tattycat posted some really interesting questions in a locked post. So I'm going to propagate this meme because I enjoyed thinking about these questions. (The original title was "Owner's manual", and while I get the reference, the idea of being owned makes me twitchy, so I changed it.) The idea is that these are some guidelines about how to relate to me that someone in the process of getting to know me well might want to know. But I think they're interesting questions generally, even if you're not in that specific situation. I didn't know some of the answers when I first saw the meme, and I had to think about them.
How can I tell if you are angry?
(Assuming I'm not angry with you, specifically.) I'll probably snap at you for no good reason, and likely swear more than I normally do. But it's usually pretty obvious; in most cases I'll be inclined to rant about whatever is angering me and why it's so despicable and outrageous and whatever.
How should I behave around you if you're angry?
Eh. You probably don't want to be around me when I'm angry, I tend not to be very nice and I might turn on you. But if you insist, agreeing with my rant is probably a good idea. Or else giving me a convincing reason why I shouldn't be as angry as I am; if I can get into a good theoretical argument that's most likely to put me in a good mood.
What you absolutely shouldn't do is apologize (again, assuming I'm not angry with you). Yes, I know I'm scary when I'm in a bad mood, but being reminded of it really doesn't help.
How do you want me to behave when you are hurting emotionally? How is it best to comfort you?
Tea. If you're in a position to make me tea that always helps, and it's a way of showing affection that I find a lot less intrusive than hugs or other physical contact. Also, talk to me; if I'll let you, talk about any random topic that isn't what I'm upset about. If I can get into playing around with fun ideas, that's how I can find my way back to my normal rational and balanced state. In other words cease to be upset, which is the point of comforting me.
Are there things we should not discuss?
Not really. I'll talk about more or less anything; I don't have painful topics. There are a few things I can't discuss absolutely calmly and abstractly, but you should only avoid those topics if my being emotionally engaged bothers you. Oh, I won't discuss things other people have asked me to keep confidential, but that pretty much goes without saying.
How should I treat you if you are physically ill?
If you have the patience to put up with me whining, then just being around and providing company helps a lot. But I warn you I'm a terrible invalid.
If you're feeling really generous, feeding me is good. When I'm ill such that I can't really manage food preparation, or just can't bring myself regard food in any positive light, then putting food in front of me is about the only thing which motivates me to eat. And not eating fairly obviously makes me feel worse, which I do know intellectually but I tend to forget it when I'm sick.
What makes you happy, that's in my power to grant as a friend?
Attention, above all. Feeling that you are interested in me and take me seriously. Conversation, which of course is the best way of showing that, and especially really intense conversation and discussion. Hugs, if we're close enough that I feel comfortable hugging you. Tea. Chocolate. Book recommendations. Really, just being there and being my friend, and any material thing or comment which shows that is going to make me happy; I love my friends.
How would you like us to recognize your birthday?
Don't really care. If I have a party, then coming to it is going to please me. But I don't particularly expect people to remember my birthday or give presents or anything like that.
Are there any standing categories of presents that would be appropriate or unwelcome?
Books are pretty much always appropriate! I can't think of much that is always unwelcome; I always like getting presents! Food I can't eat, I suppose. I'm not crazy about gift tokens because I almost never get round to spending them. And I really dislike cut flowers, especially roses.
Are there times of the year that are difficult for you? Please explain if you are comfortable.
Not really. I don't have any difficult anniversaries or anything like that. I tend to wilt a bit in very hot weather, but I don't think that's what this question is really getting at.
There's Jewish calendar things; I'm likely to be pretty busy around the High Holy Days in September / October, so it's not the best time to make social arrangements. And I have family commitments at Passover, as well as being a pain to feed during that week.
Are there important anniversaries that we should recognize in your life?
Not really. I don't care about birthdays and I don't really celebrate any other dates. I do mark my grandparents' yarzeits (the anniversaries of the dates they died), even though this is not strictly traditional. But you don't need to do anything specifically; I'll try to go to synagogue the nearest Shabbat, and I may light a candle if I'm a position to do that.
Who are the most important people in your life to whom we should defer when making plans on your behalf?
Nobody! Woohoo. I like being really independent. Though at the moment I'd probably at least discuss practical things with my parents, given that I do live with them just now. Hopefully that's only temporary though.
Re 11: I wouldn't expect people to defer to cattitude or my other partners in making plans "on my behalf", because I don't expect people to make plans for me without checking with me. And I'll take care of checking in with my partners, and tracking what I've planned with them.
Yeah, I wasn't really sure what that last question was getting at. I don't normally expect people to make plans on my behalf without consulting me (unless I suppose they were planning a surprise party for me or something!)
So I interpreted it as being about people who have absolute priority when I'm making plans, people I invariably have to fit my schedule around. I think partners, particularly live-in partners, or dependents would be the obvious people who'd fit into that category, but there could be others depending on individual circumstances. At the moment, when I'm making plans the only people who have priority are people with whom I already have plans, and that isn't always the same people. But I'm definitely with you that it's up to me to sort out my own commitments.
Oddly, I seem to have veered off from what most people think when they read that question-- I took it to mean "if I happen to become incapacitated in some way." In other words, who do I trust the most to make sure any 'final plans' I might have get carried out.
Okay, yeah, that is weird. And kinda morbid. Must buy a full spectrum light, or quit speaking until April. *checks her list* I guess it would work to subsitute in "who probably knows my schedule and preferences the best."
Ah, that's a possible interpretation I hadn't thought of. In the event where I wasn't able to make my own decisions, I guess I'd want anyone who was acting on my behalf to consult my parents. But I haven't really thought about what I would want in those circumstances, or what I want to happen after I'm dead.
I don't think your interpretation is morbid, I think it is a good idea to consider that kind of question. I hope the winter turns out to be less hard on you than you're expecting. Oh, and thanks for the meme inspiration.