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

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

headway(s)

1) They now know me by name at Hammond Farms where I get rocks and pebbles for the pond. We've been getting comfortable: The first day I showed up in a dress, then it was pants, then sweats, then shorts...  on my most recent trip, I went in my ratty back brace. The people who work there--especially the women--are amazing.

 2) This poem got accepted for publication in an academic volume. The editor suggested changing "assignment" to "answer" in the penultimate line for clarity, and I agree. They liked how my persona's responses are reduced to the merely parenthetical in the poem. 

3) There's another happy ending too. After I wrote the poem, I set my hurt feelings aside to focus on continuing to do what I'm supposed to do--help the student learn. We had a few individual sessions, the student began to enjoy the readings, refined their ideas, improved their writing, and by the end of the semester, was repeatedly thanking me in class meetings. I learned too; I'm now inclined to think that their initial snipe came from awkwardness more than malice. 

4) Pic: I've been having better luck relaxing with my morning tea on this side of the tea garden, without getting distracted by tasks. The light started off gray and moody, but it soon turned into a brilliant and gloriously sunshiny day later. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

MSU solidarity encampment

More than 60 campuses across the U.S. have now set up encampments to call attention to the ever-rising death toll of the Palestinian people and to demand that our government cease aiding the Israeli government.  These protests have been compared to student Vietnam protests; to my friend CMS who was at Columbia in the 1980s, they are reminiscent of the anti-apartheid protests against South Africa. 

McSweeney's has a laugh-cry post about student protests that is so on the nose"The University administration respects all student protests, just not this one. Students have fought for many important causes over the years, and their right to protest is sacrosanct. In this case, however, we must arrest and slander them. We will not look back and regret this decision. Although we were wrong about not admitting women, abolitioning racial quotas, US involvement in Vietnam, and divesting from apartheid South Africa, we are confident that this time is different."

This week, I've watched with horror as students have gotten tased, teargassed, and shot with rubber bullets, police show up in militarized outfits, and snipers have been stationed on the roof (at OU and IU). I am proud of the faculty who have shown up to support their students across various campuses, forming human chains, and trying to protect their students. 

This is the right thing to do. It's a glimpse of what the student-teacher relationship needs to be in times of crisis. If teaching means nurturing minds, it also extends to defending students from oppression. Faculty have since gotten violently arrested, and the video of the Emory professor being thrown to the ground with two burly police officers kneeling on her back is distressing in a way that is visceral. But it's still the right thing to do. 

I'm relieved that the local encampment at MSU that was set up today is relatively calmer. Police showed up to ask that the tents be removed, but left without incident. Morale seemed to be high and the protestors did not back down. It feels like so much has been lost, that we've lost our sense of fear too.

Pic: Encampment at MSU--about 20 tents and a few hundred people. For the safety of all, I'm sharing only a hazy photo pulled from the video the organizers shared.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

busy for a Saturday

Huck and Max were a bit lonely today. 

Nu was hosting six people for a sleepover and was way too busy for the littlest sibs. Amusingly brusque, as a matter of fact. It was a little glimpse of Nu as a host or perhaps a parent.

At was in Chicago for the Labor Notes panels. From the pic shared on family chat, I thought At was wearing a retro pantsuit--no, she was rocking a retro skirt-suit.

Big A was off to his 36-miler Barry Roubaix after a muffin-centric breakfast of champions.

And I was off to commencement--probably the happiest day in the academic calendar. I always clap for each of our ≈400 graduates, whether I know them or not. And then after the ceremony, we form a gauntlet for the graduates and it's just such a thrill and such a treat to see so many familiar faces from over the last four (or five) years and celebrate their big step up... and get goodbye hugs from some of them.   

Pic: In my robes for commencement. It always feels like I'm cosplaying as a medieval English cleric. Nicole had suggested angling up for full-length selfies. I guess this is an improvement from my previous selfie attempts as you can kind of see my plaid pants, but I need longer arms.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

"bad idea, right?"

