Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Measuring Up

"But how can the characters in a play guess the plot? We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are "on" concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it."
~C.S. Lewis "The World's Last Night"


"So you're one of our top picks for tenants to rent the studio," the man said. He spoke slowly, so very slowly, not like my sister and I whose words sometime spill over onto each other they come out so quickly. This was my third meeting with him in as many days, and he had many good things to say, but it took him awhile to get them out. I just wanted to know the answer; whether I not I'd get to rent the cute studio on his property. But I dare not interrupt.

"When we have several good options for tenants; each having financial stability, good references, and are nice people, we then use a different way of comparing them. Others may choose their renters differently, but for us it seems the fairest way to make the best choice. We decide on a tenant by measuring their organization. "

[I thought "What? Oh no, are they wanting to see a current photo of my desk or closet? I mean I'm not so messy but I'm not a 'place for everything' person..."]

"We look at the organization of their life and how they spend their time. We look at the intention put into their schedule. "

[Organization of my life? Schedule? Do they want someone predictable? I'm screwed! I don't like schedules, and I am not prone to routine...I'm lucky if I get make-up on before I get to work, and I try not to be but I feel like I'm always five minutes late to everywhere. And has he picked up on the fact that I'm clueless about what I'll be doing or where I'll be in a year? It came out in conversation yesterday that I'd like to be out of real estate sooner than later, but as for what I'd move on to, I'd told him I had ideas but no decisions- does he think I'm a directionless flake?]

I gingerly asked, "Are you talking about someone's day-to-day schedule?"

"In a way..." he replied. "It's more about the consistent effort they are putting into the most important areas of life. If they are regular and organized and intentional about being a well-rounded and healthy person. There is one's work, time with friends and family, health, free time, etc. In our interactions and conversations with prospective tenants during the process we look for clues of their effort in all of these areas. It is so good to have balance and growth. We believe in that.

[I had no thoughts at this point really, just anticipation, and my self-doubt had started to slip away]

"You appear to keep your commitments, you're involved in many things, you like living in community, you see your friends regularly for things like the farmers' market, you go to soccer twice a week, you enjoy your job, you seem to know what you want. So, you have organization and intention in your life. More than our other top applicants. Therefore, you are at the top of our list."

I mustered something like, "That is very kind of you to say that, and its a very interesting way of looking at things." But inside I was thinking about how he'd come to this conclusion with just two 45 minute meetings with me, and that it was the kind of impression that I would have tried to leave if I'd known someone was searching for it, it was what I hoped to be seen as, but not often felt was true, especially lately. I do not consider myself an organized person in the more formal definition of the word. Lately life has felt like a game of Pick-Up Sticks, where each stick is being forcibly removed and I'm just hoping the haphazard structure doesn't fall apart. But if he wanted to define organized as being well-rounded, loyal to commitments, and intentional with people, then I wanted to be the picture next to the definition.

And for now, at least compared to the other applicants, I was. What a gift that he saw this in me.

I smiled and said quickly, before my voice could crack, "Thank you, so much. May I measure the studio? I want to see where I'll put my bed."

With that, a couple more sticks were added back carefully into my pile. I feel quite a bit more sturdy now.


There are 7 stoplights on my way to work. They were all green for me this morning. Got to the office in record time. On a day where my to-do list is 2.7 miles long, its nice when the world does seem to be conspiring in my favor.

Life has been so busy lately... I feel like I'm back in college during those times I'd have back to back classes, meetings, work, appointments, and things to do on my own in between, and where I have to time things exactly, like my workout can be just from 5:20 to 6:05, so I can be at the next place when I said I would, etc. I am managing fine and getting most everything done in my personal and professional matters, but I can feel the drain. I am capable of strict time management, but not a lover of it. I like being busy... life feels strange when I'm not, but doing does not energize me as it does some.

For example, my friend Jon... he is currently working from about 8:30-3 every weekday in a commercial real estate office, and then between 4-5 heads off to his job at a restaurant until midnight or after. On Saturdays he works again at the restaurant. He has done this at other times in his life, and is doing it now just to get a running start financially after finishing college. I think that I literally could not do that. I don't think I would be able to make it through two days of this, and if I did, I think the most I could give at each job would be like 25%. He is looking forward to a couple month from now when "life isn't as crazy"... I am just in awe that he's living through it. Same with my friend Meg, who works like 80 hours a week during tax season, and this year studied for a CPA exam at least 15 hours a week on top of that for the last month of the season. Both of these friends have a good attitude, and whenever I've seen Meg she's been upbeat and ready for it to slow down but still able to give it her all. I would keel over after a couple days of living in her shoes as well. Mary is the same way... her life is more like mine has been lately, only that's how she goes throughout the entire year. She does more in a day than anyone I know... phone calls, appointments, exercise, pick up her daughter, drop off some furniture at a property, errands for her business and her husband's... I have never known her to spend an entire day relaxing, she is always moving, doing projects, planning, repainting some wall, etc. It's quite inspiring and intimidating at the same time.

