Rain, rain, rain. Swimming was canceled, and I missed the email announcement of that fact by a measly three minutes, so I spent half an hour driving around campus in the blinding rain looking for parking. Not to mention the long, wet walk to and from the pool once I found a spot. Sigh. Oh, well, but as long as I was out and about anyway, I decided to just go to the grocery store tonight, to take at least one thing off my looong to-do list for tomorrow - so I did, and while I was in there, I got the brain wave to recreate the breakfast I had in Key West in June. Tortillas filled with refried beans, cheese, and bacon. Mandi walked in right as I was sitting down and went, "Oh, that smells SO good!", and it actually did turn out yummy. Not quite as nice as when someone else (who actually possesses the Cooking gene) makes it for you :) ...but still good.
I had an appointment at Career Services today, to fix my resume, and we made a lot of progress. It still needs some minor detail work, but I got it pared down to one page, which was a major milestone. Also, apparently there's a career counselor who's taken a mini-course on How to Apply for Jobs in the Federal Government, and she's going to give a workshop on it at the beginning of next semester. I don't know if that means I should wait or not, considering how long the processing times can be for these things, but on the other hand, I don't want to apply too early, either. We'll see.
Classes are still going well. It's really cool how quickly reading and writing from right to left in Persian is becoming instinctual. We took a quiz today, and I didn't realize I was writing down the right side of the paper until we were halfway done. We've only learned a handful of letters so far, but the writing looks so intriguing that it's fun to do. Syntax is okay, too - I've done a lot of syntax in the past, so I remember everything as soon as we cover it, but I still seem to contribute wrong answers and ideas at first, then slap myself in the forehead two minutes later. That's embarrassing. And the readings are So. Incredibly. Dull. I thought the Mayan ones were bad, but they're nothing compared to this. Chomsky takes, like, five pages to make one statement. I mean, Mayan Languages still involves more actual work than any of the others, because we have to invent ten reading questions on every reading assignment (and so far we've had one to do for every class... and ten is a lot...), but at least the subject material is getting more interesting. We saw a video on Monday which was really neat, and the reading for next class is a little shorter and more about the hieroglyphs and the modern cultural stuff, not just the geography and dry, history-textbook-style summaries. I actually already did it, just because tomorrow is going to be so packed and I didn't want to have to worry about it then.
Which class did I forget? Oh, yeah, phonetics. Well, we turned in our first homework assignment today, which most of us wrestled with for ages (me longer than anyone... I still feel like an idiot in that class) because it involved working with a computer program which is not very user-friendly. I eventually got all the answers right, except there's one I'm not sure he'll give me credit for because I basically used a shortcut and got the computer program to tell me the answer instead of my having to actually look for it. But hey, that's the way I'll do it when we're using this program for real, and it's certainly valid... so why not?
Other items of interest: there's a swim meet at UGA on the 30th, and I'm really excited, because I think UF might come, meaning I could see Anna and all my friends again. And the event list is so cool - the meet's called Radical Relays, so about half the list are relays, and then all the individual events are 25s and 50s (except for a 100 IM). Yes, 25s! Nobody, apart from the under-10 division of USA Swimming, swims 25s in competition... but that's exactly why it'll be fun, because the pressure's off. So I'm signed up for the 25 free, 25 fly, 50 free, 50 fly, 100 IM, and whatever relays Monique chooses to put me in.
Oh, and yesterday I went to the UNC health care center about that stupid lump on my arm, the one the Jacksonville doctor said was probably a lipoma, because it suddenly grew a 'little brother' (meaning there are now two lumps instead of one) and got more tender. Of course, by the time I actually sat down at the appointment, it had shrunk enough to make it difficult to feel, and didn't really hurt anymore. I was embarrassed, and expected to be branded a hypochondriac and thrown out of the office, but the doctor just laughed and said, "Before I saw you, I saw a girl with a full-body rash, and by the time I finished examining her, the rash was completely gone. So I have the magic touch!" She believed me when I said it changed in size and tenderness a lot and that it had been there, in some form or another, for at least five months. So now I'm going to get an ultrasound (except the appointment probably won't be for quite a while, mid to late September) and see what's really going on in there.
I guess "th-th-th-that's all, folks!" For tonight, anyway.
The Good: All of my textbooks have arrived except one, swim practice starts on Monday, I made an appointment at Career Services to fix my resume, Jules showed me how to type in Persian on my laptop, my weekend homework is manageable, doing laundry in the apartment has proven to be easy, there's a very slight chance I may get Persian to count as graduate credit after all, and I returned that ridiculous mountain bike in favor of waiting it out until Mom can bring my road bike up here.
