Showing posts with label Class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Class. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

love notes

We (Big A and I) don't celebrate Valentine's Day. We celebrate other days like the anniversary of our first and epic date, etc. But I LOVE elementary-school-style Valentine's Days: Candy for all! Cards for all!

I tried to recreate a little bit of that olde magic in class yesterday with a "Pal-entine's Day" celebration--there was candy and stickers people could share with each other. I expected to merely be the facilitator but some people made little notes for me too. I love the one that said, "Thank you for creating an inclusive classroom for all and expanding my love of literature." I love my students. 

I already gave the fam their V-Day treasures and treats, and it was just Nu, Huck, Max, and me at home today (Big A is in Milwaukee). I felt Nu might need some extra love so I picked up a few treats (ice-cream, Krispy Kremes, Kit-Kats) when I gassed up the car on my way home and made some heart-shaped caramel and chocolate cookies. Nu's delight was everything. I love Nu so much.

And my gal-pals took care of me. Lovely LD sent me a Galentine's Day care package via mail that had some serious Sephora goodies and a powdered drink mix I can't wait to try on the weekend. JG said I was her favorite Galentine and sent me a picture from Costa Rica of a howler monkey (!), and I nearly lost it when KB said she was loving me "from afar" (I MISS KB!!!!). I love my women friends. 

Pic: A jumble of V-Day stuff on the counter today. Also: the Spring planting catalog arrived in the mail like a present from the universe. 

Thursday, February 08, 2024

on not meeting expectations

I don't like my grade the student says
You're not from here, are you?
the student says

So where are you actually from? 
(India!) I thought so...
student smiles

I got the assignment wrong because
of your language (English?) 
the student says

It is so rude of you, the student says
to say... that my assignment 
didn't meet expectations
____________________________________________

Note: This came from a long and unsettling office-hour exchange with my one disgruntled student today. It felt demeaning and I was so... crushed. Luckily, it was also the day our PR team had alerted me to an alumni interview which spoke glowingly of me, so I had some balance. But I'd been working on a new version of our land and labor acknowledgment, so it also felt like I'd been wrestling with issues of prejudice all day. 

Pic: No pic today--it was too, too hectic. My Thursdays are so long that they've become standard Subway-for-dinner days--Big A picks them up between his clinic and hospital shifts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

"mid"

I like the way the kids are using "mid" to describe things that are stuck in the middle to mediocre range. Here's my mid list for today.

*    Another day of freezing rain and grey skies... but not quite as cold and there was a fair bit of a thaw too.

*    I won't have my car back for five weeks (they have to order a part from Germany)... but they gave me a newer model as a loaner.

*    I headed to the gas station for the first time in years (Bluey is all electric). It felt spend-y to fork over 50$ for gas... but I found a lucky penny.

*    Last semester, I grandly agreed to give a talk in January 2024... and now it IS January 2024 and my talk is on Friday.  Thankfully, I was able to use my writing group time to get some slides done... but it did mean that I didn't get any new writing done.

*    I love, love, love teaching... but I'm on two search committees (SIX campus interviews--four more to go), three committees that meet every week for a total of four hours, on deadline for two career reviews, on deadline for recommendation letters for people's grad school applications, on deadline for rewriting our land acknowledgment, making final arrangements for two different guest speakers to visit campus (PBK and Women's History Month), arranging travel for the student honorary convention, vetting papers and programming the WGS portion of the MASAL conference, CASA report due next week... And the list for the next month goes on and on. Each of these things is important and has its own bulleted to-dos, and by itself, each would be something I enjoy doing. But cumulatively, having them all clustered together like this, feels overwhelming. One day at a time, I guess.

Pic: I cropped out guests' faces since I didn't ask people if I could post. But now the focus is on the happy plates (everyone is in the clean-plate club!) from our dinner party on Monday. There were two writers with new books out at the table (Sophfronia Scott and Jan Shoemaker) and I enjoyed introducing them to each other and felt a little bit like I was hosting a salon. Bonus peek of Nu at extreme right. I'm the black blob next to the blue-purple sweater (Big A) at the head of the table. Huck and Max are underfoot. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

all the things

Wow. What a day. 

