Quick question

Has the number of white people losing their shit in public over trivial and sometimes imaginary violations of either their “rights” or the sort of behavior they expect from other people actually skyrocketed in the last six months, or is it just that, much like police brutality, it’s always been there and the difference is now as soon as someone starts showing their ass in public six people whip out cameras?

I’m not even necessarily talking about covid-related stuff. I’ve seen so many videos over the last couple of week of people just purple-faced and incoherent with rage over absolutely nothing that it’s genuinely shocking, and it’s not like I’m going to look for this kind of stuff. And there have been a number where it’s clearly crossed a line from misplaced rage and landed straight on mental illness. I mean, sure, sometimes it’s funny to watch somebody lose their damn mind at a cashier who clearly doesn’t give a shit because their burger had too many pickles on it or whatever but I’m starting to see a subgenre where by the time they’re done they’re not funny anymore and I just want someone to put the poor person in a place where they can get help.

Theories?

In which I require psychiatric help

I am going to be continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future. New Covid cases in Indiana and in my county have skyrocketed since our school board made the decision to return to school, (scroll down and select the state) and I don’t actually expect the kids to be back for very long, but I am going to keep teaching from my house, and I’m currently working out exactly how that’s going to work with my various and sundry co-workers who are affected by this decision.

Now, this is not the reason that I’m working from home, but as this whole thing drags on it’s becoming more and more of a problem: masks give me panic attacks, and nothing I’ve been able to do has been able to fix that. Furthermore, none of the masks I’ve found have really made much of a difference, although some are better in some ways than others. Now, to be completely clear: this absolutely does not affect whether I wear a mask in public! I’m just fucking freaking out while I’m doing it. If I’m outside my house and not in the car, I’m wearing a mask, and I’ve noticed that if I’m talking to people it’s generally not bad, so it might be that an eight-hour day where I’m constantly talking to students might not be as bad as I think it is. But I had to go into my building twice today (don’t ask) and I discovered a new wrinkle to this whole thing: even the mildest physical activity makes it a lot worse. Like, say, climbing stairs to get to my classroom. Both times I went upstairs today– a single flight, mind you– I was damn near ready to claw my face off by the time I got to my classroom. I start focusing on my breathing, which leads to heavier breathing, which quickly turns into a really nasty spiral that I don’t like at all.

This is not a call for excuses to avoid wearing masks (and, for the record, my issues with them date to well before Covid-19 was an issue,) it’s a call for strategies for dealing with panic attacks. I’m already on Effexor for anxiety issues, which I continue to think is a lifesaver, but I’m not going to up my dose just because of mask issues, and I’m not convinced that would help anyway. I need, like, concrete strategies for how to trick my brain out of falling into a panic spiral every time I start thinking about my breathing. Because one way or another this is going to keep being a thing for a while, and I need a way to deal with it. Anybody have any suggestions?

Not that I’ll take my own advice, but …

My grading for the weekend and most of my planning for next week is done already, which is a good thing, but that hasn’t stopped me from spending most of the morning doomscrolling. And something has occurred to me: this situation being what it is, we literally cannot trust a single thing we hear from anyone at all. Certainly not the administration, not the doctors, not photographs (note that this picture of him “working” involves signing a blank piece of paper, and this isn’t even the first time that they’ve been caught pulling that dumb-ass move,) nothing. Not one word that any of these people say can be trusted.

There are only two things that can be assumed to have some sort of reasonable truth value here: 1) he dies, or 2) he leaves the hospital. Both would be rather difficult to fake, although I’m sure it’ll be at least a day or two before they admit it if he does actually die.

(I paid fairly close attention once Herman Cain went into the hospital, checking in on his condition once every day or two, and they did the exact same thing– dude was in the hospital for weeks and they consistently insisted he was fine and/or getting better right up until he died.)

Anything short of release or death, good news or bad, has to be presumed to be a lie. And therefore there’s really no point in the doomscrolling, because if he does die or leave the hospital once that information leaks out it’ll be everywhere in seconds, so it’s not like we won’t find out.

So I’m going to try and do something else. I’m going to fail, mind you, but I’m going to try.

on weariness

Before I say anything else, let’s all agree to take a minute and just appreciate black-and-white cinematography.

Also, leaving the O in the title of this post uncapitalized was originally a typo, and then I stared at it for a second and decided to keep it.

Back in July I submitted paperwork to my district regarding my desire to teach from home. This included a doctor’s note informing them that I had high blood pressure and was a fatty-fat, both of which are additional risk factors for Covid-19. On top of that, I have never once made it through a school year without using 90% of my sick days at least and more than once have run out of them by the end of the year; I was already out of sick days for the year in March when all hell broke loose and school got cancelled for the rest of the year. Not one time in my life have I made it through the first month of school without getting sick.

And then we went virtual-only until at least October 5, which is rapidly approaching, and the school board is voting on Monday about the reopening plan they’ve been presented with. It is unclear to me whether approving the plan, which at least in broad strokes I approve of– it’s basically a hybrid model like many other districts have adopted, and in general I approve of hybrid models although there are some quibbly bits here and there– is the same thing as directing us to return to school. I’m not going to post any graphs today but the short version is that basically every important metric has gotten worse than it was when they cancelled us until October 5, so the only reasonable thing to do (and, frankly, the easiest thing to do, believe it or not) is to continue to keep everyone at home.

Yesterday I got an email from my boss outlining how he sees my job responsibilities working out if the students return to school and I continue to work from home. And I don’t get he impression that he’s pissed at me about it or anything, to be clear. The email ended with “Let me know if you have any questions,” and my first thought was I don’t even know where to start.

I took a brief shopping trip today to buy a couple more work-appropriate polo shirts, because some of my favorites are starting to show their age. And while I was in the store I had to listen to a conversation between the store clerk and someone whose husband was waiting in the car because he didn’t want to put a mask on, and I think I aged five years during the conversation. Everyone was being very polite and understanding; it wasn’t one of those Hey, let me make you famous on the internet sorts of situations, but … Christ.

I look at this job description, and it’s manageable, and more importantly it’s reasonable– I should be clear here that I really like my principal and have since the second I met him– but it just makes me tired. And I’m falling into this trap, where I’m bored, and I’m tired, and so I’m sort of shrugging at basically every single health decision I’ve ever made, and shrugging at my wife and my son and my father and my father-in-law, and thinking fuck it, let’s go back.

(Oh, and one place where the plan really does stick in my craw is that it’s going to require another adult to be in my room managing things, presumably while I instruct my kids from home via Google Meet or maybe from the big-screen in the room like some sort of older, fatter Max Headroom bullshit. I don’t like the idea that I’m directly inconveniencing other people with this, which … there’s an argument to be made that I shouldn’t care, but still.)

My son is also home. He doesn’t have to be, and for various reasons I’m not going to get into his school is able to do some things with social distancing and masking that simply aren’t possible in any school I’ve ever worked in. And my days, generally, are spent with me in my office either instructing or (more often, honestly) just shooting the shit with my students, and keeping half an ear on him in the background. Every so often he forgets that he doesn’t actually have to scream for the people on the other end of the computer to hear him (a lesson he has never learned) and my kids will actually comment on what he’s doing. And every time his teacher says something even mildly cross to him, and every time I hear him leave the room to go to the bathroom or whatever, or hear a sound from his room that is likely not produced by a 9-year-old diligently working on his schoolwork, I go into this hideous mindfuck where I want to redirect him and help his teacher but I don’t want to leave my job to go do her job and also does it really matter if he left for a second and maybe she doesn’t want me shoving my face into her business.

(I told this story, right? I mildly corrected one of my students when his mom was within earshot and she blew up at him. I had to put him on mute to keep the other kids from hearing his mom. Not what I wanted. I don’t know if his teacher wants me charging into the room to Fix Shit every time he needs to be told to put something down or watch what she’s doing.)

He hasn’t seen another kid since March. I kind of feel like he should see other children. He’s kind of going feral.

(Also, I love my son, and I hope I don’t actually need to put that disclaimer there, but I have not been out of earshot from him for more than an hour or two at any point since March, and … yeah.)

I have not been to work since March. I can think of maybe three face-to-face, non-transactional conversations I have had with an adult who was not a relative by blood or marriage since March.

But if any of that was reasonable, then surely right now when shit has only gotten worse since this all started, it is still the right thing to do to continue to keep this shit up, right? We shut shit down when there weren’t any cases of Covid-19 in Indiana. Now we have a thousand a day. And that number only continues to go up.

And I see all these other people out there not wearing masks and doing whatever the fuck they want, and shit, maybe I’m the crazy motherfucker here. And I’m a data nerd and a numbers guy and I know full well that the millionth person to die from this will probably die this weekend and that shit is only getting worse precisely because of the type of thinking I’m engaged in right now and fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

I’m fucking tired.

In which I am out of clever and patience, and running low on hope

I almost just started this post by posting pictures of Covid-19 graphs; needless to say the state spiked monstrously yesterday and CNN finally heard me griping about how they clearly hadn’t been including Notre Dame’s numbers in our averages, because we had a similarly terrifying jump in our county numbers there as well. Meanwhile, the county health department says that our current seven-day rolling average of new cases is at over a hundred, and they want it below twenty before schools should reopen.

That’s a rolling average, remember, which implies, since the numbers have been going up daily for a while, that we’re seeing significantly more than 100 cases a day recently, according to the health department.

Dandy.

So I guess I need to find a way to get used to sitting in front of my computer for eight or nine hours a day, don’t I? I mean, granted, this is what I want, compared to the alternative, but it continues to blow my mind how people cannot simply act right so that we can get this thing dealt with like every other country on Earth. Because Americans are a uniquely toxic blend of selfish and stupid. I’m never going to pretend otherwise again. There’s simply no available evidence that we have any sort of national will left, if we ever actually did in the first place.

We are not going back to school in 2020. We just aren’t. And every day I move closer to declaring that we’re not going back this year at all. Colleges and universities will start shutting down in a couple of weeks. Just wait for it.

I dunno. I’m tired and my neck hurts and my back hurts and I’m already kind of half-assing my instructional videos and my attendance is already dropping off pretty significantly. So, that’s all bad. But it’s still better than being at work. My son’s only a couple of days into his school year (he’s home too) and he seems to be doing better than I thought he would be, but we’ll see where we’re at in a week.

Gah. I have to record a video about square roots now, because I need to make sure the kids know what they are for the next thing we’re doing, but what that’s going to lead to is a blowoff assignment for half of them and the ones who need to learn this aren’t going to bother trying. It’s way too early in the school year for cynicism to be setting in already, dammit. I need to get this together so that I can play video games for a bit and then go to bed early. Hopefully I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow.