Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Messages in Our Emergencies

Last night, the phone rang, and I listened to the message that my mayor left on our answering machine (except it's not an answering machine, the way it used to be--interesting force of habit/language).  It's been months since we got a call from our local emergency network.  I partially expected that city or county officials might be ordering us to shelter in place again, as yesterday, the state of Florida had 5,507 new cases of COVID-19. 

But he was simply announcing that we must do better at wearing masks and social distancing.  At the end of the very long message, he also announced that officials would be cracking down on businesses that haven't been enforcing the rules.

I snapped awake at 2 a.m., thinking about both a poem about John the Baptist and about the surge in COVID-19 cases.  How on earth are we going to navigate this disease in this phase during our new quarter which starts on Monday?

I'm also worried that our externship sites, which had just begun to reopen, will begin to close again.  We have so many students who have come to a crashing halt in their progress because they can't go on externship.  Ugh.

I am also thinking of the several generations worth of apocalyptic works that I devoured throughout my life, and how we now find ourselves in the middle of a dystopia that's not at all what I imagined.  I'm also thinking about the histories of oppressed people and how that oppression/enslavement happened.

I am worried about how women will continue to work as K-12 schools aren't providing 5 day a week onground schooling.  I think about dystopian novels, like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which prophesied a sharper shift in the erosion of women's rights.  I always thought that being able to control our fertility was vital to women's rights, and I still think that.  But I never thought deeply about how important public education for children was also essential to securing women's independence.  Like many, I assumed that public education was established and would always be here for us in the format we've been using for over a century.

Who is going to take care of the nation's children?  Who is going to educate them?

As I think about the quarter we're about to begin at my college, I envision a patchwork of people who get sick, people who get exposed to someone who's sick and needs to self-quarantine, students and faculty moving in and out.  We are still doing our classes online and through Go to Meeting--but we do have some limited lab time.  We can probably make this work.

I am not so sure of other schools.  I am glad I'm not trying to figure out how to house students.

Let me also record some happier bits of my life:

--I did write my John the Baptist poem; it wasn't the one I was considering yesterday, so I might have another one.  And during this morning's walk, I was thinking of Cassandra--surely there's a Cassandra Counts the Covid Cases poem in me.  And then I wondered about other prophets I hadn't considered.

--I have been doing morning watch for almost 3 months, which means I've been sketching every morning.  It's only 5-7 minutes of sketching, but it makes me happy.

--The other day I was buying beer and wine at Publix, and the woman checking me out said, "I really should ask for your ID.  Are you sure you're old enough to buy this?"  I wasn't sure if she was kidding or not.  I said, "I'm almost 55 years old.  I'm pretty sure I'm old enough."  She was shocked, and she said several times that I looked really good for 55.  I was tempted to pull down my mask and see if she still thought so.  I do feel like I look much younger with a mask--now I have some verification that I do.

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