Freezing rain all day, so I moved my classes online and then was committed to sitting with my laptop all day.

I also got into it with the very pro-Hindu nationalist people on my WhatsApp. Hope springs eternal in a teacher's breast I guess. If even one of them stops to reconsider their exclusionary stance, that would be helpful. But I can't do this every day--it's exhausting and draining and makes me question what kind of world I'm living in.

Then Big A woke up grumpy and I pushed back (I mean, he's not a toddler!) and then we fought on text for a bit. Then he "hearted" something I had said in snark and then I felt bad and then the fight was over. Just like that.

My car has been in the repair shop since Monday and they don't know how to fix it--they're waiting on input from the tech team. I was so alarmed by this, that I texted "Is my Bluey [what I call my car] OK?!? 😭" to the family chat... except I sent it to the repair shop by accident... and they texted back "We should be hearing something today. Bluey has a bit of a boo-boo." And I laugh-cried in embarrassment. 

Motaz Azaiza the passionate Gazan journalist has evacuated Gaza. He did such great work, and I'm glad he's safe, and so humbled that he's only 24!

So many of my U.S. friends texted me in a panic about Trump winning the NH primary... but I don't know what to tell them. Is the option really "Genocide Joe?" The lesser of two evils just seems more like the other evil day by day. 

And finally: another day of back pain. Whomp-whomp.

Pic: An icy Red Cedar through the railing on the Sparty (not official name, I think) bridge. From my Monday walk. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

journeys

Nu starts a new day of term tomorrow.

At is in D.C. giving a talk to an organizing group who sprang for air tickets, hotel, and honorarium. So cool. 

Big A has been on the volunteer list for Gaza for weeks, but there has been no movement, because the organization cannot guarantee safety for its volunteers. This is the first time I've been okay with him going to a conflict zone. Twenty years ago, when he wanted to volunteer for Iraq (partly because it would forgive his med school debt), I vetoed it. I was even wary when he volunteered for COVID relief in NYC in early 2020 when things were baaaaad. But I feel like this is no longer even a choice. It's not going to get better until everyone who can help, helps.  

In the meantime, I'm so grateful a colleague is willing to travel with the honorary students to their presentation in St. Louis. Because Scout fell sick while I was at the event last year, convention hotel rooms now give me anticipatory anxiety and dread. 

Pic: The holly bush outside has been frozen for weeks now, and is now pretty in a different way.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

chapter by chapter

At came in to work with me today because they needed to see their old pediatrician, had the lunch I'd packed for them, and then took a nap in my office while I went to class and committee meetings. 

It felt like all the times when I'd bring the kids to work when their school was called off or when they were sick. My office is still filled with so many of the cards and posters they made back then. Their childhood--and my youth--went by so quickly... I miss the little At, the Baby Nu, the young me.

I am sad and worried about these chapter endings and the ones to come. I take faith in that Catherine Newman article I've read a zillion times and know things will be even better. But would I magic myself back to the old days? A hundred times yes. 

But also, is it okay to admit that there's a part of me that is excited for the next chapter? The simple pleasures of writing/walking/seeing friends whenever I want?

Pic: At curled up and fast asleep on my tiny office sofa. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

still standing/standing still

I usually sing the praises of the Irish  around St. Patrick's Day, but let me start early this year. South Africa is standing tall with their case against the genocide in Gaza at the International Court of Justice in the Hague and Ireland appears to be the only Western nation supporting them. It is not a coincidence that a nation with a memory of apartheid regimes and another with a history of brutal colonization should team up to speak up for a people suffering both. 

I took little, life-affirming sips of the video clips of the trial online between classes and reveled in the moments of human solidarity. It is shameful that none of the major news channels here are airing this trial although we make a lot of noise about free speech. There's a YouTube channel for the proceedings

In the meantime, we've started bombing Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world. 

Pic: A very tall snow person appeared on campus; they're wearing a wreath garland on their head.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

bright spots

First day of classes. I love the energy. Every term I decide I'm going to be cool about it, but like clockwork I end up loving these people (so much). 
*
I spent 12 hours on campus today, so it's a good thing I was able to decompress in my office (even if only for a handful of minutes at a time taking care of my now very twinge-y back and legs). 
*
Our search committee met a wonderful slate of candidates all of whom could be excellent directors of our writing center (choosing between them is going to be so tough though). 
*
We finally got enough snow for it to stick around and look wintry (I almost wiped out at the exit to work which hadn't been plowed; thank heavens for 4WD). 
*
Pic: I'm so thrilled by the resilience of my office plants who were ignored all winter break but appear to have thrived (one geranium even decided to bloom)!

Friday, January 05, 2024

Five on the last Friday of break

1) Everyone should get a couple of weeks off at the end of the year to rest, reset, and restore themselves. I think I've done all three this time. Happy to report that I'm not clawing myself or pulling out hair--my literal scars are healing. 

2) I'm SO excited to meet my new (and old) students and get started on my new (and old) courses.

3) Committee work will make it tough this term--my standing committees meet late on my teaching days and because I'm on a couple of search committees, I will be on campus until late every day next week either wining and dining candidates or doing a chunk of video interviews. Big A and Nu are going to have to step up to dinner every day next week and at least twice a week after that.

4) So. Many. Meetings. And these are such a big responsibility. It might be just one of the many meetings in my day, but it could be the most important meeting of the other person's day, and that's something to take very seriously. (I do, which is why they're so depleting.)

5) Pic: Max and Huck say they're not mad; they're just disappointed break is over. 

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Slow Learner launch

Today was a long day at work, made a bit longer by checking in with people who are attending the MLA. But I got home at a reasonable hour, and after feeding my pack their dinner, I was so happy and honored to attend the book launch for Jan Shoemaker's new book of essays, Slow Learner. 

First, I picked up L--who had introduced me to Jan--and then we picked up the copies I'd preordered, and found a place to sit. The space was jam-packed and they ended up having to add more seating. Jan, who used to teach English at a local high school, read a pandemic piece titled "Caper." It was characteristically hilarious and suspenseful and I can't wait to read the rest.

The following is from an old essay I found on the internet called "Where the Water Is". It gives some idea of how Jan uses wit in ways that are sharp and searching.

"One of the uncomfortable things about living with a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s is that it makes you confront your own character flaws. Just when you thought it more or less clear from all the times you’ve sent money to public radio and boycotted Wal-Mart that you were the incarnation of Albert Schweitzer, or Gandhi, or both, you find out you’re really just a slightly bitchier version of Martha Stewart. Your well of compassion and patience, which was never very deep to begin with, is now just an empty cistern."

Pic: Jan at the lectern at the Slow Learner launch today.  

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

"enjoy what you have"

The exhortation to use, enjoy... use up stuff came from a friend when we were in grad school. It was prompted by her having to settle her dead aunt's effects and being saddened by the unused perfume, candles, clothes, etc. she kept finding. It's advice I've taken seriously. I mean we use "fancy" dishes all the time. It does mean that they get chipped (and that we try to make sure that one of us and not a guest gets the chipped plate), but it's still worth it.

If we can't or don't use something, I'd rather it goes to someone who might. But this part is more of an ongoing process. I find huge purges overwhelming, but this past year, I collected 5-10 items to give away (usually kitchen stuff, clothes, books, appliances) almost every day. I think we're almost at an optimal level of stuff now.  

And I guess "enjoy what you have" works for time and relationships too. Winter break has been lovely, but we're back to classes next week, and this week has been a lot of prep. (I'm actually on campus tomorrow for a four-hour workshop!) So in the spirit of enjoying what I have, I seized today, and made plans with LD for lunch and JL for tea.

Pic: Yesterday, I stopped to take this picture of a black squirrel in profile on the banks of the Red Cedar because of the almost archetypal "enjoy what you have" pose (inspiration for today's musings). Big A wasn't a fan of me breaking our sub-14 min/mile pace.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

another love poem

my class is united by laughter
until we look alike 
                            it digs a hole in the day where 
                            our anxiety disappears
as if sifting through our souls
for the answer
                            and finding only half words
                            and silly dreams
freed us forever/for a moment
(or so it seemed)
______
Pic: First-year-seminar poster exhibition. The moment I'm thinking of was in another class, but the picture I took there has too many recognizable faces, and I haven't asked for permission to post it. I'm glad the semester is almost over... but I will miss the camaraderie and intellectual tussle of the classroom. Sending extra love out into the universe for the young ones and the little ones today.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

AJLT

And just like that, it's exam week: I wish I could tell my student people to take deep breaths. Lots of last-minute anxiety, so the days are long, but overall a sense of satisfaction and good endings.

It was the kind of day where I constantly pivoted like a dancer: from sharing the first years' sense of accomplishment in the morning (their first semester at college down, look at the posters they made!) to making notes as students presented on projects they've been working on for six weeks (and marveling at their insights and how skilled they are at encouraging each other!) to a discussion with the college's board of trustees in the early evening (just the department chair and me, we thought it went well). 

That last task reminded me that someone put me on a list of nominees for the MSU board of trustees. When I demurred, EM said (referring to the spate of Title IX missteps at MSU since Larry Nassar) I was totally worthy because at the very least I wouldn't sexually harass anyone. Well, in that case... 

Pic: Amaryllis are blooming in my tea garden. Time to go start the narcissi so they'll be in bloom by Christmas (I say, hopefully).

Thursday, November 30, 2023

"it's that little souvenir of a terrible year/which makes my eyes feel sore"

I thought I was done collecting snow globes... 

But I was at the store getting personal hygiene products for my students' community service project and this snow globe called out to me. Scout loved Christmas... and I like how this one makes it as though Scout is getting a visit with Santa this year too.

It plays "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I never wind it up all the way, so it plays really slowly and sounds super sad. Like those songs which do double duty with an upbeat happy version and a slower sad version. "Que sera, sera" in The Man Who Knew Too Much is the only example I can think of right now... It's a really big thing in Bollywood films, something the kids love to parody with basically any song. 

Anyway...

It's the first Christmassy thing I've set out this year.

(Big A and I still tear up every day/every other day when we talk about Scout, who took so much of my heart with him. Does anyone have the timeline for when things will get better?)

Pic: Inside a snow globe with Scout and Santa. Wish I could be in there. #It'sMyBlogAndI'llBeMaudlinIfIWantTo
The title is from one of my favorite nostalgic songs from the 90s--The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends." 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

"Please DO NOT wash Nazi socks"

I'm hurrying to my first class, head full of details from one of the job searches we're currently on, when I see the sign: "Please DO NOT wash Nazi socks." I walked by... and then walked back... to consider it some more until it clicked--this was a message from the costumer for the student production of Cabaret that is set to start this evening. 

For the rest of the day, I muttered stuff about Nazi socks and it brought me to giggle mode every time. It buoyed me up so much I was able to make it--instead of bailing--on a girlfriends' book club meeting even after a longish search committee meeting.

Not only had I not read the book for book club--honestly, I couldn't even tell you the name of the book under discussion (which never happened). I got to catch up with everyone and drink a colorful margarita though. 

I'm being blasé, but of my four bookclubs--all of which I joined when I moved to Lansing and was desperate to find community--this one consistently picks books that are pretty badly written, but I love the people in it. What more can I say?

Pic: The sign: "Please DO NOT wash Nazi socks. Thank you."

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

hybridity

I took myself out for a long walk before work this morning and it helped me figure things out. I remembered an agency I could approach for someone's emergency housing situation and the way to change the settings on a program that has been causing the first years some grief. 

It also solved the problem of what I'd be making for dinner: I made a white bean chili with rice.

Apparently that's what happens when you add leftover veggie pulao and rajma in a pot with fresh tomatoes and spinach and the jalapeno-elote appetizers you served over the weekend. After Nu and Big A had remarked on how tasty it was, I told them the alternate name for it was Diwali leftovers soup! Suckers! They didn't see that coming!

