On Facebook and LiveJournal, I've often seen memes that ask people to describe you, remember your first meeting, share their first, last, and metaphysical impressions. Sometimes they suggest you allow yourself to be virtually interviewed, or gaze deep into the looking-navel and interview yourself.

For the most part I find these memes pointless and self-indulgent--and, frankly, a little scary. The social norms of most well-regulated communities make it unlikely, but in the back of my mind there's always the fear that someone will confess they find me fat, boring, pretentious, and generally underwhelming. Of course, since I'm aware of the norms, I'm cursed to wonder whether these are the ugly truths cowering behind any flattering terms a friend or faux might proffer. And what do those interview questions imply about how the interviewer sees me? Never mind having to actually answer them. The neuroses bloom like a rash with every spate of descriptive memes.

So, you know, I usually avoid them altogether.

Recently, though, I decided to accept a couple of these invitations. One was an interview, and one was a set of adjectives. My acceptance was the result of lucky(?) timing and the specific individuals involved. Since I'm terrible with follow-through on these sorts of things, I figure I can take advantage of Holidailies and knock off at least a few of them over the course of the month. You call it cheating, I call it "efficiency."

The rules of the first meme asked for five words the meme-starter associates with me. The rules state that I'm supposed to take these words and explain what they mean. The words were suggested by someone I've known for a few months, part of my first new nonacademic circle in years. So I'm a little amused by the list of five terms he associated with me.

A curious aspect of my new(ish) life is that I actually have to think about things like maintaining some separation between my online self(ves) and my offline person. Gone are the days when I blithely journalled using my full name and exact location. I think it's a testament to my friend's list that I don't feel I can list them all in one place without, in fact, violating this separation.

The other meme is an interview, with questions from a dear friend. One I've already answered in my LJ, but I'll tackle the others here. Knowing me as well as she does, her questions are actually less revealing than the aforementioned list of adjectives. They deal with shoes, life choices, personal history, and teaching. Oh, and my cat--no journal is complete without some kitty talk, right? Mine isn't, anyway.

So there will be ample opportunities for self-reflection over the coming weeks, dwelling on descriptions both prompted and un-. (It somehow feels a few degrees lower on the narcissism scale to follow a prompt, but with a few years of self-history scattered about the aether, it's too late to pretend.) Since I'm out of the journaling habit, it's been a while since I indulged in this sort of thing--I'm hoping I can keep the eyeroll induction to a minimum. And the neuroses, too.