Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 24

Today, March 24th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Pandemic Journal - Day 12
Nervous.

How will this go?

How will I do?

What will they learn

when this is through?

The quiet chimes of the iPhone alarm bring me forth from sleep.  It is 4:30 a.m. Immediately, I realize I am awakening from a restless night. Dreams filled with Google classroom, distance learning thoughts, and anxiety. My room remains pitch black, as it did when I slipped into bed the night before.  The darkness, thick in its presence, seems to symbolize how I feel. Where I am. Where we all are now.

I am really not sure.  Of a lot of things.  Like the room in which I now lie, many things are present, I know they are there.  But I cannot see them.   What could those things be? I wonder in desperation.

Someone once told me, life is a bit like driving through a dark tunnel.  Headlamps only show us perhaps 200 feet ahead.  Now, I feel as though one headlamp has been smashed out, leaving only the other.  Which is covered in debris.

As silently as possible, I don warmer clothes, fumble for my glasses, and make my way downstairs. Time for day one.

 

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 23

Today, March 23rd, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

“We want to read this book!”  I stood in my dining room, now alit with bright sunlight streaming in through the sliding glass door.  Taking the book gently from my oldest daughter’s hands, I read the title: Bed-knob & Broomstick, by Mary Norton.

I felt my eyebrows raise, just a bit.  This is the book you want to read aloud?” I asked, placing great emphasis on the first word.  I had tasked my two oldest daughters to run upstairs and, among the hundreds of books we own, to choose a book Papa would read aloud to them while schools remain closed.  I expected the girls to select something . . . well, more modern, perhaps?  But I suppose this made sense since our previous read aloud (last summer) had been The Phantom Tollbooth, another older title.

Looking up from the cover, I saw two two hopeful faces. I could tell there would be no changing their minds.  I flipped quickly to the copyright date, and a new worry suddenly arose.  1957.  Hmm, yikes.  Now, I had heard of this book but had never read it.  What if it didn’t pass muster in regards to cultural sensitivity?  What about representation?  Or diversity of characters?  Now I could feel my eyebrows furrowing.  Back up to their faces.  “You’re sure?” 

“Yes!” 

Well, I thought.  These are my children.  I’ll navigate this with them.  Try to address whatever comes up.  The book is a bit of a ‘classic’, isn’t it?  

“Okay, girls,” I said.  “You want to start right now?”  They did.

IMG_6469

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 22

Today, March 22, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Pandemic Journal, Day 10

I pulled the heavy metal door open and heard the familiar squeak.  With a sack full of bags, I entered my empty classroom.  The books, crowded together on the shelves, stared silently back at me.  Where have you been?  Where are the kids?  they asked. They didn’t know.  I felt their reproval.  On the white board, the date: March 12, 2020.  The last day I taught reading in this room.  The dark, green markered 3/12/20 now frozen in time.

Setting down my bags, I pulled out my checklist of things I needed to gather for distance learning.  Units of study, short story collections, post-its . . . this list was long.  Outside the wide windows, ominous and rolling clouds threatened rain.

I have been hearing, reading that states are beginning to issue shelter-in-place orders.  This may be my only chance to retrieve materials, I had thought to myself that morning.  Maybe not.  But better grab them while I still can.

Everywhere, signs of normalcy now felt abnormal: My daily schedule, safely inside the clear page protector, lay lonely on the round table.  My chart, “What Nonfiction Readers Do Not Do,” hung on the wall.  The bathroom sign-out sheet, now becoming dusty, rested near the door.  All normal, now not normal.

With a deep and silent breath, I commenced the gathering.

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 21

Today, March 21st, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Yesterday was my little brother’s birthday.  If he were still alive today, he would have turned 50 years old.  Sitting with my notebook the morning, I took a few minutes break from worrying about the current global pandemic to remember him.  Allow me to recreate a small moment when my brother and I were around 9 and 11 years old.

1979

Working together, we carried the heavy box into our new family room.  With its brightly colored orange shag carpet, this room was going to be perfect.  So big!  Removing the oversized Tinker Toys from the box, my brother and I excitedly initiated construction.  For the next half hour, piece by piece, we built our first soccer goal in the new house.  Over my brother’s shoulder, I gazed out our new downstairs window and watched as the Oregon rain intensified.  Beside me, the Nerf soccer ball awaited quietly.  Definitely a good day for indoor soccer, I thought to myself.

Finally, the goal was completed.  “But wait!” I said. “We need a net, don’t we?”

“Hold on,” my brother said, his face optimistic.  “I’ll ask mom.” Out of the room, down the short hallway, and up the stairs he dashed.  In a few minutes he’d returned, awkwardly carrying an old, mustard-colored bedspread.  “We can use this!” he chirped.