Sometimes I think I'm just lazy compared to these people. And that may be partially true... but I've realized in the past couple years that the main difference between me and people like Jon, Meg, and Mary is that they are strongly extraverted, and I am not. They get tired from extremely long days, but the activity and the doing energizes them for more. One phone conversation will pump them up for another. The more things Mary can fit in before bedtime, the happier she is. Jon may be tired late at night but he gets a kick out of talking to and serving people. I ignore my phone a lot, talking on the phone drains me at times. Don't know that I've ever personally seen Meg or Mary ignore theirs. They don't love people any more than I do, they just get energized by the interaction.

The difference in people coming from whether they are extraverted or introverted certainly varies, and its definitely not that all extraverts are like those friends of mine or that introverts are like me. How much you like doing things as opposed to reflecting on them also has to do with whether you prefer S or N, or J or P. But the reason Jon, Meg, and Mary are like they are is greatly because the outside world energizes them.

The world takes all sorts to spin 'round... thank goodness.

(from my most trusted site...)
Extraversion and Introversion

When we talk about "extraversion" and "introversion", we are distinguishing between the two worlds in which all of us live. There is a world inside ourselves, and a world outside ourselves. When we are dealing with the world outside of ourself, we are "extraverting". When we are inside our own minds, we are "introverting".

We are extraverting when we:
Talk to other people
Listen to what someone is saying
Cook dinner, or make a cup of coffee
Work on a car

We are introverting when we:
Read a book
Think about what we want to say or do
Are aware of how we feel
Think through a problem so that we understand it

Within the context of personality typing, the important distinction is which world we live in more often. Do we define our life's direction externally or internally? Which world gives us our energy, and which do we perhaps find draining?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Comedy & Tragedy

I didn't expect to find anything of depth when I glanced over a review of the new movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" by Judd Apatow. But the article surprised me, and I had to keep reading, and then I had to cut and paste certain parts to remember, and then I felt I wanted to share them...not because I'm a big fan of Apatow's movies, but for this particular writer's (Jim Emerson) insight.

...If there's a myth we cling to in America, it's that life is arranged in stages of "personal growth," and each one leads to a higher plane of enlightenment. But Apatow seems at least somewhat ambivalent about the idea, which is why his movies [40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad] tend to end with reunions rather than the weddings or engagements that have concluded traditional comedies for centuries...

...You know what they say about the difference between comedy and tragedy -- it's all in where you choose to end the story. Apatow's films begin with something less than tragedy ("Are you living your dream?" Ben's dad asks him sarcastically in "Knocked Up") and end with something less than a love-you-forever promise...

...For Apatow's characters, relationships -- for all their satisfactions -- are often grueling work. They don't come naturally to them at all... [relationships you see at each movie's end] will be uphill and, most likely, riddled with obstacles and potholes they can't possibly anticipate until they hit 'em. That emotional open-endedness feels both satisfying and refreshingly honest...

...The problem comes down to this: The guys are pretty sure they love the girls, but feel those feelings ought to be (1) self-evident; and (2) enough. So what if they have to sneak off to play fantasy baseball, or eat Fruit Loops and wear Costco sweatpants around the house every day for a week? Who cares?
Well, the women do. They're pretty sure they love their man-child mates, too, but they also know that's absolutely not enough for them. They need the guys to change. What's more, the women need them to want to change -- to better suit their better halves. This appears to be an unresolvable lose-lose scenario, but there it is, and there's no avoiding it. (In this respect, the teenagers of "Superbad" are probably the most mature in Apatow's body of work so far: The boys and the girls really do like each other for who they are. But they're still in "like." Love, which to some is a sacred declaration of perpetual ownership, changes everything.)...

...In "Knocked Up," Pete confesses a revelation to Ben when they're high on mushrooms in Vegas: "The biggest problem in our marriage is that she wants me around. She loves me so much that she wants me around all the time. That's our biggest problem, and I can't even accept that? Like, that upsets me?"
Everybody knows what they think they're supposed to feel, but then what? If Apatow's characters "learn" anything it's not that they should have read the baby books, or that it's time to put away the action figure of the Six Million Dollar Man.

It's that choices -- any choices -- don't solve anything. Even when they're the "right" ones, living with them may be just as hard as if they'd made the "wrong" ones. But once you've made them, there's no way to know for sure.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chopping Wood

Is there any personality type out there that does not feel refreshed from a little time in the country? Where your nearest neighbor is a quarter mile away at least... where it is so beautiful that no matter how many times you've seen this landscape, it never gets old... where the internet has never been connected... where you actually have to watch out for bears... where you chop your own firewood from the forest around you...

I know some types would be more likely to always want to live this way, others could handle it for a weekend and no more. I'm tempted to lay out my guesses right now, but maybe you could guess who might like what more on your own. But I feel like almost everyone can gain a little perspective and rest and peace from a time like I just had up in Oregon for a few days with my dad's side of the family.

*view from my Grandma's porch that is done no justice by my camera...the mountains in the distance are snow-capped.

*met these llamas on a hike past the neighbors' farm. they all stared at me the entire time i was near them. a little disconcerting.

*wandering around in some favorite forest spots with my dad and brother (who got this shot from his phone).

It's good to get away from this SB paradise and remember that it's not just the sea that pleases my eye. I think I could be happy living anywhere if I had some people to love and scenery to enjoy. But also maybe a fun cafe in which to play on my Mac. Yes, I think that's it.