The Bad: I forgot to call Apple, the light bulb burned out on my room fragrance thingie, the second class of Mayan Languages was still pretty boring, and the closest compatible credit union is almost 20 miles away.
The Ugly: According to the guy who recommended it to me a year and a half ago, the NSA's Language Enhancement Program is (a) full, and (b) most likely not going to continue past this December. That doesn't mean I have no options, of course, but it sure does suck.
No, I'm not dead; here I am. I am going to try, try, try to be succinct, but somehow I don't think it's going to work.
Anyway. So I started classes yesterday. Phonetics, Syntax, Persian, and Mayan Languages (which, based on the homework I just finished, is so far turning out to be History of Everything that Ever Happened in the General Vicinity of Central and South America). Based on first impressions - since I've been to each class exactly once - Syntax and Persian seem like they're going to be good, while Mayan Languages and Phonetics seems like they're going to be dull.
Phonetics: No surprise I wasn't that into it; I've never really liked that discipline, mostly due (I think) to the ridiculously awful Chinese TA I had as my group leader in that class as an undergrad. To make matters worse, the first day felt more like a physics class than a linguistics one - all about sound waves and the mathematical formulas to predict the period, amplitude, et cetera. But the linguistic department head is the teacher, and he's nice, and is constantly asking questions to keep us involved - which I sometimes like in an instructor and sometimes don't, but in this case it works for him, since I do not want to get lost the way I did as a junior. Although, considering this guy seems to speak English fluently, maybe I won't have to worry.
Mayan Languages: The class is nice and small, but the professor talked like he was reading a script. From reading the syllabus, it sounds like the class should be pretty interesting, but I didn't get that impression at all from the first day. Granted, I just finished wading through (and writing up reading questions about) 44 pages of history-book PDF file about, as I said, pretty much everything that ever happened in South or Central America - so I might be a little biased at this particular moment. But that's my elective course (which I'm only in because silly old Persian doesn't count for graduate credit - every other new grad student only has three courses, but I have four), so I could change it, but the class times would be absolutely horrible if I did, so I think I'll stay where I am. According to the syllabus, we should get into the language stuff after a week or two, and I do appreciate the necessity of having a historical background before plunging into linguistic data of this type - but that mammoth first reading/assignment didn't do anything to raise my first opinion.
Persian: It's a big class, 26 students, and the teacher is a woman, Zari (my only female teacher). I think it's going to be good; she seems friendly and competent. She apparently works in the science library as her 'real' job, but UNC found out she was a native speaker and taught her how to teach Persian in 1999, and she's been doing it ever since. The only stumbling block is that quite a few of the students in the class already speak the language, and just don't know how to read or write it. That's a little intimidating - quite honestly: because I'm used to being the best at languages and in this class I certainly won't be. But she assured us multiple times that "if you have absolutely no experience, this is the right place for you!" so I think I'm OK.
Syntax: My only Tuesday-Thursday class - only about ten people - taught by a professor who looks like Rick Moranis from Honey I Shrunk the Kids. But he's my favorite teacher so far - very conversational and excited about his topic. I've always liked syntax, so that plus my prior experience (general ling, intro to syntax, English syntax, and that other class I had in the Netherlands that I've forgotten the name of) should work in my favor. Not that I actually remember a whole heck of a lot, but at least I can probably use that old thesis-that-never-was as my final paper. ;)
Did I mention that I love being able to take all my class notes on my laptop? (Well, not Persian, but everything else.) It rocks. Even if the battery has just been recalled and the website form to get a new one is acting funny so I have to call Apple tomorrow. I don't care. I love my Powerbook. (And two of my three laptop-using professors have Macs. Ha. So much for non-compatibility.)
Okay, other stuff: I babysat that nine-month-old for the first time today, and that went very well. He's a really happy baby, not like silly old Eloise (yes, that was her name!) in Gainesville. He was sleeping when I got there, so I thought he might have a mini-freakout when he woke up and realized it was me and not his mom coming to get him - but he was fine. Looked confused for a second, then within thirty seconds was smiling like he'd known me all his life. When his mom came back, after a few minutes of sitting with her, she picked him up and he actually reached back to me, wanting me to hold him instead. Isn't it weird how flattering that is, even though it's just a baby?
Oh, and I went to the gym for the first time today, too - which was good timing, since they happened to be holding their Taste of Fitness event, which involved free dinner, LOL.
And I love all my roommates, I'm fully stocked on groceries, I've got a (new) bike, and I finally got my student ID yesterday (much prettier than UF's, I must admit)... So things are, by and large, falling into place. I don't feel completely at home here yet, but I'm going through the motions pretty much flawlessly. All those college-student skills and routines - riding the bus, organizing class materials, walking around campus, making small talk and becoming instant friends with people, signing up for a slot on the gym machines, buying and preparing my own food - I can still do all that; I just have to get used to it all in this other place with these other people.
