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Teaching In America

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Teaching In America

For many years, teachers in America have been at the same time held to a very high standard and completely disregarded. School districts have been underfunded for years. I left the profession in 2001 to stay home with my children and when I returned FOURTEEN years later, my salary hadn’t changed.

Can you name another profession where the salary hasn’t caught up to the cost of living?

It was teachers’ faults when students didn’t do well on testing, but teachers weren’t being given kudos if their students DID do well. We are asked to completely change our way of teaching every 5 years or so. We constantly spend our own money on things that our district can’t pay for, including materials that are essential for instruction.

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A classroom furnished by the school
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A classroom furnished by the teacher

Then the pandemic hit in March 2020, and suddenly the majority** of America’s teachers rose to the task of completely changing the way they taught, with no real training. We learned new platforms, and suddenly became filmmakers, making videos of our teaching, editing the videos, and posting them for students, then figuring out how to post assignments in such a way that they could be done online and turned in online. A good number of these teachers also did this at home with their families, who were also working and learning from home. (I had my college freshman home, plus my high school daughters and my husband. All of the kids doing their online lessons and finishing assignments while my husband worked from home and had many phone calls and meetings online WHILE I was recording lessons and talking to parents and creating content. I can’t even imagine how much harder it would have been had my children been in elementary school instead of high school and college.)

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This teacher, turned producer, in some of her recorded lessons

We tried (and sometimes succeeded) in teaching live lessons online. For those of us who couldn’t connect with the whole class at once, or had very small kids, we learned how to hold discussions and read-alouds while kids were talking to each other over the computer screen.

Parents were home with their kids, trying to “home school” as many talked about online. (I don’t agree that it was really “home school” but it’s a fun, cute way to talk about it I guess.) What parents did have to do was manage their children’s school lives while at the same time trying to work from home (or navigate unemployment, or get used to having your spouse and children home 24/7). Parents suddenly praised teachers, saying they deserved to be paid a million dollars a year and they’d buy whatever supplies teachers asked for when we got back to school.

Memes From Parents Homeschooling Their Kids | California Casualty
It was, for a brief moment

Fast forward 4 months, and suddenly everyone has changed their tune. Parents are forming groups on facebook to discuss what should happen in school and what’s best for their families and there is almost NO mention of what would be asked of teachers. Once again, teachers are expendable – we should be ready to go back into the classroom and teach a certain amount of hours each day and then teach live synchronous lessons online, on top of that, plus give assignments in person and online.

According to our president and the woman he put in charge of education (who’s never taught a day in her life), we should be ready to teach 5 days a week with a full classroom, as if THERE IS NO PANDEMIC.

I don’t know what the answer is on how to teach this fall. Some days I am convinced that the best way to do it is completely virtual, as the Covid numbers are still rising. On the other hand, I know that my own children need to see teachers and friends in person for their own psyche and there is a great number of kids who will not get anything out of virtual learning. So, maybe the hybrid of part in class, part online will be best. What I don’t think will work is having a FULL class of students FIVE days a week.

Before the world stopped in March, we tried to do this for a week, and it was incredibly difficult. The custodians were overworked, the teachers were completely frazzled by trying to keep the kids from touching their faces and making them wash their hands, stay away from each other in line and on the rug, and not coughing or sneezing on each other. Schedules were staggered so we could separate the students during lunch and recess. Trying to keep 20-30 kids in our classrooms a “social distance” apart is absolutely impossible, as the classrooms are just not that big.

I don’t know what the 100% RIGHT answer is, but I know what it isn’t. And I know that, sadly, teachers aren’t being listened to or considered. Parents are mad that teachers aren’t just ready to jump right in and go back 5 days in the classroom.

Parents are demanding that teachers:

~Are ready to jump right in 100% back in the classroom

~Are ready to teach 100% online, for 3-6 hours of live lessons per day with students fully engaged and recorded lessons and assignments as well

~Be in the classroom with the kids AND doing live lessons after school hours for students on alternating days

~Be flexible

~Be brave

~Be quiet

~Be amazing

What I hope can happen is that our leaders really find a way to keep everyone safe whatever way this ends up being done. It can’t be thrown together. If the numbers keep going up and people can’t do the minimum of wearing masks and social distancing, it should probably be done online until things get better. If numbers start to go down and we can truly flatten the curve again, then we can figure out a safe way to go back, with SMALLER class sizes. This, of course, means we need more teachers and ultimately more MONEY to truly pay for what we need to bring schools back successfully.

And I really do hope that when all is said and done the teachers are not forgotten and taken for granted again. I really hope that parents, principals, and leaders can really appreciate and take care of the teachers who show up and do their very best for the kids of America every day.

~Genevieve

Side note – I still have no job for the fall right now. I’m still looking, and at the same time holding out hope I’ll get to return to my district, however that may look.

**I won’t say ALL teachers, because I know that some schools and districts out there didn’t have ANY distance learning, but I think that was the exception rather than the rule.

Why Should I Wear A Mask?

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Ugh. Why should I have to wear a mask? It’s harder to breathe in a mask. My make-up rubs off. Sometimes I have an itch under the mask and it drives me crazy. The mask gives me acne. The mask is hot in the summer.

YES. 100%. All of these things.

Look, there are a lot of things we do as a society that are uncomfortable. Wearing pants makes some people uncomfortable. Wearing shoes makes some people uncomfortable. Paying taxes. Doing homework. Cleaning the house.

We as a society ask one another to do certain things FOR THE GREATER GOOD.

We wear seatbelts to keep us safe while driving. We buckle in our children to keep THEM safe while they’re in the car with us. We use carseats for babies to keep them safe in the car. We don’t let babies sleep on their tummies because of SIDS. We throw our trash away so we don’t ruin the environment and so that no one else has to clean up after us. Restaurant employees wash their hands to keep patrons healthy. Doctors and nurses scrub up and wear protective gear so their patients don’t get sick.

There are hundreds of examples of what we do for each other to keep us all safer and happier. Why is this any different?

Some people are shouting that it’s their “RIGHT” to not wear a mask.

According to the Constitution, we are ALL granted Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. You may argue that if you’re forced to wear a mask, that infringes on your liberty. Or maybe your happiness. However, if you are sick and infect someone because you weren’t wearing a mask, then you are infringing on someone else’s LIFE, as well as their liberty AND their pursuit of happiness. Let’s try that another way. Let’s say neither you NOR I are wearing masks, and I am unknowingly infected with Covid. Maybe I haven’t displayed symptoms yet, or maybe I don’t feel great, but I don’t think it’s serious. You and I have a conversation, and I end up infecting YOU. Then I have infringed on your rights to LIFE (especially if you die or end up in a coma on a ventilator), LIBERTY (you are not free to do whatever you want if you’re stuck in a hospital or in a coma), and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (let’s face it- if you get really sick, you are not going to be happy, or be able to do the things that MAKE YOU HAPPY.

WEAR THE MASK.

And if someone asks you to wear one at a place of business, DON’T COUGH ON THEM, SPIT ON THEM, SHOUT AND CUSS THEM OUT, or THROW ALL YOUR THINGS ON THE FLOOR.

This is NOT a partisan issue. I realize that our president called this a “Democratic Hoax” FIVE months ago, but even he knows that this isn’t a partisan thing. It’s a REAL Pandemic that has killed 133,000 people in the United States alone. It’s not a plot. It’s not a trick. It’s not a joke. It’s real, and people are dying of it every single day.

Because the United States has been so bad at wearing our masks and staying socially distant, the curve we once thought we’d flattened has skyrocketed, while other countries around the world are indeed flattening the curve.

America is not controlling the spread of this virus.

I am probably preaching to the choir to my usual readers, but if I can help change even one person’s mind about masks, I’d feel like I was successful.

I may not agree with your politics. We may not like each other if we met in person, but I don’t want you to die of this horrible disease. Especially when wearing a mask could be the thing that keeps you (and me) alive.

Stay well.

