Day 7 for me.

It’s lunchtime. Halfway over already. I just spent the last ten minutes walking around, checking into the classrooms I visited from yesterday morning until now trying to find the home of the projector and AppleTV remotes I walked off with at some point. Of course it belonged to the last person I checked with.

When I first sat down for lunch, I checked my emails and Google Classroom to discover an email from an artist who wasn’t originally listed on my class rosters. This artist was confused and had no idea what to do for art class. I found the artist in GC, but GC wouldn’t let me send an invitation to join. Come on GC. I returned to the email and apologized profusely, then shared how we can touch base each studio day. This is challenging. Challenging for everyone. It is temporary. We are resilient.

Sometimes plans look like a well thought-out masterpiece on paper, but does anyone truly know how much time, effort, reflection, revision, mistakes, and corrections happened to make that masterpiece ready for exhibition? That’s what’s happening right now. I still don’t feel ready for opening night, but unfortunately, opening night has passed.

This morning when awoke, it was abruptly, and just after 4am. My daughter came into our room crying of a nightmare. We walked back over to her room, and she tightly clung to me trying to fall back to sleep. Nightmares are just one of the ways that our brains are attempting to process the stress and anxiety that we’ve experienced since March. (At least that’s what my therapist tells me). This happens to both my daughter and me. My nightmares are anywhere from really odd and weird to disturbing. Sometimes I am trapped, sometimes I am in the middle of a natural disaster. Sometimes I am trying to escape from a bad guy.

Today at recess a 2nd grader blew me a kiss and then gave me an air hug. I must have made a good first impression in art studio today.

Every time I feel comfortable about teaching, like it’s back to normal, something crops up and blares the siren in my ear. This time it made me sad and took me back to a moment in time over the summer. My daughter had to be tested for COVID-19. I didn’t tell her where we were going or what we were doing until we were just about 10 minutes from the drive-thru testing site. The nurses there told me to park when we pulled up because they could see inside the car that Estella was scared. When I parked, Estella unbuckled and climbed in the front seat. She hid and cried as far under the dashboard as she could. My son was there, too. He reacted in the same way. He had tested positive for strep the Tuesday prior, but on this day, they were both being tested a second time for the virus because the first results were unreliable. Thankfully the results were negative.

My throat hurts. Not a sick sore throat, but it’s like my vocal chords are giving up on me. I’m a singer, and this feels like I’ve been singing at full voice levels, working hard at hitting each note, making the dynamics of the music come to life, and have overworked my vocal instrument. I’ve felt this way since the first day. Teaching through a mask is more taxing than without one. I want to stay safe and keep my artists and colleagues safe, so I will continue.

Yesterday morning when I arrived to school, there was a note from one of the custodians. She had been my custodian for the last 11 years at my former secondary school across the street. Her note brightened my morning. I hope that your custodians are as thoughtful as mine is.

It pains me to observe so many kids having a difficult time wearing masks with fidelity. On one hand, I feel for them. I wish none of had to do this. On the other hand, I seemingly cannot remind them enough to wear them because of this invisible enemy.

Remember that we wear our masks over our noses and our mouths.”

“But my mask keeps falling down.” 

“Try your best. Wearing our masks keeps us healthy.”

Sometimes when I slip off my mask to take a sip of water or coffee in another person’s classroom, I wonder if the virus could have leaked out during the maskless lunch break and the particles are still lingering in the air, waiting for me to breathe them into my body.

I love my new gig. I feel like I am in my element, even despite having to travel between other teachers’ classrooms, but during a pandemic? Ugh.

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