to blog or not to blog

29 01 2009

So I am experiencing some serious blogger guilt about not posting more regularly. I’ll be honest, after having to delete my original blog because THE MAN was breathing down my neck, I have lost some of my oomph. I am grieving the loss of several months of writing and I feel like I am starting all over again.

Also, I have been pretty focused on my work  – in terms of changing it. My goal for this year is to work less and make more as well as find the soul stirring feeling that brought me to the social work profession in the first place. I have come through the denial and admitted that working at the prison is completely sucking the soul out of me and I’ve almost nothing left to give to the inmates I work with. I just can’t take the injustice any longer.

That being said, I am working with the law of attraction to bring the things I want into my life. So far, interesting things are afoot and it appears I may be moving on from the prison soon…stay tuned for that.

As I potentially enter a new arena of work and life, I am struggling with whether to continue this blog. It started as a self reflection blog about my search for joy in my life. It soon morphed into a social work blog specifically about prison and being a helping professional inside of it. Now, I have changed the name to reflect that and it appears it may ALL be changing. I am on the island of blog indifference. Anyone got a boat?


10 01 2009

I had a client accuse me of “practicing on her”. I believe her exact words to a colleague of mine were “I got jipped, she isn’t even a real mental health worker”. When I heard about this conversation, I knew where she was getting this from. I had a conversation with her the previous week where she shared that she “heard” I am just an intake worker….meaning not a real counselor. I clarified for her that I am indeed a real licensed mental health clinician and that although my primary job responsibility is intake assessments, I carry a small caseload of clients.  She seemed satisfied with that answer, and I thought we were square. Little did I know…

Apparently she has taken it upon herself to tell anyone and everyone that will listen that she has been jipped. What is interesting is how incapable she was of properly addressing her concerns with me face to face…this is not a shy woman. As a matter of fact, last time I checked she didn’t have any problem telling anyone who would listen exactly what she thought about them, uncensored.

Needless to say I was pissed. I knew I was personalizing something I shouldn’t be, but these moments are hard. As it is, this client appears to be mounting a defense to save her ass from getting charged with assault on an officer. The argument this time? Inadequate mental health care. I am but a pawn in this game. So when I informed her that I would no longer be her mental health worker and clarified my credentials and qualifications, I decided to have a witness. I also reminded her, gently, that I had been able to give her more attention when she was struggling because of my smaller caseload. Apparently, it still wasn’t good enough.

These are the moments that make me want to work with children or elderly folks, or at least someone ANYONE without a personality disorder.


4 01 2009

My mother and I are both quitting smoking right now. I am on day 4 , she is on day 10. For anyone who has ever truly been addicted to cigarettes, you know how incredibly crazy this can make a person.  By day three it felt as if my usually level head was going to pop right off my neck and in its place a fire breathing, teeth gnashing, crazy making devil woman’s face would replace it. Irrational becomes the new rational when the receptors in your brain begin to torture and punish you for depriving them of the food they have been given for the last 15 years or in my mother’s case – the last 40.
There have been many times in my life that I have attempted to quit cigarettes, but in my heart I never really wanted to. I did it because I “should” or because others wanted me too. Then the day came where I realized that all of the priorities in my ife that I held dear were being stomped on by this addiction. I looked in the mirror and recognized myself but could not see how being a smoker fit at all with that woman. Something shifted and the idea that I was actually capable of quitting became real.
So yesterday, my mother and I spent the day together, shopping and chatting, and enjoying each other’s company. She helped keep me distracted all day from the monster that is day three. We had lunch at the Olive Garden and feasted on salad, breadsticks, and all manner of fried delights. After we each finished up our favorite Bloody Mary and were sufficiently full the waitress approached asking the customary coffee and/or dessert question. My mother piped up, “Yes, we’ll both have coffee and a slice of mousse cake because we’re celebrating you see.” We then both launched into our new found commitment to becoming non smokers, how many days we had under our belts, how this time was it! We were full, happy, and proud of ourselves – we needed to share. The waitress came back shortly after with our coffee and a slice of that decadent mousse cake split in two, each piece with a lit candle in it. We made our wishes with big smiles across our faces and proceeded to fill the last spot left in our bellies with celebration.
Our last stop of the day was the bookstore which we ambled around in together, looking at books here and there and talking along the way. I like to approach the bookstore that way, with no particular book in mind and see what catches my attention. So as I entered the self help aisle, I glanced to the right and noticed a book titled LIFE IS A VERB. I picked it up and opened to a poem that was striking. I read it aloud to my mother then flipped through further. Imagine my delight when the next thing I read was absolute insistence from the author that I go to the store and by several packs of birthday candles immediately, not knowing when a celebration may be warranted, and stick some in my purse too just in case. I bought two copies, one for me and one for my mother. Today, I think i’ll buy some packs of birthday candles at the store.
You’ve got to stop and read the words when the universe puts up a sign on your journey.


