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Reluctant Routine

Sunday, January 26, 2020

I guess I left things off on a sour note. I haven’t been very active with my writing. I haven’t been very active in general. Aside from the occasional weekend outing, I have stuck to a consistent routine. The routine that I follow helps relieve stress but does little for depression. Most of my day consists of working and preparing for work the following day. It is not glamorous, but it beats being underprepared. I have a few hours of free time every night that I spend reading or watching movies. Sometimes I spend that time grocery shopping or preparing food. Either way, those few hours represent a brief window when my time belongs to me. I value that time immensely. Therefore, the routine must continue.

I’m better adjusted to my job at this point. I am more confident in what I am doing, and the stress is taking less of a toll on me. I know that this relief is only temporary. Standardized testing is looming on the horizon, which is an uncomfortable time for teachers and students alike. Although I disagree with the practice wholeheartedly, I will now be responsible for proctoring this intrusive exam. Preparation for the exam will begin early, and students will have time taken away from rigorous learning to hone the skills deemed necessary by the state of Texas. I will try to make the best of the situation, but I can predict that it will be a stressful occasion.

I’ve made a habit out of checking my calendar every day. I count down the days until the weekend, the weeks until my next break, and the months until the school year is over. It is difficult to conceal that I am just as eager as my students for this year to be over. I have several plans for the summer, but I am still uncertain of what comes after this year. I would like to try teaching at a different grade level before I decide upon it for a career. Yet, I am reluctant to start this cycle all over again. I will have a better grasp of my goals once I complete this year.

Aside from obligatory family time over the holidays, I have not spent much time socializing. I interact with so many people at work that I feel drained by the time that I get home. I often turn down invitations to socialize so that I may rest and prepare. I tend to make excuses for not going out, but the reality is that I don’t want to break the routine. I value my time in isolation too much; this is something that I am hoping to overcome but have no idea where to begin. I spend time with my roommates and occasionally see a friend on a weekday, but I have no compulsion to interact with people that are not conveniently close to me. Justifications like this make me question whether I have time to dedicate to relationships at all. Maybe I am too selfish with my time. Perhaps I need to be more willing to share it with others.

As it is, I feel like I am barely keeping it together. I can keep up with the bills, laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning, washing, checking, prepping, planning, and paying to some extent. But I feel perpetually behind on my ever-growing to-do list.

The joys of adulthood.

I’m doing my best to be responsible and accountable, but I do find myself yearning for simpler times. I miss having an inconsequential job. I worked in the service industry for nearly ten years before signing this contract. The whole time that I was working those jobs, I was always looking for a way out. I finally got away from those meaningless jobs, and I am now nostalgic for the old routine. The pay was insignificant, the work was often stressful and unfulfilling, but the stakes were much lower. I planned on working a service job over the summer as a form of supplementary income. Service jobs also provide a friendly social atmosphere. I am apprehensive about working a job like that now. I’m concerned that I will become too comfortable and that I will stop pushing myself to be better. I need to be careful about how I approach a summer job opportunity.

There are several opportunities for me to use my teaching certification outside of the realm of public schooling. Although they will not come with equal pay or comparable benefits, they do come with some autonomy. Choice is something that I have been desperately craving as I grind out my daily routine. I will likely explore those routes when I have more time to think about it. Until then, I need to stay focused on the tasks at hand. I can’t afford to look too far ahead; I could lose sight of what is right in front of me.

I’m going to try to add writing back into my routine. At a certain point, writing felt like a chore. It felt like another box to check off on my to-do list. It was nice to break away for a while, but it is so much sweeter to return to it. I had moments during my hiatus when I was inspired to write but did not have the time or means to. I will try to start journaling my thoughts on topics so that my writing is less bland and repetitive. There is much more that I want to share in good time.

-Nobody

Recalibrating

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Yesterday I got my first guitar lesson from an experienced tutor. He showed me some finger exercises, major and minor scales, and taught an introductory lesson into music theory. Up until this point, I have learned everything that I know about music from informal experiences. A friend was showing me a chord here and there, the occasional YouTube tutorial, and whatever I picked up from learning new songs. I underestimated the importance of learning music theory because it seemed like such a daunting task. First, learning the vocabulary that is necessary to communicate, that jargon can become overwhelming. Next, determining the underlying mathematics and science. It was incredible to watch my tutor break down the scales that we had just played into this calculus of seven letters. Lastly, the timing of it all, tapping my foot to the click of a metronome while playing along rhythmically. After the lesson, I felt like an impostor.

