Showing posts with label Writer-Encounters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writer-Encounters. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

"bookstores, beverages, and besties"


A slow, quiet (bit sad) day for me today. But I saw this post this morning and have been thinking of "bookstores, beverages, and besties" tours all day.

I'm craving travel and people I haven't seen in a while and don't know how much longer I can hold out.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

into the metaphysical

This list of ten "scenario spoilers" that was published in an issue of Wired in 1997 has been making the rounds my social media lately, and it is fascinating how many (all?) of these bullets are applicable to us 25 years later.

#9 "An uncontrollable plague--a modern-day influenza epidemic" is of course the one that grabs the most attention. I'm reading about the start of our pandemic in the middle part of Louise Erdrich's The Sentence and it feels so eerie reliving the fear and deficit of information in early 2020. 

Also eerie, reading this novel at 2:25 am when everyone else is asleep because there's a very insistent ghost in the book. 

I should probably go switch the load of laundry I started in the basement a while ago. 

But I've watched enough horror movies and I'm no one's fool.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

commencement day

The amazing Robert Pinsky, our commencement speaker today, gave a talk he'd titled "A good idea, a bad idea, and a joke." The joke, he warned us, was unfunny but would save everyone thousands of dollars and many hours of psychotherapy. Here's a paraphrase. Patient tells the doctor: "it hurts when I do this..." Doctor replies: "Then don't do it."

But an unscripted funny moment was when Pinsky was describing how hair sprouts on the human body, using his fingers to mime sprouting at his head, then his armpits, and then the whole auditorium kind of held their breath wondering if he would go further. (He didn't). 

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to advisees and students who graduated today. I went in early to finish writing congratulation cards in my office and was touched to find cards students had crammed into the doorjamb or slid under the door. I thought I knew whom they might be from as I collected them, but I was wrong. None were from advisees or people I had done big, important things with/for. For the most part, these cards referenced small conversations and interactions. I kind of sat with that for a while. The idea that small things had been so important in someone's life made me feel... TBH... a bit anxious, actually. It's easier to do a finite number of big things than it would be to be open and supportive all the time. 

Pic: A screengrab of me doing the faculty marshal thing with the staff/mace and all. I kind of like the extra shoulder width and overall height academic regalia gives me.

And I couldn't help remembering that this happened at last year's graduation.

 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

some "uppy" for my heart

Into this gloriously sunshiny, blue sky day, I fit in goodbye brunch with our guests, a UU service with Nu (now with singing!), a read in the garden that turned into a snooze (with puppies!), a long walk along the Red Cedar, a full house post-guest clean, and then... At showed up for a surprise visit. 

Scout was so excited by this last development (or maybe it's the five pills he's been taking every day) he didn't wait for an "uppy" and just jumped up onto the couch by himself. 

That made my own heart very "uppy" too.

Beautiful Anne Lamott words here for more heart uppy-s. 

Saturday, April 09, 2022

din-din dinners

Nu's friend is over for a sleepover this evening and my friend/colleague SS and their Connecticut family are too. I wondered what the two highschoolers and SS's new college kid--all of whom had never met before--would have in common... But in less than 20 seconds they were talking, arguing, and enthusing about books and shows the three of them had read/watched. I guess that's what books and show do--knit us a common experience. The three of them are off in the rumpus room watching Princess Mononoke with the puppies. I needn't have wondered/worried.

I rarely take pictures of our dinner party table because it feels discourteous to my guests--the food is for them, not my camera. But SS's spouse did. I loved making them a feast (90% of it vegetarian). Just this morning, I read an article on hosting dinner parties Modern Mrs. Darcy linked to with mounting dismay. I agreed with most of the bullets (don't clean before--clean after, make a ton of food, accept help, and so on). But don't change the menu?! No desserts requiring silverware?! That seems like a recipe (ha) for monotony. And contrary to the article's advice, I already have counters cleaned/clear, boxed lunches for guests and fam, and am now off to spend more time playing board games. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

zooming to nostalgia

When the invitation to attend a state of the art talk with so many of my old professors showed up, I RSVPed right away. It was some of the usual suspects from the Thursday Poco Seminar and it  took me back to being a student in Oxford in the first decade of this century--late as usual, racing past the tourists and townies and fellow students to get to Wadham College by 5:15. Usually I didn't bring my bicycle because there'd be wine and/or we'd go to dinner with the speaker and it would be easier to split a taxicab with someone.

