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

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

in solidarity

Overwhelmed by the sacrifice of Aaron Bushnell, which I had barely begun to process yesterday.

 Heartbroken/Awestruck. 

What an empathetic, sincere, radical, and idealistic soul... What a lesson in being true to his conscience and his long history of mutual aid. He had recently been deployed to Israel as a U.S. airman, and I want to question why we're getting involved in the fighting rather than the peacemaking too.

Speaking of which, nearly 100,000 people in Michigan voted "uncommitted" today to challenge U.S. complicity in the Palestinian genocide... the goal had been to get 10K votes. I dislike how the media has painted this as an "Arab-American and Muslim" issue when it's really a humanitarian issue. So yes, Dearborn, which has a large Arab-American population, voted approx. 75% uncommitted, but Washtenaw, which has no significant Arab-American presence, also voted approx. 25% uncommitted. I don't have numbers for Ingham where Big A, At, and I voted. The "Listen to Michigan" campaign was started just about three weeks ago, so this is impressive.

Aaron Bushnell's sacrifice and the uncommitted votes are also a hopeful sign of humanitarian solidarity and moral clarity for me. It is difficult to go on day after day knowing we're actively vetoing ceasefires and sending arms to kill civilians but having to act like everything is normal.

Pic: I was at work today, and wanted to get a closeup of the "touchstone" LK made me--it is actually beautifully planed wood with copper insets that are almost like constellations. But then I got a bit distracted by the sunlight filtering through my office plants. The "toys" are a miniature Freedom Rider bus that KB gave me from her visit to the Legacy Museum and an auto-rickshaw my mom gave me after Nu and I had an adventure in one last year. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

a long day's journey

A beautiful moonrise, blue skies, warmer temps, a long walk, winter break. All day, I felt a sense of freedom and hope.

I learned late in the day of Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation with a sinking heart, but also with a sense of awe. What an extremely brave act of solidarity and protest. Culturally, it's a form of protest I'm familiar with--but I keep thinking about this twenty-five-year-old's family, and wonder how they feel... how his mother feels in this moment. In the opening scenes of the news video, he seems completely cognizant and in control of what he's doing, but many outlets are terming it mental illness. Our rhetoric is so messed up--his sacrifice to a just cause is "mental illness," but if he had sacrificed himself for the U.S. military-industrial complex, he'd be a "patriot?" 

Pic: Baker Woods with RS.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

that's what they said...

I love when we're at dinner and random stuff comes up. Hilarious accidental texts, work wins and woes, getting into AP classes, general advice in both generational directions, stories about parents, "do-you-remember-whens," hair compliments, everyone making the same joke about Nu's American Idiot tee at different times, Huck and Max going crazy for samosa wrapper crumbs, everyone finding different ways to warn me not to succumb to AI-generated grief tech to deal with the anniversary of Scout's passing, plans for the week, the barely-contained excitement about my upcoming birthday... 

I love these people so, so much and am so grateful for this life with them.

Pic: A big, squeezy hug at the end of dinner. Nu, Big A, At.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

on a break (Winter Break)

It was so rude of Big A to cheerily text me "one more year" on New Year's day and then explain that in 2025 Nu would be off to college. I swear he has been dreaming about child-free living (precisely what I dread) for a long time now.

But we're on Winter Break at work and Nu had all-day plans with friends, so Big A and I took off by ourselves. We walked to the Breslin Center to watch the MSU women's basketball team post a 93-57 win over Rutgers, detoured to the horticultural gardens to see the orchid show, and then ended up at our favorite Sushi place before walking home to Huck and Max with our leftovers. I have to admit it was pretty nice and I can see us doing some version of this for a few decades after the kids are independent. 

Pic: I gave Big A matching Spartan hats at Christmas and promised to go to a game with him (he loves basketball). He got us tickets for a women's game because he knew I'd want to support the women's team. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

bleak week

I'm having a tough time this week. It's not that I can't go on... I am. But I keep feeling like I can't... On the surface, things look normal, but it feels like my sense of reality is being eroded--like the sandy shore slipping from under my feet in a dream yesterday. 

What's it all for if I can see the horror every day and am absolutely incapable of saving a single child? The amputations and caesareans without anesthesia, the firing at U.N. food distribution camps, the six-year-old calling emergency services trapped in a car full of her dead family... This is truly the stuff of horror.  And yet.... yet again... The U.S. has vetoed a ceasefire in Gaza for the third time. A ceasefire! 

