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

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

a personal pause

In retrospect, I was unraveling a bit last week. I found Chiconky's advice, in particular the bit about how, "You don't have to bear witness to everything to hold sacred what is happening" so incredibly comforting. That coupled with my need to focus on making sure Big A had the best 50th celebration I could give him really helped me pause the spiral.

So a personal pause. In the lead up to Big A's birthday, I also bypassed the whole navaratri business/busy-ness, and instead of a multi-day celebration where I dressed everyone in saris, we did nothing... and I missed all the visits to other people's golus because we were away this weekend. There's always next year!

And we usually decorate for Halloween in the week after Big A's birthday, but I think I might just skip it this year because I'm off to a conference in a couple of days (and I don't like looking at scary things anyway!).

Pic: Big A and I walked over to the Wharton for a David Sedaris reading and it was delightful. (The weather was such a balmy 72 degrees.)  It was a full house. I kept thinking how much Nicole enjoys Sedaris and wished she could have been there too! Sedaris is a terrific reader and my favorite bit was a new piece where Sedaris reworked a banal Chat GPT essay written in "his" style, amping up the banality and incongruity.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

bye-bye, weekend

The weekend was lovely... the weekend is over... 

The stars were just so countlessly brilliant last night as Big A and I walked Huck and Max, I just wanted to stay up all night. After we got back, I grabbed At, who was still up, and we sat out on the porch marveling for another hour. I fell into a bit of a trance from the lapping of the waves and light-show in the sky.

Now it's back to reality. 

I love when we're all together, so I felt really sad when we dropped At off at his place. And I feel guilty because Max drooled and barfed through the three-hour road trip despite the meds the vet prescribed. He loves new places, but has such a tough time in the car! We're thinking no road trips with Max for a while...

Pic: Goodbye to Torch Lake. Huck, me, At, Nu, Big A, and Max (a bit obscured as he's taking another look at the water). The Fall colors on the opposite shore are sublime.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Golden

Big A turns 50 on Monday... it seems like a very BFD. It has been wild to reflect on the changes over the decades.

After I made everyone some (frozen) pizza for brunch, we commemorated this BFD by playing several rounds of how-well-do-you-know-the-birthday-baby.

Big A kept looking to me and asking if I had the key to questions like favorite book and favorite song--haha. I guess it is difficult to isolate things like that. But better than the right answers were the discussions the questions provoked. I think we did great job of figuring out his favorite author (Kurt Vonnegut), his favorite genre (hip-hop, which also turns 50 this year), and everyone was 100% certain that he'd never been on a blind date (he hadn't).

Pic: Nu, At, Big A, Max, and Huck. I imagine I can see the lake through the windows...  We got in around 2 am last night. KB had said the front door would be unlocked and we should just let ourselves into her parents' summer place. The door was unlocked and I did let myself in, but I was a bit worried that we may have let ourselves into the wrong house... I relaxed only after I saw a family picture with KB on the wall. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

here we go

Although it has stayed mostly green where we are, I can see the colors turning every day on my commute north to work. I listened to chants in Sanskrit in the car and it was pleasant and peaceful and gave me some time to enjoy the poetic beauty of the slokas and puzzle out the agglutinative meanings of words I don't know (my favorite this week is samudra-tanayaya-- body like an ocean).

I am excited to finish the 1001 meetings scheduled for today and then take off with the fam for Big A's birthday weekend. 

I couldn't find any places on the water that would allow us to bring Huck and Max, so KB kindly offered up her parents' place on Torch Lake. The plan is to get everyone a light dinner, pack a backpack each, pick up At after his shift... and go!

Pic: A glimpse of the Red Cedar north of us from CC.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

seen and felt

I'm moved by all the people all across the world protesting the ongoing war in the middle east and especially by the thousands of young people chanting "not in my name." The protests put into action the Rabbi Tarfon quote that has helped me in times of crushing weltschmerzen: "Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief... You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it." 

The two main constituencies in the U.S. organizing for a ceasefire right now are (1) Palestinians whose families are under attack in Gaza and (2) progressive American Jews, some of whom lost family in the Hamas attack. This is an incredible coalition that gives me hope.

