Missing Work

Today was the first day in a long time when I did nothing art related. Well, I’m doing a massive Reeves paint-by-number that my sibling-in-law gifted me back when they were downsizing in prep for their temporary move to Sweden, but nothing as “authentically” creative as my own drawing, sketching, or designing.

Part of that was time constraints; I had synchronous (video) classes today at 8:30, 9:30, and 11:30, with 10:30 being occupied by a trip to the school to retrieve some essential belongings. Being back in the building was bizarre. The hallways were all one-ways, with designated up and down staircases; half the classrooms were torn apart for the summer cleanings, so the hallways were packed with all sorts of classroom detritus, doorways to classrooms with newly waxed floors were hung with caution tape; signs and posters for upcoming events and club meetings that never got to happen were still hanging on the walls. It wasn’t “burst into tears” sad, but it was “dull ache deep in my chest” sad.

I’m glad I brought my keys as sort of a last minute whim, because when I got to the room I needed, it was locked. Opening it was like opening a little time capsule. Krissy’s umbrella was still hung up behind her desk. Stapler and paper puncher still on the table where Patty, Kyle, and I were sitting when news of the closure came in through e-mail. When I opened the cabinet where I usually kept my laptop and found it empty, I had a moment of panic until I realized, oh, wait — the day of the closure, I’d spent some time on my laptop, at the desk in the back. The laptop and bag were still propped against the filing cabinet under the desk where I left them, 11 weeks ago.

My mail box was empty, but my cap and gown had come in, for the graduation ceremony that would have been June 1st. The ceremony that I would have carpooled with Kathy and Patty for.

It’s weird, and I don’t think I realized it at the time, but man, what a difference it made just… seeing people’s faces? Only a few — they were tightly controlling the number of people in the building, and only at a distance — but just seeing other human beings in person, who don’t live in the same house as me? I’m not really a “social” person, I don’t make friends easily and I’m uncomfortable in most social situations that don’t have clearly defined rules and roles, and I have managed to completely take for granted how significant of a role in my social needs fulfillment that this job — full of people I’ve worked with for years in an environment and role that I know like the back of my hand because I’ve worked here for nearly 40% of my life — fulfills. How much stopping into a classroom and chatting about TV, or my son’s latest escapades, or school gossip, actually meant, how much it actually bouyed me along and helped me feel tethered to something.

Quarantine has not been bad, honestly. I am incredibly fortunate to be in isolation with people I love, incredibly lucky that I can do my job from home, incredibly privelleged that we have not lost income. But there are moments and days when I’ll think I’m totally fine, and then I’ll get a work email or see a video the kids put together, and I just lose it. I just utterly lose it.

I miss commiserating with people I feel comfortable with. I miss the kids. I miss sitting around the tables in the learning center and shooting the shit once the last kid leaves. I miss faculty meeting where all the teachers act like goofy middle-schoolers and our department head surprises us with donuts. I miss hiding out in the vocational office during a free block, or running copies as a favor to a friend.

But so it goes. We’ll see what the fall brings us. When I do finally find myself back, I know we’re going to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it… whenever it is.

Stay safe, sane, inside.

Little Slice of Life (Also, 31 Day Challenge: Day 4)

31dayblogchallenege

4.  Most Afraid Of

I feel like this would be a substantially shorter answer if I were to talk about what I wasn’t afraid of.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t have fear buzzing like low-level static in the back of my brain.

I’ll try to separate these into hierarchical categories to streamline things.

Things I Can’t Control:  the coronoavirus; war; the election; climate change; people’s perception of me/my worth as a human being/my likability; my son getting hurt (physically or emotionally); my son growing up and apart from me; dying; my parents dying; my husband dying; literally anyone and everyone I’m close to dying; losing my job; losing financial stability; car accidents; being robbed; hurricanes; carbon monoxide poisoning; gas explosions

Things I Can Control (But Feel Like I Can’t):  Having a blood-pressure induced stroke; my health; that I’m an inattentive parent; my house falling into disrepair;  my friends losing interest over my lack of social awareness; never following through and completing any of my goals; missing out on opportunities.

Petty phobias:  Dentists, heights, needles, butterflies, moths, birds.

To paraphrase a comic strip (that I really should find):  “Pfft, ‘get out of my comfort zone?’  I don’t even have a comfort zone.  I am literally always uncomfortable.”


I got an email last night from a former student, class of 2017, reporting in on how his life is going and inquiring about mine.  Because of the nature of the program I work, he is technically still in my system, so I have to temper everything I tell him through the lens of, yes, he’s an adult but I’m still technically a teacher (so I can be casual, but not too buddy-buddy), but man, and I thrilled about what he told me.  It sounds like he’s doing so well, and it makes me so happy.

I never kept in contact with any of my teachers from high school; granted, immediately post-high school, it was a little harder, because social media wasn’t a thing and wouldn’t be a thing for several more years, but even since then, I know some of my friends Friended old teachers; I did not.  I just… I never had that kind of relationship with my teachers.  I think about that a lot, actually; my relationships with teachers could be described basically as, “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Are Nice and Say Nice Things About Me,” “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Are Insanely Hot and I am a Horned-Up Teenager,” “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Terrify Me and I Want to Escape Their Wrath,”  and “I Hate Them (But I Really Want to Please Them Anyway Because I am an Insecure Teenager Seeking Constant Validation.”

I was never “close” with them.  We didn’t shoot the shit between classes; I didn’t go to them when I was in an emotional crisis; I didn’t share personal victories with them, or gush about TV shows with them, or share in-jokes.  But I do all of that with my kids, because I wished, so hard, as a kid, that I’d had someone to do that with me.  I would have killed to have one adult give a shit about the crippling anxiety attacks that made me miss days of school, or didn’t roll their eyes behind my back at my dorky interests (and think, somehow, that I didn’t know they were doing it).  I’m not saying my teachers were bad; most of them were kind, and fair.  I’m sure they had close relationships with other students; hell, I know they did.  It was just never me.  I never really had anyone like that.

So I try to be that person now.  For someone else.

I set an alarm for tomorrow, to write him back (because social obligations are hard, and I have zero energy the last two night).  I’m glad that he apparently thinks of my as One of Those People.

Unrelated, but I looked at the calendar today and felt a jolt.  Back when I first started teaching I had what you would call A Hard Kid, who I adored, who I still remember as just… having a special place in the pantheon of students I’ve worked with over the years.  And I realized that today he turned 31 years old.  Jesus Christ.  My husband is 33.

Starting teaching so young messes you up, guys.

It’s Wednesday!!  I’ve got some really cool plans and goals I want to tell you all about really soon, but for tonight, I will be hanging out in chat with my mom and sister, and then it’s tea, some magazines, and bed.  Sprint, guys!  We’re almost at the finish line.