#468: The Vet

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Bringing Jace to the vet for the first time was an interesting experience. He had to get his nails clipped, and they needed to look in his ears and his mouth, both of which made him anxious and caused him to lash out a little bit. He’s a tough cookie and he dislikes being handled in any sort of way, but when it comes to being at the vet, he’s especially devious and difficult I found. It’s in his nature, though, and I’m not surprised to hear it and also see it.

In the next few days, they’re planning on calling me back so that I can schedule for him to go in to get his teeth cleaned. Apparently there’s plaque building up in his teeth, causing inflammation and poor health up in his gums. That needs to be fixed, obviously, so they’re planning on giving him anesthesia so that he can relax while they do it. He’s not the kind of cat to just sit there and let you do whatever you want to him, unfortunately, so the extra cost from the anesthesia is going to suck but oh well. It’s necessary to keep this guy healthy and looking clean in all ways.

When Alex and I took Angus to the vet, it was a bit different because we had the two of us there. We supported each other and made sure there weren’t any complications that could make the visit worse than it needed to be. Bringing Jace alone was a challenge, but it’s a responsibility I’m willing to agree to so that I can have this companion with me. Even now, just looking at him sitting on the couch across from me, it feels like we were meant to be friends together like this. It’s a perfect combination.

#466: The Spreadsheet

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When I was still working as a literacy interventionist in Norwalk, I made a spreadsheet that kept track of my students’ test scores as well as their previous scores and anything else that would be relevant to that. I used spreadsheets as an English teacher as well, as they helped me formulate my ideas and make sure I kept all my plans in line. I also used them to keep track of IEPs and 504s and other important legal documentation. As a teacher, there’s no shortage of important documentation you have to keep on you at all times. The profession has become incredibly stressful in that sense, and you’re always expected to have some deep knowledge of every single person who walks through the door. Just realistically speaking, that’s impossible for one human brain to handle at one time. Fortunately for me, I left teaching before it became too much of a burden on my psyche. I got out before it got me, essentially. Hopefully things stay that way in the future while I look for another job in the meantime.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of jobs seem to ask for intricate knowledge of spreadsheets and Excel, as well as Microsoft Office. It’s an important skill to have knowledge of if you’re trying to market yourself.

I’m no expert when it comes to manipulating data and spreadsheets, but I’m definitely familiar with them and the software that accompanies them. They’re basically hardwired into my brain as the most efficient way of organizing information in an online software. Being the kind of person who’s a bit disorganized in the head from time to time, it can be nice to have something out there that actually serves to help you, instead of hinder you and the way your brain tends to work.

#465: The Hazelnut Shot

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When I go to Dunkin Donuts, I usually order an extra-large hot coffee with almond milk and a hazelnut shot. It’s been my go-to order for awhile now, although sometimes I get in the mood for a different type of drink, maybe one with espresso or whatever else is available. The reason I’m writing this blog post more specifically about the hazelnut shot is because there are times when I’m ordering coffee when the order doesn’t come out right, and it’s usually pretty easy to tell when that is. The flavor is more syrupy, more sugary, and it’s not as tasty. In situations like that, I usually still end up drinking the coffee anyway, but I do so a bit begrudgingly. The syrupy taste isn’t pleasant and definitely lessens the enjoyment of drinking the coffee. Plus, I have to know how many sugars are probably polluting the drink. Overall, it’s not great and I have trouble justifying spending money on coffee that’s like that.

That’s why I always make sure to say, while ordering, that I’m looking for a coffee with “unsweetened hazelnut.” If you say “hazelnut shot,” generally that’s supposed to mean unsweetened versus when it’s a “hazelnut swirl.” But not all the people working at Dunkin recognize that immediately, and that’s not an insult towards the people working there, it’s just the reality of things. You just have to be extra specific while ordering to make sure you get exactly what it is you’re looking for. There’s always a chance it blows up in your face regardless, as it has happened to me before, but it’s a more likely hit than saying hazelnut shot.

I know this was probably a really specific and uninteresting blog, but it came to mind as I’m staring at my coffee across the desk from me. It’s just how it is.

#464: The Lost Sector

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In Destiny 2, there are hidden areas marked on your map for you to explore on each of the planets in the solar system. Sometimes the areas are difficult to find, other times they’re simple and easy to access. Regardless of the difficulty level, though, the lost sectors are an interesting addition to the exploration and completion of every planet. In order to say you’ve completed your exploration of a specific planet, you have to have explored every lost sector, essentially, to earn that title.

