jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
(My little brother posted this the other day, and it turns out I have rather a lot to say about it, mostly working through things about my past self I see reflected in it. Apologies to Clay if I'm projecting too much; I'll let him figure out how much of this applies to him.)

I used to spend a lot of time feeling curious about what other people were thinking, and frustrated that they wouldn't open up and tell me. Why wouldn't they just say the things in their heads? Just throw things out there, don't worry about how people will judge you! It doesn't matter what they think!

Except there are reasons that people judge each other, and there are reasons not to share everything that's on your mind with whoever wants to know. When I used to toss out whatever I was thinking without much filter, the people around me were judging me. Not just on a negative-to-positive scale, but in different ways: as a confidante, as a participant in a community, as a potential babysitter, as entertainment value, as a drain for their social energy. I may have scored more highly on the entertainment-value scale among my peers when I was fifteen than I do now, but I'm certain that I'm now seen as safer to be around by people for whom socializing requires a lot of energy. I may have been more fun at parties back then, but now I'm more likely to be considered a good resource for friends in need of someone to listen to their problems and support them in their decisions without turning the conversation back to themselves. There is social value in being an open book, but there are also social costs. And I still do tend to express my thoughts more than other people, but I pay more attention now to the question of what is an appropriate context for doing that, and I try to respond more to cues of discomfort from the people I'm with--which, if they aren't also open-book-type people, may not be explicitly verbalized.

Being forthcoming with your thoughts also opens you up to criticism--sometimes well-deserved, if those thoughts were inappropriate to the social context or just not developed enough to be worth sharing. People don't need to be afraid of criticism to prefer not to invite it--or to put themselves in the position of deserving it. It makes sense to consider a thought before expressing it, and it makes sense to choose not to express it if you don't think it's worth expressing. If speaking up in a social setting is a process that costs you energy--which it does, for many people--it makes sense for self-care reasons to default to not expressing your thoughts unless you see a good reason to do so. It may be easy for me to run my mouth off about nothing in particular when I'm bored, but it's not easy for everyone, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Not everyone falls at one end of those extremes. For most people, expressing random thoughts as they cross their mind happens more around people they know well, people who aren't forming initial impressions and won't allow a careless remark to shape their general view of the person. Those relationships take time to develop. I've had a lot of relationships that went from zero to sixty intimacy-wise over the course of a single conversation, and while that can be wonderful and exciting, it's not always wise and it's not for everyone. It's okay to be more reserved around people you don't trust. And telling people who are being reserved to be more forthcoming is disrespecting their choices about how much they want to share. Everyone gets to make those choices for themselves.

Here, I think, is the crux of this: a thought unshared is not a thought wasted. A thought to which I am not privy can still have value to the person who thought it. I am not entitled to the inside of anyone's head; trust is earned, not deserved, and that applies to even the most silly and inconsequential of thoughts, because people judge each other for being silly too. No one is obligated to be interesting to me, and if I'm going to decide they're not being interesting enough without taking the time to get to know them and let them grow comfortable with me, then my definition of "interesting" needs to be reexamined. And indeed it has been, and as a result I have a lot of good friends I might not otherwise have bothered to get to know.
jedusor: (children)
The list )

I didn't realize how complicated my family situation was until I had to explain it in French to my whole class when I was fifteen, and had to keep asking the teacher how to say things like "stepfather" and "half-brother" in French. Here's the sibling story: I have two full brothers, Clayton (16) and Cordell (22); one half-brother, Lincoln (6); a stepbrother, Avery, and a stepsister, Veronica.

I don't know Avery and Veronica's ages. I think they're something like 7 and 10? It didn't even occur to me to think of them as siblings until Cordell said something last year about having two sisters, and I honestly had no clue what he was talking about. Jeffrey adopted Jeanette's kids a while back, so I guess technically they count, but they've never felt like siblings to me in the slightest. They're sweet kids for the most part, though, and I don't mind being around them.

Linker is totally a sibling. I don't even think of him as a half-brother, usually. I have a very different relationship with him than with the older two, though, because of the age difference. I was fourteen when Lincoln was born. I changed his diapers when he was a baby, and took him on the bus with me to church when he was a toddler, and babysat him all the time; I'm more of an adult figure to him than a peer.

