Jaggery issue #12

Delighted to note that the Fall 2018 issue of Jaggery is up! With fiction from Sudip Bhattacharya, Ayeda Hussain, Zuneera Shah, poetry from Ankush Banerjee and Jugni Jahaz, essays from Nathaniel Warder, Shruti Mungi, Varsha Tiwary, reviews by Subramanian Shankar, Amitava Kumar, Meena Kandasamy, Susmita Bhattacharya and Deepak Unnikrishnan, and art by Neelima Chikkodi.

Congrats to Anu Mahadev and the rest of the Jaggery editorial team!

Please share and enjoy!

Censorship panel

From Ada Palmer, my censorship panel with Cory Doctorow and others is now audio-available for your listening pleasure. (I was extra-tired that day, and I’m afraid I started rambling a bit in the second half, but there’s lots of good stuff there anyway that I think will interest many of you.)

“This is the complete audio of our panel on “What are Censorship’s Real Historical Consequences” featuring Gehnwa Hayek (censorship of comics in contemporary Lebanon), James Larue (American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom), Mary Anne Monharaj (literary consequences of colonialism in Sri Lanka), Anthony Grafton (censorship of Renaissance books & Jewish books), plus co-organizers Cory Doctorow, Adrian Johns, and Ada Palmer. The video is still being processed but we’re delighted to share the audio in this preview form to give you a first taste!” 

Meds + cardio

So, I’ve been on Vyvanse for a few weeks now, but one aspect of it not being a good trial yet is that those weeks were so busy that I dropped my daily cardio. Adding it back in today, and hoping to *not* drop it again — 20 minutes on the treadmill in the morning really does make my day better; I just have to habituate it to it again. (Got up and dressed in exercise clothes first thing; good start, need to get back into that habit.)
Will be curious to see how the meds work in combination with daily cardio — I’ve been sort of tired and logy the last week, and it’s tempting to blame the meds, though it’s honestly hard to say how much of that is just being unusually busy.
Plan for today:
– exercise
– make sure Kavi is up and getting herself to school (Mondays are hard)
– incorporate notes from Makerspace meeting yesterday into proposal draft and to-do
– send out meeting minutes
– schedule next meeting
– call HVAC guys and schedule them to check on humidifiers
– call pysch and schedule ADD evals for kids (now that we finally have the insurance sorted and a referral from new doc in the system)
– dig up back yard dahlias
– lunch meeting wth member of arts council to let her know what we’re doing, get advice
– work on Le Guin essay (due today)
– grade and prep for tomorrow
– divide irises and replant irises
– divide Walker’s Low nepeta and Rozanne geranium & replant
– plant tulips
– 4:30 – talk to independent study student (review her work beforehand)
Busy day, but should be do-able. Onwards.

Sous Vide Egg Bites


There is something incredibly pleasing about stocking up for the weeks ahead. I would’ve been a good farmwife, in another lifetime.  And they are so pretty to photograph, bonus!

This round of sous vide egg bites, I used buttermilk with the eggs, which
should give a rich tanginess. Bell pepper and goat cheese, broccoli and cheddar, pork sausage and cheddar, all with chives sautéed in the leftover pork fat. Mmm… Three weeks of breakfasts, done.


Winter Garden



Finished setting up the winter garden. It’s a multi-stage process:

— first the plants, mostly tropicals, come in from the back deck.

— then they get moved around, as I try to find the perfect combination of sunlight — there are only four sunny windows on the first floor, so sunlight is the big limiting factor on how many plants I can squeeze inside.

— I make sure that none of them will drip on the floor — a combination of a few large pots that don’t have drain holes, some pots that have built-in drip saucers, some pots that have little plastic saucers added (my least favorite solution, because it’s not as pretty, but sometimes needs must), and some large trays filled with clay stones that absorb water; I usually water the stones too, in the hopes that it’ll keep a little more moisture in the environment.

— if any of the plants are sprawling too much, I add trellises so they’ll go vertical instead of wide; I also move them around for aesthetic impact, mostly trying to do a mix of heights and fullness

— and finally I trim off the excess — some of the vining ones, like mandevilla, go a little nuts in the summer, and need to be cut back to manageable proportions indoors

I’m almost done with the trimming — the duranta is blooming profusely right now with its little purple flowers, and I mostly want to trim those branches off and bring it back down to half its height; I’ll wait ’til the blooms are done before diving in with the shears. But otherwise, all set for the oncoming winter — welcome to the jungle.





Yesterday was sort of an intense day, even though I was working at home. I wrote the final scene of Wild Cards story and sent it off to my incredibly patient editor, Melinda Snodgrass — and may I just state for the record that I hate being the last writer to get her stuff in, and for the editor to have to send me e-mails asking when is it coming, Mary Anne? I am going to try to my damnedest to not have that happen again, bah. I would much rather be the *first* to get her story in.
I actually find the collaborative writing of Wild Cards (and Tremontaine) quite stressful and anxiety-provoking in a very specific way that is different from my own individual writing. And I say this even though I love being part of those projects and plan to continue with Wild Cards.
A lot of it is coming into established worlds, that have a lot of fine detail that I’m not intimately familiar with, and feeling very tense about not remembering every little detail (my memory is notably worse than average) — just feeling lost and afraid of getting things wrong.
It’s not a rational fear, because the editors are very used to the writers getting details wrong, and expect to have us correct things; revision is a big part of the process. But I am….not very patient with myself when I don’t get things right the first time? I think that’s maybe it. When the e-mail arrives in my inbox with the corrections, I tense up, and sometimes even have a hard time making myself open it. I need to be more comfortable with making mistakes.
Getting started is the worst part, though. Every single time, when I actually start drafting, it’s fine. But the anxiety can send me into DEEP procrastination mode, where I try everything avoidable to keep from actually starting writing. I mean, it’s stupid — I literally walk around the house for 12 hours assiduously cleaning and organizing (yes, I organized the tech drawer with ALL the cables yesterday) while thinking, “I should be writing that scene. I should be writing that scene. Mary Anne, stop doing this, and go write that scene.” For hours and hours, with the stress levels increasing. The brain is a wacky and avoidant thing.
I think the ADD meds might be helping a tiny bit. Not with the avoidance, but at least when I actually start work, I now fall right into it and get it done quick, as opposed to getting distracted with twenty other thoughts in the midst. Interesting.
I finally got the scene written and sent it off, and then spent a few more hours avoiding writing my IAC grant application. Grateful that they have it due at 11:59 p.m., rather than at 5 p.m. I follow the same guidelines for my students, when I can. It is kind.
More anxiety there, of a different kind, wondering if I should send them creative nonfiction or science fiction. I spent a few hours revising my memoir, getting 31 solid pages of it, before realizing that they actually probably wanted published work in the application (because they ask for ‘date completed’), not work in progress. So then I switched to sending them “Plea” and “Webs” instead.
I am proud of those stories, but I don’t know if the IAC jurors will be open to science fiction — but that is what I’ve mostly published, the last few years, so I suppose that is what they get. When I got the grant before, in 2005, it was for an excerpt from Bodies in Motion; I don’t really have any comparable mainstream lit. published work right now. I could’ve sent them the Roxane Gay essay, I suppose. Oh well — too late now.
Feeling sort of pummeled and exhausted today, but hopefully it’ll be a less stressful day. Little bit of prep and grading now, then take kids to get passport form signed (stupid complex process, gah), drop them at school, go teach.
Then a fun event this evening — I’ve been invited to play a game of Machine Learning President (politics and money) with Max Temkin and his crew. (Max is the creator of Cards Against Humanity — I met him last year through Mary Robinette Kowal, when we were serving together on the Museum of Science and Industry Department of Next board.) More on that anon; should be interesting.


Is the best feeling in the world a cancelled meeting that lets you skip the commute for a day? I think it might be.
Still masses of computer work to do today, but it is bliss being able to do it in cozy socks and cardie, with the washing machine and dishwasher going.
Plan for today, in vague order of importance:
– write one last scene for Wild Cards story
– write grant application due today
– send money to family member
– pay tree guys
– phone conference with independent study student
– grade and prep for the week’s classes
– process a few hundred e-mails
– catch up on Inktober
– catch up on Patreon posts
– work on Le Guin essay
– start re-reading Nora Jemisin‘s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, preparatory to teaching it next week
– make egg bite breakfasts for next three weeks and freeze some
– cook something nice for dinner (so hectic last week, didn’t get to cook at all, and I miss it)
– sort winter coats and make sure we’re prepped
– take Kavi to and from soccer practice
– attend Friends of the Library monthly meeting (part of trustee duties)

Censorship in Sri Lanka

Quick note that I’ll be on this panel on censorship this afternoon at the University of Chicago.

The autumn dialogue brings together scholars of print revolutions past and present with practitioners working on the frontiers of today’s information revolution. These dialogues are not formal panels with presented papers, but free-form discussions in which experts bounce ideas off each other, discovering rich parallels between their work and sharing them in real time. The eight dialogues will unite historians, editors, novelists, poets, and activists. They will be filmed and shared online to let the public enjoy and continue the discussions.

The organizers, Cory Doctorow, Adrian Johns, and Ada Palmer, will participate in all discussions.

The event is free and open to the public.


– Anthony Grafton (Princeton University): Renaissance censorship of Jewish books
– Gehnwa Hayek (University of Chicago): Comics censorship in contemporary Lebanon
– James Larue (American Library Association): Office of Intellectual Freedom
– Mary Anne Mohanraj (University of Illinois at Chicago): Literary consequences of colonialism in Sri Lanka

Kent Chemical Laboratory
Room 107
1020 E. 58th Street

Come out, come out

National Coming Out day! I’m bisexual and a cisgendered woman. I’m married to a man, have another male long-term partner (who is sadly long-distance), and have dated women both seriously and less seriously at various points in my life. I will likely date women again and possibly also non-binary folks in the future, if I ever have time for dating new people again! Right now, I’m mostly (mostly-happily) drowning in work and kids.

(As a side note, it’s notable how Kevin and Jed both massively decrease my workload and stress load and open up time for me (they are very self-sufficient guys, which helps), and presumably other relationships would do the same (yay, poly), but of course, new relationships are notorious time-sucks, and also it takes a while to figure out, generally, if these new people are also making your life better / easier or not. So even if the net effect on my life of other romantic relationships would be positive, the short-term time investment can feel unmanageable. I think that’s probably a fallacy. When I first met Jed, almost the first thing I said to him was that I didn’t have time to date him. Oops. Thank god we ignored that.)

(Side note two: the above also applies to friendships, though I am trying harder this year to both pay attention to established friends and at least open doors a bit for new friend possibilities. Meeting for coffee / wine is one of my new favorite things this year, as it is a lovely one-hour manageable moment in my life, and generally yields positive results in net happiness.)

(Side note three: I don’t really think of all my relationships as cost-benefit calculations, despite what you just read. But our time on this earth is short, and sometimes, time pressure just creeps into everything. Also, I overthink things!)

Vyvanse three days in

ADD meds report, three days in:

– Mon: first day on Vyvanse (20 mg), I took it late (noon), had a deadline, stayed up ’til 3 a.m., not a good test in any way, so mostly considering that a wash, although it did let me know that I wasn’t going to have any dramatic side effects, which was good. Got a lot done that day, felt happy and productive.

– Tues: second day, took it in the morning, felt happy and productive, nice day overall, though also a very long workday due to evening event, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Not sure there was any dramatic effect I noticed. Slightly restless sleep, but I was so tired from previous night’s short sleep, I did mostly sleep.

– Wed: third day, took it in the morning, happy and productive all through the workday. Around 5 I was having somewhat stressful political conversations, and driving home with Kev, got quite frustrated and crabby about that. Didn’t want to do anything when I got home, but actually had to do some stuff, which was annoying. Mostly had shaken bad mood by 8, went to bed at 11 — slept poorly, waking up every few hours.



Insomnia is a known problem of ADD meds, and if it continues, I’m probably going to try reducing the dosage — my doctor said given my size, it would be totally reasonable to cut the pill in half and try that. Figure I’ll give it one week on 20 mg first and see, though. I’ve also been too heavily scheduled to exercise this week (barely time to breathe!), so hoping that when I add daily exercise back in, that will help with sleeping.

The crankiness when the slow-release med wears off (about 8-10 hours after taking it) is a known result, commonly called a ‘Vyvanse crash,’ and a common way of managing it is to add a microdose of Adderall or something like that around then, to ease you down. If it seems like an ongoing issue, I’ll probably try that.


It’s harder to assess the positive effects than the negative. I’ve gotten a lot done this week, and felt happy and calm doing it — fairly intensive work on various projects, that required a lot of high-level administrative thinking.

I also, and this surprised me, felt like a better mother this week — I was calmer and more patient with the kids than I have been lately, better able to take time with them and make it fun for all of us, even though the week overall is an unusually busy one (several evening events).


Next week is a more normal week, schedule-wise, so I should a) actually get to write and see how that goes, and b) get a better sense of how this affects my everyday life. My overall plan is to try this for a month and then reassess.

Oh, and yesterday was mental health awareness day. Hope this post contributes a little bit to people’s understanding of mental health. Hello, I’m Mary Anne, and I may have a mild version of ADD — it is not debilitating, but it does seem to be interfering with full and healthy functioning of my life. We’ll see how attempting to treat it with this med works!