Archive for ‘worldview’

December 13, 2012

ideas for my best-seller

10.04.2009 – Well, I’d buy them …



November 26, 2012

personality tests I have failed


There’s a website, Authentic Happiness,  that really annoys me and which inspired this cartoon:

Since publishing this cartoon on my blog [now defunct], I have been asked things like ‘Did you actually take those personality tests?’ and ‘Why don’t you like that website? You should try harder to join.’ (This, from my partner.) Also, ‘That cartoon shows a lot of self-awareness.’

So the answer to the first question is, no, I didn’t do the questionnaires. Also, just to be clear, since I have obviously failed in the purpose of this cartoon, which was to make fun of the Authentic Happiness people in their relentless pursuit of positive thinking, you don’t actually have to pass these tests to join some kind of happiness club, they are for self-awareness/development purposes only.

I dislike personality, psychological and aptitude tests, as I have a long history of failing them. For my statistics class at University, we did a lot of these tests to generate data to analyse. I was always an outlier – at the ‘educationally sub-normal’ or ‘uh-oh, mental!’ end of the normal distribution.

There’s a horrible personality test called the Big 5, which evaluates you along 5 dimensions: Openness (intellect), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. What I learned about myself from this test was that I was naïve, feckless, an introvert (which apparently means ‘more likely to turn out to be a serial killer’), high-maintenance and emotionally unstable, i.e. destined to end up an unemployable spinster.

For the next couple of decades, I adopted a strategy of minimizing self-awareness, of refusing to recognise what the tests had revealed about me. This worked quite well, and I managed to earn a living and have relationships by convincing potential employers, boyfriends and sometimes myself that I was outgoing, easygoing and completely committed to whatever it was they were proposing. However, this was exhausting, and I just couldn’t keep it up. My true nature always asserted itself eventually.

Then I did the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, which unlike the Big 5 test, isn’t arranged in terms of positive and negative ends of a spectrum, but goes from good to … differently good. According to this test I’m an intuitive introvert, who prioritises human factors over objective logic, with a high tolerance for uncertainty. In other words, an independently-minded woman who is better suited to self-employment. That I can live with.


Today I read a review of this book, and was inspired to dig up my old cartoon:

November 20, 2012

The joy of mindlessness

12.03.2011 Sunday – from my journal

At some point yesterday I was reading about mindfulness. Being mindful is about paying attention to things, about really listening, really noticing. That’s what I’ve been paid all these years to do on behalf of other people. It’s exhausting. It’s just so much easier being mindless. Isn’t it easier to not think about things, just react as they happen? But then there’s that business about needing to keep body and soul together.

A lot of jobs require you to be mindful, on behalf of other people. Because you can’t be mindful about everything. No-one has that kind of attention, that’s why you need doctors, shrinks, consultants, lawyers, accountants. The irony is, the more time you spend being mindful, the more you have to spend on people being mindful on your behalf.

November 14, 2012


24.02.2011 Thursday

I woke up this morning and had a vision of a world in which I was doing completely different work. In my vision I was setting up centres for old people which offer assisted living services, day-care centres, and basically great places for old people to pass their final years. There should be the option to be sociable or not. It should be a fantastic place to work for, especially for entrepreneurial people. Old people should be enabled to feel like useful members of society if they want to. They should be afforded whatever level of privacy they want. It should be an opportunity for workers to learn all sorts of different skills, from building management to counseling, from plumbing and carpentry to management, there should be crèches for the workers, and ways for the old people to interact with the young. There would be weekly anecdote circles, and creative writing workshops open to everyone, especially writers researching memories and experiences of living in different times and different places. It would be a place of integration and cultural exchange. I’ve no idea how I’d make any of this happen. The first idea I had was to try and do some voluntary work in an old people’s home and see what conditions are like.

Anyway it was a nice vision. Will I ever do anything like it? Probably not. It was a nice way to wake up though, and whatever the brain does to reward itself for having ideas, even stupid ones, it was doing it, giving me a nice buzz.

November 8, 2012

tramp dread

28.02.11 – from my journal

Just read Michael Neill’s Monday post. Here’s a nice thought: “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do it.” So he’s saying don’t change. If you don’t know what to do, do nothing. That’s subversive. M. was looking yesterday at exhibitions we could go and see this afternoon. That would be in the spirit of doing nothing, I suppose. It’s hard doing nothing, especially if you’re feeling scared, scared of being judged, scared that opportunities are passing you by, scared that there are all sorts of pro-survival things that I should be doing, that normal people would do, that I’m not and am therefore going to join my homeless friends in their sleeping bags in the street downstairs. Why does “homeless tramp” seem to be the logical conclusion of my behavior? I’m hardly reckless. The chances of me doing something that will really turn me into an outcast are almost slim to none. I’m not likely to murder or steal from someone. I’m quite a good person. I have relatives who wouldn’t allow anything really bad to happen to me.

November 7, 2012

when my mind takes a break from all the worrying

27.02.2011 Sunday – from my journal

Thought: If I looked like my personality I would look like Brezhnev, all totalitarian, beetle-browed, and responsible for an era of economic stagnation.

02.03.2011 Wednesday evening – from my journal

My hair clip has just sprung open, whacking me on the back of the head. I wonder who I can sue?

Today I updated my status on facebook a few times. I said that M. told me I looked like trailer trash, but I think I look more “Silicon Valley” or dot com.

I also reported that M. has become “mayor” of our local kebab shop, supermarket, and wine bar.

October 28, 2012

the pursuit of ignorance

Monday 16th Jan 2012.

The universe doesn’t want to give me any answers today. Mainly because I don’t want to ask it any questions.

I might be disappointed by the facts, so maybe it’s for the best. Anyway, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. That’s what they say, isn’t it? I have a superstitious belief that “knowing it makes it so,” i.e. if I ignore it, remain ignorant of it, deny its existence, it’ll go away. The alternative, paying attention to things, makes them real, like if you pay attention to your health, you’ll get ill, or at least turn into a hypochondriac. Knowledge hurts, makes you focus on the unpleasant facts. And who wants to do that? Chances are, it’ll all become moot eventually, anyway.

October 27, 2012

Idea for a line of self-help book titles

A new line of book titles brought to you by Happy Bunny Publications: self-help books aimed at helping the people that buy them as gifts for the people that annoy them.

October 26, 2012

message to future me: “You’ve been brainwashed!”


I’ve discovered where you can write letters to your future self.

Why would you write to your future self? What would you write? This is what I asked my students today. These are the sensible answers they came up with:

  • notes from a younger you, reminding you not to make the same mistakes
  • to test the strength and endurance of your convictions over time
  • to remind yourself of the reasons you think/believe something
  • to remember who you were in the past

Nicola suggested you could use it to play tricks on your future self by sending yourself messages like “You’ve been brainwashed!” or “You are actually a man!”

What if you started receiving letters from yourself in the past and you have no recollection of writing them? How weird would that be? What if they were telling you about buried treasure?

October 25, 2012

ostrich milk

24.10.12 – journal – Morgex

On Sunday, when we’d got to the cheese course one of the carpenters, Carletto, said he wondered what ostrich milk tasted like. He’d seen it advertised online. Luigi sounded dubious and said that aren’t they birds, therefore NOT mammals, therefore couldn’t produce milk, therefore couldn’t produce cheese? And I just had to say, forced by my genetic predisposition to need to contradict everything anyone says, “No, I think he might be right. There’s something strange about ostriches. I think they might be mammals, like the duck-billed platypus.” I actually managed to sow seeds of doubt, and not just in my own head.

October 25, 2012

oh my god, I’M Sheldon!

22.02.2011 Tuesday

What did I learn from attending Toastmasters for four years?

  • that I either feel like the most boring, weird person in the world. Or I feel like I’m some kind of misunderstood genius and no one could possibly grasp what I have to tell them.
  • that the point of what you say, even if it’s the most beautifully constructed story or argument can be totally obliterated by the way you say it: i.e. if you’re inaudible, monotonous, don’t make eye-contact with them, make no reference to your audience, ignore your audience, talk over your audience’s heads, …
  • that even the people who make your eyes glaze over, the most boring-sounding geeks, the most self-obsessed spinsters, often have hidden interesting sides and fine brains. You’ll only find this out if you assiduously attend the bi-monthly meetings for at least two years. It takes this long to make you feel that you belong to the same race as your fellow toastmasters. NB. I met two of my best friends and my partner of 5 years at Toastmasters.
  • That I find it almost impossible to listen to feedback, that I don’t trust it and find most of it useless. It’s also that I don’t believe I’ve got anything to learn from these people.
  • I still don’t understand the point of the speech where you’re supposed to practice body language. And vocal variety.
  • that I sound like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
October 22, 2012

The most insulting self-help books to give as gifts

22.02.2011 Tuesday

I wonder if there’s a book that would teach S. the social skills she lacks to get on in life? What would I put in a book to help people with no social skills develop them? I ‘ll have to interview myself.

What did I read and do when I was last unemployed and at my most misanthropic? I read the book I got mum for Christmas, “How To Talk To Anyone”, (that she was really insulted I bought for her), “Change your life in 7 days,” “Resistance is Useless,” …  Did I ever manage to read “I’m OK you’re OK”? Dad had a shelf of books like this, “Straight And Crooked Thinking,” “Games People Play.” I bet dad bought them hoping mum would read them. I also did Toastmasters, I went “biodancing”, I read any new-agey crap anyone passed on to me about Bach flowers and equations to do with love. I should make a complete list. I should make a list of books that would be the most insulting to give as gifts.

