I would like to introduce to you @BranchMonkey . Although she has been a member of Personality Café for only one year, she has made a real impression, posting an impressive 7,312 times. BranchMonkey can often be found greeting new members. She puts much effort into making them feel at home at PerC. I have found BranchMonkey to be very friendly and very kind and very welcoming to new members. I also have made a friend in her! It is my pleasure to introduce to you BranchMonkey.
Please share as much information as you feel comfortable: your first name or a nickname, age, place you live.
My first name is Karolyn. I’m 57 years old.
My official nickname, the one that everyone used in the family, was “Sissy.”
Most southern families in the States had back then, and further back in time—maybe still—a “Sissy,” the girl in the family, usually the oldest, on whom the mother of a large family could depend to spell her when she needed help with cooking, caring for the younger children, someone to depend on when she was overwhelmed, to take on other tasks. After my mother tried and failed to get my older sister to fulfill the Sissy role, I stepped up and into it when I was about 12 years old. I am one of nine children, five of whom are younger than I am.
Please share about your family. Siblings, parents, husband, kids, etc.
My mother passed away more than ten years ago. My father is in his 80s and still going strong. I was surrogate mom to the youngest three, although now that they’re grown, I’ve been relieved of that role.
As for other family, I have one child from my first (arranged) marriage. My son is in his late 30s and lives in Arizona with his wife.
My most important relationship is with The Eternal One. I am an Ashkenazia Jew, who grew up with and surrounded by people from all over the globe, but especially from Eastern Europe, so I feel at home in the nearby Messianic Jewish congregation, where I attend our weekly Shabbat service. My husband is a Christian, who attends a local non-denominational church.
My most important human relationship is the one I have with my husband. We’ve been together coming up on 30 years this spring. We’ve been married for 24 years, and will celebrate out 25th wedding anniversary this autumn.
It’s hard in some ways for my husband to live with an INFJ, and it’s hard for me sometimes to live with an ENFP, but as he is the most introverted of extraverts and I am the most extraverted of introverts, we make it work.
One challenge for us is the difference in our enneagrams. I am a Counter-Type (Sexual) 5 with a self-preservation 6; he is Type 2 with a Sexual 3 wing, so sometimes we talk or work at cross-purposes, but hey, don’t we all. (Rhetorical.)
Aside from a shared spiritual commitment, it helps that our roots mesh: Southern-based, working class. And while he was the oldest, I took on that role when I was 12.
My husband excels at mediation; he is the ultimate diplomat. I do best giving specific advice tailored to individuals who come to me—or to whom I reach out--for help; I am a dedicated mentor and advocate.
My husband and I still like, respect, and love each other. We take the vows we spoke seriously. My husband likes how I put it: We’ll be together “until death does its part.”
Could you tell me about something in your life that made you very happy?
My father took me to a neighborhood branch library when I was ten to get my first library card. He also gave me a tremendous gift: Permission to go into any section and choose the maximum number of books the library allowed its patrons to borrow for a two-week period.
I spent a lot of time in the young adult section, but I also loved history and learning about other cultures, as well as all sorts of insects. Later, I’d know the categories were world history, cultural anthropology and entomology. From there, my interests grew as I am a naturally curious person and there is so much in life worth studying.
Around the same time that my father took me to get the library card, my mother picked up a used Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia set at a yard sale. I read from that every day as well as from our family dictionary.
So, specifically, what about all this reading made me very happy?
I couldn’t explore the physical world beyond the narrow minds and neighborhood streets I walked, so I explored it safely, and with eagerness, through world literature.
Sitting in a chair reading something I chose from a nearby stack of books while my father sat in his recliner doing the same, he and I had a bond. For a time, for however long it lasted, we were related by more than mere blood.
What is your personality type? (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.) What do you like about being that personality type? What do you dislike? What would you like other people to know about people with your personality type?
I am an INFJ, close to the line for F and T, but I think these tests are picking up what Beatrice Chestnut’s work indicates: I am analytical, sometimes too analytical, so this aspect of my personality is what I like and dislike about how my mind works—depending on circumstances.
Also, as I mentioned, I’m a mentor and advocate—going as far back as my early teens. And this, too, is satisfying or frustrating depending on circumstances.
