Showing posts with label ScoutDay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ScoutDay. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 31, 2023


No costumes, no party, no decorations, and no trick-or-treaters this year. Boo! But I love everyone else's decorations and costumes and look forward to next year. 

Sweet: So... I have tons of candy left (even after handing lots out in class). There are just two houses on our street with kids (one of them is ours) and both sets of kids are too cool for trick-or-treating. I predict my stress eating will be sweeeet for weeeeks to come.

Sweeter: Heaving a sign of relief for the tentative end of the UAW strike; optimistic that the needle of public opinion is shifting towards a ceasefire in the middle east; thankful for completed extraneous correspondence (difficult student note, colleague's review letter, and students' recommendation letters).

Sweetest: Anticipating Max's delight when he encounters snow for the first time tonight/tomorrow.

Pic: The Red Cedar through the trees. (From Sunday's walk.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

I am a chump-ian

1) It's seasonably cold now (in the 40s), and I asked Nu to wear a jacket to school. They refused, but consented to wear one on their walk to the bus stop to mollify me... IF I would take it from them when the bus arrived and took it back home with me. So that's what I did. They don't have time to go their locker in the morning, and a jacket is a pain to carry around all day. I get it. But also, I felt like a bit of a chump. 

2) I wondered why Big A and I haven't been hiking as much after his job moved back to Michigan... until he sat down and showed me on our calendar: he's working SO many more shifts (Michigan pays way less than Wisconsin). Between that, whatever it is that is making him sick and lose weight, and travel--there just hasn't been time to hike. I feel like a chump for not being able to figure this out by myself.

3) Nu was gone all day (for school and theater) and I let Huck and Max greet them when I brought them home at 8. Max (who loves Nu SO MUCH) got so excited, he couldn't contain himself and there was pee all over the place. Yup, I am a chump; he's still such a puppy, I should have known better!

Pic: Our street was surprisingly colorful although it was so dark when Nu headed for the school bus.

Sunday, October 29, 2023


Positive: Big A picked me up at the airport this morning and I am reunited with my people, puppies, and plants. I missed them! (The first day away was glorious though.) 

Negative: On Friday, I finally ID-ed why I was beginning to feel anxious in my hotel room--the last time I was at a conference (late March-early April), Scout had suddenly (or so it seemed) become very sick. The beige of hotel rooms will forever be a trigger to that horror.

Positive: I took a walk to say hello the river, and it looks like the new eastward bridge is open! I'm very excited for this. I'm saving this walk for when I can go with Big A or L.

Negative: Between being out of town on Big A's birthday weekend and this NWSA weekend, I've missed every Halloween gathering in our town--I should find a way to make class extra scary on Tuesday.

Pic: The bridge is open! The bridge is open!

Saturday, October 28, 2023

conference reCAP

My panel yesterday went off well, I attended a ton of panels, got a ton of ideas to work into research or pedagogy, held elections, handed off my position as chair and its responsibilities, and yelled myself hoarse at in-room parties until late at night. 

I had to take another personal pause yesterday for a while, but this morning's plenary gave me hope and a new mantra. Lorgia García Peña brilliantly said, "There has to be peace for everyone; if only some people have it, that's not peace, that's privilege." I told her I was going to work that into a poem and she made me promise to send it to her.

I feel quite renewed intellectually and socially. It's amazing how many of these people I love although I only ever see them at conferences.

Pic: Taking the annual "madcap" picture with SR. We've been doing this for years now. I gave her a forehead kiss after she gave me the bracelet I'm wearing. I think we're yelling "feminist tigers" or something cheesy like that in the other pics.

Friday, October 27, 2023

small talk

the hours whisper: hurry, hurry 
deep in the day, as we wade in 
the news rippling like a rumor
in the safe normal of the world

what songs can we follow now
across borders certain to harm 
their traceless calm an unreality
their scenery silent... and empty

the willful trails worn into time 
still show in between... the wars
everyone wants the good stories 
of better worlds no one has seen
Scott Long, a fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard, has uploaded his entire (1700+ volume) library on Israel-Palestine to the cloud. The link is here.  I was horrified midday that many of the Gazan accounts I had been following were now silent; no internet, no landlines, a complete communications blackout. 

