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Responses to the Questions

The questions aquarian_azalea picked hit some things that meant a lot to me, that needed long anwers... and I think I've been honest.

1. Friends: What, if anything, would make you drop a friend (I'm thinking more of in-person friends than LJ)?

At first I thought, I don't drop friends! And then realized I did, and do, for too many reasons. Not many in numbers, but in reasons.
1) Lack of contact. This is a big one. I am NOT good about working to stay in touch with people If I still have contact through normally open portals (IMs, LJ) then it's fine, but if I have to remember to initiate contact (e-mail, phone call) then it's lost in "I should do that sometime... soon" and never happens. I still would consider them friends, but it's a lapsed friendship.
2) Guilt/shame. I've somehow done them wrong or made a major blunder in the friendship. Whether I've apologized or made excuses, whether they've forgiven me or still seem to hold a grudge, it's enough that seeing them brings it back to my mind and so I start avoiding them. This is something I've done in the past, and I'm trying very hard not to let it happen again.
3) Emotion sinkhole or constant irritant. I don't care if someone is constantly depressed, or often angry, as long as they're still aware of the processing going on, as long as they're trying to find their way out, trying to fix things, trying to figure out what bothers them and why, and trying to make themselves or their world better. I'll do my damnest to help. But those who give up, who consistently blame everything on fate or others, who make me start seeing the world as gray and dirty and hopeless and mean-spirited as they do... I can't stay.
4) Beyond the pale. There are some things I can't accept. If a friend decides they want to deliberately hurt others in certain ways, if they decide they believe and will act on things that I believe are very wrong, and they have no understandable, excusable reasons for doing so, then I would have to drop them. (This hasn't ever happened. But it could.)
5) I'm no good for them. Sometimes you make friends with someone and the dynamics go wrong. They're looking to you for the wrong sort of support, they're using you as a crutch or as an excuse, or they push for something different than what you can give, and so it's best to step away.

2. Sex: What do you think the age of consent should be for teenagers?

16 minimum, 18 maximum, if you mean legal age of consent. Though, at 16, I acted immature on the outside, but sometimes felt like I was 25. At 18, away from home for the first time, I acted mature on the outside, but sometimes felt like I was 12. Neither age would have been good. But what I've told my kids is that if you're not sure you're ready, think about how willing you are to go into a drugstore and buy contraceptives, and if you can talk to your prospective partner openly about using them, and talk openly about STDs. If not, you're not ready.

3. Music: How have your tastes in music changed over the years, or have they remained pretty constant?

Hoo boy. Changed. Drastically. Growing up, my sister and I were so much at odds that we almost deliberately refused to like something if the other person liked it. She liked rock and played the guitar. Therefore, I listened to light classical and movie soundtracks, if I listened to music at all. In the 70s, college and after, I started liking soft rock and some others: Simon & Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Boston. The 80s brought MTV, and the groups with cool videos, but still soft rock on the car radio. The 90s, and small kids: if they didn't appear on Sesame Street, I didn't know them. Then about 2000, my daughter turned ten, and I started listening to top-40 and then hip-hop to keep up with her. And found I liked some that surprise people. Eminem, for instance. We've gone to four mega-pop concerts that run all day, and I can recognize a new Nickelback or Red Hot Chili Peppers song on the radio without fail. I love Pink, and I've been to see KT Tunstall on my own. But a couple of years ago, a friend sent me 3 CDs he'd made as "soundtracks" to an online RPG we were doing. It stunned me that out of 51 tracks, the only artist I knew of, I didn't even know directly. He'd put on one track from "Twin Peaks" and I recognized that. For the rest.. well, in researching the songs, I learned a new term:"darkwave", and I learned how much of the 90s I'd missed. I started listening to Vas, Dead Can Dance, Switchblade Symphony, Kate Bush, the Cure, Enigma, and, of course, Nine Inch Nails. Soooo... yes, lots of changes. :-)

4. Drugs: Legal issues aside, do you think drugs can have spiritual or religious effects for some people, e.g. peyote in religious ceremonies, or are people just using that as a way to elevate/justify something that's simply recreational?

