Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramble On

Everything is slowly falling into place for the move. We're in a bit of a stalemate where we've packed most of the non-essentials, but have too much time still here to pack the necessities. This will be my last week of work (thank goodness), and then it will be all about getting us out of here.

Avey describes her feelings as mixed. She will be sad to leave all of the fun places we've discovered here, but she is ecstatic about the pool at our new place. She's been a very good sport through all of this, and we're sure she'll thrive wherever she's planted.

She's been particularly hilarious lately. The other night at dinner she had invited a puppet by the name of Dough Boy to join us. She spent the majority of the meal intensely interviewing our guest about very personal things. After several minutes of me playing ventriloquist, she asked him why he was so fat. I thought I would have a little fun with the scenario and try to get a laugh out of Kira too, so I answered for Dough Boy that he had fallen prey to a vicious cycle where he was depressed because of his weight, and the only comfort he found was in food. Avey, always the amateur therapist (thanks to her parentage), reached out a pretend handful to Dough Boy and said, "Oh. Well, want some bacon?"

Here she is performing for herself in front of the mirror earlier this week:
She has also been suffering from a major case of the whys the past couple of days. She recently asked me why a dog didn't want another animal to bite him. I answered that he didn't want to get hurt. She asked why he didn't want to get hurt. I said no animals like to get hurt. She wanted to know why. I came up with some answer, to which the reply came, "Why?" Our conversations go like this a lot lately.

We need to teach that girl how to use Google.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I've Learned in Prison

Ahh, shock value... I'm beginning to see the appeal. If you're a recent addition to the enormous-and-constantly-growing readership of The Ricks Experiment, the title of today's post may have thrown you off guard momentarily. Adventurous as T.R.E. audience members are, I'm sure you will venture on to explore the meaning of the title. Yes, I have been in and out of prison for the last 2 years, I admit; but it was entirely voluntary every time (well, I suppose employment is a prison in itself in many ways, but that's for another post). I am within 2 weeks of my final date of employment, or as we like to call it in the corrections industry, my "Mandatory Release Date." I have worked as a psychotherapist with the offenders in several of Colorado's correctional facilities, from medium security all the way to the supermax security, where I am currently. This position has allowed me a great deal of face time with the outcasts of American society, and, I believe, has left me with some valuable experience and interesting perspectives. I would like to share some of what I have learned in the last 2 years, in no particular order.
  • Aggression is not learned, but self control is.
  • Criminal thinking is very often taught.
  • Almost everyone exists with the inherent assumption that they are reasonable people.
  • The greatest hope we have of building a better, more functional world is through functional familial relationships.
  • I look like a nerd in a tie and slacks.
  • No matter how bad I think I have it, somebody has it far worse than I could have imagined.
  • As Nietzsche said, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
  • The difference between a miserable person and a content person is how he or she approaches the world. Perspective is everything.
  • We are none of us perfect, and taking an honest look at ourselves is perhaps the most difficult, but most rewarding task we may undertake.
  • Many seemingly "normal" citizens are just as sociopathic as those behind bars (I think I probably dated some years ago), they have just found adaptive or legal ways of being sociopathic.
  • I can't last very long without a little fresh air.
  • Sometimes the best therapy is a little bit of intentional listening.
  • When it rains, it really does pour.
  • Among the largest challenges to criminals is understanding and accepting that they are in control of their destinies, not simply victims of the rest of the world.
  • The little things we do today lead to the things we will be doing tomorrow.
I'm sure I could go on and on, but these are probably the most significant things I've learned. Some of these are hopefully intuitive to most of you, but I believe that my experiences among the criminal population has driven these home for me.

Of course, my Ph.D. program is a legal concentration, so I'm sure I'll be spending more time in prisons. I just hope they'll continue to let me leave whenever I want.

P.S. We have finalized our address in Texas. If you did not receive an email with our updated address and would like it, please leave a comment with your email address or another way to contact you. I'll delete the comment as soon as I send the address to you. Please be advised that we prefer to get mail containing good news.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


We're within 1 month of our move now, and things are slowly coming together. I've got a truck reserved, I got credits transferred to cover my 1st year statistics class, I've packed about a dozen boxes, and we signed the lease on our new place on Friday! We're beginning to feel the tension of the approaching deadline, however, as you can see by Avey's nervous nail-biting:
I'm half tempted to just bag up everything and haul it over to Goodwill, but I'm afraid that they wouldn't want half of it. Of course, Avey wants to keep everything in sight, so we've had to sneak some things away that she hasn't played with for months. So far so good. Now if we can just hold those same standards for our toys, we'll be able to lighten the load pretty significantly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back in Business

Please excuse the lack of a post last week; we were just getting home from a trip to Texas and were very busy recovering, etc. Kira and I were off hunting for a place to crash for the next 3-4 years, and Kira’s parents were gracious enough to keep Avey for us for a few days to increase our productivity. In brief, our trip established a few important things: (a) Texas is a hot place, (b) we are both wimps, (c) we love our daughter, and (d) Avey is nearly oblivious (or perhaps “indifferent” would be the more appropriate word) to our existence. Allow me to explain:

A. It was about 103 degrees Fahrenheit the first day of our hunt. Of course, we were in and out of the car all day as well, and the car had to have been a good 10 degrees more as the concept of shaded parking has not yet caught on in the Lone Star State.

B. We were thus quick to establish that we cannot live without central AC wherever we live while residing in said climate.

C. The first hour or so of our separation from her majesty was liberating, but emotions quickly turned into longing when my attempts to tickle Kira’s tummy were met with less giggling and more slapping than the same would reap from Avey. Seriously though, we were both so focused on our task at hand that we were able to ward off the depression of being away from Little Miss Sunshine pretty well. That is, until we called her to check in. Her rating on the adorable scale is a function of our time and distance away from her (for the math geeks, a = t x d), because every word out of her mouth made us homesick.

D. Which brings me to the next item. Avey was polite enough to us on the phone, mostly updating us on the status of her moth jar, and reminding us that the room in which she slept was green, “[her] favorite color!” But the more we called her, the less interested she seemed to be in us. One day we called for the second time and she asked, “Hi Mommy and Daddy! Why are you calling me?” Naturally, we told her it was because we love and miss her. If we could have seen her, I’m sure we’d have seen her rolling her eyes when she responded, “Again?!?” We worried that we would arrive home to pick her up and she’d have moved on from our relationship, but she impressed us very much; we quietly opened the door to the dining room where she was sitting, looking elsewhere. I don’t know if it was staged, but we overheard her ask her grandparents, “When are Mommy and Daddy getting here?” Then she saw us, and it seemed as if she were dreaming for a moment until she realized that we really were there. She smiled widely and then hugged and kissed us for several minutes, giggling all the while. Nice to know we’ve had some impact on her life.

So we’re pretty sure we’ve found a home, but we’re waiting on the application stuff to all go through. We’ll let you know.

In other news, it was Kira’s birthday this week! She chose to spend her special day engaging in a family pastime and source of PTSD for me: water skiing! It was a pleasant day – Kira got in a lot of water time, and I was able to avoid the pain and humiliation by acting out scenes of Muppet Treasure Island over and over with Avey in the designated swimming area while she floated in her little inflatable “boat”. In retrospect, maybe impersonating a fictional frog and pig who are in love should be more embarrassing to me than skipping across the lake on my face at 25 m.p.h. I’ll consider it…

She appreciated all of the phone calls, emails, messages, and tweets. She truly is loved and valued, and we are all lucky to have her in our lives. Avey and I especially would be lost without her. Here’s to several more years to celebrate!