on blogging a pandemic–May 19, 2020…

know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

What Have You Been Reading? 

Well, as I’ve been reading to humans who’ve only been on the planet for between three and six years for the past few days, a lot of my reading has had to do with body functions. What we poop, the many varieties of underwear that can be worn by vegetables, and farts–”good families”, you see, don’t fart… You know, sometimes you just gotta know your audience and give ‘em what they want.

Another recurring theme seemed to be about finding ourselves when we just don’t quite fit the mold as seemingly easily as some of the folk around us. Sometimes we’re a blue crayon that got labeled Red… Sometimes we’re a Tyrannosaurus Wrecks… Sometimes we’re the one black fish in a school of red ones… Or sometimes we’re convinced that we’re the bad seed, the really baaaaaaaaad seed… 

Finally, sometimes you just need a little tale about an adventure with a thick purple crayon; helping an elderly friend who’s lost her memories find them; or a tale about one hell of a great restaurant host who happens to be a panda. 

The question of week (Perhaps the best question I’ve gotten at any point during this remote learning run…): Kindergartener, K., raising her hand in Gridview… “Is it okay if I get my blanket for story time?”

“Absolutely, sweetie!!! Absolutely!!!” 

After which many faces disappeared and at least nine blankets and 3 stuffed animal friends attended class with us. Honestly, there’s a lot worse ways to spend your days than sharing books with the 3-6 year old crowd. 😃❤️😃

on blogging a pandemic–April 30, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

I’m Tired of Being the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Curriculum…

I like being a school librarian, but information literacy instruction is really the only part of school librarianship that I’m really passionate about. I’m like, the worst readers advisory librarian on the planet. I love doing my K-2 read aloud classes because it takes me back to my roots as an elementary classroom teacher, but basically, I mostly “put up with” the other [for me] boring, crappy parts of school librarianship that are not information literacy instruction related so that I can do what I really love to do–teach information literacy.

Since we’ve been doing remote learning, there have been ZERO opportunities for me to teach anything information literacy related. It’s understandable. Teachers had exactly two days of training then had to teach students remotely. In a perfect world, is this how remote learning would implemented? OMG, no!!! But life during a pandemic is waking up, putting on your Judy Jetson mask, and doing the very best you can with what you’ve got. I get it teachers are doing exactly that and given the circumstances, they’ve been freaking amazing.

Doing the best we can with what we’ve got…

The thing is that when we’re in a remote learning world, all that is left of my job as a school librarian is the part that my colleagues associate with a school library… “Oh, they read to kids… Oh, they’re about love of books and literature… Oh, they’re obsessed with copyright…”

The reality is that in a remote learning model that is hybrid synchronous/asynchronous learning, synchronous learning time is a very precious commodity. In that context, math teachers want to teach math; science teachers want to teach science; world language teachers want to teach their languages; English teachers want to teach English; and arts teachers want to teach their art. Librarians? We fade into the shadows, make guest appearances for 15 minutes during elementary classes and help by doing other tedious stuff that needs to get done. It’s okay for now. It’s the doing that needs to get done, but if this is going to be my new normal for a long time I think I need to think about things.

I’m discouraged. I mean, really, after high school or college, most Americans will never again write an essay, do a science lab, or prove a theorem yet tradition creates a purposeful space for all those things to be taught. Don’t get me wrong, those examples do have their own merits, yet every American who hopes to have a chance to thrive in the world of today needs to be able to analyze and give weight to sources of information. How should I give weight to Covid-19 recommendations from the World Health Organization vs. a Facebook Group? The Center for Disease Control vs. a Presidential tweet? A news report on a preliminary drug study vs. a double-blind study published in the Lancet? An interview on a local news show on Coronavirus quarantine policy with a pediatrician vs. an epidemiologist vs. an economist?

It bums me out that after a career’s worth of years of hard work promoting information literacy instruction, when teachers evaluate that which kids “really need to know” the structures inherent in American education mean that the information literacy piece is typically part of what gets jettisoned for lack of time. That’s not a knock on teachers at my particular institution, it’s a systemic problem of the American system and curriculum.

