Feedback: Top 5 Lists

I received some very touching feedback from my friends regarding my previous entry: INTJ or What I Learned About Myself on Facebook. It seems that I may have been a little too critical of myself and that my adorable friends would actually include me on more than just their Top 5 Tattlers I Know list. I can’t express how touched I felt reading their lists and I wanted to share a few of them with the rest of you.

Without further ado:

“I think you should know that you’d totally be on my top 5 lists of people to ask geeky computer questions as well as the best place to go to a Star Trek convention…”

Thank you, and it’s true. For the record, the Origin conventions are typically the best Star Trek conventions, in my opinion. Had the Hilton in Las Vegas not shut down their Star Trek area (good bye, Star Trek Experience – good bye, Quarks – good bye, mini Star Trek museum – live long and prosper *sniff*), that one would have been my top choice for annual conventions. I’d also recommend the San Diego Comic Con. I believe it has a decent Star Trek cast turn-out, but I actually haven’t had a chance to attend and confirm.

“Any sort of sci-fi convention, comic book convention, or otherwise geek culture convention, where [Beth] will not actually offend anyone but won’t chastise me when I do. Even better, [Beth] will encourage my bad behavior and not judge.”

I’m completely flattered, because this comes from one of my friends who is a contributor to Sequential Tart – a webzine about the comic book industry written by women. To be considered in her top 5 conventions goers is quite frankly an honor since she’s been paid to go to the convention and write articles (not sure she took them up on that, but that’s another story).

Anyway, I hadn’t thought about how encouraging others in their bad behavior is a skill I possess, but now that I think about it, I guess I am fairly decent at getting other people to do bad things. I mean, I just tap into their need to do whatever bad thing they’re considering, and who am I not to get a giggle in the process. Is that so wrong? I’m just the little Beth that sits on your shoulders and coaxes you with “do it, you know you want to”. Of course personally, I’m not going to “do it”, because that’s both wrong and not how young (or old) ladies should behave.

Smoke break time. She’s excellent company and doesn’t complain about second hand smoke.

Again, I must say I am an excellent second hand smoker. And when I die of lung cancer, I’m sure the shocked response will be, “but she didn’t smoke!” Seriously, if you want to know what’s going on where you work, everyone in the smoking circle knows and what makes this group great, is the smoking circle defies job hierarchy boundaries – you’ll find the cleaning crew smoking away with your CEO and unless you’re a smoker, it doesn’t matter how much you pick up after yourself or exchange pleasantries with the custodians, you’re not getting anything out of them – smokers will not betray a confidence. The cigarette butt, stomped and smashed around firmly on the concrete, marks not only the end of the break, but an unspoken vow of silence. As a non-smoker, it’s a tough group to break into since you’re immediately thought of as suspicious and a word to the non-smoking wise who do want to hang out with this crowd – it’s usually better if you don’t approach them while sneezing, waving your hands frantically around your face and definitely, do not cough or whine about the lingering smell on your clothes.

With the most recent posts, it appears that I also hurt a few feelings by unintentionally excluding folks from the Top 5 People to Dispose the Body – my body buriers. So, let me smooth some ruffled feathers:

Tori – you made a great point, your family does own the funeral home in Chicago and you have the willingness and the know-how (thanks to the family business) to double-stack a body and bury the evidence. So, until the business is sold, I’ll gladly bump one of the Lynn clones and make a spot for you. Come on down!

Buddy – a decade plus of working in a prison certainly means you’ve been exposed to a lot of “how your master plan can go really wrong” types. My only hesitation is you’ve been policing the criminal failures instead of the masterminds, but I suppose we could give you a trial run and see where we’re at once the dirt is patted down. Of course, I can’t be there for the actual job thanks to the “ratting you out” I’ll invariably do if questioned. So, I will have to rely on Lynn to perform the “job” evaluations and get back to me with recommendations.

I must say, though, that I am a little disturbed that so many of my friends came forward to declare that they’d be really good at burying bodies. It’s a little disturbing, but I appreciate their ambition (there, there, nice sociopath). I also want to give a big thanks to my friends for letting me know that I was among their geek gurus whose good for hanging out for a smoke. It’s heartwarming. I love you guys.

INTJ or What I Learned About Myself on Facebook

I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the past few months – trying to nail down who I really am – someone who is hopefully more than a laundry list of physical attributes – you know, the “real” me. Fortunately, I didn’t have to take this journey alone; I’ve had some great guidance through Facebook and its many well thought-out and insightful quizzes.

