Although it is a memoire, I enjoyed it endlessly, as much as I enjoy the great stories writers are telling. As I was reading, I often got the momentary feeling that I’m in a prison, the story was so captivating I enjoyed each chapter of it. This book, in my opinion, made the stay in Danbury worth every second of it for Piper. I’m sure that what she learned, what she did there and most importantly this book, through which she gave us a chance to relive the experience she has been through, has made the time spend in Danbury a useful time. Below are some quotes I loved most from “Orange is the new black” by “Piper Kerman”:

1- “Do your time, don’t let the time do you.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

2- “On the other hand, some people were way too comfortable in prison. They seemed to have forgotten the world that exists on the outside. You try to adjust and acclimate, yet remain ready to go home every single day. It’s not easy to do. The truth is, the prison and its residents fill your thoughts, and it’s hard to remember what it’s like to be free, even after a few short months.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

3- “I knew that I would have to be brave. Not foolhardy, not in love with risk and danger, not making ridiculous exhibitions of myself to prove that I wasn't terrified--really genuinely brave. Brave enough to be quiet when quiet was called for, brave enough to observe before flinging myself into something, brave enough to not abandon my true self when someone else wanted to seduce or force me in a direction I didn't want to go, brave enough to stand my ground quietly.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

4- “Every human being makes mistakes and does things they’re not proud of. They can be everyday, or they can be catastrophic. And the unfortunate truth of being human is that we all have moments of indifference to other people’s suffering. To me, that’s the central thing that allows crime to happen: indifference to other people’s suffering. If you’re stealing from someone, if you’re hurting them physically, if you’re selling them a product that you know will hurt them—the thing that allows a person to do that is that they somehow convince themselves that that’s not relevant to them. We all do things that we’re not proud of, even though they might not have as terrible consequences.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

5- “Prison is quite literally a ghetto in the most classic sense of the world, a place where the U.S. government now puts not only the dangerous but also the inconvenient—people who are mentally ill, people who are addicts, people who are poor and uneducated and unskilled.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

6- “Nothing about the daily workings of the prison system focuses its inhabitants’ attention on what life back on the outside, as a free citizen, will be like. The life of the institution dominates everything. This is one of the awful truths of incarceration, the fact that the horror and the struggle and the interest of your immediate life behind prison walls drives the “real world” out of your head. That makes returning to the outside difficult for many prisoners.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

7- “IF YOU are a relatively small woman, and a man at least twice your size is bellowing at you in anger, and you’re wearing a prisoner’s uniform, and he has a pair of handcuffs on his belt, I don’t care how much of a badass you think you are, you’ll be fucking scared”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

8- “I had learned to hasten the days by chasing the enjoyment in them, no matter how elusive. Some people on the outside look for what is amiss in every interaction, every relationship, and every meal; they are always trying to hang their mortality on improvement. It was incredibly liberating to instead tackle the trick of making each day fly more quickly. "Time, be my friend," I repeated every day.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

9- “The formal relationship, enforced by the institution, is that one person’s word means everything and the other’s means almost nothing; one person can command the other to do just about anything, and refusal can result in total physical restraint.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

10- “It was more the idea that my intimate moments—changing clothes, lying in bed, reading, crying—were all in fact public, available for observation by these strange men.”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

11- “AS A child, a teen, a young adult, I developed a firm belief in my solitude, the not-novel concept that we are each alone in the world. Some parts self-reliance, some parts selfprotection, this belief offers a binary perspective— powerhouse or victim, complete responsibility or total divorcement, all in or out the door.

Carried to its extreme, the idea gives license to the belief that one’s own actions do not matter much; we traverse the world in our own bubbles, occasionally breaking through to one another but largely and ultimately alone. I would seem to have been ready-made for prison time then, as a familiar jailhouse trope says “you come in alone and you walk out alone,” and common counsel is to keep to oneself and mind your own business. But that’s not what I learned in prison. That’s not how I survived prison. What I discovered was that I am emphatically not alone. The people on the outside who wrote and visited every week and traveled long distances to come and tell me that I wasn’t forgotten, that I wasn’t alone, had a tremendous impact on my life.

However, most of all, I realized that I was not alone in the world because of the women I lived with for over a year, who gave me a dawning recognition of what I shared with them. We shared overcrowded Dorms and lack of privacy. We shared eight numbers instead of names, prison khakis, cheap food and hygiene items. Most important, we shared a deep reserve of humor, creativity in adverse circumstances, and the will to protect and maintain our own humanity despite the prison system’s imperative to crush it.

I don’t think any of us could have managed those survival techniques alone; I know I couldn’t—we needed each other. Small kindnesses and simple pleasures shared were so important, whether given or received, regardless of what quarter they came from, that they brought home to me powerfully that I was not alone in this world, in this life. I shared the most basic operating system with people who ostensibly had little in common with me. I could connect—perhaps with anyone.