Pic: Still at the conference; here's a little station that says "Give Solace Take Solace" and a ton of PostIts with messages on them. Mine is the blue note that says "Be Curious, Be Furious."

Thursday, October 26, 2023

a new edition

We got Nu on the school bus at the crack of dawn and then Big A took me to the Detroit airport, which is an hour and a half away.

Another hour and half later, and I'm in Baltimore for the NWSA conference. I'm not co-organizing this year (although I did work on the review panel), and I'm looking forward to just having a great conference experience without the stress. So far I've attended five panels and had my mind blown by their creativity, language, and courage. Also: spotting or being spotted by people I know and lots of squealing and hugging.

On the shuttle to dinner, the guy who asked if it was ok to sit by us and was very interested in our work ("Women's Studies? I've been studying women a long time") and told us he was in town for an R&B show on Saturday turned out to be... Ronnie Devoe (of New Edition, Bell Biv Devoe). My dinner companions took a picture with him later.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Pic: A snip of sky just as we got to the airport. I love sunbeams.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

forever takes forever

This is the place. This is the place.
the leaves are turning
yet the hinge at my neck refuses
to unhook our gazes
you simply remember rainbows 
echoes edging the rain 
and pause to wonder if this poem 
will be reply or elegy 

Pic: An overcast sky, but the fall colors were simply brilliant in Bellaire. (From our weekend trip.) 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

a personal pause

In retrospect, I was unraveling a bit last week. I found Chiconky's advice, in particular the bit about how, "You don't have to bear witness to everything to hold sacred what is happening" so incredibly comforting. That coupled with my need to focus on making sure Big A had the best 50th celebration I could give him really helped me pause the spiral.

So a personal pause. In the lead up to Big A's birthday, I also bypassed the whole navaratri business/busy-ness, and instead of a multi-day celebration where I dressed everyone in saris, we did nothing... and I missed all the visits to other people's golus because we were away this weekend. There's always next year!

And we usually decorate for Halloween in the week after Big A's birthday, but I think I might just skip it this year because I'm off to a conference in a couple of days (and I don't like looking at scary things anyway!).

Pic: Big A and I walked over to the Wharton for a David Sedaris reading and it was delightful. (The weather was such a balmy 72 degrees.)  It was a full house. I kept thinking how much Nicole enjoys Sedaris and wished she could have been there too! Sedaris is a terrific reader and my favorite bit was a new piece where Sedaris reworked a banal Chat GPT essay written in "his" style, amping up the banality and incongruity.

Monday, October 23, 2023

the big day

Big A slept a lot and I had meetings all day, but we regrouped in the evening to sift through messages from family and go out to dinner. 

There was a lot of merriment. 

When I mentioned at the end of dinner how much I'd enjoyed all the jokes and giggling, At said "when are we NOT joking and giggling when we're together?" That is true and it was gratifying to hear the grown up kid validate that.

And perhaps this can be a "take-home gift" to anyone who sees this post--here's Talia Lakshmi Kolluri's amazing short story "The Good Donkey" from her collection What We Fed to the Manticore. I posted a link to this story on family chat, but no one has read it yet.

Pic: Big A with Birthday "bling," birthday cake, and a birthday smile. I know he said no party, but that didn't mean I couldn't go to the party store to buy knick knacks and tiaras that say "golden age" for all of us.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

bye-bye, weekend

The weekend was lovely... the weekend is over... 

The stars were just so countlessly brilliant last night as Big A and I walked Huck and Max, I just wanted to stay up all night. After we got back, I grabbed At, who was still up, and we sat out on the porch marveling for another hour. I fell into a bit of a trance from the lapping of the waves and light-show in the sky.

