Monthly Archives: August 2020
While rightfully angry souls march the streets to protest racism and brutality, others march for the titillation of mayhem, and others gang together to protest mask wearing. It’s an angry effing world out there and humanity is boiling with all its levels of discontent. On a bad day it feels as if the rage is dimming our light.
I miss my own children and my grandson so damned much. Thanks to social media (which I also curse for how quickly it helps spread hate and misinformation) I am able to ‘visit’ them for bits here and there. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to hold any of them again (fingers crossed: next summer?). These times are tough, and I get why we’re oh so angry. We should be. I’m angry too. We piss me off.
But, we are also blessed with so much good in our lives as well. My family and I still have our health — on a mental level, I’m not so sure, but our bodies are holding up.
While I hate being so very far away from my children, I do still love where I live. This morning I walked to the Sunday market for the first time since Covid hit. It’s been running for quite a few weeks now, but I’ve been hesitant to go because, you know, crowds. Today, I was serenaded by the baritone bong of St. Wadru’s bells. On my walk home she treated me to the angelic notes of her choir.
It’s gray and cool outside, but walking up cobblestone hills with a mask on keeps you sweating. The market itself was loaded with all of its scents and sounds, but our exchanges were muffled because of our masks, and the police with their dogs joined the stream of pedestrians — just our friendly reminder to keep those masks and our peaceful sides in check.
Mons has truly done a lot to keep us happy and entertained. They keep moving the collection of artsy elephants around, so that we’re pleasantly surprised when we run into them unexpectedly.
We’re still treated to live music on the streets. Yesterday, we thought we somehow ended up in New Orleans when a marching band belted out When the Saints Come Marching In. Badger was disappointed they did not have a violinist. We’ve pretty much started up a pension for the guy who plays at the Grand Place since Badger pulls us to him each and every time. Me thinks that dog will strum strings in his next life.
We can’t make the two-hour drive to Paris or Amsterdam on the weekends now (until we manage to all get out of code red and orange), but we’re happy to rest and shop here on the weekends. I type this as the Belfry plays its weekly bell concert in the background.
I’ve also successfully completed my third week back to school (second week with kids), and we’re figuring it out. It’s not easy, but the kids and I are settling into a groove. We’re enjoying learning together, and we’ve figured out our own ways to have meaningful discussions (lol and sometimes not) while social distancing. My poor babies struggle understanding English without reading our lips, and we struggle understanding them with their accents (and not being able to read their lips).
I have learned there is a huge difference between wearing a mask most of the day and being inconvenienced for the 30 minutes you’re in the grocery store. By my second day of teaching and wearing a mask for four hours straight, I realized I might need to buy diaper rash cream for my face. I’ve learned that one should not eat curry for lunch. Pointy masks are better than flat masks because that little air pocket makes all the difference. A wise teacher brings more than one mask to school because we apparently spit a lot when we talk. It’s truly disgusting how wet my masks can get. I am one gross saliva spreader.
Dress code reminders used to be me whispering to a girl to pull her shirt up, now it’s all about me saying to both genders “don’t show me your nose.”
The last five minutes of class are all about giving kids disinfectant wipes and having them wipe down their work areas, so it’s all nice and clean for the next batch of kids (I like this part). And, all day long, I have to remind myself to not get too close to a kid or to wash my hands because I touched someone’s paper. Alllll day long: do you have any idea how many times a day we’re near a student because he or she needs our help? I can’t correct syntax six feet away.
There’s no sharing of resources either. When I give a kid a marker to write something on the board, I collect that marker and sanitize it before another student can touch it. I am literally wiping off teenage kooties right before their eyes now. It’s a new world for us where, basically, we’re all considered unsafe, unclean.
But, omg, I still get high working with them. I can’t see their smiles, but I so see them working hard and trying — which makes me try harder too. Online teaching will never compare to face to face (even this very filtered form of it), and I am so very lucky that I get to do this. Am I worried that we’ll get sick? Oh god, yes. Every tickle in my throat, or every gasp of air because I’ve sucked in my mask, makes me think, “oh shit do I have the Covid?”
But, I keep masking up, washing my hands, and doing the social-distance-santize dance. It’s clunky, uncomfortable AF and awkward, but we’re doing our part to fight the dying of the light.
We had our first 100 degree day last Friday, and it looks like we’ll have our second today. We have been so lucky this summer because, for the most part, our temps have been great. So, we can’t complain about the current heatwave, but we’re human, so we will. It’s supposed to stay in the 90s until around Thursday next week, which sucks when you’re in a country that doesn’t consider A/C important — until we hit these days and folks flock to the hardware stores desperately searching for portable units.
Luckily, Lorayne sold us her unit (looks like R2D2), which we use in the spare bedroom to cool off. Our apartment has a great cross breeze between the front and back windows, so it’s not as bad as you would think, BUT it does get warm and stuffy.
The best, however, is our new vehicle because it can take us anywhere, so last week we did our first off-road adventure and loved getting lost in the forest.
One of the coolest and saddest things about Belgium is that you run into war memorials all over the country. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and we came across this celebration of an American soldier’s bravery. Joe googled him, and it turns out he stopped the German’s Panzer division by blowing up their lead tank with a bazooka, which also took him out and earned him this tribute that reminds us hikers to thank those who fought for the lives we have today.
We’ve also spent the week touring towns and breweries. I’d show you pictures, but the camera on my phone isn’t working, so I take snaps with Joe’s, but lol it’s a pain to send to me to upload, etc. etc. Just know we’ve had lots of lovely trips checking out all the good Belgium has to offer. Yesterday we escaped to Maredsou Abbey with friends.
Today, we’re staying in Mons, but we’ll find shaded cafes to sip and dine with friends, so all is good. Mons also is doing its best to keep our spirits up despite this damned pandemic, which just won’t go away.
There are new murals and 31 elephants placed around the city, so it’s fun to walk and find these treasures. The musicians are out playing, and we’ve discovered that Badger loves the violin. Last week, there was a parade of puppet animals. They looked so real. I wonder what fun things we’ll witness this weekend.
Badger has also been totally loving our new car and our trips. He has some cute pics on his blog. Click here to see him all woodsy and what not.
On Monday I go back to work. I’m not as excited this year as I normally am. I do still love my job, and I do so look forward to seeing students again, but, well, you know, the pandemic. There are just too many unknowns right now, and we’re all feeling it. We all want to do the best that we can do, but we all also do not want to get sick, so there’s lots of uncertainty. But, we will get past this as well. The kids and I will figure out how to make it work, and fingers crossed we will all continue to stay healthy. That said I’m not looking forward to training and classroom prep with no a/c next week — tis a good thing the kids don’t arrive until the following week because I’m going to be pretty stinky and sweaty. I’m amazed the ring around my mouth hasn’t broken out from all the mask sweat.
There’s not much more for me to share other than stay safe, and that I hope you’re all enjoying your little bits of joy as much as I am. Please keep masking up despite the discomfort. I want to be able to fly home next summer and see this cutie pie (who turns two this month! And, he’s such a responsible toddler).