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

Thursday, June 02, 2022

updates on my worn down family

Nu is home from the hospital! We'll need a lot of outpatient care, which the hospital is putting into place... but Nu's home! It was a relief to do something ordinary like sit close to him and try to follow Pan's Labyrinth without subtitles--which since we've watched it 15+ times feels kind of possible.

At seems physically ok, but his car is not just towed--it's totaled. He arrived for his Boss Day dinner via bus and Uber and a bit shellshocked. We went for a long walk and I managed to make him laugh just a couple of times before I had to drop him back at his apartment.

Big A is back from a successful emergency trip to Madison, WI--his licensing for the new gig that starts in July had been held up for six months, but they were able to fix it in a couple minutes when he showed up in person at the licensing office. 

After too many nights by ourselves, the puppies and I were excited/content to have everyone back. Here's a photograph from this happy-sad, peculiar day. I can see Nu's hospital pallor and At's traumatized cast... And I can't unsee what Big A called his "big Saturn head" on one side and the rest of us orbiting it "like satellites" on the other. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

"work it real good"

A working lunch--which I couldn't eat. Shouldn't people serving a set lunch make meat, croutons, nuts, and other things people cannot/might-not-want-to eat add-ons rather than plate it all together? (Sorry this is a bit of a pet peeve; I don't eat meat and my kids are allergic to nuts.) 

But I got some oars in at lunch. And I shared this article about faculty exhaustion, which is important because everything about the last three pandemic years has been additive and nothing has been moved or withdrawn to make room for the extra stuff we've taken on.

Got some other campus work done, delivered flowers and cards to two young admin colleagues who finished their M. Eds, took flowers and card to MB who'd had shoulder surgery, and then set off for a long walk-and-talk with JG. It was the perfect, fluffy-cloud day for it--and as always, my mind is clearer after I get some JG time.

At various points I also got to collaborate on an NWSA statement on the Roe opinion and then I really got into Lauren Groff's Matrix. This is a book that kept showing up in my recommendations, and I kept resisting because nothing about the title or the book cover indicated it was about MARIE DE FRANCE and a HISTORICAL NOVEL--I'd thought it was sci-fi!!! Loving it, BTW.

Pic: The bike trail in Alma with JG. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

mixed up

A form rejection and also a publication in a special place (Madras Courier); a dear colleague's retirement gauntlet and also a dear friend's new baby's babbles; my sister's envy-producing trip to Chennai and also her unenviable task of taking my dad to visit his brothers (plural!) who are very sick; a lovely day with Nu at work (a run, lunch, long commutes) and also a silly fall (as far as I can tell from collecting my things for a meeting) that gave me a bruise spanning the entire inside of my arm.

This week brought me so many mixed feelings.

Pic: The amaryllis kit that AK gave me for Christmas bloomed spectacularly--three giant blooms and one waiting in the wings.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Honors Day

Oh, I was so proud of my students today. They totally owned their work and I heard raves about them all day. And I just saw a tweet about one of their presentations from a local pastor who'd happened upon it, loved it, and wanted to tell the world about it. Some extra love because the paper was about douching and manipulative rhetoric in medical, marketing, and makeover culture. (It started out as a poster presentation a few months ago.)

The special thing about Honors Day is that sometimes you get to meet families too. And they are so excited and proud of their kids sharing their research and fielding questions, my heart just grows and grows. My department members are really good about talking to families and telling them (truthfully) how proud we are of their kids, and we might get to hear some nice things our students shared about us. I was thinking about all these interactions on my way home and smiling at adding memories to my things to think about whenever I have my next bad day at work. Like: You know your students today were rock-stars right? Your light as a teacher has clearly lit them up as well. Like: My kids tell me (I've had two of them in classes) how you've just changed the way they see the world. Like: I remember you from when we came to tour the college and you talked to us. Like: I guess you're the reason she wants to be an English Major?

