2020: A Year in Review

Unless something legitimately unbelievable happens in the next few hours, 2020 will finally be over. As I wrote on this year’s Epiphany card, let’s not do that again!

I’m too pragmatic (and a bit too superstitious) to say things like “next year will be better” or “it can’t get any worse.” Of course it could be worse. The world could actually, literally end. But it didn’t this year, and we’re moving on to a new year that we hope will be better.

At the very least, we’ll be more prepared for some of the things we were not prepared for this year. (You may define “we” any way that works for you.)

I would be remiss, however, if I did not swing by my blog to post an update on my experience of life in 2020 during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Like most of the country, I did not see this coming. We should have been better prepared. SARS and Ebola both reached the U.S., but they didn’t spread here, so we got complacent. I’ve had an emergency fund since even before I became debt-free, but I never kept emergency supplies until this year.

In early March, as the strange virus sweeping through China was clearly not being contained there, I finally stocked up. I now have a mid-sized first-aid kit, a case of bottled water, and several shelf-stable complete meals. That shopping was prescient because I never ran out of disinfectant cleaning spray or toilet paper, and I brought home some hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes that I hadn’t used in my classroom. Back in “the before times,” as my buddy Steve puts it, I rarely used hand sanitizer or cleaning wipes. I just washed my hands a lot (or rather, what used to be “a lot” but now seems like “not nearly enough”). The only thing I was short on was bread. I love bread, so that was tough. To each, his own.

I could try to describe the emotions I felt during those first few trips to the grocery store in late March. I’ve never gone panic shopping before major weather events, so I’d never personally seen bare shelves before. The experience was unpleasant.

Leaving school on March 13, we all honestly thought we’d be back after just two weeks. We weren’t trying to kid ourselves. We just didn’t know. My school has excellent tech resources, and I’d been almost 100% digital and paperless my entire time teaching there, so my transition honestly wasn’t that difficult. The hardest part for me was dealing with everyone else!

My school did not require me to do instruction over live video chat in the spring, for which I am endlessly grateful. Not needing to be in a building supervising kids for so many hours per day meant that I was able to sleep more, rest in the evenings, and watch so many plays and musicals online that I genuinely lost count. I started feeling like a normal human again (albeit one that almost never leaves her home).

The summer was quiet. I was able to meet up with friends from church a few times. I wore my mask even when others didn’t. I delayed my own return to Mass until a few weeks after parishes reopened. I have never been an early adopter; our pandemic era is not the time to become one.

I missed dance. I still do. Summers in the studio always made me feel less lonely. West Coast swing doesn’t work without a partner.

As fall approached, I worked with my coworkers and school parents on our reopening plan. We were able to bring back all of the students who wished to come to our socially-distanced classrooms. Some families chose to do school remotely, and we are still figuring out how that works. I don’t have a teacher desk anymore, and I now float from room to room for each class. I have figured out how to teach wearing a mask. We went for several weeks before students and adults were exposed to the virus in their communities outside of school. As I understand it, no positive case from someone who attends or works at my school has been traced directly to the school; everyone was exposed somewhere else. We moved the whole school to remote learning just before Thanksgiving, and we hope to return to the building mid-January.

Me, wearing the intense face shield I'm allowed to use at school

This is the only style of face shield I can wear at school if I don’t also wear a regular mask. I usually just wear a mask.

I read a lot of books this year! My best friend Sarah got married, and although the wedding was very small and had no dancing, it was still so full of love and joy. I auditioned for Jeopardy! again (online this time), and I got to see a whole series of Switchfoot concerts streamed live to my living room, and no one I know personally died this year (from the virus or otherwise).

My biggest takeaway from this year is the true importance of planning. Our perspectives have shifted now. Even I, once a major planner and the person who arrived awkwardly early for almost everything, have become much more chill. We must have plans, but we must also be ready to change them dramatically on basically no notice. When the plans don’t work out, we make new plans. And in a time when it seems like everything’s changing, we hold on to what remains.

Happy New Year!

Because I’m Black

I’ve been intentionally quiet over the past few weeks and days as I see more and more of my friends and acquaintances making declarations of anti-racism; sharing book, article, and speaker recommendations; declaring how tired they are of “everything that’s been going on“ (which could include the virus, really); and so on.

I see you. I hear you. I am not unaffected.

