Sunday, July 31, 2011

Came Close to "That Line"

Let me say first, that I hold a tremendous level of pride in my relationship building skills with students. I think that I've learned how I like to be in the office, how to relate with students in a collegial manner, but at the same time have avoided gray areas of what's "right", "ethical" or "appropriate."

However, I'm running into a question that I haven't really had to deal with before: what should my relationship with my students look like after I no longer supervise them?

I'm home this weekend for the first time since I left, to tie up a few clerical loose ends in my life. I went to the mall to celebrate being done with my old apartment complex, and I saw one of my students there. I asked her how she was, and she told me about life at work, and a few other things- standard sorts of things that would come up in our one-on-ones.

But then she told me information, gossip I suppose, that was uncomfortable for me to hear. Aside from how that information affects me personally, it was unsettling to hear because it made me feel that I had cultivated a relationship with her that made her think such talk was okay.

This is as much of a recount of my day as it is a call for advice, so I'll throw this one to committee: how do you keep up with students after you no longer advise them? What does that relationship look like? What do you feel it should look like? What's off limits?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Learned We Were Special

The day after my kickball team's first victory (GO STUDENTS OF HARES!), I learned something special about the field on which we played, from my boss Lori. Lori told me that the intramural sports complex at Florida State is the largest intramural sports complex in the country. I was amazed- I love learning factoids like that about places I live and work. Here are a few other notes about my new place of work:
  • The Florida State University is the home of the NASPA Journal on College and Character, and hosts the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values each year. Their commitment to moral and ethical development of college students is a big part of the reason I wanted to work here :)
  • It was declared a "Budget Ivy" by Fiske in 2010. Fancy!
  • It is the birthplace of the anti-cancer drug Taxol.
  • Famous alumni of FSU include Alan Ball (Creator of True Blood and Six Feet Under), Burt Reynolds (there's a Burt Reynolds Hall apartment complex not far from the stadium- I really hope they require a mustache to live there), and Richard Simmons, the fitness guru
I love learning things like this about places I live. Try it out- what's special about where you live or work?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beat AMC To the Punch

AMC showed The Shawshank Redemption at least twice today, possibly three times. I finished watching it on DVD roughly five minutes before it started on TV. There are some movies I don't own because they're on TV so often...didn't realize Shawshank could be one of those!

Thing is...*deep breath* I'd never seen it.

There are many movies that I've never seen that are in the general consciousness of the public. Having been a film minor, and a general movie junkie, some of these are surprising. Henceforth, I'm starting a list: common movies I should have seen. Please feel free to add ones in the comments (or marvel at how I haven't, i.e. "Seriously? You haven't seen [insert film here]?")

  • Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (I wanted to wait until they all came out, and then I didn't get to them!)
  • Friday
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Fatal Attraction
  • any Indiana Jones after the first one
  • Silence of the Lambs (in full)
  • Se7en
  • Meet Joe Black
  • Apocalypse Now (in full)
  • Amelie
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
That said, there are LOTS of movies that I have seen that many others haven't. I guess it evens out. But here's me being authentic...I may just nod when you talk about these, but I'll see them one day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Said the A-word

Like so many other Thursdays, I participated in the Student Affairs Collaborative's weekly #sachat. Today's discussion was on Mental Health of Student Affairs Professionals. As someone who's looking at this topic (or as I later learned, some version of this topic) for her dissertation several years down the road, I was really interested to see what others in the field had to say on the topic.
Admittedly, I was disappointed in the discussion in some ways. Yes, I did get a lot out of talking about how to approach co-workers who we might feel are burning the candle at both ends. But many other aspects of the discussion frustrated me. Two issues that arose were:
  • whether or not out field has worse issues with work/life balance than others (in my estimation, lots of people have this issue- student affairs professionals worry about it because we're helpers and we're taught to monitor it), and
  • whether or not it's our responsibility to approach co-workers if we see they're having problems (I am a firm believer that if we are taught to address it without hesitation for the students we work with, why in the world shouldn't we take the same care for each other?)

But the biggest issue I had was the lack of ability of the group (and I think it's just a matter of the size of the group, and the manner in which we assembled) to come up with a definition of mental health to talk about. Many were referring to mental health in terms of work life balance, while others were referring to mental health for those with clinical mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.). The discussion landed on the side of the former, but I would really like to know more about the latter, both to inform the field and to help myself.

I am an anxious person. I worry about things far more than most people, and things that bother me, do so for longer than they do most people. I've been that way for as long as I can remember, but it became debilitating at the end of 2010. 2011 has been a year of making this better for myself, to be able to go to bed without my thoughts racing, or go to work without worrying about getting things done, or to cultivate relationships with people without being terrified of how I'll be perceived.

It started with counseling, and then a lot of reading. Thanks in large part to The Chemistry of Calm (a book recommendation from a friend, and a great example of that outreach that people in the chat today were so concerned about doing), I came up with a plan of attack that works for me. It incorporates making time for myself, taking care to shut out things that I know make me anxious, and changing my diet. For those who don't know, I've been following a gluten-free diet for the last few months, and plan to continue it for as long as it makes me feel better.

This is an ongoing journey for me, and I want to keep learning about myself and how to keep this from being something that stifles who I am, who I can be. But I realized today in the chat that I need to talk about it. I need to be okay with saying it, so that other people aren't afraid to approach me about it. And I need to be open about it for the sake of my students and coworkers, so that they feel open to talking with me about their concerns for themselves and each other.

Guess I got more from today's chat than I thought...

Improv-ed a Tour

According to Michael Scott of The Office, and later Tina Fey in her book Bossypants (I bet this common opinion made their marriage in Date Night all the stronger),

The number one rule of improv is to say 'yes'.

