Three surprising outcomes, none of which were directly related to Biden’s win.

Woman showing gratitude after the election by holding her hands over her heart.
Woman showing gratitude after the election by holding her hands over her heart.
Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Before you dismiss this as, “oh great, here’s another Trumper who’s all in her feelings because he lost,” please know that I am thrilled that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been sleeping better and my anxiety has eased up since the results were announced. After HRC’s defeat in 2016, I was so afraid that our country would continue to be led by unethical fascists.

With that said, however, I have been unexpectedly grateful for three experiences that haven’t been directly related to the election results.

We went to Florida to visit relatives this past June and, I swear, that was the last time anything interesting happened in our household. Thanks to the pandemic, every day since then had been the same eery grind: work from home, putter around the yard, feed and water the children, text each other when a cute feral cat wanders by. …


How we can utilize self-reflection, respectful communication norms, and supportive outside resources

Photo of multiple people placing their hands on top of one another in a gesture of solidarity.
Photo of multiple people placing their hands on top of one another in a gesture of solidarity.
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

For many American households, the 2020 election elicited feelings of either relief and jubilation or shock and bitterness. For me, I was grateful that the results were announced on a Saturday and that our family had the weekend to privately process our reactions to the historic results. Even so, as I was finalizing my lesson plans on Sunday night, I found myself staring into space, still preoccupied with all of it. I thought about how much time I had needed over the weekend to process everything, even though I was more mentally prepared after the similarly divisive 2016 election.

With that said, I knew that I was still going to feel a little emotional when I returned to the classroom on Monday, and I anticipated that some of my students would as well. I remembered how much I had appreciated it when my own teachers had given us time to discuss events like the Challenger explosion or the start of the Gulf War. While these events were not as divisively partisan, they still produced strong emotional reactions. Our classroom community was going to need some time to pause, reflect, and process the moment. …


How I got my family on board with five practical strategies for lowering anxiety and getting back in control

Author’s photo of a kitchen counter with piles of papers, a laptop, red purse, basket of apples
Author’s photo of a kitchen counter with piles of papers, a laptop, red purse, basket of apples
Image by the author: the To-Do Zone

Above is a picture of one of my kitchen counters. Judge away!

This is also my designated To-Do Zone.

Come, come! Lean closer and let me walk you through it so that you, too, can revel in the chaos.

  • The pile: vote by mail ballots, some cards I need to write and mail out, a Christmas ornament that needs to be put away in the attic.
  • An Order of the Arrow patch that I want to modify and sew onto my Scouting hoodie. …


The List that aspires to reach proper noun status.

Photo of grains of sand falling through fingers of both hands.
Photo of grains of sand falling through fingers of both hands.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Look, if you weren’t completely down with the “extra” hour that we got from the time change yesterday, I’m not sure if we can still be best friends.

I’m just kidding. Of course, we’re still best friends. Because: it’s just too hard to make new friends as an adult, right? Plus, the nice thing about having writer friends is that they will tolerate strong opinions about inconsequential nonsense. They know the slipper will be on the other foot soon enough.

Anyways, I’m glad we’ve had this reaffirmation-of-our-friendship talk. …


Or you can call me Dr. Miss.

Photo of author standing outside of her house.
Photo of author standing outside of her house.
Author’s Photo

Big Picture

I write and I teach. I live on the south side of Chicago.

Up until recently, I spent 90% of my professional time teaching high school Spanish and then crammed in some writing on the side. However, I recently had to take a leave of absence from teaching — thanks, Covid! — and I now spend the majority of my time writing. Both endeavors are hard and humbling.

My teaching days often ended with me feeling too mentally exhausted to even have a conversation with my family. …


The emotional labor will be worth it.

interlinked chain of alternating red and blue paperclips; the middle paperclip is broken
interlinked chain of alternating red and blue paperclips; the middle paperclip is broken
Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

I decided to end my marriage of twenty years after I learned my husband was giving blowjobs to a random guy he had met on Craig’s List.

To be clear, I wasn’t shocked that he was bisexual — I already knew that — but I was horrified when he confided that he might have contracted an STD. We did not have an open marriage and I had been having unprotected sex with him while he was out there endangering us both.

I was devastated and angry, yes. …


Little things that have made my writing life more bearable.

Photo of an open book with an autumnal leaf laying on one of the pages.
Photo of an open book with an autumnal leaf laying on one of the pages.
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Just this past April, Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright published a novel about a pandemic, just as our own pandemic was gaining steam. The story is told through the eyes of Henry, a doctor who leaves Atlanta to help contain a “new flu” abroad. It’s eerily prescient in its examination of how humans bring catastrophe upon themselves. …


How the pivot to remote learning changed my mindset.

Photo of a computer keyboard and mouse, spiral bound journal, scissors, glasses, cup of coffee.
Photo of a computer keyboard and mouse, spiral bound journal, scissors, glasses, cup of coffee.
Photo by Andrijana Bozic on Unsplash

When Illinois’ governor mandated last spring that all schools needed to switch to a remote learning model, I was filled with anxiety. I had never completely relied on technology to teach my students, but even more than that, I was worried that the students’ progress would grind to a halt.

And for a while, I was right.

The Illinois State Board of Education mandated that we could “do no harm” and that the students’ grades couldn’t drop below where they had been before the switch to remote learning.

And so time became elastic in the way that only teachers know. Spring was dreary and cold. The final quarter of the school year felt like a slowly deflating helium balloon: just enough air to keep it afloat, but only hovering a few inches above the floor. And with summer came sunshine and days that still flew by, even during a pandemic. …


Is it possible to counter-manipulate climate change deniers?

The eastern Himalaya Mountains create an irregular white-on-red patchwork between major rivers in southwestern China.
The eastern Himalaya Mountains create an irregular white-on-red patchwork between major rivers in southwestern China.
Photo by USGS on Unsplash

Fifteen years ago, I realized that my former in-laws didn’t “believe” in climate change.

I’m using sarcastic quotes around the word “believe” because I associate the act of believing with science and data. But what do I know?

This was my former father-in law’s “theory:”

“The whole notion of fossil fuels causing the polar ice caps to melt is a bunch of garbage! What — do we have polar bears up at the North Pole, driving their big polar bear cars around? Beep beep! Polar bear motorcades coming through! Of course not. There aren’t any roads up there, so it’s impossible that fuel emissions are hurting the polar caps. …


The story of a school’s culture

Photo of a dimly lit school hallway with a large window at the end of it.
Photo of a dimly lit school hallway with a large window at the end of it.
Photo by Rebecca Campbell on Unsplash

I teach at a high school on the south side of Chicago where our student population is a mix of low-income Black, Latino, and Caucasian. Many of our Latino students’ families are Mexican immigrants who do not speak English.

When I first started working there, I was struck by how many of my students — really, all of them — called me Miss. I initially thought that it was because my last name at the time, Szeszycki, was difficult to pronounce, but I soon realized that there wasn’t even an effort to address me as Miss S.

I was always Miss. So were my female co-workers. …

About

Dr. Miss

{writer | educator | Ed.D. | hiker | leader | feminist} email: lorimann921@gmail.com

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