Sometimes others take me for an INFP. Heck, I’ve been known to switch what is listed as my type to INFP, as I am Counter Type 5, “the most romantic of the 5s,” but, in Ms. Chestnut’s enneagram system, “romantic” does not mean what it seems to mean—and others mistake if for, enjoying chick flicks, needing to receive flowers, have candle-lit dinners with my partner, expect gifts of chocolate or jewelry and other stuff that corresponds to the trendy “love language” acts.
Instead, romantic for a Counter-Type 5 corresponds to the sexual variant. A Counter-Type 5 is on the lookout for someone with whom to have an intense bond, whether romantic or platonic. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve found that as many if not most Counter-Type 5s do not find their ideal partner. I also have a close relationship with my INTP best friend. This is what a Counter-Type 5 needs: Someone with whom “we click,” have an intense relationship with—and I knew that long before I read that this is what a classic Counter-Type 5 needs.
One area that is crucial for determining the INFJ vs INFP match as it related to INFJs in general, and here I am referring to myself, is this:
Seeks harmony on a universal level; applying ideas to people more often than to projects—unless the projects directly benefit people.
This idea and harmony-orientation often includes being involved at a community level, but it is the universal values that are paramount, and those values that can be applied on a day to day, situation to situation basis. As the world has grown at once larger and yet—because of social media, seemingly smaller, how one defines “Universal values” (and what acting on them may look like) varies.
Tell me about your interests. What sorts of books do you like to read? Movies? What music do you like? Are there any favorite songs that you'd like to share? Feel free to share a Youtube video.
I can no longer read ‘from’ five books a day, switching among them, e.g. going from a book of anatomy (structure and function) to Fawn Brody’s, No Man Knows My History, then on to Erich Fromm’s, Man Against Himself, and stopping to read some from An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden, before starting my reading rounds again the next day with a different mix as I finish some from the last round..
Now I read from one area of interest, going back to reread particular books and to reference an author’s earlier theory. I prefer accessible authors--not those who write only for their academic colleagues, but those who write for any serious thinker.
For the past few months, I’ve been reading from Karen Korney’s, Neurosis And Human Growth, stopping to read a few chapters from her The Neurotic Personality Of Our Time, then referencing a chapter or two from Our Inner Conflicts.
I do this to chart the evolution of Horney’s thought as well as to make sense out of what she writes in the most recent of these three psychoanalytic works: Neurosis And Human Growth. As it was written when her theory matured, it reflects her most complete theory and thought.
While letting some of Horney’s thought gel, I picked Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason back up. I’m making my way through it slowly as it is the best way to mine this kind of work.
My latest area of study is Messianic Judaism, focusing on Talmudic and midrash works as well as Jewish children’s books, e.g. works by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.
It’s been a long time since I had to rush through any book for a professor in a structured education setting, so I am enjoying having time to think and engage with the authors in a kind of dialogue that includes debate on my side because as I’ve said and other authors have too, “Once a book leaves the writer’s hand, it belongs to the community.”
Movies? A few come readily to mind: The Verdict; Ordinary People; A Man For All Seasons.
Other than movies on par with these, I watch mostly foreign films. My favorite, perhaps (having to choose only one) would be The Blue/White/Red trilogy directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski.
I’m tossing in a couple other interests:
Chess. I enjoy playing one-on-one, in person. And as I learned (from playing at a championship level with Scrabble) I am drawn most to the focus, the strategy, and the companionship, enough so that I do not play cut-throat, i.e. not what most would consider “top of my game,” and that’s OK as I can do that in my head or against a computer maven.
Another longstanding interest is taking black-n-white photography—not just viewing but taking my own. Or, in the computer age, editing them using a cheap phone camera. Some day I hope to get my high-quality Nikon camera repaired so I can really have fun playing with settings and effects.
Exercise is something I rank highly.
Once a week I warm up my muscles by walking inside or outside the flat for 20 minutes, then concentrate on stretching all my muscles before continuing with mat and weight training.
Every day, I do stretching, ab and other mat work—always ending as I begin:
Using a heating pad on various areas that need attention, which at this point in my life, because of auto immune, cervical and lumbar spine (and other) diseases—involves relaxing most muscle groups.
I’m glad you mentioned favorite “songs” because, aside from a few songwriters and performers, I do not favor particular artists. Bob Dylan for song writer, is, no shock, one of the few exceptions; he’s a favorite, perhaps “the” favorite in that area; otherwise, it’s the songs themselves that draw me in.