More meetings today, including two terribly fraught ones... including one in the boardroom where 99% of the portraits on the wall are of old, white men. But between prep meetings and debriefs and hallway chats and phone calls about these two meetings, the day went quickly. And all too soon it was academic social time where our very small group (at one point just our provost and me) made a good showing at trivia (although I will always want to kick myself for not coming up with "Echo" in relation to Narcissus). 

Pic: I've been taking more selfies than usual because I have to document wearing non-pants in academic settings for a challenge ("Skirtathon"). And I suck at taking them... how does one do a full-length selfie? I wanted to share the beautiful pattern on my (thrifted)  Rachel Roy dress here. 

Another bad idea is that inspired by all the beautiful ensembles people have put together for the challenge, I went on ThredUp and ordered a bunch of blazers. Blazers. When I already have too many. When the weather is warming up. When I won't have to wear formal work clothes until nearly September. Face-palm.

Friday, April 12, 2024

snapshots

3:30 am: Big A and I get to bed and wish we didn't have to go to work in the morning. Not because we're getting to bed late, but because he's working in Milwaukee for the next three days and I won't be around to say goodbye when he leaves.

5:30-ish am: I wake from a nightmare in which I'm in my modeling days and the make-up artist is someone who appears to be a 14-year-old child. They somehow manage to fix my hair so it looks both straight and frizzy and when I demur, they threaten to call their dad.

6:55 am: I'm finishing up breakfast chores and Nu asks me if I could drop them at the school bus stop because it's drizzling and they just blow-dried their hair. Umbrellas and raincoats are too cumbersome to carry around at school (their locker is too far away from their classrooms).

8:30-ish am: I'm crying in the car because today's Story Corps was terrifying and beautiful.

9:15 am onwards: all my favorite work people are gathered to clap for a colleague who has just taught the last class of their career as they walk out of their classroom. Does anyplace else do this? The consensus is "no." I think this is a lovely tradition. Bonus: I get to have little chats with all my favorite people.

10:00 am-ish: I walk AK back to her building and we take in the Gaza exhibit the YDSA has put up.

WORK WORK WORK WORK 

Noon-ish: Two colleagues pop by my office to strategize some advocacy work. We're drinking tea and spilling all kinds of tea.

WORK WORK WORK WORK 

5:00-ish: Mostly work although there is some surreptitious texting during the meeting where I say goodbye to Big A and check in on Nu and then JD and LK are texting about "feeling a breakdown coming on" and how their "soul has left the building."

5:30-ish: I leave the meeting with SD for a work dinner. It's lovely to see all the wonderful work people have been doing. One of my favorite people who now works at the University of Michigan is visiting and has a beautiful handwritten letter for me.

7:00-ish: I'm on my way home and chatting to my mom.

8:00-ish: I get home. Big A has left for Wisconsin, Nu is out with friends, Max and Huckie are so happy to see me. 

The day is almost over for me at this point. The puppies and I share a banana--our evening treat--and then snuggle up on the couch. I finish up the book I'm reading and listen to music while I wait for Nu to get home. Their deadline is midnight.

Pic: YDSA's informational Gaza exhibit. I assumed that the rain had done some damage, but it seems some of the uprooted flags were human mischief. 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

last day/first day

And that's a wrap on classes until August. There are exams and meetings next week and task forces that will meet through the summer and new course prep, and I hope I work diligently on my writing projects... but the teaching schedule will be on hiatus. First day of the non-teaching schedule!

Pic: None. It was grey and rainy all day and I realized to my dismay on my way home that I'd forgotten to take my customary last-day-of-class pictures with all three of my classes. I thought we did some solid learning, had some good times, and I loved all three classes--I would have loved to have the pictorial memento. It's also a moment of bonding and levity in a stressful week as students sometimes yell out fun stuff to make the group smile or pick goofy poses and I'm sorry not to have shared in that this year. 

Ah well, onward!

