Thursday, June 08, 2006

Scientists vs. Artists

The purpose of this blog is for me to detail life that happens at the McQueen house-hold. This morning a friend of the McQueens said to me "Who needs TV when you live with the McQueens." How true that is.

To understand where I'm coming from in all this, you have to understand the differences between the McKays and the McQueens. The McKays are all scientists who dabble in the arts. The McQueens are artists who dabble in athletics.

I use the word "scientist" not as one actively doing research in an area of science, but rather one who has studied the sciences, has a scientific mind (ie: uses scientific method subconsciously daily to solve problems and understand things); someone who, given the opportunities, could conduct scientific research.

My father studied physics at McMaster University. My mother, who's a lab technologist, studied various sciences at Algoma University. My brother, Jack, has a B.Sc. from Dalhousie with a major in Computer Science. My sister has an honours B.Sc. from Saint Mary's University with a major in Environmental Science and is now studying Respitory Technology. I am one chemistry course away from getting a Bachelor of Science from Algoma University with a major in Computer Science. I am studying chemistry through Athabasca University.

We're also all musicians to some degree. I'm a drummer who plays guitar sometimes. Jack is a guitarist who can play almost every instrument he lays his hands on. He's also very artistically inclined in other areas as well. My sister plays classical piano and is really quite good.

As for the McQueens, they're all artists, and rather good at what they do. Jack and Wendy paint together. Bruce goes to a high school that has a great arts program. Jane is an awsome musician. She plays piano and sings. She writes music as well. When she sings she sounds like one of those singers who sing in those animated Disney movies. I think she could easily make a career in the music business, however acting is where her heart is. She's studying acting in university. Bruce will probably study fine arts in university. Wendy is also a great interior decorator. Robin is very creative when it comes to what you could call "arts and crafts." At any time when cards are in order (birthdays, holidays, etc.) she'll put something together than puts Hallmark to shame.

Why do I bring this up? The McKays and the McQueens are about 180 degrees apart from each other.

If you've never experienced the differences in the ways of thinking, let me tell you the difference is probably greater than what you imagine. I wish I could explain the differences in how we think, but the truth is I don't know. I don't understand how anyone other than myself thinks.

I think the differences are most evident in how problems are solved. To illustrate this point, one summer when I was home in Halifax the 5 McKays each had their own jobs, their own shifts, and few were aligned. We had 2 cars. We live about a 30 minute drive away from Halifax so the bus is not an option. Every night we would all come together in the kitchen and give our requirements for the cars for the following day. ("I need to go to work at 3:00pm, but first I have an appointment at such-and-such a place at 12:30. I work until 11:00 at which point I'll be wanting to come home." ) Of course, few of our requirements lined up. But every night we did this and every day everyone got to where they needed to go. There was minimal waiting time. And we even kept up active social lives.

Then we lost the brakes on one car. We were down to 5 people; 5 jobs; 5 locations; 5 shifts; 1 car. We still give our car requirements the night before (one of which was to take the car in, and then pick it up a day or two afterwords). But guess what? We did it! And we still kept up our social lives. (BTW: A lot of our friends lived a good driving distance from us as well.) Nobody lost a shift. Not many social outings were lost.

When we had similar transportation problems with the McQueens (See the first bunch of blog entries here), having had a summers worth of experience in car-juggling I stepped up and tried to help organize the whole thing. Sure there were 7 people now instead of 5, but Craig and I worked together. Pastor Jack's church was very close to Bruce's high school, with similar schedules. We all had similar schedules. You'd think it would be easier to manage, right?

What I found was that when I asked for car requirements people told me of their work/school plans. ("Same as yesterday and the day before...") But there were dentist plans, doctors appointments, meetings, etc. that people were being forgotten. This caused plans to get kinda messed up.

After a week or two of trying to get everyone's car requirements Pastor Jack asked me why I was doing that. He may have been asking with curiosity. But I took it as a rhetorical question with the underlying understanding of "Every night you ask; and it never goes as planned. Why do you keep doing it?" So I just replied with a shurg of my shoulders "Yeah. Why indeed." So I gave up and decided to just go with the flow.

To be fair, life as a minister (and by extension, a member of one's family) isn't all that predictable. It is not uncommon for a pastor to be called away for an emergency counselling session, or hospital visits. (And if there's any perspective pastor's wives reading this, being a pastors wife isn't like being a banker's wife or even a doctor's wife. A doctor may get called away in the middle of the night. But as a pastor's wife, he may get called away too. But guess what! There's a good chance you're going with him! Just something to think about before you say "I do".)

When stuff like that happens it's really handy to have cell phones. (But it only helps if the cell phone owners actually have them, have them on, and have their ringer turned on; and failing that at least have their voice mail set up.) I had a cell phone. Craig had one. Pastor Jack had one. Eventually Wendy got one, Robin got one, and Jane got one. Bruce (who probably needed one more than any of the others) didn't want one.

I think I was the only person who consistently had his cell phone on, with him, ready to answer, or failing that I had my voice mail set up. Communication was the one way to prevent having to stand around at the bus stop in Embrun/Vars for too long. But it still happened. One time I stopped in to get my hairs cut after work. The guy I go to in the Sault takes 10 minutes. This place I had to wait for about 20 mins, then the cut took over an hour! (For those of you who don't know what I look like, I have a pretty simple hair style that takes an Italian guy in the Soo 10 minutes to cut.) So I missed my bus. This was in December. After I got out of the barber's I ran to catch the bus only to find I missed it. I called Pastor Jack to tell him I'd be late home, but Craig would be at the stop. He told me he was still at Wendy's school and would be there for a while and I should meet him there. I tried calling Craig to tell him to get off the bus if he hasn't left the city, and if he has, go to the greasy-spoon across the street from the bus stop. Of course, his phone was off. So, he ended up waiting over an hour that one December night at the cold bus stop.

So, eventually I learned to go with the flow.

Did life get any easier when I decided to just go with the flow? I suppose. But I have just sort of learned to expect the unexpected (which, by definition, is impossible. I don't know why I just used that expression. Forget I said that.). I look at life with the McQueens to be an adventure. You never know what's going to break happen next!

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