There needs to be either a straightforward, honest depiction of life (if there are lyrics), or a richness and not over-wrought production for instrumentals.
It’s the same if videos accompany the songs: I stay away from or will shut off and pick another song if the video does not jibe with the lyrics.
I prefer to come to a song in a way I call “clean,” i.e. not influenced by the songwriter or performer’s background, whether that is in terms of politics, drug use, popularity or any other aspect of the person or group’s life that to me interferes with my responding to the song in an unbiased way. I also have a strong preference for live performances in which the sound is clear and the audience is not intrusive.
I noticed that I often enjoy songs with violin, cello, bass, and a small orchestra, among the more popular instruments like guitar and drums. Harmonica solos and alto sax highlights—those too kick it into high gear for me.
I went over my youtube history and noticed a lot of folk, blues, cross-overs like The Indigo Girls. Songs written by Emily Saliers, Steve Earle, Kate Wolf, Eric Bogle, Kris Kristofferson, Leonard Cohen, and, of course, Bob Dylan come to mind, but so many; there are just so many I can’t list—no one would read it!
Just tossing out a few titles and artists before moving on—before I exhaust myself:
Candy Everybody Wants by 10,000 Maniacs; Into the Mystic by Van Morrison; Gotta Serve Somebody by Bob Dylan; Fast Car by Tracy Chapman; Canta Libre by Neil Diamond; Satellite Radio and Jericho Road (others) by Steve Earle; Eyes of a Painter by Kate Wolf; Humbling River by Puscifer; Black Dove by Tori Amos; Hallelujah written by Leonard Cohen but performed live in Canada by K.D. Lang; Closer to Fine by The Indigo Girls; Lightning Crashes by LIVE; Strange Fruit by Nina Simone; Norwegian Wood (Beatles cover) by Johnny Nana; Night and Day by Diana Krall; Loser’s Weep by Stacey Earle (Steve Earle backing her up as she once backed him up on the road); In Spite of Ourselves by John Prine and Iris DeMent; A Reason For It All by Eric Bogle; The Winner (written by Shel Silverstein) sung by Kris Kristofferson; Before the Rain by Lee Oskar, Ecstasy by Rusted Root; Shoes of Lightning by Raccoon; Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away (many others) by Stevie Wonder; My Baby Don’t Tolerate and If I Had a Boat (others) by Lyle Lovett; It’s a Hard Life and Flyer (others) by Nanci Griffith; End of the Line by The Traveling Wilburys.
It goes on and on, spanning more than 50 years, all the songs I’ve enjoyed, and that have influenced the mix of the woman behind the user name, BranchMonkey.
Last, I want to share a concert that begins with an Introduction-Dedication that lasts approximately 11 minutes before a concert covering many composers’ music. The performance features violins hidden during The Holocaust and restored by a dedicated craftsman. This concert reflects my Jewish heritage as well as the desire I had--and voiced; a desire denied me when I was nine years old: to play the violin:
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Tell me about your rats. How many rats do you have? Why did you get rats as pets? What are their personalities like?
Pickles, our oldest, died on February 10, 2018. She had three tumors, the worst growing out of the left, lowest mammary area. I asked my husband to find a vet near his work who includes or specializes in rats as no vet near us (we live adjacent to—and within former—farm country where rats were, and still are, seen mostly as vermin) treat domestic rats.
My husband found a great vet near his work. When Pickles could no longer move much, before she got to a place of being in pain, I had him take her in. She was given an anesthesia to put her into a deep sleep before the vet administered the final dose. Just before that, Pickles fell asleep in my husband’s jacket, and the night before we spent extra time with her. So, aside from the sense of loss we felt—and still feel—we’re glad we got the chance to care for her as long as we did—29 months, which, for a rat, is the equivalent of 75 human years.
Now we have two rats left: Beezus and Zanona. They’re sisters, from the same litter, who are about nine months old. They’re hooded rats—Pickles was a black hooded; the sisters are champagne hooded rats.
I’ve never been a pet person and didn’t grow up with animals in the house, except for the occasional one my mother would impulsively pick up—some puppies, a few hamsters, and an indoor/outdoor tom cat or two.
The rats are companion animals to my husband’s and my minds. They share our bedroom, have a large Double Critter Nation cage, and also get free roam time every night.
