serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/855402.html

"Are you all this busy? Are you busier? What do you do to maintain a life and/or personality when you're always 'on'?"

Oh, I'm always busy! My weekends are generally planned out at least a month and a half (often more) in advance. Even my weekday evenings are usually organised at least a few weeks earlier.

But I'm highly aware that even though I love to be sociable, I also have an intense need for private time. I have to have at least 2 evenings a week on my own. The 'social me' isn't any less a genuine presentation of myself, just as the 'introvert me' hasn't lost the love of being around people. It's merely that, in order to recharge and maintain my energy levels/mental equilibrium, I need time away from others. Time to refresh my inner world. Time where I can ignore society's requirements and just concentrate on appreciating being in my own skin. I like to read, or cook, or just chill out and listen to the radio. Lots of small, comforting activities that don't require much brain power. Perhaps chatting casually about unimportant subjects.

It's rare that I can find someone that I feel relaxed enough around to be able to recharge when I'm with them. When I find that, it's a wonderful, exceptional and beautiful connection, and I'm very grateful for this.

In the end though, being busy has not made me 'lose' myself, or any less intensely me. I just balance it with the demands of the less social me.
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/853878.html

"If you could be an eyewitness to a weather phenomenon (e.g. an earthquake, a hurricane/typhoon, a tornado, a tsunami, etc.), what would you want see up close or experience if you could be guaranteed safety? Why? Even if you couldn't be guaranteed safety?"

I love the thought of being in the midst of a beautiful, destructive, indifferent, chaotic hurricane. Can you imagine standing in the middle of the eye of the storm, in an area of eerie stillness, whilst only a few dozen miles away, the full power of nature rips and hurls and crushes everything in its path? Walking through the edge of the storm, strolling in ever-tightening spirals through that barrier between the destruction and full fury of the hurricane, and the centre? Feeling the winds rip at your clothes and hair and flesh? The thought sends shivers down my skin, and I can feel the increasing thud of my heartbeat ripple through my limbs.

Don't get me wrong, I feel great sadness when I see what destruction a hurricane has wrought on homes and communities that people lived in, cared about. The places that were the physical representation of so many (hopefully) good memories, shattered in the dust and debris. For those people who are hurt, I feel even more pain, and they have all my good wishes for their recovery. For those, saddest of all, who lose a loved one to the power of nature, my heart breaks for your sorrow. Nature is an indifferent force, and cares nothing for the pains we feel.

But then, we as a race also inflict so many hurts and injuries on our ecosystems, so it's not like we're blameless innocent victims. At least nature doesn't do it with intention and conscious knowledge. And the effects of our encroachments on the natural world are also felt by other species - more so than ourselves, in many cases.

But for all that, I still feel hope and joy and optimism when I think of our future. Maybe we will learn to live in sympathy with our surroundings. I wonder what that world would look like?
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/851101.html

"Has a friend's significant other ever lead to the ending of that friendship?"

The short answer would be...I don't think so. Not directly. But then, being poly makes it slightly different, I feel - this question is much more easily answered in a monogamous situation, where people really do occasionally expect their partner to be everything to them, and withdraw from their friendships groups and family as a result. It's most likely very possible in a poly situation, but hopefully a bit more difficult when an abusive, selfish or possessive partner has metamours to contend with. We all want our partners to be happy, even if this sometimes involves an Intervention to get them to look at a situation that might be making them unhappy (or at least, that's what I would imagine - having not participated in one before!) That's not the same thing as making the choice for them, I think, merely getting them to look at the relationship objectively, and then making sure that they have all the support they need to take the path they feel is best for them.

Of course, I don't know how I would feel if that situation actually came up. I've been with someone that I felt were in relationships that weren't healthy for them, but never staged an intervention, or tried to suggest they no longer date. I just tried to be supportive, and let them make the choice. Perhaps my horror of accidentally enacting a veto caused me to swing too far in the other direction? Should I have stepped forward earlier? I'm not sure how else I could have acted and still remained true to my policy not to veto or take sides. I find it hard to walk that line, that could tip me over from being concerned, to being controlling or patronising. My partners are adults. I trust them to make the correct judgements for themselves - even if it's not the judgement I would have made myself.