Three things that are nagging at my mind:
(1) I really need to get started with this whole applying-for-jobs-with-the-government thing, since the processing times are so long. Which means I'm going to really have to start watching what I say on this blog - maybe even delete it altogether (*sob*) - and that I have to get someone to look at my resume and make it, well, professional.
(2) The first weekend in October, there's an Olympic-distance triathlon in a town about 90 minutes from here. I can't decide if I want to do it or not. A one-mile swim is a joke, and I could probably do a six-mile run (though I'd have to walk portions of it), but a 25-mile bike is pretty darn long, especially if I don't have MY bike (my road bike) from home. This mountain bike has thicker tires and so is less likely to find me walking it home, but it's heavy and weird and hard to go up hills on, and I want my lightweight baby back.
(3) Money, money, money. Why do groceries cost so much?! I used all the babysitting money I earned today and then some... and I haven't even deposited the check yet. And I have to pay rent next Friday (plus wait for the prorated rent from this month to finally come out of my account), and buy a microphone (for phonetics) and other small things, plus pay for that triathlon if I decide to do it. Oh, well, at least my cupboards are full and my car is gassed.
I'll close with a big Hooray - today, the FDA finally approved the morning-after pill for over-the-counter use!
So... I got here without incident, the weather is great, there's a grocery store just up the road, I have an awesome roommate, Target isn't too far away, I haven't gotten lost once, there's a great jogging neighborhood across the street, I have a great babysitting job for the cutest, friendliest nine-month-old ever, there's an Olympic-distance triathlon in the area in October, and my apartment? Is hands-down the BEST I've ever lived in. It's on the second floor, and it's CLEAN and furnished, with a balcony, wireless Internet, a dishwasher, a stove/microwave/toaster, and even a washer/dryer in the apartment - can I get a 'hoo-rah'?! And my room rocks - for the first time ever in my life, I have my own bathroom! Complete with bathtub! There's also a walk-in closet, a fancy office-style desk chair, a big mirror, a desk with a hutch and keyboard tray, bulletin boards, a high bed, and a big window. And (this will make my grandfather happy), except for the door, the apartment itself is entirely freestanding. Meaning that even though my window faces the landing, there's a good eight feet of empty space between it and the railing. Meaning nobody can climb in my window in the middle of the night, short of crawling up the wall like a spider. Really, the only things I can legitimately complain about are the lack of a TV and that godawful-ugly gold lamp on the bedside table.
...How long is the 'honeymoon period' supposed to last, anyway?
So, I finished the race. That in itself is a big accomplishment - due to seasickness and weather, respectively, I failed to complete the last two marathon swims I entered. Therefore, my only real goal for this race was to get to the finish line, which I did (eventually). There were 17 solo swimmers and 5 relay teams, and I was the very last swimmer to exit the water; however, three of the soloists dropped out along the way and a fourth (a woman, as it happens) wore a wetsuit against the cold, meaning she didn't place, even though she was technically about 40 minutes faster than I was. So I ended up as the third-place female, which is pretty darn funny. Sounds good, though, doesn't it? ;)
Anyway, it was a tough race, but still enjoyable in places. The first four miles were, I think, the nicest stretch of a race I've ever swum. The current was so fast that I knocked off the first two miles in about 30 minutes (twice my normal speed!) and it was really neat to swim past those tranquil-looking islands and under the huge Long Island Bridge. Apparently Boston Harbor and its islands are actually a protected state park, which I didn't know, so everything was very clean and nice to look at and swim through. I didn't keep checking my watch and obsessing over when it would be time to stop for a feed, the way I often do - I just wanted to keep on going. And Mike, my boater, was absolutely great all day long. I hired him less than three days before the race, but he turned out to be perfect - showed up early, kept a sense of humor all day, never complained about his difficulties with the boat, and had nothing but positive things to say to me. I honestly could not have asked for anything more. (Ha, see, he thinks I'm only saying that because I know he's reading... but he'd be wrong! ;))
Anyway, those first few miles were great, but things got tough once we passed under the bridge (the halfway point). The wind kicked up again full force, choppy waves were breaking over me, and Thompson's Island just didn't seem to get any closer, no matter how hard and long I swam. My morale was flagging, and when we got almost to the edge of the island (to almost the six-mile mark) Mike said to me, "This wind and current are so strong that we're not going anywhere. You might have to zigzag - maybe swim into that shore," he pointed to the shore of Thompson's Island, "into about four feet of water and see if it lets up a little over there." I did as he said, but I could tell by gauging my process on the rocks that I still wasn't really moving. I could see the bottom, vague and misty beneath me, and it was going by so slowly that I might as well have been swimming on a treadmill. I was getting really frustrated because I'd felt so good through the entire race - the first long-distance race in which I hadn't been even the slightest bit seasick - and now it looked like I wasn't going to finish because of the damn wind and current - exactly like what had happened in Key West in June, when we were swimming through the beginnings of the tropical storm. I really, really didn't want that to happen again, but it was out of my control.
