I regret I never bought a pair of crampons, those metal spiked soles that you tie onto winter boots when ice climbing. I’ve never officially climbed rocks or boulders draped in snow, but I have camped in winter, near Yosemite Falls. The memory both titillates and horrifies me now that I’m 15 years older, because there’s nothing romantic about tent camping in outback country. It was cold. There’s nothing more painful than pulling off wet socks and having no feeling in your right big toe.Two dangerous rookie mistakes: Having no crampons, and snow coming into my boots from wearing the wrong socks for the hours-long hike.
I could use those crampons to walk a mile over the ice, to Harris Teeter and buy some eggs. I’m writing this in Durham, NC, snowed in over the first weekend of the New Year. Winter storm Helena brought sleet last night, and now it is morning. Hope Valley Road is a glassy sheet of ice beneath soft powder. It would be insane to try to drive anywhere, and the new Governor-elect, the Democrat Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency for most of North Carolina, which I applaud. I heard that when the streets are icy in Durham, the city shuts down till further notice. My neighbor Joyce, who’s lived in her apartment for over 10 years said trucks prep the streets with brine, make a few runs the night before, and hope for the best.
My husband is 459 miles away, busy writing practice exams for a test prep group we started three years ago. We coach steamfitters and plumbers who are looking for NYC civil service jobs. Many of them are immigrants, who’ve worked for years gaining experience and licensing in their respective trades. They’re also die-hard New Yorkers, from East Flatbush, or Staten Island. Some are Guyanese, a couple from Poland. Upon incorporating my business, I became its conference producer, and went to work getting the word out via advertising, and a target marketing campaign. In the true New York City spirit of representing the various cultures and nationalities, class is held at The Bohemian Beer Hall, a Queens cultural landmark. Sounds crazy at first, but our test prep group meets in a rented classroom in the same building that houses the Slavic Language Institute, not the actual beer hall.
Like urban gardening and most of the things I truly love, it’s not glamorous. It involves taking a risk, and lots of hard work. It’s not something that I can translate easily on a Pinterest board and boast a thousand followers. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but it’s extremely difficult as a rookie to be truthful about making money in the beginning, and most businesses (at least in the beginning) fail to turn a profit. I rarely talk about it, but as a business owner I’m blessed to have found an underserved niche, and make a difference as well. As Lisa, my best friend from CCNY, and I have talked about over lunch, it’s going to take more than petition.org and liking posts on Facebook to make a difference in this world, and I know exactly what she means. I refuse to be complacent as an artist and a writer. In light of the past election, I also can’t be complacent as a business owner who sees the overall societal value in helping immigrants and the working class seek better opportunities for themselves and their families. I dream of drumming up business here in the red state of North Carolina, but I hate what’s been happening here with HB2, and while some might say, it’s not like you’re the NCAA Tournament, I call BS on you for trying to belittle me. This year, I’d like to make every action I take, every business decision I make, to count against Drumpf and his cohorts’ ideologies. I’d be straight up lying if I said money doesn’t matter. It certainly does from a pragmatic point of view, but that isn’t what makes me happy. What I am proud about is that I can recall Hillary Clinton’s debate point in her campaign, talking about the need to build the middle class– the demographic I see every Wednesday and tutor in our class. Drumpf truly is not my president, because all I heard was his rhetoric pumping up the unemployed in the the Rust-belt states. I wonder how many government programs he plans to create that are similar to my small business.