INFJ vs INTP

I’m reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and of course it’s made me question whether I’m actually an introvert or a shy extrovert or . . . So, it having been a number of years since I’d last taken a Myers-Briggs type personality test, I found a few free ones online and tried them out.

Most of my results were pretty consistent. I’m high Introvert, moderate iNtuitive, moderate Feeling, and low Judging (INFJ). This personality type is called “Counselor” by Keirsey, and I’d say the profile there is pretty accurate. I was a peer counselor in high school, for one thing. And I do have it in me to discern others’ feelings; I’m very sensitive to the overall mood of a person, or a room full of people.

However, a couple other versions of the test gave me INTP, or “Architect,” and that also seems on target. Still introverted, still intuitive, but thinking and perceptive. I am a logical person, and it’s true I have a strong dislike for people who blow a lot of nonsense at me. I see through it pretty quickly and immediately discount the person once I realize they’re trying to put something over. It’s why I’m able to work in the entertainment industry. I simply don’t have it in me to be star-struck.

In both cases, however, I was surprised to see that these types of people—both Counselors and Architects—are considered difficult to get to know. I often lament the fact that others don’t seem to know me well because, in my mind, they seemingly don’t find me worth the effort to get to know. I do try to be approachable. And people who have come to know me (there’s only a handful who could honestly claim to) have told me they were scared of me at first (!) but find me very warm once I open up. Hmm. This is probably because I’m never likely to approach people; I wait for them to come to me. The ones who are intrigued enough come ’round eventually. But I guess two shy people might never meet unless someone introduces them to one another.

Anyway, I ran both personality types by friends and family, and they said both were true. Those who’ve known me in a more personal way leaned toward INFJ, and those who know me in a business-like or educational setting said, “Oh, yes!” to INTP.

I’m not even half done with Quiet, but it’s given me a new way to look at the way I act and react in the world around me, and it’s given me some insight into my friends and family, too. The challenge in being ourselves is often that our internal needs and desires clash with external demands. Finding balance is the key.

M & Mr. King

Neil Gaiman has posted the raw draft of an interview he did of Stephen King, the polished version of which appeared in UK Sunday Times a few weeks ago (while I was in London, in fact, though I never picked up a copy, so I’m glad Neil posted this).

Which gives me, in turn, the perfect excuse to write about the time I encountered Mr. King in the Borders at Downtown Crossing in Boston, back when there was a Borders in Downtown Crossing, or anywhere for that matter. I think it was a game day (that’s the Red Sox for those not in the know), which would explain why “Uncle Stevie” was in town. I was just browsing; we lived on Beacon Hill and haunted Downtown Crossing when we had nothing better to do. The place was pretty empty. I spotted Mr. King in the stacks—he was taller than I expected, though then again, I really didn’t expect to see him in person, like, ever, much less in the Borders—and, after catching his eye, gave him the universal “Are you . . .?” questioning look. He gave me a little nod, which might’ve been resignation, and I left him alone. Maybe because he was really tall (though not as tall as my grandfather, but nearly), but I like to tell myself I did it because I’m not the kind of person who goes around bothering people in bookstores. Even if they are, themselves, famous authors.

Go read the interview in any case. I agree with King that I “find” my stories, and that often, as I’m writing them, they start to fit together in ways I never imagined at the outset. I’m excavating, discovering, as much as my readers do. Maybe that’s craft, but I don’t try to put any label on it. I take it like I would take a gift and thank whatever is in the cosmos handing it to me.

Also like King, I’m not happy if I don’t write. If I go a couple days without writing, not only do I suffer for it, but everyone around me does, too. I’m not pleasant to be around if I haven’t been allowed to release that pressure.

I’ll never be as prolific as King, and horror isn’t my genre, either . . . I like to read his books, though. I remember sneaking them off my father’s bookshelf, slipping a similar-sized book into the space. But my dad is no fool, and he keeps his shelves neat and alphabetized; he worked out pretty quickly that something wasn’t right. And then said to me: “Just don’t let your mother find out you’re reading that stuff.”