~Genevieve

Feminism and Me

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I’ve never really spent too much time thinking about whether or not I was a feminist. I think I’ve always just felt like I was.

I was born in November of 1969. I was born after the first astronaut walked on the moon. I was a small child in the 70s, and I have some very vivid memories of that time period. I remember “Free to Be You and Me” and my mom’s ERA watch. I remember Ms. magazine.

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My mom, me, and my brother

When I was young, my dad went to work and my mom stayed home. At some point during my elementary years, my mom went back to school and got her Master’s Degree. I remember my babysitters after school and going to her graduation ceremony. When I got to Jr. High (it was junior high back then, not middle school), my mom was working and eventually went back to school to get her Ph.D. She graduated just after I graduated high school. She was the only mom I knew who continued her education. She was the only mom I knew who had a doctorate. She was the only mom I knew who seemed like a fully formed individual and not just “Jenny’s mom.”

My mom was always a great example for me of a woman who balanced both work and family life. She was smart, outspoken, and independent, yet I always knew that she loved our dad and us. So, I knew firsthand that it was possible to be a working mom and still be there for your kids. And I knew she was a feminist.

When I graduated from college and finished my student teaching, I moved up to Los Angeles to teach. I considered it a profession, and a career, even though teaching is one of the few jobs that was always considered “a woman’s job.” I admit that a small part of why I wanted to be a teacher was to be able to be home with kids in the summer, and I always knew I wanted to have kids. (Heck, there was a point I thought that if I didn’t find a husband I’d go to a sperm bank. Shortly after deciding that, I met my husband.)

Young Miss Terich, early in her career

After my husband and I got married, I changed my last name to his, and went by “Mrs. Miller” – I never really gave it much thought about whether or not to go by “Ms.” or “Mrs.”… I wanted people to know I was married, I suppose. I took his name for several reasons, one of which was it was much easier to spell and pronounce than my maiden name. When I went back to teaching after staying home for such a long time, I went by Mrs. out of habit. However, when I started teaching at my most recent job, the principal called us all “Ms.” I’ll admit, it took me a minute to get used to, but the more I used it, the more I liked it. Now, wherever I end up, I’ll go by Ms. and hope my principal will embrace it.

I remember when I was addressing wedding invitations with my mother. She suggested that when I addressed the envelopes to a married couple (especially older couples like my grandparents and my husband’s grandparents), I use “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” instead of simply “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” or even “John and Susan Smith.” I remember vividly thinking it was so antiquated and repressed, and yet now I imagine that my sisters-in-law think it’s just as antiquated that I took my husband’s name. It’s all relative, I suppose.


When my husband and I first got married and talked about having children, we made an agreement. Whoever was making more money when we had our first child would keep working and the other parent would stay home. It turned out that he was making more at the time my son was born, but at the time, I wasn’t planning to stay home full-time. I was hoping to contract- share with another teacher, so I could be home part-time and at school part-time. Unfortunately (or fortunately), neither my principal nor I could find someone for me to partner with, and I was able to choose to stay home. I realize that not every mother has the choice of staying home or working, and I am lucky I was able to choose.

The newly minted Mr. & Mrs. Miller

Some might say that it wasn’t very liberated for me to stay home, and maybe they’re right. I will say that my husband would have been okay if I’d said I wanted to work. I admit that being a stay-at-home mom is not for everyone, and I had friends who chose a different path- either by necessity or choice. At the time, I had a bit of trouble relating to them, as I believe they did me. I’d like to say I’ve grown a lot since then, especially since going back to work 7 years ago. I’m also a lot wiser than I was 19 years ago.

Though I never would consider myself a “housewife,” I did stay home with the kids for 12 years. In those 12 years, I served on the PTA and parent groups from preschool through 5th grade. I volunteered for various tasks in middle school, including coordinating and chaperoning field trips. During my time at home, I wrote two books, which can be counted as working. And, after 12 years, I dipped my toes back into the waters when I started substitute teaching.