It was at 5:00 GMT today, so although I tuned in at noon, it felt like one of those evenings. Lots has happened since then: jobs, publications, promotions; and on the other side: relationships, marriage, kids. It's wild that my profs are still the leaders in the field; it's crazy that I still show up on their acknowledgements pages from time to time. 

There is one person on this panel who is newer, very likely much younger. They mentioned in their introductory remarks that they felt "intimidated." I assumed they meant because of the august company--but no, they meant because they had to cover a lot of ground in very little time. And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons why although both of us applied for the same job at UCLA Berkeley in 2012, only one of us got it (and it wasn't me).

Friday, January 14, 2022

treasure (noun and verb)


Bookclub yesterday at JS's. Everyone took a rapid test before we headed over and it felt delightful to *see* everyone and catch up on news and nosh. 

We'd read The Lincoln Highway (which I didn't love) and as is my wont, I made a dish featured in the book--this time it was "Sally's Casserole," which was actually this although I, naturally, subbed Impossible meat for the beef. I had however, mentioned to L that I was thinking of making fettucine mio amore, another dish mentioned in the book, and L came up with the author's recipe! Then I spent way too much time going down the rabbit hole of other recipes based on mentions in books.

My most favorite part was the tour of JS's treasures from walks and hikes--pods and nests and dried flora (pic). I love how JS (a poet) finds treasure everywhere. Such a lovely evening and a memory to treasure in the months to come. 

Thursday, January 06, 2022

"change not closure"


I heard of ambiguous loss only last year, but it was one of those moments that helped me understand a lifetime. Pauline Boss who originated that term (in grad school!!) has a new book out in which they urge that we prioritize adapting to change instead of forcing closure. It was a day of making some tough decisions with Big A (out of state job) and Nu (school-related stuff), so this was a helpful read. 

I've heard other people say the same thing — that they were more adaptable than they thought they could be. I saw it during World War II as well. I was a youngster then. People adapted and were extremely resilient and came through it, the ones that were still living. I see it again now. I'm again pleasantly surprised at human resilience. It's not true of everybody, but it's true of, I think, most of the people. And so I say this to people: Pat yourself on the back.

*Patting myself on the back.* 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

bell hooks

Not bell hooks... and not at just 69...

I've learned so much from her since my first feminist theory class and I've always had her work in all of the classes I teach.  Students love how easy and joyous her work is and how richly rooted in love and community. I gave copies of her All About Love: New Visions to lots of people just last Christmas, including At who fell in love with it. 

(And I had to talk myself out of being irritated by people who used uppercase to spell her name in their canned tributes although it felt so disrespectful; and I have to look away from the early death of another black activist; and I'm sitting with Kaye Wise Whitehead's "It is sometimes hard to imagine being in a world when the geniuses of your time are no longer in it.")

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

two notes in a minor key


A. This photo on FB marketplace gave me major Hemingway-babyshoes flash fiction vibes.

B. Looking over minutes from last month's faculty meeting (which I had joined online) it turns out that my only contribution had been re. the library deaccession: "Maya—This is a blow. Used to be in acquisitions for post colonialism. Loves teaching in the library stacks. Students are missing opportunity physical catalogues. Going to sell books for peanuts—not placing them in another library. Very upset."

Those last two words made me chuckle extra hard. Not sure if I claimed to be very upset or if the empathetic poet-novelist-playwright colleague who took minutes that day summarized my rant. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

a-maze


I'm sorry I couldn't take any pictures of the amazing sunrise over the Maple River as I drove to work. I couldn't get a picture of the amazing combination of sunset-moonrise-full-moon as I made my way back home either, and for the same reason--I was going at 80 mph... I have to make do with a lingering look and what the kids and I used to call "a deep breath of beauty."

The picture I do have is this post-four-classes, end-of-the-day domestic-violence-awareness <<< labyrinth, which became a meaningful moment to pause and reconnect with some wonderful people (KC, SG) who do the hard work in our community. 

Oh, and I got to ask Loretta Ross about Dave Chappelle later. I know her as a reproductive justice activist, so her work on calling-in culture is new-ish to me.

Tuesdays have become Subway days at home, so I ate my sub while watching a show with Big A and the puppies and then took a snooze with them before Nu's bedtime too. Off to "proper" bed now.

Friday, October 08, 2021

books, books, books

Sad because I finished Cloud Cuckoo Land (at 2 am last night) and I was disappointed about Anna's life post-Constantinople. Blamed it on men writing women, TBH. Clearly, my own Women's Writing class is having an effect on me. Ha.

Also: finally admitted to myself that I'm not going to be able to finish that online course in digital and data interpretation I signed up for... Not this semester, anyway. Just like in my undergraduate days, which is when I should have figured this out, I spend too much free time reading fiction and poetry, apparently.

The "sternly-worded" resolution--about the culling of books and carrels in the library--I was signatory to, passed with a resounding majority at the faculty meeting. Brief moment of vindication, but not sure if there will be any change to what feels like a predetermined outcome. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

in the war for trans existence


Big A's claim to show-biz fame is that he was in a play with Dave Chappelle. A middle school play. That he got kicked off--Big A not DC--for being mouthy. 

I liked the Chappelle Show, I loved Block Party. When we moved back to Big A's old hometown in 2008, I remember being faintly star struck about seeing DC everywhere. His older kids were in At's range, his youngest is a year behind Nu. Then he became just one more familiar face; it helped that he and his wife E were unfailingly kind to everyone. E "loves" when I post FB pics of the kids; I swoon when she shares pics of award shows. 

But I haven't watched any of his Netflix specials after the first one--it just didn't even seem him--not the funny Neal Brennan Chappelle, not the kind Yellow Springs Chappelle. I vaguely remember a joke he told on the the first one about two gender studies profs he has coffee with regularly and how all he's thinking about when they're talking is that he'd like to fuck them and I kind of checked out after that. 

And now the constant TERF war. RainOfTerra's tweet thread broke me and then I messaged LA (possibly one of the afore-mentioned gender studies profs in YS) around 5:15 am with a link and asked if she or anyone else could reach out to Dave. Her reply started with "Ugh, Dave." and ended with "So I will share this and see if any of Dave’s friends can speak to him in any way he can hear, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope."

And I wish I could do more.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

404

 


Full day: 10+ hours of teaching and grading and meetings and approx. 2 hours of commuting...

And it's now 3:18 am and I can't stop reading Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Help.

(I liked his All the Light We Cannot See too although its very eurocentric depiction of WWII irked me. This one, OMG, is incredibly lush and includes wide swathes of humanity and historical times.)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

a loss

 



<<This snarky joke was made by a person I admired when they got Covid a week ago. This in itself was surprising as they were vaccinated, advocated for masks, and seemed so careful. 

I am in major shock from hearing that they succumbed to Covid yesterday. State lines seemed distance enough... not sure how to handle this eternal distance. 

RIP, amazing one

Thursday, August 12, 2021

of darker days



> Torrential rains last night and then a pretty innocent-looking morning. Yet at my all-kids-pre-breakfast cuddle/huddle, At remarked on how it already looked darker at our regular wake up time.

*

< Started Ayad Akhtar's Homeland Elegies. FML, I didn't expect so much of that first chapter to be about Trumpfzzzz. It has been such a relief not to have to deal with that din on the daily.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

some more (travel)


Once more into the skies and on to D.C. where a long postponed conference-workshop awaits. 

Big A took me to the airport at 5 am, the plane took off at 6 am, and when I got to the hotel around 10 am-- they gave me a room right away.

Like me, it seemed everyone else too was grateful and eager for connection and collaboration after the pandemic hiatus, and people at our table lingered over half-full glasses of wine long after our formal welcome and orientation concluded. It turned out that one of the new people I met is an IRL friend of the fabulous Sarah from Harry Times. We were discussing academia and motherhood, and I had mentioned how seemingly effortlessly Sarah excels at parenting FIVE kids with an academic job and a spouse with a high-profile job--unsurprisingly perhaps, it appears there's only one of those 😀.

Speaking of kids--I haven't missed my kids since I kissed the human kids sleeping faces and the puppy kids furry faces at 4:30 am. 

[Pic: A nearly full moon at sunrise.]

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

interlude


I found this fellow at the waterlily pond in the horticultural gardens today. The colors here remind me of the first edition cover of Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things--which At is reading (for the first time) currently. I hope he likes it...

Decades ago, I used to find it impossible to love anyone who didn't like Roy's novel. 

I'm so much mellower now. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"make me a channel"




Two colleague-friends on the third floor have birthdays this week, and what a perfect time (plus a privilege and a pleasure) to share the work of Sophfronia Scott (who'll soon be on our floor) with them.

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.

starting over

Once in a while, I'll come across a piece of art--even something Nu has decided to throw away like this piece... And I'll be overcom...