Showing posts with label Culture as War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture as War. Show all posts

Saturday, May 21, 2022

quiet

I started working in the "secret garden" this week. Clearly, I have lots left to tidy, trim, etc... but I went ahead and planted stuff because I knew it would make me happy. And I took a picture, because who knows how long things will last--deer ate the lilacs, hostas, and hydrangeas down to their stalks last year.  

I started this garden in 2020 for Nu, but like many other things, I seem to be the one holding on to something after the kid(s) seems to have lost interest. Nu was the best gardening companion, I hope this'll be something he's interested in again when summer break starts. In the meantime, I'm lucky that Scout and Huck will keep me company for hours while I garden.

Today--it's just the puppies and me at home. Nu is off at a sleepover and Big A is at work. A glimpse of times to come? I suppose. 

[I will note that not having to feed a growing child with allergies or a fussy spouse is very liberating in terms of food choices. I made such a delicious spicy mango salad with peanuts for my dinner.]

Friday, May 20, 2022

book/talk

Book club today. Because we're in the midst of a Covid spike, everyone took a test before they came. 

We'd read Pachinko (2017 and ancient, I know), but someone had liked it a lot. We were fairly divided on it, but some interesting discussion as always. 

One of the things I love about about book club is how even reading the book on my own becomes communal, because I found myself wondering how certain members would react to this or that. 

I hosted this month, and I'd been excited to research a Korean menu--I went with (three kinds of) mandu, (three flavors of) jumeokbap, and an assortment of mochi. I made the jumeokbap rice balls from scratch, found the mochi readymade, and the mandu dumplings semi-prepped at the asian grocery store. It all came together pretty easily--I even had tons of time to putter around in the garden, take a long soak, and read before people showed up.

Scout and Huck loved all the extra attention, Nu took off with his cell phone to practice "self-care" in his room, reemerging for dinner, a show, cuddles, and clean up after everyone had left.

Pic: The people of book club. I'm in this picture (albeit happily blending into the shadows like a ninja). 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rockstars

Look at these fuzzy rockstars! My first sighting of goslings this year. I appreciate how protective their parents are, and it never fails to amaze me how they'll be full-fledged geese by the end of this short season. This is pretty much my theme for the spring-- marveling at things: e.g. what I thought looked like dead sticks springing back into life as trees and shrubs.

While on rockstars, I read the entirety of Taylor Swift's--Dr. Taylor Swift's--commencement speech to the NYU class of 22. It was all good advice, honest, confidently self-deprecating, and very well crafted. Recommended. Wish there had been something about service and the greater good, but other than that--no notes. I think I might share with students. Here's a snippet: "How will you know what the right choice is in these crucial moments? You won’t. How do I give advice to this many people about their life choices? I won’t. Scary news is: You’re on your own now. Cool news is: You’re on your own now."

Pic: Family of geese by the Red Cedar on a walk with L this morning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

still

Just keeping this Mary Oliver quote--that KV made into a card I'm now using as a bookmark--as my mantra. 

"Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still
and learning to be/astonished."

Nu said the the other day that I do way too much and that I should be doing less. After a heartbeat Nu said that they feel stressed because of me. Taking that in was difficult, because in my mind I'm doing stuff to make it easier for the people in my life.

Pic: KV's card/bookmark with a Mary Oliver quote. I'm currently reading Natalie Haynes' A Thousand Ships. I'm a sucker for this Greek epic/mythology genre, what do you want me to say? I loved, loved Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls just a couple of months ago, and was happy to discover the Haynes.

Friday, May 13, 2022

net tossup

It never fails. Every time, the wonderful Mel over at Stirrup Queens selects this blog to highlight in her Friday Roundup series (894 and counting!!), something from another part of my life gets published. Sure enough, Mel picked Monday's Mother's Day Blues for her roundup today and this NWSA statement about the leaked SCOTUS decision went live.

I have a slight case of triskaidekaphobia, which prickled to life when Mel noted today was Friday the 13th in her blog post today and my uneasiness really sprouted with the news that At had tested positive for Covid. Nu tested negative, but I had him stay home from school too, just in case. 

(Also testing positive for Covid, scads of people at this Emergency Medicine conference of Big A's. Only about 30% are masked indoors, so it's not a surprise, but given what these folks do for a living, what the ever-loving what?)

