Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tiny Coronavirus Stories: The IVC edition! UPDATED with new additions!

Five days ago, on March 19, 2020, Artists & Climate Change, a theatre project that uses drama to raise awareness about the climate crisis, began publishing a series of micro stories on their website which document life during the Coronavirus pandemic. 100 words in length and accompanied by photos, stories from around the world have been posted, four each day.

Because she was already a fan of their work, Rebel Girl heard the call early, submitted her own story and shared the project with her friends and students. Many have been accepted, published and more are forthcoming. As a result, in the first five days, five contributors with IVC ties appeared: three professors, and two former students. Not bad! UPDATE: as of today - March 25 - two more  IVC-related contributions have been published - scroll down to see these additional tiny stories. ANOTHER UPDATE: Friday March 27 finds a Tiny Coronavirus Story written by IVC Professor Brittany Adams. Check it out below. UPDATE #3: Two more IVC-related contributions appear today, March 28.  They have been added below. UPDATE #4: March 29 saw former Prof. Alex Bobrik's tiny story appear. check it out.

Perhaps you will write one of your own to submit.  It's free to submit. Think about it. As one of Rebel Girl's students observed: "We are living through history."

Rebel Girl presents the IVC edition below, but click the links to go to the site and read the others. See how we live now.

Rebel Girl misses you all. Take care. Stay safe. Zoom responsibly.

March 19, 2020



Planting the beans made her feel like a woman in a fairy tale, the German kind, both magical and brutal. She and her son had bought the seeds years ago. They planted one, waited. Then he had taken the plant to school along with a chart marking its growth. She saved the rest. Now he was a senior and she was another kind of senior, which made her vulnerable during this plague. She planted the old beans in cans filled with dirt. She patted each down with a prayer. The day’s rain watered them. What did she have to lose?

— Lisa D. Alvarez (Silverado, California)

March 20, 2020

Do you want the last egg? 

By the second grocery store, he’s becoming mildly panicked. “It’s not about running out of supplies,” he’d told his wife. “I just want to see.” “Check for potatoes and eggs,” she says.

He thinks of the son and daughter-in-law working at the hospital. “Stay in medicine,” he’d advised, “it’s a good financial move.” Money. The President’s solution is a tax break. “We don’t need money. We need PPEs,” his son says. Over the phone. Now, it’s only phone and text contact. It strikes him he’s old, suddenly – by the stroke of a mouse on a spreadsheet, 67 and “At Risk.”

— Peter Gerrard (Irvine, California)

Sunday at the Seafood Festival


Despite the declared national emergency, nothing changes in the Florida Keys. We arrive at the Seafood Festival early to avoid the crowd. We sit in the back. The conch ceviche is delicious. The band plays Tom Petty songs as the locals greet each other. “I don’t care. I’m still going to give you a hug.” In the bathroom a woman sighs impatiently as I wash my hands. When I explain I’m singing “Happy Birthday” in my head she says, “Oh that.” We stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer and the Star-Spangled Banner. Perhaps this will protect us.

— Mary Camarillo (Huntington Beach, California)

March 21, 2020

The loaf, brown as peasant rye.


Pushing carts, we milled around the empty shelves of meat, eggs, bread, when I spotted in a dark display, a loaf of pumpernickel—round, brown as peasant rye, the devil’s farts, my mother used to say. Sandwiches for my daughter’s lunch, a slather of mustard—I set the loaf into my cart and pushed on. Coming towards me, a couple, white, sixties, better than this neighborhood market. The woman said, “Look, no bread.” He grumbled. I pointed to my loaf: “pumpernickel.” A day’s loot. His face twisted with petulance, “What if I don’t like pumpernickel?” And I missed my mother most of all.

— Linda Thomas (Irvine, California)

Badger Pass trail, Casper Wilderness Park 


“Any kids or dogs?” the ranger asked.
“Playground’s closed. I can’t touch money.”

Driving toward the trailhead: mother, father, son; near a picnic spot, not eating, not playing, just standing bewildered by sun and silence.

The same sun beats brutal on the steep, dry trail. I snap photos of empty ridges, brief green in the wake of rain, soon to be desiccated, dangerous, latent flames.

This desert climb offers poor comfort for a transplanted daughter of streams and trees. But on the path down, grasses aglow with wildflowers, poppies flashing hope, and in the distance, live oaks still stand.

— Virginia Shank (Orange County, California)

Cameron and her grandmother, in 2018

The morning they announced the pandemic, my grandmother died. She died in one day.

My grandmother’s body shook on that afternoon. I held her. It would be the last time I would hold her. In the afternoon, I was visiting her and doing my homework and there was no quarantine. Eight hours later I was sitting inside the car and my mom sent me a text. She couldn’t make the phone call.

All of that seems far away because my dad bought twenty rolls of toilet paper and now I’m making my way through twenty bottles of beer.

— Cameron Diiorio (Costa Mesa, California)

Missing home from home.

I wake at 3 AM, as if prompted by an alarm, but I have nowhere to go. My school is closed; I am suddenly supposed to teach online. Fuck online. I miss my students, my colleagues, work. Do the students have reliable wifi? Do they even have computers at home? Are they working because they need to pay rent? So many of them work in food service. What is this tickle in my throat? Was that a dry cough? I get up and find the thermometer. No fever. No fever, but no more sleep tonight either.

— Melissa Knoll (Corona, California)

March 27, 2020


I wonder how we got here. To the place where ordinary things frighten. A doorknob, the handle on the mailbox, the faucet, our own hands.

When our daughter learned to walk, ordinary things frightened us too. The corner of the coffee table, the brick fireplace, the stairs. It took six months for her to steady and for us to take a breath. Once she swallowed a small piece of plastic. A trip to the ER. A kind, older doctor who blew bubbles to calm our fears. Does that kind doctor have ordinary things: a mask, gloves, time to calm fears?

— Brittany Adams (Huntington Beach, California)

March 28, 2020

Our wedding, on top of today's news. 


In these days of solitude, I remember why I no longer play my Baby Taylor and sing Psalms to the Lord, why I no longer sit in pews on Sundays and absorb the proclamations of charismatic men, why, now, I stare at my phone, at a Facebook post from a pastor I once admired, and war with myself. Should I say my Chinese wife owes him no apologies? Is it enough that people’s hearts have broken for those of his ilk to choose another adjective? “The virus is from there!” they’d say. And where it’s from is not here.

— Nathaniel Cayanan (West Covina, California)

Even the fog doesn't adhere to social distancing as it smothers the Pomona College clocktower.


It’s pouring. I wander, watching the torrent-soaked boxes carrying student valuables. Puddles coalesce. Students hug each other. They butcher pop tunes. Music reverberates from several dorms. Beer cans and wine bottles clog trash bins. “A far cry from social distancing,” I tell myself.

After avoiding handshakes and giving virtual hugs or elbow-bumps to favorite professors and not-so-close friends, I find someone I’ve missed dearly. We hug and catch up over dinner. I briefly think to myself, “how many people can’t hug loved ones because of carelessness?” We hug again and say goodbye. Letting go is hard.

— David Vejar (Tustin, California)


March 29, 2020

Please buy only what you really need.


At the store, I replenish food supplies and check, again, for cleaning products. I’m struck by the boundaries that have been placed, the subtle encroachment of a new age, an air of sci-fi dystopia. Tall robots clean the aisles. “We’re stronger together,” a soft, feminine voice says over the loudspeaker. There are acrylic shields between guests and clerks, tape on the floor designating six feet between each patron like marks on the stage of a surreal, somber play. I pick up a jar absentmindedly, put it back, feel guilty; I never realized how frequently we touch each other.

— Alexis Bobrik (Berryville, Virginia)

I'll see you all this coming fall...


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful series. Snapshots of life during this challenging time. Take care everybody!

Anonymous said...

It's a bit more than challenging: it's terrifying and life changing (and in some case life ending).

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary