Tuesday, August 14, 2007

They can't be mine.

We had all-staff meetings this morning, more tomorrow. Part of what we had to do was to take a large piece of paper (poster size) and crayons and draw significant events that happened in our life, things we can remember that helped to shape us. Well. You can imagine how enthused I would be to participate in such an activity. So, I begin to grid out my paper, and start filling in little pictures, things I can remember. I start with my family, with a couple of favorite childhood memories. I made enough space for (I think) 16 pictures, and I quickly realize that I am halfway through my childhood, and I'm about half done with my sheet. So I decide to speed it up a little, which I do. At this point, I have 4 panels left with which to go from about high school to now. I realize that this is impossible to do.

And as I look at the pictures, I also come to a realization on something. Lots of these pictures don't really tell you anything about me. They tell you things I remember. They tell you activities that I did, people I remember, events. They don't really tell you anything about me, and I drew them that way, maybe not fully consciously, but that's how I drew them. I drew a picture of my earliest memory, which is Jenna getting to sleep in a bed, and I had to sleep in the crib. (Paradoxically, because I slept like a rock, and she didn't.) I drew a picture of me jumping up and down in N & J's room when Mom and Dad brought in my cake the morning I turned four, because I was really, really excited to turn four. (Yes, I remember that.) Of my uncles throwing me back and forth what seemed like TWENTY FEET in Grandma and Grandpa's living room at 516, way back when. Of the family riding together in a station wagon everywhere. Shoveling snow with Grandpa at 516 while Mom and Dad and N were in Florida. A 4-H Clover. A Computer. Playing basketball. A basketball play. More I can't remember at the moment. All activities, all memories. Tells you what I did, not how I became what I am.

The truth? First off, I don't like to talk about me and my feelings. You say, "But you do it on your blog?" Strewth. But this isn't immediate, it isn't dialog. It's just me writing away, and you reading it. If you ask me about this in real life, I get uncomfortable. Talking, I don't like. And even here, I don't always talk about what drives me. And when I do talk about what drives me, one must realize that I am an unreliable narrator. Sometimes I even just write things because they are the word pattern that I am thinking about at the time, not because it actually has any longterm meaning.

The digression aside, back to the drawing. Several people got up and talked about their pictures. I quickly realized that most people had drawn either their life as a journey (roads, trains, maps), as a beautifully illustrated collage (that was the art teachers), or as some fundamental visual idea that integrates their life into a single theme. I had a bunch of pictures that were quickly chosen to make it sound like I was trying to describe the things that I had done, but without telling much about me.

The more significant thing here? We had to spend 4-6 minutes describing our drawing, and how it told our life story. So, imagine all these people giving a wonderful testimony to describe their life so far, how they had this passion ignited in them to go overseas when they were six, these great experiences that they had had, how they had been taken out of wretchedness and despair... and I'm going to talk about how I jumped on the trampoline when I took history tests when I was a kid?

Fortunately, I got out of it this morning. Enough people took more than their allotted time, so we're going to finish up tomorrow. Woohoo. Now that I've had an extra ten, twenty hours to overanalyze my drawing, I get to talk about it. What am I going to do? I think I'm not going to talk about it. I'm going to say that if people want to know more about what I drew, they can ask me. I'm going to flat out admit that I drew the drawing so that it would hopefully reveal as little as possible about me. Because I don't want people to be able to push my buttons. That nine months ago, if you would have told me that I was going to quit my job for a four month temp position overseas, I would have laughed. That I really don't understand why I am here. If I could figure that out, maybe I could tell you what was significant in my life.... but then again, I may just talk about my little pictures, my attempt at being engaging and shallow seen through, and people hopefully understanding why I didn't say more.

Ok, enough of the whining. I can lay awake and think about what I'm going to say for another hour, and all of you that read this are wondering if I actually did anything today other than process a silly little team building exercise.

News on what I did today. I got certified to run tests on this testing system we are offering tests on. It was more of an ordeal than it should have been, because I kept flipping past the seven pages on certification in the binder I had about the system. We got in power cables, so I plugged the computer lab computers in. Tomorrow, I need to turn all of them on when the generator is on, to see if it will work. I set up a couple computers in the library, scavenged some parts to get various pieces of equipment working, told dumb jokes at supper (they were talking about getting ten year visas to another country, and I asked, "If a college professor gets a ten year visa, are they set forever?" One of the teachers got it right away, and hit me. I had to explain it to all the others. Oh, you don't get it? Say year like yer.), went to the corner store for some stuff (the shopkeeper was, shall we say, impressed at my saying thank you in Dari. I hope I didn't insult his great aunt accidentally.), read some articles on Active Directory (fascinating), and have now been blogging for half an hour.

I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. Maybe talking about my drawing won't be as painful of an experience as I imagine it will be.

Ok, to go back to that for just a moment before I sign out, there are other things that are going to make me uncomfortable. First, I am not a teacher. I came here because it's what came up, not because of any plan or intention. I did what I always do, vacillate for a while, then just decide. I don't know if it really was a call, or just my emotional outpouring at the moment. And where does that leave me? Just here. Just here.

Perhaps through an agency other than my own, I will learn the secret of being content in all situations.

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