After another half hour of swimming, alternating between halfhearted and furiously determined, we rounded the island, out of the worst of the chop. I still wasn't really moving, but at least I could see the Boston skyline across from me, and even glimpse the building I was supposed to finish at. I couldn't decide whether seeing my goal helped or just frustrated me more. Then I saw two male soloists, who'd been sharing a boat, climb out of the water and cling to the back as the boat headed toward shore. "Are they quitting?" I asked Mike, a little surprised. "Yeah, they're heading in," he confirmed. Can't I go with them? part of me wanted to beg. My shoulders were starting to hurt. But I kept swimming.
Once I was nearly centered on the L Street Bathhouse, able to see exactly where I was supposed to be going, I felt like we had no choice but to try for it. I knew the tide was going to turn in a little over an hour, and I had to make my best effort before it did. "We're going to have to try something," Mike agreed, sounding as frustrated as I was, and we moved out into open water.
Somehow, miraculously, the water loosened its grip. The wind slacked off. We started moving again, the way we were supposed to have been all along. I knew the faster swimmers would have long been into shore - they wouldn't have been caught in this. The water temperature dropped again, down from 64 F to about 61 F (but still not quite the frigid 59 F it had been at the start). I kept looking back at Thompson's Island to confirm that we were, in fact, still moving away from it. The Coast Guard came up to Mike at one point - to check on me, I'm assuming - then went away again. "Did they say how long we have left?" I called. "About a mile, mile and a quarter - mile and a half at most." "Can I have one more drink?" I asked.
After slugging back some plain water, I 'got the bit between my teeth', as they say, and took off. I stopped lifting my head to see my goal, stopped doing breaststroke every few minutes out of sheer boredom, stopped checking my watch. I started counting breaths - stroke, stroke, stroke-breathe (one), stroke, stroke, stroke-breathe (two), and so forth. Every 50 breaths, I allowed myself a peek at the mainland. And, lo and behold, it was getting closer! Stroke, stroke, stroke-breathe. I think I repeated those 50 strokes about 12 times (by my calculations, about 1800 yards). Stroke, stroke, stroke-breathe.
Finally, finally, the beach was there in front of me. My shoulders hurt, my back hurt from picking my head up, and I just wanted to be done. I thought, As soon as I finish this race, I'll be on my way HOME! The pain in my shoulders started to dissipate. Then, floating a little ways below me, I saw the outline of a jellyfish. Yikes. That certainly made me pick up the pace!
"Come on, Jess, bring it in, swim in!" Fred was hollering from the beach. I saw the bottom below me and tried to stand up. I felt wobbly, like a toddler just learning to walk. "Come on!" he yelled again. I dropped back down and swam a few more strokes, marveling, after eight miles, at how much more natural swimming felt than standing on my own two feet.
And then I was in, and it was over. I tried to smile and raise my arms over my head for the camera. Then I got to take off my goggles and my cap, drink some water, attempt to eat a cracker, marvel at how difficult it was to chew and talk properly through my shivering and salt-water-mouth... and take a long, blissfully hot shower. The moment I shut off the water, I started shivering harder than ever, and the walk back into the thigh-deep water to climb back aboard the boat was excruciating - but once I was on the boat, out of the water, with a warm jacket on and a towel around me, I felt great, really proud of myself for finishing. I'd wanted to do this race for two years, and I'd done it!
(...And then I got to drive HOME!)
The other highlight of my weekend was meeting Robin and Lillianna. We met at a mall in Boston on Friday afternoon and did all the usual mall activities - lunch, shopping, chatting, etc. Lillianna showed me the Build-A-Bear store and the pet store, and since all three of us are big readers, we spent a lot of time in the bookstore, too, reminiscing over books we liked. I had to leave around 17:30 to go to the prerace dinner, but I met up with them again at their apartment and spent the night with them. (I actually got lost on the way there... I think the only time I didn't get lost, throughout all my Boston driving, was when I was leaving it!) I had a great time with them - I've been in touch with Robin for almost three years and have been hearing about Lillianna since she was just six years old, so it was really neat to finally be able to put faces with the names and online personas. A lot of our Internet contacts do know each other in real life, but Robin and I aren't among them. ("You're our first 'real person'!" she told me excitedly, making me laugh.) I also brought Lillianna's 'Flat Lilly' home with me, and she'll travel around with me for another week or so before heading back to Massachusetts.