Thursday, April 04, 2024

so very sari

I've been meaning to wear more saris to work, but it is almost always too cold during the teaching year in Michigan. But today was Honors Day, and I wanted to honor all the hard work by students by dressing up for their presentations + had to judge a set of awards + attend a child advocacy event + head to the fancy awards dinner later. (AND IT'S ALSO MY BOSS DAY!) 

So a sari it was.

Five yards of chiffon held together by some optimistic pleating-tucking into a petticoat, two safety pins, and prayers. It all held together great, but I did have to wake Big A up to button the back of my blouse for me. I have no idea how anyone could do that without help. 

Pic: My sweet colleague CP took a full-length pic of me in my office, crouching on the floor to "make me look taller." 💗 The sari and blouse came from my sweet aunt when we were in Bangalore last year. I may or may not have posted this on the secret Skirtathon page Sarah mentioned.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

a day to be proud...

1) of my WGS students who set up 25 wonderful interactive booths to discuss subjects as varied as the female gaze in films, non-binary erasure, abortion access in MI, and mental health for athletes. At this point, all I had to do was backstage manage with tape and pens and flyers and fruit snacks.

2) of Nu who went out with friends for the second day in a row after mentioning their renewed depression. Knowing they understand friends can make you feel better and that they have friends to draw on and the energy to make plans, feels like progress. 

Pic: Students making me SO proud. We were all buzzing with that energy that comes from a performance even as we took the displays down. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

a handful of hope

U.N. ceasefire in Gaza. (Just for two weeks with the U.S. abstaining). But... we have a ceasefire.  

Big A is much better.

Forsythia is coming up everywhere.

Snow seems to be gone, and warmer temperatures are incoming. 

Conference proposals are coming along nicely.

Students are making such lovely progress on their research projects.

Loved reading through the applications for MacCurdy, the feminist house I advise. 

Pic: A forsythia bush on my walk yesterday. I think I described Forsythia as the "hinge to Spring" once--I feel the weather starts looking up when they're in full bloom.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

small planet, big feelings

Usually on teaching days, all I do--all it seems I can do--is teach and then head home to veg. But today, despite some kid-care challenges, I managed to have tea with BOL and then walk over to the Wharton to see Small Island Big Song with EM. 

When EM first asked if I wanted to go to "Small Island," I thought it was a dramatization of the Andrea Levy novel we both love--it isn't. It turns out to be a beautiful cross-cultural collaboration between musical artists from about 16 islands dotting the Pacific and Indian oceans. I didn't understand a single word... and I didn't need to... the music was so joyous and transportive. I loved the artists' camaraderie and synergism. And their final song about the danger to the Great Barrier Reef sounded sorrowful and (rightfully) angry and nearly brought me to tears.

Things I thought about during the concert: 

1) How my last set of season tickets at the Wharton was pre-pandemic and I need to see about getting tickets again. They have Six playing this weekend, and I would have liked to go. 

2) Because I couldn't understand the lyrics at the concert, I thought about how much my mom likes Nelly songs (esp. "Hot in Here" and "Ride Wit Me") although she probably only gets about 50-70% of the lyrics (because of slang and accent). The kids find this HILARIOUS. (I mean I do too... my mom has never smoked anything in her life let alone an "L.")

3) I hadn't yet finished The Bee Sting at that point in the evening, but its climate grief really connected with the music in Small Island Big Song. One of the characters in The Bee Sting rages about how strange it is that poets keep writing about birds and flowers and so on as though whole species aren't disappearing every day. That is SO true! (10/10 for The Bee Sting, BTW.)

Pic: Small Island Big Song in concert. I'm off to see if I can find their songs on the internet. 

Monday, March 18, 2024

Prep time

So the Gaza talk is done. Honestly not sure how it went because I joined online and couldn't see the audience very well. I heard "outstanding," "beautiful," and "badass" (but all from people I kinda-sorta know). Anyway, I hope it was useful and landed well. 

I spent way too much time prepping the talk--I said as much to Big A this morning while I spent another hour tweaking, tweaking, tweaking... But he said that I should spend all the time I want because it's something that matters a great deal to me. I thought this was the perfect response and philosophy.

