Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Too Much Information

I had the most jarring experience the other day. All of us at Canisius are right now doing the getting to know yous -- trying to remember names, basic background information, place of origin, what we’ve been up to. A lot of our community’s meal conversations return to these topics.

And a typical question to start is where are you from. As a Jesuit, I’ve never quite known what to say – or perhaps which things, or how much. There’s the current address: I live in New York. There’s province of origin: Wisconsin. And there’s place of origin, which is usually assumed to be somewhere in the province of origin, but in my case the two are different. I am in the Wisconsin Province, but I am from Chicago, home of the White Sox, Gino’s East, Bill Murray and Lake Shore Drive. Usually I go with all three: I’m a member of the Wisconsin Province, living in New York, originally from Chicago, home of the White Sox, Gino’ East, Bill Murray and Lake Shore Drive. (Ok, I don’t always add the end piece; but when I don’t I try to give a special heartfelt emphasis to the way I say “Chicago”. It’s actually very similar to Chinese tone work.)

With Jesuits, if you’re working outside of our own province, you might get a follow-up: are you applied to the New York Province (which means you’re on loan to the New York Province) or transcribed (which means at your request you’ve been given permanently to that province, with the permission of your provincial and the provincial of the other province)? Here, too, a complication: America House is a community of the New York Province, but America Magazine is a national work of the Society of Jesus in the United States. Though members of other provinces who work at America are living in the New York Province, because the magazine is a national work, they are actually neither applied nor transcribed to New York, but rather retain status as members of their home province. It’s a completely unique situation in the Assistancy; our other national works – our theologates and national conference offices – are in fact under the aegis of the national conference office and its president.

So, are you dizzy?

And I haven’t even gotten to the jarring part. Next entry!


mu_hilltopper said...

Your experience reminds me of something that happened to me .. when I first started at Andersen, I went to a 3-week training course in St. Charles. .. I had a roommate from Mexico City .. he had a semi-decent grasp of the English language.

Anyhow, my nametag had our home-office on it, which was "North Central" which didn't make a lot of sense .. so I explained it was Milwaukee .. but later, that I grew up in Minnesota.

The guy says "Ah! Menezuela! I was born in Menezuela as well, my father was an orange grower. I can't believe we never met, what part of town did you grow up in?"

His thick accent and somewhat broken English made me need a few second to figure out what the hell he just said. It was like a sit-com.

Later I met a guy from San Paulo. I decided not to tell him I was from St. Paul, as the conversation might have repeated himself.


San Paulo, Menezuela

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