Anyway, back to the question itself.

No, I've not lost a friendship due to a friend's choice of partner. But I have come very close to that with an old old friend who uses her relationships to get away with stuff ("Oh, I'm sorry I'm an hour late, I need to help Z with something", "Y totalled my car, and he lost his job recently, can I borrow £200 until next month?", "X has just spent all his money on his kids, and the rent is due, I know I still owe you £200 but can I borrow another £600?", "I wanted to introduce my new bf W at dinner tonight, but he's just changed his mind about meeting up. I know we were supposed to be there 5 mins ago, can I reschedule?") Having known her so long, I'm aware that it's probably her, rather than her partners. She's always been like this, and I wouldn't let anyone else get away with it, but for her, I just used to treat it with frustrated patience. I can't change her, so there's no use getting too angry about it, she'll just do it again. It's a shame to throw away such a long friendship.

Last time we talked, though, I snapped. Although she still owed me £200 from about 4 and a half years go (after promising to repay me in 20 days), she had the temerity to contact me on FB to ask to borrow £1000. I said no, and also pointed out to her that she only ever seemed to contact me to borrow more money. £200, £600, £1000. When I said no to lending more money, she would disappear off the radar again and not bother to contact me until next time. The amounts only ever went up, and the amount of contact went down. The last few times we arranged to meet up, she was either significantly late, or never turned up. I was getting very upset at what felt like her taking advantage of our long standing friendship. I lambasted her over FB a while, and then arranged to meet again. One last time to really make the effort to repair the friendship. She agreed. We arranged it for when she was coming into London for something else anyway. Then she said that she needed to meet up with her dad at 8pm that same evening, so I said fine, we'll meet earlier and spend a couple of hours in a coffee shop or whatever.

I waited about an hour and a half. She never turned up.

That should really be a hint, right? I suspect that next time she calls though, I'll still forgive her and I won't be angry. She just won't be a friend anymore. Just another acquaintance. I haven't got enough time or energy to waste on someone, friend or partner, who treats me like that.
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/848080.html

"What do you think of gun control?"

This is a far more complex question than it seems on the surface. My own inclination is for all firearms to be illegal for anyone except the military (during a battlefield situation) and a few carefully selected and highly trained units of the police. However, that ignores huge issues relating to corruption, abuse of power, institutional racism, and potential police brutality. It is still more likely that non-ethnic-minorities will successfully enter the police force, and there is the potential for this to cause friction with ethnic minority communities, particularly when it's felt (often with some evidence to support it) that they are unfairly targetted due to their skin colour.

Now, add sexism, trans*phobia, rape apologism and all the other institutional prejudices that can impact on how the authorities treat individuals...and it's worrying handing over that sort of power, with no way to prevent injustice done by those who should be preventing it.

But in the UK, strong gun control still works. It makes it a lot more difficult for criminals to get hold of guns (although not impossible), but that's not really the main issue for me. Overwhelmingly, when people have guns lying around, the most likely person to get shot will tend to be a member of your own family. This happens again and again. Kids getting hold of guns and shooting themselves, or each other. Your teenage son getting drunk and thinking it would be hilarious to shoot some beer cans in the back garden, but hitting their best friend instead. A parent hearing a sound in the middle of the night, and getting out the gun to protect themselves, only for it to turn out that they just shot their 5 year old who got out of bed for some milk. It happens. Every single life that is lost for this stupid, unnecessary reason is a tragedy, and one that is preventable.

If you want to shoot for fun, you go to a shooting range, and hire your firearms there.

If you want to shoot game - you go to a shooting range first, to practice, and then once you have been given the ok, you hire your guns from the organisation that manages the woodland area (including wildlife culling). They would be required to do all the necesssary checks, and have all the necessary insurance.

If you want to protect your home, the one thing you don't do is keep something on hand that is not only likely to escalate the situation to potential murder/manslaughter/killing in self defense, but also is far more likely to be used against your own family. When everyone carries guns, dying of being shot just becomes more likely.

