Anecdata

If I’m being honest, I was oddly hoping to spend the day sick. Covid vaccine side effects, on an asynchronous Friday where I’ve already given the kids the day off and cancelled my most important meeting of the day? Staying in bed occasionally moaning, taking naps, and sick from something that everybody knows is supposed to make you kinda sick so I don’t have that weird self-gaslighting thing that I do when I’m sick about whether this is Good Enough to justify whatever I’ve chosen to not do? Hell, sign me up.

Turns out I’m fine. I followed some advice that my wife passed on, which was to go into the shot loaded to the gills on Vitamin C and as hydrated as possible. And, like, who the hell knows if that actually ended up mattering at all? But I have Vitamin C dummies on hand and ate a couple of those plus an orange and had a couple of large glasses of water before going in and getting the shot, and I’ve had no side effects at all beyond arm soreness, which is an inconvenience at best. So I figure I’ll pass the advice on: eat an orange and drink a bunch of water before your second shot. It might help, and if it doesn’t, well, you’re hydrated and oranges are tasty.

My brain keeps tossing me a few years into the future where the nanobots in all of the vaccines turn us into zombies in service of whatever company provided the shot, and I will fight for House Pfizer in the irradiated wasteland of 2025. If you end up getting your shot from someone else, I promise that whatever shreds of my mind remain will regret having to destroy you.


I ran into my old boss at the furniture store today, and we talked for a few minutes, and it really hit me during the conversation just how much I’ve re-embraced my identity as a teacher in this past year. I never really thought of the furniture store as a permanent job– this is not something that would come as a surprise to any of my co-workers, I think– but it was far from clear what I’d be doing next, and even throughout last year I was kind of thinking of myself as on probation. This year has solidified things; I’m not going anywhere, and I’m starting to step up for leadership roles in the building again, similar to the types of things I’ve done in previous buildings.

I am putting this in print now mostly so that I can come back and laugh at it in a couple of weeks, when after three days of in-person instruction I am back to wondering what the hell I was ever thinking and checking want ads as a form of recreation again. 🙂

Boom

And I am inoculated. Finally.

It is rare that I feel like things are going completely smoothly so I like to issue praise when they do— the clinic was supposed to start at 9:00, and as I was arriving, roughly fifteen minutes early, there were people leaving already. It is just now 9:00 and I have had my shot and am in one of the Don’t Die Please chairs. This place is so well-oiled it is glistening.

Now if I can just avoid major side effects today…

No, not that way

I ended up accepting $50 from my brother yesterday, enough to pay for a tank of gas and my tolls for the trip, and he bought lunch. When I checked the votes upon arriving at his place yesterday they were pretty overwhelmingly in favor of not charging him, and I apparently phrased the entire thing as more of a fraught decision than it actually was, although I did manage to get him to admit that he didn’t actually expect me to jump at the offer the way I did. I figure we both came out fine; the drive to northern Illinois (what we used to refer to as “north Northytown” when I lived in Actual Chicago all those years ago) is not exciting, but it was definitely nice to get out of the house and it was a fine day to take a long drive one way or another. So all good regardless.

I also got to find out my new nephew’s name, which was surprising but acceptable, which is a nice combination. He’s due in about a month. I’m not sure when we’ll actually get to see the little bugger (although my wife gets her first shot on Tuesday and I get my second one on Thursday, so by the time he’s here we should both be good(*)) but I’m sure it’ll happen soon enough.


I had been tentatively planning on returning to in-person teaching after Spring Break, which is in two weeks. It was “tentative” because me returning means my son also needs to return to in-person instruction at his school, and that’s not a decision I can just cavalierly make on my own, obviously. A week or two ago we got notification from the district that any teachers who were working exclusively from home, all of whom had to provide a doctors’ note to achieve said status, would have to provide a second doctor’s note releasing us to return to work before we’d be allowed back in the buildings.