For example, I’ve learned that of all the Muppets, I’m “Miss Piggy”. Sure, I have always related more to the laid back, piano-playing Rowlf or the balcony hecklers (when I’m feeling both feisty and critical), but they’re not me. I’m “Uhura” in Star Trek – not Scotty – I was sure I was more a Scotty – an easily stressed out yet comical nerd, but once again I was completely mistaken. I guess one too many lengthy phone conversations revealed my true nature and landed me firmly in the communications field. Sure, I’m no xeno-linguist, but really who needs to be? Isn’t that what the universal translator is for? I’m “Zoe” on Firefly. Ok, I’ll admit that I flat out cheated, but I’m pretty sure my sexier, cooler, tougher, more athletic alter ego is just like Zoe. My inner-me also happens to look quite stunning in leather. I mean, everyone who knows me knows that I’m actually “Wash”, the nerdy, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, sarcastic pilot, but a girl can dream.

Oh, and speaking of sarcastic, Facebook helped me come to terms with the fact that I’m not really all that sarcastic. Hooray! I mean, I’ve always suspected that people were just trying to hurt my feelings and now it’s confirmed – Facebook understood me in ways my friends never could (they probably weren’t hugged a lot when they were small).

You see, these 10 question quizzes truly reveal my soul.

After learning I was this Uhura-Miss Piggy non-sarcastic hybrid that really wasn’t Zoe because of the whole cheating-thing in a sad attempt to be cool, I moved on to the 5’s of things. Yes, the 5’s. You see, your whole life can be boiled down into top five lists. Top 5 beaches you’ve visited: Ummm… Galveston, Galveston, then there was Galveston, South Padre, and Cape Canaveral – I know, I know, I’m very well traveled). Top 5 beers I like. Top 5 cars I’ve owned. You get the idea.

Feeling this Uhura-Piggy could only stand to benefit from these Top 5 insights, I had to participate. And really, what I discovered is that I developed a hyper-compulsive need to group things into 5’s. I’d see an item on my desk and it became “Top 5 Post-It Pads I’ve Owned” (slow day at work, you see) or I’d drive down the street only to find myself thinking about the “Top 5 Billboard Signs” or the “Top 5 Keep Austin Weird Food Joints”. And while all of these lists of 5’s were terribly revealing, I still had more to learn about myself. I wanted to take the Top 5 to that next level. “Top 5 People Who Would Help Me Bury the Bodies” (Of course, the answer had to be Lynn x3 (through cloning technology), Anna and Jay – I mention their names in case you’re hiring – consider this a reference – although, you’re going to have to work out the cloning details with Lynn and then figure out how to grow her to full adulthood in time for your little “adventure”, but that’s your path to cross when you’re ready.

But truly, the real eye opener came when I got to thinking about what Top 5 lists my friends would put ME on. Ok, so if I were honest, I wouldn’t be the person you went to in order to bury the body. I’d more likely be “Top 5 Friends Who Would Rat You Out”. Yes, that’s me. I can’t lie. It’s a flaw. It’s not from a lack of willingness or even trying, I just have too many “tells” and then I easily cave. No need for a bamboo shoot manicure here. In fact, a former supervisor knew that when she suspected something hinky going on in the group, she should see me first. My best strategy in those situations was avoidance. If I wasn’t around I couldn’t betray everyone and give up everything I knew about the question at hand and I couldn’t throw in a little extra ratting out as icing on my big mouth. Hey, if you’re giving up all you know, it never hurts to sprinkle in a little extra so that when you’re running the gauntlet of withering looks from your co-workers, you know it’s well-deserved. I think this is why the CIA never came beating down my door to be one of their operatives.

Now, I might make the “Top 5 People You Could Have Hold the Flashlight While You Dug the Shallow Grave” – maybe – but more likely “Top 5 People I’d Send Out to Get the Top 5 Body Buriers Burgers”. I wouldn’t be in the “Top 5 People Who are My Calm in the Storm”, I’d more likely appear on “Top 5 People I Expect to FREAK RIGHT ON OUT at the Worst Moment and Maybe Drool”. If I want to even pretend to make a more positive list, I would probably land on “Top 5 Friends that Would Bawl Over Oprah or a Hallmark Commercial” (I did cry when I was about six years old over Mrs. Walton getting a new sweater, which disturbed my Mom a bit, but Mom didn’t understand just how much that sweater meant to Mrs. Walton) and maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t sound particularly “positive”.

So, I’m thinking maybe I should avoid Top 5 lists and quizzes altogether. Sure, I’m learning a lot about myself thanks to Facebook, but I think another truth has emerged – that I am the “Person Most Likely to Get a Complex by Taking Inane 10 Question Quizzes”. Perhaps I should just stick to something a little more reputable like Myers-Briggs.


Twenty years ago, I would talk on the phone for hours. Twenty years ago, I wrote long and thoughtful letters. Twenty years ago, I went out with friends and family and we hiked, camped, danced, listened to music and strolled around Town Lake until dawn. I was involved and engaged… twenty years ago.

