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...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What's next??

So as you will see in the previous post (schools), I have no immediate plans for the future.  A dream of mine may finally need to come to a close... meaning it's probably time to reassess life, put all options back on the table.  I can only imagine how many people are doing this this time of year.  Students for sure, but probably countless others in general.  The weather is starting to turn nice, people want to get out and do things, be with people they enjoy.  Instead, a lot of us our sitting around wondering what our lives are about and how to afford to leave the house - if we have one.  Unemployment is still drastically high, wages still drastically low, health care, housing, whatever.  This is a time when many people are reassessing life, and wishing they had more options.

So for me, what this means is that for years I have been working towards an academic styled career with lots to show for it but little pragmatic return.  It's been said to me about this round of applications that if I didn't get in to schools that maybe it was time to recognize that while I could keep doing things in the present to better my applications that my past couldn't change.  I will always by the dyslexic guy that went to college to play football, and ran across some interesting academic stuff along the way.  Maybe it is that part that will just never get me far in academia.  What choice do I have?

So as it is, what do I do from here?  I was let go from my political job because I was not a good cold calling fundraiser.  I have picked up work in a hiking store doing retail sales and as a guide since, but this is supplemental income at best.  Therefore, I am back to the same old dilemmas.  I have Occupy, it's in my core, and there are a lot of things I'd like to do within it - countless really.  But Occupy doesn't provide an income.  And as we all know, the world we live in requires an income.  The trick for me has always been about how to find a way to express my passions and principles through work.

Right now a quick list of possibilities includes (in no specific order):
  • Working on a sustainability project for Occupy that would involve revenue generation through cooperative guild-like structures to accommodate housing, intellectual, and production needs for the movement.  This is much more complex and should be elaborated elsewhere.  Pluses: Occupy for the future! Minuses: no money
  • Occupying universities: A plan was floated to me well before I was rejected from schools that, whether I get in or not, we should organize a protest group to go to school anyway.  Bring together people at every level that can't afford school or can't get access to school and go anyway.  for me this would mean starting a PhD program without admission or consent.  I will go to a meeting tonight for the Occupy friendly Free University.  Also worth looking at this school set up in the UK.  Pluses: Occupy and education.  Minuses: no money.
  • Other Occupy projects:
    • 99 Pickets - help coordinate labor issue pickets and solidarity.
    • Police pickets - include Occupy somehow in the Police union's contract negotiations.  "While we don't support that you beat and repress us, we do support you as exploited workers."
    • Think Tank
    • Outreach and door to door and flyering work.
  • Occupy documentary/research trip: I was approached a few weeks ago by a documentary film maker with Occupy to take a few months to travel around the country and go to any number of Occupies to spread the think tank and help him with the documentary.  This opens doors in a lot of directions.  I would structure it as a research study and could even work with professors on the study.  I would be learning and connecting with Occupy on a much broader level and the research would have specific Occupy goals including bringing more ideas through the think tank and its web page.  Blogging and writing the whole way.  Pluses: Occupy, research, writing.  Minuses: Money, would be really tough to fundraise.
  • I can continue working on my writing, try to publish things and even work on finishing one of my book projects.  Pluses: writing.  Minuses: low probability of or no money
  • There is of course random work out there as well.  Retail work, athletic stores, service industry, etc.  (I haven't been able to do lacrosse officiating because of some vague issue with my fingerprint process, hmmm...).  Pluses: Money. Minuses: time lost in unproductive work.
  • I could finish my application for the Open Society Institute for a large funding stream for a year.  Pluses: lots of money, my research and writing.  Minuses: highly competitive (unlikely to get), takes months to hear back.
  • Think Tank funding:  I could look into ways to find funding sources and/or grants for the think tank.  Pluses: Occupy, research.  Minuses: unlikely
    • Could actually work in conjunction with documentary trip.
  • I can push wholeheartedly back into the development industry.  New York City is a great place to be for organizations and companies working on development issues.  Pluses: Money, working on issues I believe in and am experienced in. Minuses: me and everyone else... really tough to get this type of job.
  • Non-profit work.  Race relations, economic and social justice, democracy, individuals, society, etc.  I would love to get into domestic work along the lines of Occupy related issues, but I have little of the "concrete" experience employers seem to want.  Pluses: issues and Occupy.  Minuses: tough to get. 
  • Africa Project: I will be giving an update on this work asap, but the work I did in Africa is starting to bear fruit.  I could push further into this.  Pluses: heart, previous effort, finishing it, helping people, gaining experience.  Minuses: Money, really tough to coordinate all logistically and do other things.   
  • Work towards schools again:  I could continue to look at schools or work towards it.  I don't think I would spend much time looking in US though.  I know I'd want to go to Rutgers if here, and if elsewhere probably just go abroad so I was done in 3-4 years.  Pluses: see schools post.  Minuses: see schools post, lol.  But realistically... what is it they say about insanity?  Doing the same thing an expecting different results?
So that is probably not an exhaustive list as there is always running off to China and joining a Daoist monastery or marketing toothpaste in Eastern Europe.  lol.  No matter what though, I will be involved with Occupy and think that I need to be based out of NY for that.  Again though, the key is that I have to live.  All the Occupy related stuff requires longer periods of struggle and huge uncertainties with money.  All of which I am not against, but I know these options will be very tough and cause ancillary issues in my life.

The key to it all is that things need to be broken down into long and short term issues, and then I need to work meticulously towards the things I may want to attain.  Starting down as many pathways as I can until certain one's become more clear.  Short term I have to make some money.  I have the hiking store, but it is not enough to live on.  So I will have to find something else quickly.  That kind of goes without choice - random work!  Yes, it would be great if that random work was something I loved doing like researching and/or writing just to make a couple hundred dollars hear or there, but most likely it will be retail.

From there it is about the future...  What do I want to be down the road?  Do I want to go back into development work?  Non-profit?  What about trying to open doors with the Occumentary?  Basically, if there is one thing that the world has shown right now, is that good opportunities are tough to come by for anyone.  I spent years looking for work in my field, hundreds of applications.  What is to say today will not be the same as yesterday?  Frankly, there just aren't a lot of jobs out there that will allow me to pay student loans, housing, food, life, etc, no matter what my ideals are.  This is our world, and I am caught up in it completely.  Questioning it all, wondering how I got here, even while knowing full well that the past doesn't matter at all right now only how the hell the future is going to pan out, and/or if I have any control over it what-so-ever.  Kind of depressing actually.  Takes me back to a time and some writing I did a while back.  To have worked this hard in life to try to understand things, to try to gain experience, to try to stand up for people and good things, yet still to be faced with nothing but a dark void in front of you.  Tough.  


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