Okay, cool. Kind of an annoying hoop to have to jump through but my doctor didn’t throw up any roadblocks about the first letter so there’s no reason she’s going to get stubborn about the second one. I mentally filed it away on my List of Adulting To Accomplish and decided to ignore it for the time being.

Then, on Friday, at 4:30– so after everybody would have left the buildings and gone home for the day– we all got a letter from the district informing us that everyone was being “recalled to campuses” after Spring Break, no mention of doctors’ notes made. There was a snotty addendum that if your doctor still doesn’t think you should be on campus to contact Human Resources, but no mention of what had been described to us as a requirement just a couple of weeks before.

And, like, it’s okay to be pissed about this, right? I mean, I was gonna go back that day anyway, but it’s both deeply annoying and entirely in line with the typical way this district operates that we were first told we had to have our doctors clear us to return into a viral hot zone and then in less than two weeks that requirement was summarily tossed out in favor of an affirmative requirement that we return to school. This after not remotely enough time to collect any data about how things are going in the small handful of buildings that are piloting the four-day returns in the first place.

So, which is it? Did the lawyers decide the district didn’t need their butts covered after all? Was the initial requirement just HR deciding to create a minor pain-in-the-ass task for those of us planning to return just because they could? How much fight is the district planning on putting up when teachers who were allowed to stay home when there were fewer students in-building to be exposed to balk at returning with twice as many students in place?

Has anybody thought about any of this? At all? Bueller?

I don’t understand how we’ve cycled through multiple superintendents, multiple HR directors, multiple School Boards, multiple everything in the time I’ve been working for this district and this pervasive sense of poorly-communicated halfassedness continues no matter what else changes.

But yeah. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks regardless. So will my son, I guess.

(*) I am still unclear as to whether the shots confer any degree of noncontagiousness or simply that they keep the effects of the disease from being that big of a deal if it’s contracted. I know to keep wearing masks and such, and that’s not a problem, but I need to look into whether we’re safe to be around a newborn even if all the adults, at least, are properly vaccinated, and I bet there’s not a ton of data available about that. So it could be a while before we see him in any way other than over Zoom, and I’m not about to try and talk the parents into anything they’re not 100% comfortable with.

SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOT SHOT SHOTS

I’m not going to bullshit around about this: I am giving explicit credit for what happened today to the Biden administration. This would not have happened had we not removed That Man from the White House in November. This is mostly going to be a post where I’m complaining! But spoiler alert: at the end of it I get a Covid shot.

On March 2nd– two days ago– the Biden administration issued a formal directive that all states were to begin prioritizing getting Covid vaccines to teachers. Many states already had teachers classed as essential workers and were already vaccinating us. Indiana? Nah, not so much. I will not stop saying this until it stops being true: Indiana doesn’t give a shit about education, and definitely doesn’t give a shit about teachers. The state wants us young, cheap and disposable and frankly I think it would be just fine with them if a few of the more highly-paid among us died to this thing before the vaccines went out.

Who the merry hell knows how long I’d have had to wait if not for that.

So yesterday I had, as I mentioned, a fairly busy and productive day, and somehow made it through the entire day of work without even once glancing at Facebook. If I had, I might have learned that somehow a nearby Meijer pharmacy was having a pretty major teacher vaccine clinic, one that they had notified every local school district about– and that our district had not told us about. A few teachers from my district found out anyway, because it’s not like we don’t know each other, but by the time I found out about it, the shots were gone. To add insult to injury, I’d also signed up for alerts from Meijer when vaccine was available– and Meijer knew I was a teacher. But I’d heard nothing. None of my friends had told me anything either, which had me good and pissed at the time but if you’re reading this don’t worry about it, I’m over it.

I spent a good chunk of last night fucking around on various state and federal websites trying to figure out where the hell I could find myself a shot, feeling not unlike the way I did when trying to track down a PS5, right down to one website that would let me schedule a first shot at one location but then immediately insisted that I also schedule the second shot, but then it wouldn’t let me actually do that. Anywhere.