Now here, in my third prison, I perceived an odd truth that held for each: no one ran them. Of course, somewhere in those buildings, some person with a nameplate on their desk or door was called the warden and nominally ran the place, and below them in the food chain there were captains and lieutenants. But for all practical purposes, for the prisoners, the people who lived in those prisons day in and day out, the captain’s chair was vacant, and the wheel was spinning while the sails flapped. The institutions putzed along with the absolute minimum of staff presence, and the staff that were there invariably seemed less than interested in their jobs. No one was present, interacting in any affirmative way with the people who filled those prisons.

The leadership vacuum was total. No one who worked in “corrections” appeared to give any thought to the purpose of our being there, any more than a warehouse clerk would consider the meaning of a can of tomatoes, or try to help those tomatoes understand what the hell they were doing on the shelf. Great institutions have leaders who are proud of what they do, and who engage with everyone who makes up those institutions, so each person understands their role. But our jailers are generally granted near-total anonymity, like the cartoon executioner who wears a hood to conceal his identity. What is the point, what is the reason, to lock people away for years, when it seems to mean so very little, even to the jailers who hold the key?

How can a prisoner understand their punishment to have been worthwhile to anyone, when it’s dealt in a way so offhand and indifferent?”

Piper Kerman - Orange is the new black

The book

1- Calories (noun): Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.

2- Vegetarian (noun): Latin phrase, original meaning: “really bad hunter”.

3- Poor (adj): When you have too much month at the end of your money.

4- Feet (noun): a device used for finding Legos in the dark.

5- Eating (noun): when there is nothing else to do.

6- Reality (noun): the annoying time between sleep and internet.

7- Never mind (Phrase): you were too stupid to understand the first time, so I give up trying to explain it.

8- Secret (noun): Something you tell everybody to tell nobody.

9- K (Phrase): This conversation is now over.

10- Teacher (noun): A person who helps you solve problems you’d never have without them.

11- Beard (noun): A food storage device found on men’s faces.

12- Irony (noun): Drawing trees on papers.

13- Willpower (noun): Getting up in the morning.

14- Tomorrow (noun): The best time to do everything you had planned for today.

15- Pharmacist (noun): A person trained just to read doctor handwriting.

16- Nutella (proper noun): The only reason to buy bread.

17- Karma (noun): When you use the last toilet paper without replacing it and are the next person to use the bathroom.

18- Winter (noun): The three-month break between a woman and her razor.

19- Cigarette (noun): A pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one end and a fool on the other.

20- Lecture (noun): An art of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.

21- Dictionary (noun): A place where success comes before work.

22- Smile (noun): A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

23- Office (noun): A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

24- Etc (Phrase): A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

25- Experience (noun): The name men give to their mistakes.

26- Opportunist (adj): A person who starts taking bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

27- Criminal (noun): A guy no different from the rest....except that he got caught.

28- Boss (noun): Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

29- Intaxication (noun): Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

30- Slut (adj): A woman with the morals of a man.

A common mistake in relationships is to expect from your partner to feel the way you do and want the things you want. Such beliefs are creating unnecessary conflicts and resentment in our relationship.

Still, you can avoid all these complications and your relationship can thrive once you acknowledge your differences as a man and woman, and most importantly respect it.

Below is yet another difference between men and women when coping with moments of stress:

When faced with problems and time of stress, a man becomes withdrawn and focused, while a woman becomes emotional and overwhelmed. What makes a man feel good, isn’t the same that makes a woman feel good. While a man feels better when he solves his problems, a woman feels better when she talks about her problems.

A woman might mistakenly expect for her man to talk about his problems when being upset or else it's a sign she's not important to him because he couldn’t trust her enough to confide in her.

Similarly, a man might mistakenly expect a woman to act logically, make sense and be calm when coping with a stressful time. As a result, he might feel confused and think that his woman talks too much and is being illogical.

A typical example is when a couple gets back home after a stressful day at work. The man wants to relax and find relief in forgetting his problems for a while until he can solve them. He watches the TV or reads the newspaper to take his mind off his troubles.

The woman, on the other hand, wants to talk her problems out, she finds relief when she shares her thoughts and talks about her problems.

When neither of them understands their differences, the man might end up annoyed and think that his woman is talking too much and then will resist listening to her. On the other hand, the woman might end up feeling ignored and would persist trying to make her man talk to her. The tension slowly builds up between them to become resentment.

How a man copes with stress:

When a man feels upset, he never burdens another person with his problems. He doesn’t talk about what is bothering him unless he needs an expert advice.

A man feels better when he solves his problems, but when he can’t solve them he finds relief in forgetting them for a while and that is by disengaging his mind from his problems and getting absorbed in something else, like watching TV, or Football, reading the paper…

A man becomes increasingly focused when faced with problems, as a result he becomes less available for his relationship. However, once he solves his problem, he becomes available again for his relationship. A woman might view her man’s withdrawal as ignoring her, while he thinks that he’s caring for her because solving the problem will benefit her and his relationship with her in some way.

The woman can tell that something is bothering him, but she doesn’t understand how upset he is, she believes that if he would talk about it to her, at least she could be more compassionate.

How a woman copes with stress:

When a woman feels upset, she finds relief in sharing her thoughts and talking about her problems in great detail. A woman isn’t ashamed of having problems or feeling overwhelmed, her ego isn’t affected with looking incompetent as in the case of men. She rather cares about being in loving relationships and finding support in someone else.

