Where Are You?

Where are you,
where are you,
where are you

Love, I have and share
To an extent unknown
Love forever

Locked up, tired,
Dehydrated and underfed
Sad, crying, moaning

Where are you,
right now?
Where?

Are you okay?
Are you nervous or scared?
Claustrophobic in there?

Don’t be afraid,
We still love you
We always will

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#74: The Crate

red apple lot in wooden crates

Photo by Maria Lindsey on Pexels.com

Crating a dog is tough work. Like we said to Angus this morning, it hurts us more than it hurts him (at least, it seems that way.) Today, I have work from 8-4, and then I’m driving up to UCONN to visit one of my friends. Alex has her 10-6 shift, which means she’ll be getting home around 7:30. What this means is that Angus won’t be let outside for awhile, and he’ll have to hold in his bladder, considering we crated him at 8am. We haven’t tested his bladder’s capacity this long before. I feel a deep sympathy for our dog on days like today, when he’ll have to stay in an enclosed space for 12 hours. If he pees, he pees; it’s not like this will have to happen again, at least for another 6 months or so.

We don’t usually crate Angus. Ever since I conducted a short experiment while I was at the gym, Angus has roamed freely through the apartment while we’re gone. We trust him at this point, and he’s a good good boy, so there’s no real need to worry that he’ll get into anything or spoil our night when we come home. Angus knows what to do and when to do it. Unfortunately, today happens to be the day that our apartment’s drains and bathroom are being inspected. This is a routine inspection, happening throughout the entire building and on different days for different floors. In the email the leasing office sent to us, they stated that all pets needed to be properly crated so the inspectors wouldn’t be disturbed as they move from apartment to apartment. It’s an understandable request; Angus would likely bark their heads off and jump up on them like they’re strange intruders if we let him sit on the couch all day instead of crating him.

Needless to say, we feel terrible about crating old man Angus today. It’s still on my mind while I write this blog. I hope he’s doing well, and I hope he doesn’t despise us completely by the time we come back. Alex will be taking him out on a long walk around the park and building when she’s home, which I’m sure he’ll love, but in these hours leading up to that, I worry for him. Perhaps it’s just my anxiety speaking here. Here’s hoping all goes well and there’s nothing to worry about.

#73: Water Castle

photo of boy in super mario costume

Photo by Jessica Klaus on Pexels.com

We’ve got to beat the water castle. We’ve got to beat that damn thing.

Let’s talk about Mario games, and their addictive multiplayer possibilities. Though I prefer other platformers over New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, such as DK: Tropical Freeze, it’s been a worthwhile purchase and a fun addition to my collection of Nintendo Switch titles. It’s provided us with hilarious moments, goofs, and gaffs, and it’s another adventure for Alex and I to complete together. Because it offers six playable characters with different properties on their jumps and power-ups, the game allows you to choose to play at your own speed. Certain characters are easier than others, such as Toadette and Nabbit, and they help players like Alex (who aren’t experts in Nintendo platforming games) gain some familiarity with the controls without intimidating them much. The feature is smart and adds a level of accessibility to the game, similar to a carefully crafted lesson plan including ample differentiation for all players and participants. It’s similar to how Mario Kart 8 Deluxe added the rail feature, preventing karts from falling off the edges with an easy button press on the options menu. We also split the price for this game, so it feels like a group purchase, rather than me buying a game and hoping Alex likes it.

But the water castle. Ugh, the water castle. When this post goes up, hopefully we’ve beaten the damn thing by now. I might write another post later about this game, to provide some updates for people who care. But at the present moment, we are struggling to beat the damn water castle, because we haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and beat it together. The current plan is to finish it tonight (Thursday evening), despite all odds.

Letter to ____

No, not
the end of your world
or theirs;
that’s a misconception,
wildly untrue.

The end is when
you reach for something
no longer alive, and
in the reflection of
their eyes you
see that death, its
mystical suspicion and
brilliance, is
forever.

The end is when you
reach and reach and
nothing seems to break.

That, that
there is no coming back,
that this decision is fatal,
that nothing exists afterwards
but the left behind
and that legacy will always
be judged by its last moments.

You are a harbinger, and
like diseases spread
through nations,
you cover the aching
sensations of the world
with an unfixable confirmation
of its most depressing
circumstances
your choice is final
and its ripples unfurl
forever against the
world’s best waves

#57: Sweaters Again

Yes, it’s finally time. It’s here. After 56 blog posts, for some reason it took this long for me to finally dedicate a single blog post around one of my favorite things in the world: a comfy, bunchy sweater. I did write an earlier post about sweater love, but that was overshadowed by another subject. Here, in this post, we only talk about sweaters and nothing else.

If you know me at all, you know how much I absolutely die for these things. Nothing fits or feels better on my skin than a sweater with enough room in the arms for breathing, while also maintaining some breathing room in the chest area, too. Enough for me to walk around in without thinking too much about what I’m wearing, if that makes any sense at all. It’s as if I’m so comfortable and content that I don’t care as much about the shirt I have on or the pants I’m wearing. Everything else is overcome by the glorifying, sun-seeking warmth of the sweater, to which there is nothing better.

