Thursday, August 27, 2020

Missed a day

 Yesterday was just super busy - class-office hours (complicated by being Zoom and requiring fussing with technology)- class - lab prep and lunch - lab. Then home. Then.....I guess I washed my hair? I may have done something else in around there, I don't remember. Oh yeah, ordered a pizza to pick up (Roma's does not deliver) and found out "if you are ordering to pick up, don't use the online portal, it is very slow at getting the info to us" - it had literally got my "pick up at 5:15" order in to them (made at about 4:30) when I walked in the door at 5:15, so I had to stand around (mostly outside, because unmasked people inside) until my pizza was ready.

I did knit a bit on the manta ray stuffie last night. That was about the only thing I could manage.

I did read more on "Hag's Nook," which is the first  Gideon Fell mystery. I am enjoying these (it's the second one I've read - "The Crooked Hinge" was the first one. Both of these have had what seem like elements of the supernatural that are later explained as natural phenomena so for a while they are a little creepy but then that creepiness resolves, and maybe that's partly why I like them.

I might, since I've been seeing him be referenced in some of the things I follow like JSTOR online, pull my copy of Oscar Micheaux' "The Homesteader" off the shelf and read it. Micheaux was an African-American writer (and, it turns out, film producer in the silent era). Apparently he wrote characters well, is what I am reading, and I could be up for that. I don't THINK anything too awful is supposed to happen in the book but I know I am not up for "awful" right now - I am tired and pretty worn.

Teaching is hard and I'm hitting a wall with it. I should be writing my first exam for ecology (it's the end of next week and doing it through BlackBoard means an extra layer of effort) but I just couldn't this afternoon. Policing masks is hard and I had someone who was sitting in class watching videos on YouTube or something and I just didn't have the energy or aggressiveness in me to ask him to leave at that point. But really? There are zero points for attendance, if you're going to be "absent' in that way just stay home and log in on Zoom and then watch your dang videos on YouTube where I don't see you.

And to me, that just emphasizes how badly I'm teaching right now.

I know I take it too personally but I see every instance of that as evidence I'm not a very good teacher any more, that I can't hold people's attention.

And I know I get rattled easily because there are SO many things to monitor - is the internet connection still up, is Zoom recording, are people in the waiting room needing admittance, is the smartboard working? Is my mask in place? Does everyone else have theirs on? Is anyone coughing? I know the limit of things my "working memory" can handle is five, and it feels like there are way more than five things going on at any one time. I feel like something has happened to my brain - it's not working as well as it used to.

I'm exhausted after my first class, and every day I have a second one. Today was my all-zoom class (38 people, no place big enough to distance people and I just didn't have it in me to do "A and B" rosters where half comes each day). This class is so hard - I have no feedback, I have no way of knowing if I am confusing or boring people or if people are just logging in and leaving. Yes, I know, I have to either figure out the polling thing or do something like say "I will put an assignment up in BlackBoard, if you are listening now, e-mail me a picture of a cat or a dog" or "tell me what molecule is shown in the slide up right now" but that's also another layer of stuff.

One thing that scares me is how hard it is to add in more little things like that. I don't mean logistically hard; I mean it's like I have some kind of barrier in my brain that clamps down and stops me doing it. I know I have to; next week I need to implement it. But it just feels like so much - and then editing the transcript that Zoom autoproduces and makes errors in, that can be another block of time.

I just feel like I'm not doing a good job of this and it makes me feel awful, but I also don't have the energy to put in the large amount of extra effort to make it a tiny bit better.

If this is teaching from now on? Maybe I let my chair know that I'm here for one more year (to give them time to find a replacement for me) but after that, I just have to resign, because I can't DO this - I am not giving the students the education they deserve, I'm not happy, I'm doing a bad job. 

It's almost impossibly hard keeping my energy up. Every bit of enthusiasm I can muster goes into teaching and when I walk out I am totally flattened and "meh" and maybe I just need to leave this gig because I've burned out. I have research stuff sitting shaming me in my lab and I just can't, I can't work up the energy to do it even though I must because my second fall sampling should happen in a couple more weeks but I don't even know when. I probably need to leave this job, I have become so bad at it.

But I don't know what else I'd do. I need health insurance, and I'm too young to retire. I wouldn't, in normal times, jump ship without some kind of backup plan.

I wish I felt better about my teaching. I know, I know - to some extent the terrible circumstances are beyond my control but that does not help. I feel like I should be handling this better. I should be able to teach better. I should not be feeling like a deer in the headlights the full time I am in the classroom. 

But I just hit a wall today. My shoulders hurt all the time now. 

I got an e-mail from Interweave Knitting today asking "have you started your holiday knitting yet" and it made me want to cry because I strongly suspect Christmas will be me, here, all alone and....this is just Hell. I wish I could accept better that "this is how things are" but all I have left now is my job, and that's not going well, and so it feels like I have nothing, and I can't even look forward to Christmas. Living with nothing to look forward to is awful. 

It's going to be wicked hot again this weekend so I can't even go out hiking anywhere. I suppose I should write that exam on Saturday or go in and do some of my research. 

If it ever becomes safe to go out and have fun again, I will have forgotten how. 

I should just end the blog. I am boring, nothing happens, I am doing nothing. I am stuck in the endless Groundhog Day loop and despite my best efforts I cannot get out of it. 

If I just stop writing here, don't worry. I'm most likely okay. It's just, I've run out of things to say. I never thought I would, but then I never thought I'd be stuck in.....all this.

I'm not gonna make it through a couple more years of this. I will develop "broken heart syndrome" or whatever they call it. 

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