And this snippet from Marwan Makhoul I have been seeing everywhere is simultaneously insight and benediction. The text reads: "In order for me to write/poetry that's not political/I must listen to the birds/and in order to hear the birds/the war planes must be silent."

May it be so.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

it is what it is

I was relieved life conspired to give me a day of silence to gather myself yesterday. And as it turns out, today was the opposite with extra people-ing: the beginning of Navaratri, Sunday family dinner, people at home, walks and talks I had scheduled with friends earlier in the week... 

And although I started out by merely going through the motions, each interaction refueled me in big and tiny ways. When I called my mom this morning, I could hear the hubbub of the hundred+ guests at the family celebration of Navaratri in Pondycherry  and then I got passed from mom to aunts and uncles and cousins--each a little rush of love. My dinner--a colorful chopped salad and a fluffy frittata inspired by Seamus Mullen's Real Food Heals was beautiful and filling. (Fun fact: Big A went to college with Seamus, and our friend CC dated him.) My garden walk with HK was lovely, and I also got to go on a long ramble--geographically and conversationally--with L. Lots of mutual check-ins and chats with JG, EM, JL, and BL... Nu's very serious demeanor during our impromptu dermatological consult made me (still makes me) smile and they gave me products from their own stash of K-skin care to help with my recent acne outbreak. 

These are all blessings I am so, so lucky to have in this imperfect and difficult world.

Pic: Water Lilies at MSU Horticultural Gardens with HK. I thought about cropping out the clump of weeds and gathered gunk, but it is what it is... 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

I can't today.

And Big A is working, At is at his place, Nu is out with friends, my family in India is together at a family celebration...

So it's ok if I can't. 

I spent most of the day in silence gathering myself. I can manage conversations with Huck and Max fine.

Friday, October 13, 2023

heartbreak and gratitude

This James Baldwin quote is reverberating in my head as I catch up with the news today. "The children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this is incapable of morality." How are we all just sitting around watching genocide in real time?

I spent over ten hours at work, on campus. I find myself thinking that when I'm an empty nester, I'll have more time to do stuff--like travel with students on alternative service breaks, do more on-campus organizing, etc. Sometimes, I hear another internal voice saying "Ugh, get a life." But I like this life. 

Big A went to the E.R. today (as a patient) to get a CAT scan, and we're both just so relieved and grateful that it wasn't what we'd feared it was. He has something and he's lost 20 pounds in the last six weeks and it's unclear what the next steps will be, but he's not going to die right away. I'm glad; I like him a lot.

In different conversations with At and Nu, I found myself so grateful that their convictions and the way they act on them is so... pure and principled. As SS said to me, imagine if they had rebelled against their upbringing and grown up to be bigots--I can't imagine it. Won't. Also grateful for my CASA kids whose birthday week it is, and who are such kind and joyful little ones despite all kinds of fuckery in their immediate circles.

Pic: Huck and Max after I put them in their room for the night. I love the way Huck is leaning into Max. Grateful they really like each other now.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

the hang of it

I will myself to remember the contour
of this beast with no beginnings

this longing even when all is given 
even when nothing is desired

I really have no reason to remember 
the safe, ordinary history of today 

cautious happiness, habitual beauty 
its precious and explicit luck

I taste the escaped words, their notions 
of emptiness and openings  

in the release of the first silver raindrop
its receipt splattering in the dirt
-----------------------------------------
Pic: CC's view of The Red Cedar from her canoe. All of the feelings for the beauty of this day and the heartbreak of the news...

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

sweetest sixteen

I cannot believe our little Nu is sixteen. Or rather, I can believe Nu is sixteen, but can't believe it was sixteen years and one day ago that Big A and I were walking hand-in-hand through the doors of the NYU teaching hospital so I could get the Pitocin to coax Nu out. That day feels like yesterday.

Our Nu has always done things on their own time and the labor nurse who said they had an old soul was absolutely right. May this year nurture and delight my little darling.