When a woman starts talking about her problems, she doesn’t prioritize them according to their significance, she tends to talk about all her problems big and small, randomly. She doesn’t seek an immediate solution, but when she talks herself out, she feels immediate relief.

While a man tends to focus on one problem and forget the others, a woman talks about all her problems at once and randomly. By processing her feelings, she gains some awareness of what is bothering her and become less overwhelmed.

When a woman feels like she’s being heard and understood, she feels immediately less stressful, she talks about a problem then moves randomly into another one that is not necessarily related to the previous one. However, when she feels that she’s not being understood, she becomes frustrated and gets upset about more problems.

When a man doesn’t understand his woman’s need to talk in order to cope with her stress and feel better, he might mistakenly assume that she’s talking either to ask for an advice or because she’s blaming him for something. As a result, he will either try to offer her a solution that it is bound to be rejected, or he’ll start defending himself but the more he defends himself, the more overwhelmed his woman becomes, either way, he’ll find it difficult to keep listening and she’ll get more overwhelmed.

What should men do:

A man got to respect his woman’s need to talk when feeling upset and if he wanted to make his woman feel any better, he’ll have to listen to her. She doesn’t want solutions or engage you in a conversation with her, she just wants you to show her empathy.

Even if a woman sounds frustrated and looks like she’s bothering you, keep in mind that this is only temporary, she’ll cool down as soon as she starts talking about her problems.

What should women do:

A woman got to respect her man’s need to withdraw when he feels upset. She shouldn’t assume that his act is a sign that he’s ignoring her or that she’s not important to him given he doesn’t want to talk about what is bothering him to her. He just needs to forget his problem for a while.

It certainly is desirable that human act well instead of badly, make fewer mistakes instead of more. And it’s easy to feel frustrated about others’ behavior, as if worrying about our own wasn’t already a handful. People don’t act the way we would wish them to. This can be unpleasant, but if you consider it as something terrible, then you’re being irrational about it.

To think that people absolutely must be better than they are right now and that it’s terrible if they didn’t act the way you want them to is an idiotic idea for many reasons:

1- There’s absolutely no reason why people should act better than they do. It’s simply you telling yourself that you don’t like the way people act, thus they should act better.

2- When people act badly and mean to you, it often does not affect you unless you allow it to because of your low frustration tolerance and mainly because you continue telling yourself how awful it is for them to act this way and how they must act better.

3- If you assume that people’s behavior harms you, upsetting yourself would hardly help. On the contrary, when you focus your energy on upsetting yourself, you’ll be less able to see things rationally and do something about them. Moreover, if you criticize people in your state of rage, they’re less likely to respond to you the way you wish them to. If anything, they’ll insist more on acting the way they do.

4- Although you can control your behavior and you have a considerable power to change it, you have none when it comes to people’s behavior no matter how wisely you might approach them. Instead of taking your responsibility for how you respond to them, you’re upsetting yourself over an uncontrollable event.

5- There’s no proper way for people to behave, for there are no standards in the universe upon which a certain behavior is judged “right” or “wrong”. Even if a behavior was accepted as decent by some people, some others will invariably see a justified reason why to view it as faulty. Take for example being kind to others, some people might choose not to be kind at times if that means that they’ll be telling the truth.

6- No one can be perfect. I bet you know that, but do you really believe it, better yet, do you really act like you believe it?

People might be wrong, dead wrong sometimes, but why shouldn’t they be wrong? You can say that they preferably shouldn’t act wrong, but why must they not do so? And by believing that they should act differently aren’t you thinking that they should act in your way, instead of their own?

People who are wrong, as you see it, aren’t realizing how wrong they are at the moment, later perhaps they might realize their misdeed and try to change it. still, they’re independent people who would like to learn on their own, what is better than mistakes to teach you what you need to learn? To point out their mistakes might not appeal to them and thus you’ll be rejected and told to mind your own business, still, it’s their right not to listen to you. How else would they enjoy their lives if they only followed your rules?

Here are some ways to help you accept and cope better with others’ behavior:

1- When people act badly, ask yourself: “Do I have to upset myself about this?”, “Does their actions really affect me?”, “If I put in much effort and time to try to change them, is it likely that they change?”, “Do you really want to spend considerable time trying to change them? Is it really worth it? Do you have that much of time to do this?” unless your answer is yes to all these questions, you’d better stop obsessing about others’ behavior and only offer them when asked a moderate advice or help.

2- If you’ll ever advise someone against their behavior, you’ll have to do it with an accepting attitude. Try to see things from his position rather than from your own, and firmly reject their bad behavior, but don’t reject them.

3- When someone acts nastily toward you, try not to enrage yourself about it and instead act kindly with them, it’s not easy, but it’s definitely way more rewarding then rejecting and criticizing them. That way you’ll be able to set a good example for them, and soon enough they’ll be treating you much better. Furthermore, by accepting the way people act and try to respond kindly, you upset yourself way less than when you think to yourself “how awful it is for them to act the way they do”.

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