I didn’t further my education as my mother did. Though I love teaching, I never did love being a student. I hope that my children see me as a fully formed human, an equal to their father. I have no idea if my children’s friends see me as anything more than “Sean’s mom” although I’ve had many interesting conversations with them, and they’ve never called me “Mrs. Miller” but have always called me “Genevieve.”

I’ve been a “working mom” for 7 years now, and it’s definitely been challenging. Thankfully, when I went back to work, my husband volunteered to take on several tasks that had previously all fallen to me. He made breakfast, made the kids’ lunches, and made dinner several nights a week. He had always dropped the kids off at school, and when I went to work, we split ourselves between the kids’ schools. He also took care of some of the bills I’d been in charge of. The redistribution of labor made my transition much easier than if I tried to do it all alone, which I realize still falls to many working moms.

So, am I a Feminist? Well…

To some, Feminism might mean to refuse marriage, children, and any time of “domestic” life. In this case, I suppose I’m not a Feminist.

To others, Feminism might mean to choose the life you lead, whatever it ends up being. In this case, I suppose I am a Feminist.

To ME, Feminism is both choosing your own life path, no matter what it is, while at the same time lifting up other women -accepting all women for the choices they make and fighting for their rights.

According to the writer and feminist Gloria Steinem, β€œA feminist is anyone who recognises the equality and full humanity of women and men”. I’m good with this.

As we move forward, and my own daughters grow, I look forward to seeing how their Feminism expresses itself. I know they are passionate about equal rights for EVERYONE, and they see they have the whole world open to them. I hope things only continue to get better and more progressive for them as we move into the future. As has been quoted, “The future is female.” I can’t wait to see what my fabulous females’ futures hold.

My daughters and I, ready to March for our Lives in 2018

Gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen

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This is a hair post. Why am I writing about hair right now, in the middle of a pandemic and unrest in our country? Aren’t there so many more important things I could be writing about today? Yes, and I’ve already written one very political post today, but when I looked at my stats, I noticed that for some reason, a handful of people had read THIS post of mine about hair today.

So, after re-reading that post, it made me think about the journey my hair has been on during this pandemic. Like most people in the United States, I haven’t been to a hair salon since before the world shut down on March 15th (give or take a day). I had highlights done in February, and my hair looked like this (left, below)

fresh from the salon

On March 16th, our first day of being At Home, I looked like this (right, below)

For some time, I’d been toying with the idea of dying my hair a “crazy” color. I’ve put pink and blue chalk in my hair to give myself little “stripes” at a couple points in my life (usually a concert, a party, or “crazy hair day” at school), but I was too nervous to try to dye my hair pink or blue while teaching.

When we learned that our school would be virtual til the end of the year, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to try something new. My roots were only getting darker, so why not try pink?

My daughter helped me, and as you can see, it started out dark pink and faded to a nice bubblegum color.

The colors I’m using are temporary, so they last a few weeks, gradually fading away. I was nervous about what my students would think or how they would react, but they seemed to get a kick out of it. One of my female students told me, on one of our class meets, that she loved my pink hair. πŸ™‚

After it faded, I decided to give it a little boost. This time I tried it myself.

Another reason I was a bit nervous to color my hair was that I wasn’t sure what it would do to the blonde. As seen above, the blonde was intact once the color faded away.

Of course, I still had my roots that were growing out more each day, and when I found myself in the Emergency Room on June 1st with a fractured arm, I felt the need to spice things up again to lift my spirits. Once again, my daughter was my colorist (I couldn’t do it myself this time).

So, for now, I’m still rocking the Mermaid-tail color. The box looked more blue than it looks on my hair, but that’s okay.

Though salons in other parts of the state are opening up, Los Angeles is just beginning to follow suit. I imagine at some point in the next few weeks I might feel confident enough (or safe enough?) to go to the salon and get back to my highlights. For now, I’m embracing the colors… what should I try next?

Rainbow?

~Genevieve

Has America Ever Been Great?

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Donald Trump ran on a slogan that was taken right from Reagan/Bush in 1980.

Make America Great Again - Wikipedia
Sound familiar?

