Here I Blog: It’s the Blog of the Year as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) 2016

Prologue

I’ve been wanting to be more creative as of late and was hoping to use this week to do some more of the things I like to do (writing, reading, playing music, etc). Unfortunately, I’ve been working a lot so I haven’t had time. Long story short, I wanted to at least post an end-of-year blog. This may or may not be similar to my end-of-year blog from last year. We’ll see. I usually write on the fly, so the blog may change course as I’m writing it. Anyway, this is my farewell blog to the year 2016.


So I guess, first and foremost, what I want to do is give a quick update on things that have happened in my life over the last 365 days. Last year, my whole blog was dedicated to breaking down my life in 2015. I’m not going to do that this year; I’m just going to quickly mention things that have happened. For starters, for the first time since 2012, I’m going into the new year single. It sucks, and tonight is going to suck something fierce, but it is what it is. Secondly, as of September, I began student teaching at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, which meant I had to leave my job of two years at the William O’ Connor Midwood School and started working at Outside the Box Shipping. Something that I was worried about turned out to be the perfect situation for me as I absolutely love student-teaching at FDR and the schedule, work, and environment at Outside the Box has been perfect for what I need. Academically, I’m only a year away from my Master’s Degree from CUNY Brooklyn College.

Okay now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s talk. Whoever you are, reading this, let’s talk, just you and me. Good? Okay. Let’s start.

For me 2015 was a year of serious growth for me. I learned a lot about myself – who I was, who I am, and who I want to be moving forward. 2016, especially the latter half of the year, was about taking those lessons I learned about myself and implanting them to the best of my abilities. The main goal, which has become my main goal in my life as of the last year or two, is to make sure that I’m happy and mentally/emotionally healthy (I really have to start working on the physical part again too).

I have a lot going on in my life right now, probably more so than ever before in my life. In the last four months, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to really do any of the things I really enjoy doing. I haven’t written any music, haven’t done any creative writing, haven’t spent time with family, haven’t read (novels, plays, or comics) unless it was assigned in one of my grad school courses, haven’t spent time with friends, and haven’t played any sports. Anyone knows me, knows that not having a creative outlet can really fuck with me emotionally and mentally. I’m a very creatively motivated person and not being able to flex my creative muscles renders me feeling tense and teetering on depression. Luckily for me, my cooperating teacher has completely handed over one of his classes to me, having me create and teach every lesson every day. Being able to create those lessons and come up with creative lessons (like when I made a 4-minute music video compilation to teach simile to my students) has been enough to quench my creative thirst, at least enough so that I can continue to function. Okay, I went off on a bit of a tangent. Sorry.

This past year, I have made decisions, sometimes hard decisions, to make sure that at the end of the day, I’m happy. I have a slight history with depression and anyone who knows about depression knows that once you’ve suffered from depression, you’re open season for it to return whenever the opportunity strikes. Because of that, I try to make sure that my true happiness is never in danger. Sometimes, this leads to short-term pain and hurting somebody else.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I’m single right now. I was in a relationship where I was very happy at the beginning, but after six months, it began to take a turn to a place where I was unhappy. I was constantly stressed, felt restricted, confined, and just tense. This was exactly how I felt by the end of my previously relationship, albeit for different reasons. That’s not who I am. I’m outgoing, and weird, and silly, and goofy, and just weird. Out of respect for the person I was dating, I won’t go into detail about the events of our relationship, but I had to end the relationship, which sucked, especially because of how I much the breakup hurt her. However, I did what I felt I needed to do for myself, for my mental health. I’m still not where I need to be in terms of my happiness but it’s a work in progress. I’m lucky to have a someone in my life, who despite being 1,000 miles away, I know I can lean on when I really need it (for the most part).

Speaking of friends, this year has been kind of a weird one for me in that department (don’t worry, I’ll tie it in). I haven’t really had much of a change in the people I call my friends in years. Maybe some of have been added, some people make brief cameo appearances, some have completely left. In fact, now when I come to think of it, whenever I take a stand for myself in terms of how I am treated in those friendships, those people exit my life. Case in point, two people who at one point or another were considered my best friend are no longer in my life because I said I didn’t like the way I was being treated. Those relationships eventually were dissolved. Like with everything else in my life lately, I’ve really been trying to focus on making sure that I am happy. That means taking a look at how I feel when I’m in certain environments and with certain people. That look has often lead to me being and feeling very alone.

But you know what, I’d rather be alone right now and not feel like I have to compromise who I am, what I stand for, and what makes me happy. I guess that’s my point here. I feel like we, as human beings, care so much about having friends and being in relationships and being liked, that we compromise who we are. We sit in silence when a friend says something offensive that you don’t like. We change our personality to accommodate our significant other’s baggage. We say nothing when a family member makes a comment that you strongly disagree with. All of this, just to avoid the potential of losing that person. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but it’s definitely been the case for me. Most of that comes from me hating confrontation, but when it comes to your own happiness, fear of confrontation cannot be a good enough to reason to not speak up or stand up or even walk away.

Now that I’ve sufficiently rambled on, let me just end this blog and 2016 with this: Don’t compromise who you are, what you stand for, what you need, and/or what makes you happy for anything or anyone. Your happiness needs to come first. Understand and respect that. Surround yourself with people who understand and respect that. Love yourself. Surround yourself with people who truly love you (not who they think you are or who they want you to be). Don’t be afraid to walk away if you need to. Be more afraid not to.

Here I Blog: Virtual Blogsanity

Prologue

With classes starting up again next week, I wanted to get in one more blog post before I inevitably don’t have time to post again until May or June. With that said, I wanted to write about something serious and pretty important to me. I hope and expect anyone who reads this to be respectful as they read this. I thank you in advanced.


Since 1949, the month of May has hosted Mental Health Awareness Month. Didn’t know that? Yeah, I didn’t either. I didn’t even know that there was a Mental Health Awareness Month until the last few years when I saw posts about it on Facebook. It became extremely prominent after the Isla Vista killings in 2014 where the perpetrator was said to be taking medication to treat schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, along with allegedly having Asperger syndrome, despite never being formally diagnosed. Mental Health can cover a number of disorders, illnesses, and conditions including, but not limited to, PTSD, ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia, bi-polar syndrome, anxiety disorder, and OCD. The one that resonates the most with me is OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder.

To be entirely honest with anyone reading this, this is kind of hard for me to write so from here on in, this might get a little unfocused or disjointed or just poorly-written. You’ve been warned.

Where do I even begin? Maybe a little bit more information about OCD? OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, comes in three basic flavors: obsessions, compulsions, and both. Someone who lives on the obsession side of OCD will often obsess over particular thoughts that invade their brains at any given time. These thoughts are often extreme and revolve around death, pain, horror, or sex. For instance, let’s say a girl, let’s call her Jackie, has this form of OCD. Jackie can regularly have intrusive thoughts/visions of her mom getting seriously hurt or dying. The thought/feel will not go away, no matter how hard she tries to avoid it or ignore it. The only thing that can quell that feeling is for Jackie to either a call her mom to make sure she’s okay or to engage some sort of compulsive act (we’ll get to that later).

Someone on the compulsive side of OCD will often be compelled to do something physical (or a ritual), sometimes repeatedly until they feel comfortable. Being prohibited from performing a ritual will usually result in some sort of mental or emotional breakdown. For example, a guy, let’s call him Nick has OCD. He periodically feels the need to cough twice and then scratch his head. This happens every hour or so. However, if after scratching his head, the need is still there, he’ll repeat the whole process. This will continue until he feels internally satisfied. This can go on for hours. If say someone were to try and hold Nick’s hand to stop him from scratching his head after the two coughs, Nick might begin to feel anxiety that will only rise with every second his hand is being held. The second his hand is released, he’ll most assuredly scratch his head. More likely than not, it will also result in him repeating the ritual several times as that attempt was clearly not going to be satisfactory.

Now there are people who are both obsessive and compulsive. For example, some people can become to obsessed with something that they are compelled to do something to an extreme level. Allow me to introduce you to Lucy. Lucy suffers from OCD. Lucy is obsessed with right angles. Therefore, everything in her apartment is either a square or rectangle or arranged to have a vortex at a right angle. If she physically can, she will try to arrange anything and everything to be in right angles. If she is at work and someone has a two toothpicks on their desk randomly placed at an acute angle, Lucy will immediately want to “fix” it. She goes to re-arrange the toothpicks, but a co-worker stops her to talk. She won’t be able to focus on anything until she can move those toothpicks and the second that co-worker stops talking, you better believe that those toothpicks are being moved around. Remember Jackie? Remember how I said the only thing that can calm her intrusive thoughts of her mother is to call or do something? If Jackie can’t get a hold of her mother, she might become increasingly anxious unless she can knock on a wall in a certain rhythmic pattern (her ritual).

However, what many people don’t realize is that these are the higher levels of OCD. Like most mental disorders, illness, and conditions, there is a spectrum of sorts. Some people are effected more heavily than others. Some people suffer from all of the same symptoms but do not feel as obsessed or compulsive or have rituals as extreme or as frequent. Not everyone is a Jackie or a Nick or a Lucy. Some people are a William.

