Monthly Archives: December 2012

There’s No Place Like Home

27 Angels

Maybe this was something that only happened in my town growing up or heck, maybe even only my class, but when we were on the bus to go to a field trip, people would get SO excited that we were going to drive past their house or even just their street. “Guys, guys! That’s my house! Right there, the one with the big pine tree by the door!” And all of us on the bus would be like, “Wowww, so that’s where so-and-so lives!” Like it was all so interesting.

When I moved away from my hometown, I would always tell people that I was from the larger town that was nearby. Or even just say that I lived outside New York City. Nobody had heard of my town. That all changed Friday.

Growing up, I probably thought that the President of the United States visiting my town would have been the coolest thing ever. And not that Twitter was a thing back then, but to have the entire world tweeting about us? Hey, that would have seemed cool too.

It started small. Somebody posted on Facebook asking why a bunch of ambulances had just sped down 84. There was a shooting NEAR the school, not in it. And I remember thinking that for somebody to shoot a gun NEAR a school full of young kids, well that person is an asshole. Later, I walked into the lobby only to find everybody glued to the TV and the death toll near thirty. A few of my students asked, “Where in Connecticut are you from?”

When I go to check my Facebook and Twitter now, everybody I grew up with is talking about other things. So it’s really hard seeing all these celebrities and even my own friends that didn’t know where I was from talking about my home. It’s not that I don’t want them doing it – I truly appreciate all the support that I have seen come from all corners of the globe. It’s that I wish they didn’t have to. I wish we could go back to nobody knowing where it was.

Now when people ask where I’m from, I won’t be able to tell them about the little house on the little hill. Instead they’ll be thinking of the twenty little kids that went to their bus stops one morning and got on their busses, just like me and my friends used to. Except these twenty little kids didn’t come home. But no matter what happens, I still know that my little town is a wonderful place to live.

 

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Hope Chest? Nope Chest!

I have this sneaking suspicion that my mother is trying to marry me off. Well, maybe it’s not gone that far yet. I have yet to receive daily communication from her stating that she’s found “the perfect [insert religion] [insert high paying profession]”. However, I would not be surprised if she busted out the old phone book that lists all the moms from our 1980s era play groups to see if there are any desirable bachelors out there.

Its not that I don’t want to get married…it’s just not on my radar at this very moment. Or any moment in the near future. I just moved to a new city, I just started a new job. I can barely plan what’s for dinner tonight let alone an entire wedding! And I know I’m not the only one. Yes, I know, every time I log onto Facebook it seems that I am greeted with yet another engagement announcement. But I have what, a thousand friends? That means it would take at least three years of a friend getting engaged every single day before I was the last (wo)man standing. If I look around at my group of friends in real life, only a handful are married or in a serious relationship. I should go back to the standard parent response – if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? I always said no any time this ridiculous saying came out an adult’s mouth. I am afraid of heights. At the moment, I say no to this bridge as well. I am afraid of puffy white dresses.

My mom will frequently run into old classmates’ parents at the grocery store. I thought she would be happy enough saying that I was no longer working at the mall and wasn’t raising any illegitimate grandchildren on my behalf, but no, apparently that’s not good enough. She’ll tell me about how somebody I used to know is married and then gives me that look. I’m sure any single woman above the age of twenty five knows what I’m talking about. Of course, when I remind her that this individual has been dating their significant other since before we could legally go to bars, she asks about me and whoever I happen to be dating at the moment. Note to all you singletons with wedding-hungry parents: don’t even breathe a name of your sexually preferred gender around your parents. I swear, I can be talking about the old man that delivers the mail and my mom will suddenly perk up and be all, “Who’s Rooobbbeerrrtttt?” Sigh.

I am heading home at the end of the month for the holidays, so for now I have a few weeks of peace and quiet before it starts all over again. Anybody else’s parents starting to play matchmaker?

