Showing posts with label Conversations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conversations. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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, things look normal, but it feels like my sense of reality is being eroded--like the sandy shore slipping from under my feet that I dreamt of yesterday. 

What's it all for if I can see the horror every day and am absolutely incapable of saving a single child? The amputations and caesareans without anesthesia, the firing at U.N. food distribution camps, the six-year-old calling emergency services trapped in a car full of her dead family... This is truly the stuff of horror.  And yet.... yet again... The U.S. has vetoed a ceasefire in Gaza for the third time. A ceasefire! 

BOL's cat who saw them through undergrad and grad school died and I want to be there to support them the way they supported me when Scout was dying... But also, it brought me back to that month of slowly losing Scout... the dread of every day. I'm surprised that it will be a whole year without my darling in just about two months.

Pic: E.D. Wilson's poem "My Phone is Full of Cute Cats and Dead Children."

Sunday, February 18, 2024

some backstory... and a Boss Day

Some backstory to yesterday's poem.

Our grandmothers were first cousins, so Sunil was a distant cousin--although that doesn't matter much in the  Indian context (something that's unclear in the poem, and I should work on it). Our grandmothers were as close as sisters--closer, as they had no sisters and lived in a big joint-family mansion where they had private tutors--so they were together all the time. They were really close--they always talked about how they breastfed each other's babies so their babies would feel like siblings and think of them (their aunts) as mothers too.  

It didn't work out exactly like that. My mother would go to her aunt when she fought with her mom, but later there was some family drama (our grandmothers fell out in their sixties) and mystery (things people won't talk about). Stuff that came out as what Nicole rightly called "mixed things." Nance found the ending surprising--something else I'm working on. I was trying to express how it felt to have someone in my peer group die... like the beginning of the end. As I mentioned in a comment to StephLove, Sunil died of a heart attack, so that feels as though our bodies are going. 

Pic: It's the puppies' Boss Day! Huck and Max got new lick pads and love them. 

(It's not their actual Boss Day, but it was too bewildering for Scout and Huck when we celebrated them individually, so we picked the 18th of the month to celebrate a puppy Boss Day. Max's "smile" cracks me up.)

Friday, February 16, 2024

what we do

the sky is full of bright 
holes, so whatever falls
from  them  is starry-- 
starting from distance 
but  now  lodged here

like empathy turned
into  a fact,  eternal
and  then carefully
teaching us to crest 
in  announcements

on  days  when  our
world seems ready to 
ignite, we can shout:
"I love you so much"
in a room of strangers
_________________________________

Pic: Max and Nu in yesterday's surprise snow. 

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. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

But after this week things'll slow down...

I saw this meme that's sometimes about academia and sometimes about adulthood recently. It goes: Being an adult/academic is saying "But after this week things will slow down a bit" over and over to yourself until you die.

Oh, I feel this so much. But also, things really are going to slow down after this week. I listed a long list of 'have to-be-dones' for myself last month and the deadlines on most of them have come and gone and I've done my best on each of them. The last of the colleague letters and student award letters went out today, our last campus visit was today, and one of our two speakers is presenting this week--which means my list has been significantly whittled down and the future looks so much more manageable.

Technically, that means I should be able to work on my projects for a bit. No more excuses.

Pic: From yesterday. Max and Big A in my tea garden where I'd gone to escape everyone. (Not successfully, evidently.)

Sunday, February 11, 2024

"easy like Sunday" (all day)

A quiet, restful day despite some other people's prescription-refill drama (Nu), leg cramp crisis (A), and general naughtiness (Huck and Max). I took care of what was needed and managed to make significant quiet times for myself.

I needed this so much!

Pic: Early morning hike with L and T in Baker Woods. Lots of trees have come down in the last couple of days--it has been very windy.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

seven on Saturday

1. Happy Lunar New Year! At a New Year celebration lunch this afternoon, EM told me we're supposed to rest today and do a minimal amount of work tomorrow. I can do that! 

2. The kids got little red envelopes of cash. I'm so touched when work friends and family friends treat my nearly grown-ass kids like their own niblings.

