LuxVenture's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Viktor K
Posts: 284
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:45 pm
Location: China

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Viktor K » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:17 am

Kayaking looks so fun. I always saw people floating down the mountains in Colorado. You're definitely making me miss spending some time outdoors, especially around water.

As for go-to recipe, I usually pick up 3-4 chicken breasts, and then 2-3 different vegetables from the supermarket. I wash and cut the vegetables, throw them on the bottom, lay the chicken breasts on top, add some oil, vinegar, and whatever seasoning then let it go for 3-4 hours.

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:23 pm

Jason wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:42 am
LuxVenture wrote:
Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:25 pm
Update: Did not swim with the fishes, get swept out to sea, or be eaten by alligators.


Image
It's also an occasion when one can say that it was a good thing that the Challenger blew up.
Too soooooooon! xD Makes me think of a story...

My mom was about 10 minutes out from having her bridal shower at NASA JSC the day the real deal exploded. Everyone was glued to the TV, but her strong-arm boss insisted they get on with 'celebrating' because re-scheduling would take up valuable government time and resources. There she was, unwrapping gifts and choking back tears, mere minutes after the crew had plummeted into the ocean, the guests--all NASA employees--awkwardly milling about in a daze before slipping out to head home. Bureaucratic efficiency... at its finest?

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:28 pm

Viktor K wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:17 am
Kayaking looks so fun. I always saw people floating down the mountains in Colorado. You're definitely making me miss spending some time outdoors, especially around water.

As for go-to recipe, I usually pick up 3-4 chicken breasts, and then 2-3 different vegetables from the supermarket. I wash and cut the vegetables, throw them on the bottom, lay the chicken breasts on top, add some oil, vinegar, and whatever seasoning then let it go for 3-4 hours.
For real, dude, you should get outside. Nothing better than nature for feeling good. I took an hours-long walk through the woods with my mom Saturday morning, and I could feel the anxiety and tension from the work week percolate out of me and float over my right shoulder off into the canopy, step-by-springy-step. Do you live in a place that has any nice parks or beaches?

Your recipe sounds fantastically delicious, and relatively low-prep. I'll give it a go!

Jason
Posts: 1251
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Jason » Tue May 01, 2018 5:32 am

LuxVenture wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:23 pm

My mom was about 10 minutes out from having her bridal shower at NASA JSC the day the real deal exploded.
"Oh, ring!!!" > O-Ring

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Tue May 01, 2018 5:59 pm

Jason wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 5:32 am
LuxVenture wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:23 pm

My mom was about 10 minutes out from having her bridal shower at NASA JSC the day the real deal exploded.
"Oh, ring!!!" > O-Ring
lol, okay, okay... you win. xD

Jason
Posts: 1251
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Jason » Wed May 02, 2018 7:24 am

My Aunt who now has dementia and has completely forgotten about it was married the weekend after JFK was shot. It was actually mirrored in a Mad Men episode. Personal landmarks always war against historic moments. Let's say a couple were tracking the optimum moment to have a child and it turned out to be September 11, 2001. So they wake up that morning and are preparing to engage in the procreative act but realize something might be going on when the first plane crashes. But they have the day circled on the calendar and feel compelled to proceed. They leave the TV on in the background and are going at it despite having one eye on planes crashing all over the place and buildings fallings down and people running through the streets like its the end of the world. So they're struggling with their natural inclination to really want a child with the fact that there might not actually be a world left for the kid to grow up in. It has to be a real struggle. So they finish the act but they have real mixed feelings afterwards. Was there an appropriate moment to stop? Like when the second tower went down? Now they are not sure if they want the act to be successful or not but it turns out it was and she starts showing and they have this secret between them that they conceived on the morning of 9/11. When people start asking the due date they get nervous because its like early June and they don't want people to get suspicious that they had sex the morning of 9/11. They begin praying to God the child isn't born June 11, 2012 but in fact it is and now the nurses and the OBGYN are looking at them really suspicious at which point they finally break down and admit that they climaxed together after the plane flew into the Pentagon and the whole staff is only going to deliver the 9/11 baby because of some two thousand year old oath they stupidly agreed to. The kid comes out all healthy and shit and every year his birthday is just a reminder of great shame. Then at school one day he learns about 9/11 and some asshole kid does the math and starts calling him Bin Laden and he goes home and asks his parents and they are forced to tell him and he says "You didn't even stop when the second tower came down" and they say "But if we did you wouldn't be here" and he says "I wish I wasn't" and his whole life is lived under a shadow that he was conceived during 9/11 and eventually he is found dead under a bridge due to opioid addiction.

