i know what you mean!

retreat at work

Posted on: July 19, 2007

we closed down at 12 today and went to I-house for staff retreat. Being part of UC Berkeley, I still didn’t know much about the significance of I-house until today. We did a game/lesson in something called “Whole Brain Model.” I’m always at lost with these kinds of things, stuffs that categorize people into types. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I’m extremely adaptive and social, so that I react to people around me and it depends on what personality types and dynamics are at work, I would adjust my own personality output to harmonize. It’s not unusual for different coworkers to come up to me and say that I’m analytical, social, reserve, or direct.

I have played this game and its variation at least 3 times already, and from my experience, many people who participate in this sort of activity walk away thinking that they did get categorized correctly, whereas I tend to walk away thinking “that was not accurate, it didn’t paint a correct picture…” For example, part of the activity required you to get 5 personality traits randomly dealt to you. You then have a short amount of time to run around and trade traits with as many people as possible, with the goal to get the cards that best describe you. Well, there are a few of these cards with the trait “dominant” on them that nobody wants. My sweet quiet coworker got one of those. He couldn’t get anyone to trade that card with him, and that’s definitely not descriptive of him. So my first instinct was to just take it off his hands, since it’s just a game anyways, that card has gotta go somewhere if it’s not true for him. So I took the Dominant card, and for the rest of the session I couldn’t get anyone else to trade that card with me . I started to pimp my card by approaching random people and said “You are SUCH an alpha male, this is the card for you!” And they would all laugh me off. Well, the structure of the game didn’t take into consideration that people with the Helpful trait, like the one card I have claimed for myself, would do that. I would take whatever others don’t want upon myself when I don’t see an immediate harm, just to facilitate the process, so that’s how I ended up with a trait that was not an obvious description of me (I thought to myself, “well in a group of passive people, I could become dominant, if that means assuming leadership…). Then towards the end of the activity, everyone had to narrow from 5 traits down to just 1 trait, and depending on the color of that trait, would group themselves into the Reds (caring), Yellow(creative), Blue (analytical), or Green(organized). I ended up with Red, so my group had to sketch out a profile of what it’s like to work with our personality type, what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses, what we need from others, how to get the most out of us…. Except the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I didn’t wholely belong to this very very caring, emotional, and socially consciencious group that was so narrowly defined. My card says Helpful = Red, that was how I ended up in that group. But Helpfulness is not just from a caring, socially consciencious perspective. A lot of time I’m helpful because I see that it’s the best way to get things done, or I feel that if I don’t step in at that moment, complications would arise later… Things like that I wouldn’t say they belong to the touchy feely realm…

All in all we had fun, but I wouldn’t care for this activity again. Les asked me how I feel about this retreat, I told him I hate all social events in general, I approach them with a sense of impending doom, but I’ll throw myself into it with so much enthusiasm that he won’t be able to tell. At the end, Les said he was ready to give me an Oscar for my performance because sure enough, I was fully participating, helping, raising my hand to contribute… I would still say it now, and would say it again: I hate workshops, seminars, retreats, parties, meetings… in general. I have been to all of them, and from the good to the bad, I dread them all. Les asked if Son and I would join coworkers for some drinks after work, an event planned by another coworker. I said of course not, I hate social gatherings unless it’s consisted of just people I personally like. We ended up, the three of us, buying gelato and walked around Berkeley, talking.

I feel a bit wistful whenever I pause to think that Les will be gone in less than a month. I’ll lose a very important role model from my everyday life, a great friend and an uncle sort of figure, and while I don’t feel sad, I feel wistful as in “well it can’t be helped because he’s happier that way… but too bad I won’t get to cook for him or Son won’t get to come by his office for a chat anymore…”

I had a good day today. Son bought yummy food for Donna and me this morning, which was pretty sweet because he came at 9:30 a.m., but had to wait around until 10:15 before he could order from the lunch menu for us like I’ve asked him to. Beef tongue with X.O. sauce is a very good dish at Happy Valley’s. Donna and I thought it was just going to be lots of tongue, but it turned out to be a veggie mix, so good texture, great flavor, and a strong recommendation from us both.

This past month there has been a lot of worries, big and small. I know they exist because I think about them more often than I’d care to, and when I had the chance to tell Les what have been on my mind, I threw out so many different things that he said “You do have a lot on your mind!” But ultimately, I think it’s just a matter of making decisions when the time calls for decisions, and I will be ready to make those decisions. If changes are inevitable and the future is uncertain, as long as I have people, my cats, and my health, then the rests can come and go.

This quiet life in Berkeley might just be gone by this time, next year, you know? And they just planted a bunch of beautiful bamboo trees to create shades for my apt by next year too. But I tell myself we can always come back, later. As long as Son is with me, we can make everything work. Like the time we had one cat and was asked to take yet another one. Son was reluctant and I would never volunteer to take another cat if I don’t have to, yet we did in the end. I asked Son to just accept changes in life in good faith, and as long as we have good intentions, things will work out in the end. In letting each other into our lives, in moving in together, in picking this apt that we’ve come to love so much, in welcoming the cats one by one… all of these decisions were made in good faith and rather suddenly. We are happy today because of those decisions, so I tell myself to just “go with the flow.” Mao


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happenings right now


July 2007
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