Everybody hates Business

Think of an epic war movie. It’s the climax, right before the last battle. Many of the worn soldiers will not return to their families; their eyes are hollow. They barely seem to register their tired steps. “HALT!” cries the general. This is it. This is the last stand they make before they rush into their last battle. They wait for their grizzled, charismatic leader to speak. They hang to his words.

“I just need to call a quick attendance…..Adams? You here? No, don’t leave Adams, just sign this paper…we need you all to fill out some paperwork…we just have to do this real quick before the battle. Uhhhh….Anderson?”

Paperwork inspires no one.

In my three years, I have come to believe that dealing with “business” in staff meetings is largely a waste of time. No one cares. I’m sorry, even the person SAYING the business rarely cares. Time spent discussing dates when such and such must be done, or times when everyone must be located at such and such location….that time inspires NO BODY. Not a single person. I promise you. You will not leave that meeting thinking, “Wow, I just feel so much better after that long conversation discussing those deadlines, or scheduling those shifts for that event.”

So here is my inspirational speech. Are you ready? For these dulcet tones?

Google. Calenders.

Oooo, baby, I’ve got you now. Instead of spending 45 minutes discussing due dates for blah blah blah blah in your meetings, or sending out a million emails, simply create a staff Google calendar. Use it to keep track of who is on duty. Use it to keep track of paperwork deadlines, and events, and community builders.

And spend 5 minutes in your staff meeting recapping what is already on your staff calendar.

NOW, TO BATTLE! TO GLORY! TO THE STAFF OFFICE!

How to spend no time advertizing and still do an amazing job

Advertizing brings my blood pressure up. My first year as an RA, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to put on a community builder, only to think, “but I haven’t advertized at all, I can’t do it today/tomorrow/the next day….” and then I would forget to advertize and it became a bad cycle of guilt and sadness and man, we all missed out on some good hang out times. So here are a few easy ways to advertize that have worked for me.

1. The most important thing for me is to have a BOARD of some sort where I advertize all my community builders. I locate it at a bottleneck area (somewhere all my residents are likely to walk past, for example a stairwell or an exit). I like mine to be erasable, AKA a whiteboard or a chalkboard or something of that nature. To this end, you can use

  • A whiteboard (duh)
  • A chalkboard (you can buy one or make one with chalkboard paint)
  • You can also paint a piece of furniture with chalkboard paint (like a table), or a cookie sheet/tray (benefit of being magnetic as well) and write on that
  • Transparency paper (that see-through overhead projector paper) taped over some background (you can use it like a whiteboard)
  • A picture frame with glass in it (can also be used like a white board

2. Write on laundry machines with a white board marker

3. Make sidewalk chalk paint and write on the cement

4. Print ads on post its and put them on people’s doors

5. Make posters easily on google docs (make a google drawing)

Door Decoration Time: Max’s “Record-winning” decorations

 

residentrecord

These are some of my favorite door decs, made by my good friend Max.

rarecordI love the creativity, and especially how gorgeous those glossy, colorful records look–they add a hip, swanky mood to his hall and they suit Max’s love of music and his great sense of humor. Best of all, he decorated his common room to match, and it looks swanky as heck.

roomrecord

fortherecordMax’s hall is one excellent example of matching personality to style. Make the RA role suit your strengths and your passions, and you can turn a sterile dorm building into your own personal, weird little community home.

It was late at night and I feared the worst…

I was in my room late tonight when I heard some loud sounds–I could hear several voices counting from down the hall even from within my room a significant distance away , and I feared the worst. What were they counting? Shots? Was it some horror countdown to the performance of some stupid act? Could it be that this would be my first of the infamous Copeland parties I would encounter?  So I sauntered nervously into the lounge of B wing. The lights were low, and I couldn’t quite see the people in the room…

streamers

….Because they were behind a wall of hanging streamers. About 12 people were sitting in this beautifully decorated common room playing, “pin the condom on the pig” in honor of a girl’s 18th birthday. They had brownies, and nice music. They immediately asked me if I wanted to play, spun me around 20 times (one for each year of my life), and cheered in amazement when I slapped that condom right on the donkey’s rump. Here I am, a senior and an RA, and I was the one feeling welcomed by a bunch of students who had arrived only a few days earlier.

Happybirthday

When I asked the girl how her birthday went, she said she was surprised that it had been awesome, because she hadn’t expected to know people (it had only been three days since everyone had arrived, after all).

Community, man–never looks the way you think it will.

pigthing

Living in the Fish Bowl

“RA’s live in a fishbowl,” people tell you over and over. We…live in a fishbowl? Are RA’s aquatic, wriggling, gooberfish with round flat eyes, propelling ourselves around with our ancient paddle mechanisms, sucking tiny flora and fauna off of our closest friends and family? Do we nibble pellets that drift lazily, like feathers, through enclosure water, do we live in the dentist’s office?

fishbowl

RA’s are like fish in a fishbowl if the fishbowl were to be in the ocean, and the other fish look up to the bowl-fish as a moral example. And the fish in the fishbowl just CHOOSES not to leave the fishbowl because there are SOME things a fish can only accomplish from inside her fishbowl. 

I think I’ve made my point.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how performative my personality has become. I am always looking at myself from the outside, representing myself in my mind with an image of myself from the outside, and not a mental map of my internal space (as I used to).  You’ve probably heard the saying, “fake it ’till you make it.” I used to think it was a soulless way to approach life, but I have come to see it as a powerful statement about the malleability of reality and self perception. Act differently, see yourself differently, and you will actually become a different person. Change your image, you can change your reality.  I have a real sense that I am constantly determining who I am. Everyday, I have the chance to decide who I want to be, and what could be better than that?

This kind of ultra-intentional self-image design does not exactly facilitate ‘living in the moment.’  I find sometimes that, even when I am alone, I feel like I am performing. I’m always in the company of a theoretical audience.

There is a sense in which being an RA punishes introverts. Being in a fishbowl strips introverts of their most important time. But more than that, being in a fishbowl robs us of the benefit of time spent unintentionally (for a community that thinks a lot about intentionality, we don’t spend a lot of time recognizing the importance of time spent unintentionally).

For me, being in the fishbowl has stripped me of some of my carefree sense of self.  I no longer give myself permission to simply experience my life–no, I must always be actively creating. I miss not caring about what other people think. I miss doing whatever I want when I wanted to. I miss thinking mostly about my own impulses instead of the ideal way to act in a given situation. I miss seeing myself from the inside instead of the outside. I miss the days when my identity was defined only by my idea of myself that day and not by my impact on a community outside of myself.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m trying to rethink what it means to be an RA. I love waking up everyday and trying to BE the person I want to be. But I also want to change the world with who I am.

So the lesson is, be an awesome fish. Show all of the other fish how to be a really awesome fish. But maybe sometimes, you can leave the fishbowl for a while, and bask for a spell in the sheer vastness of the ocean.

The Dish of Sysiphus: How to have a clean kitchen without having to clean the dishes for your dirty residents

If dishes were wishes, I’d be the most magical genie in the universe.

photo (14)

My primary genie wish I will grant today is to bestow you with Part 2 of the official  Kitchen Manifesto: a guide to keeping your kitchen squeaky clean.

Continue reading

Ooey gooey feelings bullshit

When I started this blog, I thought it would be mostly making cake-in-a-mug and playdough and Fun Things. And let’s be real, I love that stuff, there is and will be plenty of that on this blog. But what I’ve found is that when I sit down to write, the keyboard has a tendency to pull me in its own direction. I want to tell you about the philosophical and emotional debates I’m having, the interesting quandaries, the struggle and insight that is opening my world up today. In other words, it is turning into ooey gooey feelings bullshit. And I’m pretty okay with it.

But, since that has turned out to be the case, I want to lay out the rules of ooey gooey feelings bullshit, so we all feel a little more comfortable.

Number 1, MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY. I want you all to know confidentially is very important to me, and before I post a story that involves someone in some way, I ask myself if the person can be identified by my post in any way. If I think ANYONE, including my best friends, including my mother, including my staff team, could identify who I am talking about, I won’t post it.

Number 2. The rule for posting things on the internet is that you should be willing to read this post aloud to anyone, including the people it is about and including your bosses. I want this blog to be something that my bosses, people I respect, my friends and family, could read and be proud of. Although, if I did read this aloud to my boss, I might blush. I swear a lot (see post title).

….I think those are pretty much the rules. I am also refraining from posting pictures of me and other people. I have some very attractive friends, and it is very tempting to want to show them to the internet, and how cute they are, and how much I love them. But that is not Kosher Internet Behavior, and I will not do it.

So there we are. Let me know if I put something up here that you are uncomfortable with, and I’ll take it down immediately. Thanks internet.