Nice thinky meme from a locked post a few weeks back, cos I feel like answering questions about myself. These suggest an attitude to media that isn't quite mine, but I'm rather interested in thinking about why the questions don't exactly fit as well as answering them.
- If someone wanted to really understand you, what would they read, watch, and listen to?
I am not sure that there's a lot of media that really helps to explain me. There are books, films and music that I like a lot, and if you consume those you will probably learn something about me, but it's a bit indirect.
So I would go for: Read – The Chemistry of Life by Steven Rose. It's incredibly out of date, but it gives a pretty good sense of how I think of biology and why I'm interested in it, even if the details are long obsolete.
Watch – The Dépardieu Cyrano de Bergerac. My absurdly romantic side is only a small aspect of who I am but it's definitely there, and one of the things I'm romantic about is really really sentimental French poetry.
Listen to – Baroque keyboard music, which will tell you about how I'm drawn to things where the beauty is in the underlying structure and pattern. I like a lot of geometric art too, particularly the Arabic style with lots of tiny details.
- Have you ever found a writer who thinks just like you? if so, who?
Not just like me in every respect, no, but I often find that Lynne Reid Banks thinks a lot like me. Particularly about relationships, but in general what she notices about the world and her values.
- List your fandoms and one character from each that you identify with.
This is the question that made me want to fill in the meme, because I don't exactly have fandoms in the most obvious sense, and when I do, I rarely identify with the characters, I see myself much more as a reader or observer. That said:
Firefly: I mostly fancy all the characters rather than identifying with them, but if I have to pick I'd go for Wash, because he's competent at his particular specialist area but not particularly brave at fighting, and he's very loyal and supportive to Zoe and the rest of the crew, and he can be childish and playful or serious.
Book LotR: I am not extremely fannish about this because so much of fandom stuff is about the films which I haven't seen and don't intend to, but I have always identified quite strongly with Pippin. Because he's talkative and friendly and interested in people, and I often get on really well with people who remind me of Merry, and he wants to know how stuff works and isn't satisfied until he gets a proper explanation. I would absolutely have dropped the stone into the well in Moria, and I would absolutely have been tempted to look into the Palantír.
Vorkosigan saga: Again, I appreciate the characters more than actually thinking of them as like me. In some ways I relate to Bel Thorne because of its gender and because it's a side-kick to Miles, but that's only a very vague connection. I'm pretty certain that if I were in the Vorkosigan verse I'd be some minor character who only has a few lines.
Inception: I rather relate to Arthur, because he's a side-kick who is helpful by being well prepared and having a deep knowledge and understanding of the situation.
I don't seem to have picked any female characters here, I'm sure there must be some I relate to but I can't immediately call any to mind, not in anything I would consider myself at all fannish about.
- Do you like your name? Is there another name you think would fit you better?
The name my parents gave me is ok; I think of it as me and would find it hard to change. It's very obviously female and it's a Biblical name that people often notice is Jewish, though I have lots of non-Jewish friends with the name. It was popular in the late 70s and early 80s, though it's not hugely time-marked like some names can be, it's fairly perennial.
I have grown to like Liv really quite a lot, even though I ended up using that name somewhat by accident. I think jpallan is the person who first started addressing me by that as a name, taking it a step beyond an IRC abbreviation for my old handle (which I still use on LJ), livredor. But it feels like me too, and many people including my husband address me as Liv as often as my given name. I think of it as the Scandinavian form of Eve, not as an abbreviation for Olivia, I'm definitely not an Olivia.
I would in some ways like a less gendered name, and I've experimented a bit with thinking of myself as Rae, but I've never quite strongly connected to that as an abbreviation / alternative to my given name.
- Do you think of yourself as a human being or a human doing? Do you identify yourself by the things you do?
