Monday, June 25, 2007

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

Ha. Good one. This makes me think of the characterization of Mary Poppins as "practically perfect in every way." Of course, I don't think Miss Mary was plagued by crushing guilt and perfectionism. No spoonful of sugar, that.

What's interesting here is the way that I've flipped, almost completely. If I remember correctly, in college I tested as an ENFJ. I think I always walked the line between intro and extro-vert, but this is a pretty significant drop in my judgment to perception ratio. What gives? It couldn't possibly be that this test isn't a finely-tuned scientific instrument, right?

Your Score: Almost Perfect- INFP

40% Extraversion, 53% Intuition, 46% Thinking, 26% Judging

So, you want to make the world a better place? Too bad it's never gonna happen.

Of all the types, you have to be one of the hardest to find fault in. You have a selfless and caring nature. You're a good listener and someone who wants to avoid conflict. You genuinely desire to do good.

Of course, these all add up to an incredibly overpowered conscience which makes you feel guilty and responsible when anything goes wrong. Of course, it MUST be your fault EVERYTIME.

Though you're constantly on a mission to find the truth, you have no use for hard facts and logic, which is a source of great confusion for those of us with brains. Despite this, in a losing argument, you're not above spouting off inaccurate fact after fact in an effort to protect your precious values.

You're most probably a perfectionist, which in this case, is a bad thing. Any group work is destined to fail because of your incredibly high standards.

Disregard what I said before. You're just easy to find fault in as everyone else!

Luckily, you're generally very hard on yourself, meaning I don't need to waste my precious time insulting you. Instead, just find all your own faults and insult yourself.


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...

Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Freak - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Loser - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Busybody - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Prick - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Dictator - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Link: The Brutally Honest Personality Test written by UltimateMaster on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test


Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Other Boyfriend

I'm sitting in my new office, still actively loving it. It apparently has some sort of magic capability to accept box after box of books and still have room for more. How does that work?! I'm emptying out shelves at home like an a deranged, opposite magpie, and still there's bookshelf space up in here. Maybbe they're all going into a different dimension--Borges library, perhaps. As I'm rearranging in wonder, I'm listening to Pandora, the savior of all of us who keep forgetting to download music onto office computers. Somehow, I built an Elvis Costello channel that brings up Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Rolling Stones, and The Finn Brothers. I have no idea what kind of freaky Music Genome connects those four, but it has led me into atavistic reveries about Neil Finn, my other boyfriend.

We're all on the same page here, right? Neil Finn, of Split Enz, Crowded House, The Finn Brothers, etc. He also does a particularly charming little duet with Jonatha Brooke on her CD Steady Pull, as well. I liked all of these bands separately (CH most enthusiastically), but it took me years to figure out that Finn was the consistent element across all of them. It must have been the duet that did it; I don't love the lyrics of the song, really (there's something about the way that they emote as they sing the word "uniform" that kills it for me), but I do clearly remember hearing it for the first time and thinking "I want Neil Finn to be my boyfriend."

Oh, come on. Like you've never had that thought? It doesn't have to be about NF specifically. Fill in the blank with your own crush. There you go. Now answer the question.

Right. So Finn. Here's the thing: I'm a sucker for the evocative lyric. "Walking round the room singing 'Stormy Weather'"? Check. "It never used to be that bad/neither was it great./Something in the middle then/Content and much too safe"? Check. Interesting, this longstanding crush I have. When I see a picture of Neil Finn, it doesn't really do anything for me (sorry Neil). But the lyric. Ain't that just what it's all about? (Hell, I'd crush on Joni Mitchell if she were only a baritone.) Are they cheesy? Sure enough. But they're just enough on this side of cliche that they make me go all jelly-kneed.

So imagine my surprise when I downloaded "Last One Standing" from iTunes. Catchy? Yep. Evocative? Indeed. But methinks my other boyfriend has gone over the edge, or else I'm losing my close-reading skillz. Because what on earth is this song about?! Lyrics are here and appear, at a glance, to be correct. Anyone who cares to further my illicit affair with a singer-songwriter by proposing an interpretation---the comment section is open.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Location, Location, Location

The old real estate adage? Totally true. While we're all interested in a living space that is aesthetically pleasing from the inside, the experience of living in it is to a large extent determined by one's neighborhood: what's within walking distance, who else lives there, the noise levels, traffic, etc. And what goes for houses/apartments holds true for offices as well.

I just moved from my old office to my new office. I've spent the last two days placing bookshelves, unpacking books and files, and I'm on to making a list of what I need to decorate the place. Despite the fact that it's in total disarray right now, I'm suffused with a deep sense of peace and well-being in the new space; it's the equivalent of a great big "ahhhhhh." That has something to do with the space itself, no doubt. The building is old, but was recently renovated, so the walls are clean and painted (unlike old office). The space has a jot of architectural interest--moldings, a casement window, a french door into the closet/back room. I could give or take the carpet, but compared to the scarred and sloping hardwood of my old office, it's definitely an upgrade. There's an added bonus that it has a few built in shelves and more wall space, which means I can fit more books AND can hang a few pictures.

