Category Archives: Work

Public Programs during a Quarantine

I think most of you know by now that part of my job is to organize public programs for the museum. Considering that crowds in person are not an option, I am doing this virtually through Facebook. About two weeks ago, I pitched to the staff that we release a video program every other Wednesday. Everyone agreed, and I posted the first one last week. Like I said, I had originally pitched that we do these every other week, but my coworkers said we should do one each week and take turns presenting the programs. Therefore, one of my coworkers was supposed to do one this week but didn’t. That left me scrambling to get one finished by the end of yesterday. I had expected to leisurely be able to work on this video for at least two weeks. However, when my coworker decided she couldn’t do one this week because she didn’t feel up to it, I had to hurry and finish mine. 
I think it turned out really well. The first video had me on camera giving some introductory material, but I never could get the sound equalized with my other narration showing the artifacts. So in this video, I decided to have only my voice appear in the video and not my face. I don’t have a voice for radio, so the narration could be smoother in places, but overall, I think I did a pretty good job. I am particularly proud of the timing of pictures to coincide precisely with what I’m speaking about. All of that took a while, but I finally finished about 10 pm last night (I’ll make up for that extra time last night during today’s workday). It takes quite a while to upload to our Facebook account, so it might not actually publish until after midnight, but that’s the best I could do. I hope people actually enjoy it. I’d like for these videos to eventually make it on the museum’s website. Hopefully, one of my coworkers will actually do a video for next week, and I won’t have to scramble to do one.

Museums in a Pandemic

The traditional role of museums is to collect objects and materials of cultural and historical importance, preserve them, research them and present them to the public for the purpose of education and enjoyment. This mission becomes increasingly hard when the museum is not open to the public, and the people who work in the museum are working from home. Curators still have to go in and check the environment of the museum and check that the collection is safe, but for the most part I have not been the one going into the museum to do this. I have been in a few times to get things from my office, but I’ve rarely stayed over five to ten minutes.

The essential mission of the museum hasn’t changed, but the way we function has during this pandemic. We are unable to continue to collect artifacts during this pandemic, but we are able to continue to preserve the artifacts. We also can continue to research objects, which is one of the main things I have been doing from home. I have also been working on ways to present objects from the collection to the public virtually. As Curator of Education and Public Programs, it’s my job to find ways to present our collection and information to the public for education and enjoyment.

Today, I’ll be going to the museum to film a program to be added to our Facebook page. I hope it goes as planned. I have the script written, and I know what objects I’ll be presenting. I’m looking forward to playing with iMovie to edit what I film. Back when I was the drama club advisor at my former school, I filmed and edited the drama club productions. Back then I didn’t have a Mac, so I used a different program than iMovie, but the basics are the same.

Fingers crossed, everything goes well today. I know I won’t look great on camera because I need a haircut, but so does nearly everyone else. Honestly, I never look great on camera anyway. I’ve always taken bad pictures.

No Pajamas

Today, I can’t stay in my pajamas all day. I have to get up, shower, shave, and dress for the day. Yesterday, I  stayed in my pajamas, but today I can’t. I have a virtual staff meeting this morning. We will all be on webcam looking at each other. I know one of my coworkers will look at all of us and be a bit judgmental, though she won’t say it out loud, and another won’t be judgmental of me, but she’ll notice everything about our appearances. I really don’t have to dress up, but I need to be at least presentable. I’m not sure why I tell myself this. Our secretary is one of those very skinny people who can buy all kinds of cute clothes and even when she’s not trying to dress up, she always looks nice. My other two coworkers will likely be in sweatshirts and dressed extremely casual. I have never been one to go out in public not presentable. It was just the way I was raised. 
When you’re raised in the South, and I think it really happens all over the country, you see what some people will wear to Walmart. Some have on their pajamas or at least their house shoes. Women may have rollers in their hair. And let’s not even mention those people who should not be wearing a tank top or short shorts. Really, some people have no shame. I was always taught to be presentable. So even when I’m going to the Dollar General or just sitting at my desk on a videoconference, I feel the need to make myself presentable.
The fact is, most days I do get up and shower, though I might not shave. Who’s going to see me anyway? But some days, you just want to be lazy, stay in your pajamas, and be comfortable, especially when you’re working from home and won’t be seeing anyone.

