LuxVenture's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Jason
Posts: 1413
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
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

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
Posts: 1156
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: 1413
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: 28
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: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

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

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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: 483
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: 28
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: 28
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: 28
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: 8
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: 483
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.

LuxVenture
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:29 pm

Black and white cat wrote:
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.
Hiya cat, and welcome! I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.

Thank you for the congrats and condolences. I have my fingers crossed that this will all work out well. I'm looking forward to leading a more varied life, for sure. I agree that as quantity of students goes down, quality of teaching will rise. As for my friend, it's terrible, but at the very least I feel like I understand why he did what he did, and respect it. He grew up in a household without love, and it took a heavy toll on his psyche. I'm personally okay, having had months to grieve his death properly and remember what made him special.

What are you up to these days? On an FI adventure yourself? How's life? :D Cheers, I hope your summer has been fantastic as well.

LuxVenture
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm

Hi Cimorene12, it's great to hear from you again. :) How has your summer been? Keeping cool, living the good life?

First off, thank you for taking the time to write to me with such detail. It's a really great feeling to put one's most intimate thoughts and feelings down and have someone like you respond at length.
cimorene12 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm

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.
You are right, of course. I think improvement, especially in how best to help children, is always going to be time well spent. I suppose that burnout from this past work year had really tinged everything a bit sardonic--now that I've had a couple months to unwind, I'm able to appreciate how that time was spent. Perspective!
cimorene12 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm
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.
Critical thinking and universal compassion . . . mmm. The humanities. There's a lot to be said for the under-noticed costs of industrializing our society. We have lots of nice things compared to past generations, to be sure, but the cost to humanity's . . . humanity is noticeable. I'm really happy to hear you received those things, as I'm sure you can attest the profound change for the better acquiring those gifts had on your life.
cimorene12 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm
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.
Great book, wonderful introduction to the fundamentals of purposeful practice. Great teachers are remembered for a reason. Interestingly, private instruction has been shown in replicated research to improve test scores by two standard deviations, a boost I would consider profoundly OP (=over-powered, for those who aren't gamers, lol). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_2_Sigma_Problem I'm a firm believer that anyone can become extremely proficient at any skill if they want it enough, and I think that mentality is partly why I've seen such success in my teaching biz. There's nothing more enjoyable than taking a kid sitting last chair in the 5th band, that has been told by their other teachers that they will never amount to anything, they're all washed up before they ever began, and tell them, "Nope, you're amazing, and you're going to be great, now let's get to work," and see them transform into a great musician. It's the long game that counts.

To that end, if you've ever read Stephen King's On Writing, well, I personally believe that he messed up when he pulled his son out of saxophone lessons very early on (and that while all his writing advice is superb, my own experience has demonstrated that his exposition on talent dichotomies is bunk). Not everyone starts with the itch to create, or resonates with their ideal craft immediately--sometimes, the passion takes years to take root . . . and when it does, boy, hold on to your britches, it's gonna be one wild ride.
cimorene12 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm
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.
I contract with three public school districts in Houston when I go to teach. They let me into the schools, and in exchange I agree to not exceed the market rate, which they fix. The schools are government entities, and they take this very seriously; private teachers who have attempted overreach in the past have been met with termination, barred from all state schools, and litigation.

If I taught out of my own home, I could charge whatever I want . . . but that business model would be rather tricky, given A.) my present home is tiny and B.) I would have to have students come on the weekend, since they are attend school during the day and after-school hours would be quite limited (and I'd be running into noise complaint problems; euphoniums are loud). That being said, if there's a will there's a way . . . I'll have to look at this further. I suppose my desire for home privacy is a factor in this as well.
cimorene12 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm
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.
Nature is the best, no doubt about it. The main challenge with reducing student count is logistical; my students are spread across so many schools that it is more a matter of culling some schools entirely while keeping others. I presently commute 30-70 miles a day, depending on distance and number of schools to go to (Houston is a vast sprawl). The only way I can retain veteran students at cut schools is by having them come to me after school to a location where I'm at. Possible! Unfortunately, some band directors tend to be control freaks about their turf, and bar visiting students . . . especially if they are from different school districts. I think you're spot-on about finding them a replacement--I've already been in talks with the other local teachers, and may be visiting my alma mater soon to talk with the professor and see if there are any graduate or doctoral students interested in taking on some of my kids.

