Dialectical Menialism

Dialectical Menialism #1 – Left vs. Right

Hello Internet!

I recently found myself balancing precariously on but a sliver of rational thought. In the chasm to my right, there was a tool essential to my progress, but I would be forced to use my weak left side. The mire on my left was more easily traversed, but I’d have to go back for the tool.

What feat of daring do was I engaged in, you ask? Surely you were braving the French Alps and came to a narrow path between a sheer precipice and a murky bog, or some other such harrowing errand (harranding?), you boisterously assert.

No no. Nothing so Indiana Jones-like. I was engaged in battle with a stair replicating mechanism. It was diabolical, Internet! I’d take a step, thinking I had bested the confounded contraption (contrountion?) and ascended as far as I could, when with methodical regularity, a new stair appeared in its place. I stared in wonder at this expert of the terraced walking surface. I bestowed the name “Stair Master” on this austere device.

Just as “StairMaster” conspired to produce an endless staircase, my forehead unleashed a torrent of perspiration. Being subject to gravity, my sweat fell onto this machine, giving it a briny glaze peppered with pooled workout juice here and there.

This microcosm of the water cycle produced enough moisture to require the courtesy of a disinfecting wipe-down.

I concluded that “StairMaster” could and would continue the onslaught of steps indefinitely. I ceased my fruitless ascent and fetched a disposable rag bathed in a solution to hastily dispatch any microbes that had taken up residence in the juice of my labors.

I was thrust into the balancing act recounted previously when I returned to the machine. You see, to the right of the machine was my water bottle (the “tool”); but this approach also meant that I’d have to use my left arm to clean the machine, and AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FO’ DAT!

The left approach was not wrought with perils so…uhh…perilous to the neurologically unbalanced, but I’d have to backtrack for my water bottle.

These are the things I think about. You might see the intense focus on my face and think he looks pretty smart; I bet he’s thinking up some solution to social inequality or a better way to dispose of old VHS tapes, or some other high minded notion. Well, dear reader, you’d have given me too much credit. At any given moment, two likely inane, inconsequential concepts are throwing down in an epic battle for a piece of Jarrett’s grey matter.

In this case, the combatants are the left vs. the right. In the future, you might see form vs. function, quantity vs. quality, nature vs. nurture, etc. (vs. and so on).

This is all to say that this will be the first entry in a blog series I call “Dialectical Menialism”, which is a play on Karl Marx’s “dialectical materialism”, or the idea that history propagates because people fight over stuff. “Dialectical” in that most of the time the conflict is between two parties (i.e. good vs. evil, bourgeois vs. the proletariat, aristocracy vs. peasants, cats vs. dogs, Coke vs. Pepsi, and so on).


“Menialism” isn’t actually a word. The roots are menial or “lacking interest or dignity” (thanks be to Merriam and/or Webster), and ism.

Adding ism to a word turns it into “an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief” (thanks be to Webster and/or Merriam. How come Merriam always gets to go first?). Ergo, “menialism” is “an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief [that is] lacking interest or dignity”.

So, “Dialectical Menialism” is a high stakes battle for supreme obscurity (sobscremicy? Obscuracy?) regarding my disposition.

Next time – an examination of my Being Until a Transformative Trauma versus life After a Sinister Sickness. I’ll tell you about my BUTT, then move on to my ASS. I tell ya, the whole thing really stinks! Bwahaha! Have I gone too fart?









brain injury, living with tbi

The More You Know…


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I’ve started substitute teaching. You probably remember crusty, old geezers teaching your class when one of your teachers was gone. These fossils were fond of telling students that they don’t know what hard work is, that they had to recite the pledge of allegiance in Greek and had to learn math with an abacus.


Whatever the case, there was always the assumption that, like teaching vampires who only came out during the school day, subs didn’t have an everyday normal life; when the school day was over they’d retreat to the school basement to read the textbooks for enjoyment before using them as a bed to sleep on until they were called to action again.


My point is that, with a single day substitute, there isn’t really a chance to get to know the sub.


