Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another section possibly filled in

The weekend before I started tutoring again, I went to brunch with the foster parents of the girl I tutor. (They also happen to be family friends and I had to pick up my mother from their house.) During brunch they voiced their surprise at my relationship with their foster daughter. I was too mentally fried at the time to explain to them that she shows deference and respect toward me and feels safe in telling me the truth about what is going on with her at school because these are the boundaries I have set for her.

If you know me, then you know that I spent a lot of time thinking about that post a couple of weeks ago.

The first part of the thought process was looking for local volunteer opportunities. I think I may have found my match in a volunteer program through the local YWCA. The program matches women with young women who are about to age out of the foster care system. My mother -- typical of her -- thinks it's a horrendous thought. Of course it is. It's probably a little too personal for her. Her idea of volunteering is to dish out food at the soup kitchen. Oh, and she has also signed up to volunteer two days a week at the Democrat campaign office. Her neighbor has also signed up there as well as the Obama campaign office.

In toying with this idea, I had an epiphany. Of course, I have been feeling off-balance. Volunteering has been a part of my life for many years.

It all started when I was twelve or so. I joined the Red Cross club at my junior high. We made stuffed animals for hospitalized kids. At age 13, I put in over 100 hours volunteering at a local daycare center. At 14, I put in 50+ hours at the V.A. in Tuskegee, Alabama. That was definitely an eye-opening experience. The next thing that sticks in my mind was when I volunteered in pediatrics at the university hospital my freshman year. I learned that sometimes babies get horrible diseases. My job was to help them forget all of that. When I worked at the Death Star, they asked for volunteers. I helped to paint the dining room at a transitional shelter for families in the Haight.

What I realized was that when I started teaching, I stopped the volunteering. And that was OK then. I did still volunteer. I would sign up for committees and whatnot. But I'm not teaching now. And I realize now that by not finding some other volunteer opportunity has left a void in my life.

I worked for a non-profit briefly. I recognize the power in people giving dollars. But there is so much more in giving of one's time. Or at least that's what I think. For me, it started at a point of not having much money but wanting to help. Now I could write a check but that somehow feels lacking in my mind. Ten seconds to write a check? Is that really doing something? Yeah, maybe it does but I want to know firsthand that whatever I have done has changed the world in some way. And the best way to do this is to do things, interact with people. I was about to say that I am an introvert but then I thought that I should take a Myers-Briggs again. (I'm a ENTJ if you're wondering. Might explain my incessant list-making.) Apparently I am a "slightly expressed extrovert."

Hmmm. I really am an extrovert at heart? Might explain a great deal about my feeling of disconnect as of late. And why volunteering that allows me interact with others is so important to me.

And so today, I submitted my application to be a mentor. One more thing done. But I'm still not done reclaiming the old me yet...

Afterthought: If none of y'all hear from me tomorrow, please call the cops. I am afraid that Natasha is going to kill me in my sleep tonight. I went to Berkeley Bowl to pick up her favorite canned food. They were sold out because the friggin' stuff was on sale. So I tried out some other stuff since I refuse to go to Astronomico's or Whole Foods -- the only other stores that carry the stuff. I know that Astronomico's charges at least fifty cents more a can than Berkeley Bowl does for the stuff. Then again, maybe I should have spent it. My life is definitely worth more than that.

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