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

Saturday, December 03, 2022

uff... life

Life is always bewildering and some days are just a big punch... even from a distance. 

Yesterday, YS friends were cheerfully posting links to Steven Bognar's documentary about Jazz DJ Steve Schwerner.*

By the end of the day, my feed was filled with news that Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar's partner, had passed away

I was lying awake sometime after 3 am thinking about Steve Bognar and how up and down and all around life is.... And then I started thinking about Steve Schwerner. And how his rich and meaningful life is always overshadowed by the immense sacrifice of his brother Michael's life and death

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*The documentary begins in our old Yellow Springs house, which we lived in after the Schwerners, and it was interesting to peek at a time before we lived there.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

imagine: rice, flour, oil, sugar, and beans

I post some version of this reminder that food banks benefit most from cash donations every year. This is as much for me as for people I know. It's always tempting to add extra peanut butter-beans-cereal to my grocery cart to feed my "larger family."  It's always satisfying to imagine that some other children (and I always imagined they were children) would be able to make a snack out of things I'd picked up. And of course when the kids were younger, it was a tangible way to teach caring. But giving to food banks is not supposed to be about how it makes me feel. 

So I've been good about cash contributions. 

But when The Refugee Development Center in town started taking up in-kind donations for Welcome Boxes, I signed right up to bring rice, flour, oil, sugar, and beans. If I were displaced and in a new place, I imagine I could make something my family might recognize from those supplies. I would want to.

There is a passage in Robert J.C. Young* that always resonates with students--where we're asked to imagine ourselves as refugees, to imagine the break in the daily routines of living... like discussing the day's menu with a neighbor. I think about that passage often. 

Anyway, Nu and I dropped off lots of supplies this evening. I could have easily done it before I picked Nu up from their remedial (whole other story!) class at school. But I kind of liked the idea of doing something together that would get Nu out of their own thoughts and social loops for a while.

* Also, that book is the ONLY time ever where I'm listed right next to Homi Bhabha (in the "Acknowledgements").

Monday, November 28, 2022

dear diary,

Messy, turbulent reentry into the work week today = not a single photo taken. I'm trying hard to stay calm and remind myself of all the big, small, and daily crises people are facing so I can look beyond the forgotten deadlines and damaged expectations cluttering up this last week of instruction. I always forgive these, but staying compassionate does feel challenging sometimes. Mantra: I'm neither the target nor the source of all this; I can let it flow past me. 

Small successes in getting budget approval for books to gift to our capstone students; workshopping final projects; two important sets of e-introductions--a DEI one (SJ-EM) and one for our MFA (SS-WA); finishing up the last of Thanksgiving by folding the pumpkin gravy and the roasted veggies into a sambhar; and a truly lucky and important breakthrough in my CASA case (like OMG, it was mind blowing, and I now know exactly how to frame my report) . 

Went to work with sunrise; headed home with a sickle moon in the sky. But that's ok + these days are short. Dinner with the fam, a snooze with my Scout, and then to bed. (I stayed till Big A fell asleep and then crept out of bed to read... memories of doing this every day with the kids when they were littler made me smile. Guess I do this still with Scout and Huck daily...)


Sunday, November 27, 2022

reading weekend

I'd saved a couple of books for the long weekend and they were amazing. I'd actually preordered Preeta Samarasan's Tale of the Dreamer's Son-- I was that excited for it. But I saved it to be my reward for after NWSA and Thanksgiving were accomplished. 

At 492 pages Tale of the Dreamer's Son didn't feel long enough, I wanted to keep reading it. I fell in love with P.S.'s first book Evening is the Whole Day, met her at a conference years ago, and then we became friends on "the socials." She thinks Nu is an amazing artist and that Scout and Huck are treasures (all true) and I've loved her quirky and irreverent takes on parenting, her parents, classical music, the odd short story or essay, dead celebrity heartthrobs (Kafka! Chopin!) etc. This book--which has been a long time coming--is nothing like any of that... it's twisted and suspenseful... political gothic. I was sad when it ended.

