Friday, April 20, 2012

A Small Identity Crisis

As part of our pre-marriage counseling, the Grige and I took the Myers-Briggs test and discussed our types and how they impact our communication with our counselor. The Grige and I have taken M-B before (or at least the free online versions) and I always come out as an INFJ. Well, this time, my results indicated that I was an ISFJ. This makes a lot of sense – “N” indicates “intuitive”. Intuitive people like abstract concepts and don’t always operate well with schedule or reality. They’re dreamers and innovators and forward thinkers and they never do things the same way twice.  “S”, on the other hand, indicates “sensing”. Sensing people are careful observers, calculators and have a love of the concrete. Given my addiction to spreadsheets and schedules, it’s not surprising that I’m an “S”. The Grige is and always has been an ENTP (for those of you whose alphabet skills are sharp, you’ll notice that we’re opposites in EVERY CATEGORY). This will make for a very “exciting” marriage, but more on that later.

I didn’t think too much about researching my “new” personality type until last weekend. It sounded like me, so I wasn’t too worried. Since I’m in the process of grudgingly applying for jobs in STL, I thought it might be a smart idea to read up on the characteristics of my type and see what kind of jobs I might be well suited for. Boy was I shocked. I’m not even going to talk about the job recommendations, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around them.
I can describe the feeling I felt while looking at the rest of the description and list of famous people who are ISFJs as similar to what I felt when the sorting hat app on facebook kept putting me in f*cking Hufflepuff house.  I get it – loyalty, friendship, whatever. It’s basically just another word for frumpy in my dictionary. My apologies to Cedric Diggory. Two from the list that stuck out initially are Porky pig and President William Taft. That’s right folks! I can now compare myself to an animated pig and the president who got stuck in the bathtub due to his portly size. O.J. Simpson is on there too. Awesome.

I try to think of it more like the Honey Badger.....

I always love the personality comparisons with Shakespeare characters because the bard’s characters are so richly developed. It is fun to re-read the plays and examine their behavior, especially since the circumstances are so extreme. It really gives you a great idea picture of the actual functions of these traits. Unfortunately, ISFJs in Shakespeare provide little inspiration. In fact, I think they might be my three most hated characters ever: Bianca from The Taming of the Shrew, Hero from Much Ado About Nothing, and Ophelia from Hamlet.
Seriously? UGH. My inner feminist just threw up. While not evil, these ladies are pretty much useless except for plot development. They are your typical damsels in distress, and I’ve always seen them as literary tools to provide a lame-o backdrop for stronger female characters like Katherina in Taming and Beatrice in Much Ado.

In Much Ado, Benedick sums up my opinions of Hero perfectly: Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.” In other words, she’s not really worth noting – dry, white toast at its’ finest. She doesn’t do much except get woo’d by a war hero and faint at the appropriate moments.  Even her lover, Claudio, can’t offer higher praise than “she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on”. So there’s a plus. She’s sweet and she’s pretty and she’s chaste (though she doesn’t put up much of an argument when her chastity is questioned. She lets others do that for her).
A Lovely still from the film adaption featuring DENZEL as Don Pedro! In case you are able to tear your eyes away from him, Hero is the cranky looking one with dark hair.

Thankfully, Bianca from The Taming, has a little more sauce. She’s boy –crazy, coquettish and manipulative. However, She does manage to actually take action for herself, unlike helpless hero, when she elopes. While manipulation is really the only tool Bianca would have had to assert herself in the period, I think Katherina’s agency is more appealing. She’s stubborn, unconventional and honest.  When I try to imagine myself as an angry, conniving little social climber like Bianca, my skin sort of starts to crawl.

