Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Synesthetic Thoughts by MindRetrofit

Synesthetic Thoughts

by mindretrofit,
May 31st 2013

Synesthetic Thoughts

musical tunes taste like blue,
blue’s aroma fills my nostrils -
its fragrance; lilies drenched in raindrops,
indigo dances in zig zag streams,
my tongue is moist from Ancient drumbeats,
the word Celtic spins yellow and green’ish
waves across my eyes;

my flesh absorbs powder puffs,
from chromatic clouds,
kisses of kaleidoscopic,
numbers tattoo my throat,
the leave’s hued tracers cover my bod,
prismatic songs wrap metallically;
over my taste buds,

silence thumps into my ears,
reddish circles, infinities,
icosahedrons echo hypnotizing songs,
adoration pumps through my veins,
prism’s passions penetrate,
I exhale the pedals of violets,
from my breath -

my skin feels red,
red soothes as feathers,
that are painful brushes,
against my flesh,
but they are the sound of gentleness,
that tastes of honeysuckles,
and the word love drips yellow,
forming a number two -
tucked secretly away;
my own prison and merry-go-round
{of pleasure and pain}


Today, I was able to participate in thedVerse prompt. The prompt is synesthesia. I was excited because I do have synesthesia in a vast degree. I have written several posts about it on a couple of my blogs. I only discovered that I have synesthesia a few years ago, but it was one of the best moments in my life. It helped me understand how and why I see, hear, feel, smell, and taste this world in such a different way than others. It is not always the most pleasant of gifts, but I do like how my sensory functions make my world so exciting and intense.

Here are a few of my posts if you would like to learn more. I have videos and links that explain it as well as a little insight to how I am affected.

Here is an older poem I wrote trying to convey my sensory intensity.

A Radical Proposal for a Broken Society

February 9th 2009
We're often asked how we plan to take this unique moment in history - when a grassroots movement for change elected a president - and turn it into a force that can build stronger communities, block by block. read more...


The Obama-Biden Transition Project

At Realizing The Promise: A Forum on Community, Faith & Democracy, we showed Washington officials that our stories, our ideas, and our power will be the primary forces of change in this nation.

We want every one of our coalition partners to participate in or organize a discussion in your state to support the Transition Team's effort to have a grassroots process. Please sign up today to find how to participate in a Health Care Community Discussion near you.

Drastic Times, Drastic Measures: America in Need of Economic Recovery

As I was thinking about how to respond to the numerous requests from the Obama Transition Team that has been sent out to numerous community organizers and political activists and agencies across the country, I am reminded of my graduate school days where I lived in what Jonathan Kozol refers to as Manhattan's "Liberal West Side."

During the time I lived there, in the mid-late 1990's, the American Sociological Association (ASA) held its annual conference in New York City. Prior to that meeting, they sent out a fact sheet that may be of interest to ASA members. In this sheet, they too described the same social conditions and asked their members to take note of the changes that occur at 96th Street. I can assure you that the conditions Kozol describes in his book were

not exaggerated.

Oddly enough, the very same area was undergoing rapid transformation and gentrification at the time Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took office. As described in Amazing Grace, the South Bronx is one of the most severely segregated and poorest Congressional Districts in the United States. The members of this community have been segregated into a hell plagued with sickness, violence and despair. Kozol argues that this strategic placement serves to isolate the rich from the realities they have thrust upon their fellow man. New Yorkers do not stroll through the streets of Mott Haven, and taxicabs take no short cuts through Beekman Avenue. Many taxicabs will not even venture past East 96th Street. Out of sight is out of mind.

There is no excuse for the living conditions of these children and their families. No person should be forced into an apartment that has a higher ratio of cockroaches and rats than to human beings.

These children are desperately in need ofthe best schools, yet we give them the worst. They have few libraries, few safe havens, few doctors, and few role models. They have every reason to believe that they are throwaway children and we have certainly not shown them anything else. The social services we have provided are a bureaucratic nightmare. People in need are treated as sub-human, and made to feel ashamed of being poor.

These are among the sickest children in the world. Americans claim to be dedicated to the children and fool ourselves into believing that we are doing them a favor by providing them with medical care, public education, and public housing. Yet, the quality of their neighborhoods speaks volumes of our sentiment and intentions.

Shortly after the publication of Amazing Grace, managed care rapidly moved onto the New York scene. Around the same time, the Mayor announced he would be closing some of the hospitals that served the poorest of the poor because of financial problems associated with payment and large trauma departments.

Kozol makes the point that people could attempt to gain admissions at a better hospital than Bronx-Lebanon; yet, the privatization of Medicaid made this completely impossible. Further restrictions on medical care are inevitable as a direct result of Medicaid managed care plans. The law is not designed to protect the poor, the fragile, and the disenfranchised.

This was made obvious in a recent conversation I had with a friend who practices emergency medicine on the elite Upper East Side of Manhattan. My friend works as a board certified trauma physician at a private hospital on the Upper East Side. The last black patient he treated at Beth Israel was famed rock singer Michael Jackson.

This is the reality. The best doctors treat the healthy and wealthy instead of the people who have the greatest need. They give no thought to the equitable distribution of services; they just file insurance claims and billing statements. Doctors should consider who stands to could benefit the most from their skill and experience. Perhaps we should invert the payment schedule so physicians and other health care providers should receive a higher rate of reimbursement for treating the most vulnerable populations.

