Showing posts with label Teaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teaching. Show all posts

Thursday, June 22, 2023

"back to life, back to reality"

At and Nu were lovely while Big A and I were gone: they took care of themselves and the puppy sibs, attended Pride events together, hosted DSA-related meetings here, and kept the house neat through it all. So while I did a complete vacuuming, cleaning, and restocking of the house today, I didn't have to navigate any big messes--just the little ones that no one but me notices.

But I kept vacation vibes going with two long hikes with Big A. Then we vented and backup planned about the delay in his Michigan job, I worked on the garden (deer ate our hostas and annual flowers again), and Big A worked on replacing the mailbox that someone ran into last week. 

Also: I joined a new committee at work (the invitation came from someone I want to work with), am thinking about volunteering for taking on an extra overload course at work next year (we've had a sad and surprise departure in the department), and reassured an editor that I'll have work to them by the end of next week according to our schedule (I hope it's not wishful thinking).

We got home yesterday, but today felt like we were really back!

Pic: Big A with Huckie and Max. Not a very good picture, but it makes me smile--all of it: Huckie's side eye, Max's proprietary paw, the fact that Big A is still wearing the two-dollar bead bracelet I got him...

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

bird by bird (or sheep by sheep)

Ok, it's past 3:00 am and I really should go to be in bed, but: 
  • Huck and Max are cuddling on my feet,
  • I've been working on the online course assignments that came with my service enlistment after a kind and encouraging reminder from the course facilitator, 
  • Big A is at work and texting me and I kind of really like chatting with him;
  • I need to check in on my sister who's fractured her hand and she is in a timezone that's 10 hours ahead, 
  • I have to finish writing this,
  • I want to read some more before I fall asleep. I'm currently reading the final installment of Hilary Mantel's Cromwell trilogy and love old Thomas more than any self-respecting socialist should.
  • etc. I have a lot more B.S. excuses for my sleep procrastination.

Next week, after I come back from vacation, I'm going to make sleep hygiene a priority. But one thing at a time. As the wonderful Anne Lamott says in another context, I should take it "bird by bird."

Pic: I was so delighted I got a warbling goldfinch in this shot! MSU Horticultural Gardens with L. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

resisting the spiral

Getting caught up with mail this weekend, the card from the Humane Society (I thought it was going to be a request for donations) turned out to be a sweet and unexpected gut punch. It was a note to inform me that SV--a colleague I've met a total of two times--had made a donation in Scout's name. What a lovely and thoughtful gesture--I'm making a note of it as something I can do for other people in the future. 

My email notifications have got me feeling a bit overwhelmed. On top of all the other work things that haven't let up, a service thing (ACUE) I was invited to seems like it will require about eight hours of dedicated time weekly for the next month and a half when I'd allocated just one hour, and... ack. I really need a break.

I've managed a handful of hours on my writing project and a ton of hours on research, so there's something solid in that column. I have writing projects with EM, BR, and Big A that will need my attention too. I guess I'll have to sit down and make decisions about time and what exactly I'm hoping to get done with each thing and why. After I get through this week. After I get through this week. After I get through this week. 

One of my goals for this weekend was to read in the hammock with a popsicle. I didn't make it. 

But I did get a ton of lovely hangs with family and friends (LB, EM, LBT), Nu picked Poke for their Boss Day dinner today--so that was delicious and low/no effort, and as I realize every time I take Max outside--it's so very lovely and everything seems so soft and fragrant from our sweet summer rain this weekend. And also, in this good column, three poems I submitted to an anthology were accepted! My second anthology acceptance this year!

Pic: A still from Big A's video of Max and Huck playing together. 

Monday, June 05, 2023

not merely a reflection

Workshop on campus today... For whatever my usual BS reason(s), I got very little sleep last night. I was pretty groggy even after a strong black tea--just not enough caffeine, I guess. The adrenaline shot I got from thinking that there was a cop car behind me as I was merrily speeding along to work woke me up nicely though. Ha.

When I stopped by my office during a break, I realized it had hosted a small miracle, as my plants were mostly ok although they hadn't been watered since Friday, May 5th... before I left for the UK...  a whole month! My geraniums were even in bloom. They got a heartfelt thank you and a good soaking today.