My Three Rs

This is me (not literally, of course, but figuratively) after a long day of working from home. I have been spending my days mostly reading, researching, and writing (yes, I know writing starts with a W, but arithmetic starts with an A, and when you add in reading, it’s the classic three Rs), and reading, research, and writing are three things I love to do. 
I often don’t read a lot anymore because when I have a migraine, it makes reading almost impossible. I’ve never been a fast reader, and when you add in a migraine, my concentration is shot, and I end up reading the same thing over and over. However, I have really enjoyed reading some of my research books, especially Chasing Aphrodite which is about the illegal art dealings of the Getty Museum. Though, I think it’s a little exaggerated on the blame that is placed on the Getty’s former curator Marion True. True did buy stolen art on the black market (she readily admits it), but if she was able to find its origin, she actually returned it to the rightful owner (in most cases). She was also considered to be a major leader in museum ethics; however, the Getty administration let her take the fall and allowed for her to be disgraced and shunned from the profession.
I’ve also been researching several different topics, though most of it is concentrated on cultural preservation. This is a topic that is becoming increasingly dear to my heart. Some of my museum colleagues and myself are beginning a book on looting and cultural destruction throughout history. As I was doing my preliminary research for the class I plan to teach next spring, I found that the topic has never been written about and gathered into one book. There are scatterings of material here and there, but there is not one succinct collection of the history. 
With that in mind, I wrote a book proposal as a guide for my colleagues and I for what I hope we will turn into a book on the subject. I have also been writing some curriculum guides for my museum and have been creating some lectures to be used for classes that I will teach in the future. I love to write lectures; I always have. I love the reading and research that goes into it, and I love forming a cohesive lecture on a subject. My teaching practicum professor in graduate school once told me that you learn a lot more from teaching a subject than you ever will from a class, and it’s true. Not only do you need to know the core material, but you need to know more than just the basics. You have to know, or at least attempt to know, the answer to any possible questions. Of course, students will often stump you, and that’s when instead of bullshitting them, you acknowledge that they asked a good question and that you don’t know, but will get back to them. Then, you find the answer and in the process learn even more on the subject.
So that’s what I’ve been doing while working from home. How is everyone else doing during this trying time?

Week Two at Home

Some of my coworkers are not doing too well working from home. They are going stir crazy, especially one in particular who is ready to go back to work today.  Extroverts are having a hard time with working from home. I’m just happy I’m still one of the employed because millions of Americans are currently unemployed because of this pandemic. The numbers just keep growing of people with both the virus and the unemployed. Working from home is not too bad for me. I am an introvert, so being at a distance from everyone is not a problem. I do occasionally miss my coworkers. I also don’t like having to document my work. Since I began at the museum, I have been self sufficient and pretty much done things at my own pace and when I wanted to do them. Because of having to document what I do, and knowing it could be used against me if this pandemic lasts a long time, I am often scrambling for things to do, or at least document. While I can say I’m working on this and that (I’m more specific in my documentation), I have to produce stuff too, which can sometimes be difficult in my job. I can write lesson plans and lectures for classes, but unless somebody wants to use them, then it’s pointless. Also, it’s hard to schedule new programs when no one really knows how long this will last.
I also want to say, that I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the government bailout including places like museums. While we are doing our best to continue to operate virtually, at the heart of what we do are people. What’s the point in having over 16,000 objects and artifacts if we can’t share them with people? We are a people business but unlike restaurants, we can’t do take out. Our best work is done in person. So please understand and remember that museums and universities need help as well as any other business.


