It's been a while and as such it's time for an update on the trials and tribulations of Matt Raynor. The once deep-sea-fisherman turned Quad photographer. As a brief recap- I have been doing art fairs this summer, I've exhibited a total of 5 times. Each one is an adventure and more theres more ahead! But More on that later !
And then one day Covid & the world wide lock down was over. We emerged, unshaven and traumatized from our cozy isolation chambers and attempted to human again. At least that's how it seemed to me. I Was in Georgia at Physical Therapy When it started. 3 wonderful months. Friends, travel, adventure, improving my life - it was a dream. A Daydream Which i was rudely awakened from on my return to New York. While Georgia was untouched, New York was in total apocalypse lock-down hysteria mode. On the drive home from the airport I felt as if I had been transported into a dystopian sci-fi (fav genre of movie) . Signs above the freeway read, Flatten the Curve! Stay at Home! Wear a Mask! As we cruised past the filth-covered snow drifts, passing under those terrifying signs, Reality sunk in.
I had been away for three months, that combined with the duration of Covid lockdown my once strong support system disintegrated and has just started to reassemble. 2020 a wash out that spilled into 2021. Months passed by as I was secluded in my room. I felt entirely alone. On the positive side, 9 months into lockdown I found a awesome caretaker. This made the sting of COvid much less as I needed to get out and she needed to learn to drive. I am grateful for this. But for the most part All of my serious plans were on hold. Progress and rehab as a newly disabled person completely halted. Learning to drive again & get vehicle controls, finding proper PT in close proximity, using a manual chair, traveling again, independence and so much more- all halted.
A support system is crucial to disabled persons such as me. And rebuilding those connections after such a long time is difficult. But yet here I am, with everyone else - attempting to normalize. Isolation is a chill hard to shake off. That said, I am so grateful to be able to see peoples faces and connect again. As connecting is essential to human contentment.
Spring approached- while being aloof in the upside down of lockdown I continued my photography . It was and still is my main sail, Propelling me forward and staving off depression. OH! i produced and edited two YouTube videos. Mainly for practice, I have one planned about my accident. fishing, life and other stuffs. It's Going to include footage of me diving into the water right before I broke my neck.
anyway I had a few successful shows over this past winter which fueled my drive to continue. I bought an outdoor art fair display and planned a few art shows.
The logistics of displaying at an art fair as a quadriplegic are... complex . It requires a crew of people apparently. One person needs arrive very early to get me up , showered and dressed while another person drives and sets up my display/hangs Art. I arrive separately and another person has to stay with me to help with the show/ disabled person stuff. Then, when the show is over Two or more people break the display down. Then the Drive home - probably sunburned and exhausted. Hopefully with success. Next somebody needs to be there to transfer me into the bed and sort me out .. All of this help I have to scout and arrange. I also need to pay for it, as it is beyond my normal caretaking arrangement. That Along with the show fees and whatever else pops up.
OH ! And as it turns out there is a big complication. I cannot sweat, so too much time in the sun and I run a fever. My brain literally scrambles, Which makes functioning as a proprietor very difficult. But, I've learned to try and reserve a nearby space for my van ahead of time. this serves as a refuge from the heat. With all that said, finding real help is difficult even without an art fair. So far each show has been a scramble to arrange all of the pieces last minute. People and plans fall through, new ones need to be arranged and so on.
One of my caretakers just up and moved to Costa Rica. No notice. This After paying him privately while he got registered as a PA with my insurance. Which is a huge pain in the ass, it takes like three weeks to get somebody on my plan. That's if you can find somebody worth it. I also paid for him to get a physical and bloodwork and subsequent vaccinations. Two weeks after being on my plan there was a family emergency and off he went. Now I I have to find someone to fill his place. This situation always gets me. I absolutely hate it, searching for somebody just to get me out of bed, such a simple thing in the past. Now I have to fight for it. Every time this happens the voice in the back of my head sounds "Is this life REALLY worth it?" But alas the misery, hope abounds.
It's in the absence of hope that darkness envelops. Allowing the fetter of frightful abandon to truly take hold. But anyway
With the show logistics in mind, I've made them work. I have even turned a profit. It's somewhat marginal, but all great things start small. The important Lesson is that strangers enjoy my art, they are willing to pay for it and bring it to their home without knowing who I am or what I've been through.
They don't know about the obstacles faced in creating it or any of the stories behind the images. They just want them This is very validating. And it will just get better.
I have a few things coming up.
August 7/8th Westhampton Beach show on the great lawn
August 14/15 Montauk on the green. This was a impulse decision, the logistics seem unfavorable but it's on the schedule
Sometime in August a calendar featuring my images of Hampton Bays will be published and available
September 14/15 harbor fest in sag harbor
September 18/19 Maritime Fest in green port. I paid for both days but as the show is complicated, I will probably do one day. You have to break down the tent between days and set it up again. I doubt i will be able to make this happen.
I will probably do a bunch of other shows as well but this is what I have planned currently. I also can do the farmers market in Southampton at Agawam Park when possible. It also depends on what help I have, if it's enough.
As far as health insurance, Medicaid, and so on- im attempting to get into the program "Working people with disabilities" which will allow me to keep my health insurance along with my long-term caretaking and have a job. As normally no income is permitted. But like everything involving insurance, it is confusing, nebulous, and there's no one willing to help. As I understand it from the people at DSS I have to show proof of income. In This case proof of a profit from a sole proprietor ship. BUT I am not sure, and the people at DSS had no real interest in helping. They even went as far as to say "definitely do not come here, just send in the paperwork". Of course, without specifying what paperwork I need to send. Great THANKS. It's not like my general welfare is at stake here. 👍🏻 As my little business has just started to enter the green there will be more developments in the future.
I am trying to get vehicle controls through a government program, it's just as weird and complicated as health insurance things. But I believe I will be attending college it's some point in order to qualify for the upgrade. Which is fine with me, especially in the winter. Maybe I'll try graphic design. Being able to drive would open up so many doors, I could work more as well!Pray for me.