On a good day, I’ll get the six pages King writes about. Some days I’m struggling just for three. I try to make three my minimum, but the point is to write a little every day, no matter how little.

Lastly, I share King’s fondness for John D. McDonald. And that one is courtesy of my mother, who introduced me to Travis McGee after I’d exhausted the public library’s stash of Agatha Christie.

It’s childish, though, to compare, and ridiculous too. King is, well, King. And I’m just me. But I’ll keep writing anyway. If only to spare my family.

The Ghost of Sundays Past

Tonight I am feeling nostalgic for the time when I was, oh, aged 9 to, say, 13? That was when Sunday nights were about Star Trek: The Next Generation and sitting outside with my dad, listening to music while he grilled for dinner. Sometimes, on nights when my mother wasn’t home, we’d turn up the stereo in the living room and dance around. We’d leave the windows open until after sundown; then the wind would pick up and cut through the house, actually making it a bit chilly, so we’d have to close everything up.

Sometimes friends of mine and I would sit out in front of the house, either on the grass or on the open tailgate of the pickup truck. (Yes, we were that Texas cliché, always having one truck and one Grand Am in the driveway.) We’d watch the stars and talk late into the night, real discussions of the kind that seem okay to have alone in the dark, although of course you’d never mention those things again afterward. But on those nights we were like spies, trading secrets.

I liked being an only child. I liked the unique relationship I had with my parents, and I liked the independence, and I liked the quiet. I liked having space to myself and a reasonable amount of autonomy. (Of course, the flip side of that is not liking being told what to do.) I think being an only child helped me learn to live alone, be myself. I don’t have the need that so many others seem to, to be constantly in contact and connected with others.

I’ve started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking—only just started reading it, so I’m not very far along, but based on the true/false list provided in the book I guess I fall somewhere between being an introvert and an ambivert. I can take a certain amount of stimulation, have learned to drown out a lot, but I don’t like to have to do it, and I need a safe haven from it.

In those days, those 9-to-13 days, I would go up to my room and turn on the stereo and sit in a rocking chair and listen to music until the early morning (my parents not caring how late I stayed up so long as I didn’t complain about having to get up for school or church). I like to sing but was too shy to try joining the school chorus. I knew I was good at a number of things, but I also knew there was always someone better—maybe a lot of someones who were better—and that always made it seem useless to try. But my room was my safe haven, and I would roll up the blinds and watch the stars wheel and march and the moon slide across the sky. And in there, I was the best at everything.

My parents were not encouragers; they were too laid back for that. Instead, it was more, “Whatever you want to do . . .” And the problem wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, it was that I wanted to do so many things and never knew where to start. Which explains why I’m behind the curve a bit now.

But tonight, on a beautiful Sunday evening, I miss all the things that were and used to be. There was no hurry to get anywhere in life, only the mandate to enjoy who and what was there with me at the time. Life really was simpler then, and youth really is wasted on the young. Still, instead of wallowing in the past, I will strive to continue to make my life an oasis, a place of happiness for myself and others. And if I need to go hide once in a while, please bear with me. I will return, refreshed and reinvigorated, once I have recharged.

A Light at Easter

There is a traffic light that I can see through the windows of my flat. I find it slightly mesmerizing. For me, it is like the light at the end of Daisy’s dock in The Great Gatsby. I stand at the window and stare at it. I don’t know what I long for—or, I do know, but it’s too much to explain—but that traffic light somehow seems to sum it all up, or somehow hold all of my wishes and woes in its glow.

I’m leaving tomorrow. I don’t know when I’ll be back in London. I had good weather for most of my stay, but London is crying tonight at having to let me go.

I love you, too, London.

Teaser Tuesday: The Raising

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. I picked up The Raising by Laura Kasischke at Target because I was desperate for something to read and the selection was limited. (Well, I should say, there were plenty of Harlequin-type romances and a lot of Nicholas Sparks books, plus a ton of YA supernatural stuff, but . . . my options were limited.)