Anyway, I was both exhilarated and tired by the time I got home, so I was glad there were leftovers for Scout, Huck, Nu, and me to eat (cheesy scrambled eggs from breakfast for Scout and Huck; chicken, potatoes, and veggie hash for Nu; curry, kootu, and yogurt rice for me). 

And then a hearteningly civil email exchange with a colleague who leans transphobic and was participating in one of those moral panics about school bathrooms that keeps coming up. And another late-night email exchange trying to help an advisee graduate. Oh, and did I say I stopped by the accountant's to pick up our tax docs and drop off At's tax docs  too? And I got a cute journal for Nu at the bookstore--can't wait to give it to them on their Boss Day (Monday).  I really think I should get out from under these puppies and go to bed now. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

"saying the word I was not supposed to say"

Nu and I went to The Vagina Monologues performance helmed by MacCurdy, the women's house I advise. 

We got a solid two hours of talking and joint DJ-ing in the car, an electrifying performance by some fabulous people, and lots of fun and supportive chats. I got a personal shoutout in the program notes + Nu told me that they're "so proud" of the work I do... 

(Nu's comment took me to Sarabeth Maney's picture of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and the way her child was beaming at her during KBJ's historic Supreme Court confirmation hearing. I mean, Nu wasn't quite as admiring, but then I haven't exactly been nominated to the Supreme Court either 😇.)

Feeling so grateful today for all of this.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

slips and slides

I started the day walking with L, who will be away for a month. It wasn't the best day or time for a walk as it was pretty icy, but I couldn't pass up the chance to say goodbye to L, whom I'll MISS SO MUCH. Not even 20 mins in, I slipped and fell "very gracefully" as L assured me 😁😂.  

Not usually an office day for me, but I had to prep with some students for upcoming conference presentations, so I headed in. Plus I was putting together goodie bags for International Women's Day anyway--it started as a cozy and convivial MacCurdy Event, and I'm not happy about its distant-sterile pandemic avatar, but it's better than nothing. Fun chats with colleagues and dean during drop off...

While rushing home so I could take a virtual meeting, I realized that (a) my day was very busy and people-y for someone supposedly on sabbatical (b) filling my day with so much busy work is a clever and virtuous way of NOT doing the writing I'm supposed to be doing. 

Pic: Office nook--I repurposed the top of an office supplies box as a tray.

Saturday, February 26, 2022


We (Nu and I) had plans with CF today. We were supposed to see the Kahlo exhibit and then come home to hang out and pet puppies and eat pizza and watch the movie remake of Nella Larsen's Passing together. 

I'm not gonna lie--after the accident yesterday, I wanted to just cancel it all and stay home and worry about the war in Ukraine, racism against refugees, the poor deer, and my Bluey. But this morning I woke and decided I did NOT want to think about anything on that beyond-my-control list. So Nu and I bundled up and walked to the museum, met up with CF, and spent a satisfying couple of hours together transformed by--and transcendent with--art. 

The picture is of Detroit-based artist Beverly Fishman's piece "Recovery". I love how the angles of the work play on some of the unusual angles of this Zaha Hadid building (a little bit of which is visible in my pic). And I loved, loved this part of the artist's statement: "The notion of recovery is central to the experience of the exhibition. In the face of a global pandemic, along with the ever-pressing need for wider social, racial, and environmental reckonings in the United States and abroad, it is all the more important for people to seek out moments of solace." 

So that happened. Then CF went and got their car while Nu and I ordered the pizza. Then we got home and hung out and petted puppies and Nu took a nap and CF helped me find the VIN number on Bluey and take more pictures for the insurance company. I didn't have the energy for a whole ass movie, but we watched three episodes of Abbott Elementary (so about the average run time it would take to watch a whole ass movie, ha) but its wry teaching humor fit better than a more serious reckoning with the world. 

I'm still in recovery mode.

Friday, February 25, 2022

everything can change in a moment

Posts like this one about life in Ukraine put everything in perspective. I can't imagine... or maybe I can easily imagine having to leave a home you know to huddle in a subway station to escape the bombs raining down.

So in comparison, I guess we got off really lightly--Nu and I are fine, and I hope the deer who jumped out at us as we were on our way back from book club at RS's is fine too. There's no blood, and I hope that's a good sign. (Please don't tell me any different. I've never so much as run over a frog before, so this thing is nightmarish. My mind keeps replaying the second the deer landed in front of us and has me wishing I had been able to swerve harder.) As Nu said, if we'd left a few seconds earlier or later, things would be different. Both of us romanticize/anthropomorphize deer and get silly about them, so we've both been pretty down since it happened.

My poor Bluey, too, is so not fine. To make matters worse, Big A is away for work until Monday and only on the phone, so I'm just feeling extra alone in my guilt and misery.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

up close and personal

Here we are up close and personal with Huckleberry! (Like a typical younger sib, I guess she didn't like that Scout got a post to himself yesterday.) Huckie can leap five feet in the air any time she hears the treat jar, and likes to make sure there's never more than 5 cm between her and the nearest human. 

Big A is away at work. I miss him and really dislike our new normal. I'm sure I'm going to be writing poems like a teenager soon. Ha.

CF came over for dinner and to keep us company. I pulled out a vegetarian shepherd's pie I'd frozen last month, because CF is a cozy, comfortable friend like that. I made a bean soup too, because it felt like a soup night. And then I saved the brown bananas by making almond flour muffins with blueberries and raspberries. Problem is, I don't like bananas--and now I'm hoping other people will eat them. Puppies really seem to like it! So dinner was fun, and then we watched a show and checked in and gossiped on the side while Nu was occupied.

I was supposed to be at work for an admissions event early this morning, but Bluey the car hadn't charged (and Big A was away, so no backup car), and I had to start the day with a sheepish phone call to the coordinator. Apart from that, today was alright.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

assisted living

grass and sky haven't have heard yet 
and I let the unknown speak for me
tricky forests spring up like questions

I will keep seeking a story I read as a kid
with its sad embrace of a torn telegram 
whose yellow moths follow me forever 

even the temporary kingdom of my trust
where lie grave jokes of literature and life 
about what could have been... has been

O I say--we are such strange creatures
I hear about chimp haven; feel a relief 
for beloved elders finding assisted living

Friends, the only breath in cages is death 
maybe we use shards and shadows to knit 
soft shelters to lay over this thing called life?

Related/Random BOC
* I read a story when I was 9/10--I think of it as my first grownup story--about a man who tears up a telegram bearing bad news about his wife and baby in order to pretend to his fellow train passengers that all is well. The story sat between Hawthorne ("Young Goodman Brown") and Thurber ("The Catbird Seat") in an anthology of great American short stories (likely someone's discarded textbook), but I don't know the title or author despite a great number of patchy google searches.

* I couldn't get through to mom or sis on the phone today and was panicked enough to ask my cousin to check on them... turns out his wife, daughter, and mom are also down with the virus.

* The pulmonologist thinks my mom will be ok and back to normal in a couple of weeks.

* The story about the NIH chimps going to Chimp Haven was from my commute to work this morning.

* And there was a planning meeting for the conference in Minneapolis--so I was hearing Prince too, I guess.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

in and out of the woods

We made a decision yesterday about Big A's university offers after our tromp through the woods. We mulled over the same series of circumstances and determinants and possibilities we have for weeks now and decided to go for the offer closest geographically and to his dream position. 

It means he'll spend 50% of his time in Milwaukee with the coming academic year.

Yesterday, L kept texting little things to show she was thinking of me, I had a good cry with my mom the day before that, and today--I told people at work so we could start brainstorming strategies to make single parenting possible in the Fall when I go back to teaching.

Monday, January 10, 2022


Sunrise over Lake Michigan on the Northside of Milwaukee (Atwater Park, maybe?). This was just lovely although the rest of the day was a drag. 

