In which pew pew pew

Six days to no more glasses.

Here’s the … fun? Yeah, let’s go with fun– thing about planning completely optional eye surgery during a global pandemic: I have so much other shit on my mind right now that any sort of holy shit something terrible could go wrong and I could go blind I’m going to go blind anxiety just doesn’t even have time to penetrate. Because, well, if, I dunno, the machine explodes or some shit during the surgery, and I’m permanently blinded, well, then I guess I don’t have to worry about shit like returning to work any longer, now, do I? And considering that in… shit, seventeen years of teaching– is that right?– I have never once managed to make it through the first month of school without getting sick for a couple of days, it is fair to say that I am considerably more frightened of COVID-19 right now than I am of any shit going wrong during my five-minute eye surgery. That’s gonna be fine.

I just need to not die after the surgery.

There’s a School Board meeting on July 13th– the same day as the surgery, as it turns out– and rumor has it that more information about this reopening plan is going to be revealed and/or voted on there. I think there’s also some sort of virtual townhall planned in the next couple of days. But right now, nobody knows anything except for the part where what they have planned right now is not going to work. I will have every 8th grader in my building in my math classes next semester. Every single one. Here’s what Indiana’s current infection stats look like:

Note that unlike a lot of states, Indiana doesn’t report all at once, so our number creeps up over the course of the day, and the day’s not done yet. While we’re not Florida or Texas by any stretch of the imagination, our numbers are definitely creeping back up again, and I don’t see that changing by next month.

It’ll take all of a week, tops, before there’s an 8th grader who tests positive in my building. And that will have been a kid in my classroom, by definition. When you toss second-order exposures on there (I don’t know if that’s a technical term; what I’m getting at is Jimmy’s little brother testing positive, but not Jimmy yet) it may not even take a week. We had a positive in March right around when school let out and this had barely started yet.

I keep wanting to write a more academic, reasoned defense of why schools can’t reopen yet, and the fact is I can’t get past the part where I don’t feel like I should be endangering my family so that other people can go to work. If I was actually doing it for education, that would be one thing, but if anything has been made fucking undeniable about American culture in the last three months it’s that schools are looked at as daytime child care and not much fucking else. Go ahead, try and find someone making a genuine case for reopening schools for any reason beyond “parents can’t handle their kids being at home.” You will, to put it mildly, be challenged in this effort. There’s occasional lip service paid to educational inequity and how not everyone has internet access, but that’s generally paragraph nine of the twenty-paragraph article and the rest is all about balancing either an Essential Job with staying home or existential angst from having to be on Zoom while you answer the occasional math question. And I get it! I do! I had to do the same thing with my own kid from March through June, and I only have one of them!

I just don’t think your child care issues are a reason to risk my family’s health, to say nothing of my own, and if that makes me selfish, well, I’ll find a way to live with it. Because the more we find out about this motherfucker the worse it looks, and even with a good chance of everyone coming out alive on the other end I’m not interested in a fucking chronic illness for the rest of my life either. Sorrynotsorry.

Damn near all of us need to be staying home, and while we’re staying home the fucking government needs to get off their asses and start sending people money to pay their bills while they’re home, and if your answer to that is but Republicans then fine, let’s bring the fucking guillotine back and see how fast they change their fucking minds. I’m not in the mood to be civilized about this shit any longer. Enough of this shit. We’ll be over three million fucking infections by tomorrow. Enough.

In which that’s a bit on point

I had a dream last night.

My dad and I were driving me to college, and for some reason we’d rented an SUV– specifically, a royal blue Ford Escape– in order to get me there. I was driving, and for some reason I was having an immense amount of trouble keeping control of the car– any touch of the accelerator was pushing us back into the seats, tapping the brakes was tossing us into our seatbelts, and I kept trying to make minor corrections to how we were driving and ending up in the wrong lane or nearly off the highway.

At some point, one of those accidental lane changes ended up with us on an offramp and on a new, unknown highway, now definitively going in the wrong direction.

So: I was going back to school, not at all in control of the vehicle I was driving, and going the wrong direction.

My brain does not deal in subtleties.

Just a stray thought

I still don’t know what my district’s plan for this fall is. Supposedly there’s going to be some sort of announcement on Wednesday, and as of right now the start of school is still six weeks or so away. This is what Indiana’s current numbers look like:

…so it looks like we might be starting to trend upward again, but we just hit the typical weekend drop, and today will be on the lower side too. We’ll see how this week looks.

