Move If You Are Alive · 10 October 2020
I was not going to write any more pieces about shingles, but an interesting thing happened in a staff meeting the other day that kinda sorta has something to do with shingles. (Although it might be one of those stories where you had to be there.)
I am still thinking of the silver lining COVID has given me this school year. I would probably have had to take sick leave from school for the first month of school. Maybe longer. As it is, I have been able to work and manage the pain that is shingles. (If I have not said it before, shingles equals pain. So get your shingles vaccination.)
One of the ways that I have managed the pain of shingles is to not move too much. When the pain is the worst, I just try to stay still. Which is interesting because as the time has passed, I have found movement and activity relieve the pain or at the very least, keep my mind off the pain. Then again, the pain is more tolerable these days. At any rate, during the school day, I do not move much. Mostly because I am in my virtual classroom or a virtual meeting all day long.
Like I just said, I do not move much during our virtual meetings. I just sit there and listen, and try to take in the information being presented. If I need to interact, I do, but for the most part, I can just sit and listen. Apparently, I look like a bump on a log. Or maybe even like a cardboard cutout. Which is how it all began.
If you have lived and worked with people for a long time, you get to know who can take a joke and who cannot. You know how people show and accept love. You can even become a family. The people where I work know that I have a sign that looks like a target on my back. A sign that says “Pick on me.” (Which, by the way, is another story. One that I actually did write.)
Truth be told, I probably put that sign on my own back long ago. I do not know exactly when or how it happened, but the short version of the story is that I can take it. Teasing and ridicule are surely part of how people show their love for me. And taking it is part of how I show my love back. Or something like that. Like I said long ago, if somebody knows me for more than a few minutes, they read the sign on my back and start picking on me to show that they accept me as I am.
If you are wondering how this rambling all relates, I am finally getting there.
Apparently, I was sitting like a cardboard cutout during a recent staff meeting. I was sitting there leaning up against the wall as I do most every meeting. Said wall is blank. In fact, I pointed the computer at the blank wall so that I would not have anything distracting there and so that I could have different backgrounds if I chose. It is not a perfect blue or green screen, but it works pretty well. In fact, the wall is some sort of blue color. At any rate, I was sitting there being still and paying attention to what was going on in the meeting.
Toward the end of the meeting when things were finishing up, one or more of my colleagues and friends wondered in the chat if I was alive. Somebody else replied something about not paying a ransom without assurances that I was in good shape. Apparently, my stark background and my still body made me look like I was in a hostage video without sound or ransom demands. As the meeting broke up, somebody actually said, “Miyoshi, move or say something if you are alive.”
I laughed, unmated myself, and waved both arms above my head. I said, “I am okay, just in pain from shingles. Go get your shingles vaccination.” Or something like that.
People laughed. They relaxed. They were being the people I have known and loved for so long. Even if we were only together digitally. And I was happy to have helped provide a moment of respite and maybe a bit of fun for all of them during this strange time in life and education.
Afterward, I teased one of my friends that I saw her trying to hold back her laughter. She was sitting there smiling and I could tell she was holding in a big laugh. As is her norm, she apologized when she did not need to. She was actually the one who pointed out that the whole thing was a good release for the staff. A welcome respite from the stress that is remote learning.
There was another aspect of the whole thing that is somewhat a side story. Another of my friends said in not so many words, “Miyoshi is my friend and brother, and nobody can pick on him but me.” Which was a nice sentiment that he mostly denied saying. And I can completely relate. I am the only one who can pick on my brothers and sister too.
I love and miss being with my work family. I miss the good times we share in the halls and classrooms and lunchrooms. I miss talking about school and life. And of course, I miss being there for people to pick on me and have a little fun. Really. Which is why I am glad that they got to have a little fun at my expense at the staff meeting the other day. (I also got to tell them to go get their singles vaccinations.) And I got to tell a story about the whole thing. Even if you had to be there to totally understand.
© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi
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