Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DarkNight II: "The Return of Durant"

DarkNight II: "The Return of Durant"

Too Old to Start Over, Too Young to Give Up.

By Elyssa Durant
 
Too old to start over, too young to give up. I often wonder why other people can uncover more information about my life than I can... Medical, Financial, Employment,,, even my next door neighbors are not somehow linked through the tiny web we have weave in cyberspace.
 
I'm a digger. To be clear, that is "digger." I never use the "N" word, and I'm way too proud to marry for money. I love information. I love to find, I love to collect it, but most of all, I love to use it. I love to dissect it, analyze it, formulate new questions and ponder the answers. 
 
I love the journey of natural inquiry... never knowing where my racing mind will take me, often surprised surprised by the answer, but always, always intrigued by the things I encounter along the way.I may set out to find one answer to one question; only to find myself asking a million more.It keeps me up at night, and allows me to avoid the day. 
 
My life is not unexamined, and my thought patterns may be far from typical, but the things I have learned along the way are by far the most intriguing and most unique.I am not afraid to ask questions, nor am I afraid that I don't have all the answers. 
 
But as a digger, I do know that it is the path least taken: the creative, atypical mind that is riddled with creativity, tangential thoughts and questions that often deliver the most interesting answers. But sometimes, it is the answers that deliver us to the most interesting questions.
 
We often think that questions drive the inquiry-- at least that's what they tell us in school. To use the "scientific method"And of course, we are trained, and practiced to never, ever color outside the lines. But aren't the best discoveries the ones we weren't searching for? The unexpected gift... the non-occasion. Outside of the box?
 
Finding my voice has allowed me to appreciate the silence. The hours between dusk and dawn where the rest of the world sleeps and I dig. I dig and I write. I fill the lonely hours with my innermost thoughts, and my very best friend. So as the rest of the world sleeps soundly, surrounded by loved ones in a sanctuary they call home, I fill myself with books, journals and information. 
 
Lots and lots of information. I love knowledge. I love the written word.The beauty is in the every day. The challenge is in the unexpected. Call me crazy if you like (and many have) but I can assure you that there will come a day when all of that R.A.M. will come in handy. I am definitely asking the right questions... and maybe one day you will too.
 
I never dreamed my life would turn out this way at the age of 35. It seems as though it was over before it even began. My birthday next month has pushed me a little further over the hill, and a little less tied to the past.I have a strong voice. A powerful voice. 
 
I have a story that needs to be told. I am tired of being silenced by the Powers That Beat. I will not be ignored and I will not be forgotten.And though I may be too old to start over; I am definitely too young to give up. 
 
 ELyssa Durant © 2008-2013 || All Rights Reserved ELyssaD™ 
 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109552/ 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dedicated to Abraham Friedman


Several years ago, someone told me that Grandpa was not my "real" grandfather.  

Looking back now, I know that was not true. Grandpa was one thing in my life that was, in fact, very, very real.
My grandfather embodied all things constant: consistency, reliability, and unconditional love. I could always depend on him to be there for me: as a child, a young woman, and an adult.
So now I ask myself and all of you to help me define what is "real?" I believe you will come to understand it as I have: "real" is something or someone we can touch; something we can feel.
My grandfather was a man I could trust, a man I could admire, and a man who stood up for what he believed in. My grandfather was, in fact, a man that was so real that he could single-handedly turn dreams into realities.

When I was little, I used to go to my grandparent's when I was too sick to go to school. Grandma would load me up with tea and cheese and Grandpa would load me up with Vitamin C.
As I got older, he continued to care for me. When I was hungry, he sent me food; when I was cold, he sent me clothing. When I was sick, he sent me more vitamins!
When I was scared, he gave me courage; when I was lonely, he gave me shelter; when I was sad, he gave me hope.
He was a man of action, a man of honor, and a man of truth. But most of all, he was a man of integrity. He was a man who exemplified all things wonderful that life had to offer.
He was generous beyond reason and he gave me those things in life money simply cannot buy: he gave me roots, he gave me foundations, and most importantly, he gave me wings.
Rest in peace, Grandpa. You were loved.
Talking Points:
Relatively speaking: What is "real?" Does DNA alone define who you are? Where you came from? A relationship? Blood is not always thicker than water.
ELyssa Durant © 2008-2013 || All Rights Reserved ELyssaD™ || DailyDDoSe™ @ELyssaD™

Relatively Speaking. A Eulogy.

