Health matters in 2022


The Verano hill is my COVID test.


I pull over at the Ray Carrillo memorial gold wheelbarrow and dig my balaclava out of my backpack because my nose is cold (Raynaud’s disease according to my internet medical degree) and I’ve learned that if I’m still cold after going up the one hill on my ride to the high school I need to add a layer. I ride past the place where I last saw James Pendergast then make it to class with 20 minutes to spare. I park my bike in the middle of my classroom because teaching by example is powerful.


We are in a very messy stage of COVID, half my students are out, most with positive tests or fear of positive tests and the rest of us are just playing through, staying home if we have symptoms, coming to work if we don’t. And after years of riding up the Verano hill (yes, I realize it’s not really a hill) I know if I’m sucking air by the time I reach the wheelbarrow, my respiratory system is compromised and maybe it’s time for a little nasal swab.


Course, if I get tested through the district, the results take a minimum of 2 days, and with no subs available, a positive test complicates our learning environment significantly. Plus, I’ve had some other health issues this month so who knows for sure what’s COVID and what’s not?


Wondering how we got here? Why we aren’t driving flying cars and haven’t cured cancer or homelessness or starvation or COVID for that matter? Me too, especially the flying cars part.


It’s all health and science, or rather a prioritization of health and science. And it starts in the classroom with the kids who are currently desperate for a leader to guide them to whatever is next. And please don’t listen to any of those whiney teachers in Chicago and San Francisco, good teachers are playing through, vaxed and boosted, treating the pandemic like the flu and happy to have classrooms full of noisy, curious, scared and happy students. Or, maybe that’s just me, but I don’t think so.


Did you lose some people this year? Of course you did because as a member of Homo Sapiens we all have one thing in common (it used to be two things but so many people don’t pay their fair share of taxes anymore, it’s now off the list). Wanna know how to best deal with death? Simple, pivot and celebrate life.


Kamela Portuges-Robbins, I will always remember the pizza you brought on our second day in Sonoma. Spring of 1999 seems like yesterday, we were young, had bought an old Craftsman house down the block from you, had a baby girl and a boy on the way, knew nothing about Sonoma much less Boyes Hot Springs, knew nothing about refurbishing old Craftsman homes but that pizza symbolized that everything would be OK. And it has been, for the most part, we saw you periodically, when you gave our girl her Justin Bieber puppet head for Christmas, when you would ride by with your new husband, when I saw you and you were late to give a lecture in Santa Cruz but you still had time for a catch-up chat. You will always be our puppeteer.


Tom Ellis, I can still see your smiling face walking toward my classroom. You were not only the husband who kept my colleague sane but my substitute when I needed to chase the fresh powder. You helped me build sobriety confidence when I wasn’t really connecting with AA, I connected with you, “Just live better and don’t be too hard on yourself.” was your suggestion. Priceless.


Jerry McCullough, you were the assertive dad who complemented my passive dad. You taught me how to ride a bike down your artichoke lined driveway in Hollister. I will always remember your tumbler of white wine over ice on the porch in Big Meadows where you would spend hours playing solitaire and singing strange and wonderful songs. Solitaire got me through COVID and not a game goes by without me thinking about you.


Loss sucks. Right? All we can do is remember, appreciate, live healthy and try to do a little better each day.  And did you hear the statistic that COVID will kill an estimated 300,000 unvaxed people in the next few months? And that 90% of current hospitalizations are unvaxed folks as well?  If you are still fearing the shot, please fear death more. And if your health is bad, COVID is the giant wakeup call to make a plan and commit to health in 2022.


But enough of that, I realized long ago that no matter what science-based information I bring, minds are set. And as you know all that matters is tomorrow so let’s make some plans.


Remember plans?  It’s what people used to think about before all this uncertainty. Is it wrong to schedule the Community Center to come work with students making murals and throwing pots and making prints? Is it wrong to be preparing for the boy’s tennis season? To build and install the SONOMAWOOD sign for the 25th anniversary of the Sonoma International Film Festival in March? And how about the ping-pong fundraiser and the summer trip to Spain and on and on.


All planning is good, sure the plans might fall victim to regulations and COVID realities but they might not and if you are boosted and living healthy you have done all you can, so go live. And don’t you really need that winter trip to Yosemite to recharge your batteries and justify all the hard/strange/tiring work of the last 2 years. Of course you do.


Health matters, now more than ever.














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