My OccupyLife has gotten quieter and more sporadic—squeezed in between Christmas cards and home-cooked dinners. (Papa Johns was catering far too many of our meals, the last two months…)
But we are still here. I am still catching up on twitter highlights and facebook essays and posting them whenever I can.
I am still wearing my “Occupy Wall Street” button. I thought it would be my brave but trembling sign to my neighbors that Yes, I hang out with crazy people, so maybe they aren’t so crazy after all. I thought it would be a long, quiet conversation in their heads that would bear fruit when the sun finally comes back and melts furrowed brows and stiff lips.
Instead, and much to my delight, it is bringing curious interest and real support right now. Yesterday morning I got my hair done at the fancy salon on our main street, and the owner approached me and we started talking. I mean, *really* talking—not about my hair color or the weather—Bob was excited by the potential of Occupy Wall Street. He told me to bring signs for our first OccupyAstoria meeting, he would hang them in his big plate glass window. He was full of ideas, and really wanted us to do local things for our community.
Encouraged by that support, when Celia—a quiet little old lady getting her hair colored next to me— mentioned the weather and sort of half-hinted it was global warming, I dived in and agreed with her fears and her frustration at being powerless and told her how I had felt the same way, until I started making peanut butter sandwiches for the Occupiers. She was curious if it was local people or not, and I said it was a mix and talked about the four young people who cooked at my house, and then my colorist came up to play with my hair and he was concerned about the way Anonymous was co-opting OWS. Jake didn’t approve of everything Anonymous did.
I agreed, because I don’t approve of it all either, but pointed out the two groups had some overlapping interests and the nice thing about OWS is that they don’t kick you out if you don’t go to every meeting or event.
And he promised to tell his friends who were interested in Occupy about the meeting Sunday night at the Waltz coffee shop. Hopefully if they can’t make it to that one, there will be ones in the future.
And then there was the man with missing teeth at McDonalds who was a little crazy but had a nice smile and held my hand as we talked about bankers and money and where it goes.
I bought some gifts for people at the locally made gifts shop with the cash I picked up from my credit union’s ATM at McD’s, and mentioned to the shopkeeper that I was feeling anti-Paypal and Visa and he said he didn’t blame me. I went a step further and shyly said I was feeling anti-big business in general, and that I had specifically come to his store that day to shop local.
He sighed and told me he had just talked himself out of a Kindle—he had told his partner not to buy him anything from Amazon for Christmas, after the new awful thing Amazon was doing (the price-scanning thing, with the $5 discount to the scab), but it turned out that was going to be his present. He was very disappointed. I pointed out the Nook was DRM-free and not tied to Amazon in any way. He didn’t look convinced, but he seemed a little less disappointed. I suspect OWS doesn’t care whether you use a Kindle or a Nook, but *I* care that people are reading; the fewer barriers to entry the better.
Last night, I went to the opera. I was prepared to put my OWS button in my pocket to save my host’s spleen. (I am still a mostly polite revolutionary… subject to change at my discretion)… It turned out that while the out-of-town host wasn’t a supporter, per se, she had just learned about the 5,000 books that the NYPD threw away from the People’s Library. Her daughter is a librarian. “What a waste,” was her comment. It was good enough for me, and I kept my quiet little pin on my coat through all three hours of La Boheme. No mic checks ensued. But…
Me and my button and the occupations around the world—we are still here.
We aren’t going away, though I don’t know where we’ll go from here.
We are here. And there are more of us than I had expected.
Enough of us, maybe, to pin a hope on.