Friday, July 31, 2009

Extremes

Last night I spent the best two hours since I left America. I was at the Army Education Center which does not officially open for another month, but they are holding sessions to help soldiers study to improve their GT score--the overall score that determines whether you qualify for some of the really good jobs the Army offers.

Last night I spent two hours helping soldiers solve equations with parentheses, powers, roots, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction--which is the order they are solved. These equations included decimals and fractions so I also was helping with converting fractions, finding common denominators and so forth.

If that doesn't sound fun, then I have not done a good job telling you just how strange it is to move from the very quiet home I live in and the very cooperative place where I work to this Lead-Follow-or-Get-Out-of-the-Way environment I am in now. We hear every day we are all leaders. Many of us translate that into trying to dominate everything they are involved in. So last night I was in a room with a dozen men and women who simply wanted to learn something. Not one soldier said, "When I was in Afghanistan in 2004 we did powers before parentheses and our sergeant major said 'Only a one-handed piano player at a cheap whorehouse would solve the parentheses first.'"

And today is my 12th wedding anniversary. I won't be spending it with my wife--which I have known for a while now, but today, like all the other occasions I will miss this year, reminds me with particular clarity that I volunteered for this--for good and ill. Happy Anniversary Annalisa. I'll be home for the next one.