A Jobless Girl’s Thoughts on Occupy DC

I’m probably the only person to almost get kicked out of Brownie Girl Scouts by protesting face paint. I was a rather quirky tomboy at 8 years old and found the idea of parading around with butterflies and flowers on my face appalling.

Our Troop Leader at the time could have made President William Howard Taft seem like a radical feminist. Unlike most Brownie troops, our uniform consisted of poop-colored skirts, and we learned much more about sewing than camping.

She regularly delighted in lecturing me about how I “always had to be different” and needed to be more like everyone else (because individualism is like, really scary, you guys).

So when Mrs. 1890 made it clear during that fateful afternoon that I would either have my face painted or leave the troop for good, I suddenly felt torn. Despite how girly the troop’s activities often were, I loved hanging out with my friends in it.

After a moment of quiet contemplation, I made the first of many small compromises to my youthful ideals.  I bitterly announced that I would allow a red block painted on one cheek and a blue pickup truck on the other.*

Cut to the present.

Stop the Machine in Freedom Plaza

It’s Fall of 2011 and there are (shockingly) bigger things at stake than my face’s dignity. The American economy is in shambles, and for the first time that’s not just a talking point I hear blabbered by pundits on the news. It’s my reality.

I have applied to many, many jobs in the four months I’ve been without a full-time position. I’ve been to interviews where I wanted the job so badly I had to remind myself to stop with the crazy eyes. And yes, I have occasionally cried and felt lost and afraid. But four months is nothing compared to many friends’ and friends-of-friends’ job-hunting horror stories.

I am not unlike many of the people who have taken to the Occupy Together movement spreading throughout American cities. I graduated from college; I have previous work experience. And yet I’m still having trouble landing more than a freelancing gig in this economy.

Visiting Occupy DC at McPherson Square last week was in a word, humbling. As I listened to the stories of those around me, I wondered if I had lost my voice in the uncertainty of the future. In the days of Google and YouTube the last thing I wanted was for potential employers to see me as some rebellious chick with a protest sign. I had allowed myself to stay silent while others were out fighting for people just like me. My old Troop Leader would be proud—I had finally stopped being different from the majority.

Occupy DC

Critics claim that Occupy Together’s message is unclear. I can’t fully say that it isn’t. But at least they are using their voice. I can only hope more join in the conversation.

For more information visit Occupy DC’s website. Occupy DC will be marching at 12pm this Saturday, October 16th on the National Mall.

– Lindsay

 

*The Troop Leader later discussed this incident at length with my mother, before indignantly declaring that, “Well, I guess, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Years later I still believe it to be the best compliment of my life.

About Lindsay Golder

Freelance writer, book-fiend, lover of shamefully bad films regularly featured on TBS or TNT.

7 Responses to “A Jobless Girl’s Thoughts on Occupy DC”

  1. I agree that the protestors in the various cities currently being “occupied” have yet to articulate a unified and coherent message. But the intuitive sense of discontent with the status quo, the tangible feeling of disenfranchisement, is itself significant.

    My own sentiments about the specific iterations of the movement to this point have been mixed. My friend Pam and I addressed the crowd at OWS during the “soapbox” session following the General Assembly last night. As you probably are aware, the atmosphere was filled with uncertainty and anticipation in light of Bloomberg’s call to clean up the park and thereby evict them.

    The Occupy movement is certainly the most impressive awakening of radical political feeling that we have witnessed for some time (probably since 1968). In order for this resurgence of political pathos to have a lasting impact, however, the participants must ask themselves: “Where do we stand in history? What kind of society do we want to live in?”

  2. Lindsay,
    A great article as usual. I hope that it sparks a discussion, which means there would be no unified message or coherent idea. The biggest problem we seem to have come to in our nation is that we no longer discuss the problems. We ignore them or shout at each other. No one solves problems by shouting at each other.
    Continue to be different Lindsay, discuss it.

  3. Your job offers are numerous as my dates! Great for you to be proud of your mom. I’m sure she’s proud in return. Good luck in finding a job.

  4. The Occupy movement is certainly the most impressive awakening of radical political feeling that we have witnessed for some time (probably since 1968). In order for this resurgence of political pathos to have a lasting impact, however, the participants must ask themselves: “Where do we stand in history? What kind of society do we want to live in?”

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