Now it's back to reality. 

I love when we're all together, so I felt really sad when we dropped At off at his place. And I feel guilty because Max drooled and barfed through the three-hour road trip despite the meds the vet prescribed. He loves new places, but has such a tough time in the car! We're thinking no road trips with Max for a while...

Pic: Goodbye to Torch Lake. Huck, me, At, Nu, Big A, and Max (a bit obscured as he's taking another look at the water). The Fall colors on the opposite shore are sublime.

Saturday, October 21, 2023


Big A turns 50 on Monday... it seems like a very BFD. It has been wild to reflect on the changes over the decades.

After I made everyone some (frozen) pizza for brunch, we commemorated this BFD by playing several rounds of how-well-do-you-know-the-birthday-baby.

Big A kept looking to me and asking if I had the key to questions like favorite book and favorite song--haha. I guess it is difficult to isolate things like that. But better than the right answers were the discussions the questions provoked. I think we did great job of figuring out his favorite author (Kurt Vonnegut), his favorite genre (hip-hop, which also turns 50 this year), and everyone was 100% certain that he'd never been on a blind date (he hadn't).

Pic: Nu, At, Big A, Max, and Huck. I imagine I can see the lake through the windows...  We got in around 2 am last night. KB had said the front door would be unlocked and we should just let ourselves into her parents' summer place. The door was unlocked and I did let myself in, but I was a bit worried that we may have let ourselves into the wrong house... I relaxed only after I saw a family picture with KB on the wall. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

here we go

Although it has stayed mostly green where we are, I can see the colors turning every day on my commute north to work. I listened to chants in Sanskrit in the car and it was pleasant and peaceful and gave me some time to enjoy the poetic beauty of the slokas and puzzle out the agglutinative meanings of words I don't know (my favorite this week is samudra-tanayaya-- body like an ocean).

I am excited to finish the 1001 meetings scheduled for today and then take off with the fam for Big A's birthday weekend. 

I couldn't find any places on the water that would allow us to bring Huck and Max, so KB kindly offered up her parents' place on Torch Lake. The plan is to get everyone a light dinner, pack a backpack each, pick up At after his shift... and go!

Pic: A glimpse of the Red Cedar north of us from CC.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Fall into bed (or not)

In truth, I'm having a tough time of it--unable to sleep, plagued by unspecific anxiety, my brain overflowing with sad details. I was just congratulating myself for holding it together... Look at me: making breakfasts and dinners, prepping lectures and discussions, doing house projects, attending every work meeting, making plans with friends, researching the next book chapter, keeping my million plants alive!

And then one day the thousand-yard stare of a shell-shocked child won't leave my head and I have to excuse myself from the classroom to compose myself. But isn't it great how much lighter it feels after a good cry? 

Pic: A couple of weeks ago when it finally started getting cooler, I changed us to Fall bedclothes and now the bedroom looks so golden and cozy. I wish I could log more sleep hours than I am currently though!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

seen and felt

I'm moved by all the people all across the world protesting the ongoing war in the middle east and especially by the thousands of young people chanting "not in my name." The protests put into action the Rabbi Tarfon quote that has helped me in times of crushing weltschmerzen: "Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief... You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it." 

The two main constituencies in the U.S. organizing for a ceasefire right now are (1) Palestinians whose families are under attack in Gaza and (2) progressive American Jews, some of whom lost family in the Hamas attack. This is an incredible coalition that gives me hope.

And this snippet from Marwan Makhoul I have been seeing everywhere is simultaneously insight and benediction. The text reads: "In order for me to write/poetry that's not political/I must listen to the birds/and in order to hear the birds/the war planes must be silent."

May it be so.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

in a critical condition

Ivy clings like memories even when all the tenses fall wrong

I keep looking over my shoulder for the children are slower and left behind 

I fall, then my face falls, my sight falls away, and
then my mask falls

I've answered grief as loud as I can but how could I be louder than my disbelief

I sweep up my footprints in the dust, my imprints in the sand, and let my fingerprints burn

I have mourned the dead; I am mourning the dead; I will always be mourning the dead.