I’ve been enjoying this book, though, and the quote on the back cover likens it to Tartt’s The Secret History, which I also really liked. This is the story of Craig, a college student who survived a car accident in which his girlfriend died . . . Except maybe she’s back . . .

From page 58:

Craig knew where he was now, but would he ever be able to shake the sense that the other world, the one he’d spent months living in, was still there? That back in that world, animals could talk, just not with their mouths?

Teaser Tuesday: Midnight Riot

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. This book was recommended by . . . I can’t remember now. Neil Gaiman, maybe? But I don’t want to put words in his mouth. Anyway, the UK version is titled Rivers of London, which I think is a much better title than Midnight Riot, but unpopular opinions like that are probably why I’m not a publishing executive.

Author Diana Gabaldon says this about the book: “Midnight Riot is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz.” What more could you want from a book?

I’ve only just started reading it myself, so I hope I don’t spoil something for me, much less anyone else. (I’ll have to read it quickly, though, since it’s a library book and I’m moving in a week.)

From page 102:

An hour into my practice I stopped, took a deep breath and opened my hand.

And there it was, the size of a golf ball and as brilliant as the morning sun—a globe of light.

Teaser Tuesday: The House of Silk

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. I was given Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk as a birthday or holiday gift (these things might as well be one and the same when you have a birthday in December) but have only just cracked it open. With all the writing and packing and planning to move, there have been fewer chances to read.

The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel, the only one to be authorized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate. This teaser comes from page 146:

‘And this is Sherlock Holmes! Well, I rather doubt we’ll be reading of this in one of your famous chronicles, will we, unless it comes under the heading of The Adventure of the Psychotic Opium Addict. . .’

It’s not at all a long book, and the print is rather large besides, so I anticipate it’s a quick read.

Teaser Tuesday: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. I’ve had Mindy Kaling’s book on my nightstand for ages now and am finally getting around to reading it because I need something funny to relieve the stress of this huge move. And it is a cute and funny book that makes me feel better about not being the only dorky kid who watched Monty Python and didn’t love sports (though I was GREAT at Frisbee, thanks, even won ribbons).

The tease is from Page 57 and seems apropos considering I have myself just finished a spec script:

My Will & Grace spec was a disaster. In an attempt to achieve the cheeky, gay-centric tone of the show, I had written a sample so over-the-top offensively gay that it actually reads like a propaganda sketch to incite antigay sentiment.

I like to think my Sherlock spec is not that bad. Though it may be, in fact, almost as gay. In that roundabout way of giving viewers what they want without ever really giving them what they want.

And I do have to say, as an aside, that while I totally dig the “Nguyen and Ari” song idea, I didn’t love Kaling dissing on my Johnny Cougar. I’m giving her a pass this time (because while I like “Jack and Diane” I do think JCM has done better work, and I myself don’t entirely understand the people who identify so deeply with that song), but no one ever gets more than one. Tread carefully, Mindy, tread carefully.

Teaser Tuesday: The Fates Will Find Their Way

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. I’m not reading much these days because I’ve been so focused on writing, but I do have this library book here: The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Haven’t started reading it yet, but the story is about a 16-year-old girl named Nora who goes missing and the effect her disappearance has on the people left behind.

From page 43:

“Can I borrow your fangs?”
“Top drawer to the right,” Nora said.

Teaser Tuesday: Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. I’m reading Rob Lowe’s autobiography . . . Maybe more like skimming it . . . It’s due back at the library in a couple days and I doubt I’ll finish before then. Not sure I’ll risk the fine, but anyway.

From page 142:

Through take after take I have poured my heart out, cried my eyes dry for the last hour. I have nothing left, and I’m terrified.

I’ve seen this happen to actors on movie sets and backstage in theatres; the amount of energy one is required to expend is phenomenal and, without care, can eventually be depleted before the take or show is done. And there isn’t always an option for a break (especially in theatre), so it really can be like trying to get blood from a stone. It’s not pretty. In general the only answer is to find a soft spot, the tender underbelly, and rip it open. Hardly an elegant job, but sometimes the only way to get the actor to feel and tap in again.