I’m glad to announce I will be returning to teaching in the Fall at St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School. It’s where I had to leave from when the seizures started and we ID’ed the tumor. It’ll pay a lot better than disability and be more rewarding. It’ll be a stretch at first and some adjustment will be required. I’m especially concerned with how talking all day will affect me emotionally. Being a teacher is emotionally draining.
Then there’s the commute. The job is 60 minutes from away from my house. Oy. Florrie has graciously assured me that she’s willing to drop me off before driving back to HC for her work. It’ll only be a month of that before I can drive myself from her work to my work. Gotta stay positive though.
I’m going to be nearly doubling my income from disability too. I’m so glad the system is there though. I don’t know what my family would’ve done during the 2+ years that I was on disability. We would’ve survived, but I’m not sure what we would’ve had to do to do so.
In sum, I’m very grateful to be returning to Pacelli again and feel very honored that they’d have me back. The commute sucks, but the pay’s good.
So it happened again. Another seizure; two to be precise. I was just a few weeks away from driving and just like that it was snatched away in one convulsive motion. I am admittedly disheartened. It has been a few weeks now since it happened. The doctors are as puzzled as Florrie and I am as to the cause. There’s no apparent trigger for the seizure. I’ve replayed the episode multiple times. I’ve even tried to recreate the situation, to see if I could cause a seizure again. Alas, no luck. So, I’m stuck waiting another 6 months seizure free until I can drive. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there though. I’m just trying to stay positive in the interim. It’s tough though.
I went on disability in December of 2014. I’ve collected disability checks since May 2015. They aren’t much; I only paid in for about 14 years. Despite that, it has really bothered me that my body is completely usable and I’m collecting a check. That’s why I wanted to get off of disability, even if it meant taking a cut in annual pay. That’s why I took a job as the Digital Media Manager for the Ivey Center at Columbus State University. In reality, the job was just a bunch of contract gigs of part-time contract work put together by a good friend who wanted to throw me a bone. I wanted to earn my living rather than sit home and become a ward of the state. In the last few weeks though, it has become apparent that I am not as functional as I want to believe I am.
My body is still not as usable as I would like to convince myself. Following brain surgery I suffered from hyponatremia (dangerously low sodium). It turns out that is something that all brain surgery patients have, but no one warned us. My surgeon apparently prescribed a sodium pill, but Florrie didn’t notice it missing from the 15 prescriptions she had to have filled in the middle of the night on the way to where we were staying post-surgery. Regardless, my low sodium led to me vomiting profusely in my car on the way to the ER in LaGrange and again a few days after I was discharged from the hospital the first time. The low sodium led to a fluid restriction. The fluid restriction led to straining in the bathroom. The straining led to hemorrhoids. The pain was so bad that I required surgery. So a week before my wife had our son I was on the operating table for the second time in 4 months. The surgery took the hemorrhoids away. The problem was that the surgery never really took away the pain.
So I’d been living with that pain for almost a year and a half. I didn’t want to go back to the doctor because I was afraid that he would require another hemorrhoid surgery. I could suffer almost any pain to avoid that experience.
Then the seizures began. Fortunately, there has been a logical reason for each of them. The first was the stress of losing my father. How often does that happen though? The ones recently were likely because we tried changing seizure medicines and the new one apparently wasn’t doing its job. We are still in the process of trying to find a medicine that works and is cost effective.
I live as a prisoner in my own body because of the medicine side effects. I’ve spent the last two weekends trapped in a chair because of vertigo and nausea. The word “vertigo” doesn’t capture the feeling of panic and helplessness that one feels when they can’t control anything in their environment. I began throwing up uncontrollably this past weekend. Every time I take a pill now I live in fear of what the consequences will be. However, I need the pills to keep me level-headed, sane, to not kill myself and not have seizures. It’s a lose/lose situation that I cannot win. I’d like to say that the “trapped in my own body” trope is an exaggeration, but it really is not. It is genuinely how I feel, especially after the last few weeks.
My mind also is short what it was. That’s where I notice the biggest differences. I notice my thinking is a lot duller than it was pre-surgery. Things don’t come to me as fast. I have trouble finding words a lot of the time, especially when I get flustered. It is so bad that I had to go back to speech therapy to work to overcome my aphasia in interviews. Once I got past that I still couldn’t overcome the obvious delays in my thinking and the awkwardness of my responses. I am still 7 for 7 on interviews at schools without job offers. My resume looks incredible. I am not that person anymore though; surgery changed me.
I suppose I’m writing this as a treatise to make myself feel more justified for living on a government check. And I suppose it is that. It goes beyond that also. This is a coming to terms, of a sort. Accepting the permanency of the changes and beginning to love the new person I’ve become. I come from blue collar roots, so it is very hard to accept anything I’ve not worked for. I live in fear of what others will think when they find out that I live on disability (the public nature of this post is kind of addressing that fear). I also am afraid of what others think when they see a ‘perfectly healthy’ young man living on disability. I guess I’m just afraid in general. That needs to change. I’m sure it will. It just won’t be today. Or this week. Probably not this year even. It has to start somewhere though. I suppose this post is the first step in a long journey.
Note: This video is a bit tougher than usual to watch. I think I am getting better at speaking though; I deviated from the script a few times.
I’ve been trying to cut the time to record this all week. Despite being unemployed, I’ve been remarkably busy. Can’t complain about that though.
I’m recording this update, unlike the last two. I just had too much going on in my life during the last two to record an update. I’d just had another seizure and, little did I know, would have another just a few hours later.
I’m starting to warm up to the idea of driving after my license is un-suspended. I’m still not fully comfortable with it, but there was a logical explanation for why I had the seizure and a good record for the seizure meds that I was on. We’ll revisit that conversation around month 5. No need to sweat that now.
I’m currently having troubles with other meds though. My risperidone, an anti-psychotic medicine that I take for mood stabilization and anti-anxiety, is giving me vertigo and nausea. I’ve been on this medicine for almost a year without these effects, so I’m not sure why it’s suddenly doing it. I checked with my neurologist and my psychiatrist and my neurologist assured me that my newest anticonvulsant medicine wouldn’t interact with the risperidone in that way. Says that he even looked it up to be sure. I’m dumbfounded as to what could be causing this. My psychiatrist agreed that I should go back to taking it before bed to minimize the problems, but he didn’t offer any solutions just a Band-Aid for a broken arm, so to speak. I go to interview a new psychiatrist on December 7. Hopefully he will provide a bit more attentive care. Considering my experience thus far I doubt it though. Oy, I swear that I cannot get a break since the summer. If it’s not one thing, it is another…
On a positive note, I’m beginning to volunteer at my church as a Lay Eucharistic Minister. I already know all the theology behind the Eucharist (I took a course on the Theology and History of the Eucharist at Candler School of Theology), but I’ve never participated on the ministering end before. I’m rather excited about that. It’ll be one more strain on Florrie driving me around, but she’s behind anything that’ll give me purpose. I’ve not gone to a dark place yet, but I can see how purposelessness has a dark part to it. I tend to gravitate toward depression too, so anything we can do to keep me from that is great. I am also looking into volunteering at my Church’s Meals on Wheels program. I realize it’s a bit anticlimactic from my promise of “big things” last blog, but it’s better than nothing at all.
Alastair is doing relatively well. He’s battling conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye”, and an ear infection, but otherwise well. He’s still doing fantastic in daycare. We all love his teacher, Ms. Phyllis. She is an underpaid saint. The things she teaches those 1 year olds to do is mind-blowing.
Florrie is doing well also. She’s mid-swing on the semester at the intermediate and college levels. She loves her jobs so much and it is such a blessing to watch and encourage her. I can’t make my dreams come true but there’s nothing stopping me from putting my whole effort into helping to make hers come true.
As always please excuse any difficulties there were in my rate of speech and the tonality. I’m still working on those. Eh. That’s probably enough for now. Thank you for watching this.
Ok…For the remaining bunch of you who don’t know…well, I had two seizures Thursday of last week. Apparently, my anticonvulsant wasn’t doing a bit of good. We’ve rushed me back onto what was working before. It is expensive though; so I cannot stay on this any longer than absolutely necessary. We’re fazing me onto another drug over the next 3 weeks. Hopefully, this medicine will work better.
That means the clock reset on my license suspension too. That means 6 more months until I can legally drive again. I’m honestly not sure if I’m comfortable with ever driving again. Maybe after a year without a seizure I’ll be comfortable driving. I honestly don’t know if even that will make me comfortable with putting my family’s life or the lives of others in danger. I’d been on that medicine for 3 weeks without even any auras (feeling like a seizure is coming on). I had those often even with the effective anticonvulsant. It seemed a little too good to be true. It was, unfortunately.
I just wanted to give an update on my current status. I’ve suspended the job hunt indefinitely. I’m looking into profitable ways to invest my time outside of working. I think I’ve got a couple leads. I’ll keep you guys updated as thing develop. All for now.
It’s been another week or so since I put a blog up, probably longer than that. I’d been waiting to hopefully post some good news about a job teaching 7th grade at a local middle school but, alas, I was passed over for that job too. I really thought I had that one in the bag. As I was heading to the interview I daydreamed about how I would tell you guys that I’d gotten the job. I thought it was a shoe-in because of the position they were in, having to interview mid-semester and all. I was unfortunately mistaken. The school either hired someone else or got a long-term substitute teacher. (I cannot substitute because of my license situation. I cannot legally drive until December 7th.)
That makes my 8th interview for a teaching position without getting an offer for employment. I’m not sure what I can change about me. I know that I’m a bit slow to respond and get flustered easily but that will only change with practice and experience teaching again. I’m not sure what to do. Florrie keeps telling me that something is right around the corner, but I’m not sure I believe that. Something has been “right around the corner” for over 6 months now.
I’m just exasperated and kinda’ hopeless. I just don’t know where else to look for work. My skillset is very broad but folks aren’t willing to take a chance on me because folks outside of a public school look at my resume all they see is a giant blinking sign that reads either “overqualified” or “underqualified.” I keep a record of all the cover letters I submit and I’ve applied for over 60 jobs since May. And that’s not counting the jobs that I didn’t save or need a cover letter for.
Again, I am very grateful to have any work at all. I cannot imagine where my family would be without the support of the Ivey Center at Columbus State University. But my contract with the Ivey Center runs out in December and that’s getting very close. Too close for comfort. I also figured out how to organize that Professional Development seminar. It turns out that I was closer than I thought I was.
My mother just left from a week-long visit. It was good to see her. She really enjoyed seeing my son again. She’s only seen him one time before this visit. Hopefully, we talked her into moving down to Georgia while she was here. Florrie’s set with two amazing jobs, so I’m pretty sure we’re stuck until she retires. LaGrange is our adoptive home; there are far worse places to call home than LaGrange.
Florrie just delivered two presentations at the annual Fall Conference for the Georgia Art Educators Association in Gainesville, GA. I’m so proud of her. She works hard to support her family and she loves what she does. It’s inspiring. She even tried networking for me at the conference- That’s love.
Alastair is doing well, also. He loves daycare. We decided to keep him in daycare despite the expense because of the socialization and his outstanding teacher, Mrs. Phyllis. He learns so much from her. He was saying “thank you” at 15 months. It is just hard on Florrie getting him to daycare and picking him up after work. I’ll be glad when I am legal to drive again so that I can share the load of driving the family around again.
That’s about it for now. Sorry this was so bleak; my life’s kinda’ that way right now. It is a very dark season. It could always be darker, so I’m trying to focus on the good stuff I’ve got going for me and all the blessings I have.
I am sitting at my laptop trying to figure out a couple of problems: 1) what to blog about, since it’s been a week since I posted something, and 2) how to plan the professional development for this coming weekend. I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and blog about the troubles I’m having (and hopefully stumble upon inspiration in doing so).
So, I’m having some difficulty planning this weekend’s Cultural Approach to History (CAH) professional development workshop. I am supposed to generate 5 topics under the general heading of “How to Present the Cultural Approach to Colleagues.” That is proving more difficult than originally expected.
How do you train someone to do what you’re doing? That, essentially, is what the workshop is about: training teachers to become CAH trainers. I’ve not given much thought to how I do what it is that I do. I just do it. Usually, I’m training folks to do some task or to look at some thing in a particular light or a unique way. This is different. This requires a bit more self-reflection. How do I do what I do? It is a good question that I don’t think I’m prepared to answer. I’ll give it a shot though.
Here’s what I have so far: I begin by setting plans or goals. Once I establish the goal, I have to think about how to achieve it. What will success look like? I then actually deliver the content in a chosen method, that varies depending on the situation, the size of the group and the expectations of the group. And then I set a plan for self-evaluating or reflecting on what went well and where there’s room for improvement. That’s only four sections though (planning, strategizing, executing and assessing). I am supposed to have five leaning sessions followed by five activity sessions. The learning sessions can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on needs.
The activity sessions require participants actually do something with information presented. First, I planned on participants actually establishing their goals for a CAH workshop. Then, establishing plans to achieve those goals. Next, outlining actually how they will go about teaching the workshop and, lastly, developing a self-assessment tool. I’ve got a general idea of where I want to go, but no idea as far as specifics.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten in two weeks. Two weeks! I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble planning a workshop before. Well, not that I can recall in recent memory. They could’ve cut out some memories when they resected the tumor, I suppose. In all seriousness though, I’m downright flummoxed.
Unfortunately, I’m won’t actually be presenting this weekend though. I’m getting paid to just outline just the plan for the workshop. I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to actually getting my hands dirty with teachers. There will always be next time though. I forgot that Florrie will be out of town at the GAEA Fall Conference this weekend. She’ll be presenting twice in the same weekend. The first presentation will be on “painting with crayons,” a well-rehearsed workshop that she’s done numerous times before. The second presentation will be on “making art with trash,” ala Vik Muniz. (He’s done some awesome work and if you’ve not heard of him you should check out the documentary about him, Wasteland.)
For the record, I didn’t stumble upon inspiration. I did get a blog post though. It wasn’t a total waste.
(I tried a different mic this week, let me know if it helped with the sound issue)
Well, it looks like I missed a week. Who’s counting though? It’s not like more than 10 people watch/read this anyways. I like it though. It provides me an opportunity to practice speaking and improving. It might sound like I don’t need to practice, but I can assure you I need to. I am still working from a pre-written script; I’ve given a lot of thought to the words I say and the order in which I say them.
I read my son a bedtime story almost every night and it is especially visible there. It is quite humbling to go from an eloquent, flowing reading voice to the choppy, broken way I read now. I still don’t want to read. It’s a daily sacrifice I have to make to create the childhood experience that I didn’t have. I know everyone says that their childhood was bad, but mine really was. Enough with the negative though.
It’s almost 2 weeks since the last update. Not a lot has changed really. I had a job interview. It was for a bank teller position at the local CB&T. My friend Andie is an assistant manager there. She could set me up with the interview but nothing else. Because she’s a good person she disclosed our friendship at the outset and excluded herself from the decision-making. I, unfortunately, was told I was over-qualified for the position. They did tell me that they were impressed with my “selling the pen.” Selling the pen is where the interviewer slides a pen to you and asks you to sell it to them. I took a questioning approach. “How long have you been in the market for a pen?” “What features are you looking for a pen?” I then asked her to take the pen for a drive and tell me what she thought. Apparently, no one had done that before but I suppose there aren’t many car sales folk going backwards into jobs as bank tellers.
I have another interview for this afternoon. It is as a GED instructor for West GA Tech College here in LaGrange. I’m excited about the position because it would get me back into teaching. Teaching adults is more fun than high school students as well. There isn’t as much babysitting involved. For the most part they are there because they want/have to be there and you can kick them out if they are disruptive. This also would get my foot in the door at WGTC. They’ll get to know me, get familiar with my work ethic and see my skills in action. Hopefully, that will open opportunities beyond just the 12 hours a week of this job.