My other read was Brian Doyle's One Long River of Song, which continuously broke me in so many beautiful ways. It was a book club pick--definitely not something I'd have picked for myself. And kids, that is why I should be in more book clubs.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Five on a Friday

1) Worked on finishing yesterday's leftovers and bought absolutely nothing today as usual. 

2) (I don't judge people who Black Friday since learning, that for many families, it's a chance to buy things that may otherwise be outside the budget. Also, I think my fam's at a different place as we've reached a stage where neither kids nor grownups need a lot. Yes, I may previously have been judge-y about going straight from being thankful to buying more crap the very next day.)

3) Exactly one month to Christmas now and I think I have a good idea of what everyone is getting. I may add a bookmark or sticker here and there, but for the most part I think it's handled. 

4) I was invited to a conference in Alexandria (Egypt!!) and I think I'm going? It's in March so there's plenty of time for things to get canceled/for me to flake out and change my mind. But I've always wanted to see the pyramids, so I've said a tentative yes.

5) Pic: Lots of early morning walks with Big A now that he's here. Yay!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

thankful

These once baby people set the table and set us up for a good time. 

We usually do some version of saying what we're thankful for--sometimes filling whole sheets in alphabetical order. This time we went around the table taking turns with the alphabet. I  was very embarrassed when I got a bit stuck on "O." 

Also, I was a pill trying to edit people's choices: "say you're thankful for "Dad."" Thankfully, my family loves me and thinks I'm hilarious. 

And then, my darlings started with an abecedary of insults... we couldn't think of anything for "G." 

Later, a quick walk down the street, crisp with leaves and fragrant with neighbors' wood stoves, to join LB and TB's riotous feast where we saw old friends and lots of new people. At was a bit of a rockstar what with their appearance in Michael Moore's Substack and what not. And then everyone piled into the car to take At back to their place. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

I know these things

the snap of the wind
       like wings in the air
sunrise like a bindi
       in the swirling city
the poems thinning
       with use and age
how trees tremble
       with each breath
why desire runs
       direct as locusts
returning to me 
       in folds of fear

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Note: It was already an introspective, introverted day. Then I saw Tamir Rice's photo in a commemorative piece... our world doesn't make sense.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Sunday stream (of consciousness )

Woke up slowly this morning, enjoying the darkness, then a quiet sunrise, then my tea, and meditation before having to talk to anyone.

Some quick chats with my India fam and early-rising friends and then on to the day in earnest. 

Despite my no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving rule, I've made progress on a couple of adopt-a-family and some welcome boxes for refugees. Less altruistically,  I ordered some tees and stickers for the fam at TeePublic. I'm blanking on what to get people this year--I don't think people actually need anything and I'm tired of things not being used. I'd rather give to causes--the kids really seem to appreciate that more than anything else, anyway.

Nu changed his mind on going to UU so I headed out there by myself today. NB, one of Nu's friends, did the reading for all ages beautifully--signing as they read. So for a while there were two people signing in ASL on the dais, and it was very balletic. I really do want to learn ASL. I wished Nu had come... to see NB and also because it was apple cider-cinnamon donut communion day. Also really--what could be more "real Michigan" than revering apple cider and cinnamon donuts?

An afternoon visit to the Broad with RS and LB, for the Zaha Hadid retrospective where--surprise--my UU pastor was also there. Back to mine for tea and a debrief with R and L and then on to dinner and cuddles with Nu, Scout, and Huck. 

(I CANNOT WAIT FOR BIG A TO COME BACK ON WEDNESDAY.)

Looking ahead, I'll be back at work tomorrow, where the semester is beginning to find closure. I'm so chuffed when we get to this part of the term and students are finding their feet with research work and my job seems more supportive than instructional. 

Pic: Our group at The Broad Art Museum this afternoon. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

a Madrasi madcap history in pictures

One of the many, many reasons I love going to NWSA is because SR and I have been taking pictures in hats/headgear and calling it our "Madrasi Madcap series" because both of us have Madras (now known as Chennai but not while we were growing up) connections.

