SOCIAL INTROVERT

I’ve been searching out memes and writing prompts in more free form than the typical quiz format. I have fun with those and have met a ton of blogging friends participating in them over the years, but they do not allow for a ton of creativity. One of the weekly prompts I found is Friday Question at ilaxStudio, the book of a pretty cool lady named Kim. I’d encourage my meme loving friends to check it out. Oh, and, I still think of it as Friday until I’ve gone to bed.

Today’s Friday Question: What is your definition of introvert/extrovert and which characteristics do you identify with more (introvert, extrovert, in-between)?

For most of my life, I considered myself introverted. Growing up, I didn’t have much of a social life. I really had no social life most of my school age years. Some of the problem was how often we moved around when I was a kid. If I was lucky, I had a friend from school who lived close enough to hang out after school, weekends, and summer vacation. Otherwise, I had my younger brother, books, and Barbies. In high school, things were a little different, but not much. I had a few friends, but still no social life or extra curricular activities. I read and wrote constantly mostly in my room listening to music primarily recorded sometime before my birth. Yeah, I was cool.

It was when I was eighteen that I found my seemingly extroverted side. I’d gone back for my senior year of high school and soon after got hired at Payless ShoeSource. It was my very first job. People don’t think about it this way, but it was a sales and customer service job. I had a great manager who did most of the logistical work of running the store allowing his staff to focus on selling. Something about being given a task and a name tag lifted the vial of shyness. No surprise. For a people pleaser like me simply wants to meet the goals my teachers and now my boss set forth. Following recommendations on my technique, I learned to be the smiling, outgoing sales girl the position required. And I loved it. I loved connecting with a customer as a person. I loved convincing someone to buy an item based on my recommendation. I even loved the horrible customers. I loved talking down an angry customer or getting complements on how nice I was from a truly grating customer. I learned so much about interacting with people.

Only once in the intervening dozen years have I worked in a job that didn’t involve working with the public. I worked as a temp for couple weeks in a factory, light manufacturing. It was awful in large part because I was lonely. No one who meets me would assume I’m introverted or even shy. I love to talk, meet new people, strike up conversations in the grocery line. But I still sometimes felt socially awkward and essentially felt like an introvert inside, wanting to be alone or with someone I was comfortable enough with to be silent much of the time.

So, the question in my mind became: Was I always an extrovert who was simply socially stunted?

I didn’t understand my own duplicity in the area until I read the blog post John Scalzi wrote on the subject, Portrait of a Closet Introvert. I could relate and, most important, he defined the reasons I seemed extroverted, but wasn’t.

Introverts recharge alone. Extroverts recharge in social situations. Plan and simple.

It’s not about liking or disliking people or socializing. I love people. It’s just I need a break to think about what happened when I was out with people before I can handle being with them again. I need to turn off the social part of myself and turn on the intellectual, critical part of myself without distraction. I need to write, read or listen to music. Once I am filled up again with those things which make me feel whole, I can face, even enjoy, just about any interpersonal interaction. Okay, not conflict. I’d rather walk in front of a bus.

Kim, our meme host, posted a great article and quiz (scroll down for quiz) about introverts along with her response to the question. I scored 16 out of 20 for introversion. Extroversion was not tested. I tend, in most physiological tests, to score close to the middle so it is possible I would score moderately extroverted where both traits were considered. Still I am certainly more introverted, but a far happier introvert when I have regular socialization.

ON YA FICTION

This weeks question: Why do you think that the Young Adult genre is so popular with even the adult readers? Do you read YA books, yourself?
It is much easier to answer the second question first: I read young adult novels.

I was only 12 or 13 when I started reading books not written for kids and teens. I read a metric ton of books in my teens without regard for anything but interest, one book leading to another as I read through everything I could get my hands on by certain authors.

I did read YA authors like Lois Duncan, Paula Danzig and plenty of others I couldn’t name if you paid me. I read the Chronicles of Narnia. I read Matilda though I was not interested other Dalh. My introduction to Robert Silverberg was a little kid chapter book called Lost Race Of Mars. Boy, was I surprised when I checked To Live Again out of the library at the tender age of twelve. My all-time favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle, is best known for her young adult fiction generally and A Wrinkle in Time specifically. I first read Wrinkle when I was ten, but a few years later I was special ordering memoirs and fiction from the bookstore. Besides classics, science fiction, and classic science fiction, L’Engle was my start into the world of adult novels.

