Monday, March 26, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

49. This is one of the most important things about life I learned in school:

I learned three important things about life in school.

1. Because I went to so many schools, and sometimes for a very short time, I learned to make friends fast. I'm not sure if I could consciously break that down into steps, but I know I can do it. I know it involved figuring out which kids were open to a new friend, finding something I had in common with them, and opening up slowly. Not too fast -- if you rush it, you come across like the sad people you sit next to on a Greyhound bus or in coach on a plane who proceed to tell you all about their lives, giving you more information than you will ever need.

2. I also learned that people use words differently. In the south, reckon and figure and calculate all mean guess. In mathematics they mean apply mathematical rules and solve. And it isn't only regional difference, although it was regional differences that made me aware of it. Like in Puerto Rico, where an orange is a china, and in Mexico where it is a naranja. And Daddy, having lived in Puerto Rico, going into the coffee shop in El Paso and ordering a glass of numo de china, which would be Chinese blood (actually, juice of a Chinese person, so it might be something else. Say, tears.). I remember, as an adult, an argument between two people who were understanding things in the opposite manner. She said, "everything you know, you learn from books" and he was hearing, "you're an inexperienced person with nothing but book learning" and she meant, "anything anyone could ever want to know is in a book!" Being able to hear both of the meanings in things like that has made me a very effective communicator, which has been more than helpful in the work I've done.

3. Especially in junior high, everybody thinks the place they're from is the best in the world. I went to sixth grade in El Paso, junior high in New Mexico, and then did three weeks in California. There is loyalty to landscape and culture and people. And maybe that's why I love to read books and stories with local color.

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