LuxVenture
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Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Fri May 04, 2018 9:58 pm

I was walking the pavement after hours today when I looked down and a dandy-looking spider caught my eye. He waved a spindly appendage and and gave a curt nod in acknowledgement.
"Fine weather we're having," he whistled in a whispery voice.
"Mmm," I replied smartly.
"Bit humid though."
"Mmm," I followed with great wit.
And so on.
Eventually, words exhausted, the spider and I regarded one another wearily. His eight eyes trained on me in a hoary, violent gaze, he said, "Well, fuck off then, ya cunt."
The world reeled. I staggered and jerked my head away in shock and loathing, pretending to be only slightly hurt, and left. So it goes.

I've been feeling a touch mad lately, from grief. Passing through grief, the worst I've felt in years. As the Bear Hunt song goes, Can't go over it, can't go under it, gotta go through it...

Aw, hell.

You see, I'd gotten my hopes up. (Christ, I sound like Marvin from Hitchhiker's.) My ex and I had been talking, and had had several compassionate exchanges, and seemed to be moving towards reconciliation. We'd been working on ourselves while separated, and showing progress. She'd invited me to join her on a trip to Canada in June. I told her I'd think about it, and had been moving in the direction of a 'hell yes.'

But then a week ago we fell through the cracks, into the abyss of oblivion. A sudden fight, harsh words exchanged, silence, then two days later, I made the mistake of following some advice I'd read in some codependency books: I stood up for myself and asked for some healthy boundaries when it came to our code of conduct during our disagreements. She reacted by cutting me off entirely. She said she doesn't want me in her life any longer, and to respect her boundaries by refraining from further contact.

There's something acutely different about going through a break-up versus being severed. A break-up has more to do with the relationship. You want this, I want that. Let's meet in the middle, if we can. We got problems, so does everyone else. Better get to solving them, if we can. I stomached the initial break-up well enough without losing my lunch.

But being cut off entirely... such a rejection-of-self twists at my grasp on reality. It's a queer sort of pain. Something broke inside me, and out of the shards rushed the ghosts of two years worth of memories in all their haunting glory. All those mornings waking up next to one another with a giggle and a smile and laughter, the times spent traveling, camping, dreaming... all gone up in smoke. Irretrievable, actualized loss. I'm sure I'll look back gratefully one day at those times, but right now, anger and sadness and fear consume me. Passing through the cave of grief, I encountered a bear and now it's gnawing on my carcass. And making a funny face, because I taste of elderberry, which uncannily also happens to taste of regret and self-pity.

Yes, she's entitled to her own choices. I will respect her wishes. Yet I miss her, plain and simple. I wish we could have worked things out, had a chance to right our wrongs. At least, I wish I could have done right by her, better for her. I want that so badly. To love and be loved, to be vulnerable and gentle... everything was looking so promising, right up until it wasn't.

I wish I had been more responsible.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Three strikes, you're out.

It's funny, spending so much time working to save money to be 'free'--such long days teaching, then coming home with my brain sizzling like a scrambled egg from long days teaching, barely able to focus on her lucidly, always promising to lighten my work load next semester so we could have more quality time--only to lose all contact with the person I cared about the most in the world. Early retirement... EXTREME! Ha-hah! I know this outcome isn't within my ability to control, and thrashing around internally does no good, but I'm not at that stage of acceptance yet. I feel helpless, stymied, my efforts in vain. Life feels so pointless.

Sure, my 'net worth' has gone up. Right now, though, I feel worthless.

DutchGirl
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Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sat May 05, 2018 12:21 am

Sorry to read this, LuxVenture. Love hurts, sometimes. :-( . I hope you'll feel a bit better, soon.

Jason
Posts: 1251
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Jason » Sat May 05, 2018 7:25 am

LuxVenture wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 9:58 pm
I made the mistake of following some advice I'd read in some codependency books: I stood up for myself and asked for some healthy boundaries when it came to our code of conduct during our disagreements. She reacted by cutting me off entirely. She said she doesn't want me in her life any longer, and to respect her boundaries by refraining from further contact.
Man, Joel Rifkin dumped his dead hookers with more concern.

You're better off.

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sun May 06, 2018 3:47 pm

Thanks for the support, guys and gals. I'm doing much better, and very grateful for the kind words. I was definitely having a dark time the other night; writing things down took the edge off. Sometimes you just gotta get strong feeling outside yourself, be it by word-of-mouth or down on paper. Er, pixels. Even if reading back over makes me cringe red-faced at the almost histrionic melancholy of it all. That's how feelings go, sometimes. I'm making my way toward acceptance of my life's circumstances and resolve to learn and grow from the whole experience as best I can.

I was enjoying an unusually bad cup of coffee (paid for by book royalties rather than primary income, in keeping with the spirit of posts being at-least-minimally tangentially relevant to ERE) this morning when I thought up a pun. It's likely not original, but given I've always admired puns yet lack a natural creative aptitude for them, this one springing virgin into my mind really tickled my fancy:

"I'm working out so I can show off my guns," he flexed.
"Yea?"
"Aye, here in Texas we strongly believe in the right to bare arms."

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Mon May 14, 2018 9:49 pm

Image

Howdy folks. Been out adventuring again, this time at my favorite local Texas state park: Brazos Bend. Hit the trails with a friend of mine for much of the day and stayed the night solo. Immensely rejuvenating--I can't find the words to describe how much a full twenty-four hours in nature did for my mental and emotional well-being. Between the gators, the sunshine, the beef jerky, and the spider that snuck in during my 3 am pissing adventure and wove a web overnight to my pillow, my friend's companionship, and my own feelings of peace, I found myself in a state of simple joy.

Been reading Brené Brown lately, namely, Braving the Wilderness. What a damn fine writer and purveyor of the human condition. I really wish I'd taken a class from her back when I was a student at UH. As it is, learning a lot about connecting with different-minded adults. I already work with children all day long that are unique in their own right and always shifting and growing, but I sometimes struggle to relate with other grown-ups because I'm not around them enough. Adults tend to take me by surprise with their maturity and complexity. I've started talking to strangers lately, often in coffee shops. Doing so makes my stomach do a loop-de-loop every time, but hey, going for it anyhow.

I had 13 book sales this weekend, the most in a long time. Very grateful to see royalty income trickling in even though I haven't put out any short stories in over 3 months.

Doing a mini-study on memory-enhancing techniques. Trying to keep my brain working well as I head into my thirties this week.

Begun saving for surgery on my left calf to treat my compartment syndrome. Getting tired of not being able to walk without being in pain. I've already given up my love--running--and still it demands a greater sacrifice. Looking into traveling abroad for affordable treatment. Heil American healthcare, the scourge of the civilized world.

Pretty sure I'm gonna shell out for Macbook tomorrow. I need Apple for Vellum and haven't owned a real laptop in 10 years, and my decade-old desktop is starting to run slow. I already did my research and think I'm gonna get an Air. Should last me another decade after my desktop fails, is portable for my intended travels/planned nomadic life, is light enough to use as a word processor for writing while hiking the Appalachian trail post-surgery, and runs Vellum without Windows-conversion cloud rental and file-transfer shenanigans.


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cimorene12
Posts: 478
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by cimorene12 » Fri May 25, 2018 1:13 pm

I'm glad that you spent some time rejuvenating outdoors. I also hope you had a good time buying your Macbook Air for Vellum and other things. I'm biased because I have one myself.

