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.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations!!!! That is just beyond exciting and amazing. You are so young to have a BIG JOB-- I am so blown away. I hope you can take a minute to savor how really freaking awesome you are.