Showing posts with label Diary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Diary. Show all posts

Friday, December 08, 2023

"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... It's so strange how I still go about as if everything is ok... Although my country vetoed a humanitarian ceasefire yet again. 

I think of the children holding a press conference in English--a language foreign to them--to beg the world not to bomb them. And yet, over 7000 Gazan children have been killed; many thousands more are maimed and injured for life. I think in particular about the mother holding her lifeless baby saying she took 580 IVF injections to have him; the tender searchers in the rubble after every airstrike. I think of how many hospitals, schools, and homes have been bombed, the patients, medical staff, students, teachers, and families in them evanesced. No poem can contain my grief. Nothing can calm my disbelief that this is happening so publicly... so blatantly.

Sunny Singh, who has always been so kind to me and my students lost a friend today--he was a fellow teacher of English and a poet. His name was Refaat al-Aareer. In a better world I might have met him some day at a reading or a conference or in someone's home. And he is just one of thousands who is gone suddenly and too soon with their hopes and dreams still pending. This is a poem he wrote last week:

If I must die

you must live to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child,
somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven
in the eye awaiting his
dad who left in a blaze-
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh not even to himself-
sees the kite,
my kite you made,
flying up above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale

Pic: Baker Woods with RS yesterday. She asked me if it would look bad if she celebrated Hanukkah with all that is going on. I told her we'd be lighting lamps with Nu (Big A's great grandparents were Jewish and there is a family menorah/hanukkiah). I'm glad we have celebrations. I want us to put away our bombs and celebrate life. (I saw the words I used for the title of this post on a church's marquee this morning on my way to work.)

"in a hole in the ground..."

I'm so, so, SO excited. 

Whether it's because I'm a water sign or because I grew up in a city with one of the longest shorelines in the world, I've always loved water. (And this despite being a bad swimmer.) I like looking at water most of all, and I think sunlight on water is the most magical thing ever. 

So I've always gravitated to homes near water, and when we lived on the Pine River in our previous home, it was the happiest I've ever been--with the view (not the rising cost of the home insurance for that place). I was glad our current house has a tiny pond, but I've been wanting to enlarge it forever. And this week, we finally did! 

We dug in a not-straight line and around existing trees and shrubs, and it turned out a bit... crescent shaped? heart shaped? 

Pic: Our tiny pond in the foreground, and the "hole in the ground" (Big A) we've dug. Now to line it, fill it, and enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

another love poem

my class is united by laughter
until we look alike 
                            it digs a hole in the day where 
                            our anxiety disappears
as if sifting through our souls
for the answer
                            and finding only half words
                            and silly dreams
freed us forever/for a moment
(or so it seemed)
Pic: First-year-seminar poster exhibition. The moment I'm thinking of was in another class, but the picture I took there has too many recognizable faces, and I haven't asked for permission to post it. I'm glad the semester is almost over... but I will miss the camaraderie and intellectual tussle of the classroom. Sending extra love out into the universe for the young ones and the little ones today.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023


And just like that, it's exam week: I wish I could tell my student people to take deep breaths. Lots of last-minute anxiety, so the days are long, but overall a sense of satisfaction and good endings.

It was the kind of day where I constantly pivoted like a dancer: from sharing the first years' sense of accomplishment in the morning (their first semester at college down, look at the posters they made!) to making notes as students presented on projects they've been working on for six weeks (and marveling at their insights and how skilled they are at encouraging each other!) to a discussion with the college's board of trustees in the early evening (just the department chair and me, we thought it went well). 

That last task reminded me that someone put me on a list of nominees for the MSU board of trustees. When I demurred, EM said (referring to the spate of Title IX missteps at MSU since Larry Nassar) I was totally worthy because at the very least I wouldn't sexually harass anyone. Well, in that case... 

Pic: Amaryllis are blooming in my tea garden. Time to go start the narcissi so they'll be in bloom by Christmas (I say, hopefully).

Monday, December 04, 2023

Five-year-old me

What would my childhood self think about grownup me? 

I've been thinking about it since Nance mentioned that she keeps her kindergarten picture on her dresser to remind her "of the little girl who wanted to be a teacher and a mom. I look at her often and think about how so many of her dreams came true and then some. It helps me stay grateful."

I'm five in this picture, and my favorite thing was to line up my sister, our ayah, and the dolls in my playroom to play school--with me as the teacher. So I think five-year-old me would be thrilled that I grew up to be a teacher and tickled to know I have kids and puppies of my own--I think they'd find that part really hilarious. Back then, the expectation to be "good" was intense--I wonder what five-year-old me would think of my daily quest to be a better person, to keep learning... When I was little, I was always afraid of being orphaned (I read too much even back then), so I wish I'd known my parents would know their grandkids...

Like Nance, I too am grateful that so many of my dreams have come true--even dreams I did not yet know to have for myself. I can see myself at ten or eleven lying on the terrace looking up at planes and wondering (not even wishing, really) *if* I would have a job, if I would fly on a plane (only my parents had flown at this point), and if anyone would fall in love with me. 

Pic: An old B&W portrait of my family (dad, sis, mom, me). I remember so clearly that my dress was a very pale pink and white with a soft collar and square white buttons with a pink inlay; my sister's dress was a hand-me-down from me, it had been a favorite until I grew out of it--I called it the "peacock frock" because it cascaded in overlapping "feathers" and had a deep blue embroidered motif on each. I'm pretty sure my mom's organza sari is orange with white polka dots. When the square belt buckle (buttons and buckle were all purely decorative) on my dress fell off, I used it as a tool at my art table to scrape excess crayon off the paper and even out the colors. I wore a school uniform to school, and "play" clothes at home; I had a very small collection of "fancy" clothes to wear to parties, the club, and so on and I remember most of them quite fondly. My sister was wearing a corrective leg brace at that point, which is why my parents are holding her hands on either side. No one is holding my hand... I wonder what I seem so pleased about... Wow. I did not expect to remember so much. And look at my HAIRY forehead!! lol

Sunday, December 03, 2023

outtake/best take

We got the tree up (and by "we," I mean At and Nu) and tried to take a picture for the holiday card.
We usually take a video and then pick a frame or two, but it proved impossible yesterday. You can't even tell that Big A and I are wearing pajamas that match the kids!

I hope you can tell we're all wearing Christmas-tree hats. Although it took me a minute or two to understand why everyone was shying away from the "white, pointy hat." :D 

Pic: Not the best frame, but I think it represents everyone trying to hold it together the best.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

extra ordinary

the way some things seem to grow
wide, wide wings and know
how to find comfort 

how winter branches from summer
boughs to reenter a reminder--
earth could be paradise

it could be what finally sets me free
lets me see--when walls close in
my skies open again

Pic: View from the eastward bridge over the Red Cedar. It's not yet officially open, but I sampled it with L last week and Big A this morning. Reader/StephLove, I touched it! 

Friday, December 01, 2023

Last day of classes, first holiday party

Last day of classes, first holiday party. 

It's that time of the year when faculty colleagues, admin, staff, community members are celebrating in the same room. I wore my Christmas tree earrings.

Pic: "The Scots on the Rocks" are singing "We Three Kings" here. They prefaced the carol with the James Bond theme--cute. 

Later, they sang "Last Christmas" and a non rape-y version of "Baby it's Cold Outside" both of which Nicole had recently mentioned as being favorites!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

"it's that little souvenir of a terrible year/which makes my eyes feel sore"

I thought I was done collecting snow globes... 

But I was at the store getting personal hygiene products for my students' community service project and this snow globe called out to me. Scout loved Christmas... and I like how this one makes it as though Scout is getting a visit with Santa this year too.

It plays "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I never wind it up all the way, so it plays really slowly and sounds super sad. Like those songs which do double duty with an upbeat happy version and a slower sad version. "Que sera, sera" in The Man Who Knew Too Much is the only example I can think of right now... It's a really big thing in Bollywood films, something the kids love to parody with basically any song. 


It's the first Christmassy thing I've set out this year.

(Big A and I still tear up every day/every other day when we talk about Scout, who took so much of my heart with him. Does anyone have the timeline for when things will get better?)

Pic: Inside a snow globe with Scout and Santa. Wish I could be in there. #It'sMyBlogAndI'llBeMaudlinIfIWantTo
The title is from one of my favorite nostalgic songs from the 90s--The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends." 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

snake sandwiches and puppy scuffles

I guess today continues the theme of elementary-school-level hijinks from yesterday. 

One of my fellow members (on the search committee to hire a biologist at the college) noticed that my eyes got wider and wider the longer the conversation about "arboreal garter snakes" went on. 

They kindly shared this information with the rest of the committee. 

Then the "jokes" started. What do those snakes eat? Well, they don't know about Maya yet. What are we ordering for dinner tomorrow? How about some snake sandwiches? And so on and so on. I'm glad I brought some levity to a work meeting that went on until past 7 pm. 