Oh, I had to take a break in my office because I teared up a few times because of mentions of Scout, and I could feel a good cry coming. I'm glad people get it. Even the colleague who said "I don't mean to sound callous, but it is a dog" is trying, IMO.

Pic: Radiology Gardens with L last week. The orange shadows in the water are koi--not merely a reflection of the red maple in the back...

Wednesday, May 31, 2023


Today I was busier than anyone ought to be at the start of summer--but there were huge deadlines to meet. And although I'd been working on them steadily for the past week, the final steps were still due. 

All done now (3:12 am): submitted MCTE materials, turned in Spring Term grades, approved pending NWSA proposals (and created and titled about twenty panels). Not a bad day's work. 

Remember when I wanted to set a timer to take regular breaks? Turns out I don't have to if there is a puppy who needs frequent potty breaks. So I got outside a lot too--it was gloriously summery.

Pic: Max gamboling. When you're so little, you can just slip through the fencing where mom's flowers are...

Monday, May 22, 2023

Home: In two pics

I brought my midwestern travelers home!
I love that there are some families and parents in this picture too...

Reunited with my babies! They took this selfie looming over me as I was falling asleep on the couch around 8:00 pm.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Karl Marx, Gordon Ramsay, Farewell London

Last day in London today. I'd signed us up for a Karl Marx walking tour, but most people wanted to try to get on the London Eye, so off they went with my blessings. I took the bus to Piccadilly Sq. to meet the walking group and milled about on the fringes of a well-heeled, Boomer-ish looking group until I realized they were there for The Beatles walking tour. A few feet away a smaller, rag-tag group was beginning to gather and when I tentatively asked "Marx?" They responded "Yes!" and "Absolutely!" so enthusiastically I felt I was at a political rally.🙂

The guide has a doctorate in Marx studies, and although the sights themselves were merely the seedy front of buildings and smelly alleys, I learned A LOT. The best moment was towards the end of the tour when hearing about Eugene Pottier's travel through England, our multicultural group began to sing The Internationale in their native tongues.

So I had a super nerdy day by myself, then a farewell dinner with the group at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant recommended by a student, where we celebrated another student's birthday, and suddenly everyone seemed super sad to leave and "return to reality." I love these people. But also, I miss my babies, and am ready for my routines and grappling with the reality of a life without Scout. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Jhalak: a glimpse*

Sunny Singh generously spent  the morning with us, taking questions about her work from students who'd  written about her work using superlatives in their reading journals.

And in the evening, we attended the fabulous Jhalak Prize celebration at the London Library as Sunny's guests. This was definitely a highlight of the trip--most of the authors on the shortlists (children's and adult) were on hand to give a short reading and mingle. There is so much great writing in the world... I need to rearrange my life so I can read it all.

Pic: Travis Alamanza, Ann Sei Lin, Danielle Jawando, Christine Pillainayagam, Lucy Farfort, Angela Hui, Anita Pati, and Charles Patterson. Sheena Patel and Ayanna Banwo are up to hijinks with their books in the front row.

* Jhalak translates as "glimpse," so I'm being as tautological as chai tea.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

"All the world's a stage"

I'm in bed mode now, so just four more days before I head for home. I can make fake it. (Look at me with all my theater and acting references.)

I've been checking in with students and our chaperone, and basically everyone is simultaneously having a great time and also ready to go home. Good to know I'm not the only one.

Also, the last time I did this, At came along as a student and Nu came along as my companion, and I made breakfast for them in my flat every morning and we weren't apart for Mothers' Day. Guess it makes sense that this time would feel different and difficult.

Pic: A Comedy of Errors at the Globe Theatre. Not my favorite Shakespearean play, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would because it was a different version from the one I saw in May 2019.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Hyde Park Time

In honor of being at Speakers' Corner, everyone recited a small piece from a famous Hyde Park speaker. It's always interesting what people choose--we heard a variety from Pankhurst to Orwell.

I remember specifically asking people to memorize their bit, and... some didn't. I need to sit with why I feel so irritated by this.

I don't feel well today. + I'm at that point in the trip where I'm seriously counting down how long before I get to go home. A week is the upper limit of time I can spend away before the experience begins to pall. 

Pic: Our picnic at Hyde Park. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Oxford: building a longer table

I absolutely love when I can bring my old life and my current life together. 