BOL's cat who saw them through undergrad and grad school died and I want to be there to support them the way they supported me when Scout was dying... But also, it brought me back to that month of slowly losing Scout... the dread of every day. I'm surprised that it will be a whole year without my darling in just about two months.

Pic: E.D. Wilson's poem "My Phone is Full of Cute Cats and Dead Children."

Sunday, February 18, 2024

some backstory... and a Boss Day

Some backstory to yesterday's poem.

Our grandmothers were first cousins, so Sunil was a distant cousin--although that doesn't matter much in the  Indian context (something that's unclear in the poem, and I should work on it). Our grandmothers were as close as sisters--closer, as they had no sisters and lived in a big joint-family mansion where they had private tutors--so they were together all the time. They were really close--they always talked about how they breastfed each other's babies so their babies would feel like siblings and think of them (their aunts) as mothers too.  

It didn't work out exactly like that. My mother would go to her aunt when she fought with her mom, but later there was some family drama (our grandmothers fell out in their sixties) and mystery (things people won't talk about). Stuff that came out as what Nicole rightly called "mixed things." Nance found the ending surprising--something else I'm working on. I was trying to express how it felt to have someone in my peer group die... like the beginning of the end. As I mentioned in a comment to StephLove, Sunil died of a heart attack, so that feels as though our bodies are going. 

Pic: It's the puppies' Boss Day! Huck and Max got new lick pads and love them. 

(It's not their actual Boss Day, but it was too bewildering for Scout and Huck when we celebrated them individually, so we picked the 18th of the month to celebrate a puppy Boss Day. Max's "smile" cracks me up.)

Friday, February 16, 2024

what we do

the sky is full of bright 
holes, so whatever falls
from  them  is starry-- 
starting from distance 
but  now  lodged here

like empathy turned
into  a fact,  eternal
and  then carefully
teaching us to crest 
in  announcements

on  days  when  our
world seems ready to 
ignite, we can shout:
"I love you so much"
in a room of strangers
_________________________________

Pic: Max and Nu in yesterday's surprise snow. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

love notes

We (Big A and I) don't celebrate Valentine's Day. We celebrate other days like the anniversary of our first and epic date, etc. But I LOVE elementary-school-style Valentine's Days: Candy for all! Cards for all!

I tried to recreate a little bit of that olde magic in class yesterday with a "Pal-entine's Day" celebration--there was candy and stickers people could share with each other. I expected to merely be the facilitator but some people made little notes for me too. I love the one that said, "Thank you for creating an inclusive classroom for all and expanding my love of literature." I love my students. 

I already gave the fam their V-Day treasures and treats, and it was just Nu, Huck, Max, and me at home today (Big A is in Milwaukee). I felt Nu might need some extra love so I picked up a few treats (ice-cream, Krispy Kremes, Kit-Kats) when I gassed up the car on my way home and made some heart-shaped caramel and chocolate cookies. Nu's delight was everything. I love Nu so much.

And my gal-pals took care of me. Lovely LD sent me a Galentine's Day care package via mail that had some serious Sephora goodies and a powdered drink mix I can't wait to try on the weekend. JG said I was her favorite Galentine and sent me a picture from Costa Rica of a howler monkey (!), and I nearly lost it when KB said she was loving me "from afar" (I MISS KB!!!!). I love my women friends. 

Pic: A jumble of V-Day stuff on the counter today. Also: the Spring planting catalog arrived in the mail like a present from the universe. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

But after this week things'll slow down...

I saw this meme that's sometimes about academia and sometimes about adulthood recently. It goes: Being an adult/academic is saying "But after this week things will slow down a bit" over and over to yourself until you die.

Oh, I feel this so much. But also, things really are going to slow down after this week. I listed a long list of 'have to-be-dones' for myself last month and the deadlines on most of them have come and gone and I've done my best on each of them. The last of the colleague letters and student award letters went out today, our last campus visit was today, and one of our two speakers is presenting this week--which means my list has been significantly whittled down and the future looks so much more manageable.

Technically, that means I should be able to work on my projects for a bit. No more excuses.

Pic: From yesterday. Max and Big A in my tea garden where I'd gone to escape everyone. (Not successfully, evidently.)

Sunday, February 11, 2024

"easy like Sunday" (all day)

A quiet, restful day despite some other people's prescription-refill drama (Nu), leg cramp crisis (A), and general naughtiness (Huck and Max). I took care of what was needed and managed to make significant quiet times for myself.

I needed this so much!

Pic: Early morning hike with L and T in Baker Woods. Lots of trees have come down in the last couple of days--it has been very windy.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

seven on Saturday

1. Happy Lunar New Year! At a New Year celebration lunch this afternoon, EM told me we're supposed to rest today and do a minimal amount of work tomorrow. I can do that! 

2. The kids got little red envelopes of cash. I'm so touched when work friends and family friends treat my nearly grown-ass kids like their own niblings.

3. I got a nice ramble with L in Baker Woods today. It has been weeks since I hiked with L--She said she missed me, and I asked if it was my silliness she missed. "I missed all of it, Maya." She said diplomatically (and lovingly!). 

4. I got a long walk with Big A--it was grey and windy, but we did a "Super Sparty" and it felt nice to be able to stretch my legs after sitting at my desk all week.

5. At came to dinner tonight so I gave the kids their Valentine's Day presents a bit early. When will they be too old to get V-Day presents from me? I hope never.

6. In a first for us--we're now mooching off At. They subscribed to the Criterion Channel and logged us in on the big TV so we can watch it too. I like all of it.

7. Pic: The Red Cedar is kinda plain today. But the mallards are enjoying it and so are we.

Friday, February 09, 2024

check 1, 2,

Every day on my way to work, I cross four rivers: Red Cedar, Looking Glass, Maple, and Pine. 

I've been meaning to take a photograph of the expanse of the Maple for years now. But the access road off the highway is on my way to work. And I usually feel like I'm in a hurry, so I wasn't able to. 

Until today--I had an hour before my first meeting, so I took the detour. The Maple is the biggest of my four rivers (I think)--at least at the point where I cross it. The kids and I used to call it taking a deep breath of beauty because of all the sunrises on the way to school.

When I got to the lookout point this morning, it was a bit disappointing because the reeds were taller than me, and I couldn't really see the river. But it was very quiet and calm and smelled briny and rustic and there was a bright blue sky and sunshine... so I spent some time soaking it all in. 

And now I know. It's checked off my mental list. I don't have to wonder about the view from the outlook or feel regret about not making the time to take a detour.

Also: I'm SO relieved to be finished with Hello, Beautiful. Everyone seems to have loved it, but about halfway through I disagreed fiercely with a primary character's decision. Then I began to realize the writing couldn't really keep up and resorted to a lot of telling (v. showing) etc. 

Pic: Finally, I get to take a picture from the bank of the Maple River.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

on not meeting expectations

I don't like my grade the student says
You're not from here, are you?
the student says

So where are you actually from? 
(India!) I thought so...
student smiles

I got the assignment wrong because
of your language (English?) 
the student says

It is so rude of you, the student says
to say... that my assignment 
didn't meet expectations
____________________________________________

Note: This came from a long and unsettling office-hour exchange with my one disgruntled student today. It felt demeaning and I was so... crushed. Luckily, it was also the day our PR team had alerted me to an alumni interview which spoke glowingly of me, so I had some balance. But I'd been working on a new version of our land and labor acknowledgment, so it also felt like I'd been wrestling with issues of prejudice all day. 

Pic: No pic today--it was too, too hectic. My Thursdays are so long that they've become standard Subway-for-dinner days--Big A picks them up between his clinic and hospital shifts.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

and now we wait...

 

Home! 

Reunited with my human kids, puppy kids, and plants!

I demolished a large bag of Culver's fries on the way home and demolished all my remaining grading after I got home. 

Big A's doc gave us a hopeful update and now we wait for the actual results. Oh, the things I take for granted when I make plans and resolutions... 

Pic: (anti-clockwise) Max, Huckie, At, and Nu. I missed these sweet loves and my zillion plants in the tea garden.

Saturday, February 03, 2024

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it"

We've been having a great time. 

In large part this is because the kids have been so awesome about taking care of each other and texting us regular updates about their meals, plans for the day, school projects, and so on.(It also helps to know that EM and LB jumped in to be our emergency contacts in case they need rides or advice.)

All the human kids want--they said--was for Big A to learn how to make towel sculptures and redo all the towels every day.

The kids are kidding, of course.

Pic: The hotel's towel "bunny" that prompted this exchange.

#LaterPost

Friday, February 02, 2024

"what a wonderful world" (It could be)

There are sights and colors I can barely believe  I am lucky enough to see. 

There is so much beauty in the world. 

And as I watch a street vendor chase his escape-artist toddler across the sand and scoop her up for an "airplane" ride back to his stand...

There is so much potential for joy.

There is more than enough for each of us in this world. Even now. If we could just love, help, and be kind to each other, what an absolutely wonderful world this could be.

Pic: Sunset over the sea and El Arco from our room. 

#LaterPost

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

headed out

Big A's big medical appointment is next week, and we hope to find out what's going on/why he's losing weight/what to expect in the future/what we can do/etc. We have more questions than the minutes the expert will spend with us, probably.

But in the meantime, we're going to take off for sunny climes for a few days to just... I don't exactly know what... Was it Seneca who said we can change the sky above us but not ourselves? So I guess our worries will come with us, but we'll be worrying under warmer skies? 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next few days of our tiny break and will catch up with some picture posts when we're back.

Pic: It snowed in the night, and was a picture-perfect winter wonderland as I headed to work this morning. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

the sisterhood of the caring hearts

I turned in my CASA report today ahead of my deadline. (I feel like a true grownup for not waiting until the last minute.)  

The kids in this particular case are very young and also extra affectionate and it's truly a delight to be around them. I couldn't meet the kids during the day because we were hosting a campus visit for one of our Writing Center Director candidates, so I met the kids at their therapist's this evening. While I was getting an update from their therapist, the eight-year-old and then the five-year-old came up to tell us that we looked "just like sisters."

It made both of us chuckle because their therapist is a very white lady with short hair and we look nothing alike. And then the kids looked a bit confused we didn't agree. The only thing the therapist and I have in common is that we are both safe adults who show them love and care. I wonder if that made us look "just like sisters" to these little ones who don't have enough safe adults in their lives.

Then that thought depressed me for a while. Kids deserve so much more.

Pic: I was invited to jump this "Ninja" course. I don't think I got it right even after many patient demonstrations.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

no one asked

A memory from the month or so I was a college athlete when I was in grad school... 

Although I didn't actually row, I used to meet the college rowing team at dawn to practice with them. My job was to be the coxon. (I got recruited in the college dining hall because I was smaller than the rowers.)

It was a fun job--I sat facing the bow, counted strokes, and yelled over the slap of oars and splash of water for people to go faster or look out or turn. 

Until one day the water was extra rocky, and  suddenly afraid of falling into the water--I yelled out: 
"Steady, steady! I can't swim!" 

Everyone was horrified.

"Why didn't you tell us," they asked.

"No one asked me," I whispered, truthfully.

My family takes this story as a reminder that I seem to have no fear/sense sometimes.

Pic: I was reminded today because the Red Cedar, usually so staid, is very muddy and boisterous this weekend because of the sudden thaw. I've seen little kids walk across the top of these rapids--not today though.
 

Friday, January 26, 2024

let me remember this moment

I kept fiddling with my materials all morning because this was for colleagues and I didn't want to look foolish in front of them... I was in meetings all day, so I didn't get to do a practice run... but...  I think the talk went well!

At the pre-event schmooze, drinks in hand, someone sardonically murmured "no pressure" when Pres. A walked into the room. But based on previous experiences, I'd half expected him to be there because he's interested in outreach and rhetoric, so I wasn't fazed.

It was a full house, a very engaged and supportive audience, and afterward, so many (I'm choking up a bit here) came up to give me hugs. I want to remember that I got a lot of hugs and kind compliments. I want to remember that LV said, "What an amazing piece of scholarship. What an amazing human you are." I'm glad I got to share my work, and I'm so grateful to be among good people in this world.

Pic: CP's picture of me mid-talk today. I chuckle every time I look at myself and my mystifying expression. In a way, I'd been preparing for this hour's work for over a year. The only time my voice quavered was when I was talking about Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr and her supporters chanting "Let Her Speak" as she lifted her microphone toward the gallery

last day/first day

And that's a wrap on classes until August. There are exams and meetings next week and task forces that will meet through the summer and ...