Saturday, March 28, 2020

Famous Last words... for the semester

My last post here was three weeks ago. In those famous last words for Week 8, I had just canceled my Spring Break trip to Austin because my dad's hospice nurse had told me not to come, and they had just canceled SXSW also, which some people found surprising: why would they do that? Honestly, I had no clue what was coming.

And here we are, 3 weeks later: in stay-home lockdowns trying to flatten the curve and save the lives of doctors and nurses and everybody valiantly trying to keep the medical system functioning as more and more coronavirus patients are getting sick.

It's hard to make myself read the news, but I do. At least the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post, plus articles that friends share at Twitter. And I have to say: I am so grateful for all my Twitter friends and colleagues. I don't know what I would do without that lifeline right now.

It's beautiful spring weather outside right now, and I even went for a walk, but nothing feels the same, nothing feels right. I often thought how many American of my generation (I'm the youngest of the Boomers, born in 1964) have been blessed, for no good reason, to have escaped the worst of the 20th century. But here we are, facing a pandemic like the 1918 flu that killed millions. And we are learning from this pandemic now just how broken our society was all along: health care, jobs, all the inequalities and injustices of American society are now expanding in a kind of shock wave that is shattering everything in its path. As history podcaster Mike Duncan said yesterday at Twitter: "Helpful reminder: Everything is breaking down because everything was already broken."

So, I don't want to get totally lost in the gloom here because we have weeks and months yet to go, maybe even a year or more. I'm not going to list all my woes and worries because they are not near as bad as the woes and worries of other people I know.

But I am going to take the option that I hope other students in this class will take: I already have over 300 points now so I am going to take my P for passing this class and spend my time on other things for these last five weeks of the semester, so this will be my last class post until Fall semester arrives. (Assuming I still have a job at OU for the Fall semester...).

And there is plenty of other stuff to do.

For example, I've been working on collecting grading policies at other schools as a kind of public service, so I will keep on doing that. I've got over 100 schools now, and I am hoping that people can use those policies to advocate for generous P/NP policies at other schools. I started doing that just to advocate for a good policy at OU, and then I realized it's probably the most useful public service I can offer at this time, so I've carried on with that.

And I also need some kind of writing project to work on to take my mind off things. I tried working on some of my existing projects, and I just cannot get into the groove; those projects are all so connected with life-before that they just do not fit life-now.

But I'll take some time over the next couple of weeks to figure something out, because I really need something creative to do.

And I also need some time to do nothing at all. To just sit here and listen to music or something. Because I feel exhausted all the time.

And in that spirit, I'll close with this beautiful interview I heard on NPR this morning: Art Critic Jerry Saltz On His New Book 'How To Be An Artist'. I just snagged his new book to read on my Kindle and I'm following him at Twitter now too. Here's the interview if you want to listen... I think I'll listen to it again right now in fact. Because I could use a boost.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Week 8 Famous Last Words: Corona

So, this past week was weird and depressing and not what I expected... plus it was also the busiest week of the semester, so no surprise there: I didn't get any schoolwork done as a student this past week because I was swamped with work, and then life also. The big stressor was having to cancel my Spring Break trip to Austin; I was so broken up about what to do so I decided to let my dad's hospice nurse decide, and she said not to come because it was just too risky with my dad's condition already so compromised. And then a couple days later they actually canceled SXSW in Austin, so that made me feel like it really was the right decision even though I also feel terrible about it.

The unexpected upside is that for the first time in years I have an actual Spring Break that is a break, not a trip to Austin. But I doubt we'll go anywhere; I was thinking we might run off to the beach or mountains for a few days but now with the corona thing, ugh, I really don't know what we'll do. Luckily we can just do something spur of the moment if we do decide to go somewhere... in the meantime, I can get back on track with my student work for class over break too!

And in other news... I got to vote for Warren in the primary, but now she's out. I am heartbroken. Just imagine: this woman could have been our president!

In yet other news... some schools are already canceling f2f classes and moving to online. I wonder if OU will have to do anything like that?! There's been a flurry of activity at Twitter, and I decided to chip in by writing up a kind of guide to blogging at I decided to work on that this weekend, get as much done as I can, and call that my contribution to the online resources that so many people are generously contributing at Twitter. GO, EDU-TWITTER! :-)

And I'll add: GO, ELIZABETH WARREN! I wish you were going to be our president......... but the Senate sure needs you too!