I dislike the way this is phrased, it sounds like woo to me. I don't strongly identify as human, not that I'm anything else particularly, but it's not something that immediately leaps to mind when I'm thinking of my identity. I think of myself as being intelligent and an extrovert, and also identify strongly with some of the things I do, teaching, reading, science, being a friend to my friends (which is ironic because it's a being phrase, but I think of it as something that I actively do). I try not to think of myself as having fixed moral qualities, I sometimes do good things and sometimes things I'm less proud of, but I try not to say I am a moderately virtuous person.
- Are you religious / spiritual?
I find it a bit hard to answer the question of whether I'm religious, but certainly religion is an important part of my life, as anyone who reads this journal probably realizes.
I'm not at all spiritual. Religion is not really an emotional thing for me, I don't seek out and rarely have ecstatic experiences. I am sometimes moved by religious things but it's often more either aesthetic or moral than actually spiritual. Basically my connection to religion is that I create and maintain spaces for other people to have spiritual experiences, I facilitate rather than directly partaking in that sort of thing.
- Do you care about your ethnicity?
I'd like to say no, but I'm rarely not conscious that I'm ancestrally Jewish as well as belonging to the Jewish religion in practice. OTOH, Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish isn't considered an ethnicity in the current official diversity climate. So I kind of indirectly care about the fact that I'm perceived by generally decent people as white and by racists as an out-group that doesn't officially exist. So when anti-racists talk about white people, I feel like I should include myself in that category, but it doesn't feel emotionally quite right. Which means I find myself thinking about ethnicity quite a bit because of that dissonance.
- What musical artists have you most felt connected to over your lifetime?
I don't feel a strong connection with musicians. About the first singer I decided to like when I was first forming my tastes was Bon Jovi. As a teenager I would have told you that my favourite artists were Nirvana and Tori Amos, and I still feel connected to them because they remind me of those years. doseybat and rysmiel got me into goth music, and I'm still very fond of Sisters of Mercy. The band I've most seen live and whose music I most persistently like is VNV Nation.
- Are you an artist?
Not in the slightest. I have really no creative talents whatsoever, even in the most minor way. I'm somewhat competent at writing, and I do do quite a lot of it, but my writing is nearly all blogging or technical writing rather than anything I'd call artistic, I don't write fiction or beautiful prose and rarely write poetry.
- Do you have a creed?
I slightly twitch at the question, because it feels like it belongs in a Christian context, and I always keep saying that Judaism is more about actions and behaviour than belief, and we explicitly don't have any formal creed. That said, I do often come back to a couple of texts, perhaps as touchstones or something. One is from Ethics of the Elders, the tractate of the Talmud that has a bunch of aphorisms in it:
לא עליך המלאכה לגמור ולא אתא בןחורין להבטל ממנה / It is not up to you to complete the work, but you are not at liberty to refrain from it. And the other is from a poem by the 20th century poet Tchernikowsky, that is quoted in our prayer-book:
שחקי כי באדם אאמין
כי עודני מאמין בך
Laugh at me when I believe in people
For though you mock me I believe in you
- Describe your ideal day.
I wake up naturally after plenty of sleep at around 8 am. I'm perhaps with someone I know well, a partner or a close friend. We drink tea together and chat and have something to eat, Danish pastries or crumpets with sweet spreads. Once we've had time to clear up breakfast, other friends arrive, and we're in a space that's big enough for lots of people without being echoey, so everybody can easily have conversations. We spend the morning talking and drinking more tea and greeting exciting new people as they show up. At lunch time we walk perhaps a mile to a pleasant country pub that serves nice food. It's sunny and breezy, not too warm, and we walk along a decent footpath (not a road) through pretty landscape, and there's an alternative route for people who don't want to walk. We have a long leisurely lunch with more talking, and then head back to the imaginary space where I'm staying and perhaps play some games. I have enough time to talk to all my friends and none of them have awkward geography to prevent them from being there. For dinner, people turn up and serve us an Indian style meal, the kind where everybody shares all the dishes. The caterers are well-paid and have good working conditions and enjoy their jobs. And there is time for more talking until about midnight.
