Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

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A Care and Feeding Q&A:

1. How can I tell if you are angry? Level one angry: I glare, glower, strut and rant, snap, and make a lot of unnecessary noise. Level two angry: my face goes white, my ears go back, everything I say comes out low and controlled, my lips tense up, and I am really trying very hard not to lose control and go into... Level three angry: berserker rage. I know that when I'm very very angry, I do very stupid things. The past several years have been better, and I haven't gotten into any situations where I've felt that I've been in danger of snapping violently, but I know I have the capability to go all Mark Vorkosigan if I am pushed far enough.

Most of the time when something irritates me, I don't even make it into angry. I'm merely irritated or annoyed, and I scowl and complain a lot.

2. How should I behave around you while you are angry? Don't try to calm me down, you'll likely only make me madder. Don't try to reason with me. If it's level one, listening to me, sympathizing with me and eventually working around to making me laugh will probably chill me out. Darkside is really good at this. :D If it's level two, offering your help in concocting a scheme to fix the situation won't go amiss, as long as it's a sincere offer of help. If you don't feel like helping or listening, it's probably best to stay out of my way. I won't take it personally; I know I'm more than a little scary when I'm angry. Level three: run. Take small children with you. If you feel like it, preventing me from doing anything that could get me arrested would probably be appreciated ... after the fact, but don't feel you need to, because if I'm that angry, you'd be placing yourself in danger as well. I don't anticipate getting that angry, but there is always that danger. (I don't anticipate being level 3 angry any time soon, or ever again, but it's good to know.)

If I am angry at you, apologize, wait for me to cool down some, and then we can probably talk. If I am angry at you and you don't know why, apologize and say that you don't know what you did, wait for me to cool down some, and then we can probably talk. If I am angry at you and you intended to make me angry, see item #15. I'm learning to better distinguish "angry with your actions" and "angry with you" -- if a friend does or says something insensitive, I'm most likely going to be angry with the actions, because they wouldn't be a friend if I didn't have some level of trust of their motivations. If someone does something asshatted and I think it's because of bad motivations, I'm more likely going to be angry at them and their motivations in addition to their asshatted actions.

3. How do you want me to behave when you are hurting emotionally? (How is best to comfort you?) Ask before you try and touch me. Often I will welcome a hug or something, but I am at my lowest as far as emotional defenses, and something that wouldn't ordinarily set me off may have me jump and snap. There are a very few people who don't have to ask before touching me if I'm in emotional pain. If I am obviously hurting and curl up right next to you (as opposed to some distance away), hugs and petting are probably in order. Verbal expressions of sympathy are always in order. Depending on the circumstances, I may or may not be able to talk. (That is normal. Not to worry unless it goes on longer than a few hours.) Any sufficiently nasty emotional blow has a chance of sending me into shock; a blanket and a cup of hot but not scalding tea (peppermint is best) work wonders.

If I seem to have gone into an emotional decline, make sure I'm taking my St. John's Wort. Depending on the amount of stress I am under, I take from 300-900 mg/day. The immediate cure for most moments when I'm acting utterly irrationally is sleep. Under sufficient stress, my personality may subdivide, compartmentalize, or fragment. This is normal; don't panic. It's always appropriate to address the Collective as a whole. Unless you are actually a therapist of mine, it's not appropriate to ask directly for a specific member of whatever Collective there is at that time in order to offer specific advice or comfort. (Someone I knew thought he could get the actions of one of the wilder members of a past version of the Collective under control by asking another, more 'pure' member to ride herd on the wild one. That conversation did not end well.) It is appropriate to ask that a message be passed along to a member of the Collective, but people get their mail screened against the possibility of a damaging incoming message.

4. Are there things we should ~not~ discuss? If you like George W. Bush, we probably shouldn't discuss politics. I don't react well to conspiracy theories being treated with serious belief. If you think same-sex and/or plural relationships are wrong, you probably shouldn't even be reading me. While I don't think people should wind up having to need one at all, I think attempts to legislate the anguished debate that people who do have abortions have to have are inappropriate; it should be safe, legal, absolute last resort, and rare; attempts to sway me from that point are not advised. And while I respect your right to disagree with LJ policy decisions, talking shit about my friends in my presence is probably a bad plan.

