George Papadopoulos, the novice, unpaid foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump who rose to prominence when he became the first former campaign adviser arrested as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian-influence probe, was sentenced Friday to 14 days incarceration — ABC News
DAY 1: Said my goodbyes to my loved ones and checked into the ol’ crowbar hotel. I won’t say I’m not scared, but I’ll do what I must to survive. Just like they tell you to do, on my first day I went right up to the biggest, meanest-looking guy in the yard, and I offered him some Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. He said he’d get back to me. Calling that a win.
DAY 2: Prison really changes you. After all this time my own family wouldn’t even recognize me. You do whatever you can to save your skin. Those strict ethical codes people carry around with them on the outside? In here, they’re a liability. So glad I never had one, whew. Today one of the screws made it crystal clear that it would be in my best interests to give him my HBO Go password. Or at least, he asked for it very politely. So even though it’s something I never would have considered doing fifty hours ago, in that lifetime before I became a desperate hardened con, I gave it to him (technically it’s my mom’s but still). Then at dinner he made sure I got extra cobbler, so cool.
DAY 3: Today my cellmate showed me how to use the toilet to make prison wine. Sounds, awful, I know, but if you think that’s bad you should see how they make prison cheese. The wine’s not bad: sort of moody with a floridly remorseful bouquet. Never thought I’d sink to these levels, but then half-a-week away from polite society changes a man.
DAY 4: Been doing five pushups a day, without fail, since my sentence started. Who would guess this newly chiseled physique houses a gaping void of despair?
DAY 5: Sometimes I forget what the sun looks like. On our infrequent exercise breaks I hurry outside and look hungrily at it, and it hurts, and I remember, oh right, not supposed to do that. This is what being caged like an animal for literally consecutive hours on end can do to you.
DAY 6: What year is it? Who’s president? Is it Putin? Because I feel like maybe a President Putin would help me out. I’ve been working every night at digging a hole in the corner of my cell wall with a stolen spoon. Who knows if it will ever be my ticket to escape, but the dreams of liberty nourish me.
DAY 7: Seems inhumane, but my request for a conjugal visit was rejected. By my wife. She liked the idea fine but she’s so busy, appointments and things, that really the first time she’s available in the afternoon isn’t until a week from next Wednesday and by then my sentence is up. I’ll soldier on.
DAY 8: Have stopped marking the passage of days on my cell wall. Time’s lost all meaning. 14 days? 336 hours? An eternity? It’s all the same thing, as I said at breakfast today to my buddy Ivan who’s serving two life sentences. “We’re basically in the same boat, Ivan,” I said, and he got real quiet, weighing my profundity. I mean, erase a man’s identity with baggy clothes and well under three weeks of isolation, and calendars just seem like frivolous toys of the emancipated. Tonight they showed us a movie, Encino Man; the torments in here just escalate. Saved Ivan a seat but he ignored me; he’s been cold and distant since mid-morning. Whole relationships are born, evolve and die here in prison’s yawning vistas of time. Meanwhile, stopped digging the hole in my cell; fingers got achy.
DAY 9: Emailed my wife, told her I was wrong to expect her to wait for me, released her to go live her life free of guilt of judgment, just forget about me, it’ll be better that way. She wrote back: “I’m on it.” Also asked her to renew my DVDs at the library so they aren’t overdue when I get out. Prison’s a lot of work.
DAY 10: I talked shit to a CO and he threw me in the hole. I’m referring to the hole of self-doubt any sensitive person falls into whenever someone yells meanly at them. Don’t know when I’ll get out; it’s been fifteen minutes already. I’m painstakingly scratching these words on the pages of a spiral notebook with an economy-quality ballpoint pen.
DAY 11: A guy whispered to me in the showers that he’s gonna try to break out, did I want to come with. So tantalizing, the seductive promise of liberation. But I can’t risk getting caught, not with the end of my sentence just barely visible in the distance. Don’t know if he’ll go through with it. I bet he does. Poor bastard’s in for a month; what’s he got to lose?
DAY 12: It’s a surprise and a blessing that in my whole time here in the ol’ stony lonesome I haven’t yet seen anybody get shanked, or shivved, or sporked. But every day in here is a roll of the cosmic dice. Tonight we saw Encino Man again; it’s growing on me.
DAY 13: You think the punishment is gonna be the walls they put around you. But after you’ve spent countless dozens of hours alone with yourself you realize the real punishment is the walls you’ve put up around your own heart. Also the real walls, because not being able to go other places does suck. Both are bad. Both kinds of walls.
DAY 14: It’s surreal that I’m getting sprung tomorrow. Hurts to leave these fellas behind. Yes, they’re criminals, but they’re also my family now, and they have been for this seemingly interminable fortnight. It’s awkward to accept their conflicted congratulations, and to pretend not to hear them when they ask for my phone number.
DAY 15: As I walked out they handed me the manila envelope containing my personal effects from that distant day long ago when I was booked, and these are the belongings of a completely different man. Relics from another era. Belong’st thou to me, nail clippers? I feel like an archaeologist. I mean, look at this Subway coupon; it’s a full two weeks closer to expiring than it used to be. I walked out into the world, blinking like a naked mole rat. Realized, with shock and self-knowledge, that I was Encino Man. What are these colors I see in nature — did they invent new colors while I was away? This isn’t my world. I’m an anachronism, a man out of time. Cars can play music from your phone now! You can tell your car to phone somebody! Your phone can give you directions to places! My wife says, irritably, that we had all those things before I went away, but she doesn’t get it. She hasn’t been in the big house. O fate, is there a place in this new world for Papadopoulos?
DAY 16: Here’s what you don’t expect about doing hard time: you miss it. Feels like you’ve lost a part of yourself, leaving it behind. Feels like you deserve to go back, like you owe it to the world to get sent back. I actually find myself playing with fire, flirting with disaster: going out alone at night, hitting a bar, ordering drinks, glancing around on the off chance there’s an Australian diplomat around who might want to talk. I know it’s foolish. I know this time they could put me away for even longer — sixteen days, seventeen maybe, the possibilities are terrifying. But that’s what the life does to you, man. They said they were sending me away for two weeks, but the changes it wrought in me? Was more like two-and-a-half.