In the end, the big thing is trust in the institution of the police and the government. If that's lost, is it any surprise that people arm themselves for protection? So, first we work on the authorities, particularly the police. Make them decent, make them trustworthy, make corruption unthinkable, elevate and support whistleblowers. Make the policeman someone we can all look up to, and trust to protect us in a just and impartial but compassionate way. Their role should be to protect us from each other. Give them clear guidelines, give them the power to do their job, and then let them get on with it. Don't make them moral authorities over us, and don't let them make judgements on our behaviour except where it has a detrimental impact on other people. We can have moral guides, and guardians of our conscience - people we choose to remind us of our better selves.

Just don't make it the police, it fuzzies up the boundaries of their role.
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/847832.html

"What things from your parents and elder relations have become your legacy to pass on?"

I think, at this stage in life, I wouldn't really know who to pass things (whether items or knowledge) on to. I don't have any much-younger relatives (children, nieces, nephews) who would be appropriate/old enough to teach, and I certainly don't want children of my own. With that caveat, however, this is what I would like to see passed on:

1. Cooking skills. My mum is a fantastic cook, but she didn't really start learning to cooking until she got married, so I still have plenty of time. For quite a while now, I have been getting together with my sister and cousin once a month to practice Chinese cooking skills, and we make a full dinner. (Although this is probably going to fall by the wayside, now that my sister is moving to New York.)

2. Love of education. My parents both feel very strongly about the importance of education - and more than that, the importance of having a continued love of learning, and reading. I cannot overstate how much joy this has brought to my life.

3. An appreciation of friendship and social community spaces. My parents have been heavily involved, for many years, in lots of community activities and groups. They are well known in the London Chinese community, for example. They have lots of friends and they are very sociable.

4. Practicality and common sense. My parents believe in good budgeting, logical solutions, and problem solving without fuss. On the other hand, my mother is somewhat of a force of nature.....

And most important of all:

5. Love and support. I have absolutely no doubt or uncertainty in the support and love I receive from my parents. This is something that I want to make sure I spread to everyone that is important to me. Absolute, unhesitating love and support, plus a commitment never to take the people around me for granted. I am so lucky and happy to have them in my life, and I hope they are never unaware of that. 
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/846092.html

"What do you do when you need cheering up?"

I'm usually a pretty cheerful person, so it's not often that I need cheering up. Mind you, that could partly be due to the fact that the things I do in normal life are often things that make me cheerful. Reading, listening to podcasts, cooking (and eating!) a lovely meal, baking a cake, talking to partners, cuddles, sitting in the sunshine. The normal, everyday, typical things in my life, things I call my happy-making activities.

For those days when the weather outside is dreary, and I'm feeling fidgety, and I need that extra effort to get to that mindset...well, first I meditate. I calm my body down, until I can feel every inch of my body (this is best done naked whilst on lovely soft fabric I've found). I listen to my heartbeat. I imagine sunshine pouring over me like lovely, warm, golden syrup. I bask in that for a while, and I remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life, and how very lucky I am.

Then I get up and do more of my happy-making activities! :)
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
I've been missing the old Writer's Block questions that used to come up, before LJ shut that function down, so I've started to look around for alternatives. I started writing a couple of paragraphs every few days, and this encouraged my writing in other areas. Looking back, I still feel that many of them are some of my most thoughtful, philosophical, well written posts.

I just want quick questions, not about writing itself, or about character creation, world building, plots, etc etc etc (which are the staple of most creative writing LJs). I want to answer questions about life (it would be my life, of course), and my thought processes and viewpoints about the things that are important to me. It needs to have ongoing questions I can pick every so often (the Writer's Block questions came once a day).

So, the closest I've found are the Chatter Post questions here: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/tag/chatter%20post

They're a minor part of a larger creative-writing-and-editing blog. The chatter posts come about 3 times a week, approximately, rather than every day, and not all of them are interesting and applicable. However, other than the very wordy posts that often come before the question (which I don't want to read before answering, because it might influence my answer), and the fact that I need to copy over the question, rather than answer it in the comments on the original post (as most people do) this is pretty much the sort of questions I want.

If anyone has any recommendations that are better, I would love to hear them! Wish me luck in building up my writing muscles again!

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