City Year Diary Entry #1

1/9/10

First day of City Year and I show up on time (well, very, very nearly) to City Year HQ on 22nd st… Only we’re not meeting at the City Year HQ for our first day…  We’re meeting up in the bronx.  So I’m an hour or so late to my first day of City Year…  Hurray.

But tardiness aside, the day went great, I volunteered my group to go second for the skits when no other group would, and we kicked some serious booty.  Crazy Team 17 Never Doubt  “Never ever?  Ever ever ever?”  Hell yea.  Charlie Rose the Dean of City Year was there, I entered during his speech actually.  He was real cool, a turn around like myself, and a fellow VISTA to boot.  Though he did single me out, because I was a VISTA and had come in late and he told a story about getting the VISTA job and how he had to get a watch.  That said I need to get a watch.  That said I need an air conditioner, not that I’ll get one, cause it’s balls hot here.  Anyway.  I was relieved and quite happy to find myself right at home with everyone and very much myself.  Made some good connections, found I’m not the oldest guy there.  Met a few 24 year olds, one of whom turns 25 before the end of September.  Glad to not have that title.  At least I’ve got a little bit of a buffer.  One of the other 24 year olds I met was pretty cool, seems to know the area a bit, fellow radio DJ and beer fanatic.  Found one of the staff is another big theatre geek and is actually going to festival in January!  Region 3 though, but still.  I think I might look into some strong african american female roles for her.  Honestly I’d love to coach her.  But apparently I’m not allowed to fraternize with the staff.  But perhaps it could be a professional relationship, she could hire me.  I’d only charge a dollar though.  I love festival.  I think if I had another shot at it I could probably get to nationals, partner or nominee I think I could take it there.  Lot of cuties in the corps.  The ride home was nice, I’m almost done “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  I’m very happy with what public transportation is doing for my reading.  I haven’t enjoyed reading like this in years, I’ve even taken to walking down the street with my head in a book, cautiously though, I don’t want to get hit by oncoming traffic.

A man without legs came through my subway car shaking a can for change while he pulled himself across it’s length.  It’s absolutely terrible sitting there and watching, or trying to ignore it even though you can’t, as the homeless walk past and knowing you can’t really do much of anything for any of these people.  I give some spare change or a dollar here and there.  And I know it’s still not enough.  I know that even if these guys are clean and sober, my pennies can’t do a thing to help them.  I would love to join a non-profit designed for their benefit.  But I wonder if even then I’d be helping.  I am in a way though, as best I can with City Year, I mean if what they say is true, at least the kids that I work with, that I do come to have an affect upon, will be incredibly less likely to end up like any of these men, and so far they have all been men.  It makes me wonder how they wound up this way.  Were they successful once and lost it all?  Maybe rags to riches works both ways.

Another instance I saw an old man, clearly well enough off, stopping a woman holding a stroller with her child in it, blocking her path, while he went off on her about the illegitimacy of bringing strollers on the subway until another woman bitched him out and the woman could pass while the man continued down the steps to continue spouting his chauvinism in front of everyone at the other woman.  Everyone was looking the other way, but we all laughed at the bigoted old man.  It’s funny when you feel these interesting little moments of interconnectedness between all of these people that otherwise couldn’t seem more detached from one another.  There are moments I find I need to smile because I’m afraid no one else will in this city, and it’s here that I realize how important it is to smile.  I realize now too how important it is to keep safe in me that human pride of being alive, that freshness at being here and the wonderment of the universe.  I realize a place like this can drain you, quick and dirty and easy, drain you of everything happy or good about the life or the world you left in exchange for “The City” and I realize it will protect me, but I must protect it too.  Fortunately City Year only works to bolster and encourage this enthusiasm of mine for life and living, this optimism and hope that the world can and will change.  I feel right at home with such things.

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