#SAFirstJobs–“Things might have been different, but they could not have been better. | This Side of Theory”

This has been the hardest contribution to a blog series I’ve written

July 21, 2011

“Yes, I’ll gladly accept the position, thank you so much for your consideration.”

“Start date? Well, my mother died 2 days ago…thank you…so I know that they want me to start ASAP, but I need some time to…yes, thank you…I can’t do anything before August 1. Thank you for your kindness, yes, I’ll be in touch with the department.”

Continue reading at: Things might have been different, but they could not have been better. | This Side of TheoryThis Side of Theory.


#SACommits–“Recognizing Myself”

I’ve contributed another post to the Student Affairs Collective blog, this time as part of #SACommits: a project reducing the stigma of mental illness by talking about it.

In 1994, I was a high school Freshman. My arms and wrists were covered in scratches and small cuts. I was convinced the world would be better off without me. I just wanted to go away, be alone, and not bother or be bothered by other people.

Keep reading at The Student Affairs Collective » #SACommits – Recognizing Myself.

Being in the Moment When Everything is Falling

"I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health." Voltaire

“I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health.” Voltaire
from Etsy

I’ve been trying to write a student affairs-related post for about a week now, but I have had no energy to get the thoughts into cohesion. Some of it has to do with end-of-the-year craziness (May 17…on May 17, all will be right in the world), but some of it is personal, which is totally blocking my ability to think about much more than the tasks immediately at hand.

2 days after the mess that was the Boston Marathon Bombings, I received a late-evening call from my dad–Monday he’d been diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma & was having it removed Wednesday; totally routine, he’d be in & out that day & could even drive himself! Yeah, not so much. After a few hours at the Dermatologist, he was told to call a family friend because he was going to Worcester for emergency plastic surgery. The cancer was all gone, but so was my dad’s nose. When he called me afterward; distraught, in shock, and totally overwhelmed, I think I broke a little–I’d spent all day Monday watching the news & communicating my safety to loved ones; I found out the following day that someone I was once very close to was a volunteer medic at the finish line, and my empathy for her was immense; now this.

I don’t think I realized just how closed up I had become until reading a blog post from a fellow polytheist/pagan and came upon this line (edited for swearing):

See, [stuff] happens, and that’s the way it is; pick a mythology, any mythology, and stuff on a cosmic level of SUCK happens to all the gods. Any god. Pick one. If they can’t spare themselves and their own families what the hell makes humans think that they’re going to get a free ride and have everything handed to them on a [omitted] platter?”

As I wrote in my last post,  the Gods don’t LET things happen, they just do. The gods of most ancient religions were part of the world, not outside of it, as with many modern religions, and are bound by it. Because I view Them as part of the world, I cannot expect any one of Them to single ME, or Boston, or even the USA out of all the other millions of people, and cities, not to mention animals, plants and ecosystems. Talking to my dad on Sunday, after several more visits to check the healing before the reconstruction, and as he’s getting ready to return to work after a couple of weeks away, he told me that he’d been feeling really sorry for himself until he remembered the woman attacked by a chimp in 2009. Laughing, he said that he had it pretty good.

And he does. So do I.

I’m meeting a friend in Downtown Crossing after work, so tonight I will get off the T at Hynes & walk down Boylston Street, being HERE. NOW.  Hopefully, a few of the negative daemons that have plagued me since Patriot’s Day will be exorcised as I enjoy the sun & air.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

Beyond Introversion

Once upon a time, it was almost anathema to admit to being an Introvert. Recently, as people learn more about what introversion is, more and more people are “coming out” and talking about what it REALLY means. Amma Marfo wrote a great post about seeing  Susan Cain, who wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, speak (Amma also wrote an article about introversion within student leaders). Our President, Barak Obama, needs time to himself between meetings (thanks Amma and Susan Cain for that info!). The higher ed rockstar @EricStoller is a self-proclaimed introvert, and I’m sure that many of those Student Affairs Professionals I most admire through Twitter and G+ are introverts as well.

But what happens when you are so introverted that it crosses into borders on anxiety-inducing shyness,  limiting one not only from participating in social events and meeting new people, but also restricts one’s ability to interact via the increasingly important forms of SocialMedia. I’ve had MBTI done three times, and I am ALWAYS more than 90% Introverted; it actually shocks the administrators.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

“But Jessi, you are active with MCPA and Girl Scouts–you TRAIN adult volunteers for crying out loud!”

