First day, 2nd and 5th grade.

Baby’s first color. Kavi has been asking for pink hair for a while — first she wanted a streak, but later she switched to tips, because it’d be easier to cut out if she doesn’t like it or gets bored with it. She had been hoping for something a little more hot pink; this is kind of a reddish-pink, but she still likes it a lot.
Kavya was very bouncy this morning — she tries so hard to be a good girl, so much of the time, and if I love one thing about the hair, it’s that I think she feels like it gives her permission to be a little less ‘good.’


Portrait of a library board member who should be tired after the meeting ran an hour longer than normal (yes, I just got home at 10:45 p.m.), but who is actually still kind of buzzed from arguing about the budget for three hours. Okay, we didn’t argue about the budget for the whole meeting, but for at least a solid hour of it. And with more to come.

If you had told me that arguing about how we set priorities for the budget of major institutions would rock my world, I would have…I don’t even know. It would have been unimaginable to me. Fiduciary responsibilities turn out to be fascinating, because in the end, it’s all about people.

New Semester

We’re heading into new semester mode here, which is a little like New Year’s — a time when we make all kinds of resolutions and attempts at lifestyle changes, some of which stick, and some of which don’t. Kevin has grand plans for how we will all be on electronics less and together as a family more, which I support in theory but in practice I love my screens…

I have one more week to try to finish off this cookbook, which has been making healthy eating a little difficult (see, I have to make three batches of idlis in order to get them right, for example….although admittedly, I’ve been freezing a lot of what I make). Masala dosa scheduled for tomorrow,which is super yummy, but is also starch + starch.

I’m planning to start the semester next week with a burst of healthy eating and exercise — eat as you mean to go on, hopefully, with more fish and vegetables and fruit in my diet regularly, which honestly makes my body feel notably better than a starch-heavy diet. We’ll see. A little pricey, so I’m going to try to get in a Costco trip at the end of this week.

Today’s plans: straighten up, unpack, finish final proof of Jaggery, make young jackfruit curry. Assistant Chris comes from 10 – 3, and after he does his initial hour of helping to get the place in order (dishes, recycling, etc.) we’ll work on SLF WordPress website updating, Jaggery publicity (launching new issue today), SF reading series organizing.

If I have time / energy, I may try to draft a 1000 word short story I’ve promised to the Prize folks, but we’ll see how the day goes, feeling a little drained still from the weekend. In the afternoon, taking the kids for first day of school haircuts, and taking Kavi to open her first bank account, which we’ve been meaning to do for a while. Things to teach the ten-year-old this fall — how to crochet, better soccer skills, how to cook an entire meal, basic financial literacy.


My parents have a big finished basement, and have moved various pieces of furniture down there. Here is the 70s (red and cream zigzags, quite worn), here are the 80s (massive blue-grey sectional), here are the 90s (little flowered loveseat). In the living room, there’s the peach set (also from the 80s, I think), a long couch paired with little comfy chairs on wheels.

In the family room is the small black apartment set that Kevin’s parents got for him, that we passed to Mirna when we needed bigger furniture after Kavya was born, that Mirna passed on to my parents because two of the pieces were still good, eventually paired with another long black couch. And now I’m scoping out that set and wondering whether it’ll still be good when Kavya goes off to college and needs her first apartment afterwards.

You could do a history of our family in couches.

Book Book

Talked to Steve at Lethe Press, and if all goes well, we should have pre-order links live soon for Perennial (garden / cancer / romance) and A Taste of Serendib, 2nd edition (the cookbook), with the books scheduled to be out before Christmas. Mark your holiday gift lists and wish lists.

The cookbook is going to be on the expensive side for the print edition, since it’s twice as big as last time, and POD printing means we don’t get the economies of scale that regular printing would. But on the plus side, Lethe is planning to send everyone who buys the print edition a copy of the e-book as well (the e-book will have all the photos, which are too expensive for us to print; I’m also planning to have the photos available on my website, in case that’s helpful).

So a print book that’s nice and cozy to curl up and read, and an e-book that’s handy for pulling up recipes on your tablet in the kitchen, if that’s how you roll. Best of both worlds, hopefully.

Sunny California

Heading back to Chicago today, after eight days visiting Kevin’s family and our friends in the Bay Area. Pics below from lunch yesterday with Jed at Social Policy. I love the pretty crosswalks in downtown San Jose — are those supposed to be circuit boards? Cool.

Thanks to everyone who came out to board games at Jed’s on Saturday — I didn’t take any photos because I was so busy (and so happy) talking to you all. Great to catch up with Thida, Susan, Debbie, Dan, Nadya, Kam, Kevin, Cliff, Shannon, Alex, and oh, I’m forgetting some people, sorry, my mind is a rush of packing right now. Particularly great seeing all your gorgeous kids, who have gotten SO BIG. Some of them are taller than me already. I can’t even. And thanks to Jed for hosting!

Also great doing more board games with Alex and Jed yesterday (Fleet Command is fun, even though I lost both times — I did fight a valiant rear-guard action to the bitter end, though). It’s been a lovely trip, and we hope to come back soon.


Pleased to invite you to hear me read as part of Censored: A Banned Books Reading & ACLU Benefit, at the Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, on Monday, October 2, 2017, 7-9 p.m.

Ticketing details are still being finalized, will post when they are, but please save the date. It’s a big space, so let’s pack the house and raise some money for the ACLU! They could use it right now.

Presented by Third Coast Review/Kill Your Darlings. I’m tentatively planning to read from _This One Summer_, a YA graphic novel by Mariko Tamaki, one of the top ten challenged books of 2016.

“This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.” (

With avocado

In California, visiting Kevin’s family for a week. We arrived yesterday and settled into his parents’ condo in San Jose, which has a pool that is 3.5 ft. deep the whole length, exceedingly delighting the children. They spent an hour in it last night, and then another hour and a half this morning. Kavi is sad that we are not going to get a pool of our very own — sorry, kid. Wish we could.

It’s beautiful here, per usual, and Kev and I talked a bit wistfully about how it’s a shame we didn’t find academic jobs in the area. Of course, even if we had, we’d only be able to afford a tiny little place, but this weather! Might be worth it. Maybe we’ll retire here. The kids were eating tomatoes from his dad’s garden off the counter and were amazed at how yummy they were to just bite into. Yup, those are what tomatoes are supposed to taste like, kids. We might get some ripe ones at the end of the summer in Chicago; we’ll see. Some years yes, some years no.

I’ve now driven Kev and the kids down to his sister’s place in Los Gatos, where they’ll play with the cousins, and have abandoned them to come work for a few hours. Jed’s going to come down and grab lunch with me before he goes to work. I’ve settled into Los Gatos Coffee Roasting with my chai, and am looking forward to a sandwich with lots of avocado. California is nice.