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Let's Rant
What part of your job (or other daily routine) do you hate the most right now? Why is it so troublesome for you? If you could change one thing about your job (new boss, new co-worker, new location) to try to improve it, what would it be?

I actually love my job. It's great fun, I really like meeting people, I get real satisfaction from it, and I'm good at it. Most of the time, I even get to work from home, and just go into the office for meetings and such.

However, it's not a secure job (no guarantees of how much work I will get at any particular time), and it's not usually a full time job, which means that I could do with a bit more money at times. I know I'm incredibly lucky to be able to survive on the money I do get, and still have enough time to be able to go out and do the things I love, but I'm not saving any money at all. My outgoings don't tend to be over my income - but neither are they much under, either.
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What To Do
If you retired tomorrow (or in some other way no longer had to work a job anymore), how would you spend the free time you suddenly had? Would it be new hobbies, volunteering, visiting family/friends? To what age do you think you'll have to work before you can retire?

This depends on how much money I have, whilst retired.

I would love to just be able to travel around, visiting friends and partners, going to festivals (like the New Orleans Jazz Festival, for example, or the Carnival of Venice), going to different conventions around the world.

I would also like to go back to university, and learn more things. Perhaps something like culinary history, or philosophy of science, or something even more niche. I just like to learn!

And I would also learn and practice the (already too numerous) hobbies I have, perhaps whilst picking up a few more! And perhaps finally read the books on my list quicker than I keep adding to it....

Basically, not needing to work anymore isn't quite enough - if that's all I wanted to do, there are ways to manage that. I would want the autonomy to go and do the things I want, the physical health necessary for those endeavours, the time to be able to dedicate to them, and the money to be able to pay for them (and to survive in the meantime).

Considering what I'm currently doing, I just can't see how I'm even going to get to a point where I can afford to retire, even though the job I do tends to be a young person's job.
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Sound Off
Donald Trump as presidential candidate -- what's your opinion? Among your circles of friends and family, is your opinion the norm or does your opinion of him differ from those around you?

Oh. Hell. No.

If Donald Trump ever becomes president of the US (and I would have said this was an absolutely absurd, entirely impossible to consider, totally ridiculous concept when this whole mess started), then I think the whole world is in trouble.

Like it or not, the US is a major player in the world. And, like it or not, the president of the US is an extremely powerful person, one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful single individual) in the world - certainly in the West.

I think the best that could happen if he became president (and there's a part of me that is still disbelieving that I'm seriously considering that) is that the US turns entirely inward and isolationist. No, it still wouldn't be great for the world, but is the alternative that they turn outward any better? Because Trump will certainly not just do nothing and maintain the policies of the current POTUS (not that I think he has the political ability or will to do so). He seems very much to be the type of warmonger that would encourage the US's imperialist empire-building tendencies overseas. He's not the type to reach for a diplomatic solution to anything.

I can't ever see that being good for the world.
serina_ds: (Ocean)

Drink Up
What's your favorite beverage that you drink often (daily or near-daily)? Why do you enjoy it so much?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I drink green tea - well, I'd say religiously, but it is practically a religious activity in Japan, so that might give the wrong impression! It does have an incredibly soothing, meditative effect on me sometimes, admittedly. It works with practically every food I eat (although I wouldn't have it with some Western entrees, just Because. It's inappropriate, you know.)

At it's height, I was drinking approximately five pots of tea a day. Yes, that's five pots of tea, not five cups. Because insofar as it's possible, I make it with loose leaf, in a proper pot, drunk with the appropriate small, handle-less teacup (and without milk or sugar, of course, because only heathens drink it with milk or sugar to any extra condiments of any kind. Whoops, there I go again.)

I might occasionally Have Opinions when it comes to tea.

Naturally, if I'm drinking tea made by others, I will be polite and appreciative of the care they are showing. I still prefer only to drink green tea, but it's hardly fair to expect someone who usually only drinks Builder's Brew, or even coffee, to have decent tea making accoutrement. I used to be a lot more fussy about the type of tea I would drink too, but managing a professional development course and working 10-14 hour days for a week at a time in a place where the only green tea available is that awful Twinings tea bag stuff that tastes like it's been swept off the factory floor maybe a year or two ago...

