I thought after the arrival of 2020, there would be a new order of sublimity, a year of coolness so to speak. After all, look at its numbers so round and all, a resemblance of a sleek European sports car. I was expecting that it would be the beginning of a new decade and great new adventure. There were all signs of endless possibilities with all merriment and revelries in Time Square ringing in the New Year and then came Valentine. In early March I even had the opportunity to return to Tampa after years of being away to present at BARTesol’s Tech Day. Everything was splendid until, without much warming, suddenly the world went spinning out of control with the arrival of Corona virus infamously known as Covid-19. As we know, it is a vicious one spreading like fire and immediately filling hospitals with infected patients and the numbers of the loss of loved ones are a staggering statistic. There was serious widespread panic. A pandemic was declared, and immediately almost every border was forced to lockdown and people quarantined.
Since then my husband and I have been living our new normal…
I can vividly remember the day Covid-19 entered Florida. Immediately our college, together with other schools all over the country, made the drastic move to transfer all our traditional classroom teaching to remote instruction. Our hair was on fire! Many of us were in the same predicament. We were not prepared for online teaching considering the very little time we were given to prepare. But alas, this is teaching in 2020, health and safety have to take precedence.
A day after the college’s announcement, I was glued in front of my computer to attend a series of teacher training to help me transfer all my six classes online. I felt like I was in a marathon, challenging myself in crossing the digital divide, facing a steep learning curve navigating the unchartered waters of remote instruction. I have learned how to use Zoom for my virtual meetings with my students and maximized the benefits of Canvas to build a digital home base for my courses. Despite some fears, trepidation, and self-doubt at first, I courageously jumped in and stepped up to the plate. I took it one day at a time, proving that there is nothing impossible or improbable to a willing spirit.
It has been five months since then. I sailed through the strait of Spring term and Fall term mastering the Summer term without losing my faith, optimism, and sense of humor. We in the college will continue to conduct our remote instruction in the Fall term as the corona virus remains to be a threat to many people’s health and safety here in our county. While this may mean possibly spending another four months in my fortress of solitude (without the obligatory cape), which I call my situation room or colloquially AKA home office, I have seen myself slowly yet steadily learning to adapt and overcome in my new 2020 normal.
Before Covid-19’s eruption, my participation in teacher training was mostly swayed by in-service compliance or at times self-serving motivators that prompt my appearance. You see, glorious financial incentives were my Achilles heel (as the college usually pays us for attending personal development training programs), or resume enhancement spurred my desire to continuously grow in my field. However, with the compulsory creation of the 2020 new normal, being able to adjust and acclimate to the new way and concept of doing things is not just expanding one’s horizons and advantageous for educators, but I would say also righteous necessity.
Since Covid-19 erupted in the first quarter, I have clocked at least 16 of teacher training hours. While it has some pluses, let me be the first one to say that sitting for 3-4 ZOOMING hours training is something I find more arduous than driving to the brick-and- mortar and getting jiggy. Of course, this has been my personal experience, and it could just be me.
I never realized how exhausting it could be until I attended my first training for 3 straight hours via Zoom. Eventually my eyes were twitching from staring at my computer while I continuously listened to a talking head. Do not get me wrong, the presenter was brilliant. However, the fact remains that the experience could be isolating as many of my colleagues could attest, who like me, were nowhere to be seen behind dark boxes with our cameras off and microphones muted. Needless to say, as time passed by my glutinous maximus also began to go numb along with my brain. And, it did not take long before my head began spinning and searching for an excuse to move around and escape from my imposed Zoom lockdown.
I have got better since then. Like anything else, the more I attend different training, the better I get in adapting and coping with the situation we find ourselves in the new 2020 normal.
Living with Less
With the continuous escalation of Covid-19 cases here in our county, wearing a mask has become our new normal every time we need to venture out. Our outdoor activities have been limited to trips just around the neighborhood or nearby parks to add grease to our creaky bones and get some sun and fresh air. All our travel plans this year have been deferred and supplanted by simply feeling content in bracing the beautiful nature we are surrounded by here at home. We have also learned to be satisfied with our home cooked meals avoiding the perils of restaurant visits and dining. Even our groceries and shopping have all been done online and home delivered, hoping that all these efforts will minimize our exposure to the virulent 2020 contagion.
Difficult? Sure, it is.
Like many people, we miss close human interactions. The freedom to move around without social distancing. The certitude of a steady job and good health.
Because of the difficulty of getting in close contact with other people without fear of getting infected, my husband and I have relied and depended a lot more on each other. On days I do not have to work early in the morning, we start our day by sitting on our porch with my husband sipping his favorite (Columbian) brew of coffee while I eat my breakfast. We soak in the beautiful landscape that behold our eyes (never mind the Florida alligators under the water), enjoy the noisy conversations of our feather friends passing by, and simply embrace the warm summer 2020 breezes.
It has been our routine to talk about mundane things, usually morning headlines that, of course, never escape the meticulous eye of my political junkie-husband. There are days when our conversations turn to the irony of which is a real political story, and which is a Saturday Night Live skit. There are also days when our preference or our version of reality leans toward the apparent doppelganger or the comedy side of it all in 2020.
Living with a Grateful Heart
Whatever limitations Covid-19 have brought us, we faced them with a grateful heart. I remember the morning my husband came to me begging for a haircut. The truth was he already attempted to do it on his own but had fouled it up, and now he was at my mercy. It was my first time to use a hair clipper, which I was a little bit skeptical to even hold at first. I have not been an expert in cutting anything, so much more cutting hair, so you could imagine the pressure I felt. The good thing was my husband was ready for the worst. So, I took the plunge. I cut his hair while watching a You Tube tutorial in-between. You could picture how it turned out. I will not even brag about the finished haircut. Let us just say, it was beginner’s luck that my husband got up from his chair without a drop of blood spilled.
Since then he has come up to me for his regular haircut proclaiming the $ we saved has paid for “My Clippers” not his mine. He does this either because he has no choice, or he is slowly getting comfortable with his “anything goes wild & crazy” hairstyle. Whatever it is, it has made me discover another hidden crazy bone I never thought even existed in me. You are right, I am one fearless woman (wink, wink), or is it just 2020 lockdown lunacy? Who knows…
Last week my husband and I also had our first taste of telehealth, or as my sophisticated husband likes to call it a virtual visit. If that does not sound familiar, it is the new way of meeting your doctor or health practitioner via teleconferencing. While it was not the most ideal annual check-up that we are used to, it was the most viable option we have right now. So, we took the chance and plunged in. Thankfully, I have not had a lot of urgent health concerns which permitted me zooming in and out of my doctor’s computer screen with little concern. The consultation only took me 30-minutes. Of course, it does not mean that my husband and I are discharged from our regular lab work. We surely need to complete them. However, until we feel comfortable to undergo all our medical routines, I guess we just have to take care of ourselves right now and stay healthy.
I have also never been in-touched with so many of my old friends and former classmates until this 2020 quarantined period. One by one they have showed up in my social media saying hello. Mind you, some of these people I have not seen nor heard from for decades except on what they have posted on their social media page, so you can envision my excitement when some of them eventually decided to meet through video conferencing to revisit our friendship and catch up. It is funny how quickly I recognized the friends for which I have planted deep connections with because we clicked instantaneously like we have not been separated by time and distance one whit.
I must say, catching up with family and old friends via online has become a way for me to compensate for the close human interaction that I miss during this pandemic. And, at times when I feel the need for my own personal “me-time,” I revel in the quietness of the day while I read a book (I’m on my last few chapters of M. Obama’s Becoming), play with my brushes and watercolors, and or watch a feel good TV show (my recent favorite is 1960’s Leave It to Beaver & Disney’s streaming of Hamilton with subtitles for rap deciphering) that fill my heart with optimism and surely add up to my happy vessel. Yes, I realized through it all, or should I say I was pleasantly reminded in 2020, that we humans are adaptive and resilient if we are nothing at all.
“When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.” – Jaeda Dewalt