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

Monday, July 08, 2024


I turned into a mom-taxi today taking Nu to job interviews and Max to his vet appointment. And while I was out and about, I saw things that terrified me:

* random red and gold leaves on the ground

* all the summer stuff at Target is 50% off and they're stocking the back-to-school displays

* an email reminding me that our opening convocation is on August 21

It's still so bright and lovely out and I haven't done all the summer things and don't want to think of summer ending already. 

(Also despite the four-leaved clovers, the bad luck hits keep coming.) 

I'm going to cover my ears and go la-la-la-la for a while.

Pic: The Red Cedar under a beautiful sky yesterday.

Sunday, July 07, 2024

the news... and nourishment

Heartbreaking news about Alice Munro... and tragically one reminiscent of the world she evoked in her fiction where children are betrayed and damaged by adults (plural!) who were supposed to care for and protect them. I hope Andrea Robin Skinner finds peace and experiences continued healing.


Unfathomably soul-crushing news from The Lancet (medical journal of record) warning that conservatively, "the true death toll in the Gaza genocide could be 186,000 or more." And that this "staggering figure amounts to 8 percent of the population of Gaza. A similar percentage of the US population would be 26 million people." I'm coping through a cocktail of hope (there has been an increase in public support for Gaza including from the French left--the surprise election winners), drugs (including OTC Ashwagandha), busy-ness (deadline after deadline), and the loving support of family and friends.

Pic: Some of my farmers' market haul from this weekend. I used the summer abundance for dinner today--ratatouille, which I served with focaccia (also from the market) and tzatziki. Our meal was already solidly Mediterranean, repping French, Italian, and Greek foods, so I cut up some Valencia oranges to add Spain to our dinner mix.

Saturday, July 06, 2024

in which my mom schools me on how to use my phone

Sometimes when Nu and I are comfort-watching a show from the '90s (Friends or Dawson's Creek or Felicity--ok, the last two are mostly me), I'm amazed at how all those characters are just walking around without cellphones hoping to bump into their pals randomly and with no way to check in on people if they're late to a rendezvous. I say "they," but I did that too back then, obviously. Sometimes it seems like another lifetime! I wonder if Nu can really even imagine how it used to be. 

And I'm not even a person who uses their phone that much. I was reminded of that today when my mom made a request. She wanted me to record myself singing a handful of Thyagaraja kritis because she said she wanted to hear them right now. (It was so sweet. "I can't wait until June to hear you sing them to me again," she said.) When I told her I didn't know how to record, she gave me such specific directions starting with: "look for the "mic" symbol..." Seriously, I was so impressed. She said that she'd previously taught her aunts to make recordings when they found it difficult to type. Nu, who is of the digital-native generation, is my usual go-to person when I need to figure out something on my phone... but now I can ask my mom too.

Pic: Huck and Max keeping me company; I was putting dinner together while I practiced "Marukela Ra," one of the songs my mom had requested. This version I found is by the superb Maharajapuram Santhanam (incidentally, the grandfather of one of my school friends who's recently become a wonderful advocate and carer for the many street dogs in Chennai).

Friday, July 05, 2024

naming our vineyard

Another quiet day here today. All I had in my pictures folder was this reminder that we have volunteer grapevines (with tight clusters of unripe grapes) in the driveway. It reminded me of Nicole living on a vineyard and I amused myself by wondering what we might name our "vineyard". (Because, as I don't know much about wine, clever names and fun labels are the most important part of the wine business for me.) 

I think it would have to be something with "Doggie" in it. I mean, that was the main contender when we changed our family name 17 years ago... Doggie Tales? Domaine d' Doggie? Woof Woof Winery?

(As it turned out, when we finally changed our name, we knit together one of my family names and part of Big A's. I love that he changed his name as well, and always think about how he had to petition the courts and pay a fee to do that--our current patriarchal system is not set up for men to change their names when they get married.)

Pic: One of our volunteer grapevines. I don't know how the vineyards further north do it, because our grapes aren't at all ripe by the time Fall rolls around...

Thursday, July 04, 2024


no doors will open 
only borders
and they are
the preludes
to resentment

but think if only you
could be very
quiet, become 
very small you 
could slip through

to sit liminal as a god 
at the crossroads
agonize, organize
infinite as the sun...
falls down 

Note: Not much of a July 4th celebration this year. On a logistical level, LB, my usual Independence Day date is off at a wedding. Plus it was rainy, so I felt less inclined to seek out parades and outdoor concerts, and Nu and Big A like a low-key evening anyway. On a critical level, the past week of Supreme Court rulings (esp. criminalizing homeless people while giving presidents almost monarchial immunity) has shaken me. "America doesn't deserve a birthday party this year" is a theme/mood on my socials. Also: a lot of anticipatory dread and anxiety about the upcoming elections (esp. as I foresee a lot of in-fighting on the left). I wonder--and worry--about where we'll be as a nation next year this time.

Pic: A red-white-and-blue pic of Lansing fireworks SJ shared.

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

reading signs

if thoughts are flocks
would they be
of birds 
or sheep

when simplicity opens 
will I find it
an entrance
or interruption
Pic: A giant dragonfly perches on a lilypad. (At the two-o-clock mark.)

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

"Together Again"

A dear friend gave me tickets to the Janet Jackson "Together Again" show, so Big A and I went. It was a trip. (Also a trip: how much Janet Jackson there has been in my week!)

Oh, how I adored "That's the Way Love Goes" as a young 'un. It used to be a whole mood. And being at the show felt like being in the 1990s again. I could kinda see the crowd as the teenagers they were years ago. And though we're all very different (I lived on a completely different continent back then), the music gave us all a shared context.

Anyway--it was a terrific show: four costume changes, lots of medleys, updated lyrics and riffs, cool dancers... and the opening act was Nelly (he of the "It's Getting Hot in Heeeere" track so beloved by my mom)! 😂🤣

Pic: A pre-show ussie of me and Big A.

Monday, July 01, 2024

what I heard

1) "When you do coke it's not supposed to make you black out, right?" Person I'd stopped to check on in the bus shelter. They were crying and I couldn't walk past them without asking if they were ok. I didn't know the answer to their question, but I tried to see if they wanted to go to the hospital. They didn't. Ultimately, I did just walk away.

2) "Those deer out there are like good friends. They just hang out in my yard all day." Person with a huge Trump flag in their yard when I marveled at the 25 or so deer just sitting in their yard. I'd pulled up warily to ask for directions and was a bit taken aback. I don't know if I thought a Trump supporter would just randomly be shooting deer in their backyard or what.

3) *zombie noises* This was Nu after dinner. Max seemed to think it was the fun-est thing in the world and followed them around with heart-emoji eyes.

4) "Mr. Melancholy and his 'lunages'." A line from I Saw the TV Glow, which Nu was watching while I worked. Nu and At had already seen it together when Big A and I were in Arizona and liked it a lot. Turns out the line was "Mr. Melancholy and his luna juice." Umm. Yeah. Either way, I didn't get it. I think it's one of those things where you have to pay attention.

Pic: We've been going to Pride parades for years at this point, but I think I started giving the kids Pride presents only during the pandemic. Here, Nu and At are trying to figure out the prisms they got this year; Max thinks At, who'd stopped by for dinner after a shift at Chipotle, smells delicious. 

Sunday, June 30, 2024


We didn't want to say goodbye, but we did. TJA was going to leave after breakfast, but we kept putting it off and it was lunchtime before we packed up her car for the drive back. On today's walk, while I was telling her about the four-leaved clovers I'd found... we found two more! 

Pic: The Red Cedar on the other side of the Spartan Stadium. Right after I passed this point, my phone was playing a Janet Jackson song and I got a text from TJA which was just... another Janet Jackson song. In retrospect, I guess it's not such a big deal--we're both from that generation--but I was so delighted by what seemed like a magical coincidence when it happened. Like the way we'd burst into goosebumps randomly because of something one of us had said.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

holding on to love

Spent all day with TJA, who's visiting for the weekend. And it was like having the perfect visit (beer garden, walks, talks, puppy times, thrifting, falafel stand, book store, massages, Thai food).

We were young mamas together, and now our youngest ones are nearly grown, and our sisterhood has held. My only worry before TJA arrived was about holding my tongue about Dave Chappelle to whom she's very close and about whom I have opinions. But even that came up at dinner and we both said our earnest pieces and then we just held each other tight for a long time.

I'm afraid I've neglected my little family though. Nu had plans with a friend, so they were ok. But when I texted Big asking when he'd be ready for dinner, he texted back "Two hours ago" with a tongue-out emoji. (There were leftovers from Friday's dinner and he's a grown-up in a house with a stocked pantry and freezer so no real harm done though.)

Pic: TJA and me in the tea garden; pic by Nu.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

an unexpected red carpet

We took a 40% pay cut when Big A moved his job back to Michigan (I always count it as worth it!), so we've been discussing selling the house to downsize. (It does make me sad, but also... there are way worse fates in the world, and our dilemma pales in comparison.)

We've been holding off as Nu is headed for their last year of high school, and it would be too disruptive to move to a different school district at this point. 

It's worth noting that when we moved to this house, there were six humans (both kids were home and my parents lived with us for six months of the year). This house would be way too big for just A and me. On the other hand, we love this house and its happy memories so much and would be happy to stay here until the kids move us to a retirement home. We'll have to see how things shake out. 

