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

Monday, April 22, 2024


1                                               2                                   3
                                        rain runs                            birdsong pushes               all that falls 
                                        like a chant                        music                                here and now
                                        in my head                         out of trees                        is dusk
                                                *                                        *                                       *
                                        making it through           the journey                       in our time:
                                        generations                      will remember                   singers die
                                        from knowing                  we outlive grief                 songs live 

Pic: Daffodil Hill with L last week. We thought we'd get rained out, but we made it. Daffodil Hill last year, also with L.  And the year before that (also with L)

Sunday, April 21, 2024

the other one

I keep feeling like I'm missing something. Part of it is the usual anxiety of final grading and checking my sums a million times as I'm bad at numbers. 

But it's also a season of sadness and grief. I don't know how we've made it a whole year without Scout, whose anniversary is on Wednesday... 

The cherry tree blossomed and reminds me of organizing the family to take a picture every year. Last year's picture makes me sob

Last fall, a storm took out the pink cherry blossom tree, so it's like a note from the universe that things will never ever be the same again.

 Pic: White cherry blossoms against the sky. I miss our pink cherry blossom tree and the mix of pink and white across the sky.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

busy for a Saturday

Huck and Max were a bit lonely today. 

Nu was hosting six people for a sleepover and was way too busy for the littlest sibs. Amusingly brusque, as a matter of fact. It was a little glimpse of Nu as a host or perhaps a parent.

At was in Chicago for the Labor Notes panels. From the pic shared on family chat, I thought At was wearing a retro pantsuit--no, she was rocking a retro skirt-suit.

Big A was off to his 36-miler Barry Roubaix after a muffin-centric breakfast of champions.

And I was off to commencement--probably the happiest day in the academic calendar. I always clap for each of our ≈400 graduates, whether I know them or not. And then after the ceremony, we form a gauntlet for the graduates and it's just such a thrill and such a treat to see so many familiar faces from over the last four (or five) years and celebrate their big step up... and get goodbye hugs from some of them.   

Pic: In my robes for commencement. It always feels like I'm cosplaying as a medieval English cleric. Nicole had suggested angling up for full-length selfies. I guess this is an improvement from my previous selfie attempts as you can kind of see my plaid pants, but I need longer arms.

Friday, April 19, 2024

the kids are better than alright

I love how the the student protests on Columbia University's west lawn have grown despite the 100 arrests yesterday. I'm so moved by their celebrations of both Shabbat and Jumma this evening and exhilarated by the way the repression by school authorities is inspiring students on other campuses (UNC, Boston, CUNY, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, OU) to protest in solidarity.

Our own At is away in Chicago as an invited speaker at the Labor Notes conference. One panel is about "building a multigenerational movement for democratic unionism" and another is on "rebuilding the worker movement" by "salting" from the inside. At the Labor Notes conference, two anti-genocide protestors were arrested and then "de-arrested" after other protestors stood around the police vehicle and chanted for over two hours.

Pic: In the meantime, I attended (boo!) a fairly corporate event, but it was necessary and they were earnest and made me this personalized charcuterie board. (I don't eat salami (if that's what it is), but everything else was delicious.)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

what we are built for

in the days when the kids were smaller
and my parents younger
and they lived here 
six months of the year
                                the only time I'd get mad at my dad
                               (my mom and I squabbled
                               every other week
                               or so)
                                                was when he'd look at my husband getting
                                                 ready for a training run
                                                 and declare he wasn't
                                                 "built for running."
                                                                                 my dad... my corporate bigwig dad
                                                                                 had two secretaries once, but now 
                                                                                 dutifully transcribed stories 
                                                                                 the grandkids dictated 
                                                                                                                       my dad who titled himself the president
                                                                                                                        of the fan club our sweetly narcissistic
                                                                                                                        toddler so desired...
                                                                                                                        that dad
was telling me my husband--who 
was spending hours running
every day--was unsuited
to running
                                But dad. I'd say--he's run marathons
                                what do you mean he isn't
                                built for running? And on 
                                and on we'd go.
                                                            my dad had had polio when he was five
                                                            his withered left leg still hurts, his
                                                            uneven legs (like these lines)
                                                            limp every step
                                                                                    but that dad didn't care how his body was built, he 
                                                                                    had "persevered" to become the captain 
                                                                                    of his school's soccer team and cricket
                                                                                    team and wrestled in college     
                                                                                                                        so it didn't make sense then, but now I think
                                                                                                                        he was saying my husband wasn't built
                                                                                                                        for running hours every day when
                                                                                                                        I needed help with our kids

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

"bad idea, right?"

More meetings today, including two terribly fraught ones... including one in the boardroom where 99% of the portraits on the wall are of old, white men. But between prep meetings and debriefs and hallway chats and phone calls about these two meetings, the day went quickly. And all too soon it was academic social time where our very small group (at one point just our provost and me) made a good showing at trivia (although I will always want to kick myself for not coming up with "Echo" in relation to Narcissus). 

Pic: I've been taking more selfies than usual because I have to document wearing non-pants in academic settings for a challenge ("Skirtathon"). And I suck at taking them... how does one do a full-length selfie? I wanted to share the beautiful pattern on my (thrifted)  Rachel Roy dress here. 

Another bad idea is that inspired by all the beautiful ensembles people have put together for the challenge, I went on ThredUp and ordered a bunch of blazers. Blazers. When I already have too many. When the weather is warming up. When I won't have to wear formal work clothes until nearly September. Face-palm.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

promises, promises

time slopes
birdsong switches 
from call to answer
and just keeps climbing 

almost lost
in this range of joy
my heart unfurls itself 
and lifts up as an offering

Pic: I found this funny hybrid (red tail + black body) "fellow in the grass" between meetings and the department's farewell lunch for graduating seniors today. How bittersweet to say goodbye to these people... all these young people who have already done brilliant and difficult work, and are poised to do loving, amazing things in the world. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

in anticipation of spring gifts

everything radiates
porous with happiness
down to the scatter of stars

I work...
I walk for hours 
I was meant to be lost
here where everything roots

my body
unafraid of laughter 
and sculpted of scratches,
my heart a breathing furnace

in hours 
populous as cities
under every rock, I find life 
hundreds of hopes and longings

I yearn for the ones I haven't even met yet
Pic: "A host of golden daffodils" at the Wharton Center, with EM yesterday.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Spring Awakening

I'll admit it: I booked tickets to go see Spring Awakening because it sounded spring-y and the music was by Duncan Sheik (and "Barely Breathing" started earworming my head as soon as I saw that). I went into it not knowing anything about it, and it turned out to be pretty heavy (violence, self-harm, suicide, child sexual abuse, back-alley-abortion death, etc.). Oy. It took me a while to get into it as it wasn't at all what I imagined it would be like. 

But walking to the theater after a morning working on the pond, and seeing glorious daffodils everywhere, and hearing incessant birdsong, and knowing it was Tamil New Year... all that was suitably spring-like. 

Pic: Intermission pic of the Spring Awakening set since photos were prohibited during the show.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

coming along

After we dug a bigger pond in December, the weather got wintry, so we didn't get to work on it. But yesterday, we wrestled the pond liner (it weighed over 300 pounds!) into place and started filling the pond.

Today I spent nearly eight hours pulling the liner tight and anchoring it with dirt. This involved digging a trench alongside the outer wall, lifting and folding the liner, and then shoveling the dirt tight around it. I counted it as today's workout. 

Nu was with friends and Big A is in Milwaukee, so it was just Huckie, Max, and me. But it was SUCH A LOVELY DAY, it felt like a blessing to be outside.

It still looks pretty messy and I still have to find a way to edge it so the pond liner is hidden under more natural elements. Sometimes garden projects take years to look pretty, but I'm not known for my patience.

Pic: The sun smiling on my labors. I love the heart-like indent at the top of the pond. MSU dorms in the distance.

Friday, April 12, 2024


3:30 am: Big A and I get to bed and wish we didn't have to go to work in the morning. Not because we're getting to bed late, but because he's working in Milwaukee for the next three days and I won't be around to say goodbye when he leaves.

5:30-ish am: I wake from a nightmare in which I'm in my modeling days and the make-up artist is someone who appears to be a 14-year-old child. They somehow manage to fix my hair so it looks both straight and frizzy and when I demur, they threaten to call their dad.

6:55 am: I'm finishing up breakfast chores and Nu asks me if I could drop them at the school bus stop because it's drizzling and they just blow-dried their hair. Umbrellas and raincoats are too cumbersome to carry around at school (their locker is too far away from their classrooms).

8:30-ish am: I'm crying in the car because today's Story Corps was terrifying and beautiful.

9:15 am onwards: all my favorite work people are gathered to clap for a colleague who has just taught the last class of their career as they walk out of their classroom. Does anyplace else do this? The consensus is "no." I think this is a lovely tradition. Bonus: I get to have little chats with all my favorite people.