Several years ago, someone told me that Grandpa was not my "real" grandfather.

 Looking back now, I know that was not true.

Grandpa was one thing in my life that was, in fact, very, very real.

My grandfather embodied all things constant: consistency, reliability, and unconditional love. I could always depend on him to be there for me: as a child, a young woman, and an adult.

So now I ask myself and all of you to help me define what is "real?" I believe you will come to understand it as I have: "real" is something or someone we can touch; something we can feel.

My grandfather was a man I could trust, a man I could admire, and a man who stood up for what he believed in. My grandfather was, in fact, a man that was so real that he could single handedly turn dreams into realities.

When I was little, I used to go to my grandparent's when I was too sick to go to school. Grandma would load me up with tea and cheese, and Grandpa would load me up with Vitamin C.

As I got older, he continued to care for me.

When I was hungry, he sent me food; when I was cold, he sent me clothing. When I was sick, he sent me more vitamins!

When I was scared, he gave me courage; when I was lonely, he gave me shelter; when I was sad, he gave me hope.

He was a man of action, a man of honor, and a man of truth. But most of all, he was a man of integrity.

He was a man who exemplified all things wonderful that life had to offer. He was generous beyond reason and he gave me those things in life money simply cannot buy: he gave me roots, he gave me foundations, and most importantly, he gave me wings.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. You were loved.





Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Work to Welfare by ELyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.

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

I remember how difficult it was for me to obtain benefits when I first applied several years ago. I am deeply concerned about how the most recent decision to eradicate yet another class of TennCare / Medicaid recipients (the Daniels class made up of SSI recipients by way of a pending federal waiver) will affect the poor and disabled residents in Tennessee. 

Without my current level of benefits, I simply do not function.

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

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

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

I want... I want... I want!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what happens now that the state of Tennessee will begin to cut off social security recipients from TennCare? I honestly do not think I can survive yet another re-certification process-- God knows the first one almost killed me. 

After three years of appeals, my condition had deteriorated so severely that I was forced to drop out of school, lost my home, lost my sanity, and lost hope. In short-- I lost my dignity and my belief in the social welfare system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If anyone on your staff would like to "trade places" with me for one month-I will gladly assume his/her responsibilities for that position if you can find a writer who is willing to endure and write about the reality of social services in our fine state. I do not want a paycheck from your organization; I just want the opportunity to put the myth of freeloading welfare mothers to rest.

 Live in my shoes for 30 days. Can you find the out? Can you balance my budget and make it work? Can you get the bill collectors of my back? Can you afford Internet service to file state job applications and apply for services online? Can you maintain pride and dignity without feeling the least bit sorry for yourself and the choices you have made?

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

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

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

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
(Former doctoral student in public policy)

Originally Published by Elyssa Durant, Ed.M. © 2008-2013 

Caualties of War in American Schools




Casualties of War:
Hired Guns in American Schools
Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.


           
            Over the last decade, there has been mounting concern for the safety of teachers and students in the American public school system.  This is particularly true of urban high schools, where students must walk through a metal detector before entering the building.  School violence has become epidemic, and educational researchers have looked long and hard for a solution to the problem.

            School administrators and elected officials bear the responsibility of keeping students safe during school hours, and a number of districts have implemented violence prevention programs.  School security has become a top priority, and while improved security measures may have contributed to a decline in school related deaths, it has not been without significant changes in the school environment. 
 
            The added security has effected the traditional school environment and has disrupted the chain of command within public institutions.  The presence of school security guards appears to have a negative impact on the overall school climate.   The presence of security guards disrupts traditional roles within the schools, and teachers report feeling at odds with security personnel.   Increased security tends to fragment the school environment, and teachers report feeling a false sense of security.  The secured environment is an indication of how students are expected to behave.

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

            Studies consistently report lower academic achievement in these neighborhoods.  Children growing up in urban neighborhoods have a much higher incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Most researchers believe this to be the direct result of living in stressed communities plagued with street crime and violence. 

            Despite the severe implications of this realization, there is virtually no research on how pervasive fear affects the academic performance of urban adolescents.   Previous research has found that people who suffer from acute stress process information differently (Sapolsky, 1996; McNally, 1995; Metcalfe & Jacobs, 1996).  Individuals who feel threatened by their environment are acutely aware of their surroundings and have a heightened sensitivity to visual cues.  As a result, they tend to hyper-focus on potential sources of threat, and shift into a different cognitive gear. 

