It begins, pt. 18

Because capitalism, let me begin by reminding you of two things: that I have a new book out and that my YouTube channel is going strong and could use some more subscribers. The game we’re in now, A Plague Tale: Innocence, is particularly narratively strong and I think would probably be quite a bit of fun to watch. It’s a game where you’re occasionally called upon to feed Inquisition soldiers to rats! You’ll love it.

(Why “Pt. 18,” in the headline there? This is year eighteen of teaching. Eighteen fucking years. Madness.)

School has not started yet, and won’t for nearly two weeks (two weeks from yesterday, I think, is the kids’ first day) but my rosters showed up today when I went looking for them, and I was greeted with smaller classes than I thought I was going to have (alarmingly small, honestly; I can imagine a world where if some of these kids don’t show up they collapse a section on us) and an organizational change that will make grading and record-keeping a lot easier, at least once I get done redoing the planning that was predicated on things working like they did last year. I am fighting off the urge to go to Target tonight to do a touch of supply shopping for stuff I know I’m going to need, and I will be in my classroom for the first time this school year tomorrow. I likely won’t be there much longer than an hour or so– long enough to take a quick inventory of what I want to do with the classroom now that I’m actually decorating it (remember, I’m in the same room I was in last year, but I never really decorated last year) and figure out what I might need to buy over the weekend.

I will be in my classroom Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week doing setup, Thursday and Friday are all-day meetings downtown, Monday the week after I’ll be in my room, then Tuesday is the first day for the teachers and the kids are back Wednesday. So this is the last weekday of summer, basically, since I’ll have Job Stuff every weekday from here on out.

So, yeah: here we go.


Let’s see, what else? I have a Family Thing this weekend; not one as extensive as last time, just for a day– but it’s for my wife’s side of the family, and I don’t know any of them especially well. Unlike my own family, I’m also not a hundred percent sure I can trust the vaccine status of everyone who will be there, a lot of whom I won’t know at all, and while I like my wife’s cousin and her kids, her cousin’s husband is still … I’ll say a potential danger spot in terms of his and my mutual ability to get along with each other. I have, as of yet, no concrete reason to distrust the guy beyond vibes, but we haven’t seen each other in a couple of years for obvious reasons and in general the people I might be interested in staying away from seem to have gotten worse at hiding their bullshit since this all started. I will do my damnedest to be a good guest– or, at the very least, I will make damned sure that while we’re driving home angry after leaving early, it won’t be because I was the asshole.

This is where my life would be easier if I was capable of talking about sports, by the way. Sports is a great thing for men to talk about when they don’t want to talk about other things. That said, talking about sports right now is pretty much talking about politics anyway, so even that refuge may be gone. Hopefully what happened last time will happen again– that the teenagers will decide to hang out with me, and I will thus immunize myself (heh) of any accusations of refusing to socialize while still insulating myself against stumbling into a Don’t Want None Won’t Be None situation with anyone else.

It’ll be fine, but cross your fingers for me anyway.

In which I don’t know what’s going on

It has been one of those days— and, I suspect, this is going to be a pattern that’s not going away anytime soon– where never at any point was I really sure what day it was, or what, if anything, I’m supposed to be doing. I’m going to have an extra child in my house all day tomorrow, and two days after that I have a sleep study, then I’m out of town for three days, and the week after that I have a three-day work thing, then a couple of one-day work things the week after that, and then it’s August and pretty much the second August 1 hits I’m off to the races, because school starts the 11th, I think, and I have stuff to do nearly every day of August before then.

All of this is just to say that I spent today either in the pool, finally framing my wife’s Christmas present, or recording myself playing the vidya games, and other than never being quite sure what day it was, I am perfectly content with how the day went.

I have an enormous amount of stuff I want to accomplish before Child 2 arrives tomorrow; anybody want to take bets on whether I get any of it done?

In which works are in progress

Still thrashing about trying to come up with a good name for the YouTube channel; there is now a temporary name and two streams up, both of which I’m slightly dissatisfied with for various reasons but I have Plans to fix that. That said, you should go there, and … smash? that subscribe button? I’m unsure of the proper verb. I think Subscribe buttons are smashed but I can’t be certain.

