Sunday, Apr. 02, 2006 - 7:44 p.m.
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Do I volunteer? (this is to mom-on-roof's comment on my most recent entry)
Well, for eight summers I volunteered for 4-5 weeks each summer at a women's music festival, doing massage, painting and putting up signs, driving people in a van. But now I cannot really manage a month off in the summer, what with the dog, two cats, owning a 5plex and work. I used to rent, and have no work in the summer, so I actually saved money by being there and have them feed me. Yes I made friends there. Just none at home. Friends in San Fran, Ireland, England, Michigan, Toronto, Louisiana, Wisconsin... and then everyone at home would be like "well, we hung out this summer but you weren't around." and they'd be all bored of me showing photos and telling stories of places they don't know.
I volunteered to teach reading to illiterate adults, and met for 4 hours a week with a 40 yr old woman whose first language was italian, whose husband was turkish from Turkey, they spoke English at home, and their kids went to French school. I think she had learning disabilities... she managed to get through about half of school without reading or writing (being really canny at figuring out ways to get around stuff). I did get her through the alphabet and the first two books of the program before she stopped finding the time, and her and her husband went househunting during our sessions instead. Did I make community? nope. She was even jealous of me helping her kids out while I was at her place cuz SHE was MY student.
I volunteered to go into schools and talk about homophobia. At the orientation they called me aside, out of the 20 or 30 people there, and told me because I had said I was bi, that I couldn't go talk in front of the kids, but could sit at a desk and enter in survey results into a computer. Now since I was looking to volunteer to spend time with kids, to meet people, and to get away from the sitting position at my desk and computer, i didn't take them up on it. Yes, the only person out of the room who they rejected, even though others had been married in heterosexual relationships, one was a polyamorous lesbian who had two male lovers but a female wife etc. yay me. Did I feel community and partnership? No I felt singled out and rejected.
I volunteered at a library at the women's Y. But it turned out to be a room full of many unsorted books that no one visited. I was the only worker during my shift, and seldom did anyone come by. I sorted dozens of shelves of books, but don't know if anyone continued it. I met no one, and made no friends.
I volunteered to serve meals at a homeless shelter. I rushed around handing out plates of greasy reheated fried food and spaghetti with several other people: a teenage boy who was doing community service, two or three older women, a retired man who was like a drill sargeant, nobody gave more than a cursury nod when I said hi. One of the longterm residents who worked in the kitchen WAS friendly and asked me to go for coffee the next day, which I did. He was about 58, a recovering alcoholic who had been divorced and estranged from his wife and kids, and lived in a bunkbed room at the shelter now. He had never finished his highschool. He was making all sorts of puppydog eyes at me and asking for another date, and I decided it would be best not to encourage him. And serving reheated fried food to lines of depressed bitter mean antisocial people and handing out cigarettes as they filed out of the room was not very inspiring or making me feel good either. Sorry, I didn't go back.
I volunteered to drive people home over the Christmas holidays in our red nose program, where people who have been drinking call up the service, and we drive their car home. I was matched up with two older men who smoked and chatted about football and hockey from 8pm until about 6am. I forgot that I get carsick when I am not driving... it was the guy who owned the car who drove, and the other guy worked the radio. I just sat in the back seat and wrote down the addresses and felt sicker and sicker and sicker and tried not to barf in the car as they sped around alternating with being parked discussing hockey and smoking. I didn't go back, and I didn't see much opportunity to make friends. Some people however had been doing it for ten years every christmas season, playing cards together, watching hockey games on tv, and chainsmoking while waiting for calls.
I called the library in the street people and volunteered to help read books to little kids in the streets. They told me that they can't use volunteers. They have subsidised 40 hr per week positions, and I was welcome to put in my resume for the fulltime job. No I could NOT accompany the fulltime people for free as a volunteer, as that would put their funding in jeopardy. End of that.