I’m tired of being the red-headed step child of the American curriculum.

on blogging a pandemic–April 19, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

The Black Cloud of Dementia Has a Silver Lining…

My mom is 94-years old and has been locked down in a skilled nursing facility since our lock down started. I know that she is getting good care, but I still think about her and worry about her in what seems to be every other waking minute of every day. Before we got locked down, I typically saw my mom 2-3 times a week. I have two siblings so mom got a visit from one of us at least 6 times a week. Since we’ve been locked down, I’ve tried to visit with mom on the phone at least twice a week. It’s hard for someone with dementia to have conversations on the phone because it takes a lot of cognitive processing. You have to remember what you ate for lunch an hour ago in order to be able to chat about it in a phone conversation. When we can visit in person, I’ve learned to have conversations with my mom about things that are in our presence. We chat about the woman with the beautiful dress on in the restaurant… The man with smelly dog… We marvel at how long the flower arrangement in her room has lasted… We discuss the episode of Forensic Files that is on in the background… All those avenues for engagement and conversation with someone that has mild to moderate age-related dementia are gone when you can’t be in the same room together. Without a doubt this has been the most challenging part about our lock down for me to this point.

As I was on the phone with my mom this afternoon, it occurred to me that while I would so much love for my mom to have the cognitive function of the incredibly competent professional woman that she was in the past, the silver lining is that she seems to be pretty okay in lockdown. She seems happy and says it will be nice when we can come and visit again, but it almost seems like after we hang up there’s a pretty good chance that she won’t remember that my siblings and I haven’t visited for a while because she is just living in the moment. My mom has been wheelchair bound and non-ambulatory for about the last 8 years. My mom LOVED to cook. She was an avid cook. well into her eighties, but her cooking ended after a really horrific fall that lead to a severe concussion and subsequent placement in skilled nursing care. At the end of our phone conversation, my mom sent me off by letting me know, “Don’t worry about me, hon, I’m making fried rice. I’m trying to cook as much as I can this weekend…”

I think that might be the very first time that I realized that the silver lining of my mom’s dementia might be that it helps her to be emotionally in the moment and, therefore, emotionally OK. Maybe that’s a small blessing, but at this point I will willingly take any blessing that I can find.

I hope you and your loved ones are doing ok.

Sending positive thoughts and blessings!

on blogging a pandemic–April 15, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

My Brain is AWOL… 

tayla-jeffs-R3IgY_ccOIY-unsplash
Photo by Tayla Jeffs on Unsplash

I am 55 years old and thought I had kind of achieved a moderate amount of autodidactic-ism (at least in areas of learning that I don’t loathe), but I think my brain is AWOL. A colleague who is a master at engaging with and building relationships with his kids is finding that his remote learning students have gone increasingly AWOL as our time in remote learning as gone one. Now, I’m not exactly a shy person, but I’m certainly introverted. Even as an introvert, though, I miss my library! I miss being around other humans–even the ones that annoyed me every single day since they were in the 8th grade. I tend to keep work, work and my home life, my home life so I don’t have a lot of “friends” at work, but I certainly miss my colleagues. I think I’m mourning. 

I have a stack of super interesting looking books on a table that I haven’t been able to read. I’ve been at home for weeks and I haven’t read a single one. I haven’t read a single one because my brain is too busy worrying about all kinds of other shit like, “OMG, is my mom gonna die? Is the last time I see my mom alive going to be the wave I gave her through the closed window of her skilled nursing facility? I honestly think that if I were a kid I’d probably be AWOL or doing really, really crappy school work right now. Thank god I’m not getting letter graded…

Addendum: I’m a “glass half empty” kind of guy. This is probably a much healthier way to look at physical distancing: Covid-19 Ended My Son’s Senior Year Early, But There are Silver Linings.

on blogging a pandemic–April 14, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

Words Matter… 

Oprah Winfrey is one heck of a smart lady! I saw a short video clip of her on TV talking about, and I’m paraphrasing, how important it is for all of us to listen to health professionals, but also how important it is for health professionals to learn how to speak to the rest of us.

After noting her observation, I’ve been listening to TV and radio experts with different ears. Earlier today, I heard a really fascinating piece on NPR about Why Some Coronavirus Tests Show A False NegativeIn the piece Omai Garner, the Director of Microbiology Testing at UCLA Medical, explains the process for testing, how the tests work, and when the tests are pretty accurate and when they aren’t. As I said, the piece was fascinating and he explained some pretty complex concepts amazingly well on the radio in 4:57, but I noticed that he used terms like “symptomatic” and “asymptomatic.”