3. I got a nice ramble with L in Baker Woods today. It has been weeks since I hiked with L--She said she missed me, and I asked if it was my silliness she missed. "I missed all of it, Maya." She said diplomatically (and lovingly!). 

4. I got a long walk with Big A--it was grey and windy, but we did a "Super Sparty" and it felt nice to be able to stretch my legs after sitting at my desk all week.

5. At came to dinner tonight so I gave the kids their Valentine's Day presents a bit early. When will they be too old to get V-Day presents from me? I hope never.

6. In a first for us--we're now mooching off At. They subscribed to the Criterion Channel and logged us in on the big TV so we can watch it too. I like all of it.

7. Pic: The Red Cedar is kinda plain today. But the mallards are enjoying it and so are we.

Friday, February 09, 2024

check 1, 2,

Every day on my way to work, I cross four rivers: Red Cedar, Looking Glass, Maple, and Pine. 

I've been meaning to take a photograph of the expanse of the Maple for years now. But the access road off the highway is on my way to work. And I usually feel like I'm in a hurry, so I wasn't able to. 

Until today--I had an hour before my first meeting, so I took the detour. The Maple is the biggest of my four rivers (I think)--at least at the point where I cross it. The kids and I used to call it taking a deep breath of beauty because of all the sunrises on the way to school.

When I got to the lookout point this morning, it was a bit disappointing because the reeds were taller than me, and I couldn't really see the river. But it was very quiet and calm and smelled briny and rustic and there was a bright blue sky and sunshine... so I spent some time soaking it all in. 

And now I know. It's checked off my mental list. I don't have to wonder about the view from the outlook or feel regret about not making the time to take a detour.

Also: I'm SO relieved to be finished with Hello, Beautiful. Everyone seems to have loved it, but about halfway through I disagreed fiercely with a primary character's decision. Then I began to realize the writing couldn't really keep up and resorted to a lot of telling (v. showing) etc. 

Pic: Finally, I get to take a picture from the bank of the Maple River.

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.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

and now we wait...

 

Home! 

Reunited with my human kids, puppy kids, and plants!

I demolished a large bag of Culver's fries on the way home and demolished all my remaining grading after I got home. 

Big A's doc gave us a hopeful update and now we wait for the actual results. Oh, the things I take for granted when I make plans and resolutions... 

Pic: (anti-clockwise) Max, Huckie, At, and Nu. I missed these sweet loves and my zillion plants in the tea garden.

Saturday, February 03, 2024

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it"

We've been having a great time. 

In large part this is because the kids have been so awesome about taking care of each other and texting us regular updates about their meals, plans for the day, school projects, and so on.(It also helps to know that EM and LB jumped in to be our emergency contacts in case they need rides or advice.)

All the human kids want--they said--was for Big A to learn how to make towel sculptures and redo all the towels every day.

The kids are kidding, of course.

Pic: The hotel's towel "bunny" that prompted this exchange.

#LaterPost

Friday, February 02, 2024

"what a wonderful world" (It could be)

There are sights and colors I can barely believe  I am lucky enough to see. 

There is so much beauty in the world. 

And as I watch a street vendor chase his escape-artist toddler across the sand and scoop her up for an "airplane" ride back to his stand...

There is so much potential for joy.

There is more than enough for each of us in this world. Even now. If we could just love, help, and be kind to each other, what an absolutely wonderful world this could be.

Pic: Sunset over the sea and El Arco from our room. 

#LaterPost

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

headed out

Big A's big medical appointment is next week, and we hope to find out what's going on/why he's losing weight/what to expect in the future/what we can do/etc. We have more questions than the minutes the expert will spend with us, probably.

But in the meantime, we're going to take off for sunny climes for a few days to just... I don't exactly know what... Was it Seneca who said we can change the sky above us but not ourselves? So I guess our worries will come with us, but we'll be worrying under warmer skies? 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next few days of our tiny break and will catch up with some picture posts when we're back.

Pic: It snowed in the night, and was a picture-perfect winter wonderland as I headed to work this morning. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

the sisterhood of the caring hearts

I turned in my CASA report today ahead of my deadline. (I feel like a true grownup for not waiting until the last minute.)  