Anyway, to sum up: I hate that I'm so far away when the kids are in crisis but am SO glad we're headed home today. And also, this article about how Friday the 13th isn't unlucky, but can tap into powerful female energy was very interesting and gave me more than an idea or two.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

past banter

Still in NOLA.

Missing my babies and home.

And thinking about last week when Big A and I were walking on the MSU campus. A young person in a group running past us yelled out, "nice kicks" at Big A, who was surprised, but reflexively thanked him. 

I, though, was curious about what the runner was wearing... and it turned out that he was wearing an identical pair.

I started laughing and I yelled out to him, "you're wearing the same thing!" 

And he turned around, laughing too, and smirked "I know, right?" before he raced off to to rejoin his group. 

I loved so much that he had been making the joke for himself mostly--since he was going so fast and we might have missed the matching shoes. 

I keep thinking about this and wish life could always be this place where we were all doing fun things with people we like and bantering lightheartedly across generational and race difference. 

Pic: Sunrise over Nola from the hotel room.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

tiny parade

Somehow as if by magic, I've reached the end of my to-do list for the WEEK (letters of recommendation, internship placements, proposal invitations, assorted email catchups, course planning preps).

I took myself off for a long walk to celebrate and, as if just for me, the city shared a tiny parade. The last person you can see in the picture is the last person in the whole parade. 

I don't know what this parade was for, but I remember reading that it's super easy to throw a parade in NOLA (complete with police escort and marching band)
 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Hola from NOLA

I'm in New Orleans with Big A who is conferencing. 

It's 90 degree weather, gulf breezes, views from our 34th story hotel room on Canal Street, remote work, and long walks by myself during the day... and hotel bars, takeout, and hangouts with Big A in the evening. 

We might be the only people masking in the hotel (full of emergency medicine doctors because of the conference) like at all, and were a handful of people masked in the airport and on the plane. 

This is absolutely non essential travel for me, so a part of me is puritanically and vindictively whispering that if I get Covid because of this trip, I deserve it. But right in this moment, I'm having fun.
 

Monday, May 09, 2022

Mother's Day Blues

I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day. For one thing, I did not grow up with this holiday although it is now widely celebrated in India too. And then, I always think the apostrophe should go over the plural version--it feels more inclusive and more in keeping with the socialist and anti-war origins of the day. And on top of it all, there's knowing that Mother's Day can be a day of mourning for so many.  

And it hasn't always been happy for me.

At is 23--and I don't think all 23 of my Mother's Days have been happy ones. All the recent ones have been, but it took a while to get there. It was fine when the kids were younger--elementary school teachers (bless them!) made sure the kids had a card to give me on Mother's Day. I think they would talk about what to do on Mother's Day, so the kids would pick flowers sometimes, and they always had that card they made in class to produce with such a proud flourish. There were some gems in those early days: At saying he loves me because I "make refreshing drinks;" Nu saying they love me because I gave them "their blood and bones." 🤣 Both of those statements are still in regular rotation over here. 

But when the kids were too young to do stuff themselves, Big A was very hands off. I remember asking him to help the kids plan and him saying "but you're not my mother"--which I thought was missing the point. On top of that, I frequently have to to be the one reminding him to call/plan for his mom too. As this long-ago post references, I wallowed in self-pity because I loved mothering and wanted Mother's Day to be special--but it was mostly Hallmark media telling me what it ought to be, and I could see it not happening in my life.

But at some point in the last ten years or so, I realized that I did not want breakfast in bed (I'm not a breakfast person at all although I make the kids breakfast every day) or presents (I already have too much stuff)--what I really want is some meaningful time with the kids doing something together. So in more recent years, I've just said what I'd like for us to be doing: some years it's been yoga and spa, some years it has been gardening. And all of it has made me very happy. And although I do not need presents, the kids have started giving me the sweetest, most meaningful things--last year they gave me a water backpack for hiking, and this year they gave me a toddler Ganesh.

Pic: This year's amazing card and present. I plan to use the card as a bookmark in my planner; the toddler Ganesha will sit on my reading table.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

on Mother's Day (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Woke up to a bonus kid (Nu had had a sleepover). Over breakfast, we put together a vase of flowers for the sleepover kid to take home to their mom from all the flowers people had brought to the party yesterday. Spent the rest of the morning at UU. It was nice to see the small bidding war over my UU auction item ("An Evening in India"), then some fun at the food truck, and back home to read in the sun. 

