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

Thursday, August 24, 2023


Opening convocation today. The energy was a bit off without families in the stands, but clapping students into college life through a faculty gauntlet is still fun. 

Also a ton of meetings; I crashed hard at my seventh meeting of the day at 4:00 pm. I was so afraid I was going to fall asleep right at the conference table, I started to rearrange the stickers on my computer.

At came to dinner and when I was dropping them off at their place we got caught in a terrific thunderstorm: trees falling onto the road, tornado warning, the works. Visibility was so bad as the rain was just sheeting across the windshield--there was no way to tell where I was driving, if the river had flooded etc. And nowhere to pull over safely either.

Terrific crashes in our backyard too, I guess morning will show us the damage.

Pic: Before the storm--Nu, Big A, & At at dinner; Max and Huck are under the table. We're planning a trip to a state park for Big A's big birthday in two months!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Ok, half-full

If yesterday was being amused about colleagues coaxing me to eat more food, today was indignation.

If yesterday was perfect picnic weather, today was the sudden rain right as we had to move to another building.

If yesterday was the magic of shaving seven minutes off the commute, today was the delay brought on by tens of thousands of MSU students moving into the dorms across our house.

If yesterday was the euphoria of seeing my people, today was the reality of budget cuts, missing colleagues, metrics of the market, defunding of programs, polarization of higher ed, marginalization of the humanities, potential terminations, and so many new people hired as adjuncts. StephLove was right to remind me in the comments yesterday.

I'm on the Educational Policy Committee and just got elected to the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee. Let's see what I can do to make this a place that works for students and makes my colleagues want to stay. Once more into the fray to do the best I can.

Pic: MSU flower bed from last week. I haven't hiked or walked in days.

Monday, August 21, 2023


Such a full day! I was on the road for sunrise, sunset, and sickle-moon-rise.

We're officially back at work as Fall Conference started today. And I'm so full and excited from seeing everyone after summer break and catching up and being introduced to new people and talked into new committees and and and... It hasn't been quite like this since the start of the pandemic... Being with colleagues and friends is not something I take for granted anymore. I may have sardonically shared The Chronicle's "First Faculty Meeting of the Year Bingo card" on the group chat, but I sincerely and nerdily love my work.

A lot of the socializing took place over three meals on campus, so I'm feeling pretty full on that count too. 

Pic: Walking back to my car after the all-campus picnic.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

family stories

1) Burr (not brr) 

Nu spent a lot of time outside with the puppies and when they all came in, Max was covered in burrs. Nu started to brush them out of his fur when they noticed that Max seemed to be nibbling at their clothes... Nu thinks Max was trying to get burrs off of them

What a sweet story! I love so much about this story including Nu being up early enough to catch the sunrise with Max, spending time outside, taking care of Max without being prompted, building a story about Max... Max adores Nu and that has been so, so good for Nu. 

2) Hair today (gone tomorrow)

At some point last year, I may have said in passing that a ponytail would look cool on Big A or maybe I just thought someone's ponytail looked cool. However it started, the next thing I knew Big A was growing one. And then I kept saying how cool it was, so he kept growing it out. Turns out neither of us really liked it that much and now he's relieved to be getting it cut tomorrow. 

I would never change my hair for Big A or anyone, just saying. I do think it's kinda sweet that he'd do that for me though. Being adored by Big A is so, so good for me.

Pic: Huck, Max, and Big A. This is why we call Max the Kool Aid pup--the floofball'll just flop all over people with no warning and in the strangest of postures. Don't miss his eyes!   

Saturday, August 19, 2023

you have no idea

I search soft darknesses 
at  the  edges of the day
after the concrete crackle 
of some  things I've said
words are also adventures
evasive... and anonymous
sticking inside  my throat
like an offering in an epic  

I said I couldn't remember
although I  do know  how
I watched television instead 
of praying--still, they visited 
those archangels and aliens
always animal... melancholy 
my body is still not immortal
but somehow... is finally free

Pic: Black-eyed Susans on the MSU campus. I went walking by myself for once, and realized as I turned this corner that I was probably going to bail on the birthday party in the park (fun! already RSVP-ed!) I was supposed to go to.  

Friday, August 18, 2023

chances are

the tide seeks
greedily by the river 
it could leave us hanging

or help us lose--
then we're all swimmers
reaching away, trying to speak 

until we choose 
the suck-slide of undertow 
waves keep a beat--like trauma

go ahead, tell me
how many people we are
allowed to be before any ending

Didn't go to book club today--just didn't feel it was ok to be indoors with other people. The book was Bonnie Garmus's Lessons in Chemistry--I found it both alarming and twee and can't tell yet if I liked it. 

Also in OMG: L and T stocked us up on food--soup, pierogies, grape leaves, chicken salad... I'll not need to cook for days.

Pic: A very swollen Red Cedar with Big A. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023


Baby steps today: Just one meeting, a tiny handful of emails, a short walk, an easy meal. I keep reminding myself of my spectacular relapse after I overdid things earlier this week. 

Easy does it. 

Unrelated: I can't stop thinking about the food situation with my parents, sis, and BIL. I knew they had let some household help, including their cook, go during the early stages of the pandemic. What I didn't realize is that now everyone just orders food online and then they eat separately and at different times. So all they're eating--sometimes even at breakfast, and almost always at lunch and dinner--is restaurant food. Each one according to their own schedule and by themselves. 

The worst part is that the food is frequently limp, unappetizing, and unsatisfying by the time it arrives, so it seems people eat more than they would otherwise. My BIL won't even enter the kitchen, my sis is too busy with her job, and my parents are too old, so this isn't a problem with an obvious solution. I made soups and stir-frys while there (for the kids mainly, but there was enough for everyone) and everyone acted like it was the most amazing food in the world (although it really wasn't!). My sister takes such good care of my parents and I didn't want to be a dick; so I didn't say anything. But mealtimes were such a time of togetherness growing up and I feel so, so sad that it's not the case anymore over there. 

Pic: Look! A medieval-looking turret on our way to get Big A some coffee at Biggby! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

a day to rest and recover

I thought I was going to have to 'force' myself to take the day off to rest and recover properly. But as it turns out, I was so feverish, all I could do was lie on the couch and have my family take care of me. They're so good at that. I got soup and toast and tea and blankets... and entertainment as pictured. I think I'm getting better.

Pic: Huck, Max, and Big A rumpus-ing in the rumpus room.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

so it's like that

India's Independence Day! 

This afternoon, after working diligently on syllabuses and stuff, I took a second SUV-load of stuff to the donation center--all the stuff from Big A's Milwaukee apartment. I hope someone else enjoys the nice toaster and placemats and towels and sheets and Apple TV stuff. Big A started his Michigan job while we were in India, and I'm so glad for us to be under the same roof now. And to be able to give away this stuff that was sitting in the garage.

I made a big pot of soup with turmeric, ginger, garlic, and tons of veggies because I wasn't feeling so good. In fact, I felt like I had when I was sick last week. Big A who had been incredulous that no one had given us a Covid test, gave me one... and... that MF-er lit right up. 

So we had Covid and gave it to other people. I feel so gross about that. We've been masking everywhere, since we got sick, so hopefully we've been able to limit the spread. I don't feel too sick, but I've been too upset about my public health fail to work. Have been watching Made in Heaven, my mom recommended it after we saw an ad for it on a billboard on our way to the airport.

And the Crumbl cookies I picked up because I was on that side of town gave Nu an allergic reaction. Whomp, whomp. Not a complete winner of a day, for sure. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

the gloaming

I always think of the gloaming as a place (like a glen, a clearing in the glen, as in "they went into the gloaming and were lost") until I remember it's a time--it's just twilight, that strange gloomy time. 

Here's Max, my big goofball, my KoolAid guy, hanging out with me at the end of a long day when I went in to work and took meetings (office plants are watered and doing fine) and also weeded and trimmed in the secret garden. It looks lush now although the only color deer will consistently allow us are spikes, dragon's breath, and geraniums, there are some roses and white phlox in there too. 

I went into the plant section when I stopped for groceries earlier, and the attendant tipped me off to a giant sale coming next week. Will I be brave enough to replace some perennials then? We shall see. Also mums are in the store already and I'm not ready for that.

Pic: Max in the gloaming.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

a recording

I can't claim K.L. Saigal as a favorite--in fact I remember laughing about his face on this precise album cover with my sister (rude, I know). He's of my grandparents' generation, but my parents grew up on his music and loved him. This is an LP, they listened to him on old Gramaphone records--one song to a side. He's considered to be a bit of a bridge between hindustani classical and film music.