The kids in this particular case are very young and also extra affectionate and it's truly a delight to be around them. I couldn't meet the kids during the day because we were hosting a campus visit for one of our Writing Center Director candidates, so I met the kids at their therapist's this evening. While I was getting an update from their therapist, the eight-year-old and then the five-year-old came up to tell us that we looked "just like sisters."

It made both of us chuckle because their therapist is a very white lady with short hair and we look nothing alike. And then the kids looked a bit confused we didn't agree. The only thing the therapist and I have in common is that we are both safe adults who show them love and care. I wonder if that made us look "just like sisters" to these little ones who don't have enough safe adults in their lives.

Then that thought depressed me for a while. Kids deserve so much more.

Pic: I was invited to jump this "Ninja" course. I don't think I got it right even after many patient demonstrations.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

no one asked

A memory from the month or so I was a college athlete when I was in grad school... 

Although I didn't actually row, I used to meet the college rowing team at dawn to practice with them. My job was to be the coxon. (I got recruited in the college dining hall because I was smaller than the rowers.)

It was a fun job--I sat facing the bow, counted strokes, and yelled over the slap of oars and splash of water for people to go faster or look out or turn. 

Until one day the water was extra rocky, and  suddenly afraid of falling into the water--I yelled out: 
"Steady, steady! I can't swim!" 

Everyone was horrified.

"Why didn't you tell us," they asked.

"No one asked me," I whispered, truthfully.

My family takes this story as a reminder that I seem to have no fear/sense sometimes.

Pic: I was reminded today because the Red Cedar, usually so staid, is very muddy and boisterous this weekend because of the sudden thaw. I've seen little kids walk across the top of these rapids--not today though.
 

Friday, January 26, 2024

let me remember this moment

I kept fiddling with my materials all morning because this was for colleagues and I didn't want to look foolish in front of them... I was in meetings all day, so I didn't get to do a practice run... but...  I think the talk went well!

At the pre-event schmooze, drinks in hand, someone sardonically murmured "no pressure" when Pres. A walked into the room. But based on previous experiences, I'd half expected him to be there because he's interested in outreach and rhetoric, so I wasn't fazed.

It was a full house, a very engaged and supportive audience, and afterward, so many (I'm choking up a bit here) came up to give me hugs. I want to remember that I got a lot of hugs and kind compliments. I want to remember that LV said, "What an amazing piece of scholarship. What an amazing human you are." I'm glad I got to share my work, and I'm so grateful to be among good people in this world.

Pic: CP's picture of me mid-talk today. I chuckle every time I look at myself and my mystifying expression. In a way, I'd been preparing for this hour's work for over a year. The only time my voice quavered was when I was talking about Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr and her supporters chanting "Let Her Speak" as she lifted her microphone toward the gallery

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. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

"go not to the temple"

I'm feeling frustrated about the huge celebrations in India and worldwide for the temple Hindu fundamentalists have built over the mosque they destroyed (and the blood of the people they've killed). 

My Twitter and FB feeds are mostly progressive articles and quips, but my WhatsApp (elementary school pals) is chockful of people sharing pictures and claiming they're just celebrating and that it's not at all political. How could anything that caused the deaths of over 2000 innocent people and has led to the current wave of intense and ignorant Hindu fundamentalism be unpolitical? All these (high-caste) Hindu women posting random and adulatory details of the temple! I wonder if our non-Hindu classmates--the Sikh, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Parsi, Periyarist Dalit kids--have already left or are just staying silent. 

On the cousins' chat, my cousin very helpfully posted a picture of themselves drinking out of a mug labeled "liberal tears." I was going to say something cutting, but this is a troll move and I'm not responding--anything else would be a reward for them. 

Pic: Tagore and "Go Not To the Temple." Friends have been posting a lot of Tagore, and while this is not his best work, I've been resharing it. It would be easy to ignore me, but it's a bit harder to ignore the Nobel-winning author of the Indian national anthem. 

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.

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...