Friday, March 31, 2006

Songs That Save My Life: #1

First in a recurring series of songs that move my heart and save my life every time I hear them.

After All
Dar Williams

Go ahead, push your luck
Find out how much love the world can hold
Once upon a time I had control
And reigned my soul in tight
Well the whole truth
It's like the story of a wave unfurled
But I held the evil of the world
So I stopped the tide
Froze it up from inside
And it felt like a winter machine
That you go through an dthen
You catch your breath and winter starts again
And everyone else is spring boung

And when I chose to live
There was no joy
It's just a line I crossed
It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost
So I was not lost or found

And if I was to sleep
I knew my family had more truth to tell
And so I traveled down a whispering well
To know myself through them

Growing up, my mom had a room full of books
and hid away in there
Her father raging down a spiral stair
Til' he found someone
Most days his son
And sometimes I think
My father too was a refugee
I know they tried to keep their pain from me
They could not see what it was for

But now I'm sleeping fine
Sometimes the truth is like a second chance
I am the daughter of a great romance
And they are the children of the war

Well the sun rose
With so many colors, it nearly broke my heart
It worked me over like a work of art
And I was a part of all that

So go ahead, push your luck
Say what it is you gotta say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it'll push right back
And there are worse things than that
Cause for every price
And every penance that I could think of
It's better to have fallen in love
Than never to have fallen at all

'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets into who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me after all

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Don't push your love away

Some days dressing just doesn't go well. Like, for instance, if you haven't done laundry in a while, and you've been buying new t-shirts, jeans and skirts to put off doing laundry for a bit longer (we won't touch the economics of that decision). Or if you've been going to the gym five days a week since Christmas and are officially between sizes. Or if you fall asleep after your shower because you're still exhausted from your weekend of being available to others until 3 in the morning. Or if it's Tuesday.
Such was my morning round with the mirror on my wall yesterday morning. Tuesdays are the longest-day-of-my-life every week, beginning at 6:45am and ending somewhere around 11:00pm (unless I've taped House). While many people may joke about Wednesday being "hump day," Tuesdays have become the climax of my week. Wednesday - Friday just doesn't seem nearly as long when I'm staring at a busy, full Tuesday.
So, not being able to find an outfit that steers away from "bag lady" and towards "put together young professional" is never a good way to begin a Tuesday.
Good news: I survived. And I did my laundry. And I look fine (in the damn good sense) this afternoon.
Bad news: 6 more days until next Tuesday.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Technicolor luau on a technicolor green

Here I sit: drinking my Starbuck's double-shot and electrolyte enhanced Smartwater (which tells me that I am hydrated enough to be "witty"... we shall see), working on my iBook, listening to my latest iTunes indie downloads, writing a blog/article on the effect of feminism on inter-partner communication in marriage and, subsequently, the relative nature of happiness in marriage. Unassuming. Busy. Living out my Crate & Barrel life. Perhaps the living nightmare of some Conservatives... perhaps just another American trying to live a life she can be proud of. Really, that's a call for someone else to make. I find it amusing that I fit into the "latte-sipping liberal" mold so comfortably. I love my espresso, my sushi, my basic human rights-- how subversive!
It's been a busy month: A bear show in San Antonio, mounting responsibilites at work, closing for Spring Break, a trip to New York City, comp exams for graduation, class work and a job search: I've pretty much been "barreling on through," moving from one activity to the next.
I've recommitted myself to the "TV diet" which forces me to choose how and when I spend time in front of the telly-- the mindlessness of flipping channels is almost hypnotizing after a long day, but there are certainly more stimulating ways to spend my precious free time.
However, it's probably pretty clear that there are some weekly appointments I insist on keeping: House, The Office, West Wing and Grey's are "must sees." So, yesterday evening, having followed the diet's rules to the letter, I looked forward to seeing Josh and Donna be all romantic and awkward; to Meredith's wisdom; to the women of Wisteria Lane doing something (no longer) shocking. I sat down with an afghan I'm trying to finish and turned on the TV-- only to be greated by a blue screen and silence. I adjusted wires. I turned the VCR on and off. A placed the cable directly into the television to cut out the middle man.... nothing. Wondering if the problem was my system or something my broader, I went to my office: blue screen. I walked into the building's lobby and tried the television out there: nothing. I started to panic and ran downstairs while texting a friend about the horror that had become my Sunday evening. I tried the big screen in the basement: static.
At this point I got resourceful: classrooms have cable. I have access to a classroom: 20 minutes later, still no West Wing. I tried one more television on campus and then gave up. Perhaps all of the tvs had revolted, wanting to keep me on the straight and narrow for a bit longer. Or, perhaps, the world doesn't revolve around me, and the cable had gone out.
Turns out it was the latter.
It's somewhat sad that I take technological difficulty as a personal affront to my way of life. Earlier in the week, the internet was down and I was unable to connect to the wireless internet in my home-- it felt a bit like my best friend had moved away and forgotten to write-- or maybe that was just because I couldn't check my email. It's only when it breaks that I remember how very much "on the grid" I am.
Quite a contrast to my freshman year: computer, tv and cell phone free.
So, what did I do last night? I watch Battlestar Galactica on my laptop, talked to my sister on my cell phone and printed out a few more cover letters. Then I loaded my iPod with music for this morning's trip to the gym. And I found a way to catch the last 20 minutes of Grey's.
I feel much better.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Johnny Jump Up

In honor of "the Irish holiday":

I'll tell you a story that happened to me
One day as I went down to Cork by the sea
The sun it was hot and the day it was warm,
Says I a quiet pint wouldn't do me no harm

I went in and I called for a bottle of stout
Says the barman, I'm sorry, all the beer is sold out
Try whiskey or paddy, ten years in the wood
Says I, I'll try cider, I've heard it was good.

