Hello and welcome to this new weekly feature, Weekly Wonderings. I’ve been working on this blog for over 10 years, most recently on a five-year continuous streak. It has grown in readership by the thousands, which is a pretty good feeling, knowing that my words seem to be connecting with people out there. I decided to start writing something that got a little more personal while still touching on pop cultural things.
Before I jump in, I want to give my obligatory Patreon pitch. I have been writing on this blog for a little over a decade now and would really like to expand it into something bigger. This both a personal desire, and I honestly need more money, as you’ll understand below. I don’t expect to make my living off of PopCult, but if my work on the blog could pay or bill or two every month, that would be wonderful.
Part of this feature will be a weekly Spotify playlist of music I’ve been listening to lately. Something to listen to as you read this or throughout the day. That’s below.
When I was in college, I loved making mix CDs for friends, and making those collections of music was a component in the dating process with my wife. Our relationship sort of came out of this stuff, with the thing intriguing me at first was that she was carrying a copy of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen in her oversized purse when we met; she was reading it at the time. We’ll be together twelve years next month and married for ten in July.
The significant change in my life most recently has been resigning from my job as an elementary school teacher. I’ve been working in schools since 2006, starting out as an AmeriCorps tutor in Washington state. If you had asked me when I was an undergrad if I wanted to teach little kids, I would have thought you were crazy. However, it’s become one of the best things I’ve ever done, and the relationships I have with my students have been some strong bonds. Just this year, my wife and I were on the verge of adopting a former student and her brother after some domestic issues came up in their life. However, we reunited them with their estranged father, who legally had that custodial right. They did live with us for a few weeks, and I was surprised at how happy I felt being a parent to them during this time.
I left my job after working half a term as a virtual teacher. My reason was that, amid an almost 70% increase in COVID cases in our county, the district was aggressively pushing to have every teacher back in the classroom doing in-person instruction. I’d already been ludicrously forced to work in the building while teaching virtually for most of the first term. By the time Thanksgiving break ended, all three of our principals, a secretary, school nurse, and probably a dozen teachers just in my building were having to quarantine from exposure. District-wide, a high school & middle school were shut down the following week, and then the final week of the term, all schools moved to virtual. But, we were told everything was hunky-dory for in-person come January.
My doctor told me my blood pressure was rising due to anxiety, and I showed signs of moderate-severe depression, so they wrote up a recommendation that I work remotely for the remainder of the school year. I was offered some vague maybes by the superintendent, but when I showed I wasn’t going to budge on the ludicrous idea of going back to in-person, they and my administrator pretty much stopped communicating with me. I was shocked at how cold they became after 4 and a half years of service I gave to the school.
I have terrific memories of my students. While I was with this school, I started an afterschool computer coding class. It was straightforward. We used code.org and Scratch to learn some rudimentary elements of creating games. I also used Title I funding to get some Kano kits for the kids to build basic computers and practice typing out coding instead of the other starter platforms’ drag and drop interface. I had plans to transition from that to a moviemaking class, teaching students from 4th & 5th-grade basic camera angles, editing, and filming short movies with myself and the students rotating around in production roles. But COVID came, and that is certainly not happening at this school now.
Right now, I am applying to various places for remote work with a long-term goal of definitely leaving this state and likely the country. I will begin the application process to work at an American school in the Netherlands and look at Canada’s teaching visa options. The future is undoubtedly a murky, unknown landscape, and I’m hoping something solidifies in the coming weeks and months. Future Weekly Wonderings won’t be like this, but I thought it necessary to share with you, the readers, where I am right now. The more we openly talk about our mental health, the better we can come to understand and empathize with others, hopefully creating the sort of world where people are judged less and supported more.
Let me know what’s going on with you. What do you enjoy about my blog? Always open to suggestions and new ideas.