Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!

I am LOVE this Santa I made. Isn't he cute? It's a bit strange that what feels like an expression of happiness inside of me, my smile, turns down at the ends. At least, my eyes are smiling.

Three years ago I got the idea to sell ugly Christmas sweaters. I labored for a year, felting, sewing, gluing, altering an abundance of sweaters. Every time I saw a red sweater or a Christmas-y sweater in a thrift store, I snatched it up. I thought I had hit on a great prospect for making loads of cash since I predicted that this would be a new trend. It would go viral  #uglychristmassweater as they say on Twitter. I worked way too hard on every detail forgetting the big picture. By the time I was done, my sweaters were a little too precious. I did not really want to part with them for the measly sum folks expected to pay for a once a year joke purchase. I sold 2 on Etsy for half the price I wanted and about 8 of them for a quarter of the price. That was it. I was done. Or maybe my efforts to keep teaching got in the way. I did used to be able to do it all: make crafts, raise a daughter, make dinner every day, decorate for holidays in the style of a trained Martha Stewart soldier all while becoming an amazing math teacher. I stopped altering and selling sweaters and forgot about my brief foray in business. 

And now look! NPR reports on a woman who expects to sell 2,000 sweaters this year: Ugly Christmas Sweaters Turn A Pretty Penny

I am tempted to draw some sweeping conclusion about myself or contemporary American society or the state of the capitalist economy from this experience. I expect a big pay-off to come from my efforts and dedication. I am a dedicated and work hard with every endeavor I undertake. The appreciation and reward does not match what I feel I put in. As a result, I begin to conclude that the way to go is an easier path. Put in less so I will expect less. Or, concentrate on quantity instead of quality. I should have focused my efforts on cheaper production costs, less time invested, and appealing to the masses. I have some appreciation for successful entrepreneurs but I know way too many people who put in the minimum because it's good enough. To do that, you must have to stop thinking. You probably lack self-awareness. Who would want to see that sort of laziness or indifference in himself? 

Let's outsource the work to another country with a cheaper work force. Let's dole out sub-prime loans to make more money for now. Let's put a credit card for in the hands of every college student who is already buried in student loans.

Not me!
Not I!
No sir!
Not me!
So there!

I am not going to stop working as hard as I can. I do what I do because I love doing it. I do it because I have to. I do it because it makes me feel good about myself and if I didn't, I would be disappointed in myself. I am renewing my effort to put it out there and forget about the results. I am going to try not to care what I get in return. 

So, like they say, F%¢k 'em if they can't take a joke. 

And by "they," I mean America's Nielsen family. (A quote from one of my favorite underachievers, Adam Scho----ld.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why you wanna go some place you don't fit?

That is a good question. A better question is: Where do I fit?

I got on the #1 train heading uptown and, no surprise, the two men in the doorway barely moved to let anyone on. I entered on the right and the kid standing in front of me had his hand up holding the pole so I could not move further onto the train.

"Excuse me," I asked.
"Where you want to go?" He is looking at me and stubbornly maintaining his grip in the pole blocking my way.
"I want to get on the train."
"You on the train. You happy?"

The man on the left steps aside, encouraging me to move in that way. But, that direction was toward the center of the train where surely I would have been in the way, with no place to hold on.

I went into BIM and I refused and told the kid I wanted to go to the space behind him.

"How you gonna get there?" he challenged me.
"You are going to move your arm and let me pass," I declared with certainty.
"You got room right here. Why you wanna go someplace you don't fit?"

That was it. I hate that people are so rude. Why do they stand in the doorway when there is space behind them. They are not even getting off soon. There is no reason.

I pushed past him and when I was in the large open space I declared (maybe shouted), "I DON'T FIT? I DON'T FIT? LOOK, I CAN WAVE MY ARMS AROUND!" And I did. I had lots of room and I was waving my arms around to prove it.

But, did I fit? I had no sense of the other people around me. No one was looking at me. It was a 20 second altercation, over as quickly as it started. And there I was happy to be standing in an open place where I could put my bag down. Was there really enough space there before I pushed my way on? I don't know because I did not take the time to assess the situation or consider the appropriate thing to do. I doubt anyone was happy that I was there. My place on the train? My place at my job? My place in the world? Why I wanna be someplace I do not fit?

I may have been a square peg in a round hole before my surgery but now I am a loud, squeaky awkward peg determined to insert myself somewhere. It doesn't feel that way when it is happening. It feels normal. It feels like what anyone would do, until I hear myself shouting and see myself waving my arms around and I remember that this is not normal behavior. Fortunately, I did not feel too bad afterwards. There are times when this happens that I feel so angry and upset that other people don't understand me. I berate myself for acting so inappropriately. Today, I didn't care so much. Who saw me? Who felt embarrassed for me? I don't care.

I imagine other people took it in stride. Another day in New York. Another wacky subway fight. I just hope I do not end up on YouTube.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Contributing member of society

A woman I met who used to be a teacher and had to stop work because of a brain injury asked what gave me a sense of identity now? what made me feel like a contributing member of society?

This was my response:
I still sometimes think I was an awesome teacher even after injury. I left kicking and screaming. It is only after I saw the relief on the faces of my husband and family that I realized how much I was spinning my wheels. I could stay in my classroom working until 8 or 9 at night (no sense of time anymore), then take work home, and still accomplish nothing. I was lucky I could think on my feet and that the kids liked me but I could not plan lessons, have the correct materials and papers ready before class, or work with my colleagues. I thought my boss, my co-workers, and my assistant were plotting to drive me crazy with their accusations of my misdeeds. I still wake up in the middle of the night kicking or yelling in anger.

I am working hard to let go, just for my own sake. Being on disability and working on just being, feels pretty good right now. As far as identity, that is why I fought so hard to keep teaching. It defined me and it was what made me the happiest. I could not imagine losing that. After 22 years, I was confident in my abilities. I loved the consistency of the school year, a new start every fall.

Slowly, I have begun to realize how much I needed to be needed. I loved the satisfaction of seeing my students grow and learn, the appreciation, the praise, and the positive feedback from the parents.

Someone gave me some excellent advice recently. She said, "Your career is like a boyfriend who broke up with you. You keep trying to figure out why he doesn't love you anymore, what you did wrong, and who you are without him." That analogy has given me such a feeling of relief. I am still someone without that external association.

Am I a contributing member of society anymore? Those are just words.

My value, YOUR value does not come from a job! Sure, I have MANY days that I never get dressed or move from in front of the TV. I am working on building a routine, exercising, and taking better care of myself. I am here and I matter to a small number of people, my husband, my 25 year old daughter, and my mother. Working to be well matters to them. It is very important to just a few and that is enough for now. Screw society!

Cavernous angioma MRI pics

I don't think I ever posted these. Can you imagine seeing that in your head? WTF!