Showing posts with label Can/Did. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Can/Did. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2023

OMG/ChatGPT/Canon in D

I took a trip down memory lane earlier this week when I recalled the first time I heard Pachelbel's "Canon in D". 

Then on a whim I sauntered down AI Alley when I asked ChatGPT to write me a poem based on that incident. ChatGPT obliged with the poem on the left. 

It's quite the doggerel. 

Which is why I don't share the moral panic about students using it to cheat on essays and exams. From everything I've seen, ChatGPT seems to tend towards the bland and the banal. I think I'd be able to tell something was off from the odd combination of impeccable grammar and tediously repetitive sentences.

Famous last words as I head off to grade midterm essays and exams...

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Ice storms today and no school for Nu (no school tomorrow either, as a matter of fact). Luckily, Big A was home so Nu got a nice, lazy day at home without having to schlep it to my work. 

Pic: I'm asleep with Scout and Huck on me. I wonder why I'm so serious in sleep.

A Shift
my bed is the place I remember
things I forgot at my desk
although I can't see in the dark
I can still see darkness 

work is a metropolis of clouds
and softest unknowing
I seek out the eye of the storm
and plan to claw it out  

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

circle of care

In class, I'll sometimes joke that I'm not the late, great Maya (Angelou)--I'm the regular, living Maya, so when I saw this card on the podium in the classroom, I chuckled. 

But the kind words inside about the classroom being a "positive space" where they could "learn and grow"nearly made me cry. 

It has been a tough couple of weeks for all of us in this part of Michigan. The streets and sidewalks are full of election lawn signs repurposed to offer support and bouquets left at impromptu shrines all over the place.  I now know of way too many first degree survivors of the shooting. Classes resumed yesterday at MSU and I'm proud of students for continuing to demonstrate at the capitol and demand common-sense gun reform.

I am sad that second-degree survivors like my students who stayed on the phone with their MSU friends during lockdown or were traumatized by proximity and details have just been expected to show up and carry out their duties as if nothing happened. (I'm mostly guilty of this too. It's difficult to do something substantial without institutional approval.)

In the evening, BSL stopped by on her way from dropping off a care package for SE, and I had a care package for her. Not quite O. Henry "Gift of the Magi" style, but for a moment like this, I think I like the ecology of a continuum of care more than a transactional one-to-one economy. And hugs are among the best thing humans do. 

Monday, February 20, 2023


They played Pachelbel's "Canon in D" on the radio this morning as I was working and it immediately reminded me of my sweet, kind friend CJ. 

She was the student director of the writing center where I worked for my stipend in my first year in the U.S., and she'd invited me over to dinner. She and her philosopher partner were very into classical music and so I started jabbering about this absolutely magical piece I'd heard earlier that day although I didn't know what it was called. Then I started humming it.

CJ and L listened so seriously and then CJ ID-ed it as Pachelbel's "Canon in D" and helpfully added that it was a baroque piece and very famous and lot of people played it at their weddings and so on. 

I've since been to lots of weddings where they did indeed play "Canon in D" and it's CJ I think of every time. I'm so happy to be in touch with her again even it's mostly from a distance.

Pic: Grandpa R (Big A's dad) visited yesterday and I got a picture of the three generations... with iterations of similar foreheads.

Sunday, February 19, 2023


Family dinner yesterday. Lots of discussions and decisions... The most exciting of which is that At, Nu, and I plan to travel to Bangalore in August. Big A can't go because he'll be in a new job, but thinks we shouldn't delay as it may be the last chance for the kids to have a good visit with my parents. That... sounds awful and I disagree (fingers in ears, la-la-la-la-la). But in any case, it made us not even blink at the steep ticket prices.

Also in the throes of writing my CASA report this weekend, and I hate how the world has so few safety nets and will not allow people a decent second chance to bounce back from long-ago mistakes.

Pic: Huckie being cute and charming the older sibs. Chances are Scout is by my chair as usual. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

new trails

After work meetings yesterday, KPB and I walked the Meijer Trail until we couldn't anymore. Lots of fresh snow to stomp through, a brilliant blue sky, and although this was our first hike together--our strides and conversation were perfectly matched up. 

My usual hiking companion L is recovering from an injury and will be leaving for a month starting tomorrow, and my bestie KB (who made the intro to KPB) is too far away now, so I am extra grateful for this connection. 

Pic: The Meijer Trail in Alma; I cannot bring myself to hike the MSU trails just yet.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Hope is an active verb

MSU students are protesting at the state capitol; they arranged themselves as if they were in the kind of lockdown they've been prepared for all through school. 

Michigan currently has a governor and a legislature that is democratic and has introduced state bills 76-86 for gun reform. Some of these may have stopped the shooter before lives were lost. 

Fear--> Anger--> Resolve-->

Time to call my representatives about SB 76-86.

Pic: via Twitter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

zoom zoom zoom

Worked from home today. 

Then Nu and EM showed up around the same time in the afternoon. 

Nu took over the rumpus room with screens and snacks and EM and I set up at the dining table for a Zoom workshop presentation of our Hope-O-Calypse project. We had a tech producer for the conference and cool Radio Lab-style banter going for a while. 