I’m not entirely sure how Trump thinks America WAS great at some point in time, but wasn’t at the time he ran for president. Was it the economic state of our nation? Was it war? Was it jobs? What exactly had been great, who made it great, and why wasn’t it great right now? And what would he do to make it great “again?”

This country’s history is littered with war and injustice against others – Native Americans, Black citizens, women, and immigrants. This country has had ups and downs with the economy, equality, unemployment, and homelessness. This country has not always allowed it’s citizens “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without infringing upon others rights to the same.

In the 3 and a half years since he took office, there have been 58 mass shootings. Noteably, there are only 2 on record for this year, but the entire country went into lockdown in mid-March.

He has cut education, he has scrapped gun control, and our debt is up. We’re experiencing global pandemic, and America is at the top of the list with 2.6 million cases (1/4 of the entire world) and 117 thousand deaths (1/4 of the entire world). There has been no clear stance from the white house on wearing masks or making other precautions necessary, and the country is opening up, despite our climbing numbers of cases. Police are using excessive force on protestors and black people. Journalists’ First Amendment rights are being threatened. Unemployment is at it’s highest percent since the Great Depression. And now the country is beginning to “open up” again, without ANY clear protocol on how to keep each other safe.

Is that making America great?

America has had it’s ups and downs. America is far, far from a perfect union, but we were doing better in many ways 4 years ago, when he promised to make it “great.”

Now, his slogan is “Keep America Great” which is downright mind-boggling.

How on earth has he “made it great?” and how can so many people believe that he has?

I’ve never felt more depressed about the state of our nation. Perhaps that’s because I’m more aware than I’ve ever been of just how many problems there are. Perhaps it’s because for years, I haven’t seen blatant hate and racism, because it’s been more insidious. Perhaps I’ve been living in a bubble in my own privilege and mostly liberal city. Perhaps it’s because for the first time in years, so many people are seeing that the America they thought they lived in is a lie.

Perhaps its because we have a president who is racist, fear-mongering, hateful, braggart, and believes he is above the law to do whatever he wants and no rules apply to him. A president who tweets like a pre-teen whenever he gets his feelings hurt and lashes out. A president who is a bully.

America may or may not have had great moments here and there, but it is not great now, and keeping this man in the white house will most definitely not improve things, but keep it hurtling toward a steep decline in every way.

To My Black Friends, Colleagues, and Students

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To My Black Friends, Colleagues, and Students

I am sorry. These past few weeks have taught me a lot. I never learned about the Tulsa Massacre, Rosewood, Colfax, Wilmington, Atlanta, or Elaine.

I am horrified.
I am sorry.
I am learning.

I haven’t posted much in the last few days, because I’m searching for the right words. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity to say I love you, and I’m sorry. And I don’t want my friends to think they need to educate me on how to be an ally. They have enough on their plates right now.

I have been watching a lot of videos on social media. Videos of black women and men talking about what’s going on and what needs to happen. I’m listening to podcasts and interviews. I’m reading all the posts from my friends on the subject. I’m trying to better educate myself because clearly, I’ve missed a lot of history.

What I will say is this. I am trying to learn all I can to be a better ally.
As a teacher, I teach all kinds of kids and try to keep buying new books each year to represent ALL the kids sitting on my rug at school. I want all my students to feel seen, accepted, understood, and loved for who they are. I will continue to do this every year that I teach. I value all the teachers I follow on Instagram, who continually post new, relevant books to share and how to start meaningful conversations. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and I will continue to do what I can to be a better teacher, ally, and advocate.

I’m usually someone who has no trouble finding her words, but these days, I’m struggling. I hope my friends don’t see my silence as complicity with the atrocities in our country

I am horrified. I am sorry. I am learning.

I love you.

~Genevieve

It’s More Than Politics (aka when Politics Ruin Friendships Part 3)

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Today is Friday, June 5th, 2020. 8 years ago, I wrote a post about how politics can ruin friendships. Almost 4 years ago, I wrote another post as a bit of a sequel. Here I am, in the middle of a pandemic, watching videos of protestors and police brutality and I find that I have to say SOMETHING.

