Structure & Strangeness


What Am I to You?
(a piece spoken to RAs in training, Spring 1999)

What does your gut say to you when I call myself a Southerner? And that my great grandmother lived in a house that her husband built for her which happens to sit on a recently paved road or that she lived on that farm for almost a hundred years? And that my grandmother and grandfather have lived in my home town for their entire lives and that the house in which my mother grew up is less than a half-mile from the house in which I grew up? What do you think about me when I say that I went to R.J. Reynolds High School which was donated to the city by R.J.R. Tobacco? Or that the school Auditorium seats 2,000 and has had such names as Houdini perform there? What sort of people do you think my parents and grandparents are? Into which cultural stereotypes would you place me?

If I told you that my other grandmother is paying for my college education would you call me lucky? Perhaps a bit snobby? Or if I told you I've lived in England for 3 years and visited more foreign countries than I have fingers and toes? Would you call me a world traveler or a lucky son-of-a-bitch? What does your gut tell you when I say I've bartered with native Kenyans and seen thousands of water buffalo marching toward a watering hole at the break of dawn? What does this tell you about the type of person I am?

But then, how would that mesh with me saying that smoking on the campus of my high school is a state felony and the Auditorium in which I slaved for four years is so run down now that the electrical system blew itself out four times while I was there? What if I told you that my parents divorced when I was five years old and my mother has been unemployed twice in the last 8 years and that I've learned the value of a dollar by both watching and working with her to pinch and save and spend carefully to get us back into a comfortable state of living? Or that I'm still dealing with the repercussions of their divorce, even this year?

What if I told you that I believe that there is no such thing as perfection even though I constantly strive for it? What kind of person am I for having urges to drop out of college and become a graphic artist, and live off of my passion for creating? That I almost transferred out of Haverford because I was unhappy here and yet still question my comfort here? Or if I told you that my roommate and I my freshman year verged on hating each other because of personality conflicts? That I can be both stubborn and moody? Does this change the value my opinion? What if I told you that I sometimes see more wrong than right with Haverford, and wrestle with myself everyday to keep on fighting for what I personally believe is the better way? How does that jive with your seeing me on Committee and out in the Community? But my real question to you is what do each of these things say about me and who I am?

: Creative :
.: Photography :.
.: Artistic :.
.: Blog :.
.: Thinking :.
.: Research :.

: Persona :
.: About :.
.: .plan :.
.: Vitae :.

: Website :
.: Search :.
.: Copyright :.
.: Sitemap :.
.: Links :.

© Aaron Clauset

updated 7.16.01