Sunday, February 6, 2022

A Different Invisible

The last two years of my semi-retirement brought me, thankfully, back into the classroom as a teacher. I’m not a “teacher” in the true sense of the word like I used to be, like my wife and my daughter, Hannah, are. They teach. They prepare lessons. They are evaluated. They teach.

I, on the other hand, don’t teach, though I am called a teacher. I refer to myself as an online learning facilitator. I’m part-time, hourly, actually. If someone were to come into my room during any of my three 80-minute blocks, that somebody would notice kids working silently on their own. A student might come up to me and ask me to “unlock” a test or quiz. A student might raise a hand and ask to go to the restroom. Other than that, not much interaction. 

I don’t have lessons to prepare. I don’t have papers to grade. I do, however, have assignments that are submitted online that I might grade if they are dealing with social studies. But I have kids studying English and other languages, sciences, different levels of math, and health and physical education. Many subjects, many of which I can’t do or even comprehend.

And I love what I do. Even though the interactions with kids are spotty and few, I am with them. I missed that once I left the classroom and counseling office. Knowing what I know now, I would have never left teaching or counseling for administration. Too removed from kids, too much paperwork, and too much politics. Far too much politics. I like kids. Always have. Always will.

When I taught, my classroom before school and sometimes at lunch was a haven for kids. They would come to visit, sometimes with me, mostly with each other. They would do last-minute homework and eat breakfast. Some kids I knew. Some, I didn’t, but got to know. 

I never advertised my room as a place for kids. They just began showing up.

I noticed something similar happening.

I have one young man who comes to my classroom well before the first bell. I have him in my first block, but he shows up thirty to forty minutes early. He sits, eats his breakfast, and scrolls through his phone. Sometimes, he and I chit chat.

At lunch, I have anywhere from two to five kids who eat in my room rather than go to the cafeteria. Sometimes they don’t eat. One young lady naps for 20 or so minutes before class resumes. One young man watches movies on his phone. A couple of kids continue to do their work even though it is their break time.

There isn’t any interaction between them, though they are in close proximity. There isn’t any interaction with me, unless I talk to them. They do their own thing while I do mine.

I stand in the hallways between classes. I watch the kids pass me. Some will catch my eye and nod. Others will say hello. Several give me knuckle bumps as they pass. They exchange no words, just the “touch” of a fist with mine.

In 2013, I wrote a post titled The Invisible Kids. In 2018, I wrote a post titled The Invisible. In 2019, I wrote a post titled Visible. The themes in each are similar, but not the same. They dealt with those who wander among us, sometimes side-by-side, who we don’t interact with, who don’t interact with us. Ships passing in the night, as the adage says. Less personal than a waitress in a restaurant.

Hunter Hayes recorded a wonderfully haunting song, Invisible. It’s worth a listen. It’s worth taking to heart. You can find it at: 

I’m afraid we are seeing the birth of a new kind of invisible.

Those kids, those adults, who sit glued to their phone or their computer, instead of noticing what is around them, instead of interacting with those around them. Like kids in the hallway. Like kids who sit in my room at lunch. It’s not just kids. Sometimes it’s adults. It’s young and old alike.

We’ve become engrossed, even debilitated, with technology. We’ve become less personal. Our words with one another are fewer. Our interactions are less. Is this the society, the life we want for ourselves? For our children? Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

Blaze In, Blaze Out and I were featured in the monthly online magazine, The Big Thrill, published by International Thriller Writers. You can find it at:  Yesterday, BestThrillers selected Blaze In, Blaze Out as an Editor’s Pick. You can find it at:  I am pleased with the recognition, and I am pleased with the growing number of 5 Star Reviews and Ratings Blaze has garnered.

Connect with me on Social Media: 
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Blaze In, Blaze Out: A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann. The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die.

Betrayed: A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is also Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family.  
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.
Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved.  
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death?  

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Henry and Unsplash.




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