            Individuals under stress not only store information differently, but their ability to retrieve information is also largely dependent upon emotional states (Metcalfe & Jacobs, 1996; Sapolsky, 1996; Perry, et al, 1996).  Interestingly enough, information learned in song, rhyme, or rap is more easily retrieved in a state of high arousal.  If this is in fact true, then popular culture may effect adolescents considerably more than previously believed.  In addition to helping us understand the cognitive framework of individuals under stress, this can help us to find alternatives teaching methods to help urban school children who have not responded to traditional teaching methods.

            Research has found the school climate to be a critical factor in reduction of school violence (Walker, 1995; Sabo, 1993).   Disruptions in the traditional organization structure places additional stress on the school climate.  The effect of school violence on teacher relationships is not known.  In response to the public outcry for action, school boards implemented violence prevention programs and zero tolerance policies long before there was a chance to evaluate the severity and prevalence of the problem.  The literature tends to focus on classroom management and violence prevention programs (Ascher, 1994; Walker, 1995). 
           
            Literature on school violence tends to focus on statistics and incident report which does not provide an adequate understanding of school related violence.   The research on school violence fails to address the importance of the organizational culture and the various components which are critical to effective schools.  It is not surprising that students are unable to learn in this environment.

            Teachers have become fearful of their students, and students fear each other.  The presence of school security will certainly affect the organizational balance of American public schools, and sensitizes all members of the school environment to the roles they are expected to play.  Many teachers feel a social responsibility and commitment to their schools, and feel they have a direct impact on the livelihood of their student body. 

            Together, the urban public school and the community it serves are a constant reminder of the poor living conditions and social reality of urban America.  Students understand what is expected of them, and teachers are sensitized to conduct which reinforces their experience.  Since urban communities have many different sources of stress, it is important to examine how school policies contribute to the learning environment in public schools.

The Last Goodbye by ELyssa Durant, Ed.M.

I can no longer protect the one who hurt me the most, and I officially declare myself as independent and free.

Goodbye for now to The Powers That Beat, I am growing so tired ofthat nightmare where I cannot move my feet.

I am one today, but I am not alone; my DNA and birthright does not make me a clone.

Any genetic disorders, whatever they may be; will never again stand in the way for my fight to be free.

My bloodline alone comes right back to you, and your ridiculous denials are nothing new.

I must protect myself from your twisted mind, never forget, late last night, you left me behind.

You may think I have forgotten all your hysterical pleas, but I am legally required to remind you of these.

I hope you are ready for what lies ahead, because I do not think anyone else will agree this was all in my head.

You may dispose of my photos, writings, and more, I am sorry you do not realize you have officially now escalated funny money into a full-fledged war.

You declared this yourself, on March the Fourteenth, and I will expect it in writing before the next April 15th.

You no longer manipulate my ID or actions and blame; for I am not the one who falsely claims to be poor.

You may find it a little bit harder to blame it on crazy and point the finger at me; I am posting it here for the whole to see.

Do not blame my siblings or my father's new wife; material wealth should mean more value than your own child's life.

I got excluded from the human genome, stop feeding me crazy, just bring it back home.

The suicide note I once left in your possession, should no longer be guarded as your greatest protection.

I defy the heritage that left me broken inside; any tears I have shed will finally subside; I no longer will allow myself to be tried by the ridiculous facade that has given YOU a false sense of pride.

I am now on my own, as was always the case; it is so very sad you thought of this as a race.

I will honor your request to sever all ties; it is long overdue that I be free from your lies.

I never signed on to your game of deception, there was much more at stake than a strangers' perception.

So just as you once photographed my tattoo, sadly but surely, this one joke is on you.

I doubt you heard my very last words, but they were words of sincerity I hope that you'll review because my concern was genuine; just too familiar, we discussed nothing new.

I defy my heritage and reject your faith; I think I am worth more than an aborted mistake.

I declare my freedom and reject your "good faith" I am sorry you believe I was your biggest mistake.

You are so transparent it is easy to see, I hope you leave this behind the same way you left me.

My bloodline runs deeper than your maternal pride; I pray for your sake psychosis is real, for I see no other way your pain will ever be healed.

I am over and done with this stupid game, I gave you more than one warning to amend your tax claim.

So as I fight for my freedom, my health and my name, I hope your psychosis protects you from shame.

I must no longer allow trauma to guide me through life; I cannot worry about details as you become a new wife, you are correct in your assessment that you have earned all the "things" you cling to for dear life.
 
If there ever was a time to say, "This too shall pass...," then please go ahead and kiss my tattooed fat ass!






ELyssa Durant, Ed.M. © 2009-2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Letter to my Former Therapist

A Letter To My Former Therapist
Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
« Article 1 of 29 »

Hi Elyssa,

It's nice to hear from you, I had just been thinking of you. Is there a reason why you sent me two copies? Talk to you soon—Elyssa's Former Therapist

Now how can you call yourself a qualified therapist and ask me such a stupid question? I have at least two of everything!

So my alter-ego as a "cyberwhore" is no longer a secret! I always send duplicate copies of every outgoing e-mail to myself to a number of free-mail accounts. Most have probably expired and I can't even remember most of the passwords to access them, which leads me to wonder what happens to my written works that I have so carefully created? Do they just float around in cyberspace forever? Are my words now immortal? Does that make me grandiose or paranoid?

I had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist on Wednesday and he seems very "eager" to help. He is a very young resident, and I think he is kind of psyched that he got placed at Vanderbilt in Nashville rather than some community mental health center in rural Tennessee. For his training, he needs a number of hours conducting therapy—so I graciously agreed to be one of his guinea pigs. I negotiated a one-hour session every other week.

I hate therapy. It seems so staged and rehearsed. I actually spend hours before a session trying to think of what I should say.

That never seemed to work with you. That kind of annoyed me, because I wanted you to play the game with me. This is the way it is supposed to work: I'll tell you what happened as a child, and you tell me the source of my insanity.

I would try to remember the random things that happen each day and let you know that I was telling you the truth about my life, my world, and my family. On many occasions, I would forget my zinger, my "punch-line" if you will, and I would be so disappointed in myself. I would drop these little tidbits of information hoping you would recognize that I was not completely beyond help, and you might understand the method to my madness. Would that make it okay to be so fucked up? Loony. Crazy. Nuts.

You never once said, "Aha!" Instead, you would listen impatiently as I reflected on childhood traumas. Even the most elaborate reports of my childhood experience did not make you flinch—well, maybe a few times! At what point did you realize that there was some truth in what I was telling you? I would say the same thing over and over because I knew it to be true, to be fact, to be far more cruel and evil than anything I could I make believe as a child. I want to stop playing those games. I am ready to be a person. I am ready to love. I am ready to be "normal."

As I grow, I would like to become more direct, more assertive, and more sure of what I am saying and how it is being received. In the past, I would sit with silence and ambivalence and just fall into situations by default. I don't want complacency to guide me through life. I am not incapable of protecting myself anymore. I hated being such a passive participant in my own life not knowing where I would be living, with whom, and for how long. Learned helplessness. I wonder how things might have been different...if only.

I will never know how events shaped my life and broke my mind. What caused my mind to break? Was I too weak? Was there some point where I should have thrown in the towel and taken my own life? Was there anything, anything I could have done differently to survive? Is there a "normal" breaking point? Did I put up a good fight? Did I do okay?

I want to act with purpose, speak with conviction, and be confident in my decisions. I want to choose action rather than inaction and feel comfortable with the choices I have made. No more ruminating over what I should have, might have, or almost done.

How did you manage to put my mind back together again without knowing what went wrong? Is my head okay? Can I have children?

You were a good therapist, you are a great therapist-- the best!

Ain't Even Done With The Night

Older & Bolder


I first started posting this blog shortly after my 35th birthday. It was a gift to myself so I could live my life without being too scared that I might be discovered for being a little bit crazy, a little bit lonely, and making a whole lot of noise.
I started by disclosing my deepest secrets, often exposing to my deepest fears. Initially I chose the motto: "Too old to start over, Too young to forget."
Eventually that moniker evolved into something a little more challenging and inspirational, "Too old to start over, Too young to give up."
 Now that my 36th birthday is just around the corner (actually, more like an intersection) I plan to spend the last few days I have in this demographic bracket uncovering some the essays I have written that still need a little tweaking, and a whole lot of twacking! 


So be prepared to find a few typos, a few disconnected thoughts without making an obvious transition. Because I am naming the next phase of my life, you know, the "35 and up" phase, "Chapter II: A Little Bit Older, And a Whole Lot Bolder."

I have enjoyed the feedback I have gotten from so many people from all walks of life who have written in response to something I have written. Women I have never met, from places I do not know.

Women like Joy and Cat who encourage me to keep writing even if they disagree with some of my core values or excessive use of profanity. Women (or men) who have somehow managed to stumble across my writings in one of their many raw forms without realizing that just by contacting me, much of the fear and hesitation I once felt about publishing my collection of personal (and professional) essays have been replaced with a new found sense of pride and accomplishment. Fear and uncertainty have are quickly evolving into confidence and proliferation.

Personally, professionally, and spiritually, I hope to continue "kicking ass and taking names," because at this point in my life, I may actually start doing that a little bit more.

You will notice that I am reclaiming my name and uncovering the many aliases I have used over the years... I am done hiding.

I'm am not perfect, and I will always struggle with my obsession to find just The Write Words, but I'm guessing it is probably good enough. Probably good enough so that most people will won't even notice if I forget to capitalize a proper noun or if I end a sentence with a preposition. So be it.

You may also notice that I am reclaiming my name, and will be using try to cut down on the number of anonymous postings I listed under an alias because I was afraid I would be embarrassed if my work was not well received.

I used an alias instead of my own name-- I have created countless screen names (some better than others) to maintain a bit of distance between myself and my classmates, peers, and colleagues.

In addition to "Miss Elyss" or "Lyssie D." I am even willing to admit that I have created so many login accounts and user names to post anonymously, that I have forgotten most of the passwords to access my own content. But I am rather proud of the creativity I demonstrated when I came up with two of my personal favorites, "I.M.Phobic" and "EyePhobic." I never could get into that whole IM thing, webcam or chat rooms! The way I see it, it is bad enough i need to put on clothes and make-up to leave the house-- I'll be damned if I have to put on make-up to send an e-mail!

Yes, they were all me. They are a pert of me, because like so many women-- no... like so many people... I'm a little bit of everything... so for those of you who are listening and even to those of you who just wish I would shut the fuck up already; be careful what you wish for! The more content I create, the easier it becomes to let go... and the more I let go, the more I can heal.


The more I can heal, the more I can focus on the academic issues that will always be my first and primary area of interest. However, it seems rather obvious to me now that the only way out is through. So, I will continue to write through the dark and hope that it I can become more present minded rather than being trapped by memories from the past.

To Joy, Cat, TA James, and a few others, thanks so much for the gift. I hope I can make you proud!

The curious can find anything and everything! I often wonder why it is so much easier for others to to get my information about me than it is for me to get about myself!

I'm a digger. To be clear, that is "digger." I never use the "N" word, and I'm way too proud to marry for money.

I'm a digger. I love information. I love to find, I love to collect it, but most of all, I love to use it.  I love to dissect it, analyze it, formulate new questions and ponder the answers. I love the journey of natural inquiry... never knowing where my racing mind will take me, often surprised surprised by the answer, but always, always intrigued by the things I encounter along the way.

So I set out to find the answer to one question, and instead I find myself asking a million more. It keeps me up at night, and allows me to avoid the day.  My life is not unexamined, and my thought patterns may be far from typical, but the things I have learned along the way are by far the most intriguing and most unique. I am not afraid to ask questions, nor am I afraid that I don't have all the answers.

As a digger, I do know that it is the path least taken: the creative, atypical mind; that is riddled with creativity, tangential thoughts and questions that often deliver the most interesting answers. But sometimes, it is the answers that deliver us to the most interesting questions. 

We often think that questions drive the inquiry-- at least that's what they tell us in school. To use the "Scientific Method." And of course, to never, ever color outside the lines. But aren't the best discoveries the ones we weren't searching for? The unexpected gift... the non-occasion.

The beauty is in the every day. The challenge is in the unexpected. Call me crazy if you like (and many have) but I can assure you that there will come a day when all of that R.A.M. will come in handy. I am definitely asking the right questions... and maybe one day you will too.

Finding my voice has allowed me to appreciate the silence. The hours between dusk and dawn where the rest of the world sleeps and I dig. I dig and I write. I fill the lonely hours with my innermost thoughts, and my very best friend. So as the rest of the world sleeps soundly, surrounded by loved ones in a sanctuary they call home, I fill myself with books, journals and information. Lots and lots of information.

Who would have thought that loneliness can become a family in it's own right? It is always there and it is always familiar. That solitude can become our greatest companion and that strangers can become our best friends.

I miss New York. I miss Dr. Stu. I miss Jefferey and I miss Todd. I miss my wild, brilliant friends plagued by curiosity, insomnia, and creativity.

Hey boys-- guess what? I'm coming home!

Let's go to hot and crusty at 3 a.m. when everything really is, yes, "hot and crusty!" Lets go the Internet cafe across from the Hello Kitty store and wake up old friends that actually dare to sleep when it is dark out???

WAKE-UP TODD! I've been calling you for hours! I have a joke to I want to tell you!


New York, New York... The "City" that never sleeps?

See I don't think it was ever really about the city, I think it is more about the anonymity. Someplace you can be yourself, and never worry about being judged by your in-bred hillbilly neighbors who are, in all honesty, much more focused on raising hell then raising children... To them, I am "strange." I am "weird." I am "Italian." or "Jewish" or "something!" because I talk really really fast!

You are all wrong: I'm from New York!

So while you sleep, I dig. I learn , I question, and I write. But I do it alone, and I'm starting not to like so much.

So for all of you out there who are insomniacs: "writers," "consultants," "perpetually un and underemployed yet overqualified" computer geeks -- please enjoy my video blog below.

I chose a few songs have keep me company at night. Just loud enough to drown out the drunk couple outside my window having yet another domestic dispute, but low enough so that the neighbors downstairs won't complain. Hopefully, you will know some of the selections that have kept me dancing in the living room into the wee hours of the morning, and can learn something about my favorite word if you are paying attention...

You'll find all of my favorites in one place. So enjoy the trip my friends, it's getting early for some, but late for others, and I've got some shit to do before the world wakes up, because to quote John Cougar (or is it Mellencamp?)

 I Ain't Even Done With The Night!



DESCRIPTION: Everything from my favorite word to my favorite website. There's something in there for pretty much every mood-- songs to make you cry, videos to make you laugh. Political ads that make you sick and some that will give you chills-- but at least they make you feel!!! Finding my voice, and hearing those of strangers has given me the strength I needed to move on.
So for so many of you who have contacted me lately, via the web, via your cell phone, or even by way of a nasty website-- stand tall and stand close because much like fear, courage also rubs off on you somehow when you are surrounded by the right people. So a big shout out, and a sincere word of thanks to all of you who have helped to find my voice once again and the courage to say whatever is on my mind... Say it loud, say it proud, just say it!

I will not be ignored and I will not be forgotten. But guess what, Here Comes the Sun. I made it through night and now it's time to go, because that was SO yesterday! Thanks for giving, good luck forgetting!


Elyssa D'Educrat / Elyssa D. Durant



Monday, February 18, 2013

Trapped

Have you ever been trapped?

I am not talking about your every day run-of-the-mill subway congestion or an elevator that is filled beyond capacity.  

Trapped.

No way out.

Paralyzed.

Frightened, frustrated, angry and desperate.

Like any ordinary "normal" person, you are going about your daily activities and the next moment you are drowning in unfamiliarity.  In reality, little has changed.  Sadly, nothing has changed.  Minutes, hours, years have passed... but nothing has changed.

Despite evidence to the contrary, your actions seem to have no consequence.  

This is how I feel.  Not as often as I used to, but more often than I care to admit and more often then I would like.  It leaves me paralyzed-- much like a deer frozen by the illuminating light of oncoming traffic.

It is a short journey from the trigger back to the beginning.  

I wonder what I may do if my task was completed.  It is my greatest hope to find a place where I can end this debilitating madness.  Just break the cycle. Free. Free from the need to provide objective verification of my physical existence and a rational basis for a seemingly bizarre obsession.

I know these things.  I organize my life in a sequential, numerical, historical, logical order where everything has a designated beginning, middle and end.

There must be a place where reason and purpose replace obsessions and insanity.  

Can anyone understand this madness?  Why can't you see how simple everything is for me?

I need things to be simple.

My patterns seem so obvious. Pay attention!  What seems like chaos to you serves as my salvation.  Don't you see how resourceful I am?  I know my methods are rigid but they are clearly consistent with my "mission" in life.  

