Sunday, October 17, 2010

Education must change now!

This what I believe is so wrong with how we are learning and teaching the next generation. Come on people can we not fix this problem? Let's at least start with letting me teach enrichment math to children of all different ages who need it. I am good at it and not allowed to do it. There is something very wrong with this picture. It is enough to make you sick and sick it has made me. I am in the hospital and nobody can tell me what is wrong with me. I will tell you what I think. 

My heart is broken and my brain is bleeding in response.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Home sick

I feel nearly delirious. I do not want to eat until I get my old job back. I am good at teaching sixth grade math. I am good at teaching enrichment math. I am not so good at planning ahead or understanding what people say when they say something I am not expecting. I have to pause and think and process and maybe even think again about it later.

This is my 3 ring girl who works in Dr. Theo's office. Write to me if you think I have any reason not to feel totally humiliated that my job is now being done by the woman who took ever for me while I had surgery and a woman who was my assistant for a year? Neither one ever asks me what I did or what to do when...

I am dust to sweep under the carpet. Hide me away!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm a little lamb that's lost in the woods

Someone to watch over me. I feel so pathetic. I wish I were a positive person who could always see the bright side of things. I am too sick to go to work. I feel like I have been run over by a truck. I want some sheep to look after. Maybe if I had a flock, I would feel better. Not zombie Lamb Chop though. He might eat what little brains I have left.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I am good at doing!

I am good at seeing the best in children.
I am good at brainstorming. I am good at drumming up excitement and enthusiasm for math.
I am good at making up ways to make learning fun.
I am great at teaching the advanced math students because their pace and interest determines the route.
I am good at learning ideas from books to try in my classroom.
I am good at advocating for students and parents.
I am good at writing, this list format blog entry not being a prime example.

"You know that I could be in love, with almost everyone. I think that people are the greatest fun."  song Alone Again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Aly had an angioma which bled into her brain

And everywhere that Aly went she hid behind her pain.

I write here knowing that I am screaming at the top of my lungs from the top of the tallest building in the world but as in a dream no sound comes from my mouth. My consciousness stirs me from my slumber ever so slightly as a part of my sleeping mind asks why, why no sound, why can't I scream?

I had lunch with a wonderful woman from work. Her story is remarkable. There are so many amazing people out there. I never got to tell her that she was the reason I was hired. She understands the paralysis. The inability to move. The tears that come from nowhere and just will not stop. She lost her daughter. Her own cancer is in remission. She made time for me. She listened to my story, and I to hers. And now I want to live with my mommy so she is never alone. And I can cry and she can pat me and tell me it will be okay.

I work in isolation and fear. It should not be like this!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I rant and rave. I can't and cave.

"I hope you agree." "I'm sure you can understand." "I think you should relax." Words from people who tried very hard to convince me my perceptions were wrong, skewed, distorted, and mistaken. I get no satisfaction from revealing the fraud because I had no choice but to trust them. So, once again. 

Life is but a dream. 

One of my favorite classmates from my master's program gave me this on one of the first days:

She said, "I found this for you. It was on the ground." I thought my ears were playing tricks on me but she was not appealing to my compulsive need to collect useless bits of detritus. She was merely meant to clarify that she was no plant mutilator. She told me it would last for three weeks and it did. The ear of a lamb. So soft, so lamby.

I can't believe they made Never Let Me Go into a movie. That book changed my life. It better be good.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I finally slept and then I went to school...

to find that my worst nightmare was true. No matter what I do, they want to drag me down. Every year since my return, they have redefined my role, mixed things up, confused and confounded me, but I kept going and I succeeded. But for some reason the next year they said I didn't and gave me a different job. I cried so much today I feel like a squeezed out rag. I am going to stay in the behavior box. They cannot hurt me. I am going to be a good little soldier and do what I am told this year. I am a very good teacher. I love children. They can't take that away from me. I will find a way. I have something unique to offer. Still! TBI or not! I will help and I will create an environment of learning where my students feel safe to grow and learn. Wish me luck! The only living girl in New York. And Betty when you call me, you can call me Al. There are days when I think that I could be in love with almost everyone. I think people are the greatest fun.

Home sick

I feel nearly delirious. I do not want to eat until I get my old job back. I am good at teaching sixth grade math. I am good at teaching enrichment math. I am not so good at planning ahead or understanding what people say when they say something I am not expecting. I have to pause and think and process and maybe even think again about it later.

Write to me if you think I have any reason not to feel totally humiliated that my job is now being done by the woman who took ever for me while I had surgery and a woman who was my assistant for a year? Neither one ever asks me what I did or what to do when...

I am dust to sweep under the carpet. Hide me away!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I am obviously unread maybe even brown bread

Today I go for Round Number 4 of a full day of neuropsych testing to see how well the 3 months of cognitive rehabilitation went. Six months before, one week before, one week after and six months after. At this point with my relationships further deteriorating, the misunderstandings piling up behind me, the wreckage of failed friendships, and the occasional dose of charitable pity, I feel like giving up. It is one of those sad, I just can't take it anymore days. Oh good, something to look forward to the deep morass, the sinking sucking black tar that will grip my whole body and weigh me down. I keep defending myself. I was just trying to help but then people get hurt. I am clearly misguided. My own cognitive distortions too strong to be distinguished from fiction, I will have to completely break from my own sense of reality to see my hand in front of my face. Can someone tell me why it is worth it?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sometimes you really shouldn't trust people or how LCBD

Ah, the wolf in sheep's clothing. I will beware after seeing behind the facade. No more fleece-eyes here. (soap-eyes, soap-eyes was a scary game Suz and I played as kids when we were getting ready for bed, remember? that and the throat-clearing noise threatening to spit toothpaste on the other's hands

If you know me at all, then you know that lambs are one of my favoritist things in the world.
No, that is not a drawing of a goat. It was a goat but the artist did not believe the name sounded P.C. Hence, Fasheepey. In later renderings, his fleece is more apparent.

Aly had a little lamb, his fleece was slow to show. 
And everywhere that Aly went, the lamb was sure to go.

At my school program this summer, I think I presented myself poorly. My social graces, the person I used to present initially is smothered under layers of complication. I learned this about myself recently. Reflecting back on the period of my life when I was in my late twenties and early thirties, a time of serial monogamy, I recall the observation someone made about me that I was so quiet when they first met me and how different I seemed after spending time with me. I had many transitions socially as a result of changes in steady boyfriend. With each new beau, there came a whole new group of friends (Usually. I did prefer guys with lots of friends.), and initially amongst a group I held back listening respectfully, gauging the situation, cautiously preparing comments to deflect attention away from myself until I felt safe. People deemed me quiet or shy after our initial encounters. 

Truly, I am anything but that. In less social settings, I was judged as standoffish or aloof. Again, not me although closer. But, and I am not just saying this, I think my sister would concur, I did present as likable. In situations where I did not feel any pressure because it was unlikely I would see any of the people again, I was gracefully gregarious. I was accepted and welcomed, enjoyed and encouraged, socially adept and generally insightful. Suz brought me to a party after Sting performed and I worked the room like a pro. Even the events planner commented that I would be great at her job. One on one conversations were a breeze as a result of a lesson I learned from my favorite couple at that time A & M. The lesson M taught me was to just ask questions and listen intently, absorbing the person in like the aroma of baking bread.

Even my father used to say, do not worry about being included, just include others. WTF that meant. But it makes sense now. I did not worry for experience had taught me that I would be accepted and so I made others comfortable by casting them in the leading role for those moments in the movie of Aly's life. What was that like? Fascinating, and then you did what? I am so intrigued, I must know more. And like a chameleon, I had the outfit appropriate for every situation, hair and make-up adjustable, height and weight so insignificant no one would notice me. I will slip into your life and when you accept me, I might be myself.

And that was often when people were shocked by what came out of my mouth. My guard was down and I quipped to get a reaction. Scathing, funny, cutting, raunchy, bizarre, too close for comfort, edgy, off-color, or disturbing. But I meant it to stir the pot or stimulate the conversation, not to injure or attack. Of course, there were times when I was misunderstood and my comments taken as insensitive. I guess the people who really love me did not tell me how frequently this was the case but I still hold firm to the notion that I did not intend to hurt others and was quick to set matters straight after any misunderstandings.

Fast-forward to September of 2007 when my life began to spiral out of control. The vortex of chaos. I have always measured my self-worth by how I think I am judged by others. The reactions I got no longer matched who I thought I was. Did I change or did my ability to read others change? Neither? Both? My lack of understanding of the extent of my injury, my slow processing of input, my over-confidence in my perceptions, and my tendency toward impulsiveness created an unfortunate combination that reduced my self-efficacy to a pile of ash. No longer sure how I am being perceived, I mistakenly jump to the conclusion that I will not be accepted, that I will behave oddly and be shunned. This in turn becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Away at school, I saw a counselor whose first name happened to be the same as mine. I joked that it sounded like a soap-opera title but I think it was more like an SCTV skit I saw once. Rick Moranis playing Dick Cavett  interviewing Dick Cavett.
At our second meeting, Alison recapped our first meeting for me, her intonation, phrasing, rhythm, and voice sounding so eerily like my own.  "Last week on Alison and Alyson discuss Alyson, ..." 

But it is the weekend of the move and the words of B that weigh heavily on my heart. (Not my S.O. B, he is a pillar of strength. Tee hee. B, my S.O. looks better. But I digress.) I thought B could be trusted, that he liked me, that he would be honest with me, but I was so wrong and I hate that. Like an Etch-a-Sketch shaken, the image I had was gone with just one phrase. "You are not paying me now." Well, he better be paying me soon. He owes me 2 C and 1 L.

On the phone with E who mentions she will be leaving in half an hour, then to my surprise she is already gone when I arrive not 7 minutes later. I can only picture the speed with which she must have departed to be out prior to my arrival. No real surprise there but does anyone else see that the emperor is not wearing any clothes?

Friday, July 2, 2010

D-O-G is dog! D-O-G is dog!

Holding her board book of animals and their homes, Sachi yelled out these words as she ran into the kitchen to rearrange the fridge magnets. Wearing only a diaper, she scrambled to arrange the D, the O, and the G. She had memorized the alphabet and also the names of the animals in her book but at two years old suddenly she realized letters formed words.

Today she is 24! Sachi is no less capable today. There are problems, puzzles, codes, obstacles of all forms in life. By just continuing to do everything she loves, her brain makes sense of the world. 

Occasionally, when it doesn't happen as fast as she would like, Sachi gets frustrated. There are times she does not like what she learns and that makes her angry. Other times, she is impatient that everyone does not see what is so clear to her. 

I am so proud that she follows her heart and even though she doubts it at times, she trusts her instincts. Passionate, sensitive, and generous, Sachi is able to give love that is like an elixir. There is no better medicine for what ails me than knowing I am loved by Sachi.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are my sunshine! You are my pumpkin dumpling, my cuddle bunny, my pride, my joy! I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I trip, fall, and then, get up again.

I am at school. A student, actually a graduate student, is what I am. It is a bit of a mind %*#@ if you want the truth. It feels like I am dreaming.

I know this looks so gross. It is one of the worst bruises I have ever had. I have to stop falling down. I need to go read. Wish me luck.

If I can't have my brain back, I may as well get a degree. It is like the Wizard of Oz tells the Scarecrow, "Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeeatum e pluribus unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Robotic Beings

Why would this normal looking lady need a vacation? This is after three and half hours of studying with one of my favorite students ever! We needed a little comic relief so we did the robo-boogie because "finally robotic beings rule the world!"

Just seeing this photo makes me feel so happy that I do what I do.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I thought it would just go back to the way it was before.

What a surprise! Things are so different. I am so different. I don't even know who I am anymore. Click on the title of this post to view my video 2 weeks after surgery.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Three Years Ago Tonight

I was worried I would never sleep and then oversleep. My surgery was in the morning. I watched South Park and in my drugged post-surgery state, two days later, it is all I remember talking about. Brian sat with me through the night and then Matt took over at 5 o'clock in the morning. I was in so much pain. And so thirsty. I know they had to make sure I was really okay before they gave me the strong stuff, but it was awful waiting. I somehow remember that they said there would not be a lot of pain after the surgery because the brain lacking nerve endings. That sounds absurd now. Did anyone really say that? Did I really think that? It's been three years and my head still hurts. They cut my ear off and through my jaw muscles. They pinned my head into a brace that twisted my neck muscles into a contorted mess. And then I cried two days later when I finally woke up and they gave me drugs and I told and retold the entire episode of South Park I had seen. It was the one where Stan's dad is on Wheel of Fortune.

So what is new with me? Work has been awesome. I finally got an assistant who does an awesome job and can stand being around me! He was my third assistant this year. At one point, one of my third-graders said "What's up with you? Your assistants are dropping like flies." I got into a Master's program in educational psychology. I am very worried about my ability to do this but... I amble on. One foot in front of the other. I am speaking about my dad at Centro this Wednesday. I am selling crafts at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn again on May 1st. My grandmother turned 90. My daughter met her teen idol, Jimmy Fallon and he was the coolest. He told her they should work together. My sister is getting mad press for her new albums. I saw her on the CBS news this morning and she looked beautiful. I think I am starting to look older than she does. At least she doesn't look 50!

