May 13, 2011

OTLove: a formerly private letter, opened

( crashed last night.
as in ALL night.
so i didn't get to put this post up when i wanted to initially.
but, now i can say four things to preface this.
1. i went to see the show last night and it is amazing. the cast, music, crew, costumes, vocals, acting, set, etc. loved it all. go see it if you are in the area. it's hilarious.
2. there was also a special USA Today wrap yesterday - a pet project of my colleague Julius Mayo - in which one of the OTL co-directors, Johnny Robison, wrote a lovely tribute to all that is OTL that reminded me of some of the sentiments in this very post. well said, johnny.
3. it's officially opening night! ahhhh!! break...lots...of legs?
4. i am too lazy to go back and edit all of this to make it sound like i wrote it today. so, just pretend it's still Thursday night and all will be perfect.)

okay, friends.
1. this has nothing to do with the boys. does have to do with other peoples' kids that i have loved over time.
3. it's beyond ridiculously long. (this one has been brewing in my drafts for a while...)
4. so, ignore, or grab a beverage (appropriate to your age group) and get cozy.

i've posted several times about the time i spent advising my favorite student org at OSU.
(sorry, 8th Floor.)
It's been almost a year since i stepped down, and i'm reminded of this because Off The Lake (OTL) is just about to open up their 15th season with a production of The Drowsy Chaperone.
Which you should go see.
in Hithcock Hall.
on May 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21 at 8pm.
with a 2pm on the 14th.
and bring a canned food item for admission because all of the donations go to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
an exciting addition this year is that, on the 14th, they will have ASL interpretation (including the lovely Kayla Cardenas) for the first time!

one of the many things i love about OTL is that, as a capstone to the year, on the last night of the show's run, the cast/crew/pit gather around in a circle, and spend a few hours talking about what the year meant to them and to thank individuals for interactions that have been meaningful to them.
though often sassy, i'm quite the softy...and this event is all goop and mascara for me.

last year, a group of amazing members and advisors collaborated to put together a scrapbook from current and alumni members of OTL to send me off from my 8 years with the org.
personally, i speak scrapbook as the highest form of love-in-keepsake-format.
this in and of itself would have overwhelmed me.
BUT, then some of the students pulled me up on stage after the show on closing night to give it to me in front of the audience.
being a behind-the-scenes gal, i went up there, took the scrapbook, gave some hugs, gave you-are-in-trouble-later looks to the students who pulled me up there, and then gave a really awkward wave to the audience while thinking, "these lights are SO bright."

after all of this, i realized i hadn't said what i wanted to to the students in the group, and the alumni who were there that night.
so, i sent them a long and sappy email.

tonight i will be joining some of my lovely colleagues and RAs in our department for their special open dress rehearsal performance just for us.
the new OTL season officially opens tomorrow night.
and knowing that there are students on that stage who i won't know pulls on my heartstrings a bit.
but, getting to just sit back and enjoy the show, not knowing when to hold my breath or send up a prayer for whatever mic/vocal/wardrobe malfunction has been happening, is something i look forward to.
and the ability to attend, instead of host, OTL alumni night.

in my department, my colleagues and i have recently been talking about the core things we value regarding the work we do with students.
which brought the email i sent to OTL last year to mind.
it touches on some things that i determined i value on my own.
it also includes many key phrases and concepts that i have picked up from others along the way.
many folks i work with will recognize some "Kremerisms" from Steve Kremer, a former AVP/Director of Res Life here who i "grew up" under as a Hall Director.
many of these sentiments would have applied to the students of Baker West who i adored just as much in my time there and were the reason i asked to stay there all four years I served as a Hall Director.
these just happened to be for OTL.

so, because i know some of my old OTLovelies read the blog, and because i'm thinking about you and sending you good vibes for an amazing run...and also because i have been spending some mental energy one what i value about working with students in my current role, i thought i would post the email as i sent it last year to the members and alum at the time.
for those who don't work directly with students on a day to day basis, here is what it means to me...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hey OTLers!

Because my stage fright knows no bounds, I have always stunk at saying something useful in our closing circle. My heart constricts and my brain goes mushy and my voice gets far too squeaky. I’ve always thought, oh well…next year. But since that argument doesn’t work this year, and I feel like I still have things I want to say, please forgive me for being indulgent with our email list. (Or hit delete. Either works. ☺) OTL Alum, there are a lot of you on this email because you are all part of my OTL experience as well. The alum included are not by any means an exhaustive list and I know I'm forgetting folks…but my brain hurts from trying to remember/find emails.

I’m a big processor, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes OTL what it is.  My colleagues have recently told me that I should find another organization to advise that will “just take less time.” I feel pretty confident saying that there probably isn’t another organization at any other campus that is quite like what we have here.

As I shared in the circle this year, OTL has been the constant in my life through the last eight years, including marrying Bern, having two boys, moving off campus (after 10+ years living on campus, it’s a pretty big deal, lol), and changing jobs. My life has become more and more full, and OTL has been the backdrop to it all. I can’t imagine doing anything that long without taking something with you. And because I started working with OTL at the same time I started my professional career, my time with all of you has taught me a lot about the kind of professional I want to be, as well as some lessons that have been good for me to apply to life in general. After the outpouring of love on closing night last Saturday, I feel that it’s really important that I also say thanks for what all of you have taught and reinforced (because some of these  came from other sources, too) for me along the way.  I was more than overwhelmed and didn’t have the words for this on Saturday. Here is what I have learned from all of you that I will be taking with me…

1.      Come as you are- Many organizations claim that they will make you a better person. Teach you something. Somehow improve you. I haven’t been a part of too many organizations that took people as they were and found the role that fits them best. Or that stood up at their Info Meeting and wanted people to join so they could have this experience. Or that loved you for simply being present. OTL reminds me regularly how well people work together when they are allowed to be genuine. 
2.      Be Kind-  To me, this doesn’t mean being happy when you aren’t or to be “nice” when you don’t mean it. We all have our moments, and if we are genuine, we have to allow for those. I think it’s about figuring out what you care about, and using that energy to frame your actions. Give feedback. Have tough conversations. Just have them from a caring place. Be gentle with each other.
3.      Learn to Give AND Accept Love -  Not all OTLers are going to hop on the love train. That’s okay, it takes all types to make this thing happen. For our non-mushy friends- you don’t have to be mushy back. Please just take in the love you are offered. Save it up for a rainy day.
4.      Learn to recognize love – Yes, this is a ridiculous pseudo-reference to the 5 Love Languages. Gag. But, watching you all over time taught me a lot about really recognizing when people were offering up their love or support in ways I didn’t realize at first. Some of you wrote notes. Some just told each other. Some gave hugs. After a few years, some of you started posting your love on Facebook. Haha. Some of you brought baked goods to rehearsal. And some of you showed your commitment by continuing to show up on time when no one else did. If you are returning next year, spend a week looking around and seeing how folks are showing they care.
5.      Time is a gift-  our journeys, no matter what they are, are only so long. Every time you offer a little bit of your time to someone else, you are giving them something you literally can’t get back. Make time for each other.
6.      Exercise grace over power – A smiling/welcoming audition board will generate far better results for all than one that takes itself seriously.
7.      Common experiences translate well - Because OTL is the unique little thing that it is, OTLers past and present share a common experience. (Broken mics, begging for money, etc.) Come back and celebrate that with the alumni. (I have a nerdy little fantasy of having to eventually do a separate show for alumni night because so many come back. And that we should call it OTL Homecoming. Because home is where the heart is, right? Ok, kidding on the name, but not on seeing your lovely faces each year).
8.      Lists are amazing - They can combine the head and the heart quite nicely. :) Many of you have been subjected to my lists over the years. Womp.
9.      Publicize OTL- While I clearly wanted you all to have a packed house each year, and each audience member brings food to add to the cause, I personally don’t think that is the most important part of getting the word out about OTL. Returning OTLers- publicize the info session heavily. The impact we have on our members is immeasurable. It is so important to grow our presence on campus, and this falls on all of us, not just our Publicity folks. Somewhere out there is another Buckeye, potentially listening to show tunes right now, who hasn’t yet found their place on campus and could benefit from being showered in OTLove. Find them.

Okay, this email sound all serious and preachy. Ick. I have also learned a slew of ridiculous and random things from OTL as well. I now know what gobos, glottal stops and timbre are. I, however, still can’t tell if someone is “pitchy” or “singing through their nose.”  (This has probably helped me smile through a lot of auditions unknowingly. Clearly, not yours.) I learned that there is a force in the universe that does not want me to EVER get to be mafia, and that I actually defy all odds mathematically in my ability to pull a townsperson card. I have learned that someone can walk into a performance with a bag of condoms and videotapes for the purpose of preserving the show and “protecting” our sound quality. I have learned that some people give students far too little credit for what they can accomplish. I have learned that a frightening little retreat house near a farm off of Sawmill Road is potentially one of my favorite places for generating good memories. I have realized that I will never get tired of going to see your shows, even long after you have graduated. I now know that, given any space, no matter how small or how many challenges it presents, Off the Lake can come in and rehearse in it or put on a quality show. I found out that snacks from Buckeye Express taste at least ten times better after midnight and 6 hours of watching auditions. And, I have learned that all those theories about student development that our lovely PJ is about to head off and study at BG have some merit. It’s amazing how much four or five years can change a person if you are there to watch the journey. For those of you who were in OTL for an extended period, this was my favorite part.

This email is far too long. Sorry. You have been the most ridiculously talented, beautiful and loving bunch of people I have ever had the pleasure to know. I can't wait to hear what crazy, fun, amazing new thing OTL does next. Thank you so very much for everything.

I heart you all.



1 comment:

  1. If you want to give to Mid-Ohio Foodbank, visit One of six Ohioans are at risk of hunger...that means someone in your neighborhood is suffering. Help them by giving at