January 25th, 2006

getting by

Many-Worlds Theory of Friendships

Sinuses hurt yesterday and today, woke me up today. C'mon, sinus infection! Woooo! Only six days left until I find out whether my hopes are realized.

Yesterday anne_mommy made a comment about motherhood and creative projects that ended like this: "I haven't lost anything. It's just different." Yes. Definitely. And that made me think of something one of you asked three weeks ago now, when I was having my sleep-dep study. She said, "I'd like to hear your philosophy on friendship, or at least your inklings on friendship." The piece that made me link the two was when someone asked me, regarding two of my close friends getting married to each other, whether I didn't feel I'd lost something as well as gained something.

So here's what I think: we get our past to build on, but not to keep. You never, ever get to have your old friendship back -- even if it was just the old friendship from yesterday, when you meant to call but didn't find the time -- or when you thought you didn't have the time but somehow found it, or whatever it is you did.

When two of my favorite people from college, gaaldine and the_overqual, got romantically involved and eventually married each other, things changed with us. Of course they did. But if they hadn't -- if they'd gone on to meet other partners, or to stay single -- things would also have changed with us. Because that's what things do: they change. It is how life goes.

So if you have a friendship that lasts, it kind of accretes. You end up with someone who gets a tag like "old friend since junior high" in casual conversation, but if you really put all the attributes on it, it would end up longer than the geek code, down to "...and we used to talk about every two weeks on the phone but now we e-mail, mostly during the day, either long chunks a couple times a week or back-and-forth a few sentences daily, and sometimes we talk about...." It contains all the stuff that used to be there -- in this non-random scottjames example, it would contain "junior high math geeks together" -- but that doesn't mean we have to stay junior high math geeks. (Good thing, too.)

Sometimes a friendship descriptor gets "for years" tacked onto it: "We've been meeting for coffee and to talk about our families for years." "We've been lending each other books for years." But it isn't the same thing to be friends who are meeting for coffee now as friends who are now and have done so for years. Staying the same is a change, too. My grandparents are different people for having argued about cowboy boots for nearly fifty-seven years now than they were for arguing about cowboy boots fifty-seven years ago.

Someone also asked me what scares and comforts me regarding change. For me, this is like asking what scares and comforts me regarding gravity. I can come up with a few things like, "Errr...I like sticking to the planet all right, and having atmosphere stick to the planet, and having a planet...all those things are good...but falling down is bad, and I don't like plane crashes...." But for the most part it's a very basic assumption of life. Change is like that, to my way of thinking. When we explode in frustration that nothing has changed in months, we don't really mean that: we're more frustrated because whatever the situation is has gone on for months, and it hadn't before. Or if we sigh happily that we had old friends in town and it was as though nothing had changed, that isn't really what we mean either -- what we mean is that the elements we liked before have been preserved despite the changes obvious to everyone involved. In the former case, we're more frustrated because of the change, and in the latter, probably happier, but in either case, having things come out the same at a different time is change.

It's like gravity. You work with it, or you fall flat on your face (or sometimes, unfortunately, both). And if you fall flat on your face, you pick yourself up and keep going, and sometimes friendship is about that, too.

Your kink bores me.

Is there anything that can be coopted by le bourgeois faster than a game of épater le bourgeois? If there is, I'm not sure I've seen it. I am really, really sick of people trying to shock me. Do you know why? Because mostly other people's sexual tastes are just not that interesting. And the more convinced the people are that they are the most rebellious transgressive thing in the world, the more likely I am to be thoroughly bored by the account of it. It's not that I don't want to hear it because I'm too squicked, too freaked out, not edgy enough. It's just that what you like in bed, for vast, sweeping values of "you," is not at all my concern. Not my business. Don't have the energy to bother.

Is this because I am the coolest, hippest, most jaded kid on my block? Not at all. I am not particularly hip. I am not particularly unhip, either, and I hate it when people try to be hip by proclaiming their unhipness. "I am so far out of the mainstream! I march to my own drummer! I define my own drummer as the opposite of other people's drummers!" No. Cut it out; move along with your own life. I don't think I'm particularly outstanding here. I just...don't...care.

Here are the circumstances under which your specific sexual tastes matter to me:
1) I have agreed to have a sexual relationship with you. This leaves out the vast, vast majority of humanity: thank you, move along.
OR 2) You intend to do something that will do lasting damage to someone, particularly someone I care about (possibly including yourself, depending on who you are).
OR 3) There is an interesting story that requires knowledge of them. I mean story, not series of facts or events: not just, "You won't believe what the goalie did with the Roomba," but, "You won't believe what the goalie did with the Roomba. The queen died of grief." Interest points are especially awarded for storytelling skills, geekiness (science/engineering jokes/discoveries particularly), and hilarity. I judge what's hilarious for myself, so if you tell me a story and it's just not that funny, well, find yourself another audience; insisting that I need to loosen up is probably beside the point. I could be loosened up enough to be a gelatinous Mris-puddle on the floor, and you could still be boring me.

Extra points will be removed for persisting after I tell you I don't care (no matter how funny the story ends up when you finish telling it), for instructing me to broaden my horizons (why don't you broaden yours to include the concept of people who don't care?), and especially for informing me that your interest is "the ultimate taboo" and/or "more rebellious/transgressive than being gay." I would imagine there are a few exceptions, but for the most part gay people are not gay in order to be shocking. They are gay because they're genuinely interested in members of the same sex. Also, there is no ultimate taboo. One person's shocked nausea is another person's pleasant evening and a third person's bored yawn.

In many cases that third person would be me.

If you're talking about your sex life in your lj, I am perfectly capable of skimming or skipping those bits, or of reading them if you've met criterion #3 above. (Or, if applicable, of not friending you, or of de-friending you, or of asking to leave that filter.) It's like being at a party: not every conversation between interesting people will be of interest. That's fine. But I want relative strangers to stop accosting me with this kind of information. I want to go on the record here: I. Don't. Care.


[insert tired whine here]

Other than that, I'm having a pretty productive day, getting things removed from the list at quite a reasonable rate and doing other, non-list things besides. I have finally got my hands on a copy of Lloyd Alexander's The Xanadu Adventure! This is the last of the Vesper Holly series, and I have wanted it since I was 11. It hasn't existed that long, but I've wanted another Vesper Holly book that long. The Chronicles of Prydain and the Westmark trilogy were both definitively ended with their last book, and much though I love Westmark, another book in Westmark would have to be the start of a new plot arc completely; The Beggar Queen is the last. But The Philadelphia Adventure, while theoretically conclusive enough, left the possibility for more, and so more I wanted. And now I have more.

The other book I'd wanted since I was 11 was published long ago (Arthur Ransome's Great Northern?, the last in the Swallows and Amazons books).

What about you? What books have you wanted forever? Or did it just seem like forever? Were they everything you wanted of them? What are you still waiting for?

(Now nobody say Going North, no matter how much we all want it, or pameladean will turn pink and get flustered. Which heaven forfend.)