“Perfect,” I said smiling.

Many rainy days were spent in that basement family room playing indoor soccer.  We really didn’t play competitively, but rather acted out improvised games between fictional teams we had invented.  Since we were big Portland Timbers fans in the 1970s and attended many games with my parents, my brother and I created entire rosters of fictional teams and pitted them against one another in our own imaginary and dramatic league.  My mother’s curtains in the basement, I will admit, suffered greatly, as many stray shots on goal found their way toward the plastic hangers.  But the allure of pretend major league soccer games proved too great for my brother and I, so the damage continued on for some time.

The last time I spoke with my brother was February, 1997… 23 years ago.  A car accident took his life that month, but he has lived on in my heart since then.

Happy Birthday to Sean Kelly Ball, born March 20th, 1970.

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 20

Today, March 20th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Emails were flying this week.  As I am sure every school district is doing right now, we are engaged in the challenge of figuring out how we provide an education to our wonderful students from remote locations.

Our plan began with a Zoom meeting amongst the department leadership and administration, according to the email from my principal.  As I read this email Wednesday, I thought about the other emails she had sent, telling all of us on the staff how she misses us.  How she is here for us.  Is there anything she can do.  In her correspondence, I sense her support, her desire to maintain some human connection with the staff.  And it helps.  I appreciate her so much for these efforts.  For in our work, it is connection with each other – kids, teachers, principals, paraeducators, all of us – that matters.  That makes a difference.  How will we create those connections remotely?  I suppose that remains to be seen.  But I feel quite fortunate to be part of a group of people who are dedicated to kids, who truly want the best for them, and who I know will go to great lengths to make sure what we create will be the best it can be.

Here’s to this new journey.  Deep breath.  Here we go.  As my union president colleague entitled her email recently, “It’s Game Time.”

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 19

Today, March 19th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

“I’ll be right back,” I said.

My wife looked back at me from the passenger seat.  “We’ll meet you here in the parking lot,” she responded.

I pulled on the newly purchased orange and white rubber gloves and walked toward the door of the AAA office.  My driver’s license had expired and I needed to renew it.  This is silly to wear gloves, isn’t it? I wondered silently.  Then I remembered the news stories I had read earlier in the day.  About a spreading infectious virus.  No.  It wasn’t silly.

Pulling the glass door open, I entered the office and felt myself immediately greeted by an eerie quiet.  Don’t these places usually pipe in background music?  Perhaps not.  Inside, only three employees manned the entire large AAA office.  Several desks sat empty to my right as I entered the queue.  Only one other customer in front of me quietly conversed with the help desk clerk.

As I waited, I overheard a few conversations: “Yes, well I wanted to let you know that I am going to be out at least ten days,” one employee stated into a beige telephone “I care for elderly parents, and, well…I just can’t take any chances.”

Next to me to my right, another employee spoke into a different phone.  I could sense the irritation in her voice.  “I’ve been on hold for nearly three hours, and my clients need to cancel their trip.  They’re supposed to leave tomorrow.  Can someone please help me with this?”  I thought about the family whose trip would not happen.  How long it takes to plan a trip.  And I thought about the woman who cares for her elderly parents.  I thought about my young family, waiting for me in the car outside.

The world feels different right now.

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 18

Today, March 18th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Our nature walk had felt good.  Even a little exhilarating.  Now confined to mostly home quarters, we all agreed that spending time in nature seemed important.  Brilliant March sun had promised us all a golden spring experience today, but now the breeze clawed at our faces.  Time to turn back and head for home.  We were cold.

IMG_6440

As we made our way back across the bridge and toward our house, we spotted the truck.  I watched as it slowed down and parked dead center on the opposite side of the bridge from where we walked.  On the side of the truck, a logo read, “Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.”

Suddenly, I heard my wife’s voice, “Oh girls!  We’re in for a treat!”  Curious little voices erupted into a cacophony of questions: “What? What’s happening? What are they doing?”  I even wondered to myself, “What is going on?”  With no traffic on the road, the five of us crossed to gain a better vantage point.  Two men emerged from the truck, both wearing hip waders.  The driver, donning a stocking cap with a brim and dark sunglasses, circled round the back of the truck and climbed up on the passenger side.  Glistening silver box-like chambers rested on the truck bed, fueling curiosity in my three daughters and me.  What kind of truck was this?  And what were we about to witness?

Pulling a large net from behind the truck’s cabin, the driver lifted a lid of one of the silver tanks.  He then inserted the net.  And then it happened.  Fish stocking!