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Celebrating the Holidays

Oh there’s no place like…wherever I currently am…for the holidays!

My entire life, I have moved around. A lot. As a result, I haven’t really gotten a chance to have traditions and I definitely don’t get to see all my friends and family for the holidays. I have learned to make do with what I have. Actually, that sounds really sad. Christmas is my favorite season, so there are certain things I make sure I do no matter where I am.

Christmas Decorations 

Wherever I am living, I decorate for Christmas. Even my first year at college living in a dorm room, my roommates and I strung lights EVERYWHERE. When we moved into our house the following year, we went and bought a tree. When I moved out on my own, I bought my own pre-lit, seven foot tall tree. I usually put it up the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving since I tend to be at my parents’ putting up their tree on Black Friday.

Christmas Music

You know how some stations change to All Christmas music ALL THE TIME starting Black Friday? Those are my favorite. I’m also a fan of the Miriah Carey and Michael Buble Holiday stations on Pandora.

Early Christmas Shopping

As much as I love the Christmas season, I HATE crowded malls and stores and parking lots and traffic. My mother is envious because I tend to have 80% of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving rolls around. Also, it’s easier to buy things spread out over three months than crammed into three weeks.

My Family Christmas Tradition

One Christmas when I was still young enough to believe in Santa, my family lost power for over a week. This meant we didn’t have heat, so I had to sleep in my parents bed with them. My parents normally stashed and wrapped my gifts in their room, so they had to break the news to me that there was no fat man with white hair creeping down my chimney…but rather a bald man creeping down the stairs. Ever since then, we have had the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve. My parents have since had to implement restrictions since there was one time I opened a CD…when I didn’t own a CD player. Oops. Even though I’m much older, we still take part in this tradition. On Pinterest I saw a post that the Christmas Eve gift was pajamas for the whole family, hot cocoa, snacks, and a Christmas movie to watch. That’s something I can get behind!

Friends

I mentioned earlier that I don’t get to see all my friends for the holidays. Some I get to see earlier in the fall, others at Christmas, some not until Spring! My closest friends I ship cards to and a few special ones get gifts (but usually late since I wait until I see them in person). I wish I could buy all my friends gifts, but I just don’t have the money for it. If I do know that I’m seeing a large group of my friends, we try to arrange some sort of gift exchange – Secret Santa/Snowflake/White Elephant…you get the idea. I would much rather spend more money buying one gift then getting a bunch of little gifts that are going to get tossed. Also, we’ve had years where several members of our group were unemployed. Instead of gifting, we just had a game night or movie night so we could enjoy each other’s company. Ugh, that sounds so sappy.

How do you, your friends, and family celebrate the holidays? What are your favorite traditions?

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Catching The Bug

Before I went to grad school for student affairs, I didn’t know it was a thing. I literally had never heard of any of my friends going to grad school, let alone grad school for student affairs. I got my start in Undergrad U’s admissions office. Some of the counselors had gone to school for student affairs, others did not.

Fast forward a few years – I was applying to grad school and I found out a few girls I went to college with were as well. We were all involved in different things during college, but the common theme was we were INVOLVED. Between the five of us, I think we might have covered working/being a part of every functional area in Student Affairs – student activities, Greek life, residence life, conduct, career services, admissions, orientation…you name it, we did it!

Now that I’ve been working in student affairs for a few years, I’ve had some friends and students come to me saying, “I want to do what you do!” My first instinct is to tell them to run far, far away. But then I sit and tell them about the grad school process and the job search process and why I chose the program I did, blah blah blah. At first I was surprised that people kept asking me how to become a real life student affairs professional, but then I realized that if I had had the chance, I too would have bombarded somebody with questions. By the time I realized that I was going to go to grad school, it was too late – I had already graduated and I’m sure my manager at the mall knew nothing of GREs and grad school apps.

My feelings about student affairs…it’s all fun and games until you’re up at three in the morning for “cat removal”.