I don't know why I'm blabbing so much instead of just saying that I played this album and in the cool night air with a cricket chorus, it took me right back to nights in my childhood--being in bed and hearing snatches of my parents post-bedtime life as they played music and chatted in the living room.

I thought I'd just play a few songs, but I'm on the second side now enjoying the absolute romanticism of Urdu lyrics: Jab dil hi toot gaya, hum jeeke kya karenge? (Now that my heart is broken what could I accomplish even if I continued to live?)  

This was such a prized possession for my mom... I'm sad thinking why she's in a season of giving her favorite things away. I'm so unready for anything to happen. I burst into tears last week when my dad tried to have an end-of-life talk with me. And then I kept going back to it my head on the plane yesterday where I unknowingly picked two dad-centered movies (Atrangi Re and Aftersun, both recommended) and cried some more.

Pic: In the solarium at night playing old records.

Saturday, August 12, 2023


Back home, it's inauspicious to say you're leaving--you're supposed to say, "I'll go and come" (meaning I'm leaving now, but I'm coming back later). "Poyi-Ostha in Telugu; "poyitu-vaaren" in Tamil. Guess I've left and come back to one of my homes.

It felt so good to see Big A's dear face when he picked us up at the airport, such a shriek I did shriek. Max is huge and can now bark, Huck is her crazy-dainty self, everyone was just so excited to see each other. 

I've since watered the zillion plants; cleaned the things other people don't care/know to clean; unpacked our suitcases; refilled the hot tub; cleaned the tiled floors (the big vacuum is tomorrow); cleaned the space around Scout's memorial, etc. etc. I'm not sleepy in the least. Might read and/or do some laundry next. 

Pic: I brought some of the old vinyl records from my mom's collection back with me. She loves music and used to have shelves and shelves of records--now only a couple of suitcases since my parents moved in with my sister some years ago.  Some of the albums have numbers pasted on the corner: This is from when my mom organized them into genres and had my sister and me help by cutting numbers out of an old calendar (this was before home printers) to catalog them.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

we could ride backward into memory

we could ride backward         into memory
meeting people      who were bad 
for us,      who        ruined weekends... 
ruined our lives         for nothing stays
illustrated  and  irrefutable,       we were chaste 
with  longing like       determined children
weeping          around a wedding cake

Pic: Near Gingee Fort last week.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

got me good

We're those people now, leaving a swathe of sick people in our wake. After years of masking and being careful, I am so disappointed in myself. There are no OTC Covid tests to be had, and the doctor told me to "relax" when I asked for one (At laughed). 

Anyway. I'm sick now. Other people are, thankfully, on the mend. I suppose it's a good thing we already had such a great time, because this part sucks. 

Yesterday, before visiting the temple, I stopped at a street stall to get some flower garlands for an offering. They're made as always with fresh flowers and held together with knotted banana fiber. When I asked how much it cost (the unit of measurement is the span of the flower-seller's forearm),  she held up four fingers: I thought it was four rupees, but she meant forty. Everything is the same except for prices. We had a good laugh together.

Pic: Pushpa (her name translates as "flower") selling flower garlands by the temple. Photo with permission. (Bangalore) 

Monday, August 07, 2023

how could I live so far away?

how could I live so
far away?
I guess I didn't know 
I could
life is such a hard thing 
to chance
you can leave a place
and then find
it always stays on you 
like fine sand

And Ten Notes From Today: 
  1. Mom, aunt, sis, and brother-in-law are sick; At and Nu appear to be recovering. I feel so conscience-stricken about my germy kids and worried about everyone else with a side of I told you guys to mask up when we were in the car together!
  2. I may be developing misophonia... and also the bands of howling street dogs were... interesting the first couple of nights, but not anymore.
  3. Big A has already neglected my flowering plants to death. But Huckie and Max are well loved, so I'll keep him.
  4. Had to say goodbye to family who came up from Coimbatore and Chennai to hang out with us... I miss them already. 
  5. Esp. VM and AA--seeing them wrap At and Nu in the same kind of unconditional love that saved me when I was a teen has been such a joy.
  6. It's Monday, so we've had to stop partying all night. I haven't left the house all day.
  7. I got so much cash on Amazon India gift cards, which I cannot use from the US, so I've ordered a ton of stuff and it remains to be seen if we'll receive it before our departure date.
  8. A realization that I have a very special position in the family as the oldest grandchild/nibling--it's nothing about me, any ol' baby landing into this family just waiting to love on their big sister's baby would have done. I just happened to luck out big time.
  9. The class I picked up as an overload due to a colleague's sudden departure was cancelled. Alleluia. I did it mostly out of a sense of duty--the extra cash would have been nice, but the extra time will be sweeter.
  10. I had a Zoom meeting with my editor in NZ this morning. It was a fairly routine meeting, except when they sweetly said "you get to weave the web," I was taken aback because I heard it as "you get to wave the whip." Umm, no.
Pic: At's picture of me by the sea last week. (Pondycherry)

