This Love

I can incriminate myself this time because I know the person this poem’s about doesn’t read my blog. Probably. Plus they already knew this stuff to be true at one point, and I suspect they still know (or are really dense). Continue reading This Love

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I’m an Extrovert

Who knew? I don’t think anyone would have guessed it before I figured it out. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but I’ve been procrastinating, because I know it will be fairly long.

Let’s back up and give you some background. When I was much younger–four or five years old, probably–my family all took the Enneagram personality test. The Enneagram typing system, briefly, has nine numbers that stand for different personality types. 1 is the Perfectionist, 2 is the Helper, 3 is the Achiever, etc. According to the Enneagram typing system, you are primarily one of these numbers, with part of an adjacent number as your “wing.”

As I’ve had more time to think about it–three quarters of my life, technically–I’ve come to not like it very much, but at the time, it inspired in me a love of personality typing. (The reason I don’t particularly like–though don’t dislike–the Enneagram system is that it is a measure of the obvious; that is, it tells you what your behaviors are. Its types are also broad enough so that I tend to overlap in many of them, making it more difficult to believe I was a certain type simply because I may have answered one question differently to get that type.)

Fast forward some time–I didn’t keep track of how long; I didn’t know I’d be writing this blog post–and my brother discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It uses four binaries to create sixteen personality types. In other words, the types are four letters, each letter can be one of two: I or E, S or N, F or T, and J or P. An advantage–in my mind–MBTI has over the Enneagram system is that it is based on Jungian cognitive theory; that is, it tries to type how people think at their core, but not their behavior, necessarily. That will be important later.

Though my brother has since come to deplore it–though I’m sure he would use lesser language–at the time, he was fascinated with it. Our whole family took tests, and I came out as ISTP. The important part to understand about this is that the first letter can either be an I or and E, standing for Introvert and Extrovert respectively.

At the time, it seemed to fit my personality quite well. I recall one of the descriptions of ISTPs being that they were a bit of a mercenary, and I, being the young, foolish boy I was, saw that and ignored the rest. Whether or not I would have realized anything then had I looked further I don’t know. I doubt I would have realized I was an extrovert, but maybe I would have seen that I was an N rather than an S like I did when…

When I went to public high school–after being home schooled prior to that–they had all the students take a MBTI test (which was horribly built, but I won’t go into that), and I came out as INTJ. I knew I was an ISTP (Ha!). I definitely wasn’t an INTJ (Heh). Then my mom suggested I retake the test at home with one of the tests I trusted. What do you know, I came out as INTP. After looking at various descriptions of the INTJ and INTP and ISTP (LETTERS!!), I decided that I actually was an INTP, so the school test wasn’t all wrong.

At no point had I questioned my introversion. I didn’t like talking to people. I didn’t like going out with friends. I didn’t like being the center of attention. Of course, you know there’s a “but” coming.

But then I went to college. I made several friends in the dorm I was in–sorry, “residential hall”–and in the InterVarsity chapter (as I’ve discussed before). I still didn’t like being the center of attention, and I definitely tended to be the quietest person in the room when there more than my two roommates around. Even when it was just us three I was quiet unless the INFJ was talking to me–I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I love INFJs before, so there you go. They’re awesome.

So I’m an introvert wrong? Since you’re smart enough to remember the beginning of this post, you know the answer is no. See, all the MBTI tests I’ve taken say I’m an introvert. How I act says I’m an introvert. So let’s tear those two points apart.

First is the MBTI tests. Early on this Summer, while I still thought I was an INTP, I was texting with my brother about MBTI and we mentioned–I don’t remember which one of us brought it up–how the MBTI tests seemed to be testing shyness vs. outgoingness rather than introversion vs. extroversion. The difference being that shyness vs. outgoingness is a measure of fear in social interactions, while introversion and extroversion are, simply, where you get your energy, either by being alone or by being with others respectively.

Of course, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t an introvert, just because the tests tend to test the wrong thing. So then we turn to how I act. While at college, I didn’t talk a lot, especially in larger groups of people (and we’re talking more than four or five people; it didn’t take much). However, I still enjoyed being around them, even if I was only listening.

Then there’s the matter of text vs. speech. Text is a lot easier for me, to the point that, in a private group chat with friends, such as a Facebook group for my D&D group, I am at least 90% more likely than anyone else to be the one that initiates something. In the case of the D&D group, I’d be the one asking about the next meeting or posting random things I thought they would appreciate. In texting my (majority INFJ) friends, I’m almost always the one that initiates it.

I’m not an introvert. I’m a shy extrovert.

Well. I was.

See, when I finally figured out I was an ENTP in the middle of August, I started noticing some changes in my behavior. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but if not, I take karate lessons while I’m home from college. Continuing my trend from above, I wasn’t particularly outspoken (understatement of the century). Then, after I decided I was an ENTP, I noticed myself talking more. When I would usually keep my mouth shut because of what I suppose was anxiety, I spoke freely. When I would usually not be the first person to say anything, I was speaking up.

It was very disconcerting. I hadn’t done anything to make this change except change what I was calling myself. Where I had expected I would need to work hard to act myself–a.k.a. extroverted–when I went to college, I was now doing it naturally; accidentally.

This coming year will be interesting. I’ve really only had opportunity to test my extroversion at karate, which is only for an hour at a time. It will be interesting how I do in a setting that is much more often catering to extroversion. Hopefully it will help me get out of this state of blah I’m in that I attribute to lack of peopling (which, surprisingly, is a word, but sadly, does not mean what I want it to mean).