I have so much to learn…

I am fortunate enough to be learning from a real musician. Someone who understands the intricacies of music and the underlying science. Someone who has been educated in theory and applied it to songwriting. Someone who is offering me free lessons because he wants to see me improve. I would be foolish to turn the opportunity down, so I offered to make dinner in exchange for the lesson. This is the kind of bartering that I can get behind, reciprocity at its finest. I can’t overstate how meaningful it is to learn music the right way. Learning the building blocks that create a foundation for songwriting and comprehension. I’m incredibly grateful to have this opportunity.

Every shortcut in music leads to a dead end.

I feel energized at the prospect of expanding my musical knowledge. Pushing past the plateau of mediocrity into the tier of professionalism. This will be an arduous task, but a journey that I am excited to embark on. I will continue to resume my lessons and practice throughout the week. I am stretching myself thin with all my projects, but I feel compelled to learn more, grow more, to experience more. Suffice to say, I have more to give.

You can always be doing more…

These lessons shouldn’t detract from my current goals. I still intend to purchase and learn some video editing software so that I can begin making short documentaries. I’m estimating that I should be able to make the purchase in December. I’m eager to see where that will take me and how I can apply my developing musical skills to the process. I have a long break coming up from work, and I cannot afford to squander that time. I need to remain focused on my goals, I need to document the steps that I am taking so that I can monitor my progress. I can only hope that one day I will reflect on these years and recall my efforts and ambitions. I never want to lose this spark, the thing that keeps my lofty hopes alive.

Failure would still taste sweeter than bitter regret.

I think that I’m hitting a groove at work, I have learned the routines and the deadlines, I have made efforts to stay ahead and on time. My outlook on the job is improving, and I am feeling more comfortable with my students and coworkers. I had been struggling with imposter syndrome for months. The significance of the job is still burdensome, but I am adapting to carrying that heavy load. I’m feeling emotionally stronger and more resilient. I am anticipating a productive fall and winter break. I’m looking forward to spending time with family, writing more, and learning more. Self-improvement is a difficult undertaking. It leaves you vulnerable to reflection and directs you to question your own motives. It is a process that takes time and effort. It is invigorating and exhausting. 

There are no shortcuts because they all lead to dead ends. 

-Nobody

Professional Nobody

Saturday, September 21, 2019:

It all started with a dream, as so many things do…

Introductions don’t seem necessary here. After all, I am Nobody. Most of my life I have been content with being Nobody. Of course, I have people who I interact with in my life that see some semblance of importance in me, whether that be professionally, socially, or familial, but being Nobody feels comfortable and easy. That is irrelevant to the purpose of this blog. The purpose of this blog is to establish a connection with a community of like-minded people who fictitiously exist somewhere within the ether of the socially connected world. The people who I dreamt supported me and wove my life together like silk.


I never bought into social media. My Myspace profile was the height of my creativity when it came to projecting an outward appearance into the world. Effectively lost somewhere in catacombs of Google or the old Yahoo email account that I can’t remember the password for. Sure, I’ve had a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, and a few hastily deleted dating app profiles. However, I never invested my time or energy into engaging with these social media platforms, despite having a degree in public relations and mass communications. Perhaps I thought I was above it, commonly dismissing them as superficial and trite, or maybe I couldn’t face the fact that I’m just not all that interesting. Regardless, here I am, at 29-years-old, embarking on my odyssey to attain cultural relevance.

 I sit here on the precipice of something meaningful, delusionally dreaming of being recognized as a creator of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I am under no impression that I will become a household name, or even achieve my goal of connecting with others. In the words of my favorite musicians, Ben Folds, “do it anyway.”

A recent obsession with memoirs has sent me spiraling down a path plagued with overtly vivid dreams and harsh realities. I have over 200 contacts in my phone… I maybe speak to 10 of them a week, mostly to hash out obligations or establish plans. My dormant Facebook profile is a living testament to the fact that I have given up. I may only have 3 to 4 meaningful conversations a week. Despite this having little effect on my daily life, I can’t help but feel despondent and isolated. Either way, something must change. I am no longer immune to the cold reality that I need affection and attention. I brushed these off as social crutches, something that “a lesser man” would desire. No more. I have neglected this aspect of my life for so long that I am now feeling the unpredictable repercussions.

I have become very emotional over the last few weeks. It’s not the depression which I have so handily self-medicated for over the years. It’s not the crushing weight of loneliness. It is a sensitivity to beauty and purpose. A colorful sunset or a heartfelt lyric may make my eyes swell and my face hot with emotion. I have fits of crying followed by laughter in some of the most inopportune times, presenting me as a fucking lunatic. Seeing a child smiling and laughing while jumping through a sprinkler hits me with waves of nostalgia and tempered memories. Some chemistry has changed in my brain and I am working out how to adjust to it.

Maybe this blog will help me exercise my emotional muscles. Express what I have kept contained for so long. Maybe this is the creative spark that I have been searching for. Igniting a tinder house or repressed emotions, guilt, and shame. Maybe this will be a path forward, a synthetic digital-therapy of sorts. Maybe this is all just a pipe-dream and will fall away like the leaves in autumn. But whatever this is, it begins. My quest for relevance, my journey to culture, my life in words. I have plenty to share, a lifetime full of failed relationships, bad decisions, and monumental fuck-ups. But there is ample of time for those stories, and I have a wedding ceremony to plan.

This has been nobody- signing off

Reflections of a Reflection

A memory is like a still-frame portrait… with wet paint.

Memoirs, 130 memoirs… I’m a new English teacher at a local high school and the last four weeks were spent reading and writing memoirs. At first, I shrugged at the idea, maybe I hadn’t been exposed to any relatable pieces. Maybe I was so terrified of these 130 greasy faced little humans that I didn’t have time to reflect on the true purpose of writing in such a way. But either way, I missed the mark. I had an opportunity to teach an impactful, relatable lesson, to children who are just developing the mental capacity for empathy and self-reflection. What I wound up doing was teaching a lofty unit of incomprehensible instructions and irrelevant information. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any learning taking place, but I knew after reading every single one of those little mutants’ memoirs that I had deprived them of an opportunity to learn how others think and feel.

It’s not that the memoirs were bad, 13-year-olds don’t have much interest in self-reflection and contemplating the thoughts of others. Some, in fact, were quite good. Very advanced young writers sharing the intimate details of profound memories, while others were vapid, poorly composed snapshots of a good Fortnite game. I did see growth in their writing abilities, and with some solid samples, I know what I need to work on to improve overall understanding. But, such is life for a first-year teacher.

I wound up going to a concert that week. It was the Ben Folds and Cake tour that I had purchased tickets for several months ago. It’s nice to buy yourself gifts in advance, you spend the money, then forget about it until, one day, BOOM! You have a show to get to. I arrived alone, nobody else I knew had tickets for the event and the ones I had purchased were quite expensive. 30 feet away, I stood from one of my musical heroes, huddled into a mass of strangers. There were some nice people next to me, who engaged in a brief conversation. Overall, I was Nobody in this crowd, but I was connected to the music in an intimate way, so who cares?

When the music started playing, the crowd got denser. I could hear the subtle hum of die-hard fans singing along with every lyric. Folds put on a rousing performance, he engaged with the 3,000 people like they were all sitting in a small room together. As he continued to play, the swell of those voices began to rise. I could feel the weight of the people singing behind me pressing me forward into the wall of sound coming from the stage. By the last song, there wasn’t a quiet voice in the audience. We were all connected by this cacophony of sound. Each person’s sentimental attachment to this song. Each tied to a memory with hitch knots, weaving a tapestry of connectivity among strangers.

Ben received a standing ovation. He jumped on top of his piano, his shirt dripping with sweat to where you could see his olive skin gleaming through the opacity of the cloth. He bowed to his adoring fans, each one of them connected to him through his personal expression of his memories. Then he conducted the audience like an orchestra. Arranging the bass, altos, and tenors to harmonize. He toyed with his power on the stage, crafting an impromptu game of Simon Says. He left the stage with a red face full of emotion and tears streaming down his cheeks. No doubt, this concert had meant something special to him too.

During the intermission, the audience had grown cold. Frat boys had ample time to slug down their beers and the crowd became rowdy with anticipation for the headliner. With the performance I had just witnessed, I couldn’t imagine what would happen with the Cake show. Unfortunately, due to some factors that had worked against the band, the show to turned south quickly. They opened with a cold set. No major label hits, they started with one of my favorite songs, “Frank Sinatra,” but proceeded to try and plug their latest album. Hecklers begin to shout out requests with blatant disregard for others. When John McCrea (the lead singer,) attempted to engage with the audience, he was drowned out by the shouting of belligerent assholes and the sharp toothy whistle of some deplorable mouth breather. The band reacted poorly to the interruptions and the performance suffered.

I left about half-way through the Cake show. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the 10 or 11 loud-mouthed idiots who wore their social insecurities on their sleeve like a swastika armband. As I was walking away, I could hear McCrea still pleading with the audience.