Snake sandwiches. Shudder.

Pic: (1) Max, (2) a previously-loved stuffie now being used as a chew/tug toy, (3) Huck, and (4) Big A on the floor by my feet as I graded. I can barely tell where Huck ends and the stuffie begins.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

"I'm a weirdo"

I stopped at JG's before I headed home to drop off a care basket and a card that many of us, her old colleague-friends, had signed. Sadly, when I was getting the basket out of the back of the car, the vase of flowers I had balanced on the hood of the car [Q: why?!?!?!?; Ans: it had been a very long day!!] fell and shattered in her driveway.

I barged into her kitchen looking for a dustpan and brush to sweep up the mess and she kept insisting that they'd get it in the morning. Then her partner MB sneakily tried to rush past me with the dustpan. That triggered something atavistic in me and I sort of grabbed him and tickled him to make him give up the dustpan. And then we went out and cleared up the smashed vase together.

Later we were all talking about something serious and I just burst out with "OMG, I tickled MB." I mean we all laughed... but they're probably thinking I'm a weirdo, because that's exactly what I'm thinking. 

(And also now I'm thinking of how Radiohead says "weirdo" in a weird way and all the times my friends and I thought we'd spotted Thom Yorke at various cafes in Oxford. It was the early aughts and they were already quite famous, so I'm not sure anymore.)

Pic: Big A and I have weirdly elongated parking lot silhouettes!

“The Drifting”

I was so sad today to learn that Lynn Rather, a wonderful human and poet, has passed on to another plane. I met Lynn only once--we were billed together at a reading--but she made a strong impression of strength, sass, and cigarette smoke. AK and DD were good friends with her and with her at the end.

from “The Drifting” by Lynn Rather

on nights like this I think
I have not loved enough,
I have not given as much as I could.

snow blows and drifts across fields.
that is what it does.

the wind roars and then is gone.
that is what it does.

they give themselves utterly, and move on.
Pic: The pretty, pretty snow persisted today. I took this from an upstairs window--I'd just stepped out of my room, and my heart lifted on seeing Nu and Max playing outside.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

from fall to falling snow

traveling away from awakening
from fall to falling snow
in a hush wide as freedom 

here I am, disguised as myself
first as rock, then as sand
then sand in an hourglass

I hear birds questioning the day
the cold is sage as a mother-- 
and savage--holding us still 
Pic: Snowfall along the Red Cedar. I've been keeping my promise to myself to get out (of the house/of my head) and walk more.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

"Oops, I did it again!"

I just finished Deepa Varadarajan's Late Bloomers the book Nicole inadvertently recommended. It's not terrific, but it is about South Indians in the U.S., and I kept reading out of curiosity.  It's about people in their 50s dating other people after having been married to each other for 30+ years.

Coincidentally, an older colleague of Big A's is going through a divorce at 60+ and I was surprised to hear Big A say that perhaps after 60 people should just stay put in their relationships. I find that disturbing--surely people should be free to start over at any point in their lives? Why should someone live another 30 potential years with someone they don't like?

And then, oops! Straight on the heels of finishing one book about South Indians, I started Abraham Verghese's Covenant of Water and am loving the intensely South Indian location and poetics of it all. There was a moment where a character helps a vendor lift the wicker basket off their head and land it on the ground--and that gesture seemed to tug at some memory of seeing that... in a movie? My grandmother's house? I think the writing is beautiful and the story compelling... but honestly, maybe I like it so much because there are flashes of the city I grew up in? And there's an elephant! What more could I want?

Pic: Big A, Huck (lounging near me), and Max (longing for me). 

Friday, November 24, 2023

And now... leftovers

Things I forgot (or was too tired) to say yesterday.

* There were no in-laws or international students yesterday, and I really missed the expansiveness they usually bring to the table.

* My awesome MIL was the one who told me that I should let people help with the meal if I wanted them to feel at home, and it's very good advice.

* Nu made the biscuits this year and they were terrific--I'd bungled them last year.

* A pinch of turmeric in the pumpkin gravy and regular gravy gave them some extra color and antioxidants. 

* Nu decided to go with a beige palette for dinner--just biscuits, mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken, gravy. No cranberry sauce, pumpkin gravy, roasted root veggies, or lemon-dressed salad for my baby, apparently. I insist everyone eats their five colors every day, so occasional beige meals are ok. I guess?

