7 Glorious Hours · 24 October 2020

It might not seem that significant, but I got seven glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep a week or so ago.

Pain is an interesting thing. It makes you want to sleep, but it keeps you awake. At least that is what it does to me. Or maybe it is just that pain has kept me awake since the last week of August, and so I long for sleep.

(The next couple paragraphs seem to come out of the blue, but they really do fit. Trust me.)

I do not know if you have those conversations at supper, but we do. Those conversations where you ask what one food you would want on a desert island if you had a magic refrigerator. Or who you would take to said desert island if you knew you would never be rescued. Everybody chimes in and says why. They are great conversations with kids, and even young adults.

Those conversations have changed over the years. Rather, the questions have changed. One of my favorite questions is: If you did not need to eat or sleep, which would you rather not do?

I have always answered that I would rather not sleep. (See, I told you the paragraphs would fit.) Sure, there are plusses to not needing to eat. The first that comes to mind, of course, is that you do not need to poop. The downside to not eating though is that there is all that glorious food. Food, glorious food. (Somebody even wrote a song like that.) And people who think that a meatless dairyless diet does not have any glorious food, are certainly mistaken.

But I digress. (If digressing from a digression is even possible.)

I always answer that I would choose not to sleep because there is so much that you could do in a day if you did not need to sleep. I would write and read and draw. I would play music. I would learn and learn and learn. Not that I do not try to do those things now, but I would love to be able to have six or seven or eight more hours in the day to do so. It is just that sleep gets in the way.

Or so I thought.

After not really sleeping much since the last week in August, I might change my dinner conversation answer from not sleeping to not eating. If I could survive without having to do one or the other, I think I would now stop eating before I stopped sleeping. Yes, I know that they are both necessary and that I do not really get to stop doing either. But certainly deprivation gives you a sense of what you are missing. And I have really missed sleep.

Which brings me back to the beginning. After nearly seven weeks of fitful, broken, non-continuous sleep, I finally had a breakthrough. I finally slept seven hours in a row. Seven glorious hours. Seven wonderful hours. Seven continuous hours. I never knew I missed sleep so much until I actually got to sleep again. I do not know if I will get to experience those glorious consecutive hours of sleep again right away or not (turns out one in a row was it at the time of this writing), but I look forward to when I do. For I realize how wrong I have been for eschewing sleep. It is necessary. It is refreshing. It is wonderful. Especially, when it is seven glorious continuous hours of restful sleep.

It might not seem significant to most people, but seven hours of uninterrupted sleep truly is a glorious thing.

(Look at that. I did not even mention that the pain was from shingles, or that you should get your shingles vaccination.)

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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From Hostage to Jedi · 17 October 2020

I hope that a new blog post about transforming from hostage to Jedi is evidence enough of my existence.

(By the way, what happens at school does not necessarily stay at school. But not to worry, I rarely mention names. And my stories are usually innocuous. And sometimes even entertaining. Oh. You might want to read the post called Move If You Are Alive to get a little context.)

The other day, I went from hostage to myth to something like the Jesus and the Holy Spirit to a hologram to a Jedi to a con man then back to a Jedi. Oh yeah. And the new person on staff said that she did not have enough evidence to know that I am real person to begin with. Like I already said, I hope this blog post is enough evidence to prove my existence. Even if people still think I am a hostage.

I am sure that I have said it several times, but I love my job. And I love the people I work with. I even love that they show their love to me by teasing me. Which brings me to my story.

Teaching can be a lonely profession under normal circumstances, but not seeing our colleagues on a daily basis makes it even lonelier. Some people are teaching from their computers at school. Some people are teaching from their computers at home. But everybody is by themselves. So we need something to keep us together while we are apart. And sometimes we need a distraction to keep up morale.

Which is where I come in. Or at least where I came in the other day.

If you read about the way I attend staff meetings, you know that one of my colleagues said that I looked like I must be a hostage in some bleak lonely room someplace. He said the other day that maybe it was Gitmo or some other godforsaken place. Somebody else said that the hostage takers must have good internet because my feed has been pretty good. Then, it started to digress.

Somehow I got to be a myth. Yes. A myth. Somebody akin to Santa Claus. All good and nice. Giving Cs to all. Or something like that. Well, I must admit that I added fuel to the fire. I made an obscure reference to The Muppet Movie, that surely only a few would get so I sent a link to the clip. Okay. Maybe it was not so much fuel as permission (as if our staff needs permission to pipe in about me). Everybody seemed to chime in about who or what I am.

Somebody said that me being a myth was not exactly right. “Miyoshi is more like a consciousness. I even have a wrist band with the letters WWMD, which helps me stay on course.” Or something like that. I liked the comparison. More a combo of Jesus and the Holy Spirit than myth or legend.

Then came the hologram. No myth. No spirit. Just a hologram. That reference came with a picture of Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi watching the hologram of Princess Leia asking for help. I had to take exception to that one too. Not only was I now a hologram, but I was Princess Leia! Oh the insanity.