(The My Little Pony celebration kit I put together was a hit as were the name-change docs we tucked in amongst their other presents.)

Pic: Nu decided they just had to build a gift-bag tower to the ceiling.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

somebody's news

the rain's reckless embroidery
brackish, gradual as my grief 
               the paralysis of its apologies
               natural as my sorriest excuse

I start another broken journey
into the wholeness of today

               forever is fevers of longing
               and fierce bruises growling 
your hypothesis of heavens 
a harbor dangerous as hope 
____________________________

I'm grateful for fall break, the change of pace, and being able to take a break from the news today. 

After I took Nu to the school bus + Max and Huckie out to potty, I crept back into bed to read for hours. It felt glorious. Big A popped in after his meeting to marvel that I was still abed at eight and to check if I was sick. (I'm not!)

After a short rainy walk, a shorter weight session, and a very long soak, I stopped by the bookstore. I had a gift certificate from my birthday and more money on it than I remembered and got some extra stuff for Nu's birthday. 

Later, while texting, I discovered that At had the day off too, so we hung out to chat in person and got haircuts and pedicures. The stylist at the Supercuts was a bit mystified by the way my hair looked (I had cut my own hair the night before the semester started), but I admitted nothing. Also, it had been so long since I had a pedicure, that I didn't know there's now a "shellac" option where you can put your shoes right away with nary a smudge! How long has this been going on?!

Pic: Waterlilies and koi at Radiology Gardens.

Monday, October 09, 2023

heart-to-heart

It would probably take me many tries to get all the loops and turns of how exactly Cousin P is my cousin. But I just know that she is. Growing up, she was a constant fixture of family get togethers and although she was just two years older, I absolutely idolized her (still do). 

Our straightforward heart connection bypasses the complicated family tree. When we lived in New Jersey, we saw each other every day and I always feel very, very loved by her. When morning sickness laid me low, she hand-fed me. And I don't mean spoon-fed--she scooped up the rice and rasam into little balls and fed me with her fingers like a proper South Indian mama would. 

I'm so glad P came for a visit despite all the stresses of her high-powered job, and illnesses in the family. And of course we plunged into chattering the day away. At my request, RR came by to give her a massage and then At came over to say hello and we all sat down to dinner together, FaceTiming various other cousins. 

There's a family reunion planned... for 2025... I can't wait. 

Pic: Cousin P, Nu, At, and Cousin K2 (on the phone from the U of Maine).

Sunday, October 08, 2023

a-more-fun-day

No "Sunday scaries" today because we're on "Midterm Fall Break," which is, basically, just Mon and Tues off (because Thanksgiving next month will give us Wed, Thurs, and Fri off) blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, etc. 

The specifics don't matter! It's just SO NICE to not have to jump right into the week. I'll catch up with grading (I can dream!)

I took myself outside to prevent myself from falling into a "funk" (as my dad would call it) about the UAW strike (now in its fifth week--the workers are getting $500 a week and that can only go so far) and the war in Palestine (on top of all the horrors of history and occupation).

I spent hours in the backyard raking and in the garden tidying with Max, then a blissful massage visit from RR, a chatty, catch-up visit from JL replete with carrot cupcakes and champagne, a soup I invented with butternut squash, spinach, and almonds, and a depressing but so-good book (Emma Cline's The Guest) made up the rest of my day.

(Somehow although I spent hours outside with no casualties, I got a yellowjacket sting inside the house.)

Pic: Post-dinner jinks with Big A, Huck, Max, and Nu.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Maya Boulevard

This summer when Big A and I were making our way back from Jamaica, the restaurant at the airport had one of those displays where you can find souvenirs with your name on it. 

My very Sanskrit name has gotten more mainstream lately, so I was delighted to find that the address-themed stall had a "Maya Boulevard" and then I found one with Big A's name too, so I excitedly got both.  

Big A was amused by my delight and said he'd never had a name souvenir before. 

I was all: OMG! Did you never find your name before either? 