We hadn't been able to since 2019 as the 2020 conference was canceled and 2021 was online only. So we got back to it this year: it feels good to have fun.

In other news, I feel better AND continue to test -ve for Covid. Also: was reunited with all my loves and three of my classes yesterday, took Nu to the dentist, bid Big A goodbye for a week, and just generally jumped right back in to post-conference life. 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

that's all, folks


This is it: the highlight of my day/week/month...
I'll remember her kind and complimentary words forever.

Pic: with Angela Y. Davis. #NWSA2022

Friday, November 11, 2022

"women, life, freedom"

More NWSA: An embodied dance-exploration inspired by Hafiz, a raucous in-room party with trays of Hmong food, a surprise visit from my bestie KB, and a day full of panels where I just learned SO much... 

But the standout of the day, for me, was the panel on the Iranian Women's Protest/Revolution. The panel organizer had assembled a stage and a screen full of Iranian activists and scholars who provided historical context, cultural parsing, and commonsense advice (keep up the solidarity, don't speak over or for Iranian women). 

There was a Zoom bomber who tried to disrupt the proceedings, and there were some harrowing moments before he (yes, it was a he) was booted out. It reiterated how these rallies for equality are prone to disruption through mockery and malice... and in so many places with violence. Which is probably why the Iranian slogan resonates: Zan! Zendagi! Azadi! (Women! Life! Freedom!)

Pic: Panel on the Iranian Women's Protest/Revolution.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

the Hill

Terrific first day of NWSA in Minneapolis! I feel like we've been working on getting it off the ground for nearly a whole year and it's such a thrill to see it take off. At this point, this fabulous convention has momentum and doesn't even need me... it's quite a thrill. 

Got to see both Anita Hill and Angela Davis today. The Anita Hill conversation was sobering (she has no remaining faith that SCOTUS will rule fairly). It also made me think about coming to political consciousness with the events of 1990-91 and how it must feel to have a lifetime of wonderful work always evaluated in the light of one's sexual harassment. 

At the book signing, I wanted to thank her for being a role model for people everywhere and how much her example guided me through my own Title IX mess, but the line moved too quickly. Thank you, Prof. Hill. 

Pic: Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Anita Hill in conversation. 

full, fulfilling

Woke up after an hour and something of sleep (I went to bed after 4 am) feeling relieved and thankful about the elections--especially in MI, but lots of other reasons to celebrate too. 

There were 18 trans and non-binary state legislator candidates around the country and some of them won. The youth turnout was tremendous: students at U of Michigan, MSU, and other places made news by staying in line to vote even though it got really late. Wes Moore, AOC, Lucy McBath, Rashida Tlaib, Ihan Omar got elected/reelected.  But mostly--it could have been so much worse.

I'm always surprised that these contests seem so close--I mean it's like cuddly puppies + gooey cookies on one side and hateful detractors + dumpster fires on the other. The choice seems... obvious? As Zack Bornstein's tongue-in-cheek tweet summarizes: FASCISM IS DEAD IN AMERICA AFTER DEVASTATING LOSS 49.-49.3. Nevertheless, it felt wonderful to share the election news with Nu over breakfast, be happy about it with assorted neighbors, respond to a string of similarly ecstatic texts, and plan a neighborhood bonfire to celebrate. 

Big A and I made a checklist of things we wanted to do together and got almost all of them checked off. I leave for Minneapolis and NWSA early tomorrow and he'll leave for work the day after I return on Sunday so there was no time to waste. Both of us took meeting calls on our hike with our headphones on... but we still got to hold hands.

Pic: MSU Red Cedar Rapids w/ Big A.

Monday, October 31, 2022

barely a boo

Such a quiet Halloween around here! I just got these jack o' lanterns out in time. We usually decorate the intervening week between Big A's birthday and the day, but this year Diwali was in that week too, so I decided to go v e r y slow. 

At was at a conference, Nu was going to "couples-costume" it with a friend but then they decided not to. I wore one devil's horn at work (half devil, half child in a tongue-in-cheek literary ref). 