Right around 8:00 PM, we found out that my district was doing their own vaccine clinic today, during the school day, and asking the principals to provide flexibility as their teachers … uh, left work in the middle of the day or whenever to go get their shots. On, effectively, no notice whatsoever. Now, I’d gotten lucky here, because I’m already at home, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone covering me who wasn’t going to be doing it already. But there’s my son to be thinking about, and we had to scramble a bit to make sure my wife would be able to be home while I was off getting my shot.

(How little notice was there in putting this together? I heard tell that one of the local high schools basically gave up, herded all of their students into the auditorium and told all of their teachers to get gone and get back as quickly as possible. We don’t ever have students on Wednesdays and next Friday is a teacher record day. This was absolutely a panicked reaction to whoever dropped the ball in forgetting to tell us about the clinic yesterday, which was … also during the Goddamned school day.)

I got there half an hour before the place was supposed to be open, and had a shot in my arm and was leaving two minutes after the place was supposed to have opened. So once I got there, everything was moving super smoothly and quickly. I was, I dunno, maybe the 10th person to get my shot? And they’re going to do the exact same thing again in three weeks for the second shot, which means that in three weeks and one day every teacher in South Bend will call in sick, because the side effects will be hitting us all of us at once. Which’ll be fun.

Speaking of: I got the Pfizer vaccine (apparently part of this is that these vaccines were federally purchased, meaning that what the Biden team actually did with this directive was told the states that they were gonna decide what to do with their vaccines, and the states could pound sand if they didn’t like it) and so far my arm kinda hurts (not a big deal) and I took a real short nap this afternoon, which could have been ordinary Thursday Tired and could in theory have been Vaccine Fatigue. Nothing that actually counts as being remotely debilitating, though.

Funny what a difference it makes, when we elect people who believe that government is capable of actually accomplishing things.

Anyway, it’s running through your head so you may as well enjoy the song:

Thirteen years and one year

This is not, objectively speaking, that great of a picture. Bek has pretty clearly just emerged from the shower, I don’t even look like I have showered– my beard is an utter Goddamned abomination– and none of us are looking at the camera for some reason, which is odd because I seem to be holding it, so you’d think I’d know where to look. I like it anyway.

Roughly thirteen years ago, I got married to that lady on the right there. Why roughly? Our anniversary is February 29, meaning that for three out of every four years I correctly celebrate our anniversary on the 28th of February and my wife incorrectly insists that our anniversary is March 1st. I finally won this argument free and clear this year, when she fucked up and accidentally advocated my position for a few minutes, forgetting that she has always been the March person. I will never, ever allow her to forget it, either.

At any rate, asking her to marry me remains the best decision I’ve ever made, as I Married Up in every conceivable fashion. The jury may still be out on her decision to marry me, but I’d like to think it’s worked out okay.

We aren’t doing anything for our anniversary this year. Last year we went to C2E2 on our anniversary. Covid-19 was a concern already, but at the time there were less than 60 cases nationwide and we figured it was as safe as it ever was. I tried my damnedest to keep my hands in my pockets as much as I possibly could and we washed our hands whenever we had a chance to. We had dinner with a friend at a Potbellies in Hyde Park and then came home.

And then I was sick for a month anyway, not quite “as sick as I’ve ever been” levels but I literally was trashed for the entire month of March, and by the time that was done we were in lockdown. That Potbellies dinner was the last time I had dinner in a restaurant. That dinner was the last time we made plans with anybody to do anything fun. And 500,000 people are dead in the United States alone, with another two million gone worldwide.

So, yeah, this year we’re staying home. We’re having Hamburger Helper for dinner. Why? Because Bek used to make it all the time and has stopped in the last couple of years for some reason, and I’m so Goddamn starved for novelty that having Hamburger Helper for the first time in probably seven or eight months seemed like something worth getting excited about. None of us have had shots yet; we’re too young to qualify yet, and Indiana is explicitly hoping at least a few more teachers die of this thing before they vaccinate any of us.

Maybe next year, if we’re able to, we’ll celebrate on the 28th and the 1st.