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

Wednesday, March 06, 2024


"A book must be an axe for the frozen sea inside us." 
Kafka in a letter to Oskar Pollak 

As it happens: 
I have some books
I have at least two axes
I have the frozen sea
so I have all 3/3
the day is cloud-colored
my hair is in my eyes
I travel inside the love 
I have built for you
where it is windy
but this time tomorrow
Spring will be closer
these shoots coming up
groping their way into 
the air, would agree 
Pic: Tulips (I think) coming up... Not my garden (I wish). From a quick walk to MSU this morning.

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

a koan noting nothing

look, I said to the sky
my yearning is born 
in the wrong time

these hands that held
books and babies 
now hold air 

even falling like beauty 
this light is silent
oh, cold god  
Notes: I like knowing "nothing" was pronounced "noting" in Elizabethan English. The "nothing" itself didn't come from emptiness but from a very long 12-hour (14 with the commute) work day.

Pic: The REDress Project by Jaime Black-Morsette at MSU. From my walk yesterday.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

just killing time/filling the silence

mothers look away from me now
seconds abscond with sense 
in glissandos of angst

dreams pour out their sure poison 
I play it safe and then pretend 
--what? I don't understand

watching homes bloom in flame
and wart and scab into craters 
--I am an earnest surveyor

of everything left unsaid, noting
the news burns the day when 
it could be lit up with peace 

Note: Someday I will write a poem about Aaron Bushnell, but this is not it.
Pic: A mallard couple by themselves... they took to the water as we neared and I felt bad for disturbing their peace. Baker Woods Bog with L and T.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Five thoughts and things on Friday

1)      If yesterday's post was blessedly whine-free about Gaza, it was because I whined on FB, where I've mostly absented myself since October, instead. And then my people stepped in full of strength and sympathy and support. How can I not believe in the potential of this world when I'm surrounded by so much kindness and love?

   2)     Almost too much love. Just kidding...

  3)     But actually, I was late getting home because a workplace chat went on and on and then late to book club because Big A kept on prolonging our soak-and-chat and late getting home to dinner because there was pre-birthday cake and jollities at book club and then late for a friend's pooja because the dinner I made (couscous salad with almonds, felafel, and a ton of veggies, + the spicy feta dip a book club friend insisted I take home) was amusingly deemed merely "a side" so Big A got some shawarma wraps to top it off. At that point, I decided it would be best just to send my regrets to the pooja people. And so I did.

4)      I also got all the plant care, cleaning, and settling done today so I can take the rest of the weekend off to relax and luxuriate in birthday love and prep for reentry into the work week. 

5)       Pic: A snapshot of my very whiny FB post. Soc med circles are so weird. I bet if this was on Twitter, someone would have told me to STFU already.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Leap day: local, lowkey leisure

I woke up from a dream in which the kids and I were traveling with bestie KB... but then I got separated from them while lining up for an airport shuttle. I couldn't see them anymore, but I remember shouting over the crowd, "K, do you have my kids?" And she shouted back "yeah!" And then I felt calmer in the dream and as I woke up. I felt even calmer after I texted KB and asked her to check in on my kids if anything should happen to me. And she promised she would but added in characteristic KB fashion: "And FFS, Maya, please don’t die!!!" I'm not planning to!

I did a ton of work all morning from the moment Nu left for school. In the afternoon, I felt like a lady of leisure from a long time ago, or perhaps a lady of leisure in my future retirement. 

It was cold but sunshiny today, so I walked over to our local public radio station to help pack reading-literacy kits. It was repetitive assembly-line work and nicely freed up my head from extraneous thoughts--because you had to stay focused to get it right.

Then I walked home again with a nice long detour to finish the album I was listening to. 

I stopped by L's for a chat and to pick up the lemons I had asked to borrow from her... and then headed home for dinner with the fam.  

Sounds boring, but it was kind of blissful. 

Pic: Reading kit assembly station.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Hello, it is me I'm looking for

Today was mostly spent in what my dad would call a "funk." But I'm on my winter break and I'll funk if I want to.

I still managed to renew my Driver's License, arrange catering for a campus event next week, and finalize the speaker series for Women's History Month. 