For those of you who didn’t know or may have wondered (which is something for which I don’t blame you), I am just black; all black, not mixed with anything. My mom’s side of the family has very light skin. Black people come in many colors.

I’ve also been thinking about what I want, what I need specifically. I speak only for myself, Lindsay Wilcox, and not for anyone else.

I want you to get to know the actual black people in your lives, and I want you to get to know them as black people. That includes me, so you’re off to a good start. 👍 I’ve been black my whole life. It is part of who I am. You might not think about that part of me when you think of me. That doesn’t make me not black.

I also want you to listen when people say that some things are not okay. I mean matters of race right now, but it applies across the board. That’s the phrase I use (“not okay”), and that’s what I teach my students, and that’s probably what I would teach my children if I had any. When someone⁠—anyone—says “that’s not okay,” the correct response is “I’m sorry.” Then stop talking. If it’s not a big deal, you’re all set, and we can all move on with our lives. If is a big deal to that person—even if it is not a big deal to you—keep listening. Big deals get explained. You can defend yourself second. The one who was offended gets to speak first.

That’s all I have to say for now. Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring.

Currently: January 2019

Currently at Lindsay Loves

It has been a while, dear readers. School started after my last post, of course, and I had a tough summer leading up to that. My annual Epiphany card should be at my doorstep tomorrow, ready to be sent, so it seemed like the right time to update this space.

(I’m also still off from school. This is the perk that made being in school all the way through midday on December 21 almost worth it. Almost.)

Here’s what I am currently…

Choosing: To share here that Mr. Man and I broke up. Several months have passed since then. I’m moving on.

Tidying: My closet, just a little bit. It’s never been full. I have a walk-in designed for two people, and I’m the only person that lives in my apartment, so I shouldn’t be able to fill it. I did have a tottering stack of clothes that are out of season or too big (but perfectly good), so I finally caved and bought a storage bin to hold them all. The whole space is much brighter now!

Resolving: To not let school take over my life. It’s simply not an option. I’m struggling with a lot of feelings, my mindset, negative self-talk, and the normal stress of my chosen field. Times are tough. I made it through the first half of the year. Second halves have not historically been an area of strength for me, but I can’t predict the future.

Exploring: The world of cinema. I went home for Christmas, as usual, so I had access to cable. I’ve been a cord-cutter for so many years that I always forget how hard it is to resist the siren song of over 100 channels. I usually dig around in the schedule to find my Christmas favorites, but this year was bad.

I saw Aquaman (gorgeous but blah story) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (incredibly complex) in theaters.

I watched all of these on TV:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Life Size 2: A Christmas Eve
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Now You See Me 2 (first non-HP movie I’ve seen with Daniel Radcliffe)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
  • The Santa Clause 3
  • Captain America: Civil War

I watched at least half of these on TV:

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Now You See Me
  • The Santa Clause (my favorite Christmas movie)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Lion King
  • The Holiday (my other favorite Christmas movie)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

And then I watched War Games on VUDU so I could get a discount for renting White Christmas, which is another favorite Christmas movie. So that will bring my total to twenty movies in two weeks… but every time I’ve tried to complete that list, I think of another one I saw!

Refreshing: My water filter. I love my Brita pitcher, but I flat-out ignored the filter change indicator. It’s built right into the lid; I had no excuse. My water does taste much better now.

Recapping: September through December (oops)

  • I reviewed a book for NetGalley for the first time in forever. It’s rather popular (my review; I don’t know how the book is doing).
  • I went to the dentist and was left alone without so much as a “sorry for the wait” check-in for thirty minutes. It was awful.
  • I was a bridesmaid in a dear friend’s wedding back East.
  • I got to see my sweet godson for the first time in years. His family is nearby again!
  • I finished reading the Bible. It took me eleven years.

So what’s new with you? What are you exploring currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. Won’t you join us?

7 Quick Takes on Cash Show, The Rock, and Teacher Stuff

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

I have been winning trivia like a beast these last few weeks. My ability to play will decrease significantly very soon, so I’m glad to be going out in a blaze of glory.

I won HQ Trivia two times!

You won! with my happy smiling face

But I only remembered to take a photo one time.

— 2 —

In a related development, I also won Cash Show for the first time!

I won 79 cents!

And I also won that game twice!

I won $1.09!