The bitmoji is probably temporary too, but I need some sort of temporary branding to go with my temporary channel name, so.

Why not just go with existing names? Well, I sort of want this (and probably my TikTok account as well, which is due for a rename) to be something I can cross-promote from here but still be something that isn’t a problem if my students discover it. I spent a moment thinking about just calling the channel Infinitefreetime Gaming, but I did an experimental Google on the phrase and it leads straight back here. Infinitegametime already exists and infiniteplaytime sounds like it’s something for small children. I could keep Luther Plays Games and just play it off as not wanting to use my real name– that is my grandfather’s name, after all, so it’s not as if I don’t have any connection to it– and so long as the word Siler doesn’t appear anywhere it ought to be fine. But I’d prefer a third choice. Possibly something making fun of my advanced age. Who the hell knows.

I spent six hours today in a Zoom meeting for my real job, which bounced back and forth between being useful and tedious depending on whether we were in breakout rooms with people from our school or listening to the presenters. Every alarm I have started going off early in the day, when one of the presenters called on someone to read the slide being displayed on the screen out loud, and then interrupted her after two sentences so that she could call on someone else to read more of it. I was not called on, but I hope y’all don’t think I’m bullshitting when I say that my mic and camera would have stayed off if I had been, and to hell with any social consequences. We’re adults. That shit borders on sin. I don’t know how the hell we’ve been conducting everygoddamnthing over Zoom for over a fucking year and people still think that kind of unbearable nonsense is the way to run a meeting.

I also got to put aside one of my projects for this summer; I’ve discovered that the earliest I can take my math test for my National Board certification is April, and as a lifelong procrastinator I’m sure as hell not going to start studying in June for a test I’m not taking for ten months. So that’s exciting. It gives me more time to plan for next year and work on other shit. It means when I do start studying I’ll have to do it during the school year, but something makes me think that’s not going to be all that much of a problem. We’ll see.

That’s all, folks

Year seventeen of my teaching career, done and dusted. This was absolutely the oddest year of my time in this profession, but unlike most of the teachers in this country it wasn’t the longest or the most stressful. Honestly, as ridiculous as it sounds, personally this was one of the easiest years I’ve ever had. I can’t claim that’s true for a lot of my students, mind you, and we’re going to pay for this next year– but a year where a computer did my grading and I had no discipline problems to worry about papers over a lot of problems. In a lot of ways, for the kids who showed up, at least, I got to be the teacher I have always wanted to be this year– and I got this intensely gratifying result from my end-of-year survey today as well:

This is only 50 of the 139 I have on roster, so hopefully I’ll get at least a few dozen more responses over the next few days, but this is on a scale where 1 is “I completely disagree” and 5 is “I completely agree.” So there’s a small handful of kids who either think I have favorites or I pick on certain kids, but if anyone thinks I pick on certain kids, no one thinks those certain kids are them. There’s a lot more to dig into on the survey, but these were the two results that really stood out for me and really made me feel like I was on the right track this year. I also got a handful of really nice thank-you notes, which hasn’t happened in a while, and a few kids said they were bringing things for me to the end-of-year recognition ceremony tomorrow.

(Which is going to be at school, and not outdoors in the rain, alhamdullilah.)

At the end of next year, I will have been teaching for as long as our high school seniors have been alive. That’ll be … fun. I haven’t had to teach the child of any former students yet, helped out by the fact that I don’t live in Chicago any longer and reset the clock when I moved back to South Bend, but that’s coming. I know enough of them have children that the oldest of them will be passing through middle school in a few more years.

I’m going into this summer, for the first time in a while, with no real plan to even try writing a book. What I need to do is study for my National Boards test and start seriously planning for next year. Some things are going to change again (we’re going back to block scheduling) and I want to hit the ground running in a way I never have before, so it’s going to take a lot of thinking and planning. I don’t see any real way next year can be better than this year was– structurally, given what’s coming it’s just not possible– but that doesn’t mean I can’t go in ready for it.

Bring it on.

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.