10:00 am-ish: I walk AK back to her building and we take in the Gaza exhibit the YDSA has put up.


Noon-ish: Two colleagues pop by my office to strategize some advocacy work. We're drinking tea and spilling all kinds of tea.


5:00-ish: Mostly work although there is some surreptitious texting during the meeting where I say goodbye to Big A and check in on Nu and then JD and LK are texting about "feeling a breakdown coming on" and how their "soul has left the building."

5:30-ish: I leave the meeting with SD for a work dinner. It's lovely to see all the wonderful work people have been doing. One of my favorite people who now works at the University of Michigan is visiting and has a beautiful handwritten letter for me.

7:00-ish: I'm on my way home and chatting to my mom.

8:00-ish: I get home. Big A has left for Wisconsin, Nu is out with friends, Max and Huckie are so happy to see me. 

The day is almost over for me at this point. The puppies and I share a banana--our evening treat--and then snuggle up on the couch. I finish up the book I'm reading and listen to music while I wait for Nu to get home. Their deadline is midnight.

Pic: YDSA's informational Gaza exhibit. I assumed that the rain had done some damage, but it seems some of the uprooted flags were human mischief. 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

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 new course prep, and I hope I work diligently on my writing projects... but the teaching schedule will be on hiatus. First day of the non-teaching schedule!

Pic: None. It was grey and rainy all day and I realized to my dismay on my way home that I'd forgotten to take my customary last-day-of-class pictures with all three of my classes. I thought we did some solid learning, had some good times, and I loved all three classes--I would have loved to have the pictorial memento. It's also a moment of bonding and levity in a stressful week as students sometimes yell out fun stuff to make the group smile or pick goofy poses and I'm sorry not to have shared in that this year. 

Ah well, onward!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Eid Mubarak

Showed up for moral support at a student advocacy meeting with the powers that be early in the morning. (I found myself picking pants over a skirt as I got dressed because I feel I'm taken more seriously when I'm in pants. This is probably true, but I hate the internalized femmephobia of this.)

I was so proud of and so moved by the students who showed up, spoke up, held space for others, held their ground, and held us accountable. I may have cried a bit when it was over--they were so brave and amazing. And also, so young and so deserving of not having to spend their time and energy and wellbeing on meetings like these. How is it that we're still working so hard for basic freedoms decades into the 21st century?

I got so much support from the fam on this. From BD supporting my decision to prioritize conscience over diplomacy and career security, Nu's disdainful anger and outrage, and At's organizational chops and doc review. I'm a lucky duck.

Pic: The moon at sunset yesterday. So much celestial activity this week! Growing up in Chennai I remember the Eid date determined by whether the local imam sighted the new moon or not. So friends wouldn't know if they were ending their fasts that day or the next!  This year, I'm celebrating the end of a successful Ramzan with friends across the globe. May there be hope and joy and goodness and good works. 

Monday, April 08, 2024

solar eclipse of the heart

I'd never seen a solar eclipse before... I've watched live coverage on television, but haven't looked directly at one. 

Like the Hopi Indians, Hindu Indians believe the eclipse is a time of meditation. So usually, I just sit in a dark room. But we were in the path of near totality (96%) and this could be my only chance in this lifetime unless I chase one down through travel (unlikely). So I decided to get solar eclipse-safe glasses and peek out.

I'm glad I did; it was pretty cool. Through the glasses, the eclipse progressed as though a set of illustrations in a science textbook. But when I tried to take pictures, it looked like a normal picture of the sun. 

I felt tense in the moments before the eclipse started... Big A was in a meeting with students and residents, Nu was in school, At was at work... I would see them all later in the day, but it was weird being the only human in the house knowing an event of cosmic significance was taking place. I sat with all the drapes shut in the rumpus room so Max and Huck wouldn't accidentally sear their retinas. L and some other GFs were texting to share our experience.  Nu came home just before peak totality (around 3:00 pm) and (superciliously 😛) helped me understand why my phone camera wasn't picking up the eclipse.

On social media people have been raving about how it was a transformative experience for them; I must admit I was underwhelmed. Since I'm transported by even fairly low-key natural phenomena like new grass or birdsong in the city or a regular sunrise, I was really expecting the eclipse to unlock something in me... but nothing happened. So that's my eclipse story: 4/8/2024; I was there.

