Future

What’s out there?
Is there
anyone
else around?
Listen.

What to hope for,
what to dream for,
a mystery to me

Nothing on
the horizon,
the sun is all but
gone

Shambling from
town to town,
a forgetful husk
waits for
Fridays and Saturdays
at the expense of
his Mondays and Tuesdays

When the weekend
is all you have,
you wonder, is there
anything else?

Was there ever
anything else?

I forget.

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#161: The Break

white blue and purple stars illustration

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By the time this post goes up, I’ll be on break. One of the absolute best parts about working at a school as a teacher assistant is the days off afforded by school breaks or snow days. We’re past the point of snow days being feasible, but breaks still occur. April Break, taking place during that time of the year when everyone needs a short reprieve from school, fills that snow-day-shaped hole in my heart perfectly. Having a break allows me to recharge and refresh when I need it the most, and being able to relax like that gives my anxiety the chance to restart. Sometimes you just need a break from seeing the same faces every day, five days a week. Not that you are tired of them, but rather you need some time away from them. It’s the way of the world.

It also gives us all something to look forward to, through the weeks of toiling at work. Being given a break from work is a blessing that is only really offered regularly to people who work at schools, considering the way the school schedule is outlined and works. You won’t get days off at the same rate if you work at, say, a Gamestop. You might have vacation days, and more sick days, and great benefits, and all those other wonderful things, but wouldn’t you rather have a week off in April when you really need it? I’ll leave that question up for debate.

Alex doesn’t get breaks the same way I do, but she’s going to take some time off over the summer so we can hang out together. I’m looking forward to that, as I won’t be working once June comes around. Now that’s what a real long break looks like. It’s funny how, during the longest breaks, you end up waiting for it to be over, after spending so much time waiting for it to begin. Ironic, but funny.

#160: The Nap

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In my last post, I spoke briefly about what it’s like to take a nap in the middle of the day, how it affects you later on and in the days afterwards. I’m writing this post the day after taking a long nap during the day, and I feel a bit hazy and tired right now. Still a bit exhausted despite all the sleep I got. I think our bodies get used to sleeping if that’s all we do, and our bodies prevent us from having a fulfilling day.

This isn’t always the case, though. On some days, after a nice short nap, I feel rejuvenated and back in the game, like I just took a long, powerful rest. That’s why they call them power naps, after all; you feel powerful after taking one!

Back when I used to work at a different school, I would be so exhausted from school that I would go home, immediately lie down on my bed, and fall immediately to sleep. It was instantaneous. Partially because I was an anxiety-ridden mess whenever I got home from school, I slept in order to erase the negative feelings I had in my head during the day. The sleep helped me forget the bad times and close my eyes. If you have anxiety, you probably know what I mean when I say that every hour spent awake is another hour spent worrying about something inconsequential and frustrating. When you’re asleep, that’s less time getting worked up over nothing. That’s how naps help with anxiety, along with exercise and other important things like that.

This all being said, taking a nap is one of the most enjoyable things you can do, especially if you need one badly and you set an alarm to make sure you don’t oversleep or anything like that.

#155: The Accident

brown and white bear plush toy

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For a long time, I used to pretend that I was a good driver, even though the more likely situation is that I’m a fairly lucky driver. Except for one time when I accidentally bumped someone’s car in the Branford Starbucks parking lot, I hadn’t gotten in any major accidents or collisions. One time, when driving up to UConn, I narrowly avoided getting totaled on the highway when my brakes blew out, and I had to pull over to the exit ramp and wait, patiently, for AAA to arrive, as my phone battery slowly ticked away at its last life. Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out by this, and it transformed my evening into a night of driving home in the passenger seat of a tow truck. I remember stopping at a gas station and picking up hot fries.

So, when I say that I’m a good driver, what I really mean is that I know how to react in emergency situations to lessen the potential impact of whatever accident is about to happen, or won’t happen. But that’s not always true, especially not nowadays. Accidents happen all the time, on the highway, on the roads, anywhere. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the need to step out and talk with the person who hit you or whom you hit, especially while cars are blaring around you, sirens and horns and angry passengers on the road behind you. As someone with anxiety, that feeling gets stressful very quickly.

In reality, I’m not a very good driver. I still don’t know how to reverse that well, and when I take turns, it’s easy to forget to put my signal on when no one is around me. Obeying the rules should be easy, but sometimes they slip your mind because you’re so focused on other things that preoccupy you. It’s okay though. It’s going to be okay.

#152: The Dog Bathroom

bathroom interior

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When living life as a dog, everywhere is a bathroom, at least until you’re trained not to. But even when you are trained, sometimes you like to take big doggy poops outside in the bushes and leave them in places where Anthony has a difficult time picking up with his doggy poop bags. That’s what happened the other day, when Alex was away for the weekend. I took Angus outside earlier than usual, and upon reaching his usual pooping destination, he promptly squatted onto the ground and let loose a stinky mess right in the middle of a prickly bush. Of course, I tried as hard as I could to pick up after my dog, like a responsible and appropriate dog owner, but there was only so much I could do without hurting myself even more.

Taking Angus outside is always an experience. Being someone with perpetual anxiety, I always worry that we’ll bump into another dog and Angus will jump on them and make a mess in the apartment main lobby. Thankfully, that’s only happened a couple times and he’s gotten a bit better since we bought him a harness, but it’s still a concern of mine. Whether it’s human or dog, Angus will leap onto whoever seems the most interesting to him at any given time. When taking him outside, he tends to be a bit more excitable and interested in whoever is around him. He used to pull on the leash whenever cars or buses stormed through the streets, but he’s gotten much better at not doing that since we first adopted him.

