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Dear COVID-19,

Pack your knives and go.

One day you’re in; the next day you’re out.

You’ve been chopped.

But yet you’re still here. And where am I?

Trapped on the couch watching way too much Reality TV. Clearly.

I even managed to get through some of my “Ridiculousness” backlog.

I still have a ways to go.

It’s only been a week of intense social distancing, but it has taken a toll on this extrovert who loves nothing better than to be out of the house.

I remember my mother and father always being aggravated with me:

Mom: Why can’t you sit still?
Me: I just can’t.

Dad: You are going out AGAIN?
Me: YES!

My boss told me I could work from home.

I said I had two teenage boys at home. No WAY I want to be there.

So I’ve been splitting my time.

Answer emails. Walk to work. Answer more emails. Advise students via Zoom. Talk to whoever might be around at a safe distance. Walk home. Answer more emails. Read industry reports.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

On Friday, I spoke to two people. It was a big day.

I’ve been doing plenty of cooking and cleaning. Talking to people ON THE PHONE (!). And drinking. So much for the good done via Dry January.

I just read a horrifying article that indicates this could go on for 10-12 WEEKS.

If that is what it takes to keep more people from getting you, COVID-19, then I understand, and will try not to complain.

But I really wish you would take the hint and LEAVE.

The tribe has spoken.

Impatient and unhappily housebound,
Beth

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Dear Student Sniffling in a Common Area:

I care about your well-being. I do. And because I care, I need to tell you to do something immediately:

Go blow your nose.

Oh my GOD — please. Sucking up your snot every 30 seconds is so annoying to hear. How is it not annoying to you to do it?

Really, you should take your clearly infirm backside home where you can be sick in peace.

If you MUST do homework in a common area where others are present, then at least have some awareness.

  • Keep tissues and hand sanitizer handy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to recover quickly. (You have a water bottle, yet I haven’t seen you take a sip in the two hours I’ve been here.)
  • Take care of yourself.

There’s only one you, and you need to be in peak performance for the rest of the semester.

Get well soon,
Beth

Do this now.

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Dear Students,

I love many parts of my job, but I like teaching you the most. When the semester is over, I’m actually sad (not relieved as many academic types are).

Public Speaking may be my favorite course to teach for three reasons:

  1. I get to know you extremely well through the topics you choose.
  2. You show a large amount of growth in a short amount of time. Each of you improves.
  3. I end up learning plenty.

In fact, this semester, I learned about child labor in smartphone construction, conspiracy theories about Kurt Cobain’s death, the House of Chanel, Chris Jericho’s career, and why you should exercise 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes (as opposed to 3 times a week for an hour, which is my routine at the moment).

I’ve written about student evaluations before, but here’s a recap: It is a little scary for me. There’s always someone who hates me and/or the class. But then I get feedback like this, and it takes out the sting:

(And her heart grew three sizes that day.)

Remember that I’m here for you long after the class ends. Yes, you have to climb a few flights of stairs to see me, but I’m also just a quick email away.

Best wishes,
Dr. Beth

 

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Dear Dominic,

You are something else. You call to mind Forrest Gump:

Your raging hormones ensure that life with you is unpredictable, at best.

See, this recent text exchange made me laugh:

 

 

(Why didn’t you take a selfie? I don’t know.)

This one with your father is pretty funny also:

And you even charmed some college girls when I took you to my Public Speaking class as a visual aid. One student was doing her informative speech on the difference between college-aged Gen Z and younger representatives of the generation.

Students in the class gave the presenter high marks for her breathing visual aid:

When you left, half the girls in the class squealed, “He’s SO CUTE.”

Don’t let that go to your head.

For the love of gawd, as you wrote.

Just don’t.

Instead, focus on your school work so I don’t have to have convos like this:

I love you despite your bad attitude and general slackery.
Mama

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The above is from The Pattern, an iPhone app that freaks me out daily. And this is accurate.

Dear Emotions:

You know I don’t often truck with the seven of you, with the exception of Joy. Joy and I get along GREAT!

As a matter of fact, Joy and I hung out this morning when my niece Chelsea sent me this delightful video:

Yessss.

The rest of you can shove off. I’m the worst at allowing myself to consider any of you. I don’t know if it is a woman thing or a mom thing or just a me thing, but I usually think about myself and my own feelings last.

But.

I showed a speech in my Public Speaking class yesterday that featured Psychologist Susan David noting that we human beings need to do a better job of acknowledging our emotions.

And my friend Brian told me the other day that I needed to “roll my feel window down.”

Fine.

So here are the six other feelings I tend to — or try to — ignore:

1. Anger
I married into a family that goes from zero to 60 in a hot second. So I try to tamp this one down as hard as I can so things don’t escalate. All bets are off with Dominic, though, when he refuses to help around the house but then asks for a replacement phone when he shatters his. For the fourth time.

2. Contempt
I reserve this for Mitch McConnell.

3. Fear
I’m an extrovert in general. But, as I revealed to my Public Speaking students, there is one scenario I find surprisingly crippling: receptions/networking events. I just have the hardest time walking up to a closed group of people and inserting myself.

In fact, I was faced with this scenario Monday during a Rotary meeting. I walked into the room, saw about 30 groups of two to three people close-talking, and decided to visit the restroom and breathe into a paper bag.

Not really, but I did give myself five seconds of panic like Jack in “Lost.”

4. Disgust
This emotion only manifests while I’m watching “Ridiculousness.” Or the aforementioned Mitch McConnell.

5. Sadness
This one is kin to disappointment, which I feel all the time but pretend I don’t. I try to avoid this emotion by managing my expectations. Sometimes it works. (I don’t really expect to win the lottery.) Sometimes it doesn’t. (Want me out of your life? Break a promise.)

6. Surprise
I’m rarely surprised in a bad way (see above for managing expectations) or in a good way (see my post about a recent holiday). But, I was surprised not too long ago that someone I trusted at work could not be trusted. At all. So that was a shock that quickly led to No. 5 before I could put a cork in it.

Yeah. The truth is that I experience all of you but I either pretend that I don’t OR bottle you up as quickly as you appear.

According to Dr. David, I’ve got to do a better job of prioritizing emotional truth over (sometimes false) positivity.

So.

The truth is that sometimes I’m not OK.

And that’s OK.

I guess that means I’ll be hanging out with all seven of you more often. That’s a crowded house, but a richer, more honest one.

My feel window is open.

Come on in,
Beth

 

* Apologies to “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

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Dear Friends,

Back in my day (someone get me my walker), we cruised around Stone Mountain Park after school.

Now the Dunkin’ Donuts is the hangout.

According to Dominic, the crowd is hit or miss.

Last Friday featured quite a crowd, though. When I went to get him and Gideon, I decided I needed an iced coffee.

Inside, I practically needed a machete to hack through the hormones in the air.

As soon as I got back in the car, I got hit with this:

Dominic: At least the thots we liked last year were cute. These are obnoxious and covered in acne. These seventh and eighth graders are awful. Gideon is more mature than any of them.

Gideon, an eighth grader: I really am. It’s true.

Dominic: He can take a hit too.

Me: Wait. What?

Apparently they went to a nearby park before DD to play football.

And that’s why they didn’t want me to pick them up too soon. And ignored my texts.

Dominic: I saw your question mark. Mama, we was out with the boys.

(Gideon informed me it’s supposed to be written this way: “We was out wit da bois.” Shudder.)

During said football game, Dominic had a run-in with a tree.

He saw it as an occasion to go into full drama mode.

I do have to tell you all that he’s been mostly great since he started ninth grade. More from Friday:

Dominic: There are three girls who said they caught feelings for me.

Me: Do you like any of them?

Dominic: Naw. I gotta get me those As.

(Not with that grammar you don’t. But I digress.)

It’s true that the notifications I’ve been getting from Campus Parent have not made my blood pressure spike.

And I made him laugh this week too. We were trying to edge into traffic, and I wanted to slide in front of a particular car.

Me: I’m going to slip in here because Drake isn’t paying attention.

Dominic: [Looks up from his phone to see my reference.]

Me: [Pulling in front and waving] Thanks, KeKe!

Dominic: [Looks at me in shock and actually chuckles.]

Me: You’re impressed I knew that aren’t you?

Dominic: Yes, because you listen to this [referencing The Pixies coming out of the speaker]!

Me: Listen: They were a seminal act of the late ’80s.

Dominic: [Exaggerated eye roll]

So, friends, I’m hoping we’ve turned a corner. (Don’t tell me it won’t last. Let me have my delusions.)

Cautiously optimistic,
Beth

 

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Dear Students Taking My Public Speaking Course,

I just met you this week, and already I’m channeling Dug from “Up.”

This semester is going to be so much fun as I help you unlock your best self — capable of any kind of public speaking. Some of you may not be the next Aristotle, but you’ll be good. Or at least better than you are today.

In return, here are some (nonnegotiable) things I ask from you:

  1. Please use my proper title in email and in person. I’m even fine with “Dr. Beth,” “Dr. C.” or even “Doc Con.” “Miss C” and “Hey” are not acceptable. I worked hard for my doctorate. (Blog readers remember.) And as my teachers said in high school, “Hey” is for horses. (Yuk, yuk.)
  2. Turn in your work on time. That’s in the syllabus, but I’m putting it here too. You may have the best excuse anyone has ever had, but you also have known what is due and when well in advance thanks to that magical syllabus.
  3. Show up to class, and show up on time. You can’t learn anything if you aren’t in class. Again, I don’t want to hear excuses — especially about traffic. We are in Atlanta: You should know to budget an extra hour to get anywhere.
  4. If you do miss class, DO NOT ask me if you missed anything important. Dear God. That’s the WORST. What am I supposed to say? “No, we just sat around and mourned your absence.” Look at the syllabus, and figure it out. Or ask a classmate. Also, I’ve put all assignments online. SIGH.

In return for following these (really quite simple) rules, I promise to make class interesting. Here are some testimonials from your fellow students:

I love you all equally. It’s true; I promise! Read this.

And I can’t imagine my life without teaching — even if it is only one class per semester.

I’m looking forward to seeing you next week when you will deliver your first speech!

Don’t panic. You’ve got this. I’m here for you.

Sincerely,
Dr. Beth

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