One Awkward Charity Mingle

It has now been 45 days since the 45th POTUS took office and, as you may recall from my post-inauguration, post-women's march manifesto, I have taken the occasion of his election to work towards a few goals: to incite fear of outsiders in the hearts of the American people, play plenty of golf, and go on wildly accusatory rants via my popular Twitter feed. 

And wooooo, doggie have I been successful!!!! 

Oh, wait, sorry I'm mixing things up here. Those are, apparently, the goals of the man now holding the nuclear codes and wow I'm sure glad he's in charge here. As for me, it's a little more like this: don't go insane, access even a small pinch of understanding for "good people" who still voted for The Donald, and become a better citizen. 

And how am I doing? No bueno, no bueno, and... getting there???

I'm still tiptoeing into the bigger political arena. I've been calling my senators (but real talk: not every single day...it's still so daunting and time consuming, excuses, excuses), signing petitions, and I even attended a progressive activism panel hosted by a local district council member! Look at me go!

Just kidding, so, so much room for growth.

But outside of the immediate Trumpian Resistance, my main area of focus on this good citizenry journey has been to become more engaged with my community and use my time and talents to serve and support my neighbors.

As for how that's going, well, if we consider being wildly socially awkward my main talent then it is going just SO GREAT!!

An anecdote:

In the past few months I have found myself moved by the work of a group called CAMBA which has a truly inspiring comprehensive approach to bolstering strong communities here in Brooklyn. They recognize the interconnected nature of issues facing those most in need and their services are holistic: housing, education, addiction counselling, refugee services, job training and more all under one umbrella. They also offer eviction counselling, which you know is my new jam thanks to January's HottRead, so I've been looking to become more involved with them on the ground level. 

I actually first discovered CAMBA through my work, who occasionally partners with them on some corporate responsibility programs. Last year we raised funds for CAMBA through a company-wide walk, and earlier this winter there was an opportunity to go to a CAMBA location for a corporate day of volunteering which I did not, and I can not stress this enough, DID NOT ATTEND. 

~Foreshadowing! ~ 

Somehow or other I ended up on their mailing list and snagged myself an invite to to a swanky informational cocktail reception. After doing several double-takes, checking that the e-vite was, in fact, addressed to me and not some wealthy, cocktail party-attending fancyperson, I enthusiastically clicked "yes!"

A friend was planing to join, but had to bow out to take care of her daughter, which is just like, so unfair. I mean, this kid is almost two I'm pretty sure she can fend for herself for a few hours, but meanwhile I really should not be left to my own devices in public. 

I decided to still attend solo, because I am an adult now, and spent the entire day panicking about how to act normal, even dedicating my full hour of therapy for the week to mature mingling strategies. One of my main sources of anxiety (for the event, duh, there's not enough room on this or any other blog to list allll of my sources of anxiety) was the guilt and shame I have for not being a regularly active community citizen, and I imagined every person in the room listing all of the charity work they do, all the boards they serve on, all the good they've achieved, while I just chugged wine in a corner. We discussed that, when asked about my relationship to CAMBA and presence at the party, it would be best to avoid launching into the full answer of "well, I heard about them through work and then Donald Trump happened and I used to be such a good person and now I never help anyone except myself and I'm constantly abusing my privilege and the guilt is eating me alive and I actually have no idea why or how I ended up at this party I'm such a mess!!!", and instead just keep it simple: "I've been drawn to CAMBA's mission and am excited to hear more."

The evening of the party arrived and, to my surprise, I was feeling generally pretty confident. 'Twas one of those freakishly warm winter days, so I didn't have to worry about a giant coat and was able to wear my favorite big-girl outfit, this really chic navy blue wrap dress that evokes Kate Middleton's engagement look (you know...minus the title, the flowing locks, perfect face, giant sapphire, etc), and the gods had blessed me with a lifetime top ten, maybe even top five hair day so I was pretty much bringing it, on the outside at least. I tried to channel my outer hotness into inner poise as I entered the party venue, a stately brownstone in one of Brooklyn's most chi-chi neighborhoods. 

Things started fine.

I gave my name at the door and was given a little name tag. No issues!

I hung up my coat and purse on the designated coat rack, relieving me of the "wtf will I do with this giant tote bag worries." A win, tbh! 

I fluffed my hair, straightened my dress, took a deeeep breath and entered the main room, whereupon I was immediately greeted by two very friendly CAMBA staffers, one of whom struck up a polite introductory conversation: 

Her: "Hello!"

Me: "Hello!"

Her: "So how are you affiliated with CAMBA?"

Me, confidently: "I've been drawn to CAMBA's mission and am excited to hear more..."

END SCENE, flawless execution, you did it Liz, you're a champ. JUST KIDDING, there's more...

Me, rambling: "...my company did a walk to raise funds and also did a day of corporate volunteering...which I attended." 

Her, delighted: "Oh that's wonderful! I remember that day, which branch did you attend?"

Me, flailing: "Um....the one in Flatbush...?" (a neighborhood in Brooklyn) 

Her, confused: "Hmm, we don't have a branch in Flatbush, do you mean Kensington?" 

Me, dying inside: "Oh {manic laughter} yes, obviously, I always get those two neighborhoods confused but yes, Kensington, of course, is the branch at which I volunteered." 

Her, seeming skeptical: "Oh, I was the event leader at that branch that day, I don't remember meeting you..."

Me: {runs to window, throws self out}

WHAT in the everliving fuck is wrong with me??? WHYYY did I just lie to this woman's face? I was so confident! I had that dress on, I had a plan...and I couldn't even make it four minutes without choking! No one even asked about volunteering. No one mentioned the corporate day of giving. There was literally no reason for that to have even been a topic of discussion until I started to word vomit, incriminating no one but myself. My greatest fear was that I would be outed as a fraud and instead I just doubled down and frauded all over the room.

Ugh. Ugh. UGHHH.

Blessedly, Her Heavenly Mother Queen Beyonce sent down a miracle at the moment I most needed it in the form of another group of party guests who arrived right in the nick of time, interrupting our conversation before I dug myself even further into a hole. I stayed on at the party for another hour or so, mainly because now I felt like I had to re-prove my normalcy, I didn't want them to be at the office the next day like "did you see that chick who came, lied to us, and then ran out the door?" Instead they could say "did you see that chick who came, lied to us, and then still hung around and ate all of our cheese?" 

Win! 

Sooooo yes, Operation Become A Good Citizen is off to a spectacular start, A++, I'm basically going to have my face on a postage stamp by 2019 at the rate I'm going.

In related news, does anyone know of any caves deep in the middle of the forest with a flexible lease until the end of time? Asking for a friend! 

(The friend is me.) 

xoxo Liz Hott