March 15, 2021
I, Su Ertekin-Taner, pledged to be fully present during online school.
Now look at me, I’m fading away in front of the screen.
My only source of success: working up motivation out of thin air to begin the day…and it begins at six in the morning. The iPhone alarm jars my ears. It’s a kind of déjà vu that I don’t ever feel lucky to remember and yet have to. Everyday.
Cracking textbooks at the crack of dawn, my kind of education. And so I open my history textbook, trying to do the same to my eyes.
Maybe splashing some water on my face will help, I think. And yet, no matter how many drops of water I assault my skin with, I can’t awaken. Like some soapy lagoon monster, I make my way back to the bed and convince myself to learn American history. At this point, I know it better than my own.
I drag my legs into some sweatpants and my arms into an unrelated, non-Bolles shirt. Dress code is not something that matters when you’ve been moving between solely two rooms for the entirety of 10 months.
I reminisce on the one time I had the opportunity to leave the house: SAT day. Sometimes, I sink deeper and deeper into the nostalgia of feeling a non-air conditioner breeze on my body.
The spotlights on my bathroom mirror snap me out of my thoughts and remind me it is time to attempt to look good on camera.
Two large swipes of concealer or maybe three or a thousand and a cargo load of mascara. The goal is to make myself look like I thrive off limited movement, anxiety, and weight loss: the unexpected dangers of online school.
As I develop a Stockholm syndrome for Publix bagels, I study for whatever online assessment I have today. The joys of paper tests and quizzes are taken for granted, I think.
It’s zero hour and I feel the need to catch up in all of my classes, but only choose one or two teachers to visit.
These thirty minutes feel like the only thirty minutes where I am catered to.
8:30 AM- 3:15 PM
I have done online school for eleven months and counting. I do not plan on going back. Not because I do not want to, but because of my immune system. I am like Frankenstein’s monster of broken, non functioning body parts, except maybe less scary.
Healthy problems are exacerbated during online school. Turns out looking at a screen for thirteen hours a day is not healthy for students who already have chronic migraines and are prone to body fatigue.
None of these things matter across a screen. No teacher or student sees my bone-thin legs or the way my hands sweat when I’m about to faint or the way I lose feeling in my lower body after a couple hours in front of the screen.
Today, yesterday, tomorrow, students confront me with what they think are advantages to online school: taking assessments online, dressing out of dress code, having the internet at your fingertips when in-person students are required to put their own laptops away.
What empathy-lacking creatures we are.
I find a new appreciation for the floor after school. I lay, back down, on the floor and feel it lift me up as I weigh it down.
Days where classes seem longer and students’ figures on the screen blur, I worship the floor.
When I lay down I think about the day’s occurrences: what I could have done to advocate for myself in class, my red-faced embarassment when I interupted one student or another. I think about my pledge to be present in online school.
I decide to fade away today.