Pic: Geese and ducks on the Red Cedar. Shouldn't they already be headed somewhere else for the winter?

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

plaid power

A 12-hour day at work, but a nice set of classes, and I even found time to read between meetings, so it was nice all around. 

Just a few more weeks of teaching and then it'll be winter break... 

I'll really need to get back to writing at that point. Work on every project has been stalled for weeks--I easily write 1000s of words every day, but it's usually in service of someone else (rec. letters, references, reviews, etc.). I'm looking forward to prioritizing my work again soon.

Pic: Plaid is big on our campus because of our Scottish roots. Today in honor of an evening reception, I had on plaid blouse, plaid pants (OK, leggings--since the pandemic, I so rarely wear actual pants anymore), and plaid socks for the win.

Friday, November 03, 2023

"bread and roses"

Between my morning meetings and the faculty meetings in the afternoon, I raced to the picket line at At's work, which was sponsored by the Teamsters. It has been well over a year since At and their team won their historic unionization, but they are yet to win their contract. 

It wasn't a very big crowd at the picket line--but it was lively. I reconnected with SN, an old student and friend, and the Teamsters regaled me with compliments about At. 

My favorite story though was the one about one of the Teamster's once eight-year-old who would race out to meet FedEx delivery people with her mom's business card to encourage them to organize so they too could enjoy pay raises like UPS workers (who are famously with the Teamsters). Adorbs!

I found myself humming "Bread and Roses"--one of my favorite versions is the one featured in Pride (2014), that quirky, plucky, cross-cultural solidarity movie.

Pic: Supporters on the picket line outside At's place of work.

Friday, October 20, 2023

here we go

Although it has stayed mostly green where we are, I can see the colors turning every day on my commute north to work. I listened to chants in Sanskrit in the car and it was pleasant and peaceful and gave me some time to enjoy the poetic beauty of the slokas and puzzle out the agglutinative meanings of words I don't know (my favorite this week is samudra-tanayaya-- body like an ocean).

I am excited to finish the 1001 meetings scheduled for today and then take off with the fam for Big A's birthday weekend. 

I couldn't find any places on the water that would allow us to bring Huck and Max, so KB kindly offered up her parents' place on Torch Lake. The plan is to get everyone a light dinner, pack a backpack each, pick up At after his shift... and go!

Pic: A glimpse of the Red Cedar north of us from CC.

Friday, October 06, 2023

nocturne

when I slip into a canoe 
to call it sleep--no one
has questions to ask
                              I deceive myself  
anxiety is my specialty 
every rock a pinnacle
every ripple a cataract  
                              I deserve myself 
            I like to say I'm flowing
            but I'm falling... falling 
            so... slowly you can't tell
_________________________

The radio was the perfect soundtrack today, playing "Friday I'm in Love" (what a perfect villanelle!) just as I got into the car to come home after a long day of meetings. (EC and I have the rest of the FYS project mapped out; tied up some delightful student consults on projects; a student emergency where DD magically showed up to help renewed my gratitude that her office is just two doors away from mine.) Then the radio played "Nothing Compares" and the Prince-Sinead-Scout sorrow was overwhelming. "All the flowers that you planted /In the backyard/All died when you went away" will never fail to squeeze a sob out out of me. I blame this song--poor Big A said something innocuous in the course of a conversation around 2 am, and I had a full-on sobbing interlude. Okay.

Onward... I want to thank Mel at Stirrup Queens for the shoutout in her 985th blog roundup! The last three times I made it to the roundup, it brought good luck in the form of emails notifying me that poems had been accepted for publication in other places. This time--alas--I did not have any submissions out. Perhaps I should work on getting some out over the upcoming long weekend.

Pic: It feels like our first perfect fall day, and I got out--between meetings--for a walk-and-talk on the bike path with AK.

bleak week

I'm having a tough time this week. It's not that I can't go on... I am. But I keep feeling like I can't... On the surface, t...