#202: The Bathroom

bathroom interior

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Something I don’t talk about much is the bathroom. Not because it’s something private that doesn’t deserve discussion, but because it’s something I’ve been shamed for in the past that I feel embarrassed about. But putting it online as I’m doing now is a bit more liberating, in some ways. I feel like I am activating a discussion I wouldn’t have had on this blog prior to writing 201 blogs before this.

Simply put, I have what’s called IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It means that I have to use the bathroom a lot, and at random times, sometimes without explanation or rhyme or reason to it. Most of it is triggered by anxiety, but that’s only some of the time. Other times, I eat something high in fiber and have to sit in the bathroom for a few minutes before it passes through me. It’s not fun, I’ll tell you that much.

When I first started working at my previous job, I remember asking to find the bathroom as soon as I could. It’s necessary for me to know where these places are, just so I know when in an emergency what to do and where to go. I also remember being in the bathroom one time, and hearing people outside the door waiting for me to get out. They gossiped about how it was me inside, so it probably would take awhile before I got out. I remember feeling total shame afterwards, and because I recognized the people’s voices, I never trusted them again. Sometimes bonds of trust are broken not because of overt betrayals, but because of simple acts of cowardice behind closed doors, when they think no one is listening or paying attention. I wish it wasn’t always like this, but most places are like this.

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End

This is the end, he said,
While wiping away smiles
From his brow, his face
So limitless and free
The summer to come
No clue where he’ll land
Come autumn or winter or
Next summer

This is the end, he said,
For now at least,
Until a few months have passed
And time takes its heavy toll
On whatever remains
Come August, September, October
The months and years down the line

This is the end, he said,
and I’m ready for what’s next

#201: The Recap

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Today I’ll be outlining some small stories about Alex and I, from two years ago. Back when Alex and I first started dating, we would send each other recaps of our days. We would alternate responsibilities; one night it would be my turn to write the recap, the next night it would be her turn to do it. Over long weekends, such as weekends that we spent together or sleeping in each other’s rooms, or weekends when I would visit her up in Boston or Syracuse, the responsibility to write a recap was threefold: you had to write one for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Granted, we came up with this unjust system all on our own, and we were the ones enforcing it on each other every night to make sure it was done for the next day. But it was a blast to do, and I sometimes miss doing it. There’s so much rushing and moving around during the day, it became nice to look forward to a recap of the events afterwards. Reflection and relaxation combined here.

At times, I would forget about the recap, and Alex would remind me in the morning and I’d hurry to finish one in the shower before work. Back when I was teaching at a different school, I would dread writing recaps at night because I had so much work to do, and I felt like writing another 300-word review of the day wasn’t exactly necessary as a use of my time. But looking back, and seeing all the recaps from our first year collected together in a nice book, it was absolutely worth it, and I would do it again if I could. We only stopped because, well, we moved in together, so most of our days were spent together anyway. We would “recap” before dinner, or before bed, but not in the same formal fashion that it took before we moved in. That’s a vestige of our relationship during earlier times.

#200: The Dog Treat

chocolate cupcake with white and red toppings

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Before I get started, let me say that this is a milestone blog post! #200 is here! I couldn’t think of anything fantastic to mention or discuss here, so I reverted back to talking about Angus as is the usual trend of things.

(Before you ask, no, we don’t feed Angus big, sweet cupcakes like the one featured in the picture, especially because it has chocolate in it and that would be an absolute disaster. We’re smart dog owners; I promise!)

Angus is a good, good boy, and good boys deserve treats every once in awhile. Today I’ll be sharing some of the various treats we give him and how they’ve impacted his storied life so far. Sometimes, Angus digs into them with reckless abandon and with no regard for anything except his inner craziness. He rushes forward and puts his mouth around the long, curled bone and rips into it with his teeth for hours and hours until eventually it’s all in his stomach, and he’s then a tired, exhausted mess on the couch. That’s usually how he reacts when we give him bones from our big bone pouch in the kitchen. We’ve stopped giving him bones all day, instead deciding to give him enough to last a week and that’s it.

