Art and Learning in the time of Covid

Thank you Brandy McGill for taking the time to chat last week and for producing this story!

I find I’m writing more blog posts here than usual, because I tend to want to write when I feel grateful. Words cannot express how much our family appreciates that Noah Margo listened to the plight of displaced families like ours, got together with Laura Chism, Dr. Michael Bregy and the entire Board of Directors made it a priority to help us continue our children’s learning path in this unprecented time. I understand that the Board voted unanimously to allow our boy to take his 100% online ILC from our home in the Bay – an enormous relief! My son is sitting at his desk as I write this, as today is the first day of school!

That’s the news and here’s the backstory:

Practicing ballet on the Bayou Bernard

The week before Katrina hit, I had the thought that I’d like to spend more time on the Coast. I’d been in Beverly Hills since 1999, fully immersed in the single girl in the city lifestyle with nonstop work on my career, so it was a mere flash. Growing up on the Bayou Bernard in Gulfport, Mississippi was a really sweet childhood of summer sailing, Marine Life, snoballs, sweet tea, shrimp boils, fish frys, shopping at Godchaux
on day trips to New Orleans and buying Sunday school shoes at Pappagallo.

Four years ago, we made that momentary flash a reality and began to spend summers in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, where we had lots of dear old friends, one hour from the New Orleans International, and an easy drive for my mom. Last year I found the place we would ultimately buy and then set about driving everyone I knew crazy because I could not talk about anything else. I was driven to get the house ready in a way that I’ve only ever experienced when I was pregnant and preparing the nest for my son. I remember saying to my friends and family (my mother confirms this) at the time that I had a feeling something might happen.

With mission accomplished, I planned a fabulous Christmas at our nest in the Bay, and was SO happy to be able to enjoy our holiday. Of course, as things happened, my entire family became really ill with a something like a flu that did not test as flu and stayed sick, essentially until Valentine’s Day. I can’t ever remember being that ill. We managed to get back to Beverly Hills for school, and plodded along until we began to feel better.

I was so excited when we left Beverly Hills on March 11th for Spring Break! After spending the first few days of their spring break with us in Beverly Hills Elise and Lola travelled with us to the bay to spend the remainder. We had big plans for doing nothing in the balmy weather and I brought some leaf ephemera I had been working on to use in some artwork.

To say that the following days felt like the apocalypse is an understatement. I have vague recollections of watching Tiger King, shaking my head, listening to Elise tell me all the news, because my nesting instinct came full circle. If we wanted to avoid illness, we had to isolate in Mississippi. No amount of figuring could make our place back in the ‘hood seem like a safer option, particularly since my husband and I can work remotely. At the end of the break BHUSD announced distance learning, and our new normal really began. It was a bumpy start, but my kid can teach himself how to do anything using Youtube (actually we all can and do), and learning online seemed like a no brainer. Our boy turned thirteen, Memorial Day happened, and then our regularly scheduled summer commenced, which would have brought us back to the bay anyway. Instead of the summer I imagined with shrimp boils on the patio, lots of California friends visiting and sleeping all over the house, seven hour lunches at Galatoires, and fantastic fireworks on July Fourth (Coastal residents are patriotic as all get out), we worried about Covid-19. I watched the numbers rise and the deaths being described as drowning. I bought numerous styles of hats and masks, and ordered everything I possibly could from Amazon and Walmart.

In the time between spring break and the announcement of the ILC, we had a really great groove going. I finished an entire collection of art, set up offices for hub and the boy, and a studio for me in the garage. I’ve never been so happy in a plywood room in my life! Online learning for school really is the new normal and a natural for us. Band practice, Taekwando lessons and Boy Scouts are meeting online too!

People ask us when we are returning to Beverly Hills, and we really can’t say. At the beginning of the ILC applications, we committed to an entire semester of the program, and are just forecasting to be here through Christmas. Maybe there will be a Christmas miracle that a regular household tonic can cure Covid-19. Until then, we are hiding out in the Bay and very grateful to do so. Thank you again BHUSD and Brandy McGill of WLOX TV for inspiring me to spark up the blog to tell what’s happening.

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