Monday, August 25, 2014

Preparedness: I'm No Boy Scout.

It's probably time we discuss the MBTI, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a temperament test developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, and based loosely on Jungian archetypes.  I am a HUGE FAN of the MBTI, and have spent the last decade foisting it upon introducing it to my loved ones, co-workers, and innocent bystanders in the produce aisle.

Here, allow me to foist it upon you: Go here and click the DO IT button.  It's fun, I promise.  Then paste your results in the comments section, below.

KIDDING.  I mean, go ahead, if that's your thing, I'd love to know what your type is.  But if you flinched at the thought of publicly broadcasting your results, there's a good chance we already know that your first letter is an "I" for Introvert.

The MBTI groups people into 16 categories - essentially, there are four different aspects of your personality, and for each one of those four aspects, there are two different options.  They are:

Introvert/Extrovert (I or E)
Sensing/iNtuiting (S or N)
Feeling/Thinking (F or T)
Judging/Perceiving (J or P)

("Of course I know what introvert means! We talk in letters in our house," Older Daughter told her friend at school.)

I am an INFJ, sometimes nicknamed the "Counselor Idealist," meaning that basically I run around all dang day trying to save the world and being honestly kind of shocked OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR 41 YEARS NOW that not everyone is as concerned as I am about EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME.

Before we go any further with this, it's probably a good idea to say: Ignore the words themselves.  They were taken from Jung, more or less, and have very specific meanings that really don't correlate to the common understanding of the words.  For example, I am "Feeling," but anyone who knows me knows that I am also rational/analytical to a fault, which would seem to mean "Thinking."  But in MBTI-land, "Feeling" really means you tend to make decisions based on PEOPLE and the impact upon them, whereas "Thinking" means you tend to make decisions based on FACTS.  M & B explain it in more detail here.

Anyway, I am a "J." J for JUDGING, which again, doesn't really mean judging or judgmental, it means something more like, "a preference for things to be ORDERLY and DECIDED." (A "P," by contrast, prefers for things to remain wishy-washy and non-committal open to to change and new information.)

So I'm a J.  But I'm a really, really, bad one.  (Note: Real psychology professionals will tell you that there is NO GOOD OR BAD in temperament, that all temperaments are created equal, and actually I'm just a "slightly expressed J.") Remember when I admitted to funding a new wing of the library through my overdue fines?  Good J's don't do that shit.

J's are the planners, the list-makers, the organizers.  P's are the dreamers and imaginers.  My ex-husband is a J, a capital italicized bold underline 72-point J, which really freed me up to be the P in the family, so to speak.  Bills were paid, lists made, projects completed, plans executed, completely without and sometimes in spite of my participation.

When I realized that my boyfriend is a P, I won't lie--it was a little scary.  OH shit, I may have said accidentally out loud.  Now I have to be the J!

"Not every relationship needs a J!" snapped Younger Daughter, who routinely shows up places with two left shoes or none at all just might be a P, herself.

But this is good practice for me, exercising my J.  I'm a single mom with a full-time job, a houseful of pets, and a bunch of extra-curriculars.  I need to get better at the list-making, the planning, the scheduling, the preparing, even if/precisely because it makes me a little light-headed to think about.

So in fits and starts, with varying degrees of success, I've been calendaring.  Meal-planning.  List-making.  Online bill-paying SCHEDULED AHEAD OF TIME.  In the words of one of my favorite quotes of all time, "Ahead of the curve, motherfuckers."

Today, after a little reminder from the Napa Quake, I decided to tackle EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS.  I stopped by Big Lots and picked out two giant (but still tote-able in the event of an evacuation!), neon-green (to be more easily visible in the post-apocalyptic rubble of the garage!) bins to store our supplies.

Then I wandered around the store aimlessly, trying to remember what I had read about essential emergency supplies.  Because I hadn't made a list.  Because I hadn't planned this shopping trip in advance.  I tried to imagine what I might need in the event of an evacuation or natural disaster, and picked out those things.  Then I tried to imagine telling my kids they'd be living on sardines and expired Muscle Milk.  In the end, I think I did OK:

(Ignore the toothpaste.  And the glasses.  And the copy paper.  
Those are other, non-emergency THINGS I REMEMBERED.)

I wheeled my cart of preparedness up to the checkout line and chatted with the clerk about HOW PREPARED I AM.  I could tell she was impressed.

"I always hear about that stuff, but I never pay any attention," she said.

"Well, it always pays to be prepared," I replied sagely.

Then her brow furrowed.  "Your card says it only had $15 on it."

"That's weird, it's my regular checking account."  I calmly handed her an alternate form of payment BECAUSE I AM PREPARED, but inwardly I was thinking Holy shit global financial collapse has begun thank God I am PREPARED!  We shall live off of canned fish and meal replacement beverages!

Out in the car, I began to scroll through my bank transactions, looking for any signs of fraudulent activity or robot overlord uprising or coronal mass ejection.  Instead, I found that one of my pre-scheduled automatic payments--a really big one--had in fact been processed. Twice.  Turns out sometimes it overpays to be prepared.  At least I have enough sardines to last until payday.

Assuming I can find a can opener.


  1. So I stopped reading to take the test because I'm an enfj...the kind of person that stops reading to take the test.

  2. hah! Ingrid! I totally see you being an ENFJ--charming and outgoing, persuasive and influential. And/or cult leaders. ;-)