Archive for January, 2013

Me: Whitesnake? Him: No.

January 20, 2013

The night started off with a great going away party at the local Martini Bar.  Friends put together an outstanding gathering and opportunity to say, “Good Bye” one more time.

I really meant the words that came out of my mouth.  I came here knowing no one.  Not a soul.  And these people became my extended family.  They took me under their wing and tried their damnest to get me connected to this town.  I am eternally grateful for them letting me into their lives and know that I’ll be back to show them what I’ve done with their efforts.  Eternally grateful.

And the gifts.  Extremely generous.  I mean, we’re talking unexpectedly generous.  There were some gag gifts too like a mini coke can fridge and a “Top 10 Things We Won’t Miss About You” picture.  But the big gift.  I can’t even put it on here because I really don’t feel like I deserve it.

But the night shifted from there to the bar we have on campus.  I knew for a few days now that there was a Live Band Karaoke program happening and I knew I had to do a sendoff song.  I had mentioned it to a few people and tried to pry a few good ideas out of them.  There was only one requirement…

It had to be a rockin song.

Green Day’s “I Hope You Had the Time of Your Life” was off the table.  It had to get the crowd pumped.  It had to get them off their feet.  I wanted a song for people to energized by.

So, again, I asked a few trusted folks.  Heck I even googled, “Good goodbye songs”.  A lot of them were love themed but I made a mental note of a few.

At the party tonight I clued some more people in on what I was doing and ran through my list of possibilities.  A bunch of folks said, “Oh!  Yes!  Good one”.  So I was pretty psyched that I would bring the house down.

It should be noted at this point is one of the very few points that I used my Director title and connections to jump a line.  I respect the hell out of students and know that if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t want some schmuck throwing his title around.  But I did.  People had shown up to see and couldn’t stay too long.  I needed to get on stage quickly.

While that was all happening, I pulled the coordinator of the band aside and told him what’s going on.  Here’s how that went down:

Him: Oh, so you’re the guy.  Awesome!
Me: Yep.  Excited!  So I got some ideas but if you all can think of a really rockin’ good bye song, I’m in!
Him: Nope.

(Awkward silence)

Me: Oh.  Ok.  Well how bout this.  I’m headed to New York and it’s not necessarily rockin’ but people sing along to it.  How about New York, New York by good ol’ Frank?
Him: Nope.  Here’s out sheet of what we can do.
Me: Sweet!  I was looking for maybe Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin?
Him: Aw man, someone just did that before the break.
Me: No that’s cool. (Continuing to look)  How about Fleetwood Mac. Thinking a little, “Go Your Own Way” or “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”?
Him: Nope.
Me: Whitesnake? (The song I was looking for was Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”)
Him: No.
Me: Well that’s my list.
Him: Cool.  I’ll be back.
Me: (NOOOOOOO!!!!!)

I then have a few people come up and say they’re sorry I’m leaving and wishing me luck.  I respond with a quick thanks followed by a “HELP!”.  I can’t find a darn song on the list that matches what I’m looking for.

Frustrated I turned to another person and said, “I got it narrowed down to these two songs.  Billy Joel’s ‘You May Be Right’ and this other one…”  She pointed to the other one.  I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Ok.  Here we go.”

It turned out great.  Crowd was on its feet.  People were dancing.  It was great.   Don’t know if the audience could hear me, not only due to mic being turned down but also with me being sick, but I had a blast up there.  I also changed the words a little bit.

For example, near the end when Stevie sings, “Here I am baby…” over and over, I changed up the words to…

Thank you so much Quincy!
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m yours!
It’s been a great three years Quincy!
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m yours!
I’ll remember this forever Quincy!
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m yours!

And then, with a look from the drummer, we hit the big finish.  Now, someone suggested at this point that I drop the mic on the floor and walk off like a bad ass.  Yea, that’s not my style.  What is my style is for me to trip off the stage or say something stupid into the mic…. or this next part.

