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

Sunday, December 04, 2022

simply



A cold day, but beautiful. 

Walks with some of my favorite people: L, Big A,  me...

Pic: An icy Red Cedar River

Saturday, December 03, 2022

uff... life

Life is always bewildering and some days are just a big punch... even from a distance. 

Yesterday, YS friends were cheerfully posting links to Steven Bognar's documentary about Jazz DJ Steve Schwerner.*

By the end of the day, my feed was filled with news that Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar's partner, had passed away

I was lying awake sometime after 3 am thinking about Steve Bognar and how up and down and all around life is.... And then I started thinking about Steve Schwerner. And how his rich and meaningful life is always overshadowed by the immense sacrifice of his brother Michael's life and death

-----------------
*The documentary begins in our old Yellow Springs house, which we lived in after the Schwerners, and it was interesting to peek at a time before we lived there.

Friday, December 02, 2022

wildest dreams: Taylor, Judy, Betty, Nu

Nu had to come to Alma with me to see the dentist, so there was a lot of Taylor Swift on our commute. I really wish I could have scored some Taylor Swift concert tickets as a Christmas present for Nu, but the online lines were interminable and the price was prohibitive--more expensive than any present I've ever bought anyone, probably. After a point, I just gave up.

But one of Nu's other dreams came true today--he was able to spend some time with Judy and Betty--MB's brindled mice. Nu has always loved mice--until today only in theory and as stuffed animals--and was amazingly gentle and confident playing with them. Judy and Betty--named for the sisters in White Christmas will retire from their work as lures for the kestrels MB is banding--so their job is to act cute and tasty--at the end of Jan. At which point, MB would like to offer them to Nu as a present.  It'll be an uphill battle convincing Big A, but Nu and I together can be pretty formidable. (I'm terrified and ick-ed by mice, frankly; but Nu enjoys them so much.)

Pic: Nu with Judy.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

imagine: rice, flour, oil, sugar, and beans

I post some version of this reminder that food banks benefit most from cash donations every year. This is as much for me as for people I know. It's always tempting to add extra peanut butter-beans-cereal to my grocery cart to feed my "larger family."  It's always satisfying to imagine that some other children (and I always imagined they were children) would be able to make a snack out of things I'd picked up. And of course when the kids were younger, it was a tangible way to teach caring. But giving to food banks is not supposed to be about how it makes me feel. 

So I've been good about cash contributions. 

But when The Refugee Development Center in town started taking up in-kind donations for Welcome Boxes, I signed right up to bring rice, flour, oil, sugar, and beans. If I were displaced and in a new place, I imagine I could make something my family might recognize from those supplies. I would want to.

There is a passage in Robert J.C. Young* that always resonates with students--where we're asked to imagine ourselves as refugees, to imagine the break in the daily routines of living... like discussing the day's menu with a neighbor. I think about that passage often. 

Anyway, Nu and I dropped off lots of supplies this evening. I could have easily done it before I picked Nu up from their remedial (whole other story!) class at school. But I kind of liked the idea of doing something together that would get Nu out of their own thoughts and social loops for a while.

* Also, that book is the ONLY time ever where I'm listed right next to Homi Bhabha (in the "Acknowledgements").

Monday, November 28, 2022

dear diary,

Messy, turbulent reentry into the work week today = not a single photo taken. I'm trying hard to stay calm and remind myself of all the big, small, and daily crises people are facing so I can look beyond the forgotten deadlines and damaged expectations cluttering up this last week of instruction. I always forgive these, but staying compassionate does feel challenging sometimes. Mantra: I'm neither the target nor the source of all this; I can let it flow past me. 

Small successes in getting budget approval for books to gift to our capstone students; workshopping final projects; two important sets of e-introductions--a DEI one (SJ-EM) and one for our MFA (SS-WA); finishing up the last of Thanksgiving by folding the pumpkin gravy and the roasted veggies into a sambhar; and a truly lucky and important breakthrough in my CASA case (like OMG, it was mind blowing, and I now know exactly how to frame my report) . 