I stopped at the merch-tent on the way out, (another advantage to prepurchasing tickets.) The vendors were sold-out of most of the shirts that I would consider buying. I wanted to leave with some memento, so I shopped over the stickers until something caught my eye; it was a book. “A Dream About Lighting Bugs” by Ben Folds. I made the transaction and walked away thinking that I had purchased a signed copy. About 100 yards from the tent, I flipped through the pages and saw that the signature wasn’t there. I stopped still and considered if I really wanted to walk back there and exchange it for a signed copy that would likely cost significantly more. Something pulled me back, my feet shifted around and I found myself marching towards the tent. I left that vendor with a signed copy of the book and a neat little tote bag with some merchandised magnets.

When I got home, my ears still buzzing from the self-inflicted cochlear damage, I went to my room and collapsed onto the half of my bed that wasn’t covered in unfolded laundry. I smiled as I looked at the signature, I relaxed my brow and began to read the first chapter. A brief 3 pages. It was a book of memoirs… divinely crafted into a story about his life. I read 30 pages before falling asleep. The next day, I read that first memoir to every class that I had, sharing my experience with the students and solidifying their understanding of what it means to reflect on a memory.

Professional Nobody- Signing off.

Ben Folds playing “Rocking the Suburbs.” Video by: Daniel Banton

I’m Back

I just wrote a 1,000 word post and accidentally deleted the whole thing. I took a bit of a hiatus from writing, I wanted to share my experiences over the past month but that post is now lost. I intend to return to my scheduled posting. If I can avoid future setbacks, I will likely have something up by the end of the week. There is a lot on my mind at the moment, so prepare yourselves for a deluge of half-baked ideas and general rants.

Rethinking Romance

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

I stopped pursuing romantic relationships over a year ago. I appreciate what romantic love can bring to people’s lives. I see the rewards of sharing your experience with someone else. Beyond the affection and platitudes, romance seems to bring purpose and fulfillment into people’s lives. I choose to say the word romance because my life is full of love. The ancient Greeks had 7 different words for distinctive brands of love, none of which are exclusively romantic, all of which I believe to possess somewhere in my life. I have always been surrounded by supportive friends and family, that is something that I am incredibly grateful for.

Additionally, I have had a few romantic relationships that were loving and supportive but ultimately fizzled out into tattered memories. I know that this is something that is currently missing from my life, but it would be dishonest for me to say that I’m really concerned about it. Being in love is not the same as falling in love, falling in love is not the same as being loved, and being loved is not the same as loving others. All forms of love are not mutually exclusive, true love is an amalgamation of these distinctive states of love.

While true love escapes most people, there are a select few that seem to find it. It really comes down to a matter of sheer chance and luck. Finding a symbiotic relationship in the ecosystem of romance is a daunting task. I’m under the impression that these relationships are best formed organically. Maybe I don’t have the chops to seduce someone with a Tinder profile, swiping through the proverbial meat market of emotionally available adults. Something about the process of online dating seems so manufactured and superficial that I have little interest in pursuing it. Playing the dating game would statistically improve the chances of meeting new people but in an artificial way. I’m not knocking anyone who uses these platforms, I applaud your confidence and initiative. I am just acknowledging that the kind of person I would want to invest my love in would ideally also see through the veneer of the algorithmic matchmaker.

Logic would dictate that I should engage in more social activities. Giving myself a chance to get out and meet new people. While I agree that this would be an ideal way to gain visibility, I dread the awkward encounters and conversations that are inevitable. Approaching acquaintances with romantic intentions seems desperate. Yet, this is how most romantic relationships begin. Maybe I’m incapable of conforming to the new dating standards. Even if I choose to follow that route, I likely won’t adapt quickly to the unpredictable nature of new relationships. The inevitable rejection and confusion would also disrupt my fragile confidence. I tend to overthink things; relationships are not an exception.

Here is a dilemma for you philosophers out there. If I must love myself to be capable of loving others, then doing things that depreciate my love for myself would also inhibit my ability to love others. If awkward rejection and relationships that end without closure detract from my ability to love myself, then I will perpetually be incapable of loving others, which will further deplete my love for myself. Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. I’m on a downward spiral to single town.

This is where I find myself today. Rattled with regret and some confusion about past relationships, trying to improve myself, rebuilding self-esteem and confidence, and overanalyzing every step along the way. If the adage is true, I must love myself before I can love anyone else, then I must accept that I may already have enough love for myself. After all, loving yourself does not necessarily mean loving everything about yourself. With that in mind, I have to ask myself, “is it really worth the effort”? I guess that is yet to be determined, I could very well wind up falling in love and changing my trajectory in life. I could be soaring through the clouds or drudging through the mud, but at least I would have someone to share that experience with.