Throughout my adolescence and into my adult life, I’ve often found myself very drawn to patterns and habits. But that’s all I ever called them. They were always just habits. I would jokingly call them OCD or say that I had OCD but I always said it in a way that demonstrated that I was not serious about that in any way. I never truly fully said that I had OCD. The main reasons for that was that I was in denial/was unsure if I truly did and because I felt that declaring something like that put me in the same class as Jackie or Nick or Lucy and I felt it would be an insult to them, to people who truly suffered from OCD, while it was mostly a livable inconvenience for me. I keep wanting to approach this from like four different angles and I can’t decide so I guess I’ll just give you a quick summary of my history with my OCD.

As a young kid, my family and I used to go to BJs in New Jersey every Thursday to do our grocery shopping. On the way back, we’d swing by a Burger King. My dad had a really ugly but incredibly spacious white Mitsubishi minivan. In the middle of the third row of seats, a small table with two cup-holders pulled down from the backrest of the middle. My sister and I would take our food and lay it out on that table and eat. Seeing as how we were in a car and the table was small, it was easiest to eat the fries first, and then the burger, so that’s what we always did.

When I was in high school, one day, while at lunch, I removed the label off of my water bottle. One of my friends grabbed the label and wrote my name on it. The next day, I sat down with my water and removed the label again. Again, my friend took it and wrote my name it. This became an everyday occurrence. Then one day, her and I stopped being friends and she wasn’t there to write my name, but I still removed the label. Despite her not being part of the equation anymore, I still proceeded to remove the label off the bottle every day.

Those two things, eating my fries first and removing the wrapper off of a bottle, are things I still do to this day. For years, I used to just say they were little weird things that I just did. There were even small signs that it was more than just that that I ignored. For example, one night, years ago, my family and I were having dinner at a diner and without paying attention, I took a bite of my burger before finishing all of my fries. I couldn’t touch my food for at least 30 minutes. I don’t think anyone else noticed but I felt uncomfortable after I realized what I had done. I had to pretend my food wasn’t there before I could continue eating. Then there was a time when I was at my previous job and we were having lunch in the backroom. Someone had told me to try and not remove the label off the bottle. I tried. I felt so uncomfortable and would glance over at the bottle the whole time I eating and didn’t even want to take a sip from the bottle. Even then I had just called them weird little things or quirks or jokingly called them my OCD tendencies. I didn’t start to see what it truly was until I was in my last relationship.

When I began dating my ex-girlfriend, I told her about my “tendencies.” She felt concerned about them and wanted to “help me get over them.” One day, we picked up Subway on the way to my house. While on the bus, I wanted to eat because I was hungry. I took out my cookies (my Subway equivalent to french fries) to start eating. My ex told me not to and told me to put them back in the bag and that when we got to my house to eat the sandwich first. To clear, she didn’t really force me to do anything but she was concerned and pushed for the idea. I reluctantly agreed because I was starting to feel tired of my “tendencies,” especially if they were going to create a concern for my girlfriend. Now, I’m not someone who is typically anxious or suffers from anxiety. However, within minutes, I felt incredibly anxious. I remember even starting to shake a little bit with a feeling of wanting to cry beginning to creep up a little bit. Once she saw all of that, she told me to forget the whole thing and to eat the cookies. I did but felt so ashamed of myself and I felt so pathetic. I felt like a weak little child. It was then that started to take my “tendencies” a little bit more seriously. I knew what it was but still refused to call it what it was. Until now.

A few months ago, I started dating my now-current-girlfriend. I remember being so worried about not letting her see my “tendencies.” The first time we hung out (the night before our technical first date), I ate a meal that came with fries and hoped that she hadn’t noticed me eating my friend before touching my sandwich. Soon thereafter I told her about my “tendencies.” She noticed. She also assured me that she didn’t care. I, of course, didn’t believe her. By our third date, she had scene all of my “tendencies,” (the fries thing, the wrapper thing, my need to straighten out straw wrappers and paper bags and line them up neatly side-by-side, etc). Then, one day, while we were sitting in a Dunkin’ Donuts, she straightened out the straw wrappers and lined them for me. She said she did for me. I had never met anyone so supportive and loving about my “tendencies.” She asks me about it, about what it means for me, how it works for me, how she can help, and does it.

