I have had a rough time since the pandemic began. I still get my pension check at the beginning of each month… for now. So, I am a lot better off than those whose jobs were taken away by the lock-down. But I did lose all potential income from substitute teaching. And the plumbing in the house is still aging badly, sprouting leaks everywhere that I have no money to fix with professional plumbers. I can barely afford Fix-it Tape which only slows a leak and does not completely end it. Notice I said “leaks”, not “leeks”. Onions I can defeat. But water is not my element to master.
Today my faithful microwave, the one that I had for four years in my last classroom, gave out. A spark and some smoke and she cooks no more.
But it is not all bad news.
My wife secretly has two more microwaves in her secret evidence-of-hoarding-disorder stash. She let me use one. She also found a leak-clamp for temporarily staunching leaky pipes at Home Depot where I haven’t dared to go in the pandemic because of my diabetes and high blood pressure. So, the weekend was slightly more un-yuckified than I expected.
And this weekend I was having a free-book promotion for A Field Guide to Fauns. I was expecting to give away too few free books again. I expected the Twitter writing community to turn up their noses because it is a story about a family of nudists living in a nudist park. But the Twitter nudists that follow me because of Recipes for Gingerbread Children were delighted. I gave away more books in the first two days of the promotion than I have given away in any other promotion.
It feels good to have someone reading my books, even if they are naked when they read it.
And I have reached a point where I am relatively certain, without being tested, that the illness I have been feeling is all just diabetes and allergies, and I have not yet fallen ill with Covid 19.
So, I can honestly say that I feel very… Meh, okay right now. Better than expected, and a lot better than dead.
Am I literally able to fortell the future? Of course not. But as an overly-sensitive artistical type one could argue that there is evidence in my art and writings that my reality now was at least partially embedded in my consciousness many years ago.
And truthfully, looking at the truth of things based on empirical evidence is what this point-of-view post is all about. We cannot always rely on the traditional concepts of good and evil as they have been taught to us. Sometimes you have to look at how the evidence stacks up properly, and just plain intuit a new way of seeing the whole picture. Yes, this is a portrait of a fifteen-year-old former student of mine. And she was definitely evil and difficult to deal with. But she went into nursing after high school. She works in the ER where her decisive ways and ferocious insistence on having things work out in her favor because that’s the way the established rules say it must be done turn into positive qualities that are probably saving lives in a Texas hospital as we speak. It is all in how you perceive the truth of a situation and then apply it.
Comedy, of course, depends greatly on rearranging your point of view. If you are going to make a joke about something, you have to re-mix and un-match the details in ways that still make a sort of sense to the reader or the hearer of the joke. I have taught at schools like Dudwhittler’s. If you are a teacher, you recognize that that school bus carries not only that which is funny, but also that which is very true. The teacher driving the bus is a tin man who easily rusts and cries too much, thus rusting further, but you can see he has earned his heart, even if he has to drive the bus on top of teaching so he will have enough money to buy food.
But probably the most anticipated thing from a new perspective that you were expecting since reading the title is a new perspective on the Coronavirus shut-down and economic depression. That alternative take is simply this… the pandemic, though extremely hard and painful, is a good thing that happened at the right time.
I am willing to say this, even though the way the virus has been mishandled in this country is going to very likely be the death of me, because there are benefits that we simply don’t recognize without a thorough punch to the gut and another to loose teeth.
It is a good thing because it will make it harder for Herr Fuhrer Pumpkinhead to win the next election, and he will probably take a number of corrupt Republicans down to the bottom of the sea with him.
It is a good thing because it is proving to us that we can survive on less and still make our way out of the bad situation.
It is a good thing because kids get extra time off from school, and probably also the chance to spend more time with the people who really teach them things we need them to know… like parents, grandparents on Zoom, teachers who don’t fear distance-learning technology, and trolls on the internet (Yes, I know that last one is risky and mainly learning the hard way, but it is also true from before the virus hit).
It is a good thing because the air is cleaner. And we have proven that we can make radical adjustments when it is a matter of life and death. And the environmental crisis is actually a matter of life and death.
So, now I’ve had my twisted say about my pretzel-minded perspective. And so you can now trash it, or possibly learn to like pretzels.
This 2019-2020 school year was my first as a retired school teacher earning extra money by substitute teaching. It ended before I was ready. I not only didn’t get a chance to earn all the money I needed, I did not get the chance to see some of the kids in five different middle schools I subbed for that I had learned to like and hoped to see again before the year ended. I did put in enough time to get rehired for next year. I even got to keep my sub badge so that I can go back if the schools ever reopen again. But I despair a bit over what I have lost. My health may not be good enough to go back to the job I love so much. In fact, I don’t really expect miracles to happen that would let me survive this pandemic. If I do go back to school next fall, it is more likely to be in order to haunt the hallways than to teach again.
The last few nights I have been sleeping longer than I have at any time since I retired in 2014. And I have had vivid dreams of being a teacher in a classroom yet again. But always in schools that are only vaguely familiar and are obviously new jobs with new kids that I haven’t seen or trained before. And yet, as it always is with teaching, they are all the same classroom, all the same schools, all the same kids, just in new packages that I haven’t seen before.
One of the things that is hardest about being a substitute rather than a regular teacher is the fact that one day, one class period, is not long enough to build a relationship with every kid. You cannot get to really know them in such a short amount of time. That’s why going back to certain schools is so exhilarating because you get a chance to cover the same classes again, see the same kids, and work on being a good teacher for them in the way I used to do it for kids that were mine for an entire school year.
And I was one of those rare teachers who actually likes kids.
Many teachers never get over the difficulty of managing a classroom and doing discipline. It is for them a never-ending battle for order and quiet. They only manage it by becoming fearsome ogres or anal-retentive control freaks. Most of those only ever consider discipline to be punishing kids enough to make them mind.
Those sorts of teachers don’t believe me when I tell them that the way to do discipline is not by quashing behaviors and limiting behaviors through punishment, but by encouraging the behaviors that you want. And by leading them into the excitement of reading a good story or learning an interesting new thing.
As a sub I went into the classrooms of punishing teachers and weak-willed teachers who let students do whatever they will. Invariably you meet boys who are convinced they are stupid and doomed to fail. They suspect their parents don’t like them. And all they want to do is stop lessons from happening by being disruptive. And invariably you meet girls who think the only hope for them is to capture the right boy (without any earthly idea what the right boy will be like). And they suspect their parents don’t like them very much. And all they want to do is fix their make-up, talk about boys with other girls, and talk boys into disrupting lessons to show their manliness.
As a substitute, I also went into the classes of teachers who knew the secret and actually loved kids. They had positive posters on the wall that could be paraphrased as, “There are wonderful things to do in this life, and I believe you can do them. You should believe it too.”
And they will say to their kids things like, “Look at this wonderful thing you have done. You are really good at this. And when you do things like this, nobody can tell me you aren’t a good and wonderful person that makes the world a better place.”
Kids need to see the evidence and hear those things from their teacher. And if the teacher is giving them that, they will even behave well for the substitute with very little work on the part of the substitute.
So, I have been dreaming about being a teacher again. It is a thing that I love to do, and I fear that, because of this pandemic, I will never be able to do it again. Even as a substitute. And if that is the case, then I hope that at least one person reads this and discovers the answer to the question, “How do you become a good teacher?” Because I believe I have it right. I know it worked for me. And I think it is true even if no one ever believes me.
What we are undergoing right now is actually a part of the process of Evolution. You know, that evil science-lie that the devil created to distract us from the incessant worship of God Almighty. Or as non-fundamentalist Christians who don’t read the Bible as a book of Science might think of it, the theory that Charles Darwin created to explain the observed factual evidence of how living things change over time to fit into new environments and new circumstances. That heretical idea that has been promoted by such heretics as highly trained biologists, environmentalists, geneticists, and other scientists qualified to test and re-shape science-based theories that come about through experiment, recording new observations, correlating new data to old data, and changing the theories to fit the new paradigm, which will also be re-examined and adjusted through the Scientific Method.