Two of the students who came to me (and are now in grad school – hope you’re reading this and laughing!) followed the traditional super involved student and BOOM straight into an awesome grad program immediately after graduation.

Two of my friends who came to me are on what I like to think of as a more slightly successful version of the track that I was on – they graduated, got jobs, and are now thinking of going back to school. While my jobs were a little less “traditional”, they are both currently working in college offices. That means they also have plenty of other resources when inquiring about how to apply to grad school or what to do with their lives.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m IN student affairs that it suddenly seems like everyone and their mother wants to enter the field or if it actually is truly growing. Thoughts, oh lovely readers?

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A Day in the Life

One of my favorite bloggers, Carly aka The College Prepster, has done a few posts describing a normal day in her life. Carly and I have a few things in common – we’re both working our first “big girl” jobs, we’re both incredibly organized, and we both probably have the same life motto of “if it’s not moving, monogram it!”.

Unlike Carly, my days as a student affairs professional are hardly ever “normal”. Every single day brings something new and exciting…or redundant and frustrating. You’ve all been there, right? So, I guess I will try to describe a “normal” day. Maybe I’ll just write about today.

Good Morning!

I wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy to an incredibly catchy pop song playing from my phone. My intent was that if I woke up to an awesome song, I would just want to get right up and dance. False. I usually hit the snooze button two or three times. This is rather daring, seeing as I set my alarm for thirty minutes before I need to be at my desk. If I manage to get up in one of the first two alarms, I usually sit in bed with my iPad reading email and the news. Finally, I’ll drag my butt out of bed and realize I have about seven minutes to turn myself into a functioning human being and be at a desk on the complete other side of campus. This means my outfits are thrown together and thanks to Pinterest, the sock bun is my best friend.

Go to Work

By some miracle, I manage to make it to work on time and still be the first person in the office. The first thing I HAVE to do when I get to work is make a to do list and double check my calendar for the day. Since college students are nocturnal, a lot of them will have emailed me overnight to set up meetings for me for that day. Sigh. So I make my to do list and try to take advantage of the first two hours of the morning before students are awake and roaming campus.

Mid Morning

By now, my boss has probably already popped in my office to ask me about some situation her boss called her about that I was completely unaware of. Or one of my students has come in with one crisis or another, usually along the lines of “my roommate’s boyfriend NEVER leaves our room”. Usually at this time, I will start my regular one on one student meetings or sometimes conduct meetings.

Lunch

I have no set lunch time. My lunch time depends on when I have meetings during the day and when others in my office are taking lunch. Some days, I need to cram so many student meetings in and arrange them back-to-back from 10 am until 4 pm only to realize I did not schedule time for me to eat. I usually eat lunch on campus with some other wonderful student affairs professionals I know. This has done nothing to help with the problem of my constantly expanding waist line.

Afternoon

Back to the to do list. Or, more accurately, back to being interrupted from the things I had planned. Also, many of the organizations that I advise hold their meetings in the afternoon. This can definitely make the afternoon pass faster, but if it’s one of those rare days that I’m in my office, time moves so slooowwww.

After Work

My work day does NOT end at five. Just the other night, I had a staff meeting and a building meeting to attend. I also met with one of my student leaders and with an alumni advisor for a fraternity on campus. I usually try to give myself an hour or two between office hours and whatever evening activities I have just so I can take that time to relax. The one nice thing about working after hours is I can wear whatever I want. Hello leggings!

Goodnight Moon

On most nights, I go to sleep. However, if I’m on call, I tend to spend the late night hours just waiting for the duty phone to ring and for all hell to break loose. I’ve also noticed an incredibly strange correlation over the past few months – the earlier I go to sleep, the less I want to wake up in the morning. If I go to bed later, I tend to wake up before my alarm clock. I have two theories. Either my body misses my college student lack of sleep lifestyle, or I am so afraid of accidentally sleeping in, I scare myself into waking up.

