This is my first post since February, so hello! The details behind my long absence don’t really matter, because, really, haven’t we all been dealing with the same troubles for months now?
But basically, long story short: I teach college, and as soon as the coronavirus started to be a thing (ugly, accursed thing; we collectively spit on you!), my teaching and administrative responsibilities exploded. It has been grueling and nonstop since then. But finally . . . a breather. I just finished teaching my summer class and I start up again in two weeks with a pre-academic year program and then will ease back into the fall term, at which point I hope that somehow things will be slightly more under control. We’re changing from Blackboard to Canvas, and I think faculty are also due to get new computers, which is always a little disruptive. But I’ve now learned how to use Microsoft Teams and Vidgrid and have become familiar with many other new skills and platforms that I wasn’t good at when this whole online teaching thing began. So at least I feel fairly well prepared to handle my classes this fall.
And before I go any further, I should also add how grateful I am to be employed. Truly, with so many people’s livelihoods shattered by this virus and its fallout, I am very aware of how fortunate I am to have a stable job. (Currently, at least. As we’ve seen far too often in the past several months, things can fall apart completely overnight.)
Plus, so far no one in my family or immediate circle of friends has contracted COVID-19. (*superstitiously knocks on wood*)
So here I am again, back to my blog. Without ceremony and practically without explanation. Mostly because once my MS Teams meetings were over today, I went through my email and stumbled across something I ordinarily (pre-COVID-19) would have wanted to share on my blog. This has happened to me often over the past several months. I’ve even taken photos that I intended to share. But I never felt I could justify the half hour of time it would take away from work to write a blog post. And you know how once you’re away from something you feel like you can’t resume it without some sort of explanation? After radio silence for weeks, then months, it felt too awkward popping in here to post a photo as if only a few days had gone by.
Anyway . . .
Today I just found this really cool website, thanks to a daily email I subscribe to, “The Download” from MIT Technology Review. The site is called “WindowSwap.” And it’s nothing more than a series of windows. That is, from the website you can click to open someone else’s window on the world. Literally. Your screen will show the view from someone’s else’s window. I’ve just looked down on an alley in Shanghai, a sunny backyard garden in Germany, a plant-filled balcony/porch strip with two dogs in India, a rainy day in NYC, a cat overlooking a sun-drenched cityscape in Qatar, an enclosed patio with a waterfall in Singapore, a sunset over dusky hillsides in San Francisco, and sloping, green pastures amid mountains in Switzerland.
Don’t like the view? No worries. There’s bound to be something more appealing just a click or two away. How generous people have been to open up this little part of their homes and outside world to us.
You even have the option to share your own window.
The webiste is window-swap.com.
Give it a try! Here’s screenshot of the view from a window in Switzerland.
WindowSwap is a really perfect momentary distraction—often with the ambient sounds of traffic or breezes and birdsong, and sometimes the sounds of children playing, if the windows are open. Sort of like looking out your own window to experience a brief respite, except you have the added novelty of seeing an entirely different world outside, allowing you to (re)gain perspective in an entirely new way.
For example, after clicking through several windows today, I realized what a tremendous difference flowers made in my feelings toward a view. And once I realized that, I found myself mentally remaking all the unappealing views I encountered to see how they might be redeemed if only some pots of flowers were added to the windowsill or porches or walls. Those imaginary splashes of color completely turned things around. Funny, I’ve always been somewhat indifferent to flowers, like they’re a nice extra but not particularly worthy of attention when money and time are tight.
I’m rethinking that now.
Especially now, when we need uplifting more than ever.
And maybe my best parting words today would be these: Thank you to all the bloggers who kept on posting during the past few months. Some days when my news and social media feeds were bursting with negativity, just opening my WordPress app and seeing you continue to show up every day with your food blogs and art blogs and music blogs and history blogs and your poetry and diaries of ordinary life—all of that normality gave me the positive boost I needed to suck it up and get on with my own daily tasks. ♥