Looking back, I think the moment I realized that this — the COVID situation was going to be a big deal was going to spring break people were talking about it and it was finally starting to hit the US and it was kind of: okay, this might be a big deal, but you know, we don't really know yet. And then while I was still on spring break all of our classes got canceled, so I actually I came home for break so I didn't really bring a lot of my stuff I guess because I was I was fully planning on moving back up north to Houghton. Then while I was still on break, the whole world went crazy and all classes got canceled. And everyone was kind of wondering like, “okay, what do we do now?” So you have for me that was probably the moment where I realized it was going to be a big deal. I knew it was a big deal like in other parts of the world beforehand. Because I've been following what was going on in China, but like that way when classes got canceled that was kind of like, okay, this is — this is pretty significant. And as far as how things are going right now, I actually got I got a job. I got an internship earlier this month, which I'm very happy for, because I know a lot of people are unemployed. It's it's actually an internship with the construction company. So I'm now technically classified as like an essential worker. Because I work at a construction site now, which it's a pretty rough job, pretty new experience, but I'm very grateful but to be employed cuz I know a lot of people are not.
This week has been particularly difficult because of what's happened in the news. It's like multiple stories in the news of horrific horrific violence and brutality against Black people in our country and this headline of George Floyd and I couldn't bring myself to watch more than like a little bit of the video with the police officer with his knee on his neck suffocating him and murdering him. This is all with other examples in just the last weeks with Breonna Taylor as well, and Ahmaud Arbery and as somebody who is white, you know, there's a lot of weight and responsibility. So, you know knowing that there's a lot to be done and where to begin and I have resources so I know how to take actions. I'm somebody who's dedicated to this. At my current school I serve on a committee that's trying to do anti-racist work. Anyways, I'm just thinking about everybody in my life who is Black American, a person of color. So it feels like obviously we've been here before with so many other cases before but this feels different because of the fact that this is happening in this pandemic. I think is. One, It's like ‘Here we go again.’ This is so awful, it was so egregious, the ten minutes of a knee on a neck. But I think there's something else that's going on here, which is the Black community has also been so hard hit by COVID-19. Obviously in Detroit we've seen how that has played out. And so it's already a time of extreme mourning and loss in that community and a time when you don't really get to mourn the loss collectively in the way that we traditionally do because it's a risk to other people's Health to gather for funerals and Memorial services on top of that the number of people who have filed for unemployment and are waiting on checks to arrive from the government and so much economic despair. It's like everything is happening at once and it's explosive.
I work in a residential foster home. We house about forty children who have behaviors that are too extreme for a typical foster home to manage. I worked there for about a year-and-half now, so it seems like a long time. On Thursday I put in my notice when I was leaving, so June 30th is going to be my last day with the kids so that by July 14th, I'm ready to move. So the kids all know about it, that makes me less stressed because then it's not some secret I'm keeping from them. I've told them I was leaving for grad school since February when I was interviewing just so that if I did get in that they would be prepared for me to go. And I thought would be a really easy transition out. But I'm gonna miss my kids. They definitely get on my nerves. A few of them have definitely punched me in the face before, but they are also my little babies, and it's weird seeing people go from just a complete total mess because of their trauma obviously, and then grow into someone who's just coping, functional, able to have good relationships, knows what a healthy relationship looks like, can have a conversation with you, can ask difficult questions without screaming or punching you in the face. So even though I've only been on that unit for about six months, I'm still going to miss them. So I'm still nostalgic about that.
We have a six-year-old boy who I have been trying to do the online schooling with. Thankfully, he's been pretty receptive to it. But you can tell it's just lacking, not by anybody's fault, I feel like as much as it shouldn't have this pandemic took us all by surprise. So I really genuinely feel like we're all just doing the best that we can with what we have. This teacher's been a real Lifesaver. She gives really detailed lesson plans, and has really open and free with her communication. I've never had a hard time trying to get to her. I've been home with my son since March 13th. I have only left three times to go grocery shopping. But other than that, it's just been us in these four walls. I did find out that I am pregnant, and I had my first doctor's appointment yesterday where I found out it's twins. So I will now be due in November instead of December and all I'm thinking about is when the second wave happens. I don't know if my husband will be allowed in the hospital with me. I don't know if I'll have to be by myself, but I figure that's just stuff I can worry about later.
I live in Saginaw. I am three blocks from the Tittabawassee River what happened this week with the Floods with the Dam's breaking and then heading down through Midland and then into Saginaw have been horrific the devastation and the damage around here is unbelievable. We were very lucky that like I said, we were three blocks from the river and it did not flow our way. So we were incredibly lucky. I have friends in Sanford that we're lucky did not have house damage, they were right on the lake. But unfortunately, she said she watched a lot of her neighbors houses float away and that was hard. I have many co-workers here that are in the area that have had to evacuate move their families, but everybody's safe. One of the good things is there was no deaths and no injuries from these floods but a lot of damage a lot.
