I Don’t Mean to Alarm You

Why yes, I have been working out. Thanks for asking.

And I don’t mean to alarm you, but yes, I probably could pick you up and throw you over a mountain. Arnold Schwarzenegger? More like Sam Built-Like-A-Freight-Train-E-Negger. Better watch out, Jack. Or Jill. Or Hiram. How am I supposed to know what your name is?

Seriously, though. I’ve been working out. A friend of mine asked me to start attending a gym with him. Virtually. You know. So we don’t get Covid and die. So I’ve been spending about 45 minutes each day doing push-ups or lunges or crunches or whatever. I’m not very good at these moves. My form is terrible. And I sweat too much. And really, I don’t look much difference. My arms are not pythons. My stomach is not a six-pack. But I do feel a little stronger. A little healthier.

We’re almost a year into this Godawful pandemic. I’ve spent too much time at my desk. Staring at my computer. I had six consecutive hours of Zoom meetings the other day. I’d rather get a root canal.

So I know that spending 45 minutes a day sweating is a good thing. Would I rather be playing basketball? Yes. But I guess lunges will do.


Spring semester started this week. Well, the week I posted this. I always write these things one week in advance.

I’ve been teaching virtually for almost a year. Yuck and yuck. I’ll admit that teaching online is becoming a little more intuitive for me. But that doesn’t mean I like it. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss being with people. I miss it desperately. The most enjoyable part of being an education professor, for me, is being with students. Traveling to schools together. Being around kids. Being around other teachers. I miss the energy of schools. And of college campuses. Nothing new here. I’m just saying what I’ve been saying for a year.

I’m really sick of the pandemic. Like, really sick of it. Like, hit my over the head with a hammer sick of it. I want it done. Gimme that vaccine. Shoot it into my eyeball if you have to. I want my boys to get out into the world. I want to get out into the world. Do something different. Get away from the screen. I’ve been staring into the vacuum too long. Smiling and nodding at tiny faces in little boxes on my screen. Staring at the green dot on my computer. Hal, is that you? I’m ready to pull Hal’s plug. Hit him in the CPU with a hammer and let him drift away into space.

That’s a 2001 Space Odyssey reference.


So yes, I could probably lift a bus and throw it at you now. And when the ‘lay-days’ walk by, they shout “hubba hubba.” I’m a real Adonis. A specimen of masculinity. Ripped like a pair of jeans you’d purchase in the late 90’s. I’d suggest you avoid fighting me. There’s no telling what all of this muscle mass I’ve been building might do. Its got a mind of its own.

Here’s a thought. I really miss playing basketball. It has been so long since I played regularly. I ran in an old man game a few years ago. In Penn State’s rec center. With faculty and a few students. They always played shirts and skins. I hate being skins. Talk about flab. But I do love running up and down the court. Making a crisp pass. Setting a pick. Snagging a rebound. That’s exercise. Burns me out better than lunges or crunches or push-ups or whatever. And there’s something about a group of people running the floor together. Energies and flows and rhythms. The smart scholars I get to work with call this affect. I miss entering into those affective fields. God knows it’s hard to feel that sort of thing on Zoom.

It’s those energies and flows and rhythms that matter to me in classrooms, too. That’s one of the reasons I’ll never be convinced that digital learning can capture everything that is important about school. About learning. The body matters as much as the mind. The energy as much as the material. That is true of exercise. And true of school.

So, in sum. I want the pandemic over. Really bad. And I don’t mean to alarm you. But I’m probably strong enough to lift the U.S. Capitol over my head, twirl it on my finger, and send it shooting into space like a basketball leaving my muscular wrist.

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