1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

Threat to Security

3 01 2009

Prison administrators and those in power know how to get around policy. They are quite skilled at it actually. This is concerning since essentially, policy and procedure exists in a prison system to protect an inmate’s rights. I would question that though and say that it really exists to cover the ass of prison officials who don’t like publicity and lawsuits. There is one phrase in particular that was coined to give an excuse for a questionable decision and it is called “threat to security”. These three words give an enormous amount of power to those already drenched in it. With these three words they can remove an inmate from a housing unit, a job, or a class or treatment group. With these three words they can cancel a visit with family or  a scheduled furlough or can get a low risk inmate transferred to a facility intended for high risk offenders. Imagine an 18 year old in a Maximum security prison? Why you ask? he must be a “threat to security”.

What is even more stunning is that those three words are the ONLY REASON THEY NEED TO GIVE. No one is asking for an explanation. Well, almost no one…. From time to time I have been known to question a decision. That doesn’t typically get them engaged in a friendly conversation but will certainly guarantee me a lecture on “chain of command” and “insuboordination”.  Meanwhile, I am busy wondering what it is they are trying to hide? This state is like a big ‘ol small town sometimes. Everyone is connected to everyone else. Personal vendettas do come into play and I believe they effect some people’s ability to make fair decisions.

Case in point. I know of an inmate that has knowledge of certain security officers who regulalry “visit” with “exotic dancers”. How does said inmate know this? Well, he worked as the dancers personal bodyguard…when they made housecalls. Now this inmate could be using this information to get a mighty comfortable stay in prison. This is not his first time around the bend and he knows how to manipulate. But he has created a new life on the outside and is really trying to make some different choices. He has not used that information once but he is being retaliated against and harrassed anyway. Don’t tell me those officers aren’t in fear that he may reveal something, they must be sweating. Especially when they picture their wives and children finding out. Juicy isn’t it?

My point is this. This guy follows the rules. Every single policy and procedure and formal or informal directive. He just wants to get through this bid with no trouble. And even though he has broken no rules and done nothing wrong, he has not been transferred yet to a less restrictive housing unit but is sitting in the maximum security holding unit….for months. Why you ask? Well it’s those 3 magic words people – “threat to security”. 

“Threat to my marriage” is more like it.

Carry On

2 01 2009

3 is the average number of times I am sexually harrassed at work a day

4 is the number of years I have worked at the prison

5 is the number of gates that I have to go through to get to my office

6 is the number of gates I have to go through to get to the Prison Pod I work in

40 is the number if inmates on the floor of the Pod I have to walk through to get to the tiny closet of a room I use to do interviews

100 is the number of people I assess and diagnose a month

0 is the number of days my company was willing to give me off 5 days before my time re-upped so I could grieve the loss of my dog.

It is amazing how little big corporations actually care about their employees. There are no special favors or considerations. If it is not in the policy book, it can’t be done. What is infuriating about it is that I work so hard for this company. I keep my numbers up, I meet our contract requirements, and I actually give a crap about the people I am spending time with. After 4 years at the prison, that is no small taks. This environment will beat the compassion right out of you. Then, a crisis befalls my life that I couldn’t have planned for and I am 5 days away from having more PAID TIME OFF dumped into my “bank” for the year, and they won’t give me a day or two early so I can deal with the fact that I just put my dog to sleep.

So explain to me again about social workers and self care and how important that is??? Then someone please explain to me why so many companies could give a crap about the states that their employees minds are in.