Summertime… And the Livin’ is… Aggressively Supervised by the US Government

Sittin’ Time

They say that the true nature of a relationship cannot be holistically assessed until it has survived a full year of seasons.  I’ve been with my ankle bracelet now for more than seven months.  He came to live with me the day we met.  Fast, I know, but we were connected.  We spent Christmas together, and we were skin-close at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.  He even comes into my work and insists on grocery shopping with me every week (awww).  We don’t go out much.  We are homebodies– but we do sleep together every night, even when I’m not happy with him before we get into bed.  We are still inseparable, even at this very moment.  But, I’ve got to be honest with you… I cannot wait to leave this bastard and never see him again come November.

I thought, going into summer, that being on house arrest during this season might be even more trying than it was for me during winter, when I couldn’t go home to be with my family for Christmas.  However, I have been determined to enjoy the LA summer regardless of my criminal punishment.

My parents bought me a lawn chair when they visited me last month.  They went shopping while I was at work, and I came home to a glorious buffet of groceries, my new curtains hung, and a beautiful beacon of a fire-red lawn chair sitting in the middle of my apartment.  My characteristically Northwest parents felt that they’d observed an obvious void in my life, and they filled it with the glory that can only come from a foldable lawn chair.  I have since taken a (perhaps inappropriately immense) joy in my new inanimate housemate by routinely taking it into my backyard for sits in the sun.  More than once, I’ve dragged it out back wearing sunglasses, cold beverage in hand, and I can only assume that I have solidified the alienation of my neighbors by sitting for long periods of time there, practically motionless, in my bathrobe, prison clogs (literally—I kept them from prison—Why not?  They’re comfortable) and iPhone headset, soaking in the sun and turning a blind eye to the inevitable judgment and fear that my actions could easily inspire.  I see no reason to shy away from wandering around my apartment building wearing nothing but my bathrobe and prison clogs.

I am usually alone in my apartment, and I do whatever seems reasonable to me at the time.  Since I don’t often have an audience here, it rarely occurs to me that an outsider might view my behavior as strange.  This was brought to my attention recently during a surprise home visit from my probation officer.  It was almost 1pm.  I was asleep in bed, with the lights off and the curtains shut.  I was awakened by a persistent knocking at my door.  I slumped out of bed without checking a mirror, wearing a rather unfortunate pairing of plaid pajamas and workout clothes that I’d passed out in the night before.  My bangs were smeared into a vertical position on my head after having clipped them back and the pin falling out on my pillow, which created a frightening appearance when I opened the door to find my probation officer standing on the other side.  She seemed a little taken aback, but politely masked her reaction and asked if she could come in.  I shut the door behind us and sat casually back on my bed.  My probation officer stood awkwardly for a moment, taking in the condition of my apartment.  She said, “Um, oh.  Do you have… company? ” I said, “No, just me.  Er, why?”  I followed her gaze.  She was staring at the gathering of chairs in my living room.  The night before, I had set up my lawn chair in front of the television to watch a miniseries on the History Channel, and I’d surrounded the chair with all four of my dining room chairs, which served as tables to rest my various food and beverages on.  I realized that this powwow arrangement might strike an onlooker as being odd and perhaps lend itself to a suspicion of imaginary friends.  “Oh, I was watching TV last night,” I said, satisfied that this would settle the matter.  She said nothing and nodded, staring at my lawn chair.  “Um.  My parents gave me that lawn chair.  They- um, it’s really comfortable.”  She nodded again and seemed to accept this as the best explanation that she could hope to extract from me.

Well, it’s not a probation violation to get strange.  Over the last seven months, I’ve become more comfortable than ever with succumbing to odd inclinations.  I love that little lawn chair, and I look forward to sitting in it for a long time yet to come.  Since its arrival in my apartment, I’ve considered ordering a tent online and setting up camp in my living room.  I have the Sleep Stream app on my iPhone, and I could set that thing to “Forest Noise” for an outdoor soundtrack and pretend that I am just doing a little summer camping.  Why the hell not?  Keep it strange, I say.

“If a criminal on house arrest does something really f###ing weird in their apartment and no one is there to see it, was it ever actually weird?” – Chinese proverb

148 days to go.

Parental Supervision

My mom made me a blackberry pie when she came to visit 🙂 And yes– I have Christmas lights in my kitchen.  They make me happy.

There was a time when I considered moving back to Washington State to live with my parents to serve out my year of house arrest.  When people ask me why I chose not to, I tell them that it’s because I value my relationship with my parents.

My mother and father are, without a doubt, some of the best people I have ever known in my life, or will ever know.  They are two of my best friends.   I admire them, and I love them dearly.  They must love me too, because they still publicly claim me as their daughter.  They flew down to visit me recently.

My mom’s reaction to seeing my ankle bracelet was holding it, leaning in and saying, “Hello?  Let my daughter go,” like it was a conch shell, and instead of hearing the ocean, she might be able to hear a panel of government decision makers to whom she could plead my innocence.

I’d planned to host a barbeque at my place while they were here.  My mom called me a week before their visit to discuss the menu.  “Sweetie, I found a great recipe for the BBQ this weekend.  It’s a sandwich with some Swiss cheese and — I thought you’d be okay with this–  it’s a pancetta, which is a thinly sliced ham.”  I come from a Northwest family of hunters.  My mom refuses to accept that I’m a vegetarian.  The last time I came home to visit, she surprised me with a mustard chicken, which she said she’d made with me in mind– and the fact that I don’t eat meat far from mind.

My dad suggested that I take a picture of my mom’s hands on my ankle bracelet.  “For what?  Dad, no.”   My parents never miss an opportunity for sentiment.  They asked my lawyer to take our Christmas card photo last year immediately after I was sentenced to prison.  Like, literally, right after it happened.  Before sending the photo out to all of their friends to celebrate the holiday, they photo-shopped fireworks into the background and pasted in a photo of my brother’s girlfriend, whose disproportionately blown up image floated over the family against the supposed glow of the fireworks.  They joyously distributed the image with a holiday greeting to everyone on my mom’s “Christmas card list” with absolutely no sense of irony.  I love my parents.

My parents stayed with me while they were here.  During the first night, I had a hard time sleeping.  It may have been from an overly caffeinated afternoon.  My insomnia may also have been induced by the sounds that were erupting from my apartment.  It sounded like nothing short of a snoring competition.  In truth, there was no competition at all.  My dear father was winning by a landslide.  I was curled up on my futon, eyes peeled, clutching my iPhone.  I was sure that my mom was sound asleep until, out of nowhere, the only thing that could be heard over the roar of my father’s sleep was, “Meili, what are doing?  It looks like a laser show over there.”  The blue light from my phone was casting a small pool of light against the wall.

We had a great time during their stay.  My parents are amazing, and I am soooooo blessed to have them.  I can’t even make a joke about that.  The barbeque was really fun, and I ended up getting some great recipes from my mom, as always– even if a sandwich with thinly sliced ham wasn’t one of them.

166 days to go.