I feel sad and helpless, and I told Big A that I was going to take my emergency prescription medication, but I didn't (I'm always "saving" it in case I have I bigger crisis). I drank a lot of tea instead, clung to him like a baby monkey, and then rallied to make up and make an amazing dinner (rice with arugula, five-color veggies + beans braised with miso, sesame oil, and nori). 

And then as a reward, I found birthday cards in the mail! They were such a sweet surprise and such a cheery pick-me-up.

Pic: Also immensely cheering, my fuzzy welcome committee. Max and Huck always pop up to say hello as I unlock the back door.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

in solidarity

Overwhelmed by the sacrifice of Aaron Bushnell, which I had barely begun to process yesterday.


What an empathetic, sincere, radical, and idealistic soul... What a lesson in being true to his conscience and his long history of mutual aid. He had recently been deployed to Israel as a U.S. airman, and I want to question why we're getting involved in the fighting rather than the peacemaking too.

Speaking of which, nearly 100,000 people in Michigan voted "uncommitted" today to challenge U.S. complicity in the Palestinian genocide... the goal had been to get 10K votes. I dislike how the media has painted this as an "Arab-American and Muslim" issue when it's really a humanitarian issue. So yes, Dearborn, which has a large Arab-American population, voted approx. 75% uncommitted, but Washtenaw, which has no significant Arab-American presence, also voted approx. 25% uncommitted. I don't have numbers for Ingham where Big A, At, and I voted. The "Listen to Michigan" campaign was started just about three weeks ago, so this is impressive.

Aaron Bushnell's sacrifice and the uncommitted votes are also a hopeful sign of humanitarian solidarity and moral clarity for me. It is difficult to go on day after day knowing we're actively vetoing ceasefires and sending arms to kill civilians but having to act like everything is normal.

Pic: I was at work today, and wanted to get a closeup of the "touchstone" LK made me--it is actually beautifully planed wood with copper insets that are almost like constellations. But then I got a bit distracted by the sunlight filtering through my office plants. The "toys" are a miniature Freedom Rider bus that KB gave me from her visit to the Legacy Museum and an auto-rickshaw my mom gave me after Nu and I had an adventure in one last year. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

a long day's journey

A beautiful moonrise, blue skies, warmer temps, a long walk, winter break. All day, I felt a sense of freedom and hope.

I learned late in the day of Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation with a sinking heart, but also with a sense of awe. What an extremely brave act of solidarity and protest. Culturally, it's a form of protest I'm familiar with--but I keep thinking about this twenty-five-year-old's family, and wonder how they feel... how his mother feels in this moment. In the opening scenes of the news video, he seems completely cognizant and in control of what he's doing, but many outlets are terming it mental illness. Our rhetoric is so messed up--his sacrifice to a just cause is "mental illness," but if he had sacrificed himself for the U.S. military-industrial complex, he'd be a "patriot?" 

Pic: Baker Woods with RS.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

that's what they said...

I love when we're at dinner and random stuff comes up. Hilarious accidental texts, work wins and woes, getting into AP classes, general advice in both generational directions, stories about parents, "do-you-remember-whens," hair compliments, everyone making the same joke about Nu's American Idiot tee at different times, Huck and Max going crazy for samosa wrapper crumbs, everyone finding different ways to warn me not to succumb to AI-generated grief tech to deal with the anniversary of Scout's passing, plans for the week, the barely-contained excitement about my upcoming birthday... 

I love these people so, so much and am so grateful for this life with them.

Pic: A big, squeezy hug at the end of dinner. Nu, Big A, At.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

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 college. I swear he has been dreaming about child-free living (precisely what I dread) for a long time now.

But we're on Winter Break at work and Nu had all-day plans with friends, so Big A and I took off by ourselves. We walked to the Breslin Center to watch the MSU women's basketball team post a 93-57 win over Rutgers, detoured to the horticultural gardens to see the orchid show, and then ended up at our favorite Sushi place before walking home to Huck and Max with our leftovers. I have to admit it was pretty nice and I can see us doing some version of this for a few decades after the kids are independent. 

Pic: I gave Big A matching Spartan hats at Christmas and promised to go to a game with him (he loves basketball). He got us tickets for a women's game because he knew I'd want to support the women's team. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

other lives

I've been immersing myself in a ton of fiction lately--anything to take my mind off the news. It has been pretty eclectic. I started the week with a reread of Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49--I have a faint memory of reading it for an undergrad American Litt. class. I wonder if I skimmed it, and how many of the references I got back then. It's stuck in my memory as a book with several weird sexual situations. 

I've since moved on to what I took to be a romance set in Havana (free on my Kindle). I thought I'd be irritated with its anti-revolutionary stance since the first chapter was about some Batista cronies fleeing, but it actually goes back and forth in time and among various classes quite well. 

Next up is going to be Curtis Sittenfeld's Romantic Comedy, which I found at the thrift store for a dollar and forty-nine cents when I went looking for old vases. I've always enjoyed Sittenfeld but recently she mentioned someone I know in her acknowledgments and that has cemented her standing in my reading lists forever.

I'm also watching shows I used to watch in the 90s (Frasier, Felicity); they're kind of calming and help me fall asleep. 

Pic: I was looking forward to taking pictures of the moon this evening, but it's suddenly quite cloudy.

Here's a picture of a squirrel looking straight at me instead. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

I am not alone

I live for the broad roofs
of wide skies lately
I'm thinking of making up 
my own cosmology

a sister sun, a mother moon
I'll urge on a webbing,
make belonging a whole world 
build like an animal

trusting one, another, and another 
where all of us are lost
--and it's okay and it's expected 
as everywhere is safe

kindness a patina to shine on  
the knots of this world
this goddamned beautiful world 
winding down slowly

surely, but still with so many
of those we love here...
still here, so I release to air
the ones who 

have been handfuls of sawdust
and ash
to live on as kin and stardust
Pic: Sunset today over the Maple on my way home. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

bleak week

I'm having a tough time this week. It's not that I can't go on... I am. But I keep feeling like I can't... On the surface, things look normal, but it feels like my sense of reality is being eroded--like the sandy shore slipping from under my feet in a dream yesterday. 

What's it all for if I can see the horror every day and am absolutely incapable of saving a single child? The amputations and caesareans without anesthesia, the firing at U.N. food distribution camps, the six-year-old calling emergency services trapped in a car full of her dead family... This is truly the stuff of horror.  And yet.... yet again... The U.S. has vetoed a ceasefire in Gaza for the third time. A ceasefire! 

BOL's cat who saw them through undergrad and grad school died and I want to be there to support them the way they supported me when Scout was dying... But also, it brought me back to that month of slowly losing Scout... the dread of every day. I'm surprised that it will be a whole year without my darling in just about two months.

Pic: E.D. Wilson's poem "My Phone is Full of Cute Cats and Dead Children."

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Sun: a poem and a pic

Mary Oliver: The Sun
Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon
and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again
out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower...

Full poem here: 
Pic: Sunset on my way home. Despite everything, the beauty of our world is just so breathtaking...

Monday, February 19, 2024


Good:  Big A's test results came back--nothing terrifying to report.
But:     The original symptoms persist. 
Good:  My stretch of overwork and late work evenings is mostly over.
But:     This week I scheduled two more late work evenings for March.
Good:   Participating in a teach-in panel on Gaza with the college YDSA in mid-March.
But:      Worrying about bothsideism from fellow-panelists.
Good:    Big A, Huck, Max, and me on a post-dinner walk with a fabulous sunset ahead of us.
 But:     Don't look too closely at Big A's left hand. Ha.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

love notes

We (Big A and I) don't celebrate Valentine's Day. We celebrate other days like the anniversary of our first and epic date, etc. But I LOVE elementary-school-style Valentine's Days: Candy for all! Cards for all!

I tried to recreate a little bit of that olde magic in class yesterday with a "Pal-entine's Day" celebration--there was candy and stickers people could share with each other. I expected to merely be the facilitator but some people made little notes for me too. I love the one that said, "Thank you for creating an inclusive classroom for all and expanding my love of literature." I love my students. 

I already gave the fam their V-Day treasures and treats, and it was just Nu, Huck, Max, and me at home today (Big A is in Milwaukee). I felt Nu might need some extra love so I picked up a few treats (ice-cream, Krispy Kremes, Kit-Kats) when I gassed up the car on my way home and made some heart-shaped caramel and chocolate cookies. Nu's delight was everything. I love Nu so much.