I think I’ve still got the fallback job lined up at the gas station (I think). I asked for a lot of money for any non-skilled job and he countered with a lot of money for a gas station clerk. I probably should have just taken it right then, but I wanted to make sure I got the most possible. I took his offer and put $.50 an hour on top and told him I’d be in for that much. Last I heard he was still doing the math.
I really don’t want to take the job though. It’s a gas station. I hate to say it, but I pity those people when I go to the store. As I’m checking out I stand in line and actually think of what must have gone wrong in their lives to put them in that position. Not every time, but more than occasionally. It’s humbling to be on the other side of that. Correction: it’s humiliating to be on the other side of that.
I’d suck up the humiliation and do the job for my family if I really needed the job; I’m still ok though until December though. That’s when my contract with the Ivey Center runs out, without option to extend. My last post was about the work I am doing for them, editing and writing a teacher’s companion for the Cultural Approach to History. I’m hoping something else opens up before then.
Speaking of the Ivey Center, they’ve offered me a position co-leading their fall professional development one-day intensive seminar. It’s quite the honor. I’ll be teaching teachers on a selected topic. The topic for this seminar is how to lead your own professional development workshop teaching the Cultural Approach to peer teachers. Essentially, we will be equipping teachers with the tools necessary to go back to their schools and share the Cultural Approach with faculty and staff. I am still working out what that looks like. It is a great honor to be included. (And yes it does pay.)
Lastly, my mother is coming to visit and help while Florrie is away at the Georgia Art Educators Association fall conference. She will be staying for 8 days. I am rather excited, as is she. She will be here October 10th.
Well, alright. I guess I had a lot more to say than I thought that I did. I will wrap it up here and say goodbye.
I know that it is ill-advised to make political statements publicly, especially when looking for work. However, you’re probably the only one who’ll see this let alone read it.
I’ve been asked more than a handful of times who I will be voting for next month. Obviously, they mean the Presidential Election race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Usually, they’re trying to determine where to place me in the file cabinet of their minds.
If I say “Donald Trump,” that says a lot about me. Among other things, you can assume: I am a values voter; I’m nationalistic; I’m intolerant of illegal immigration and illegal immigrants; I’m “more outgoing, much more organized, and very, very aggressive” ; I’m less educated ; I like to be told what to do and think  and/or I’m just anti-Hillary.
If I say “Hillary Clinton,” that says a lot about me too. Among other things, you can assume: I value human rights (including reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights); I value universal healthcare; I’ve likely been college (at least for one semester) ; I’m more likely to support the policies of the current presidential administration; I’m more likely to have an haughty air about me and/or I’m just anti-Trump.
I don’t think I have to offer an explanation for why I refuse to vote for Donald Trump. I will, however. I’ll even do it in the form of a list:
He is essentially a thin-skinned toddler that is unable to use full sentences and throws a tantrum whenever he doesn’t get what he wants
He appeals to the xenophobic nature of nationalism and nationalists
He is a demegouge
He knowingly appeals to the racism that exists in America
He is misogynistic
He is an Islamophobe
He has blatantly lied, countless times. (I when I say “countless times” read: A LOT)
I’m going to stop the list there. Ask me for them and I can give examples for each. I consider myself an Evangelical Christian (albeit, a left-leaning one). As an evangelical I think that character has to count for something. I can overlook flaws in a presidential nominee. After all, no one is perfect. I’m not expecting perfection. I’m just looking for a baseline of common human decency. Because he lacks that, Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency. I’m very sad that a major party in our country nominated a candidate this unfit. I won’t vote for trump, no matter what.
The list of why I don’t want to vote for Hillary is much shorter. I believe that she’s the “most qualified person to ever run for president” . She has been a lawyer, a small business owner, the first lady of Arkansas, the first lady of the United States, a Senator for 8 years and Secretary of State for 4 years. Say what you want, that’s an impressive resume. But what about Benghazi? She was raked over the coals and came out clean as a whistle; she was found free of no wrongdoing. But what about the email scandal? Again, she wasn’t charged with any crime ( I don’t think incompetence is criminal). What about pay-for-pay with the Clinton Foundation? There aren’t any direct correlations between the donors and Secretary Clinton’s actions. This leads me to my problem though.