The reason I mention my personal history in transitioning from YA to “regular” books at an early age is that the process has colored my viewpoint. At first, I felt grown up reading and understanding books above my age level. Over time, however, I saw the quality of a book wasn’t related to the age of the intended reader. With this knowledge, I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t read YA though I confess some of the campier fare did begin to bore me.

As an adult, I have no problem reading YA without a lick of shame. Heck, hand me Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein and I’m happy as a clam. Good writing and storytelling are the same no matter who the intended audience. It’s true with movies and television, too.

It is weird to me to think of YA as a genre, let alone in relation to adults reading it. Everyone has their own reasons. For some, it may simply be reading comprehension level. I don’t mean that as a slam. Reading is the best way to increase reading skills and I’m always pro-reading whatever it is a person likes to read. I enjoy “light” adult books not much more difficult.

A couple of my personal reasons for reading YA could be factors for others.

It appears the most popular YA among adults is of the fantastical sort. Be it Harry Potter or Twilight, adults are reading it. Less popular, but way awesome are the Artemis Fowl books which mix myth and magic with high tech gadgets. It could be argued there’s plenty of this type of fiction written for adults, but I do find the YA fantasy and science fiction authors are more likely to be mainstream.

Another sub-genre of YA I’m especially fond of is “coming of age” tales. From classics like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I love reading about a young person on the precipitous of maturity. Something about that point in life is so compelling. It was when I was at the age of the characters and it is looking back at them through the lens of adulthood. I don’t know anyone who had such a rosy adolescence they can’t relate. And relating to the characters is one of the biggest reasons I read anything.

I’m interested to see other reader’s answers to the why part of the musing.

JANUARY 19TH, 2012 WORD FOR WORD

I read books word for word with a few exceptions. Reference books, including cookbooks, are a find what I need proposition though I will often at read the entire book once to know what information it contains. In short story collections, I often find myself skipping certain stories especially when rereading. More often than not, I’m read a collection a second or twentieth time for one story that’s been on my mind for some reason.

 

When it comes to books containing a narrative spanning the entire length, be it fiction or non-fiction, I do not skip around or skip over sections. It would break my concentration and take me out of the world the book creates in my brain.

I’m not entirely sure how to do so without missing things. It’s not like watching a DVD where you can see the action at super fast speed and would know when to slow down to regular speed again after whatever you were skipping.

What I feel no guilt about is quitting a book where I’d be tempted to skip parts in simply to “finish” or for curiosity’s sake. Okay, that is a slight lie. I don’t feel bad if it’s a random book with which I’m struggling. If it’s a classic or otherwise important book, I worry I’m the problem, rather than the unreadable book or acknowledging not every book is for every reader. It’s a trap I fall into from time to time because one of the reasons I read, at least that kind of book, is to reassure myself I’m as intellectual as I think I. With the total catalog of Project Gutenburg accessible in portable form, I’m going to have to work on that hang up. Too many books and too little time to read something sucky and the only criteria should be wither I think it sucks.

KINDLE CONVERT

Today’s question:
What devices –if any– do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?

The shine is still on my Kindle. Chris got it for me for Christmas. I’d decided I’d wanted one a while ago and carefully debated the features of the various Kindle models before picking one for my, conveniently on Amazon, wish list. In the end, I decided my purpose would be best filled with the basic model. See, I have two laptops at my disposal at home. One is essentially used as a desktop in our office. The other lives in the living room, but trails to the dinning room, kitchen or bedroom as I go about my day. I use it to pay music or listen to podcasts pretty much all the time when I’m home alone along with keeping Firefox open for Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader. Now, all that stuff would be awesome on the Kindle Fire, but my needs are filled with the laptop. I’ve got Netflix on the PS3 or Wii. And that’s only the tip of our gadget iceberg.

The Kindle, I wanted for reading. Old fashioned reading of books.

