Saturday, July 18, 2015

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

I loved, loved this article in the NYT.  Here's an excerpt, below. Read it in full (and I recommend you do!), here.

‘‘The first day is everything,’’ Carlos says — a barrage of insignificant-seeming experiences with potentially big consequences. Consider, for example, a friend of his and Roby’s: Julio Acosta, who was paroled in 2013 after 23 years inside. Acosta describes stopping for breakfast near the prison that first morning as if it were a horrifying fever dream: He kept looking around the restaurant for a sniper, as in the chow hall in prison, and couldn’t stop gawking at the metal knives and forks, ‘‘like an Aztec looking at Cortez’s helmet,’’ he says. It wasn’t until he got up from the booth and walked to the men’s room, and a man came out the door and said, ‘‘How you doin’?’’ and Acosta said, ‘‘Fine,’’ that Acosta began to feel, even slightly, like a legitimate part of the environment around him. He’d accomplished something. He’d made a treacherous trip across an International House of Pancakes. He’d peed.
But what if Acosta had accidentally bumped into a waitress, knocking over her tray and shattering dishes? What if that man had glared at him, instead of greeting him, or snapped at him to get the hell out of the way? Ann Jacobs, director of the Prisoner Re-entry Institute at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told me that even the smallest bungled interactions on the outside leave recently incarcerated people feeling ‘‘like they’re being exposed, like they’re incompetent. It’s feeding into their worst fear, their perception of themselves as an impostor who’s incapable of living a normal life.’’ Carlos and Roby have learned to steer their guys through that perilous newness — and to be nonchalant about it, to make the sudden enormity of life feel unthreatening, even fun. On one ride home earlier this year, I watched a third-striker venture inside a convenience store, alone, to buy a candy bar while Roby pumped gas. The man seemed emboldened after a few hours of freedom, actually hopping a bit as he walked. But then he tripped over the curb and tumbled forward, arms thrashing, nearly face-planting in front of the door. Roby just shrugged and said, ‘‘Well, you’ve got to get that one out of the way.’’
‘‘Been a long time since I looked at a menu,’’ Dale Hammock said. He was sheltered in a corner of a booth at a Denny’s near the prison. The restaurant was overcrowded, loud and full of the kind of hyperdifferentiated nonsense that ordinary Americans swim through every day, never assuming it can or should be fully understood. But Hammock was having trouble sorting the breakfast menu from the lunch menu, and the regular Denny’s menu from the Denny’s Skillets Across America limited-time menu. There were two kinds of hot sauce and four different sweeteners on the table. On the Heinz ketchup bottle, it said: ‘‘Up for a Game? Trivial Pursuit Tomato Ketchup.’’
The first meal after a long prison sentence is an ostensible celebration laced with stress. The food tastes incredible. (Roby gained 60 pounds after his release, desperate to try the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion and other fast-casual delicacies he’d seen commercials for on TV.) But ordering — making any choice — can be unnerving. Waiters are intimidating; waitresses, especially pretty ones, can be petrifying. So at Denny’s, Roby started things off, ordering a chocolate milk. Hammock ordered a chocolate milk, too. Then he reconsidered and said: ‘‘I want a milkshake! I’ll just have that!’’ He ordered a Grand Slam. Then he changed it to a Lumberjack Slam. And when the waiter shot back with ‘‘Toast: white, wheat or sourdough?’’ Hammock went stiff momentarily, then answered: ‘‘Toast, I guess.’’
(via NYT)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015


A sunflower seed I planted pushes up from the soil!  Incredible. 

ATM security

Friday, July 10, 2015

Maiden Names

Reversing the 1980s Dip

Share of women who said they kept their last name when marrying, by decade of first marriage.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


CB & I just got back from our honeymoon in France.  Two weeks of relaxation, food, wine and our broken French.  Here's a taste of our trip.

The city of Annecy in the Rhone-Alpes in the Haute-Savoie region, just 40 minutes from the Swiss border.  An impossibly adorable city, sometimes called the "Venice of the Alps."

We biked along the Lac d'Annecy and stopped by grassy beaches.

Our next stop was Provence.  

With our base in the lovely village of Lourmarin, we spent five days visiting lavender fields near Gordes, truffle-hunting at Las Pastras organic farm, wandering through medieval hill-top villages, picnicking on fresh baguettes with tomatoes and goat cheese, dining at superb but casual restaurants, and drinking a tremendous amount of rosé.



Dinner at Numéro 9, a gift from SMD

Abbaye de Sénaque, near Gordes
est 1148

The grave of Albert Camus, in Lourmarin


Truffle-hunting team at Las Pastras, in Cadenet
We visited an incredible light-projection visual & audio exhibit in an old stone quarry exhibit at Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence




And then we were off to the beaches of Corsica!

La plage de Tamaricciu
We stayed in the town of Porto-Vecchio.

We had an amazing view of the bay of Santa Giulia from our hotel room's deck.

Great dinner at U Cantonu

Lunch at la plage de Rondinara


Amazing dinner on the route to L'Oespedale at La Petite Maison de Vardiola
On our last day on the island, we took a relaxing boat trip along the south-eastern coast of Corsica, and to the Îles Lavezzi.

We spent the last night of our trip in Nice where the highlight was definitely watching these small French children delight in the joys of the city's fountains.

À bientôt!


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