Three Down, Five to Go

1) It’s been nine days solid of rehearsals and performances. We’ve done three full public shows (and one tiny preview show) and the fun isn’t over yet! One more for this weekend, then we can all rest our voices til next Friday.

2) And we do need to rest our voices. Mine is starting to feel it. Unfortunately, the remedy our Director suggested (Barenjager, in a hot drink) is not vegan. I’ve gone with Disarrono instead.

3) I’ve failed at my personal challenge to look for ways to help others for the last two months. Both October and November were so jam-packed I forgot to fit this in, too. I’ll try to pick it up again this month.

4) I’ve come up with some shockingly simple plans to enhance my creativity and lower my stress level: work less. I know, revolutionary, right? Seriously, though, work stuff has given me the impetus to make a new decision that I will hopefully stick to. More details later.

5) I like numbered lists.

6) It’s gotten very cold here, though not as cold as the rest of the country. The boyfriend has gone to the coast for the weekend. I worry about him.

7) Anyone else been watching Once Upon A Time In Wonderland? I find it delightful, if slightly lagging at times. The original Once Upon A Time is much faster-paced but almost everything about it gives me major eye-rolls these days.

8) I finally found a sweater pattern to knit that works with the yarn I bought three years ago. My aunt gave me a gift certificate, and I knew what I wanted to make with it but it didn’t exactly exist in pattern form. I even tried to write a pattern myself. It didn’t end well, but I wasted a lot of energy before I realized that. Now I’ve found it, and I’ve cast on, only to realize that I really do need a circular in a size smaller instead of trying to cobble it on DPNs.

9) In case anyone was interested, the count for work interviews stands at, now, nine. Since March. This last one has been a train wreck starting back in June, and no matter the different people who get involved it just keeps being…odd. One day I’ll write a whole post about it. Right now it’s an HR issue.

10) There is no ten. I just didn’t want to end a numbered list with less. I’ve had too much Disarrono to make sense of why this really doesn’t matter.

Eye Contact

Back in August I posted a challenge for myself and anyone else who wanted to join: Find one thing a month to do for someone more disadvantaged than you.

Then things got busy and it fell off my radar as I was consumed with things like work, applying for promotions, trying unsuccessfully to connect with old friends, and keep the dirty dishes from overwhelming us (I’ve failed on that one, too).

But I found myself in San Francisco as September drew to a close. The city is an easy place to find people looking for handouts. Whether they’re really in need is anyone’s guess, but a few years ago I realized that it’s the lack of eye contact–of really acknowledging someone else as being a person and being present–that is so demoralizing in our day-to-day activities.

So I let my companions walk ahead of me when I saw a man sitting outside a parking garage holding out a cup. He was talking to passers-by, keeping up a fairly steady, one-sided conversation. I thought that must be an exhausting way to spend a day. Always peppy, always chatting, but never a response from anyone.

I put money in his cup, but it was an excuse to make eye contact and brief conversation with him, just to acknowledge him as a person.

It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t planned out ahead of time, but it was still something.

Now I need something for October.

Of Pears and Poverty

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This is what I did on Saturday.

Let me pull back and show you what our pear-gleaning haul actually looked like. I couldn’t get it all in one shot, so I took multiple pictures. None of the bags have been duplicated in another picture (except you can see the flats from picture #1 in the background of #2):

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So the story went like this: at work this week, one of my coworkers mentioned her neighbor had two acres of pear trees and couldn’t take care of the harvest. It was going to rot on the ground unless someone came in. She wanted to get a group together and donate the pears to a homeless shelter or food bank.

There were four of us, when the day came, and we only spent about an hour and a half in the orchard. It grew hot and we’d already picked so much that we left the rest. We took flats & bags to a homeless shelter and most of the crates to a farm:

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(We also assisted in luring a pig into a moving van with pear incentives.)

We’re really fortunate in our part of the country to have food growing out the wazoo. (Seriously. There will probably be more posts on this in the future.) But I felt rather sad that there was so much going to waste because we hadn’t connected People With Something To Offer to the People Who Need Something.

There is so much waste on so many levels in our society. Some of it is due to consumerism, and some due to convenience, and some due to the processes of shipping vast quantities of whatever-we-have all over the place.

But food? There are starting to be ways to get available food to people who need it. There’s Falling Fruit, which looks awesome but too new to be comprehensive yet. I’ve heard that people sometimes advertise “Free for the picking” on Craigslist.

But how does that really help people who are truly in need? People who don’t have internet access, or time to scour Craigslist?

Our communities are so fractured nowadays that these important things are not getting across. If we are engaged in a community, it’s usually with people who are on the same economic level as us. How can we reach out to those on the outskirts if we’re too wrapped up in our own worlds?

I know that for me, personally, it’s a huge amount of effort to come from my job and pay attention to ANYTHING going on in the world. I’d just rather not. I’m exhausted. I have a feeling that’s probably the same for just about everyone else.

But my new challenge, for myself and for everyone who wants to join, is this: find one thing a month to do for someone more disadvantaged that you. Donate something. Drop money into a cup. Take dinner over to a struggling family–or invite them to your place. Volunteer at a food bank. Give someone a lift in your car. Check out resources they may not have–like Craigslist–and mention an opportunity they could use. Offer to babysit.

Be creative. A few years ago someone gave me a ton of yarn and I spent my fall making fingerless mitts from a free knitting pattern. It doesn’t always have to cost you money. Knitting really didn’t even cost me time; I was able to do it during work hours (and the stress reduction alone was worth it twice over).

Affirm their dignity to help themselves, but do what you can to make it a little easier. It’s hard enough to keep going for those of us who have been handed a lot of advantage. Imagine what it’s like for those who haven’t.

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Who wants to join or to post a challenge of their own?