Make it make sense: update

We can’t do this. The kids aren’t vaccinated. People are going to die.

That is the weekend’s data rolled together, but compare it to previous Mondays. Jesus.

On cars and Hogwarts, again

If you’ve been around for a while, it’s possible that you remember this story: my son attends a pricey private school, one that my wife and I are affording with financial assistance. When we first started sending him there, I was driving a Ford Escape that had a six-figure mileage and was, itself, old enough to have a drivers’ license. My current Kia Soul is an upgrade. However, there was a day, several years ago, when I was picking my son up during the winter in the Escape and experiencing a bit of class anxiety. I comforted myself with the existence of what looked like a station wagon in the parking spot next to me that also was covered in salt and muddy snow and looked kind of shitty, only to discover that I was comparing my $2000 Escape to a fucking $100,000 Porsche.

He’s at summer camp right now, and I just went to pick him up, and I found myself in the car line behind a Tesla– I don’t know exactly which model, but not the one with the weird doors. One kid got in that car and they stayed in their spot, possibly waiting for another kid. My kid came out and got in my car, so I waited for the lane to be clear and pulled out to drive around the Tesla that had been parked in front of me.

Only to find myself behind another fucking Tesla.

My wife and I do just fine, I swear, and I see the effects of actual poverty every day at work, and again, no one in this building has ever been anything other than perfectly nice, but damn, there is just no faster way to make myself feel broke than to look around at the cars any time I’m near Hogwarts. It’s ridiculous.


I suspect we’re going to be back up over 100,000 new cases a day nationwide by the end of the week, (EDIT: Ha, it happened today!) and the CDC just announced that everybody should start masking up indoors again. I just ordered a new pack of filters for my favored mask. I was really hoping to not have to teach in a mask again this year, but apparently only about 20% of 12-15-year-olds are vaccinated nationwide and I’m sure that number is lower in my district, so I really don’t have any choice. Indiana’s numbers are going up, but they aren’t spiking to the degree the nation’s are yet and St. Joe County isn’t as hot as the rest of Indiana, so I’m pretty sure the school year will be starting as normal this year. That said, I don’t think I knew on July 27 last summer how this year would be starting yet, so who the hell knows? I suspect everyone will just close their eyes and pretend Covid has gone away, but we’ll see.

On returning to normalcy

I feel like I should already know why you get so many pictures of Warren G. Harding if you Google Image Search the word “normalcy,” or at least that I should be able to figure it out if I apply some thought to it, but I’m not going to do that. This post could use some weird, frankly, and that picture is funnier if I don’t know why it came up.

One of my oldest friends passed through town on Friday, and we hung out for a while and chatted on the back porch; the topic of masking did not come up. Yesterday we put the pool up; it’ll likely be a week before we can take a proper swim in it, judging from the weather report, but it’s full already somehow and ready to go, and my wife got to say the words “I’m going to go buy sand and acid” to me earlier today and that was fun for both of us. I mowed the front lawn today (no cicadas yet, but I’m watching) and did some weed whacking and other various Adult Chores, and I was done with my grading within two hours of getting up.

It has, by any account, been a Productive Weekend. I still have some school stuff to do after dinner, but there should be plenty of time for guilt-free video gaming tonight.

I also filled the car up with gas, which is only significant insofar as I needed to break a $20, so I went into the gas station to buy a lemonade, and realized when I was almost inside that I didn’t have a mask on. I shrugged and went in anyway; the county mask ordinance has been cancelled and a two-minute in-and-out at the gas station is about as safe as an indoor interaction can possibly be. If someone had said something to me, I’d have gone and gotten a mask, but no one did. This is the first time I’ve purchased something in a store without some sort of face covering on in well over a year.

(I even did it without any particular self-recrimination about looking exactly like the kind of guy who refuses to wear a mask rather than a vaccinated person who briefly forgot, but I’m blogging about it fifteen minutes later, so maybe I don’t get to pat myself on the back about that one.)