I have had to “Snooze” friends lately. That’s when you can’t see their facebook posts for 30 days, but you’re still “friends.” Though I imagine I may need to just cut the cord on some of them. It’s not just a Republican vs. Democrat thing anymore. It’s a fundamental difference in ideologies and beliefs about whose lives matter and whose don’t. It’s about freedom to peacefully protest while being shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas vs. the freedom to storm a capital building with AK-47s and face NO consequences.

It’s about the attitude from some people that “All lives matter” over “Black lives matter.” Or even “Blue lives matter” (meaning the police).

It’s about our president trying to prevent mail-in ballots for voting, when he himself does it.

It’s about him plunging our country into the worst pandemic, the worst recession, and the biggest open display of racism in decades.

Let’s back it up.

On November 9, 2016, one of my family members posted a picture of a fisherman holding the White House on a line, while Hillary Clinton sat below it, open mouthed like a fish, with a caption implying she didn’t quite make it.

Not only did I find it rude and disrespectful, it immediately told me that this person would rather give the White House to someone who

  1. mocked a disabled person
  2. said he grabs women by the pussy
  3. said he could shoot someone in broad daylight and wouldn’t lose any voters
  4. called a senator “Pocahontas”
  5. says that someone who interrupted one of his rallies should have been “roughed up”
  6. called white supremecists “good people”
  7. said the world would be better if Saddam Hussein were still in power

After this person became “president” I was unfriended by not only one of my cousins, but my best friend’s mother, because I was a “libtard” according to them. Their president could call people names, but if I called him out on his BS, then forget me. “unfriend” Pretty sad. I thought about unfriending people, and did a few- but not family members, and not people I’d thought of as family for years. Needless to say I was disappointed.

What is happening in American right now is that a big percentage of people in the US are tired of the systemic racism shown every day in our country. We’re tired of the police using excessive force on everyone, but especially on black people. Black Lives Matter protests are happening all around the country, and in many cities, the police are using force against the protestors, most of whom are PEACEFUL. Shooting rubber bullets AT PEOPLE’S FACES. Do a google search if you don’t believe me. You’ll see it. Firing at teenagers, macing children, shoving the elderly, and shooting at reporters.

I’ve seen some posts on social media lauding the police for their actions. I’ve read horrible slurs hurled at protestors. I’ve read “but ALL lives matter.” Oddly, I’ve also noticed lots of my friends are surprisingly (or dammingly) silent. I don’t know if this means they’re fine with everything happening right now, or they support the man in the White House, or if they’re embarrassed to have supported him, but when they’re silent, no one knows how they really feel.

I’ve kept politics out of my feed for a LONG time, because I wanted to “keep the peace” with relatives and friends, but I’m over it. If they don’t agree with me, then it seems we are fundamentally opposed, and I don’t know if there’s a way to see past it. I don’t know if there’s a way back to each other. If they can’t see that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL and don’t see what’s wrong when white people are OUTRAGED when a black man kneels before a football game but they are JUST FINE with a white police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck for EIGHT MINUTES AND 46 SECONDS while the life left his body, then we are lost. If they can’t see that letting white angry people charge the capital of a state with assault weapons get away with it with NO consequences and see no problem when peaceful protestors are fired upon and arrested, then we are lost.

There is no common ground at this point, and I don’t know if we can ever find it again.

~Genevieve

It’s been 52 days

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It’s been 52 days

Every day I tell myself, “I should write something,” and every day I can’t think of anything positive to say, so I don’t say anything. I don’t want to just post a bunch of bummer thoughts, but the reality is, some days I have a very, very hard time coming up with anything useful to say.

Isn’t that life though? Especially life RIGHT NOW?

There are arguments online about wearing masks, being kind, helping out, and baking. There are people asking “What new thing are you learning?” and conversely, people are saying, “You don’t need to learn anything new!!”

So, how are you keeping busy? What do you do to mark your days? Do you even have a sense of time anymore? How do you keep from going crazy?