Personally, I’m not that interested in the title or the accolades associated with exploring everything there is to explore. I did that once in World of Warcraft and that was enough. I thought it was a huge achievement at the time, to have explored every part of the map possible, and I remember getting it in Wrath of the Lich King, when achievements first came out in the game. I was playing during a time when flying was impossible in the regular old world, so I had to do all my exploration in zones like the Blasted Lands and Feralas by foot. It wasn’t especially difficult, but it was mostly just time-consuming. A lot of the achievements in this game are like that; they don’t require an immense amount of skill, just a lot of time and dedication and effort directed at one thing.

Back to Destiny 2, though. Lost sectors are part of the game, regardless of whatever complaints people may have about them. I don’t think they’re a huge source of contention in the community, although I’m not even sure if they existed back in the original Destiny game. Regardless, I think they’re pretty fun and I’m glad they’re a part of the game. Hopefully in future Destiny releases they continue iterating on the formula they started here.

#463: The Spite

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It’s a shame that I have to mention this, but never act out of spite. It’s dangerous and can possibly ruin your reputation with people. It can ruin morale in the workplace, and ruin the happiness of students who work tirelessly for you. It’s a real shame because I feel that there are so many good, well-intentioned students who go to school every day, who struggle with what they do and work hard regardless, who want help and receive it from time to time. It’s our job to make sure they are treated fairly and equitably, and that our decisions are always in the best interests of kids. That’s why, when I decided it was time I leave my job and move on, it came as a surprise to me that people would instead choose to spite me over the needs of their own students.

When you act in such a way that damages yourself more than it damages the other person, who really won the exchange? What was gained from it, after all? Did it really serve to better the needs of students in the grand scheme of things? That’s what I would like to know, more than anything else.

School is meant to be a place of learning and investing in education, and yet so often do leaders and administrators act in such a way that completely contradicts the message of their school.

This is the life I currently live. I’m a victim of other people’s spiteful, terrible decisions, and as a result of that, I feel like my life has kind of started to unravel around me. Thankfully, I feel at the moment like this is at least a chance for a new opportunity. I don’t necessarily have to see this as the abrupt end of the world for myself.

#462: The Taboo

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No, this post won’t be about the same subject I’ve been hammering home for the past few posts. I don’t yet know if I’m ready to move on, but I’d like to discuss something different for once, with hopes that it’ll rejuvenate some of my original writing spirit. Hopefully that’s what happens from this, and I won’t be writing about the same things over and over again.

A taboo thing is something that’s outlawed, something that you are unable to say or do. There are taboo words, taboo phrases, taboo actions. We learned about taboos, I remember, in sociology class in high school, where my teacher discussed how societies create norms. Certain habits are normalized over time, whereas others are relegated to taboo status. Those habits are supposed to be discarded or done away with, if possible.

In the world of teaching that I currently live in, I get to play Taboo with a bunch of my students, which has proven to be a blast. It’s one of my favorite activities to do with them because I know they’ll enjoy it and want to play, even though they’re getting up there in age and maybe aren’t as interested in kid games. Is Taboo a kid game these days? I don’t even know if it necessarily qualifies, but it might work just based on the box art.

Essentially, how it works is there are words you are supposed to not say, hint words, and a code word you need to have the other people in your group guess. You can’t use the hint words in your description of the word. It forces kids to think on their toes, to think deeply and really flesh out their understandings of the words that they have. Let’s hope they continue to like it going into the future.

#461: The South Pole

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I’ve been writing a lot about what it feels like to live in a completely different world, apart from where I was used to, and away from the people I used to spend so much of my regular, daily time with. I’ve written a lot about how I feel like an exile in a strange world, and how I feel trapped as well in this place where I’m unable to leave or move away from, at least not yet or not without some extra help. I tried my best with the last person I was with, and even though everything seemed to be going great, even though the cards were stacked perfectly in my favor, I still somehow screwed it up.

I can’t take all the blame, though. I know for a fact that being betrayed isn’t something you can just take as your own, accept as completely your own fault. There’s more to betrayal than just the mistakes made by the person who was betrayed upon. There’s the impetus of the decision, the motivation to make the betrayal, but not everything needs to be relegated to that one person. It’s not fair to them, and not fair to me, for me to assume all responsibility for how things went wrong. I simply can’t accept that about myself, as hard as that may sound. I want to succeed somehow, in spite of everything, and recapture the motivation I lost while I was becoming complacent.

