Wednesday, February 21, 2018

3 Things on My Mind


Have you all heard of the enneagram personality types?

I'm a fan of personality quizzes. I'm a Myers-Briggs INFJ. (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging.) Of the Four Tendencies, I'm a Questioner.

I think it's fun to recognize myself in these descriptions, and to consider strengths and weaknesses based on the way I tend to respond in specific situations.

When I first heard about the Enneagram, I didn't think any of the descriptions fit me. Also they all seemed kind of unpleasant! But I started reading and listening to podcasts more about them, and I realized that I am a hardcore 4 - The Individualist (sometimes called The Romantic).

I think the reason I initially felt that enneagram skews negative is because they talk about the best and worst case personality features, or the ways we tend to behave when we're making healthy choices and the ways we tend to behave when we are stressed or making unhealthy choices. A big one that rang true for me is a tendency to withdraw--remember how I dropped off Facebook after Eliza died? I basically dropped out of life. And I imagine that is true for many people who are deeply grieving after they lose a loved one, but it's not necessarily true for everyone. Some people find energy and comfort in being surrounded by others, but that was really hard for me (and other 4's, as it turns out!). Anyway, there are lots of books and podcasts on the topic, but if you just want to dip your toe in, here's a quiz and here's an explanation of the personality types.

Oh, and most people get two or even three similarly scored on the quiz, so the best advice is just to read the types and see which one resonates with you, or, in my case, which one you resist the most. It just might be revealing something about you!

At the advice of my friend Monica, I signed up for their daily e-mails (based on your type) and the ones I've gotten have been hilariously spot on. They basically encourage you to do something good for yourself that might go against type. One said, "As a withdrawn type, you tend to be too disconnected from your body. Get active with something like cycling, yoga, or jogging."

It's like UGH STOP KNOWING WHO I AM, Enneagram!

(Also, I did yoga yesterday and this morning, probably because of that e-mail.)

* * *


I saw George Saunders speak at our local library last Saturday and he was wonderful. I want to take his classes and be his best friend. He was charming and self-deprecating and funny and delightful. I so appreciated hearing him talk about his own writing process and the "line by line" approach he takes, and how that helps him divorce himself from his work so that he can revise and edit with a clear eye for improvement. It was truly inspiring and it has been something I've reflected on every day since as I do my own writing.

If you haven't read George Saunders, he has written a lot of brilliant, quirky, weird, dark, and funny short stories. I bought his collection The Tenth of December after seeing him speak. He also wrote a novel called Lincoln in the Bardo which is a fascinating tale of Lincoln after his eleven-year-old son Willie dies, but it's not just about Lincoln, it's also about spirits in a cemetery. It doesn't have a traditional narrative, but is almost written like a script with many voices and excerpts from historical books and papers--some of which are real and some of which are completely invented by Saunders.

The audio book is amazing--they got different people to voice every single character. Some are actors (notably Nick Offerman, whom you may know as Ron from Parks and Recreation, and Megan Mullalley, whom you may know as Karen from Will and Grace or as Tammy 2 from Parks and Recreation). But there were so many--over 100 separate voices--so Saunders told us that his parents, his siblings, his wife and kids, basically everyone he knows has a small part in the audio book. I listened to a lot of it (I got it through the OverDrive app connected to my library), but honestly the parts about Lincoln's grief are so beautifully and truthfully done that I was crying too much in the car on the way to work and had to stop. Still, I think if I were visiting it for the first time, I would read it and then listen to it. It's worth doing both. Such a strange, lovely, heartbreaking and funny little book.

(Also Saunders won both a McArthur genius grant and a Man Booker prize, so I'm not the only person who thinks it's brilliant.)

Speaking of writing, I signed up for a sort of guided online writing class. It's called Truth Collaborative and when I got a discount code I decided to do it as a way to jump start my own writing. I've been wanting to get back into my book project and doing more writing in general, but I knew I needed something to kick me into gear. So... spending money on something that has guidelines and lessons and "due dates" and a "teacher" who will give me feedback? Yes to all those things. I've really enjoyed it and the writing that it has prompted me to do. Honestly, a lot of it has been familiar because I did so much blogging and journaling after Eliza died, but obviously that has shifted in more recent years/months, so this was a nice refocus for me.

