Why I Hate Personality Tests


…It’s not because I don’t like putting people in boxes. I love putting people in boxes. I do it all the time.


I hate personality tests because they put people in two-dimensional boxes instead of three-dimensional boxes.

You are either introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in the middle.

You are either rational, emotional, or somewhere in the middle.

You are either a city person, a country person, or somewhere in the middle.

Can’t someone be both? Can’t someone be neither?

Personality tests always seem to go at it from an either/or standpoint, and I always end up with very muddled results.

My mom always told me I was an extrovert because I process by talking. When I lived with my aunt, she declared that I was an introvert because of how much I loved/needed alone time. When I told people this dichotomy, they always said something like, “it’s a continuum. You can be somewhere in the middle.” But I didn’t feel in the middle. I felt both.

The fight between  my rational side and my emotional side is actually quite funny to me, because of how often I go to my professors’ office hours, burst into tears, and then attempt to have a rational discussion about how to fix whatever I’m struggling with. I always say, “sorry, I just cry easily, it’s not actually a big deal,” which sounds rational in my head but if I’m sobbing it doesn’t sound rational at all. My professors never seem to quite believe me. They look very sympathetic and hand me kleenexes.

All professors have boxes of kleenexes in their offices, I’ve found.

I blame the duality of my personality on my parents. My mom’s side of the family is emotional and introverted, and my dad’s side of the family is rational and extroverted. Somehow I got saddled with a healthy (maybe unhealthy) dose of both.

Personality tests, at their core, ALL seem to be about some extroverted/introverted or rational/emotional continuum. Have you noticed this? Does it drive anyone else crazy?

I know that just by virtue of discussing my personality I sound like I have special snowflake syndrome, but seriously, I can’t be the only one who feels like they are BOTH or NEITHER instead of either/or.


(Yes, I now give you permission to give a lengthy description of your personality in the comments below.)

A Post Written (and drawn) Longhand



The world feels eerily apocalyptic to me. Everything happened in one long weekend. A wedding of a dear friend. Visiting a cousin in the hospital after a major surgery. Another dear friend collapsing suddenly from diabetes and spending days in the ICU. The Pacific Northwest burning and burning, filling the skies with a melancholy haze.

The wedding getaway car against the smoke choked sky.

The wedding getaway car against the smoke choked sky.

In a short span of time I went from having no stories to tell beyond “I spent nine hours on a tractor smoothing out some dirt,” to having many stories, but feeling too pained inside to tell them.

When someone I love is in the hospital, I want to rush in and fix things. But I can’t. I’m not a doctor. I’m not their mother. Depending on how tired the patient is, my showing up at the hospital could easily be a hindrance, not a help.

As Sarah Beth is living on her own far from most of her family, my mom spent a lot of time in the hospital with her. So I cooked and cleaned and tried to be the mother in place of my mother, who was being the mother in place of her mother, and hoped in some small way I was helping out my friend.

Sarah Beth was discharged from the hospital this afternoon and is now spending a few days in our spare room, as she recuperates and gets used to the necessary lifestyle changes inherent with diabetes.

I read a Truman Capote quote the other day: “Money gets in people’s bone marrow. The rich might give you a Rembrandt for Christmas, but if you need to borrow five dollars, well you’d better not borrow that from anyone who’s rich.”

Sarah Beth is the type of girl who will always lend you five dollars, no matter what. It’s interesting to see how, in her time of need, people swarm from the four corners of the earth to try and help. I honestly think that if she needed a million dollars, she would get it.


There are times in life when I am so busy that a sustained routine is all that keeps me going. I get up at the same time every morning. I eat the same thing for breakfast. I wear all the uncomfortable underwear in the back of my underwear drawer so that I don’t have to do laundry

All it takes is one unexpected wrench to be thrown into my life, and I have no recourse.

I actively avoid this type of life, but like the uncomfortable underwear in the back of the drawer, sometimes I end up with it anyway.

I’ve been doing fieldwork for the past two weeks. That means I’m on a tractor instead of a combine, and going 5-8 mph instead of 2 mph. (The speedometer is broken on this particular tractor, so I’m just making a ballpark guess about those speeds.)

It goes like this: I pull the disk behind my tractor, turning over the soil. My co-worker follows with the harrow, to break down the soil. Then I drive the land plane over the fields to smooth them out. Again, my co-worker follows with the harrow to break the soil down even further.

My boss told me that we had PLENTY of time to get this done, and so I could work whatever hours I wanted, basically. So in some ways it was my own fault that I was so busy, as I could easily have taken off work earlier.

Two things kept me putting in the long-ish hours, though: First, I knew that taking a day off would force my co-worker, coming behind me on the harrow, to also take a day off. Second, I just wanted to get DONE.

Somehow, fieldwork is much more tiring than combining, though.

Last week was Vacation Bible School, and I did the story for the children every evening. So I’d rush home from work, edit the section of story I was going to be presenting that day, and then rush to VBS.

After VBS I’d sit down at my computer, thinking, “couldn’t I just do a quick post on my thoughts from the tractor?” But I would be too depleted to try.

Oh well.

On Monday, Pauline Scheffel, a sweet older lady at our church, passed away. Her funeral was on Friday.

Thursday I said to my boss, “how long do you think it will take to finish up this field work?”

