Lockdown: Chloro-fill me with useful knowledge

The problem with dedicating a couple of hours each night to writing is that even if your nightly schedule allows for it, unless you give up something else, there’s really no time to waste. Say you’re a little tired of sitting at your desk when the workday is done. If you want to lie in your comfy bed (not that my bed is comfy, but it’s comfier than the desk chair) for a bit, you’re pushing back stuff like dinner, chores, TV vegging, and other important pieces of daily existence.

Add the occasional disruption to nightly life, such as a bi-weekly trip to the laundry, and you really can’t mess around.

Of course, I’ve been mostly in messing around mode since March 19. You can see how much of a pain I am to myself just from that.

I got more of that half-terrible, half-restful sleep Monday night, the sort where I fall asleep before putting myself properly to bed, then wake up to hit the bathroom (or something), then put Darth Vader on my face and get four(ish) hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was stupid.

EDIT: I actually got up and hopped into my car for a drive to the beach. It was a Honolulu winter morning, with no real cloud cover but muted early-morning sunlight. The water was very cool but not quite cold, and there was almost nobody in the water when I jumped in, but there were a lot of swimmers when I got out.

As I might have mentioned, I had four hours of vacation scheduled Tuesday, but there was a nine o’clock staff meeting via Zoom, and I hate to miss those, especially since we’re going through the early stages of strategic planning, and I know this is strange, but this kind of thing wakes up in me all kinds of good feelings. It’s like the every-six-year accreditation process, which I have to say I also rather enjoy.

I think they’re both a bit like making resolutions at the start of every year. Evaluate oneself (not the year) and make plans for improvement. Then set those things in motion, maybe. Reason for optimism, not matter how many of these things resulted in nothing all the years past. Maybe nothing good ever came of strategic planning before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen this time. This time for sure.

I’m being sincere, because even if nothing tangible or meaningful happens, there’s value in the process. I know many of my former teacher colleagues would disagree, and they’re entitled, but to consider self-reflection only valuable if there are results is to miss the value of the reflection itself. As someone who writes for an audience of himself just to sift daily revelations from the profundity of mundania, I’m not here for this thinking.

Too lazy to look up whether mundania is a word. It might be mundanity. Mundania is most likely a bit of wordplay from Piers Anthony, who uses it in one of his titles.

It’s also possible I just groove on the strategic planning because I miss teaching, and accreditation (and other long-term planning) is one of the most collegial professional aspects of the job. I always say writing is a lonely business, but in some ways teaching is just as lonely. I taught for sixteen years and my bosses saw my actually doing my work maybe twenty times, and only for a few minutes at a time. You miss so much of my best stuff if you don’t see me for an entire class period.

Real classroom management happens in little spontaneous moments, and as the sum of these moments. You can’t see the sum if you stick around for only fifteen minutes. Well you can, but you won’t see what I do to make it happen.


So yeah. I may have been the only person leaving non-question comments in the Zoom chat. I left two, but the first was a joke about the CEO.

I needed some rest after the meeting (these things take a lot out of me, even if I’m not a vocal participant). First, I took care of some emails, then I took a short nap. A glorious, peaceful, restful nap.

As my vacation time approached the halfway mark, I forced myself up to take care of that stupid wheel lock key issue. I looked up wheel lock keys on Amazon, saw the kind of info I needed in order to get the part I wanted, measured the lug nuts on my car (it was a challenge because all I had was yardsticks, and the nuts are recessed in the hub cap, and I thought I probably needed metric measurements as well as standard, and none of my yardsticks had metric units.

I drove to the auto parts store in my hood and stared at the stuff in the aisle. I was lost. I asked for help. I told the woman what I needed, including measurements and the fact that my lug nuts were aftermarket, six-spline nuts. She said she had a few wheel lock keys and would go out to the lot with me to make sure the one she had in mind would fit.

Yeah, the Amazon listings were super helpful in guiding me toward the right purchase, but bless those merchants: they don’t come with you to make sure the thing you’re buying actually fits your car.

All that trouble for an eight dollar purchase, but I have what I need now, so I can finally go ahead with the rest of the car stuff.

And that’s the story of how it takes me four hours to run a thirty-minute errand. When you know yourself, you know an unpleasant task needs built-in procrastination time, plus time to psyche yourself up to get into a store and talk to people.

When I sat down to work, I had a few loose ends to chase down, then helped a colleague with editing stuff. It needed help for sure, and I had to get up and look at other stuff a couple of times. There were a few instances of complicated wording.

I think I did okay, although sometimes I wonder if these directors of research centers know how difficult it can be to write something meaningful on their behalfs. Behalves. Hm.

Dang it. That one I did look up, and m-w.com doesn’t offer a plural form. I’m declaring this my poetic license to use either one.

I was seriously dragging, so I took another short nap and it really did the trick. Got up and did all the laundry-prep stuff and the chores I neglected in my lazy time and finally got to bed at about half past midnight. Ugh. Set the alarm but overslept anyway and I was an hour later than I wanted for the laundry. But I’m here.

EDIT: Actually, breakfast was a two-burrito breakfast combo from McD’s, consumed in my car before the sun came up at Ala Moana. The pie was a late-morning snack because breakfast was so early and burned through pretty quickly. Breakfast was a small slice of pie, eaten during the Zoom meeting. I turned video off when I ate but turned it back on when I wasn’t shoving food into my face. Lunch, picked up from Pancakes and Waffles on my way home from the auto parts store, was a Monte Cristo (it was good but not great; I’ve had better). Dinner was a cheeseburger deluxe from the same spot, hours later and cold, but after my short nap, it was what I needed. It was a lot of bread, so I ate it open-faced, with a knife and fork.

Ali and I texted a bit in the evening. She sent me a funny meme about how what teachers teach in the classroom has no real-world application. It misses the mark, but it’s still funny. I didn’t even get the joke at first, because of course the stuff we teach in the classroom has all kinds of real-world value. You may not be asked about chlorophyll in your job interview, but understanding how plants make their own food and how humans are dependent on them for oxygen is far more important for the human species than whether or not First Local Bank wants you to be their quality assurance gal.

Anto and I traded a few texts. Casual catch-up. Penny texted to say she’s on episode seven of Ted Lasso (which you should defnitely watch, whether or not you have an Apple TV+ subscription).

And the world keep on turning
And the sun keep on burning
And the children keep learning
How to grow up big and strong

Daily reminder: leave a comment if you want someone to connect with in the daunting, doldrummy days of pandemic. Light at the tunnel’s end, sure, but it’s still a long way off.

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