Few can be bothered with the elegant simplicity of my rituals.  My behaviors are rational! They protect my delicate foundation. I do not have far to fall.

I need an out!

Why question my methods? 

By collecting physical evidence of my experiences and transient existence, I can be someone. Someone with a past, a present, maybe even a future.

I collect, therefore I am.

Look! I have proof! History. References.
I want to be part of your world.  Really I do.  

I want roots, consistency and foundations.  I want high school reunions and a hometown.

My task must be finished!  It is destroying my relationship with my future self.  My soul is withering away beneath this desperate facade.  

Please give me a moments consideration and see me.  

I am not cruel.  I am not evil.  Nevertheless, I am so alone and isolated.  I am here and I am ready.  I am ready to end this endless search for home.  But how?

I need you.  I need you to help me find a place where I can feel comfortable ending this vicious cycle.  

I am looking to you... the collective you of humanity to help me through this time of need and uncertainty.  

All I seek is compassion, empathy, and understanding. I continue my search hoping I am not completely alone in my quest.

Restoring order dominates my very existence.  Keeping me trapped in the past; invading the present; dictating my actions through repetition, ruminations, anxiety and fear inhibiting my growth and progress.  I do not have it in me to climb out of another depression.  

Don't you see how this life is breaking me?

If only I had the same resignation and grace of that lone Buck crossing a quiet country road, I would cherish the instant where I am faced with certain death or total salvation.  I would search for a sanctuary where forgiveness replaces damnation.

For one instant, I would welcome the challenge to live freely in this brave new world...  to explore and run free on a distant, winding path.

I would stand proud, defiant, and free.

Really, truly, trapped.  

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.  © 2002

Lost

Naked.

Raw.

Exposed.

I am ashamed and embarrassed, yet I am strangely in control.

And such are my insecurities-- for whatever it's worth, and that may be quite a bit, this was the original message I wrote, but I sent it to myself and sent you an abbreviated version.

I think the uncensored version was better. 

I try to articulate.

I try to be interesting.

I try to be normal.

I need someone to hear what I'm not saying-- sometimes-- I don't like talking in riddles all the time.  I don't like talking in riddles all the time. I don't like obsessions and ruminations.

I don't like explaining the obvious.  I don't understand why it must be so complicated. 

I have one task. I have no idea how to complete my task, but I must keep searching.  

I developed new skills last night.  My car is still having problems and then my phone locked up.  I was completely lost on Sunrise Highway and could not find my way home (though I wasn't quite sure where my final destination would be.)  

I finally realized that I needed to pull over every twenty minutes to gather my bearings and plan a short term traffic route.  Forcing myself to stop for about forty minutes each time I got lost allowed me to process the emotions of the whole thing.

I pulled over at a diner in Long Beach and they were able to reconnect my phone so I could call for directions or support, or whatever!  

As I sat on the phone with tech support for over an hour, I started noticing that there were people sleeping in parked cars a few spaces away.  I couldn't tell if the couple that just emerged from a car just two spots away were committing an underage indiscretion or a felony in the back seat.  

As I noticed others around me, I wasn't so frightened anymore and I settled into my home for the night.  I did not feel so uncomfortable shuffling around in my somewhat respectable Honda Civic.  I almost forgot for a while that I was lost so I took a baby step to the next place and what an experience.  I was still lost but closer to my destination.  

This time I settled into a "execustay" type of hotel/motel.  This was working, so why rush. 



Why so frantic? 

Even with the phone now working, the car situation had not improved and I simply could not think of anyone to call.  Even if someone could come and get me, where would I go? Where would I put my things?

So finally, I made it over to Starbucks on the perimeter of the Hofstra Campus.  I was the only car in the lot, and I boldly parked facing forward and watched the police race by me without notice.  

I became very sad for this world just around then.  They were racing all around me and it took about 30-35 minutes before a cop car pulled into the parking lot.

Saddened by the reality that my suspicious activity did not invite further inquiry, I had already decided to tell them the truth before they pulled up to me in the lot.  

I did not even bother to park in a space.  I boldly parked horizontally taking up two or three spaces placing myself in a precarious situation.

Do you think they knew it wasn't the first time? 

Do you think they saw through my decidedly in in-your-face tactics and saw this as a thinly disguised effort to feign temporary homelessness? 





Would they be back tomorrow night? Would I?

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.  © 2002