I typically sub at the school where I once taught and assisted librarily, so I know most of the teachers and they know of my condition. Given enough notice, I’ll offer to give a presentation to the kiddos about me. This way the teacher doesn’t have to prepare as much and the students get first-hand knowledge of why I am the way I am. I’ve posted a version of this presentation before (LINK), but it was a raggedy old PowerPoint.


AND THEN…last summer – I went to a writer’s conference to pitch my memoir. I wanted to stand out, so I put together a presentation. I had just given the students a crash course in PowerPoint presentations and Prezi, so I thought I’d give that a try. I didn’t get a book deal >:(, but my presentation was pretty sweet. Find it HERE


AND THEN…a new school year started and the sub jobs came pouring in. So far, I’ve presented to about 250 seventh graders, most of the eighth graders saw it last year.


AND THEN…my younger sister, a Latin teacher (She teaches Latin, she’s not a teacher who is Latin, no one is or really has been since the Roman empire), asked me to come talk to one of her classes. I thought that this nexus of presentation opportunities called for a revamped presentation.


AND THEN…I combined the raggedy PowerPoint with the fresh, shiny Prezi to create a PreziPoint (PowerPrezi?). The svelte can be viewed in all its smoothly transitioning glory HERE. Or, for your convenience, I’ve reproduced the presentation here in slideshow form.


AND THEN…actually, ‘AND THEN…’ doesn’t work here, but I’m nothing if not consistent, the frames with a 🌟 in the lower right corner were adapted from the original PowerPoint. This means that the ones without a star make up the original Prezi.


AND THEN… If you don’t notice, apart from the book excerpts, it rhymes! Isn’t that delicious?




AND THEN…@JarrettLWilson


Fun with Healthcare, Uncategorized

Jarrett vs. Health Insurance

output_0fhCWAGreetings, the internet!

I apologize for my overlong absence from posting here. This here story I’m about to unfold gives some insight into why I’ve neglected this beacon of organized nonsense. Before I get into the reading portion of today’s entry, we’re gonna do some math –

#1. Affordable Care Act + dude with extensive medical needs = grumpy insurance company.

#2. Grumpy insurance company + dude with extensive medical needs = sub-par coverage and service

#3. Dude with extensive medical needs is due for an annual MRI + sub-par coverage and service = dude pays for MRI

#4. Dude keeps records of all the times he tried to contact the insurance company + dude pays the bill anyway = legal action against insurance company.

#5. Legal action against insurance company^2 = 11…

#6. The square root of 11 is 3.31662479 – on a phone, these numbers could spell “DEMOBIPY” or “FENMAGRY”…which kinda rhymes with “gravy”, a delicious substance that clogs arteries, thus leading to more claims for the insurance companies, making them more grumpy.

I digress…

…Listen, part of my ongoing upkeep is a once yearly visit with my neurosurgeon. That annual visit is preceded by an MRI. When I was employed and insured through a PPO, I didn’t need a referral. Having an HMO (stands for Has Many Obstacles) through the Affordable Care Act, I need to get a referral to blow my nose. As if that bureaucratic labyrinth wasn’t enough, math problem #2 takes form in the…uh, form of unreturned messages and “health assistant” buck passing…hmmm, if you are a health assistant that had been passed a buck, you shall henceforth be called a “health passistant”.

Gosh, I’m all over the place, let me summarize – I need an MRI by mid August. I started the referral/prior authorization process for this about a month ago (after already having it approved, then losing coverage, but that’s a horse of a different color). All I’ve gotten in response is “I’ll reach out to your doctor’s office to see where they are in the referral process”. Three things about this –

1. The way they talk about trying to get in touch with my doctor’s office, you’d think they were trying to contact Santa Claus on Christmas eve.

2. The doctor himself told me that the paperwork was sent on June 2nd.

3. Every time I’ve called, I’ve spoken with a real person in the department I intended.

Here’s what I’m getting at – MRIs are expensive. I had one last year before paying my deductible ~ $1800. Call me paranoid, but I believe that when an insurance company is looking at paying that amount of money, there phones stop working, emails get sent to spam more often and the fax machine works maybe half the time. After all, HMO stands for Healthy Monetary Outlook. So I would have you bare witness, interwebs – I’ve done and continue to do my part to ensure that the MRI will be covered.

