Chaos Attraction

Career Management

2004-04-03, 8:47 p.m.

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I'm having a hard time typing tonight. I've been locking in-heat-again Jasmine in my room or Heather's upon getting home every night, but Penny has become clingy in order to compensate or something, and every time I sit down, she's in my lap. She barely got up long enough for me to make dinner. I'm typing with one arm pinned down now. But hey, at least I know someone loves me!

So, instead of actually doing work at work, I went to an all-day career management seminar on Friday. Which clearly they financially put out for, as we not only got a lot of free paperwork and tests, but also catered lunch. Beats working, heh. (Especially since I just finished up the interesting bit of my work, and now have 5-6 months of boring. Whee.)

My career counselor and the other counselor ran it, and it was great fun. Hell, they even brought in toys for us to play with. Mostly, what we did was test-related. They had us take two tests prior to the class and two tests in the class to see what our interests were, how we thought, what skills we had, etc. Which was interesting, but now I'm not sure how to synthesize it all.

The first test was a values assessment, where they handed us a deck of cards and were told to go through them and prioritize them by what we always valued, often valued, sometimes valued, seldom valued, and never valued. The cards said things like "artistic creativity", "location", "high earnings anticipated", "public contact," "work with others," you get the drill. My highly valued things were creativity, knowledge, change and variety, being competent, working alone, aesthetics, location, high earnings, and security. Challenges, time freedom, independence, friendships, and excitement were preferred but not mandatory. Fast paced work, status, recognition, working under pressure, etc. were somewhat preferred. I don't really care about community workings or doing the same thing every day or if I get promoted all that much, and I really don't want power and authority or to be a supervisor or to work with the public an enormous lot.

Incidentally, I have maybe half of the things on my list of musts in my current job. I'm not sure if this is good or not, but I was one of the best off in my class, apparently.

The thing that I realized from this is that the jobs that do give me creativity and research ability and variety...don't exactly give me great locations and big bucks and any kind of job security at all. That was the choice I made when I first got laid off- I couldn't get to an artsy/writing job if it wasn't offered here, and I wanted to go to where I am because it was supposed to be more secure compared to other places. Which it is, and lord knows I make more money doing something repetitve all year than I did being creative.

The counselors said that if you couldn't find a job that gave you all that you wanted or you couldn't change your job to give you what you wanted, you have to pick which things are more important. Which, I guess, is my problem: if I want a job I can get to and that offers me a lot of easy extras and is semi-stable compared to completely unstable everywhere else... I have to pick stability over pleasure. The bottom line of the damn Maslow pyramid- can't go for excitement and then get laid off in 3 months with nothing else out there. No way, not now.

The second test was the Strong Interest Inventory, which is supposed to measure what areas you'd prefer to have careers in. Social (like healthcare), realistic (physical jobs), enterprising (sales-ish), investigative (science-ish), conventional (office jobs) and artistic. Three guesses what I ended up with and what had the maximum, and the first two don't count. The bizarre thing was that it tests for a few jobs in there too, and what were my top four? Technical writer, librarian, photographer, and translator. I find this ironic since I understand nothing technical, am a crappy photographer, and suck at languages. Also ironic is that my friend Jackie is a technical writer, and we'd just been arguing a few days before about how she said it was an easy job and I said I could never translate engineer-speak for a living.

Next was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which indicates your personality. Here's a few examples. I'd taken this twice before, once at my hippie-dippie middle school, when I got INFP, and once at some later time I forget when, where I got XNFP, which meant that I was dead borderline between introversion and extraversion. The test this time didn't seem to go for in-the-middle guessing as much. When taking the test, I'd felt pretty conflicted and going back and forth between one side and the other, as it were. I'm a "depends on situation" girl when it comes to judgement.The counselors said that if your score for one side or the other was tipped only by 5 or fewer points, they couldn't really measure you all that well. I came out with a score of 5 in introversion versus extraversion (technically enough to label me I, but not definitively so), a score of 1 in feeling versus thinking, and a score of 4 in judging versus perceiving. The only thing I was definitive in was intuition versus sensing, with a score of 12.