You play piano? Go you! :D Do you have go to it after a long writing day to cool the mind off, plunk out a little slice of auditory joy?
cimorene12 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:09 pm
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.
You are correct. I think I lost sight of enjoying the journey this past year; I maxed out my work hours to the point of breaking in the name of savings . . . but it's called Early Retirement Extreme, not Go Home Every Night and Wish You Were Dead, Might As Well Emigrate To Asia And Intern At a Sweatshop. This summer has given me a lot of perspective--if it takes a few extra years to FI, so be it. I'd rather feel human--shit, feel, period--than get to the end with those years spent working being a bundle of regret and angst and one-foot-in-front-of-the-other. Your analysis is spot-on. How did you find your own balance between work and life, especially given that you are also the sole arbiter of how much you do every day?

Writing doesn't hurt me, thank God. It's a pain-free playground for expression. Playing my horn still hurts like hell, and likely always will--neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome isn't curable, given it is a structural defect; deep breathing will always hurt--so not having to teach music as much will likely improve my quality of life in the long run.

Thank you again, kind soul. I'm grateful for our banter. :D
Last edited by LuxVenture on Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LuxVenture
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:44 pm

Alright, state of the union. Which I think would read a lot better if we would replace "union" with "onion." State of the Onion . . . that might actually attract viewership. Instead of the usual rolled eyes and crossed arms in response to broken promises and empty rhetoric, we'd have folks weeping. Great optics. Numbers, baby, numbers!

Summer has been good for me, this past month in particular. Exercise, loved ones, traveling, writing . . . these things make me happy and give me a sense of purpose.

Using the lessons I've learned during the past 16 years of dealing with TOS, I've managed to craft an exercise regimen of "safe" exercises, that is, those are have been proven least likely to cause injury over long-term use. Important stuff, given I'm highly injury-prone. That means I've killed power-lifting exercises, even stuff like squats, in favor of those that are very kind to joints and general ergonomics. I'm going for high-volume, ~40% ORM hypertrophy, and am especially pleased with the results from the past few months' work. I am beginning to look a lot less like a wholesome pear and more like an underwhelming ape, which seems like a step in the right direction given my heritage.

Thanks to summer free time, I've been able to spend more time with those I love. What a reminder that humans are a social species, and I'm no exception--relationships really create a special sort of joy that can't be had on one's own. I've caught up with my mom, dad, sis, lots of old friends, my roommate . . . and even reconciled with the gal I love. We spent months figuring out ourselves and what matters to us, and after all that work, we're giving it another go. We've been quite happy. I'm not going to write at length or detail here, for the sake of our mutual privacy, but let's just say that I am hopeful about our future. It isn't every day you encounter someone who just . . . gets you, and you her. Shares the same interests, sense of humor, ideals. We're committed to doing our best to work through all the challenges that life can throw at us, and of our own idiosyncratic making.

Hmm, roommate . . . there's a story here worth telling, though I must warn, it is discomfiting. I'll likely be moving soon, when my lease ends late October 2018. My present home on the waterfront is great and affordable, but I want to be able to support my roommate without enabling him, or lighting myself on fire in the process. My roommate: a fuzzball of energy, gregarious, a likable comedian, as ruggedly handsome as he is short. A good old friend. Also an alcoholic who is teetering on the edge of self-destruction.

Two weeks ago, he got drunk and drove off from a bar at 3 am. His BAC was 5x over the legal limit. He woke up later that morning chained to a hospital bed, not knowing why. Turns out, he ran himself directly head-on into an 18-wheeler at about 70 mph (the truck was probably going 50 mph). Had to be cut out of his vehicle, which had taken on the appearance of can of soda after it's been emptied and smashed with one's foot. Authorities were doing so to retrieve his corpse, and were rather surprised to find him alive in there. Somehow, he had not a single scratch on him. (The truck and its driver shrugged it off fine, thanks God; 18-wheelers don't give a crap.)

Two days after the accident, I got into a conversation with my friendly neighbors that live next door and below me; a truck driver and hospital nurse. They both told me the odds of him living through a head-on collision with a truck that size--with no injuries!!!--were astronomically low, to the point of it being miracle territory. Heaven forbid if he'd hit a smaller vehicle; he'd be gone, and so would at least one other person. Now my roommate is looking at 10 days in jail, thousands in fines . . . and he keeps on drinking. I've had heart-to-hearts with him, but I mean, if you've ever known an alcoholic . . . what a terrible illness.

The problem, of course, is that he's an addict that will do anything for his fix. He nearly killed himself and others with the bottle, yet he keeps putting it to his lips. He'll come home drunk, then two days later he boasts to me about how he's been doing great, that he's sticking to non-alcoholic beers, in denial about his drinking mere nights prior. The cycle repeats.

On one hand, I've known this guy since we were kids tooting our horns in 6th grade band; I know the family life he had at home as a kid, his emotionally abusive mom, his physically abusive step-father(s). I have sympathy for his past. But hell, when you have problems you can't go around haplessly self-terminating and taking others with you as you do so. It's just not right. Drunk driving is inexcusable. There are alternatives, there is help to be had. But he has to make the choice to be free of it, truly and whole-heartedly. Only he can make and live that choice. If he doesn't beat this, it will beat him. One can get lucky only so many times in life. I'd rather not bury another friend before his time.

Oh well. I have a mess of emotions regarding him and his situation. I love him, but I recognize I'm co-dependent and he's a narcissistic alcoholic, and I'm very at risk for doing the wrong thing with regards to how I treat him. I want to do right by him, and I think that'll be best done from a distance, not under the same roof.

Anyone here have experience with an alcoholic friend or family member? I imagine it is not very compatible with ERE.

Next post, Part II, is traveling and writing.

cimorene12
Posts: 483
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm

LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
How has your summer been? Keeping cool, living the good life?
I gotta say, it's incredibly hot. If living the good life includes discussing how to pickle a truly tremendous number of lemons (hundreds), then yes, I am living an excellent life. We have a goal of growing or catching at least 50% of our food supply and while we are, to some extent, successful at it, anybody who has ever lived on a farm knows the dread of eating things "in season".
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
First off, thank you for taking the time to write to me with such detail. It's a really great feeling to put one's most intimate thoughts and feelings down and have someone like you respond at length.
I'm glad you like it! I'll make a point of stopping by and speaking up then.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
You are right, of course. I think improvement, especially in how best to help children, is always going to be time well spent. I suppose that burnout from this past work year had really tinged everything a bit sardonic--now that I've had a couple months to unwind, I'm able to appreciate how that time was spent. Perspective!
Yes, everything looks better when your nose isn't against the grindstone.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
Critical thinking and universal compassion . . . mmm. The humanities. There's a lot to be said for the under-noticed costs of industrializing our society. We have lots of nice things compared to past generations, to be sure, but the cost to humanity's . . . humanity is noticeable. I'm really happy to hear you received those things, as I'm sure you can attest the profound change for the better acquiring those gifts had on your life.
Yeah. High school was not perfect, but there were some really good parts.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
Great book, wonderful introduction to the fundamentals of purposeful practice. Great teachers are remembered for a reason. Interestingly, private instruction has been shown in replicated research to improve test scores by two standard deviations, a boost I would consider profoundly OP (=over-powered, for those who aren't gamers, lol). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_2_Sigma_Problem I'm a firm believer that anyone can become extremely proficient at any skill if they want it enough, and I think that mentality is partly why I've seen such success in my teaching biz. There's nothing more enjoyable than taking a kid sitting last chair in the 5th band, that has been told by their other teachers that they will never amount to anything, they're all washed up before they ever began, and tell them, "Nope, you're amazing, and you're going to be great, now let's get to work," and see them transform into a great musician. It's the long game that counts.
Yup, absolutely. Teachers who really believe in you matter. My eighth grade English teacher told me and one other kid in the class that we'd grow up to be writers; after talking to other people who had her as a teacher, I know that she tells that to a few kids in all of her classes. And in some cases, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you can hone your skills to become good enough at something to make a living at it, you can.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
To that end, if you've ever read Stephen King's On Writing, well, I personally believe that he messed up when he pulled his son out of saxophone lessons very early on (and that while all his writing advice is superb, my own experience has demonstrated that his exposition on talent dichotomies is bunk). Not everyone starts with the itch to create, or resonates with their ideal craft immediately--sometimes, the passion takes years to take root . . . and when it does, boy, hold on to your britches, it's gonna be one wild ride.
Yeah, I've read On Writing. The reason why Asian parents relentlessly push their kids in pursuit of musical excellence isn't so that they make a living playing cello, piano, violin, or whatever. It's about teaching them to pursue a long-term goal with daily practice. Peak by Anders Ericsson discusses Malcolm Gladwell's popularization of the 10k hours rule and points out that it's kind of arbitrary despite being based on Ericsson's work. It's not necessarily about 10k hours of practice by a certain time; it's about slogging through for a really long time. Even when you hate it. Even when your fingers hurt and you want to go to sleep. Pursuit of mastery means that you still push through. https://www.amazon.com/Peak-Secrets-New ... 011H56MKS/
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
I contract with three public school districts in Houston when I go to teach. They let me into the schools, and in exchange I agree to not exceed the market rate, which they fix. The schools are government entities, and they take this very seriously; private teachers who have attempted overreach in the past have been met with termination, barred from all state schools, and litigation.