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:41 pm

cimorene12 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 1:13 pm
I'm glad that you spent some time rejuvenating outdoors. I also hope you had a good time buying your Macbook Air for Vellum and other things. I'm biased because I have one myself.
A little late on my part, but thank you! Funny thing, I ended up needing $1600 of dental work, so I forsook the Macbook and figured out Vellum through Mac in Cloud. Humorously, the virtual desktop runs far more quickly than my own; its like my computer temporarily goes super saiyan. ;P I'll get a Macbook eventually. Thank you for your help last month. You were kind to me.

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:21 pm

Howdy, guys and gals!

The rain's been a-falling, the birds be a-calling, and I have a smile on my face, 'cuz life feels great.

Being an American teacher, this time of year is like a second Christmas, but better, because it lingers for the next two months rather than being a one-off. I've been on full-time vacation for exactly two weeks now, and while I'm going back to work to teach 3 days a week on Monday, I don't mind a whit.

Having time off to live my own life has been monumental. I passed through several phases. The first was shock, as in, "Holy shit, I don't have to drag my ass out of bed this morning! WHAT DO I DO WITH MYSELF?!" Then came the heady intoxication of freedom, of staying up until 3 am without consequence, of long hours-long walks for miles and miles, of re-connecting with friends without having to check the time or worry about where to be next. Finally, a sense of re-connection, of feeling feelings and dreaming dreams. As the exhaustion faded, I found I could take care of myself. I started eating healthy at every meal, made time to go to the gym as much as my body would allow, sat down on the water and ruminated, and dreamed big.

I've made several big decisions in the past two weeks in regards to how I want to live life going forward, which I'll break down over a series of posts, lest I wax eloquent and without direction. I want to keep a level of organization to these batch of posts that reflects the data-driven approach I'm attempting to employ with the more quantifiable aspects of life (calories, lifts, money, etc), while still spinning some yarns here and there.

I realized that I've really gotten lax with saving when it comes to my money expenditure, mainly in the arena of eating out. I want to make a strong push to be more disciplined, which includes having a clear-cut, viable plan and making it stick.

An update on my budget, as of today, and where I would like to take it (numbers in USD):


Monthly Budget, May 2018
Auto insurance: 106
Gas: 88
Internet: 53 (reduced after I found out comcast was giving me 100 Mbps instead of the 300 I was paying for)
Phone: 40 (likely to go to 10 on my family plan once my phone is paid off entirely this September)
Netflix: 11 (I don't use this, but my friends and family do; it's my gift to them)
Food: 250 (in truth, usually much higher as of late, agh!)
Gym: 33
Obamacare: 213 (2nd cheapest plan on the market, HSA compatible!)
Rent: 518
Shopping: 100 (catch-all if the occasional odds and ends, like haircuts, trash bags, toothpaste)
----
TOTAL: 1412
Hours of labor @ $50/hour, then modified for 15% SE tax*: 32.5 HOURS

So, that's where I'm at. I actually have spent more on some fairly mandatory one-off expenses, which I'll get to in a future post, but yea, these are the bare bones that rattle and demand calcium.

I figure I can improve upon my budget. Here's my new goal:

Auto insurance: 50 (Figure I can drop the bells and whistles, especially since I should be on the road less (more on that soon), and my car has nearly depreciated to the point of being worthless)
Gas: 88
Internet: 53
Phone: 40
Netflix: 11 (should I drop this? It's so paltry a cost compared to the utility my loved ones derive from it)
Food: 120 **
Gym: 33
Obamacare: 213
Rent: 518
Shopping: 30 (I'm well-stocked; should be able to cut down extraneous expenses to nearly nothing)
----
TOTAL: 1162
Hours of typical labor @ $50/hour, then modified for 15% SE tax*: 27 HOURS

Monthly work hours saved: 5.5 HOURS

*My income tax rate for 2018 return was something in the ballpark of -4.2%, so I'm mainly conerned with accounting for setting aside the non-negotiable Social Security taxes.

**I took a page out of Jacob's food strategy and am aiming to simplify my diet, cooking at home using loss leaders and affordable, healthy food. Total bill today came to $43.15 and includes staples that should last several weeks, in addition to the perishable stuff like fruits and veggies. I'm going to keep a food diary, cross-reference it to MyFitnessPal where I'm logging what I eat to be more self-aware, and tweak my diet to make sure I'm meeting my dietary goals of optimal protein intake (.82g/pd= ~140g of protein, woof) and otherwise eating healthy and sustainably.