Speaking of retirement homes, Nu told us with a straight face at dinner that when the time came, they'd be putting us in different homes because "you two together are too much." Both Big A and I pleaded and offered all kinds of silly bribes, but no--it will have to be different homes. I mean... I know it was meant to be funny, but it made me really sad to imagine living out my final days without A. And I was already in a bad place because of a sad book (Catherine Newman's We All Want Impossible Things).

Pic: Our walk through South Campus was disrupted due to construction. The construction crew has kindly put down a reddish tarp to indicate the detour, and it looks for all the world like an unexpected red-carpet experience.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

up and down and all around

The writing group didn't meet today... but good news about two conference acceptances. I'll chair the panel on narrative medicine; and I'm really excited about the panel I organized, titled, "If You Build It, They Will Come: Critical Feminist Practices for Campuses, Communities, and Campus-Community Partnerships."

I think we've finally finished edging the pond... but there have been some work-related woes, so we may be putting the house up for sale if things don't turn around. I'm determined to enjoy it while we're here!

I loved Sandwich so much, that I downloaded We All Want Impossible Things right away... and it's just so sad, I don't know that I can go on.

A long walk with Big A with the weather app predicting no rain as we set off... and then after we got to the halfway point, it began to rain. Oh, well, I'm not actually made of sugar.

Pic: A family of geese out on an outing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

a handful of summer things

It feels like I just got home from a fun family beach vacation on Cape Cod because I just finished Catherine Newman's Sandwich. I'd picked it up on Nicole's recommendation. Actually, the whole novel felt like it was being narrated by Nicole with that characteristic sense of warmth, humor, personal history, and integrity. I snorted and chuckled and laughed out loud so much while reading this on the cloud reader, that everyone knew I wasn't working on my laptop. Also: Was there a character called Maya? (Yes, there was.) Was she the same age, and at the same stage in her PhD, as when I used to go up to Truro for a week every summer as a guest of a dear friend's family? (Yes, she was.) 

And inspired by something Jenny did a couple of weeks back, I treated myself to a trip to the bookstore. I browsed and browsed but didn't buy anything although I still have my birthday bookstore money to spend.

Also: I got a massage after months off.  Wonderful R, who used to make house calls, has moved away. I had bought myself some massage gift certs around the holidays, but the person was flaky about scheduling and then sent a group text that they couldn't honor the certs because they had been diagnosed with cancer. (They're being sued by a bunch of people who say they have proof this is a ploy. But I keep thinking what if they really do have cancer--how shitty would that be to have to fight these BBB claims while also fighting cancer and being impoverished by having to pay for treatments under our horrible healthcare system?) Anyway, I'd already spent half a year's budget on massages, so I had to wait until now. I got an acupressure session today, and it feels hurts so good right now.

Pic: Eating my colors. This is the poké bowl I made for Big A's Boss Day: Miso rice, shaved sprouts, grated carrots, chopped cucumber, avocado, cherry tomatoes, mango, and tiny peppers + broiled salmon/tofu. I was going to add arugula before plating, but I forgot.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

summer slide

I guess I have my own version of summer learning loss a.k.a. summer slide. I'm not losing knowledge over summer, I keep forgetting things that worked for me last summer. I'm having to relearn. I have to remember that I have a folder of no-cook dinner ideas. I have to remember that turning the shower to "cool" for a few beats at the end will keep me from sweating when I get out. I was doing these things by rote by the end of summer last year, but haven't yet fallen back into those habits this year.

Yesterday, when I was horrified by a movie plot twist At and Nu shared with me, I was informed that I had reacted the same way when they'd told me before. "Sorry to retraumatize you, I thought you already knew" At said. Every time I remembered that bit of the conversation today, it made me laugh.

Also: I was so relieved to get back into reading today. I was stalled on a book for over a week in a terrible self-perpetuating cycle--I wasn't enjoying it, so I wasn't making time to finish it, and I couldn't start another book while that one was unfinished (plus I had that deadline, so I didn't have much free time). I finally finished it yesterday and got to read a whole book today. (Rachel Hawkins's The Villa. I particularly enjoyed the allusion/shoutout to Mary Godwin Shelley writing Frankenstein at the Villa Diodati.) It was a relief to know it wasn't me or the genre--that other book was just bad.

Pic: Big A, Huck, and Max. They're all leaping in the air because of their proximity to the treat jar :).

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Summer Solstice: Full of Pride

Early morning date with a sweet delicious baby-- DVA's grandkid was visiting, and I got to play and feed the baby as DVA got showered and dressed for the bridal shower they were going to. It was truly lovely. I'd forgotten the way babies make noises of contentment as they're on their bottles--their bodies calm, their fingers curling and uncurling in delight. So precious. All sustenance should be so enjoyable.