If we could afford to live overlooking the lake, I might move. But we can't, and I won't.

Sunday, January 09, 2022


A beautiful sunset over a stretch of industrial sludge outside of Chicago.

We're headed to Milwaukee to check out one of the places that offered Big A a research gig... and I already feel like nothing good can come of this trip.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

a better next year

Everyone told me not to do any work over the break: I took their advice; I'm bored. 

This week--with its radio silence on my work email--reminded me how much of my workday is responding to scheduled events and corresponding about projects. I'll need to shift out of that mode over sabbatical so I have something worthwhile at the end of it. I really, really, really need to get in the zone with my writing projects. 

Despite the seemingly universal experience of having 2020 drag and 2021 sprint, I think I ought to compartmentalize more effectively after two years of practicing pandemic panic. That's going to be my big goal for 2022. 

Drove up to the office today to collect some books, water my plants, pick up mail, etc. and I had a lot of time to reflect. (Also feel like I'm on the verge of a big cry--but that could just be from loping through Bewilderment and being too tired to cry at 2 am or whenever it was that I finished it.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021


A new Nu... or a new hairdo.

They found this particular style by googling "emo boy hair." I think Nu makes it look great! Big A took them to the Aveda Salon--I bristled at that since I go to Supercuts. 

But I had a long day at work, and Big A took care of Nu's salon trip, and eyeglasses prescription, and picked up Subway for dinner. So it's all good.

 Big A starts a new job tomorrow--it's not as far away as Texas as I feared, but still a pretty long commute.

Monday, November 29, 2021


For lo, 

there is snow and there is light 

(and I have to allow myself extra time to get to work) 

but how beautiful...

I don't remember if this made me catch my breath or if I let my breath go...

but I smiled so big.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Maple moment

I cross four rivers to get to work (Red Cedar, Looking Glass, Maple, and Pine). It's the sunrises and sunsets on the Maple that are the absolute best, and DST has all that gorgeousness waiting for me on my way to and from work. 

Not like I'll forget any time soon, but I set up my camera to take a pic as I crossed the Maple this morning for the memories. 

I know I keep on yammering about taking a deep breath of beauty, but here we are.

Thursday, November 04, 2021


A lovely and successful honorary induction and such a thrill to celebrate in person with a community of like-minded book nerds again. 

Lots of pictures with students and their families for my imminent Goodbye Mr. Chips years, and lots of ziplock bags so students could take the extra hors d'oeuvres with them.

But it leaves me with less than ten hours to commute home and get back to campus for my 8 am meeting in the morning... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

what we got

Big A went to Boston to accept an award and all I got was this cute and fuzzy picture!

It was a sudden trip so there was some scrounging around for childcare coverage, but things worked out fine. I found myself getting a bit antsy as one meeting after my fourth class of the day ran past 5:00 pm, but... I got home by dinner time, got everyone their dinner, and got all the kid and puppy cuddles I could handle. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

ahead of me

Got to work so early there was no one else around... the sun's pretty high in the sky in this picture, but so is the moon. It turned out to be a long day at work, leading to some disappointed texts from Big A because I'd promised to be home by 6. 

But there was barely time to sit down between committee and student meetings all day. So at 4:30 when the last meeting was finally done, and I'd even managed to reach two dear students who've been down and out of touch this term, and I had just two more emails to send off, I cleaned my office thoroughly. (Because I was wearing--what my science colleagues called--my 1970's-style ENG. prof. dress with the tie collar? Who knows!)

I watered all the plants, trimmed, weeded, took tons of papers to the shred-it box, dusted, swept, and looked longingly at the armchair I'd installed in my office when I moved in... back when I thought the life of an academic involved hours of reading and looking out of the window. Ha. Some day it will come.

"a more perfect union"

Today At watched as the local Teamsters served management at his workplace papers indicating that At and his fellow workers had signed unio...