Monday, May 03, 2021

First day's exams

 I haven't even checked to see if anyone took the (online) exam in the first of my classes. (Update: two people have, so at least that one works)

This feels so different. I should be used to it by now - this is the third semester I've done it this way - but it's still discomfiting.

I walked out of my last class of the semester at 2:30 on Friday, and sat down at my desk, and....I don't know what I felt. Some years I felt satisfied, that I did a good job, that the students learned stuff, some years I was relieved but excited because I'd be able to go and do stuff and then go visit family. 

This year, it's just kind of empty. Oh, I'm still going to visit my mom in about 2 weeks (despite a distressing new report suggesting herd immunity will *never* be a thing because of slowdowns in vaccine uptake, which I take to mean that some degree of masking will be a forever thing, and those of us being extra cautious may just never eat in a restaurant again, and worst of all, I may have to do partial online teaching - which is an extra burden and takes extra time and energy - forever). 

Other years I would go antiquing after classes ended. Not this year, partly because a tight and possibly-crowded antique store doesn't feel ideal (I don't *quite* feel like testing out my immunity on that) but mainly because the construction on the route between here and Sherman makes me not want to go (Though maybe I should? So I can do a bit of desensitization training driving across the narrowed bridge before I HAVE to in a couple weeks, to get to the train station?)

I signed up for the Friday graduation. They are doing three. Normally they do either one, or sometimes two on the same day. This time they're splitting it into three, spread across three days. It's outdoors, we are strictly told we MUST be masked and we HAVE to be there by 8:30 or we won't be allowed in. When I signed up I was feeling a mixture of "I want to do this for the students, hopefully a few of our graduates will walk on Friday" and also "it's been since December 2019 I've been able to do this and I want to" but now I realize it's going to be tremendously different.

I suspect part of the "empty" feeling is the sheer lack of feedback and interaction I've had. I don't KNOW if I did an adequate job, there's been no feedback from students, most people seem kind of "checked out." I get that everyone is tired and it's been an awful year plus, but.....I'm still making an effort despite it all. 

Things being tremendously different do not play well with my brain wiring. I am worn out and sad from literally everything being tremendously different for over a year - that those moments of what feels like normalcy are rare and far between and fleeting. 

And yeah, yeah, I know: some people reinvent themselves and their lives all the time but that's not me.

I dunno. I'm tired. I overdid it yesterday; I'm sore from rushing around and crawling around on the floor and reaching and stretching and yes, probably tensing up over the whole situation. I also had to open the windows for 1/2 hour or so when I was home at noon, I felt like I could still smell the Lysol and everything, though that might have been imagination.

Also I have noticed something - in my neighborhood, almost every morning at about 5 am, sometimes a bit before, there are a couple LOUD pulses - kind of like a boom car's bass, but just two of them, and louder, and then they're done. And I wonder what that is? Just some monumentally inconsiderate person picking someone up for work and not caring if they disturb the rest of the neighborhood? Some kind of machinery? Someone testing out a "Havana style" infrasound weapon? (That last seems ridiculous, but I can't find a logical explanation for the noise, and yes, they are loud enough to be distressing). Many days I am up by then to work out but some days - weekends - I am not and it's annoying.

I suppose it could be a freight train doing something, powering up its engine after a crew rest period or some such - but it's VERY loud (the train tracks are about 3/4 of a mile or so east of me).

One thing I really do notice is how loud my neighborhood can be; the two north-south streets carry a lot of traffic (no stop signs on one and people really zip down it) and there are a LOT of people with loud cars or those super-loud bikes that are sometimes vulgarly called "crotch rockets" and there are dogs and people yelling out on the street sometimes....and it just wears me down sometimes because I like quiet and I don't like being awakened in the night. (I run a white noise machine and an air purifier that works like a second white noise machine). 

(One thing that has increasingly bothered me - probably partly being stuck in so much this past year, probably partly watching the behavior of some of my fellow humans - is a sense that many (most?) people don't really care about their neighbors. Things like noise late at night - I try to be quiet when I leave "early" in the morning, and not do things like yardwork before 10 am on Saturdays. And other behaviors as well. And I admit some days I have a hard time squaring it with the "you are called to love your neighbors" teaching I have heard literally since I was a child)

What would I like? I don't know, I don't know what would make me particularly happy. A hug from a friend, maybe. Or a quiet night of sleep without noise waking me up or me waking up because I get into an uncomfortable position and cramp up my knee. Or some sense that I am doing a good job on something. Or, no: if there weren't a pandemic on where I still felt leery about going out? To go and stay in a nice hotel in an interesting place for several days, ideally one with room service, and spend my days going to museums or hiking or shopping and then come back in the evening and order dinner through room service and sit and watch cartoons in my pajamas and eat a meal that SOMEONE ELSE COOKED and where SOMEONE ELSE WILL DEAL WITH THE DISHES. I am roundly tired of taking care of myself but I have no choice but to continue.

No comments: