Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goodness, gracious.

I was walking by myself downtown last night at about 10pm, and a man stopped me. His appearance suggested that he was having a hard time of it, maybe even didn't have a home - tired face, worn clothes.

"Excuse me, could you help me out?" he asked, politely.

"I'm sorry, I don't have any cash." I smiled and replied, starting to walk backwards toward my destination.  Since I stopped waiting tables, I never have any cash. This has become a kind of reflex for me - I don't want to let people spend too much time asking me for money I don't have.

"I'm not asking for money, I just need help getting some food."

I stopped walking. It's bad enough that there are people in my city in real need of food, but if a person is standing in front of me asking for it, there's really no excuse.

I looked around. We were right by a convenience store. I thought maybe we could go in there and I would buy him something with my credit card.

"What kind of food?" I asked. This was important to the plan of action I was putting together in my head.

"I need food for my baby. I have a ten-month old and they kick you out of the shelter after 60 days. I'm not ever from here, I'm from Connecticut."

At this point, two things were going on in my head: First, why was he not answering my question? It made me think that his speech about the baby was just that, a speech. Second, I remembered that I actually did have cash, but I was too embarrassed to give it to him, lest he think I was lying when I said I had none.

"Listen, I'm coming to a woman for help, so you know I must be in a really bad place," he went on, grinning and bowing slightly, as if I could certainly understand that.

My eyes squinted and my mouth got smaller.

"I'm sorry. Not tonight." I smiled weakly and walked away.

I'm a little ashamed that I let my ideas about gender equality stop my from further engaging a human that was obviously in need of something (maybe not food, but something). I really bothered me, though. I thought "Really? Even here? Even when I'm being panhandled, I need to be told by another person, who doesn't know me at all, that my being a woman dictates what role I can play and what I have to offer?"

Goodness, gracious.

This post was written as part of a blogging game. The players are The Creative Collective. Click here to read what the others have to say about "MEN."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Going Rogue

I've half-made a few resolutions in my head. You know, the kind you don't really want to make because you suspect there will a time when you really want to break them, and if you never made them, then you're not really breaking them, right?

One resolution that I did make is to write all of The Creative Collective (see the bottom of this post for more info) posts that I missed over the past year. The problem is that part of the reason I missed the posts is that I didn't have anything to say about the topic. Creativity: challenged.

My first make-up topic is "Where no one else has gone before." I think the reason I avoided this topic is because it alludes to something I have a bit of an issue with: being unique. I've somehow grown into quite the little realist. Not sure how that happened. Maybe I was always this way. In any case, I'm discovering that it's a help and a hindrance.

I like being realistic because it gives me a certain confidence. If I have a project in front of me, I'm pretty good at discerning what needs to happen in order for it to be completed well. I can be a visionary, but I'm inhibited by what I can actually see coming to pass in my brain - nuts and bolts and all.

I don't like being realistic because it makes risk difficult when something important is at stake. I can see, all too well, every reason a thing wont work.

For instance, over the past several months, and more-so since being laid off, I've been pursuing some entrepreneurial projects. The idea was, if no one was going to hire me to do something important, I'd just have to hire myself.

The problem is, there is a lot of risk involved in these types of things. It's less the financial risk that I'm concerned about, and more the risk of being made a fool. If I put any real faith in these projects and they fail, then I will have been unwise and wrong, and I don't like to be unwise and wrong.

I understand that failure at this sort of thing isn't really failure, it's invaluable learning experience, blah blah blah, but that doesn't really make me feel any better. I like to be right and I like to succeed.

So, I move forward, because it's what I want to do, but pretty regularly I have this unpleasant discussion in my head that's similar to two parents discussing whether or not to let their 5'1" asthmatic son try out for the NBA.

"He'll just be crushed."

"I know, but we have to let him try."

Depressing, right?

Yes. But every time I feel as discouraged as can be, something tiny happens: a kind word or a small success, and I'm back in the game. I hear this is what being a rogue professional is like, so I guess that's a good sign.

Old photo of me looking triumphant:

This post was written, though very tardily, as part of a blogging game. The players are The Creative Collective, and here are their thoughts on "Where no one else has gone before."