I'm doing kinda shitty right now and that might color my responses.
1. What is beauty? What is love?
"Beauty" is a loaded word that seems to point to something aesthetically objective but perhaps doesn’t truly exist. At least not in a fixed state. So although the first things that come to mind are paintings, trees, faces, it would be better if beauty were a state of mind or state of being. But no state of being is fixed, either. Maybe the most beautiful thing would be acceptance.
Maybe love is not so different, then, from beauty. Maybe the best love also is acceptance.
2. What are your most important values?
One of my core crystallized values is that everybody is crazy in some sense, but that people differ in their ability or willingness to take responsibility for their craziness. I’d like be around people who have a sense of the ways in which they fail to make sense and try to compensate and defend themselves, and who try to grow in this self-knowledge.
3. Do you have any sort of spiritual/religious beliefs, and why do you hold (or don't) those beliefs in the first place?
I was raised to believe in religion, rejected that (at age 10, owing to the “problem of evil”), and I suppose for a long time I wanted to replace religion with something. But no matter what spiritual or religious beliefs I’ve tried to entertain, reality seems not to match up with them and I end up feeling disappointed and foolish. Some part of me wants certainty, but can never have it.
4. Opinion on war and militaries? What is power to you?
I’m no fan of war and the military, but they are an expected aspect of the conditions we live in, divided into nations with borders, with limited or unequally distributed material resources, ideological differences, and hierarchically structured societies.
Power is maybe the ability to articulate your needs and get them met.
5. What have you had long conversations about? What are your interests? Why?
Long conversations usually synthesize ideas and range widely. They might center on “the meaning of life,” epistemology, art, relationships, how businesses are run, education . . . you name it. Some odd mix of practical and theoretical. I’m interested in ideas and solving problems, usually very concrete solutions, steps to take. I grew up doing performing arts stuff but gradually have left that behind. I like things like decorating and marketing.
6. Interested in health/medicine as a conversation topic? Are you focused on your body?
A lot of those topics make me feel ill to think about. I do find mainstream nutrition science helpful because I’ve been around a lot of people making up wacky shit about diets. I’m not all that focused on my body, it’s more a source of anxiety.
7. What do you think of daily chores?
Demoralizing, and they never end. I sometimes feel like an unpaid maid. I like doing work, and I like doing things well and finding better ways to do them. But the boredom, disgust, and lack of appreciation for this kind of work make it pretty much killing.
8. Books or films you liked? Recently read/watched or otherwise. Examples welcome.
I read massive amounts of nonfiction. I’ve been a book editor for a long time and have had to read a lot as a result of this job.
I used to read a lot of fiction and generally don’t anymore. Last novel I loved was True Grit -- a clever book in which not a word was wasted. I like trickster characters and satire and authors who relentlessly self-edit.
Films. Favorite director is Luis Bunuel, maybe. I like screwball comedies and musicals, too.
Reading George RR Martin’s books now and waiting for last two seasons of Game of Thrones. I watch Project Runway and Top Chef and pretty much no other TV shows.
9. What has made you cry? What has made you smile? Why?
I cry fairly easily, especially over others’ pain and suffering. I smile easily, usually at stupid jokes. But for the last few years I’ve been emotionally numb a lot of the time. I don’t think that’s my personality type or even a normal state of being and I worry it can’t be fixed.
10. Where do you feel: at one with the environment/a sense of belonging?
“Oneness” is probably not my forte. “Belonging” isn’t either. I guess I feel most comfortable when I’m a stranger, when I’m anonymous, when I’m foreign, because in those instances I’m not expected to fit in. I feel best when I’m in motion, navigating an environment, rather than at rest. Going to see theater or music performances usually feels pretty natural. And I like the smell of books and leather, and places full of antiques or curiosities. I guess working hard, pushing myself somehow, also feels good.
Evaluation & Behaviour
11. What have people seen as your weaknesses? What do you dislike about yourself?
I don’t know if this is a lifelong issue, but apparently I can make myself unreachable. I may be present but pushing people away somehow. If I think back, I think I’m pretty emotionally unstable and don’t want to expose people to that, so I’m trying to protect them and myself . . . from me. I don’t like how dysregulated I feel inside and how much difficulty I have figuring out what I should do to solve my various problems. I don’t like how overwhelmed I get by tedium and bureaucracy, and how easily I lose my temper.
12. What have people seen as your strengths? What do you like about yourself?
Feedback: Funny, smart, artistically adept, verbally fluid, "has integrity." Able to help solve other people’s problems (ironically) -- generally try to point them to resources and options.
13. In what areas of your life would you like help?
I need support for my point of view. I grew up in a fairly dysfunctional environment and didn’t learn to trust my own instincts and reactions too well. I need bolstering there. When I have that, I do better at identifying and taking whatever actions I need to.
I like having help with dishes, cleaning, child care, just general tidying and house stuff, so I can put my energy into other things.
14. Ever feel stuck in a rut? If yes, describe the causes and your reaction to it.
Yes. How do I meet role expectations of motherhood and partnership while still having a life of my own? I’ve not yet found this mysterious thing currently called “work / life balance” in corporate-speak.
People & Interactions
15. What qualities do you most like and dislike in other people? What types do you get along with?
Hypocrisy and bullying behaviors set me off -- the logical inconsistency and lack of respect for boundaries. I like a wide variety of people. I guess they’re usually into arts and intellectual pursuits. But not necessarily. Just looking for people I can click with -- openmindedness is probably the main trait that supports clicking.
16. How do you feel about romance/sex? What qualities do you want in a partner?
I find the word “romance” cheesy but if I substitute something like “emotional intensity” or “exhilaration” for it, I guess it’s important to find ways to keep that going in a partnership, although I kinda want that in all my meaningful relationships. Sex has to be good or there’s nothing to work with; to me it’s a glue or foundation. Qualities in a partner: has to be intelligent, has to laugh at my stupid jokes. The thing that turns me off most is probably “floppiness” -- physical floppiness, or emotional floppiness.
17. If you were to raise a child, what would be your main concerns, what measures would you take, and why?
I am raising children. Actually meeting their physical needs is always a main concern and takes a lot of energy. Getting a decent education for them is another crucial matter. I hope I encourage them to think for themselves and be themselves. I hope I help orient them to consensus reality and give them some tools to question that consensus, too.
18. A friend makes a claim that clashes with your current beliefs. What is your inward and outward reaction?
It depends on the specific beliefs involved, and how they make the claim. If they’re polite about it, I do my best to accommodate them and find middle ground. If they’re into some stuff I really dislike, such as New Age claptrap, I’ll just tell them that’s not my thing. If they’re being an asshole, I’ll call it out. If they’re making no sense, I’ll look for the best way to point that out. Not saying any of this is easy -- it’s not.
19. Describe your relationship to society. How do you see people as a whole? What do you consider a prevalent social problem? Name one.
I really don’t feel like thinking about this much today. Right now people seem pretty stupid. Name one random social problem? Homelessness.
20. How do you choose your friends and how do you behave around them?
I guess I usually find them through shared interests, sometimes by frequenting the same places, and there’s some kind of spark or recognition I feel right away and I find the person easy to talk to, like I can push beyond the surface of things with them. With real friends I can drop my defenses. My jokes get better, all my emotions are more palpable.
21. How do you behave around strangers?
I behave as if they’re strangers. I live in a city, strangers are everywhere all the time, like air.