This blog post was originally going to be about the South Pole, because we’re working on that right now in R&P for school. It’s one of the topics we’re discussing together and analyzing in detail thanks to some supplementary readings. It sometimes feels like I’m living in the South Pole these days, so I guess that’s how I’d connect things.

#460: The Necessary Evil

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Sometimes I wish I could just wait until this is all over, wait until it’s possible for me to forget all of this ever happened. It’s a necessary evil, however. It’s something that I need to endure while it’s happening, and even though I despise it, it’s necessary and there’s nothing I can do about it except accept the circumstances I’ve been given. Like in card games, you can’t change the cards you’ve drawn in your opening hand; you have to accept them and try to win with whatever you get. Unfortunately, I drew some bad cards recently, or at least cards that are sometimes detrimental to my own sanity and health.

The necessary evil that’s currently occupying my time is my job, as crazy as that may sound. It’s a necessary evil because I don’t quite like where I am but I have to be there while I look for something new to occupy myself with. I’m accepting the fate that I have, even though ideally I have to worry about gas or anything like that in the meantime. Because I’m driving to work every day, and while I’m doing so, I’m thinking about the fact that I now need to drive an hour back and forth. I’m thinking about the ticking clock of my gas meter, how I’ll need to fill it again soon even though I already filled it a couple days ago. It’s a terrible situation to be in, but you have to live and let live.

Jace has been a great help, though. Having him around has reminded me of what it’s like to have a lasting companion that won’t just disappear or betray you after a set amount of time. I appreciate the fact that I have a friend who will help me when I’m in need, instead of kicking me out.

#459: The Highway Coffee

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In my last blog post, I discussed my commute to work in Norwalk, and how that’s like in the mornings and afternoons. I almost always seem to go back to talking about my commute, in one way or another; at this point, anyone who’s read this blog regularly probably knows what my commute is like by now. If I had to tally up however many blogs I’ve written about this topic, it’d be impossible to quantify. But today I’ll be discussing a new topic related to my commute, so stay tuned for that.

When I go to work, I always come with a Dunkin Donuts coffee in my hand now. It’s become a part of my look and outfit at this point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people expected it by now. Part of the reason for that is because I like to grab coffee on the way to work, either at the pit stop by exit 40 on I95 or the stop over by exit 21. I could stop in Northford, but it’s actually far away and difficult to get to when I’m driving in the morning. Plus, there’s a bunch more traffic over there, believe it or not. More people want their coffee from their regular, local place than the one on the highway to work. It’s a lot faster to just drop into the drivethrough and deal with things that way.

I tend to get the same order every time I drive through, so at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if people knew what I get. But that’s besides the point. I still fill up coffee in the morning at home, because I actually drink too much coffee and I end up drinking both the morning, highway coffee and the coffee I fill up at home before leaving. Usually not at the same time, though.

#458: The Traffic

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Driving through traffic isn’t fun, as anyone who has a long commute can attest to. It’s never interesting having to stop and go, stop and go all over the highway, back and forth, as if you’re eventually getting motion sick. You just do it until you lose all sanity, and even then you still have another couple miles to go before you can get off, so you grin and bear it. You accept the fate that’s been given to you, and you move on with your life regardless.

Driving through traffic makes my mornings exceptionally boring, but the parts of my commute where I just drive normally, where I can flicker through music and podcast options and listen to whatever I feel like, those are the best ones. Friday mornings are nice because there’s usually no traffic to be found, and then the inverse takes place during the afternoon, when Friday betrays me and I have to just wait and wait until I get home. I wish it were easier to deal with this commute, but unfortunately it’s a part of my current exile. It’s a natural state of things.

Being the kind of person who despises traffic doesn’t necessarily mean that I hate driving to work every day. Sometimes it’s nice having peace and quiet to myself, to my own thoughts and head space, for the time that that’s available to me. It might not be long, but it’s there nonetheless.

If I had to choose between driving an hour to work and driving ten minutes, though, I would obviously choose the ten minutes. I’d much prefer having a commute that allows me to sleep in a bit more and stay up a bit later. I’d also prefer having a commute where I’m allowed to get home at a reasonable time. But you can’t always get what you want.