While I have paperwork and some webinars, I’m trying to do a lot of reading and research, mostly on cultural preservation in times of war. I will be teaching a class on the subject next spring, and I am also preparing some other types of trainings on the subject. I’m just trying my best to keep busy while working from home.
A letter went out from our university president yesterday stating that our jobs will be secure through May 1st, but after that they will re-evaluate the economics of the university and May be reassessing our positions. I’m hoping my boss, who’s not a very strong leader, has it in him to fight to keep us on if cuts are made. We have an endowment that I hope can be used to save us, if it comes down to money. It really sucks that the president is considering this because his last day is May 31st. If he does a massive layoff, which he hinted at, it will leave the new president with a big mess on his hands. 
I pray that we can keep on keeping on. How do you justify your job when you’re the museum educator and none of the professors are using you in the new online format? I also handle all the public programming, but if people can’t gather in one place, my job becomes moot. I’m worried the university will see me as nonessential. Therefore I have to find some projects to keep me busy while I’m at home during this time of crisis.

At Home: Day 3

Contrary to the pictures I have posted, I actually do get up, shower, and get dressed each day before going and sitting in front of my computer to do work. The governor of Vermont is enacting a stay at home order today at 5 pm which will last at least three weeks. We are only supposed to leave home for essentials. While some of my coworkers have to go into the museum for essential functions, I can do everything from home. I was originally scheduled to work in the museum today, but my boss decided I should continue to work from home. 
As cases grow in Vermont and neighboring New York, I have gone out and done some shopping, at least what I was able to buy. There is no toilet paper, thankfully I have some already, and the grocery stores are almost completely out of pasta and frozen dinners. 
All my medical appointments have been postponed. My physical therapy on my shoulder I injured (I have a torn labrum) won’t begin again until it is safe again to go out and return to normal. At least I have my exercises to build up the muscles around the labrum to help it heal. My six month dental cleaning has also been cancelled. They haven’t rescheduled my doctors’ appointments set for the coming weeks, but I think it’s just a matter of time.
Currently, I have enough food and supplies to last a little while, so I’m good for now. I’ll continue to work from home. God only knows what all I’ll be working on, but I’ll figure out something. How is everyone else doing during this COVID-19 outbreak? I’d love to hear from y’all.

Working from Home

This week, we will be working from home. Only one of us will be at the museum each day. My day will be Wednesday. We have to document hourly what we are doing. That’s a little annoying, but understandable. I will actually have to get up and get dressed though because we will be in touch through texts and video conferencing. I will actually be doing work though. I have research to do and classes to create. I also have a few articles to write. I should be able to get work done though with minimal interruptions. Isabella will probably interrupt me more than the people I work with. Some of my coworkers are complaining about going stir crazy; however, I am looking forward to working at home.
Also, I hope everyone will wish my friend and regular blog reader Susan a very happy birthday.

Finally! A Decision

After a week of indecision, the university finally granted us the ability to telecommute. It will begin Monday and will last at least a week, maybe longer. They are giving us today and tomorrow to prepare for working from home. I hate to break it to them, but I’ve been preparing since last week. Now that I have my new MacBook at work that I can take home, there’s nothing keeping me from working at home except an official okay, which was granted today. I do have to go in to the museum for a full day on Wednesdays to check things out and make sure all is safe. However, I’ll be the only one there and should have no contact with anyone: I dread having to document what I do every hour of the workday at home, but it can be done easy enough.


While more and more people begin telecommuting and limiting their face-to-face interactions, my university can’t figure out what to do with the staff. Faculty and students are working from home and doing everything online, but universities across the nation are putting their staff at risk requiring them to continue to work. I understand that some staff members are essential to the continued operation of the university, but let’s face it those who can work from home, should be working from home. Furthermore, the museum is closed to the public. There is nothing that we can’t do from home at this point. We are not essential during this crisis, yet we are still being made to go I to work. I hope the administration finds their senses soon.

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Charlie Smith; Single Man, ensorcelled, unreliable narrator, ravenous reader, love child of Jane & Paul Bowles, borne by surrogate, Little Edie Beale, devoted catechumen of Her Grace, Duchess Goldblatt; now living a life of Love & Light, shining from the social-media-free exile of my own personal mirage of Tangier, the Grey Gardens in the Elba of my imagination, here, where I am, going.