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

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

"thank you for being a friend"

I started this random Tuesday with the present JL left on the porch for me, a poem JG sent via email, talked with the women's community circle after lunch, and ended it with DV who came over to drink tea and talk after Nu headed off to bed after dinner... I'm feeling really blessed in women friends, right now.

Apropos of all this, I love the title of the book JL gave me--Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship. It seems to be a sociologist's happy validation of female friendships from besties and cliques to squads and posses. 

For a while now, I've expected my elderly years to be lived in the communal company of women. Whether that's from watching too much Golden Girls (or more recently Grace and Frankie), growing up in all-girls "convent" schools, or radical feminist envisioning, I don't know... yet.

Monday, April 25, 2022

bedtime story

I mean at some point we're going to have to talk about why I'm awake at 2:22 AM, goofing off like a goof... when I know I have an alarm set for 5:30 AM so I can do my green tea and meditation time before the high-schooler wakes up at 6:00 AM for their morning cuddle and breakfast.  

And this is not at all unusual--I've been averaging between 3-6 hours of sleep for years now... and put like that, I'm worried there's going to be some spectacular comeuppance for this. 

In some ways I'm a perfect candidate for fractured sleep because I have family from other continents and time zones--so no matter what the time, I have people on hand to have heart-to-hearts and to text links to hilarious songs like Rowdy Baby (no babies were harmed in the making of this video). 

But also Big A works nights, so we're usually texting and chatting about stuff and keeping in touch and being silly as well. And if he's home, his sleep schedule is messed up by working nights, so I'm hanging out with him then too. And tonight At seems to be up and feeling chatty and is sending me Langston Hughes poems about Lenin and I sent him that clip of Paul Robeson singing to Scottish miners (cross cultural solidarity is my favorite and my boy knows me). 

Anyway, this will all work itself out, or won't. If I'm going to be up all night anyway, I feel like there ought to be a cuddly baby to keep me company at least 😁. 

Pic: The Red Cedar was flooding its banks on our walk yesterday.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

my kind of therapy


"For young people experiencing grief, he suggests Bridge to Terabithia, a novel about two children who create a magical land that allows them to escape a personal tragedy. For people dealing with indecision, he recommends “Eveline,” a short story by James Joyce about a young woman who plans to leave Dublin with her lover and is forced to decide whether to abandon her family. Cheu prompts clients by asking them, “If you were Eveline, what would you do?” Turning the question on the reader, he says, uses the story to ease them into sharing more about themselves. “That is how you allow the discussion to move away from a very personal direct confrontation to an imaginary alternative,” he says, “which allows them to imagine a different life for themselves.” Literature essentially helps clients be seen without being exposed."

Pic: Scout giving us high-fives for the week that was. (I think Big A and I may have taught our baby a new trick!)




Saturday, April 23, 2022

commencement day

The amazing Robert Pinsky, our commencement speaker today, gave a talk he'd titled "A good idea, a bad idea, and a joke." The joke, he warned us, was unfunny but would save everyone thousands of dollars and many hours of psychotherapy. Here's a paraphrase. Patient tells the doctor: "it hurts when I do this..." Doctor replies: "Then don't do it."

But an unscripted funny moment was when Pinsky was describing how hair sprouts on the human body, using his fingers to mime sprouting at his head, then his armpits, and then the whole auditorium kind of held their breath wondering if he would go further. (He didn't). 

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to advisees and students who graduated today. I went in early to finish writing congratulation cards in my office and was touched to find cards students had crammed into the doorjamb or slid under the door. I thought I knew whom they might be from as I collected them, but I was wrong. None were from advisees or people I had done big, important things with/for. For the most part, these cards referenced small conversations and interactions. I kind of sat with that for a while. The idea that small things had been so important in someone's life made me feel... TBH... a bit anxious, actually. It's easier to do a finite number of big things than it would be to be open and supportive all the time. 

Pic: A screengrab of me doing the faculty marshal thing with the staff/mace and all. I kind of like the extra shoulder width and overall height academic regalia gives me.

And I couldn't help remembering that this happened at last year's graduation.

 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

a reminder that "doing the most" is not an accolade

April showers, check; April flowers, check.

I'm excited my favorite part of the year (the warm part) is almost here. I'm not even sad/mad that my sabbatical is now officially over (as this is finals week). I think I've garnered a few professional responsibilities and established some working/writing habits I can continue over the summer. 

