Moments From a Pandemic

Moments from a pandemic:

  • Anand, shouting in delight just now: “Oranges!” (we got a grocery delivery last night; we’d been getting a little short on fresh fruit, and were definitely feeling it)
  • Roshani reminding me that we’re entering acceleration phase, and no, I really don’t need to go to the garden store right now, seriously, for the next two weeks, just stay home, Mary Anne. Go prune something. Move a plant.
  • From a note I sent my students this morning: “it’s definitely a situation where all your teachers are trying to build the plane while we’re in the middle of flying it…we’re just trying not to crash right now, but it’s a little bumpy!”
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Why All the Soaps, Mary Anne?

Why all the soaps, Mary Anne? Well, one reason is that I’m planning to give some to some healthcare folks as a little thank you. Another is that I’ll put some in the spring surprise packages shipping out with book orders next week.

But I admit a third, perhaps most powerful reason, is that I’ve been holding off on experimenting with making interesting cocktails until the last big batch of paper grades is done.

This is incredibly responsible of me, I’ll have you know. I didn’t know I had this much willpower in me.

Two papers to go.

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First Zoom Class

Taught first Zoom class, 8 students. Oof, even a 50 minute class is draining, very different from the in-person teaching experience, which I usually find energizing. Maybe it’s my unfamiliarity with videoconferencing still, and the stress of adapting to a new system? I hope so. I’d like to get back to the energetic give and take of a normal class dynamic.

We pretty much spent the whole class on around the room check-in, Covid-19 discussion, and then review of logistics for both the university overall, and for our class, so not the most engaging material. On Friday, we’ll actually be talking about stories, so I’m hopeful that that’ll help make it more fun for everyone.

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Thank you to Anu Mahadev

I wanted to take a moment to thank editor-in-chief Anu Mahadev and the whole Jaggery literary magazine team, for managing to put together a bright new issue in the midst of all this chaos.

None of our staff are paid (though our authors are) — Jaggery is a labor of South Asian and diaspora literary love, operating on the slimmest of margins. The fact that these folks still pour their time and energy into editing and putting out a beautiful issue in the midst of a global pandemic says something about their dedication to the arts.

The arts are so sorely needed right now.

Let me also say a particular thank you to out-going managing editor Susheela Bhat Harkins, who came in to help me out back when I was editor-in-chief and drowning a bit in my tendency to overcommit. She helped keep me afloat, and after I passed the magazine’s editorship over to Anu, stayed on and provided a great deal of support and institutional knowledge. You made us better, Sooshe! Thanks!

And finally, here’s my editorial in the new issue, “Ten Things You Might Not Know about Sri Lankan Food.” A little cultural info, a little cooking encouragement. Hopefully entertaining!

I’ve got to go teach my classes now on Zoom (optional for the students!), but I’m looking forward to settling in later today and reading through the new issue of fiction, poetry, essays, and more!

http://jaggerylit.com/serendib

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Staying Positive

I’ve started using Blackboard’s OneNote Collaboration Space with my students, and I think it’ll help us stay in touch. They’re already posting responses to each others’ coronavirus narratives (last week’s assignment), and are so sweet and encouraging.

I’ve just added a section that isn’t at all course-related, but these days I’m really thinking about what my work is, as a teacher in this time. Some of it has to be helping them keep on track with their studies, for those who still want to attempt that, at least, which means helping them stay steady generally, I think. So I just opened up a new page, staying positive, and added this to it:

*****

Staying Positive

This is a tough time, and hopefully, we can help each other through this. What are some things that are helping you get through the days right now? Let’s make a list!

• I just started listening to the podcast, “Staying in with Emily and Kumail” — they have experience of quarantining before, because Emily has a autoimmune disease, and it’s cheering, listening to their tips. (There was a movie made about them, _The Big Sick_, which Kumail starred in, so you might know them, and he produced _Little America__, a series of short episodes telling immigrant stories, on Apple TV+ right now.) — Mary Anne

• I try to exercise for at least 15-20 minutes 2-3 times / day – sometimes it’s just going for a walk, sometimes some heavy gardening, or doing jumping jacks with the kids – Mary Anne

*****

I’m going to ask them all to try to add at least one thing to the list; looking forward to seeing what they come up with!

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Easter Eggs

Easter note: I’m planning to go out on that Sunday morning early, plant eggs (pre-filled with tiny dinosaurs) everywhere up and down the block. The 300 block of Wisconsin, between Washington and Randolph — neighbors, if you can leave the eggs for the kids, and encourage your kids to just take a few, that’d be great.  Maintain social distancing while hunting, please.

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