I was "invited" to join this essay a week project by a friend of my mother's; a woman I've met at writers' workshops. Write an essay a week, the FB page said. Vanessa Martir is working on a memoir, and she wants other people to join her in the experience.
No word limit or minimum. This project resembles my Crunch membership; No Judgements, Just Try.
An essay a week? Sure, I can do that.
Fortunately the beginning of the year lends itself to self-reflection, at least for me. I believe in New Year's Resolutions, and I've kept a diary before. I've thought I should keep a diary since, but the last few times I tried, it always led to way too much self-reflection, and not enough action. Like getting up in front a group and announcing my flaws, waiting for everyone to applaud, and then sitting down. Wait to listen to everyone else list their flaws, and leave the building when the meeting ends. This doesn't help anything.
But 45 is in the White House, and I have to do something to keep myself centered.
By the beginning of February we are invited to read other people's essays. This is interesting, and gives me an opportunity to see other people's work, peek into their lives.
Is that the point of this exercise? Or is it a side benefit?
Is it a bug? Or a feature?
Looking through other people's essays, I notice that most of us (it seems to me) are in New York City. We may not be FROM the City, but we live here now. We have common experiences, and I start worrying that the woman who is complaining about the white woman standing next to her on the train, pushing into her, and not being helpful, is me.
That can't be me, by the way. I am the penultimate of consideration and I try to behave as though I am holding my subway seat for somebody who really needs it.
Except when I'm tired. Or cranky.
Or my feet are already wet and I need to push my belongings under the seat on the train.
Can I post an emoticon here? Is it appropriate? :)
I read an essay yesterday by a woman who grew up in Jackson Heights. I work in Jackson Heights. I work in the library. This young woman and I know each other. We don't recognize each other online but if she grew up here, and she posted comments about the 'hood that I recognize, I've seen her around.
I like what she wrote about her life.
I hope I was nice to her when she came into the library.
My boyfriend assures me that I was. "You're the nice one," he reminds me, a reference to a story when a customer once complained that I'd been sent to work at another branch, and she wanted me back at her branch.
I'm not always the nice one. Sometimes I'm the one who says, "I can't help you right now. Can you call back?"
"Can you come back tomorrow?"
"Are you sure you returned all those books?"
Doing my job often enables me to be the nice one. I have access to information that you may not even know is out there. I know how to get your daughter into a public school in New York.
I don't know how to get the Rug out of the White House.
I didn't know how to get Hillary Clinton elected President.
I do know what dystopian novel you should read to distract you from this right now.
Last June I heard Michael Eric Dyson give a talk at the American Library Annual Conference. The Conference was in Orlando, and the mass shooting there had just happened. Mr. Dyson started his talk by mentioning it.
"Do we really just need other people to look down on?" He asked. "Do we really need other people to hate?" (Warning, this was 10 months ago, and I don't have my notes. I might be paraphrasing.)
Don't we just HATE other people who look for other people to look down on in order to make themselves feel better? Isn't it just so SAD that there are people who NEED those other people -- whichever scapegoat they are that year -- in order to feel better about themselves?
And aren't we just so glad that we aren't that pathetic?
There isn't an emoticon for typing tongue-in-cheek, I'm sorry.
When I was in high school, going through the teen angst that Ned Vizzini would later write about, I used to write down EVERY reason I was miserable. Surely there was one reason I could do something about.
Often there was, often there were several, and sometimes the list just made me feel better because it was getting it out of my system.
Almost one quarter into this, I am learning that New York is probably just as incestuous as I'd feared it was. We cross paths with one another over and over, but we can't possibly stop and recognize everyone.
But unlike the Silent Majority who interrupted my commute, (or maybe even LIKE them) we are all in this together. We need to figure out how to solve the problems our world is facing together. And we all have to get on board.
Yes, even the right wing asshats who think that they can buy their way out of global warming.
Really? On December 15th, 2016, did I not know that we were all in this together? We will all go together when we go.