Yes, but I give about half the amount of sessions as other Learning Facilitators; my best module? Orientation, the “Paperwork Training,” because it’s less interactive and I could more easily memorize everything. I’ve learned to pretend I’m not shy because, growing up, the shy kid was a pariah. I “faked it till I made it” when I went to a new high school. I arrive to my trainings early to sit alone and psych myself up for the session; then I panic once I’m back in my car. Shyness is a shameful thing to have because you avoid others, it is a spiraling emotion which leads to anxiety and depression.

Of course, this is extreme–I never really addressed my shyness as a teen, and have long pretended that I’m charming and comfortable around people. But I rarely attend networking socials, and am usually seen with at least one friend at conferences or events because I’m so uncomfortable. Many shy people are better adjusted than I, and can present workshops, or walk into a new situation without fearing a complete shut-down. Many other shy people however, are debilitated by this emotion. There is some research about shyness, but not much; I hope shyness gets picked up with some of the research/work going into introversion because of the correlation between the two.

Are you shy, or introverted? How do you know? What do you do about it?

30 Days of Grace

Thanks to conversation prompted by my last post, I’m starting a new project, which is actually really goo in the last couple months leading up to my wedding (both to relieve stress and put me in a better mood).

In response to conversation @JoeGinese, myself & others were having about grace, @clconzen posted this little gem:

ScreenCap of a Tweet by clconzen


So I did…kind of. I’m going to try to post one positive thing every day on various forms of Social Media just to add some more positive things into my life and the lives of others. This is on top of my endeavor to not continue the spread negativity through social media–we can get enough of that on our own.  I would love it if others did this as well, but this is for me. If you are joining the “project,” let me know how it goes!


A Memory of Childhood

I know the likelihood of doing this regularly is low, but I want to try to be a better blogger, and I know that I will likely default to more Student Affairs-focused posts without some kind of prompting, so here is another ReverbBroads post:

What was your favorite childhood stuffed animal or toy? Do you still have it? Okay, admit it, do you still sleep with it sometimes?

When I was 2, my great grandmother gave me a stuffed monkey (or maybe I found it at her house and claimed it as my own…my parents’ memories are fuzzy). Apparently I never let Monchi leave my side once she entered my life, dragging her by an arm or leg all over the place. I remember drawing her as my favorite thing in Kindergarten, and bringing her in for show and tell. Even then, she was in a bad place; all her stuffing was compacted into her legs and head, her body and arms not much more than empty fabric.

She’s been with me through it all: my parents fighting, the teen angst and depression, college, moving into my own apartment, becoming engaged and planning a wedding. Monchi was never very good for hugging or sleeping with (the lack of stuffing on a relatively thin frame makes for a poor snuggle-buddy), but she was there, often when I felt no one else was. She is still on my bed, among the pillows; likely upside down or hanging precariously over the edge, but there.

Summer YUM!!

I know the likelihood of doing this regularly is low, but I want to try to be a better blogger, and I know that I will likely default to more Student Affairs-focused posts without some kind of prompting, so here is another ReverbBroads post, all about one of my favorite topics: FOOD!!

Share a recipe or meal that is a summertime favorite.

As a New Englander born and raised, a clam bake, even if done on a stovetop, is absolutely a summertime fave; the heaping mounds of steamers, ears or golden corn, with a sweet, succulent lobster on top. man, I could eat that all day and come back for more the next.

Alas,  we can’t eat steamers and lobster every day…my doctor would kick me, then my bank account would kick me.

If I have to make (or force Ellie to make…) a meal during the summer, it’s probably going to be easy and not require a ton of cooking because heat & humidity make me lazy and cranky. One meal that makes me think of summer although I have never personally made it (hoping to remedy this over the summer) is a simple sweet & sour chicken over the grill. We never made this for less than 7 people, and usually had leftovers, so you may want to modify this “recipe”.

Place whatever cut(s) of chicken you like in a disposable baking dish (those flimsy ones they have in the grocery store), cover everything with a jar of Ah So Sauce (the original, don’t muck things up with those fancy flavors) and cover with foil. Cook until the chicken is basically done. Just before the chicken is done, add a jar of maraschino cherries-with the juice-and a can of pineapple chunks-with the juice. Mix everything together, cook until the chicken is done & the fruit is warm. We usually served it over minute rice made on the stove, but you can serve it how you like. This isn’t a particularly summery recipe, but it was only ever cooked on the grill, and only when there were a bunch of us together for a cook-out, so it has a lot of nostalgia for me.