I should make better notes for myself for our next time (in April) but the hour passed too quickly and attendees loved it and the chat was full of OTT love and praise. The tech producer said they'd send us the chat history tomorrow and I plan to save all those comments and compliments. 

EM and I processed Monday-night's incident some more. She had been on campus just as things began to get dangerous, but said in retrospect she hadn't felt scared enough. I'd felt that way too despite sheltering in place with lights off. Have we just rehearsed these scenarios in our heads too much? 

A quick dinner (combination of store-bought and freezer) and then off to Sistrum rehearsals (via Zoom today as I couldn't handle leaving the house just yet). 

Pic: It was super windy when Scout, Huck, and I took an outside break. And if you zoom in, you can see a train.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

"How Many More?"

I don't think I feel normal... I feel kind of numb... sad... strange...

I heard on the news that there have been 67 mass shootings in the U.S. (where else?!) just since the start of 2023--a mere 45 days ago. I don't know what it'll take to disrupt this awful pattern.

Haven't slept in the last 24 hours (like not even my usual 4-5 hours) but didn't want to cancel classes because I had canceled classes just last week after the active shooter hoax at Nu's school. I ended up taking (having to take) Nu to work with me because their school was canceled. 

Classes were a bit somber because so many students had high school friends or cousins who go to MSU, but we made it through with the help of V-Day candy I'd stocked up on--in both classes students brought me candy too... that made me smile. Also, making me smile (quizzically), students framing their thoughts with "I was listening to the police scanner yesterday and..." Is this something people do now?

Attended an online prayer-vigil meeting for the students who were shot this evening. May make it to the anti-gun-violence rally at the capitol tomorrow. 

Pic: MSU spirit rock with the message "How Many More?" Photo by Colin Jackson, NPR reporter.

Monday, February 13, 2023

sheltering in place

So... there was a mass shooting on the MSU campus this evening. Three people were killed and five are critically wounded. The shooter is still at large. 

Helicopters are hovering, sirens are blaring, I've locked the doors, set the alarms, turned off the lights, and am trying to keep Scout and Huck calm. Nu is, thankfully, safe in bed and fast asleep.

I'm learning that a lot of my friends listen to the police scanner. Friends in class and at meetings have had to shelter in place for hours (it's now past midnight).  And I guess this is now national news as friends are texting from Texas and Minneapolis and DC and so on. The shooting started at Berkey Hall (where I used to teach) and the latest shots were heard at Hubbard Hall (across the street from us). 

Actually though, I'm not feeling particularly scared. I dozed for a while and woke up a bit worried that I might feel sorry if the shooter showed up at our place since everyone is after them... This is uncool as there are people dead... but I guess I imagine that people who do this are not ok themselves...

Pic: I tried to take a picture of the moon this morning when Huck, Scout and I walked with Nu to the school bus stop, but Scout was jerking me around as usual and I ended up with this sequence of cool blurs. That tall blur is Hubbard Hall, where law enforcement is concentrated right now.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

words, words, veggies

Earlier this week, I was invited to say a few words about love at today's UU sermon. I started with one of my favorite writers--the late, great June Jordan who wrote at the intersections of feminism and anti-racism and her statement that "none of us have known enough tenderness." How right she sounds--and how I want to do everything to change that. 

I teach, so I'm no longer afraid of public speaking, but my heart rate certainly galloped when I climbed up to the stage and saw all the rows of semi-familiar faces. Nu was such a great support and hype-person all morning.

Pic: Superbowl? More like super foods bowl. Haha. Nu and I were so charmed that that tomato is so Valentine-themed. It reminded me of my long-ago peace tomato.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

trains, complaints, and all the feels

Last week when At was here for dinner, we watched White Noise, the new film based on Don DeLillo's 1980's novel. Earlier this week, I was shocked by how presciently that movie mimicked this week's train derailment in Ohio... I was pretty weirded out by how the news photo of the derailed cars looked identical to the movie scene with derailed cars. It turns out that some the people affected by the Ohio derailment actually acted in the film?!? That's a bit too 'life mimics art' for me.  (Also: our house is close to a train track, so my interest in these calamities tends to be emotional rather than rational.)

Today, I left the fam after Nu's Boss Day Sushi dinner to do drinks and a movie with girlfriends... I don't think I've done that since early 2020. I had dessert instead of a drink as I'd been working since 5 am and thought I might fall asleep if I had a drink. Guess what? I fell asleep anyway--it's difficult not to in those super comfy reclining seats. But that's ok. Being silly and chatty and loud was the point anyway--all that I got to do. 

Pic: Huck, Scout, Big A, At, and Nu in the rumpus room when I said goodbye to them.

Friday, February 10, 2023


I got so much paperwork: forms, proposals, petitions, registrations, reminders, scheduling, ticketing, etc., etc., etc. done today.

This is not the kind of writing I enjoy...

And I'm freaking out a bit with how much more there is to do and all the deadlines that are creeping up. 

One deadline I'll need to fulfill this weekend is to write letters of recommendation for three wonderful students whom I'd nominated for an award... the same award. They all deserve to win it. I wish we had more awards to hand out instead of making all of them compete for one. (It would make my job much easier too.)

Kareem Abdul Jabbar's generous vision is what I want. In "What I think About LeBron Breaking my NBA Scoring Record, Jabbar says: "In the months leading up to LeBron breaking my record, so much was written about how I would feel on the day he sank that record-breaking shot that I had to laugh. I’d already written several times stating exactly how I felt so there really wasn’t much to speculate about. It’s as if I won a billion dollars in a lottery and 39 years later someone won two billion dollars. How would I feel? Grateful that I won and happy that the next person also won. His winning in no way affects my winning."

Pic: View from the Bogue St. Bridge with Big A.


happiness as a puzzle

your postcard from there--is happy you're not here 
morning has already withdrawn into itself  
this sun shines as cold as a moon
your news from the doctor is called "not happy"
decades grow like blessings on my body
I wish I could send them to you 
and somewhere, a grim chorus of earthquakes 
I'm overcome by measuring the ever afters  
without "happily" prefacing them

(unrelated) Pic: Huckie being cute; Scout's somewhere under there too. 
Notes: Sending JG and MB off to Portugal, BS's diagnosis and treatment, 20K + people dead in Turkey, Sistrum chorus rehearsals yesterday, rainy-ass day today.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

striving for ordinary

We tried to have an ordinary day around here. After watching several youtube tutorials, Nu made pots de crème, which were sublime. So I guess the day was elevated into something special. 🤗

But there were no scary phone calls... no panic... no being terrified in the moment and traumatized repeatedly after...

I could get used to this.

Pic: Nu's pots de crème (in repurposed Mentos gum containers).

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

how CAN the kids be alright?

Nu had just raised their hand to answer a question in Spanish class; I'd just landed in my office and poured myself my first cup of tea. And then both of us got the news that Nu's school was on lockdown due to an active shooter. 

I've lived in fear of this since Sandy Hook, but there's no preparing for this kind of call from the school. Thankfully, it turned out to be a hoax. And everyone's okay.

But as I canceled my classes via email and sped to the church where families were supposed to pick up their kids, I kept thinking of this morning when we'd run a little late and Nu had to sprint to make the it on to the school bus... I kept wondering if I'd spend the rest of my life wishing they hadn't made it on to the school bus. 

I guess there's always a low-key anticipation of this happening if you live in the U.S. I remember not sending the kids back to school until well into the new year after Sandy Hook, although I didn't seem too bothered by a gun incident in a neighboring school district last month. The other time I had to pick up the kids due to a gun threat was when they were at ecocamp together.

This is a messed up way to live. I couldn't bear to be apart from Nu for the rest of the day after I picked them up... and I got absolutely no work done... Tomorrow, I'll make up for it tomorrow.

Pic: Students gathered in the football field from a news article.

Monday, February 06, 2023


It felt a bit like I was playing hooky today. 

After I dropped Big A off at the train station and my precious Bluey car off at the dealership for battery updates, L picked me up and we headed to Ted Black Woods for a hike. It was beautiful but super icy, so I was glad L had brought trekking poles for us to use... they saved me from wiping out so many times and made me feel like an all-weather champ. I'm wondering if I should put trekking poles on my otherwise empty birthday list...

I was back by 10:30 to hold meetings and work online for the day, so I got some stuff done. But I did spend nearly two hours stressing that the courtesy shuttle wouldn't pick me up in time for me to pick up Nu and then panicking when it didn't, so there was wasted time. The driver who finally picked me up in the nick of time was third-generation Lebanese and I enjoyed our talk about diasporas. (I asked him about the audio book he'd turned off when I got in--books are such a passport to conversation!)

Back home things fell into dinner, kid time, and class prep mode, but it still feels like an atypical Monday and a bit unsettling. It's not helping that I can't stop humming Young the Giant's "The Walk Home" with its lonely heartbreak and its messy homage to the wind telephone.

Pic: L's sneak pic of me using her poles at Ted Black Woods.


Sunday, February 05, 2023

tall portents

trees make me feel small 
and immense all at once
each connecting me to all
--the rich darkness of roots

under my breath I'll call
for a spring into existence
from extinction in leaf fall
--secretly yearning to be lost 


Pic: Baker Woods with Big A.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

a time for ice hockey

Into the woven silence--shouts
--like applause in the quiet 
of song just ended 

O these joyful, prayerful wars 
--ice in the curve of a river
smiles up at the sky

Pic: The Red Cedar is frozen solid; when we rounded the corner, MSU students were playing ice hockey on it.

Friday, February 03, 2023

and so we abide

I've so crossed so many rivers this day
some over and over as night falls 
clouds scattering like children 
to a preferred rendezvous 

with you I mark the present of now 
rippling like the joy shining 
from syllables of a song 
just half recalled

and above all, the shock of welcome 
the glacial startle of kindnesses
that engulf what I've become
on this other side 
Pic: Red Cedar River/Beal St. Bridge

the waiting game

Just waiting to go home to Scout and I'm in that space where everything feels surreal, and other people seem alien. All I've done to...