One more thing – I’m not slamming Obamacare here. I’m grateful that I have insurance, limited though it may be. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, you are your best advocate. Even the best insurance companies can’t get inside your head, even if they do pay for an MRI of your brain, and decide what’s best for you.

Also, I thought of one more meaning of HMO. For this one you need to use a salty New Yorker accent – HMO = Healthy?!? Meh, Oh well.



A Lament for the “Bitestanders”

OH! The hue-manity (get it? Hue = color)

“Would that that kid hadn’t applied so much pressure while using me to color the reptile skin on the dinosaur zombie robot! As it was, I couldn’t stand the force and snapped. Alas, my fate was the same as any broken crayon! Forget my loyal service as I dutifully filled in for blue crayon when the kid, barely able to find her own thumbs, needed to color a pond next to the dragon king’s fortress. It was my color of that pond that inspired you to pretend that the pond was a rotting pool of fish guts used as a torture device for the Dragon king’s enemies, including that devious Dr. Pteradactyl Laser Eyes. Fate’s cruelty was not done. Ere long, a napkin reeking of pickle juice came to rest beside me.
I spent a night next to this malodorous napkin, adopting a secondhand aura of briny vinegar. Perfumed as I was, a foul beast snatched me from that prison of garbage, no doubt mistaking me for a loathsome pickle.

Crayon Lines Dog
The scene of the crime and the suspect…

The trash ravaging monster soon discovered that my insides tasted nothing like my outside, but not before she broke me in half again! Did she bother to return me and the other detritus to the rubbish bin? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Like roadkill we were left there to rot until such time as a more evolved, mature creature.”

I heard this refrain from a green crayon, victimized by my chocolate lab, Lucy. Lucy had plundered a trash can for a napkin that’s been used for a pickle, a paper tray thing with some leftover cheese specks from Bagel Bites, and more napkins in a variety of flavors.
I found it peculiar that this crayon should meet with this fate. Made me think about all the innocent bystanders in the pursuit of satisfaction. Here’s to all the innocent crayons!



living with tbi, NeuroPolitics

SSI & Medicaid Straight Dope

Recall my earlier post concerning the ABLE program. Twas from researching this program that the truth about SSI and Medicaid really slapped me in the face. What is that truth? Quite simply, to get accepted into these programs, you have to be poor. To continue to receive benefits from these programs, you have to stay poor. There is no allowance for monthly expenses or the degree to which you’re disabled. The bottom line is $2,000 – if you’ve more (including assets, etc.), so sorry. If you’ve less, you’re in so long as you don’t cross that $2,000 line.
I’ve since looked into this matter more, and have labored to produce, for your viewing and listening pleasure, a blog post with moving pictures and sound featuring me, Jarrett L Wilson, giving you, the Internet, the straight dope on SSI and Medicaid. Let’s start the show…



Pooled Trust –







living with tbi, Topic not about Brain Injury

From Wildcat to Shepherd

The Piner Middle School chapter of my life has ended. I’m not going to say that I thought I’d be there forever, but I don’t think I really processed the idea of not working there. I’ve Pinned some of my more memorable tokens on my bulletin board –

Bulletin Board

Among these various tokens of days gone by are pictures with various YAF authors, top down (right side of the bulletin board) – Jordan Sonnenblick (Notes from the Midnight Driver, Zen and the Art of Faking it, etc.), Joan Bauer (Stand Tall, Rules of the Road, etc.), and Gordon Korman (Schooled, Ungifted, etc.). Not pictured is the author from my first year in the library – Neal Shusterman (the Unwind series, the Skinjacker trilogy, etc.).

On the bottom left are warning signs I made to make the students (especially incoming seventh graders) aware that I’m rarely serious, and though it may not sound like it, I’m joking when I say “you have a fine of $47.33.”

Above that is a card that was stuffed with cash, graciously given after my most recent medical episode (read more HERE).