Now, you might be thinking, Anthony, what about during the summer? How do you survive during the hot days and months? You couldn’t possibly wear sweaters during the peak of July’s warmth, right?

Wrong!

That’s a good question, but something that I’ve thought about a good deal also. The truth is, sweaters are great no matter the temperature, so long as you have one that doesn’t fit too tight on you. You don’t need to worry about the heat when you’re inside, either, which is the perfect environment to be wearing a sweater in anyway. You wouldn’t want to be running around in these things, but also, who needs running around in the first place? You have gym clothes for that (at least, I do.)

Shout out to my grey sweater, the one that I’ve worn for a while now and has never betrayed me. It’s stood by my side through student teaching and beyond, and it’s never let me down, even during periods of unintended weight gain and uncertainty. I owe that thing more than it knows, or will ever be able to know, because after all it is just an article of clothing. If articles of clothing could talk, this would be the one item I’d be interested in speaking with, if anything for its longevity. It would have loads of stories to tell.

Breakfast at Sea

A late-afternoon family breakfast in the middle of the ocean,

Where the life was quite inviting and the food was mighty delightful,

We ate soggy sea chips with soggy seafood, then in our comfort departed.

It was two a.m. and the waves floated in on a darkening cloud,

Carrying shells and seaweed with grace to the awakening shore –

Since forever it seems that nothing has changed -, then the waves floated back.

At three a.m. the family made its arrival and expected adventure,

With alien eyes and alien bodies to the great island before us,

The sky strolled on foot and then rained its confusion, then we danced in the mist.

Once the palm trees started to bend we knew it was best to stay inside,

For the shower of coconuts shined like the moon arriving in an apocalyptic blaze,

Like the end time but more pleasant than the Christians had imagined, then we laughed.

After it reached four a.m. we sensed trouble on the horizon,

As a pirate ship sounded off and barged in with a “BOOM!,”

Taking the family for prisoners and the island for their kind, then sipping on rum.

Then in ten minutes time the family had boarded the dangerous vehicle,

Since we braced for the worst, we knew the worst was yet to come,

But they sacrificed little sister Rita to their captain, then anchored off.

At five a.m. the sky unglued itself from the dark of the dawn,

And the mist had rose around the pirate ship to their dismay and commotion,

So the family devised a plan which would surely work, then we cheered.

Once it reached six a.m. the sun had taken his watch over the land,

Peering through the crack in the sky that it crafted especially for him,

Such that the moon could rest for a while in his spectacular light, then awake again.

When the clock tower struck seven and the birds rose in the east,

It was time to unleash our plot upon the dastardly pirates and surprise them,

So with great ferocity and coordination we struck them with steel, then with iron.

We escaped the ship in a bang as the cannons fired after our tracks,

But in the ocean we were protected among the coral reefs and fish galore,

And we enjoyed a nice meal with them in the distant shade,

Then at eight we finally awoke and forgot the great dream we had shared.

 

#47: Good Friends

backlit dawn foggy friendship

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Friends help make the world go round, and in the darkest times, they can even keep the world going all on their own. They have no peers but themselves. No comparisons are appropriately made when it comes to the value of a good friend, because a good friend is invaluable. They light up the sun when it’s dusk outside, and they bring food to your doorstep when you are hungry. Metaphorically, of course. They give you attention and validation when you need it, and they fill you up with positive vibes when you are feeling down. Good friends don’t need to be omnipresent helpers in your life, fixing your lightbulbs whenever they dim out, because a good friend helps simply by existing. The fact that they care for you sometimes is an added bonus, amplifying the already great benefits of having friends.

Recently, a good friend who I only see three days a year arrived for his annual sleepover hang-out spectacular. The extraordinary weekend. It’s a winter tradition, and every year I look forward to the next one. Sometimes it lasts a little longer than three days, but this year we were limited a bit. Fortunately for us, we managed to get lots of gaming in during our three days of hanging out, and spent quality time with each other, enjoying rare company. It’s not every day I get to see friends like this. That’s not to cheapen or demean my other friends, who I enjoy seeing on a more regular basis; it’s just that, when I have a friend who I rarely see, the moments we do share are made more special because of the long absence between them.

I was able to take this friend with me to all the great Stamford spots: Robek’s for smoothies, Corbo’s for lunch, Dino BBQ (and eventually, Cafe Jose) on Grubhub. We embraced what the city has to offer all over again, and I was uplifted by the experience. Something about his enjoyment validated all of my experiences here, and made them more valuable and worthwhile. It’s the beauty of having friends whose opinions and feelings you deeply respect and care about; eventually, you’ll grow to expect and rely upon their wisdom. Every decision is made better by their input, and every experience made more memorable with their presence. Nothing at all like a good friend.

Bad Person

Not sure what to say,

What to do, who to speak to,

Where my mind was,

When, why, when,

A few months ago when I

Left my lifeline hanging out to dry

Left the kids there too,

Waiting for me to come back, I’m sure

I’m sure of it

Why, why, why,

For me, for myself, for my sanity

Is that selfish?

