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Who Am I? (The Old Version)

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My name is Bryce.

That’s a Celtic name that means quick. If I’m being official, then it’s Bryce E. Rich. What does the E stand for? I may tell you if I get to know you and like you.

But is that who you are?

If we were speaking French I’d say, “I call myself Bryce."[1] If we were speaking Russian I’d say, “They call me Bryce.”[2] Many years ago, when we were more in touch with the idea that words have power, I might have said, “you may call me Bryce.” That’s my given name. I’m not sure that I know my real name yet. But you can bet when I learn it I won’t be publishing it on a website…

More than a name…

But somehow I am different from any other Bryce that I have ever met or heard of. So there must be more to it than just a name. The search continues for the truth…

Who do people say that I am? Well, within earshot I’ve heard the following words used to describe me:

Thirty-eight Male Gay Christian Intelligent Cute
Fun Serious Dedicated Brother Son Teacher
A good friend Charming Stubborn Geek Moody

From the peanut gallery…

In a less than modest moment, I wrote an email to a few people who serve as a cross-section of my closer relationships over the past several years. Having found this to be a useful exercise, I’ve opened the door to ongoing comments. Click here to see what folks have had to say.

But who do I say that I am?

My perception is a bit different. While some people spend their entire lives being someone’s spouse, or child, or brother, or father (yeah, I realize it’s a bit gender specific but I’m a guy), I find that those labels don’t normally hang on me very well. I mean, if someone else can make a handle by which they hold onto me, that’s fine. But it’s sort of like barnacles on a whale. They attach to you, but they don’t really do anything to help you.

Instead, I find that my identity is generated mostly from within. Sometimes the handles on the outside suit me. I am male – both anatomically and in self-identified gender. I am also gay, which was identified outwardly as well before I realized it inside. But other labels like husband, or son, or even American – things that are based on where and into what circumstances I was born – don’t make a bit of sense to me as means of internal identification. As such, I have a biological family, and a chosen family. I have a citizenship, but not really a nationality. I am human, but could have conceivably been born something else (though there’s no guarantee that I’d be allowed access to a fine computer on which to philosophize).

Figuring out who you are has many aspects.

Internet bio

I’m a 38-yo seminarian. I live in South Central Pennsylvania, far from the cultures of the American South (Kentucky) and Russia (six years living experience) where I have more or less tried to fit in during past stages of my life. Though I’m out of practice for several years now, I once spoke fluent Russian and have an appreciation for the culture. I still understand everything that is said to me, can watch TV or read a Russian-language website. But the past couple of years have provided some experiences where I’ve learned that I can’t talk the way I used to.

I love (in no particular order) cats, books, bowling, movies, dining out or preparing food for guests, computers, Battlestar Galactica and any new topic that catches my interest. When I find something interesting, I’ll pursue everything I can find out about it until my curiosity is satiated. I’m not afraid to ask tough questions and I’m comfortable not knowing all the answers (meaning, it’s not all black and white).

I’m a Christian (raised Southern Baptist, but now sort of post-denominational, with a love for contemporary praise and worship) who relies on the grace of God rather than any works I may perform. Not bound to religious rules, but yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In my adult life I’ve journeyed the road with nondenominational Charismatics, Episcopalians, UCC folks and Mennonites — each of whom I’ve learned from. Currently I’m back with the Metropolitan Community Church and lately have been worshiping with a congregation in Harrisburg.

In my spare time I read, research and write. Some of the things I work on show up on this website.

What do I like?

I love language, because it is an art form that tries to approximate what we feel inside. Sometimes a particular language can convey your heart’s desire with pinpoint accuracy, while other times it is a blunt club that can only bludgeon and destroy. I enjoy the challenge of conveying meaning in ways that people can understand.

I am captivated by interpersonal communication and the ways in which different people express themselves. With the sometimes crude tools of language, it’s a wonder that there aren’t more casualties on life’s roadway than there are.

I love music, because like language it is appropriate to conveying mood and thought. There are lots of forms that music follows that have special meanings to me: dykes with guitars, Euro pop (including a lot of Russian popsa), orchestral music (be it classical or movie scores), 80s music, country music. Tight harmonies from ensemble groups drive me to ecstasy. I am also partial to contemporary praise and worship music, especially much of what has been produced by Hillsong Music in Australia.

Science and the fiction that it empowers hold a special place in my life. Sci-fi authors are masters of a craft, because they create worlds that can suspend your own preconceptions of how the universe works. Then, once your guard is down, they can parade your sacred cows in front of you and it’s easier to see who’s wearing clothes and who’s been taken to the cleaners.

The Bible and its stories enchant me. The more I study and uncover in the Hebrew and Greek, the more I understand that things certainly aren’t as fundamentally black and white as they are in Sunday school.

What do I dislike?

My sense of balance is thrown off by being unprepared. As such, I hate surprise invitations to speak and I get really serious when I get lost in unfamiliar territory. Surprisingly, this didn’t happen while I lived in Russia. It was part of the game there – walk up to someone and say, “excuse me, but how do I get to…” For some reason I had no problem reacting calmly when I was lost there. The mystery to me is why I never expect it in America.

Seemingly paradoxical, I hate routine in my job. I’m bored stiff by repetitive tasks and I despise detail-oriented work. This problem is exacerbated by schedules, which are confining and do not allow me to address new priorities as they appear. However, dealing with a world that works better with scheduled events, I have adapted. MS Outlook’s calendar function, coupled with a PDA, is my personal crutch for dealing with organized society.

Other people’s music. The person on the metro whose iPod is up so loud that I can hear their heavy metal on the way to work… The car that thumps its way past my house at 10 PM… The roommate who insists on listening to the same song for the third time in one hour. I can ignore airplane engines, washers and dryers, or televisions (most of the time). But music highjacks my thoughts.

Car horns are for an emergency use only. Otherwise, I think the use of a car horn in a spurious or whimsical manner should be subject to the consequence of electric shock. The way I see it, car seats should be equipped with a set of electrodes that make light but firm contact with certain regions of the seated human body. When the horn is sounded, an electrical current should pass through the driver as a reminder of the serious nature of signaling with a horn. This mechanism should have sufficient strength to be uncomfortable to all but the most hardcore masochists.

Dressing up makes my neck swell. The shirt that fit just fine at Macy’s will not button correctly at the collar when I put on a tie over it. I can’t seem to iron the crease in my pants. Over the past several years I have arranged my life so that t-shirts and jeans are my uniform. After all, to perform at your best you should be comfortable.

[1] Je m’appelle Bryce.

[2] Меня зовут Брайс. (or for the non-Cyrillic readers among you, Menia zavut Brajs).

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