Sunday, March 15, 2020

Well, that escalated quickly

There we are, thinking about academic life and its issues, and then--

hello, pandemic, is that you?

Concentrates the mind wonderfully, doesn't it?

Our house is pretty well stocked already because of my fervent devotion to the cult of Costco, and 
I'm already teaching online. Social distancing should be possible for us, and yes, I know that that is a privilege.

But like most other universities, we went to online instruction this week, and everyone is scrambling.

We're trying to make sense of university regulations that are both "you definitely should not be on campus" and "you absolutely have to be on campus" and to figure out how to best serve our students.

Some of the regulations seem to be of the vintage that warns students not to keep more than one cow on the campus commons, so that's fun.

Two observations that were not what I expected:

1. Even in the overstuffed Costco the other day, where the lines in the store were extremely long, most people were behaving with some generosity, humor, and helpfulness. Oh, sure, there were some people like the upper-class ladies in A Night to Remember about the Titanic--"young man, I insist that you do what I say. This is all too tiresome"--but most were not. I believe that their modern equivalents are called "Karens" and have "let me see your manager" smooth bobs rather than fussy flowered hats, but the attitude is the same.

2. I absolutely cannot concentrate on anything but the news, mostly via Twitter, NYTimes, & WaPo. I am starting to long for papers to grade, because those are concrete and predictable. When it comes to trying to do my own writing, though, my mind circles back to what's happening.

What have you noticed in this new reality we're facing?


gwinne said...

I will second these both.

I'm also frankly astonished by the number of people who are still out in the world going about their business, even with very clear graphs and dispatches from Italy.

I am on sabbatical and veering between being so very very very grateful to have that privilege and also extraordinarily angry and sad that it's just gone. Last Monday I had a plan to get through the semester, get off email, and to accomplish all the things. By Thursday night I realized I'd be home schooling a second grader.

I'll be posting later today, probably. Take care.

Professor Zero said...

I am only interested in reading articles and doing footnotes, lengthening all of my footnotes with great erudition.

Z said...

And p.s., in the New Yorker fairly recently there's an article on Vivian Gornick about writing that is quite good.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Well, my concentration is shot all to hell. If I take a break from the news, I forget, and then it's a nasty shock to "come to" when I take a call from my dad's assisted living to say they're closing to visitors (I thought you already were! but I have to assume they're doing the best they can), or think "I should go to the gym now" and realize oh, right, I can't, and shouldn't anyway because I have what feels like a cold but who the heck knows right now so stay in and away from people. I think a lot of the obsessive scrolling has to do with trying to adjust to the idea that this really is happening and the new normal is way different from the old normal.

Notorious Ph.D. said...


I don't have anything to add to the post at this point -- it's my first day "back" as a virtual proffie, and all my mental energy is focused there. But the plague has prompted me to get internet back into my home, which means that I can blog again. So I'm dipping a toe back into the waters. Most of the old guard have left the building, but I'll be interested to see who pops up over the next weeks.

Blogging feels so retro!