It's still all right to mention it in my presence if you've had a falling out with another of my friends; stuff like that happens. And it's still OK to not be able to stand personal characteristics of my friends that I either don't mind or manage to put up with. But saying something like "$GROUP are all whorebags" does not come across to me as "I think $GROUP made a bad decision and it has really upset me", it comes across as "I think your friends $MEMBER_1-M and your acquaintances $MEMBER_N-P and your friends' circle of friends $MEMBER_Q-X are all whorebags", and since I most likely happen to think said friends are not whorebags, that upsets me.

5. How should I treat you if you are physically ill? Thankfully, I'm not half as sickly as I used to be. If I'm coughing, make sure I have access to plenty of hot tea (water if not available), and ask about decongestant, cough drops (both numbing and regular), humidity, decongestants, and allergy meds. I will probably want some horizontality and a book and a water bottle full of hot mint tea.

Crying will give me a congested sinus area for a week. Dancing will give me a nasty lung cough for two weeks.

6. What makes you happy? (that may be in my power to grant, as a friend?) Good books, good fic recommendations, good music, links to little momentary amusements that don't need to turn into vast timesucks in order to be appreciated, the sorts of little creature comforts that I run out of on a regular basis, bad puns, and letting me know when I've made your day better.

7. How would you like for us to recognize your birthday? A shout-out is nice, though I know I'm not the best at keeping up with others. If we're close enough that you feel gifts are appropriate, feel free, though I don't insist on it. :D (See, my best friend forgets my birthday on a regular basis. I'm not about to feel insulted if someone a little less close doesn't acknowledge it.)

8. Are there any standing categories of presents that would be appropriate or unwelcome? If you see some chicken-themed piece of crap and think of me just because you associate me with chickens, THINK AGAIN. (If it's a nice something, who knows, I might actually like it, but I'm very bloody picky about my chicken-based artwork; think ursulav-quality. That chicken-themed whiteboard on the refrigerator is the result of someone seeing something, seeing chicken, and thinking of me, not of a decorating choice of my own. It's still there because it's usable.) I'm nipping this one in the bud before someone (else) thinks I need a collection. In a related note, country-kitsch decoration? NO. And useless decorative fripperies are probably not the best bet either, not unless you know my taste in those.

I do like rocks, though. I probably have too many chunks of fluorite inhabiting my bed, but you never know when you're going to need another one. I have not quite yet developed an active BPAL addiction, largely because I rarely seem to have disposable income and a burning hankering for happy smellies at the same time. I go through Burt's Bees rhubarb-colored lip shimmer at an appalling rate, not in the least because I have the bad habit of leaving them in my shorts pockets. Bookstore gift certificates are always on, and I'll probably report back gleefully with exactly what you got me.

9. Are there times of the year that are difficult for you? (please explain if you are comfortable.) Winter in general used to be difficult, because of the SAD thing (hello, Alaska), and because I was always sick. Allergy season is miserable. I used to have a hard time around the end of July, because of an event that I referred to as "Terrible Tuesday", but that's now over ten years in the past. All the ghosts have been laid to rest. My tough times are more linked to local politics and work stress now. Oh, superbowl season is going to be fun, speaking of work stress, for certain definitions of fun. And quarter-end is always going to be hectic. I don't know if the beginning of June is going to be a traumatic anniversary yet, because it hasn't come around yet again. November is killer on account of NaNoWriMo.

10. Are there important anniversaries that we should recognize in your life? My important anniversaries are mostly of significance to me, not all y'all. I have a couple marking off in my profile, but those are cryptic on purpose, and for me to track more than you to track; there is just a convenient place to put them. Having someone else celebrate or otherwise mark them would feel weird. But birthdays and holidays are all good.

11. Who are the most important people in your life to whom we should defer when making plans on your behalf? Well, Darkside is my best friend, and he gets automatic first refusal on a lot of stuff. But he doesn't get automatic veto over anything anymore. There's probably a multi-variable graph involving physical proximity, time we already get to spend together, closeness of friendship, length of friendship, and influence. Those geographically furthest from me who I don't get to see often who are totally my best friends forever, who have the power to make my life miserable if I don't make time to see them, get dibs on my time. People who live in the same city who I see regularly, don't really like much, haven't known long, and I couldn't care a fig for their opinion, really don't get to dictate my schedule. (Meaning, if an obnoxious co-worker wants me to trade shifts or something if Ginger is going to be in town at the same time, they can bite me.) My roommates and amberfox are likely to know if I'd go for something or not, and are at least semi-likely to know my current schedule.

