2020 The Year of Corona

Trending: Corona beer memes and that it is willing to pay $15 Million to  change the name of Coronavirus - Times of India

Many times during this year I have felt as if I were watching this pandemic from afar. The number of cases in my country are many times smaller than even the death tolls in a lot of countries around the world. The numbers of cases are so small here that the media goes into a frenzy if a cluster reaches double digits.

During May we did have lockdowns and restrictions but honestly, compared to case numbers in the Northern Hemisphere I wonder if they were necessary. The five or so weeks we spent online schooling was seems completely unnecessary when looking back.

Or were they?

Are our low numbers because we were so extreme so early? Or are they simply a result of our isolation? Could we have achieved the same results by simply closing our boarders and not letting anyone else in? We will never know.

Effects of Corona aside, something that did happen this year for Mr. Jones and myself was a reconnection with the swinging community. This was, ironically, an indirect result of Corona virus. We attended a weekend for swinging couples back in September and consequently found ourselves thrust into the whirlwind social life that is the swinging lifestyle. You can read some of my thoughts about this turn of events here.

We had drifted away from this ‘scene’ for a few reasons, my job as a teacher, my mental health, some bad experiences with couples and just the general meanderings of life. Swingers are, for the most part, very social beings. We get excited about meeting people who think like us and the bonus is every now and then we get to be sexy which is a whole lot of fun. Now that we seem to have connected with an extreme example of the socialising side of things our lives look very different.

I started 2020 with a determination to be more social. I had resolved to attend Work Social Club events and generally put my face into as many social things as I could. A look at my calendar showed me that I definitely needed to get out more and I knew, on a very visceral level that I definitely needed to people my world with some supportive people.

Then Corona happened. Ironic really. Not being allowed to visit with friends I didn’t have didn’t affect me that much. But I did kind of feel a bit weird to not be allowed to socialise in the year I had resolved to do so.

I have never been good at making and keeping friends. During primary school I was homeschooled and lived in a relatively isolated situation. The only regular playmates I had were my younger brothers. The school playground lessons in making friends and understanding social cues were unavailable to me. Entering high school saw a complete 180 degree turn, I went from rarely seeing girls my own age to living with about seventy of them 24/7! It wasn’t easy. So being thrust back into a social whirlwind is hard. I want to have close friends but somehow I just never seem to say the right thing and I end up withdrawing. 

Dealing with a lot of people in a large group is stressful. One of our ‘new’ friends talks a lot about a trip of a lifetime she enjoyed with her husband. They toured Europe and visited a lot of very crowded places which she absolutely loved! I personally couldn’t think of anything worse! Give me a beach or some remote place, no more than ten people and a campfire with some quiet conversation and I am happy. 

So what does 2021 bring for social Gemma? We are continuing to ease ourselves back into swinging and partying. I will no doubt find myself in any number of difficult situations, dealing with new people and having to make small talk courtesy of my new friend. I will have a good time most of the time, I am sure. I am also sure that my liver will take a beating. 

The other big thing on our horizon is our six month sailing adventure. Sailors are like swingers. Well, actually I think some of them ARE swingers. Time will tell. Whatever their sexual orientation, they are also very social and tend to drink a lot. My liver is going to age, a lot. 

So here’s to socialising, making friends and hopefully restoring my tribe.  

Why Do We Clink Glasses And Say "Cheers"? Farmers' Almanac

This post is part of this week’s Wicked Wednesday #448 Looking Back on 2020. To see who else is being wicked click here or on the image below.

The Lockdown That Wasn’t

IMG_1763 (2)

When I was growing up a popular way that Australians liked to refer to their country was “The lucky country”. There are so many things about Australia that make it somewhere very special to live. Our climate, our freedom, the fact that we have never experienced wide-scale war or civil unrest and, more recently, we have one of the lowest rates of infection of Covid-19 in the world.

It hasn’t meant that we aren’t restricted in our movements. Where I am living public gatherings of more than two people are illegal, schools for the most part are closed, non-essential retailers are closed, gyms and many health related services are also closed. In the supermarkets there have been shortages of flour, meat, pasta, rice and of course toilet paper. For a short while a visit to the supermarket was a little crazy. The “Stay home and save lives” message is in full swing. According to our health experts it is working. We have had a significant reduction in active cases across the country. For almost two weeks our daily increase in cases has been at one percent or less.