Pic: The sun is about a quarter of the way through the eclipse here. (Not what I thought my eclipse picture would look like.)

Sunday, April 07, 2024

because now is everything

our day loosens itself from 
a cocoon of cold 
step by step the earth opens
to push us beyond

sacred oblivion, for here lies 
a heathen hope 
this dance--survival or riddle 
whose time is come

in the surreal syntax of seasons
the ones you love
have heart-to-hearts, break hearts
uncatchable as rain

Pic: Geese on the Red Cedar... they're vicious when I meet them on the path, but so graceful in the water. The light was just lovely today.

Saturday, April 06, 2024


I have answers at the beginning, of spring 
as breezes lift my thoughts

restless with birdsong vicariously, leaving
imprints of desire in the air 

and shy things are whispering, in the hedge 
questions lost in their play

enclosed in the diamond of my legs, a book
for me to read now and again

while refrains fold and fade to close, I learn
to love myself, with your mind 
Pic: Eastbound along the Red Cedar on the new bike path. Big A in the distance. I simply had to stop to take a picture of those fluffy clouds in the open, blue sky. How beautiful is the every day, ordinary world..

Friday, April 05, 2024

the calling

some days everything is sacred
the name is the thing

on days Aaron said he had to  
"go run some errands"

our toddler thought he was saying
"go run some Aarons"

those were very Aaron things after all 
I think of how we all

could heed the call to run away, freely
doing things for ourselves
Pic: The Red Cedar on a bright and breezy day on a walk with Big A. Trees are beginning to visibly bud! We stopped midway through the walk to call in our sushi orders to pick up on the way home. It was very nice timing!

Thursday, April 04, 2024

so very sari

I've been meaning to wear more saris to work, but it is almost always too cold during the teaching year in Michigan. But today was Honors Day, and I wanted to honor all the hard work by students by dressing up for their presentations + had to judge a set of awards + attend a child advocacy event + head to the fancy awards dinner later. (AND IT'S ALSO MY BOSS DAY!) 

So a sari it was.

Five yards of chiffon held together by some optimistic pleating-tucking into a petticoat, two safety pins, and prayers. It all held together great, but I did have to wake Big A up to button the back of my blouse for me. I have no idea how anyone could do that without help. 

Pic: My sweet colleague CP took a full-length pic of me in my office, crouching on the floor to "make me look taller." 💗 The sari and blouse came from my sweet aunt when we were in Bangalore last year. I may or may not have posted this on the secret Skirtathon page Sarah mentioned.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

I'm just over here

...with Max's heart-shaped schnoz, reading everything I can get my hands on, and grading all the things because it's that time in the world and in the semester.

I'm also taking hope from the "uninstructed" voters in Wisconsin today. I am not alone, and I hope our politicians will listen to us. In the meantime, there are people to love, work to do, and Arabic to learn.

It was an easy day today, overall--the peskiest thing was spending an hour in the car to drop off "meal-train" food. Usually, it would take 20 minutes, but the family had requested it at 5, so I got enmeshed in rush-hour traffic. 

Pic: Max (and Huckie behind him) keeping me warm, soft, and sane. 

(Forgive the lighting... Big A and Nu like a red palette for the rumpus room lighting. It's a bit like being in The Shining in the evenings.)

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

As it turns out...

there was no ceasefire... there was never a ceasefire... And in the time I thought it was safe to look away, the last hospital in Gaza has been completely razed to the ground, bodies have been bulldozed, and more aid workers have been killed in deliberate, precisely targeted strikes. I remember the first time Al Shifa was bombed in November, and thinking it may have been accidental.

I think I will go mad with the children's voices. One says: Bury me with him... My dear brother... my dear brother... where will I get another brother like you? Another says:  I was beautiful before the war... so beautiful... but the war made us ugly... it's the corpses... the war ruined us all.

Gaza will need humanitarian help for a long time, and Big A and I are learning Arabic, hoping to do our part. His doctoring skills are more salient, but when Nu heads for college (fingers crossed) in a year, I'm sure there will be plenty I can do on the ground as well. A friend told me that when someone dies people will say "el bakia fi hayat hom" to their family, meaning "I hope you continue the life (of the person who died)." This is the only thing that makes sense to me now. 

Pic: Big A with his arm slung around Max and a Huckie blur. I kind of need to take Max's place for a while.

puppy condo rules

Although I don't spend much time in there, our puppy "condo" is one of my favorite spaces. Max and Huckie dislike being in the...