- Dog person or cat person?
I mildly prefer cats, but I'm not very interested in animals at all. I'm likely to find cats momentarily cute, and dogs momentarily slightly anxiety-producing, but I don't hate dogs or love cats, in most cases I just get bored with them after a few minutes of interaction.
- Inside or outdoors?
If I really have to pick one, I prefer inside. I like well-controlled temperatures and access to my stuff and to the internet. But I don't do very well if I don't spend at least some time each day outdoors. I don't like sleeping out or most stereotypically outdoorsy activities, just I like to walk about and smell growing things and have a change of scene.
- Are you a musician?
Not even slightly, I'm really really unmusical. One of my medium-term goals is to get a piano and practise enough to get my playing vaguely decent, because I enjoy making music, either alone or with friends, but I am never going to be good enough to be even the most amateur performer. And I pick piano because I had lessons for about 10 years at school, so I know enough that playing recognizable tunes is attainable and perhaps accompanying others is attainable. I can't reliably sing in tune, and I am trying to get braver about just singing anyway, at least with people who don't mind, but I can't just fall back on singing as something that doesn't need specialist equipment.
- Five most influential books over your lifetime.
See Earlier attempts to answer this question. Though there are somewhat more than five in those old posts.
- If you’d grown up in a different environment, do you think you’d have turned out the same?
I find this question barely meaningful. "I" am the sum of my experiences, nothing more than that, there's very little about me, even the physical shape of my body, let alone anything else, that would be the same in a different environment.
- Would you say your [blog] is a fair representation of the “real you”?
I think so, there's over a million words and 13 years of experiences here, even if I had completely made it up that persona is now a significant part of who I am. It's not a complete representation of me, there are some things I don't write about here, but only my very closest friends know me in ways that aren't available from my DW.
The original question was about Tumblr, and I use Tumblr for social bookmarking, with barely any social, so it's not a representation of "me" at all, other than, hey, I found this picture pretty or this idea appealing.
- What is your patronus?
I have never really thought about this question. I sometimes represent myself as an owl, but I'm not sure if that's an owl as a representation of being intelligent, or the literal bird. (I also sometimes represent myself as a sheep, but that's only because of my name, I don't feel any affinity with sheep.)
- Which Harry Potter house would you be in? or are you a muggle?
I think I'm probably a muggle, I don't believe in magic and I'm not the sort of person who gets selected as being special, especially not at the age of 11. But if I did somehow end up at Hogwarts I would likely be sorted Ravenclaw, because I am very much driven by curiosity and learning, and I identify perhaps too much with being brainy.
- Would you rather be in Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, or somewhere else?
I would rather be in a world where things operate according to consistent principles that can be deduced empirically, really. If I can pick a magical fictional universe it would probably be Iain M Banks' Culture; it's not absolutely perfect, but there is no material scarcity, and there does seem to be a very high value on diversity rather than conformity, which would definitely appeal to me.
- Do you love easily?
Yes, I've really quite often had the experience of falling into instant intense like with new people whom I meet. And I generally find that the better I know someone, the more I love them. jack once observed that I had about a dozen people I considered the other half of my soul, and that's a slightly stretched definition of "half" but otherwise basically true.
In terms of specifically romantic love, not so much. I generally fall in love quite gradually, and don't say "I love you" until several months or even longer after making a commitment to someone and living as a couple. The exceptions are my long ago ex gf, darcydodo whom I fell in love with instantly when I first set eyes on her in early 1999, and my OSOs whom I fell for pretty fast, certainly within weeks of deciding we might like to try being in a relationship.
- List the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.
Reading the internet
- How often would you want to see your family every year?
I'd like to see my family of origin a bit more often than we usually manage, perhaps once a month or so, either separately or together. In practice we get together for Passover and sometimes for Christmas, and I see my parents more like half a dozen times a year and my sibs more rarely than that.