All in all, a great weekend. (I caught a cold from my cabinmates at Laurel, but we'll ignore that.) And now... I have three more days until the next 'life chapter' begins, and I go to Chapel Hill! Good times.
This will probably be my last post from the woods of Maine - next time the Internet hears from me, I'll be back home in sunny Florida!
I've been undergoing a slight crisis for the past 24 hours - to make a long story short, word came through that my boater would not be able to accompany me on Saturday. I knew his boat had been damaged in a freak thunderstorm a couple of weeks ago, but he hadn't seemed too concerned about the timetable to get it fixed, so I didn't worry about it either. Then it turned out that a specific part was on back-order and despite attempts to (a) get it from another manufacturer and (b) have the original part patched up by a welder, nothing worked out. While in limbo, knowing my usual luck (or lack thereof) in situations of this type, I posted another Craigslist ad and, wonder of wonders, found another (equally as good if not better) boater. The only hitch is that he's going to demand more than the $100 that Joe and I had agreed on - so I'm sitting here waiting for his email to come through and tell me how much more.
Camp Laurel is still going fine. My 'office work' consists mostly of printing camper e-mails and sorting lost-and-found items. I refuse to answer the phone unless under duress, mostly because I don't know any child, any schedule, any procedure, or anything about the way things are run here, and would not be able to assist any caller in any way. However, the office rule is that "we never let the phone ring twice", so if the unthinkable should happen and everyone but me is already on another line and the phone rings again, I'll have to pounce, answer, "Good evening, Camp Laurel, this is Jess," hear them out, then just say, "One moment, please," and put them on hold for as long as it takes for someone else to get off the phone and give me a hand. However, it's now 18:05 on my last day of work, so I'm only here for another 4 hours, and if that situation hasn't occurred in the past 41 hours of work, it's unlikely that it'll happen in the last 4.
I've done three training swims in the lake here - one mile, two miles, and one mile - and they've all gone well despite less-than-stellar conditions (have I mentioned lately how much I hate wind?). I think my body is going to hold up fine over the 8 miles despite my, ahem, lack of extensive swim-specific training this summer - the only thing I'm a little concerned about is the cold water. The online buoy readings have been hovering between 65 and 68 degrees, which is fine, but it's going to be a little colder than that at the start because it's further out to sea. Ah, well - nothing I can do about that at this point. Although those five or so pounds I've gained this summer might come in handy, both as insulation and fuel. (See? There's always an excuse!)
Oh, and as a random aside: that babysitting gig I have lined up in Chapel Hill is now going to be two mornings a week instead of one, so it looks like I'll have a nice steady stream of grocery-and-gas income - hurrah!
Tomorrow I leave camp and drive to Boston to meet up with Robin and her daughter Lillianna at a shopping mall. We're going to have lunch and shop for a few hours; then I'll head over to the yacht club for the prerace dinner and meeting, then back to Robin's apartment for the night. Then it's up at 'o-dark-thirty' and back to the yacht club for the start of the race... and once the race is over, I'll be on my way HOME!!!
Guess that's all for now. Someone just brought in a chocolate cake-looking thing they baked with, believe it or not, zucchini - and I can't resist checking it out.
The Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference - and all its big announcements - makes me happy. With the addition of the amazingly powerful Mac Pro (desktop), their entire line now uses Intel processors, and the preview pretty much guarantees that OS X 10.5 Leopard, when it's released early next year, is going to be amazing, too. Among other things, there's a new feature called Time Machine that automatically backs up everything, even stuff you think you've deleted, and lets you retrieve it easily. Don't know if there will be any other surprising developments this week as the conference wears on, but my money's on the next major update to involve the new Core Duo 2 processors (Merom) showing up in lighter, longer-battery-life Macbooks and especially Macbook Pros. Possibly to be revealed at the MacWorld Expo in January, possibly to coincide with the full release of Leopard. And if and when both these things are in place, I'll be buying one.
04 days till I leave camp, $200 richer. 05 days till the Boston Light swim. 06 days till I get home to J-ville. 10 days till I move to Chapel Hill. 16 days till classes start.
I slept for 10 hours last night, and I'm still tired. Explain that one.
I deposited my check from All-Star this morning, and while it wasn't much, it does give me more money in my savings than I've ever had before. That's gotta be a good thing.