We originally got Angus a nylabone toy, with cheeseburger flavoring on it, but he didn’t like it at all, so Alex gave it to her sister. When we’re downstairs, taking him outside for whatever reason, he will jump up onto the counter in the lobby with the milkbones in it. He’s a fiend for milkbones. Unfortunately, we’ve stopped giving him milkbones because they’re not very good for him and he’s gotten a bit chubby, but he still jumps for them regardless. That’s the price to pay of starting a habit and then taking it away quickly!

We also recently started giving him raw hide pieces, but he rips those up quickly too. No matter what we give him, he will devour it. Angus the Devourer.

#199: The Big Sleep

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Can’t believe, after all of these blog posts in a row that I’ve written, that I haven’t talked about sleeping yet. Sleeping is so, so enjoyable, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I love drifting off to bed with my head’s weight laying down on the pillows, nothing else in mind except the tranquility and relaxation I’m experiencing in this moment. The softness of the pillows, the coziness of the comforters. And nothing feels better than waking up before your alarm, realizing you still have a few more hours of sleep to go, and then drifting back off to sleep another time. I’d like to crystallize that moment and keep it forever, endlessly repeating it over and over until I eventually have to go into work or school or wherever is next. If only it were possible!

Sometimes my anxiety prevents me from falling asleep on time, but I’ve had good luck recently in falling asleep exactly when I need to. I’m almost always tired and ready to go to bed, regardless of what time of the day it is, so if the opportunity presents itself for me to drift off to bed, I’ll take it immediately and with no regrets. Having a strong, sturdy bed with various pillows and a dog sleeping next to the bed definitely helps, although, like I’ve said in other blog posts, having a dog sometimes makes sleeping more difficult than it needs to be. Sometimes you want to sleep for longer during the weekend, and then it’s all wrestled away from you by a dog jumping up on the bed and bothering you until you take him outside. It’s a sensible, ethical alarm clock. Thankfully he’s gotten better at not doing that since we got him his new bed. He’s been a good boy.

#198: The Dog Weekend

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We had an eventful weekend involving Angus, that’s all I’m going to say. It was full of ups and downs, high ups and low downs. On the one hand, Angus and I had a bit of a confrontation on the bed that lead to some drama and difficult conversations afterwards. That’s all I’ll say about that, to ensure I don’t stress the topic more than I need to. It’s done and over with, and we’ve moved on, the two of us (Angus and I).

But on the other hand, Angus was taken on a long, nice walk around the park outside on Saturday that filled out hearts with joy. He always makes us happy when we get to see his tongue flying around and his head swaying from side to side. He’s like a little child sometimes, and we tend to say that a lot about him. His behavior resembles that of a little kid with an old man’s body. He walks around with the swagger of a young child, his head bobbing up and down as he pants recklessly. That’s my favorite part about taking him on walks; we get to see him absolutely lose it whenever he gets to go outside. It’s clearly one of his favorite things about living with us. If there weren’t two parks near us, I’m not sure what we would be able to do to have fun with our boy.

Speaking of fun, the weather outside was perfect these past few days, and now as I’m writing this blog post, the weather is back to its terrible, chilly, rainy messiness. Typical May showers, right? I wish it were warm again, but on the other hand, I’m glad to be able to wear sweaters from my wardrobe again. It’s like I get to dig into this whole other array of work clothes I don’t normally get to wear. They’re finally unlocked and open.

#196: The Grade

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Grading papers is fun. I like examining students’ writing, I like assigning grades to them, and I like feeling like my comments will lead to some kind of educational breakthrough for students. You have to feel like your comments are useful in order to feel motivated to write them, right? Otherwise there’s no inspiration.

One habit of mine is writing lots and lots of comments. I’m very meticulous with my commenting, making sure to fill in everywhere and every thing with ink. I like to make sure that students know exactly why they got the grade they got, and I like to know that I fully read over and understood their writing. Sometimes, though, I can’t read everything; I can try and try to pore over the pages, but my eyes get all blank and foggy. Grading marathons are tedious even though they’re fun at times. They drown out every thing else from view, and you are lost with a vision of words upon words and numbers upon numbers only.

I like to grade while working on other things, like playing a round of limited in Magic: Arena or playing some ranked ladder on Hearthstone. Using games as a crutch is probably what allows grading to be enjoyable.