So for those of you who were trying to figure out what a “normal” day in student affairs is like, hate to break it to you, but normal does NOT exist here.

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Keeping in Touch

So since season seven of How I Met Your Mother was just added to Netflix, I’ve been re-watching the entire season. Great use of my time. In one of the episodes, Ted talks about how life was different before the internet. The show went as far as to show all the characters at their bar sitting at their booth just all on their phones. How many times have we seen that exact scenario? I frequently think how different my college experience would have been if cell phones, texting, and Facebook didn’t exist.

Recently, I logged onto Facebook to see a long status from one of my childhood friends with lots of likes and comments. Now, this was around the time of the election so I almost just scrolled past it thinking it was some political rant, but a few key words caught my eye. My friend had been diagnosed with cancer. She was about about to go under the knife for some MAJOR surgery. It was at that moment I both loved and hated Facebook.

Since moving away from the town I went to high school in, I’ve come to the realization that I suck at keeping in touch. There are so many people that I was so close to that I don’t even talk to anymore. I understand that this is a normal part of growing up, but I sometimes wonder if I would do a better job at keeping in touch if I had to make more of an effort. Instead of calling a friend to see what’s new, I can easily go on Facebook. Still dating so-and-so? Yep. Oh look, they moved to a new apartment! If Facebook didn’t exist, would I call these people to get their life updates?

To be fair, I’m not the only one that sucks at this. I rarely call my friends, they rarely call me. If I have a long car ride and remember my trusty headset, I try to catch up with my closest friends then, but sometimes they just don’t have the time for it. We’re the generation that grew up instant messaging each other while doing homework. Texting through class. We can multitask in so many ways…but we are unable to hold a phone conversation.

I also have this whole other rant that thanks to cell phones and text messaging everybody sucks at making plans, but I can save that for another post.

What’s your preferred method of communication in this day and age?

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The Best (and Worst) of the Desk

Well…this is ironic. I already had a College Prepster-inspired post planned for Monday, but today Carly said she wanted to see people’s desks. Unfortunately, since I want to remain anonymous for the sake of my job and the pictures of my dog and friends’ kids would give my identity away, there will be no pictures.

The Basics

Since my desk is in my office, I didn’t get to pick it out. It’s rather boring, but I’m very happy that it’s not a cubicle. It’s also rather large. Other things that I didn’t get to choose? My phone and my computer. My office phone barely serves a purpose. I was provided with a cell phone and that is the number I give everybody. As for my computer, at home I have an iMac, but sadly PDFM U gave me a Windows computer. It could be worse though. The computer they gave me is a laptop and it has a docking station so at my desk I can use a “regular” keyboard and mouse. I also have a monitor, so if I open my laptop while on the docking station, I basically have two monitors. I have a bad habit of keeping my email ALWAYS open on my laptop screen which is terrible for productivity. However, it has inspired me to keep my inbox relatively clean and organized.

Personal Touches

I mentioned earlier that I have lots of personal photos around. I have an old ribbon board that just did not match anything in my apartment. I brought it to my office and use it to display photos and cards. The sororities on campus always send me the cutest thank you cards! I seriously need to ask them where they order these cards from. I also bought some office supplies to help keep my desk organized. I have a magazine file to hold folders, mail, and papers that just don’t have a home yet. When I first started working, the Human Resources department gave me a school mug that I use to hold pens (Pentel RSVP, fine point, black ink), scissors, and highlighters.

Let There Be Light!

I hate the big fluorescent overhead light in my office, so I brought in a desk lamp. It can be a little dark, especially with the sun setting earlier, so I might raid my apartment to see what else I can bring in. Maybe a floor lamp in the corner?