I swam for half an hour in Laurel's lake this morning. The water was really rough, because it was windy, but I didn't feel tired or sore at all. Which is a good thing, considering my Boston swim is in FIVE DAYS!
I've been passing my time this morning by doing makeshift Myers-Briggs personality tests online. The two tests both say I'm an ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), being moderately I and S and strongly T and J, but I feel like the INTJ description is the one that really fits me perfectly in every facet:
"To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of 'definiteness', of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.
INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion 'Does it work?' to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.
INTJs are known as the 'Systems Builders' of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play, as INTJs can be unsparing of both themselves and the others on the project. Anyone considered to be 'slacking', including superiors, will lose their respect -- and will generally be made aware of this; INTJs have also been known to take it upon themselves to implement critical decisions without consulting their supervisors or co-workers. On the other hand, they do tend to be scrupulous and even-handed about recognizing the individual contributions that have gone into a project, and have a gift for seizing opportunities which others might not even notice.
In the broadest terms, what INTJs 'do' tends to be what they 'know'. Typical INTJ career choices are in the sciences and engineering, but they can be found wherever a combination of intellect and incisiveness are required (e.g., law, some areas of academia). INTJs can rise to management positions when they are willing to invest time in marketing their abilities as well as enhancing them, and (whether for the sake of ambition or the desire for privacy) many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.
Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.
This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete, paralleling that of many Fs -- only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.
Probably the strongest INTJ assets in the interpersonal area are their intuitive abilities and their willingness to 'work at' a relationship. Although as Ts they do not always have the kind of natural empathy that many Fs do, the Intuitive function can often act as a good substitute by synthesizing the probable meanings behind such things as tone of voice, turn of phrase, and facial expression. This ability can then be honed and directed by consistent, repeated efforts to understand and support those they care about, and those relationships which ultimately do become established with an INTJ tend to be characterized by their robustness, stability, and good communications."
So yesterday I was assigned to the Boston airport trip, which went something like this:
06:15 Wake up. 06:45 Shepherd all eight kids to the minibus. 06:50 Reorganize luggage so said kids can actually sit down. 07:10 Get behind the wheel and somehow back the bus up (with the back window blocked) and get on the road. 08:30 Decide I can't hold it any longer and absolutely have to pull off and go to the bathroom - meaning Jesse and the kids all have to come too. 08:45 Get back on the road. 10:30 Arrive at the airport. 10:45 Wiggle the bulky bus through waiting cars up to the curb. Jesse and our first drop-off, who is meeting his dad at the American Airlines counter, disembark. 10:55 Jesse comes back to say he needs the kid's flight confirmation in order to get him where he needs to be. I say we don't have a flight confirmation for him because he's meeting his dad and his dad has it. 11:00 Jesse calls the kid's dad and gets him to come outside and meet the kid. I'm panicking because we have two kids on a plane departing at 11:30 from a different terminal. Jesse sprints back to the van and we're off. 11:05 Jesse grabs the two boys and their luggage and takes off toward US Airways, shouting that he'll meet me at the next boy's drop-off point. I have to pee like a racehorse and am responsible for five kids, 15 bags, and a bus that I have no idea where to park. 11:10 Unbeknownst to me, Jesse is told to pay two 'unaccompanied minor' fees for the boys, totaling $80, while having no money (because I have all $300 of camp's money in MY possession). He proceeds to sweet-talk the manager and supervisor and get the boys on the plane, surrounded by security guards, approximately five minutes before takeoff. 11:20 I park in what is, miraculously, the correct spot, then realize that the next kid to be dropped off has FIVE bags and that there are no luggage carts to be seen. 11:25 Assign one bag to each child to carry, then head towards the terminal, feeling like a mother duck with my charges trailing behind me. 11:40 Arrive at the Delta luggage counter. Miraculously, the child's father is there early, and Jesse finds us all easily, recounting his horror story to us. Down to four kids, we all rush back to the parking lot - luggage carts in tow - for the next two kids' bags. 11:45 Realize that Julian Orloff, a camper who left from Portland, has a huge blue duffel bag in our bus here in Boston. Sigh and call the camp office to notify them. 12:00 Jesse takes Hayden to check in at United Airlines; I take Max to check in at Continental, while also remaining in charge of the other two kids. Jesse, who has no cell phone, says he'll meet us in front of an oyster restaurant. 