* At was so late getting here although they'd promised to arrive early. I fumed for a while, but when I saw At getting out of the Uber (linked to the family credit card) over three hours after texting "OMW," my annoyance somehow melted. I raced towards the car yelling "pumpkin emergency! pumpkin emergency!" At was so bewildered! It was hilarious and it totally made up for everything. I mean... no one wins when you're mad at a kid, anyway.

* We watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special and a charming 2017 movie I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore (recommended, but has flashes of unsettling violence).

*Huck showed Max, whose first Thanksgiving this was, all the ropes on where to position themselves for the best treats and whipped cream licks. We missed Scout--who showed up on multiple So-Thankful-For sheets. We're going to miss Scout extra hard on Christmas because that puppy liked to go BONKERS on Christmas Day.

Pic: Colorful leftovers from yesterday's feast is what's for dinner today.  Pies, not one of which I made, are further down the counter. (And I didn't realize Big A and his computer are kind of photobombing a bit too.)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

chuffed + stuffed at Thanksgiving

I am so thankful for family, friends, and community this year. 

And I'm feeling like a Thanksgiving pro today. After years of hosting, I have a stable menu that pleases and serves everyone. Fifteen years ago, when I started hosting, I'd be in such a dither about what to make--now I know exactly what I'm making and how long it will take. 

In fact, around 11, I realized I was a bit ahead of schedule and that I should save some tasks for when people came around so they could feel like they'd helped with the meal too, so I hit pause. This means that I was able to sneak in a walk and a soak despite the busyness of the morning. Also, I was able to pull all of meal prep off with nary a cut or a burn. 

I didn't get enough pictures, what with orchestrating the ovens, trying to dissuade Nu from cheerfully and charmingly trying to cheat at every Thanksgiving game, and Max going bonkers with first Thanksgiving energy.

Pic: My place setting with the hand-turkey Nu and At made over a decade ago...

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

that's so 90s

I shopped, I prepped, I read, I soaked, I fired up my Brittney Spears essentials playlist, and walked and walked and walked. 

While I was making our dinner, Big A and I were talking about how Brittney had always been sort of a guilty pleasure for me amidst my largely alternative and classical Carnatic catalogue. There was always just so much tabloid noise around her that was distracting... and I'd felt like I needed to distance myself from that.  

And while we're at it, I feel bad now about laughing at Monica Lewinsky jokes back in the day. I'm happy she has been able to reinvent herself as an anti-bullying advocate. I wish I'd been feminist enough to see the media pile-on for what it was in the moment.

Pic: Beal Gardens, celebrating its 150th anniversary, is always a delight.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023


Things I control: My inbox is at zero, I've graded and sent feedback on every student's project, I'm caught up with committee work... 

Things I do not control: A text informs me of an armed robbery a few blocks away, news of a shooting at a superstore close to where we used to live and where MIL still lives, L tells me she was friends with the MSU student who died in Gaza.

I'm going to take the next two days off to loaf and read and cook and eat and laze and hang out with my people. I shall loaf and invite my soul

Pic: Max and Hucky celebrating with an impromptu tussle at my feet.

Monday, November 20, 2023

my mom speaks on trust, lust, and gods

My mother once told me 
that even if God himself told her so
she wouldn't believe my dad could have an affair. 

I was so touched by the trust 
she had in dad... and then she added:
"You know how he is--he really hates to spend money."

This never fails to cheer me up
as does her her other quirky semi-religious 
pronouncement wondering why on earth Hindu women 

always prayed for a husband 
like Rama--famously so faithful to Sita 
"He made her life such a misery," she says, She's right. 

He literally made her walk through fire
to prove her chastity... and still abandoned her.
"Now, our Krishna," she says, smiling (he's her favorite)

"yes, he may have had all of those 
161108 wives... but he kept each of them happy
we never hear of him making even one cry." She's not wrong.

Pic: This mossy-jeweled beauty in Baker Woods yesterday with LB and TB. I was jabbering about my mom a lot yesterday.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

falling back

my mother says the sun 
is always a prized guest
silken beams trailing 
like roots, tickling,
                          lighting up treasures--
                          leaves fallen-golden 
                          who in their turn lay 
                           sunlight in my path 
I can barely believe
how these hinged wings, 
like words, are forgiving- 
fervid, budding in mud 
                          into a fullness of flood
                          this near sunset of leaves
                          blood-red, vital--and yet 
                          leaving--so close to a fall 
Pic: I got TWO walks in! One up to the Red Cedar by myself. And another with LB and TB to Baker Woods. I'll be stuck at meetings and appointments all day tomorrow, so I'm glad I got an extra one in today.

"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.....