Tag Archives: coronavirus

Puzzling Times

I don’t play games.  I’m a pretty reluctant participant to those ice breaking activities we all experience in professional development, the days we head back to school in the fall, and now even on the ever-constant Zoom meetings.  And I don’t own any jigzaw puzzles.

At least I didn’t.  Until last week when the constant sameness of the stay-at-home, work-at-home, play-at-home routine drove me in search of novelty–in the form of a jigsaw puzzle.

As a disclaimer, I did play games as a kid.  I did puzzles as a kid.  My own children played games and put puzzles together.  But game playing, as a family activity–as an adult activity is really not a part of my everyday life.

But there was a puzzle to purchasing a puzzle.  They are obviously in demand right now.  Amazon is delivering puzzles in July.  Target had none in stock.  But I did find one that I could order online at Barnes and Noble and pick up in the store near my house.  My husband thought I was crazy when I came home with the puzzle–but he’s a good sport so we cleared some space on the table (we each have a table as our home offices) and opened the box.

There’s something oddly soothing about looking through hundreds of tiny interlocking pieces in search of a straight edge.  It’s both mindless and intentional.  Stimulating and calming.  Purposeful and aimless.  We found ourselves shifting roles, one of us searching, one of us building and then trading.  Patterns began to emerge and all those bits of color, pieces of words, and abstract shapes began to take on meaning and become recognizable as parts of a bigger whole.

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I’m looking for that same sense of recognition to make sense of the disparate pieces that now constitute work and life during a global pandemic.  Shutting down and sheltering in place has been scary and stressful, but began with a sense of temporary.  As we stretch into the third month and looking to the future feels like looking into the brand new box of a 1000 random pieces, “normal” and whole feels so far away.

It was hard to grasp finishing the school year without being face to face with my students.  It’s harder still to imagine starting a new school year meeting my students through a computer screen.  Or teaching students in shifts and keeping them at arm’s length.  And maybe hardest of all, just not knowing what the next day, the next week, the next month will mean for all of us as we navigate so much unknown…with the threat of disease and death attached to all we don’t know.

So for now, I’m making sense of jigsaw puzzles while I am not able to make sense of the world.  We finished that first puzzle today, enjoying the satisfaction of setting those final pieces into place to complete the picture.

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New puzzles have been ordered and we’ll take this one apart tomorrow, careful to make sure that all the pieces get back into the box.  And we’ll offer it up to family and friends, giving someone else a chance to make sense of 1,000 pieces.

In these puzzling time, I’ll be doing some more puzzling.

Blackout Poetry: NPM20 Day 11

Thanks goodness for the National Writing Project…just when my inspiration was beginning to lag and a poem every day started to feel like a chore, this post arrived in my Twitter Feed. Blackout poetry–why hadn’t I thought of that?

So I grabbed the newspaper that arrives only on the weekend and was immediately drawn into an article about the only school in California that has not closed due to the coronavirus. I selected words that drew my attention, not really paying much attention to anything other than the fact that they called to me.

I started to arrange the words, grabbing one here, another there, combining others into phrases until I had a poem in front of me. And then I wondered…had I broken the rules of blackout poetry by rearranged the words rather than taking them in the order they appeared?

So I tried again–this time only using space as my poetic license. I haven’t taken the time to actually black out the rest of the text as I’ve seen done before…and I did doodle a laptop…a connection to the now of schooling with no schools.

So here’s the photo of the blackout process…and both versions of the poetry. Does one speak to you louder than the other? What meaning emerges from these selected words?

Holdout  (version 1)

Virus accelerates

U.S. now closed

 

10,520 schools

shuttered education

disinfected

sanitized

students stay home

 

Essential

social distancing

tangled clusters

walnut trees

 

generations

shelter-in-place

Civil War

 

None of us knows when

school will resume

®Douillard

 

10,520 Holdout (version 2)

accelerates

stay home

essential schools

students shuttered

 

Civil War

walnut trees

education

 

generations

shelter-in-place

 

virus

disinfected

sanitized

 

social distancing

tangled clusters

 

none of us knows when

U.S.

now closed

 

school will resume

®Douillard

 

Quarantine Walk Found Poem: NPM20 Day 7

After being stranded indoors all day yesterday, I couldn’t wait to head out this morning between the raindrops for a neighborhood walk. As I walked I was thinking about the National Writing Project invitation to create a found poem to share this week. Only minutes into my walk I started to notice words and phrases, I collected them via my phone camera and compiled them into a found poem when I arrived home (only slightly dampened by the next round of showers).

When I showed it to my husband, he immediately asked, “How do you read this?” wondering if there was a right order to follow the words. I ask each reader to find their own path, read your own meaning into this text. And maybe, you’ll also consider creating your own found poem (with photos or not).