See? A beast.

Cash Show is like the low-budget version of HQ. It has a similar structure: airs live, twelve questions, winners split the prize. But you start can start earning cash if you make it to question 6, each question is worth a specific (split) amount, and you get to keep the money you earn as each question passes.

So you can be knocked out at Question 9 and leave with twelve cents. I still only consider it “winning” if you make it through Question 12, which I did for the first time last Saturday. The main downside is that you can only get your prize as actual money in your possession once you earn ten dollars. Thus, although I have won a total of $3.81, I haven’t gotten any actual money. We’ll see if it falls into the “you might not ever get your money” loophole that HQ did before it let you cash out at any amount.

— 3 —

On a completely unrelated note, I remembered that Netflix has all of the Star Trek series right now, so I decided to finally finish watching Voyager. It was always my favorite since it was the newest when my dad finally converted me. (My mom and I used to make of him for liking Star Trek. I have since eaten my crow.)

My family lived overseas during Voyager‘s original run, so I never got to see the final season. I couldn’t remember how far along I’d watched, though, so I picked a random episode in the second-to-last season with a plot synopsis that sounded familiar.

Imagine my surprise when one of the guest stars was The Rock! He didn’t have any visible tattoos, so I wasn’t sure it was him until he did the eyebrow. Gotta love the eyebrow.

— 4 —

With my summer downtime, I worked through my backlog of alumni magazines. The one from Notre Dame feels like a short book. I don’t know how I managed to read Seventeen cover-to-cover when I was in high school!

The summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine had an intriguing article about young peoples’ declining or absent Catholic lives. The intriguing part wasn’t that it had anything new to say, but that I found myself agreeing with it so wholeheartedly. It doesn’t focus on the same old lines I hear all the time. It discusses a variety of reasons for the decline, and although it doesn’t offer any answers, it also doesn’t point the blame at any single cause. Considering that I’ve skipped a few ND Mag articles recently that made me roll my eyes at how un-Catholic they seemed, this one was a welcome change.

— 5 —

I also really liked the ND Mag article about a grown-up alumni child who has been fighting cancer for three years past his initial prognosis. I just thought it was well-written and hopeful without being schmaltzy.

— 6 —

If you happen to be a teacher looking for a easy way to make a poster of your class rules, I highly recommend this template from Canva. You can use Canva as a guest or with a Google account, and the poster can be printed as an engineering print at Office Depot for $4. Ask me how I know.

— 7 —

I hope to be a cool English teacher, but I don’t think I’ll ever be this hip:

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Currently: August 2018

Currently at Lindsay Loves

It’s August! Every teacher’s favorite and least favorite month. (Unless you work in southern Indiana, where they have a year-round schedule and started two weeks ago. Ugh!) I am not 100% ready for school yet, but I’ve made progress, and that is better than before.

Here’s what I am currently…

Following: An online support program called the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Don’t worry: I’m not under the impression that I will be working exactly forty hours per week, or even forty-five—at least not right off the bat. The club is designed for teachers who don’t want to give up their whole personal and family lives for the sake of their work. The teacher putting in the most hours is not always the best teacher, and the best teachers don’t work for endless hours. I can absolutely get behind that vision. Teaching is a tough job, and it will eat up my whole life if I let it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I felt crushed by school last year. I don’t want to repeat that, so I’ve been practicing new habits, inspired by the club, and I’ve seen real progress already.

Ordering: Nothing yet, but I need new pants for work (the long-legged woman’s struggle is real) and some posters for my classroom. I have more wall space covered up than empty in my new room (which I like; less pressure to fill it up), but I always manage a little personalization.

Pinning: For a while there, way too much! I undertook a mini-mission to learn how to wear eye makeup properly, so I started pinning tips for hooded eyes and #girlswithglasses. Then I made the mistake of scrolling through some book-related pins (mostly Harry Potter fandom jokes) and lost literal hours to Pinterest. It was bad. After about a week, I realized that I’d been mistaken when I thought I’d deleted all the social media apps from my phone. Facebook went first, years ago; then Instagram had to go. But I forgot about Pinterest. Our relationship is now desktop-only.

Watching: The last season and a half of Star Trek: Voyager. When I lived in Germany, during the series’ original run, you couldn’t watch TV online, so we had to wait for months to see new episodes. Somewhere in the shuffle of regular TV seasons and moving back stateside, I never got to see the end of the series. A friend is letting me use her fiance’s Netflix password until the wedding, so I decided to finish out the series. It’s so quaint that costumed actors are playing all the aliens. (CGI wasn’t so awesome back then.) Makes my nerdy heart happy.

Counting: The days until school starts, with great anxiety. Taking the advice of the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club, I am accepting that I can’t do everything, and I’m focusing on doing the main things. I’ve also been getting as many new-job and new-school items out of the way as possible before professional development days start next week. I’ve got a big stack of paperwork to tackle, but at least I already know how to Chromecast to my classroom’s beautiful, mounted flat-screen TV.

Recapping: July

  • I finished rumba class, started cha-cha, and learned some more foxtrot. I still don’t care for progressive dances (e.g. foxtrot), but I feel slightly more confident.
  • I celebrated Independence Day with some new friends.
  • I went to a little bit of the Jane Austen Festival here in town.
  • I saw a youth performance of Romeo and Juliet in Central Park (also in Louisville; still never been to NYC).

So what’s new with you? What are you counting currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. Won’t you join us?

Sunday Style: Almost Made It

I had a great plan for making it to Mass on time, and then things didn’t go according to it. Oh, well.

Sunday Style for July 29

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Target
Necklace and earrings: Charming Charlie

I wanted to wear this outfit last week, but it requires ironing, so that was a no-go then. I was thinking way ahead on Saturday night, though, so I managed to iron and get to bed at a reasonable hour. I woke up on time on Sunday, and then time got away from me and I rushed out the door at the last possible moment, wearing this outfit but obviously running late. I slipped into my pew moments before the processional hymn began. So I made it (just barely), and I wore this outfit. The plan was only partly successful.

My plan to always read the readings in advance just in case I don’t pay full attention during Mass worked, though. My tardiness threw my attention off for a while.

Our homilist was a visiting priest from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He spoke briefly about the readings, noting that Elisha had twenty loaves to feed 100 people compared to Jesus’ five loaves for 5000, and that although the second reading doesn’t fit that obvious Eucharistic theme, it does contain a strong reminder to remain faithful to our mission of evangelization. Then he described his diocese in the DRC and made a mission appeal. I’m not a fan of replacing the homily with a mission appeal. I get it, but I don’t like it.

Jesus came, so in that respect, Mass was fantastic. As far as the temporal trappings, it left a little to be desired. Have you ever left Mass feeling kind of “meh”? How do you keep that from getting you down?

This posted is linked up for Modest Monday at The Modest Mom Blog. Visit Caroline and say hello!

Sunday Style: Long Day, Long Dress

I initially chose this week’s church outfit based on not having time to iron, but it worked out well for the rest of my day, too. Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for July 22

Shirt: Target
Dress: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift
Earrings: Renaissance festival

I have no other clothes that match this necklace, and the necklace reminds me of the old friend who gave it to me, so I try to wear it as much as I can. I also read on Pinterest at some point that higher heels pair best with longer hemlines, so I decided to try these wedges (among my highest heels) with this, one of my longest dresses. The combo worked out fine. I was actually going to try a different pair of high wedges, but it was drizzling as I left for church, so I had to abandon that white fabric shoe plan. (These are shiny leather-like material, so they were fine for rain.)

After church, I changed into jeans to go grocery shopping (I keep my list on my phone, so I tuck my phone in my pocket while I’m pushing the cart), but then I changed back into this. I briefly had visitors, so I wanted to wear my non-shlubby clothes. This dress is so comfortable, though, that I kept wearing it for the rest of the evening. That’s the secret of long dresses: despite lacking pockets, they are almost like wearing a big blanket around.

Fr. P acknowledged the obvious shepherd theme of this week’s readings, but he focused his homily on the Word of God as food for us. The people want food, but Jesus teaches them instead of giving them food—not in a carrot/stick way of forcing them to listen before they got tangible food, but because the Word of God is food.

He further noted that Scripture turns the Word (as in Jesus) into words (as in language), just as the Incarnation turned the Word into flesh. Therefore, “God made the Word not just intelligible, but legible.” I loved the wordplay and the theological lesson.

How was church for you this week?

This posted is linked up for Modest Monday at The Modest Mom Blog. Visit Caroline and say hello!

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