LuxVenture
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm

"...teachers--politcal pundits who, like most so-called experts, have accepted blindly the dominant ideology--are technicians who, by virtue of the domestiating education they receive in an assembly line of ideas and aided by the mystification of this transferred knowledge, seldom reach the critical capacity to develop a coherent comprehension of the world." --Donaldo Macedo, in "Chomsky on MisEducation"

I've been spending much of my free-time this summer attempting to learn. I'm only teaching three days a week through June and July on limited hours, which grants me a tremendous amount of free time and, more importantly, mental energy to expend on my own self. I've lately taken to spending hours in my local university library, a lovely collection of rarer tomes, scouring the place for books on education philosophy. Digesting them, pondering them, modifying my own methods and approach.

I feel simutaneously dumber and smarter after eight years of teaching, compared to my college days. When I was young, I was always learning about new things, making connections, though much of it was book-learning. Most classes were a waste of time, though one-on-one instruction proved immensely valuable. Now, for nearly a decade, I've exchanged that sheer quantity of book-learning for experiential learning. I've been able to experiment, receive real-world feedback, see with my own eyes and ears what aids my children in their development.

A double-edged sword. I've become proficient at helping my kids, at the expense of my personal growth.

I haven't written much about my work. I teach euphonium. It's a mellow-toned, baritone-voiced conical instrument that looks like a baby tuba and is far more popular abroad than in my home country of the US of A. Career opportunities are limited here to auditioning into a military band (ew) or becoming a teacher (like me). Or becoming a virtuoso, which is almost not worth mentioning as someone with the skillset to do so will almost always end up doing something more lucrative and easier.

I teach one-on-one in private lessons throughout three school districts on the southern side of Houston. The city is huge, so I do not want for work. In fact, I had about 80 students this past year, which to my knowledge is the largest euphonium studio that has ever existed. I work with 6th through 12th graders, and consequently experience an extreme range of what humanity has to offer intellectually, from mentally disabled youth to young adults that have a fair shot at becoming the next Bill Gates.

I love each and every one of my kids and everything that makes them unique.

My job has taught me compassion. It has linked me to the heart of my community, inspired me to be a better human being, made me laugh and cry in surpise and delight. Children are so wonderful, and fill me with such hope for humanity in the face of looming potential world-ending annihilation by nukes or destruction of our environment. Chomsky argues that children are rewarded for preserving the status quo, that is, dominant social structures, power hegemonies, and plutocracy; and that critical thinking is generally punished, unless it can be put to service in business.

I see that pattern exists, to be sure, in our plethora of standarized tests, our work load that saps away free time that could be put toward creation, and behavioral standards that have zero tolerance for deviation and therefore stifle real empathy to those that aren't in the middle of the spectrum of 'normality.'

I am lucky because I exist outside the pattern. I am free to teach whatever I like, however I like, custom-tailored to the needs of my students' personality, skill-set, and what they need to develop their creativity and critical thinking. I act as someone that undos the damage wrought in other spheres of education, or miseducation. I ask open-ended questions, and teach my kids that it is safe and appropriate to do so, to question authorities such as myself or their directors, and to self-modify behavior every day based on what feedback data tells us about what our work is producing and what we are becoming. Furthermore, I exist outside the bureaucracy and so am not stifled by adminstration or agendas. The only agenda is critical thinking, open-ended learning, engagement, creativity, all unadulterated. Every student's journey is quite different.

How to measure efficacy? Through competition. The all-state audition process. Grueling, consisting of four rounds on three challenging college-level music excerpts. Only two kids advance from my city for the entire state of Texas, sixteen total for the state, out of an estimated 10,000 euphonium students. Since I graduated with an undergraduate eight years ago and went straight to work, I've had all-staters every year, for eight years straight. That alone guarantees me job security for life so long as I continue living around here.

