There are infinite types of sickness, loosely defined as the act of being affected by illness, physical or mental. Sick can run the gamut from needing to take a day off after working in the hot sun too long to gathering the wagons and making your last wishes known. It is sniffles. It is the inability to slow down your brain even though that’s the only thing you want. It is cancer. It is the unwillingness of your heart to continue beating. It is certainly this Voldemort affliction we live in fear of today but dare not speak of. “I’m sick” is both something you tell your toddler on a Saturday morning when your headache means you don’t feel like getting up at 6 am and the first line over coffee when you don’t know how to tell your mom that some personified, potentially terminal demon is threatening your very existence. I’ve had these conversations, both of them. The latter one is disturbing as it starts with nausea and ends with tears. Sick, if I may give it a personality and use it as a proper noun, is scary because it almost always brings its tacky cousin Pain along for the joyride. You never know about Pain. Will he leave as soon as he gets vamped by a wicked city woman or will he stay way past his welcome? There’s your loosely veiled I Love Lucy reference. Pain and Sick are the ultimate villain tag team. The Joker was a bad dude. But, when The Joker and Catwoman joined forces, look out. There’s no defeating Cesar Romero and Julie Newmar. So, being sick is scary. There’s only one thing more terrifying – being the person who takes care of the person who is sick.
Columns & Editorials
It seems the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Texas and the rest of the nation has caused education administrators to rethink what school is going to look like in the Fall. Social distancing, the wearing of masks, the need for gloves, and proper sanitation and cleaning of classrooms may take a back seat to virtual learning, once again.
When we were children, we were, the majority of us, indoctrinated into a meat and potatoes world. A meal wasn’t a meal without some form of red meat and a root vegetable. I could go on and on about the role the government played in creating a post WWII food pyramid that shouted praises of what we had at our disposal during this unprecedented yet unpublicized foot shortage, rather than actually educating us on what was healthy. We’ll save that conversation for another day, since this whole entry is merely one of my attempts at a very bad analogy to introduce a very scary topic. Gulp. But, more about the meat and potatoes. We lived our whole lives thinking that was healthy! We shoveled in more meat. We gobbled down more potatoes: mashed with CREAM, laden with BUTTER, smothered in CHEESE, pummeled with SALT. What’s better than a little healthy - a ton of healthy, right? We meat and potatoes gluttened our way into rampant heart disease territory. We didn’t mean to. We really thought it was healthy. What a rude awakening. Our parents didn’t know better when they fed us. We didn’t know better when we first fed our children. Then, we woke up in a weird low sodium, meat is the devil, lactose problematic, potatoes are evil world that eschewed bad fats. It was hard, learning to eat better, but we began to see that it was detrimental to our survival as a people. Plus, veggies had gotten a bad rap all those years! Bring on the Brussels Sprouts! Welcome to analogy #1.
The last 8 weeks of the 2019-2020 school year ended in a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty. Teachers, students and parents rode the wave into virtual learning that for the most part served no purpose other than justifying teachers’ paychecks. Diligent students participated in the exercise while many others enjoyed an early start to summer break. The overall success of teachers and students being thrust into virtual learning has yet to be determined. However, the reemergence of school in the Fall could benefit from a properly planned, staffed and funded virtual learning alternative.
Six months ago, who would have thought we’d be where we are today? Riding out a global health pandemic right into social protests and demands for justice and equality for African American people. We have never had dual social disaster before (at least as far as I can remember) and I hope we never have it again. The fact is, we are where we are. This unfortunate time provides a good opportunity for each of us as individuals to reflect on who we are, who we claim to be and who we endeavor to become.
It is nearly lunchtime on the Monday after Father’s Day. The house is eerily quiet. All I hear is the gentle gurgle of an essential oil diffuser, a snoring pug with a trachea issue, and the hum of a spinning washing machine from the next room. The little dogs are napping under the kitchen table, the big ones have commandeered furniture they ordinarily aren’t allowed to grace. Both cats are lazily stretched out on the bare mattress of my bed as the sheets are nearly ready for a transfer to the dryer. All is calm. All is bright. If a picture paints a thousand words, this Van Gogh is a masterful fake, for the personality of my home this weekend was anything but serene. See, the kids came for a visit.
Positivity is the hallmark of the Forney Messenger. If you want negativity, there’s plenty of that to go around, just check any major news outlet or any big city newspaper. Heck, check social media. It’s all negative. Yet, the road to inner peace will take you through some dark areas. I’m an expert on this topic. Happiness and fulfillment are things you have to work at for all eternity. There are internal wars brewing in all of us. The path is never-ending, full of evil ninjas ready to thwart you at every turn, and perpetually cloaked in darkness. But, that’s just our innards. What about the world around us? I’m no expert. I’m just really good at pondering and whatnot.