I was bloody shocked to come out an INFJ. This did not seem right, and I didn't really relate to the typical-ness of the J's compared to the ENFP and INFP information. Fortunately the counselors were flexible and handed us all multiple sheets and let us pretty much figure out what we related to ourselves. Then they had us do an exercise where we were supposed to determine how we'd plan a vacation: the judgers would have everything anally planned out months in advance, the perceivers would fly by the seats of their pants and hope to find flights and hotels at the last moment. We had to discuss how we'd plan trips and rank ourselves from one range to the other. Of course, I came out in the mushball middle- get your plane tickets and hotel rooms in advance, but pick up a bunch of brochures in the hotel and figure out where to go once I got there. Though the last time I went on vacation, I pretty much blanked on how to plan these things and Hill covered my ass.

I wasn't too thrilled at the "plan a vacation" example of who judges versus who perceives, and said that sure, I'd plan a vacation somewhat anally, and sure, I've got a schedule in my Palm (if you had my schedule, wouldn't YOU write it all down so you could juggle it?), but I don't do that all the time. Hell, I went out to the powwow (see below) pretty much spur-of-the-moment, and I only semi-plan most of my projects. It depends on the situation and how much planning it requires to succeed. My career counselor said the perceiving people tended to be all, "It depends on the situation!", while judging people are all, "That's wrong/right, and that's that." Hmmmm.

The final test was the SkillScan Skills Assessment, where you got another deck of cards, but this time had to determine first if you were competent (say, C or higher) at the skills listed or weren't competent. I kinda got in trouble with the other counselor for having (in her eyes) too big a stack of the non-competent pile. She went through it, saying, "What, you can't plan a birthday party?" "Uh, no, the last time I tried to plan one, I invited three people, realized I couldn't afford to pay for booze, and canceled it three days before." She also wanted to know why I couldn't help others when they were sick. "Uh, I suck at nurturing." Which is a fun thing to say to a woman with multiple kids, in front of an audience of uh, mostly women who probably have multiple kids. I also felt kinda crappy realizing the other things on my list that I couldn't do, especially motivating others, people-wrangling, negotiating, and convincing people to do what I want them to do. I can't talk ANYONE into doing what I want them to do! I'm not sure why that is- if it's just that I'm always surrounded by really stubborn people, or it's that I can only argue with logic and the people I'm arguing with are purely arguing with "But I don't WANNA!" (Exhibit A is Dave immediately falling out of love with me because he wanted to quit his job no matter how foot-shooting that was. Exhibits B-Z are all the arguments I had with his friends about the stupid shit they wanted to do and did anyway, and the parents.) I don't fucking know how to argue with anyone and win if they don't want to let me win.

Anyway..the second phase of that test was to take the competent list and rank them by how much you wanted to do them in a job: major role, secondary role, minor role, or that you could do, but didn't want to do in a job at all. Once again, my top skills were artsy or researchy.

The final phase was a "where do we go from here" goal-setting thing, but I didn't know what to do. I don't plan on job-hunting because I haven't seen a non-secretarial full time job listed anywhere in years, and don't want to lose my security and whopping state benefits and privileges, and other than being repetitive, my job isn't bad at all. I'm already taking many classes. So, uh, nothing new.

The seminar ended up getting out really early, between it being a small class and the aforementioned small class voting to have a half hour lunch. I took the opportunity to go over to the craft center and sign up for four classes. Crochet on Mondays, tubular peyote on Thursdays, continuing glass beadmaking on one Saturday and wire jewelry on most Saturdays. And all for the low, low price of $112! Normally that'd be oh, two classes for me with normal pricing. Plus I ran into one of the girls from beading class last quarter, and apparently she's in wire jewelry (or crochet, I'm not sure which) with me. She was all "You finally got in, huh?" Coolness.

And after I got done with that...I uh, played hooky and went to the movies. Hah. I went to see The Prince & Me, mainly because I like Julia Stiles. Honestly, I do not know what to make of this movie, though it's obvious that the creators of this flick had a good time trying to cast her against type with her previous movies. In this movie she can't really dance too well AND hates Shakespeare. Oh, the irony. Well, she's good in it, but I have my reservations about the prince, who starts out as a doofy layabout Eurotrash idiot and miraculously turns into a decent human being within the course of one sunny and warm *cough* semester in Wisconsin. I kept thinking, where's Muffet so I can ask her about this? Oy vey. I dunno about this one.