Then along came the internet and my first account when I was a beth@ because few people had email and I could be beth@ without many contending for the name. As each year ticked away, I gradually stopped writing, stopped dancing, and stopped listening to music. Today, I no longer see dawn at the end of a long night, but at the beginning of a long day. My letters are email quips, my music is downloaded. I catch up with my friends through Twitter or through Facebook or the occasional website. I don’t share much; I’m content with simply being a name connected to a few short adjectives or a family stereotype; people don’t know me. Today, it’s easier to reach me online than it is on the phone and in fact, it’s my preference. I don’t feel the need to speak. New friends no longer come from work or school or through other friends, but through online connections as a handle or an avatar. We try not to trade in too much that is “real” – first names are rare. A very human connection slips away.

I suppose that’s how things go as we bumble through this digital age. With all this connection there is a very real and palpable disconnection.

How is a particular person doing? I’ll check their status on Twitter like I check the weather. I dip in, read a sentence or two and flitter away to find another distraction.

This works for me until they disappear.

I sometimes wonder, “where is Lori?” I used to have the answer. Her blog lies dormant. Where she encouraged you to follow her on Twitter, there hasn’t been an update in a year. Photos that were updated daily haven’t changed. Google tells me she’s alive and well. Prodding one of her closer friend confirms the same – that she’s alive. She’s living off the internet grid. I can’t relate.

I wonder about people like Mado, Myles Brakken, Tamara Nivens, Corwin and Lillia. I don’t know their real names. I don’t know where they live. I’ve personally never met them. However, for brief moments in my life, they were important to me in some small way and despite the shared laughs and occasional heartaches, I will never know who they really were nor them me.

… and I bumble along. More connected. More disconnected.


I’m now one of the millions on Facebook, Twitter (where according to my friend Brandi I “Tweet”), Flickr, and MySpace. I came to the sites honestly (peer pressure combined with a dash of morbid curiosity – not sure why it’s morbid). Facebook having been the most recent of my “social networking” experiments.

I really had tried to avoid most of these, because they’re a bit gimmicky and fluffy, but I hate to be one of those people who derides something having never poked at it a bit first. I accidentally fell into Facebook after reading a line from a friend that claimed I was already on the site – and after my initial “wha..?” I showed them by creating an account (yes, I know – brilliant move – showed them). Then I promptly pretended that I never saw the thing in the first place hoping that, without any intervention on my part, the whole thing would be swallowed up and disappear into some binary void for neglected accounts.

A couple of weeks ago I received a notice in my e-mail “you have a message”. Now see, I’m a sucker for “you have a message” – I’m curious to a flaw (I will push the big red button, I will open the thing that has “Do NOT Under Any Circumstance Open”, because what if the big red button doesn’t actually launch some evil something into the air (like red buttons do), and instead erupts into a chorus line of dancing/singing acrobats – I like acrobats! – I’m sure there’s some Twilight Zone episode that covers the downside of this way of thinking, but Rod was a bit of a cynic). When I received the notification, my thought pattern went a little bit like, “what if this is the BEST message you’ve ever received and by ignoring it that windfall you hoped for in this economy doesn’t happen?” Oh sure, it told me who the message was from and so the whole windfall idea fell apart, but still there was at least hope for a couple minutes of mindless entertainment.

After guessing at my password for a bit using all the combinations I could think of, I finally broke in and read my very special note for ME! (It was one of those mental moments where, had it been a real letter, I would have grabbed it, run to the nearest corner, hunkered down and slowly devoured every word – reading and re-reading it.) I’d taken that first Facebook step and decided it would be ok to maybe push some of the buttons on the application. Then I discovered I’d actually received a “friend” request some time ago. Oooh! A friend! I have ONE friend! I pushed “accept” and felt like a true part of the Facebook experience.

The next thing I knew, I had “friends” coming out of the woodwork. It was like a little light came on and they all “knew” (and all the analogies I can make would either have people driving to my house to smack me in the back of the head (ow) or my little friend pool would dwindle – so, let’s just say they “knew” like things (err.. people) who know things suddenly gain that knowledge, which is not akin in any way to the way zombies find the living or that Sam can unearth a crumb of food in the cushions, because those are TERRIBLE analogies that would never apply to actual people that I know). Admittedly, I did seek some out, because I was a little envious of people’s “friends” lists that had more than just the one friend (like me).

Now I have a place where I can share all of the best of my inane thoughts like “woke up early” or another favorite “I have to go to work” (previously this would have just have been a “tweet”, but now with an application on Facebook that pumps my “tweets” into status updates and my status updates into “tweets” – I can let all of my “friends” know about my colds, my wake-up times and work status, too – talk about a dream fulfilled). Plus, I now have a place to share 25 Things that tell you nothing about me, but fall into the category of “harmless facts I’m willing to divulge at this moment”. With Twitter, I’d be limited to 128 characters. With Facebook, I can natter on seemingly without limit.

Now I’ve been pressuring “friends”. Yes, “friends” with air quotes, because as I’ve explained to them “Facebook doesn’t officially acknowledge our friendship until you’ve joined – there are rules, you know.” So far, none have caved and signed-up, but I haven’t given up on them, yet. We can be more than “friends” – we could be Friends ™.

For now, I’ll play around with Facebook until the next big thing comes along that I get suckered into.