Most school districts have decided to open at some point in the Fall. Personally, I think this is good news so students, teachers and parents can get back to some type of routine. I am not sure how the classroom will look or function, but it is beneficial for students to return to instruction. However, before we can present instruction to students, I think it’s necessary to address the mental and emotional needs of those returning to campus.
America is on fire. Literally. We thought COVID-19 was chaotic until anarchy began in the wake of the death of citizen George Floyd, while in police custody. Rallies and protests have gone international as the world watches and waits to see how America’s leaders will handle yet another instance of an unarmed, African American man dying at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve him. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result. We can only wonder when our nation’s leaders will choose to approach malfeasance in law enforcement effectively.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been using my quarantime to try and figure out where I went astray in my cleaning routine. Spring cleaning is too tame of a term. Let’s call it cleanageddon. I’ve always been the person who tried super hard to keep a pristine home, southern girl that I am. It’s how I was raised, up at dawn every Saturday morning, with the promise of a shopping trip and Mexican food looming like a carrot over my head. You see, shopping and Mexican food was a late 70’s/early 80’s Saturday constant. My mom, aunt, cousin, and little Grandma Cille would hop in our big Oldsmobile 98 and set out for an afternoon on the town. We loved Big Town. We adored the old Lochwood Mall. There were still iron alligators at Town East, near where the carpeted steps were, in case any moms needed to stop for a smoke break while the kids released some Ferrell’s sugar energy. First, we’d gather at Grandma’s house, and, while we loaded up every inch of space in the Olds – kids had to sit on the hump – my Grandpa would inevitably walk out with a $20 bill. “Cille, be sure you take them to the El Chico.” I don’t remember buying anything. I just remember my Grandma, the original Betty White, in her adorable pantsuit and Yo-Yo shoes, begging us not to tell her Sunday school class about the margarita she planned to order. But, let’s back up. Before the Olds took flight, before I begged to wear baby blue eyeshadow for the day, and before that matriarchal margarita hit the table, we had to clean. If I panned on going, my bed better be made before I set foot in the kitchen with a smile on my face and eyes that didn’t roll. My specialty was baseboards. My sword was a toothbrush. “More baking soda” was my battle cry. Momma released an excellent and driven homemaker into this world. What in tarnation happened?
At a time where the concept of personal responsibility for our actions (or inactions) has seemingly faded like camouflage in the woods, the school setting has become the proving grounds where faculty and families often reach a loggerhead as it relates to students and parents taking responsibility for their actions, behavior and achievement. A recent news clip offered a great example of responsibility deferred.
Last week we dove headfirst into finding a job when everyone else is also job hunting and companies are suffering. We touched on the importance of a well written resume and how crucial it is to follow the details of the job application to the extreme. This week we’re exploring what happens after you’ve landed the interview. We’ll even focus on who’s actually hiring. Remember, if people didn’t commonly violate these rules, they wouldn’t be called rules.
The past several weeks have shown us a lot about our public education system. It has shown us that while we weren’t ready with a nation-wide disaster plan, we were able to flex, morph, compromise and regroup to ensure our students had opportunities to continue to learn. As we plan our return to the classroom in the Fall, I hope to see a new and improved focus on teaching students the value, importance and components of self-sufficiency and responsibility.
Jobless claims have soared to 38.6 million in 9 weeks. The government threw $669 billion at small business, but now realizes even this amount can’t keep mom and pop operations solvent much longer. One economist estimates that nearly half the recent layoffs will result in the permanent loss of a job. Food bank lines, in many states, are days long and the result of the wait doesn’t guarantee you any actual food. States are on the struggle bus with unemployment claims that are breaking the internet and rendering the phone lines useless. I bring you this gulp of sunshine courtesy of the NY Times. What do you do when there doesn’t seem to be anything to do? For many, the first order of business is simple. Food = money = gainful employment = finding a job. This job search, however, will be different than any you’ve ever embarked on. If you’re searching feverishly, let me help. Why? It’s one thing I can actually do. I spent 15 years as an HR Manager/ employee procurement specialist/national trainer for a staffing company. I participated in counseling events to aid people looking for post 9/11 jobs, post Katrina jobs, and post-recession positions. We can do this. But, in order to find our beginning, we have to see where we came from.
There is a formula to life, much like this column, much like a Hallmark Christmas movie. For the movies, it’s simple: girl meets boy, girl and boy are about to express their undying love, random misunderstanding occurs – usually at the hands of the ex who never got the memo, girl and boy flee to opposite corners of the world yet accidentally bump into each other where they first met, everyone understands the error of their ways with lots of kissing and a sunset. See? Same with you and me every week. I tell you about something icky. We laugh. Life morphs around us and things work out just as we knew they would. Sound too saccharine? I understand. It’s just that there is so much horror and disgust organically in this world, I want this space to be love and light and happy endings. Except, it isn’t always like that. I thought I would get real with you today. Well, real-lite, kind of like Coke vs Diet Coke. Here’s a tale about a time things went awfully wrong. No Kleenex alert. You’ll be fine.