I believe this is a song title I have previously used on more than one occasion to title a blog post, but given the message it conveys, that seems appropriate. Using what I’ve got is a recurring theme in my life, whether I’m referring to my talents, my connections, or simply reusing old material.

Tomorrow, I’m participating in a work retreat with the planning department, which is Federation-speak for the programming side of our organization (as opposed to fundraising or operations). The theme is “leadership and innovation,” and we’ve been asked to bring a gift ($10 in value) that has something to do with the theme.

I stress out around gift exchanges. I always suspect that everyone else will judge me by what I bring. I mean, that’s what I’m doing to them. And in this case, I’ve only been working with these people for three months, so many of them don’t have a full impression formed of me yet. And leadership & innovation are hard to do on a budget.

So, I fell back on my mantra (courtesy of Cy Coleman & Ira Gasman): Use What You Got. Yes, dear readers, one lucky coworker will receive two mix-CDs of (mostly) showtunes, one on the theme of “leadership,” the other on the theme of “innovation.” And yes, “Use What You Got” is included on the leadership disc. I’ll post the playlists later, when I’m not so tired.

* * *

This evening after work, I met up with Keshet’s new community organizer. He’s got a one-year fellowship with the Jewish Organizing Initiative, which means he works at Keshet four days a week, and spends his Fridays studying organizing in a Jewish context with peers doing organizing work at other non-profits.

One of the most important tools in an organizer’s toolbox (or, as I am more likely to put it, one of the most important accessories in an organizer’s handbag) is the one to one. A one to one is essentially a structured conversation in which both participants share their life stories as they pertain to whatever issue they care about. Since I’ve been involved in queer-Jewish activism for quite a few years now, so I’ve had my share of one to ones on both sides of the table. So I apologized to Pen, the new community organizer, when my story sounded somewhat rehearsed. I mean, I’ve even written it down a few times — here’s a version from June, 2009. But Pen didn’t mind; the material was still good, even if the delivery wasn’t as fresh as it might have otherwise been.

* * *

The other element of using what I’ve got, of course, is taking full advantage of the mechanism available to me for healing, coping, etc. So you’ll excuse me if we go back to breakup territory here. Writing is how I make sense of the world, and for whatever reason, writing in a public place, where there’s an audience and therefore stakes is more effective for me than writing in a diary.

(If I may digress for a moment, I am currently listening to the audiobook of Sarah Silverman’s The Bedwetter, and she has a hilarious and dead-on appraisal of diaries (which, in all fairness, includes blogs). So let me just state that I know full well that I’m primarily navel-gazing here, but for whatever reason, other people also seem to enjoy the view of my navel, so be it. )

So, the first time I met SEEMINGLY, just over a year ago, was when I invited him for a coffee and one to one. He was new to Boston and interested in getting involved in Keshet and the Jewish community at large. I had met a close friend of his at a Jewish leadership conference the previous spring, and this friend had put us in touch. I had no ulterior motives in meeting him — he had a boyfriend at the time, and I was just trying to be a good neighbor, welcoming him to town. It would be a couple of months before we even began flirting, and probably another month or so before I realized that’s what was happening…

So today’s one to one was a little bittersweet. When Pen asked me about how I saw myself contributing to Keshet this year, I realized that my whole conception of what the coming year looks like is in flux, and I have no idea what my schedule might look like, or what I’ll be able to do. And when I referred to SEEMINGLY as my “ex,” it just felt wrong, and I stopped and noted that I am not comfortable calling him that yet, so I just used his name instead.

On the other hand, I didn’t need to cry today, and instead of feeling nauseous when I see his name on my screen (on Facebook, or on my gchat list, etc,) I merely got uncomfortable chills. That’s progress, right?

The hardest thing now is that I think I’m ready to have the next part of our conversation, but I suspect he’s not. Or, rather, I don’t think we’ve been apart long enough for him to appreciate what I need to say. And I can’t rush him, but not knowing when we’ll next talk is the hardest part of not talking. Have I said that before on this blog? Well, I’m using what I’ve got.

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About itsdlevy

I live in Brooklyn with my cat, Rhoda Morgenstern. I work in Manhattan as the marketing director for a Jewish non-profit organization. I spend too much time at the theater and at brunch and especially at 54 Below. Find me on Twitter (and pretty much anywhere else) as @itsdlevy.

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