I don’t have a ton of time to sit around with a book. It’s a good in many ways. I’m busy with other things that make me happier than I’d be if I was reading all the time. I’ve downloaded eBooks and attempted to read on the computer. If I’m on the computer, reading, I’m distracted by all kinds of other things. Plus, you can’t lay in bed with a laptop or read in the bathroom (I do it unabashedly). The basic Kindle takes away all those distractions. The things it does do besides displaying eBooks and documents are painfully inconvenient without a keyboard or touch screen. Even doing the initial set up was tedious and I saved most of it (specifically, typing in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in the device name field) to do on Amazon from the computer. I would recommend the more advanced versions for anyone who wants to access Twitter or Facebook from their Kindle. I do those things from my Blackberry – sometimes even when I’m a foot away from the laptop – so I didn’t want the feature in my eReader.

It’s been under a month, but I flipping love my Kindle. It’s sleek and lightweight. I can’t begin to describe how comfortable the E Ink is on the eyes. Lack of backlight contributes, no doubt. I found I’m reading faster. My eyes just glide over the words. The font is adjustable. Mine is set on the smallest setting, about the size of print in the average paperback. Pictures and other images are crisp and clean.

Now, I do love physical books. I got two for Christmas. A reference book about sewing I’d asked for: How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns: From store-bought patterns to drafting your own: a complete guide to fashion sewing with confidence and Jeff Dunham’s All By My Selves. With the sewing book or any other how-to or reference books where images and diagrams are important, I suspect I’ll always prefer the physical book. From a functional perspective, I can keep it with my project with bookmarks or lists marking the pages. Even a color eReader wouldn’t fit the bill. Plus, one of the things I like on the Kindle is how it comes to life on the last page I was reading. I’m reading a book on the Kindle, currently sitting on the bathroom counter, and working on a project requiring the reference book. Call be lazy, but I’d rather have those two separate than toggle back and for multiple times per day.

One thing I haven’t done yet is to take the Kindle out with me. I’m still working on is either finding a sleeve or cover I love. More likely, I’ll be making a sleeve. I’m less worried about breaking or dosing with water since I picked up the $24.99 insurance plan. Best investment ever for peace of mind. It’s a beautiful device for the hardcore readers.

CONTROVERSIAL MEME

I swiped these questions from Chris who swiped it from Leo.

[01] Do you have the guts to answer these questions and re-post as The Controversial Survey? Obviously. To answer the implied intend of the question, I have no problem sharing my opinions. Most people who know me well would have a pretty good idea how I’d answer on controversial topics.

[02] Would you do Meth if it was legalized? Not in a million years. The logic of using a drug involving Drano and other nasty ingredients is beyond my comprehension. Doubly worse when it’s the type of drug nobody does causally.

[03] Abortion: for or against it? Against. Unfortunately, the pro-life movement’s vocal representatives tend to be conservatives of the sort who don’t believe in sex outside of marriage or advocating birth control. To me, it’s like trying to have your cake and eat it, too. People are going to have sex, the personal morality of pro-lifers not withstanding. Making unwanted pregnancies rare and adoption a less stigmatized option (progress has been made, but there is still a “why wouldn’t you keep your baby?” judgement) would go a long way to making abortion an unappealing option. A “culture of life” to be a bit cliche. I believe in comprehensive sex education including information on the emotional and interpersonal ramifications of sex. I do not believe the schools have the primary responsibility for educating kids about sex, or anything else, but the facts should be covered in the classroom. Access to birth control and a cultural shift would lead to fewer abortions. Holland, for example, has a much different attitude toward sex and lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, not to say underage women account for the majority of abortions. Still, I believe it’s possible to be pro-life and open minded about sexuality in a way that can be embraced by the secular culture. After all, if those of us who believe each pregnancy represents a person, isn’t stopping abortions more important that forwarding an abstinence based agenda?

[04] Do you think a country would fail with a female president? Gender not withstanding, I do not believe any one president has the power to make America fail. The Founders were wise enough to limit presidential powers. With only eight years to muck about with things, even a man can’t screw it up too badly.

[05] Do you believe in the death penalty? I am not gung-ho in support, nor am I against. It’s a tragedy even when it’s just. It should go without saying, only cases with concrete evidence and never cases based on circumstantial evidence should be considered for capital punishment.

[06] Do you wish marijuana would be legalized? Doesn’t impact me either way. I suspect legalization is only a matter of time. I also suspect little will change when it happens.

[07] Are you for or against premarital sex? I respect why some people choose to wait. Choices about sexuality are deeply personal and can’t be judged from the outside. I’m generally pro-sex in a somewhat Dr. Ruth kind of way. Like I mentioned, in question three, I believe there are emotional and interpersonal ramifications to sex. It should not be taken lightly, but nor do I think marriage should always be a prerequisite.

[08] Do you believe in God? Yes. Unlike many of these other questions, I don’t feel the need to explain myself.

[09] Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized? Yes. I don’t disagree with those who believe the goverment should not regulate marriage, but the goverment does regulate marriage. Realistically, the goverment isn’t going to get it’s paws out of something it’s got a hand in. I suspect in a generation, people will wonder what the big deal was about gays getting married in much the same way people of my generation can’t possibly understand how the American civil rights movement was a big deal because equal rights for all races are a given.

[10] Do you think it’s wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA? Illegal is a problem, yes. I don’t care where you come from, immigrating should be done through legal channels. As things are today, neither the country nor the immigrants are best protected by a tact agreement to allow legal immigration. America looses out on taxes and pays for services for illegals. The immigrants themselves are not protected by labor laws like minimum wage or the Family Medical Leave Act. When I worked as a receptionist for an ob/gyn, we had pregnant patients who perfectly illustrated both sides of that problem. First, they were able to get Medicade while pregnant, but they would have to go back to work almost immediately after giving birth because their employers could simply replace them with no legal ramifications. I don’t consider myself qualified to develop a plan to fix the problem, but clearly there is a problem.

[11] A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it? At twelve, it’s not even a teen pregnancy. I believe giving the baby up for adoption is the best outcome for everyone involved. No one so young is prepared to be a parent and the girl’s parents need to focus on parenting, not being grandparents, in the aftermath of whatever resulted in a twelve year old becoming pregnant.

[12] Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen? At eighteen, we consider people to be adults in every other way. Voting, marrying, joining the military. While few Americans are ready to be self-supporting at that magic age, parent’s are not legal responsible for an eighteen year old child’s well being. When you think about it, the extra years without alcohol seem a little silly. But what do I know? I didn’t start drinking – at all – until I was thirty.

[13] Should the war in Iraq be called off?
I’m not qualified to say. To be honest, I’ve limited my news consumption for years because it depresses me. I did support going in for the purpose of eliminating Saddam Hussein. He was a brutal dictator and whatever the reason we went in, he deserved what he got.

[14] Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?
In a totally different way, I struggle with coming to a firm stance on assisted suicide in the same way I struggle with the death penalty. Arguments that those receiving end of life care would be pressured to choose assisted suicide by family, medical establishment, or insurance providers are not, I feel, unfounded. I do, however, differ from those who draw an exact parallel between abortion and assisted suicide. A fetus cannot consent. An adult with facilities intact is capable of consenting. Even still, I don’t know if I could support assisted suicide and certainly not without strict guidelines. I would prefer better elder and end of life care. For me personally, life seems so very short to begin with and, unlike animals, even with limited physical abilities and pain, humanity is intact. I do feel it necessary to note, I do not lump “assisted suicide” in with keeping brain dead bodies alive by artificial means.

[15] Do you believe in spanking your children?
I have spanked a child. Kate‘s daughter, we’ll call her Bits, my beloved niece. Old enough to know she shouldn’t but not to understand the danger, she ran off from Kate and I in the mall, leaving the store we were in – for the second time within a few minutes – and running into another store. I happened to be the one who found her and I knew if there was to be a spanking as we’d told her there would be, it had to be swift justice. At that age, cause and effect get quickly lost. So, do I believe in spanking? Maybe. Depending on the desired result, the child in question and the motivation of the adult doing the spanking. Motivation may be the most important piece. Anger or frustration is never a reason for spanking. With little kids, I see it more as a redirection. With older kids, I believe it looses effectiveness. I expect spanking won’t be a large part of my parenting strategy when the time comes.

[16] Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?
No question. The symbol isn’t the thing. I’d burn a book. Even Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or The Bible. Am I sacrilegious, a bad geek and unpatriotic? I don’t think so. It’s a funny hypothetical anyway as the proper disposal for a flag beyond it’s usefulness is a ceremonial burning.

[17] Who do you think would have made a better president? McCain or Obama?
My political beliefs align better with the Republican party, so I would say McCain.

[18] Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers? As Dr. Seuss says, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”