Am I a bad person for choosing me

Over a hundred people?

At what point does the number tip over?

When do the scales move in their direction?

Am I a bad person

For sacrificing education for health?

For leaving behind unfinished work?

For treading water afterwards?

For letting another take the reins,

Without full training or anything?

It is hard not to be a bad person

In your own mind

#43: The Mythic

Mythic dungeon runs in World of Warcraft are stressful, nerve-wracking, and high stakes. They can sometimes take an hour or more to complete, and their completion insists and relies upon five people and their ability to coordinate with each other through dangerous obstacles and trials. One healer, one tank, and three damage dealers join together as a makeshift team to take down bad guys and delve far into some of the most deadly places you can imagine. Often, the obstacles in the way test the stability and patience of those brave enough to venture inside. Bosses, which are difficult enemies that require more intense coordination and mechanics to triumph over, line the path to the dungeon’s exit. Trash, which is what the nameless enemies you face between bosses are called, can test your patience too, if you’re not careful enough. Trash often is grouped up and has to be aoe’d down (aoe = area of effect, which are spells or moves that deal damage in an area, affecting multiple targets, rather than just a single one.)

The difference between a mythic dungeon and a regular dungeon is that mythics are timed. Each mythic dungeon has a specific, preset timer that your group needs to overcome in order to progress through your key. If the dungeon key is a high enough level, you might even face against certain “affixes” that make it even more difficult, such as quaking, which makes it so that every 20 seconds or so, your character exudes a large area move around them that deals friendly fire damage to the team. The strategy for dealing with this, ultimately, is to keep separate so that the area doesn’t overlap with anyone else’s before it spawns. Accidents happen, as they often do, and strategies can dissolve in an instant if the unexpected takes place. The truth to overcoming a mythic is complete trust between group members: trust that they won’t screw each other over, and that they will do their best to avoid making other people’s lives miserable.

More often than not, the dungeon has a clear path from beginning to end, leading through all the aforementioned baddies. But, sometimes the dungeons have branching paths, and sometimes there are efficient shortcuts that skip certain packs of trash, if you’re careful enough to avoid their sight range. Sometimes, the trash is as powerful as a boss, and there’s lots of trash to clear on the way to the end. There are, however, some common strategies that help you take down these threats. It’s the tank’s responsibility to “tank,” or command the attention and aggression of, all the enemies you face, while keeping the rest of the party safe. The healer’s responsibility is to cure any wounds the party faces along their journey, while the damage dealers are glass cannons: especially weak to damage, but especially good at dishing it out as well.

Now by this point you might be thinking, this sounds stressful (remember that they are timed, too). And it is, no doubt about that. But the rewards are often worth the stress that goes into it. Mythic dungeon runs are repeatable, and each new difficulty level (+2, all the way through +25) has a chance to award new levels of gear for completing it. If your character wants to progress at all, they’re probably doing some manner of mythic dungeons.

#42: The Blog

Having a blog is a wonderful, positive thing in my life, and it is something I truly cherish during tumultuous times. I haven’t had to give this up, basically, and I know I always find ways to return back to it after years of absence. It’s stayed with me throughout all the trials and tribulations I’ve experienced over these past two years and plenty more. And consistency and stability are two things I’ve learned to deeply respect thanks to my experiences. I am thankful beyond words for the ability to write about my life and reach a limited audience through it. It’s impossible to quantify exactly what this means to me, but I hope it might also mean something to you, too, wherever you are right now, reading these sentences. (I know I have some dedicated readers who regularly check this out via email or browser… Hi!)

I want to also, temporarily, discuss the state of my blog. It’s turned into a bit of a “Wonderful!” like experience, where I share what matters to me while sharing about my personal and professional lives. It’s a hodgepodge of writings, and I hope that this style works for those reading my blog, whether or not you are frequent readers, because it’s a style I quite enjoy. It’s also easy to write about, and as someone who needs motivation to write for a long period of time, this style has provided me with a great deal of inspiration. It’s also helped me find out exactly what I’m looking for in a creative sense: personal blogging, at least for now. I try to intersperse some more creative writings when I can, and when it feels most appropriate also. Hopefully those will be returning soon, as I think it’s been awhile since I’ve tested my creative capacities in that way. It can be exhausting (and somewhat repetitive) to come up with topics to write about for this blog, but poetry has to come naturally. It can’t be forced into being.

Speaking of, I’m of the belief that creativity is like a fine-tuned skill; you need to hone it from time to time, to make sure the skills don’t disappear. You have to tend to it, or else it will not be the same when you return. But it is also like riding a bike, in that you don’t need to worry about ever totally “losing” the skill. It is always a part of you, somewhere on you, craving attention after a long absence. You just need to unleash it through whatever medium appeals to you most: filmmaking, photography, painting, music, theatre, dance, creative writing. There are more mediums that exist than what I just wrote down, but I hope it serves as a good jumping-off point for other ideas. Creativity is the source of many people’s happiness and joy, and it deserves to be appreciated from time to time, in whatever form it chooses to appear in.