What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Monday, March 7, 2011

tick tock...

(jeopardy theme hums...)  So when is something going to happen?  Yes, this post is not going to be about things happening, but about if/when, and about feelings...  Yeah, I like to put forth positivity and promote all the wonderful things that are going on.  I'm an optimist.  But one of the key things that I did on my trip to Africa was to write, to write honestly, openly, and with no holds barred.  That works fine when no one you're working with reads your posts.  You can't hurt your negotiating or marketing position.  Since I've been back in the US I have realized this is tough to do.  People read this.  So I have tried to put forth the "right" face.  But I've gotten to the point where it is time to express my internal scenario here.  This site was always about the journey of trying to make this type of thing happen, and the struggle I'm facing is just as much a part of that journey as anything. 

Make no mistake, this is a solid struggle.  I am now coming up on two years back in the US, after spending most of the previous decade abroad.  I have been un/underemployed for the entire time back here.  One of the main catalysts for going to Africa was because I couldn't find a job or the money to start my own business.  I packed my bag and went to Sierra Leone because I frankly didn't have anything else to do.  It was the best way to both learn about the world and to make things happen.  But it was also about changing the course of the path I'd been on since returning from abroad.  I am now armed with so much more experience than before and even with prospective projects to put on the ground.  But still, I find myself, unemployed, on food stamps, no car, about to have no home, and stuck sitting around all day waiting for Africa... sigh..
Wake Up!!

I have put my future in the hands of African governance, African time, and in capitalism's stagnant economic realities.  And I'll tell you what, it doesn't seem like its the safest of bets!  Fact of the matter is that I want nothing more than to make this work, but as it is currently not really working, I am realizing another need: stability.  I am back in the US and Hudson Valley because of a familiar support structure.  I want to spend time with my 87 year old grandparents, I have friends here, my family.  If there was a place to call home, this would seem like the first place to start, nevermind to be able to play entrepreneur.  However, for all the things that there are here, there is nothing else.  There are no jobs (and frankly, given the economic climate we're in and the number of applications for jobs, I wouldn't interview me), there is no capital, no money.  I've been out of work now for over two years including school, and my work prior was all over the world and not easy to quantify.  Of course I can do the jobs, I can do anything, literally anything.  But this doesn't matter, it is never about what you can do, but what you appear to have done.  I've done a tremendous amount in life, but this is apparently not interesting enough.

So here I sit, languishing.  I am nothing of the man I was two years ago.  I was all over the world, using other languages, living amongst other cultures, reading, writing, working, learning.. everyday, all day.  Now, I fester away in suburbia.  I have tried to make things happen, but it becomes more and more difficult to summon up the inner fortitude to continue to try over and over again.  Websites and shoe stores?  A self funded trip to Sierra Leone?  Malaria?  My own business?  But it is just not that simple.  There is not a whole heck of a lot that you can do alone.

This business I am working to set up has some realities and parameters that are pretty concrete.  I need it to be about Africa first.  I want to do work locally in Newburgh, but there is no starting there, there just isn't the margins for success.  In Africa there are plenty of opportunities to make substantial revenue streams that can fund other projects both locally and abroad.  How much do you think I'd get in donations to start another non-profit in Newburgh?  If Africa falls through and it is just about Newburgh, it isn't viable.  So it has to be about developing economies such as Sierra Leone. 

Here in lies the problem.  I am not getting the things out of Africa that I need.  It has been over a month now with only a text message and one two minutes phone conversation.  I have not been able to get the costs and numbers I need to move forward with planning and funding the situation here in the US.  I need someone there getting things done.  Do I need to go back for a couple weeks, plan this whole project out and then come back and get the money?  Didn't I just do that?  There obviously needs to be oversight, someone there keeping things moving.  I have contacted my friend in the Peace Corps to see if they could help, and I'm now waiting for their reply. 

Fact of the matter is, this is weighing heavily on me.  I have to be able to maintain myself as a human being.  I don't need much, a room or two to call home, some food, friends...  But most importantly, I need something productive to do with myself that will then provide for the aforementioned things.  Officiating girls lacrosse isn't exactly the most fulfilling of careers.  People do it to supplement their incomes.  It is now my only job, my professional outlet.  I need to get back to interacting with people, inspiring people and being inspired, motivated.  This is not the life that I envision for myself.  I want to make a difference, I want to be thinking about grand schemes and unimaginable ideas.  I am talented and capable.  Yet instead, I am sitting in a room, writing somber blog posts, trying to get my medicaid sorted out, and wondering what is next, if anything. 

Sigh... I am capable of so much more, and I've done so much more... 

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results... then I am definitively insane...  ;)