Quarantine

Samson looked like was been hit by a garbage truck. Solomon looked like a skyscraper fell on him. Much like Wuhan, the Tanner family was on quarantine the past few weeks.

The bubonic plague. SARS. Coronavirus. Some amalgam of these illnesses struck our house last week. Wreaked havoc. Samson woke up with a fever. And, in his words, his tummy felt really, really, sick. He stayed home from preschool on a Monday. Then a Tuesday. Then a Wednesday. And so forth. The kid missed the entire week of school.

Solomon said he felt sick when he got off the bus last Wednesday. He spent Thursday and Friday at home too. The Coronavirus was spreading. It got Katie on Friday night. It’s only time before it takes me down.

It’s been good knowing you, for those of you that I know. And for those of you that I don’t? How in the name of Mao Tse-tung did you find this blog? And thanks for reading. And send help.

***

I guess this blog makes me a whistleblower? A dissident. Don’t tell the president. Or the Chinese government. They’ll shut me down.

I’m only kidding. Our symptoms aren’t so bad. The boys’ temperatures have been hovering around 99.5 degrees. And they haven’t vomited that much. Nothing to build an emergency hospital over.

We did finally call the doctor by the end of the week to see if we should bring the boys in to get checked out. We described the symptoms.

“I think it’s the Coronavirus,” I joked.

The nurse didn’t laugh.

“Are they peeing?” a nurse asked.

“They are peeing.”

“Then just keep watching them. We can’t really do anything for them. The boys might have a touch of the flu. Lots of fluids, okay?”

Lots of fluids. Okay.

Still, it did feel like we were living in quarantine. Can’t really leave the house. The boys have been sleeping all day. Watching Oddbods. Laying on Katie. Grumbling and being generally grumpy. All of us, mostly Katie and the boys, are going a little stir crazy. I continue to win bread the way I win bread. Race from one task to another. It’s always a busy week for me, because it’s always a busy week. But then I come home and find the family in various stages of stir-craziness. There’s only so much laying on a couch and watching Oddbods one can do before a person starts to lose it. I can only imagine what those poor folks in Wuhan or on that cruise ships are feeling.

I’ve been making jokes about the Coronavirus the past couple of weeks. My college students chuckle. They get it. Because they get large doses of social media. It’s amazing the way narratives emerge out of screens these days. They mesmerize and infect countless people. These are strange days. Fiction and fact blur in real time.

Critical literacy is, in part, understanding how texts are shaped by and shape social reality. Breaking apart the power dynamics in said texts. And twitter is a medium for a bazillion texts. And Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, whatever. People spend so much time mediating their existence through text. It seems increasingly important to me to earn how to make careful sense of the narratives and texts we find ourselves swimming in. Impeachment, Coronavirus, the Houston Astros, the changing climate. This information is, more often than not, mediated as it comes across our screens. What to do with these texts? That’s a good question.

***

I visited State College High School last week. I’ll lead a workshop for 11th and 12th graders there later this semester as part of a Spencer grant. My friend Erin and I got some money to support designing and studying anti-racist pedagogy. Our project is pretty cool. We use improv and social justice theatre to explore racism and whiteness in K-12 settings. Understand how race shapes and is shaped by text. Seems like a thing worth doing in this country at the moment.

Stage High is something. The school just underwent a massive renovation. The theatre teacher took me on a tour. She showed me the school’s main auditorium, the black box theatre, the scene shop, the costume shop, etc. I was blown away.

“You have a costume shop?”

“We have a costume shop.”

State High is a theatre teacher’s dream. I’ve seen lots of high schools in my day. A black box? A costume shop? Touring the school made me miss being a high school drama teacher. I won’t pretend that I don’t miss working with high school kids. Making theatre. Breaking down texts. Thinking together. Mostly, the work of connecting with and mentoring high school kids always felt satisfying. Felt right. I get a little of that as a college teacher, but not as much.

The grass is always greener. It’s easy to become frustrated by some aspect of any jobs. Idealize other job. I don’t know. I feel good about what I’m doing these days. I get to write. Get to think. Work at a branch campus of a major university. Still.

“Why don’t you apply to teach at State High?” a friend of mine asked. I’d just finished talking about how cool the school was.

I thought for a moment.

“I’m not sure I could handle going back to the hours,” I said. “It feels like quarantine.”

Teaching high school does feel like quarantine. I used to get to school at 6:00 AM and sometimes, because of the drama program, I wouldn’t leave until 10:30 or 11:00 at night. Monday through Friday. Sometimes Saturday and Sunday too. Being a high school theatre teacher is an enormous commitment of time and energy. There’s little room for anything else. Like tending to a sick family. Or writing memoirs. Designing and studying anti-racist pedagogy. Or even paying attention to my own needs as a living and breathing (for the moment) human being.

Anyway, I hope our quarantine breaks soon. The flu passes through. Or SARS. Or the Bubonic Plague. Or, if you’re an uncritical consumer of social media, the deadly Coronavirus. Not to be confused with Corona beer. Which is delicious with a lime.

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