With all of this happening the news is now full of interviews with psuedo experts (because of course the real experts are a tad busy doing actual science right now) speculating on when we will be allowed out again. This question is not just around when we will be allowed to go to the pub or to parties with friends. This is also about people being allowed to return to work. Many people are unemployed right now because so many businesses were forced to close. Our government seems to have created a money pit somewhere judging by the number of programs that have been announced, to give financial support to newly unemployed, businesses affected, people who can’t pay loans, the list goes on and on.

In the background of this is school closures. Australian schools close for two weeks around Easter so in the last month schools have been inactive as they would normally. About five weeks ago (two weeks before holidays started) when cases were on the rise, we were seeing horrific images from Italy and the UK there was a lot of panic and discussion about the safety of schools. I work in a high school. It is impossible to socially distance teenagers in the classroom and the playground. I don’t even want to consider how difficult it would be in a primary school. Public opinion was that schools are breeding grounds to spread disease. A lot of the time they are. First year teachers will tell you they get sicker in that first year of being in front of kids than they ever have in their life. Why? About half of it is probably because stress has weakened their immune system but the other half is because kids are festy. (For those of you unfamiliar with this term Urban dictionary comes to the rescue!)

So parents started taking their kids out of school. As the numbers of students at school dwindled other students begged to be allowed to stay home sensing the opportunity to extend their impending holidays. Then, bowing to union and public pressure our state government caved and closed schools. There was a week of frantic preparation for online delivery and two weeks of time which was designated as holiday time. I don’t think there is a teacher alive who didn’t spend at least half of that time in front of a computer struggling with unfamiliar technology trying to put together meaningful learning experiences. The image featured above is of a doodle I did during this time to remind myself that my life is much better than many others.

The week just passed has been the first official week of “remote learning”. For different schools this looks different. For my niece and nephews it is hard. They don’t live close to a major city, their internet in a word is shit!. Remote delivery of lessons for them is problematic. For many schools Microsoft One Note was the go to. In the words of our school IT manager “One Note needs about two weeks in iso!” It failed and caused much hair pulling and frustration.

For the students, their anticipated extended holiday turned out to be a failure. No trips to the beach, camping cancelled, no shopping centers open, nothing to do except sit at home with video games and social media. The first week of remote learning was frustrating for many, and while it was a break from routine it wasn’t a substitute for interaction with actual humans.

In my own little corner of the world we are relatively blessed. We have an IT manager who deserves a sainthood. We have parents who have stepped up in their support and positivity. There have been social media posts about us. Flowers, chocolates and cakes delivered to school for us. It has been nothing short of empowering. But it has been hard. We are meeting online with our students, via Microsoft Teams for every one of their scheduled lessons. We are planning classes and material as if we are in our regular timetable but instead of delivering the way we normally would we are delivering online. It requires a HUGE amount of planning. Simple tasks like marking a roll would normally take five minutes are now taking 10 – 15 minutes.

Now the talk has turned to students returning to school. Our federal government has indicated that all of their information shows regular school is safe for most healthy children. These children will not pose a risk to their teachers. With exceptions of course. Older teachers and those with health conditions need to be cautious and removed. Despite this there are some political undercurrents that do not bode well. Unions are flexing their muscle; and our union funded state government, that controls schooling, is at odds with the federal government who sits on the other side of the political fence. As is often the case with education, teachers and students are at the mercy of decisions made by people who have no vested interest in benefiting either party.

The original date for return to regular classes was May 20. Five weeks into the term. One week of this type of schooling has felt like about five for most of us. If there was an announcement that regular school was starting back up on Monday (two days from now) there would be very few teachers that I know who would be unhappy about it. Sadly I don’t think this will be the case.

For those of you reading this and living in other, more affected parts of the world, my thoughts are with you, stay safe and take care of your wellbeing. Most importantly take care of your mental health.