Despite my fractured understanding of romance, I still appreciate the love that others have and share. I imagine it like seeing an alien museum exhibit; flowing red curtains retract to show a young couple laughing and reaching into a box of fries at a McDonald’s booth. The speaker in front of the roped-off exhibit crackles and comes to life with a low-fidelity recording that says something like this:

“The courting rituals of humans are a complex dance between sentient beings. Mating rituals include the sharing of food, communal grooming, and social posturing. Humans are capable of falling in love with one another as a result of common interests, mutually beneficial personalities, or shared traumatic experiences. In this display, the male and female humans grew their bond through sharing fried tubers. Neither of the humans on display understands what is in store for their future, they simply take pleasure in each other’s company without questioning sustainability or intentions. They do not know what lies ahead for them; they simply understand that they are on this journey together. For them, that is enough.”

The spotlight dims, leaving the human wax sculptures silhouetting the artificial backdrop. The droopy red curtains roll shut, and the moving walkway carries me to the domesticated animal exhibit. 

If only this concept weren’t so alien to me.

-Nobody

Thoughts on Therapy

Teaching has mostly consumed my life. I started writing a post about my anticipation for the upcoming Thanksgiving break but found myself disinterested with the conversation I was having with the page. Honestly, If I am going to enjoy writing, I need to separate it from my work. Writing about teaching helps me process my goals and expectations. However, I feel that the job has already enveloped most of my social and personal life. I would hate to see it consume my hobbies and passions. So today, I’m not going to write about teaching. In fact, I won’t even mention the “T” word for the remainder of this post.

My creative pursuits have been on the backburner for the last few weeks. I am finding less time to dedicate to band practice or writing. Although I wish I could invest more time into my passions, I simply can’t always make room for it. Rather than feeling guilty for my declining post frequency, I need to acknowledge that I will never be able to meet all of my own expectations. Accepting that I am a flawed human being is necessary to resist falling into a self-critical, depressive slump. Even with my efforts to circumvent depression, It still seeps through the cracks in my mind.

I watched the latest installment in the miniseries, “The End of the F***ing World,” with great amusement. The musical arrangement for the show captured the emotional displays of the scenes to significant effect. I can’t explain why, but something about the series resurfaced a lot of repressed memories and trauma. After finishing the show over the weekend, I couldn’t help but feel a connection with the characters and the overall themes. I identified with the teenage apathy, the escapism, and the confusion of young relationships. It stirred up some unprocessed feelings of past relationships and hardships. I remembered what it felt like to feel utterly alone. I spent some time reflecting on those memories and still feel as though closure will never be attainable.

It’s easy to shelve your trauma, to tuck it away somewhere high and out of sight, to neglect it. Until one day, it falls to the ground and shatters into dusty shards. Leaving you to pick up the sharp broken pieces. I guess a therapist would be a broom or a dustpan in this metaphor, but I currently don’t have a therapist. So here I am, carefully cleaning up the shame of my past, cutting myself of the shards of tattered memories of monumental mistakes. I must resist the urge to sweep it under the rug, lest I be painfully reminded when I gash my foot at a later time. I suppose that getting help seems more feasible with my current health plan. In my previous job, mental health was a luxury that I couldn’t afford.

Perhaps it is time to give therapy another chance. I took advantage of the counseling while I attended university, but the sessions were infrequent and limited. Finding a therapist that will work for me is a task that will require some time and effort. I want to develop healthy coping mechanisms, but I have already ingrained some bad habits. I should prioritize this over my upcoming break so that I can begin the painstaking process of finding the right therapist. I don’t believe that therapy will solve all my problems, but I am willing to try anything to gain some perspective on just what exactly I am experiencing.

I have never been fond of prescription medication. In the past, I was prescribed Prozac when I was severely depressed, and I had a very adverse reaction to it. Somehow the pill had the opposite effect and amplified my cynicism and suicidal thoughts. I also believe that I should be capable of dealing with my mental illness without changing my brain chemistry. I’m sure a psychologist would say be screaming at the notion that I want to learn how to deal with these things on my own. After all, a significant portion of adults are medicated for various mental illnesses, and sometimes they achieve great relief. If I was offered a pill that would cure my depression but also numb the part of my brain that processes shame, guilt, and empathy, I would decline it. I have accepted that my mental illness is part of who I am, it is not something that I want to remove from my personality.

 It’s not a bug, It’s a feature.

After all, masking the symptoms of an underlying mental illness is no different than putting it high on a shelf. A place where It will gather dust and be forgotten. Until one day, it crashes down, peppering the floor with shards of fragmented memories that I will be ill-equipped to sweep away.