Mental health is something serious that we need to be aware of acknowledge. One of my best friends suffers from anxiety, as well as at least one other person I went to high school with, someone I still keep in contact with today. People deal with this shit every day and most of the time, no one else knows about it. I had never considered myself to fit under that umbrella. I still feel uncomfortable because I don’t want to insult or disrespect those who truly suffer from it in major wats. However, thanks to my girlfriend, in talking to her and being with her and feeling her love and support it allowed to me to see things for what they truly are. My name is William Ponciano and I have OCD and that is the first time I’ve ever said those words.

Here I Blog: It’s the Blog of the Year as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Prologue

I was hoping to do this earlier but I just haven’t had the time. The last time I posted something, it was July. A lot has changed in my life in those last 6 months. In fact, all of 2015 has been entirely life-changing. That’s what this post is basically going to be about.  A recap of 2015 in William A.P.’s life.


 

2015. Holy hell. So much has happened in the last 365 days. Where do I even begin? It might easier to break this down into life categories.

Career

Since May of 2014, I’ve been working at the NYL William O’Connor Midwood School, which is a special needs preschool. When 2015 rolled in, I was working as a 1:1 paraprofessional in a bilingual classroom. I wasn’t always happy in that classroom as I always felt like I was working beyond my job description and. In June, I was given the opportunity to move up and become a teaching assistant in a different bilingual classroom. I took the opportunity. The promotion meant having a salary for the first time in my life. It meant stability for myself and my mother. Of course, the money isn’t great but at least I no longer have to worry about where money is coming from when the school is closed like on holidays and the spring/summer breaks.

Education

Okay, so this was one of the bigger ones. In 2015, I started graduate school. Back in July, I was accepted to both Hunter College and Brooklyn College. I decided to go with Brooklyn and thus am now studying Secondary Education in English (aka grades 7-12 English teacher). It has been absolutely insane. I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to take 4 classes while working full-time but that’s what I did in my first semester in grad school and boy did it kick my ass. I’m still waiting for my grades to find out if I kicked back hard enough but I’ve  at least taken the first steps in becoming an English teacher, which will be completely life altering.

Love

If anyone knows me, they know that I am a huge romantic and a sap. I’m all about romantic love. It’s probably what I prioritize most in life as I honestly believe love to be one of the most important things in life and one of the most amazing/beautiful things in life. As such, my initial thought was to put this section first but I thought better of it. Quite a bit has happened in the last 365 days in my love life. At the beginning of 2015, I was in the middle of a 2.5+ year long relationship. Truth be told, I thought that I was going to marry her. We had even talked about getting engaged and looked and engagement rings. I was wrong. After 2 years and 8 months of constant fighting and compromising and crying and trying to force something to work that just wasn’t going to work, her and I decided to call it quits. Technically she broke up with me but we had talked about it before. We both knew it wasn’t working and we still tried to make it work even after we broke up, but it just wasn’t right. So after all of the time and energy we both spent on the relationship, it was over. We split up amicably and I have no ill feelings towards her. She’s a great person and I wish her absolutely nothing but the best. We just weren’t right for each other.

After that relationship ended, I was starting to feel hopeless. I tried to get back out in the dating world and found little to no success and way out of place with how most people my age engage in dating. With my lack of success prior to my ex and my lack of success in the current dating pool, I was convinced that my new ex was my last chance of finding love and happiness and marriage and a family and all that other shit that I’ve been chasing since I was a little kid bribing girls to kiss me for a gummy bear. I was beginning to feel hopeless. I thought I had missed me shot. I was wrong.

In late October, I met and began talking to a co-worker. At first I didn’t think anything of it but it was definitely something. For the first time, it all just makes sense. I’ve never felt so sure of anything. Everything that I’ve  learned and experienced from my past relationships and/or any other time I’ve been involved with a woman has lead me to this, to her. I’m in a new relationship and I couldn’t be happier. Just when I thought all hope was lost, she restored my hope.

Friends

When I was in my last relationship, I was not always the best friend. I dedicated so much time and effort into the relationship that I alienated my friends and just didn’t make enough time for them. Fortunately, my friends are awesome anyway. When my ex and I broke up, and I was a mess, my friends were there for me. Whether it was taking me to a bar in the city, just talking, or guiding me through every girl I mistaken for a potential future. In that time, I really saw who my real friends are. For the first time ever, I felt good about my friends, who they were, where I fit in, and my relationship with them each. For the first time, I had my “boys,” (and one female friend – I didn’t forget you, Adele) and they mean a lot to me. I’m sure they’re all gonna rip on me for this later on today, but they all mean a lot to me and I love em all, even when some of them piss me off. Now that I’m in a new relationship, they’ve been great about it and I know that I have to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes I made in my previous relationship.