In the meantime (just) today: I helped lead a WIAB meeting, joined an AC shared governance team, drafted a SLSA proposal with EM, and wrote up a panel and roundtable for the SA caucus.

OFC. 

SMH.

Pic: Daffodil Hill near the Radiology Gardens

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

mantras of discernment

When I told JG that At was taking a gap year, she told me it was a good thing--"a time of discernment" is how she phrased it. And it helped me so much--I would it mutter this mantra to myself when other people like Big A or my mom were frustrated by At's plans. 

A few weeks ago a friend's kid said something disrespectful about At's job. We don't disparage people based on their jobs in our family, so I was really taken aback. And then I was really sad about it for a while--At is a kind, funny, and brilliant person and the comment made me see that none of that would matter to some people. When I shared this with Nu, Nu gave me the best mantra of all: "That's not on him! That's on them!"

"That's on them!" is the perfect riposte to so many things now. I'm sure that At's decision to postpone grad school is scary for me because of my immigrant trust in education--where would I be without my degrees? But as my Nu taught me, that's on me

I had a long car ride with At as we were out on an errand yesterday, and I have so much clarity about what he's doing and I think he's absolutely making the decisions that work for him right now.

Pic: Early morning hike with L at Baker Woods.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

the struggle is surreal


this door I'm trying to close quickly
knowing you're trying to come back
touching this emptiness to another
as open and unmeaning as chanting 

it's sadness so cavernous I can hear 
exhalations from your lungs empty
universes of understanding, fleeing
like meaning between our thoughts 

like a sunset stained on the horizon 
speech is clumsy and stumbles trying
to save us. And so we have words/tears 
and they fall--only one feels right as rain 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Monday dun-day

Yes, it's still pretty dun and uninteresting out, and it even snowed all day today although it didn't stick... but the hellebores (lenten roses) are coming up in a nice reminder that even in Michigan, spring is here. 

Theres a lot of birdsong so it sounds like spring and it even smells like spring.

Wow, I sound like I'm trying to convince myself. 🙃  

Also that's Huck in the picture, Scout stayed by my side. I hope we get to do this again this spring.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

the sun rises

A sunny Easter day. It started with a meaningful and mindful heart-to-heart with Nu, and it got better when we got to sit and sing together at UU. Big A returned; At stopped by for dinner (the puppies and I got really excited).

We had our usual Easter egg hunt in the backyard with rhyming clues. (I rhymed "elm that fell" with "morel"--and they didn't get that one easily--oh, well.) Then a very early dinner together, and a very short round of Coup.  I even got a nice walk-and-talk with At before sending him off. Tried to watch Severance, which people seem to love, with Big A but didn't make it past the 20-minute mark. 

I'm grateful for the quiet, quality time with loved ones this weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

lunar halo

 I'm taking this hazy lunar halo to bed with me. A long day: long hike, long hours in the garden prepping, long international phone calls with my mom and a friend. 

But it's nearly 3:00 am, so I'm not surprised I don't have a lot of thoughts to string together.

Sad about Covid-related drama nixing our Passover Seder with J and M this evening; but "next year"--as they say.

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 14, 2022

the bitterness of mustard seeds


"Men!" she says, rolling her eyes
sputters: "Think--even the Buddha causes suffering."

I heed her assembly of outrage
the mustard seeds going off like grenades in the pot

it is true, yes, no one is to blame
Where do you keep scars? Can he see or imagine hers?

See her desire colliding with his wisdom
see her as the collateral damage of this one's own theology 

He might say it's nothing personal--it's true 
perhaps exactly what's missing, in his insistence on moving on  

on nights there is thunder, there is rain
I feel this whole world as an angry woman I do not blame

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

as I lay me down to sleep


it's time for me to be embedded 
into the dark

it's time to kneel at night's altar
quieten thoughts

to swallow answers into silence
and survive 

for I'm too wild for sleep to be
anything pure

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

in a season of dependence

over here, I'm trying to find the language we lost 
we're the canoe and and I slipped the oars
while asking questions
we're so small

strangeness crawls up my arms, nestles by my ears
little baby bugs overflowing their home 
telling me their stories
about being better

because we cannot know what we do not know
and we're flooded already with memories
we imagine how it will be 
without us 

that canoe thawed free from direction and labor
swept up in the recovery of unknowing
finding new neighbors
in sea and storm

Monday, April 11, 2022

tree fellers and friends

I was as excited as a toddler when I saw this little tree feller in the backyard. We've had four trees come down this last winter and I haven't been able to plan any outdoor events because it looked and felt inhospitable (and unsafe) with tree limbs everywhere. 

