We had in-person class today. For some reason a few of the students decided to wear some political gear. I don’t care if the students want to wear some gear so long as we keep any arguing outside of the classroom. The classroom is for science. That is not what happened. As I was walking into class to disinfect before letting the students in I could hear some arguing. So I told them that shit stops when they pass through my doors. It did not. There was a snarky comment when I asked for input on a biological problem and it blew up. I raised my voice for the very first time in the classroom and ended class. I had everyone leave except the troublesome students and had a freaking grade-school discussion about civility.

There’s been an air of anger and negativity since the semester started. Normally, I enjoy the energy on campus, the weather turning, and students rallying around each other for whatever sport or whatever is happening. Since the semester started there’s like a gray cloud over campus. There seems like there’s no sense of community. The pandemic, protests, and now the political atmosphere are really bringing out the worst in people and everyone seems negative and unempathetic all the time. Most conversations I have with people are negative, and I have to really try to get a rousing fun conversation going. Even my students seem a little gloomy.

So I’ve been making it a very active point to be positive. Maybe to a fault, but I don’t care. I’ll tell stupid jokes and talk about ANYTHING other than the pandemic and politics. In class I’ve been even wearing silly clothing. I’ve been throwing out so many compliments that HR is probably going to be called at some point. I don’t need to live in some kind of rose-colored world, but I want a balance.

I took my little one on a short outing (they will be backpacking as soon as they’re old enough) to a forest area I like where I can listen to the water, read a book, and have a nice cup of tea. It was a nice little pause on the gloom that everyone has been exuding. I know that it’s naïve of me to think everything will be okay, but I don’t like always being on and worrying or complaining. I’ll do my part (as I hope everyone will) in the polls, I’ll minimize my footprint on the planet (as I hope everyone will), and I’ll appreciate the time I spend with my friends and the family members I like. I know I’m maybe naïve to think this way, but there’s only so much more room for gray hair on my head.


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