Sunday, March 30, 2008


The impostor phenomenon is the feeling that despite your achievements, secretly you're a fraud, and you're going to be discovered--that feeling that you've somehow made it to where you are not on the basis of your personal merits and work, but a fluke.

You know what I mean? A good thing happens, and you think, Uh-oh, this can't really be for me. Wrong name, wrong info, someone mixed up the orders and I was supposed to get the plate of Sorry, not Congrats.

I think most people I know have felt it in some way or another. When I arrived at grad school, certain that my admission was some kind of accounting error that would now be corrected ("oops, that was supposed to be for Chelsea Johnson,") several of my classmates confessed the same lingering dread that the acceptance letter had been a mistake and that they too would be imminently, apologetically sent home.

Impostor syndrome can be totally debilitating and destructive, of course, but it can also be understandably common in certain contexts (see above). And in its milder form, says the New York Times, it can function as a social strategy, a way of self-deprecating to set low expectations that you can easily meet and exceed. ("Feel Like A Fraud? At Times, Maybe You Should.") Also, it affects women more, particularly high-achieving women.

The feeling tends to manifest itself in one of three ways, as per this older but more detailed Times article:

Workaholics, who attribute their achievements to their compulsive efforts. They are so fearful of failing that they approach every task as though it were crucial.Because they never slack off, they never learn whether or not their own innate ability would carry them through, and so perpetuate the sense that without efforts greater than everyone else, they would be exposed as failures.

Magical thinkers, who prepare for tasks under the burden of intensive visions of failure. Because their preparation typically ends in success, they see their worrying as always paired with success and an essential ingredient. Thus thoughts about failure become superstituously liked with efforts toward achievement.

Charmers, who flatter or flirt with their superiors, while doubting their basic ablity to succeed without these wiles. When success does come, they attribute it to their looks or social skills, rather than to their own competence.

Anyone else out there know what I'm talking about? For me, it dissipates once I get into the thing and get my footing, but anytime I'm offered a new good thing it rears up again--I will be unmasked--and here come the anxiety dreams every night.

Another useful thing I learned from this is that both "impostor" and "imposter" are acceptable spellings.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1, NIV).
--as quoted on the CDHA webpage

When two special interest groups merge, the result is generally pretty interesting--you get the Pink Pistols (gay/gun rights), the Mormon Trekkies (translating the Book of Mormon into Klingon), et al. Personally I am a longtime appreciator (in that internet way) of the Christian Deer Hunters Association of Silver Lake, MN, and their enlightening trading cards.

A primary objective of the Christian Deer Hunters Association is to reveal and encourage a Biblical World View approach to deer hunting. Some of the things that a Biblical World View will help to stimulate or encourage include:
  • An awareness that deer hunting can be an excellent opportunity for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other hunters (Mk. 16:15-16).
  • The proper view towards those who are in authority, such as DNR officials (Rms. 13:1-7).
  • Proper treatment of game after it has been harvested (Prov. 12:27).
  • The importance of faithful church attendance and involvement during the hunting season (Heb. 10:25).
  • A wiser use of time spent while actually in the field hunting (e.g. Scripture reading, memorization, prayer, witnessing).
You can purchase their book Devotionals for Deer Hunters, "which contains true stories of how God has worked in the lives of various hunters." But I am plenty fulfilled by their trading cards, which you can view on their homepage. (Scroll down a ways.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Park Rapids is still freezing and snowy, and the winter Incident Reports, as usual, deliver.

From the March 12 issue of the Enterprise:
A Park Rapids caller reported his wife is intoxicated; A possibly intoxicated male was reported yelling on Main, picked up by a car, a 911 call then reporting an assault in his yard; A female was reported walking in circles in downtown Park Rapids; A Lake Alice caller reported non-payment for timber by a logging company; A Farden Township caller reported locking her child in the car, would like an officer to get the keys from her home; Suspicious activity was reported in Nevis Township; A drunk male was walking down the middle of a Todd Township road; A Park Rapids caller reported her boyfriend hitting her; A disturbance was reported in the alley by a Park Rapids bar, someone lying on the ground.
From March 15:
A Farden township caller reported hearing a loud noise, opening his front door to find smoke and a blackened door; A Mantrap Township caller asked to speak to an officer about suspicious e-mail and a possible scam; Snowmobiles were reported tearing up hay fields in Akeley Township; Snowmobilers were reported "driving erratically" in Nevis; Graffiti on bathroom walls was reported in Park Rapids; Littering was reported in Park Rapids; An "intoxicated sounding" woman reported having trouble with her son, then stating she was sorry and would call back if it didn't quit; A Park Rapids caller asked to speak to an officer regarding a puppy that's been "sitting in an empty lot for some time now"; An injured skunk was reported in Park Rapids; A dog was reported to be repeatedly coming in the drug store; A Park Rapids caller reported his sister taking his PlayStation 3 and pawning it.
Also, a mock school-shooting drill took place in the high school, complete with fake-blood and volunteer "victims."
A "school shooter" was apprehended after killing one student and injuring three others in a mock disaster at Park Rapids Area High School Friday.