And I'm more and more thinking that I'd like to live with my main partners, or at least nearer to them than I currently do. But that's not measured in a scale of times per year, it's more like I'd like to be with them all the time. Or perhaps, absolutely ideally, about 300 days a year, leaving enough time for me to get some time to myself and some time with other friends.
- have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone?
Hm. My very close friendships tend to be more of the nature that we spend hundreds of hours explaining how we each think, rather than just instantly having a perfect understanding. There are several people I've known within a very short time of meeting them that we would be very close friends, doseybat, MK, rysmiel. But I wouldn't exactly describe that as a mind-meld, just very clear compatibility, I think it's sometimes referred to as "clicking" with another person. I think the nearest thing is getting to know pseudomonas, we met at college and discovered we had really similar backgrounds and interests, and spent the next several years basically talking all the time and therefore influencing eachother to be even more alike; we used to describe ourselves as "mental symbionts". Is that a mind-meld?
- Could you live as a hermit?
NO. Nononononono. For maybe about three days, maximum before I went completely crazy for lack of human contact and stimulation.
- how would you describe your gender/sexuality?
Reluctantly? I am basically female, and since that was what the medical people guessed when I was born and therefore what my parents assumed about me when I was a child, I am also cis. But I really don't identify at all strongly with being female, and I would really rather not have to define myself by my gender, let alone have other people make assumptions based on perceiving me (even correctly) as female. I could say that I'm agender or neutrois, but since those are minority genders it would require a lot of effort to actually convince anybody that that's what I am. It seems to me nearly impossible to actually be perceived as agender without either also being androgynous, or putting massive effort into convincing others that you're NB. And since what I want to do about gender is bother with it as little as possible, I just default to being female since that's easy for most people to accept without any fuss.
Sexuality: I usually say I'm bi because that's a fairly well understood and broad term. But if I'm in the kind of company where more specific terms are in currency, I'm somewhere around pansexual / panromantic in that gender is a completely insignificant factor in my attraction to others. Or I'm sapiosexual, I'm attracted to people who seem to me to be intelligent.
- Do you feel like your outside appearance is a fair representation of the “real you”?
It's not fair or unfair, I just look like what I happen to look like. I don't identify strongly with my physical self at all, which I know is not really wise, but if I'm not careful I get into considering myself to be made out of thoughts and ideas that happen to be located in a body. So I fall into the fallacy of thinking that the real me looks like words rather than a human body at all.
Or I think of myself as still having an ungendered child's body, or as physically bigger (both height and breadth) than I am, or sometimes I think of myself as having a lot more hair than is likely with my hormone profile.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how hard is it for someone to get under your skin?
If 10 is really hard, I would say about 7 or 8. I'm not easy to annoy, because I just generally like people. I can be upset if I think someone is deliberately trying to hurt me, but even then I usually think, oh well, their loss if they don't see how great I am. I'm not completely impervious to people being annoying (not at 10), but I am generally a pretty equable person and get on well with most people I encounter.
- Three songs that you connect with right now.
I very rarely connect with songs, really. At the weekend I went to a concert where one of the items was Fauré's setting of the Verlaine poem Clair de lune, which I used to sing when I was having singing lessons, so I had the experience of a really good soloist performing a song that I know (and love) extremely well.
One of the songs that's often in my head is Concrete by Thea Gilmore.
For a girl who loves her words, yeah, she loves her silence more
Found a better example of what hearts and tongues are for
There is truth in your arms, love, there is truth in this song
There is truth in the concrete and the nails that our lives are built upon
And I'm taking a slight amount of comfort in dark political times from Sentinal by VNV Nation.
When will the banners and the victory parades
Celebrate the day a better world was won?
On the day the storm has just begun
I will still hope there are better days to come
- Pick one of your favorite quotes.
It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. OK, that was a very long meme, I maybe should've broken it up a bit more. But definitely interesting to think about!
— Anne Frank, 1944
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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Tuuuuune: Venetian Snares: My crutch
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