Q&A: Value

What is the most valuable thing you own?

Monetarily it’s my fifth wheel trailer which I bought to live in for work a couple of years ago.

Emotionally it’s oddly a couple of pieces of furniture.  My grandmother’s coffee table which I got after she passed away and my grandfather’s wardrobe which I got last year from my parents.  The coffee table means a lot to me because I have very fond memories of me, my sister, my cousins and my grandmother all playing cards on it and laughing as the cards would fly right off of it because it’s incredibly slick.  The wardrobe is sentimental because it was my grandfather’s, then my dad’s, now mine, and part of me feels guilty that, like my family name, the line ends with me since I don’t want kids… Maybe I’ll give it to Llama’s son some day.  I tried to convince her to give him my last name, but for some reason she thought that would be a bad idea :p  Can’t imagine why.

Check out The Llama’s answer to this question and put your own in the comments!

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QA: What’s the best/worst things about youth?

The Llama intends to break this out into two posts, but I’m on a bit of a time crunch this week so, sorry folks, no extra posts from me.  Though definitely check hers out because they’ll probably be a lot more interesting.

busy

Today’s question is in two parts: “What was the best thing about your youth?  What was the worst?”

I don’t want to go into too much detail about this because a lot of it is kind of hard to explain.  But the best thing about my youth in my mind was the environment in which I was raised.  Despite my parents being religious, one of their most deeply held beliefs is that it’s not your religion that matters, only whether or not you’re a good person.  I was raised with that belief at the very core of my morality, and my parents only associated with people who they considered good people.  Didn’t matter your race, religion, or sexual orientation, your political orientation or income level.  Everyone was held to the same standard.  Do you treat people with respect?  Do you give new people in your life the benefit of the doubt?  Do you stand up for the people you care about?  These are the things that matter in friendship and life in general, and if you can live by them then everything else just makes you interesting.  Gives you a different perspective from us that we want to learn from.

This is how I was raised, and it’s how I live to this day.  It made me the person I am now, and I’m grateful for having been surrounded by so many various types of peoples growing up with so many varying points of view.

The worst part about growing up was that I got picked on.  A lot.  I was the skinny nerdy looking kid who was good in school and the teachers loved.  I had the thick glasses and used the big words and everything.  If I had had a pocket protector I would have been a walking sitcom character.  The fact that I also suffered from depression and issues with anger, not only was I an easy target, but one they found particularly entertaining to pick on.  Over the summer between junior high and high school I gained nearly a foot in height and finally inherited my dad’s miraculous ability to grow and maintain muscle with little to no effort on my part, and the taunts stopped after that for some totally inexplicable reason.

Who'd have ever guessed when you become attractive and strong enough to beat people up that they'd stop picking on you...

Who’d have ever guessed when you become strong enough to beat people up that they’d stop picking on you…

But before then?  For years I was the loser that was picked on so much other kids didn’t even like to be around in case they started getting picked on for associating with me.  I grew angrier and more depressed, developed trust issues and kept things bottled up until I would explode like a land mine you didn’t know was there until you stepped on it and lost a leg by no fault of your own.  The fact that this conflicted so much with my morality, that people in general deserve respect, created a severe conflict in my brain that left me with major issues with guilt that I still struggle with to this day.

I don’t look back on my youth fondly.  I’m glad to have grown up with the morals that I did, and getting to experience as wide a variety of places to live and surrounded by so many different lifestyles and cultures, but there was a lot of negatives.  My family wasn’t terribly supportive of emotional issues, and they expected me to live up to the legacy of the family which on both sides is full of doctorates, entrepreneurs, high ranking public servants of the saving lives varieties (firemen, federal police, military).  Friends of family added to the high expectations, most being successful and highly educated.  All of them had to struggle and fight the odds to get to where they were, so when I encountered issues they were always to simply be overcome on my own.  Suicidal depression at the age of 8 was just to be kept to myself and pushed past because my life was good so I couldn’t possibly understand what it meant to have problems, and there was nothing that I couldn’t deal with on my own because they had it tougher.  And yeah, they did.