Maybe she's just whelmed?
Come on, you knew you were thinking it too....
And then there is Ophelia. Hamlet is not my strongest play, so you’ll have to bear with me on the analysis. It’s my first impression that Ophelia is just another fainter, static and one-dimensional, though her psychosis is a bit more intriguing. Shakespeare uses her as a tool to emphasize Hamlet’s reactions to all women, and to create some pathos, since she’s so representative of innocence.  Ophelia is extremely frail and totally incapable of coping with the events around her, which are admittedly pretty tragic. At her best, she’s just a canvas of goodness for the world to paint evil on. She does not attempt to adapt or fight back. Not a great way to live, if you ask me.
So my project for the next week or so will be to re-read these plays, perhaps watch the movie adaptions (if I can get the Grige to relinquish the remote for long enough) and try to find something I can relate to in Shakespeare’s lovely ladies. Stay tuned for the flip side. Hopefully….


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I am so in that place where I have a million things pressing on me to do, and I can’t seem to get up the gumption to deal with any of them. To be honest, I’ll be shocked if I even finish this post. It will probably end up in the trash, like every single other thing I have tried to start this week. This is especially annoying since I am a master of motivation, list-making and pre-planning.

The best things in life are impossible to Pre-do.
Photo: Chad Fisk

The VP of my department, who is both charming and inspiring, by the way, hates the prefix “pre”. “You can’t ‘pre-plan’ something!” She says, “If you’re ‘pre-planning’ you’re already just actual planning, aren’t you??”.  Linguistically, I’ve always been on her side.  However, I don’t think I’ve event noticed the “real life” application until now, because I’ve always been a secret “pre-doer”.
So what, you may be asking, is “pre-doing”? And what are the pros and cons? Well, I’ll tell you. Hopefully. Unless my inability to pre-write this post leaves me trashing it like all 6 others I started this week.

Pre-doing is a wild combination of list-making, convoluted email writing, spreadsheet designing, researching and worrying that control-freaks use to coordinate their lives. Most of these tasks are extremely time consuming, but they don’t really accomplish anything. They just lay out the parameters, and bleed your energy reserves for the actual project. A great example of “pre-doing” is the massive (read: over 2,000 words) email that I sent to the Grige that neatly bullet pointed everything that was bothering me about the wedding. He didn’t read it. We never looked at it for reference later. I just wasted an unfathomable amount of time on it before taking an actual step to correct the problems (i.e., talking to the individuals involved).

Photo: Jeanine Finch

Don’t get me wrong, lists, emails, spreadsheets and research are all important aspects of planning. What characterizes pre-doing and separates it from planning is the fact that it’s completely un-necessary. An example of something that is not pre-doing is the carefully scheduled, moment-by-moment spreadsheet detailing what needs to happen on our wedding day, when it needs to happen, and who needs to be making it happen. That is a useful tool that lots of people will actually use, and it was definitely worth my time.

The cons of pre-doing start with the obvious: If you’re doing something that can be defined as “un-necessary”, you are wasting your time and should stop. Any time spent pre-doing is time that you could spend tackling actual issues. You don’t need to carefully outline most of them first – you do not need to spend 20 minutes on talking points to have a five minute conversation with your cousin about flowers. The worrying aspect of pre-doing is also treacherous. I have actually worried myself to the point of physical illness pretty regularly since hitting adult-hood. It is not attractive, and again – it does not actually fix anything. Finally, pre-doing eliminates your ability to make good, spontaneous choices. If you’re in the habit of excessive research, you’ll miss your opportunity to buy those perfect table settings on sale. Or more seriously, you’ll miss a chance at your dream job because you were paralyzed with fright and uncertainty.
You’re probably wondering how there could possibly be “pros” to pre-doing. As I mentioned, pre-doing is deep in the territory of control freaks. I hate to toot my own horn here, but we worrying control freaks tend to be timely, dependable perfectionists who live in immaculate apartments and produce great work under pressure. We will worry our little hearts out in the process, and we may do twice the amount of work for the same product as someone who doesn’t pre-do, but you can almost guarantee a good final product. Also, pre-doing tends to make you excellent at delegating. When you map out every second of your life before executing it, you become acutely aware of every tiny project on the horizon. If you have people to delegate to, they will love working with you and there will never be any surprises. If you don’t have anyone to delegate to, you will swiftly become overwhelmed and commence the worrying and pre-doing cycle again.
Photo: Jeanine Finch
Don't Pre-do, just JUMP IN!
I am trying to spend less of my life pre-doing. I have three giant projects on my plate, all three of which will be promptly followed by life events that on every psychologist’s “in the last year, have you…” checklist for depression and anxiety. I do not have time to pre-do anymore. I only have time to ACTUALLY DO. There will be no detailed email that no one will ever read about which movers we should research. There will be no marriage preparation checklist to prepare me for something I’ve known I want to do since I met the Grige on the metro 3 years ago. There will be no hand-drawn-to-scale seating chart for the stupid work event that I’m planning that everyone will ignore.
Unfortunately, I am having a hard time getting along without my pre-doing habits (though actually finishing this post would be a start). I feel a little lost and a lot frustrated. These projects are big, and they won’t start themselves. Without the crutch of throwing myself in to a spreadsheet to ease my transition, I’m not quite sure how to start. Has anyone else out there ever tried to drastically revise your work process? How did it go? Let me know and I’ll probably make a chart of your responses to follow over the next few months :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wedding Planning - 4 months out