But it should be obvious enough to anyone who doesn’t think like Trumpkins and evangelicals do, that the survivors of the Coronavirus Pandemic will have to evolve when the plague is through with us. For one thing, we may have to evolve beyond handshakes. For another, we have to stop thinking of the human race as “Us and Them” and start treating each other as if we were all the same, had the same human rights, and had the same basic value to society. Now that I have thought about it a bit more, I’m not sure we can say that it would be a good thing to turn into Duck-people. That might be a bad move if the next pandemic is another bird flu. But we can’t help but evolve into a species that has developed natural resistance to Covid 19. Natural selection will see to that. Though, you should keep in mind that all natural selection isn’t based on just physically getting ill and not dying of the viral infection. Behavioral adaptations are a part of evolution too. Many will survive because of social distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing. I personally hope to be among those.
I really doubt that we will need to evolve the way Johnny did in this old illustration. But I am fairly certain we need to continue to evolve in matters of “Loving thy neighbor”. We have to get out from under the life-shorting notions that profits are more important than people’s lives. We have to do away with a system where power is given to those with the most money rather than those with the most moral character and depth of understanding.
Now, obviously, this was all written as a humor-post, because that’s what I do. But that doesn’t mean my ideas are all hair-brained… or even hare-brained. Yes, the rabbit pictured above is supposed to be me. You are welcome to argue with me, but I believe most of what I have said here is not only funny and weird… but true.
I am really not fond of people telling me how to live my life and what I should be doing differently. Especially when the thrower of verbal stones lives in houses made of metaphorical glass.
This particular angry-old-coot rant was inspired by the bitter old octogenarian in the park sitting on a park bench trying to catch coronavirus. She watched me as I walked my female dog. Then, when Jade squatted to pee and expel a couple of gallons of canine message-juice for the benefit of male dogs sniffing grass everywhere, the angry old crone points at the wet spot and hollers, “Pick it up!”
I shrugged and showed her my handful of poo-plucking plastic. “I didn’t bring a sponge!” I quipped back at her.
“Pick it up!” she screeched.
“It’s PEE!” I coot-howled without profanity.
The dippy old cat lady didn’t understand the difference between how male dogs pee (hind leg pointed skyward) and how female dogs do it (back legs carefully folded out of the way like a dainty lady and back end pressed to the ground}. Either that, or she was just so far gone in her senile viciousness that she really desired me to scrape up all the urine-soaked mud from under the grass.
I am aware that tempers are sparked to life by the flint and steel of crisis management, and these are dark times under the threat of death-viruses in Texas public parks.
And somebody is out there telling us what to do (I won’t mentioned the names of any current Presidents of the United States going to war in orange warpaint to make tons of money off of Hydroxychloroquine made by a company partially owned by an orange-faced moron criminal) in ways that may get us killed by the pandemic just so he can restart the economy early enough to get re-elected and stay out of prison.
Okay… enough angry ranting by dog-walking crazy old coots today. i managed not to get in any fist-fights with cranky old cat ladies today, a feat I should be proud of because she would’ve beaten me to death with her multi-footed cane. And I didn’t mention the moron criminal’s actual name today, so the NSA should leave me unharmed too.
Amazingly, I am still not dead. Even though this invisible virus-monster is totally new to our species and we have zero resistance and no vaccination for it, I am in a position now that, with a lot of hard work and even more good luck, I can continue to survive and stay alive.
Of course, there are evil people out there that would love it if those inconvenient poor people would just die out (people like me who spent their lives doing useless stuff like educating the next couple of generations to be people who can read and write by being a teacher). Poor people cost rich people money.
One wealthy governor has kept his State full of beaches (that benefit economically from things like Spring Break and Easter weekend) fully open for business, thus infecting scores of people that go back to home States like Texas (where I live) to spread potential death to people whose cheap-o health insurance (like mine) won’t pay to save your life because that would cut into profits.
One wealthy President has down-played the seriousness of this pandemic up until now. He has been more concerned with suppressing knowledge of how bad it is going to be (because that could sour people in his base from re-electing him in November) rather than preparing in a way that would allow healthcare workers to adequately protect themselves as they treat waves of the infected and dying, and providing more respirators to save those whose infections are suffocating them (which he simply cannot do without limiting corporate profiteering by his super-rich CEO-type buddies).
Maybe those of us who survive this pandemic should see to it that the rich, evil dudes who made this so much harder to survive lose power and profits, and maybe even go to jail for a change.