Oh never, Oh never, Oh never again
If I live to be a hundred or a hundred and ten
I fell to the ground and I couldn't get up
After drinking a quart of the Johnny Jump Up

After downing the third I went out to the yard
Where I bumped into Brody, the big civic guard
Come here to me boy, don't you know I'm the law?
Well, I up with me fist and I shattered his jaw

He fell to the ground with his knees doubled up
But it wasn't I hit him, 'twas Johnny Jump Up
The next thing I remember down in Cork by the sea
Was a cripple on crutches and says he to me

I'm afraid of me life I'll be hit by a car
Won't you help me across to the Celtic Knot Bar?
After downing a quart of that cider so sweet
He threw down his crutches and danced on his feet

I went up the lee road, a friend for to see
They call it the madhouse in Cork by the Sea
Butl when I got there, sure the truth I will tell,
They had this poor bugger locked up in a cell

Said the guard, testing him, say these words if you can,
"Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran"
Tell him I'm not crazy, tell him I'm not mad
It was only a sip of the bottle I had

Well, a man died in the mines by the name of McNabb
They washed him and laid him outside on the slab
And after the parlors measurements did take
His wife brought him home to a bloody fine wake

Twas about 12 o'clock and the beer was high
The corpse sits up and says with a sigh
I can't get to heaven, they won't let me up
Til I bring them a quart of the Johnny Jump Up

So if ever you go down to Cork by the sea
Stay out of the ale house and take it from me
If you want to stay sane don't you dare take a sup
Of that devil drink cider called Johnny Jump Up

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I read with every broken heart we should become more adventurous

The common wisdom tells us that through introspection and self-definition we can better participate in the workplace and accomplish group and individual tasks with greater speed. For example, by understanding that I am a passionate politically progressive procrastinator (oh, the aliteration), I know that I will really latch onto a forward thinking liberal candidate the day after she loses an election.
All joking aside, I buy into the idea that what we "bring to the table" affects how we present our viewpoints, interact with others and, ultimately, make decisions. I cannot, however, get behind personality profiles. It seems unlikely to me that with the billions of people in the world we all boil down to sixteen personality types, and by understanding the motives and backgrounds of these types we can predict behaviors in the office and in private relationships. That just seems a little ludacris.
Which, ironically, is exactly the reaction the Myers-Brings Personality Profile predicts I will have. I have taken this particularly profile more times than I can count (in the classroom, in leadership workshops, etc) and it always reports the same thing: I am an INTJ:

To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.

INTJs are known as the "Systems Builders" of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play, as INTJs can be unsparing of both themselves and the others on the project. Anyone considered to be "slacking," including superiors, will lose their respect -- and will generally be made aware of this; INTJs have also been known to take it upon themselves to implement critical decisions without consulting their supervisors or co-workers. On the other hand, they do tend to be scrupulous and even-handed about recognizing the individual contributions that have gone into a project, and have a gift for seizing opportunities which others might not even notice.

In the broadest terms, what INTJs "do" tends to be what they "know". Typical INTJ career choices are in the sciences and engineering, but they can be found wherever a combination of intellect and incisiveness are required (e.g., law, some areas of academia). INTJs can rise to management positions when they are willing to invest time in marketing their abilities as well as enhancing them, and (whether for the sake of ambition or the desire for privacy) many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.

This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. :-) This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete', paralleling that of many Fs -- only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.

Probably the strongest INTJ assets in the interpersonal area are their intuitive abilities and their willingness to "work at" a relationship. Although as Ts they do not always have the kind of natural empathy that many Fs do, the Intuitive function can often act as a good substitute by synthesizing the probable meanings behind such things as tone of voice, turn of phrase, and facial expression. This ability can then be honed and directed by consistent, repeated efforts to understand and support those they care about, and those relationships which ultimately do become established with an INTJ tend to be characterized by their robustness, stability, and good communications.

INTJ's are generally in the minority (15% of the population) in the work or classroom setting and (as we've already seen) they generally resist being defined by personality profiles no matter how accurate. Once, after taking the Myers-Briggs in a class on inclusive education, a professor asked how many students had scored as an INTJ. I was the only person to raise my hand. She then went on counting the other personality types in the classroom. At the same moment I was going to raise my hand in protest of the whole exercise she looked at me and stated, "This is usually about the time the INTJ's in the class tell me the test is useless."

I hate being predictable.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's time to get things started...

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.
You're always willing to lend a helping hand.
In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.
"15 seconds to showtime!"