Today we went to Oxford and my students got to meet my old profs. Lectures, Q&A, a long pub lunch at a suitably long table... my heart is full. 

A couple of students said they'd like to do graduate school at Oxford/in the U.K. I love being able to help--even a little bit--to nudge open the door from our small bubbles into the world.

What we read: papers by Robert and Will because we were meeting them. And also--thanks NGS--extracts from R.F. Kuang's Babel because it's set in Oxford and is about translation and colonialism.

Pic: Profs and students at The Royal Oak. A colleague brought their adorable 13-year-old doggie to lunch... and I had to quickly blink away tears because I started imagining Scout making it to 13.  I miss everyone at home right now, and I think some part of me thinks he'll be there when I reunite with the rest of the family in ten days.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Bloomsbury: reception

The class got a special tour through Bloomsbury with performances from Mike and Cindy. 

A person who yawned in class when I lectured on T. S. Eliot and E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf and Rabindranath Tagore is all smiles here. My feelings aren't hurt or anything. 😉

Pic: Mike and Cindy enacting Hilda Doolittle(H.D.)'s dance of adultery.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

London: up, down, and all around

I sleep badly and irresponsibly in every time zone. 

Last night, I stayed up past 2 am GMT reading every obituary I could find for Dooce. I was devastated to hear she had died...  by suicide... the day before... and how little coverage there was. which used to cover her breathlessly hasn't even mentioned her death. I realize she'd done some TERF-y stuff lately, but the silence is depressing. 

I don't know when I fell asleep, but we were on for a tour around London today. We read landmarks of poetry at various London landmarks. The top favorite, I think, was Patience Agbabi's "London Eye," which cleverly references Wordsworths's Westminster Bridge poem

Nicole and NGS, thank you for your podcast rec of Stuff the British Stole! It's going on my class notes for tomorrow.  

Pic: Our Thames river cruise with the London Eye in the background. I told my students how lovely they were about not complaining when I asked them to pose for pics. (At and Nu would never.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The British Museum: just saying no (to cultural theft)

Everyone in class is tickled by the fact that the British Museum is older than the United States. And everyone in class is outraged about much it owns and how it "loans" (ha!) stuff back to countries and communities of origin. 

We prepped for our visit by reading lots of poems linked to artifacts at the museum. Some of what we read:
W.B. Yeats “The Second Coming” 
Thomas Hardy “In the British Museum” 
Daljit Nagra "Hadrian's Wall" 
George the Poet “The Benin Bronze” 
John Keats “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles” 
Percy Bysshe Shelley “Ozymandias”
Seamus Heaney “Punishment”

Then we waded through museum studies videos and articles to work our way around themes of cultural appreciation, appropriation, colonial theft, etc. At our visit, I polled the group to see if they thought we ought to--as the museum suggests--make a donation. They went with "Hell no!" 

Pic: Under the beautiful dome of the British Museum today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

London: fuzzy glimmers

I, along with tons of people on the internet, learned about "glimmers," which are "the opposite of triggers" on CupOfJo (and elsewhere) this weekend. I cannot say how much I love this concept.

A bit jet-lagged and tired today, but here are a couple of glimmers.

* Made a quick trip to the local Sainsbury's and I found my favorite mango-passionfruit yogurt. Why do they not have this in the US? It's the most sublime flavor IMO and the first spoonful just took me back to uni days.  

* Someone texted me that they got a 4.0 on a test and I haven't figured out who it is--whether friend or student or advisee or kid of a friend, etc... but I'm so happy for them!

Pic: A fuzzy picture of the view from my room (we're right in the heart of Bloomsbury).

Monday, May 08, 2023

Let's do this!

I wasn't packed for The Empire Writes Back: Cosmopolitan England trip at 9 am, but by 9:45, I was all packed. It helped that I had a mental list and the physical list I'd shared with students to work with. Also it's a work trip, so I don't have to look "cute," just capable--so I've relied on my work uniform of pants and blouses. I know from experience that when I take off with Big A for our annual honeymoon, I stress about what to pack a lot, lot more. I have a carryon only again. I overcame the problem of how to take two weeks of shampoo and body-wash in my carryon by buying some nice bar soap and a shampoo bar. (No idea how they work yet, though.)

