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Questions from nalidoll, somewhat belated answers... Childhood & life lessons, etc.

1) if you were to write a recipe for True and Lasting Friendship, what would it be? what "optional seasonings" do you prefer in your own?
1 large block solid trust, layered with liking, shared experience, and accumulated knowledge of the Other. I prefer mine with shared interests and a hint of potential romance, either active or latent.

2) what song embodies what you *hoped* for in love and relationships when you were young and dreaming ahead? how has that changed (or has it)?
It probably speaks volumes about me that when I was about thirteen, I thought that "Lean On Me" was incredibly romantic. (No. Seriously.) I wanted a best friend who I would always be there for and who would always be there for me.

Since then, I've wound up more able to accept the idea of a primary love interest who isn't absolutely everything I need in the way of a best friend, but I'd still like to be with someone who's an excellent and close friend.

3) what is your Absolute Deal-Breaker in Love? in Friendship? are there exceptions to either of these, ever?
Absolute deal breaker in love? Lack of trust. If I can't trust someone, I can't love them. Trust is the foundation of my love. Sometimes it can be weaseled around to be "I will trust them to act like themselves," and guard myself very fiercely from where they are untrustworthy, but I feel sickened by that, and I shrink away from them.

I can, occasionally, be friends with someone I consider untrustworthy. The dealbreaker that I encounter most often is blatant homophobia. I can deal with someone who is straight and won't ever consider even casually flirting or pretending to mess around with someone of the same sex. I cannot deal with slurs in casual conversation, hate speech, unwillingness to live and let live, and so forth. I take someone saying that I should not let my male child ever wear female clothes as a personal attack. This is something I consider worth making a public scene over.

If I have a pre-existing friendship with someone, I will attempt to teach them the error of their ways and keep the friendship, if it's a particularly good friend. If it's not a particularly good friend, or if they refuse to budge at least on the live & let live and stop making those jokes or using those words in my presence, then they are most likely no longer my friend.

I react similarly to overt racism. I'm not trained to detect subtle racism. Yet.

4) what was the first book to truly change your view of the world in a lasting way? when did you first read it, and who in your life do you associate with it now?
Richard Feynman's autobiography Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman was the book. Feynman was my first personal hero, and I proceeded to read everything else I could find by him in Dad's library. I remember being about nine. I will always think about Dad when I think of that book, because Dad was the one reading it aloud to us. I wound up reading it and re-reading it, just because Feynman had that way of looking at the world that said you can do anything as long as you figure out the right way of getting there.

5) you have stated before that you had little or no exposure to pop-culture things when you were young.. what took the place of these in your imaginary-type play? was this just for you or did it include your sister or other children as well?
swallowtayle and I have always been voracious readers, due in much part to always getting a bedtime story, or two, or three, and weekly trips to the library. Elements from the books worked themselves into our play. We had fairy dolls, and we often enough wound up doing various things to make it so we could talk to the fairies. Our larger dolls wound up going to the hospital a lot with mysterious and dangerous illnesses, when they weren't in school. (I was usually a teacher, and the dolls were usually students.) We had theatre events; Mama wound up making a playhouse for us, one that converted to a stage (the inside was the proscenium, complete with curtains, and one side dropped down for a large apron; it largely operated as a thrust stage because of size and the proscenium being chiefly used as a backstage area). There was much strategizing over ways of evading and attacking bullies, and then evading and attacking boys. We built forts in the woods and organized a spy society (which largely fell apart after I attempted to introduce an honorary male member). We had a number of friends; Galadriel (of my 5th grade gang that included Ginger and Gaia) was one of the chief members of the running-around-in-the-woods-spying group. We played with our pet chickens and dressed them up.

6) what culture -if any - do you feel has influenced you most, other than your own?
Chinese. When I was about eight, there was an influx of Chinese graduate students to the university where Dad worked. Dad took it upon himself to become a cultural ambassador, learning as much Chinese (Mandarin, which they largely spoke) as he could, and being a friendly force of welcome in this strange land. We were taught basic kid manners in American and Chinese. I'd be utterly lost if stranded in China with no interpreter, because I don't know anything beyond "hello", "goodbye", "man", "ice-cream", "thank you", "soda", "chick", "rooster", "chicken dung", and "THIS CAN'T *@#*@ HAPPEN!". The one event that probably sealed the influence was the summer (I think I was 12)
where I read the entire 6-volume translation of Journey to the West. I was irked when I found that Dad had gotten rid of it.

I was influenced a fair bit by Scandinavian folk tales and Russian folk tales as well.

7) if you had to distill it down to a list of just two or three things, simply stated, what would you say were the most important things to pass on to a child? who was the one who passed them on to you?
If you find out that you are wrong about something, that's okay. Just find out what is right. -- I'm not sure anyone ever taught me that it was okay to be wrong from time to time or how to deal with it. I do remember being obsessive about always being right.

Trustworthiness, integrity, and honesty. -- My parents passed this on to me by behaving in public as they did in private, keeping their word, and explaining to us why they did some of the things that they did. If they'd promised something and circumstances changed and it couldn't happen, they told us so. And since they were open and honest with us about stuff that concerned us, we came to expect that from ourselves and others.

Some of this was, of course, not done intentionally. A happy accident of architecture made an ordinary conversation downstairs between the adults (who fondly thought they were speaking privately) completely and clearly audible to the not-asleep children upstairs. By common consent, we didn't tell them about this, because we had guessed that they'd stop talking so freely if they knew.

I eventually blew the secret when Mama had her best-friend-who'd-moved as a house guest and she'd sent us girls upstairs to play with her friend's small autistic son and started having a frank chat with her friend. When her friend started unloading about the stresses inherent in raising a kid who has no apparent empathy, I exchanged the "I know this is against the Code, but we have no choice" glance with swallowtayle, and hurried down to tell them to can it and take it outside, because the kid could hear every word. Which included explaining to Mama that yes, we'd used this same acoustical property for years. Mama was somewhat taken aback, because she really hadn't intended to broadcast everything she said up the stairs to us...

But it did work well for demonstrating integrity to us impressionable children; the closest I've ever seen them go to the public face not matching the private was when a close friend made a questionable decision in marriage, and they wound up being pleasant and polite but not actually close to the partner in question, and venting to each other after having to deal with her. (And even that served me well, and taught me how to smile and be socially acceptable with people who I really want to smack.)
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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