I decided last week that part of my assimilation to the life of Tallahassee was going to be volunteering with the Museum of Florida History. I wanted a way to meet new people (I did. They're a LOT older than I am.) , and get involved in something that would allow me to give back. Tonight was my first night doing so, at an event called Third Thursday. There's a concert at the beginning of the event, and then they have a speaker come in to discuss some aspect of Florida history. Given that it was my first time there, I didn't do a whole lot while I was there. I went through the museum on my own to get a feel for the place and its exhibits (including a breathtaking exhibit on the Highwaymen, a group of African American artists who created Florida landscaping without formal training like the one you see above), and then did lots of reading on Florida history to brush up on everything I learned when I was nine.

Good thing I did, because about half an hour before the museum closed, a group visiting from China, through a group with FSU's Center for Global Engagement, came through. KC, the Educational Curator, asked me to give a tour. On two and an half hour's experience of volunteering. And in the spirit of saying "yes", like the former Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin and Liz Lemon would want me to, I said yes. And gave a tour to 17 students from China, their guide and 2 FSU students accompanying them. Was it perfect? Nope. Am I getting better at that lack of perfection? Yes. I'll get to that in another post.

I'm glad I didn't just pretend to pull a gun every time like Michael Scott. I sense that would have gone poorly, representing an entity of the Department of State. I can only hope subsequent volunteer shifts offer similar rushes of adrenaline!

Met Rose Rezaei (Reflection!)

Yesterday, I got my first package in the mail at my new place! It was from Rose, and included four movies on VHS, a format I'm re-embracing in light of my favorite new acquisition: a VHS/DVD player. The choices? Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, Snow White, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. All titles were agreed upon during a phone call from a Goodwill store, where she was hunting down a few last cool items before her impending move to Minnesota to start HER new life at Carleton College! Here we are in Minnesota at Mickey's, a landmark made famous by The Mighty Ducks.

Like so many of the friends I made in grad school, I met Rose at Open House. We spoke a little bit in the downtime between assistantship interviews, and really got to connect at the evening activity- a night at Malibu Grand Prix, a go-kart course and fun center in the area. In that waiting period between open house and finding out we were accepted, I spoke to her a few times and was excited to meet someone so open and caring. We reunited in the fall when we both started the program, and the rest is history. We've traveled together, been to concerts together, had many a tea party at each other's apartments, and confided in each other in a way that is pretty rare for me.

The gesture of sending me movies is in many ways indicative of Rose. She is thoughtful, caring, so insightful, and enormously committed to being an individual. She is, above all, wholly her own person, and I admire her tremendously for it. I can't wait to use notecards, postcards, and Skype to keep abreast of her new life which, if I know anything about her, is going to be quite the adventure :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reflection! The first time I...went to ESPN: The Weekend

Sad news out of the Walt Disney Company today, folks. After seven years, they are discontinuing ESPN: The Weekend. Apparently, the event has been successful but they want to focus on other projects. This is a Disney event that has a lot of great memories for me, and I'm really sad I won't get to make more. So here are just a few I want to share.

The First Time I...Went to ESPN: The Weekend
The trip was one taken with my friends Jeff and Kyle, and it was regrettably a short day at the park. But we watched a few of the interviews, did a few rides, and saw LOTS of athletes. High points included:
  • Jeff's picture with Dickie V
  • Long wait for Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Jeff's proclamation of his fandom for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Because of their cheerleaders.
  • Forgetting I had a tiara on the whole day
  • Realizing that fact when the Jumbotron was on me, when Jeff asked Chad Ochocinco why I never got an answer to my Tweets to him on Valentine's Day. He still didn't respond. Our relationship (mine and Chad's, that is) will never get off the ground if we can't communicate!
We went again the following year- this time it was Jeff, Justin (who's not actually a sports fan) and I, and made many more memories! The best one was running the ESPN Classic 5K, which is where the picture you see above came from. Jeff got to tell Greg Jennings that he love/hates him, and I got to high five Greg and DeSean Jackson. It was a fun weekend both times we went, and I'm really disappointed that I won't get to go again. For someone who loves sports and Disney as much as I do, it will be a greatly missed yearly event for me :(

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The First Time I...Felt Like I Belonged.

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I wish I could say that this was the first time I wrote a blog; that'd be fitting. But it's not- for an archive of my ridiculousness, please visit Who knows, maybe I'll update that one every now and again?

But at this point in my life, this is the right blog for me. Starting a new life in Tallahassee as the Assistant Director for Student Activities at Florida State University has been a series of firsts for me. So many, in fact, that I've decided to reflect on them a little bit more. I hope you enjoy what I have to say!

The First Time I Felt Like I Belonged.

Today, I got my FSU ID activated. This seems like a simple act, but it has been a struggle of trying to get paperwork submitted to human resources, and to get access to files that would allow me to learn more about my office. It's gone slowly, from having an ID card that could open my office, to getting keys to the club and the closets, to a temporary ID so I could use my computer.

But in getting into the computer system, being able to set up my Outlook and having my own place to set up files, I feel as though my boss said it best: "Oh, so now you work here!" It was a small measure that really does make me feel more like I really work there. First, the search committee accepted me. Next came the people, who have been absolutely amazing in my transition. And now, the computer has accepted me. Thanks computer, happy to be here :)

I feel like a new person here! I can be someone who is very much the same as who I was just a few weeks ago. I'm still the same silly, sporty, fun and food-obsessed girl that moved up to Tallahassee. But now, things are different. I get to be consistently fashionable here! I have short hair! (See the picture at the top). I'm good at sports! I can't wait to see what else I learn about myself as I take these opportunities to still be me, but be the best version of myself as I can.