My favorite part of this picture is that when the driver saw me--with my phone out and dramatically miming taking a picture and asking if it would be ok--he very kindly paused so I could take one. As I mentioned to the kids in family chat--this is way more than they ever do for me. And the little monsters... had the gall to go "ha-ha" on that comment. 

L is back from her month-long trip, so I got a long walk with her this morning to catch up and it made me realize yes--lots of things have changed in a month: I'm more hopeful for Nu; I know what At's plans for the year are; I'm getting used to Big A's work-related absences. A lot of sadness with each of those situations, but growing acceptance too.

And then while the rest of the world was busy doing Monday things, I treated myself to a movie with KB. At her request we saw Everything Everywhere All At Once--and overall, it was clever and compassionate and I love the idea of an older woman cast as a superhero... still, the middle section and its fight scenes felt overwhelming to me. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

some "uppy" for my heart

Into this gloriously sunshiny, blue sky day, I fit in goodbye brunch with our guests, a UU service with Nu (now with singing!), a read in the garden that turned into a snooze (with puppies!), a long walk along the Red Cedar, a full house post-guest clean, and then... At showed up for a surprise visit. 

Scout was so excited by this last development (or maybe it's the five pills he's been taking every day) he didn't wait for an "uppy" and just jumped up onto the couch by himself. 

That made my own heart very "uppy" too.

Beautiful Anne Lamott words here for more heart uppy-s. 

Saturday, April 09, 2022

din-din dinners

Nu's friend is over for a sleepover this evening and my friend/colleague SS and their Connecticut family are too. I wondered what the two highschoolers and SS's new college kid--all of whom had never met before--would have in common... But in less than 20 seconds they were talking, arguing, and enthusing about books and shows the three of them had read/watched. I guess that's what books and show do--knit us a common experience. The three of them are off in the rumpus room watching Princess Mononoke with the puppies. I needn't have wondered/worried.

I rarely take pictures of our dinner party table because it feels discourteous to my guests--the food is for them, not my camera. But SS's spouse did. I loved making them a feast (90% of it vegetarian). Just this morning, I read an article on hosting dinner parties Modern Mrs. Darcy linked to with mounting dismay. I agreed with most of the bullets (don't clean before--clean after, make a ton of food, accept help, and so on). But don't change the menu?! No desserts requiring silverware?! That seems like a recipe (ha) for monotony. And contrary to the article's advice, I already have counters cleaned/clear, boxed lunches for guests and fam, and am now off to spend more time playing board games. 

Friday, April 08, 2022

the big sigh

After Nu heads up to bed for the day, I usually spend the rest of the evening cuddling with Scout and Huck... and usually Scout'll snuggle up to me and let out a big sigh. 

The big sigh is my sign that Scout is done for the day and is feeling content and happy.

Today was my version of Scout's big sigh--after all the travel and non stop busyness of the past couple of weeks. There was some prep for our house guests this weekend, but mostly it was working with these two guys at my feet, listening to the rain.

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. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

ah, youth

Kind of a super busy day ahead of Honors Day tomorrow... and full of the wins and victories (and cautions) that come from looking over and editing student research. 

But Nu came to me just before dinner with a research question of their own (hate speech in schools). And it was so cool to sit down and share some early research skills with Nu and talk about what we found. I feel like my kids (understandably) see me as a parent more than anything else, so it feels a bit special when I can help them with stuff that I didn't get good at in order to be a parent.

Also, for some reason I just found my student evals from December, and they were the kindest ones I've had in years! I wish I'd had this level of approval and support before I got tenure. Something that really touched me is how all of them used "they/them" as my pronouns because I'd indicated my preference for gender neutrality at the beginning of the semester. I never hear myself referred to in the third person in class or meetings, so I hadn't realized that they were being so lovely about it. Young people truly give me hope for the world. 

s/unlit

In the midst of mounting excitement about the start of the new school year, it was a shock to hear two people who'd been at the college ...