Wednesday, October 29

When I grow up, I want to do something. Anything.

The doors of the subway car open and I give up the pole's stability, shouldering my heavy messenger bag.

I cut around someone to ensure I am still following the man I sized up during the subway ride. He walks quickly, and I wonder if he is actually supposed to be somewhere or if he always thinks he is in a rush. I wear the latter hat quite a bit.

He takes the staircase I never take, and I slow for a moment before continuing on my usual path, past someone who is either confused or homeless, up the stairs, trying to avoid bumping into the people next to me.

"Follow through
Make your dreams come true
Don't give up the fight
You will be alright"

The drums patter into me me as Muse's Matt Bellamy tells me,

Don't be afraid
What your mind conceives
You should make a stand
Stand up for what you believe"

I glance at the stuffy boutiques as I walk up Lexington and wonder if standing up would change any minds here.

I would write on the cardboard boxes in my apartment, instead of recycling them, and tape them to the store fronts. "McCain is a douche" - too much? Okay... "Vote Obama" wouldn't work either. I peer into a fully lit shop with its grate down.

How about... "Turn off your lights when you close!"

I'd do it every night, like a secret op, at 2am. I'd wear a black burglar beanie. People would rubberneck on their way to work in the morning. "What does that say?" When they saw more every day, they would start to look forward to it. They'd drift off to sleep thinking, "I wonder what the Cardboard Message will be tomorrow." It would end up in the New York Times. Or the Daily News. Whatever. It'd end up somewhere.

Or the neighborhood security people would tear it down, or stop me, or arrest me.

And whose mind would I change? Anyone's?

My close friend, summer roommate, soulmate, etc. invited me to a Teach-In on the economic crisis at my Alma Mater. Top sentence-starters included:
"If the Fed..."
"Policymakers can either..."
"News outlets need to..."

These ivory tower professors were clearly frustrated about the economic situation, the way the bailout is being handled, and the lack of news coverage for workers' rights. They wanted things to change. I wanted things to change.

But when I asked them "What can we do right now?" in the Q & A, they crushed my spirits.

Not knowing I graduated last year, the first answered: "When you graduate, you can pursue something in journalism."
Another professor answered: "Vote"

Thanks for keeping the power in the hands of the elite, but what do I do if I don't want to be a journalist? And what if both political parties have crappy proposals?
Why can't everyone have an impact?

My sophomore year economics professor answered: "Organize."