I would never argue that my life wasn’t privileged.  But when an 8 year old is contemplating suicide there is clearly something wrong that I needed help with and no one would help me.  I had to push through it on my own. I started to get picked on while I was already bottling up severe emotional issues and I was already feeling that isolated and frustrated.  I wanted to hurt them.  I wanted so badly to beat them to a pulp.  And despite how I looked, I could have.  But I never did, because it went against my moral code.  As my mother told me ‘never throw the first punch, but if someone hits you, hit them back harder.’  (My dad believes violence should only occur if there are zero alternatives, my mom believes you get what you give, even if that’s a punch to the face.) But no one ever hit me, so I never got to hit them back (The one time I did shove a kid it was because he sat his ass on my desk and refused to move while I was trying to get ready for class.  All I did was shove him off my desk.  Probably a little harder than I should have, but he didn’t get hurt.)  That’s probably for the best, I’m sure I would have regretted it if I had.  Especially since I’ve spent most of my life since then attempting to be in control of my anger to specifically avoid escalating fights so no one gets physically or emotionally hurt.

Anyway, my childhood was a long time ago and a really long story.  It’s not something I’m particularly fond of talking about.  I wasn’t a great person when I was younger, and in some ways my circumstances made it worse, in others they made it better.  So overall, I am who I am now because of it, and despite all of my many, many issues, I don’t hate who I am, so, net positive?  Yeah, let’s go with that.

Yeah sureFeel free to tell your own stories, I’d love to hear them and QA is a judgement free zone!  But even if you’re not open to sharing give The Llama’s answer a read!

QA: Warmest Welcomes

Today’s question is What was the warmest welcome you ever received?

Pretty straight forward question this time.  I don’t really receive a lot of ‘warm welcomes’.  Not because people don’t want me around, but because the people who care enough about me to want to give me a warm welcome know me well enough to know I’m not a big fan of physical affection.  I’m very much like my father in that I feel uncomfortable with public displays of affection and physical affection should be left to the people you love the most and no one else.  Though I take it a step further and don’t even care much for shaking hands, only doing it because I work in business and I’d not make many contacts if I refused to shake hands with people.

This is more or less how it goes when people hug me.

This is more or less how it goes when people hug me.

So because of that discomfort, most of the welcomes I receive are of the more subdued variety, and that’s exactly how I like it.  I know these people love me, I don’t need more than a smile to know that.  But then what’s my story for this question?  Well, it does have one.  I do have an American friend I only get to see when I go down to the states.  We met over the internet and met in person a few years later at a convention.  The first meeting was a little more subdued because I arrived earlier than planned so things got thrown off, but then the next time I went to visit on less neutral ground…  I got tackled at baggage claim.  It’s a good thing I learned impulse control over the years because had someone done that to me a few years ago, well, I also got my dad’s strength, let’s leave it there.  I knew it was coming though, I’d been warned in advance because like I said everyone who knows me knows I don’t like being touched.  And as uncomfortable as it makes me, and as awkward as it was because of that, I will concede that at that moment I felt like I belonged there, and that I was wanted and cared about.  The part of the that wasn’t horrified was happy.

That same friend will be arriving in Canada for the first time this coming Friday!  There will probably be more hugs…  I’ll live.  My dad will be visiting at the same time due to some convenient timing (if he wasn’t here when I was off for a week anyway I wouldn’t be able to see him, and he’s just passing through before going to a new job.  He retired a few years ago but he and my mother decided he wasn’t ready to retire yet.) so my home should be a warm and inviting place once again.  Now I just have to make sure it’s clean…  That has nothing to do with anything, this post was just really short so I thought I’d just continue my thoughts for a bit.

What are the warmest welcomes you remember getting?  Do you share my sentiments about touching?  Think I’m nuts?  How do you make sure that people you’re welcoming feel… welcome?

Check out The Llama’s answer to this question and I’ll talk at you again on Tuesday with more of that awful book!

Q&A: What I Want Most

Welcome to another round of Q&A With Mike and Llama!

Today’s question is ‘What do you want most right now?’

Uhh… Pizza?  Pizza would be nice…

I’ve known about this question for a little over a week now, which means I’ve had a lot of time to think about it.  I realized I’ve been conditioned to automatically insert ‘to eat’ at the end of ‘what do you want’, so every time I thought about the question, food was always the first thing to pop into my head, even when I wasn’t hungry.