At any rate, that stray thought: school discipline is going to have to be a lot stricter in a lot of ways this year than what we are used to. Specifically, in terms of removing kids from the building, assuming we’re physically back at all. Because while I am willing to return to the building (at least in principle; we’ll see how the details go) in order to teach math, I’ll be damned if I’m going to risk my health and my family’s health to babysit some dipshit who is only in my classroom because his momma doesn’t want him around and he wants to clown with his friends.

Anyone who is not there to learn this year needs to get sent the hell home and needs to stay the hell home. Those kids can fail on their couches instead of failing in my classroom. I’m not dealing with anybody this year who is just in my room to act like a disease vector. Forget it.

Like I said, stray thought. More later, possibly.

On alternate universes

I have spent the last couple of days working on the graduation video– or, at least, the “celebration” video, since technically we’re not supposed to call it a graduation (or use Pomp and Circumstance) if it’s not high school. One way or another, though, I’ve been working on it. The final project is going to end up being somewhere in the 35-minute range.

I used to do quite a lot of this type of work at a previous school, when I was one of the folks responsible for the morning announcements. The announcements themselves were no big deal, but we’d shoot commercials and little skits and stuff like that all the time to keep the kids paying attention, and it turned out that I wasn’t terrible at video editing, or at least the type of video editing you can do with a cheap camera (or, now, a smartphone) and iMovie. In an entirely alternate world, I can see a version of me that does this sort of thing for a living. There’s something very satisfying about it, honestly. There’s no world where I’m contemplating a career change or anything like that– if for no better reason than I don’t actually have any idea how you break into that field, and “I’m good at iMovie” probably isn’t going to be enough to get me any interviews.

The bike has finally shipped, and is currently slated to arrive on Tuesday, although I suspect it might arrive a bit quicker. This means that I now get to start obsessing about bike helmets, which is going to be extra special fun because I have an enormous head– seriously, I can’t ever find hats that fit– and therefore bike helmets that 1) fit me 2) I can afford and 3) I am willing to wear are going to, simultaneously, not exist and be sold out everywhere.

My wife’s foot remains in a boot, and I’ll need her to go with me the first time I ride anywhere so she can call the police when I crash and die, so I’ve got time to … I dunno, build one, I guess.

(Oh, also: bike helmets are not built for bald dudes? I have done a little looking around and I feel like any helmet that has actual holes in it is going to be fodder for the weirdest sunburn of all time, and I am not looking forward to that.)

I am beginning to be concerned about this fall. If we are back in class, we, or at least the adults, are probably going to be mandated to wear masks. I have not, to date, been able to spend more than about fifteen minutes in a mask without panic attacks becoming a real problem, so eight hours— to say nothing of eight hours where I’m expected to do something other than curl up into a fetal position and concentrate on not thinking about my breathing– is gonna be … let’s say troublesome.

I have a couple of surgical masks on hand, and I’m going to try one of those the next time I have to go anywhere, because getting cat food at Target (which, apparently, doesn’t actually sell pet supplies any longer, or at least ours doesn’t, or at least they’ve hidden them well enough that I couldn’t find them anywhere?) damn near killed me tonight. It was bad, y’all.

It still, despite the video and despite the fact that I haven’t actually been in my classroom since the middle of March, not quite hit me that the school year is basically over. I finished my grading today; I will finish my actual grades this weekend at some point, and Monday is some staff meeting types of things, and … that’s it. I’ll have survived (more or less) my first year back in the classroom in a while. More thoughts on this later, I imagine, once it actually manages to wash over me and it feels like it means something.

8:05 PM, Friday, May 29: 1,745,606 confirmed cases and 102,798 dead Americans.

Blog post blog post blog post

I spent the entire day with my face buried in iMovie, putting together the 8th grade recognition video for my kids, since we can’t have an actual ceremony. It’s up to half an hour and I still have people who owe me bits of it. My eyes are bleeding, and I’m taking the rest of the night off.

That said, it’s a damn shame I can’t share this thing with y’all, because I think I’m pretty proud of it.

Meanwhile, this song will be running through my head until I die, and if you didn’t want people using your video for graduation celebrations you shouldn’t have called it “Graduation,” lady.

6:44 PM, Thursday May 28: 1,719,855 confirmed cases and — sigh — 101,562 Americans dead.