Tag Archives: volunteering

The Cure for Crippling Self-Loathing

So sometimes your significant other is away for the weekend and you take the opportunity to organize a Ladies Night and you go dancing in too-high heels on the drunk walk home you call your sig. oth. (new slang) and yell at him for not respecting you.  And then you fall asleep in your clothes.  Sometimes this happens.  And then you wake up the next morning and all you want to do is hate yourself for being so annoying and hungover but you can’t.  Why can’t you?  Because you have to volunteer.

Enter the cure for crippling self-loathing: volunteering!  You guys, it’s so great.  It’s obviously great because giving back to the community is one of the pillars of our society – it takes a village to etc.  We all have to help each other because that’s what being a person is about.  We are helpless on our own but together we can do anything!  That part is fairly self-explanatory.  Volunteering is good!  But what can volunteering do for you?  It can make you feel good about yourself.

(Yes, I know, some might argue that you shouldn’t volunteer for selfish reasons.  But this is just to give you that little nudge in case you’re on the fence about it.  Also, the argument can be made that no act is purely selfless.  Anything that results in making somebody else feel good makes you feel good, too.  There was a whole “Friends” episode about it.  We could argue this point all day, but let’s just leave it at this: volunteering is just as helpful no matter what stupid reason you have for doing it.)

Cause of Self-Loathing #1: You Drank Too Much And Now You Feel Like Some Apologies Might Need To Be Made.

Cure:  Big Sisters of America.

Your cute little Latina friend from the inner city doesn’t care if you yelled at your sig. oth. last night.  She only cares that you guys are walking around a park together looking at a pond and picking wildflowers.  Girl doesn’t get out much.  It is so easy to show her amazing things that you take for granted.  And seeing things through her eyes makes them fresh and new and beautiful to you, too.

How to Get Involved:  Go to the Big Brothers Big Sisters website and enter your zip code.  Follow the directions.  It’s a big commitment but it’s super rewarding.

Cause of Self-Loathing #2: You Feel Fat.

Cure:  Enter a Race for Charity.

Nothing gets your mind off your body issues quite like talking to somebody with cancer.  This one is doubly effective in combating self-loathing because it involves both giving back to the community and actually changing the thing that’s making you feel bad.  Also, endorphins.  Also, it’s springtime!  Get out there and walk/jog yourself around.  Jog away from the bad feelings!  And help fight cancer in your own small way.

How to Get Involved:  There are a million of these for any town or city anyone might live in.  Google it.  Then send annoying emails to all your coworkers asking for money.

Cause of Self-Loathing #3:  Your Young Adult Novel Was Rejected By Another Publisher.

Cure:  Tutor Some Kids at Your Local 826 Branch.

This works for pretty much any rejection you might encounter.  Like you didn’t get a job or some dude didn’t call you back.  Fuck ‘em!  Kids need help with their homework.  They don’t care about any of that stuff.  They don’t even have to know.  All they know is that you are incredibly cool for helping them out.  Also they like your outfits.  You have really cute outfits.  826 is a writing and tutoring center for kids with branches in big cities all over the country.

How to Get Involved:  Go to the 826 National website and click Chapters.  It’ll take you to a list of the separate locations.  You sign up for a training session and then you get in there and help some kids with fractions and five-paragraph essays.  Fun!

Cause of Self-Loathing #4:  Your Apartment Is So Gross But You Just. Can’t. Clean It.

Cure:  Mop The Cages At Your Local Animal Shelter.

This seems counter-intuitive but you know how sometimes you won’t do something for yourself but you’ll do it for someone else out of a sense of obligation or just because they’re relying on you and you don’t want them to be mad at you?  This is like that.  These sad little puppies and kitties don’t have homes.  The least you can do is spend a little time helping them not live in their own filth.  They also don’t have thumbs so they can’t mop.  They need you for that.  They need you!  How nice is it to be needed?  So nice.  Also, some animal shelters have jobs for volunteers where they literally like sit and pet a dog for an hour.  Like that’s the volunteer job.  “I volunteer to sit here and pet this adorable puppy.”  Haha.  Yeah I’ll volunteer for that!  But I don’t want to get your hopes up because I think what these places need most of all is people to mop.

How to Get Involved:  Again, google it.  There are lots of different shelters all over the country.  Find the one closest to your disgusting apartment and mop it up!

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Volunteering Is Not For Scaredycats

In my quest to Be A Better Person and Change The World and Find Some Way To Use My Skills For The Betterment Of Mankind and Get Out Of The Apartment and Not Rely On My Boyfriend For Fulfillment I decided to volunteer at 826 Boston.  826 is a great organization that was started in San Francisco by Dave Eggers because he wanted children to learn and he didn’t know what else to do with all his money.  Did everybody know I have a huge boner for Dave Eggers?  Have you met me?  My name is Emily.  Dave Eggers is my hero.  So.  Yesterday was the June information session and tutor training.  826 Boston is located in, quite possibly, the worst neighborhood in all of greater Boston.  Egleston Square in Roxbury.  I’d driven through Egleston Square a million times when we lived in Roslindale because it’s a direct way to get into Boston from the south.  And even in a car it’s a little scary.  But I biked there yesterday.  And I learned something.  Places that are a little scary in a car are Very Scary on a bike.  Especially if your bike is a butter-yellow cruiser with flowers on it and a basket and you have a bright pink bike helmet with matching pink sunglasses and backpack.  I was asking for it.  But I thought, no, I’ll be fine.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, Emily.  As I walked my bike down Washington Street looking for the storefront (Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute) I noticed a few men gathering in the street.  One of the men was wielding what I can only describe as a very heavy tennis ball attached to a fabric belt-type thing.  And he was swinging this tennis ball-y thing on the fabric belt-y thing in the middle of Washington Street and yelling “Hombre!” over and over again.  And then I thought I’d stop walking my bike and start riding it instead.  And then I came upon 826 Boston, locked up my bike, and called Billy as sirens started blaring and cop cars started materializing and I think I saw a Paddy Wagon, too.  Here’s a summary of the conversation we had:

Me:  Oh hi.  I just wanted to call to say hi and tell you that there is probably a street fight happening in the middle of Egleston Square right now.
Billy:  Oh yeah?
Me:  Yeah.  Hear those sirens?
Billy:  Yup.
Me:  I just think it’s funny that my life is always such a cliche.
Billy:  Huh?
Me:  Earnest white girl in the inner city trying to teach underprivileged kids how to write.
Billy:  Is Gangster’s Paradise playing?
Me:  Yeah.  Coolio is here.
Billy:  Maybe you drive to Roxbury next time.
Me:  Good idea.

Anyway.  Then we had the info sesh and it was great and I am really excited to get started helping out over there.  I already have an idea for a playwriting workshop I can run with older kids and a possible improv/silly plays workshop for younger kids.  It’s actually great that they are located in Roxbury because that’s where it’s most helpful for kids to have free tutoring and fun learning opportunities.  So it’s all good things.

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A Bunch Of Things

I’m excited about my wedding.  But there are some danger zones.  Wedding magazines are terrible, TERRIBLE things.  They make you think that you need to do all this stupid stuff.  You don’t need to do stupid stuff, everybody.  You don’t.  I’m not throwing a bouquet.  It’s embarrassing and it feels like I’m making fun of my single friends and I hated standing there while the bride threw the bouquet when I was single so I won’t be subjecting my friends and family to that.  I’m not saving the top layer of my wedding cake to freeze and then eat later.  That’s gross.  No offense to anyone who did that or plans to do that in the future.  More power to you.  But my God, wedding magazines, they make it seem like that’s what everyone does.  I don’t want to.  Wedding magazines can suck it.

I’ve been telling lots of things to suck it lately.  Kathy Griffin must be influencing me.  She is awesome.  Me and Katie Fay saw her do stand up a couple weeks ago and she was so fun.  We would probably be besties, me and Kathy Griffin.  I think she would like me.

Had dinner and drinks and TV watching last night with Karl and Meghan and my oh my how nice it is to see friends.  We had a lovely time.  Except when this girl in my neighborhood watched me parallel park my car in front of hers and then, when I got out of the car to walk into my apartment she said “That car you parked in front of?  That’s my car.  Did you hit it?  Did you damage it?  Just tell me if you damaged it.”  And I said “No.  I am very good at parallel parking.  I didn’t touch your car.”  It was really weird and awkward and I really didn’t touch her car at all.  In fact it was a masterful parallel parking job I did and I didn’t appreciate her insinuating that I hit her car.  Who does that?  Who asks strangers these things?  I live in a tough-ish neighborhood and I guess she was probably just posturing or maybe she was tipsy and belligerent, but it really bothered me.  I didn’t grow up in a tough neighborhood.  I’m from Fairfield County.  The scariest thing in Fairfield County is… nothing.  Nothing is scary in Fairfield County.  Actually, the scariest thing in Fairfield County is cops.  They pull you over and give you speeding tickets.  They get you in trouble.  Also, my mom is a scary thing in Fairfield County.  But as far as strangers talking to you on the street, no way.  Not an issue.  Everybody keeps to themselves and nobody looks at or talks to each other because everybody is always in their car.  There’s no human interaction unless it’s planned in advance.  So maybe it’s better in my tough-ish neighborhood.  Because at least we’re all there together, acknowledging each other.

I’m reading a really interesting book right now, recommended to me by Kristian, called The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  I saw Away We Go a couple nights ago.  Both these things make me want to write more.  And better.  I think after this rambling blog post is done I will get to work on starting a play I’ve been meaning to start for a month or so.  It was suggested that we have a draft of a full-length play ready to hear and revise by the beginning of the fall semester and the beginning of our MFA carreers.  So I should get started on that.  And I will.  Soon.  Today.  Away We Go was so good.  I just really liked it.  I’ll see it again with somebody if they want to see it.  It made me happy and inspired.

Also, yes, I have a giant intellectual/friend crush on Dave Eggers.  Everybody knows this about me.  I adapted his stories into a play and now it’s going to be performed in New York at the Fringe and I love every book he’s written and everything he is involved with and I love his philosophy of giving things away and helping the world.  I read this article about him in a stolen issue of this magazine called Ode (I’ve never heard of it either, but I was sorting the mail the other day and I saw his name on the cover so I swiped it.  I’m not proud of myself.  Also, I gave it back after I read the article.) about why he gives money away.  And it inspired me to volunteer at 826 Boston.

BU has a farmers market on Thursdays now.  I think that’s cool.  Local food is something I can really get behind.  It just makes so much sense.  The problem is avocados.  I fucking love them and they grow in the desert.  And, as evidenced by the weather in Boston this month, this is not the desert.  So if I go hardcore with local food then I can’t eat avocados and is life really worth living if you can’t eat avocados?  No.  No, it is not.

And finally, this.

You’re welcome.

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