legal consequences.

My efforts to find suitable parking were hopeless, as street cleaning here is on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  I left a message with my home monitoring PO explaining my predicament and asking if I might be permitted to move my car Wednesday morning to avoid a $68 parking violation.  That’s the going rate here.  After all, I am asking to avoid some version of law breaking, right?  Surely, my interest is to serve a greater good and do right by the parking enforcement officers, who righteously punish citizens for their malicious parking agendas.  These officers are doing the Lord’s work, and I wouldn’t dream of getting in the way of their good will and service to the community.  Parking violators need to be snubbed out of society like a cancer, and this uniformed team of do-gooders is on the job.

I am literally a prisoner in my own home for the next three days. At least this prison has cable and online shopping.  Unless I’m granted permission to move my car for street cleaning, I will not be leaving here until Thursday evening.  In ways, I don’t mind so much because I enjoy being at home, but in other ways it’s suffocating to know that I don’t have the option to leave.  Home for three days…  Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds (It’s always on!), but isn’t that about how long it would take, in the case of foul play, for neighbors to be bothered by a suspicious smell and onto the scent of a crime?  I wonder if anyone is keeping tabs on my door- how often I come in and go out- and when they realize that I’ve been inside for an ungodly amount of time, will they assume I’ve died and climb through the window to rob me blind?  Sweet Lord- this is getting morbid.  After my experience in prison and otherwise, I’m convinced that confinement is capable of breeding madness.

One defense I’ve found against madness is exercise.  I’ve been running almost every day at the apartment gym.  Especially during long stretches of being home, it’s a huge release for me.  My ankle bracelet has been aggravating my heel recently though, and after a run today the back of my sock was stained with blood.  New sock, too.  Shame.  I forgot to get band aids during my essential leave last week.  I’m learning to be better about making lists before going to the store.

My options now are to be extremely organized, or suffer the consequences when I’m not.

301 days to go.