Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Who moved my mashed potatoes?

My normal morning routine was to arrive on campus around 7am and go straight to my classroom from my car, loaded down with bananas, granola bars and water bottles for my students. I would download and get my lecture set up, put out all the food (take a picture for Instagram) and make sure there are no problems before any students arrive.    

After that I would upstairs to my office and eat breakfast and talk to colleagues until 5 minutes before class. 

Some mornings I would have a banana for breakfast. Some mornings I’d have triscuits and a piece of round cheese, but on the best mornings I’d have something hot like oatmeal or leftovers from dinner.

On the last Thursday of normal time, the last Thursday of “the before,” I brought my breakfast down the hall to my colleague’s office.  We chat about students and attendance and grades and she asks me what I’m eating.

Instant mashed potatoes, fat free, 4 Weight Watchers points. 

She shook her head (as most sensible people would) at the notion of mashed potatoes for breakfast, but I have to be understood.

“If this is truly the end times, I’m eating mashed potatoes!!”

We laughed and she shooed me out of her office.

That weekend I ran a fever and stayed in bed with aches and exhaustion that lasted the entire next week.   While I was curled in a ball on the sofa decisions were made at very high levels about all college classes meeting online after Spring Break.  

First we were only going to meet online for two weeks and then return to normal. 

As the reality set in about the level of isolation needed to slow the spread COVID-19, all events were cancelled and faculty/staff/students would be working remotely. 

So here I am, in the new normal, having coffee for breakfast and retooling my lectures so I can keep classes rolling. 

I miss my students, I miss their faces, their questions, their excitement and chatter.   I miss what we had, I miss where I thought I was taking them and how I planned to get there.

I don’t want to let them down, but just going on like “alright, we were in WW2 and on the topic of the home front and the last thing we covered was window stars….” and acting like nothing has changed seems crazy. 

I need to revisit and revise my lectures as they suddenly seem strange to me now, like they were written as a roadmap for people travelling to a different ending. 

While I work on that, here is your assigned reading – it’s about cheese and change.