Toodles. (No. Don’t let me ever say that again. Again. I’m pretty sure I’ve already told you that. Which means you failed. Because I just said it. Again. Which I told you not to let me do. I think. You might be in big trouble. Not that I’m going to check.)

Jack of Spades

When people do magic tricks, that’s all they do. It’s just a trick. Card tricks, quick changes, impalement… They’re all just tricks. You can quickly find out how they’re done by doing a quick Google search. Everything you could want to know about how stage magic is done is out there. Some tricks are kept to the trickers, of course. They wouldn’t want to give away the secrets to their success. It’s the old tricks that are out there, but even the new tricks are just tricks.

I don’t blame them, of course. How can you blame someone for having dexterity, showmanship, and intellect? I don’t look down on them, either. That’s important for you to understand as I continue. They are not lesser for being mimics. It is a difficult task to impersonate so convincingly. As I’m sure you can guess, however, there is a ‘but’ coming.

But they are not magicians. I am.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and everything in between and beyond! My name is Jack, and this is my spade.” I held up a shovel. It was of the long and thin variety. “In fact, I quite like spades.” I spun the shovel around for the audience. “They’re useful for getting rid of the bodies. Did I say that out loud?”

The audience laughed. They were fifteen-hundred strong, and regulars of magic shows. You see, I had made a name for myself by putting videos of my magic tricks on YouTube. Everyone had thought me a fake, but I claimed I could do magic just as outrageous live in Vegas, so here I was.

“Now, there’s a problem with this spade.” I stopped spinning it, letting its head sway back and forth above the ground like a pendulum. “It’s the wrong shape,”—I tossed it behind me—“because, as you all know by what it said on your ticket, I am the Jack of Spades, and a Jack of Spades’ spade is not that spade.”

I danced my fingers around for a moment, getting a feel for the shovel. It was lying on the floor behind me for the moment, but I aimed to change that. It sprung up to stand straight up on its point when I raised my hand. Then I spread my fingers in one quick motion, spreading out the shovel just so. “Now that’s a proper spade!” I said as I turned it right-side-up. And it was.

And the audience applauded.

My apparel of choice was a black tuxedo with a dark red vest beneath and black shirt under that. I also wore white gloves, making me a true magician, of course. I continued the bravado with a curly black mustache and proper top hat with which to pull rabbits out of.

“Now, would the lady in the third row with the white shirt please come to the stage.”

She complied, as predicted. I met her halfway and gave her a hand, helping her onto the stage because apparently we respect women more than men, though I can see why.

“Your name is Leah, correct?”

She covered her mouth and laughed. “Yes, it is.”

I smiled. “Do you want to know how I know? Magic.”

I then raised a table from the ground. Without touching it, of course. Then I pulled a deck of cards out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table.

“Leah, do you watch much magic?”

“Occasionally,” she said with a nod.

“Then you know that usually the magician goes through some process to get you to select a card?” She nodded. “And then they use some method of making that card appear somewhere else, and at some point in the process the magician gets their hands on the deck and thereby invalidates the entire trick.

“If a magician touches something, it may not be the same thing when you pick it up. That’s how they do these tricks, after all. Magic is nothing but sleight of hand most of the time, but I shall show you real magic. I will not lay a single hand on the deck from now to when I tell you the card you picked.”

I turned to the crowd and stood in front of the table. “So go on. Select a card, and do not tell me what it is.”

“Ok, done.”

“Now place it face down on the table and put the deck face down next to it.”

“Done.”

“Good.” I turned around and walked around to her side of the table so I could face the audience. “Now you would agree I haven’t touched the deck since we began?”

“Yes.”

“And I couldn’t possibly know what card you had selected?”

“Yes.”

“Leah, please turn the deck face-up.”

She did, and was shocked to see that every card in the deck was now the four of hearts.

“And the card you picked, Leah? Turn it over for us.”

She did, revealing the four of hearts.

“The four of hearts, my fine audience! And why don’t you explain your shock to them, Leah?”

“Every card in the deck is the four of hearts.”

“Indeed.” I dropped a pen from my hand—of course, it wasn’t there until I dropped it—onto the table. “Please sign your name on the card.”

She did so. Then she dropped the card when she had finished, as she had noticed the deck of cards, all fours of hearts, all had her same signature.

“Tell the audience what has shocked you this time, Leah.”

She took a moment to recover from the shock. “All the cards have my signature on them.”

“Indeed they do, and, fine audience, you will find you now each have a card in one of your pockets, if you have a pocket.” As the audience began checking their pockets, I continued. “You shall find that the card is the same as every card up here.”

As the smoke began to curl around my feet, I said, “Feel free to check after I’m gone.” Then the smoke exploded upwards around me, and I disappeared from that Vegas stage. I had returned to my home in Maine.

You see, stage magic isn’t bad, but it has nothing on real magic. You can do every card trick in the book and even ones that won’t be written for thousands of years, but you can never outdo real magic. We real magicians will always be one step ahead of you.

Now I’ll disappear forever. ‘The Greatest Disappearing Act of All Time,’ they’ll call it. They’ll search for a time, and there will be imitators, but no Jack of Spades. I got the attention of who I wanted. He was in the crowd that day. The Ace of Spades. The last card in the deck of magicians. We’ve found you, laddy. Now find us.