Well, you make do. I needed something to get me through the day. Generally a takeaway cup every hour or two would do it. Over time I grew, well, not exactly fond of it, but at least to tolerate it. I've come to realise that there's worse green tea out there (including some of the other Twinings green teas - it's bad enough on it's own, but with lemon flavouring? *Shudders*)

But still, the first thing I do when I get home? Make myself a decent pot of green tea.
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Shy Away
How would you define being an introvert? Is it different than just being shy, or are they the same thing to you? Would you classify yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

The difference between an introvert and an extrovert (and very few people are entirely one or the other at all times for that matter) is purely what drains your energy and what renews your energy.

For an introvert, being around people, even when it's fun and exciting, will tend to be very draining and tiring. Introverts need private quiet time away from people to recharge their batteries. Extroverted people gain energy from being around others, and feel refreshed and enlivened after social activity.

This means that yes, it's possible to be a sociable introvert or a shy extrovert - or even both, at different times of your life.

I'm a introvert, but I tend to be *very* sociable when I'm out and around people, then require lots of intensely private, quiet time afterwards to recharge.
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They Really Like Me!
How important are the opinions of other people to you? Do you actively try to find out what others think of you? Whose opinion do you value the most?

John Donne once said:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

This rings for me, true down to the heart. It doesn't mean that the opinions of every person is important, but treating others with compassion and kindness and generosity is.

The people whom I love the most are those whose opinions I tend to trust totally and utterly. They've proven, time and time again, that they want me to be happy and healthy. I want to be my best self, my most ethical, genuine, compassionate, thoughtful, curious self. They help me to make that possible, they encourage me to keep improving and changing and seeking, whilst also making it clear that they support me and love me. These are my Tribe, my people, my family. They make me want to gift them with the best self I can be, because they deserve that for all the love and joy they bring to my life. So for me, their good opinions are paramount.

For the rest of the world, however...

I am sufficiently non-mainstream that if I cared too deeply about what the world thought of me, it would merely make me desperately unhappy in the long run. So I don't. I treat people compassionately because that is a good thing to do, but if they have negative opinions of me, that doesn't matter. I'm not delusional enough about myself to believe that people thinking bad of me is not hurtful, but it's a shallow, temporary hurt. We are after all, as Donne says, connected to one another. It's so fleeting a hurt, and often from a place of ignorance or fear or confusion or misunderstanding, however, that it doesn't touch me inside. It doesn't impact the heart of me the way that a negative opinion from someone I loved would, so I don't seek to redress or clarify it the way that I would if I cared more.
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Have you ever been addicted to anything? If so, what was it? If that addiction was a negative addiction for you, how did you break it (or how are you working on doing so)?

I don't know that I've ever truly been addicted to anything. I joke that I get a little obsessed with things sometimes, and that may be true in the short term, but there's never really been anything that I was unable to stop myself from consuming.

Except maybe reading. Now I come to think of it, that may be the only thing I could ever say that I have continued, even when it would have a negative impact. I will read to the detriment of all else. I will happily consume and voraciously text in a way that I would find unhealthy if I did it with anything else. I will find justifications/reasons/excuses to sit and read even when I really should be doing something else.

I would regularly miss meals at lunchtime when I was younger, because I didn't notice the time or my hunger in my fascination for a good book.

The night before I left for university, when I should have been completing my packing, I stayed up till 4am reading.

I read every day, including standing in front of the mirror with an ebook whilst brushing my teeth. I read whilst travelling, whilst walking, whilst eating, whilst making tea. I read when I should be sleeping.

I would stay up reading till 6am at least once a week, dragging myself into school the next morning just on the fragments of my determination. I would spend all my mental efforts to avoid falling asleep in class that afternoon (hence why I remember none of my French classes).

Who am I kidding, I've not improved in my sleep discipline. I will still occasionally (erm, often) stay up until 6am, 7am, or even later in order to finish a book. I recently stayed awake reading for 36 hours straight because I wanted to finish a book.

If addiction is "is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences" (thank you Wikipedia!) then I guess this would fit. If I calculate the amount of sleep I've lost over the years, and the things I could have been doing instead of reading, the number of nights out meeting potentially interesting people I bailed on because I was head down in an enthralling book (and not always for the betterment of my mind, either! I do love a good piece of sci-fi or fantasy fiction.) I'm aware that I could probably have made a bit better use of the time.

