On Friday, November 6th, at 12:30PM, just after one of the virtual breakout sessions at the 2020 ASCCC Fall Plenary ended, I had my second episode of atrial fibrillation.
I phoned my cardiologist and, per her instructions, went straight to the Emergency Room at Cedars-Sinai. Paroxysmal (occasional, rather than constant) atrial fibrillation, less of a laughing matter than other ailments, is nonetheless very treatable. So, don’t worry about me, as I have recovered, have great support, and should be fine.
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, no doctors were available on Friday afternoon to perform the cardioversion procedure to return my heartbeat to a normal rhythm. So, I had to lie motionless in bed from that time until Monday morning, when the procedure was scheduled.
Fitting and unpleasant punishment (perhaps) for having over-indulged throughout my life at late-night dance music events, because I couldn’t go out into the street and shout, high-five, and honk my horn to celebrate the election finally being called. My memory of the election will be from a hospital bed, of cable news and internet coverage of the throngs of revelers who’d emptied into the streets – and, instead of music, the neutral pulse of the EKG monitor glued to my body at points which would accelerate and rise in pitch if I simply bent my left leg.
One of the memories I carry forward from my bedridden-ness is Dave Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live monologue of November 7th, which I watched about four additional times since I first saw it. I am still thinking about it, processing many of the edgy jokes and insights, but especially the end of the monologue, where Dave drops the mic in his own apparent paroxysm of disgust as the camera pulls down and away. I thought: when it had the chance to reject white supremacism, brazen grift, misogyny, gaslighting, the shredding of longstanding governance norms, our nation ratified it. And I think that’s what Dave was thinking about.
Until July 9th of this year, my heart had always beat in an even rhythm and I took it for granted. There were no quick clusters of beats and no long gaps from beat to beat, just an even rhythm. Relatedly, I relied upon an image of a United States that would have more definitively separated itself from its most disturbing and cruel histories.
The theme of this month’s Chaparral was to be the impact of the election on Glendale College. Some of you are probably wondering if this month’s theme was over-sharing with colleagues.
But my message can be read through metaphor in the above – that we professors can find humor in the crazy wreckage of this year; that we are likely all enduring a personal, individual sense of being out of rhythm; that we must accept muted, curtailed celebration when we want more; and that we proudly share our values and our culture even when we learn they aren’t as universally treasured as we may have once imagined.
Anyway, just as I’m desperate every month to write a little something you might enjoy reading, I’m equally hopeful we will return to some normalcy as a college by late summer or fall. And if we can’t, then I believe that return to normal will happen soon thereafter.
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