This post is part of Food 4 Thought #146 “Lockdown”. Please make the time to head over and read some other posts. 

f4thought-300x300

TMI Tuesday – Socially Distant Edition #2

I want to open this post by saying every day I am grateful. I am grateful that I live in a country that is not as affected by Covid -19 as many countries in Europe and of course the United States. Our “Lockdown” is the lockdown you have when you aren’t having a lockdown. I still get to go to work every day and I can leave the house to exercise. Consequently my answers to the questions may not be what some people expect.

Before you go any further this post comes with an official rant warning,

1. As the world deals with covid-19, are you masturbating more?

The last two weeks for me have been Easter break. I have not been able to do any socialising other than on the internet and within the people who live in my house. But in all honesty it has been the perfect break for an introvert. I have pottered around my house, done sewing, cooked healthy delicious meals for my family and felt myself strengthen. I haven’t really masturbated more than I would normally as to me things don’t feel very different.

2. With stay-at-home orders and lock-downs, are you able to have more kinky fun at home?

I live with my husband, two grown up children and my parents in law. Kinky fun does not happen in our house. Sex yes but it is muted and restrained. We are fortunate that we have a commercial building that has a room we have fitted out for fun times. We have visited there a couple of times.

3. Do you think you are watching more porn since you are home more?

I am not s fan of porn. It seems fake and I would much rather watch real people have sex in real life. Or better still be part of a real life porn scene.

4. Fill in the blank. “I am so sick of _____ .”

About three weeks ago when case numbers were increasing here and school was in the second last week of term, talk amongst students and their parents was about “When is the government going to close schools?” Large numbers of students stopped coming to school for no really good reason and eventually the government caved and closed schools. Yesterday, despite the number of new cases declining significantly, it was announced that after the Easter break learning will be delivered remotely via the internet.

Parents, after dealing with their kids, who have not been able to go anywhere or do anything for three weeks are not happy. I am sick of hearing the news referring to the situation as “home schooling”. For the record home schooling is when the parent takes responsibility for deciding what and how their children learn. They come up with resources and activities. Downloading work and supervising and helping their children complete activities that another TEACHER prepared is NOT home schooling.

Also, while we are on the subject, what the actual F is it with letting your child skip school when it makes you look like the fun parent, and then complain that you can’t send them back when it suits you? I am an educator, not a freaking baby sitter.

5. If this is your first time having an outside job with which you are now working from home, do you think you are more productive now versus when you were at the office?

Despite my students not being at school I will still be at school on Monday after the break is finished along with most of our teachers. Of course like all teachers I am working at home during my holidays. I will say that I feel I get more done at school than at home. There are fewer distractions.

Bonus: Would you rather know when you are going to die or how you are going to die? (You can’t change the time or method of your death.)

I think when. I really like to have a schedule. It messes with my head when I don’t so knowing when I am going to die would be great!

Bonus bonus: There is just not enough sexy in the world right now so I feel you all need to see some boobs.

This post is for TMI Tuesday. To see who else is being wicked during the lockdown head on over and check it out.

TMI Tuesday – Socially Distant Edition #1

Good Morning everyone and welcome to another round of TMI. As I posted a few days ago. I have been struggling with life and so my TMI participation has been low. But I am back bitches!. 

H posted an interesting video on the source post for TMI Tuesday which is like a lot of the stuff around at the moment so I thought I would share a personal favourite from my own FB feed. 

I truly appreciate the amount of thought that went into this but not as much as I appreciate the pretty boy inside the blanket!!!!

On to the questions.

1. If you are self-isolating, under lockdown orders, or quarantined, what is your main daily activity?

In the Land Down Under we are not on full lockdown at this stage. A lot of people are still going to work, some are working from home and some are unemployed. Schools have moved to online delivery. For me personally I am expected to be at work daily even if my students are not. But this week and next constitute the Easter break for Australian schools. I am avoiding using the word holiday because sitting in front of me as I type is a substantial list of work and study related tasks, the most significant one is a 2750 word essay about Social Justice Teaching in Catholic Schools. Yes I am completing a course that will qualify me to teach religion in a Catholic School. I am on record for saying many times the decision to enroll in and complete this course was stupid. At least I am not paying for it.

So in conclusion I may be at home and able to wear what I want and eat when I want but that my friends is the extent of my “holiday”.

2. Would you rather be alone for the rest of your life or always be surrounded by annoying people?

I have joked many times with Mr Jones about leaving humanity behind and becoming a hermit. So I guess alone is my preferred option.

As long as I can have a cat, and be visited by pretty boys that I can use as sex toys from time to time.

img_0400-2

3. Would you rather never use social media sites/apps again or never watch another movie or TV show?

I have a friend who is in what I would consider an extremely toxic relationship. Both parties are ex drug addicts who are currently using social media to bash each other emotionally. When I see the kind of damage being involved with social media does to this kind of person the answer to the above is a no-brainer.

Social media is like any other drug. Fine in moderation but moderation varies from person to person and there are people who it is not fine for… ever.

I am not one of those people, I hope. But I would happily let it go and watch a movie.

4. Would you rather live in a utopia as a normal person or in a dystopia but you are the supreme ruler?

I kind of feel like these two options are the same. I am a bit of a fan of Mad Max so I think I would rather be like the Tina Turner character in Beyond Thunderdome

mad max

5. Are humans better at creation or destruction?

Individual humans are great at creation. eg Da Vinci, Elon Musk, Mozart.

The human race is absolutely hell bent on destroying everything. Witness global warming, nuclear weapons and social media.

The real question is, will the creators that are everywhere in our world be enough to outweigh the destruction of the human race as a whole?

Bonus: Would you rather find your true love or a suitcase with five million dollars inside?

I am gonna go with the suitcase so I can build a mansion for me and my cats with maybe some accommodation for my toy boys.

toyboys

PS During the writing of this post I have discovered that Netflix has a series actually entitled Toyboys!!!!

I know what I am watching tonight!

This post is part of TMI Tuesday. Always interesting seeing what skeletons come out of people’s closets. Head on over and check it out!. 

img_0933-2

This Teacher Life

Earlier in the week I posted about my frustration with Corona Virus. It was not so much  a comment about the virus itself but more groan of frustration with the way that people around me are reacting.

In case you haven’t read me before I am a teacher of teenagers. I teach Mathematics and Science to students aged between 13 and 18. I seem to have a way with students who find Mathematics difficult and who have disengaged from Maths learning due to continual failure, usually as a result of poor teaching to begin with but we won’t go in to that!!!. Consequently those are the classes I get assigned.

Teenagers love drama. My students, who aren’t really motivated to engage in learning, are particularly fond of it basically because it is the only reason they come to school. So after a day of dealing with constant questions about “When is school getting shut down?”,  ridiculous reactions every time someone in the room sneezes or coughs, and chatter about ridiculous rumors naming any number of people who are infected, I was done.

For the record at this time Australia is yet to crack 1000 cases (source).

Around the time I made the post I was also made aware that one person in the blogosphere at least was concerned about my reduced rate of posting. Thank you very much for your concern Mr A. So I am here to reassure everyone that I am not infected. I am also starting to think that I am living in the only country in the world that is not in lockdown.

The reason for the lack of posts? Boring, ordinary, end of term workload. As I type I am contemplating the draft assignments sitting on my laptop waiting for my pearls of feedback wisdom, the completed assignments waiting for my grading wisdom and the online lesson delivery resources that I need to prepare just in case the school does get shut down.

Despite what my students think, school getting shut down does not mean an instant holiday for everyone. For teachers it is about working out a whole bunch of new ways to convey ideas and information. For many of us it is about learning how to use technology that we are very unfamiliar with. I have been to training sessions to help with this in the last few weeks but still, when in front of students, the tools don’t sit as easily in my hand as a whiteboard marker and my voice. And that is when I am just in practise mode and can revert to the tried and true when a student really doesn’t get it. What happens when they are behind a screen?

So I am still here. My life is definitely not sexy at the moment. My writing is struggling but there are still bits and pieces happening when I get a chance. Roll on actual end of term holidays that are two weeks away.

Image result for school holidays gif