I’ve baked. A lot. Cinnamon rolls, several batches of cookies, and brownies. I’ve made deviled eggs for the first time, and we had a Dress up night just because my 14-year-old thought it would be a good idea. My husband has made bread. I’ve knit a shawl, a sweater, and am 2/3 done with a blanket.

I’ve stayed up too late. I’ve listened to at least 50 podcasts, and read a novel. I’ve cleaned, but my house is somehow still a mess. I’ve attended 9 Video Staff meetings, 2 Zoom Knit Nights, and 1 Zoom Book Club. I dyed my hair pink.

I’ve played a lot of games on my phone. I’ve done a LOT of dishes and laundry. I’ve made 55 videos for my students. I’ve mediated several arguments between my children. I’ve watched far too many hours of The Office, Seinfeld, and Parks and Recreation, and rewatched the entire series of Outlander (well, I fast-fowarded over some gross violent parts) while knitting. We watched all of The Mandalorian and Picard.

I’ve got headaches every day. I don’t sleep enough and I eat too much. I run out of patience and energy too often.

And yet, I know I am fortunate.

We have a big enough house that the 5 of us can find our own spot to work. We have internet and cable and comfortable furniture. We can order out when we’re tired of cooking for ourselves. I have yarn I can use for future projects. We have flour and sugar and an oven that works. I’m still being paid while I work from home, as is my husband. We are healthy. All 5 of us, and our families, too. We all get along, most of the time. We’re at home with people we love, and none of us HAS to leave every day to work in a job that could be dangerous.

I know I am lucky. We are all lucky. In this weird, crazy, scary, uncertain, precarious world, we are doing what we need to do to stay healthy. And we thank all of those who risk their lives every day so that we can do so.

I appreciate you

~Genevieve

No End In Sight, “Quarantine Thoughts” part 1.

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Actually, this should technically be #3, or maybe 4. I’m not going to lie. Some days are not bad, others are downright awful.

No, I don’t have Covid-19. And, as far as I know, no one in my family or friends has it either. This is just a general malaise of staying indoors with the family.

“Work Life/Teacher Life”

As I type this, I’m checking in on my students, to make sure they’re doing their work. Honestly, I’m not so much checking on their work, but checking IN in general. When I see them online that tells me a few important things.

  1. They are in a place where they can work
  2. They are in a place with internet access
  3. They are in a place with someone older who can assist them getting onto the right sites.
  4. Someone is helping them keep some sort of normalcy by connecting with their school life

Thankfully, most of my students have been online, but a few haven’t. I haven’t been able to do a video session with them, because they’re all so sporadically online – anywhere from 1 – 6 students on at a time between 9 and 6pm, with some even later.

So, I worry about my students.

I went to work on Monday to grab some things, including my document camera. I mistakenly thought I’d be able to hook it up to my chromebook, but my hopes were dashed when my husband, who worked in the AV business for years, told me it was impossible. It was eerie being at an empty school, with the calendar frozen on the last day of class… March 13th.

I had the first staff meeting with my coworkers today in 2 weeks, and for some reason, it just made me ridiculously sad.

“Home Life”

Being home is… difficult sometimes. Not always, don’t get me wrong, but man….sometimes it’s really hard.

All 5 of us are losing patience with each other. Tensions are higher than usual, especially when one person is trying to work or take a test and another person is on the phone or playing guitar or watching TV.

Bringing home food or groceries is an exercise in patience, precision, and cleanliness, as well as communication with your partner. Last night my husband came home with about 10 grocery bags. I wiped down everything going in the fridge or freezer, plus all the spices, cocoa, chocolate chips, etc. What I didn’t wipe down was the bread or the hot dog buns. My husband asked me what I’d wiped down today, and I pointed out all the things on the counter that I’d wiped. He opened the hot dog buns today for lunch and gave buns to the kids and himself for lunch. I realized he’d done this and hadn’t wiped it down after he’d already done it. “I didn’t wipe those down. I told you.” I said. “You didn’t tell me!” he said. So…. I guess we just hope that no one with Covid-19 touched the bag before he put it in his bag. This is not normal life. I will not accept this as normal.

