Coronavirus Days--Week 24
Yes, I did miss Week 23, even though I thought about writing the entry, taking this picture to anchor my thoughts, but part of this process of marking weeks, time, is to allow myself to break routine if needed. Sure, I could have blogged earlier in the day last week, prior to heading out with Nan to dine in the beautiful yard of close friends who live nearby, whom we hadn't seen since pre-pandemic times, but that wasn't the norm. I wait until Sunday eve, after an early dinner, after any work but before I call it the end of the week, the beginning of another week, to sit and mark this long journey of days that at times feels like it's still closer to the beginning than the end.
Giving myself permission to not do something is a fine thing, something I did even in pre-pandemic times. But these days, I like to keep my routines; they ground me. Like this blog. To be able to look back from the beginning and see what has changed, what has remained. To look years from now, when I hope this feels so distant that I need words and pictures to bring the reality back and remember how I marked days and weeks.
Some routines aren't new, such as walking the dog or staring into the clouds. Other routines, though, arrived with these times, such as a weekly Google hangout with a friend, beers in hand, talking for an hour or more, catching up on the week, and ironically, growing closer despite a screen between us. This week, we saw each other in person, hanging out at a favorite bakery enjoying croissants at a comfortable distance, conversing with each other in person, something not done for months before social distancing became part of our usage. At the end of our visit, I thought we didn't need to have our usual Wednesday screen beer since after all, it was Monday, and we were seeing each other. My friend just accepted it when I said we should skip Wednesday. But Wednesday morning, in a panic, I realized I didn't want to miss our weekly chat, which always anchors me, and as Nan remarks, makes me laugh and smile. And so I grabbed my beer at 4:29 and waited for the message on my computer to accept the chat. As always, there was much to discuss.
It's been two weeks since the semester has officially begun, and two weeks since I've been talking to students through a computer screen during my remote class time. I keep telling myself it's different. Not better. Not worse. Just different from what I'm used to. It's not the online portion of the class that challenges me; I've been designing and teaching online for over two decades. I know how to deliver in that mode. I know how to organize a course. But this remote land, this synchronous gathering with a group of names staring at me is unfamiliar. In one of the classes, most of the students don't turn their videos on. It's a class of over 20. I figure they must have their reasons, so I don't mention it. There are meetings when I don't choose to turn my video on, where I remain as a name on the screen. Nobody calls me out.
So I smile awkwardly and present concepts, mini-presentations, put them in breakout rooms, show short clips, do word cloud questions so they have an immediate visual of other responses. I read up on new technology for remote learning. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Thankful when a class ends that all the technology has worked. Wondering, always, what the students are thinking, especially the ones I can't see. It's different.
What gets me through these weeks hasn't changed a lot. Cooking. Walking. Occasionally meeting with a friend in a way that feels safe. Hanging with Nan. Friday, we ventured to the Rino section of Denver to wander about and check out some of the street art. Mid-day the streets weren't very busy. Parking was easy. People walked about in masks, even outdoors. We were traveling in Denver, looking anew at some sites, doing what we might do in a different city. Discovering. Finding good eats to take home. Forgetting the news. Present in our adventure. I need these times. I need these sites.