Today is Brain Day. It is the fifteenth anniversary of that time my head blew up (For those of you who are new to the game, I had a hemorrhagic stroke while perfoming the two-woman show, Parallel Lives with my pal, Merritt C Glover. You can read all about it here)
For those of you new to medical studies, this type of stroke has a fatality rate in the high 90th percentile. For those of you who are familiar with medical studies, you know that the further out you get from the initial incident, the higher your risk of death grows. That percentage is about 86%. I see that as a 14% chance for me to ROCK!
So percentages and data aside, because if I wanted to crunch data I would and possibly be more financialy stable, but much less content.
The first thing I thought of today was for a much-missed actor pal of mine, Ryan Roach. He had a stroke five years ago. I prayed and hoped and wished for him to survive. He did not. I do have a bit of survivors guilt over that.
I have had a lot of thought on my hands lately. Possibly because the country is in such upheaval , the price of zuchinni is sky high, and I just can’t get motivated for anything except lying perfectly still and looking at cat pictures on the interwebs. (Has anyone tried that google extension that changes the pictures of Trump to pictures of cats? Fabuolous idea. Whoever came up with that should get a Peace Prize of some kind, because I’m pretty sure those kittens have calmed a few folk down.)
So as I try to remain calm, I have been thinking about who I am and what I am trying to do with my life.
I do acknowledge the feelings that I might actually be dead and all of the slings and arrows of my daily fortunes are just my journey through purgatory. If that is true, I am terribly sorry for dragging the rest of you along with me, although, don’t you feel a bit better knowing that the state of affairs may just be a creation of worst case scenario whipped up by the Saint of whatever weird crap I have to go through?
Simply stated (I know, too late),my biggest why can be answered with “Because I have to.”
Everything I have said and done in this last year is because I have to. I have cut off peripheral friends and alienated family members because I have to. I have to say that I’m not ok with separating families. I’m not ok with the current administration hassling the clergy for protesting. I’m not ok with Immigration going mad with power and grabbing up people right and left. I’m not ok with the openly racist remarks and actions of people across the country who think it’s suddenly ok to hate out loud because that is the example they are seeing put forth by the President of our country.
I’m not ok with the disparity of opportunity across the nation. Yes, I have always pretty tweaked about that, but it certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time real soon.
I am having a hard time making ends meet, financially. (Everyone knows I prefer stretchy clothes.) No one gets in to teaching for the money.
Recently someone asked me how I got started teaching. I explained that I started teaching theatre because I truly love the craft. (I feel like a huge hoser using that phrase). From that point I noticed that many of the student actors couldn’t access the basic informaton they needed to craft a character or scene. So, I decided I would add English Language Arts and Social Studies to my teaching certification. That grew into adding Science and Math to the group. Now I’m teaching five subjects in a self-contained classroom to students who are not only in a socio-economic group but either are immigrants themselves or first generation in the United States.
My take home pay is easily half that of most of my colleagues (a rant for another time). I know that I have chosen to work here. But if nothing else, this extra fifteen years has taught me that all lives are precious. As an educator I truly believe that every child deserves a teacher who is passionately interested in their education.
So while it is a choice to teach in a school where every teacher truly believes in social justice and the fundamental rights of each and every student, whether they are full tuition or not. Every teacher is just as scared as I am for the future of these students.
I can contribute to the future of my students.
Because I have to.