Saturday, August 31, 2019

Prison and the glass ceiling and winging it

My apologies for the ridiculously punny title. Though to be fair, the California prison system actually does have a ton of females in leadership positions, especially on the healthcare side. But bear with me because it actually does make sense...

On Friday, a random calendar invite appeared on my schedule that just said, "Roof Inspection Tour." I get a lot of weird invites to meetings and there was a 50/50 chance that this was going to either be a super boring meeting looking at blueprints, or that I was going to get to climb up on the roof. I don't always know all the things, but I do know that if you get there's even the remotest possibility that you're going to get to walk around on the roof of a prison, you take it. So I showed up at the prescribed time, coffee mug and notebook in hand, to see what this was all about.

WE. CLIMBED. TO. THE. ROOF. Y'all. This was probably in the top 5 coolest prison things I've ever done. Once we got up to the roof, we walked nearly the whole perimeter of the building, looking down into yards and corridors, identifying the differences between the original build and the newer additions (most notably, air conditioning). We climbed up and down ladders, jumped over short walls, and finally dropped down into my treatment area through essentially a manhole. Luckily it was casual Friday and I was wearing stretchy jeans, because at one point I had to tuck my mug into my waistband to navigate a particularly long ladder. It was pretty f-ing awesome.

AND. While we were up on the roof my phone dinged with a new e-mail. I peeked at it to find that it was my official job offer, complete with a start date! As of next Tuesday, I will be the official Chief of Mental Health for this prison. I didn't realize how cool that was going to feel until it was actually mine. I'll be overseeing the mental health operations for the prison, including inpatient and outpatient programs and administrative support. Guys? I had a budget meeting last week and that sounds so ridiculously adult and grown up and at some point I'm sure someone will realize that I'm really just winging it.

I'm having a hard time acknowledging that this is a Big job. There are less than thirty of us in the state. I'm responsible for more than a 150 employees and over a thousand patients. I was listening to a podcast interview (because my commute lends itself to listening to A LOT of podcasts, maybe that's a future blog post?) of an executive who identified her first big job as supervising a team of 100. When I heard that I thought, "Hey! I do that too!" but I don't feel very executive-y. I wonder if that's the case? Does Sheryl Sandburg come home and eat peanut butter out of the jar while trying to find that damn book order before the deadline? Does Jennifer Newsom fold a mountain of laundry while watching Working Moms on mute so her kids don't try to walk in and slyly get more screentime? I remember in grad school an upperclassman told me, "None of us feel like we know what we're doing" and it was the most reassuring thing at that moment. And again, when I found my mom-friends and realized that we're all just trying not to fuck up too bad. So now I think that maybe winging it is what we're all doing?

So here's to winging it. And roof tours. And trying not to fuck up too bad.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Red Letter Day

I'm not really sure I'm using that phrase right, but today has been pretty awesome. Not in a BIG NEWS kind of way, but in a "all the things worked out" kind of way. First, I wore my new skirt to work (I'm trying a new thing where sometimes I wear skirts to prison). It's basically my most favorite piece of clothing from the last year, and that includes the four pairs of overalls I've purchased. I got so many compliments and felt so pulled together all day. And it's not fussy or too snug or short, so I didn't once wonder if it was prison-appropriate or not. On my drive into work I finished a podcast by Dan Savage and started another with the author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I had an awesome meeting with my leadership team, where we developed a reimagined org chart and then defined our collective priorities (which makes me feel very chief-y to say, btw). In prep for that meeting, I reorganized my office which made it feel more like "mine" and now has me brainstorming what I can use to decorate. Any ideas are welcome! Decorating in a prison is hard because there's so much I can't bring in. Right now I have a plant, a small canvas, a picture of the kids on my desk, and a Rosie the Riveter coffee mug, plus the giant sticky notes we used for our planning session.

I left work and hit almost no traffic , so I had time to grab a salad before my last class of the term. Now I'm proctoring the final and none of my students are making any disgruntled or frustrated noises.

AND, to top it all off, I got a chocolate chunk cookie from Panera to offset my double salad day, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. And totally guilt free because I went to yoga yesterday and today I ate a vegetable.
I obviously don’t know what to do with my hands. But POCKETS!!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

First day of school!!

First day of school! This one snuck up on us and I just barely managed to get the kids the basic supplies and new shoes. But we made it, even if Averson changed her outfit at the very last moment and went to school in dirty sport shorts. She (and her parents) were really worried about her class assignment since it’s a two-teacher class and Averson hates inconsistency. Luckily, i was able to catch the teachers and introduce her before the bell. By the time school started she was totally settled and holding her teacher’s hand. Syd agonized over her outfit once she realized it was going to be 105, but decided to push through. You can’t tell, but she painted cacti on her nails to match her shirt. #beautyispain. Eli is so big that I felt like I was sending him off to work. And there’s no picture, but since C is working for the school district now, it was sort of his first day too! 

Will you look at how cute they are?! Eighth grade, fourth grade, and first grade. 

I took the day off since, with the commute, it would’ve been silly to go to work after seeing everyone off. My mom had appointments this morning, so I spent the first day of school in a blissfully quiet house, checking in on work intermittently between reading and not-quite-napping in silence. I also booked our first housekeeping appointment, found a pool guy, and handled some home maintenance appointments because I’m incapable of lazing for too long. It was glorious. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

It's been a month (photo dump)

So... We've been busy. And I haven't busted out my actual laptop much, which means that I'm now a MONTH behind in blogging. And as it does, the further I get behind, them more daunting it seems to get caught up. So with very few transitional sentences, I present to you "The Last Month of Summer" (which also feels like the first month of summer because school starts on Thursday and I'm not ready)

Syd went to camp! This is her second year going and I'm always amazed by her bravery. Same as last year, she didn't know a soul when she got on the bus. This year C did drop off and it was a little rough, but she came back having had a great time. She even did the sleep out this year, which she'd been too nervous about last year. And the slime she secreted away in her daypack was never discovered. 

My mom is staying with us for a while, and she insisted that we go out. We ended up at Barnes and Noble wandering around. They have this display, which I think is AMAZING and now I want to quit my job and make my living sending Blind Bag Books to people. I so badly wanted to buy one but the chance of it being something I'd already read was too great. 

C and my mom have known that we had a nest of baby birds above our front door for WEEKS and they just now told me about it. Yesterday one baby and the mama flew away. One baby didn't, and his sibling keeps coming back to get him. It's the sweetest thing ever but I kind of hope he never flies and we get a resident guard bird. 

I got a new job! It's a pretty big promotion and I'm really excited about it. It's also a heinous commute, but I'm trying not to dwell on that too much. AND C got a full-time job at the kids' school district! It's such a transition to the next chapter in our lives. I prepped by buying five lunch boxes and a giant dry erase calendar. Pray for us. 

Averson went to zoo camp and learned all about Australian animals. She had SO MUCH FUN and really learned a lot. Did you know that giraffes have ososcopes? Yeah, me neither. Also, not sure why she was learning about giraffes but... 

We made it to the State Fair! This may be the first time all five of us were able to go and we had so much fun

And finally, the Rosie Rally! The girls, my mom, and I made the trek to the annual Rosie Rally and it was everything I hoped it would be. I'm so obsessed with Rosie the Riveter and it was fun to be in a crowd of similarly geeked out women (and men, and dogs!)

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. School starts on Thursday, my last class for a while is next week, and all the practices for all the sports have already started.