And my gal-pals took care of me. Lovely LD sent me a Galentine's Day care package via mail that had some serious Sephora goodies and a powdered drink mix I can't wait to try on the weekend. JG said I was her favorite Galentine and sent me a picture from Costa Rica of a howler monkey (!), and I nearly lost it when KB said she was loving me "from afar" (I MISS KB!!!!). I love my women friends. 

Pic: A jumble of V-Day stuff on the counter today. Also: the Spring planting catalog arrived in the mail like a present from the universe. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

an unhappy anniversary

That was quick... I guess it was just last year that there was an active shooter on the MSU campus with three students shot dead and five more critically injured (they all survived, thankfully). And this was on the heels of a scare and lockdown at Nu's high school just the week before.

The local radio station has carried stories about the anniversary all day with some segments on national radio too.

I remember being triggered by sirens two weeks later, but that seems to have faded now. What a difference a year makes. And it's amazing all the rubbish my human brain can grow used to and normalize. 

Pic: MSU students working on a commemorative message at the 'spirit rock' on Sunday.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

seven on Saturday

1. Happy Lunar New Year! At a New Year celebration lunch this afternoon, EM told me we're supposed to rest today and do a minimal amount of work tomorrow. I can do that! 

2. The kids got little red envelopes of cash. I'm so touched when work friends and family friends treat my nearly grown-ass kids like their own niblings.

3. I got a nice ramble with L in Baker Woods today. It has been weeks since I hiked with L--She said she missed me, and I asked if it was my silliness she missed. "I missed all of it, Maya." She said diplomatically (and lovingly!). 

4. I got a long walk with Big A--it was grey and windy, but we did a "Super Sparty" and it felt nice to be able to stretch my legs after sitting at my desk all week.

5. At came to dinner tonight so I gave the kids their Valentine's Day presents a bit early. When will they be too old to get V-Day presents from me? I hope never.

6. In a first for us--we're now mooching off At. They subscribed to the Criterion Channel and logged us in on the big TV so we can watch it too. I like all of it.

7. Pic: The Red Cedar is kinda plain today. But the mallards are enjoying it and so are we.

Friday, February 09, 2024

check 1, 2,

Every day on my way to work, I cross four rivers: Red Cedar, Looking Glass, Maple, and Pine. 

I've been meaning to take a photograph of the expanse of the Maple for years now. But the access road off the highway is on my way to work. And I usually feel like I'm in a hurry, so I wasn't able to. 

Until today--I had an hour before my first meeting, so I took the detour. The Maple is the biggest of my four rivers (I think)--at least at the point where I cross it. The kids and I used to call it taking a deep breath of beauty because of all the sunrises on the way to school.

When I got to the lookout point this morning, it was a bit disappointing because the reeds were taller than me, and I couldn't really see the river. But it was very quiet and calm and smelled briny and rustic and there was a bright blue sky and sunshine... so I spent some time soaking it all in. 

And now I know. It's checked off my mental list. I don't have to wonder about the view from the outlook or feel regret about not making the time to take a detour.

Also: I'm SO relieved to be finished with Hello, Beautiful. Everyone seems to have loved it, but about halfway through I disagreed fiercely with a primary character's decision. Then I began to realize the writing couldn't really keep up and resorted to a lot of telling (v. showing) etc. 

Pic: Finally, I get to take a picture from the bank of the Maple River.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

on not meeting expectations

I don't like my grade the student says
You're not from here, are you?
the student says

So where are you actually from? 
(India!) I thought so...
student smiles

I got the assignment wrong because
of your language (English?) 
the student says

It is so rude of you, the student says
to say... that my assignment 
didn't meet expectations

Note: This came from a long and unsettling office-hour exchange with my one disgruntled student today. It felt demeaning and I was so... crushed. Luckily, it was also the day our PR team had alerted me to an alumni interview which spoke glowingly of me, so I had some balance. But I'd been working on a new version of our land and labor acknowledgment, so it also felt like I'd been wrestling with issues of prejudice all day. 

Pic: No pic today--it was too, too hectic. My Thursdays are so long that they've become standard Subway-for-dinner days--Big A picks them up between his clinic and hospital shifts.

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 ...