Tag Archives: North Carolina

Amendment One and My Extinction Burst Theory

9 May

North Carolina passed Amendment One yesterday, and I’m extremely disappointed with my future home state. But I also think this piece of discriminatory legislation is the beginning of the end. As ThinkProgress points out, equality momentum is at a new high. Obama (finally) endorsed marriage equality today. And public support for same-sex marriage is growing.

My theory is that the slew of discriminatory legislative efforts we have seen of late – not just those targeting same-sex couples, but also those targeting women – represent an extinction burst.

Let’s say you’ve got a kid who has learned that if he screams in the supermarket, Mom will buy him a candy bar to keep him quiet. He likes candy bars, so he screams every time he and Mom go to the store. Mom gets extremely tired of this, orders the first season of Super Nanny, and learns that to put an end to the screaming, she’s going to have to stop inadvertently reinforcing it with candy. The next time she and kiddo go to the store, he starts screaming as usual. But this time Mom doesn’t get him a candy bar. He is confused. He is upset. This behavior has always worked before. Maybe he’s just not screaming loud enough. He screams louder, but nothing happens. He wants that candy bar and is getting frantic now, so he throws in some flailing too. Mom doesn’t give in. The same thing happens the next few times he and Mom go to the store. Eventually the screaming stops.

This is an example of an extinction burst – an escalation in undesired behavior in response to that behavior no longer producing the desired reward. I think anti-feminist, anti-LGBT legislators are in the same boat as our hypothetical screaming kid. This kind of legislation used to produce the “reward” of smoothly maintaining the status quo, ensuring the continued power of male heterosexual leaders, and providing comfort to those with prejudicial fears. But we live in a country that is increasingly less willing to provide those rewards without a fight, and legislators are upset and screaming. Our job is to keep withholding that candy bar, and to continue fighting, writing, talking, and voting with the knowledge that we’re slowly but surely ushering a discriminatory past to extinction.


An Actually Informative Post About Internship Match Day, North Carolina, and the Nature of Happiness

4 Mar

So here’s how it all went down.

Rewind to February 23: After a productive week of worrying, I spent the evening at a potluck at a friend’s house, where I ate baked ziti and watched the latest Twilight movie with Rifftrax and pretended that the Match process was just an uncomfortable dream sequence, like the eighth season of Dallas.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 was largely unbearable (see fine review here – it starts about a fourth of the way down the post) but turned out to be an excellent choice for Match Day Eve, what with all the soothing dialogue-and-action-free segments. I had this idea that I’d be lying awake in bed for hours that night, but the movie eased me into a blissfully somnolent state. Also, who am I kidding, I am really good at sleeping.

Before bed, I made a list of all the reasons it would be good if I didn’t get an internship and stayed in grad school another year (i.e., continued proximity to my friends here, more time to sell the house, ongoing access to my favorite cupcake shop). I also performed a rigorous emotional readiness exercise on my dude. “Let’s say I roll over tomorrow morning and tell you I matched in… VIRGINIA. How do you FEEL?!” “Fine. Excited.” “OK, I roll over tomorrow morning and tell you I matched… NOWHERE. How do you FEEL?” “Fine. Not as excited, but fine.” “OK, I roll over and tell you I matched in… INDIANA. How do you FEEL?” “You didn’t apply anywhere in Indiana.” The boy is good. Anyway, the point is that he was emotionally prepared, thanks to me and my fab psychology skills.

Applicants were told we’d hear about our match status by 8:00am MST, but a couple more advanced students in my program recalled receiving their notification emails earlier than that. I set an alarm for 6:30am, dreamed something about chapstick, woke up to my Super Mario alarm and checked my phone. No dice. An APPIC email had arrived when I checked again at 6:45, and I told Ted with bleary happiness that I had matched to one of my top sites in North Carolina. Thanks to our emotional readiness work, he was able to handle all the joyful feelings. Family members were called, friends were alerted, and my cohort-mates (whom, I am thrilled to say, all matched) and I swapped text messages. Most communications were excited, but there were also conversations that were mixed or sad… a conversation with best friends we’d hoped to live closer to; texts with friends from my cohort who hadn’t gotten the matches they’d wanted most; chats with people out here in Colorado that I’d have to leave behind. And as the initial high wore off over the course of the day, the Kitten Principle kicked into action.