But a couple others saw the hologram a different way. They likened me to a Jedi. Obi-Wan Miyoshi. “Obi-Wan, I haven’t heard that name in years.” I felt much better. Me. A Jedi. Imagine that.

Of course, I probably should have heard Darth Vader’s voice saying, “But you are not a Jedi yet.” After all, the next person called me a con man. Apparently I have been setting people up for the long con just to disappear. I am not sure what long con I have been trying to perpetrate, but apparently I have been doing it, and am ready to disappear without a trace. The funny thing is that I had conversation on a different day about the imposter syndrome. The imposter syndrome is where an individual does not believe he or she has the requisite skills to perform his or her job. Individuals suffering from the imposter syndrome are always wondering when people will find out they are imposters and get rid of them. I suppose that the long con was impersonating a mediocre teacher.

Well, I am happy to say that the email thread ended on a positive note. I returned to being a Jedi. However, it was not the happiest thought. After all, the thread went full circle. I was a Jedi hostage. “We don’t need to pay the ransom because if they strike him down, he will return more powerful than he was before.” Full circle indeed.

I hope that this blog post is enough evidence to prove that I exist. And I hope that it has brought a little sunshine and hope and morale to an isolated group of educators trying to do the best they can in a crazy situation.

(Now I can get back to living the life of a kidnapped mythical Jedi spirit.)

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Move If You Are Alive · 10 October 2020

I was not going to write any more pieces about shingles, but an interesting thing happened in a staff meeting the other day that kinda sorta has something to do with shingles. (Although it might be one of those stories where you had to be there.)

I am still thinking of the silver lining COVID has given me this school year. I would probably have had to take sick leave from school for the first month of school. Maybe longer. As it is, I have been able to work and manage the pain that is shingles. (If I have not said it before, shingles equals pain. So get your shingles vaccination.)

One of the ways that I have managed the pain of shingles is to not move too much. When the pain is the worst, I just try to stay still. Which is interesting because as the time has passed, I have found movement and activity relieve the pain or at the very least, keep my mind off the pain. Then again, the pain is more tolerable these days. At any rate, during the school day, I do not move much. Mostly because I am in my virtual classroom or a virtual meeting all day long.

Like I just said, I do not move much during our virtual meetings. I just sit there and listen, and try to take in the information being presented. If I need to interact, I do, but for the most part, I can just sit and listen. Apparently, I look like a bump on a log. Or maybe even like a cardboard cutout. Which is how it all began.

If you have lived and worked with people for a long time, you get to know who can take a joke and who cannot. You know how people show and accept love. You can even become a family. The people where I work know that I have a sign that looks like a target on my back. A sign that says “Pick on me.” (Which, by the way, is another story. One that I actually did write.)

Truth be told, I probably put that sign on my own back long ago. I do not know exactly when or how it happened, but the short version of the story is that I can take it. Teasing and ridicule are surely part of how people show their love for me. And taking it is part of how I show my love back. Or something like that. Like I said long ago, if somebody knows me for more than a few minutes, they read the sign on my back and start picking on me to show that they accept me as I am.

If you are wondering how this rambling all relates, I am finally getting there.

Apparently, I was sitting like a cardboard cutout during a recent staff meeting. I was sitting there leaning up against the wall as I do most every meeting. Said wall is blank. In fact, I pointed the computer at the blank wall so that I would not have anything distracting there and so that I could have different backgrounds if I chose. It is not a perfect blue or green screen, but it works pretty well. In fact, the wall is some sort of blue color. At any rate, I was sitting there being still and paying attention to what was going on in the meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting when things were finishing up, one or more of my colleagues and friends wondered in the chat if I was alive. Somebody else replied something about not paying a ransom without assurances that I was in good shape. Apparently, my stark background and my still body made me look like I was in a hostage video without sound or ransom demands. As the meeting broke up, somebody actually said, “Miyoshi, move or say something if you are alive.”

I laughed, unmated myself, and waved both arms above my head. I said, “I am okay, just in pain from shingles. Go get your shingles vaccination.” Or something like that.

People laughed. They relaxed. They were being the people I have known and loved for so long. Even if we were only together digitally. And I was happy to have helped provide a moment of respite and maybe a bit of fun for all of them during this strange time in life and education.

Afterward, I teased one of my friends that I saw her trying to hold back her laughter. She was sitting there smiling and I could tell she was holding in a big laugh. As is her norm, she apologized when she did not need to. She was actually the one who pointed out that the whole thing was a good release for the staff. A welcome respite from the stress that is remote learning.

There was another aspect of the whole thing that is somewhat a side story. Another of my friends said in not so many words, “Miyoshi is my friend and brother, and nobody can pick on him but me.” Which was a nice sentiment that he mostly denied saying. And I can completely relate. I am the only one who can pick on my brothers and sister too.

I love and miss being with my work family. I miss the good times we share in the halls and classrooms and lunchrooms. I miss talking about school and life. And of course, I miss being there for people to pick on me and have a little fun. Really. Which is why I am glad that they got to have a little fun at my expense at the staff meeting the other day. (I also got to tell them to go get their singles vaccinations.) And I got to tell a story about the whole thing. Even if you had to be there to totally understand.

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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