Here’s an idea for a self-help book for the badly-brought up.

“Were you raised by wolves? A checklist of the things good parents should have taught you.”

October 18, 2012

a tendency to overgeneralise


I’ve always hated board games, most of them anyway, like monopoly. I don’t mind the pure chance ones, like Ludo, which allow me to be totally fatalistic, but games like monopoly which require decisions and strategy as well as luck just made me feel like a stupid loser. I don’t know how much I believe in self-determination, if that’s the right word: I’ll never forget when I was 12 or 13 deciding that I was going to get a handle on Maths, that if I just studied enough I’d be able to do ok and pass my tests. I based my conclusion on a sample of one test, which I studied for and did more abysmally than usual on, that there is no cause and effect, things are totally random and I might just as well give myself up to my fate, and I was fated to be crap at Maths. Look how I still write it with a capital letter.

October 18, 2012

10 defining moments


  1. at school, doing worse at my math test after studying than when I didn’t do anything
  2. losing the creativity contest at the conference to the Sausage Eating team, whose idea was “eat sausages”. Our idea was for pasta that would change colour when it cooked. How could we not win?
  3. Going from deciding I’m surrounded by cretins and morons at the beginning of the conference to thinking I’m surrounded by the most brilliant people ever
  4. Having M tell me he loved me the first time we slept together
  5. passing my Financial Strategy exam
  6. when dad died he became Saint Dad, while mum became The Evil One
  7. being with S. and A., how I can flip between being all sweetness with A to superbitch with S. I’m like one of those really annoying people who baby talk to their dogs and are horrible to everyone else.
  8. My boyfriend dumped me, the bags in which I’d stored all my summer clothes were stolen, my dog died, I thought I’d never smile again, and then I met my baby niece, Clementine
  9. Having my wishes come true, and then realising how superficial my desires had been
  10. how I go from being wildly opinionated to having no opinions at all
October 18, 2012

do I have Tourette’s too?


Interesting: it takes 45 minutes to get to Piacenza. I thought it took a lot longer than that. Fucking hell, this whole carriage has filled up. Can’t the guy go and sit somewhere else for fuck’s sake. Can’t he see the rest of the train is empty? Ok it sounds like he’s going all the way to Naples. That stupid woman could have sat somewhere else. Anyway, it’s not going to kill me to sit with these people for another hour and a half. God, I am such a misanthropist. There’s a word that sounds like misanthropist, that means the opposite? What is it? What’s Mr. Microsoft now? A philanthropist, that’s it. Gosh, what a vocabulary I have.

October 17, 2012

asperger social skills

Summer 2011, on the phone with my sister, S. S. is talking about her initiative to set up a summer school, something she’s never done, with a school-teacher friend of hers. Things aren’t going to plan, although the plan seems to be that the school-teacher friend, who’s in the process of getting married, gets permission from the school and recruits all the parents and children. There’s no progress and S. is expressing feelings of betrayal towards her friend, referring to her as “a cow”, and possibly “a stupid bitch”. I point out that S.’s plan seems to be dependent on her friend making everything happen, and in the interests of maintaining a positive working relationship, perhaps she shouldn’t refer to her as “a cow” and “a bitch”. S. tells me that’s how she deals with things, because “she’s a fighter.”


October 16, 2012

drunk in Verona


Just had a lovely meal at the Osteria del Duca. My tagliata with a glass of Barolo, M’s polpette di puledro con patate, the Soave, which I’ve discovered is a place, I appreciated every morsel, even the bread which looked like it was going to be rock hard but was soft and doughy inside. At one point M turned to me, after I’d been explaining something to him, and said “You’re face … looks funny.” I think wine, good wine, sometimes has the same effect as ecstasy. People don’t talk about about the mind-altering qualities of wine. Maybe wine should also be evaluated on the quality of the buzz, as well as the nose, the finish, the usual stuff. Actually, I’m to old to know what I’m talking about with ecstasy, but it sounds right.

Margherita is one of the unfortunates for whom wine is poison, like for mum, S and T. I wonder if they’d respond to ecstacy?

October 16, 2012

a theory that explains everything

Saturday 11 February 2012

I’ve just told S about my theory that most of our family have Asperger Syndrome. She was insulted. She said “That’s complete rubbish, I’m not afraid of crowds, that’s complete bullshit.” This is in front of A, who wants to know what we’re talking about, probably relieved that the attention is off him. He told me earlier that the TV was broken. This evening S. told me that he broke it. They were arguing about watching TV, he pushed it, it fell off the table and smashed. S wants to take him to see a neurologist because “he doesn’t recognise any limits.” She tells me this while eating a carrot and play-fighting with A on the bed with the pouf – oh, and A is eating a rice-cake.