It's May 16, my 62nd birthday today. Today I want to talk about one of the side benefits of the — well, maybe not side benefits. But one of the benefits of this pandemic is that it's brought life down to its core, to a simpler life. I want to talk about the simpler life. First of all, I want to talk about entertaining. So last night for my birthday and two of my friends who had a birthday this week. I had them over. And we entertained by having a fire in our backyard and a little portable fire pit. We have had this fire pit for a couple of years and we've used it more this year than we ever have before. Before, it never seemed good enough to have people over just to sit around that fire. It seemed like I'd have to have an event I'd have to orchestrate more, but it was so simple and so good last night these two couples came over. They brought their own chairs, they brought their own beer. We sat around six feet apart around that fire and we just had good conversation and watched the fire and then the sun went down and they went home and it was just a lovely evening.
I'm an Episcopal priest in East Lansing Michigan. And one of the things that I did last week was do a social distancing wedding. The couple, I had been counseling and planning to do like a normal wedding for them back in coming up in June. Um, they just decided they couldn't wait and you know to think about waiting as long as a year felt like it was too long for them and they asked why don’t I just do it. Well, I'm not allowed in my church building right now by my Bishops so we stood in the front porch or the back porch of the church and the Sun was shining and we found a little patch of flowers and the bride and her kids and the groom stood in front of the church and their Witnesses were socially distanced and I was socially distanced and they made their promises. And we set up a Zoom link for their friends and family. So the friends and family were able to observe the ceremony and then they were married. They're buying a house this week, are getting ready to set up their life together. And the joke was back in the beginning when they were planning their reception. They said “Oh, let's just let's just do it with Arby's, we'll just bring in Arby's” Well, they went through the drive-through and got Arby's for their wedding supper. So I talked to them yesterday and they're doing well and feeling a little a little weird but getting ready to pack their stuff up and buy their new house and start their new life even in the midst of this very strange time with so much fear and death. There was a joy and a new commitment to a New Life.
With Elementary and Middle School, it's like so many students like over 400 students that I see over the course of a week and I get to know students and I know their names and I know them collectively as classes, as groups, and the silver lining for the remote learning for me has been the kind of individualized connections I'm making with students where they share their — you know, I will post a lesson. I'm not doing synchronous. Everything is asynchronous at the moment. I'll post a lesson at the beginning of the week and they'll share a photo or a video of their work with me or they'll record their voice and then I can record my voice and give a comment back and sort of tailoring it to individual students and their families and seeing kids in their homes where they are just kind of their different parts of their personality have come out. So I've really enjoyed that. But I am becoming a bit fatigued as the weather is getting nicer and I mean everything is like a little bit of reinventing what I teach, what my lessons look like, what makes the most sense. I want it to be accessible. I want students who don't have the best technology access to be able to accomplish this. I want the screen only to be used as a prompt to get students away from the screen and be highly creative that way. I want it not to be super stressful on families. So I've been trying to do lessons where the whole family can participate it could be a son and a mother doing the theater activity together. A child doing it by him or herself siblings a group of four siblings being able to do the activity together and. Yeah, it's been it's been interesting. I have enjoyed some parts and other things, I'm it's just it's having to recreate our jobs. So that's that's tricky and just when you get used to one thing and feel good about it, like the learning platform one of them that we're using at our school. I love it, and it sounds like we might be moving away from that for next year. So having to relearn technology, but that's okay. We're adaptable we will figure it out.
As you guys are talking about, we are living through historic times, and our lab at Michigan State is working on a project where we’re collecting oral histories from across the state of Michigan to kind of document this as it happens in real time. So who are you asking? We’re really looking for - we want to get perspectives from really everyone we can. [….] So far we’ve heard from a couple people who have recovered from COVID-19. We’ve heard from teachers, who are having to figure out how to navigate this new distance learning situation. We’d love to hear from, young know, small business owners. What are they doing, how are they navigating what I know is a hard economic time? We want to hear from really everybody. Part of the project is these little mundane things that feel really small. But when you collect data from everybody, it turns out to be very interesting. So for instance, two weeks ago it was a very nice beautiful weekend and I was out in my backyard gardening, and my neighbor was also in their backyard gardening, and we talked over the fence a little bit. And I realized it was the first time I had spoken to someone who wasn’t my husband in over a month. It seems like a mundane story, but when you get all these little stories from people across the state, you really get a picture of how people’s lives are being affected right now. And so what is the goal of the end product of this project? So I’m part of the sociolinguistics lab, which studies how language changes and how social factors influence language. So one of the questions I’m interested in is, how does being socially isolated from people change how you talk? How does connecting to people via the internet change how you talk? You know we’re already seeing - there’s a bunch of new terms. COVID-related and isolation-related terms that are entering people’s vocabularies. So it’s already happening. […] How have you been encouraged by engaging in this project? Thank you for asking that. It has been — you know, being in social isolation can be difficult. But hearing from people across the state, both stories of solidarity, that other people are going through similar things and of the creativity and the resilience of people across the state has been…