In keeping with the theme of this year, which had about six “first days of school,” this Wednesday represents the first Last Day of School; this year will feature at least three, if not four. My students have their 8th Grade recognition ceremony on Wednesday and are not expected to return to the building afterwards. Friday is the original Last Day of School for everyone else, and since there was a day of school cancelled in January because the entire city lost power, June 1, which is the Tuesday after Memorial Day, is the technical Last Day of School, a day after a three-day weekend where I expect no students at all to attend. Then there’s my Last Day of School, which is June 2, and then I’m off until August, barring a day or so a week where I’ll have various responsibilities that can be done from home and studying for this math test from Hell I have to take sometime.

Bring it on.

On masking up

Some good news: the mask panic attacks, after four days at school where I had to have one on for hours, appear to be subsiding. I have ended up landing on this one as my preferred mask, and the only complaint I have about it is that it rides up on my eyes a little more than I’d like it to, so I’m probably touching it and adjusting it more than I would like to.

I’ve been thinking more lately about what it’s going to mean to be “done” with Covid. It’s been made pretty clear that there’s a certain subset of the population who are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into vaccination, and to the best of my knowledge there is as of yet no shot that has been approved for use with middle school kids. So masking up at school is likely to remain a thing for a fair bit of time longer than masking up in general is going to be, especially since I live in a red state.

Thing is, it’s not like the masks are doing my kids any good, because as I suspected they cannot be convinced to wear them properly. Four days of in-person instruction in, I have reminded kids to cover their noses or their mouths with their masks approximately 123,425,208 times. And I’m probably still not doing it as often as I should, because there is literally someone without their mask on properly in my classroom 100% of the time, even with our current seriously-reduced number of students. I think I’ve been pretty consistent about this from the beginning: I hate wearing a mask, and wearing a mask genuinely fucks with me, but I’m going to do it anyway for as long as it’s necessary to do it. But hell if it’s not difficult to conclude that it’s safest for me to keep wearing one at work when I’m fully vaccinated and the kids around me are wearing theirs in a way that is literally not doing any good at all.

In general, I’m trying to be attentive to how much of my current behavior is reasonable and how much of it is basically quarantine-driven paranoia and, frankly, claustrophobia. I think it’s reasonable at this point to say that if you’re outside, unless you’re having a conversation in close quarters, you’re probably all good, and even in the building I tend to not put my mask on until I actually see another human being– if I can make it from my car to my classroom without wearing it, and frequently I can, I don’t put it on. But how long is it going to be until I feel okay going into a restaurant again? Like, I don’t even really have a guideline for what might make me decide “okay, this is all right now.” I got invited out for a drink with a couple of other teachers after work on Friday and turned it down. I’ve turned down multiple other such invitations over the course of the year. And I don’t even know what the plan is for when I might decide that sort of thing is okay again.

Actually, I do know one thing that would help: I don’t think there’s a solid consensus yet on whether vaccinated people can spread the virus easily. I know I’m not immune to catching Covid, it’s mostly just that if I do get it it is much, much more likely to be a minor case. But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread it to my father-in-law if I end up asymptomatic, and I’d prefer not to spread it to any strangers, either. But, like, if I spend the next six or seven weeks in a poorly-ventilated classroom and in near-constant contact with middle school kids who aren’t wearing their masks right (because, again, none of them wear their masks right) and don’t catch it, I feel like that’s pretty good evidence that I can at least, like, go to the store without having to wear one. Sitting in a restaurant? I dunno. Going into the gas station to buy a candy bar and pay for my gas and leave? When there’s plexiglass between me and the dude behind the counter? Is that okay?

I dunno. I’m kind of talking in circles about that, but that’s because I’m thinking in circles about it too. I need the people who are making this a political issue to walk into the ocean so that the rest of us can come up with a reasonable set of standards for when we let our guard down a little bit, and if they’re not going to walk into the ocean, the least we should be doing is employing government snipers with dart guns to vaccinate these idiots so they can stop fucking things up for the rest of us.

Biden should put that in the jobs plan, as a matter of fact.

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.