I hung out with my own babies for the rest of the day at the Pride festival. We started by the river where the feminist coalition and DSA had set up a radical reading library with zines, books, and community events under the banner "The first Pride was a protest." They had a lot of materials and quotes by queer Palestinians on hand-lettered posters. After we'd helped with repositioning their tent and tying down some of the posters (At knew them from DSA), we went over to the "rainbow capitalism" side, seeing more people we knew, getting freebies and treats and then stopped for cold drinks and pizza at the pub before heading home. At headed off to work, Nu headed back of to Pride with friends. They joked that they were so full of Pride.

Pic: BOL holding a polaroid of us at Pride today. BOL, Nu, At, and me.

Friday, June 21, 2024


I can be a gate
even birds with broken wings have visions
they see our world without lifting in flight

I can be a flame
every time my heart returns, I feel again 
how simple and honest it is, how not shy

I can be the magic
stirring in the song that may fracture the sky 
the calm violence in my implicit transformation 

I could be a god
sunk deep in sleep and remembering my life
baked merciful in stone and skin and sunlight
Pic: LB and TB got us all together for a picnic and a performance of "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" at MSU's Summer Circlemseries. I enjoyed the cross-dressed, campy Juliet misinterpreting Romeo's "call me but Love..." and calling him "butt love" way more than I should have.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

an easy hang

A lovely day-spend with the lovely KPB. 

I joked to KPB about how I finally sent off my work because I had to get ready to hang out with her today and how she was helping me check things off my summer fun list too... Today: A walk though the Rose Garden, Baklava at Sultan's, and a meander through the Broad Art Museum's new exhibits.

Bestie KB set me and KPB up when she left to go live in Minneapolis.  So KPB reminds me a little of being with KB (they even have similar names and initials)! But KPB and I have lots in common and today was just an easygoing ramble of chatter and jokes and shared positions on things that matter. And new ideas--now I want to get a glass-cutting tool and work with old bottles.

Pic: "Angel Soldier" by Yongbaek Lee (2005). In this hanging video installation, there are soldiers wearing flower camouflage moving ominously through a vista of artificial flowers. It's their movement that gives them away, so they're difficult to detect in a photograph. (But if the photo were a clockface and you look in the region of 10, you can kind of see the muzzle of a gun.) Broad Art Museum today with KPB who came down from Alma for the day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

just press send already

I should just press send, but I'm finding so many excuses to hang on to my manuscript. 

One main reason being I can still find things to tweak and improve and cite and... and... and... every time I  open up a random page. How do professional writers do it?! (StephLove?)

It's 3:30 am, one more run-through, and then I really will send it. I swear. I didn't even go to the Juneteenth thing I was supposed to go to...

The series editor to whom this will go is in New Zealand, so I'll still technically be compliant with the deadline.

Pic: Max and I found scads of tadpoles in the pond this morning. I'm excited for our future frog chorus.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

an adult marriage

Somehow, it has been 18 years since we were married! Our marriage is officially an adult now. On some days it feels like it has been 40 years and perhaps just 5-6 years at other times? 

IDK. Math is tough for me.

(I usually don't specify how long we've been married because we have a 25-year-old, and I don't want to get into the inevitable mathy-judgy questions about that. But essentially, IDC.)

The morning was deadline-fueled editing, the afternoon was interviews with candidates for a faculty position. But I took a couple of hours off for a drive and dinner with Big A, reminiscing about our top favorite things about the last 18 years. 

Pic: Wedding afternoon. My tiara is off, A's coat buttons are undone. We're in my MIL's house in Ohio. I have a photo like this on the nightstand, and it always makes me laugh because the kids once said it looks like I went and married a teenager. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

the time I need

My deadline was this past Sunday. I got an extension until Wednesday, because I wanted to spend a few more days fine-tuning things. When I asked for the extension, the editor good-naturedly said I should "take the time I need." I think about how they (could have but) did not say I should take "all the time I need." I'm using it as a kind of rubric--does the tweak I envision fit in the "time I need?" If it doesn't, I'm making a note and passing on it/passing it on. 

I lugged my laptop to the sports bar where Big A was watching the Dallas-Boston NBA game tonight. While there, he tried quite valiantly to tell me all the "subplots" and rivalries beyond the score. His description of someone looking like a cream cheese was very apt--I recognized them as soon as they showed up on screen. Anyway, the Celtics won, everyone was happy, and we're home.

(That's two sports-themed events in the space of a week... who am I these days?!)

Pic: Big A in this year's Father's Day tee. It's Star-Wars themed and has all the kids' names on it. Huck and Max just got a treat from the treat jar. 

strange new world

Weird how a day can begin like every other and then end up as something unknown. A is sick and in the hospital. It feels like being in a par...