Pic: Ivy wall with L.

Monday, October 16, 2023

for I don't know where I am

the day will happen soon enough
the shout of the sun 
the hit of to-dos 

how I will climb up the afternoon
then slide down
to dinner 

the hours search with serrated teeth 
to stitch time up
into context

sleep is a circadian memento mori  
yet I step to it

its shadows frantic, lurking in gaps
but once its here
its here

Pic: Huck and Max, tails aflutter.  (Cuddle time!)

Sunday, October 15, 2023

it is what it is

I was relieved life conspired to give me a day of silence to gather myself yesterday. And as it turns out, today was the opposite with extra people-ing: the beginning of Navaratri, Sunday family dinner, people at home, walks and talks I had scheduled with friends earlier in the week... 

And although I started out by merely going through the motions, each interaction refueled me in big and tiny ways. When I called my mom this morning, I could hear the hubbub of the hundred+ guests at the family celebration of Navaratri in Pondycherry  and then I got passed from mom to aunts and uncles and cousins--each a little rush of love. My dinner--a colorful chopped salad and a fluffy frittata inspired by Seamus Mullen's Real Food Heals was beautiful and filling. (Fun fact: Big A went to college with Seamus, and our friend CC dated him.) My garden walk with HK was lovely, and I also got to go on a long ramble--geographically and conversationally--with L. Lots of mutual check-ins and chats with JG, EM, JL, and BL... Nu's very serious demeanor during our impromptu dermatological consult made me (still makes me) smile and they gave me products from their own stash of K-skin care to help with my recent acne outbreak. 

These are all blessings I am so, so lucky to have in this imperfect and difficult world.

Pic: Water Lilies at MSU Horticultural Gardens with HK. I thought about cropping out the clump of weeds and gathered gunk, but it is what it is... 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

I can't today.

And Big A is working, At is at his place, Nu is out with friends, my family in India is together at a family celebration...

So it's ok if I can't. 

I spent most of the day in silence gathering myself. I can manage conversations with Huck and Max fine.

Friday, October 13, 2023

heartbreak and gratitude

This James Baldwin quote is reverberating in my head as I catch up with the news today. "The children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this is incapable of morality." How are we all just sitting around watching genocide in real time?

I spent over ten hours at work, on campus. I find myself thinking that when I'm an empty nester, I'll have more time to do stuff--like travel with students on alternative service breaks, do more on-campus organizing, etc. Sometimes, I hear another internal voice saying "Ugh, get a life." But I like this life. 

Big A went to the E.R. today (as a patient) to get a CAT scan, and we're both just so relieved and grateful that it wasn't what we'd feared it was. He has something and he's lost 20 pounds in the last six weeks and it's unclear what the next steps will be, but he's not going to die right away. I'm glad; I like him a lot.

In different conversations with At and Nu, I found myself so grateful that their convictions and the way they act on them is so... pure and principled. As SS said to me, imagine if they had rebelled against their upbringing and grown up to be bigots--I can't imagine it. Won't. Also grateful for my CASA kids whose birthday week it is, and who are such kind and joyful little ones despite all kinds of fuckery in their immediate circles.

Pic: Huck and Max after I put them in their room for the night. I love the way Huck is leaning into Max. Grateful they really like each other now.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

the hang of it

I will myself to remember the contour
of this beast with no beginnings

this longing even when all is given 
even when nothing is desired

I really have no reason to remember 
the safe, ordinary history of today 

cautious happiness, habitual beauty 
its precious and explicit luck

I taste the escaped words, their notions 
of emptiness and openings  

in the release of the first silver raindrop
its receipt splattering in the dirt
Pic: CC's view of The Red Cedar from her canoe. All of the feelings for the beauty of this day and the heartbreak of the news...

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...