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September Surrender: Day 6

What I’m Letting Go: Properly Prepped

Growing up, I was never afraid of speaking in front of people. I did Forensics, where we’re choose a piece of literature and read it out to a crowd. In eighth grade I got a perfect score and came in first in a regional competition with my rendition of a chapter from Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal by Barbara Park. Proudest moment of my life and I’m only slightly exaggerating. I’ve written about my theatrical nature here before, and for the most part, I’m still that person, if just a bit more subdued, as there’s really no opportunities for me to get up and show my skills. But when the time does come, I hope I have the confidence to do it properly. Because there’s a fine line between cockiness and confidence, and I had no problem dancing across it.

Back in the summer of 2007, I interned at HBO’s Creative Service’s division. I was writing and cutting promos for Cinemax, which was a lot of fun, as I got to show off my writing and editing skills. We had our team group and then a separate group from the entire pool of interns. We were expected to give weekly presentations about who can even remember what at this point. All I recall was there was one presentation we were expected to give where I told my teammates I’d do it. They gave me a brief summary of what I was meant to go over, but I didn’t look at their notes. I was like, “I’m fine, I got this,” thanks to some delusion that I didn’t need to study anything. It all came back to bite me in the ass when I stood up at the podium in front of a theater full of students, completely freezing up, visibly shaking, and having no fucking clue what I was talking about. I even had to take a pause and breathe slowly directly into the mic. Somehow we got through the presentation, no thanks to me, and everything else was fine. But it was a humbling moment where I really believed I was above studying, better than notes, and could automatically be great at anything I wanted, first try, no questions asked.

This was sixteen years ago. I’d like to think I’ve learned something since then. And perhaps I have. I don’t want to go into things without being prepared. It’s necessary. I’m not better than it. I haven’t got a clue as to why I ever thought I was.

What I’ve Discovered: Me and the Cleanup Crew

The graffiti in my little nearby plaza is gone. It went away a long time ago, and I really have to say it’s all my doing. I wrote about the bureaucratic bullshit hoops I had to jump through in order to get there. Lots of days on the phone with various city officials to get the answers I needed, so I didn’t have to go buy some paint and a roller to take care of the ugliness myself. I ended up leaving a voicemail for the property manager, telling him about the graffiti and if there was any way for me to help get it fixed. I never got a call back, but not three days later, it was gone. For once I felt like I made a difference around here, which, in a city of eight million people, feeling good to know your voice was heard.

Here in New York, we can call the city services line 311 to report issues we see. I had to call today because of the unsafe conditions of two midtown crosswalks with dangerous uneven pavement. Someone could roll an ankle, or a car’s suspension could get knocked off-kilter. The lady told me she’d relay my concerns to the Department of Transportation and they’d get moving on it in fifteen days. I rolled my eyes and said, “I hope they have time to fix it if they’re not too busy being captured by [Special Interest Group.]” I know she has nothing to do with it, but it’s a recorded line, so any little bit helps to let these people know I’m on to them.

But I realized today that while I have close to zero confidence in the leadership around here, the little bit that still exists may actually get me places. I’m seeing more New Yorkers speak out against the terrible state of the city, and perhaps if we’re lucky, we can make the organic changes needed to actually bring the city back. We are up against a lot of NGOs who have a lot of hands in pockets, but I’m convinced it’s not going to stay this way for long. I can’t explain it. Maybe if I see these city streets fixed in less than two weeks, I’ll know for certain. I’ll let you know. Otherwise I’m confident in my ability to keep complaining about it. That’s for sure.

What I Hope to Find: A Literal Vote of Confidence

Here in New York City, one does not need a valid ID to cast a vote. I hate this system because it does not assure me whatsoever that my vote even counted. City leaders also want to fast-track work applications for migrants because if they are employed for thirty days, they can register to vote. It’s these kinds of things that make me want to leave but also strengthen my resolve that when I do leave this place, it’ll be better than I found it. I was here first, I’m not just going to admit defeat that easily.

Before the 2020 election, my dad was very much looking forward to seeing a second Trump term. I was too, but I couldn’t for the life of me shake off this terrible feeling that shenanigans were afoot. He kept telling me there was no way, Trump was practically a shoe-in, don’t worry about it. But nope. I saw the system work against Bernie to keep him out, why wouldn’t they try it with a dude they hated above anything?

When I first learned about Coronavirus in January 2020, it all came about right after Iranian general Soleimani was killed, and one day after the Phase One China Trade Deal was signed. Suddenly we had a supervirus to worry about in an election year? Let’s just say it got my noggin joggin’ with all the coincidences happening. I kept trying to tell my dad I didn’t trust these people to try and jimmy in Ol’ Joe, and that’s still what I think happened. I watched as six states stopped counting on Election Night. I was working when huge dumps of votes came in for Biden overnight. Things just weren’t right. And I still don’t believe they are. It is my American right to question things and keep an open mind when things just don’t pass the smell test. Call me a nutcase all you want, but in a world where I can’t be confident in my own vote, is it that far off to believe bad actors wouldn’t want to mold a world where it’s only comfortable for them?

All things are coming to a head around here, and fast. We’ve had corruption at the helm of not just the country, but the rest of the world, for God knows how long. I hope one day to see things kick off as they were intended to run: a government of the People, by the People, and for the People. Not for these salamanders who wouldn’t know humanity if it bit them on their reptilian noses. Yeah, yeah, I know. Salamanders are amphibians. But in all seriousness, I do believe what lives in my heart will manifest sooner than we think. It’s all out in the open right now. The spotlight has never shone brighter. You can thank God for that. He’s the one constant who can never let us down.


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