 -Nobody

Extended Metaphor

I’m teaching a lesson on metaphors on Thursday. I am going to teach the students to write an extended metaphor. I build up to it in the lesson and break it down step by step. 2 weeks in the school year have been allotted for poetry and I intend to make the most of it. Here is the example I crafted for the lesson.

I am a hurricane, an unpredictable tempest. ​

A deluge,​

All consuming, inundating, churning.​

Awash with ambition, weary, always learning.

-Nobody

Expository Lessons

It’s only find it fair that I attempt the same writing assignments as my students. Not only does it model a good example, but it supports the notion that we are learning together. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed completing this assignment. I intend to share it with the students so that I can demonstrate the importance of hitting deadlines. Thus, my post this weekend will be the expository essay that I just wrote. Perhaps you can learn something by reading it, as I hope my students do:

Takes Notes

Historically, humans have been taking notes to record information for thousands of years. Note-taking is a complex human behavior that organizes, and restructures input into referential symbols. Academics and students have been taking notes since the days of the Ancient Greeks; it is ingrained in education. Note-taking is a beneficial skill that can help students recall and retain information for academic and practical purposes.

First, it is essential to explain the cognitive functions that occur when someone is taking notes. First, the note-taker receives information through an encoded channel such as language or symbols. Next, the note-taker decodes that message as they interpret it. Then, the note-taker encodes a message through symbols through inscribing. Finally, the note-taker can recall that message by decoding their recorded message. External factors such as psychological noise play a massive role in disrupting the encoding process. Provided is an image to visualize the concept:

Next, it is vital to assess the effectiveness of note-taking. There have been several psychological studies that have investigated the effectiveness of note-taking. The results so far have been mixed and inconclusive. There was little data to support that note-taking will improve test scores. However, there were significant implications that note-taking did increase overall retention. According to a 2016 article by NPR, “The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The study in the article concluded that hand taking notes was more conducive to learning retention than notes taken on electronic devices.

Lastly, it is necessary to dive deeper into the encoding hypothesis according to a psychological study conducted on college students who were assessed on a short reading passage. According to the hypothesis, “The students took notes on 31% of the passage sentences, and such notes were of high structural importance value. Most importantly, note-taking seemed to serve as both an encoding device and an external storage mechanism, with the latter being the more important function. The external storage function not only led to enhanced recall of the notes but also facilitated the reconstruction of other parts of the passage.”

This hypothesis is a demonstration of the encoding specificity principle, which suggests that encoding information such as writing, speaking, or gesturing relates to memory and the ability to recall that information. Evidence suggests that this principle plays a significant role in context and concept-oriented memory.

In summation, note-taking is a skill that humans have used for centuries to record and recall information. The cognitive process that occurs when recording information requires a decoding-encoding cycle that is stated by the encoding specificity principle to aid memory retention and recall. Finally, it is essential to acknowledge that many of the psychological studies on the effectiveness of note-taking, including studies that were refuting the encoding specificity principle, yielded inconclusive or mixed results. Perhaps this concept is particularly challenging to analyze and quantify scientifically.

Note-taking requires focus and keeps the note-taker engaged with the lesson that is being taught. One more thing needs to be factored in; If the alternative to note-taking is being subjected to a range of distractions and external stimuli that tear the student away from the lesson. Then the students who take notes and remains engaged will retain more information and perform better academically. 

I hope this was informative.

-Nobody

Recycling the Writing Cycle

Sunday, October 27, 2019

I’m teaching a lesson on the writing cycle tomorrow. Having to layout the process in a specific order made me think about the sequence that I follow. I do most of the brainstorming in my head at this point and collect my thoughts and ideas about a topic before I sit down to write. Sometimes, I just start typing. Those drafts typically remain unfinished and uninteresting. To express my thoughts or feelings about a topic, I need to ruminate on the subject for some time. Fortunately, I spend a lot of time in my own head. This is the process that works for me, but I need to differentiate for all my students. They all learn differently and appealing to their individual learning styles is a challenge for me. The fact is, some of my students will never become expressive writers. At least I can teach them how to write coherently.

Writing fiction is more difficult for me. Although I have an active imagination, structuring dialogue, and developing characters is not my forte. Over the summer, I intend to work on my creative writing through roleplaying games. I have listened to several sessions of D&D through podcasts and even sat in on a few games. The thing that seems so appealing about roleplaying games is the world-building. Crafting unique characters and intricate settings, with some improvisation, sprinkled over the top looks like an exciting way to learn how to write fiction. I hope that the time I spend practicing and playing D&D this summer will enhance my creative writing and improve a few skills that I have neglected.