Pic: My kids are excited to be... delighted to be... doing some Easter prep. (I don't think anyone would accuse them of spending too much time on prep. 😂)

Friday, March 15, 2024

visions

Pic: I prepped copies of poems to hand out at the Gaza panel on Monday. 

I felt so rich in poetry after I collated this collection to pass on to the organizers. 

I had visions of myself just standing in the hallway shoving poetry under classroom doors, putting them on bulletin boards,  and throwing fistfuls of paper into the air so it would rain poetry... like Regina George distributing copies from the "Burn Book" in Mean Girls, but more meaningful.

I hope I do a good job at the event on Monday. And I'm excited for Mosab Abu Toha's event on Tuesday--to which I have online tickets.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

seeing red

Lysne Beckwith Tait, founder of Helping Women Period, presented to my WGS students today. She also set up a "menstrual products petting zoo" in class for people to check out. As she rightly pointed out, when menstrual cups, discs, and undies are in packaging, it is difficult to figure out if one would be comfortable using them.

I absolutely love the story of the growth of the organization--it started out after a conversation with friends and now influences, advocates, and educates--it was instrumental in repealing our tampon tax last year, for instance. Lysne's book Instigator: Creating Change Without Being the Loudest Voice in the Room comes out later this year, and I can't wait!

Pic: Saying goodbye to Lysne in the parking lot. Of course, the Helping Women Period van is red. Mid-cycle red.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

looking up

At the beginning of class, I make space for students to share what they're presenting/performing/playing and send shout-outs to classmates. Today, one of them mentioned that I would be on the panel for the Gaza teach-in on Monday and said it was a shout-out to me. It was such a small thing, but I felt so seen and supported. 

I also spent time today answering questions for an article on the "uncommitted" vote movement for the student newspaper. Students have been wonderful allies, and their idealism and outrage have helped me feel hopeful for the world. I'm convinced the push by our elderly lawmakers to ban TikTok is because that platform bypasses the hangups and hurdles of legacy media and makes it easy for young people to inform and organize amongst themselves.

Pic: Random, ultra-bright, volunteer crocuses that showed up on our driveway this morning. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

in solidarity

Overwhelmed by the sacrifice of Aaron Bushnell, which I had barely begun to process yesterday.

 Heartbroken/Awestruck. 

What an empathetic, sincere, radical, and idealistic soul... What a lesson in being true to his conscience and his long history of mutual aid. He had recently been deployed to Israel as a U.S. airman, and I want to question why we're getting involved in the fighting rather than the peacemaking too.

Speaking of which, nearly 100,000 people in Michigan voted "uncommitted" today to challenge U.S. complicity in the Palestinian genocide... the goal had been to get 10K votes. I dislike how the media has painted this as an "Arab-American and Muslim" issue when it's really a humanitarian issue. So yes, Dearborn, which has a large Arab-American population, voted approx. 75% uncommitted, but Washtenaw, which has no significant Arab-American presence, also voted approx. 25% uncommitted. I don't have numbers for Ingham where Big A, At, and I voted. The "Listen to Michigan" campaign was started just about three weeks ago, so this is impressive.

Aaron Bushnell's sacrifice and the uncommitted votes are also a hopeful sign of humanitarian solidarity and moral clarity for me. It is difficult to go on day after day knowing we're actively vetoing ceasefires and sending arms to kill civilians but having to act like everything is normal.

Pic: I was at work today, and wanted to get a closeup of the "touchstone" LK made me--it is actually beautifully planed wood with copper insets that are almost like constellations. But then I got a bit distracted by the sunlight filtering through my office plants. The "toys" are a miniature Freedom Rider bus that KB gave me from her visit to the Legacy Museum and an auto-rickshaw my mom gave me after Nu and I had an adventure in one last year. 

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.

ugh edition

Alice Munro died... last week. I only just found out. Although it seems like she hadn't written since the Nobel Prize, I liked knowing s...