Angus is the type of dog who loves attention, so much so that he’ll give off a little doggy moan from the couch if you leave him alone for too long. Alex and I used to think it meant he was tired, but now that we’ve had him for long enough, we’re convinced Angus just needs perpetual rubs to keep him from moaning during the day. And we provide the glorious body rubs for our boy, that’s for sure.

#142: The Duty

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My job has loads of duties. Whether it’s reading group duty, or aide duty, or Lexia oversight duty, I’m usually fulfilling one duty or another during any given day. I want to talk pretty briefly about one duty in particular though, as it’s coming up (on the day that I’m writing this) and it might be worth writing about. That duty is lunch and recess duty.

Though I only have lunch and recess duty on Thursdays, it’s still something that lingers in my head. I don’t dread it, like I do certain duties, but it’s a nice little interruption during the day to make sure that I have something to do. When it comes to duties, it definitely ranks somewhere near the top of the list of duties I don’t mind very much. That’s because a lot of it involves walking around and talking with students randomly during the afternoon, and interacting with kids is a very easy, natural thing for me. I don’t put myself out there very much, because of my anxiety when it comes to social situations, but as a teacher, I tend to be a battery for attention pretty naturally. I’ve always said that being a teacher is like being a local celebrity; you’re on people’s minds, and they remember you regardless of what you’ve done.

When I was an intern in North Haven, I had hall duty every once in a while, and my job was to sit at a desk and wait for students to pass by. I asked each one for hall passes and, occasionally, I knocked on the bathroom door to make sure students weren’t wasting their class time in the bathroom doing nothing productive. You’d be surprised how frequently that happened.

Being a teacher means accepting the duties that are given to you, and fulfilling them without complaint. And I’m completely fine with that.

Silence

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Sometimes, being silent is virtuous. It’s easy, especially when you’ve been wronged. Ignoring rather than engaging, casting aside rather than letting it infect you. Sometimes, it’s better to wait. Waiting for people to realize exactly what went wrong, when it went wrong, why it went wrong. To engage directly with their faults and misbehaviors. To think things over, to reflect and make right. A conscious choice to let go and ignore and wait. Empty platitudes and niceties have never been enough to convince you in the past; why should they change your mind now?

Here’s the thing: no one is permanent. And unless things change, soon, I’m fine with how things have been. The ball’s not in my court.

#136: The Mental Health Day

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In continuing my trend of discussing personal issues, such as my health, I’ll today be discussing mental health and what it was like last year, when I decided to take better care of my mental health.

When I used to work in Milford, I would make sure to take time off for my mental health. Little did I know that working in that place would actually deteriorate my mental health to the point of an actual breakdown and collapse of sanity, but I’m sure my decision to take mental health days contributed to the preservation of my sanity in a temporary sense. Taking mental health days helped me stay afloat, basically.

I highly recommend you make the decision to take mental health days for yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and for some reason we only equate sick days with being physically ill. If someone is mentally ill and is in need of immediate help, then taking a day for yourself is a great way of getting back on track and resetting things. Not just for yourself, but for the good of others, too. If you’re mentally ready for things, the people at work will benefit from your aptness. If you’re not mentally ready, you risk alienating and making things worse for yourself and others. Think of it the same way you think of physical health!

I’ve tried to convince Alex to take more days for herself, similarly to what I did, but it hasn’t been super successful yet. It’s still a work in progress for sure.

Plus, above all, I get to spend days with Angus, my best friend and greatest companion of all. Nothing compares to the benefit of mental health bestowed by being with a dog companion.

Independent

Being independent means
being able to say
“No more,”
to friends who are toxic,
to family who act numb,
helpless, brainless,
leeches sapping all your
energy and good will,
giving nothing in return

But being independent means
not owing
anything
to
anyone
any more

Being independent means
refusing to visit on holidays,
refusing to acknowledge
until they learn their lesson

Being independent means
living freely
without obligation
to the past
and those who
still live there

It means being able to
decide who belongs in
your life and who doesn’t

It’s not easy saying no,
so why bother
saying anything at all?

What for?

#118: The New Raid

black and gray metal machine inside a room

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(This is the first picture that shows up in the free picture search engine for “raid,” for some reason.)

Jimmy and I both agree, the newest raid added to World of Warcraft in patch 8.1, Battle of Dazar’alor, has been a smash hit. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, representing perfectly what an actual, all-out war between two juggernaut super-factions would look like, rendered into the game’s modest engine. There are hefty stakes at play from both sides; consider the targeted assassination of the Zandalari king, and the reckless defense and heated chase through the waters to hunt down Jaina Proudmoore. Amidst all the high stakes is heightened tensions between the two factions after the battle climaxes. No one inevitably dies, except for the king, which leads to the events of the war campaign and allied race acquisition in 8.1.5. This is all just about the raid’s story, touching nothing on the bosses, mechanics, aesthetics, and more. But it’s impossible to separate this raid from the overarching story, as it is a climactic moment in the tale so far.

My favorite boss I’ve faced so far has been Opulence, wherein the raid splits in two and follows treasure golems through cavernous paths lined with booby traps and flame engines. But if you make it to the last room, powerful gems await that can empower your character, allowing them to finish the golems and enter the second phase of the encounter, wherein you face the massive treasure elemental, Opulence. It’s a ridiculous fight, and I loved being able to experience it firsthand in LFR and Normal difficulties. Hopefully, with my gear level increasing so fast, I have the opportunity to raid on Heroic sometime soon. That might be too much stress though, and we already know I’ve talked enough about stress recently!