There are the interior aesthetics, which are definitely important. The overall well-being in the new space, however, is coming from the neighborhood. I'm not so terribly far from my old office. It's a new building, sure, but it's within spitting distance of the old. But my new neighbors are a much different crew than my old ones. When I first arrived at Askesis as a fresh-faced new hire, I was put into the office across the hall from the grande dame of the department. I attribute this to nothing but good intentions on the part of the faculty; I would have many questions and would want to be by someone who was in her office at every hour of the day and who knew everything about the institution. It was like moving in next door to the widow who rules the block--she knows all the kids' names, what exactly the garbage men will pick up, and when the previous owners of your house had their roof fixed last. That relationship is great at first; you have questions and you know who to go to for answers. At some point, however, you get acclimated to your neighborhood. You meet your neighbors and form your own relationships with them; you develop an understanding with various city workers; you know how you want to renovate your house, regardless of what was done to it in the past. Here, the widow has two choices: she can accept your autonomy, as long as you remain respectful of her experience and expertise; or, she can use the tools at her disposal (block parties, association meetings, back-fence gossip, property lines, etc.) to delimit what you can do without asking for her approval. [Many of you are literary scholars. You work out the metaphor.]

As far as I know, my new neighbors are also semi-new occupants of the building. There's little accumulated history, few expectations about doing things the way it's always been done in the neighborhood. That, in and of itself, is worth its weight.

A final word about location: my old office was at the head of the stairs, which meant that I fielded every question from every student who couldn't find an office, who was looking for one of my colleagues who wasn't around, who wanted information about a club, a requirement, or even a grammar check (not a joke!). My new office: upstairs, at the very end of the long, narrow hallway. You have to work to get there, and I'm seriously considering laying down some additional obstacles (quicksand, a moat, etc.). You all, of course, are welcome to visit anytime. Watch out for alligators...


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The good news is that I can still eat Chinese food---I'm not having an allergic outbreak of hives because of something weird in the Buddhist Delight. The bad news? It's not hives. How I wish it were hives. Hives can be cured with a short burst of steroids and a strict avoidance of the trigger allergen. Other than the fear of developing a resemblance to the East German women's swim team, it's a pretty quick fix. What I have, on the other hand, something called pityriasis, likes to linger. It hangs around for, say, 4-16 weeks. You heard me. Between 1 and 4 months. But, the doctor tells me, all chipper, it goes away by itself! There's no cure! Try not to scratch and make it infected! I guess you won't be wearing a bikini anytime soon! [Slim chance of that, but definitely not now.] Try not to get overheated! [Um. Summer. Northeast. 1930's house, no air conditioning?]

If this isn't the cosmic kick in the head that I've been anticipating, I'm not sure what is. It's all part of a larger pattern, really. Not a pattern of periodic medical grossness, although I do have a charming history of that. Rather, it's a pattern wherein I push myself too far for too long, and then have some sort of major bodily malfunction. I get the impression that for most people, when they work too hard, get too stressed, don't sleep enough--essentially do all of those things that shred one's immunities---they get sick. Immediately. And that's the cue to slow down. It's never worked like that for me: I've almost always been able to push through til the end of the task, semester, etc., but then I get hit with the big whammy. In college, it was like clockwork. I'd spend the last month of the semester eating coffee grounds and writing papers all night, I'd turn everything in, drive home for break, and by the next morning I was sick. The best time was when I had worked my ass off on a 35 page paper on Kristeva and Tristram Shandy (because that's just the kind of little prat that I was), made it the 4 hour drive home and ended up with a 104 degree fever. Boiled my brain better than Revolution in Poetic Language, that did.

So clearly I've learned nothing in the last 10 years. I still think that I can drive myself past all reasonable limits and it will be okay. Sure! Why not teach a full semester, be an administrator, run a speakers' series, give a conference paper, teach an intensive summer class, go to a workshop in the Midwest. You can work for six months without a break! What's the worst that could happen?

For the next 1-4 months, I 'll look like a leper, but only underneath my clothes, which is one small saving grace. Very small. Pityriasis is apparently also common in dogs and bears. Do you think they push themselves too hard too?

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

End of an Era

Ooooh, this may mark the longest I've gone without blogging. I wish I could say that I was chomping at the bit to get back to it. I was! Really! I was thinking of y'all every day!

In truth, I've been so exhausted that the concept of producing extra words has made me want to cry. The aggregate of the workshop, on top of the summer class, following close on the heels of the spring semester was a tactical error on my part. I just don't have that kind of stamina, and I sure as hell don't have the deep bank of small-talk and good will toward strangers that it takes to be a shiny, happy participant in all of these activities.

Now, however, I'm finally at home, and despite the fact that I'm covered in hives (oh yes, that's right: I don't know what I ate or touched, but I'm covered in red bumps from shoulder to groin. It's awesome. And very attractive.), it's starting to feel a bit like summer. I say a bit because there are some lingering crap tasks from the spring that need to be done: adjunct evaluations, administrative tasks, putting together budgets and such for next year. The biggest and most immediate task of all? Moving my office.

On Monday, the movers are coming to take thirty-some-odd boxes containing my office life to another building. I've been in the same office since I started this job, and so as I shove my books, in ever-more haphazard fashion into tiny, carry-able boxes, I do feel like I'm moving into a new phase of my career here. When I started this job, I was a newly-minted PhD, with dreams of a high-powered liberal arts college job, turning my dissertation into a book, and trying to think about ways that I could make my mark on the field. The beat-to-hell anthologies on the bottom shelf of my bookcases tell a different story. They're evidence that the job was created for someone with a different, and perhaps no field specialization. The notebooks I have from my first few years are for the classes that I most often got to teach: gen ed courses or entry-level surveys for the majors. There's something significant, I think, in the radical disjuncture between who I thought I was and the job that I was hired to do. What happens to the junior faculty member caught between these two poles?

If I were a different kind of scholar, the answer might have been that I ignored the job, published my ass off, and got a different position at a school that fit my self-image better. Instead, my office tells a different story. I've packed boxes of files that relate to my administrative work---one place that I turned to for intellectual challenges when my teaching wasn't bearing that out. I've thrown out (ahem. recycled) pounds of paper from departmental meetings that show proposals for curriculum changes, shifts in teaching schedules, requirements, load. In that same pile goes reams of committee work offal. What gets boxed up are the materials for my co-directed lunch series, my reports on campus tech practices, flyers announcing visiting speakers. In short, the evidence tells a story about changing my self-image. Not changing it to meet the job, but changing it enough to create the job that I wanted to have.

On my off days, I wonder if I haven't simply rationalized my shortcomings. Am I just lazy? Incapable of maintaining the kind of vision that I had throughout grad school? On better days, however, I hope that four years of metamorphosis have given me a clearer vision of the kind of work that I want to do, and still have ahead of me in a new space.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Let Them Eat Paste

So I'm at my workshop, which has been going on for a week or so, and will go on for another week. It was a bit of a rough first week for a number of reasons: I just finished teaching a summer course, two days before that, I had just finished out the semester. I was in a huge rush to get things ready to come out here (see shopping dilemmas below). I wasn't quite sure whether coming to this workshop, which is really centered around a field adjacent to my own, was the right thing to do. Upon arrival, I've been in classes for 8.5 hours a day, which is a lot like a real job. These activities involve meeting new people, which I really dislike and which makes me a paranoid, self-conscious nutbag.

The primary reason that it's been difficult, however, is because I find that in these kinds of situations, I revert to my 4th grade self.

What do I mean by that? Cast your mind back to the days of elementary school. For some of you, it may have been an idyllic time of four-square and long division, but for me, it was a bizarre mix of self-imposed social alienation and soaring egotism. I was bored stiff in my classes because things were easy to learn (this clearly changed by the time I hit physics in 10th grade); I wanted to hang out with the adults and talk about books; I was repelled by most of my classmates, but simultaneously I wanted them to like me and acknowledge my smartitude.

All of these nauseating characteristics were back in some form or another this past week. I've been listening to the comments of some of the very fine comments of my classmates, and I find myself snarking away internally. "Well, obviously, J. hasn't considered point X, which is something everyone knows!" "I know that people are here to learn, but honestly, this stuff is so easy!" In the service of exhibiting my knowledge, I've been chatting with, and, if I'm honest, performing my expertise in order to mark myself as one of the "smart kids" in front of the instructors. True jackass move. Meanwhile, I'm cringing when the conversation turns to the common field priorities that everyone else has that I'm lacking. "I'm so ignorant! Why don't I know this stuff?"

Could I BE any more judgmental and lame and insecure?!!

Thankfully, with two things have helped me get my 4th grade self under control: first, the continuous daily mantra "don't be an asshole." You'd be amazed at what that can do for you and your public behavior, if you just repeat it 100 times in the morning, and 20 times before you raise your hand in a discussion. Second, the start of a new week learning things I don't know. Here, I find that my inner geek pummels my 4th grade self into submission with her ebullience and enthusiasm.

So, goodbye Tales of the 4th Grade Fluff, and hello geekgirl. Let's hope that this makes for a better week for everyone here.

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