And he was all: No, it was just too cheesy for me. 😂😭

Anyway, I put those signs on our respective sides of the closet by the bathroom door, above two prints I love. The "we are in this together," is a reminder that has gotten us through some tough times and the New Yorker cover features a couple who we think kinda looks like us when we used to explore NYC on dates.

Friday, October 06, 2023

nocturne

when I slip into a canoe 
to call it sleep--no one
has questions to ask
                              I deceive myself  
anxiety is my specialty 
every rock a pinnacle
every ripple a cataract  
                              I deserve myself 
            I like to say I'm flowing
            but I'm falling... falling 
            so... slowly you can't tell
_________________________

The radio was the perfect soundtrack today, playing "Friday I'm in Love" (what a perfect villanelle!) just as I got into the car to come home after a long day of meetings. (EC and I have the rest of the FYS project mapped out; tied up some delightful student consults on projects; a student emergency where DD magically showed up to help renewed my gratitude that her office is just two doors away from mine.) Then the radio played "Nothing Compares" and the Prince-Sinead-Scout sorrow was overwhelming. "All the flowers that you planted /In the backyard/All died when you went away" will never fail to squeeze a sob out out of me. I blame this song--poor Big A said something innocuous in the course of a conversation around 2 am, and I had a full-on sobbing interlude. Okay.

Onward... I want to thank Mel at Stirrup Queens for the shoutout in her 985th blog roundup! The last three times I made it to the roundup, it brought good luck in the form of emails notifying me that poems had been accepted for publication in other places. This time--alas--I did not have any submissions out. Perhaps I should work on getting some out over the upcoming long weekend.

Pic: It feels like our first perfect fall day, and I got out--between meetings--for a walk-and-talk on the bike path with AK.

Thursday, October 05, 2023

and then there's hope

Five "I" glimmers today:

  1. I got my watch battery changed. My fancy watch is part of what I consider to be an essential component of my "academic drag" so I've been wearing it to work albeit with a dead battery for a couple of weeks now. Finding the 20 minutes to have it fixed has been making me feel accomplished every time I glance at my wrist today.
  2. I got in a 15-minute fitness class this morning. Fitness really falls away during term time and especially on teaching days. I have that Mirror doohickey so I have no excuses, but I always think to myself that I'll do a yoga/barre/pilates sesh after I get home from work--but that's always a fake out. If I don't exercise in the morning, I don't exercise for the day. So my 15-minutes of barre before I put on my work outfit today makes me (feel like) a champion. 
  3. I lucked out picking Ann Patchett's Tom Lake as my next book... It was the perfect comforting remise en bouche--almost sorbet like--after the heaviness of the Zadie Smith. I'm loving the Michigan setting and the easy family witticisms, the wise-wild reminder of exciting/turbulent lives lived pre-marriage and pre-kids...  And then the contentment and happiness Lara, the protagonist, feels in having the whole family sheltering in place under the same roof during the early pandemic matches my feelings about that time.
  4. I heard about the Jon Fosse Nobel for Literature and was disappointed because I really, really thought Rushdie or Ngũgĩ would win it this year... But I feel hopeful enough to think: ah well, there's always next year. 
  5. Pic: I'm not imagining the strange mashup of holidays that stores seem to be celebrating simultaneously these daysNGS mentioned this weirdness earlier this week, and seeing this bizarre sign in the window of a store ("Hallo-Thank-Xmas"--WHAT?!) is a clear indication that some corporate genius/jackass somewhere thinks this could be a selling idea. (Probably is?)

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

celebrating small

I'm a bit sad-mad-feeling bad. 

We have two big birthdays coming up this month: Nu turns 16 and Big A turns 50! I'd love nothing more than to celebrate them by throwing huge birthday bashes for them... but neither wants that. I'm perfectly capable of pulling together surprise parties for both of them, but I know in my bones that they would actively dislike that. And of course they should be celebrated in ways that make them happy. 

I know these are just numbers and it's silly to feel like they would be missed opportunities and that a 17th birthday or a 51st birthday can't be as special. This year, both of them say they want dinner with the fam and... that's all. It sounds a bit... underwhelming?