When you decide that you want to get a kitten, you start thinking about all the things your kitten could be. Your kitten could be striped, calico, gray, black, green-eyed, yellow-eyed, short-haired, long-haired, feisty, snuggly, male, female. You imagine yourself playing with your long-haired black kitten or petting your blue-eyed Siamese kitten. Then you get a kitten, and he’s striped and long-haired and green-eyed and purry, and you love him. But because he’s striped, he can’t be calico, gray, black, or Siamese, and the little dreams you had involving hypothetical calico/gray/black/Siamese kittens will never be realized. Doors have closed, opportunities have been lost, and while you have a beautiful striped kitten, the reality of owning him includes some things that didn’t appear in your daydreams, such as him peeing in the sink and attempting to sleep on your face. You know you should be 100% happy with your striped kitten, but there’s a part of you that feels a little sad about the hypothetical kittens you missed out on, even though you know that if you’d gotten a calico kitten, a part of you would be mourning the fact that she wasn’t a striped kitten. That’s the Kitten Principle: the idea that the time of indeterminate possibility can be happier than the initial time of determined reality, even if reality gives you exactly what you want.

Now obviously, the Kitten Principle is not a new idea: it’s just a more adorable way to conceptualize what we already know about the negative effects of “choice overload,” the psychological impact of opportunity costs, and our bumbling incompetence when it comes to predicting how happy we’ll feel after future events (Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness does a nice job of covering this). Kittens… super cute, right? Not so cute when they’re peeing in your sink, let me just tell you.

The Kitten Principle has largely resolved itself now that Match Day is a week behind me, and I’m feeling super excited about moving to North Carolina. Extensive Wikipedia research this week revealed that North Carolina’s state mammal is the Eastern Gray Squirrel and its state vegetable is the sweet potato, which explains a lot about the mystifying Microsoft Word clip art in my last post.

FUN FACTS, North Carolina Edition:

  • The State Beverage is milk. THAT’S RIGHT. While you’re drinking your orange juice or whatever stupid beverage is beloved in your state, I’ll be sucking down a cool glass of milk.
  • The State Blue Berry is… the blueberry. North Carolina, why did you even create this category?
  • The State Carnivorous Plant is the Venus Flytrap.
  • Home of the Mullet Festival (I think they mean the fish, not the hairdo, but it’s probably best to show up in a mullet just in case), the North Carolina Pickle Festival, and the previously mentioned Woolly Worm Festival

I’m sure there are many more fascinating NC tidbits out there, but I got Wikipedia fatigue and stopped searching. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life in North Carolina. Keep this on the DL, but my dude and I are thinking about taking the plunge into family life and adding new members to our household.

Specifically, we’re thinking a puppy and some chickens, although we may also be willing to consider some button quail.

Next steps: finishing my dissertation, staging the house, selling the house, terminating with clients, and closing out client files.


28 Feb

I landed an internship, and Ted and I are headed to the great state of North Carolina! That’s right, I’m going to be living in the birthplace of human-powered flight, where the squirrels roam and… is that a yam? I guess also where the yams grow. This Microsoft Word clip art is not very informative.

This post will also not be very informative, due to all the things I need to get done this week… but I promise to put up a real piece in the next few days.

Decisions, Decisions

26 Jan

I flew home from my last interview on Monday, and I have been gleefully soaking in the reality of sleeping in my own bed and talking about things other than An Ethical Dilemma I Once Experienced with a Client.