“You won’t finish today,” he said.

“I know, but I have to leave at noon to go to a funeral tomorrow. Do you think if I came at eight I’d be done by then?”

“Good grief, it’s not October. Just come back Monday and finish things up.”

“Oh. Okay.”

So tomorrow I finish up fieldwork, and hopefully I’ll be able to spend the rest of the summer writing. I know it doesn’t seem like there’s much time left, but bear in mind that my school doesn’t start until the end of September.

I am glad that the busy is over.

Article about Farming

My mother wrote an article for our local newspaper about farming, which captured many of the feelings I’ve felt during the past few weeks as I’ve been caught up in farm work.

Read it on the newspaper’s website here, or on my mom’s blog here.

Thoughts from the Tractor: A Gift vs. A Brand


A couple years ago I took an Oral Interpretations class, mostly because I liked the teacher. The class was basically about how to read out loud well. We recited poetry, dramatic monologues, and radio programs, and had a good time in general.

The teacher, Ms. Ivey, gave us this piece of advice to combat public speaking jitters: “Remember. When you are speaking, you are giving the audience a gift.”

Of all the public speaking advice I’ve received over the years in various classes and from various teachers, this has stuck with me and helped me the most. When I’m standing in front of an audience, with that shaking, sinking feeling, her words come back to me.

“You are giving the audience a gift.”

Suddenly, the focus shifts. It’s not about me and the likelihood of my failure, it’s about blessing the audience. They’re not judging me. People don’t pick apart gifts to make sure they’re good enough, they accept gifts and are thankful for them.

I’ve begun to try to apply this philosophy to other areas of my life as well. Specifically, the world of online creative content.

It seems to me that lately everything in the world is about branding. This was a hugely pervasive idea in the Journalism program at UO–that you had to figure out immediately who you were, who your audience was, what you wanted to prove–and subsequently brand yourself as such.

Think about the blogs that get the heavy traffic. The Instagrammers who get thousands of likes on their photos. They do certain kids of posts so that certain kinds of people swarm to them. They may be “the fashionable one,” or “the cook,” or “the mountain climber.”

They have a brand.

Personally, I find this sad and somewhat scary, to think of the pressure to find a brand to garner fleeting attention. Because brands don’t bless people. Brands don’t have consciences. Brands exist solely to sell product.

I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is trying to sell me something.

So today, as I circled around a field, disking the soil into bits, I thought maybe I should think of the web as a place to give gifts, instead of a place to create a brand.

If you post something funny on Facebook, or link an interesting article, someone will enjoy that you did that. It’s a gift. As long as one person gains value from it, it’s a successful gift.

Conversely, if you post an Instagram picture and only three people like it, it’s not a very successful brand.

There’s a freedom in this, because there’s nothing to prove. You don’t have to figure out if you want to be the bookworm or the happy mommy or the political junkie. You can bless the world by just being you.

So, you’re welcome for this blog post (insert humble curtsy), and thank you to everyone who has blessed me with interesting articles on Facebook, pretty picture on Instagram, and nice comments on this blog.

(hint hint)

How to make a Head Covering from a Vintage Handkerchief: A Tutorial

Have you ever picked up a vintage handkerchief at a garage sale, and tried to use it as a bandana-style head covering, only to find it much too small?


You blew your nose in it instead?

Well I tried to use them as head coverings, because they are so cool and vintage-looking. I found a way to modify them so that they work well, and I thought I would share this bounty of wisdom with you.


(Please pardon the bag of potting soil in the corner)

Okay. All you need for this project is a handkerchief, some coordinating ribbon (I recommend grosgrain, because it isn’t as slippery, but I used this sheer stuff because we didn’t have any grosgrain) and basic sewing supplies.


First step: Iron your handkerchief. (I made sure my tea was in the photo because I thought it looked artsy. If you follow my example you may end up with a tea-stained head covering and ironing board.)


Now, using chalk or a pencil or something, draw a curve on the top half of your handkerchief.

angleThe higher the curve, the bigger the head covering will be, as illustrated by the red curve (small head covering) and the purple curve (large head covering).


I folded the handkerchief in half to cut the curve, to make sure that both sides would be exactly even.


This is (approximately) what it should look like when you’re done cutting. (I obviously didn’t do a very good job at ironing this. Good grief.)


Cut your ribbon into two pieces, about six inches long. I didn’t even measure. Long enough to tie into a bow easily.

Now, hem it however you wish. I chose to serge the edge, and then fold it over and hem, placing the ribbons in at the corners.


Is it just me or does the serger look like it’s bleeding?


The ribbon should go under the folded edge, like this.


If you don’t have a sewing machine, just hem it by hand.

Trim the ends of your ribbons into points, and dab a bit of fray check, or clear nail polish, or Elmer’s glue, on the ends to make sure they don’t unravel.


Now, iron your new head covering and use the ribbons to tie it onto your head like a bandana.


Ta da!

(And yes, that is a pen sticking out of my hair. If you want to know how to put your hair up with a pen, check out the only other tutorial I’ve ever done, here.)

P.S. If it grosses you out to put something on your head which someone once blew their nose into, just imagine that it was used, instead, to dab away a young damsel’s tears when her fiance went off to war, or something.