Yes, yes, yes — I have been slowly picking away at a couple of art projects. I have. Honestly. You all can check out my Instagram for progress shots of what I’m working on. I’m in the thick of two pieces at the moment, but I have one I’m itching to start on (but I need to take reference photos, first), one that has literally been languishing as a pencil sketch in my sketchbook for probably about two months now, and one really silly, self-indulgent piece of fanart I am really aching to work on, but probably won’t get to for a while.*
Part of that is, starting Monday, I will be back to work full-time.
In the classroom.
It will be my first time in a classroom since March 13th, 2020.
Ya’ll must remember (or at least those of you who have been around since then) how absolutely desperate I was to get work-from-home accommodations. As a hypertensive, pre-diabetic, clinically-obese person, I was absolutely terrified for myself during the early days of the COVID pandemic, and as a parent, was scared to death about bringing the virus home to my kid (who would then in turn bring it to my parents (who would have been my childcare), who are both high risk and live with two immunocompromised housemates).
I sent email after email to HR and my building principal, emailed my (brand new; like literally she had been hired weeks before the school year started) department head, and had actually started looking into both medical leave and work-from-home opportunities were I not afforded the accommodation.
Needless to see, I, uh, I really wanted this.
And I appreciated having it! I recognize I was lucky to be able to get these accommodations (whether or not it should be a matter of “luck” and not just standard pandemic protocol is another story — but the fact remains, for the reality of the world we live in, I was very lucky), and I did my best to do my job within those parameters. I think I succeed, to the best of my abilities. But goddamn, was it hard.
This was a ADHD nightmare. Focusing on a screen for seven hours a day was torture. The tech issues were irritating. Having Bear routinely meltdown or blow-up practically at my elbow while doing his own on-line schooling gave me heart palpitations. Having no delineation between at work/not at work was confusing and demotivating.
But then the vaccines came. And… well, it’s complicated.
I’ve got to say, first off, that I still think we are jumping the gun in packing schools back to full-capacity. Not everyone can get vaxxed yet. Schools are already over-crowded, I don’t trust the three-feet that DESE says is “all we need,” and disrupting kid’s schedules with only four-and-a-half weeks left in the year is ridiculous. So, as A Thing? Like, as a decision as a whole? I think it’s a poor one. I don’t understand why we couldn’t have just waited until September and started fresh. In a year full of upheavals, why add one more to the pile for these kids? Hell, why add one more for any of us?
And yet… with that being said, if it’s happening now, at least I feel ready for it.
Sweet Christ, do I feel ready for it.
My wife is now fully vaccinated; she’s not at her two weeks post-vaxx yet, but she got both shots, and the efficacy rate for her right now should be hovering around 80%, and my folks are getting their 2nd shots today. With me being fully-vaxxed, the chance of me picking up and transmitting anything is pretty miniscule to begin with, so between my own vaccine status — and the pack of K95s I picked up yesterday to wear to work — they all feel a fair degree of confidence in my return.
My coworkers are nearly all fully vaccinated, my kids have been getting vaxxed steadily, and now with the approval for ages twelve and up, we are having in-school vaccine clinics for eligible and willing kids.
If I had to go back this year, this is the time to do it, I guess.
And just on a personal level… this year has really done a number on my mental health. I hadn’t realized how much of my social quota is filled simply by going to work an commiserating with my coworkers, seeing my kids, etc. I’ve felt such a disconnect from my job — which is hard, for me, since I love my work — and so alienated from a place that has been sort of like a second home for me for the last sixteen years that in the last several weeks, I will be honest, I feel like I’m just phoning it in. Just, doing the bare minimum to scrape by until the year winds down.
I hate it. That’s not how I want to be. That’s not the way I work.
So, this whole going-back-in-late-May thing is a terrible idea. But as far as terrible ideas go (and in so far as, I really don’t have a choice), I’m all in.
This weekend will be a period of mental adjustment and self-care in preparation.
See you on the flip side. Stay safe and sane.
*On a lighter note, for anyone wondering about the “self-indulgent fan art” I’m dying to do, it’s The Wicked Zoga, from the Worthikids animated short “Captain Yajima.” Shit, they are the most adorably chaotic thing and I am madly in love with them: