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

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Believe in open-minded people

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi in our Presidential Speaker series (via Zoom) tonight and here's my question and his response.

How do you decide whether or not to engage with someone who may put you in a position where you have to argue for your humanity/human rights?

Well, remember there are people who are close-minded and people who are open-minded. 

So someone may believe in voter fraud, and you may bring them some sources and say: there is no significant voter fraud. 

And they may say: [I] don't trust your sources

So you ask them: Ok, what sources do you trust? 

And you go and find material from those sources and they say: I don't trust those sources anymore

Those people may have closed minds. And when a person's mind is closed, I try to not spend my time on them unless they are really close to me. 

I'm going to spend my time with the open-minded people. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Today's (s)log

Yesterday's picture, and a tiny today update. 

Met all my classes; my students seem lovely! My international students patched in via video, and that went ok too. I am grieving the loss of classroom intimacy--video, masks, distancing, and having to sit in rows instead of a circle are all messy. But I get it--and I think we'll get through it. 

Got to meet At before afternoon classes to pass on some freezer staples, I and was chuffed to see he had two masks and long sleeves on. Yay! I walked him back to his house and got a "back hug" as he turned to get the stairs. Seeing At made me so happy.

My last class ended late and then I headed to a socially distant picnic at the president's house for our new MFA director. Both of them have worked really hard on the program even through the strangeness of the summer, and I was happy to celebrate with them. But the sun had set by the time I drove home--another reminder this summer is ending. Luckily, I had a long conversation with JG to keep me company in the car. 

Back home, I discovered that L had dropped off some of Nu's favorite brownies and a ton of snacks as a back-to-school treat for Nu (they start tomorrow). My Nu was already in bed, but I was told they lovvvvvvvved me when I snuck in for a goodnight kiss. And then Big A woke up, and we had a teensy dessert-date chit-chat (me with Nu's brownies, Big A with the leftovers of the Culver's from his and Nu's dinner) before he headed off to work. I'll be sleeping with Scout and Huck tonight.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

First Day

Yesterday's Hawk Island hike with SS was magical. I came away with book and movie recommendations and the idea that I'm not the one who gets to decide who reads my stuff. Of course, I tell students this all the time, but I need to hear it too, sometimes.

Today was my first day back in the classroom since March. Yes, it's Sunday, but that's when the first-years start this year. My first-day jitters were keener than usual, but once back in the classroom, things settled into the usual. 

I don't think I have everyone's names yet as I usually do. Masked, even people I already know are hard to recognize; memorizing the names of new students when half their faces are out of view is going to be quite a challenge. Bless everyone who smiles with their eyes and nods in class.

Sunday, August 16, 2020


Walk-and-talks with At and Nu (frequently up and down our driveway) are full of insights, jokes, and discoveries, but I guess we didn't expect actual physical discoveries like this mossy rock just off the path.  Was it always here? How did we not see it?

Here on the magic rock, is my little woodland Nu dappled in sunlight and lost in thought (they're very into plague doctor philosophy and aesthetics right now).

Another discovery: the story "Amma" by Sindya Bhanoo in Granta, not just set in my hometown of Chennai, but IN MY SCHOOL! OMG.

Friday, July 24, 2020

24/7 Panic Snapshots

Gratuitous cute-goofy picture
I woke in panic several times last night:

Once because my mind was singing the chorus to MISSIO's "Wolves" and it was terrifying in the dark.

Once because I was imploring Mai and the macaque to run, run, run (just finished Ocean Vuong's beautiful and brutal On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous).

Once because I dreamed I had taken At and Nu clothes shopping and they were breathed on and almost touched accidentally a few times by other shoppers. (How extra stupid would this unease have been a year ago?!)

And finally, because of the reasonable, rational, familiar dread of the school year approaching and all the preparation that needs to be accomplished in the weeks that remain. It's here--July 24th... 24/7. In exactly one month we'll be welcoming students back to campus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Anti-Capitalist Walk-Talk

It was At's turn to walk with me today, and we ended up in hammocks after 20 or so mins, because it had gotten quite hot again. Our resident socialist was discussing the cultural theorist Mark Fisher, whose chapter titles are whimsical and full of possibility: "What if you held a protest and everyone came?" "It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism."  But I guess I didn't know the jarring reason why Fisher's writing stopped.

And also, I'll confess--my darling boy's Jesus of the Naxalites mien charms and alarms me in almost equal measure and for different reasons.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020


This is Scout's favorite "mope" position and today, he kept switching sides back and forth while Nu and I listened to Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings--something I've wanted to do since we fell in love with the radical Grimke sisters when we were reading Rad American Women A-Z five years ago. (Incidentally, while there have been lots of girl-centered hero books since, Rad American Women A-Z remains my favorite because of the way it centers social justice.)

When I'm not actively occupying myself with something productive  (good) or self-flagellating with the news (bad), I find I too am moping in various positions and locations like our Scout. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Here's to the Chroniclers

Over at the NYT, Teju Cole says true and clever things about chronicling life in this pandemic, and it reminded me of all the bloggers who update frequently, and are giving credence and structure to readers' experiences via their own daily meditations.  I miss my old blogging peers from the time of the Mutiny and people I met there including Cole himself. I remember him saying something faintly nice about a poem of mine here once upon a time, and how it made the rest of my week/month--something like that. Ha.

I've tried to get the kids to keep journals; Nu got as far as decorating the cover of the new notebook I gave them; At scoffed, but he's quite tweety, so there's that. Anyway, these days, I'm starting internet meanderings with: Ana BeginsGrumpy RamblingsHarry TimesNot of General InterestShu BoxSomething Remarkable, and Stirrup Queens.  Updating here daily has helped me remember and process these days--yes I've cried every day for the past week, but apparently I've done so for discrete reasons. (Not really; it's mostly been related to living in the pandemic, but at least I have a list of different things that set me off.)

Here's a link to Cole's essay and some pull quotes where he articulates the anxiety of articulation in the right now.

"This year has been a blur, but I remember one day clearly: Sunday, March 8. It was the last day I ate at a restaurant, the last day I went to a concert (Red Baraat at the Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass.) and the last day I hugged a friend. It was also the first time I thought that I should begin writing about what was going on.

"That thought was immediately followed by its negation: Why bother? The same incidents, the same references and the same outrages would inevitably be picked over by other writers; for all our social distancing, we’d all be crowding around the same material. I also knew that anything I wrote could soon be — in fact was almost certain to be — contradicted by new developments. But what worried me most was that certain points of emphasis in my writing would later prove to have been misjudged, and that this would somehow reveal that my heart had been in the wrong place all along.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pandemic, Spring

Across a tawny field that will be green
next week, a stand of maples, waving,
trunks spaced six feet or more apart
as if they’d heard the governor’s order.
As if they, too, were keeping distance,
while in the earth an interplay of fine
roots and tiny fungi relays messages,
shares sustenance, keeps in touch.
From here, their lacy crowns look bare,
spreading as they reach out toward a sky
delicately blue as a robin’s egg. Yet there
a thousand thousand leaf buds hold tight
ready to unfurl in jubilation. Till then
the trees hang on, deep-rooted, keeping
their distance, holding each other close.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Big Girl

One of our busiest hikes at Harris Nature Center today--my four kids, L&T; B&L, V&C, plus CF and VC and JS and, and...

I've been feeling... sad is the best way to describe it. And as the human kids traveled up and down the hike group chatting away, I brought up the rear with just the puppy kids, giving myself permission to be alone for a while.

Back home, we made a pantry-sourced, vaguely Thai-inspired soup with sweet potatoes, beans, veggies, lemongrass, ginger, basil, and coconut milk, and then settled in to finish watching the Gerwig adaptation of Little Women after dinner with Big A.

Ever since I won a copy of LW in fourth grade, I've steadily read most of Alcott's novels, contributed to the Alcott encyclopedia in grad school, and generally adore her--that I loved this adaptation with its duplex ending so much means something.

The kids had already seen it with the grands in OH when it first came out, and I found it so sweet the way they watched my reaction as they re-watched the movie with me. Also, they think it's hilarious to call it "Big Girls."

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Last Christmas

I wanted to give our neighbors's Baby E one of my favorite board books--Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day. I even found a a little snow baby puppet I thought would bring out Baby E's cheeks and smile.

But the very next day, Baby E's parents went to visit grandparents in California for a month (smart of them), and then they moved into their own house sometime last month, and I never got the book to E.

This evening as we were walking home from Big A's Boss Day dinner at Sansu, we saw E's dad T on his way to pick up some things from their old place, and he stopped as he passed us to give us updates and I was able to pass on E's Christmas gift.

I did it! I gave it to someone special. It's not like we don't have snow after all. #GeorgeMichaelLives.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

"Empty Hearts"

That's it, that's the update.
I made it out in this, so I'm calling today a success.

(A book club meeting for Juli Zeh's Empty Hearts--
I liked it, but I have SO MANY questions!!)

Thursday, December 19, 2019


I got to bookclub first, with my signed copy of Rainbow Rowell's sweet debut Eleanor and Park for the book exchange. (Reusing book, bag, and tissue paper here. Hola!)

Half-an hour later, the place was all raucous exuberance, with discussions hilariously veering off course. The book was Tayari Jones's An American Marriage and the loudest, longest discussion SOMEHOW became: which famous prisoner would you write to?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Generous Thinking

Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University
Dinner with the author at the President's house this evening, and KB and I kept falling into these patterns where we were flanking--first the fireplace, then the speaker at the dinner table. 
Anyway, it gave me time to quietly thank Fitzpatrick for her solidarity with minorities, and her point that civility does not mean having to argue with people for your humanity.

Monday, November 11, 2019

November surprise

Snow was predicted for today, but it seems to have caught everyone by surprise after all. It was so perfect and powdery and pristine out. Also surprising: Me being out in it.

And later today, from At's article in the school paper about carrying his passport card on him: "The real reason I hold on to the card is because of my immigrant mom, who is worried about her son being stopped by the police and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (I.C.E.). She herself carries numerous documents in order to prove her legal residence and her parental relationship to my sibling and me." 💖 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

It's cruel

When your child can drag so many of your cultural heroes at the same time and loves it so much that they send you this pic on Twitter and family chat...

#JustinInBlackFace #OldSchoolKanye


Sunday, June 09, 2019

Strange Beauty

Today, I heard Paul Winter's Missa Gaia (1981) for the very first time at UU--almost otherworldly in its beauty, it made me happy and it made me cry. (Once I got past the JarJar Binks title and realized that it's simply Mass [of/for] Earth [In Latin and Greek] and that whales and wolves would be acknowledged as composers too.)

And late yesterday, I shared how I fell in love with 11-year-old Nu's little waif with the anxious shoulders.

And then it was a sleepover night in the rumpus room with the puppies, laughing at some of the creepy creatures in Nu's sketchbook, and falling asleep to the strange symphonic sounds of Sigur Ros.


In the midst of mounting excitement about the start of the new school year, it was a shock to hear two people who'd been at the college ...