12:05 "Okay, I need you to fill out this unaccompanied minor form, and I need to see your ID." 12:10 "Max, come back over here." 12:11 "Roser, don't wander so far away." 12:12 "Brian, stop bothering him." 12:15 "NOW where did Max go?! ... MAX! Stay here!" 12:20 "Okay, there's going to be an unaccompanied minor charge of $95." "Wow, for one-way?" "Yes." (me, mentally) Geez, Continental is expensive. I pay it. 12:30 Finally almost finished, she looks more closely at the itinerary. "Oh. He's not going to Germany today!" (me, mentally) No, you dimwit; it says right there on your screen that he's going to NEWARK today, staying ten days, THEN to Germany. How long have you been doing this job?! "Oh. Well, I have to do this all over again now." Fight the urge to wring her neck, and call the three wandering kids back over for what seems like the millionth time. 12:35 "The $95 was the international fee; here's $45 back." 12:37 "Your bag is over the weight limit; you'll have to pay $2.50 per pound." 12:38 Sigh heavily, hand her the money back, and receive yet another piece of paper. 12:40 "Are these two children going through the gate with you, too?" "Yes; I can't leave them alone." "Then I have to put their names on this pass, too; hold on." 12:45 After 45 long minutes, we escape and hurry towards the gate. 12:50 We all pull our shoes off, empty our pockets, show our IDs for the thousandth time, pass through security, and collapse into seats at the gate. 13:00 Max's plane boards. 13:15 We head to the restaurant, but are unable to find Jesse. Unwilling to wait, I drag Brian and Roser back to the parking garage to get their bags. 13:30 We wander, lost, through the enormous Central Parking Lot. 13:55 We find our bus, then realize that, once again, we have no luggage carts. 14:00 Appropriate a couple of abandoned wheelchairs and use them as makeshift carts. 14:05 Get a call from Jesse, thank goodness, who says he'll meet us at Brian's check-in. 14:10 We make it back to the Delta counter, and Jesse takes Roser and her luggage off my hands. I am left with Brian, his FOUR checked bags, and his itinerary for a 15:30 flight. 14:20 We get to the front of the line and discover that his plane is now leaving at 15:07. Great. 14:25 The woman refuses to accept the fact that Brian's parents had already paid for his extra luggage, both ways. "We never do that," she kept repeating, "we just don't do that." Brian produces his receipt. She still doesn't believe him. 14:35 After asking every single employee behind the counter (a) the code for unaccompanied minors and (b) what they made of that receipt, she finally gave in and checked all of his bags through, no fee. 14:40 I get my 'unaccompanied minor' gate pass, get scolded for using wheelchairs as luggage carts (well, uh, if there had BEEN any in the parking garage...) and we run to security, only to find that they're using one of the new 'air puffers' to scan everyone and the line is out the wazoo. 14:50 I approach an employee. "Hi - listen, I have an unaccompanied minor here, his flight leaves in 17 minutes, and he CANNOT miss it, because there's no one to stay here with him. I don't want to be a problem, but is there any way we could possibly cut to the front?" "Oh, no, we don't do that. That line over there might be shorter, but you see, when wheelchair people show up, they have to go through first, and that slows things down." She wanders away. 14:51 I cast around for a wheelchair, planning to plop Brian in it and push him to the front of the line. I come up empty. 14:52 The employee wanders back over. "What gate is he at?" Hopefully, I answer, "A15." "Oh. That's far. That's far away from here." She drifts off again, leaving me to tear my hair out. Why did you even bother asking if you weren't going to help?! 14:59 The candy in Brian's pockets sets off the metal detector. We are both going crazy. 15:00 We grab our shoes and other belongings from the belt and take off at a dead sprint, down an escalator, across a moving walkway, and through a hall. 15:02 While dashing up an escalator, we hear, "This is the FINAL boarding call for flight number whatever to Palm Beach. Will passenger Tate please report IMMEDIATELY to gate A15!" 15:03 We push past everyone on the escalator. "Excuse us, excuse us, that's us they're calling, excuse us!" 15:05 We arrive, breathless, at gate A15, two minutes before departure. Brian checks in and races onto the plane. I commiserate with another breathless woman who just made the exact same mad dash to get HER kids on board. When the plane pulls away, I leave. 15:30 I finally get something to eat - orange juice and a bagel from Dunkin Donuts. It tastes amazing. 16:00 I get a call from Tickets.com that the Dixie Chicks concert in Greensboro has been canceled, and my awesome eighth-row-center ticket is no more. 16:05 Call Mom and complain. 16:15 Try to find Jesse and Roser, but can't; they've apparently checked in early and are already sitting at the gate. 16:30 Get a call from camp asking me to find a FedEx and ship Julian Orloff's bag. We go back and forth for a half hour, me trying to find an information desk and Georgia (at camp) trying to look up a location. 17:00 She calls back, and wants me to go all the way back to the parking lot, pay the fee, find my way out of the airport, find the FedEx building, then find my way back and pick up Jesse - who, again does not have a cell phone. Finally I snap and start crying over the phone, telling her it's been the longest day of my life, that I can't deal with anything else, and that it's not MY problem that someone ELSE put the wrong bag in my van. 17:05 Craig suggests that I take a cab. I take down the addresses and account info, then make the long trek to go get the bag. 17:30 I'm almost to the taxi door when Jesse appears - Roser's plane, wonder of wonders, has actually left early. We take the cab together, recounting the horror stories of our respective days. 17:40 We drop off the bag and head back to the airport. 17:55 We pay the parking fee and head to the car. 18:00 We're finally on the road - with Jesse driving this time, thank goodness. We have a really good conversation and discover that we're on the same wavelength about a lot of people at camp. 21:30 Arrive back at camp, return money to Craig, eat some scraps of leftover lobster and a Choco Taco, take a shower, and fall into bed exhausted - no staff party for me, thank you very much!
