Reflections on the last six months

Joshua Rosenberg


This spring and the beginning of summer felt (and this year feels) impossible to summarize.

It started off a little personally tumultuous; beginning in October (of last year), our little one started to get colds—we think from daycare. In mid-December, he had an ear infection, which started one of the most challening (in the context of everything ultimately being alright—we were safe, cared for, and we had our jobs/incomes) periods… at least of adulthood. I can’t clearly say whether it looks better or worse looking back, but the little basically had ear infections constantly. He would take an antibiotic, feel better within one or two days, be fine for around another week, and, then, within a few days (and, in a few cases, a day) of stopping the antibiotics, he became sick again.

He had something like six ear infections during the December, 2019-March, 2020 period. Little missed a lot of daycare and we missed a ton of work. We were also constantly sick; my wife became more sick than she’d been since college (we think it was the flu). I felt like I couldn’t get healthy. Weekends felt as hard as weekdays, and we didn’t see any family between the end of winter break and mid-March.

Then …

Well, then, our little one had a tubes surgery. It was scheduled for April, but we were lucky to have it be moved to March, and, then, right when the pandemic was beginning, from a Monday (when the CDC was releasing—and then released—guidance to doctor’s to not carry out elective surgeries, including tubes surgery) to a Thursday. The surgery itself was a breeze. I wrote a post on it here.

Around the same time, I was scheduled to travel to Portland for the SIGSCE conference1; at the last minute, between being sick, caring for the little one, and being very concerned about the pandemic, I decided to cancel the trip.

Then the pandemic started. We were so lucky to have had the little one’s surgery before; it would have been four-six weeks, otherwise. And, then, my parents visited, after which the pandemic became much worse. So, they stayed with us for a month. And, the little one was healthy, we rested, spent time together, and tried to make sense of things. My parents eventually left (for Michigan - where things had finally become better), and, we had a few quiet weeks. It was a weird combination of a sweet time with a stressful national and international catastrophe. My son and I went camping together for the first time at Frozen Head State Park; it was meaningful in a way I can’t easily sum up. We’ve been to GSMNP four times and to Obed for the first time. Workwise, somewhere in between all of this, my co-authors and I sent our book to our publisher and finished revisions for a long worked on article. Work continued. I have Zoomed.

Then, George Floyd was murdered, and a personal period of learning, discussion, and (the beginning of) action began. It was heart-wrenching and then somewhat encouraging.

My wife began a pretty intense summer course schedule for her Information Sciences graduate program, including a four-week mini-term class. I wasn’t (and am not) teaching, but things felt like they somehow picked up pace, with a conference, a weeklong teacher PD, another conference, and a one-day workshop. Research on other projects, especially those wth students working and/or with time to dedicate in the summer, accelerated. I was involved in service for a section of an AERA Division and was reviewing manuscripts.

And … this sort of brings me to back to the impossibility of summarizing this year. In a few words, so far, this year has been—roughly in this order:

The personal and collective feel like they’ve blended together this last year; maybe this is my circumstance. I’ve always felt like I deal well in stress (relaxing is more of a challenge for me), but I’ve struggled, a bit, to make sense of my experiences over the past few months. I won’t try; I will just share this as a way of reflecting on and documenting some of the past six months or so. I will try to take a break over the next few weeks, before fall begins. I know this past year has been much harder (in many cases, unimaginably harder) on many than it has been for me (and my wife and little one); actually, I’m grateful that words like “sweet” could make their way into my thinking over these past six months.

  1. the conference was eventually cancelled the day it began, oye