But for all that, I don't regret any of it. Me without a book is...inconceivable. It is such an intrinsic part of my psyche that I wouldn't know who I am without that connection to reading. I've certainly had wonderful experiences because of my reading, and I've chatted to some fantastic people.

Overall, does it count as an addiction if I don't really think it's doing me any harm? Or does it make it even more of an addiction?

Regardless, this isn't something that people are going to tell me I should stop doing - bibliophiles like to band together and egg each other on (usually in various geeky tomfoolery)! What other kind of 'addiction' would bring this much joy, and such wonderful people?


Oct. 6th, 2015 02:14 am
serina_ds: (Ocean)
Ooh, the Writer's Block is back! You may just see me on Livejournal more often from now on...
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:

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!
serina_ds: (Default)

Sure, the pros are obvious—but what are the cons of having a friend with benefits?

I've spotted a lot of answers about how it's 'inevitable' that someone will want more, or it would ruin a good friendship, or it's not safe (from a sexual health pov), or that it's somehow 'not as good as a proper relationship'.

Yes, I guess all these are possible - if you're doing casual sex and not FWB. I make a distinction between the two - one is a one-off, one night stand with someone you will likely never meet again, whilst the other is affectionate non-relationship sex. With casual sex, most of those issues (other than sexual health) won't be an issue at all.

The 'friends' bit is more important to me than the 'benefits' bit, but I don't see why you can't have both if the fancy strikes. I trust them to have good sexual health, and regular tests, and to let me know if something turns up. If I didn't trust them, I wouldn't be friends with them. I do care about my friends but if I wanted a relationship with them, I would have told them that. Just because I sleep with someone doesn't make me more likely to want a relationship with them. It's their personality, rather than their body, which would encourage an emotional connection with them.

In fact, if anything, most of these issues are a bonus for me - I will never end up in a relationship where I am totally emotionally and mentally incompatible with my partner just because I really really fancied their body, and society tells me that I need to be in a relationship in order to sleep with them. Once I get any sexual chemistry out of the way and sated for a while, I can see their personality without the haze of lust, and be able to tell if I would be happy in a relationship with them. If not, well, we're still friends. No harm done.

Oh and if just sex with someone is the thing that makes you feel like you've fallen in love, not the endless chats and the nights watching DVDs together and the messages that make you're in lust.
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Peace of mind
What kind of spiritual or meditative practice keeps you feeling zen?

Well I don't really get stressed or upset, but that's mainly because I try to ensure my whole life keeps me feeling zen. I do a lot of crafts like knitting and sewing and painting. I read a lot, and get plenty of sleep. I do body-focused meditation quite often, and even a little bit of exercise on occasion! I don't drink alcohol or smoke, so I'm not putting extra strain on my body. I mostly only drink green tea, water and fruit juice (although I will drink fizzy drinks when I'm on a night out) and I can fall asleep quite easily on my hour-long commute to work in the mornings. All in all, I don't really have anything to stress about, so I tend to be pretty zen as a person.

Wow, I sound really smug and prissy, don't I? I didn't intend to!
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Breaking the habit
What's your most debilitating insecurity? Do you think you'll ever overcome it?

It's not really debilitating, but mine is...I'm not enough. I'm not doing enough, not participating enough, not sharing enough. That there's something I'm doing or not doing that is holding me back. My stories are never as good, my experiences are banal, my confidences shallow.

I guess that's it, but I refuse to throw myself into being an adrenaline junkie in response. I know myself - I'd burn out in a month if I did that. Instead, I carefully, gradually, and practically plan interesting things to do with fun people - and then I make sure that my first response to an invitation is always 'yes' rather than an instinctive 'no'.

This is the life that suits me just fine - and if I can't tell stories of fighting off wild beasts in the Amazon rainforest, or traversing across the desert with nomads, or helping build wells for AIDS sufferers in Africa, at least I have stories of the amazing and wonderful people that I am so, so lucky to know and love.
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Almost like a song
How would you describe your ideal romantic partner in six words?

Curious and fascinated with the world. The only trait that really, almost without fail, catches my attention.

All four of my boys are all smart and great conversationists. That's why I'm dating them.
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Snack attack
What food would you never put in your mouth for any reason, and why?

There's cucumber, which all who know me keep far far away from me. Blergh, food of icky-nastiness! That texture, that flavour, the way it infects every decent food around it....