Now it's Sunday morning and I'm at Camp Laurel, which seems really good so far. After today, I'm going to be working in the office from 1pm to 10pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then I can leave any time I like on Friday to go to Boston. Any time I'm not working in the office, I'm free to do whatever I like - leave camp, use the counselor room (computers, TV, etc.), go swimming, etc. Seems like a good deal! Hope it really is as rosy as it seems...
We're in the homestretch now! The kids leave Saturday morning; the staff leave Sunday morning.
A few notable notes:
1.) We went bowling on Monday night. I am, as a rule, a pretty terrible bowler. If I break 100, I'm pleased. The excuse I have long used is that of my thumbs, which are misshapen in a way that makes others refer to them as looking like big toes. (I've also heard 'drumsticks', 'tennis rackets', 'little people', etc.) These monsters of mine do not fit into standard bowling ball holes; therefore, while my companions are using the dainty pink 8- or 10-lb balls, I always need a huge blue or black 14- or 15-lb ball in order to avoid being dragged down the lane, fingers first. Now, I'm a strong chick, and I can work with it, but I have never used a ball that hasn't felt far too heavy for me. Monday night was no exception - I bowled an 82 (with my right hand) and an 87 (with my left hand, because I got exasperated with my right).
Then, magically, a purple ball appeared in our ball return. I picked it up to ask where it had come from, and realized that (a) it was considerably lighter than the ball I'd been using, though there was no weight inscribed on it, and (b) my fingers fit into the holes! It must have been custom-drilled for some club member or regular bowler who attended that lane, and had just accidentally wound up being used. I closed my mouth, resolved to keep the ball, and started my third game.
I proceeded to bowl a 162. Easily 50 points higher than I've ever bowled in my life. Ridiculous!
2.) I went kneeboarding twice this week, both times with kids alongside me. We have two kneeboards (one black, one yellow) and two tow ropes, so we can pull two people at once if the kids are so inclined, which is a lot of fun. Anyway, I had my 'kneeboard orientation' on the yellow (older) kneeboard during the first week of camp, but the kids all want to use the black kneeboard because (a) it's heavier, thus sturdier, and (b) it has a sort of hook at the top to hold the tow handle while the rider is in the process of maneuvering from his/her belly to his/her knees. Those two properties make it vastly easier to get up onto, but it's also a lot less maneuverable once you're on it. The kids don't usually care about that, however, meaning whenever I go double with someone, I'm on the yellow board. And I think I can now safely say that I have mastered it! Pulling myself up to my knees without having any 'help' from a hook, moving in and out of the wake, moving fast, zigzagging to splash my companions in the face, going one-handed and high-fiving the kid alongside me - I can do it all, and boy, is it fun. (And boy, are my arms sore!)
Of course, I still haven't managed to stand up on waterskis or a wakeboard. Nor have I yet attempted a 360 on the kneeboard. But we can ignore those facts.
3.) I've been assigned to go on the Boston trip on Saturday, meaning we leave at 6:50am to take the kids on the 3-hour drive to Logan Airport, wait until they're all where they need to be, then go back for the staff party. This is a good thing, despite the early wakeup, because I get to miss the six-hour cleanup that everyone else will be doing. The only fly in the ointment is that my partner is Jesse, my dodgeball-face-smasher - which would be perfectly fine except that I believe he's planning on getting up to something nefarious in the course of the journey, because of the following conversation:
"Hey Jess, how old are you?" "22. Why, you want to split the driving?" (secretive smile) "No, no. You'll see."
Um... okay? Geez, Jesse, the staff party starts as soon as we get back to camp - you can drink then!
4.) Important: the Internet has officially been shut down in the dorms, meaning I no longer have 24/7 e-mail access. If you write to me and don't get an answer as quickly as you may have anticipated, well, it's not my fault.