Sunday, August 06, 2023

"my so-called vacation"

The title for today's post comes from At, who knows Nu and I have been watching My So-Called LifeTBH, for reasons I haven't yet unpacked, I never actually thought of this trip as a vacation at all. 

At is still sick and now (as of this evening) Nu is sick too with similar symptoms. My sis was able to order the antivirals for Nu online and it was delivered to our door in less than an hour. That part was impressive.

Two sick kids and two vulnerable grandparents in the same house = not so impressive. 

There was a get together for us at another aunt's house earlier today. At was unable to get out of bed, but Nu still seemed well at that point and I didn't want my aunt to feel totally disappointed, so Nu and I showed up with the rest of the family. But then we made our excuses to return home early so we could be with At. 

Nu really wanted to ride in an  auto-rickshaw, so we took one home by ourselves. And despite all the dire warnings, nothing terrible happened to us. TBH, one uncle, two aunts, two cousins, and my sister came to see us into the auto though. I love them all so, so much, but it's also a bit much.*

Pic: Nu and me in the auto-rickshaw being bratty and hamming it up. When I look back on this pic, I can kind of tell Nu is about to get sick too. (Bangalore)

 *I'd kind of forgotten how over-protective my family can be. I'm still getting frequent earfuls about how--on Friday--I took an auto-rickshaw someplace instead of calling home to let them know to send a car and driver for me. Like what? I'm so old and I've been out on my own in the world for so long! And I take public transport or drive myself. Anyway, I'm a fan of auto-rickshaws, especially because they're smaller than cars and can weave their way through Bangalore traffic better. 

Saturday, August 05, 2023

living loud

When Big A texted at 10 past midnight to see if I was still up, I texted this picture of family waving back at him--it's only ten past midnight, everyone's still here! 

You won't find Nu in this picture because it's late and they'd had their fill of social interaction. 

And you won't find At in this picture because their fever had spiked and they're in bed after we went to the hospital earlier in the evening for a consult, tests, and antivirals. (There's a chance it could be dengue, although we haven't been bitten by a single mosquito, and of course it could be Covid--either of which could complicate things by a whole lot.)

I've had some lovely conversations with my dad on this trip thanks to his amazing new hearing aid. This morning he was telling me about a sib who died in infancy and their family dog who died from grief soon after (that's the family story, anyway), and I started to cry about Scout. My dad was upset about making me cry, but actually, it was such a relief to be able to do any of this--talk to my dad, talk about Scout, hear a story I've heard 10,000 times before, etc. 

Pic: Part of my loud and lovely family. The sheet of paper in VM's hand is a blueprint for the big family reunion being planned for next year. (Bangalore)

Friday, August 04, 2023

here we are...

We always talk late into the night and wake up at dawn; there's always jokes, and teasing, and stories we've all heard a ton of times and laughing a lot for no good reason. 

And it's about being so looked after that people will do things that might seem silly. My aunt was worried that the cooks would absent-mindedly use mustard (At is allergic) that she took all the mustard out of the kitchen and put it all in her bedroom! Of course, we kept teasing her about it all day.

Pic: Dad, At, me, AA, VM, Nu, mom, and sis. 
I'm in a formal saree because I'm headed off to give a talk at Stella Maris, my undergraduate college in Chennai!  At is a bit under the weather today (hence the mask).

Thursday, August 03, 2023

a happy place...

Reunited with #1 favorite uncle! 

These three people I love so much, the sunset over the sea, and the family's little Ganesha temple make this a picture I will keep coming back to...

Pic: Nu, VM, and At at VM's place in Pondycherry. It always looks the same...


Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Home is where...

Home is where they take candid pics of you after you've been traveling for two days and are unwashed and puffy and texting your husband while your human kids loll on you.

Pic: At, me and Nu in a huddle. I actually love this pic of us. (Bangalore)



my voice scatters on the floor my eyes want even more  I'm still here... I think the hours are many and small  I crawl... to whichever h...