“Let’s just say it was An Experience”

by LP

What happened before.

So yesterday, @_kouw and I went. The weather was nice, I was feeling good and was ready to experience the experience with an open mind. I told myself I wasn’t going to be disappointed or frustrated. And I tried. I really tried. Some people (the ones flyering, the people at the infostand, the people in charge of the food and the guy at the donation tent) were really nice and helpful, but the overall atmosphere felt off. There was a certain grimness. I didn’t feel welcome or comfortable.

At some point there were speeches, and while I know that in this country neither speech nor logic is on the regular curriculum in schools, it shocked me to see that speeches consisting entirely of ill-fitting sentences full of hollow media-fuelled catchphrases and non-sequiturs were received with almost religious enthusiasm. And what to think of: “…you shouldn’t belong to a group! *cheering* WE. ARE. OCCUPY! *cheering*” Wait, what?

The march that was supposed to be at 13 was moved to 14, so they asked if anyone wanted to speak. I thought about it, but was afraid that if I expressed how I felt, I would get pelted. People had already glared at me when I didn’t applaud for a speech that I couldn’t back. And while I do believe in speaking my mind, I’ve already reached my quota of injuries this week by bumping my shoulder on a doorpost and almost cutting off my finger with my new pocket knife.

To be fair: the UvA-student (I haven’t been able to find his name unfortunately) that spoke about tuition hikes, the decline in quality of education and how worldwide we’re at a point that education is just for the (very) rich, gave a great speech. And as always, Fabiola brought it. But despite this, my overall feeling was “WTF am I doing here?” And when people started singing along to a song “written that morning” that went “we are the 99%, we work three jobs to pay our rent” I went “No, you don’t”. And that’s when I gave up and left.

I know, it’s just a song and people are just singing along, not claiming they’re something they’re not for street cred, sympathy or whatever* and the speeches were just the opinions of the people who gave them. I’m sure other people had a great time, and it’s probably different if you’re actually doing something concrete, like helping out with logistics. As a “day visitor” I just felt completely out of place. And that’s maybe why, despite promising myself I wouldn’t be, I was so frustrated and disappointed afterwards: I’m used to feeling out of place 90% of the time amongst “regular people”, but apparently I don’t fit in with this crowd (anymore?) either. Oh well, frustrated and disappointed is better than burnt out and bitter, right? Right?

Anyway, I did get The Occupied Wall Street Journal. Isn’t it pretty?

*which is a thing that pisses me off more than it should, but that’s a topic for another epic post

ETA: for the Dutchies, @_kouw wrote a bit about her experiences here. And made an awesome skeleton!