Of course, this comes at a cost. Double-edged swords and all. The one limiting factor is that market action is curtailed; all teachers that do what I do are limited to the same fixed rate. As a result, economic 'quality' is measured not by being able to charge more but by how many students I attract. To be sure, I have a surprising amount of competition from other teachers, as the rate we make is far superior to what one earns as a public teacher, even at the collegiate level. Despite zero advertising for over six years now, I find myself swamped by reputation. Students constantly contact me throughout the year, wanting to switch from their current teachers to me. I'm already at my limit and turn most new students away now.

So I have financial security, and great job satisfaction. The problem I've run into pursuing ERE is that... it's too much. Thinking critically 7-10 hours a day at peak performance has proven to be a bit beyond me. Five hours? Sure. Seven? Eh. Eight to ten range, depending on schedule... bollux. It melts my brain like an egg in a frying pan, makes me want to scream from over-exertion. Too much of a good thing. And too specialized. If the effort levels were spread across several critical-thinking activities, then maybe... but music? Much less teaching music, which requires non-stop talking, playing my horn, executive function all... there's a reason music has a reputation for being an activity that engages the entire brain. Then throw in the lack of breaks, the only down-time being driving from one school to the next... and that doesn't even broach the subject of my neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome of the right shoulder, which I've suffered through since I was 14, has only become moderately better through surgery, and makes my music-making IMMENSELY painful, a constant war of how much pain I can handle before it interferes with rational thought.

It's a double-edged sword.

I'm going to reduce my work load this coming fall. (I'm thinking 3 days a week, since 1 day is all I need to cover my budget and the other 2 can go toward saving.) It breaks my heart to do so. I love my kids. Some of them who are turning 17, 18 this year have been with me since before they were in their teens. But I need to do it for myself. Life is so short, and I have a terrible itch to do things in addition to music and teaching. The summertime always reminds me of this, when I can pass long afternoons in the library reading, or out in nature existing at peace.

A close friend my own age committed suicide a month ago. I never expected to find myself delievering a euology at his funeral at so young an age. We knew each other since we were 12, when we met in band, similar in age to the kids I start. He was playing Saria's song during lunch on his sax; I heard him and thought, "Wow, this guy is cool!" Amazing individual. Brilliant mind. And so hard on himself, a reflection of his South Korean upbringing. We drifted after college, and unknown to me--to all of his friends--he failed out of college twice. The pain was so great that he turned to hard drugs. The last week in May, he drove himself out to the middle of nowhere in East Texas and swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills.

What a way to go. He created such amazing, weird little worlds and invited us all into them for a joyous romp. What a loss of a loving, kind, hilarious man. And a reminder that death awaits us all. I have things I want to do before I die.

I don't want to spend it all in this one chosen specialty. I'm hungry for more. I've begun the process of writing my first full-length novel. I have everything I need to bring it into reality. Except...

I just need time. TIME. To create. I have so little time, teaching as much as I normally do. What's the point of money without TIME? Everyone's time runs out. I'm going to adjust my journey to free up time. I may reach ERE many years later than expected, but so be it. What's the point of living life, making bank, when it could all end so suddenly and every day feels like walking through a dream, knowing tomorrow is going to be so similiar to yesterday? All the creation and critical thinking in the world, all the social service and connection, has a hard limit in returns provided. I've run into that wall.

It's time to make a change.

Black and white cat
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:55 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Black and white cat » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:46 pm

Hello @LuxVenture

I'm new to the forum and have been following your journal for a while.

Congratulations on making the decision to move to a 3- day work week. It sounds as though, even if you reduce your hours, you will still be able to save some money and concentrate on what's important to you.

I sympathise with your mixed feelings about reducing the amount of time spent teaching your students. On the flip side, though, you might be more engaged with your remaining students and a focus on pedagogy will surely help you think about your teaching practice (as you've already been doing this summer).

It's sad to hear about your friend who ended his life. It makes me think of the saying: 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle' (that we often know nothing about). How are you feeling now? I hope you are able to take care of yourself.