The advice I’ve always gotten from other teachers is to set every thing else aside, devote some time to grading, and not to fill up the essays with comments, because the kids will usually never read all of them and you’ll feel like they’re a waste. I completely understand where they’re coming from, because I distinctly remember picking up graded papers from the ground in my classroom last year, distraught at thinking of how much time I devoted to each paper only for the kids to disregard them like they were nothing. That’s just teaching for you.

#195: The Rubric

black binocular on brown wooden surface

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I’ve never been a big fan of rubrics, and when I was in high school, I hardly ever looked at the rubric when figuring out what grade I got on a project. I always assumed it was just up to the teacher, and then they would fill in the bubbles on the rubric to match whatever grade they thought matched the quality of my project. I know that they’re useful, and I know that their uses are important and worthwhile, it’s just that when I was a student, nothing about rubrics really ever resonated with me. They just sit there, and they have purpose, but their purpose is incongruent with what I’m really looking for from a grade.

Here’s why they’re helpful, though. They are necessary for making sure that students have clarity as to where their grade originated from. Teachers who use rubrics correctly and appropriately are ideal models for students. As a teacher myself, I like the flexibility that’s offered by not using a rubric. I like giving students checklists with my expectations clearly marked on them, and then letting the grade come from the quality of the paper, not if it made enough checks in the boxes I wrote for them. I recommended, to one of my coworkers recently, that he use a checklist in his class in the future, and I think it was well-received. Maybe it’ll end up being implemented.

The reason I’m writing this blog today is, first of all, because I’m on a computer with a “Research Paper Rubric” sitting right next to me, watching me. It’s like it’s staring at me, telling me to write about it and pour out as many words as possible onto the page about this topic. I hope it worked out and I gave something worth reading!

#194: The Free Weekend

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Today, I’ll be talking about plans Alex and I have set for our free weekend
coming up. I usually go to my friends’ places over the weekend for a night, as a way of relaxing and getting away from stressful environments. But this weekend, I have no such plans with my friends and I am completely free to do whatever I want. That means that Alex and I are going to have to figure out something to do together this weekend, and there’s a list of options.

Usually, we get one free day together to do whatever we want, but with the added bonus of having an extra day to do things together, it’ll be interesting to see what we come up with. Maybe I’ll even go back to this post in the next few days and update it with our plans, after we’ve made and completed them.

I’ll start things off with one idea: How about we drive down to New Haven to see my grandma, who just got out of the hospital after her big hip surgery? We can definitely do that. It would be nice to see family after being away for awhile.

Here’s another idea to think about: What if we drove and got smoothies again, considering we weren’t able to get them on Monday when we originally planned on going? Robek’s is life, and unfortunately, after driving specifically for smoothies together, the place was closed and we weren’t able to go in.

I’m not sure what this blog post really is about, so I’m sorry to those of you who spent time reading it. I think this might be my most rambling and ridiculous one yet. Hopefully, by the time this goes up, it won’t really matter. We will have to see!

#193: The Tunnel

woman wearing black coat

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I have carpal tunnel syndrome. No, I’ve never been officially diagnosed with it, but I’m confident that I have it. My hands are weak, my joints are twisted, and my fingers feel pain as soon as I start typing or using the computer at all. It’s an unusual feeling, but it’s something I’ve grown accustomed to. Like how people with disabilities or diseases acclimate to the new normal of their lives, I’ve gotten used to feeling a slight twinge in my fingers after typing for long periods of time. It’s worse when I write physically, though. That’s part of the reason why I’ve moved on from my personal journaling and have started writing my blogs on here instead. It helps me relax my fingers, while keeping the blogs to a steady 300-word minimum allows me to stop myself before it gets too out of hand (get it?).

According to orthoinfo.org, “The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, about an inch wide. The floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. The carpal tunnel protects the median nerve and flexor tendons that bend the fingers and thumb.” Before doing some research, I never actually knew what carpal tunnel was named after; I assumed it had something to do with the wrist, obviously, but nothing specific came to mind.

When I play video games, that’s usually when I feel the pain the most. My hands can start to fall asleep in the middle of playing games, and if I hold onto a grip for too long, my hands start to feel pressure and pain. It’s not a good or pleasant feeling, that’s for sure. I don’t think I could ever play a game like Starcraft 2 again, at least without damaging my hands even more. Or Super Smash Bros: Melee. Not that I ever was good at those games, but it doesn’t hurt to have fun with them every once in awhile.