Thursday, March 19, 2015

Growing Up to be More Than One Thing

English: A "Golden False Acacia" in ...
English: A "Golden False Acacia" in the Swiss Garden at Old Warden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is this something like the same tree that adapts to the changing season? Far out? Ahh... just read on...


As the pursuit of multiple professions and passions has become the norm, people juggle multiple identities.

Kevin Gleeson, for instance, is a graphic artist for the New York Police Department, where he designs banners and materials for news conferences. He usually wears a jacket, tie and his long hair pulled into a ponytail. But one day, when he was called to the commissioner’s office unexpectedly, he wore pink pants and his hair undone. Mr. Gleeson was dressed as his alter-ego, a Keith Richards impersonator.

“They call me the Keith-iest Keith,” Mr. Gleeson told The New York Times while preparing to play with the Stony Rollers, a Rolling Stones tribute band.

Mr. Gleeson has been performing Keith Richards’s music for more than 40 years. Now in his mid-50s, his life is not much like that of the more famous Rolling Stone – he has been sober for 28 years, and he seems to know everyone in the police department – but he is not ready to give up his night job.

For Thomas Tessier, an admissions officer at Stanford University’s online high school, his other job, as a workout instructor at Barry’s Boot camp in San Francisco, is attuned to another side of his personality.

“Stanford is interactive and I meet people, but I can’t get on a microphone and make snarky comments about Britney Spears and stomp around,” he told The Times.

“It’s different.”

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In boarding school, he coached lacrosse and cross-country, and he worked at a wine bar.

“The standard question, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?,’ it doesn’t exist anymore,” Mr.Tessier said. “As somebody whose job it is to ask people this it’s like…” He shrugged. “There’s a million answers.”

Brittany Bronson teaches English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but earns part of her living as a waitress. She sometimes feels the stigma of being a blue-collar worker, she wrote in The Times. But her identity goes beyond her restaurant job, and the same is true for her colleagues, who have real estate licenses, artistic abilities, freelance projects and families.

“If my students can imagine the possibility that choosing to work with their hands does not automatically exclude them from being people who critically examine the world around them, I will feel I’ve done something worthwhile,” she wrote in The Times.

Identity for Mariam Ghani, a visual artist in New York, bridges multiple cultures. Her mother is Lebanese, and her father is President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan.

In February, she opened a show, “Like Water From a Stone,” which explores her diverse world. She collaborated on a piece with her father to examine Afghanistan’s history as a cycle: reform, revolt, collapse, recovery.

“Mariam, like most of us, is many different things at once,” said Ramzi Kassem, a professor at the City University of New York who has worked with Ms. Ghani. “This project, by design, is many different things over time: a video installation, archiving dimension, radio component, art installation.”

Ms. Ghani taught classes in Kabul and shot a short film in Norway. She also speaks seven languages.

“I grew up very much in between cultures, and that’s the position I work from as an artist,” she told The Times. “I think the place I identify most with is the border.”

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, The New York Times International Weekly, March 14, 2015

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