Went to work with sunrise; headed home with a sickle moon in the sky. But that's ok + these days are short. Dinner with the fam, a snooze with my Scout, and then to bed. (I stayed till Big A fell asleep and then crept out of bed to read... memories of doing this every day with the kids when they were littler made me smile. Guess I do this still with Scout and Huck daily...)


Sunday, November 27, 2022

reading weekend

I'd saved a couple of books for the long weekend and they were amazing. I'd actually preordered Preeta Samarasan's Tale of the Dreamer's Son-- I was that excited for it. But I saved it to be my reward for after NWSA and Thanksgiving were accomplished. 

At 492 pages Tale of the Dreamer's Son didn't feel long enough, I wanted to keep reading it. I fell in love with P.S.'s first book Evening is the Whole Day, met her at a conference years ago, and then we became friends on "the socials." She thinks Nu is an amazing artist and that Scout and Huck are treasures (all true) and I've loved her quirky and irreverent takes on parenting, her parents, classical music, the odd short story or essay, dead celebrity heartthrobs (Kafka! Chopin!) etc. This book--which has been a long time coming--is nothing like any of that... it's twisted and suspenseful... political gothic. I was sad when it ended.

My other read was Brian Doyle's One Long River of Song, which continuously broke me in so many beautiful ways. It was a book club pick--definitely not something I'd have picked for myself. And kids, that is why I should be in more book clubs.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

outtake

I used the 20 minutes At stopped by (while on a call!) to get everyone into matching holiday jammies for an impromptu shoot so I could start working on the holiday card. 

I usually have so many pictures for the card and calendars, but this year between Nu's hospitalizations, Big A's "commute," and At being so busy, I just haven't been taking as many photographs as I usually do. 

Feels like this year went by really fast too.

Pic: Beginning of the video we shot; I'll grab a frame later for the card. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Five on a Friday

1) Worked on finishing yesterday's leftovers and bought absolutely nothing today as usual. 

2) (I don't judge people who Black Friday since learning, that for many families, it's a chance to buy things that may otherwise be outside the budget. Also, I think my fam's at a different place as we've reached a stage where neither kids nor grownups need a lot. Yes, I may previously have been judge-y about going straight from being thankful to buying more crap the very next day.)

3) Exactly one month to Christmas now and I think I have a good idea of what everyone is getting. I may add a bookmark or sticker here and there, but for the most part I think it's handled. 

4) I was invited to a conference in Alexandria (Egypt!!) and I think I'm going? It's in March so there's plenty of time for things to get canceled/for me to flake out and change my mind. But I've always wanted to see the pyramids, so I've said a tentative yes.

5) Pic: Lots of early morning walks with Big A now that he's here. Yay!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

thankful

These once baby people set the table and set us up for a good time. 

We usually do some version of saying what we're thankful for--sometimes filling whole sheets in alphabetical order. This time we went around the table taking turns with the alphabet. I  was very embarrassed when I got a bit stuck on "O." 

Also, I was a pill trying to edit people's choices: "say you're thankful for "Dad."" Thankfully, my family loves me and thinks I'm hilarious. 

And then, my darlings started with an abecedary of insults... we couldn't think of anything for "G." 

Later, a quick walk down the street, crisp with leaves and fragrant with neighbors' wood stoves, to join LB and TB's riotous feast where we saw old friends and lots of new people. At was a bit of a rockstar what with their appearance in Michael Moore's Substack and what not. And then everyone piled into the car to take At back to their place. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

gathering


At is headed over after his meetings and will spend the night here.

Big A is on his way home and will spend a week here. 

This is the part of the holiday I absolutely love. Nu, Scout, and Huck are pretty excited too.

Pic: Screenshot of a text from Big A. That isn't Huckie in the car, it's Mr. Flooferson (a stuffie the family gave Big A as a silly gift for his birthday last month).

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Sunday stream (of consciousness )

Woke up slowly this morning, enjoying the darkness, then a quiet sunrise, then my tea, and meditation before having to talk to anyone.

Some quick chats with my India fam and early-rising friends and then on to the day in earnest. 

Despite my no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving rule, I've made progress on a couple of adopt-a-family and some welcome boxes for refugees. Less altruistically,  I ordered some tees and stickers for the fam at TeePublic. I'm blanking on what to get people this year--I don't think people actually need anything and I'm tired of things not being used. I'd rather give to causes--the kids really seem to appreciate that more than anything else, anyway.

Nu changed his mind on going to UU so I headed out there by myself today. NB, one of Nu's friends, did the reading for all ages beautifully--signing as they read. So for a while there were two people signing in ASL on the dais, and it was very balletic. I really do want to learn ASL. I wished Nu had come... to see NB and also because it was apple cider-cinnamon donut communion day. Also really--what could be more "real Michigan" than revering apple cider and cinnamon donuts?

An afternoon visit to the Broad with RS and LB, for the Zaha Hadid retrospective where--surprise--my UU pastor was also there. Back to mine for tea and a debrief with R and L and then on to dinner and cuddles with Nu, Scout, and Huck. 

(I CANNOT WAIT FOR BIG A TO COME BACK ON WEDNESDAY.)

Looking ahead, I'll be back at work tomorrow, where the semester is beginning to find closure. I'm so chuffed when we get to this part of the term and students are finding their feet with research work and my job seems more supportive than instructional. 

Pic: Our group at The Broad Art Museum this afternoon. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

bokeh

saving the world in radiant rectangles
becoming a grid of gardens
...a genealogy of beauty
 
stars cast no shadows--in our world--
Love. There's no telling what 
they do in theirs

Pic: Red Cedar River; in the snowstorm with L yesterday.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

strike to the heart

I was on an early morning hike with L as the rest of the workday was all meetings all day. 

When I glanced at my phone to check on time, I saw At had texted to say that he was going to be supporting striking Starbucks workers (#RedCupRebellion) on the picket line and had invited the fam to come too. I thought his text said 10-5, and was relieved because I could truthfully tell him I was going to be super busy... but then I saw he'd said 5-10... 

So I put on some snow boots and headed out on foot to the East Lansing Starbucks and hung out with At (whom I've missed so much especially since I went to Minneapolis and missed our weekly family dinner) and also his comrades for a while. They seemed to have lots of support via friendly honks.

At was in his canvas jacket and had shaved his impressive beard (bad timing as Nu said); I haven't seen this avatar of At's since HS, I think! I suggested a warmer coat and better gloves for outside work and offered to get him some from home, but he refused (even as he visibly shivered). So I reined in the rest of my mom prattle to just be there in the moment with my idealistic, altruistic, accomplished (and shivering) child. 

As we stood in the storm catching mouthfuls of snow as we talked, At remembered an anecdote (him in elementary school, in a hoodie, littler kid scared of him; I de-hoodie him and kiss his cheek, I ruined his cred). He said he'd been mad about it then, but thinks it's cute now.

Cute Pic: At's DSA colleague took this one. I love that At's sign says "All I want for Christmas is Solidarity" and mine says "Solidarity."

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

translation


I've been dreaming:
of three mosquitoes 
bouncing on a page

Oh sad, sleepy brain!
Did you just envision
"musketeers" wrong?

-----------------------------
Pic: Dreamy visual courtesy Ziibiwing Center trip with my capstone students. 
Note: Did my brain not want to use "MUSKeteers" because of the Twitter implosion?

Monday, November 14, 2022

a Madrasi madcap history in pictures

One of the many, many reasons I love going to NWSA is because SR and I have been taking pictures in hats/headgear and calling it our "Madrasi Madcap series" because both of us have Madras (now known as Chennai but not while we were growing up) connections.

We hadn't been able to since 2019 as the 2020 conference was canceled and 2021 was online only. So we got back to it this year: it feels good to have fun.

