Showing posts with label Commute. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commute. Show all posts

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).

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. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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 she was in this world. I will reread some stories in her honor tonight.

Bluey (my car) has been at the dealership since JANUARY. I'm so used to just plugging in to charge since 2019, and I am so over going to the gas station every few days now to pump gas in this loaner they gave me. Plus, I miss Bluey! 

Our air conditioning isn't working. We were told it wouldn't last the season when we moved in eight years ago, so I should be thankful we got those extra years... and I am. (But still salty we probably have to spend $$$ now.)

U of M used chemical substances on their students and took down their encampment (Tahrir) after 30 days. It happened at 5:30 am and the organizers sent a text requesting people to show up... but I was asleep. Many of the Jewish Voices for Peace students are now in hospital with chemical burns. How can a university attack the students in their care!??

Pic: The solarium smells so good because one jasmine blossomed. Just one. I had to peer closely and follow my nose to find the one true bloom (bottom right). I can't imagine how heady it would be to have the whole bush in flower! (I mean I know how heady it would be from my India days, but I'd be delirious with happiness if I could replicate that here.)

Monday, May 13, 2024

BRB: Fake Vacation

Big A is in Phoenix, AZ this week for a conference, and I'm tagging along for the triple-degree temps, museum-ing, hiking, and checking a state off my list of places to go. 

Big A calls this a "fake vacation," but I'll take it!

Many people on our flight were also headed to the conference and Big A quipped that it would be a good flight to have a medical emergency on because of all the E.R. docs on it. I disagree: I think it would be good not to have any medical emergencies on a flight. Ha. 

Pic: The "ussie" we sent from the plane to reassure the kids we really were getting out of their hair. 

Thursday, May 02, 2024

cheers to 25 years

It's At's birthday and she turns 25! TWENTY FIVE! I can't believe my baby is that old (nearly 30, my mom said rounding up in her characteristically comic way last month, and we've all been quoting it to At all the time since). And what's more, I can't believe I've been a parent for that long. Goodness! Where does time go?

At is out with friends today (I had a brief and raucous phone call), so we'll celebrate at home on Saturday. 

In the meantime, I celebrated JG's return from her 12-week trip to Costa Rica and Panama (she brought me gifts!), LB's birthday (I brought her gifts!), the Child Advocacy Art exhibition opening (where I met so many lovely people who care about advocating for children), and (after a quick dinner with Nu, Huck, Max, and Big A) ended the day at a wonderful guest performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with EM at the Wharton. The Mozart was comfortingly sublime and the Piazolla version of Vivaldi--which I'd not heard before--was energetically otherworldly. 

Walking home through dark and empty streets after the concert with the music still in my head and the smell of lilacs in the air, I felt quite drunk with contentment.

Pic: Child Advocacy Art Exhibition with JG, MZ, RM, TV, NP, and more.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

standing in beauty

I saw the most amazing early morning skies over the Maple River as I headed to work today, and had a feeling it would be the harbinger of a glorious day.

Actually... nothing in the day itself topped that glimpse of sunbeams breaking through the clouds and glancing off the water. That moment of beauty (what the kids and I used to call taking a "deep breath of beauty" when we made that trip daily) was in itself what made the day special.

And in fact, there were two pieces of disturbing news today.

First: colleague Sami Schalk who describes themselves as "a Black, queer, disabled professor" was thrown to the ground, choked, and had their dress nearly ripped off by the police as they were supporting their students at U-W Madison. Horrifying but inspiring. I much prefer Sami's earlier moment of renown, also inspiring, which was twerking on stage with Lizzo! (Article about her pleasure and disability studies activism here.)

And then there was news that Paul Auster had died. I came close to meeting him a couple of times when we lived in NJ, but didn't. I did meet tons of English grad students in the early part of this century who wanted to live in Brooklyn because he did though. He was a veteran of the 1968 protests at Columbia University, so there is some resonance with the events of this week. I love when he said, "The novel is the only place where two strangers can meet on terms of absolute intimacy." That the two strangers he had in mind were the writer and the reader, is just so perfect.

Pic: Early morning skies over the Maple River. I'm not a fan of the term "crepuscular rays," but they are so beautiful! I'd find ways to stand in their beams when I was a kid and feel like I'd been touched by the sky's blessings.

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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

promises, promises

time slopes
birdsong switches 
from call to answer
and just keeps climbing 

almost lost
in this range of joy
my heart unfurls itself 
and lifts up as an offering

Pic: I found this funny hybrid (red tail + black body) "fellow in the grass" between meetings and the department's farewell lunch for graduating seniors today. How bittersweet to say goodbye to these people... all these young people who have already done brilliant and difficult work, and are poised to do loving, amazing things in the world. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Spring Awakening

I'll admit it: I booked tickets to go see Spring Awakening because it sounded spring-y and the music was by Duncan Sheik (and "Barely Breathing" started earworming my head as soon as I saw that). I went into it not knowing anything about it, and it turned out to be pretty heavy (violence, self-harm, suicide, child sexual abuse, back-alley-abortion death, etc.). Oy. It took me a while to get into it as it wasn't at all what I imagined it would be like. 

But walking to the theater after a morning working on the pond, and seeing glorious daffodils everywhere, and hearing incessant birdsong, and knowing it was Tamil New Year... all that was suitably spring-like. 

Pic: Intermission pic of the Spring Awakening set since photos were prohibited during the show.

Friday, April 12, 2024


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.


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


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. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Eid Mubarak

Showed up for moral support at a student advocacy meeting with the powers that be early in the morning. (I found myself picking pants over a skirt as I got dressed because I feel I'm taken more seriously when I'm in pants. This is probably true, but I hate the internalized femmephobia of this.)

I was so proud of and so moved by the students who showed up, spoke up, held space for others, held their ground, and held us accountable. I may have cried a bit when it was over--they were so brave and amazing. And also, so young and so deserving of not having to spend their time and energy and wellbeing on meetings like these. How is it that we're still working so hard for basic freedoms decades into the 21st century?

I got so much support from the fam on this. From BD supporting my decision to prioritize conscience over diplomacy and career security, Nu's disdainful anger and outrage, and At's organizational chops and doc review. I'm a lucky duck.

Pic: The moon at sunset yesterday. So much celestial activity this week! Growing up in Chennai I remember the Eid date determined by whether the local imam sighted the new moon or not. So friends wouldn't know if they were ending their fasts that day or the next!  This year, I'm celebrating the end of a successful Ramzan with friends across the globe. May there be hope and joy and goodness and good works. 

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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

"smile/what's the use of crying"

It wasn't always cozy and fuzzy, but I felt connected in human ways today:

gave Big A a (long overdue) dressing down... and then later we took a walk and an ussie...

apologized for being/seeming rushed to two students + three friends...

made plans with my girlfriend group + one friend + two colleagues...

reached out to two people who've been uncharacteristically quiet...

pushed through the daily banter to check in for real on my India fam...

Nu was so quiet at dinner time, and while my first instinct was that they were being surly, I kept on with open-ended questions to hear that they've been depressed again. And in a flash of clarity: "it comes and goes, Mama." :/ I would happily take their pain...

Pic: A sweet, sweet note referring to last week's presentation I found at my office door this morning. There are students here whose kind words feel like a commendation. Also, I received an email about being nominated for a state-wide teaching award. I suspect the nomination came from another kind student... and in perfect consonance, at the end of the workday, someone was singing the praises of this student as a student-teacher. How much each of us hurts... how hard we try to be there for each other...  I'm so grateful for the people I know in this life.

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. 

Friday, March 15, 2024


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.

Friday, March 08, 2024

more tea

This Friday started off slow--just a couple of advising meetings in the morning. But the afternoon was chairing the WGS section of MASAL, presenting a paper, showing up to a mentoring pod (somehow, I'm the senior-most and the most mentor-y), and then the faculty meeting. The final part of the workday was the annual International Women's Day Tea at MacCurdy House

The last part was my favorite, but I was tired when I got home. Thus endeth (I think!) my spate of late evenings at work this semester. 

Pic: Tea at MacCurdy. The Eleanor Roosevelt quote framed on the wall makes it perfect: “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.”  Memories of other years: Pre-pandemic and Post-pandemic

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

a koan noting nothing

look, I said to the sky
my yearning is born 
in the wrong time

these hands that held
books and babies 
now hold air 

even falling like beauty 
this light is silent
oh, cold god  
Notes: I like knowing "nothing" was pronounced "noting" in Elizabethan English. The "nothing" itself didn't come from emptiness but from a very long 12-hour (14 with the commute) work day.

Pic: The REDress Project by Jaime Black-Morsette at MSU. From my walk yesterday.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Leap day: local, lowkey leisure

I woke up from a dream in which the kids and I were traveling with bestie KB... but then I got separated from them while lining up for an airport shuttle. I couldn't see them anymore, but I remember shouting over the crowd, "K, do you have my kids?" And she shouted back "yeah!" And then I felt calmer in the dream and as I woke up. I felt even calmer after I texted KB and asked her to check in on my kids if anything should happen to me. And she promised she would but added in characteristic KB fashion: "And FFS, Maya, please don’t die!!!" I'm not planning to!

I did a ton of work all morning from the moment Nu left for school. In the afternoon, I felt like a lady of leisure from a long time ago, or perhaps a lady of leisure in my future retirement. 

It was cold but sunshiny today, so I walked over to our local public radio station to help pack reading-literacy kits. It was repetitive assembly-line work and nicely freed up my head from extraneous thoughts--because you had to stay focused to get it right.

Then I walked home again with a nice long detour to finish the album I was listening to. 

I stopped by L's for a chat and to pick up the lemons I had asked to borrow from her... and then headed home for dinner with the fam.  

Sounds boring, but it was kind of blissful. 

Pic: Reading kit assembly station.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

in solidarity

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


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. 

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 r...