Now, I don’t mean to sound snobbish, but I worry that there might be a lot of people listening to this story and hundreds of media stories like this, that don’t know what it means to be “asymptomatic.” The thing is, that EVERYBODY EVERYWHERE AROUND THE WORLD needs to understand these concepts if we ever hope to slow our infection rates so maybe we should be extra careful and start saying, “People who have the virus, are sick with it, and can infect others; but don’t have a cough or feel sick in any way…”

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 6.40.57 PM
Click here to go to the story on NPR. It’s a great listen!

I’ve heard health experts on TV talk about “underlying medical conditions” and “comorbidity factors.” Dear TV anchors and reporters, please serve as our translators/interpreters or ask your expert to explain the terms themselves. We need you to help experts speak in everybody language. Let’s remember, people, what we should say might be, “People who have a history of asthma or breathing problems, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, obesity, or other similar health issues…”

I realize that it is really hard for medical experts to explain their expertise to the rest of us because, you know, a lot of the people they talk to know exactly what they’re talking about. As a school librarian, I try very hard to simplify my “librarian speak” and speak in “14-year old” but even after 25 years in my line of work I inevitably use jargon that muddies my message. Thankfully, when I get it wrong in the library, it isn’t a matter of life and death, but we don’t have that luxury when it comes to our medical experts right now!

 

 

 

on blogging a pandemic–April 7, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

I Miss 3-D Humans and I’ve Got a Bad Case of Imposter Syndrome… 

no ideaAs librarians, our launch into remote learning has been slower than for teachers and students. Last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday really were about taking everybody back to the first days of school in August–it’s a whole different school year. “When you come in, please mute your mic… Please wear clothes when we’re meeting synchronously… When you want to say something or ask a question, let me know by… “ That doesn’t leave a lot of time to launch a new research project as we come back from spring break. 

That said, I still found myself LITERALLY sitting on my sofa tapping on my laptop from 6:00 this morning until 4:00 this afternoon–like when we’re on campus I got working and forgot to eat lunch. #Sigh 

While we are slow on the library side, I’ve been trying to help with some behind-the-scenes support that I hope will be helpful in getting our school’s professional development academy up and humming along online. It’s been slow going because I don’t know much about WordPress; I don’t know much about Instagram; and I’ve never given any real thought to how to strategically brand anything on Twitter. I just login to Twitter and tweet random thoughts tumbling around in my head and stuff that’s interesting to me–and that’s my “brand.” People either like it or unfollow me so it’s all good. Using Twitter and other social media platforms to actually attempt to communicate useful stuff to other humans is a whole different ball game and I’m a little terrified that I might blow this because I dunno what I’m doing. Nobody has put any pressure at all on me, but I still feel like I’ve convinced everybody that I know what I’m doing and they’re gonna find out any day now that I’m just making crap up as I go along. At what point does imposter syndrome finally go away, anyway? Hahaha!!!

It surprises me, but I don’t like working from home. I sit here and click away at my keyboard and mouse and it’s a slog. I kind of hate it. I don’t think that online teaching is on the horizon for me in my retirement years.

on blogging a pandemic–March 31, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

Blue Moments… 

The news made me cry last night. I just sat at the dinner table and cried for a while.

Yesterday, was our school’s first day back from spring break. Spring break for students got extended for two days to give our faculty and administration time to do two days of remote learning on how to do remote learning. I have to say, after a period of isolation from people other than my significant other, it was really nice to get to see the faces of my colleagues from school. It was a long day, but a good day.

After we finished our online sessions for the day, I got out to get my exercise walk in for the day. By the time I got home, Significant Other had dinner ready and, as is our habit, we sat at the table for dinner and watched the news.

I’ve been trying to regulate my news consumption. I’m a news junkie and will feed my news addiction to the point that being “informed” becomes “unhealthy information obesity.” I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve been working hard at my news diet and have been doing a pretty good job of moderating my news intake. I think that I’ve been pretty thoroughly informed with what I need to know about Covid-19 without going overboard.

