The urn, a yearning
pressed into bruise
mouthed it until I
learned its taste
Save me; save my
me to rest
Otherwise a busy, busy, busy day with meetings starting at 8 am and student grading, consultations, and some cheerleading/handholding throughout.
Because I was personally in a funk (™my dad) last week, I forgot to say how proud I am of my students who did a wonderful job with the WGS symposium and then over-performed on Honors Day despite all the pandemic-inherent obstacles. Hearing their idealistic and confident descriptions of why their humanities research was important made me tear up more than once. And one of my sponsees took the humanities Kapp Prize.
AK wrote me: You know your students today were rock-stars right? Your light as a teacher has clearly lit them up as well. While that's clearly a kind overstatement, and I don't want to take away from my students' clear sense of agency and genius--it nevertheless made me feel like I was doing good in this world. Even if only as an intermediary.
I was on my way home, but had to pull over to the side of the road when the verdict was read out.
Later, driving past Ithaca, I watched a police car speeding down a side road parallel to the highway until it disappeared.
[Mural: Aziz Asmar in Idlib, Syria]
I found some late hellebores and early daisies by the pond to distract me... Then work with students took up the rest of the day.
My social media is heartbreaking right now, with Indian friends looking for leads on plasma, drugs, ventilators, hospital beds...
My sister and I were wondering if our parents should get tested--I was worried about further exposure, but apparently there are teams that do home visits.
Late (very late) last night, a bookclub friend posted that their little one had broken their arm and that they were headed to the E.R. Big A was working in the ED, so I checked with him and gave them his work cell. This morning when I thanked Big A, I told him that when he's away, working nights, taking care of populations usually under-cared for, I feel I'm doing something good for the world too (although all I'm actually doing is wandering around insomniac and doomscrolling).
I'm stopped at the traffic light at on my way home and it turns into a wait for the slowest train in the world to pass.
There's a rap on the window and At's face beaming down at me. I unlock the doors, he pops in, I hug him so hard. He takes off his mask; I tell him to keep it on; he's all "but we're vaccinated;" and I'm all "you haven't had the second shot yet." Then he's referencing something about Bill Gates and vaccines--maybe this?
I begin laughing because it's so random--and as I told him, in a couple of days I'm going to think I dreamt this whole sequence of things.
And I'm laughing because I'm so relieved to see and hold him on yet another day when to be the mother of a brown-skinned man is a day for a slow simmering fear.
A vat of spring-y green soup for dinner--used up most of the fennel, celery, bok choy, cilantro, and curly kale + cannellini beans, a dash of parm, and lemon zest. It was ok, I'm not likely to recreate this again--my choices were dictated by what was in the veggie box and needed to be consumed.
In classes I sometimes like to ask when the last time people learned something and changed their mind was. For me, it was yesterday when CJ posted this Dr. Sarah Taber Twitter thread from a couple of years ago. The Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market boxes have felt like extra work lately; learning how I'm not really "saving" anything gave me permission to cut the cord there. At the height of the pandemic--MI is doing so badly, so I guess I mean at the height of the pandemic panic--it was a comfort to have these delivered, so I say goodbye with gratitude.
I first wrote about Amma's reaction here--so many years ago.
Picture is from Daffodil Hill at the Radiology Gardens earlier this week; they seem to have been bigger this time last year?
[Pic Baker Woods with L.]
I can't even attribute something expansive/altruistic/noble to the last jag. I've had an infected spot that remained even after a two-week course of antibiotics, and I'd made an appointment to see my doctor on April 20th, which seemed far enough in the future that I didn't have to worry about it for a while. Big A thought that was rubbish and said we needed to go to urgent care TODAY. That was terrifying. He promised his hand to squeeze if it hurt and to buy me Taco Bell if I went. So I went. (He wasn't able to be in the room--Covid rules--but I got lidocaine and it didn't hurt as much as I had feared it would.)
I've discovered Taco Bell late in my immigrant life. People were raving about the return of the fiesta potatoes on my social media and earlier this week, I finally understood their adulation. Fiesta (potatoes) forever!
[Pic is some rainbow flashes on the library walls from all the crystals in there.]
I wore a sari to work yesterday because I felt festive + I want to normalize saris and the difference they embody on my PWI campus. It was one of the intentions I had shared at the beginning of the term with my WGSS class, so when I showed up all floaty and colorful, they seemed quite happy and proud for me.
I may have tied it too high ("where's the flood?"--the snarks at my high school might have asked), but for the most part, I was comfortable and didn't trip. The tripping thing has been one of my most frequent excuses, so I had to re-evaluate why I don't wear saris to work.
Other Indian aunties are wearing saris to everything from construction jobs to yoga to designing spacecraft. Why don't I? I really do think it's because all the ones I have are gifts and meant for festivities and too shiny or drippy with zari/fake pearls/pompoms/gems/stonework. I need a sari wardrobe for work--but I feel weird buying stuff for myself so soon after a day when I got so many presents.
This one, BTW, is a 'house sari' discard from one of my mom's visits. In fact, it was from her first visit when At was a newborn, so it's nearly 22 years old. Very nearly vintage. Wild.
This year, we got to celebrate in the sunshine and make our offering at a reasonable daytime hour, with fragrant narcissus and paperwhites rounding out the pongal rice and jaggery laddu on the offering tray. To the millenary vedic sun salutation sloka*, which I was translating for the kids as I went, I added a prayer for enough Vit. D to help us through the pandemic.
Cousin P had sent the cousin groupchat a set of truly lovely pics of their traditional celebration replete with sugarcane, outdoor hearth, and silk-clad kids. So I sent this pic back to balance things out.
Not pictured: The very un-Pongal looking kids, one in the Phoebe Bridgers limited edition Punisher sweater they got from their older sib and the other human kid in the pink Mean Girls/Karl Marx mashup tee I gave them.
Tamorim Sarva Paapagnam Pranathosmi Divakaram
[You radiant as the Japa flower, heir of Kashyapa, the creator of days
destroy my darkness and all corruption I pray to you, O Sun.]
Oh my little girl
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
In my head, the "little girl" became a reference to Nu who had just told their first lie and had been reprimanded, and was now sad.
Anyway--I was reminded of this because Tommy Raskin's life (yes, I haven't moved on) reminds me not of my own weltschmerzen, but of my children's and students' joy, their yearning for justice, for full lives, how the pandemic is the chief thief of joy RN, and their frustrations with the world... and it terrifies me.
(Pic from walk this afternoon with LB; Red Cedar River--the mallards followed me around!)
"pour the saliva" they say chorus my saliva's spectacle how random, how to unbait sighs
I once described a snake exist/lament/impact/about the junction of having breath back
'pouring' itself down a hole the scratching exhaustion having my back, trusting offspring
the kids were so freaked out of dying on tv every day to try to sidestep the cracks
At 3:00, Nu was on their daily online-school-accountability call with Grandma S, and were told that they really should go watch the news. So we did. Watching the storming of capitol buildings by white supremacists was surreal, frustrating, and infuriating. Activists from ADAPT and BLM certainly did not get the 'I'll open the gates, hold your hand going down the stairs, and take selfies with you' treatment from the police.
By 4:00, I was in a meeting with one of the finance guys at work who wasn't interested in the news and kept referring to higher ed as "our industry." I can't help thinking this kind of obliviousness and corporatization contributed to the mess we're in.
I saw the cutest snowperson when I ambled over to L's house earlier today! Their bangs are like mine, but even that detail couldn't detract from their quintessential cuteness.
Nu's back in (virtual) school today, so everyone is back to waking early so we can have breakfast together and build each other up... apparently, we do this with cuddles, and riddles, and jokes, and teasing putdowns.
Speaking of school... I miss my students. There're lots of meetings starting Wednesday and I started today by writing to every one of my advisees. It's re-entry time for all of us although classes won't start until after MLK Day.
Speaking of days... It's my Boss Day! My dinner pick was poke, which we made together; my entertainment pick was Veep... again!
After everyone headed off to their rooms, I found the tribute Rep. Raskins and his spouse wrote for their child Tommy and I weep to think that someone who brought so much joy and goodness to people didn't feel enough of it themselves.
(Related: I think of Aaron Swartz frequently. Sometimes I think about them multiple times a week--especially when my students are doing internet research. I resent that I was introduced to Aaron Swartz through his obituary--it's a particularly downhearted way to learn about an extraordinary person. I thought I'd written about this before, but a quick search revealed nothing.)