If I taught out of my own home, I could charge whatever I want . . . but that business model would be rather tricky, given A.) my present home is tiny and B.) I would have to have students come on the weekend, since they are attend school during the day and after-school hours would be quite limited (and I'd be running into noise complaint problems; euphoniums are loud). That being said, if there's a will there's a way . . . I'll have to look at this further. I suppose my desire for home privacy is a factor in this as well.
Is there any way that you can rent music studio space? When I was growing up, I remember the local music store having a section where music teachers could regularly rent an empty small studio so they could teach there. They didn't have a boss, they were just responsible for paying the rent on time. I don't know if that is more common with piano since it's a little less mobile of an instrument than a euphonium, but I've seen it.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
Nature is the best, no doubt about it. The main challenge with reducing student count is logistical; my students are spread across so many schools that it is more a matter of culling some schools entirely while keeping others. I presently commute 30-70 miles a day, depending on distance and number of schools to go to (Houston is a vast sprawl). The only way I can retain veteran students at cut schools is by having them come to me after school
Commuting 30-70 miles a day is a lot. It probably is a matter of cutting down the furthest flung schools and clustering the schools so that when you teach, you minimize your overall travel time. You've also reminded me of a classic Mr. Money Mustache rant. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10 ... commuting/

If you had your own music studio space, you wouldn't have to worry about encroaching on anybody's turf.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
I think you're spot-on about finding them a replacement--I've already been in talks with the other local teachers, and may be visiting my alma mater soon to talk with the professor and see if there are any graduate or doctoral students interested in taking on some of my kids.
Sending your kids to other people will be really great, as long as you are vetting their teaching techniques and how they handle students. I know that you want to leave them in good hands even as you wind down.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
You are correct. I think I lost sight of enjoying the journey this past year; I maxed out my work hours to the point of breaking in the name of savings . . . but it's called Early Retirement Extreme, not Go Home Every Night and Wish You Were Dead, Might As Well Emigrate To Asia And Intern At a Sweatshop. This summer has given me a lot of perspective--if it takes a few extra years to FI, so be it. I'd rather feel human--shit, feel, period--than get to the end with those years spent working being a bundle of regret and angst and one-foot-in-front-of-the-other. Your analysis is spot-on. How did you find your own balance between work and life, especially given that you are also the sole arbiter of how much you do every day?
Take a few more years to reach FI and be happy. Happiness cannot be bought (beyond buying the essentials for daily life), but a few experiences that facilitate happiness can. I don't know how to achieve work-life balance because it's something I'm not great at. I'm kind of legendary for being insanely productive and there are trade-offs and costs associated with that.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:28 pm
Writing doesn't hurt me, thank God. It's a pain-free playground for expression. Playing my horn still hurts like hell, and likely always will--neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome isn't curable, given it is a structural defect; deep breathing will always hurt--so not having to teach music as much will likely improve my quality of life in the long run.
I'm glad that writing doesn't hurt you. Improving your quality of life sounds good :)
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:44 pm
Summer has been good for me, this past month in particular. Exercise, loved ones, traveling, writing . . . these things make me happy and give me a sense of purpose.
[snip]
Thanks to summer free time, I've been able to spend more time with those I love. What a reminder that humans are a social species, and I'm no exception--relationships really create a special sort of joy that can't be had on one's own. I've caught up with my mom, dad, sis, lots of old friends, my roommate . . . and even reconciled with the gal I love. We spent months figuring out ourselves and what matters to us, and after all that work, we're giving it another go. We've been quite happy. I'm not going to write at length or detail here, for the sake of our mutual privacy, but let's just say that I am hopeful about our future. It isn't every day you encounter someone who just . . . gets you, and you her. Shares the same interests, sense of humor, ideals. We're committed to doing our best to work through all the challenges that life can throw at us, and of our own idiosyncratic making.
It sounds like you're in a much happier place than you were before. I know your long working hours impacted your relationship, and I'm hoping that everything continues to go well even when the next school year starts. You deserve to be happy, and sometimes that means you need to carve out some space for yourself.

Black and white cat
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:55 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Black and white cat » Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:34 am

Hi LuxVenture,

I'm glad you are doing better.

It does sound like such a struggle to decide on how best to help your friend/ roommate. Without wishing to step on your toes too much, it seems from the very limited knowledge I have of you that you want to be able to help people and that you sometimes take on other people's problems. I, too, do this way too much and it leads to a lot of frustration because it seems that I end up trying to sort things out that I actually have no control over! Most recently this has been at play in my workplace as I have had managers asking me to "get students to do X" and, when I inevitably fail to "make" anyone do anything then it somehow becomes my fault/ my problem to deal with! It also just takes up so much energy that I don't have.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:29 pm
What are you up to these days? On an FI adventure yourself? How's life? Cheers, I hope your summer has been fantastic as well.
As for me, I haven't yet had to courage to start up a diary on here but hoping I might some time soon! It is mainly because I am in a stage of limbo, with me not quite sure on what I am doing etc. It is likely that I will try to reach semi- ERE (I've got a few years of expenses saved) but my attitude can change quickly depending on whether I have had a good or bad day! I'm 30 F and have done a variety of different things- but mainly research and teaching (adults). I should have more clarity in the next couple of months about what I will do for the next year :)

LuxVenture
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:59 am

cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
I gotta say, it's incredibly hot. If living the good life includes discussing how to pickle a truly tremendous number of lemons (hundreds), then yes, I am living an excellent life. We have a goal of growing or catching at least 50% of our food supply and while we are, to some extent, successful at it, anybody who has ever lived on a farm knows the dread of eating things "in season".
Yeah, this summer is a-blazin'! I really feel ya. I was teaching masterclasses at some band camps this week, and my kiddos were coming in from their morning visual block, aka marching around with instruments in near-100 degree weather and 100% humidity. They looked like they were stroking out, and I imagine the sentiment is shared on the farm. That's amazing that you are self-sufficient to that degree. You're living my dream. . . . what's a pickled lemon taste like? lol
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
I'm glad you like it! I'll make a point of stopping by and speaking up then.
Thankee kindly! :D Always a pleasure to hear from you.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
Yup, absolutely. Teachers who really believe in you matter. My eighth grade English teacher told me and one other kid in the class that we'd grow up to be writers; after talking to other people who had her as a teacher, I know that she tells that to a few kids in all of her classes. And in some cases, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you can hone your skills to become good enough at something to make a living at it, you can.
Self-belief is key, to be sure. Doubt runs rampant at adolescence (and in most adults); having someone there to assure you that you are capable of great things changes lives. Even a key word of encouragement here or there can act as a seed that, over years, changes one's life entirely.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
Yeah, I've read On Writing. The reason why Asian parents relentlessly push their kids in pursuit of musical excellence isn't so that they make a living playing cello, piano, violin, or whatever. It's about teaching them to pursue a long-term goal with daily practice. Peak by Anders Ericsson discusses Malcolm Gladwell's popularization of the 10k hours rule and points out that it's kind of arbitrary despite being based on Ericsson's work. It's not necessarily about 10k hours of practice by a certain time; it's about slogging through for a really long time. Even when you hate it. Even when your fingers hurt and you want to go to sleep. Pursuit of mastery means that you still push through.
Yes, yes, yes. Self-discipline. It is a challenging thing to obtain, but once you have it, you possess the grit to do anything. All of my most talented kids tend to have a breakthrough moment, an experience where they lucidly comprehend the sum effect of all their effort. It's almost like they flip a switch; they practice all the harder, and are fully aware of how they are self-modifying their behavior, which leads to improvement they can see in hear, which in turn . . . cyclical. And of course, there are no shortcuts for time invested. Work-over-time is king for skill acquisition. I'll definitely check out the book you linked.

I had a fun moment yesterday that speaks to what you described here. My second masterclass of the day. 15 euphonium players working on their marching show. They were hyper, jubilant that the weekend (and rest) was near, and also on a pizza high after a band field trip to Cici's Pizza. Compared to the focus they exhibited Monday through Thursday, their attention was all over the place. I decided to make a point . . . I called them to attention (there's a certain decorum to follow when repping marching music) and they were still chitter-chattering. I quietly took out my phone and started recording them, then did a run of the movement. As soon as they finished, I held my phone aloft and played their music back to them.