* * *

I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

I saw this headline today:

Florida Legislature rejects weapons ban with massacre survivors en route to Capitol

How is this possible? How is it possible that a bunch of old white dudes decides that we're not going to ban weapons made to kill people after a guy just slaughtered a bunch of kids and high school teachers with an assault rifle? How will these people sleep at night? What excuse do you tell yourself to justify voting no on whether to debate this as a possibility? This was a move toward conversation and discussion about regulation and potentially banning some kinds of weapons. How do you say no to that? And how do you say no to a bus full of kids who have just survived a living nightmare? Kids who in just a few years (or months) will be voting?

I hope the Millennials rise like a tidal wave and clean house in these legislative bodies that are self-serving and not working for the best interests of the people they represent.

90% of American support common sense gun laws. 100% of concerned parents want to keep their kids safe.

I have friends and family members who practice conceal and carry in the state of Missouri. I can't imagine one of them who would resist a background check, training course, and permit associated with the privilege of carrying a hidden, loaded weapon. (Yes, you read that right. You don't need a permit to conceal and carry in Missouri. You just need to be 19.) Honestly, it just makes me want to cry. You want a "well-regulated militia"? Fine. Then regulate it.


  1. I've never really been into personality tests, but I needed a few minutes break, so I thought, why not? I didn't really like the questions. They seemed really extreme. Is that what you meant? I felt like maybe 1/3 of them were really difficult to answer, like I fell in the middle of them, or nowhere even close to either one.

    That being said, it was only 38 questions, so I finished it. I got 4 and 6 as my top numbers, and I found things to be in true in both of those - the artist and the skeptic.

    I feel like I took Meyers-Brigg at some point, but I don't remember the results. So I guess my personality is the kind of person who doesn't think about her personality type much.

    I'm also very inspired by the kids in Parkland. But today it really hit me how much support they are receiving - including monetary support by legit celebrities - and it just reminds me of the different narrative / perception of the movement for Black Lives. Not to take a single thing away from this latest movement, but it's hard not to feel discouraged or even outraged about how little we care about black lives in this country.

    I am encouraged about the potential here. And I think good things can come from a new generation of voters and activists.

    1. Yes; I agree that the questions are extreme. They say if you're not sure to go with the one you would have chosen in high school, which also feels a little alarming sometimes (haha). I think I've been finding some comfort in these because it sort of helps me to remember that we are all wired differently and my response to something may be quite different from someone else's without being bad/wrong/less than.

      On the other hand, some responses to some things are just wrong.

      I hear you on the Parkland shooting. I was thinking about that attractive and poised young man who has done so much speaking and the privileges that have been afforded to him, which then allows him to be such a powerful advocate. That's NOT a negative or derogatory statement as all, but just an observation that other crises in this country get viewed and discussed very differently because their victims look or speak in a different way about it.

      Also, a FB friend of mine posted something that pointed to the fact that a white man armed with all of these weapons was arrested without being shot and got screamed at in comments to GROW UP because she was making this about race.

      This world is so brutal sometimes. I broke my FB mental health break today because I felt like I needed to post about HB 1936, and while I want to get the word out, I have GOT to step away from FB for a bit.

      But, yes, the potential of this new generation of voters and activists is uplifting and encouraging.

  2. I just don't get it either -- but then, I'm Canadian. ;) Your gun laws in the States (or lack thereof) are pretty baffling to most of us here.

    I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that not only does my mother's home state of Minnesota allow open carry, but that my ardently Republican cousin has such a permit. We were in Minneapolis a couple of summers ago, having lunch with a group of relatives at a suburban Perkins restaurant (not including him ;) ). After we left, my husband asked whether I'd noticed the dude in the corner with the gun openly displayed in a holster. I had not, and I'm actually very glad I didn't, because I'm not sure I could have enjoyed myself (or stayed) if I had. Yikes!!

    I have to admit, though, those students are simply amazing (& I am livid that anyone would try to say they are puppets of the left, or paid actors). They give me hope.

    I have not read George Saunders, but I have certainly heard of him, and I've heard "Lincoln in the Bardo" is excellent!

    I think I remember being typed as an Upholder in the Four Tendencies, but it's been a while since I did the quiz... I should go back & take it again! :)

  3. I'm a 4 too! How do you sign up for the daily emails? Didn't see the link for that on the site...but I'd be interested! Also....1000x yes on all the Florida things. I'm loving these kids though. I'm so.very.encouraged that they are the next wave of eligible voters!! Thank god!