The rest are cards and other memos given for various occasions.

I’ll miss that place, especially the kids and my coworkers. One of the things I’ll miss the most is playing with the students’ names. Some of my favorites –

Student with last name Bell had lots of middle names – taco, liberty and southwestern

Anyone with the last name Martinez had to have “Wal” as a middle name.

Students named Juan were only allowed to check out “Juan” book

Landon’s middle name was gear.

A few years ago, a favorite of mine with the last name Park became *first name* national Parks, or water Parks or simply ess Parks.

The teachers and staff weren’t immune to my name play. I especially enjoyed heckling Mrs. Likarish (middle name ‘black’ or ‘red’, obviously). There was also Ms. Joe, or should I call her Ms.  Sloppy Joe or Ms. Cuppa Joe?

Silly names aside, I’ve been blessed to work with some stupendous individuals, and I’ll truly miss each and every one in his/her own special way. If my new coworkers are half as amicable and professional (amifessionable?), then I’ll be a happy camper.

Speaking of camping, my new job will be at a clinic as development coordinator – fancy, huh?  Aside from coordinating development and what have you, I’ll be writing grants that the clinic will continue to do business. What does this have to do with camping? Nothing! I just needed a segue to my new job. I’ll still try to make a connection. The “Shepherd” in the title refers to the name of the clinic. A shepherd would often have to camp out to keep an eye on his/her herd – there’s a very tenuous connection for you, you’re welcome.

Speaking of cake…wait, I never mentioned cake except for the instance where I mentioned that I didn’t mention it. A dear coworker of mine got me a cake, this cake –

One cake to rule them all

A few things to note about this cake –

It’s from Mom’s Bakery, so it’s as if pure joy lay Bakery with infinite serenity Bakery and had a child, named it “Mom’s”. I’m going to keep trying to explain the transcendental, otherworldly properties of a cake from Mom’s Bakery, but whatever explanation I conjure will not be sufficient. Maybe this next story will give you some idea of the worth of a Mom’s Bakery pastry. have a gander –

Listen, my coworkers and I, with the help of a few select students ate 3/4ths of this cake until I was bade to take it home. I ate about half of what was left and realized that, despite my commitment to healthy eating, I didn’t have the willpower to not eat every crumb. Therefore, I was forced to throw the rest away – reserving me a special place in hell. In the book of Revelation, I believe it says something like “…and the adulterers will be confined to the 7th ring of hell, where Netflix is not. Below them, in the 8th ring, are the douchebags that walk on the wrong side of the aisle at the grocery store, for the Lord God hath declared you s shalt keep to the right, just as in an automobile; it is written that these infidels will only have access to Celine Dion’s and Barbra Streisand’s stations on Pandora.  In the ninth ring w will be those who wantonly discard cakes and other delicious pastries from exceptional bakeries.  These wretched souls will have access to Netflix, but the remote will ever be out of battery.”


cavernoma blog, Uncategorized

Presenting – My…Presentation

I used to work at a middle school.

I’ve was employed there in some fashion for a number of years.

My first two years I taught 8th grade US history and coached boys’ athletics. The next year I taught 8th grade English and coached girls’ athletics.

At the end of that school year some blood vessels in my brain leaked like so much kiddie pool left to rot in the sun.

I taught 8th grade English for half of the next two school years. I came back the next school year as the assistant librarian and have filled that role for four years.

Assuming my math is correct (2+1+.5+.5+4), I’ve been working there for 21,554 years – this raises a few questions.

Firstly, I’m only 32 years old. Secondly, the school has only been there for 40ish years. Let’s round that figure down to eight school years.

I did so enjoy working with students. Thing is, I’m was’t like any of the other teachers/professionals in the school.

When I returned to teaching after the hemorrhage, I created a PowerPoint presentation about my condition to show to my class to prepare them for my uniqueness.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to the new seventh graders. I modified the presentation to fit my condition today. I thought I’d share it with you, the internet –


This is the title slide – note that it has the title written (in English, no less!) on it.


This slide is for a handout. The students were given the same graphic, but with blanks. In essence, they started with an empty brain and ended with a full one (symbolic, no?)


In the same fashion as the previous slide, the students filled in the blanks on the same graphic.


This slide is a pictorial representation (pictoriational?) of the functions of each lobe. For instance, the temporal lobe (orange) controls the instinct to swat things away from your ear (actually, that represents hearing), and the frontal lobe controls the confusion that comes from staring at gibberish on a sign post (actually, that represents planning).


Now we get to my contribution – you see, the seventh grade reading classes at the school where I work are covering non-fiction. They are reading Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson – the brain surgeon that removed half of a girl’s brain. One of the teachers is a friend of mine and asked me to present my experience as a primer. The image in the slide is my brain (isn’t it beautiful?). The white dot in the middle is my cavernoma isn’t it (or rather, wasn’t it) ugly?


Not much to say about this slide that isn’t in the slide. I’ll just add that the symptoms listed are enough to get you a 20 minute helicopter ride.


Much like the image in the “My Brain Issues” slide – the head pictured is my head. My head is perfectly round and my brain has many different colors. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jarrett, there weren’t no color in the other image and your head ain’t perfectly round.”

I’ve a twofold reply to this comment. First of all, I was joking – that’s not my head. Secondly, you need to work on your grammar. Moving on, this one has info about the surgery. That fact weighed heavily in my decision to title the slide “The Surgery 9/2009.”


A few summers ago I went on a tour of a Nair factory – this happened to be the day that Gillette planned to sabotage the Nair factory. They set explosives…I’m tired of this explanation. It started off with promise, but now I hate it!

Truthfully, a few summers ago I wanted to see the scar, so I shaved my head.


This slide is linked to a file with moving pictures and sound! This “video” is about *drumroll* neuro-plasticity! A fancy term denoting the brain’s ability to form new connections.


This is a visual representation of how your brain thinks. For instance, you see a donut with your occipital lobe. That info shoots to your frontal lobe and activates your happy gland. Your happy gland shoots a message to your parietal lobe “GO GET THAT F’N DONUT!” Someone gets it before you can, so your temporal lobe tells you to break out your megaphone and shout obscenities at this person and threaten to call the police. This guy grabs a nearby napkin dispenser and wangs you in the Temple…


…That blow to the Temple gives you a TBI. Your brain rewires itself and finds an alternate route to your happy gland.


I included this slide to give the students an explanation as to why I sometimes shake when I speak and why I walk with a limp and hike up my left arm like so much Bob Dole. It also helps explain the little girl in the moving picture mentioned earlier. It also gave me a chance to…

Treating Hypertonicity with Pic

…mention the painful treatments. One thing I’ve learned from working in a middle school is that, as much as the kids want to be treated as adults, they still love to hear about people getting poked with needles and meeting a real life cyborg.


I like to pepper in some humor here and there to make sure the kids are awake. When this slide appears, it’s accompanied by a very loud, obnoxious laugh.


I don’t really do any of these anymore, but I mention it because I did it for so long, and it drives home the point that I’ve had a long road.


In my mind, all of these will someday be replaced with “Painfully normal”. For purposes of this presentation, it gives the students an idea of what to expect when they see me.


It can be difficult to work around young people with my disabilities. Instead of hiding or pretending that I’m no different, I encourage the students to come talk to me if they have a question. I want to think that I’m an ambassador for the disabled. Hopefully, these students will apply what I’ve tried to teach them to others with disabilities.

I included the last bullet because I’ve had some students speak very loudly and very slowly to me. You see, they have to tell me their student ID number to check out a book. In previous years, a student or two would speak to me as if I was unable to type and listen at the same time.


I’m a pretty smart dude and I can be pretty creative, but I didn’t discover any of this and I didn’t make this sh*t up.

If there’s one thing I learned in college, it’s that Keystone Light is super cheap and tastes like weedkiller. If there’s a second thing I learned in college, it’s that plagiarism is bad (I remember a syllabus that said there’s a special place in hell for those that plagiarize).

We try to instill that fear into the students, so I model the proper citing of sources.