Congratulations once again and I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer.

cimorene12
Posts: 478
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm

LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
I've been spending much of my free-time this summer attempting to learn. I'm only teaching three days a week through June and July on limited hours, which grants me a tremendous amount of free time and, more importantly, mental energy to expend on my own self. I've lately taken to spending hours in my local university library, a lovely collection of rarer tomes, scouring the place for books on education philosophy. Digesting them, pondering them, modifying my own methods and approach.
That sounds like a great way to spend a summer to me.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
I feel simutaneously dumber and smarter after eight years of teaching, compared to my college days. When I was young, I was always learning about new things, making connections, though much of it was book-learning. Most classes were a waste of time, though one-on-one instruction proved immensely valuable. Now, for nearly a decade, I've exchanged that sheer quantity of book-learning for experiential learning. I've been able to experiment, receive real-world feedback, see with my own eyes and ears what aids my children in their development.

A double-edged sword. I've become proficient at helping my kids, at the expense of my personal growth.
I'd argue that you haven't sacrificed your personal growth. Experimenting with the best methods to teach children leaves you better off than you were before. Certainly there's room for all humans to improve in multiple areas, but the time definitely hasn't been wasted.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
My job has taught me compassion. It has linked me to the heart of my community, inspired me to be a better human being, made me laugh and cry in surpise and delight. Children are so wonderful, and fill me with such hope for humanity in the face of looming potential world-ending annihilation by nukes or destruction of our environment. Chomsky argues that children are rewarded for preserving the status quo, that is, dominant social structures, power hegemonies, and plutocracy; and that critical thinking is generally punished, unless it can be put to service in business.

I see that pattern exists, to be sure, in our plethora of standarized tests, our work load that saps away free time that could be put toward creation, and behavioral standards that have zero tolerance for deviation and therefore stifle real empathy to those that aren't in the middle of the spectrum of 'normality.'
I really agree with the idea that most children are asked to preserve the status quo. One of the gifts that I was given in high school was an emphasis on critical thinking... and a separate one was how to be friendly to complete strangers, which is something that is trained out of small children.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
I am lucky because I exist outside the pattern. I am free to teach whatever I like, however I like, custom-tailored to the needs of my students' personality, skill-set, and what they need to develop their creativity and critical thinking. I act as someone that undos the damage wrought in other spheres of education, or miseducation. I ask open-ended questions, and teach my kids that it is safe and appropriate to do so, to question authorities such as myself or their directors, and to self-modify behavior every day based on what feedback data tells us about what our work is producing and what we are becoming. Furthermore, I exist outside the bureaucracy and so am not stifled by adminstration or agendas. The only agenda is critical thinking, open-ended learning, engagement, creativity, all unadulterated. Every student's journey is quite different.
Your description reminds me of a later part of The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, where he discusses how important sincerely great teachers are for growth. If you haven't read it, I'd definitely recommend it.
https://www.amazon.com/Talent-Code-Grea ... 0026OR1UK/
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
Only two kids advance from my city for the entire state of Texas, sixteen total for the state, out of an estimated 10,000 euphonium students. Since I graduated with an undergraduate eight years ago and went straight to work, I've had all-staters every year, for eight years straight. That alone guarantees me job security for life so long as I continue living around here.
Wow. That's something to be exceptionally proud of.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
Of course, this comes at a cost. Double-edged swords and all. The one limiting factor is that market action is curtailed; all teachers that do what I do are limited to the same fixed rate. As a result, economic 'quality' is measured not by being able to charge more but by how many students I attract. To be sure, I have a surprising amount of competition from other teachers, as the rate we make is far superior to what one earns as a public teacher, even at the collegiate level. Despite zero advertising for over six years now, I find myself swamped by reputation. Students constantly contact me throughout the year, wanting to switch from their current teachers to me. I'm already at my limit and turn most new students away now.
Have you ever tested the belief that there's a fixed rate? It seems to me that you're better than some of the other teachers. It could certainly be true that you're stuck at the market rate (you've had more years of experience in this industry than I have obviously), but with students constantly trying to get into your schedule, surely there's some wiggle room. There's a Ramit Sethi/Marie Forleo discussion on raising rates which you reminded me of, and the video provides a script for raising rates.
https://youtu.be/jy2xxhfKDNM?t=1m8s
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
I have financial security, and great job satisfaction. The problem I've run into pursuing ERE is that... it's too much. Thinking critically 7-10 hours a day at peak performance has proven to be a bit beyond me. Five hours? Sure. Seven? Eh. Eight to ten range, depending on schedule... bollux. It melts my brain like an egg in a frying pan, makes me want to scream from over-exertion. Too much of a good thing. And too specialized. If the effort levels were spread across several critical-thinking activities, then maybe... but music? Much less teaching music, which requires non-stop talking, playing my horn, executive function all... there's a reason music has a reputation for being an activity that engages the entire brain. Then throw in the lack of breaks, the only down-time being driving from one school to the next... and that doesn't even broach the subject of my neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome of the right shoulder, which I've suffered through since I was 14, has only become moderately better through surgery, and makes my music-making IMMENSELY painful, a constant war of how much pain I can handle before it interferes with rational thought.

