Prison: The New “Me” Time

I have to admit, I am a sucker for magazines containing the latest celebrity gossip. My favorite one is People, because it features “regular” folk articles too, and usually a suspenseful true crime story. I also subscribe to Us Weekly and feel joy when these gossip rags show up in my mailbox.

My latest Us Weekly issue recently arrived, and I noticed a photo of Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Guidice on the cover, teasing her exclusive photos and prison diary. Now, I don’t watch this particular Housewives franchise, but I am familiar with the show and featured ladies. I will admit to watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for several seasons – I love watching the impeccably dressed and sharp-tounged Lisa Vanderpump.

Nevertheless, I was interested to see what life was really like inside the prison walls of the Federal Correction Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. As a fellow mother, I do feel for Teresa Guidice and her forced separation from her four daughters. I cannot imagine the pain involved in not seeing your children on a regular basis. But then I read Teresa’s prison diary excerpts, and I realized that she is basically on an extended vacation from the responsibilities of everyday life.

Case in point: Us Weekly reports that Teresa works out three times a day. What mom of four children has time to work out three times a day? Her workouts include yoga, Pilates, step class and various workout DVDs. Teresa’s going to leave prison looking like Linda Hamilton from Terminator. This ain’t prison, folks – this is a stripped down fitness retreat.

Teresa details one evening where she attended Pilates and then retired to her room to “relax with a cold cloth on [her] head.” After resting, she planned on watching Empire. After I exercise, I quickly return to reality and face “hangry” children who demand to know why I showered post-workout and want to eat, right now! There is no calm transition to post-workout bliss with a cold compress on my head or tired muscles.

In addition to Empire, Teresa also watches Atlanta and Beverly Hills Housewives, The Voice and movies. I would love to watch Empire (and Girls, Downton Abbey, HGTV and the hundreds of shows I don’t get to enjoy), but I barely have time for the evening news. Can I have her life, please? This incarceration is beginning to sound more like a staycation.

On one pleasant day in February, our New Jersey housewife dined on French toast for breakfast and oatmeal, followed by checking email, drinking coffee and watching the news. When was the last time you got to watch the news in the morning over a leisurely cup of joe? And can someone please make me some French toast?

Following this idyllic morning, Teresa and her fellow inmates watched a Black History special on TV, with the opportunity to win a Hershey candy bar for answering trivia questions correctly. You had me at coffee and chocolate.

Teresa and her roomies also have their own on-call nurse practitioner. In one instance, the New Jerseyan got a dry patch on her chin, and the private nurse treated her promptly with some ointment. Talk about the red carpet treatment! I remember the time I sliced my finger with an onion peeler and applied pressure with the injured hand while continuing to bake with the other. As parents, we’re too busy kissing imaginary boo boos to tend to our own medical needs most of the time.

In her journal, Teresa doesn’t seem to care much for the cafeteria food, but wow, she has her own personal chefs in the big house. She also complains about the abundance of potato products at meals, but let me tell you, a lot of women would kill to eat that many carbs (okay, so some did).

One undated February entry is my favorite: “There is a lady in here, she hit her roommate. The officers are up here now to evaluate the situation. She is a crazy lady who fights with everyone.” Teresa, you just described all three of my children. These so-called fights break out several times a day in my crib. We threaten boarding school on occasion, but I don’t have the luxury of in-house security to contain these mini-threats. I am the security detail, and I am outmanned.

I’m also jealous because Teresa has time each night to write her thoughts down in a journal, something both cathartic and lucrative, as a book deal for her memoir presumably awaits her release from prison. Her time in the poky is really just great raw material for a bestseller that will be purchased on Amazon by bored housewives everywhere. As a writer who struggles to find the time to write or outlets for publication, I am envious of your opportunity, Teresa. Good for you for turning a negative time in your life into a chance to tell your story and make a little cash, too.

And the best part of this prison gig…? Teresa’s husband is at home with all four kids, cooking, cleaning and driving them to all of their activities. What mom wouldn’t want a break from the madness of raising children in our demanding and overscheduled times? Some may call prison hard time, but I call it “me time.”

Teresa, my advice to you is to enjoy the cooked-by-someone else food, load up on potatoes (you are working out three times per day, after all), and binge watch as much TV as you can. Because after prison, it’s back to the harsh reality of real life.