Utter shit-show. Cracked starts. Individuals entering incorrectly in rests. Over-cooked tone. Abysmal phrasing. And as they listened ("Oh crap, he recorded us!"), it was hilarious to see them realize how much their lack of focus degraded their performance (they had been stellar on the other days). Cue speech on making every single rep count, that time in life is limited, and why show up if you aren't going to apply yourself? It's fine to be relaxed, mingle quietly with neighbors as needed, etc. so long as the students can literally snap to attention--that is, focus their attention on demand to a refined degree.

More recordings followed, and you can bet they were a hell of a lot better than that first botched attempt. Yes, it was late on a Friday, yes, they felt hyper, yes, it's hard for a child to focus intensely at the end of two hours of advanced music-making with exhausted chops . . . but nonetheless, they proved to themselves they are capable, and that they should treat their own time and efforts with more respect when coming together to make music. Simply holding up a mirror was all it took for them to assume an appropriate level of self-responsibility--because they care about their craft enough to slog through the shit, as all artists should.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
Is there any way that you can rent music studio space? When I was growing up, I remember the local music store having a section where music teachers could regularly rent an empty small studio so they could teach there. They didn't have a boss, they were just responsible for paying the rent on time. I don't know if that is more common with piano since it's a little less mobile of an instrument than a euphonium, but I've seen it.
Ahhhh, I imagine there is, but in terms of cost-efficiency, it's a no-go. There is one store locally that allows that (usually for folks that aren't allowed direct access in the public schools or don't run a home studio) but from what I've heard, that music studio takes 50% of the lesson payment as their cut. Absurd! I'll have to double-check and see if there's anything else around, but I doubt it. That business model doesn't seem to exist in Houston due to the robust public school programs bringing in specialists directly to the schools.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
Commuting 30-70 miles a day is a lot. It probably is a matter of cutting down the furthest flung schools and clustering the schools so that when you teach, you minimize your overall travel time. You've also reminded me of a classic Mr. Money Mustache rant.
Yeah. It's a stupid amount of driving. I suppose Houstonians are conditioned for it (lol, what's a sidewalk?). You're spot-on.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
Take a few more years to reach FI and be happy. Happiness cannot be bought (beyond buying the essentials for daily life), but a few experiences that facilitate happiness can. I don't know how to achieve work-life balance because it's something I'm not great at. I'm kind of legendary for being insanely productive and there are trade-offs and costs associated with that.
Do you find your work brings you the most happiness compared to alternative activities?

I've always felt caught up in a weird dynamic. My dad was a NASA workaholic, a scientist then administrator that always put his work above everything else in his life. It brought him satisfaction, though it cost it dearly when it came to his relationships (multiple divorces, children that move away from him, present wife that is never at home, leaving him lonely in retirement). On the other side is my mom, who hasn't worked for pay since she FI'd at age 26 back in the late 80's after reading Your Money or Your Life. She is wise and loving, though she struggles with depression at times that I can't help but think has to do with not having a work routine to channel her creative energy. Seeing my parents have such different relationships with work has led me search out a happy medium, something that I think I still struggle with. I have periods of intense production (80 student studio work-weeks, churning out novellas in a week's time) intermingled with hippie-like lulls where I usually end up wasting my time binging video games. Maybe this is just the ebb and flow of my passions. Perhaps I'm just a monkey in search of his next fix.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 pm
It sounds like you're in a much happier place than you were before. I know your long working hours impacted your relationship, and I'm hoping that everything continues to go well even when the next school year starts. You deserve to be happy, and sometimes that means you need to carve out some space for yourself.
Thank you so much. How are ya spending your time these days, outside of pickling lemons? ;D Everything going well?
Last edited by LuxVenture on Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

LuxVenture
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by LuxVenture » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:23 am

Black and white cat wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:34 am
Hi LuxVenture,

I'm glad you are doing better.