The wedding is definitely creep creep creeping up on us. It feels like our to-do list is pretty never-ending. I’ve learned a ton about our relationship though. Someone wise once told me abouthow in many relationships, one person is the CEO and the other is the CFO. I think I’ve finally nailed down our relationship – I am the CEO, the CFO and the janitorial staff. The Grige is the art director, the chef and the stress management counselor. The stress management position is actually a job share with a great guy named Johnny Walker, but they make an excellent team. Thankfully, between the Grige and my mom, we have beaten my “I must do everything myself” syndrome into submission and I still think we are reasonably on track to have a successful wedding. When I say successful wedding I simply mean that we will be married at the end of the day and there will be food, drink, and invitations to alert guests of the time and date. Low expectations are the key to success. Please note: low expectations are not the same as low standards.
Us, Happy.
My biggest gripe is the fact that I spent hours – nay – tens of hours, working diligently on our website. I wanted to make sure that the answers to all the questions could be found quickly and easily in one place. I also brayed incessantly in multi-colored and bolded text about how important it would be to book hotels early (not surprisingly, I am having this EXACT SAME ISSUE with the event I’m planning at work, but more on that later…). I guess I should have defined “early” more clearly, because at least 5 area hotels are already sold out for our dates, and many important guests are still not booked.

Now, I know I can’t make people do anything. I constantly remind myself that this is not my problem. But, But! I made it so easy! And when I get panicked phone calls about what hotel to book, what airport to fly in to and “why is everything there so EXPENSIVE???”, I want to scream profanity that only the daughter of a serious sailor would know. The craziest part? The people who keep pretending the website doesn’t exist (even though it’s plastered in reminder emails and on the save-the-date) are the millenials! All the folks in my parent’s age bracket have raved about how helpful it is. All of the kids who grew up using Google to answer every question are like – huh? You have a website? So if you’re attending our wedding and you are reading this, please, I beg of you, just go to the website. I worked very hard on it so that I would not have to be worried about your travel plans when I have things like bunting, budgets and bridesmaids dresses to focus on.
This is not the face of an unstressed person. I am making this face NOW.
In addition to the wedding, I’m also planning a massive event at work – dinner for nearly 500 guests and 2 days of meetings. Thankfully, I’m not in charge of everything, but I’m in charge of enough to make me never ever ever want to see an event timing spreadsheet or RSVP card ever again. I never thought I could be sick of excel, but I definitely am.  As an addendum to my earlier post on wedding planning as project management experience - I am never mentioning my event planning skills at work again. Doing this event and the wedding at the same time SUCKS. I keep having nightmares about where I will seat the firm chairman at our wedding reception.
And also, MOVING
Yep, I’m still pissed about it. But at least I’ve given notice and started pricing boxes and trucks. Has anyone out there ever used pod movers before?