Unfortunately, a local pastor, unaware of the planned exercise, showed up at the school quite shaken by the prospect that a real incident had occurred.

Otherwise, participants agreed at a debriefing, the training went well.
Finally, St. Urho's Day was March 16. This is the supposed Finnish version of St. Patrick's Day, when St. Urho drove all the grasshoppers out of Finland. Though real Finns apparently scoff at it, North American Finns love it, donning purple and holding daylong celebrations. In Hood River, OR, the ritual Changing of the Guard involves a public changing of the underwear; in Menahga, MN, the Finnish enclave just south of Park Rapids, they have a golf tournament on the frozen lake, and here you can see the St. Urho's Day barstool races, wherein hardy revelers attach barstools to skis and, shrieking gleefully, race to the bottom of a gentle slope.

Monday, March 17, 2008


At this point Yo La Tengo is the NPR house band. I just heard "Return to Hot Chicken" again, this time between Fresh Air segments. Who says there's no market for atmospheric 1:39 instrumentals?

Those transitions are bringing home Tortoise's bacon too. Someone's music supervisors went to college in the nineties.

(Album idea! Transition Music for NPR.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008


You know how when you're in a class in college or wherever, and you don't speak up in the first couple weeks of class, and then this silence starts to accumulate around you, so that the longer you don't speak, the more conspicuous your silence becomes, so that by the time you actually want to raise your hand and say something it feels like opening your mouth had better yield something momentous?

Well, anyway, that used to happen to me, and that is what happened to the blog in the past couple weeks, and now I'm just going to interject a few quick recommendations and then I'll get back on it.

SEE! Girls Rock! the movie. Funny, moving, stirring--enough gerunds, suffice it to say it is one of those winning documentaries in the vein of Spellbound, and the subject matter is dear to my heart, and it may forever change your preconceptions of little girls. I'm in it for a few seconds here and there, co-leading the morning assemblies and gesturing the theme song. (Extra points if you can recognize me in a long straight black wig, playing out the final triumphant moments of our serial morning soap opera skit "Sistrrrz.") (I didn't at first.) Here's the trailer, itself known to move grown humans to tears.

LISTEN TO! Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago. I was all jaded the first few times I heard this and made some snarky comment about beard music. Then I found myself singing "Skinny Love" all the time, in that I-wasn't-really-listening-but-it's-totally-stuck-in-my-head way ("And I told you to be something, and I told you to be hmmmm, and I told you to be la la, and I told you to be whaaaah...") And it turns out he's just this northern Wisconsin dude who holed up in the hunting cabin and made this lovely heartbroken record that I now play in its entirety at least three times a day.

And also, of course, The Magnetic Fields' newest, Distortion, which is a return to/forging ahead with the MF magic combo of dazzling songcraft and insane production. I particularly recommend "Xavier Says," "The Nun's Litany," and "Drive on Driver" but really all of it is worth it. Despite a typically stone-faced Pacific NW audience, the show in Seattle sounded gorgeous, the banter hilarious, my nostalgia deep. They played "Take Ecstasy With Me," an all-time favorite of mine and one I think I've never heard live; Sam's pulsing cello beautifully simulated the recording's feedbacked delay/tremolo. Plus way-deep-cuts like "The Tiny Goat."

Claudia came down to hang out in Portland for a couple days and one thing we did was go to Pix Patisserie and eat these crazy-good treats, which leads to my next recommendation:

EAT! The Royale With Cheese at Pix. (Their description: Chocolate mousse blankets a crisp hazelnut praline filling and dacquoise base, with a slice of creamy French Brillat Savarin cheese.) Cheese and chocolate? Sounds hideous, tastes heavenly. The creamy cheese and the sweetness/slight bitterness of the chocolate hit it off perfectly. And it's dusted with gold.

(Picture from Flickr, no credit of mine.)

READ! Chickfactor, a trove of indie-pop lore and prescient interviews of before-they-were-huge bands and musicians. A backstage party in magazine form, a time capsule of an era. I hope it gets collected in a book. Gail O'Hara was in town last weekend, and though we never did get around to doing karaoke, we romped in dog-land, ate Vietnamese food, and treated our ears to Janet's superb spinning on a low-key Sunday night at the Aalto Lounge. (Perked up my ears at Elyse, a buried treasure.)

How convenient--it's Janet, by Gail!