I’m very internally directed, often lost in thought, so rats have turned out to be a good match for my temperament, and also for the physical limitations that I have.
I enjoy training and observing them. I handled Pickles the most because I got her when she was four weeks old, from a snake food bin, whereas I didn’t get the sisters until they were 10 weeks old, which was late in terms of my getting the chance to do a more thorough socialization, but that’s when the breeder put them up for adoption, as Beezus was the runt and so the breeder held back Zanona for company and put them both up for sale when Beezus was strong enough to go to a new home.
Zanona, who used to be the shier of the sisters, has matured to the point that she is more confident than her once overbearing sister, Beezus.
It’s interesting to watch not just the physical development but their mental progress as well.
Beezus was not only the runt of the litter but she would not have survived if the breeder had not repeatedly picked her up and put her on a teat. Not surprising, she is more food focused than Zanona. It’s as though it’s become hard-wired in her—the need to always fatten up and store extra away just in case. Zanona never had to worry about finding a teat so she lets Beezus eat more.
For anyone interested in the intelligent and fun side of rat interaction, look up “rats playing basketball” on youtube. Not only will you see one-on-one games between female rats (males are never used as they are too combative with one another, and also lazy—or what those who prefer them call “cuddly,” as opposed to active), but anyone who looks to the right on the youtube screen should have no problem finding videos of trained rats going through obstacle courses and their human companion’s purses to get money or carry tissue to a person pretending she needs a Kleenex to blow her nose, demonstrating other entertaining--and occasionally, practical skills.
Rats get a bad rap, which is a shame as they are not only useful for science but if handled early and often, are gentle, funny and awesome housemates.
What do you like about Personality Cafe? What do you like about being a host? What would you tell people who are new to personality cafe about what to look for and where to feel comfortable? What about Personality Cafe needs improvement?
I belonged to INTJf for nine years. I’m technically still a member but I don’t check in there any longer. I’m mentioning them by way of saying PersonalityCafe isn’t my first personality forum experience; I have something else to compare it to.
I like PerC better for many reasons, the biggest being the heightened sense of friendliness, fewer pretentious members, more approachable mods, and a diverse membership.
Also, I like the extras, e.g. our being allowed to have photo albums without having to make financial donations, which is something some other forums require as they need a certain amount of money to operate at all. I understand that, but on my budget, I can’t contribute that way. So, I help in other ways.
Being a Host? Well, I’m naturally inclined to take new people under my wing wherever I am, which is how I so easily (in one sense) came to be the “Sissy” in my family.
I know because of how much my family moved around, and also from my foster care stints, what it’s like to have no sense of belonging, to have many doubts, not being prepared for what to expect in new situations. So, as I say in the Intros, “Just do a Mention @BranchMonkey – if I can help, I will; if I can’t, I’ll find someone who can.” It’s how I want to be treated when I step into unfamiliar territory, so I act accordingly.
As for how PerC could be improved? Well, I get frustrated with the low-quality posts that routinely are shared in major areas instead of being relegated to SPAM. I love how Admin created The Junk Box and I think PerC would benefit from that area being utilized more often.
On the members’ end, we need more participation and less “I’m just looking around,” or what others call lurking. Perhaps bringing back some of the more popular incentives, e.g. trophies and awards--for outstanding posts in particular areas or other valuable contributions--would build up the member base.
For other ideas, I’m willing to brainstorm, something I do well and willingly. It’s of my wing, which is a self-preservation six. (See Chestnut’s breakdown on that rather than traditional enneagram.)
Is there anyone that you like to give a shout out to?
First one goes to you: Thanks for putting me in The Spotlight.
Other than you, wow, there are so many members whom I appreciate for various reasons, but I’ll pick four:
@Gossip Goat , @beth x and @Jennywocky for making me feel welcome as just another odd duck in a very large pond filled with all sorts of mundane and marvelous finds. @Paulie for not only sharing music we both enjoy but for sharing songs and singers I had never heard of and, therefore, giving me that gift. And @Gilead for having the good sense and humility to understand—and say why—typing me would be for her impossible. (OK, that was five. I’m not very number-oriented.)
*BranchMonkey waves like a kid flagging down an ice cream truck during the dog days of summer.
Thank you so much, BranchMonkey, for the shout out and for sharing your story!