A Little Funning Update

So we need a little update on things around here, because otherwise it would look like I’ve spent the entire month of April frowning and boycotting sexist vodka. In all honesty, we’ve just been really busy! I feel like the wedding is totally sneaking up on us and the impending move is NOT HELPING.
I’ve now put about 50 miles on my Adidas Boston 3’s. I was having some SERIOUS shin splint/ankle pain issues last week and the week before, but I seem to have put them behind me. I had a great run this morning, killing my normal 5k route in 29:52. Anytime I can sink a sub-30 min. 5K before breakfast (or anytime, really), it puts me in an amazing mood for the rest of the day.

Fun Fun Fun!

I also found that the footbed on these shoes is too narrow to accommodate my superfeet insoles, which is probably the root of the ankle pain problem. I got some ridiculous blisters from my attempt at wearing them with the inserts. One of the most annoying side-effects of being a hard core pronator (like me!) is all the ankle issues. Balancing poses in yoga absolutely crush me and building up new balancing muscles while breaking in new shoes is AWFUL. It is so hard to focus when every step feels like your ankles are going to cave in. Icing helps a little, but the pain is right back when you try to run again.
I’m glad I’m feeling better, because this week is week 1 of a new training program! I wrote my own schedule to train for a 10k trail run with my friend Marissa at the beginning of June. There’s a small chance I’ll skip the race in favor of a bachelorette weekend at the beach, but it’s nice to have something to look forward to that is not a giant, stressful, life-changing event. Also, it would be great to bag a 10k before the move. The last one I ran was reduced to a 5k because of heat…

Monday, April 2, 2012

Of Vodka and Inappropriateness

Last week, I was reading my Outside magazine and came across the following ad:

Exactly what instincts are we talking about here?
Obviously, this ad is property of Belvedere Vodka.
It disturbed me pretty dramatically. I was expecting to read about ice picking, mountain climbing and marathoning, and here I am assaulted on page one by an extremely powerless looking woman being pushed over by a dude who looks like he wouldn't last two seconds on a camping trip. I asked the Grige what he thought of the ad. He shrugged, so I prodded him him a bit: "what exactly are they trying to sell here?", "Why is this ad in Outside, of all places? Lots of tough women are featured in these pages..". The Grige agreed that he thought Outside readers were probably more whiskey types anyway and even consented that the ad was a little creepy.

I let the matter drop and went on to read about women who climb mountains and kayak rapids and generally kick ass. I also might note that most of them probably don't drink at all, due to the seriousness with which they view their training and physical fitness. Poison does not a superior body make.

 However, the ad kept rattling around in the back of my brain as inherently wrong. The woman looks super excited to be losing all her power in the face of an extremely strong drink and a guy who looks like he's done this before. How is this supposed to get me to buy vodka? Frankly, I don't want to do or buy anything that puts me anywhere near this situation.

So then this morning, as I'm combing the internets for fresh news, this little gem stops me short:
OMG, you guys! Rape is HILARIOUS!
Obviously, this is also the property of Belvedere Vodka.

Gross. Apparently, they are sorry. You can read more here.

So clearly, our friends in the Polish vodka world have been running a campaign that insinuates rape for months and have finally crossed the line from un-settling to downright horrifying. The best part? They stole this image and now the actress it features is suing them.

The whole situation begs two questions:
1. How did we not see this coming based on their previous advertisements. I think even the first one is disgusting and inappropriate and we should all stop feeling so desensitized to the way the alcohol industry sells women and say something about it.
2. What kind of sick freak sees the photo above and thinks "hmmm - I'll just add the implication of forced oral sex and BOOM! Perfect way to sell vodka". Seriously, Belvedere. I'm sure your vodka is lovely, but it's probably also purchased and consumed mainly by women. You should probably hire some new advertising folks. Maybe even a woman or two.

The bottom line? I'm officially on the hunt for a good micro-distillery.