What I Keep Learning: NPM20 Day 4

This piece in progress was inspired by What I Learned this Week by Angela Narcisco Torres. While it doesn’t yet feel finished to me, it does have some ideas that I am happy to have captured.

What have you been learning as we all do our best to shelter-in-place? Those of you who are teachers, what are you learning as you work to support students through some kind of remote learning?

What I Keep Learning

What matters when your students are names on a screen

Rather than physical beings that you see and interact with each day?

When you hear the echoes of their voices 

Through typed comments

That pop up continuously throughout what used to be the school day.

Quiet students are still quiet

Rarely leaving a trail of their thoughts or needs

And body language is no longer

A text to be read

The chatterers still chat

Loud and long, filling my inbox

With every possible question, ‘sup, and emoji 

They tap their chat to me, to each other, to themselves

Filling empty ears with imagined sounds of school

Assignments matter now more than ever

I see the ways the mundane

Assignment-for-assignment-sake

Deflates, dissipating energy

Leaving us all unsatisfied and wrung out

Like that washcloth left on the edge of the sink

We need learning opportunities that connect us

Build on experiences and passions

Each student holds close

Allowing ideas to soar and words to take flight

Writing matters, that’s what I keep learning

®Douillard

Free Organic Lemons: NPM20 Day 3

I’ve been writing poetry every day this week. I’ve written with my students, on Zoom calls with my National Writing Project colleagues, and in response to poetry shared on our San Diego Area Writing Project SDAWPoetry padlet.

I try to keep my poetry on the lighter side for sharing with my students, but find myself wallowing in the fear and uncertainty of pandemic living in the spaces where adults are writing. My energy lags at the end of the week, the crush of video conferences building throughout the week, the lack of time for thoughtful lesson planning looking me in the eye as the weekend beckons, and all my other responsibilities slipping and sliding as I keep juggling the balls, trying to keep them all in play.

I’ve discovered that a quick walk down the street is now a necessity, an escape from the never-ending screen time and a welcome break from the hard, wooden kitchen chair that has become my home office/classroom/work space. I’m starting to recognize my neighbors now that I spend so much time at home!

On today’s second jaunt down the hill, we noticed a sign…a sign that provoked a very different poem than the one I had contemplated first thing this morning.

The morning prompt, after some 4×4 breathing, was to take this line for a walk: It is possible that things will not get better…

Free Organic Lemons

It is possible that things will not get better

and then I saw the sign:

Free Organic Lemons

and I read

hope

community

possibilities

When life gives you lemons

lemonade is on the horizon

Look for the signs

®Douillard

SOLC Day 31: On the last day…

I thought I would have something pithy to say on my 31st consecutive post. Instead, I offer the poem I wrote (virtually) with my students today. Our mentor poem today was William Carlos Williams The Red Wheelbarrow.

The Black Crow

Today’s quarantine inspiration

depends upon

the black crow

in the sun-dappled tree

framed by the endless

blue sky

next to the empty

parking lot

®Douillard

And a student version by S:

My shoes 

So many steps

I take 

They may be

muddy 

Beside the concrete 

porch

I will miss writing my daily slice–but have committed to writing and posting a poem a day for the month of April. Maybe some of the rest of you will join me!

SOLC Day 28: Today is Saturday

Today is Saturday. I have to remind myself since all the days feel similar when work and home have become the same place. Saturday means not setting my alarm clock, not settling myself into my working space (at the kitchen table), and a yummy Saturday breakfast made by my husband (today was french toast, bacon, and fruit).

Since my beach walks are on hold for now, a neighborhood walk was in order. But it’s Saturday. So I talked Geoff into walking with me…and he talked me into walking to CVS so he could play Lotto (an essential task…for him).

I’m working to pay more attention to the photographic possibilities on these suburban treks. And I took a number of photos along my way. (I didn’t carry my camera, instead depending on my phone camera for the shots.)

It was coronavirus-empty today. Traffic much lighter than usual and not many people out and about. I couldn’t help but notice the sign waver guy across the way, perched on the fire hydrant. I’m glad he has work and will get paid, but it made me wonder about which jobs people are still heading out for each day. Is the iPhone repair place still open for business? Does the sign waver make a difference in its business?

So what will Sunday bring? Another neighborhood walk, some time spent reading, some last minute lesson planning (getting ready to launch a month full of poetry reading and writing), time on the stationary bike while I watch some Netflixs (i just discovered the new season of Ozarks), and more time than I want to spend at home. I’m desperately missing errands, impromptu adventures, and the beach. But I’m staying home, even though today is Saturday.