Unravelling the Tank Top Convention

Last night, I was lucky enough to spend time with friends and colleagues. We gathered together at a nearby restaurant and took our spot on the 2nd floor lounge. That’s where we first saw them.

It started with one guy, wearing shorts and a tank top. Not unusual on a hot day, but odd considering the venue. Further perplexing was his demeanor – he walked around the lounge as if he was an employee, but an emmployee who is clearly not adhering to dress code.

Tank Top Guy disappeared for a bit… repearing wearing a different tank top, continuing on his weird trek around the lounge. His friends would disappear and reappear, also having changed into different tank tops.

After a bit, Original Tank Top Guy disappeared and reappeared wearing what can be best described as a tank top, skinny shiny black pants, dress socks and sandals. It made no sense.

These guys walked around a restaurant, occassionally looked in a giant box full of tank tops, changed clothes, put on bedazzled high top sneakers and then all abruptly left. They left before anyone of us could find out what was happening. They left before we had an answer to our greatest question – “Are you a part of a Tank Top Convention?”

Is this important? No, not at all. But it does illustrate a point.

We all have Tank Top Conventions in our life. There are all things that happen that we don’t understand and we’ll never have answers to.

We can make up our own answers: they were back up dancers for a drag queen OR they were on vacation from the Netherlands and having a fashion show OR they were trying on outfits for a Lady Gaga concert OR they were practicing for their vacation to the Jersey Shore.

We live in a world where we expect answers. Sometimes we don’t get them. We’ll never get them. We’ll never know why certain things happen (ie. the entire run of the show Lost).

I’ll never know why dude was wearing a tank top, dress socks and sandals… but I have to be okay with that.

It’s time to learn it’s okay to have unanswered questions. 


Unravelling the Tank Top Convention

Why #icebreakers will be the end of Student Affairs

It’s Spring Break… a time of the year where Student Affairs professionals finally get around to doing the things we say we’re going to do all year. For me, that’s cleaning.

In cleaning the office yesterday, I stumbled upon a gem – a box labeled “ABRIS – Adventure Based Resource Index System” full of 3×5 laminated index cards. As best as I can tell, this is from 1991 and proof for me that Student Affairs is doomed.

These dainty, colorful index cards contain ice breakers and team builders “designed to save valuable planning time, offer refreshing new material and provide you with hundreds of programming hours.” Yes, that’s a direct quote from their website.

So what does this refreshing new material include? Well, frankly, it includes things that will get you fired today.

Love Handle Tag

That’s right. Love Handle Tag. Because holding someone’s hips from behind them has been appropriate behavior since 1991.

Albanian Dwarfs

Albanian Dwarfs. While I’d like to give them credit for the grammatically correct use of dwarfs vs dwarves, it’s still just wrong. Just wrong.

Butt Bounce

The Butt Bounce. Nothing beats a good “double-barreled Butt Bounce” with a bunch of strangers.

Tingling Touch

Ahhhhh… Tingling Touch. No better way to kick off a workshop with whispering soothing words with every exhale.

So there you have. Adventure Based Resource Index System – a surefire way to discredit what we do as student affairs practitioners and an even quicker way to ensure a trip to HR to talk about those awkward “games” you play at meetings.

Why #icebreakers will be the end of Student Affairs

Why #Divergent is bad for Student Affairs

On Friday I was lucky to catch a sneak preview of the movie Divergent.
This isn’t a review and there aren’t any spoilers here (besides, it was an unfinished print with unfinished effects) but watching the film scared me.

It scared me because I see where this is headed. Student Affairs latches on to new hip thing and runs it into the ground. Some of you have the uncanny ability to take something that brings us joy and then you beat us over the head with it’s applications to student affairs. You did it with Harry Potter. You did it with The Hunger Games. And you’re about to do it with Divergent.

Remember all of the horrible leadership workshops you created where you would explain leadership styles based on the different Hogwarts Houses? They’re on their way back… but this time, it’s what Divergent Faction you’re in.

Start prepping all of your inspirational talks about how it’s important to carry multiple positive traits instead of just one. It’s best to be Divergent.  How can your students be Divergent in your leadership?

Think about all of the greek life conversations we can have about hazing rituals and how characters in Divergent used bystander intervention skills to make things better.

Imagine all of the times we’re going to see a new student with three black birds tattooed on their clavicle.

No. Divergent is bad for us because it’s going to inspire someone to try to turn it into an educational moment.

You’re doing what you think will make you seem cool and hip… you think this will make you appear to be approachable to new students when instead you should be looking for what will be cool and hip in six months.

Instead of forcing everything to be educational, let this one just be fun. Steer away from the Faction-themed door decks. Steer away from the personality assessment. Please.
It’s okay to just let something be fun.

Why #Divergent is bad for Student Affairs

How I stopped being bothered & started listening

It’s August.
I get it. You’re busy. I know you are. We all are. And that’s my rub.

I won’t lie.
Every time I saw a higher ed person tweet or update their Facebook status about how busy they were, I’d roll my eyes and wonder if they had any idea about what career field they were in. I’d go on a mental rant about how ridiculous it was to see my newsfeed flooded with the exact same garbage from so many people. I’d imagine my snarky responses to all of them.

I was so annoyed at people proclaiming how hard their jobs were in the month of August and September. I rationalized if all of these professionals spent less time complaining about how busy they were, they’d have more time to do their job and get home at an earlier hour.

This week, I checked myself. After swimming in so much negativity, I had no idea why I was tired and crabby all of the time. After a night out with some Squirrelfriends on Tuesday, I realized this was getting to me. I had to check myself.

People post whatever they want on Facebook and Twitter because they need to…

  • They need to get something off their chest
  • They need to encourage themselves
  • They need some assistance
  • They need someone to understand
  • They need someone to listen

Instead of over-reacting, I had to realize people are doing what they need to do. We all walk a hard road. People post how busy they are because they need someone to hear them… not someone to judge them. I can be a part of their solution, or I can be a tired brat.

While I’ll always be a brat, I choose to be a positive force.

How I stopped being bothered & started listening

Do introverts make better comedians?

I think a lot about comedy.

Because of my job in Student Activities I’ve literally seen hundreds of comedians (many of whom I consider to be friends). I can honestly say I’ve lost hundreds of hours of my life to the art of comedy. Being around so many comedians has sharpened my own sense of humor and comedic timing, a skill I’ve been able to bring into my job and my personal life.

Last night, a group of friends and I met up to see Panic! At The Disco. We weren’t quite so successful at standing in front of the stage, but what resulted was better- six gays and a girl tossing comments, judgements and observations out at a wicked pace. It was on par with any comedy routine I’ve seen in the last 15 years. I laughed for two hours.

When I thought about the make-up of the group, it dawned on me a vast majority of the people at that table self-identify as introverts. There has been a growing discussion on #sachat about introverts. As an extrovert, I’ve been fairly quiet on the topic, choosing to read and digest rather than speak loudly (how un-extroverted of me). But for the first time, I thought about the differences between extroversion and introversion and how it played into my life.

So, what made the introverts at the table the funniest people?

  • Introverts speak less than their extroverted counterparts. When an introvert finally interjects, the comment/joke has more weight.
  • Because introverts speak less, the comments are funnier. They’ve mentally omitted the least funny comments and only say the lines that have true resonance.
  • Introverts observe. Because the extroverts are speaking on everything they see, they’re not paying attention to the funniest opportunities. The extroverts are throwing everything against the wall to see what will stick. The introverts only throw what they know will stick to the wall. The introverts are able to consistently make more pointed, funnier observations.

As comedy is based upon observation, a skill introverts excel at, are introverts better comedians?
I’m not certain if I’m qualified to speak on that… but last night, I certainly recognized the evening was funnier because of the introverts performing last night.

Do introverts make better comedians?

When truth is stranger than fiction

After more than 15 hours of traveling, we finally arrived at my parents Cabin in the Woods. Having seen the movie Cabin in the Woods about five times, I had the punch lines down and was ready to play the role of Marty (acted to the nines by the amazing Fran Kranz).

The cabin is in scenic Nowhere, Michigan, about 22 miles from the nearest city. Suddenly my jokes about living a horror movie were getting a little more real.

So, you drive down this meandering farm road for about 10 miles until it turns into a dirt road. The road is full of abandoned corner stores and vacated houses. You then drive down that for about four miles until it turns into a gravel road. As you attempt to avoid the deer and other wildlife watching you from the sidelines, you drive another four miles until you reach a muddy road, navigating your tires on the two muddy treads that make up the last stretch of the drive.

In the dark, the Cabin in the Woods is quaint. It doesn’t show it’s charm until you get in it.

Yeah, that’s a woodburning stove with a charming teakettle on it.
And then you turn around.

Yeah, that’s a creepy wall of dead animals.
And then the secret door opens leading you to an underground bunker from hell.

Oh, hell no.
And that’s when we decided we didn’t want to die.
We will be spending the rest of our nights in my Aunt Donna’s basement. I swear to all that is pure and true, if there is a secret trapdoor there…

When truth is stranger than fiction

When its easier to lie

It dawned on me many years ago that a simple lie would stop tedious conversations I didn’t care to have.
This sounds much worse than intended. It does. Let me give you some context.

A former advisor, co-worker, mentor & friend was obsessed with the movie Dirty Dancing. Instead of telling her I have never seen it, I always replied with a simple line I knew was in the movie:

I don’t understand the context but truth be told, it was just easier to lie.
I don’t want to watch the movie. I don’t want to understand. I want nothing to do with it… so when this topic comes up, I always reply with “Ahhhahahahahaa! Nobody puts baby in a corner!” and that shuts them right up.

But truth be told, I lie about this stuff all of the time. You see, I don’t really like people, and I don’t want them to try to convince to me to watch something I don’t want to watch.

This includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • The Devil Wears Prada (oh, Meryl is so incredible!)
  • Actually, any movie with Meryl Streep (she’s unbelievable!)
  • Pitch Perfect (Oh, that adorable Anna Kendrick! I love Cups!)
  • The Godfather (Part II is a classic, but III is a waste of time!)
  • Citizen Kane (Rosebud is his sled!)
  • Gone With the Wind (I don’t know nothing about birthin’ no babies!)
  • The Golden Girls (Oh, Sophia!)
  • The Sopranos (it’s so smart!)
  • Sex & The City (hahahaha! I’m the perfect gay for loving this show!)

I let a current co-worker read this before I published, just to make sure it made sense. Aliya got through the first few lines and screamed:
“What do you mean you’ve never seen Dirty Dancing?”

My point stands. Publish. Drop the mic, walk away.

When its easier to lie