Monday, August 10, 2020

From Maya

It was in Chennai that grandmother first died, many years ago
yet, here she is at breakfast today, her words pleating
back and forth with mine

Wanting ghee-fried bakery bread topped with so much sugar 
Walking so slow as though ready to change 
her destination at any time

Wailing with the lullabies on the radio, for her five babies 
(and the son who came and went
so quick after mother.)

To console her, her toddler--my mother--is said to have said: 
"Oh, don’t cry mama, or all your face powder will 
be washed away

and then all the guests will see your skin is as black as Kali's."
A hand on the cheek is tender, yet cousin to a slap,
darkened heads fold into armpits like birds.

The sky runs red as if we broke open with the night 
I keep eyes up, slip hands under my pillow:
I can't see them now, they harken, go.

Sunday, August 09, 2020


We were all looking forward to Big A's pizza at dinner--handmade, made-from scratch crust, homemade sauce, personalized toppings, and all. But while the kids were showing me a video essay on D.B.Cooper (wild, that!), Big A popped in and sheepishly asked if I could help him with something.

"How do you turn on the oven?" Kind of the cliche-est of man questions, but not really as our oven has a multi-step process involving dials and several buttons--a process I'm liable to forget myself without regular practice. So I started to breezily and oh-so-cockily show him--but umm... nothing. The panel wouldn't respond at all; the ovens just wouldn't turn on. So much for my lady-expertise.

So here we are, all lined up at the counter,  getting ready for Big A's newly-invented, cast-iron griddle fired, stovetop pizza. 

And it was delicious. 

Saturday, August 08, 2020

One-Way: 8/∞

It seems days move only one-way

My shadow is mingled with flowers
ohhh whore/for hours

It will be difficult to go home after

I have caught madness and sunshine 
in the air/in my hair

And all my machines are dying--even paper 
even pen/pain

Small feelings
Small feelings

Friday, August 07, 2020


I was a bit skimpily dressed for my meeting--something I realized only as I was actually logging into the meeting and got the camera preview, so I threw on a scarf I fortuitously found stuffed between the couch cushions. There's no AC in the upstairs library, so it was super uncomfortable, but obviously not as uncomfortable as 'office' inappropriateness.

My selfie (after the meeting) came out with old family pictures perched over my shoulder; I appreciated the notion of mom and aunts figuratively having my back as I undertook a South Indian dosa fest for dinner (dosas, sambhar, chutney, chick*n varuval, and the mandatory potato-peas stuffing). Let the record show that today's dosa yearnings were brought on by the "Don't Mind if I Dosa" episode of Padma Lakshmi's delightful series Taste the Nation on Hulu.


A low-energy day--I didn't even get out for my afternoon walk with Big A. We did what we call a Downton (walking around our own grounds à la  Downton Abbey, haha). And then I made a clear-out-the fridge ragout for dinner as my Imperfect box arrives tomorrow.                                                                                                                                                  We're in a shameful place that all the world sees; that's true. But today I needed McSweeney's to laugh in my face at the idea of making sense. Not to pile on people sending kids to camps, but if you're up for for a self-deprecating laugh along, Carlos Greaves compares children's activities in the pandemic to reopening Jurassic Park"Given these great stats, I think it should be pretty clear to everyone that reopening the Jurassic Park Academy for Young Paleontologists this fall is the right move. Sure, a few kids have been mauled this summer at our popular sleep-away camp, Camp Triceratops. However, a hands-on learning environment that comes with hiking throughout our vast preserve remains an invaluable experience for the kids — an experience that far outweighs the occasional mauling. Plus, keep in mind that children are far less likely to be killed by velociraptors, mostly because they are too small and bony to make for a satisfying velociraptor meal."

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The Other Side

These signs mandating face coverings on MSU's campus (indoors and outdoors!) have just popped up: I'm so happy to see them; I'd be so much happier if all the panting runners and cyclists would wear masks already. 

In other news, while waiting for my 11:00 am meeting to start, I snatched about 40+ minutes to do some work on a writing project and that felt really, really, really good. 

I didn't get a lot done, and I definitely didn't get great work done, but I got started! I'm glad I didn't let the lack of scheduled time or the fact that that the clock wasn't precisely aligned at the top of the hour throw me off (this is a ridiculous but real procrastinating trigger for me and has been since grade school days). A good lesson to remember for tomorrow if our departmental meeting goes on for longer than planned and I have some magic minutes before my noon meeting. 

And I'm getting in some sustaining one-on-one time with the human kids--the alternating walk-talks have hit a rhythm and I watched a couple of good movies--Misery with At the Stephen King fan and Never Let me Go with Nu who at 12 read the Ishiguro novel last month. (Yes, bragging; sorry! Byeee.)

Tuesday, August 04, 2020


At what point does a row of bad days become a bad week? 

It feels like I'm busy all the time yet progress I can measure seems infinitesimal and ephemeral. 

I need the heuristic spirit of those who artfully build/balance these cairns in the Red Cedar. 

My focus and karma for now must be action not reason; the work itself, not the outcome.