Category Archives: quickies

Age of Crisis

So you know how you can sort of measure how old you are — what generation you belong to — by the first national crisis you remember? (For me, it’s the Challenger explosion — I believe I was six at the time).

Teachers play a similar game, except we do it with our students. For example, it was a rough day for me when I realized that I am no longer teaching anybody who was alive when 9/11 happened. My students these days had not been born yet — weren’t a twinkle in their parents’ eyes, even.

Which had me thinking … well … where’s their first crisis moment coming? These things roll around generationally, so one seems due.

And it hit me. COVID is their crisis moment. It just doesn’t feel like one.

Think of your moment. It’s just that, a moment. The Challenger going up in two pillars of smoke in the atmosphere. The Twin Towers coming down. The carnage at the Boston Marathon. (Smaller scale, but still nationally covered.) Lots of souls, tragically snuffed out in an instant.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - HISTORY

With COVID, you can’t point to that moment. You don’t have that strong sense of memory burned into your brain, that piece of you that somehow always remembers I was sitting in the classroom, three rows back, when the teacher rolled the TV into the room and turned it on… Because COVID has been going for months. There is no moment.

But make no mistake. This is the moment.

Here in the ‘States we’re knocking on the door of 200,000 people dead from this thing. (Unofficial numbers are certainly staggeringly higher.)

Roughly 3,000 people died on 9/11.

COVID has given us as many deaths as sixty-six 9/11s, and it’s far from finished. Put another way, it’s giving us roughly one more 9/11 every 3-5 days.

A 9/11-level loss of life every few days.

How could COVID not be this generation’s crisis moment?

And we still have people in our country pretending it’s no big deal.

Maybe that is the real crisis moment.

Go Between

A student asked me to say “hi” to another student yesterday.

The student receiving the greeting is a student he had texted, from my classroom, only a few minutes prior — and one he would text again, later in the evening.

But he still wanted me to say “hi” to him when he came in the next day.

See, our school is doing this “hybrid” schedule where we essentially have two student bodies alternating days in the classroom, so if your last name begins with a B and your friend’s last name begins with a W, it’s entirely likely you may not see that student at school until January.

So now, like Juliet’s nurse, I’m passing greetings from one group to the other, relating stories of what happened on Monday to the classmates coming in on Tuesday… even though these kids are all in contact with each other at the jingle of a text message.

I guess there’s still something about the human contact. Something in the fact that even though they don’t see each other, they do still see me; they share that experience, at least, and that’s something. Kind of like knowing that your long-distance girlfriend is looking up and seeing the same moon hanging in the sky as you talk on the phone into the night.

Right before she hangs up on you and runs out the door with Todd.


Behind the Mask

Masks are like, so hot right now (or I guess, depending on your circles, anti-hot).

I’m one of those ultra-cautious types wearing one almost everywhere, which is to say I wear it at work, and I wear it to the store, and that’s just about it because I’m not going anywhere else (seriously, you should still be staying at home if you can). So I’m wearing it a lot. And because I teach theatre, I’m sort of professionally interested in the things we do with our faces.

And I have caught myself smiling behind my mask more often than I would think I might. Which strikes me as odd, because in normal times, I smile all the time: that tight-lipped, not-quite-full smile (as JoCo would say, “the kind that doesn’t come with teeth”).

The fake smile, in other words. Which is, of course, my mask in non-mask wearing times: the chipper, friendly-but-not-too-friendly grin.

But when I smile behind my mask — and again, I’m doing this more and more often — it’s not the fake smile. Why would I need to fake it? Nobody can see it.

Strange how wearing the mask makes me — comfortable, I guess? — enough to show emotions, even though it covers those emotions up.

Shaving Cream Ear

I came in to work today feeling good. Got to sleep in a little bit, didn’t have students in the building today, nice, easy drive in. Had myself a great little work session, got a handful of things done, then went into the main building. Checked mail, got a great little pick-me-up (a student nominated me for teacher of the month!), said hi to some co-workers — a lot of co-workers, actually. Sat and talked with some colleagues for a little bit, the usual workplace venting and complaining and resolving to carry on with new burdens. All in all, a great morning.

Got back to my building, went to the bathroom, caught my reflection in the mirror —

And there, just above the line of my mask (yeah I’m virtue-signaling, bring it), hanging off my earlobe, dried and crusted like a day-old bird turd, was a big ol’ glob of shaving cream.

This happens to me a lot, actually. Always the right ear. Maybe I’m like one of those people who gets brain damaged and can’t see the right sides of people’s faces, but only fills it in based on what the left side looks like. (Except that I very clearly noticed it in the mirror later, so I guess that’s out.)

Anyway, a bit of water and it’s gone, no big deal — except that I greeted over a dozen co-workers with shaving cream on my ear. I walked around the building for an hour with shaving cream on my ear. I had an impromptu department meeting — for fifteen minutes! — with shaving cream on my ear. Say what you will about me making it from my house to my job in such a sorry state; if we are colleagues, friends, acquaintances — I expect you to tell me when I look like an idiot!

This has to be the bare minimum we set for each other, to look out for each other and make sure we don’t go on from a given encounter looking ridiculous. We owe each other that much.

I would do it for you.

Tomorrow I’m going to put a dollop on both ears and see how long it takes for somebody to say something.


My wife says I should post about the kids more.

“They’re your best posts,” she says.

I think she’s biased. But here’s one anyway.

Sprout the Eldest has taken to calling me “bro”.

This is a cultural thing, I guess. Probably his classmates are saying it a lot. Certainly his mom and I say it a lot (or at least, I say it a lot) in mockery-kinda-sorta-not-really of the way it gets overused these days. (New rule: every time I say “these days” I shock myself with a cattle prod. I should be farting electricity by the end of the week.)

bro GIF

Anyway, it struck me that this is a thing my father would never have stood for, if it were me doing it to him. And doubly so if it were him doing it to his old man. It would have been disrespectful. And probably greeted with the ol’ open-palmed reminder.

Heck, I can even remember once referring to the principal at my high school as “Fred” (which was his name) — just as a joke, just in passing — and my dad got uptight about it. “You don’t get to call him that,” he told me.

And I guess I internalized that? Because I wouldn’t stand for my kids calling the other adults in their lives “bro”. I’d take a page from my dad’s book and call that disrespectful.

But me, personally? I just can’t say I’m bothered by it. It’s cute, it’s funny, and it’s not like the 8-year-old is getting crazy ideas about who’s in charge around the house. Maybe my tone would change if he were five years older.

But there’s just so many other things more worth getting upset about these days.


(Also, a gif-search for “bro” brought me this, which I do not understand, but is heckin’ delightful)

bro minutes GIF

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