I'm not worried about Nu, because they have At and Big A and L to take care of them. I am worried about Huck because although she has everyone to look after her too, she's so lonely now and I don't want her to think Mama died too. 

Speaking of which, once I was packed I had nothing to do but worry about the million different things that could go wrong with my meticulously laid plans for the next two weeks. But I just checked in on student travel journals and their excitement is catching... Let's do this! 

Pic: My students and I have matching scarves on our backpacks so we can ID each other even without faces. 

Sunday, May 07, 2023

balance sheet

Things I've done: Stocked the fridge, used up all the fridge veggies, watered all my plants, finished class prep for the next week, talked with/texted everyone, cleared brush, distributed the morels we found yesterday, read a ton, cried about Scout, spent extra time with Nu and Huck, fought with Big A, made up with Big A, took long soaks and longer walks...

Things I've not done: actually packed for the two-week trip to the UK my students and I are leaving on tomorrow. Yikes.

Pic: Walk with L in Baker Woods. Trillium in the foreground! L and I found this patch right as we were wondering if we would see some. It was like we had magically summoned them. Trillium! 

Thursday, May 04, 2023

visits (pasts and futures)

I had to visit my CASA kids at the Luce Road school today. I got such a running tackle-hug combo when CD spied me walking down the hallway. Then their aide reminded them to use "walking feet" in the hallway, and I remembered how I love elementary school sociolects. And then CD began announcing loudly and proudly to everyone that I was their case worker. OMG. I love kids and their lack of filter and the weird things they're proud of. 

I also got various random kids stepping up to me to shyly say hello. I had to wonder at the combination of shyness and speaking unprompted to a stranger they didn't have to speak to. I was chuckling on the inside and all grown up on the outside. The whole thing was such a delightful interlude. 

This had been Nu's school ten years ago, so there were flashbacks to my serious kindergartner and of bringing puppy Scout to school and being told he had big feet so he'd be a big boy, etc. And then I saw Nu's first grade teacher, Ms. G. I remembered how Nu told me and Big A not to smoke (we don't) because Ms. G's parents had died from smoking. Ms. G thought it was hilarious--not her parents' deaths, but what her students' parents remember ten years on. And THEN, I saw one of MY students from five years ago, whom I had mentioned in class just this morning (for the random reason of them having been a picky eater on our London trip). That was truly bonkers.

Today brought many smiles. And Big A will be back home tonight too...  (Just seven more trips to Milwaukee before his job moves back to Michigan. YAY!!)

Pic: Wandering with Huck in the backyard... there's grass growing inside this tree hollow!

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

sorrow bird song

a sorrow bird sits in the tree outside
she'll sing her terrible song
when I notice her

the buds on the branch are waiting 
they'll crawl into yearning
when her song opens 

I pretend I don't need to hear her go
ah--for what is life, what is life 
without pause or answer

I say goodbye to all that before it starts
it turns out, I've gotten quite good 
at repeating goodbye

Pic: Such a grey day today, but no rain at least. Huck and I found all this greening when we dropped Nu off at the school bus stop. Scout would have made us late with all the things he'd have wanted to sniff on the way.

Monday, May 01, 2023

sitting with sorrow

Friends have been incredibly supportive and I am so grateful for friends who understand, are trying to understand, or are simply there for me as I grieve Scout. Friends who make themselves available, check in via text and visits, send cards in the mail, bring deserts I do not need, or simply sit with me while I sob, etc...

I wonder if I appreciate this so much because it's culturally different from how I grew up, where you're expected to put grief away within a "suitable" interval. 

I was reminded of this over the weekend when I broke down while I was talking with my sister, and she told me sternly to pull myself together for the sake of the other kids. My sister loves me very much, and I suspect she phrased it like that believing it to be the most effective way to stop my tears (and because she loves me so much that hearing me cry makes her sad). But also, I already do a lot of "pulling it together" so I can give the kids or my students my best self and I was hoping to let my guard down with her... so... 

Pic: A card from KB arrived in the mail today... what a perfect image and sentiment.

Things I rescued today:

* a groundhog. Max is swift and silent when he gives chase. Nothing but the jingle of his tags gives him away. I rescued the groundhog by r...