Why am I not voting for Hillary? I just don’t trust her. That resume cannot happen without stepping on some people, some lying and some deceit. Well, a lot of lying and deceit. And she has lied publicly about each of the above numerous times and a host of other things .
Character counts and the list of lies are a bit to high of a mountain to climb. Now, granted, I know that every politician lies. Some more than others. Nevertheless, I do realize that this problem is probably mine but, I have to vote my conscience and my conscience says “no” to both of these candidates. The one is eminently more qualified for the other. The third party candidates are under-qualified as well. I think she’s actually very qualified to serve as president and think she will do a fine job, if elected. I encourage everyone that can look past the lies and cover-ups (and complex policies such as reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, etc. Please don’t make assumptions about where I stand on issues like abortion and gay marriage) to vote for her. She’s the only real choice if you’re going to vote someone for president.
I, however, will be voting my conscience and not voting for anyone.
Marc Cenedella and , “What Personality Research Reveals about Trump Supporters,” National Review, last modified April 5, 2016, accessed October 3, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/433673/donald-trump-supporters-personality-traits.
“2. Voter General Election Preferences,” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, last modified July 7, 2016, accessed October 3, 2016, http://www.people-press.org/2016/07/07/2-voter-general-election-preferences/.
“The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter,” POLITICO Magazine, last modified January 17, 2016, accessed October 3, 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533.
“2. Voter General Election Preferences.”
“I Wrote That I Despised Hillary Clinton. Today, I Want To Publicly Take It Back. ,” A Plus, last modified September 27, 2001, accessed October 3, 2016, http://aplus.com/a/grain-of-saul-support-hillary-clinton.
“ Hillary Clinton’s Long List of Lies | News, Sports, Jobs – News and Sentinel,” Newsandsentinel.com, last modified October 3, 2016, accessed October 3, 2016, http://www.newsandsentinel.com/opinion/local-columns/2016/10/hillary-clintons-long-list-of-lies/.
I decided to share with you my current work: The Cultural Approach to History: A Teacher’s Guide(forthcoming).
In order to understand, you first have to have a working knowledge of what the Cultural Approach is. In sum, it looks at past historical events as contemporary anthropological ones. What’s that mean? It means that every event can be dissected by viewing it through 6 lenses for analysis. Rather than be a single event for memorizing; it is a product of its environment. It sounds far more complicated than it really is.
The Guide begins by laying out what the Cultural Approach is and how to use it. Essentially, it is an abbreviated version of chapters 1-4 of History: A Cultural Approach,the textbook for the Cultural Approach.
Then we go into sample lesson plans. Teachers across the country are currently submitting lesson plans to be
included into this volume as inspiration for teachers new to the approach. One of my chapters in History: A Cultural Approach  laid a theoretical groundwork but these chapters are the nuts-and-bolts of how-to-do-it.
I am also making tons of graphic organizers for the text. Graphic organizers are just what you’d picture: Pictures to organize.
That’s pretty much what I’m working on lately. It will be published in 2017 by the Ivey Center for the Cultural Approach to History after a few test runs to work out the kinks. We want every lesson to be useful and classroom re-tested. It’s a pretty awesome job to have. I wish it was going to last beyond December, but that’s when my contract runs out. I’m going to have a blast until then.
Barnett, The Cultural Approach to History: A Teacher’s Guide .
Gardiner, History: A Cultural Approach.
Barnett, “Teaching Through the Cultural Approach.”
Barnett, Earl Gordon. “Teaching Through the Cultural Approach.” In History:A Cultural Approach, 50–75. Columbus, Georgia: Columbus State University, 2013
———. The Cultural Approach to History: A Teacher’s Guide . 1st ed. Columbus, GA: Columbus State University, 2017
Gardiner, Richard E., ed. History: A Cultural Approach. Columbus, GA: Columbus State University College of Education and Health Professions, 2013