Calendars

One of the first things I ordered when I got settled in my new office was a four month dry erase calendar. I’ve color coded all the areas I oversee so I can see what’s going on at a glance. I also have an agenda I carry around EVERYWHERE with me. Seriously, there’s nights that I’ve been out on the town wondering just why my purse is so heavy only to see my agenda peeking out. I am a huge, huge fan of Google Calendar, but my school’s email system is Outlook-based…meaning that I use the Outlook calendar. For the first two months, I tried to use both, but I would forget to copy things over and it was a mess. I’ve since come to terms with using my Outlook calendar…now that I figured out how to color code it and how NOT to have my phone alarm go crazy at all hours of the day.

Stay Hydrated!

Other staples on my desk? A glass of water, hand lotion, and lip balm. We have a water cooler by our administrative assistant’s desk and I feel like I’m constantly going out there for more water. Oh well, I suppose there are worse problems to have in life. My other addictions are the lotion and lip balm. I currently have TWO  types of lotion on my desk…a pump bottle of St. Ives and one from Bath and Body Works. My lip balm of choice is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick. There have been days where I have walked back to my apartment to get it.

Coming soon…?

I really need to come up with a better way to file papers and tidy my office. Because I’m constantly running around campus, there seems to always be a stack of papers somewhere. Maybe that is something I can tackle while students are on winter break. I have another spot on my wall with a sticky note that says “diplomas”. There was no way I could afford those schmancy diploma frames when I graduated, but someday I will frame those expensive pieces of paper with expensive frames and smile at them while feeling important AND broke.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is where The Author gets her work done.

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Rattle Rattle

I’m breaking my own rule of never blogging when I’m mad. Well, I’m not exactly mad, just annoyed. And it all has to do with this terrible noise.

I work in an old building. Normally, I love it. My office doesn’t look like an office because it didn’t start out as one. It has so many large windows. The most office-y looking thing in it are the ugly office light fixtures that were clearly installed back in the day when this became an office.

But at this moment, I hate it. Despise it. Loathe it. Like many old buildings, my old building occasionally needs repairs. I’m not sure what happened this week, but there have been work men here EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And whatever repairs they are making, they are making SO MUCH NOISE. Yeah, yeah, I know, total first world problem. I can’t hear my Pandora station over the repairs.

Honestly though. Right now they are doing something to the pipes and they are rattling throughout the entire building (or at least my little corner of it). It makes it really hard to talk to a student about a noise violation when you can barely hear him from three feet away.

And with that…the rattling has stopped…for now. Regularly scheduled non-rant-y posts will return tomorrow.

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ODA

Those three little letters that can mean so much. ODA. Other duties as assigned. I swear this is included in every student affairs job description that I have seen. Essentially, this means your supervisor (or in some cases, their supervisor) can call you up and ask you to do something that at times can be SO ridiculous, but…ODA. So you go do whatever it is.

I’ve had to do some rather interesting “other duties”. I was working at a different institution when Hurricane Irene hit. The worst of it was over night and we were asked to do rounds to look for storm damage. Now, I’m terrified of storms to begin with and nothing freaked me out more than wandering through my nearly empty building after midnight and hearing the wind howl.

Another time, I was woken up by an RA to let me know that a resident had a cat in their room. Sounds simple, right? I told the RA to tell the student to get rid of the cat, but the student was not home at the time. I let my boss know this strange and interesting situation (there were more details) and she tells me to go remove the cat. Not only do I hate cats, but I’m allergic to them as well. Luckily, the student returned, but I still had to go out there in the middle of the night to make sure the cat was no longer in the building.

I’ve also had to act as a doorman (woman?) when the card swipes were being repaired. Students  here’s a little hint. If you see somebody acting as a doorman, that is NOT the best time to have your backpack go *clink clink clink* as you walk into the building.

As much as I pretend to hate these ODAs, they have made for some of my best stories. Remember that time a tornado tried to ruin homecoming? Well, I would have never been in charge of homecoming in the first place…but…ODA. As long as your supervisor isn’t taking advantage of you, roll with it and get excited for conferences when you can commiserate with other student affairs professionals.

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