In other news, I feel better AND continue to test -ve for Covid. Also: was reunited with all my loves and three of my classes yesterday, took Nu to the dentist, bid Big A goodbye for a week, and just generally jumped right back in to post-conference life. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

limbo

On my way back home. Here's a view from the airplane--Minneapolis below, serene and radiant cloudscape above, and me in the middle.

I have a hoarse throat (too much talking/Covid); a headache (not enough sleep + lots of stress/Covid); and back and body aches (too many books from the book exhibition in my backpack/Covid).

I'm double KN-95 masked (just in case) and there are no tests available at the airport. So I guess time and the Covid tests sitting in the guest bathroom at home will tell.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

that's all, folks


This is it: the highlight of my day/week/month...
I'll remember her kind and complimentary words forever.

Pic: with Angela Y. Davis. #NWSA2022

Friday, November 11, 2022

"women, life, freedom"

More NWSA: An embodied dance-exploration inspired by Hafiz, a raucous in-room party with trays of Hmong food, a surprise visit from my bestie KB, and a day full of panels where I just learned SO much... 

But the standout of the day, for me, was the panel on the Iranian Women's Protest/Revolution. The panel organizer had assembled a stage and a screen full of Iranian activists and scholars who provided historical context, cultural parsing, and commonsense advice (keep up the solidarity, don't speak over or for Iranian women). 

There was a Zoom bomber who tried to disrupt the proceedings, and there were some harrowing moments before he (yes, it was a he) was booted out. It reiterated how these rallies for equality are prone to disruption through mockery and malice... and in so many places with violence. Which is probably why the Iranian slogan resonates: Zan! Zendagi! Azadi! (Women! Life! Freedom!)

Pic: Panel on the Iranian Women's Protest/Revolution.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

the Hill

Terrific first day of NWSA in Minneapolis! I feel like we've been working on getting it off the ground for nearly a whole year and it's such a thrill to see it take off. At this point, this fabulous convention has momentum and doesn't even need me... it's quite a thrill. 

Got to see both Anita Hill and Angela Davis today. The Anita Hill conversation was sobering (she has no remaining faith that SCOTUS will rule fairly). It also made me think about coming to political consciousness with the events of 1990-91 and how it must feel to have a lifetime of wonderful work always evaluated in the light of one's sexual harassment. 

At the book signing, I wanted to thank her for being a role model for people everywhere and how much her example guided me through my own Title IX mess, but the line moved too quickly. Thank you, Prof. Hill. 

Pic: Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Anita Hill in conversation. 

full, fulfilling

Woke up after an hour and something of sleep (I went to bed after 4 am) feeling relieved and thankful about the elections--especially in MI, but lots of other reasons to celebrate too. 

There were 18 trans and non-binary state legislator candidates around the country and some of them won. The youth turnout was tremendous: students at U of Michigan, MSU, and other places made news by staying in line to vote even though it got really late. Wes Moore, AOC, Lucy McBath, Rashida Tlaib, Ihan Omar got elected/reelected.  But mostly--it could have been so much worse.

I'm always surprised that these contests seem so close--I mean it's like cuddly puppies + gooey cookies on one side and hateful detractors + dumpster fires on the other. The choice seems... obvious? As Zack Bornstein's tongue-in-cheek tweet summarizes: FASCISM IS DEAD IN AMERICA AFTER DEVASTATING LOSS 49.-49.3. Nevertheless, it felt wonderful to share the election news with Nu over breakfast, be happy about it with assorted neighbors, respond to a string of similarly ecstatic texts, and plan a neighborhood bonfire to celebrate. 

Big A and I made a checklist of things we wanted to do together and got almost all of them checked off. I leave for Minneapolis and NWSA early tomorrow and he'll leave for work the day after I return on Sunday so there was no time to waste. Both of us took meeting calls on our hike with our headphones on... but we still got to hold hands.

Pic: MSU Red Cedar Rapids w/ Big A.

simply

A cold day, but beautiful.  Walks with some of my favorite people: L, Big A,  me... Pic: An icy Red Cedar River