Patients with the greatest need get the worst care.

Great teachers teach great students in great neighborhoods. This makes no sense!

And we wonder why the division between the have and the have-nots continues to grow?

People often ask me why I am so angry about the living conditions of poor urban minorities. My response-how can you not be enraged by the way we treat our own citizens? Children who did not ask to be born into poverty and substandard living conditions. Why aren't you angry? I cannot be the only one who places human kindness, dignity, and integrity above the lure of the almighty dollar!

I have thought for many years that the system is upside down, and I become more and more convinced of that as I grow older. To paraphrase the message of the new Windows Vista commercial, The Mayor's campaign slogan, or any number of economists trying to figure out what to tweak, where, and just how much... clearly there is a level of inter-connectedness that exists between the various sectors of the American marketplace and economy. Give them a real challenge.

Similarly, many different things influence the human condition by upsetting the delicate balance between those who can and those who do. We need to focus on improving the lives of those who might... People who can and do amazing things when given the chance. People who can excel under the right set of circumstances given the right support, the right guidance, the right tools, and the right opportunities. People who may not have the monetary (financial) resources to invest in themselves, their families, or their communities.

We must take action on a number of fronts to create some type of stability in our country, our economy, and the international marketplace. We need to start here, now, in our own communities, schools, and invest in ourselves.

Did it really take a $700 Billion wake up call for our citizens to realize that that all is not well in America. It is time to get real about healthcare. It is time to get real about education. It is time to get real about the cost of education. It is time to get real about this god-forsaken war that we are still in!

This country is in desperate need of a wake-up call, and we must develop a course of action that embraces a multi-dimensional approach and vast restructuring of the laissez faire way of regulating healthcare in the past.


Tell our children, "WE BELIEVE IN YOUR FUTURE!"

Tell the people in your community, "WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!"

Tell the for-profit healthcare industry, "WE ARE NOT FOR SALE!"

I am not for sale, yet my healthcare company pimps me out based upon their ability to negotiate with fat cat for profit healthcare giants like HCA and First Health who are by no means the business to make people well! It does not take a rocket scientist to see the perverse incentive to keep people sick and dependent upon costly medications and treatment protocols.

Look at the facts; if we get healthy, they go broke! So let's shake it up a bit, and turn this sad state of affairs upside down!

If we are to find some resolution to the unprecedented, simultaneous collapse of the economy, the market place and/or government and the collapsing housing market in United States, it seems obvious that people, the economy, healthcare, education confidence and faith in the American people it is time to take drastic efforts to strengthen our greatest asset and hope for the future: Our children!

Drastic times call for drastic measures!

Let's start with education: Next year, I want Harvard to take in the worst students. Take the worst students who would not have made it past the front door of the admissions office. Take the worst students. Students who did not break a thousand on their SATs and barely made it through watered-down high school curriculum. Let them benefit from a first class education.

Guess what Harvard? The smart kids don't need you! They are already ahead of the game. We can sit them in a corner for a year or two because they do not need the Ivy League to succeed. By definition, they are already streamlined for success and they will no doubt be great with or without you!

There is no doubt that the prevalence of violence in urban neighborhoods affects the ability of children to perform well in school. There is a large body of empirical evidence that demonstrates the effects of chronic stress on memory and the learning process.

Rather than taking the children out of these communities, we have constructed prison like buildings for them to attend school. They routinely have gunfire drills reminding them that danger is never far behind.

Children cannot learn in this environment. This constant stress triggers "hot-memory." Hot memory can be thought of as learning with your heart and not your mind. It is no wonder children perform inadequately in this environment. It is bad enough that children live in such conditions, must we educate in them too. If we want underprivileged children to learn and grow spiritually, we must create an environment that allows their cool memory systems to take over. It is only under these conditions that children will permit themselves to learn and develop their intellectual strengths.

We have failed to create a safe home environment for urban children, but we can give serious thought to creating a school environment outside of the community so they have fewer fear-driven hours each day.

It is any wonder that these children perform poorly in school. By every measure, these children are destined for failure. Their home life is less than enchanting, and they do not benefit from enriched environments and educated parents. Certainly, there are many dedicated parents who care about their children, but is that enough? When I was in school, children frequently asked the teacher, how this would help later in life. As a young girl in a suburban classroom, there was an unequivocal reply, but it could be argued that what children in the South Bronx need to learn cannot be taught in the classroom.

Studies consistently report lower academic achievement in urban neighborhoods like Mott Haven in the South Bronx. Children growing up in urban neighborhoods have a much higher incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most researchers believe this to be the direct result of living in stressed communities plagued with street crime and violence. The potential impact of chronic stress on academic performance and achievement is not known, but reading scores in neighborhoods like Mott Haven certainly seem to indicate some type of causal relationship. There is virtually no research on looking at the long-term effects of this inflated incidence of PTSD among urban populations. It is important to develop an understanding of the effects of fear on the academic performance of urban adolescents so we can begin to dismantle the myths regarding school performance and minority children.

Under these conditions, it is not surprising to learn that students also report pervasive feelings of fear and do not feel secure despite the added presence of security personnel on school grounds. For these students, school is a mere extension of the violent communities in which they live.

Since urban communities have many different sources of stress, it is important to examine how school policies contribute to the learning environment in public schools.

The quick response has been to install weapons detectors and hire school security for urban schools. The presence of school security certainly affects the climate of American public schools and sends a symbolic message to members of the community, the world, and especially the students themselves regarding the role they are expected to play as they mature into adolescents and young adulthood.

The school rules mimic are not unlike those one might expect to find in a state prison. Students are rewarded for obedience and they are taught to follow the rules rather than to think critically. On the back of the No Child Left Behind legislation, we indoctrinate our youngest members of society with "core curriculum" and "Back to Basics." Students across the country are judged on their ability to regurgitate facts on high-stakes standardized tests.

Lesson plans are filled with repetition exercises and workbook pages rather than student projects or classroom discussion. We teach conformity, rules, and limits. We teach kids to be blind followers. The skills we are teaching are better suited for prison rather than the real world. Teachers are teaching the kids to follow rules, to conform, and to reward obedience rather than creativity.

The secured environment is an indication of the roles students are expected to play later in life. This is a lesson they will not soon forget. School rules and core curriculum makes classroom silencing an everyday event in the urban classroom. And as my list of "off-limit" subject matter grows longer each term, the need to bring such things into the dialogue becomes more and more apparent. I actually have a printed list of topics that I am forbidden to discuss in the classroom: The election, politics, race, religion, suicide, pregnancy. The more topics they add, the more relevant they become. The unspoken truth has becomes louder and louder the more we are silenced. There is a big pink elephant standing in the middle of my classroom! There is a big pink elephant in the middle of our community!

By focusing on student behavior rather than student skills, knowledge, and achievement, we are showing all members of the school, the community, and the children themselves that we have already given up. Together, the urban public school and the community it serves are a constant reminder of the perpetual cycle of poverty and the poor living conditions and social reality that continue to plague urban America.

Kozol makes it quite clear that there are several exceptional children in this community. There are probably as many exceptional children here as every other community around the country, yet, so few of them will make it out of the South Bronx. Kozol is careful not to dwell on the exceptional cases of children who successfully navigate their way into the main stream of society. Kozol does this so we do not develop a false sense of hope. If we cling to a few exceptional cases, we may come to believe that what we are giving enough to children like Anthony or Anabelle.

Clearly, we can do more. Failure should be the exception-not the rule. Success should be the norm, and until it is, we should not give up hope for these children.

This is our time to let our voices be heard. Any number of social justice agencies from, to Cover the Uninsured, to Families USA, Center for Community Change, Health Care for America Now; have opened the blogosphere so that everyday common folk like you and I can submit our opinions to the Transition Team in Washington. They are begging us to participate, to give our opinions, to let our voices be heard. They need our help. Let us make this the country we are proud to call home. Let this be a new beginning for us all, and let us make this a land of real opportunity.

America claims to be dedicated to equal opportunity, yet equality is not sufficient in a community like Mott Haven. These kids need more. We need to think about equity, not equality. It is not enough to hide them away. Be silenced no more.

Ivy League Grad on Welfare?

An Ivy League Grad on Welfare?

by Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
June 6th 2008
Yup! That's right, I'm on welfare... I'm milking the system for all its worth! I had better go get in line before those Louisiana people and immigrants suck up all our resources (which have never once been available when I have needed them) That's right, just another Ivy League grad too smart to go to work! I am just waiting on my next free meal ticket, subsidy, or voucher. The opportunities to exploit the government are endless! Where do I begin???

I remember how difficult it was for me to obtain benefits when I first applied several years ago. I am deeply concerned about how the most recent decision to eradicate yet another class of TennCare / Medicaid recipients (the Daniels class made up of SSI recipients by way of a pending federal waiver) will affect the poor and disabled residents in Tennessee. Without my current level of benefits, I simply do not function.

Before my benefits were stabilized, learning to navigate the system consumed every waking moment of my life. I was unable to work or attend school on any substantial level and I am frightened to see at might happen if I were to stray from my established, stabilized, treatment plan. If I lose my benefits, will I still be able to work? To function? To be productive?

Any new public program requires careful planning if it is to be effective. Recent discussions have not focused on the true impact these changes will have on the "street-level."

Has anyone asked recipients how they feel the new program (safety- net) should be designed, implemented, or evaluated? How will this impact the community and other social service or welfare agencies??? I want access, quality, and outcomes. I want... I want... I want!!!

The massive number of people being dis-enrolled or limited in their access to medical care and other social services will no doubt create significant anxiety, confusion, and chaos for everyone involved in the social service and health care industries.

I remember when Mr. Brian Lapps was somewhere very high up on the corporate TennCare ladder in 1999 when they adjusted the prescription formulary overMemorial Day in 1999. I see Mr. Lapps quite frequently since he now works at the local gas station down the street from where I live.

To this day, he insists that cell phones and TennCare are somehow contraindicated. Perhaps he knows nothing of the population he claims to know just all-too-well... housing conditions that may or may not have electricity, broken families-some riddled with community violence and domestic disturbances. In the hood, your cell phone is your very best friend. 9-1-1.

These people plagued by domestic violence and community instability makes a cell phone the only logical option. How can you find a job with out a phone? How can you find a home with out a job? Yet even 6 years later, Mr. Lapps uses cellular phones as an example how the TennCare program is being abused by lazy, cheap, and unscrupulous second hand citizens who are just shiftless lazy bums waiting around for their next free hand-out.

Anyone who has EVER applied for or relied upon any kind of government subsidy to have their basic needs met, e.g., food, shelter, medical care, dental treatment, etc... let me personally assure you that there has never been a single time where I felt I was "pulling one over" on the government. I am not just one of the poor saps who believed what they told me they in school, I bought it hook, line, and sinker for the mere price of $279,982.00 and not a shred of financial security to show for it.

Even after consolidating my student loans, the interest alone is $10 less than my monthly income from social security.

So what happens now that the state of Tennessee will begin to cut off social security recipients from TennCare? I honestly do not think I can survive yet another re-certification process-- God knows the first one almost killed me. After three years of appeals, my condition had deteriorated so severely that I was forced to drop out of school, lost my home, lost my sanity, and lost hope. In short-- I lost my dignity and my belief in the social welfare system.

By the time my benefits were approved, I had already checked myself in to NYU Psych Ward because simply could not cope with the reality of what my life I had become. I weighed 94 pounds and suffered in excruciating pain that has only gotten worse with time. My extremities were ice cold, and my hands were numb since I went without medical treatment for the spinal injury that was first discovered when I was 22.

I am now 35 years old. My spinal cord is now damaged from years of delayed, sub-standard medical treatment. I owe the federal government $279,982.00 in student loans and when I am able to work, I make $10.46 / hour as a substitute teacher in an urban school district. That job comes with no security and no benefits. It does however offer the flexibility I need to receive the bi-monthly epidural injections and other procedures necessary to manage my pain and alleviate the numbness I feel because of the damage to my nerves. And even though I cannot afford the gas money to get my appointments, pay for all of my medication, or even to get back and forth to work, it does allow me a few weeks of mobility so I can drive, use my mouse or hold a pen.

I have an advanced master's degree from an Ivy League Institution. I am 12 credits shy of a PhD in public policy. And despite maintaining a 3.83 grade point average while completing an advanced masters in social and educational policy at an, "Ivy League" institution; a 3.2 GPA during the 3 years I spent working on my doctorate at a not-quite-so-prestigious Graduate School; The Powers That Beat in that damn Ivory Tower don't will not grant me any leniency by extending the amount or time permitted to complete my degree-- a rule that was changed while I was on a formal leave of absence tending to my health (and my Medicaid appeals!). Not only did they decide 8 years was the rule instead of the 10 it had been previously, I was also told that I could not even transfer the credits I had earned toward a different degree towards another program at the same institution. It has been just over ten years since I first enrolled. What a mistake that was!

The "Harvard of the South" no longer offerers the degree to which I was admitted-- and enrolled so they actually suggested that I pay for a 3rd application to the school (I was admitted into two degrees-- the MPP as well as the PhD program in a separate college) requiring two independent applications, fees, transcripts, test scores, even way back when I was still considered a promising candidate. Now "they" think it is reasonable to ask that I do it all over again??? It goes without saying that I do not have the financial resources available to finish my last semester, take the GREs or GMATs one more time, or even the money to release my transcripts from the Graduate School into any other program at the same University, I guess I am just shit out of luck.

To be clear, WE ARE ALL PAYING for that student debt because I can assure you that their endowment is far greater than any income or earning potential I have given my current financial status and student loan debt! To be clear, YOU ARE ALL PAYING to keep me on Welfare. Yes, all of us are paying some price..... We I want to work. I want to be productive. I want to be a part of something greater than myself. I want to share what I've learned.

So throughout the years I struggled to stay in school, believing somehow that social justice would prevail, and my heart and dedication towards the greater good would show through to whomever, wherever, or whatever that could make my degree worth while-- the Medicaid and disability applications managed to take front seat. So as I filed appeal after appeal after appeal, I managed to acquire well over 1/4 million (yes-- MILLION) dollars in debt due to uninsured medical expenses and student loans.

My life will never be the same. My heart will never be the same. I want to pay my bills on time. I want to get off welfare, but no one ever taught me how to be poor.

So after all this-- now I face losing my healthcare once again? Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years? What was the point spending so much on an education that will never be utilized? I understand the how; I just don't understand why.

Maybe one of these days Vanderbilt University or and the Department of Education will realize it might just be cheaper to hire me that harass me, because unless I find a real paying job soon, their collections department will no longer be able to reach me on that extravagant lifeline my friend, Brian Lapps, refers to as a luxury.

If anyone on your staff would like to "trade places" with me for one month-I will gladly assume his/her responsibilities for that position if you can find a writer who is willing to endure and write about the reality of social services in our fine state. I do not want a paycheck from your organization; I just want the opportunity to put the myth of freeloading welfare mother s to rest. Live in my shoes for 30 days. Can you find the out? Can you balance my budget and make it work? Can you get the bill collectors of my back? Can you afford Internet service to file state job applications and apply for services online? Can you maintain pride and dignity without feeling the least bit sorry for yourself and the choices you have made?

When I go to the pharmacy, I am humiliated that I do not have the $3.00 necessary for the co-pay on my covered TennCare prescriptions. At least when it was $40 dollars, I was not so damn embarrassed by my lack of funds.

Remind me again why I went to school. Remind me once more why I bother to speak out. Then remind me right now that that there is somebody listening. I cannot be the only one who actually gives a crap. My contact information is listed below.

Live & not so well in Nashville, Tennessee...

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.

Ed  Policy and Social Analysis

OFA Policy Development & Program Evaluation

Career Center Chaos

Career Center Chaos

February 9th 2010
Career in Crisis: Complete ConfusionPublish Date: 03/28/2009Career in Crisis: Career Confusion

ed phoning home ouch
~fl)L~Yl8, 2003

After being rejected from a job that pays $18,000 / year at the women's prison, a job that pays $21,000 teaching Head Start, getting fired from Red Lobster (because apparently, I am just not Red Lobster "material" ) I went to the Tennessee Career Center to take advantage of their high speed internet, free printer paper, and ink... well, that didn't go so well... part one of series tbn...

now would not be the best time to mention my senior thesis-- or my grad school major, or the fact that i spent the better part life as a volunteer and advocate for children at-risk.. working to give them hope and a second chance at life.

systematically invalidating such bogus, Barnum-type feedback that one typically gets from a MBTI type of personality test that is given during high school or in college. i won't bother to mention the standardization of SAT scores to help our country feel better-- or the fact that the Stanford-Binet was created for military use only.

who gives a shit anymore??? if you told a me a fat bearded lady at the circus could decide my fate and tell me what direction i should choose next-- i'd take it! and throw in a fat tip for being smart enough to know that any answer-- no matter how grim, is far better than just wandering aimlessly through life looking back on what might have been-- at THIRTY! AT THIRTY-SEVEN?

after receiving five letters of rejection from jobs that require nothing more than a GED or a high school diploma, i decided to go to the tennessee career center hoping to find a job that will allow me to afford the most basic necessities of life. toothpaste, toilet paper, cat food... i got hooked up with a counselor that afternoon. he has two masters degrees-- one in educational career counseling, and a second in counseling psychology. could this be the guidance counselor i have been asking for since.. well... since... i was old enough to know was in need of guidance?

surely someone else must have recognized i was in need of guidance, but god knows my parents weren't paying attention, and having good genes just doesn't cut it these days. but now more than ever, i realize that having all the smarts in the world won't get you anywhere if you never learned how to apply them.

i am the exact same five year old who needed to win the spelling bee. in college, i was the one to set the curve, not just make it. the one to break the rules, and, break them i did, but there is no glory in being second best, second smartest, second brightest, or second anything.
i wish i could say that after all this time i developed other ego strengths and finally felt okay with who i am, you know.... "just being me," but i am sad to report that my "condition" (diagnosis) was amazingly accurate and predictable. just like all the doctors said! i wonder if they derive joy out of being right-- if they crack open a bottle of aged liquor in my fathers office and say, "see, we told you so. we told you their was nothing you could do." and so nothing they did.

and by doing nothing, and i do mean nothing-- the illness will just take will its course. and i am now, in fact, nothing. nothing costs nothing (at least to them) and daddy made another fine investment. on the other hand, nothing has drained every hope, fear, security-- every chance-- and every last breath from my body. i might have believed in me. but i know i'm alive because a tear just rolled down the side of my cheek. i am home.
but i still haven't learned. for some reason with all of my failures i am reminded of in so many ways... me, myself, as i watch them play out every time i shut my eyes or open them. yes- blink.

sometimes i ask myself, how did i get here? how did this happen? what happened to all of the plans i made for myself? where did they go? where did I go? constantly replayed over and over and over again in my mind. i must be fuckng crazy!
but at this moment, here, even as i say the words, i am not truly insane, i am merely in pain. what a tragedy that those two words rhyme-- they ruin what could have been a very profound misnomer of the human condition and the labels we hold so dear.

i am the exact same 5 year old who needed to ACE the spelling bee, set the curve, not just make it; break the rules, and, break them i did. there is no glory in being second best. second smartest, second brightest, or second anything. being second sucks. it sucks every god-damned second of the day.

and so my search for mediocrity continues and i wait for it each and every day hoping it will find me beaten and worn from the storm. all of the storms, but dammit, its still there. i still have questions those damn elyssa questions that made all my professors so proud, damn ideas, damn thoughts, damn hope.
my mother no longerr calls everyday to see if i went to get food stamps to feed myself. fuck her, and her fucking things. fuck diamonds and couture and fuck that life. i was here mom, the whole fucking time. just not pretty enough with out any surgery. not pretty at all, with all those damn scars.
i hope someone out there still loves me. i do actually believe that i deserve love and kindness despite the obvious fact that i am a royal pain in the ass. i refuse to work in burger king. for right now, at least.
so goodnight my dear friends. let's all try to have sweet dreams. pepe awaits, as does alanis, and a pack of smokes that i can already taste. (document recovered!!!)

yes, what could have been, what should have been-- what MIGHT have been if you let me be

"When written in Chinese, the word Crisis is composed of two characters: One represents danger and the other represents opportunity." -JFK

Labels: Dark NightEyePhobicIM Phobic

Forster Care is Big Money

I am deeply disturbed by the recent press coverage regarding what is going on in thefoster care system today.

Having worked for a private foster care agency (profit-driven) company contracted by the Department of Children's Services through the State of Tennessee, I would like to share what I've learned through my experience working with older adolescents reaching the age of majority-18-who are being released from state custody with the Department of Children's Services.

One child, now twenty, is pregnant and moves from place to place every few days or so (photos attached). When I first got her case, 5 years or so ago, she had concrete goals, dreams and aspirations. She had hope. She wanted to go to college. Now, today, she is homeless, pregnant, and has been without services since the day (and I do mean day!) she turned 18. (Pictures of her currrent "home" are posted next to this article.)

On her 18th birthday, Ms. DB was dropped off at a Food Lion parking lot in Gallatin, TN without any money, clothing, food, healthcare, benefits, e.g., food stamps, transportation and no where to go. She was on her own with a 10th grade education and no GED.

CG is a young man who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 19, shortly after leaving custody. He was denied TennCare 4 times before I made the decision to get involved at any cost. Like all of my other former DCS clients (at least those who have contacted me over the years) CG is also chronically homeless, unemployable, and has only a 10th grade education, epilepsy, and a mental illness. He TennCare is ending 3/31/2008-not quite enough time to plan and execute the brain surgery he needs to help him live a relatively normal life...

I'm still involved, but tomorrow I will turn his case file over to two new case managers and hope that they can keep up the pace. I have to let go. I can't pay my internet bill!

I hope and pray that all of the hard work I have put into his case: applying for benefits, social security, Medicaid, Food Stamps, even a library card and a voter registration card (which are a dime a dozen in this town; Nashville, TN; these days) so that he can get the brain surgery and medical treatment he needs and deserves does not get lost when I go back to work next week. I have assured him that I will not abandon him like everyone else in the past-besides, I hold his history-his memory-his voter registration, TennCare and Social Security cards[1].

These children and young adults (DB, CG, CW, and CB) and a few other exceptional children left an imprint on my heart long after I left my position with the Department of Children's Services...

After leaving the private (contract) agency I was working for, it took a very long time for me to decide whether I should continue in the field of social services for children. You see, I was under the impression that foster care was about children. Wrong.

Unfortunately, I came to realize that it was more about money than children. Private agencies pay barely there, barely trained "people" upwards of $40-60/day per child tax-free. One foster parent I worked with kept ten children in a four-bedroom home in Madison. She also kept chains on the refrigerator door so the children wouldn't eat too much food. Another family had multiple complaints of sexual assault filed against them, but those complaints were mysteriously absent from my case file when I left the agency. As was my actual signature on my case reports-they didn't even try to color between the lines when falsified my records with white out. Who can be that lazy? Who can be that reckless? Who can bethat person?

I was deeply saddened by this realization because I was unsure what to do with the information I had acquired throughout the years. However, at this point in my life, I do feel that I have some ethical obligation to either speak out or take action to work towards resolving the systemic problems in the privatized foster care environment.

I came to the realization that I may be able to use my own voice to speak for the children who have been repeatedly silenced by our society: our schools, our courts, our social service system, and the adults they relied upon to have their most basic needs met.

Of course, I would have to speak with DB and CG about their willingness to meet with you to discuss their experience while in the custody of the children's services.

However, if you believe (like I do) that sharing these stories (albeit anecdotal) may ultimately lead to profound changes and reform within the foster care system, then I am quite certain my former clients would be more than willing to speak with anyone who has the capacity to make things better for their natural and foster siblings still in the system, I do not see a problem so long as we can create a space where they can speak freely without fear of repercussions.

DB is not alone in her experience, and for whatever reason, these children seem to feel comfortable sharing their stories with me.

There is another young man, Cody G, who is an incredibly gifted writer that deserves to be heard and recognized. Much like DB, he has experienced a great deal of difficulty finding stable living arrangements once discharged from DCS custody. Because he was constantly in motion, moving from place to place to place-- I agreed to hold onto his personal journals documenting his experience in DCS.

His voice deserves to be heard along with a chorus of others! Some of these children develop such fascinating ways to cope with the pain, the isolation and the abandonment issues they grow up with, and I try to do the best I can to steer them in the right direction.

Talent such as Cody's and perseverance like DB's should be revered, celebrated, respected, and validated-- not thrown away or ignored..

Foster care is mess. What happens next is a complete and utter tragedy. I hope you are deeply disturbed by the contents of this letter-if so-my job is done for the day!

Let your voice be heard-- contact your representatives, the press-- shout it from the rooftops!!! This despicable state of affairs and this not so well hidden secret about privatized foster care in the state of Tennessee must come to an end!

This is how Cody writes:

The Leaveless Plant:by Cody Gambill© 2006 I am a plant without any rootsI bring no syrup I bear no fruits I am not much to look at without any flowersAll I do is sit and stare for hours Every so often, I wander off to find a new spotFeeling no attachment to anything I've got Every time I move, I lose a leaf or twoBut no one will notice because here I am new After moving a while, I look down to seeHow oblivious I am to my nudity All of my moving has shaken me bareEmbarrassed and all I ignore the stares But the more I think the better I feelBecause the leaves from me provided a meal So I am important like all on this earthThink I'll settle down and show this world what I'm worth

And this is how DB lives: pregnant at age 20:

The bathtub. No door. No curtain.

The sink.

The mold.

The baby...

[1] I must give kudos to Judge Dan Eisenstein from the Mental Health Court of Davidson County who has paved the way to make getting CG Transitional Services as he ventures out into the world alone-if only I could get reimbursed for my time! Judge Eisenstein is untraditional, compassionate, and by far the most client-centered Judge I have ever had the honor of working with, no matter how briefly. Judge Eisenstein is paving the road for CG to have a chance-a chance at a future-a chance at a life-- a real one-free from Grand Mal seizures, self-injury, hypomania, rapid cycling, and suicidal ideations.

I also would like to express my gratitude to The Tennessee Justice Center, Tony Garr of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, Lane Simpson, and Dave Aguzzi with the Department of Children's Services who are helping CG get transitional living services so he can get the care and treatment he did not receive while in custody. Kim Crane (from the Vanderbilt Center for Child & Family Policy Center) has also been instrumental in serving as a liaison with Transitional Youth Programs and helped me get connected to the right people and programs efficiently and effectively. Thanks to you all!.

Is the Ivy League Worth the Investment?

  • Elyssa Durant
  • Tue July 8th, 2008
Ivy League Grad Will Work for Free: Internet Access RequiredThis Tennessean released data on July 5, 2008 reporting disparities in teacher salaries for Metro employees. The article, "Poor kids' teachers earn less in Metro: Hiring bonuses.The article appeared online over the weekend and reports salary data that shows a correlation between academic performance and teacher salaries in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).

There is no question that teachers earn less in low-performing schools when compared to their colleagues at high performing magnet and lottery schools. We It makes sense that they would perform at a higher level since these schools enroll (and hire) highly competitive students and teachers.

Unfortunately, this article does not offer any new insights into the inner-workings of our neighborhood schools. MNPS does not have the answers, nor does our newly elected Mayor who recently launched an aggressive media campaign to recruit new teachers willing to work within the constraints our over-regulated, under-funded public schools. This article glossed over the magnitude of the desperate situation in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).

But it does raise questions about the hiring and retention practices by the Board of Ed. The basic fact that students are not making adequate progress is a reflection of the top-down policy failure by MNPS and the Board of Ed. Students are not making adequate progress, and teachers are being shuffled around in a desperate attempt to fix a problem that they do not fully understand.

This data seems to support the need for performance based incentives such as the study on performance incentives at the National Center for Performance Incentives on the Peabody Campus at Vanderbilt University. Teachers in the experimental group receive a $15,000 bonus if their students demonstrate a pre-determined level of achievement and demonstrate proficiency. In conjunction with the RAND corporation, data will be collected twice a year: at the beginning of the academic term to establishing the baseline level of competency for each student. Data is then collecting at the end of the year to measure achievement. several waves of data will be collected and evaluated over the next several years will be evaluated in conjunction with the RAND corporation.

In order to fix our broken schools, we need to look at schools that work. There are in fact public schools in urban neighborhoods that are successfully educating the students despite limited budgets, supplies, and adequate funding. So what is it about these schools that allows them to successfully educate disadvantaged, at-risk students and how can we replicate their success?

As an educator employed by MNPS, I earn $10.46 / hour (without benefits) teaching at-risk students. What does this say about the fiscal priorities of our community? My graduate degree in education is from the very same university that Mayor Karl Dean attended in New York City. What does that say about our values as a society? What does that say about the value of a graduate degree from the Ivy League?

I called HR and the "Certificated Office" to inquire about obtaining a provisional teaching license and alternative certification, I was simply told that I was not eligible for alternative certification and without additional coursework, and tuition and fees, I was not deemed qualified to teach in Metro. I am not qualified to teach in Metro since, apparently, Metro "does not teach education." What a joke. To make matters worse- I had to pay them to find out that I was not even qualified to work with Head Start. I went to Head Start! Should't that be enough? I find it difficult to believe that a city so desperate for teachers is not willing to bend the rules just a little or waive the application fee for anyone who is willing to work in such a hostile environment.

The state Department of Education could not offer any realistic solution to the simple fact that I cannot afford to pay the fees associated with the application fees certification requirements. If the Mayor really needs applicants, perhaps the city should comp the application fees necessary to be considered for employment. They are strangely unfamiliar with the political process, and teachers are expected to implement and carry out policies that were designed by academic professionals or educational consultants. If MNPS truly wants a better-qualified staff, then the Mayor, the Board of Education, and school administrators need to take a closer look at the methods used to recruit, retain, and reward qualified individuals willing to sacrifice their financial stability for a career in public service.

The high rate of student mobility is compounded by the constant shifting of school personnel. Many schools may just lose the few experienced, dedicated teachers they still have left have, to surrounding districts, cities, and states. Such instability in the system may even prompt the younger set to leave the profession all together and discourage future teachers from applying for jobs in Metro. Now that I realize my education was a complete waste of time and money, is it any wonder that I am ready to give up on teaching and maybe even ready to leave Nashville for good. The local hardware store has more to offer including benefits!