Also, sea cucumber, which is not, as you might think, just the watery equivalent of the above. Nope. It's a sea-based slug. Tastes like a mouthful of grease. Seriously, I love seafood, but I have my limits.

Finally, sea urchin. Yes, I love sushi. Yes, I know it's considered a delicacy. No, I will not put something that has the taste and texture of week-old sperm mixed with phlem.

Yes, that description is from experience.

I mean the sea urchin, not the sperm, people! Eww. Need mind bleach now.
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Eye for an eye?
If you bumped into someone who regularly picked on you as a child, what would you say to them?

....Not recognise them? I should add that they attempted to pick on me, but I was too busy reading to even notice they were there. Or I'd forget they were around as they disappeared from my sight. I imagine that infuriated them, or so I was told years later. :-D

I had a very happy childhood, full of the most wonderful adventures and friendships and creations - all in the pages of my books. My sister was exactly the same, and we had some fantastic analytical, deep, philosophical conversations about books. We'd read together (literally - the same book at the same time, the two of us reading silently. Why do you think I read so fast now?)

I suspect the thing I'd tell the erstwhile bullies of my childhood is my name. A lot of them never got around to finding out, after all. :-D
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A latte for every day of the year
If you unexpectedly won a $10,000, how would you spend it? really boring and put it all into a high-interest savings account, actually. It's not enough to get excited about. :-p

Now, if you said £10 million, then I could come up with some interesting plans. But don't bother me for $10,000 - that's not even enough to pay off my student loan!
serina_ds: (Default)

'Tis the season
Do you find the holiday season relaxing or stressful, and why?

Hmm, I tend to find the holiday period requires more energy, but is conversely less stressful. I tend to be quite heavily involved in getting all the Xmas gifts for my family and friends, plus wrapping them (including my own!), writing the Xmas cards (again including my own!) and making full, blow-out Xmas and Boxing Day dinners. I do lots, and socialise lots, during this period, but I enjoy all of it so does it count as stressful? Admittedly, my family don't do the whole 'let's have plenty of family rows for Xmas' thing, so it's really fantastic to see my family and spend time with them. It's not stressful at all, even with all the stuff I do.

I'm so grateful to have a wonderful family.
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All generalizations are false, including this one
What was the last juicy generalization from which you freed yourself? What caused your perspective to change?

I love finding my world view turned on its head sometimes. Learning new things, clearing out old prejudices I didn't realize I had (and we all have them - it's part of development, and understanding the society you live in).

The last time I had a generalization poked at, it was about my image of what differentiated a potential partner from a friend, as a result of reading something about asexuality and polyamory. Since I don't believe in the One True Love (TM), I just see people on a spectrum of degrees of love. I don't do exclusivity, nor do I do the same things with every partner I have. I don't require sex as a part of a relationship (although I thoroughly enjoy it) and I will also have sex with good friends. I'm perfectly happy to just cuddle with a partner - but then I'm also happy to cuddle on the sofa and watch a DVD with a friend. I will confide and gossip with both. I will go out to shows and dinner with both.

What, then, makes the difference between a friend and a romantic partner?

I guess, in the end, it's a matter of negotiation and expectations. We communicate more. We compromise on more. I will expect more from a partner - but I will also forgive more. I put more of my faith and trust in their person than I would a friend.

It's not that they matter and my friends don't. It's that they matter more - and that's just the way it should be.
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It's the thought that counts
Do you find holiday gift-giving more pleasurable or onerous?

I love giving gifts! The act of choosing the perfect gift for each person is, in many ways, a reminder of what I love about the people in my life. It doesn't necessarily have to be an expensive gift, so long as it's thoughtful and suitable for them. No matter that people complain about commercialism, I'm not Christian - this holiday will not be religious for me. Sharing my love for those around me is far more important, to my point of view, and if it happens to include giving gifts, I'm all for it!

Of course, I don't like looking at my bank balance in January and fending off the annual heart attack.....
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Passing the time
What's your favorite thing to do on long car rides?

Erm, I have what I term 'Travel Narcolepsy' - as soon as I'm in a moving vehicle of any kind, I tend to fall asleep. I can sometimes fend it off for a little while by chatting, or listening to music, or reading or knitting, but generally not for long. So it's not a matter of what my favourite thing to do, it's more a matter of what ends up happening whether I want it to or not!


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