Becoming a better writer is only one thing that I am trying to improve on. I also am interested in developing skills with video editing software so that I can create short documentaries. It may seem like a dull field of interest for most people, but I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate documentaries. The thing that is so appealing to me about curating documentaries is the variety of subjects that I can focus my attention on. Not only do I get to research and learn about something that I am interested in, but I also get to create something informative and share that knowledge with the world. Maybe my experience with teaching will aid me in my efforts. Reading and recoding scripts sound tedious but extremely rewarding when the finished product is something that I can be proud of.

Learning to edit and orchestrate videos is going to be a complicated process. I need to familiarize myself with the software and the tools that will be necessary to produce something coherent. This skill may seem unremarkable, but it is essential to create meaningful, quality content. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this project and learn more about the process. The only way to learn the craft is to start doing it. I’m planning on purchasing some editing software and around Christmas. I will learn to navigate the software and expedite my editing time by the summer so that I can spend my time creating content and growing my network. I already have several topics in mind that I can begin to research and collect ideas for. If I follow through on this plan, I can start working on a portfolio that is marketable for my passion. The big dream would be to do this professionally, but I will need to take baby steps to reach my goals.  

I want to build a career around compelling work. I can see documentary curation as an amalgamation of all of my current skills and interests. For me, it is quite literally a dream job. I’m not expecting to make much money pursuing this career. Monetization is the last thing on my mind, I may never see a cent for my efforts, but that’s not what this is all about. It is about my personal growth and development. Something that people neglect when they find a secure job or get tied down by their obligations. Perhaps my tendency to shy away from relationships and long-term commitments have a silver lining. I am free to make mistakes and fail, I am open to taking necessary risks, and I am free to dream big. 

In the meantime, I will have to stay focused on my current occupation. Teaching is more than a full-time job; it is an all-consuming lifestyle. I need to be spending time honing the skills necessary for this job, as well. Becoming a better teacher will also help me become a better documentary maker and ultimately help me become a better person. After all, If I can teach a bunch of apathetic teenagers about a writing cycle, I will be able to inform curious people about the subjects that I indent to discuss. I can be a journalist, a writer, an editor, a filmmaker, and a teacher. Hopefully, that will translate into a career that I can be proud of. Mostly, I want to do it for myself, so that I can become somebody that I can be proud of. 

-Nobody

Curricular Commitments

Struggling with the demands of a fulfilling career.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The rush of the cold October air has brought some challenges along with it. Getting up in the morning seems more difficult when I am sleeping comfortably in my cozy sheets. My mind is struggling to adapt to the shorter days and longer nights, leaving me feeling exhausted after work and restless in the evenings. I have fallen into a routine that accommodates most of my desires and needs.

Unfortunately, that meant that I didn’t have much time to dedicate to writing last week. The attraction was there, the words were dancing around in my skull, but my energy could not match my ambitions.

I am beginning to feel the full weight of my job, the responsibilities, and expectations that come along with it. I feel like there is little room for deviation, and failure would be catastrophic. Having dozens of colleagues and over a hundred young minds depending on me means that retreating is not an option. I bit off more than I can chew. I can either keep grinding my teeth, swallowing small portions of my responsibilities piece by piece, or thrash around choking on my own commitments. 

I’d prefer the former.

My motivation has sunk over the last few weeks. I am required to balance out my demanding career with my own mental health and dwindling social life. Companies always talk about a work-life balance but do very little to support it. My depression has been resurfacing, and I am finding myself disillusioned with my work. I compare myself to my colleagues and feel inadequate. This is a self-inflected critique, and I should probably lower my expectations for myself. I am resolved to dedicating this year to learning and growing to uphold the demands of this critical job. At the very least, if I fail, I will have developed some experience and a greater understanding of my own capabilities and limitations. 

I can still be a better version of myself.

I have done some reflecting on previous career choices and personal interests. Anyone who knows me can attest to my sporadic aspirations. When I wanted to learn to play an instrument, I changed paths frequently. Starting with drums, then moving to guitar, bass, and piano. I have developed some useful skills with each but mastered none. My career choices mirror my musical ambitions, scattered and independent. I have learned several skills but changed my focus so many times that I have mastered very few. I suppose that’s fitting for my personality. I keep taking on new projects in hopes that my passion will propel me through the tedium and steep learning curves, opting to switch careers or hobbies when they become dull or challenging. This may be one of my most significant flaws. With the contract that I signed, shifting my focus onto another career would be a great disservice to my colleagues and students. I should find a way to cope with my necessary routine and focus on mastering the skills that are required to progress in my field. 

Easier said than done.

