Showing posts with label World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World. Show all posts

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.

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.

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...

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

sweetest sixteen

I cannot believe our little Nu is sixteen. Or rather, I can believe Nu is sixteen, but can't believe it was sixteen years and one day ago that Big A and I were walking hand-in-hand through the doors of the NYU teaching hospital so I could get the Pitocin to coax Nu out. That day feels like yesterday.

Our Nu has always done things on their own time and the labor nurse who said they had an old soul was absolutely right. May this year nurture and delight my little darling.

(The My Little Pony celebration kit I put together was a hit as were the name-change docs we tucked in amongst their other presents.)

Pic: Nu decided they just had to build a gift-bag tower to the ceiling.

Monday, October 09, 2023


It would probably take me many tries to get all the loops and turns of how exactly Cousin P is my cousin. But I just know that she is. Growing up, she was a constant fixture of family get togethers and although she was just two years older, I absolutely idolized her (still do). 

Our straightforward heart connection bypasses the complicated family tree. When we lived in New Jersey, we saw each other every day and I always feel very, very loved by her. When morning sickness laid me low, she hand-fed me. And I don't mean spoon-fed--she scooped up the rice and rasam into little balls and fed me with her fingers like a proper South Indian mama would. 

I'm so glad P came for a visit despite all the stresses of her high-powered job, and illnesses in the family. And of course we plunged into chattering the day away. At my request, RR came by to give her a massage and then At came over to say hello and we all sat down to dinner together, FaceTiming various other cousins. 

There's a family reunion planned... for 2025... I can't wait. 

Pic: Cousin P, Nu, At, and Cousin K2 (on the phone from the U of Maine).

Sunday, October 08, 2023


No "Sunday scaries" today because we're on "Midterm Fall Break," which is, basically, just Mon and Tues off (because Thanksgiving next month will give us Wed, Thurs, and Fri off) blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, etc. 

The specifics don't matter! It's just SO NICE to not have to jump right into the week. I'll catch up with grading (I can dream!)

I took myself outside to prevent myself from falling into a "funk" (as my dad would call it) about the UAW strike (now in its fifth week--the workers are getting $500 a week and that can only go so far) and the war in Palestine (on top of all the horrors of history and occupation).

I spent hours in the backyard raking and in the garden tidying with Max, then a blissful massage visit from RR, a chatty, catch-up visit from JL replete with carrot cupcakes and champagne, a soup I invented with butternut squash, spinach, and almonds, and a depressing but so-good book (Emma Cline's The Guest) made up the rest of my day.

(Somehow although I spent hours outside with no casualties, I got a yellowjacket sting inside the house.)

Pic: Post-dinner jinks with Big A, Huck, Max, and Nu.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Maya Boulevard

This summer when Big A and I were making our way back from Jamaica, the restaurant at the airport had one of those displays where you can find souvenirs with your name on it. 

My very Sanskrit name has gotten more mainstream lately, so I was delighted to find that the address-themed stall had a "Maya Boulevard" and then I found one with Big A's name too, so I excitedly got both.  

Big A was amused by my delight and said he'd never had a name souvenir before. 

I was all: OMG! Did you never find your name before either? 

And he was all: No, it was just too cheesy for me. 😂😭

Anyway, I put those signs on our respective sides of the closet by the bathroom door, above two prints I love. The "we are in this together," is a reminder that has gotten us through some tough times and the New Yorker cover features a couple who we think kinda looks like us when we used to explore NYC on dates.

Friday, October 06, 2023


when I slip into a canoe 
to call it sleep--no one
has questions to ask
                              I deceive myself  
anxiety is my specialty 
every rock a pinnacle
every ripple a cataract  
                              I deserve myself 
            I like to say I'm flowing
            but I'm falling... falling 
            so... slowly you can't tell

The radio was the perfect soundtrack today, playing "Friday I'm in Love" (what a perfect villanelle!) just as I got into the car to come home after a long day of meetings. (EC and I have the rest of the FYS project mapped out; tied up some delightful student consults on projects; a student emergency where DD magically showed up to help renewed my gratitude that her office is just two doors away from mine.) Then the radio played "Nothing Compares" and the Prince-Sinead-Scout sorrow was overwhelming. "All the flowers that you planted /In the backyard/All died when you went away" will never fail to squeeze a sob out out of me. I blame this song--poor Big A said something innocuous in the course of a conversation around 2 am, and I had a full-on sobbing interlude. Okay.

Onward... I want to thank Mel at Stirrup Queens for the shoutout in her 985th blog roundup! The last three times I made it to the roundup, it brought good luck in the form of emails notifying me that poems had been accepted for publication in other places. This time--alas--I did not have any submissions out. Perhaps I should work on getting some out over the upcoming long weekend.

Pic: It feels like our first perfect fall day, and I got out--between meetings--for a walk-and-talk on the bike path with AK.

Thursday, October 05, 2023

and then there's hope

Five "I" glimmers today:

  1. I got my watch battery changed. My fancy watch is part of what I consider to be an essential component of my "academic drag" so I've been wearing it to work albeit with a dead battery for a couple of weeks now. Finding the 20 minutes to have it fixed has been making me feel accomplished every time I glance at my wrist today.
  2. I got in a 15-minute fitness class this morning. Fitness really falls away during term time and especially on teaching days. I have that Mirror doohickey so I have no excuses, but I always think to myself that I'll do a yoga/barre/pilates sesh after I get home from work--but that's always a fake out. If I don't exercise in the morning, I don't exercise for the day. So my 15-minutes of barre before I put on my work outfit today makes me (feel like) a champion. 
  3. I lucked out picking Ann Patchett's Tom Lake as my next book... It was the perfect comforting remise en bouche--almost sorbet like--after the heaviness of the Zadie Smith. I'm loving the Michigan setting and the easy family witticisms, the wise-wild reminder of exciting/turbulent lives lived pre-marriage and pre-kids...  And then the contentment and happiness Lara, the protagonist, feels in having the whole family sheltering in place under the same roof during the early pandemic matches my feelings about that time.
  4. I heard about the Jon Fosse Nobel for Literature and was disappointed because I really, really thought Rushdie or Ngũgĩ would win it this year... But I feel hopeful enough to think: ah well, there's always next year. 
  5. Pic: I'm not imagining the strange mashup of holidays that stores seem to be celebrating simultaneously these daysNGS mentioned this weirdness earlier this week, and seeing this bizarre sign in the window of a store ("Hallo-Thank-Xmas"--WHAT?!) is a clear indication that some corporate genius/jackass somewhere thinks this could be a selling idea. (Probably is?)

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

celebrating small

I'm a bit sad-mad-feeling bad. 

We have two big birthdays coming up this month: Nu turns 16 and Big A turns 50! I'd love nothing more than to celebrate them by throwing huge birthday bashes for them... but neither wants that. I'm perfectly capable of pulling together surprise parties for both of them, but I know in my bones that they would actively dislike that. And of course they should be celebrated in ways that make them happy. 

I know these are just numbers and it's silly to feel like they would be missed opportunities and that a 17th birthday or a 51st birthday can't be as special. This year, both of them say they want dinner with the fam and... that's all. It sounds a bit... underwhelming?

I mean... I love birthdays so much, I invented Boss Days. Today was mine, BTW. I picked sushi for dinner, got waited on hand and foot, and used a gift cert to buy myself a copy of Why Has Nobody Told Me This BeforeI like how it sounds like a thriller instead of the self-help it is!

Pic: Out by Scout's memorial. Max and Huckie don't know what to do next after they've treed Kylo (our resident trickster / black squirrel). 

"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.....