I am the volunteer treasurer for our illustrator's association, but mostly I don't really hang out with anyone there, though we know eachother. I don't play volleyball (though I did try once, it wasn't bad) or drink a lot of beer. I often have crazy deadlines that keep me from hanging around having a drink etc, even if I do faithfully go to meetings. These are the same crazy deadlines that keep me from participating in my flamenco group's year end show except for one song (I didn't have time for all the three times weekly rehearsals). I AM friendly with these people when I see them (the illustrators and the flamenco people) but mostly it is hi bye. Mostly everyone else is as busy as I am and rushes out of the meetings to get home when I have time, and I rush out of the meetings to get home when they have time.
I was in a choir, and I did volunteer to paint some items for the decor. I ended up getting stuck doing it with a woman everyone considered a problem, and we did it at her daughter's place. I did the work (and redid hers), but no it didn't make me any friends. I also volunteered to decorate the float for a parade, but when I showed up, they weren't "ready" for the three or four hours I was there, and ended up doing it at 3am after they'd sent me home. Though I am still friendly with the choir director when I see him.
I have a community garden, and sometimes chat with people about their vegetables but haven't made any friends. The guy who runs the garden, and the expresident are both complete cases, and a few people call it the prison garden, and they all try to run in, with their heads down, do their gardening and leave. I show up for the scheduled garden work, and sometimes chat with someone working beside me but in four years I have yet to chat to the same person twice. I showed up at the community garden BBQ last year but the only ones there was the guy who runs it, and one older man with his son, and no I didn't make any friends.
Besides that? hmmm, welllll, I can maybe volunteer to help with kids' schoolwork, though my french is probably worse than theirs, and I'll not likely make any friends that way.
I belong to a group of fetish gals, but most of them are either weird (as in have their own private godesses), ridiculously busy (doing university degrees in sexology, have multiple fulltime partners etc) or just live on the other side of town. I do volunteer to do a shift at every playparty they have to keep my foot in the door but it is just that, a foot in the door, not a friendship. Not a one has kids I don't think. I would have fit in better when I was in my 20s or early 30s and could go to film nights, reading nights, lectures at the university, clothing swaps, sex toy meets etc. Right now it isn't really a priority for me. I feel old.
I used to volunteer a lot for the fetish club: I helped sew all the sofa covers, I helped "animate" nights by being the welcoming girl on easter, valentines day etc. And cuz i DID go to that club EVERY weekend, and my friends owned it, I DID have a community, and actually still have friends from there. But now that the place has closed and nothing replaced it, everyone is dispersed. One of the owners is one of my adoption references, so there ya go. People I fit with. But they live about 20 mins out of town, have a kid now and I have no car.
Anyways, I dunno. I think I eventually got really tired of volunteering with people I didn't seem to have anything in common with. Other activities such as the tango lessons, flamenco, belly dancing, yoga, ceramics class, watercolor class, weightlifting, interior climbing... same thing. I guess I am just weird. I'd end up being the only one alone there who hadn't signed up with all their friends. Or the others would be married women with three kids at home who chatted together about the kids, and rushed out to pick them up after school, or people who think I'm weird cuz I want kids, or retired men who left to go fishing at the cottage, or gay men who feel threatened by a woman in the weight room, or straight women who were worried I look like a dyke, or dykes who were in coupley couples, or people who are totally immersed in popular culture. Mostly I went alone and left alone. And smiled and nodded at people. yeah.
so, Yeah, volunteering. And taking classes. Supposedly with like minded people. I swear, if I ever go to a class and there are bisexual women there knowledgeable about art and who like to drink good coffee, cook, garden, who are kink tolerant or knowledgable, like foreign films and alternative music, I will fall over and die. yes I will.
well, I think I'll go to my neighborhood coffeeshop and have something. don't know what.
OK, bye. yeah.
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Goodbye Michael. May your next life be kinder to you. - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
*inspired by Chaosdaily