I think that in the general course of growing up and in adjusting to societal pressures, people buid up a lot of barriers in their minds, conscious and unconscious barriers. Drugs (and alcohol counts) can open those, for good or bad, and let your mind go in paths it can't or won't otherwise. In normal use, though, any enlightenment tends to resolve the next day to "gods, I acted like an idiot!" But I do believe that in formal use, in a ritual that starts the mind in the proper direction and with a proper purpose, with those around that help and guide the process, that a more serious sort of enlightenment could happen.

5. Love: Are there a few main mistake that cause relationships/marriages to fail--a few big, universal guidelines that everyone should know before committing? Or does it vary from relationship to relationship?

Don't lie, except when it's needed. Always tell the truth, except when you shouldn't. Stay close. Give each other space. Don't expect the other person to change. Don't expect the other person to stay the same. Having children -will- change things, don't expect that it won't. Friendship is important. Sex is important. How you each think about money, about jobs, about emotional outbursts, about cleaning the house is important. Being willing to give in is important. Being willing to stand up for what you need is important. Being able to keep seeing the other person as who they are, and who they want to be, and accepting both, and helping to bring those closer together, is best of all. There's a lot more that could be said, of course, and all of it is universal. But like musical notes in different tunes, they play out differently in each relationship.

6. Myself: What is the main thing(s) that drives your artistic pursuits (drawing, painting, acting, cooking, whatever you do that you consider artistic)? Honing skills, expression, beauty, etc.?

When I saw this question, the most unexpected answer sprang up: I do it to exist. To exist outside of my head. When I was growing up, I spent 99% of my free time reading books instead of interacting with other people. It wasn't until I went away to college that I had friendships and I had (and still have) trouble with the normal give and take of those connections. But if I created jewelry, or did calligraphy, or made costumes, or cooked a feast, or was in the cast of a play, it was shaping a part of myself into something that people could connect with at an easier level than with me directly. It's not the exact me: I don't say "oh they don't like it, that means they don't like me!" But when I make something, even a performance, I've made something that never was in the world before. That proves my own existance. And if people like it, if it touches them in some way, then I've justified my existance. I've offered a gift and they've accepted it, I've spoken and they've heard. Art is communication. What I'm going through now is trying to learn better techniques of communication, so that any message I want to say will come out more clearly, and better judgement, to be sure the message is worth communicating at all. :-) 
  

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
aquarian_azalea
Feb. 6th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC)
"The questions aquarian_azalea picked hit some things that meant a lot to me, that needed long anwers...“

I'm glad. Your answers seem very well thought out.

"Lack of contact. This is a big one.“

I have a hard time with this too. That’s one thing LJ is so useful for.

“But what I've told my kids is that if you're not sure you're ready, think about how willing you are to go into a drugstore and buy contraceptives, and if you can talk to your prospective partner openly about using them, and talk openly about STDs.“

Good advice for grown-ups too!

“And found I liked some that surprise people. Eminem, for instance.”

That does surprise me, although I don’t know much about his music beyond what’s reported in the media.

“For the rest.. well, in researching the songs, I learned a new term:"darkwave", and I learned how much of the 90s I'd missed. I started listening to Vas, Dead Can Dance, Switchblade Symphony, Kate Bush, the Cure, Enigma, and, of course, Nine Inch Nails.”

It sounds like you’ve really stayed current on music--even if you felt like you missed something, your list sounds impressive to me. And many parents just ignore their kids’ music or tell them to turn it down. It’s great that you took an interest in what they were listening to.

“When I saw this question, the most unexpected answer sprang up: I do it to exist. To exist outside of my head. “

That is unexpected, but it makes sense.

“But if I created jewelry, or did calligraphy, or made costumes, or cooked a feast, or was in the cast of a play, it was shaping a part of myself into something that people could connect with at an easier level than with me directly. “

I can relate to that. I’m sure on some subconscious level that’s the impetus behind some of my handmade presents.

“But when I make something, even a performance, I've made something that never was in the world before. That proves my own existance.”

I've always felt that way about creative writing and drawing/painting, especially. Even if the artist's name somehow gets removed or forgotten, it always seems like the author/artist is living inside the work somehow.
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