12. What do you share with others? A whole hell of a lot. Instead of being ruled by the social norm of "could I tell my mother about this", I am ruled (to some extent) by "could I say that on LJ?" I do share some of my toys. I share most of the daily happenings of my life. I share my insights and bad puns. I share an apartment with some good friends. I share my music. ^_^

13. What do you NOT share with others? I don't share my full name with the public so much. I don't share the name of my workplace. There are certain dreams and hopes and fears and plans that don't come out by the light of day. There are insecurities I'm not prepared to discuss, either in public, or at all. I don't share confidences. I don't share my computer. (You can tell who I trust, by who has a login on my computer and who gets to sign in to things for me.) I don't really share my cellphone number.

14. How does someone become your friend? Often it's by being there and by being a kindred spirit. Usually there's some form of quality time spent together. But not everyone with whom I initially click becomes a friend. Most become friendly acquaintances; it's not their fault, after all, that they didn't have whatever remote esoteric mojo it is that inspires me to invite them deeper. I'm introverted at heart, although I have general goodwill for most people, and am willing to be social and friendly to a point. And not all of my friends are people I've clicked with right away. They've been around and I've been around, and eventually we noticed we were friends. Lately I've been picking up most of my friends and close acquaintances from IRC. ♥

Ideally, a friend of mine and I can disagree politely and respectfully (although there are certain topics that are complete dealbreakers for me), be able to spend time together in silence, easy in each other's presence, giggle together all night long, be able to talk about creative projects, and above all else, have trust in each other.

15. How does someone lose you as a friend? Demonstrate untrustworthiness. If me and mine wouldn't be safe around you, then I can't afford to have you as a friend. Notable incidents include the time that one guy read a chat log and then had a cascade of Really Bad Ideas, the AK-47 Guy Incident, the slow creeping horror of my engagement to BJ. It's far easier to lose me as a friendly acquaintance than it is to lose me as a friend. If a more-distant friendly acquaintance does something that utterly appalls me, I have no qualms about cutting ties to protect myself. Someone closer is likely to get an inquiry about what the hell rather than me backing the fuck off.

A high level of the bad kind of personal drama and/or a high level of the bad kind of crazy is a definite friend turnoff, and while I may not say anything about each isolated instance, the effect is cumulative, and I get into straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back mode. (I can put up with more crazy/drama in a friend, because they're a friend. Mental illness != The Bad Crazy, though The Bad Crazy usually involves some form of mental illness, though one really doesn't need mental illness to be just plain mean, which I don't like either.) When that happens with a less close friendly acquaintance, I disengage and wait for something that justifies breaking ties formally. With that level of personal drama or bad crazy, it happens sooner rather than later.

Me interacting a lot and then backing quietly off and growing distant doesn't necessarily mean that the person's lost my goodwill. I may just be going through a particular interactional pattern I have: interact a lot at first, sounding out someone to see if they're going to be a Forever Bosom Friend, finding that they won't be, but they're perfectly agreeable, and then dropping back to a comfortable "yeah, we're cool, we talk sometimes, they could come dance at my wedding reception" sort of thing.

It is hard to lose my goodwill, even if someone has appalled me. I may have lost all desire to interact with someone, but I still don't tend to wish people ill unless they've really seriously hacked me off. I just wish them well -- well away from me.

16. What scares you? Losing complete control of my temper. Losing a job and job searches. Heights. Uncontrolled fire. Mass social humiliation of a sort most effectively done in elementary school. Data loss. Boredom. An infinity of nothingness, and/or being utterly forgotten. The death of our Sun (yes, however many million years in the future). Paperwork. Government.

Strangely enough, I don't fear losing my best friend anymore.

17. About what are you most sensitive? Weak spots. Certain social things. It does irritate me when people offer blatantly nonconstructive criticism about things that I have very little actual control over. This isn't the sort of thing that I would answer in public: see #13.

As with anything, the people closest to me are the people I have the fewest defenses against. Darkside and I do a careful dance around each other, attempting to not step on one another's toes or elbow each other. Every now and then, he finds out about another of my weak spots, by carefully elbowing me directly in it. And I tell him, and he regrets it, and he does his level best to fix the damage and never do it again. Sometimes I can hear him consciously and carefully avoiding doing or saying something that he knows would wound me deeply, and I appreciate that beyond belief. I find out about his vulnerabilities the same way.
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