Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In my search for jobs, I decided to do some volunteering to keep me busy and make new contacts. I volunteer for Doctors Without Borders and wanted to find a way to work on my creative writing skills. I did a search on and found an opportunity with a women's writing group--a woman of color writing group. I thought, "What the hell, I'll see if they can use me as a volunteer."

After sending in a writing sample, an hour-long phone interview (and my revelation that I am white), they accepted me! It's actully my experience in Haiti and my awareness of race that qualified me.

There are actually two parts to the group. One, a two-hour writing workshop on Friday nights which is pay to play, and two, a group of volunteers promoting a community of women of color writers with the hope of encouraging confidence and the number of women published. Because I am volunteering I will eventually get a free workshop, so there is a bit of monetary reward besides the joy of writing and encouraging others.

A few weeks ago during our writing workshop the prompt we were given was to write a story about a bridge and begin with a small detail. Here's the story I wrote:

My pinky toe aches. These shoes meant for walking need to take their own walk over the side of this bridge. Okay, it was my idea to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I usually like it. The view is gorgeous despite the packs of tourists. It reminds me that the city really is beautiful. Today I had the grand plan of walking across at sunset. RJ had the grand plan of going to Manhattan and walking back to Brooklyn, which meant we ended up taking the wrong train, and we missed the most beautiful part of the sunset.

Once these shoes take a hike maybe I'll tell RJ he needs to take a hike as well. One minute he's saying he wants to be with me, thinks about me all the time, and even brings up the "M" word, but the next week doesn't make an effort to spend time together. Between the pain in my foot and the pain of dealing with RJ I'd rather just..."Um, excuse me, m'am, could you take a picture of me and my wife?" a tourist breaks into my thoughts.


When I read it allowed to the writing group they all burst out laughing at the end with comments of, "That's so true!". Everyone in New York is in their own zone. We are all competing for and trying to protect our personal space, so when a tourist asks something like this they break into our personal bubble.

Aha! That's it, I thought. New Yorker's aren't trying to be rude, they're just protecting their valuable space. When it costs $1.2 million for a Manhattan one-bedroom apartment "ready for your renovations", I completely understand.

A little piece of New York life.