Dear Smile Fingers,
I sleep in my bed with Blankie and not in the car turned around so I couldn’t see you until Milk Hands took me out and said hi and buh-bye and you leaned in and said I’ve gotten fat and you don’t know where my brother is oh no you don’t and bed is good but the car is gooder.
Dear Mrs. Smith,
Mom made me pull out all my school clothes, she put them in a box. She said [in a Mom voice] “We aren’t going to use these, so we may as well pack them up.” Then she made me put away the stuff from my desk we got from you. You remember when we went to your house and threw candy at you? [laughs] I don’t know where to put my folders so I put them under the bed but don’t tell Mom. I miss when you read to us but not when you made me put my book away.
I only know a little about you; from the e-mails you send, the Zoom meetings I overhear, and the morning videos you share every day. I spoke to you forever ago, at carpool pickup after school, but never appreciated what you did before that time.
Most days, I can’t get my son to get off the floor if he’s determined to melt there. Yet, every day; you taught him, motivated him, got him to work, and loved him. Your stinkeye is legendary.
As I tucked my baby into bed, I remembered how you smiled and talked to him at pickup. As we folded the school clothes and sorted the school folders, I remembered the school conferences and class parties you held. You were surrounded by noise and chaos but thrived and guided so all those children also thrived.
You’re amazing -I thought you should know.
I’m not sure what to tell you, as normal keeps getting put off till later, except for, “Thank you.” Thank you for the magic you performed for every person for every day. I know you’ll get to do it again; will you stick around till the baby’s old enough?
Anyway, thank you. And sorry about the candy-throwing.
I know, I know: “I’m sick of hearing about Coronavirus. Go away, Chelsea, and take that thing with you!”
But, it’s not going away. Well -it is, just slowly. Hopefully, all this jazz about calmly sitting at home and glaring at your neighbors’ parties has kept COVID’s coming a slow process as well.
On the subject of coming:
“Remember that time I was sick back in February?” my neighbor asked me recently.
“No…” Personally, I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast most days, but she didn’t know that.
She paused, adjusting something I couldn’t see because we were engaged in an old-fashioned telephone conversation -over cell phones, but still talking. “It was when I flew back from Denver. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and then had a nasty cough. I lost my sense of taste for several days; not just one, like what happens when I’ve gotten sick before.”
The ‘Rona’s been a mysterious mist, revealing more of itself as time goes on. Having done a report on the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl for a college paper, I can’t help but see similarities in China’s revelation of facts to the rest of the world. As many have pointed out, however, such hindsight isn’t helpful. “Should’ve” can’t save us. “Will” just might.
For myself and my family, I feel fortunate that we have not been directly infected affected. Our worst casualty is inconvenience. A relative finally got in to her doctor …to learn she has cancer. Another’s been growing increasingly worse regarding mental illness because of the isolation. Yet another lost a good friend -to the virus- and was sad to not attend a funeral.
I’ve also had some irritation in items out of stock for pickup orders, in trying to plan ahead, and in not being able to keep a device with microphone and camera intact. Yes, another accident befell us. Our derelict iPad of half-a-decade’s age fell to the basement floor in a second karate-related accident. The defendant claims gravity reached its apathetic hands up against an already-unstable iPad stand…
Speaking of technical mishaps, I need to enter a Costco today. I haven’t been in weeks. A computer we purchased recently has had no end of problems with the keyboard input and network card. Why, for the love of gaming, would anyone want a computer to forget ASDWX in the middle of strafing?
They’ve posted store rules that I’ll need to wear a mask. Here’s me, wearing the PINK one my neighbor made me. Being the only female in a predominantly-male household, she assumed I’d need more femininity.
In other news of stores and merchandise, Smith’s grocery store told me they were fresh out of chicken breasts. I was able to procure a whole, frozen chicken but not pieces of it. The worker kindly explained that, since the Tyson plant had closed, they were seeing their store-brand meat disappear faster. Others I’ve spoken with said similar things. So, maybe we ought to stockpile a bit of meat…
We actually tried to get a small chest freezer back when things started getting crazy in March. When I called to follow up on our purchase a month later, the representative explained that ALL appliance suppliers’ chest freezers were on backorder till July or August.
I find myself rushing in thoughts or actions, then suppressing the behavior. We need more: meat, clothes, gasoline, emergency supplies, Tylenol, etc. Frankly, I don’t. I have enough. It’s just an inherent panic and a need to do SOMETHING instead of wait.
We’re at Code Orange now. Oddly, this move resulted in an increase of reported cases. 🤦 I guess we’re a work in progress. I suspect the COVID Team suspects such results, and will move the dial down to yellow once we stabilize again.
We’re doing what we can, which is mostly not doing much. The relaxed restrictions are nice; the boys’ room moms arranged for drive-by parades of their teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week this week. We got within breathing range of one of my son’s teachers, for a selfie. She and her aides stood together on the sidewalk to receive presents and posters. I realize I’ve developed an automatic anxiety at the sight of crowds. I ought to turn it off, now that we’re allowed to congregate in groups of 20 or fewer -although that’s still stupposed to be in a social-distanced and masked manner.
Because of bat-man, we are all masking like Batman…
In last news, our European trip was officially rescheduled for 2021. Maybe I’ll get to wave to a few of you after all.
It took me three tries to get the accurate date today. I went through the same exercise yesterday (Sunday, apparently) and again for that-day-that-comes-before-Sunday. Once the boys and I decided the phones and computers had the correct date, I realized we’ve been staying home for a month and two days.
Time flies when you’re looking back. It i-n-c-h-e-s when you’re looking forward.
Speaking of, Utah’s state governor announced that we’ve graduated to less-stringent measures. The state parks have opened to non-county residents. By May, people could sit inside a restaurant to eat. To combat that sedentary option, he also anticipates the re-opening of gyms. Furthermore, elective surgeries will resume. He stressed the importance of still maintaining social distance and rocking the mask.
We’ve got the internet, which allows our connecting to others, working from home, and playing or watching games and shows.
My family and I do not live in an urban area, in a multi-unit apartment building.
Our local stores offer grocery pickup.
If food gets scarce, my LDS upbringing means I have enough dried black beans to get us through at least two months. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll have regularity and protein.
Amazon is great, as is grocery pickup. The only problem is costs are rising. I needed to replenish our regular household cleaners this last week, and couldn’t believe how expensive they’d become.
Either everyone is panic-buying, or people do not use soap during non-panic-buying times. I’m just glad I’m not desperate. I also know how to mix some of my own all-purpose cleaners. If worse comes to worst, we’ll forage for bits of bark to replace the soaps. Actually, I have boys. We’ll all just start smelling of a more-natural musk.
In better news, the boys’ school released a video of each teacher reading a small line of encouragement. Home life looked good on them; some of the guys were going Rip Van Winkle with the facial hair. We drove past their school after this week’s grocery pickup this morning, then ‘visited’ a favorite teacher of theirs.
My boys seem resilient and unaffected. When I suggested that my pre-teen might video chat with his friend, he asked, “Why?” Only when I said they could arrange for playing chess online did he consider it a good idea.
Their conversation went something like this:
So… what’ve you been doing?
*Shrug* Staying home.
Yeah. Me, too.
So… wanna do chess or something?
…When can you?
Ummm. Probably Wednesday from 1-3.
Actually, for accuracy, you need to read it with an awkward pause after every two lines. I’m not sure if it’s a guy thing to be so verbose and animated but …yeah, it’s a guy thing.
For me, I finally caved and installed an app called Marco Polo. My friend told me about it awhile ago but I hated the idea of recording myself. That, and my phone has never been the top of the class. My reward after install was a video she’d recorded that day, over a year ago. I cried watching it. Since then, we’ve made videos back and forth a few times.
They’re a bit longer than my son’s conversation with his friend.
What have you been able to do lately? Is the weather warming or cooling? Have you called a friend, or maybe just played chess with him?
Long have the halls been silent,
The chairs empty, the locker doors thrown open.
Long have the weeds grown,
Unchecked, through the days of winter, cold and dull.
Long has the toilets been clean,
The stains and smears of adolescence finally washed away.
Peace has reigned.
As the bell sounds for the first time,
The rodents, the cleaners, the teachers,
Grimace their despair.
Congratulations, Deb! You are the most terrible poet of the week!
Many poets’ works made me grimace today, but Deb’s stood out. She made me believe I was reading a serious poem, then artfully threw the meter off course whilst adding elements like rodents and “smears of adolescence” in there.
But the terrible poetry doesn’t stop there! Read the others, if you are able:
I just dropped my pencil
I made the teacher
Don’t be blue
I know I took advantage
Of the teacher who’s new
He sent my butt home
For my mother to chew
Don’t be mad
Only nine months to summer
Then we’ll be glad
What’s she mean
It won’t be the worst nine months
She ever had….
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to school!
Murray, SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
Paula, I hope your summer time was cool!
Wayne, SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
Shirley, you’re acting like a fool.
Frank, SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
William, you’re full of bull.
Jeanette, SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
Winifred, no you can’t; it’s against the rule.
Neil, SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
Oh for goodness sake! I can’t wait for the Christmas break when we celebrate Yule.
EVERYONE! SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
Let’s see who does the bester
In this first semester.
YOU’RE HERE TO LEARN SO SIDDOWN N SHUDDUP!
Is it really back to school
In that uniform so uncool
Do I have to Combe my hair
I’m not allowed to rock in my chair
Come again, I have to get up at Half past Six
Then get on the school bus with the other lunatics
Have to eat a healthy school lunch
And in the class I’m not allowed to munch
I have to learn my nine times tables
And I need to write my name on all the coat labels
I’m not allowed to pick my nose
While having to write boring prose
Not allowed to play games of my mobile phone
And if the teacher shouts I’m not allowed to moan
Must not run and play along the school corridors
And no pulling funny faces at the other choristers
When I ask a question I must raise my hand
Even when in Latin it’s impossible to understand
I have to fully button up my school shirt
Always keep the blazer on to hide all the dirt
Not supposed to throw objects at the head-boy
Be nice to your classmates and certainly don’t annoy
On no grounds can I fight or swear
Don’t attack the other kids with the set square
Need to pick my feet up so no scrapping only the floorboards
And certainly I’m not supposed to do rude doodles on the blackboards
I HATE SCHOOL……
Welcome to the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest #41!!
For some guidance, click a basic description here. Entrants assume all risks associated with poeming, reading, and laughing painfully.
Here are the specifics for this week:
Topic, topic; who’s got a topic? Ooh! I do; I do!
It’s Back to School! Thank you, Timmy. Now, next time let’s remember to raise our hands.
No teacher actually reads those 500-word essays, so keep the Length above 4 words and below 200. For those in the advanced math group, that’s 4<p<200, where p is poem and 4 is 4 and 200 is 200.
Teacher, should we Rhyme? If you wish, this occasion.
Just Make it terrible! The superintendent of all the area schools must feel compelled to visit and deliver a lecture on “Why One Never Poems Without Reason,” followed by a light refreshment of watered-down punch.
Naturally, this assignment must be rated appropriate for general audiences.
You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (September 6) to submit a poem.
Use the form below to remain anonymous for a week.
For a more social experience and immediate fame, include your poem or a link to it in the comments.
Mrs. Bird flapped up from her desk the instant Wil entered the office. “Oh, Wil!” she said, in a tone Wil had never heard from the woman before. “Oh, Wil!”
This, more than the sight of their rumpled neighbor, Mrs. Crandall, stopped Wil mid-step. Mrs. Crandall rose more slowly than Mrs. Bird, having never moved quickly for anything inedible in her life.
Both women, Wil realized, appeared concerned. No -sad. Wil sat. Fortune saw that a chair caught her, a coincidence that rarely occurred in her life. “W-what?” she croaked. “What’s wrong?”
Mrs. Bird came around the tall wall of her desk. Mrs. Crandall came around herself. The two filled the narrow office before Wil, though not in equal measure.
“Wil,” Mrs. Bird said. Wil looked up in rising panic. Not only had the stingy secretary never addressed her by her first name, Wil could not remember seeing Mrs. Bird without her desk besides the time they’d needed first aid last week. Not only had the stingy secretary never been so close, Wil could not remember Mrs. Bird’s tone and manner expressing anything besides irritation.
“Wil,” Mrs. Crandall echoed.
“We -” Mrs. Bird stopped, straightened. Wil watched her collect herself. “Mrs. Crandall just checked you out for the day.” In a brisk manner, the secretary turned to the woman beside her. Her usual disdain returned in a scowl of brow and purse of lips. Mrs. Crandall took no notice; she seemed preoccupied with the task of thinking. Mrs. Bird gave up. “She’s taking you to the hospital to see your mother.”
Wil started out of her reverie. What little color her face held left as she met the businesslike stare of the office administrator. Her mouth opened, but no words came.
The cold, blue, heavily painted eyes softened. The rest of Mrs. Bird’s face followed suit. “I’m sorry, Wil.” An arm twitched in a phantom impulse to provide comfort. “You’d -” she cleared her throat and tried again, “You’d better go.”
As neither girl nor dumpy woman moved, Mrs. Bird raised her voice. “I said, ‘You’re excused to go.'” She resisted the urge to push at them.
Mrs. Crandall shook her head somewhat. “Oh; right. Let’s go, Whale -erm, Wil.” She ambled over to the slight girl and helped Wil stand. Together, they left the office and headed down the stairs and common area to the outside door.
Mrs. Bird watched their progress out the office and school windows. After the old, idling minivan pulled away from the red-painted curb, she returned to the paperwork before her. A single, wet tear slid down a single, dry cheek and dropped to the page.
Mrs. Riles surveyed her unwilling pupils. Each one engaged in a personal style of avoiding attention: itching an imagined irritant, reading over his paper, or feigning interest in the unadorned walls. Eeny, meeny, miny, “Ms. Winters.”
Wil looked up; by every appearance surprised to be sitting in a classroom, let alone addressed by name. The reaction, in turn, unsettled her teacher enough to soften her tone. “Would you please read your composition, Ms. Winters?”
“Oh!” Wil scrabbled around her desk before successfully retrieving the small pile of papers sitting on top. Stumbling out of the seat and legs, she clumped up to the front of the room and turned to face her peers. She read over the top page, not seeing it; glanced back up at the sea of teenagers. One yawned. Most settled into positions of boredom. Reagan, two rows back and next to the wall, made an expectant gesture to continue whilst smiling her trademark smirk.
Wil smiled in return and resumed her task. The typed symbols resolved to readable English letters. “Harriet Tubman, Moses of America.”
*MRS. RILES!* the ancient loudspeaker on the wall crackled. Their school secretary, Mrs. Bird, never formed her requests as a question.
Mrs. R. did not hide her irritation. “Yes?”
*SEND WILHELMINA WINTERS TO THE OFFICE TO CHECK OUT.*
In case anyone thought to defy the blaring wall speaker, Mrs. Bird added *NOW!* She crackled off with a high screech.
Wil, her class, and the teacher winced; then took turns looking from one to the other to the other in surprise. “Well,” Mrs. R. finally concluded, “Get your -oh.” She saw that Wil had nothing waiting at her desk. “Erm -hand in your report, Ms. Winters, and we’ll continue this another time.”
Wil stood, uncertain.
“Wil?” Wil met her teacher’s eyes, and felt calmed by their focus. Mrs. R.’s features resolved to an unusually kind expression. “Wil, come here.” Clunking in her heavy boots and bumping the odd desk, Wil went to her teacher. “May I have your report, please?” Her hands obeyed. “Thank you.”
“Now,” Mrs. R. said, “I think you’d better go to the office. We’ll see you in two days.”
Wil nodded; found her voice. “Okay.” She made it to the door before thinking to add, “Thank you, Mrs. Riles.”
Her teacher, in answer, waved her on. She was already focused on selecting her next victim. Wil didn’t know what lay in store for her at the office, but felt a distinct relief at being rescued from her own oral report.
“Martin Luther King, Jr.,” read the boy at the head of the room. Although class had been in session for ten minutes; his audience yawned, fidgeted, dozed, or daydreamed.
Equally glassy-eyed, Wil blinked. Her eyes fixed on the white board behind the boy –Lucas? Most of her thoughts were miles away.
Lucas took the top paper of the pile he gripped and stuffed it, crinkling, to the back. He sighed and continued in a monotone, “Martin Luther King, Jr., original name Michael King, Jr., born January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.—died April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee…”
Wil’s head drooped. She longed for her book, nestled back home in her covers without her. She frowned in thought. No, she wished to be with her book in her bed.
“…Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968…”
In the pause he took to breathe, Mrs. Riles piped up. In unison, she and Lucas recited, “His leadership was fundamental to that movement’s success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other parts of the United States…”
Their impromptu act awakened a few students. A few tittered, realizing what Mrs. R. was doing. The laughter, more than his teacher’s synchronized recital, caused Lucas to stop and look up. Mrs. R.’s expression when he did so caused him to swallow. Hard.
“Miss -Mrs. Riles?” he stuttered. His peers watched, now alert.
His interrogator and their mutual instructor appeared amused, like a python enjoying a joke. “Would you like to tell me how I was able to read your report, word-for-word, from my phone?”
The snake’s victim shook his head and dropped his eyes to his pages; which, in turn, he dropped to rest against his legs. One sneakered foot brushed the other, and back.
“I think you’d better sit down. We can talk some more about this after class.”
Lucas nodded and shuffled back to his seat.
“Right,” Mrs. R. said in a brighter tone. “So… who’s next?”
Wil and her father hadn’t time nor thought for conversation. The old Winters sedan sped along at a rate Wil worried over, given its age. Not until a few blocks from school did she realize the tire wasn’t flat anymore.
“You fixed the car!” she exclaimed.
Rob grunted. Wil remembered that her father preferred one task at a time. He also preferred that task to never be talking. Still, she wanted to cheer him up some. “Good work,” she ventured, stealing a peripheral glance. His profile softened and the half-mouth she could see almost smiled.
They rode the final street in their former silence. Wil’s school loomed out of the morning grey. Rob tore toward its curb and parked next to an old patch of slush. Besides a few straggling teenagers arriving in similar fashion to Wil’s; the muddy, uphill patch of dead grass to the doors was empty.
“‘Bye, Dad!” She stole a kiss on her father’s cheek, caught her pullover on her seatbelt, and forgot to pull the door latch to open it. She was too busy extricating herself from belt and car to see her father’s quick, swallowed smile.
The door slammed behind her as he answered, “‘Bye, Mina.” She raced up the slippery lawn. Rob watched in tired bemusement before pulling away; he needed to get to work.
Not until Wil entered the school itself and made for her locker did she notice she’d forgotten her bag. Doing a quick about-face, she thanked whatever Being lived above that Mr. Saltz hardly cared if anyone even showed up to his class. English would be the only difficulty; they needed to bring their novel to read aloud.
“It’s not like half the class can read anyway…” she muttered. She stomped down the hall, preoccupied. Her left boot wheezed a soft *Eeeee* as she walked. Upstairs, left, straight she walked. Maybe Miss Riles will loan me a book. Formulating a future conversation in her mind, she turned and walked into the Math classroom.
And straight into her teacher. “Oh!” Mr. S. said, surprised.
Wil stopped dead. All eyes were on her and all the faces showed equal surprise to the teacher’s, but not for long. A snicker started somewhere and it soon spread to the rest of her peers.
Mr. S. appeared at a loss. He’d been interrupted mid-lecture by a student, and the other students seemed diverted. Wil took advantage of his distraction and made for the nearest empty spot. She sat and faced forward; every inch an attentive, responsible pupil.
Their teacher cleared his throat. He glanced back at his notes on the white board; unfortunately, he hadn’t written anything there yet. “Hmmm,” he said. His eyes fell on his packet on the desk. “Ah! Exponents!”
The lecture resumed; allowing the rest of the class to return to their usual, inattentive behaviors. Wil hoped she could manage the remainder of the day without drawing attention to herself. Given her experience, she doubted it.
I’ve been swamped lately. More than usual, I’m afraid.
I …may have taken a bit (a lot) onto my plate -a plate that was a bit (a lot) full to begin with. I believe I did so because I was bored, and/or may have finally had a good night’s sleep.
Besides this lovely blog that I love writing upon and the lovely people whose blog posts I actually do read, I’ve also been attending school. Of sorts. It’s called Pathways, and is like preschool for adults. This quarter (?) is on math (or, maths, for Brits) and has a teensy bit (a lot) of busy work each week.
Add a few life events like almost-everyone’s birthdays, a birthday party, and a baptism this Saturday.
Then sprinkle in a paid job I was doing but (perhaps fortunately) am not any longer.
Plus the children’s school is winding down.
Plus the ever-present duties of house and home (and now yard).
Plus caring for an at-home dice business that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about.
And, just for kicks, throw in a planned visit from our relative who has 8 children….
I’m not actually the Supermom sort. I’m not the Superanything sort; really, I’d settle on an edible chocolate ribbon for Best Example of a Flawed Human Being.
But I’m toast. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Even a bit ill.
I can’t help but look around at other people and wonder how they do it, especially those who work as full time teachers at my kids’ school and have children of their own. I asked one of their Vice Principals that question in jest. She laughed and said her kids tease her for running their house like her classroom.
-But that may be the answer I seek.
So, for reals, how do you run your household? Do you schedule the hours? Minutes? Especially when you have a job and/or children, was it all set up? Outlined? Assigned?
I really do want to know.
I sort of wrote things this week, and here they are: Wednesday, May 8: Questioned the legitimacy of personality tests and their appeal in “Are We Our Personality Types?”