Over lunch, Big A and I watched the final episode of Mrs. America and the epilogue summarizing the slow death of the ERA made me sob. This is my THIRD time watching the mini series (I previously watched it with Nu and At separately), but this week felt "too soon" after the SCOTUS Roe opinion leak.

At came by after his shift, and he looked so tired, I didn't have the heart to ask the kids to help with the garden plots like they usually do. Instead, we took a small walk before settling in to dinner where all of us just lingered at the table forever talking and admiring their card and present. The kids usually pick me dandelions for Mother's Day (as a cutesy reminder of how they used to pick them for me when they were toddlers), but we have none in our yard. We don't use pesticides, so I suppose they're delayed this year... like so many things... like most of us. 

Pic: Me and the kids outside; Huckie is airborne in excitement.

Friday, May 06, 2022

here and there

 

Look! It's my baby sibling and my ole parents looking extra cute in matching baby pink outfits to celebrate their first visit to a mall since the pandemic started. #TwoYears #Bangalore

It's Mothers' Day AND my mom's actual birthday on Sunday, and I wish I could be there for that!

Over here, I spent most of the day on camera and yet felt like I accomplished very little. Having to be ON so much meant I couldn't read/write/run/snack/clean and that's usually what keeps me feeling balanced/happy/healthy/content/okay-ish.

Anyway... onward!


Wednesday, May 04, 2022

"work it real good"

A working lunch--which I couldn't eat. Shouldn't people serving a set lunch make meat, croutons, nuts, and other things people cannot/might-not-want-to eat add-ons rather than plate it all together? (Sorry this is a bit of a pet peeve; I don't eat meat and my kids are allergic to nuts.) 

But I got some oars in at lunch. And I shared this article about faculty exhaustion, which is important because everything about the last three pandemic years has been additive and nothing has been moved or withdrawn to make room for the extra stuff we've taken on.

Got some other campus work done, delivered flowers and cards to two young admin colleagues who finished their M. Eds, took flowers and card to MB who'd had shoulder surgery, and then set off for a long walk-and-talk with JG. It was the perfect, fluffy-cloud day for it--and as always, my mind is clearer after I get some JG time.

At various points I also got to collaborate on an NWSA statement on the Roe opinion and then I really got into Lauren Groff's Matrix. This is a book that kept showing up in my recommendations, and I kept resisting because nothing about the title or the book cover indicated it was about MARIE DE FRANCE and a HISTORICAL NOVEL--I'd thought it was sci-fi!!! Loving it, BTW.

Pic: The bike trail in Alma with JG. 

Monday, May 02, 2022

"the sense of an ending"


It was such a solid workday. The six of us worked from 7 am figuring out and finalizing conference details with no breaks except getting up to stretch on the hour. Even lunch was making notes and sharing docs over sandwiches. 

At lunch, one of the servers asked what we were up to and when I told her we were arranging a huge women's studies conference, she said she wished she'd taken a class when she was in college... in the 70s. She remembers the fight over ERA and how it laid the "foundation for everything." So I was telling her about the Mrs. America show on Hulu, and her name was Sally--so we sang a bit of "Ride, Sally, Ride."

At the end of the meeting I was so tired, especially as there was a lot of new (to me) software and platform-ware. I went back to my room caught up with the fam, and napped for a bit. 

Those of us from the meeting still in town met up for a great dinner at a small Somali restaurant where they gave us a private booth because we were the only women there. This was my first time meeting in person (all of our other meetings had been on Zoom) so there was a strange mixture of familiarity and the excitement of sharing some of our favorite stories about ourselves. 

We were still joking and laughing at something and calling goodbye to our servers as we were walking out of the restaurant, and then we started to fall silent as we passed the TV on the counter and each of us silently read the blithe chyron stating there was a leaked "Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade." 

___________________________

Pic: Sharing on family chat the fancy welcome swag bag the hotel gave me when I checked in and the uninspiring view from my room.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

"Paisley Park is in your heart"

I have a two-night trip to Minneapolis coming up. It's work--we need to finalize plans for the November NWSA conference. 

But yes, I've pulled at least three purple-y, paisley things in my wardrobe to pack...

and I've already booked my solo ticket to visit the Prince Museum.

Squeeing (and not just in my heart).

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.

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.

 

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.

after this ending another ending

after this ending another ending we only want so little we're given even less  after this ending another ending plans flaking hope escap...