Later I ended up on the phone with Anna- apparently Demma already told her I got dumped. I shudder to think about that conversation- thought about asking, then didn't. Apparently she and he actually managed to move to somewhere or other. I guess Anna wasn't thrilled with that whole group they were in either. We had a good conversation bitching about guys, and I am now pondering scraping up the bucks to go to San Luis for a mini-vacation in June or so. She doesn't have a big gang of friends to hang out and drink with any more either, so we should do something about this.

Incidentally, there was a REALLY amusing paper we got at the seminar that I related to. It was a recipe for pumpkin soup, only written from the points of view of the Myers-Briggs personalities. The "sensing" directions are as anal as can be, nitpicking every little detail, with comments like "Be sure the measuring cup is on a level surface when you measure. Carpenter's level will be helpful here." Which is totally the kind of thing my mother says when cooking. And then there's the "intuitive" directions, which talk throwing in whatever food you like and going off and cleaning the fridge and daydreaming about opening your own restaurant and using dirty pans to cook with during the process. My favorite line of all, which sums the whole thing up, is "If you are going to call this pumpkin soup, it might be helpful to have some pumpkin..."

At which point I realized that my mother must be a sensing person, and no wonder I'm a bad cook who gets pissed off in the kitchen!

Regarding the potluck hell, I posted for help and liked some of the suggestions, particularly the easy ones. I want to go try one or two. Though in some respects, I was just...completely taken aback. Like, um, what's tzatiki? And the idea of chopping up veggies and putting them into food is pretty foreign to me, mainly because I don't buy anything fresh to eat except for stupid moments. I can't finish all the serving size before it goes bad, even if I eat the fruit/veggie at every meal until I don't want it any more. And, uh, deboning chicken? I can just imagine the mess I'd make of that. I have no clue!

Still, I think I'll try to make a grocery run tomorrow and see what I come up with. I apparently have some of the ingredients for these things in the house already, so that's a help. Who knew I had canned fruit and pasta any more? Actually, I tried to make pasta just to see if I still could, and I barely manage to squeak out a reasonable elbow macaroni. However, I had no sauce in the house, so...y'all don't want to know what I ate it with.

Okay, minced onions and ranch dressing. Actually, not all that bad. Especially the crunchy bits of minced onion, which went nicely with noodle flavor and sure beat salt.

Yes, I'm sick.

Today I went to a powwow. One of the things I adore about living in this town is that we have these great random events and activities that come here, especially in the spring. The first weekend in April is a big ol' Native American powwow dance/costume competition. I hadn't paid much attention to this before, but my beading teacher had said there was lots of great work there and we should all go and check it out. Likewise I mentioned it to Heather last night and she confirmed there was lots of good stuff. She was too hungover to go along with me before work, but I had a good time alone too.

I have to admit that a few things shocked me. Who knew there'd be (no joking), flourescent orange, pink, and yellow, not to mention red and gold glitter, involved in "traditional" dress? Also, the MC tended to say "Indian" a lot, including singing "One little, two little, three little Indians" repeatedly (one time he said, "What? I went to kindergarten?") and making a comment that the kids should line up like they're in the hot lunch program at school. Given how PC this town is, I kept watching to see someone complain, but it never happened. Amazing.

Anyway, the crafts were quite awesome. Tons of amazing beaded art that I want to try someday (and now I'm REALLY whining that I couldn't take bead looming and ASL on the same night). I was drooling and checked each booth maybe 4 times apiece. Oddly enough, I didn't buy much beaded stuff- mainly I liked the bracelets and I have twig wrists so they wouldn't fit, and the beaded objects I coveted were tons of money. I did, however, find some lovely PINK opals (simulated so's they don't break on you, I think) and got a necklace and earring set, and found a blue goldstone turtle pendant. And finally, I got a great beaded butterfly barrette. I was no end of pleased with the shopping. I think I'll have to put the powwow into my novel when I rewrite that far- another craft-fair-type thing for my heroine to deal with.

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