It does sound like such a struggle to decide on how best to help your friend/ roommate. Without wishing to step on your toes too much, it seems from the very limited knowledge I have of you that you want to be able to help people and that you sometimes take on other people's problems. I, too, do this way too much and it leads to a lot of frustration because it seems that I end up trying to sort things out that I actually have no control over! Most recently this has been at play in my workplace as I have had managers asking me to "get students to do X" and, when I inevitably fail to "make" anyone do anything then it somehow becomes my fault/ my problem to deal with! It also just takes up so much energy that I don't have.
LuxVenture wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:29 pm
What are you up to these days? On an FI adventure yourself? How's life? Cheers, I hope your summer has been fantastic as well.
As for me, I haven't yet had to courage to start up a diary on here but hoping I might some time soon! It is mainly because I am in a stage of limbo, with me not quite sure on what I am doing etc. It is likely that I will try to reach semi- ERE (I've got a few years of expenses saved) but my attitude can change quickly depending on whether I have had a good or bad day! I'm 30 F and have done a variety of different things- but mainly research and teaching (adults). I should have more clarity in the next couple of months about what I will do for the next year :)
Hey, it's great to hear from ya!

I definitely take on other people's problems, just like you. Been a life-long struggle having to do with co-dependency, or what I guess has been more recently re-labeled as self-love deficit disorder. It's an issue of control, as much as anything; when you take on other people's issues, you are attempting to exert your influence on them--and though most people that due this do so in the name of good intentions, the effects are often not so benign. I'm still learning to fully respect other's autonomy, that is, their right to make their own decisions and choices in life. Sometimes this means letting others make decisions that you can see aren't going to end well, but need to be allowed so that they can learn from them (rather than having that learn process short-circuited in the name of 'protecting them' which could be interchanged with 'protecting yourself,' your ego, your security). Compassionate disattachment has been the cure for me--letting others be themselves, and focusing on me being me, feeling my own feelings instead of taking on other's feelings as my own, and so on.

That sounds frustrating, having to deal with an unsympathetic administration using you as a proxy for coercing student outcomes. Are there any compromises to be had?

I hope you start a diary! It's rather cathartic, I find, and perhaps good practice for people like us to be a touch self-centered, in a healthy way. The great thing about a diary, as with all writing, is that it is what you make of it--no right or wrong way of going about it, and therefore no real reason to be afraid beyond working through the initial resistance that accompanies starting most creative endeavors.

What are you contemplating doing that has you stuck in limbo? Trying to decide on either research or teaching, or both, or something else entirely? Best of luck with saving! Having a goal to focus on certainly helps with getting through those 'bad days' when the work isn't so gratifying. Best of luck deciding on whatcha want. A question for the ages, lol.

Whatcha enjoy doing for fun?

Black and white cat
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:55 pm

Re: LuxVenture's Journal

Post by Black and white cat » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:19 pm

Hello there... I have been mulling over your points about co- dependency. I've heard the term before and had a vague notion of its meaning but I've never really delved into it as a concept. I read some things about co- dependency yesterday and- wow- it seems like quite the rabbit warren! Your suggestion that protecting others may be a way of protecting yourself does resonate with me, particularly in a work- setting. For example, I am keen to be seen as somebody who makes the correct decisions; as if somebody is going to tap me on the shoulder one day and do an audit of every decision I've ever made :?

I also particularly appreciate your points about allowing yourself to 'feel your own feelings'. I have always thought it is good to show empathy and understanding, by really putting yourself in someone else's shoes. But doing that at the intensity and frequency that I've done that in the past is exhausting and can leave a person very disillusioned with the world. I think it would be a good thing to 'feel your own feelings' more, rather than simply accepting transfers of others' feelings or just performing the feelings that people expect you to have in a given situation. Do you find that there is also a danger in doing this too, though? For example, in order to protect yourself, you may become more hardened to suffering?

In regards to the potential harms that co- dependency may create and what can, realistically, be done in the face of the tricky situations you mentioned, compassionate disattachment sounds viable but also very difficult to live- out. How is that going with your friend who has problems with alcohol? It always hurts to see people you love hurting and we always just want to do everything we can to stop the pain. But, as you suggest, the pain simply cannot be stopped by others and the dominant public health narrative of 'getting help' is- in my opinion- highly simplistic. In the absence of 'cure' we lurch onto 'hope', despite that hope sometimes being false.

But onto more positive matters... (ugh that's a horrible paragraph transition to do. I should have adopted a different structure!) I will definitely think about starting up a journal. Yes, I'm in limbo because of a mix of not knowing exactly what to do and also what I want not necessarily being available. I would like a teaching contract but I'm not sure in what form or location. Hobbies are politics, creative writing, travel (done quite a bit of this but now would like to do less) and TV series (action/ drama especially).

But enough of me hijacking your journal... bye for now :)

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