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9.02.2004 ||>  

At the conference I was at a while ago, I was having a little difficulty and just overall cranky. One of the people I came to this country with, a guy that I think is okay, said something kind of jerky to me. I had a feeling he was being jokingly insensitive, so I called him a name that was also insensitive, but along the same vein of lightness. Then he called me the same name back. We knew we were both joking and were smirking at each other, but what I found weird was that no one else knew. People at the table I was sitting at rose to his defense, everyone looked uncomfortable.

I talked about to a good friend of mine later who was there. She had also half believed it and said that people took it seriously because they think I am serious when I say things. That because they take what I say at face value, some volunteers think I'm a little unbalanced. At the same time, I have been referred to as the Queen of Sarcasm by other volunteers, which is a title that I think fits much better than "unbalanced" as I have never considered myself a particularly serious individual, but definitely a sarcastic one. As it appears, this came as a bit of a shock, but it got me to thinking about the labels we put on people.

I came to Uzbekistan with the people at that conference. We have all known each other for two years, gone to the same parties, worked on the same projects and talked to each other about everything. We're not all close and some of us really dislike others, but despite all the sniping and annoyance, the lust and sometimes love, we are pretty comfortable with each other as people we can count on. And yet, I think we still fix our own personalities on each other, not seeing the others for who they are. The crazier volunteers think we're all nuts. The serious ones take everything any of us says to heart. Those of us that live in a world where everything is a joke, think the rest are joking. How can we be so blind to not see each other after all this time? How can we ever stop and break free?

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