A Pandemic Diary

The Couches

A pandemic, everyone said. There were whispers since at least January, but by March, there were cases. Like one per state. A pandemic. How much worse could it get? All I wanted was my couches, ordered in November when everything was normal. Camping furniture in a new house loses its appeal after two weeks, much less two months. Their arrival was scheduled Monday, March 16, during my teaching time. But then… A pandemic. On Thursday, March 12, in-person classes were cancelled until further notice.

I got my couches. Sitting on them in relief, I pondered. A pandemic??

The Call

Go to the store. Now. Buy food for a month. Plant your own garden. Gear up for the worst. Please.

You call with your insider intel as a pediatrician, as my father. Your words sound unreal, inconceivable. Have you bought into some conspiracy? Don’t you remember I kill all plants?


Like a good daughter, I go to the store. I buy food for a month. I do not plant a garden. That is too risky.

The Call, Reprise

Go to the store. Buy food for a month. Gear up for the worst. Your newscaster urgency, accompanied by the scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen, casts a doomsday pall as I sit on my new couch.

I do not call my dad to say he was right.


Focus fleeting, accomplishing nothing, repeat. Focus…


By: Melissa Wells

So Little Time

It was the last week of classes. She looks at her syllabus and feels a sense of terror. So much to do and in so little time. Exams were coming and papers were due, and there it was in bold and italics: “no exceptions!” She takes a look at her readings and quizzes due, sighs, and logs into Chegg.com.

Sure, she should have been keeping up with the readings, discussions, quizzes and assignments, and maybe she could have planned her semester better. How was she to know that Covid would take her brother?


By: Chad Flinn


The oncologist’s calmly spoken words, “The CT results are not what we would have hoped,” shrieked LIFE CHANGE! at me.

A routine blood test in January had triggered a descending spiral over the next six months: possibilities, more tests, results, different possibilities, more tests, results, fewer possibilities, more tests, and now, early stage 4 metastatic disease. It’s a — well, a gut punch for sure, but the pattern … it figures — or maybe it’s just unreal yet.

“Prostate cancer is slow growing,” I hear. “You probably have five years. We’ll start you on radiation next month.”

2020 was a breeze after 2019.


By: anonymous

Being Home

Homelearning, homeschooling, what shall we call it? Working, writing, thinking, talking, despairing, explaining math, answering questions. This was not how I had imagined it before….


By: Katharina Poltze

Obstacles to Progress

The obstacles to progress are so large and round. Can’t see my way over. Can’t do what needs doing. Breathe deeply. Coping skills. Use my words. Is there a negotiation strategy? Acknowledge the other or stand my ground? Failure. Head down and sigh. The cat won’t budge from the keyboard.


By: Katherine Punteney


You enjoy sitting on the back patio each morning, catching up on emails, drinking coffee, preparing for the day. One of the few joys of your work-from-home pandemic routine.

Suddenly the dog runs outside, barking wildly. He heard it before you saw it. Then she’s outside, too, eyes on the globe slowly floating over the backyard through the deep blue sky. Time pauses for a brief moment until it passes out of sight.

A sky filled with balloons is a common occurrence here, you know well. Yet, their daily appearance still elicits wonder and joy.

God, you love New Mexico.


By: Brandon Morgan

The Last Year

Little zoom squares shape my dreams.


By: Katharina Poltze

Why I Mask

Valuing humankind over my personal comfort.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Behind the Mask

Masks! Different shapes, colors, sizes, designs. Look around: masks! Will we ever get rid of them? Or is that the new normal? Keeping our distance, no hugs, no closeness. Mostly annoyed, no facial expressions, no mouths, only eyes.

And yet sometimes I catch myself loving the anonymity. No one who really sees ME, no one who can see what my face reveals, what relief. Feelings that can be hidden. Sinking into the faceless mask-wearing masses, being anonymous as an escape.

And I have to be careful not to completely unlearn what it’s like to be human and a social being….


By: Katharina Poltze


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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