It was raining this evening on our quiet street and we got NO trick or treaters. 

Boo.

(Perking up now close to the witching hour watching [via YouTube] fabulously costumed students doing a funny and spooky concert in the college chapel. Looks like a totally full house over there.)

Monday, October 24, 2022

Happy Diwali!

May there be bright and sweet  happiness through the year!  

It was a long work day today, but we'd already had a pooja last night after birthday cake (with the whole fam), and another one tonight (just Nu, the pups, and me). 

Also, I love this picture of my babies' hands.

In "baby" news: At took some diyas and a box of kumkum to set up his own small altar at his place. Nu had to come in to work with me Friday and today (odd four-day weekend)--I expected him to be grumpy about it, but he was quite sweet and annotated the new Taylor Swift for me in the car. 

In "India" news: Lots of pictures of beautiful lamps and altars from home. One of the sweetest holiday videos this weekend was one of my parents and assorted aunts and uncles playing dumb charades at a party. It made me laugh (and also cry). 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

I'm a...


Made some beautiful pokรจ bowls for Big A's pre birthday dinner and then hopped off to a girlfriend's pre-halloween party. 

I got the sparkly jumpsuit in a post Xmas sale in the kids' section at Meijer (8$$$$$) and the mask was from a souvenir store from the trip to New Orleans earlier this year (3$?) so a very inexpensive ensemble. 

As to what it is exactly, I call it the "I'm a mouse. Duh!"

๐Ÿญ๐Ÿ˜›

Monday, October 17, 2022

autumnal

Long (good!) teaching day. It's like clockwork: midterm comes around and I realize I love my students. Things have been difficult at home this year, so I worried I wouldn't be able to connect... but Whoomp, There It Is! "I'm taking it back to the old school/'cos I'm an old fool." I'm glad to know my heart still works.

Big A is back in MKE; Nu hung out at a friend's until I got home; roofers didn't show again; I got to see At on a live podcast last night; Nu and I got most things checked off our list today. There are some yays in there. 

Pic: Scout calling Nu to come in for dinner.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

weekend vibes


Yes. 

That's a folding camp chair. 

In the river. 

With a pumpkin sitting in it.

Happy Fall, Y'all. I guess.


(Homecoming weekend at MSU. And we went to our first halloween party of the year. Not sure if I'm ready for break to be over... but it is.)

 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

"L(ove)" Notes

  • L and I were both feeling feeble and fragile (L is post-Covid and I'm post-Covid-shot) so we went for a gentle stroll in the woods behind L's house. I thought this turn in the river was absolutely breathtaking. 
  • L is just the best at sharing her view and the river--she lets the whole street keep their kayaks in her yard.
  • Also, when I called my mom this morning, I got a whole carful of aunts and uncles, which was fun. When I told my mom that I was sick from the Covid booster, she said, "Oh, you did that? We're not even wearing masks over here, everyone is fine." My mom does her own thing, so I didn't say anything. However, when I archly relayed this story to L, she rightly pointed out that *I* had had a bunch of people in my house for pooja a week ago and that everyone has their own magical thinking about Covid. She's not a friend who always agrees with me ๐Ÿ˜ƒ.
  • Nu needed some extra kindness today, and L was the one to give it to him when he brought L some salad for dinner.

Monday, October 10, 2022

quick notes on Indigenous People's Day

There's lots more color since two weeks ago...

All the MSU campus walkways were chalked with support for Indigenous People's Day. ๐Ÿ’—

Here's the first chapter of Howard Zinn's A People's History--"Columbus, the Indians and Human Progress" so we never forget. 

Here's The White House proclamation--we have a long way to go.

I like The Onion's take. (Nation’s Indigenous People Confirm They Don’t Need Special Holiday, Just Large Swaths Of Land Returned Immediately.)

Pic: The Red Cedar.

simply

A cold day, but beautiful.  Walks with some of my favorite people: L, Big A,  me... Pic: An icy Red Cedar River