So if I were to just go with my first instincts, that would be what I would have to say.  But I’ll be good and give you something a little more personal.

If I actually force myself to think about it, what I want most has always been more or less the same.  Power.  I will be a corrupt ruler when I take over the world, I assure you.  But power is what I’ve always strived to gain.

King of the World

It’s not as selfish as it sounds (though it is both selfish and egotistical, just not solely).  I want to be able to help people I currently have no ability to help.  I want to be able to do more for the people I can already help to varying degrees.  I got my strong morals from my dad, and watching him struggle to make sure what’s right got done as the system he worked in got more and more ridiculous and made that harder and harder to accomplish made me want the power to fix it.  I want to be able to tell schools to stop teaching kids the dumbest possible way to teach kids (it’s been proving over and over again that lecture based learning has the lowest success rate of all possible teaching methods) I want to be able to make mental health services more widely available and less frowned upon.  I want to be able to increase science budgets.  I want to be able to live and work in the same goddamn city.

That last one is me being selfish.  I currently work in a field office for an inspection company.  I am there as a representative of the funder of the project to verify that the contracting company isn’t trying to pull a fast one when they submit their bills.  I work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, in whatever town the project I’m working on happens to be in.  I make good money, but I have no life.  I don’t get to sleep in my own bed at night.  It would be really nice to be able to work in the city where all my furniture lives without having to make significantly less money.  Yeah, yeah, first world problems.  I said it was selfish and just that it would be nice, not that I hate my current situation.  Otherwise what I wanted most would be to be able to go home.  It’s a sacrifice I make willingly, made easier by the fact that I like most of the people I have to interact with.

Anyway, yeah, power.  I’m a bit of a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur.  I would gladly take over the world if I had the chance.  I think I could improve things around here.  Someday I’ll buy a private island and build my utopia.  For now I need to go track down a pizza.

Pizza

Off Topic: Q&A What Would You Change About The World?

A little explanation is an order.  The Llama and I have been friends since high school, a long long time ago.  After high school I moved away to a different province, but still close enough to visit her and my other friends who hadn’t moved to different parts of the country.  When I would (I use the past tense because I don’t live that close anymore…) visit and a few of us were all gathered together in the same place, we would often break out her Book of Questions (that’s not its name, it’s just what I call it. I never bothered to learn its real name.  Llama knows.  Obviously…).  It’s a book full of questions that each person was to give an answer to and everyone would gain more insight into each other or just have a good laugh, or sometimes get something really personal off their chest.

The Llama decided she wanted to start posting something less angry and hateful than just the reviews since she’s working ahead of me and knows that the angry rants don’t go away any time soon, and she thought it might be interesting to go through the book and put her answers out there and asked if I would do it with her, since the book is meant to be answered by multiple people, not just one.  I agreed.  Though she’s a lot more open than I am so some of mine will be ‘no comment’.  I will try and find something related to the question to talk about for those ones.

Anyway, here’s the first question!  ‘What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?’ And boy is it a loaded one…

Hmmmm

What would I like to change about the world?  A lot of things.  What would I most like to change about the world?  I’m genuinely not sure.  If I was granted one wish and I could change any one thing about the world that I wanted, only one thing, I am really not sure what I would say.  I believe death is a necessity but I could make it not painful and scary.  I believe that people should be nicer to each other, but I know that competition makes a lot of people strive to better themselves and the world, and animosity comes from that same base emotion.  I would like to make people more tolerant of each other, but is that really the MOST IMPORTANT thing that needs to change?

Don't Know

It would be nice if I was rich but that seems a terribly selfish thing to change no matter what I would do with the money.  I would like people to be smarter, but with intelligence tends to come depression, and being a lifelong subscriber to that particular disease, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Maybe I would stop global warming; but then no one would learn from it and just keep repeating the same mistakes.  Cure cancer?  They’re already getting closer to that every day on their own, so would it be wasteful to say cure cancer?

I honestly don’t know how to answer this question.  I guess in the end I would have to say that I would make life less painful.  Take away the physical strain from emotional stress and lessen the physical suffering of those with long term illnesses/disabilities.  That feels like a reasonable enough answer to me.

Check out Llama’s answer, and put your own in the comments!  We’d love to hear what everyone else would do!