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...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Free Learning

So during the last week I have been getting out of the house a bit.  I went to two study groups, and wanted to illuminate that these are the types of things that Occupy is doing and bringing to the social critique.  Despite what the media may cover, we are not just yelling in the streets, we are learning in small groups and helping to impart and exchange knowledge and ideas.

The first group was organized by the Urban Rebuilding Initiative based out of the Bronx.  They are doing tremendous work on activating communities, growing and giving out healthy food, and trying to energize communities to bring about real change.  They are also very engaged with the think tank.  We met in Manhattan for a reading and discussion of the first two chapters of Walter Mosley's book Twelve Steps to Political Revelation.  We had about six people there and ended up with a rather lively discussion about education and its place in society/society's place in education.  There were a few people I knew from Occupy, a few activists, and a young student just testing the waters of the world.   Great cooperative discussion that you don't find elsewhere.  Intelligent, informed, and experienced people those Occupiers!

The second group was last night.  The Free University, Occupy, and the Strike Debt campaign had a discussion group of about 15 or so people discussing debt and its meaning.  There was not the same focused discussion as with URI, but still, all the same it was an interesting discussion.  It was at the New School and included a lot more of an academic feel.  I don't know if I will go back to this one though as it wasn't what I expected.  I wanted to get more insight and understanding of debt rather than personal anecdotes on debt.  I have a fabulous debt resistors manual that my time trying to add that knowledge would probably be better spent reading.  But no matter, these things are tremendously worth going to for both learning and socializing.  Occupy has set up all sorts of networks and these types of learning things all over the city.  Lots to learn, nothing to pay!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Job Search

So in the last two weeks I have put in over 20 applications.  16 of them were for working with people with disabilities.  Funny how we come full circle.  I spent all that time in Connecticut working with the disabled population only to have left that job and joined Occupy.  Now here I am trying to get back into it.  But you know I didn't leave that job as much as I left that area and ran to Occupy.  If I was working and living in the city doing that I don't know that I would have left it as I could have done both Occupy and that job.  And that's where I am right now - trying to do both.  I was successful with that work.  So I'm looking at it again.  It's been a couple weeks now though and I haven't heard anything yet.  So my hope is dwindling with each day.  I've also put in a few of the typical idealist.org stuff that I've been doing - after school things, project management, economic and social justice stuff.  Same old.  And you know this is not me belittling anything, but me lamenting the waiting and the decreasing marginal levels of hope attached to each application as time slowly passes.

I did catch a break though this past week when one of the women I work with for the Occupy Radio set me up with a guy that does set construction.  At this point I know nothing more other than he needed someone next Thursday evening/night.   But good pay/work, so I'm there!  I must admit that while for the first three or four minutes it didn't seem to affect me too much, all of a sudden hit me.  Wow!! I'm excited.  I so desperately just want to work.  Just want to do something productive and have some income coming in.  Anything.  I am not sure what will come of this, but I am excited to have an opportunity.  Any opportunity really.  And this would be good.  I would get to do some building, it wouldn't be something that I would have to spend time thinking about outside of work, and would afford met to make rent payments!  What more could I ask for?!  I mean other than the obvious real career job of course!  But you know what?  I don't know what that is anymore.  Maybe that's just gonna have to change....


So its been a while now that I have been skipping meals, buying less nutritious food, eating smaller meals, and losing a bit of weight.  I haven't bought meat in months it seems.  I check prices and just walk to the bean section.  I've decided that eating meat when I eat out makes more sense.  You pay maybe a dollar extra for meat in a restaurant other eatery, as opposed to like six dollars a pound minimum for some kind of low grade meat.  Now of course NYC is really expensive, the highest in the country by far.  But that's I guess all part of it. 

In the last month I have been forced to really address these issues.  I have started looking at Food Pantries and finding ways to get food without paying for it.  I have not been dumpster diving as of yet, but others I know have been.  It is part of what the world is coming to it seems, even as we throw away millions of pounds of good food each year.  I have been really lucky that my mother has runs a community garden that gives its food to the needy.  I have been the recipient of bags of kale and other produce that have kept me healthy of late.  And that is no small thing.  Healthy food is expensive. 

But I have gotten to the point where enough is enough, I no longer can keep trying to spend money I do not have on food.  I spend my days trying to apply to jobs that don't seem even remotely interested in me, have few if any prospects at this point, and will possibly be homeless in just a couple weeks.  I have no place to turn for help in my situation.  Family, the government, neither really has the means to solve my income issues.  It is only up to me it seems, yet, resume after resume I am getting no where.

So Friday I applied for food stamps.  They were quickly approved and I picked up my card today and went and bought some meat.  It's actually probably not the best impulsive decision as 200 dollars of food a month does not go very far, especially in NYC.  But this is the way it is.  I will be back to beans the next trip to the store.  I will start trying to strategically mix home cooked meals, and food pantry stuff.  This is an issue for me though as I have these allergies.  If I want to be at my peek - the best position to get a job - I need to be able to get the right food in me.  But hey, I'll have to take what I can.  I stopped eating wheat for 3 or four days last week and started felling pretty good.  Even the bike accident injuries seemed to heel a bit.  But immediately, one weekend back eating wheat and I could completely see the difference, even started having issues with hypoglycemia again.

It is amazing what food insecurity does to people.  The system itself is set up in a way that does not put me in the best position to succeed.  If I had no dire need to find food and shelter, and could put my best foot forward, I would be able be the best I could be.  But that is not where I am right now.  So I have to take what I can get.  I am no longer able to support and provide for myself.  Hundred's of job applications in the last three plus years and little to show for it.  I have tried, and anyone that says otherwise I would love to have words with. 

But as of now, I am one of those many people out there on "entitlement programs".  One of those many that some how don't feel like they have to work hard, that can just skate by and live off everyone else's hard work, right?  Yeah, like facing death in West Africa to better your resume, trying to start businesses, non-profits, and volunteer endeavors, officiating girls lacrosse, selling shoes, applying to schools, etc.  If you think I haven't tried, haven't educated myself or worked my ass off to make a place for myself then you are out of touch with the world we live in.  I am not an exception, I am just another of millions - in fact billions - throughout the world that just want to work hard, and make a difference in their own and others lives through these efforts and the fulfillment of their abilities.  The world is failing us, just as I am failing in my job search and ability to support myself.  But hey, at least social services in New York City treated me with dignity and respect.  That is a far cry from the way social workers treat you upstate in Poughkeepsie.