Friday, March 19, 2010


In 1974, 3 of the 4 kids in my family were kicked out of the Children's Community Workshop School. Suz was already at Performing Arts by then. The rest of us had to leave because the school asked for tuition. It had been free but I guess it just wasn't working without funds from the parents. We contributed in other ways, the food co-op, the storefront thrift shop, but I guess it wasn't enough.
I remember getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning and driving in a truck to Hunt's Point (quite an adventure for a 10 year old) to buy wholesale produce. One of the few times I ever saw my mom cry was when an old lady tried to barter some shopping bags for a block of the cheddar cheese.
The thrift store was probably where I developed my love of old clothes, that musty smell of moth balls, damp wool, exotic laundry soaps. My mom liked to volunteer to sort the new donations which gave us first pick and also meant maybe some items never actually ended up being donated. Hmmm. I am beginning to see our "contribution" in a slightly different light.

My favorite thrift store find was a pair of denim shorts in a Peter Max print:

I loved them so much that when I outgrew them, I sewed the legs closed and attached a handle to make it a bag.

I was diagnosed with a TBI in summer 2008. In Feb 2007, doctor's discovered I had a cavernous angioma nearly embedded in my brainstem after I had a bleed. I had surgery 2 months later and the doctor's were very excited with the results. I went back to work 6 months later full time as a sixth grade math teacher. Although during my recovery time I thought things were a little different work revealed major deficits. During my search for answers, my parents reminded me that I had suffered a serious concussion when I was in sixth grade, over 35 years earlier. 

During a game of RCK (RUN CATCH KISS), I was desperately running away from Fernando a 14 year-old boy in my class. There was no way he was going to catch me because I really, really did not want to kiss him. I was running down a slide (brilliant) in a playground and I tripped at the bottom flying forward and bumping my left temple on a cement turtle. I do not know how long I was unconscious. There was little supervision in the yard of my overcrowded public school. I had only been at the school a couple of months but my regular teacher was also absent so I spent the afternoon drifting in and out of sleep on a couch in the classroom next door. When my father picked me up I vomited and then he brought me to the emergency room. They made my parents wake me up every hour that night and look out for any liquid from my nose or ears. That is all I remember. Then I went through puberty so if there were personality changes who could tell. My father who remembered the incident best died in August 2008 and with him I lost the chance to learn any other significant details. My search for medical records was futile because of the amount of time that has passed.

It is mind-boggling to me that some of the obstacles that have plagued me my whole life might have stemmed from this. I have always been extremely impulsive physically, acting in dangerous situations. This resulted in many more injuries. Despite my lack of coordination, I felt compelled to climb walls if it was a short cut, make off-balance lunges on tennis courts, and run and trip while trying to catch subways. More sticthes, bumps and bruises to my head. My husband used to call me Action Aly before the surgery (well, he still does sometimes but then insists I show restraint).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year's Resolutions: Get Real!

Last year I remembered my goals all year because of the nmeomonic device ABC. Attention, Behavior, and ?? I am not sure. I have to find the piece of paper. I know I should have given it to S at the BI women's support group but I think I was still a little too paranoid at that time. Plus I wasn't finished (Am I ever?) writing it. I wanted it to be better.

So yesterday, we met again. A new year. New resolutions. A is for Attention - better. Oh I suddenly remembered what C stood for and I am pleased to say it is better too. Consideration. Behavior - much better thanks to Y, J, and T at the STEPS program. B is for Behavior, a part of the emotional cycle we worked on and understanding it in that context helped me feel much more in control. C is for Consideration - better. Attention helps with that. It's amazing what you hear when you actually listen to people. Still working on Attention - maybe too much on the wrong stuff.

New resolutions. Building, repairing, restoring my relationships at work, with family, with friends. Realizing my potential as an educator - graduate school? developing individualized math programs? not basing my self-esteem on the approval of others. Attention - still on there, I have to be on time, write things down, be aware of my physical needs and emotional state, Maximizing the use of my time, efficiency, minimizing my use of space, letting go of trash and shopping, setting limits for myself and sticking to them.

My new acronym:

REAL = relationships, education, attention, limits.