Other teachers have consoled me that these feelings are not exclusive to my own plight. They mention how the first year of teaching is all about survival. The conventional explanation is that things do improve significantly throughout the year. Teachers hit rough patches in the long months with seldom breaks from the environment and routine. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. A massive chunk of leisure time is waiting for me around the holiday season and summer vacation. The demanding atmosphere, coupled with high expectations and a personal commitment, leaves many people feeling drained and inefficient. I can only hope that my own incompetence is not damaging the future of some of these developing minds, but that unnecessary guilt seems familiar amongst educators.

The students don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about me as I do about them.

My anxiety has started to interfere with my productivity. Working a job that requires so much preparation is also a contributing factor to my current mental decline. I often find myself spending several hours working outside of school to maintain some semblance of organization and structure. These efforts are not in vain, I’m sure there have been many other potential educators who have collapsed under the weight of the professional demands. I refuse to let my apprehension guide my decision making, and I am now personally invested in this cause. I have formed some genuine relationships with some of these students and would feel immense guilt if I were somehow unable to contribute to their education and development. I’ve reached the point where I feel like these are my kids now, and I am feeling the responsibility and frustration that every parent must experience at some point. I am resolved to complete this year, I will do my best for these students because they deserve so much more than I can begin to offer. I will sacrifice my comfort and sanity for the betterment of this small group of human beings.

Because I said, I would…

Lastly, I feel like one of my greatest strengths is also one of my largest foils. I empathize with these children too much. I am so dedicated to their development and struggles that I am draining all my social energy into engaging with them. This could yield remarkable results in the long term but currently leaves me feeling weary and depleted. This, combined with my artistic endeavors, leaves very little room for deviation from my routine. I am not fond of living according to this routine, but I am also not fond of thrashing around, choking on my own commitments.

-Nobody

Shifting Seasons

Ramblings about the weather:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A cold front is about to blow through. I looked out my window to see a surreal depiction of my driveway cast in amber, from a sky split between a golden sunset and an ominous black torrent. I tried to capture it in a photo, but the image doesn’t do it justice.

The thunder is rolling in, and the lighting is stabbing through my peripheries. I would say, that I hope I don’t lose power during the storm, but that would be disingenuous. To be honest, I would prefer an outage, darkness, and boredom, walking around with dimly lit candles, feeling like an 18th-century ghost. Sometimes I hope for the power just to stay down. Shattering the grand illusion that we are all connected, all the time, through tiny glowing screens.

I wonder if humanity could withstand such a regression.

Some of the most memorable moments in my life took place when the weather shook things up. Sleet covered bushes and sidewalks were treasures for a young Nobody when school was canceled. Candlelit card games when the power would go out. The cherished snow days where college students would gather clumps of loose snow from the hoods of cars and bombard each other in the streets. Those moments that brought everyone out of their homes to witness the spectacle of an eclipse. Not only were those moments memorable, but they were also times where I felt more connected to the people around me than ever. Sharing a collective experience in our total lack of control.

Maybe I should join a commune… On second thought, no.

My parents used to tell me that I was born in the wrong generation. They perceived me to be some flower child that would have blossomed in the ’70s. I can’t say that I disagree. I used to watch television on a cheap old TV that a friend and I had boosted from someone’s curb. We thought it looked like something from the ’70s, so we painted it up with bright flowers and psychedelic patterns. It was aptly named “The Groove Tube.” We fashioned an antenna out of a crumpled-up strip of aluminum foil and adjusted the angle until we could pick up two channels. One of them was entirely in Spanish…

Hablo un poco

When watching the “That 70’s Show” on the groove tube, I remember yearning for a time when we weren’t so dependent on technology for our day-to-day encounters. Everything required more interaction; resolving conflicts required genuine engagement from both parties. Breakups during the ’70s either had to be face-to-face or over the phone. I doubt many people ended relationships with strongly worded letters. If someone was close to you, then they knew your daily schedule and routines. If they called looking for you and you weren’t home, they may have no idea where you had gone. People had to know more about each other for a friendship or relationship to even be possible. I look back on these times and wish that I could have the experience of living in a world that still relied on physical interactions as the primary source of socializing. Today just feels so disconnected.

I wish I could turn everyone’s phone off, just for a few days.

I can’t wait for the cold to stick. I find so much more enjoyment in these dreary months than I do broiling in the Texas sun. I can only blame genetics. The October weather has always intrigued me. Shifting from hot sunny days to cold autumn nights with volatility. It’s as if the heat and cold are in a game of tug-o-war. Except by the end of October, the cold will always win.

 I can feel a chill settling into my room now. I’m looking forward to giving my overworked air-conditioning unit a break and donning my favorite hoodie. Maybe I will watch a few episodes of “That 70’s Show” and reminisce on simpler times.

-Nobody