Cordell is two and a half years older than me. We grew up picking on each other constantly. When I was little, I never understood kids who said they loved their siblings--mine were nothing but unpleasantness until I was well into adolescence, and I'm sure I was the same to them. But after we stopped living together, things got better, and since he got back from Japan, we've actually gotten along really well. Turns out he's a pretty neat dude. He started teaching me about sines and cosines yesterday via AIM and an online whiteboard app.

Clayton is three and a half years younger than I am. We got along more when we were kids than Cord and I did, but things have still been better the last few years. I think about six months before I moved out, Clay realized he was about to be hurled into the same kind of teenage fun I'd been dealing with for a few years, and suddenly started being really nice to me. I didn't always deal with that stuff well, but at least I can tell him how not to do it. The poor kid's always kind of been trapped between the childhood extremes of me (reckless, headlong, constantly taking chances and getting in trouble) and Cord (who never did anything until he'd thought about it for three weeks, including taking out the garbage). Now Cord and I have both grown up and shifted toward the middle ground a bit, and we're not around anyway, so Clay has a little more breathing room to figure himself out.
jedusor: (Default)
(talking about the differences between me and my brothers)
Amanda: It's a question of common sense, whether you can find your way out of a paper bag.
Me: Hey! I can find my way out of a paper bag!
Amanda: Okay, but what do you do when you get out? Clay pops out of the bag and goes, "That way is north!" You pop out and go, "Ooh, butterfly!" Cordell goes, "uh, bag's looking good..."

Memory...

Jan. 8th, 2005 11:16 am
jedusor: (Default)
I just remembered a field trip I took when I was going to the Waldorf school in fifth grade. We went to an Egyptian museum, and I spent most of the time rather bored because we were rushed past the parts I wanted to see (like the copy they had of the Rosetta Stone) and given lectures on the parts I wasn't interested in (like jewelry). At the end of the trip, as we were about to leave, Sean (another student) and I sat down in front of a movie about Queen Hatshepsut. It was a really cool video, and we were both intrigued, but Ms. Warren made us leave after about two minutes.

I don't remember a single thing about any of the stuff they made us see, but I do remember Queen Hatshepsut, and I do remember a lot about the Rosetta Stone. Because I was interested in them, and I wanted to learn about them, and I know I would have learned a hell of a lot MORE about them if I'd been allowed to.

I liked the Waldorf School when I was going there. I pretended I didn't when I talked to Mom, because I knew she didn't want me to like it, but I did. I liked the constant contact with people, the power plays with the teachers (the reason I ended up expelled), the big recess yard with all the vegetation. I liked the drawing class, taught by Miles's grandpa, and I liked being able to whup the other kids' asses at everyday schoolwork. I liked the attention I got when I didn't do what I was supposed to. There wasn't much homework at all, and no grades, only evaluations.

But that year was a complete pause in my actual education. The only thing I learned at the Waldorf school was how to hold my pencil wrong, and I was too tired after school to learn on my own. Mom was working then, so she didn't have much time, either. And during my time at the Waldorf school, I turned into a prep. My best friend was a girl called Monet, who had a gorgeous body and showed it off as much as the dress code allowed. Last I heard (which was the fall of 2002, when we were both twelve), she was smoking, drinking, and running away to Vacaville with her sixteen-year-old boyfriend who thought she was fourteen.

This is not to say I think my education has been perfect in all other ways. I do criticize the way my mom taught me and is teaching Clayton- unschooling, a method with quite a few flaws, in my opinion. Clayton is currently spending most of his time playing video games and reading manga comics. The unschooling argument is that he will motivate himself when he's ready. I motivated myself when I was ready, at age eleven, and now I take college courses and have a plan for my life. I do think my education has gaps because of the way I was brought up, but I'm independent and ambitious enough to deal with them. Cordell, on the other hand, is almost seventeen and doing nothing with his life. I don't think this is completely Mom's fault, nor do I think he would do any better in a public institution, but perhaps he would have done well with a little more guidance and instruction. Homeschooling should definitely be tailor-made for the child. That's the point of it, isn't it?

None of this is meant as jabs toward anyone or their choice of schooling, by the way. I'm just writing down some of the stuff that's clogging up my brain.
jedusor: (Default)
Salad Dressing: A Deadly Mistake
composed on-the-spot by my mom, written for my little brother

Put the lid on, before you shake it,
Put the lid on, before you shake it,
This is not brain surgery, put the lid on,
Put the lid on, before you shake it!

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