11.4.21

A Paean to Payphones (And Why I Feel Nostalgic for Old School Telecommunication)

When is the last time you used a working payphone? How sure are you that you can find one if your mobile phone goes dead? Do you have a quarter in your pocket?

Payphone in New York City Subway Station
Found a working payphone in the
Times Square / 42nd Street Station in New York City

Nostalgia is dangerous. Start feeling nostalgia, and suddenly, everything in the present is suspect. "Oh, I remember the days when you had to call someone on a landline."

But I like it when old-school technology still persists. I don't want to return to using payphones. They are clunky (and who has change, anyway?). And just when the conversation gets good, you have to add another quarter to continue the call.

You can find a working payphone in a few subway stations, strip malls, maybe a gas station in Duluth?

I used a payphone recently. I cannot remember why. It was when I was traveling. My phone was dead. I think it was in an Amtrak station (which I feel like is where I would find a working payphone).

Ironically, the school where I work has a payphone in the main hallway. But it does not work. It just hangs there on the wall. Hundreds of people walk by it. Heck. I didn't even notice it until like two years working at the school. I think it will become an art installation. Soon.

Fun fact: Payphones still exist. And one in five of them are in New York City! The Federal Communications Commission still regulates payphones. They still maintain a tip guide for using them and not get scammed when using a calling card. Remember those?

When was the last time you used a payphone?

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9.4.21

On Positivity and How I Am Dealing With Teaching and Promoting Anti-Hate (#stopasianhate #stopblackhate #love)

Girl Fish GIF
"Girrrrrrllllllll!" is my general mood as of late.

Two people told me today, “You are always so positive.” The first was a colleague — and they always encourage me to be myself. The second was a student —

Greig Roselli wears a yellow mask in Jackson Heights, Queens

.... she came to me after class and was like, “Thank you for always being positive.” And I was like, “Well. I can embrace my sadness. But it's important not get distracted by the negative.” Like. I mean — I'm not oblivious to the Rainbow of emotions. But I like to infuse joy, especially with adolescents. It is the way I connect, and it's the glue to keep a classroom together. That and reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Teachers Amira Esposito and Nancy Massand wear pink.
My two English colleagues and besties.

It’s been a stressful year — Covid-19. A disrupted school year. And a tragic time. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Say their names. And Asian Hate 😡. 


One of my kids said this week, “I don't like coming to school. I like school. It's just getting there. Should I bring mace?” I told him — “Your feelings are valid.” And we talked about strategies to signal for help if a hater ever comes at you. Pretend to talk on the phone. Don't travel alone or on a lonely street.

All this hate takes its toll. It's toxic.

What are you doing to help folks feel safe? What should we be doing? Am I right to spread positivity? Even when I'm sad or broken, or I feel like I can't find the energy to teach or do whatever. I got this.

Mr. Roselli and a student start class off with the high attitude
Start Class with the Right Attitude
Love you all!

3.4.21

Report from a Holy Saturday, Once: The Holy Fire

On one Holy Saturday – spontaneously – I decided to attend the Holy Fire liturgy at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (The Church of the Resurrection, as it’s called in the West) in Jerusalem.  

Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash

Islam has the keys to the door, Jews are honored guests, and a potage of Christian groups run this place, but this morning the Greek Orthodox had the worship space.  Because of the status quo set into rigid placement two or so hundred years ago by the Ottoman Empire, liturgies in the Holy Sepulchre are set according to a very stiff timetable  implemented before the Second Vatican Council. Hence, even today, the Latin’s celebrate the Easter Vigil at 6:30 in the morning!  

After the Latin Patriarch and his train left with much fanfare, the Holy Sepulchre doors closed. A Moslem “guard” locked the doors again in a ceremonial “ladder from hole” routine, and we waited for the Greeks and Armenians to show up for their traditional greeting.  It was uncomfortable, waiting in line, waiting for the doors to open while hewn matrons with steely eyes yelled out invective to anyone who attempted to cross their space. The dazed English speakers could only muster, “What are you saying?” The women would only continue to spill out their sputter onto the crowd and me. 

When finally the old, crackly wooden doors finally, slowly wheezed open again, the people, not a single file, piled into the Basilica, arms clutching their children hoping for a heavenly blessing.  Everyone wants a view of the aedicule, which is the structure believed to be the place Christ was laid to rest and rose again. It is not the most beautiful structure; steel supports cover the faded glory tomb – a phalanx of luminaries fill the entrance, making visible a gaudy icon on top of something or other.  I could only see glimpses of the tomb, as I was constantly, for four hours, smashed up against people’s backs and other parts – at one time, a woman’s long strand of hair found itself in my mouth.  The fervor heightened inside the Basilica as Armenian teenagers walloped and yelled, climbed the aedicule singing “fire” songs, praying for the angel to come and light the place ablaze.  I could only look blearily on from my curtailed privacy, people continually poking and prodding me.  

This lasted for a very long time, while in the crowds, people collapsed from fatigue.  The church’s central section was throbbing with action that a Westerner could only gawk at – is this liturgy? I wondered.  What sort of liturgy is utter chaos?  There was no sense of order in this bedlam – if there was any, I could not see it maybe I had no faith. Only the person of faith sees the angel come down to light the flames, for hours processions followed the tomb around and around.  

Periods of silence where it seemed nothing was going on ensued, only the people’s continual hum and a loud chant song from the tomb precincts.  The anticipation was growing, and I was hot and bothered – the sweat collected and the compression of people made my head swim.  I reminded myself I was about to witness a miracle.  For the Greek Patriarch entered the tomb to receive the holy fire from the angel.  He is ritually searched by a Moslem group and then enters – I think alone or maybe with an assistant.   No sound comes from the aedicule as the inner thumping of peoples’ anticipation grows.  Then it happens, suddenly, without a warning – a hand sticks out of pre-carved oval with a flame.  The whole church goes crazy – people are singing, waving their candles, and the flame approaches me like a fireball, for by now hundreds of people have lit their torches and quickly the place is becoming hot, the wax is flying around and soon anti-luminaries with handy sprayers violently extinguish the flames.  Some place their flame in a secure metal box to be taken home to the dinner table or on the next Greek Air flight!  

In about five minutes the whole Basilica was bathed by a bequest from an angel – a sight to behold – I just could not believe it as I again joined the throng trying to crawl my way out of this enormous church where I had indeed experienced a miracle.  And when I got outside I saw holy flames, licking the streets of Jerusalem – Christ-like a Pandora shedding not chaos, but a wild radical mercy on his people.

Note: This post was originally written in the Spring of 2000.

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31.3.21

Spring Break with Jambalaya and Friends and Why I Love Faces (and Portraits!)

What’s the best feature of the photograph? Portraits! Photos capture faces. And I’ve appreciated faces lately — especially during this recent Spring Break-cum-Easter time and so on.
Cesar Caraval eats a bowl of Louisiana style Jambalaya with Andouille sausage
I made jambalaya and fed it to a few friends to
celebrate that we're all vaccinated and can now
officially hang out together (and of course, that does
not mean we are lax with social distancing and mask-wearing). 

As vaccinations against Covid-19 are more widely distributed, people are congregating with each other to celebrate. While mask-wearing and general social
Greig Roselli and his friend Michelle Ruderham Davis and her son hang out in Diversity Plaza in Queens on a Spring day.
In Diversity Plaza in Queens
on a Spring Day


Lauren after eating a spicy bowl of Louisiana-style Jambalaya

distancing guidelines are still in place, being vaccinated means I can hang out with folks I haven’t been with since March of last year. I saw my friend Michelle and her family, and I made jambalaya for a group of teacher-friends. By the way — the jambalaya was lit 🔥.


Miguel after eating a bowl of spicy Louisiana-style JambalayaKarina after eating a bowl of spicy Louisiana-style Jambalaya

12.3.21

A Year Ago Today: Going into Lockdown Because of the Coronavirus Outbreak in the United States (and the World)

Greig Roselli poses for a photograph in a back alley in Jackson Heights, Queens
Greig Roselli poses for the one year anniversary
of living through Covid-19 in these United States.

One Year Ago Today

Today is March 12th in the Year of Our Lord Twenty Twenty-One. Last year today, I was in a faculty meeting. “We’re not closing school,” they said. By Sunday, we were in lockdown. And the rest is history.

I feel like I’m living through a historic moment like folks who lived through the Great Depression and hoarded pennies in their mattresses. 

What Will Future Generations Say?

Future generations will ask, “What was

The Corner of 37th Avenue and 79th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens
On the corner of 37th
Avenue and 79th Street
 in Jackson Heights, Queens

the Twenty Twentys like?” My friend Amira’s child, who is now ten months old, will want to know what he did during the quarantine. “Mostly eat and sleep,” Mom will say. “But it was a long time before you saw real people besides the doctors who birthed you and us.” And Sam will say, “OK. I survived a global pandemic.”

Recognizing That This is a Deadly Virus

As of today, 532,466 people have died in the United States; and, worldwide over 2.5 million people have perished. I recognize I’m privileged because I’m vaccinated and generally healthy (although I need to lay off the potato chips and ranch dressing). The pandemic has disproportionately hit the most vulnerable of society. I realize I’m in-person with students — so there’s always a risk I can be infected. But think about folks who work essential jobs and live in small apartments where everyone is working, coming into contact with many people. I can slink away to the haven of a more-or-less safe space in my apartment.

I think this global crisis has revealed just how fragile the ties that bind are. I’m grateful for today. I mourn those lost to Covid-19, and I’m hopeful for the future.

Kristen Ahfeld waves for the camera in the courtyard of the Garden School in Jackson Heights, Queens
Kristen Ahfeld is a
First Grade Teacher in Queens.
How was your Covid-19 lockdown anniversary — and how are you coping? Let me know in the comments. ⁣

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#covidkindnesswes #covi̇dkindness #covıdkindness #covidkindnesseverydaychallenge #covidkindnessstories #covidkindnessplease #covidkindness🙏 #staysafe #covidkindness🙏🏽 #stayhome #covidkindness💙💛 #covidkindnessneeded #covidkindness❣️ #covidkindnesss #covidkindness🤟🏻🙏🏻❤️ #covidkindness1 #quarantine #covid #covid19 #covidkindnesses #socialdistancing #covidkindnesscookieproject #covidkindnessnailcollab #covidkindness❤️❤️ #love #covidkindnessau #covidkindnesswmbg #covidkindnessuhp #coronavirus #covidkindnessca

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7.3.21

Subject: Hello, March! March is for Mars! And It's Springtime in TeacherLandia (And I Have a Freebie for You)

In this post, I talk about how I have been crazy obsessed with making mythology-related content for the middle and high school classroom.
Greig Roselli does a live video chat on WhatsApp
It's March, and I've been teaching 
either from home or in a classroom. Hey, Y'all!

March is For Mars, Right?

It's March. And what that means for me is that I get to ask my students, "What god from mythology is the month of March named for?" And, you know what? Don't feel bad if you can't immediately come up with the correct answer. It's one of those questions that is obvious once you know the answer. *Spoiler Alert*Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com for stonesoferasmus The Greek god Mars (Or Ares in Latin). And I have a lesson for you. I have a freebie that helps students build vocabulary through Greek and Roman mythology. Myth is to Language what Recipes are to Food! You cannot have one without the other.

FREEBIE!: All About Mythology for the Middle and High School Set

I guess I am obsessed with myth. It's probably because mythology is just really cool, and I am determined to not make learning about myths just a Percy Jackson thing. Myths are actually exquisite artifacts to teach in High School (even though they get relegated to elementary and early middle school curricula). I just made a ton of myth-related resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. And to celebrate March and Spring (and the god Mars), I made my dazzling lesson on Prometheus totally free. So you can see a sneak peek of what I am doing in the realm of educational digital resources for middle and high school students. Some of the best things I have made related to mythology are designed for the late middle and high school classrooms. And I think that's really cool. And oh, if you are more of an Amazon person, I have a store there too!

Prometheus Bound for the Classroom

Prometheus Middle and High School Classroom Lesson Plan

It's based on the story of Prometheus, the Titan who befriended Zeus. His name means “forethought,” which is kinda funny only when you realize his brother Epimetheus's name means “afterthought.” This gets even funnier when you realize that according to the myth, Prometheus had the forethought to warn his brother, "OK! Zeus is going to gift you with a beautiful woman named Pandora! Don't accept!" But since he was an afterthought  when the time came  Zeus said, "OK. Here is a gift for you, Epimetheus." And the rest is history!

And Why New Orleans is a Decent Inspiration for Mythology

I am originally from New Orleans. It’s where I got my first jolt of mythology because during Mardi Gras season — all the Krewes are made up of references to Greek mythology. You have the Krewe of Orpheus and the Mystic Krewe of Momus and Comus and Rex (Latin, not Greek, I know). And having read lots of William Faulkner, you know life in the south can mirror a Greek tragedy (or comedy!).

       How do I keep it woke? How do I make ancient Greek or Latin myths relevant to living in the Americas in 2021? Easy — lots and lots of text-to-text and text-to-world connections. Did you know that March is named after a god? It's because of Greek and Norse mythology that the days of the weeks are what they are? The more you know, right?

So keep a lookout for a new product I am creating based on New Orleans, Mardi Gras, and Mythology!

Thanks for reading my blog. It's been a labor of love for over ten years. Can you believe it! XOXOXOXO

Greig Roselli (from Stones of Erasmus)



6.3.21

Another Day of Concurrent Teaching: Covid-19 Pandemic Teacher Journal #2

Get Lit
Mr. Roselli wears a "get lit" tee.

I teach teenagers concurrently in person and kids learning remotely. To build community, my co-teacher @amiraesposito5585 and I call the in-person kids Roomies and the distance learning kids, Zoomies. 

Roomies got a hard lifeBut not all the Roomies are complaining.


American teens aren’t reading less — they’re just reading fewer classics. They’re reading on their phones, on the Internet — listening to stories via audiobooks and podcasts. Literacy is changing, and I’m excited about it.

The tee-shirt reads, “Get lit.” Get it? I struggle with authenticity. How real is too real? Where do I go to find folks who look 👀 like me, act like me, think 🤔 like me? Literature. In my classroom. Young people. People who think differently. Radical openness. It’s something I teach. But it’s also the ultimate pleasure. Literature — it’s the best tea. And whether it’s Satan being emo in Paradise Lost or Rashad in American Boys (@jasonreynolds83) reflecting on his blackness in America or Felix in Felix Ever After (@kacen.callender) navigating high school as a trans boy in New York — characters in literature come alive for me.