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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#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.

#115: Stress

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Stress. We all experience it, one way or another. Stress over work, stress over school, stress over relationships. It’s normal to be stressed, unfortunately, despite it being so toxic and corrosive to our mental health. There’s always been talk about how stress and challenges are essential to learning, that in order to be truly engaged or challenged in a task, there has to be some degree of urgency associated with it.

In some ways, I agree completely. How can I ever expect to learn how to handle stress, for example, without having experienced it in a more constructive, educational way in school? School is and has always been a reflection of life after school, but with handlebars and the bumpers up. Teachers are dictators, at least according to kids, and counselors are helpful, guiding friends. School has the makings of a microcosm of life itself, and the lessons learned in school help students in that they can apply those lessons when they reach adulthood. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t claim that this is what everyone’s school experience was like, or even mine for that matter, but I hope I can convey a sense of idealism, not realism, in this.

So, looping back to stress and the factors that go into it. I am somehow who gets stressed easily, and the second a student says one thing that’s slightly disrespectful, I am taken aback and reeling all the way home. My mind absorbs all the emotions and energy of the room around me, internalizing it all. That’s the life of an anxious mind. But in order to overcome stress, I like to think some advil and World of Warcraft does the trick. (That’s partially a joke; I do play WoW to unwind, though.)

Yet Again

You see,
it isn’t easy
coming back from the
edge and surviving

Living to
tell more tales, to
die another day,
to give it all
another
shot

Yet again, those
thoughts return
like bees to
their hives,
ears ringing and
eyes bulging

Yet again, like
residual hatred,
like time itself
it can be delayed
but always finds
its way back
home

#85: The Millennial

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I am a millennial. A word often heard in the media, used as a scapegoat for the country’s problems: “Millennials aren’t investing in the stock market as much as previous generations,” “Millennials don’t care about the housing market or lottery tickets or old mall favorites like Macy’s,” “Millennials don’t want kids any more!”

I read an article in the New York Times the other day about millennials, and it said that they have adapted to a “rise and grind” lifestyle. That millennials, who grew up expecting extracurricular achievement and good grades to amount to a lifetime of happiness and fulfilling their creative passions, feel left out by the world that gave them that idea in the first place. Crippling student loan debt and rising gentrification in big cities, significantly higher than previous generations, has set a standard for what we have come to expect from the outside world. When a person went to college before the 90s, were they expected to pay seven figures over 20 years to ever make up for the cost of their education? Since when has an education been so expensive?

Either way, the article in the Times talks about how the “rise and grind” lifestyle adopted by so many millennials stifles creativity and ensures a lifetime of boredom and depression. I’m not the least bit surprised. Waking up at 5am to go to Milford every day, for example, was not the ideal lifestyle for me. And yet it represents a kind of necessity, a need demanded by outside forces. Is there any wonder why millennials have some of the highest rates of mental illness of all generations? Is there any surprise that people suffering under false promises given to them as children feel betrayed as adults?

Just some food for thought today. Not sure what to think about it, but the article got me going a bit.

Loud

What are you thinking?
Make an observation,
“the classroom is quiet”
and so are we
Life is naturally loud

What might scientists
look for?
Predators, prey
The silent cries
underneath green

What happens to
their food?
Herbivores, carnivores,
eaters and feeders and
readers and writers

Food source declining,
pollution and pesticides
and
Human Interaction,
natural disasters,
weather and climate change,
icebergs thinning,
Freud in crisis as
ego drowns beneath
the sixth grade waves
the waves, the waves

#76: Doubt

man with a serious face

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I doubt whether my clothes fit well, I doubt whether my hair looks good, I doubt whether my personality is likable enough. I doubt the sun shines in the morning when it’s supposed to, and I even doubt when I’m supposed to go to bed. But most of all, professionally, I doubt my lesson planning work. What I need to focus on more is trusting my instincts, and if something doesn’t go well, trusting that I can make up for it the next time, or improve from my mistakes. I’m so afraid of making mistakes sometimes that I prevent myself from making them; I shield myself from error by copying the work of my peers or mentors instead, trusting that they have better ideas than I do. There’s never a time when I’m not wishing another person had done this before, but better, so I could copy them and be rid of the anxiety of having to be accountable for my own ideas. It’s an easy, affordable way of avoiding accountability, which is not very good.

But let’s make this a positive and productive blog post. I don’t want to mire in negativity forever. I think I have a lot to offer as an educational professional, it’s just a matter of unleashing that potential appropriately, actualizing it in just the right way. If I need to go to college again to figure that out, then so be it. If I need to stay here for awhile first, then so be it as well. Doubt is a terrible infection, and I need to overcome it one way or another. My ideas aren’t as terrible as they seem in my head; it’s just my self-critical ways acting up. Self-esteem is a tricky thing.

F Word

Crumpled up piece of paper
found in the trash between
lunch periods,
between gum-stained homework
and block erasers
an outline of a small hand,
all five fingers, one extended
further upwards than
the others,
and a message in all caps,
scratched out in pencil,
still legible despite this
it says, “Mr. D” and then
trails off, landing
somewhere indistinct and disgusting
and vulgar and depressing
and most of all, sad,
to think someone thought this
up, put it into reality, and
threw it out, unable to face
the consequences of
sharing it in person,
face to face,
I would’ve cried if that
had happened.
I would’ve

Breakdown

Nothing wrong with a little
concern, a couple Q’s
about life and work,
she says,
excuse my inquisitive side

I say, breaking down is like
watching a horror movie in
slow-motion,
uncontrollable dramatic irony
steps into view and
watches you slowly until
you open the closet

I say, forgive me
for not reaching out when
I was at my lowest,
my deepest regrets are more
debilitating than I thought
and I forgot to say “Hello”

Hello
I had some troubles
last year, summer to
fall to winter to now,
you don’t think during a
breakdown, no one thinks
no one

#70: The Rust

broken car vehicle vintage

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Inevitably, time attracts rust. Nothing avoids it, except for ample preparation and productivity. Yet not everyone has access to those traits. Let’s talk about how corrosive unemployment can be, how it eats away at your mind and leaves you with a relic of what you once were, so that when you do inevitably return to work, you are a shade of your former working self. It takes time to rebuild habits and routines, rinsing and repeating. It takes time to make yourself a worker again, to build yourself back up after months of tearing down your self-esteem and happiness. Once a mountain erodes, it takes centuries to reform.

Being unemployed means you are always searching for a way out of being unemployed. At no point during my unemployment did I think, “I would rather stay this way than work again.” I had fun memories with friends that I wouldn’t have been able to have otherwise, but reliving my college summer vacation schedule while no one else is “on break” is not as fun as it seems. Every hour I was scrolling through and resetting my inbox to see if another application got back to me, or to hear back on an interview. There’s patience and madness in expecting an email that never comes. There’s doom and gloom in never receiving the validation you need. Being unemployed takes persistence, and it takes heart, and it takes your mind away, bit by bit. Slowly but surely. Sand castles build in your head, and they disintegrate upon close inspection; when you zoom in on any preexisting mental structure, its foundations appear shakier than they initially seem.

And yet there is always rust. After being away from work for months, actual months, is there any surprise that work can feel alien? Anxious minds gravitate toward worst-possible outcomes, as a natural way of things, and so prior to restarting work, I felt anxious that I wasn’t ready to go back, that I needed more time to prepare myself, without realizing that the longer I wait, the more rust that will build up around me. Rust from not working, from not being a 7-3 guy every day, from experiencing deep sleep and waking up whenever you feel like it, from going to CVS during the day and traveling to White Plains to get my prescription in the afternoon. So many things no longer possible, but thankfully, that phase of my life is behind me. It is time to move on, and the best way to move on is by releasing inhibitions and anxieties and just pushing forward. Pushing and pushing until something breaks.