What It Is
I was born in Sacramento, California and was raised in rural southern Oregon. I went to a Bible college in Santa Cruz, California to study music, and worked for the same college as its librarian from 1994 until 2006 (with a brief hiatus in Visalia, California, the honorary scent gland of the San Joaquin Valley). I married Judi Kelley Carpenter in 1993 and we have two boys who are currently 15 and 13 years old. We moved to Virginia in 2006, where we currently reside, and I work for the US Geological Survey.
Those are the meaningless facts. If somebody asks “tell me about yourself,” you inevitably will hit on 3 or 4 subjects: work, family, location and maybe schooling. Whatever happened to our society that causes us to look at ourselves in term of things and places and structures? Your job or school does not ground you (although it may grind you). Your birthplace never tells a person about your passions–those people and things we love. Our lives are a glorious amalgam of verbs, and not a list of nouns. Why do we forget to describe ourselves in a way that ascribes meaning to our past?
So I decided to attempt describing the how and why of my life, rather than the who, what and where. I can tell people I’m 42, but my kids will never understand what it’s like to be 42 (until they’ve jumped that hurdle, of course). I can tell people I was raised in Sacramento, but this has no context whatsoever, other than the reader’s experience of Sacramento. I can tell people I’m a Christian and attended Pentecostal and Presbyterian churches over the years–but I am not another’s perceptions of a denomination, nor of the Church in general. I am my own interactions with these institutions, and nobody else’s. To say anything else leaves an unhappy reader, bored with the facts.
So, here’s a second, and I think, more meaningful self-description:
I’m a limber, mixed-up collection of relationships and thoughts toward the people and places in my life. I love listening to my sons’ banter. I enjoy serving my wife dinner in bed. A night of doing intricate needlework makes me smile. I enjoy cooking with my sons. I strive to leave my friends and neighbors happier than when we encountered one another. I have two boys who are on the autism spectrum. I hope I’m slowly redefining the term minister. I’m afraid to get old and lose my mind. Most of my friends are women. I have something to give you, and I don’t know what it is yet. I’m a romantic stuck in a pragmatic world. My connections with Curry County, Oregon are over 125 years deep. I need to forgive myself more often. I hate not knowing. I love irony, even when it’s painful. I hate pain, even when it’s ironic.
So, which list my biography? Both, I imagine; but the second one has more intrinsic value than the first (which provides you with nothing, unless you’re a genealogist or a debt collection agency). I can’t be proud that I’m 42, but I can be proud of all the feelings, friends, memories and family I’ve accrued since 1968.
Blessings and Happy New Year.
Alex (watching the series finale of Scrubs): The world is his oyster now.
Dan: why isn’t the world his clam? Shouldn’t they say the world is just his bivalve mollusc?
Alex: What about trivalve molluscs? Isn’t that discrimination?
Daniel: How would they know if they would just clam up?