I mean... I love birthdays so much, I invented Boss Days. Today was mine, BTW. I picked sushi for dinner, got waited on hand and foot, and used a gift cert to buy myself a copy of Why Has Nobody Told Me This BeforeI like how it sounds like a thriller instead of the self-help it is!

Pic: Out by Scout's memorial. Max and Huckie don't know what to do next after they've treed Kylo (our resident trickster / black squirrel). 

Sunday, October 01, 2023

the weekend's odds and ends

In all, a quiet and gentle end to the weekend. 
  • We didn't go to the neighborhood potluck, but I did go to the opening of RR's new wellness place to support them; 
  • Nu didn't go to homecoming, but hung out with friends who were prepping for homecoming all afternoon; 
  • a rambling discussion over tea at At's place in which I discovered that Machiavelli had republican tendencies and that Gramsci thought that the audience for The Prince was the working class because rulers had surely already used most of those Machiavellian moves (!); 
  • and at long last, a lovely reunion and garrulous conversation with L who showed up around tea time, and I sat at her feet (literally--as I couldn't bear to be too far from her) and caught her up to everything that's been going on.
In other news: 
  • How is it already October? 
  • [Insert a rant about the American healthcare system here] Big A's new health insurance coverage hasn't YET kicked in. 
  • I finished The Fraud and loved it. It gave me White Teeth vibes in its reliance on cross-cultural solidarity and the way the title can be positioned to reflect on several aspects of the narrative. Lovely. 
  • I think the new Ann Patchett Tom Lake is next. 
Pic: I love the way the kids placed the flower in the palm of the baby Ganesha they gave me one Mothers' Day. It looks like he is holding it out to me...

Saturday, September 30, 2023

O M G(anesha)

We have little Ganeshas all over the house and at least once a year, they get sprinkled with rosewater, decorated with turmeric and kumkum, and offered fresh flowers and berries. 

Today was that day. (We usually do this on Ganesh Chaturthi, but that was a working day + At was traveling.) 

The kids have always liked the thrill of seeking out the Ganeshas in every room. Some have been in the same place forever--like the big Ganesha in the vestibule, but many get moved around when I rearrange, and some--like the Ganesha in a rocking chair I picked up over the summer's trip to India--are new.

This year, I offered a cash prize to the kid who guessed how many Ganeshas we have. We have 30 Ganeshas! There were some rascally disputes about who guessed what--so they both split the grand prize. (It was a 20; I am so money 😂.) (Also: I just remembered that we missed the Ganeshas in the basement!)

Pic: At and Nu with offerings for Ganesha. Huck and Max are here because they love banana, dried mango, and pumpkin cookies.

Friday, September 29, 2023

unexpected excitement(s)

Good excitement: Getting a text from At after my day of eight meetings asking if they could come home for dinner (YES!) and take Nu back to their place for a sleepover (so cute!). And then EM texted saying they'd found "a very nice mooncake without egg yolks" for us to share for today's Autumn moon festival. 

Bad excitement: Me speeding about 5 miles faster than usual to get home and make dinner. 

Good excitement: Everyone said they'd be here at different times so Big A ate at the counter while I cooked... but then EM was here... and At was here too before too long. So we all sat down to dinner, noisily talking over each other, making jokes about corpos and high school and each other before we started on the mooncakes. 

Bad excitement: After everyone had left (Big A for work, EM to have Zoom dinner with their mom, At and Nu for their sleepover), I smelled something like a gas leak in the garage. There is no gas line there AFAIK, and when I called the company they wanted me to call 911, so I did. Then a big firetruck and the nice fire chiefs came by and drove Huck and Max bonkers. The fire people did a ton of checks but thankfully neither they not their various gadgets found anything.

Good excitement: Realizing close to 1:00 am as the firetruck pulled away and I walked Max in the backyard that the overcast skies had cleared... and I had a perfect view of tonight's supermoon!

Pic: Nu and At on the driveway as they set off for the evening. 

"praying for peace/living with love"

The world is so beautiful and the world is so terrifying. Over 17,000 people have been killed by bombs and gunfire in the past eight weeks.....