Just mud…

Oh,oh, oh, we had hoped to get through at least the first day of school without incident. But I did, in fact, get a call from the principal. Apparently, Anand was playing with another kid at recess, and the other kid confirms that they were in fact playing, and not fighting at all, but Anand picked up what he called ‘some mud’ and the principal says was definitely ‘a rock’ and hit the other kid in the head (both still playing), and managed to hit hard enough to raise a goose-egg bump. 


The principal didn’t sound too concerned, but I am now quite worried that Anand will have had all his fears of being ‘bad’ confirmed, and it will just make it harder for him to think positively about school. I’m going to pick him up from the bus in ten minutes; have to figure out how to reassure him that it’s all okay and the adults aren’t mad at him, while simultaneously reinforcing that we should never hit people with things, even if we think it’s just mud.


[now tempted to bang my own head against wall until I raise a goose-egg myself…]

Update:  Okay, he’s home, and seems mostly okay, although a little emotionally labile. Needs some chill time. His account of the incident is that he was holding some mud and sand, and told the other kids that it was poop, which they thought was hilarious, and he was running after them threatening to get poop on them, and they tripped and fell, and the other kid hit his head on the ground and Anand hit his head too, but not as hard. He’s a really honest kid, so I pretty much believe this is his understanding of events, whatever the actual facts of the matter. Trying not to put too much emphasis on it, since it does seem to mostly fall into the standard playground accident category.


Seriously, I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years; you would think I would be over the initial resistance of changing things the editor suggests. My words! My precious words!
At this point, I’ve mostly given up. I read the edits, I pout internally that my brilliance is not immediately recognized, I swear I won’t change a thing, I stomp away for an hour… and somehow that’s enough that when I come back and read the edits again, they seem perfectly reasonable, and do, in fact, make the words better.
I suspect all I can hope for at this point is to speed that process up, rather than skipping it completely.

SLF: Small Press Co-op

So, way back in the mists of time the SLF had a small press co-op for speculative fiction. And then I got busy, and it kind of drifted away. Jude-Marie Green has nobly volunteered to get it up and running again, but she could use a few fellow travelers on that road. If you’re interested in helping start up the SLF small press co-op again, let us know! It’s a little unclear how much volunteer time this will be; depends a lot on what you end up deciding to do with it. In the past, we’ve had a mailing list that exchanged advice (a Facebook group might be more useful now?), shared buying of ISBN’s, shared tables at conventions.

Rue and aster, ivy and penta

Meadow rue (lavender mist), an under-appreciated flower, I think. Struggled a bit in the heat of July, but coming back strong now.


This one’s going out to all the mums-haters out there. See what a nice backdrop those dark red mums make for the bright purple asters? Come on — come over the dark side of mum-loving. The water’s nice and warm…


(A neighbor did tell me this morning that she was sad to see my mums, which I do understand, as a sign of autumn’s imminence.)

Library perilously close to being swallowed by ivy. If I have to choose between my books and my plants…


Pentas in an outside planter. I’ll dig them up and bring them inside before the frost, and they should make a nice tropical houseplant.


Board game potluck

Went well. I barely cooked anything! And yet, there was enough to eat! Who would have thought. We set up the kids with Forbidden Island and talked them through the first round (it helped that three of the four had played before, although it made it harder that one of the four was Anand, who has a great many opinions on all kinds of things), then abandoned them to start our own game.
Taught Julie Settlers, and I had a very satisfying game, which I won handily. Always nice. 🙂 And then we switched to Ticket to Ride, where Elliott just barely edged me out (120 points to 118, I think) for the win. I got lucky in both games, honestly — reasonably good rolls of dice and selections of routes, without too much competition for the areas I was trying to control. I’ll take it!
We’re going to do it again next week.

Mums and asters

Mums and asters added, to brighten the incoming autumn garden. I never used to like mums, because the yellow ones were already so close to brown, and I found them unutterably sad. But then I learned about white and pink mums, and blue and purple asters. When you mix those together with dahlia, autumn sedum, and the last of the phlox, bachelor’s buttons, and coneflowers, it’s a pleasant palette, and edges our sidewalk quite cheerfully.
It’s a messy time in the garden, and I have no time to neaten everything up — but it’s okay, it’s okay. Autumn is messy by its nature, a time for small, unexpected brightnesses, as almost everything in nature begins its inevitable fade to brown and black. (Although speaking of which, I really would like to find some nice red twig dogwood; time to start thinking ahead to the winter garden.)
IMG_0330 IMG_0332 IMG_0333 IMG_0335 IMG_0336


Wearing my William Morris bunny leggings. O brave new world, that has such things in’t! It takes very little to make me happy sometimes.
Plan for today: watch an episode of Orphan Black (almost to the end of season 2 now, still excellent), go pick up Anand’s early birthday present (a used iPad mini, which he is just frantic with excitement about, and so he should be — in my day, we played with sticks, and thought ourselves lucky if the sticks weren’t covered in sticky sap), come back and finish Tremontaine ch. 6 revisions, along with a few loads of laundry.
Knock off work at 3, to play board games and have potluck with friends, as part of new commitment to both socialize regularly and do it in a low-key way. I am being very restrained and only making a very limited amount of food, as promised — buttered egg noodles, meatballs (bought pre-made, so just heating them up), a tomato-mozzarella salad. Chips and popcorn and nuts and punch and some of Kavi’s Girl Scout cookies pulled out of the freezer. That’s it! What have I done with myself?

On trigger warnings

I am strongly in favor of individual professors making the decision of whether or not to offer trigger warnings in their classes. I consider them a courtesy, a kindness, and a way to facilitate the participation of mentally disabled students who have experienced severe trauma. I have extensive experience of teaching in the college classroom (over a decade, at several different schools across the country), teach a vast array of challenging material, and have never taken anything off the syllabus for fear of upsetting students, or even felt any pressure to do so.

For many courses, trigger warnings aren’t relevant at all. For other courses, including many that I teach (post-colonial literature, women and literature, early American literature, writers of color in science fiction), the entire course essentially comes with a trigger warning on the first day; potentially triggering material is embedded throughout the entire material of the course. As a feminist, queer scholar often working with race and class, I teach texts that include all manner of horrors; college students should understand that and generally know that’s what they’re signing up for when they take my classes.

But that said, I do give content warnings, just so students can brace themselves for specific instances that may trigger their own past history of trauma and/or abuse, sending them into panic attacks, etc., interfering with their ability to fully participate in the class. “This next novel has graphic depictions of child abuse.” “Now we’re going to move into a section of slave narratives, including graphic images of rape and extreme violence against black bodies.”

It’s never more than a sentence or two here and there. While I’d be happy to work with students to find alternate material if really needed, in a decade of teaching, none of my literally thousands of students have asked for that kind of accommodation. They do seem to appreciate the heads-up, though, and if they choose to absent themselves from the particular class when we will be doing a line-by-line analysis of a rape narrative, that seems to me to be entirely their choice, and not anything that would interfere with the other students’ work in the class, my professorial freedom to teach challenging material, or the university’s overall academic mission.

If a student *were* to ask for what I consider excessive detailed warnings (I have heard stories about students who want relevant page numbers of the texts in question, so that they could skip them, (though I also have never actually spoken to a colleague who has encountered this in person)), I would gently explain to them that that isn’t appropriate for a college class.

It’s not surprising that students new to college might misunderstand the nature and purpose of a trigger warning; it’s on us, as educators, to teach them better, and to make them understand that part of the purpose of college is to expose them to a wide variety of material and viewpoints that may well challenge their world-view and disturb their privilege. I have never felt that offering content warnings has interfered with my ability to do that as a professor.


Kevin and I had planned to take the children to the beach today, the last weekday before school starts, but they are oddly not up for it. I believe they are going to choose lazing around the house instead, which I do support as a valid life choice. There was some mention of trying bowling or miniature golf, which would be a more low-key (and shorter) expedition, so we’ll see. It’s probably just as well, as I certainly have plenty of work that could be done today. To that end, turning off Facebook for the morning. Plans include: continuing to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s _Between the World and Me_ (which I am having to take in small doses, as it is dense and heartbreaking), finishing (?) my Wild Cards story revision, continuing to read Survivor subs (making progress, I swear, but there are a LOT of them), puttering in the garden.