Self Care/Craft Life

I have been knitting to help ease stress and feel like I’m being creative and artistic in some way. I’ve been trying to find “the perfect pattern” to use with this yarn my parents brought home from Europe a few years ago.

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I’ve swatched 3 times and printed about 10 patterns. I think I’ve finally found something to knit… I shall post updates. I’m looking for a sweater pattern, because a) I’ve never knit myself a sweater and b) my mom told me this yarn was to make something pretty for myself, so… there you go.

Special shout out to Jo, who invited me to her online knitting group. It felt good to connect with some other knitters and see some real people’s faces rather than the only faces I’ve seen outside my own family lately.

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We’ve watched a ridiculous amount of The Office lately.

I’d love to go for a walk, but it’s cold and rainy. It’s been cold and rainy for days. Maybe that’s my problem… seasonal affect + self-isolation of an extrovert.

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Final Thoughts

I know I could have it a lot worse. I KNOW THIS. I just wanted to reach out and see if anyone else is feeling the blues right now.

Please leave a comment with how you’re doing, and if you have something that’s helping you cope right now.

 

Pandemic Shelter-in-Place… What Day Is It?

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Today is Saturday, I’m pretty sure. The only indication I have that it is in fact Saturday, is that my son didn’t have class today.

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I’m not sure who made this calendar, but I snaked it off my brother’s facebook page.

Last week was our “Spring Break” which consisted of… let’s see, what did I do?

 

I looked for patterns for some fun yarn my parents brought me from Europe a few years ago. I finished my pandemic shawl with another color, which doesn’t quite match. I made cookies. I ate cheesecake. I watched Star Trek and The Morning Show and The Office. I went for a few walks, alone. I tried to read outside for a bit. I made a few videos for my students. I tried to make a schedule for our family. I attended a zoom party for a friend’s birthday.

We tried to attend a Social Distance “get together” at our neighbors’ house, and I think I can safely say that we won’t be doing that again soon. As lovely as it is to want to be together and part of a community, I was nervous the whole time, because the kids weren’t practicing social distancing (they’re kids, I get it) and some of the adults were a little too close. Most of these neighbors are quite a bit older than we are (and we’re 49 and 50), so I think we’ll wave from the driveway or decline altogether.

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Today is Tuesday. I know this, because I’ve been staring at my computer screen all morning, refreshing and taking notes about which of my students log in at what time. I’m trying to figure out what times are best to try to have a video conference with my students. Right now, my biggest group is on at 12:20, so my lunchtime might turn out to be a class check-in time.

I did wear real clothes today. I have been wearing jeans most days, which does count as real clothes, but today I wore something other than my comfy hoodie.

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My daughters are one room away from me, as is my husband. I can hear him on the phone, and I can hear my daughters talking about their classes. My youngest has set up a makeshift “locker” in the family room, so she can have easy access to her books, notebooks, folders, and laptop. My son is upstairs, he’s got his online lectures throughout the day.

We’re trying to get used to this “new normal” which is far from normal. I miss seeing my parents. I miss seeing my book club friends. I miss my co-workers, and I miss my students. I hope that in a year, when I see my memories come up on facebook or timehop of our “Quarantine” time that it seems like a distant memory, but I’m afraid that it might be still part of our lives, in some way.

I do wonder what the history books will say about this time in U.S. History. I wonder what the final statistics will be, and how biased or un-biased the reporting will be. I hope that we learn from our mistakes, and we learn how to be a more responsible people. I hope.

Hang in there everyone! If you’re a teacher like me – good luck! If you’re a doctor or nurse, or anyone who works at hospitals, THANK YOU! If you work at grocery stores, restaurants, and places that are taking online orders for anything, or are the delivery people who bring mail, packages, or food, THANK YOU, and please stay safe!

We will get through this one way or the other. I hope it’s with more of us surviving than not. I hope when it’s through, we are a little kinder, and a little more considerate, a little less selfish. I hope that we can be more prepared and more generous. I hope.

~Genevieve