Conclusion

While a lot of people tend to have negative feelings towards 2015, I can’t really complain. 2015 was a huge year for me. I learned a lot about myself. There was heartache, loss, love, hope, acceptance, promotion, revelations, rebirth, death, and a Mets World Series run. It was definitely a year I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait for 2016 to start tomorrow.

Dream Deferred (16-16)

“Dream Deferred”

 

Wrap up the cables, pack the tuner,

zip up the bag, and close the door

to the only avenue that ever made sense to me.

Six years ago, I found my place. I found

my savior in the form of six strings and a stage.

I preached your church, drank your tri-tone blood,

ate your scalefull body, practiced your gospel daily.

The path to escaping this life of

poverty and pain was never clearer,

my direction was never straighter,

my life was never more mine,

until one day. I had a decision to make.

I was given a choice. I was given no choice.

Follow the door I opened for myself,

follow a dream, follow my path, or

slam it

shut?

Open a new door, charge in blindly,

and hope for the best?

Six strings; one for every year that my life made sense,

clipped and discarded, for you.

Insomnia (15-15)

“Insomnia”

 

The sheep are overlapping each other,

I have counted to negative one thousand,

The pillow is cool, the sheets are warm,

I ran for a mile, ate all of the right foods,

I listened to the ocean tapes and quiet music,

I have seen the day change, and now the sun rise

for four days now.

In between sheep, my thoughts seep through,

my fears come alive, your face clouds my mind,

your name rings throughout.

In between sheep, I smile.

My hopes come alive, your face clouds my mind,

your name rings throughout.

In between sheep, I cry.

I think of where we went wrong,

my fears come alive, your face clouds my mind,

your name rings throughout.

The sheep are overlapping each other,

I have counted to negative one thousand,

the pillow is cool, the sheets are warm,

I ran for a mile, ate all of the right foods,

I listened to the ocean tapes and quiet music,

I have seen the day change, and now the sun rise

for four days now.

Treasure Pain (14-14)

“Treasure Pain”

 

The map is not paper,

the directions are not in ink.

The screen holds the coordinates

and my brain is left to think

of how to decipher the code

embedded in the lines

that lay in front of me

as I look for the crimes,

its victims, and its perps,

but my eyes are not tools

suited for this mystery.

I could make a fool’s

guess but without the key,

buried inside a fragile heart,

destined for hurt, booby-trapped

from finish to start,

I will never know for sure.

So the question remains:

is me knowing the answer

worth my lover’s pain?

Secrets, Secrets, Lies (13-13)

“Secrets, Secrets, Lies”

 

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

What are you hiding behind that sweet disguise?

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

Who is that sneaking out from behind your warm dark eyes?

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

That’s all I ever get.

 

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

Sister, brother, girlfriend, mother

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

Lie more to yourself than you do each other

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

One day you will regret

 

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

I’ll take a stand and be honest to no end

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

I won’t play your games and I won’t pretend

Secrets, secrets, lies

Secrets, secrets, lies

You won’t bury me yet.

Lovercall (12-12)

“Lovercall”

 

The scratch of the skin, the claws on my back,

the sweat on my hands; she savor me, as I

savor her, her touch, her tease, her taste.

I press my lips to hers, sharing my love for her

goddess body that she has blessed me with.

I drink her bliss and moans

as my tongue reintroduces her to God.

Any confidence stripped in a mirror

is suddenly regained with her clench and a scream,

a reminder of my name, a call to her euphoria,

a call from my love. My

Lovercall.

Second to None (11-11)

“Second to None”

 

One of many,

I stand in this line waiting

for you to make your decision,

your selection. The direction you choose

must be clear.

You call my name, I take step forward, you

stop me.

You call the name of another.

You weigh your options and struggle to choose,

announce them as your preference,

expect me to be there if they fail.

You weigh your options and struggle to choose,

but the decision was already made for you.

I step back, back into the line.

I will not be your second choice.

I am no one’s second choice.

I am second to no one.

I am second to none.

Decisions, Decisions (10-10)

“Decisions, Decisions”

 

“He who hesitates is lost,” so they say,

so I jump to make my decisions and declare

who I am before anyone else can play

the cards I was dealt for me, whether just or unfair.

 

If I think too much, I’ll lose what I want

but if I don’t think at all, I may choose wrong

and that’s not something to approach nonchalant,

but it’s something I knew all along.

 

But they also say that life is a journey

and no matter how much you try to advance,

your happiness can end up in a morgue, on a gurney;

just another victim of circumstance.