Everything we know about the positive outcomes in neighborhood schools is their strong reliance upon community buy-in and parental involvement. One thing that makes magnet, lottery, charter schools, parochial, and private schools so good is the fact that parents, teachers, students, and administrators fight to get in, and fight to stay there. The act of choosing, in effect, leads to an enhanced sense of community and builds a supportive, consistent, and structured environment. Calling this project "Fresh Start" is ridiculous-- it would be more accurate to call it a very bad ending!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Google Goggles: Sanity Checker

Google Goggles: Sanity Checker!

How much do I love, love, the person who created this program???

If only I had this years ago... before I buried myself in hundreds of hard copies and countless drafts waiting to be edited, checked, scanned, formatted, reviewed, merged, referenced, compared or merged with older versions of the same document.

Files upon files are waiting to be examined, edited, completed, and submitted at a later date TBA...

At least I am not the only one in need of a "sanity checker!"

Living everyday with so much unfinished business and self-doubt has stopped me dead in my tracks! Preventing me from moving forward and doing so many things that are absent from my life.

Even the most simple tasks become insurmountable obstacles when left to my own devices (usually at least 2-3 dictionaries, a thesaurus, grammar textbook, and the Chicago Manual of Style or the APA.) Ridiculous, right? Everything in my life takes at least 3x longer than the average (normal) individual. This can be anything from filing a job application, turning in graduate school applications, assignments and projects on time...


EVERYTHING is pending!

EVERYTHING is probably good enough!

EVERYTHING was probably good enough in the first time around!

Getting caught up on insignificant details such as grammar, text wrapping, format styles, has come to define my adult life and experience. Interfering with my academic, personal, and professional goals

I want a sanity checker!!!!
When you are still editing the very same article after 13 or 14 years, you have a problem.

 I have a problem!
If I can ever figure out how to use it, hopefully it will prevent me from searching through thousands of text logs and backup files....

I need a sanity checker!

Working on your um-teenth hundredth draft gets tedious. Hopefully google goggles is better at time management and will not spend too much time hovering over typos, font size and other imperfections that probably make my writing a little more human.... a few misplaced commas never hurt anyone unless they are placed after a dollar sign!

Where can I sign up for a personal the "sanity checker" to guide me through the rest of my life??? To clear a path to my desk or help me find the floor...

Thanks so much to the genius who invented this gadget! I hope it works well!

How I wish I could revert back to my days before the technological revolution. My mind has information overload. My life has information overload. My brain is full!
My cyberseeking tools and inquisitive mind have become my kryptonite. Please-- make it stop! Stop the questions, stop the memories, stop the madness!

Just, plain, stop!
I miss Professor Marks' red ink pens back in college. Long before I knew what a computer was or how to turn the damn thing on. Now there's e-mail, Internet, spyware, malware, software utilities...

Life was so much easier before I became dependent upon technology and this stupid little box I cannot seem to pull myself away from. And now, much like my racing thoughts and RAM (random access memory) and my crazy busy mind that is a near perfect reflection of my chaotic life. My paper trail reaches from one room into the next... one year to the next... one decade to the next...

Now I can't seem to turn the thing off... I can't seem to turn anything in, and I can't seem to make things just perfect enough.

Wish me luck as I uncover more and more of my past... although I have often had regrets about sending imperfect documents prematurely: either too soon, too often, or sometimes too early; surely sending something is far better than not sending anything at all...

In this life, people are never remembered for what they start-- only for what they finish.

Even The New York Times posted a peralink. :( Not fair, copyLEFT






(your welcome!)

Drunk, and Dangerous, at the KeyboardMail Goggles, a new feature on Google’s Gmail program, is intended to help stamp out a scourge that few knew existed: late-night drunken e-mailing.October 19, 2008 - By ALEX WILLIAMS - Fashion & Style

HERBALKING - Bits BlogMail Goggles, a new feature on Google’s Gmail program, is intended to help stamp out a scourge that few knew existed: late-night drunken ...

Google Inc. Mail Goggles, a new feature on Google’s Gmail program, is intended to help stamp out a scourge that few knew existed: late-night drunken e-mailing. ...

from the Blog Community ...Mail Goggles, a new feature on Google's Gmail program, is intended to help stamp out a scourge that few knew existed: latenight drunken emailing. ...



THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Catchy, approprite, and I even can't get letter to the editor?

 Well things are chaning.  The news is in our hands now.  So no more media manipualtion. i'm so tired of reading the crap you guys put out to distract us from he issues.... and since I get a job... i may as well, keep writing for free..

AC made a forutne off the story I posted for free...  but I haven't forgotten. 

I know my own words. and it really hurts when I can't even get a letter to the editor printed, or a response from a local journalist about when call give them a hint where to look for REAL news

So I don't give a fuck if you all go down in flames.  Power to the people.

Because they wrote me off long ago.... and you may laugh because I'm different, but I laugh because you are all the same.

$1.00 for this story..... how much did AC make? I call your bluff.  And funny thing.... I never even got the dollar.  I can't wait for that audit.  

it may some time, but you have no idea, how much I could have helped you. It was is a good story.  The economist thought so... so did USA today. you guys just can't handle the truth.

All I wanted was to get the information out, so why charge ME to download my own story only to see someone elses byline?

I am watching the watchers.... and heads, up... I'm pretty damn good at it!

#yeahisaidit and i'll say it again if i need to.

Fuck you, AC!