It's a double-edged sword.

I'm going to reduce my work load this coming fall. (I'm thinking 3 days a week, since 1 day is all I need to cover my budget and the other 2 can go toward saving.) It breaks my heart to do so. I love my kids. Some of them who are turning 17, 18 this year have been with me since before they were in their teens. But I need to do it for myself. Life is so short, and I have a terrible itch to do things in addition to music and teaching. The summertime always reminds me of this, when I can pass long afternoons in the library reading, or out in nature existing at peace.
Would it be possible for you to spend more time outside? It seems to me that being out in nature really helps rejuvenate you. You describe a schedule where sometimes you're working from 7 AM to 8 PM, which is a lot of time spent working (I also count the transit time). Also, would you be limiting things to 5 hours a day for 3 days a week? I may not be reading what you've said correctly, but having X inventory allotted for teaching would play into raising your rates. I am not a professional musician making a living by teaching kids, but I've been playing piano since the week that I turned 4, so I know that there are different levels of teachers. If you hold onto the ones who are about to go off to college and are near the finish line, maybe it would be possible to vet a few other euphonium teachers in your area that you think would help your younger students, so you can point them in the right direction (as noted in Ramit's script) instead of just turning kids you care about out into the cold. I'd frame cutting some of your students as focusing on your more advanced kids. Eighty students is a lot. I recognize that you've already seen the personal cost associated with having that many students.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm
I have things I want to do before I die.

I don't want to spend it all in this one chosen specialty. I'm hungry for more. I've begun the process of writing my first full-length novel. I have everything I need to bring it into reality. Except...

I just need time. TIME. To create. I have so little time, teaching as much as I normally do. What's the point of money without TIME? Everyone's time runs out. I'm going to adjust my journey to free up time. I may reach ERE many years later than expected, but so be it. What's the point of living life, making bank, when it could all end so suddenly and every day feels like walking through a dream, knowing tomorrow is going to be so similiar to yesterday? All the creation and critical thinking in the world, all the social service and connection, has a hard limit in returns provided. I've run into that wall.

It's time to make a change.
Mark Cuban says that everyone on this planet has the same amount of time, from the richest person to the poorest person. ERE isn't about racing to the finish line without any appreciation of the journey. I think that you're aiming for peak happiness, which I think is a good goal. And as far as hitting a wall, it's pretty clear that there's a certain point where the marginal utility of each hour of teaching has diminished to negative utility. You describe your brain melting like an egg in a frying pan, which is a symptom of something going wrong. I'm not a medical expert, but it's pretty clear that your body (your right shoulder in particular) is protesting. You spoke about your buddy being so hard on himself, and I think it's reasonable to ask you to be kinder to yourself. One of the jokes I always crack about being self-employed is that my boss is a real bitch. There's a balance between "making enough money to live on and save" and "pushing myself so hard that I injure myself" (lots of writers have problems with carpal tunnel, ulnar nerve entrapment, and shoulder trouble). Writing can also strain your shoulder, but I'm sure that you have certain ergonomic things to make sure that you don't hurt yourself while writing novels.

Anyhow, it's a pleasure to read your journal. Please keep us updated.

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