Let's Chat. From a safe distance, of course.

It's safe to assume that The Virus That Shall Not Be Named has flipped your world upside down these past few weeks. Given this, let's sit and chat (from a socially-appropriate distance, that is) because, people, life is unprecedentedly weird right now.

Go ahead. Grab yourself a nice beverage and settle into something friendly and familiar.


I am now teaching my college classes online. Last week I converted my courses to online modules and synchronous video meetings. I'm brand new to online instruction, but so far, it's gone well enough.

I'm learning a great deal, including, but not limited to, how haggard I appear on live video (do I look this way generally, I wonder?), and how any given class session -- like most of regular life now -- feels like a bizarre dream sequence that's being narrated by a child:

One day last week I was teaching a class, but all of my students appeared on screens. And some of my students were in their bedrooms! One girl's room had bright blue walls, and one student was covered by a blanket, and another student was petting her cat while we talked. A real cat! Then one kid coughed and we all noticed him because his video screen was highlighted. At one point I remembered that I wasn't even wearing shoes. And then I stopped the meeting and everyone instantly disappeared. The end.

At least my new commute is short. From my bed to my new workspace, it's one step. Maybe one and a half if I'm dragging my feet. That's all it takes. Let's do this.


That brilliant idea to sell Girl Scout cookies to my students. Several weeks ago, I asked one of my classes if they'd like to buy Girl Scout cookies, and hoo boy, did they ever! I explained that I'd deliver all the cookies -- and collect the $310 dollars they owed me -- when we returned from Spring Break.

Sigh. Rookie mistake. I honestly hadn't anticipated the escalation of a global pandemic so we would never return from Spring Break. But in good news, I now have 77 unclaimed boxes of cookies and all the time in the world to sit in the confines of my own house, so this can't possibly end badly, right?


I can't sort my email inbox. And I can't handle much social media. Information overload is real. I haven't been able to fully process the dozens of updates and resources on teaching listservs that I receive daily. Couple this with my children's individual teachers and administrators each emailing about their individual plans for remote learning, and then log onto social media to see too many ways that too many people are organizing their new lives at home, which is an interesting continuum of rigid schedules, or looser schedules, or no schedules at all for those feeling free-spirited or rebellious, I can't tell which.

It's all too much. It makes me want to shut down, rocking slightly and thinking about those 77 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Then I remember that I don't have to do everything that every other college professor is doing, and I don't have to model my household schedule off of another household's schedule, and that we're each going to muddle through this as well as possible, given our own circumstances, constraints, and temperaments. And that's okay.

This is weird. We're all charting new courses. Our email inboxes and social media streams are going to reflect that, so if you  -- like me -- need to back away for the sake of mental health, so be it.

Part of me loves not going anywhere. I mean, I like people -- well, most people. I have a career that hinges on socializing. I don't fear public speaking. All that being said, I'm an introvert. I'm filled up by spending time alone. So if you asked me if I'd like to spend a week with some good books and without having to engage with anyone outside of my house, I'm not troubled.

In some bizarre way, it's like I've been preparing for this opportunity my whole life. Introverts unite! But do so quietly, and from a distance.

Another part of me knows I need a daily walk. Have you been ending your days with bad headaches, too? Every night, I need to take Tylenol to combat the throbbing, which likely is induced by much more screen time than normal. My regular exercise schedule is disrupted, and I haven't been disciplined enough to do any legitimate online workout, but I still can walk.

This has helped me. It doesn't need to be far -- maybe just a mile loop -- or perhaps it will be quite far, like the day I spent over two hours on a path on a local mountain. Either way, nature calms, quiets, restores, and refreshes. Daresay, we can all use that right now.


I read these verses yesterday, and I loved them so much I put them on my refrigerator. Maybe they'll speak to your heart today, too.


Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour our your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

No chat is really a chat unless the other person talks, too. I'd love if this went beyond a monologue. How are YOU holding up? Is your life like a weird dream sequence? Have you eaten through all your snacks already? Do you have a favorite quarantine meme? Much more importantly, are you healthy? Are you well? I sure hope so.

I'd love to know. Drop me a comment and tell me about it, my dear readers.

Together in isolation,
Robin

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