Big finish.  I say, “Thank you so much Quincy!  You’ve been great!”.  I swing around (remember this part because it comes back to haunt me) to thank the band.  Do a complete 360 with the mic still in my hand thanking people along the way.  The coordinator comes on stage and says, “Let’s give it up one more time for Jeff Spain! Alright I want to keep us going here.  Let’s have so and so come up here!”.  Crowd cheers.  I’m wrapped in a mic cable.  Trying to get out.  I finally get the mic back towards one of the stands.  See that it’s taken up by another mic.  I step towards the other stand bringing my microphone and the cable with me and I hear this, “WHOMP!”.

The cable had caught that original mic stand and shook loose the microphone causing it to drop to the ground.

I look around to see what happened.  See the mic on the ground… and smile.

I am a bad ass in my own special way.

So to friends and family who I saw or were part of the support tonight, I say, “Thank You” for the millionth time.  I wish you could hear it a million more.

Thanks for reading…




January 19, 2013

A lot of “last”s have been popping into my head as this week has gone on.  The last time this will happen.  Or the last time I’ll walk here.

There have been some weird ones.  Some ones that have brought a smile to my face.  And some that I’m so glad I won’t have to see again.

Some that I’d thought I’d share:

– The last time I’ll hear the local radio show- I’m a singer.  I have no trouble admitting it.  I warn my neighbors and folks that I know will be walking by, you should be prepared for some Pavarotti like singing.  So most morning in Quincy, I’ll wake up, hop in the shower, and crank up the morning show.  They play a good range of tunes and throw in some past hits.  But it’s a small town show on a small town station.  These two guys put everything they got into it.  Their humor isn’t always spot on but damn if they don’t try.  The joke of the day tends to bring a smile but where they really put their 100% absolute all is into this crazy song they sing every Friday morning around 9am.  Now I don’t know if it’s my northeast upbringing with a lack of knowledge of anything farming or hunting related, but this song is a graphic description of skunk road kill.  But every Friday morning, these two guys are singing and laughing along.  Always in good spirits.  Always with excited, positive attitudes.  They give their all to the song.  I admire that.

– The last time I’ll look at my whiteboard- Day one walking into my office, I turn to my left and, BOOM, whiteboard.  I mean, the thing takes up the whole wall.  I sat there for a few weeks thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with this thing?”.  I can’t put student information up there.  If I throw my to-do list up there, it will look like I can never get anything done (Bonus about my job- always something to do).  I’m no artist so I can’t do any cool whiteboard drawings.  One day it hit me after looking at the three different calendars, with different months on them, posted around my office.  Even though I couldn’t draw a straight line, it turned into the calendar board.  Every couple of months would go up there, then they’d get erased for the next set.  This has continued for about two years.  But what started out as just calendars turned into some sort of message board.  Sometimes students who were sitting there would pick up a marker and start writing.  Others would pop in just to say, “Hey, can I write something up there?”.  One day, Donna’s (the administrative rock star assistant in the office) daughter noticed a spelling error.  She pointed it out and I responded very over-dramatically, “You watch your tone young lady.  That board is perfection.  PERFECTION!”.  I left a few minutes later.  She snuck into the office and wrote “This bord is not perfection” with bord misspelled for effect.  One student even had a space reserved for a monthly drawing/comic with a positive message.  Her most recent one, a drawing of a stick next to a Fanta soda bottle with the words, “You’re” about it.  Put it all together, “You’re fanta-stick!”  Both of those I haven’t been able to erase for a few months now.  They help keep things in perspective during the challenging times.

– The last time I’ll drive to another state just to get gas- I don’t think this will ever happen again but I do drive to another state just to get gas.  Quincy sits right on the Illinois-Missouri border.  In five minutes, I’m across the bridge and usually saving about 30 to 40 cents a gallon.  And they have cheaper Diet Coke too.

– The last time I’ll have to say, “No, the 217 goes in the middle”- Quincy area code is 217.  The middle three numbers of my cell phone is 217.  Any time I give the number to someone in Quincy it’s always:

Them: What’s a number you can be reached at?
Me: 585
Them: 585
Me: 217
Them: 21… wait.  Let’s start that again.  So it’s 217
Me: No no.  You heard me right.  The 217 goes smack dab in the middle.
Them: Really?  Cause you know 217 is Quincy’s area code.
Me: Yep….  I do…..  Trust me…..  So let’s work together to get this right…

Or something like that…

– The last time I’ll say, “And now the starting lineup for your Quincy University Hawks!”- I have been honored to be the Public Address announcer for some of the Pepsi Arena events for the past year and a half.  It started when the new Assistant AD and returning Volleyball coach gave me a shot at being the voice for the men’s games.  The number of volleyball games I had been to before that first one- 1.  Just one.  I mean, I’m sure you’ve played volleyball on the beach or in gym class so I had a general idea of what was going on.  Keep the ball in the air.  Letting it hit the ground on your side=bad.  Having it hit the ground on the other side=good.  I thought that was enough.  No no.  I now have a deeper appreciation for words like “Libero”, “Net Violation”, and “Kill”.  And I may have erased the word, “Spike” from my vocabulary.  I think it’s worse than saying a curse word over the microphone in a volleyball game.

I’d do a scattered soccer or football game too.  But recently a regular basketball spot opened up.  So I jumped at that opportunity too.

It’s been an honor to each game, announce the starting lineups for the visitors with a respectful, monotone voice.  But then comes the thunder with the “And now the starting lineup for your Quincy University Hawks!”.  Now, we’re not talking thunder as in some crazy annunciation and extended syllables.  Just, what I hope is, an excited emphasis on the fact that you stepped into their house.  Get ready for these students to put up a fight.

Usually folks aren’t allowed to bring signs into the arena.  So last week, it’s halftime and I’m adding in some fun commentary over the mic on the Junior Hawks (young kids in basketball camps with one of the Assistant Coaches) running some drills on the court.  And across the way I see these students start passing out some signs.  I see the letters start to come out and I think, “Whoa whoa whoa.  What do they think they’re….”.  And then I see this:

announcer pic

Just saying, “Thank You”,  doesn’t begin to describe the appreciation I have for this.

There are a lot more “last”s that I would love to write about but some shouldn’t really be public.  Others I’m eager to share in private.  And I’m sure others will come out on Facebook or Twitter.

More thoughts may come this weekend as I procrastinate packing.  Hope you’re doing well wherever you’re reading this.

Thanks for reading…

Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye

January 13, 2013

It’s been three years…

Three years since I shot off a resume for a Director of Residence Life job at this school somewhere in the Midwest…

Three years since I thought, “Hey, what the hell.  Let’s give it a shot”…

Three years since I took a huge leap not know where exactly I was going to land or how it was going to pan out, but I was interested in the journey.

Three years…

Three years have absolutely flown by in this small town.  This town that is hard to find on a map will be etched in my history forever.  The roller coaster ride of many ups and a few downs, has helped me to grow in ways I couldn’t imagine.  It has also set the tone on this amazing adult path that I’m on.

But recently I’ve decided that the path will lead out of Quincy, Illinois.

Sometime around the 21st of January I will be driving back east and headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or more commonly known as RPI.  It’s a good size university in Troy, NY.  There I’ll be serving as an Assistant Dean of Residence Life helping to run some halls and apartments.

Lots of people have asked, “Are you excited?!?” and my honest reply has been, “Not just yet”.  I think it’s an honest answer that refers to the fact that I don’t have the attitude of “PEACE OUT Quincy!” but does say that once I’m on the road, I’m pretty sure the excitement will kick in.  There’s just too many good people in this town to deny the impact that they’ve had on my life.

I’ve said to many of them, “I don’t think this will be the last time we cross paths”.  After telling people back east where I was living, a lot of them had a connection to this small town.  I know that I will see many of these people and students again.

But the future is right around the corner.  Headed back east.  It will only be a stone’s throw away from the house I grew up in and many members of my family.

Over the next week or so, I thought I’d post some thoughts about some of the things I’ll be leaving here in Quincy.  They might be quick little quips from my cell phone or longer stories of thanks to certain parts or people in this town.

All in all, thanks Quincy for an amazing three years.  An amazing, educational, challenging, and fun three years.

Thanks for reading…