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

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

an adult marriage

Somehow, it has been 18 years since we were married! Our marriage is officially an adult now. On some days it feels like it has been 40 years and perhaps just 5-6 years at other times? 

IDK. Math is tough for me.

(I usually don't specify how long we've been married because we have a 25-year-old, and I don't want to get into the inevitable mathy-judgy questions about that. But essentially, IDC.)

The morning was deadline-fueled editing, the afternoon was interviews with candidates for a faculty position. But I took a couple of hours off for a drive and dinner with Big A, reminiscing about our top favorite things about the last 18 years. 

Pic: Wedding afternoon. My tiara is off, A's coat buttons are undone. We're in my MIL's house in Ohio. I have a photo like this on the nightstand, and it always makes me laugh because the kids once said it looks like I went and married a teenager. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

the time I need

My deadline was this past Sunday. I got an extension until Wednesday, because I wanted to spend a few more days fine-tuning things. When I asked for the extension, the editor good-naturedly said I should "take the time I need." I think about how they (could have but) did not say I should take "all the time I need." I'm using it as a kind of rubric--does the tweak I envision fit in the "time I need?" If it doesn't, I'm making a note and passing on it/passing it on. 

I lugged my laptop to the sports bar where Big A was watching the Dallas-Boston NBA game tonight. While there, he tried quite valiantly to tell me all the "subplots" and rivalries beyond the score. His description of someone looking like a cream cheese was very apt--I recognized them as soon as they showed up on screen. Anyway, the Celtics won, everyone was happy, and we're home.

(That's two sports-themed events in the space of a week... who am I these days?!)

Pic: Big A in this year's Father's Day tee. It's Star-Wars themed and has all the kids' names on it. Huck and Max just got a treat from the treat jar. 

Sunday, June 16, 2024

have loved him my whole darn life

I posted a short tribute on FB for Father's Day. I wrote, "My dad was the first feminist I knew. (He loved the poet Bharathiar deeply, and perhaps that's where *he* got it from...) I am so lucky to have had his fierce love and support in all things big and small all my life. I know he's loved me since I was born, but I've actually loved him my whole darn life."

But there's so much more to say... How he came from a family of six brothers, and mourned the baby sister who died as an infant for decades. How he'd tuck my sister and me into bed like it was a military operation--even lifting our feet to tuck the sheets under them. How he teared up when I got my first period, because he was so sad for my future lifetime of cramps and discomfort. How when I said he loved fiercely, I meant fierce in all its senses--sometimes he'd be so moved kissing us, his face would be like a grimace. How he made a rule that my mom could not compare us to other kids. How he'd find something good about even our failures or frame them in the most generous light. How he'd had secretaries to "take dictation" at work, but would painstakingly write notes to us in his (truly) terrible handwriting.

My mom is right--good dads get more kudos than good moms because good dads are rarer than good moms. But as the years go by and he gets older, I cherish every day and every conversation with my dad even more. I'm hoping to take all my A's--Big, Little, and Baby--to go visit him in India next year.

Pic: My dad and me on Elliot's Beach; I'm sure my favorite uncle took this one. I look so much like dad in this one.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

"Let's Go Nuts"

Took a break from writing (and housework) today to take myself out to the ball game. Friends had won a private box in a charity auction and invited me to go. The view was pretty nice from the top (of the stadium).

After I texted Big A to apologize about being wrong about something (I'm getting better at this!), I was able to relax and had a great time.

It was Star Wars night, so all the kids had light sabers and characters visited us periodically to remind us to have fun. The cheer for the Lansing Lugnuts is "Let's go nuts!" I think we did a bit. 

Pic: Fireworks at the end of the night, with little light sabers aglow in the stands.

Friday, June 14, 2024

reading between the flowers

I think teenager Cass makes a terrific point in The Bee Sting when she is irritated with the ubiquitous nature themes in poetry: “You go to class and discuss famous poems. The poems are full of swans, gorse, blackberries, leopards, elderflowers, mountains, orchards, moonlight, wolves, nightingales, cherry blossoms, bog oak, lily-pads, honeybees. Even the brand-new ones are jam-packed with nature. It’s like the poets are not living in the same world as you. You put up your hand and say isn’t it weird that poets just keep going around noticing nature and not ever noticing that nature is shrinking? To read these poems you would think the world was as full of nature as it ever was even though in the last forty years so many animals and habitats have been wiped out. How come they don’t notice that? How come they don’t notice everything that’s been annihilated? If they’re so into noticing things? I look around and all I see is the world being ruined. If poems were true they’d just be about walking through a giant graveyard or a garbage dump. The only place you find nature is in poems, it’s total bullshit." 

And I think of the message Mohamed Hussein in Gaza put out this morning: "This flower has bloomed next to my tent as if to tell me not to lose hope, that tomorrow the war will end, and everything will become beautiful. Life will surely blossom again."

And I think that's why. That's the answer to Cass. Hope enters our lives and stays as long there is a single bloom.

Pic: These flowers have bloomed next to our house as if to tell me...

Thursday, June 13, 2024

people to be joyous about:

* a colleague on a committee who took a gentle, but necessary, suggestion like a champ and acted on it. No pique, no passive-aggressive resentment, no defensiveness. Just beautiful.

* a kid who asked for something non-phone related on our "Buy Nothing" group... not just for themselves but for their two siblings as well.

* three students who want to do summer projects. I may bristle about committee work over the summer since we have no summer salary, but I love, love, love working with students. It all seems so pure: my students aren't doing it for the grades, I'm not doing it for pay.

* all the friends at the sleepovers Nu has been having. I'm glad to be that mom with the locked liquor cabinet and pallets of (Costco) snacks if it means I can hear Nu and their friends, two rooms over, laughing into the wee hours. 

*Pic: Nu. Who doesn't always look like this :) (and with whom I have the most amazing two-hour long discussions about Plath, Whitman, and life). Happy June 13th, I guess. I gave the teenagers something to laugh about when I walked in to say goodnight and visibly jumped at the sight of Nu's made up face.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Things I rescued today:

* a groundhog. Max is swift and silent when he gives chase. Nothing but the jingle of his tags gives him away. I rescued the groundhog by repeatedly panic-screaming Max's name and grabbing his collar and giving the groundhog room and time to waddle away. I didn't realize how ridiculously slow groundhogs are (and almost cartoonishly silly looking with their overbite and all). It's not Nicole's bear adventure, but it was already too much for me. 

* a volunteer oak sapling that had grown almost as tall as the house but had come unrooted in the high winds... I'm rooting for it, I hope it will root too.

* a chapter that almost died from all the cuts I made last week. I'm hoping I can stitch it together tomorrow.

* my office plants, who were happy to see me despite not having been watered in two weeks.

* some bland black bean burgers with a splash of Bitchin' Sauce. So much protein, and my family didn't even realize dinner was vegan. 

* myself from the slow burn of anxiety. It was almost grad-school level anxiety... I realized it was because the book I randomly picked via Kindle Unlimited (Ruth Ware's The It Girl) is set in one of my grad school locations. The murder's not helping, that's for sure.

Pic: Big A, Max, Huck (and me) on our evening walk. Huck just trots along happily. Max wants to chase everything that moves (and that includes falling leaves).

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

kindness-torture and polite-fights

I was walking back home to dinner (which I wasn't making BTW, it was Nu's Boss Day and we were getting Pok√®) when I started getting inundated with texts asking where I was, if I was ok, did I need a ride back, etc. etc. So many texts! Ooof. I wasn't late to dinner or asking for help. Tamils would call this anbu thollai--kindness-torture. (Vaguely related to that other oxymoronic term the East Asian polite-fight.) I probably do this too... but sometimes you just... gotta let people be. (Or perhaps I'd miss it if it went away? IDK!)

Pic: Max and Huck (the fuzzy brown blur by the back door) exploring the yard after Big A completed the first mow of the year (there'll be another one around the start of fall). The plantings around the pond are beginning to come in nicely, but not fast enough for me. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

an early start

I don't want to die
I want to keep on
opening 

wide as a song
wide as a wound

someday I'll learn
to tell the difference
between

my quiet body
my silenced body

know the future meant 
to be for me--I'll get 
there yet
___________
Note: I'm not sick, just thinking about death because of last week's losses.
Pic: The deer are out there eating all my flowers, so I planted some annuals in these birdbaths, tugged some moss over the shallow roots like a blankie, clipped some craft birds onto the chains, and hung these constructions up in the tea garden to enjoy.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

mama's beach day

The girlfriends and I took off to Saugatuck for the day. I was so excited about this trip to the beach that I didn't get a wink of sleep last night!

I guess I hadn't been to the beach "by myself" since grade school--it has always been with family and kids. And I'll do that again this summer, because I love that... But there was something very freeing about heading out by myself. I didn't have to check on anyone or their water bottles, sunscreen, Epi-Pens, or pack extras of anything, prep meals and allergen-free snacks. I had my sunglasses and hat... and I was gone.

It was lovely. We talked all the way to the beach, had brunch, did a couple of garden tours, blissed out in the sand for hours, wandered the little boutiques for hours (we picked up a little present for BOL who couldn't go at the last moment), and had dinner before we headed home.

This next week is the one with deadlines and work meetings, and today was the perfect way to prepare for it. 

Pic: Lake Michigan is beautiful and fierce. 

Saturday, June 08, 2024

contentment, panic, alarm, and a chuckle

Nu headed off to a friend's graduation open house, Big A took off for the Cow Pie Classic (what a weird concatenation of words), and my girlfriends' hang got postponed due to rain. So I contentedly puttered around the house, watered the zillion plants, and cleaned everything.

Then I wandered into a discussion about the rising cases of bird flu and how a bird flu pandemic could make Covid look like "a walk in the park." It made me panic a bit, so I took myself off for a long walk. I think I will order some masks and stockpile some beans and bleach though. Just in case. 

Alarmingly, Noam Chomsky's health is reportedly in sharp decline. Also, the U.S. disguised its participating troops as a humanitarian aid convoy (a war crime) instead of actually pursuing meaningful diplomacy for hostages. Why do we favor this kind of military charlatanism over rapprochement? 

Pic: Our flipsy-flopsy Maxie. This puppy makes me chuckle. He's snuggled into my side, his head and front legs are completely hanging off the sofa, his back legs and paws are torpedoed into our long-suffering Huck. And somehow he's fast asleep in this weird position. 

Friday, June 07, 2024

a longer table

At some point in the early Trump presidency years, I came across the saying: "build a longer table, not a higher wall." It really spoke to me, and I took it to heart. 

An intergenerational mix of loved ones to dinner tonight and we found plenty to celebrate and laugh about. 

(And the prep conveniently kept me too busy to brood. Yes, I know I have a deadline coming up, but I really needed this.)

Pic: We scooted a card table to our regular table and scrounged chairs from other rooms to accommodate all of us. Max and Huck are by my feet.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

scenes from a marriage

Big A and I have one major road to cross before we get on the riverwalk. Today, while the pedestrian lights are flashing, the first lane of traffic comes to a complete stop and the second lane is slowing down, so I get in the crosswalk...

But the car in the second lane keeps coming and I sort of freeze in the crosswalk. A pushes me aside as the car screeches to a halt and then he's in the driver's face yelling...

But the driver...

They're looking at me, or actually my legs, and it's so ridiculous I start laughing, and as he joins me, A is laughing too.

I'm glad we had that moment of adrenalin-fueled levity (and also that I didn't die or get dismembered), because we just heard that someone we used to be close to died unexpectedly. A really lovely person, MM was an OB-GYN who found homes for many unwanted and/or orphaned babies. (I used to fake berate Big A for not bringing home "work" babies like our friend MM did.) Anyway, suddenly they're dead and we're headed to their visitation tomorrow and looking into planting some trees as a memorial. I will miss MM, and also MM's kids are the same age as At... surely, it's too soon for it to be our generation's turn? (I know the answer is it's never too soon.)

Pic: The unidentified vine that's growing up the side of the house across the cladding. I think it's so pretty, but I know A is going to want to chop it down.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

the lift we needed

So buoyed by the surprisingly good election results in India! There has been such severe repression of press and academic freedoms over the last ten years under the fundamentalist and egocentric leadership of Prime Minister Modi, and that has been fractured by the secular INDIA coalition winning 232/543 seats today. 

Modi's victory is pyrrhic--he will likely still become the P.M. for a third term. But for the first time in a decade, there is a solid opposition bloc in parliament, and he will not be able to have unconstitutional, non-secular, Islamophobic, crony-capitalism bills passed so easily (or at all).

People who celebrate my Boss Day--I mean, who else but my immediate family--started saying the results were a Boss Day present to me! It was funny and SO sweet to see texts from my sister and At both pop up with identical language simultaneously. The exit polls had been so doctored to benefit the ruling party over the month-long election process, so the results took everyone including pollsters, psephologists, and pundits by surprise. 

What a wonderful glimmer of hope that India will fulfill its destiny as the biggest democracy in terms of more than just numbers. I spent so much of the morning just beaming at my computer screen enjoying the memes and gifs and schadenfreude (they lost in Ayodhya where they destroyed the mosque!) and texting with friends and (the progressive) cousins. So proud of my home state of Tamil Nadu that gave the BJP exactly ZERO wins. So grateful to the students, professors, journalists, farmers, and impoverished millions who protested and resisted Modi's fascism in every way they could.

Pic: I love this quote from journalist Ravish Kumar: "Not all battles are fought for victory. Some are fought to tell the world that someone was there on the battlefield." I think it applies to every battle I'm engaged in. Our fights are, at least in part, so people being oppressed know that other people see their struggles and will fight for them. To know that we/they are not alone. 

Monday, June 03, 2024

preparing for June

            may our rage be bright
            our actions free
            our healing soft

whether our pride waves
all year round or
only in June

              may our love be loud
              our words proud
              our touch safe

when it rains, may we learn 
to be as water 
and rise up 
___________
Pic: Some bunny. We still call them "baila wabbit" because Nu used to as a toddler. 


Sunday, June 02, 2024

the week ahead

Nu's final exams are this week. But they're not feeling well. If they're still feverish tomorrow, I'll have to see if they can take makeup exams later in the week. 

Big A will be back tomorrow! Even better: He can take the summer off from the residents, so he won't have to travel to Milwaukee again until October. He has this whole upcoming week off, and we're so excited to do all our usual things together.

It was At's Boss Day today, but they were in meetings, so we celebrated by having a pizza delivered to them. I have no idea what At's week looks like. I guess I have a grownup kid! 

Things aren't so well in the world, but I've donated and called this week plus studied my Arabic, and made sure I'm paying attention (and drawn attention where necessary). Not sure what else to do at this point.  

My project deadline approaches. It's terrifying. But also, it'll be so freeing to be done with this stage of it. And then I'll be able to work on different things. Yay! 

Super long convos with mom and fave uncle and aunt this weekend. And a couple of girlfriend hangs planned in the coming days. I'm so lucky in all the people I love and who love me back so well.

Pic: Huck popping up to check on me. She's usually curled up at my feet at this point in the day, but tonight, there was some urgent toy-tugging that needed to happen with Max.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

connections

I hear my mother calling
--calling on the phone
(not from the porch)

then she asks for my name
her voice a green flame
of sudden language 

my eyes round as our earth 
I tell her my name 
play her game 

memory, fantasy, truth...
have all gone missing
but aren't missed
_____________________________
Pic: A turtle and some hatchlings sunning themselves on a rock in the Red Cedar. Another long walk by myself

Friday, May 31, 2024

it's going down at the (book) club

Pic: Today my bookclub people were so delighted with the verdict finding Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts--JS brought a grocery store cake whose icing read "34 Convictions" and CD had a bottle of wine whose label had been altered to say "34 Crimes."

(We were discussing The Bee Sting--I could have talked about it for another 24 hours. Our next book is Percival Everett's James--the Huck Finn re-vision.)

Bonus: My WTF dream in which I was upset because in addition to my real life kids, I had twins who were killed in a bus accident. I didn't seem to be grieving them, I was upset because (a) I hadn't put their names on the Father's Day T-shirt I had made for A (IRL, I've put Scout's name on it, of course) and (b) I couldn't remember the name of the second twin. In the dream, I went round and round wondering if it was "Collin" or "Mike" or "Asa--" all real life twins I know. I was so relieved to wake up and remember I never did have twins.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

the hardest thing to say

Pic: A random question I encountered on my FB as I exited writing camp in search of entertainment today. I can see different people struggle with different items on this list. 

For me, "I love you" is the easiest. I love people and can feel and show love to strangers, so saying it to the many people I care about is NBD. 

I apologize... a lot. Some of it is social conditioning and I'm actually trying not to do so much of it. Once I tripped over a chair and apologized to it, so I'm a work in progress, but no--it's not hard for me.

Admitting I'm wrong, however--that takes some effort. I like being right, and am willing to use my training in rhetoric to argue why I'm right. But I'm working on being less defensive overall. I'm usually excited when something I hear or read changes my mind--it reminds me that I'm still learning (am capable of learning) so that's a good sign.

The most difficult thing however, is asking for help. It's never been because it's something I can't do. But I do take on too much, think I'm the only person who can do whatever it is, worry about how other people are busy... I do everything wrong in this category. 

Hardest (in descending order): B, D, A, C.

I wonder how other people see this.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

things come into my life

I almost got into the car so I could drive to Toronto and hug someone I've never met. 

I got to know Anita, a jewelry designer-labor organizer-prof on an online forum many, many years ago. Yesterday, I opened up my mail to find they'd sent me some exquisite watermelon pins they had made to support Gaza. Their sweet card said how they've enjoyed watching me and my kids grow over the years on FB.

I've wanted watermelon merch for a few months now, but always felt like that sort of discretionary spending could be better used as an actual donation to Gaza--so this is extra perfect. I'm so moved by Anita's generosity (talent, time, effort, material, and more), and I'm so grateful there are people like Anita in our world; someday, I hope to be one of them.

And then my colleague-friends KC and SS who'd traveled to Morocco brought me back a beautiful silk scarf patterned with vines and hamsas. "It was screaming your name," KC said, which made me laugh. They had a lot of students to care for while there, so I'm surprised and touched they thought of me.

Pic: My new scarf and pins. These beautiful things and the kindnesses they represent mean so much.

hanging in there/hanging by a thread: a week of random things I thought about with A in the hospital

Wednesday, July 10:  Big A's healthcare team doesn't have a clear way forward, so neither do we. But I found the buttons to move his...