I made another covers video for my YouTube channel. This time, John Hartford's "Gentle on my Mind."
"Gentle on my Mind" is simply one of the finest songs ever written. It's sentimental and chock-full of imagery. I think I've always loved it, always known it, that it was part of the ether growing up.
It surprises me sometimes how much songs like this fade from mind from pop culture, how something that seemed ubiquitous can become somewhat ephemeral. But the song's still out there, getting covered now and then by the likes of R.E.M. and Alison Krauss.
My uncle, Monte, wrote a comment on the bottom of the YouTube video:
There’s a personal connection to this particular song. My late aunt Lil, was John Hartford’s book keeper, when she & Uncle Evert lived in Sherman Oaks. John continued to send her Xmas cards yearly, after they retired to Redding [California].
So there's a weird little family connection to the song too, which I wouldnt've known if not for posting this video. Neat.
I know that things are rough on the other side of the border, and that we've been dealing with a pandemic, but I don't really have anything to add to the conversation there. Although I listen to the news constantly and it fills me with both trepidation and anger, I have nothing to say about it. I hope for some meaningful peace on American streets soon.
I've been working from home for the last month. I've found it difficult; sometimes I feel like I'm floundering. The things that make teaching worthwhile—joking with students, a-ha moments, problem solving—just don't come off the same through a computer screen. Some of my students have produced some really excellent work in this quarantine; still, it's tough to internalize it when mediated through a screen.
This may be the way of the future in education, but it seems inefficient. Education is already an inherently inefficient system—packing a bunch of kids into rooms isn't exactly practical—but keeping everyone behind a screen, well, it just doesn't seem to work as well. It feels less like I'm teaching the content, more like I'm teaching the platform. I find this uncomfortable because it muddies the waters between content and training. I know we all need to be confident when we move from platform to platform, but it also seems a little hard on the brain, which seems to tire as it bounces between platforms, sorta' like flipping channels too quickly on a television set.
I'd like to believe that, if we'd started the year with the assumption that online education would be the norm, we'd do better. Our school is already accustomed to Google Classroom for the students, which is acceptable, but limited. As soon as the pandemic hit, we had to lean far too heavily on Google Classroom. Albeit robust, it's also a limited mode. Perhaps more importantly, it makes me an agent of Google's advertising: I, the teacher, use Google Classroom, and thereby suggest that Google/Alphabet, the corporation, is good. When activities cannot be easily created and submitted through Google Classroom, students get discouraged, and this discouragement reinforces that Google is good; they feel that assignments that can be completed on Google Classroom are easier, and therefore better. I don't like being a vector of corporate propaganda in this way. I hope we can adopt a better, less corporate, system soon.
Many people, at the beginning of quarantine, said "What will we do with all this time?" They had big goals to learn new things, to use the time in productive ways. I aimed to restart my self-directed piano and French lessons. However, admittedly, this hasn't worked as well as I'd hoped it would. I've played piano, but not very much; I've done some French, but I certainly haven't made it a daily habit. When I likely have time during my work-from-home workday, it's also hard to focus on personal goals when I know I'm supposed to be working at my job. And then I apply some more guilt on myself for not using my time more productively, even for myself. I feel very tired a lot; motivation has been hard to muster.
A few years ago, I finished my Masters In Educational Leadership, with the intention to find my way into school administration. However, I haven't found my way into that field yet. I realized at the beginning of this quarantine that this could be a good opportunity to find some ways to capitalize on this unique opportunity. But instead I got kinda' bogged down in the process, and now I wonder if I'm administrative material at all. As the school year starts to close, I still wonder if I've mis-aimed my goals. It wouldn't be the first time.
But overall things are ok. Not having to drive to school has saved hundreds of dollars in gas costs. I'm getting by and hope to enjoy teaching again soon.
And really, I can't complain about anything.
Recorded a video for the "Coronaoke" Facebook page.
I chose "Someday Soon" because I'd never really paid attention to it before I heard people sing it at karaoke in Agassiz. And when I first heard it, I didn't like it. But it grew on me. So it felt a fitting song to choose to post to a group of people who miss doing karaoke.
I kinda' miss karaoke too, but mainly I miss going to pub jams. So I did this recording and kinda' did a pub jam with myself.
I haven't written here for quite some time—I haven't felt like I've had much to say—but I think I'll try to think a little through writing here.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, I haven't been very social. This has been largely because I've been quite busy. For the last week I've been preparing for school as a distance learning teacher, for example. I've never taught distance learning before and look forward to the challenge, but I also dread being a vector of corporate branding; our school has regrettably depended upon Google's "Classroom" platform. But strange times lead to strange bedfellows, like me and the Google platform. For the time being, in our district, Google's the only feasible way to make the information work.
I've moved in with my partner. This means I've moved out of Agassiz and to New Westminster, close to Vancouver. We moved here at the beginning of March, expecting me to commute to Agassiz for work for at least the remainder of the year. However, the pandemic offered me a solution on this front: stay home... in New West. This will save an enormous amount of time and money, both of which are hard to come by.
I'm happy to have moved in with my partner. It's a bit of a surprise that it worked out. I had kind-of given up hope mid-February that we could find a place to live that fit our mutual professional and personal needs. But then... we found this. And it worked out. And I'm grateful.
The pandemic, however, also decreased the availability of gigs and supplementary work. I had done regular music gigs in Harrison Hot Springs until September, and then followed that with a few months of dog-walking. However, both of those opportunities have disappeared since the pandemic hit, so I have to live without the extra influx of cash each month, which I admittedly got used to. So be it; I can do it.
And that's all. Just for the sake of an update.
Stay safe. Wash your hands.
In the past, I've written about a lack of motivation to complete my musical and photographic projects. I don't feel like tracking down those posts, or trying to find posts I may have deleted. But my lack of motivation to get projects done continues, and I feel like I need to declutter my mind in order to do it.
Plenty of people suggest a big thing: delete your social media. I don't want to do that—I talk to my kids through Facebook Messenger and still enjoy posting my photos to Instagram. But I have noticed that I barely use Twitter and Tumblr, and the greatest suck on my time has been scrolling through Instagram, jealously looking at other photographers' work.
So I've started deleting people I follow on Instagram and Twitter, and may do the same with Tumblr one day. If I don't know the person, I might just not follow them. The FOMO, the envy of their curated lives, is just too strong. That envy of all the people I scan past... I feel that may be a severe hindrance to my motivation.
Of course, the real solution is to delete all the social media, or at least to make it inaccessible somehow. I don't want to lose my numerous "jeffnords" handles, but I don't want to spend time glancing at the social media stuff anymore. It's a tough choice.
Yesterday, I stopped following over 1000 accounts on Instagram, largely so I'd decrease the envy that drives me to go there. It's funny how much it seems I post for "likes;" I'm nervous that all my unfollowing will lead to a lack of "likes" for my photos, which does seem to produce a dopamine hit. I really like it when I get some "likes" on my photos.
But it's not real, is it? I've posted over 1500 photos to Instagram, but it's never really lead to anything but more likes. I haven't met many new people exclusively through the app. I know that's because I'm not being a professional photographer or anything, and I don't need to hustle the professionals and models that might lead to more connections. But when a photo doesn't get many likes, I genuinely feel bad, and then I see all the professional stuff and I feel worse.
So maybe it would be a good thing to delete it all and start over, and break out of this addictive cycle that leads me to spend too much time paying attention to Instagram likes. I don't expect likes from any other social media site; Instagram is the only one that seems to really affect me. So do I let it go?
It's tempting. I'm tired of not getting the motivation to finish my work, to make prints, to finish writing and recording songs, because it's too easy to scroll through a feed.
It's sort-of like how typing stuff online isn't political work, how people feel like they've done something political by posting online, but they haven't done anything to change a single policy. For me, with Instagram, I post things and like people's posts, but it doesn't actually help me do anything genuinely creative. It's a stumbling block.
I may have just talked myself into deleting my Instagram presence.
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