Don’t get me wrong. I got to spend time with several friends along the way, and there were parts of the trip that were really fun, including but not limited to getting lost in D.C., making Nutella Brownie Bricks, drinking the best milkshake in North Carolina/possibly the universe, snorgling kittens, watching horseback acrobatics, and reading trashy vampire urban fantasy novels (TVUFNs, as they’re known in the biz). And by trashy, I mean trashy. Twilight, please.

That said, I’m incredibly grateful that I get to hang up my suit and move on. Ranking lists are due on February 8, so Ted and I have been poring over weighted spreadsheets and working on an order of preference. I went into this process knowing that I had no interest in living apart from Ted for a year and that his opinions about where he’d like to live would have just as much weight as my own. I imagined that this might entail passing up an excellent site in a less-preferred area in favor of a more mediocre site in a location that would be a better fit for us as a couple. But throughout my interviews, I didn’t find any sites that didn’t have excellent training opportunities. Every site also seemed to have a class of happy interns, a friendly staff, and a positive work environment. There are some sites I liked slightly better than others, but overall, choosing favorites feels like trying to pick a favorite cupcake: maybe a red velvet cupcake would make you a tiny bit happier at a given moment than a vanilla bean cupcake, but they’re all cupcakes, you like cupcakes, and the amount of extra happiness the red velvet cupcake would give you probably isn’t all that meaningful.

That leaves location as the big deciding factor. My sites are all located in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, or Virginia. After much thought, I’ve determined that the pros and cons of living in each of these states are as follows:



  • Delicious tacos
  • I already own a Texas-shaped cookie cutter
  • Everything is bigger. Probably including my pants, because of all the delicious tacos
  • Close friends live there, eliminating need for perusal of shady Craigslist “platonic” section
  • Dude ranches?
  • When driving, tumbleweeds may obstruct view of road in a dangerous fashion
  • Armadillos? Texas has a lot of armadillos, right? Did you know that armadillos can transmit leprosy?
  • State looks like a giant tomato in political maps
  • Would sweat extra during scorching summers. Would probably have to spend more $$$ on deodorant



  • Biscuits!
  • Everything seems to have a picture of a peach on it
  • Friends and family in area
  • Large lightning bug population
  • Might run into Paula Deen and become friends and she would invite me over to eat peanut butter pie and I could gently tell her to stop wearing so much eyeliner because her magazine covers are creeping people out


  • If living in the vicinity of Atlanta, would need to purchase a helicopter to evade hideous traffic. Used helicopters difficult to find on Craigslist
  • People might call me “hun”
  • Pollen
  • Traffic. I’m going to list traffic twice for emphasis



  • Home of the Woolly Worm Festival
  • Small colony of friends established here
  • Seasons do what they’re supposed to do
  • Could have a banana pudding Cook-Out milkshake whenever I felt like it
  • Access to beach AND mountains


  • Somebody might make me go to a NASCAR race
  • NASCAR is the official state sport
  • Of the states on my list, “North Carolina” takes the longest time to write
  • Having a banana pudding Cook-Out milkshake whenever I felt like it might take a serious toll on my health



  • Easy access to Baltimore (and a close friend who lives there), D.C., beaches
  • Chincoteague ponies
  • Seasons do what they’re supposed to do, and they do it even better than North Carolinan seasons
  • Could grandly tell people that I live in “Old Dominion”


  • State slogan is “Virginia is for lovers.” Gross
  • Someone might make me go watch people “bring history to life” (e.g., play a fife in a sweaty wool waistcoat) in Colonial Williamsburg
  • Would always have vague concerns about likelihood of nuclear attack if living anywhere in the vicinity of D.C.
  • Dangerous environment for my friend Laurie due to ubiquitous presence of the beloved Virginia peanut

Ted and I have a lot to ponder. Obviously I hit the highlights in my pros/cons section, but for those of you who live in the states in question, are there any other factors we should be considering?

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