Last night, however, ABC news ran a story with a video clip of a nurse who was distraught because she’d had to help one of her patients who was actively dying FaceTime their family who were not allowed to be there with them in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 2.57.37 AM

The thought of not being able to be there to comfort a dying loved one. The thought of not being able to be comforted by a loved on in your final moments. The thought of being a nurse helping a patient in the process of dying under those circumstances felt like just too much pain for all these folks to bear.

So I just needed to sit at my dining room table and cry for a while.

I suppose that I will get up tomorrow, login online, and do the best that I can do to bring some poor semblance of normalcy to my life, the lives of my school colleagues, and in a day or two, the lives of our students, but right now, in the middle of the night as I sit here blogging because I can’t sleep, my heart hurts for the world.

My heart hurts and I’m just overwhelmingly sad…

on blogging a pandemic–March 30, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

Time is a Relative Construct… 

time
Photo by noor Younis on Unsplash

On those occasions when my 94-year old mom has had to take trips to the emergency room over the years, when assessing my mom’s mental acuity and “with-it-ness,” ER docs very often have asked, “Mrs. Wee, do you know what day it is? What day of the week is it?” When it was asked, I’ve commonly thought, “Uh… She’s 94. She doesn’t go to a job. I kinda doubt that her answer is gonna give you a lot of useful information about whether she’s confused from her fainting spell, doc…” See, when this has happened while school was in session and I was working, I always knew, “Of course, today is Tuesday…” On one occasion when I had to accompany my mom to the ER during a summer break, I literally thought, “Uh… I’m not in school right now so I have six Saturdays and a Sunday. I literally don’t know what day of the week this is either…”

Being under the stay-at-home and now work-from-home order has made me realize that time is very relative construct in our lives. When we first started, I really struggled with feeling like I was going stir crazy. After a few days, though, I think I started to relearn to to just, BE… I’ve noticed that I’ve started to just be okay just sitting with my thoughts.  No TV. No music in the background. No computing device or phone. Just me and my thoughts. It’s become kind of nice…

While I hope that we come through this horrible pandemic and come out from under our stay-at-home and work-from-home order soon, I think one of the unexpected positive things that this experience is bringing is the realization of just how much I live my life unreflectively just doing things for no real reason other than habit–and how much I need to force myself to… STOP. REFLECT. BE.

 

 

 

 

on blogging a pandemic–March 26, 2020…

I know that there are many people suffering tremendously through this terrible pandemic. This post is meant only to document my own experience through this event in history. If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take some time and blog YOUR HISTORY of this experience. Historians might need what you have to say, some day… 

A Social Distance Hair Cut…

I was in dire need of a hair cut, but it’s really hard to find someone who can cut your hair from six feet away. One day last week when my significant other was out getting some exercise, I decided that I would have to have just cave in and have the significant other put clippers to my head and do the best he could. On the upside, if it looked horrific nobody was gonna see it for a while so there’s that… Hahaha!

1ETmcReCUwAEv-eW
Before…

So, let me tell you, you do not need to ask my significant other twice to take clippers to your head. He jumped right in. Like, grabbed some clippers and started buzzing away with what I and only describe as shocking and disturbing and hella-second-guessing-myself-about-this gusto. But geez, you’ve gotta admit that this not bad for first time someone has ever cut someone’s hair, huh? Hahaha!

2ETmcReDUYAEgidK
After…

Semi-Homemade with Me… 

I have been a Food Network fan since the very, very beginning. The great irony in this is that I don’t cook or bake. I just like watching other people cook and bake. One of the fun things that has come out of having a lot of time at home is that I finally have actually tried my hand a baking. As an “information literacy professional” I took my extensive search capabilities and Googled “easy pie recipes.” The first hit was 10 Easy Pie Recipes from Real Simple so I decided to give some of them a try. Believe me, the title is really honest–some of these were easy enough for me to do!

IMG_5315
My first (but not my last) coconut custard pie! 

IMG_5344
My second effort was a no bake blueberry cream cheese pie. 

One of the tough things about baking (or in my case opening a box and mixing some powder with a cup and a half of milk) as an activity is that it results in dessert. When you are under a stay-at-home order, you aren’t exactly being active enough to burn through a whole lot of a calories everyday so you have to be mindful of the calories in and I’m not always the most disciplined eater. I’m limiting myself to a 1/8th piece of pie a day. Hahaha!!!