Weeknote 3

by Sunita

This post is coming in just under the wire.


Classes are classes. Meetings are meetings. Lots of email. Nothing very interesting to report; I’m getting back into the rhythm of the semester. We figured out next fall’s curriculum for our program in the night school and fixed some summer school scheduling issues. Zzzzzz. (Yes, these tasks are part of the Director of Undergraduate Studies job, presumably because the classes are at the undergraduate level.)

The grad student I work with the most came back from a very successful six weeks of interviews and data collection, so that’s been fun to hear about. We have lots to catch up on and more work to do. But in a good way.


We (re-)watched Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 this week. How’s that for popcorn viewing? TheH loves this series and I’ve finally gotten the hang of what’s going on. In further timepass opportunities, it turns out that Pluto TV has a dedicated Midsomer Murders channel , which has provided an alternative when the PBS NewsHour is preempted by wall-to-wall impeachment coverage. And no, we’re not watching. We read about it and listen to the recaps on the news programs. That’s more than enough.

I had a couple of fiction library holds come in and sent them back again because I’m not getting much reading time. I am working my way through the Cercas and it continues to be excellent. I’m also reading a couple of nonfiction books related to my Project 333 endeavour, The Conscious Closet and The Curated Closet. They’re both pretty good, although I’m skimming parts. I plan to write up my experiences with the first month of limiting my wardrobe and I’ll talk a bit more about them there. The books are very good for offering alternatives to (and reasons for avoiding) fast fashion, but since I’m not much of a fast fashion person that isn’t directly useful to me. But there are other aspects that are, and we should all be thinking about ways to limit our textile consumption given its effects on the environment.

Liverpool is 19 points ahead of Manchester City in the Premier League, and Anfield has finally decided it’s OK to sing the We’re Going to Win the League song. Me too. 🙂

I continued to follow the American Dirt controversy. My indie bookstore was the first to cancel her appearance; from what I could tell the owner who read it quite liked it, but the criticism from their community and also the criticism directed at the Ethical Society (where the signing and talk were to be held) convinced them that cancellation was the best strategy. I would have preferred a debate, but neither Cummins nor her editors appeared to want that. After pulling out of a couple of appearances in southern California, Flatiron cancelled the entire tour, citing security issues. It’s turned into the same kind of mess that we frequently see in brouhahas that originate in and are fueled by social media, and the focus on the exploitative and (lack of) quality aspects of the book, as well as what the marketing campaign tells us about the book industry, is being muddied by continual emphasis on the question of “who gets to tell the story.” The vast majority of critics aren’t criticizing her for choosing to tell the story, but for telling the story so badly and emphasizing the most stereotypical and negative aspects of the society and people she claims to want to uplift. Gah.

One good thing that has come out of all of this is that Luis Alberto Urrea’s work (which Cummins drew from liberally, to the point of some uncomfortably close borrowing) is being discovered by new readers. TheH read his most recent novel, The House of Broken Angels, and liked it quite a bit, and Urrea has other novels and nonfiction that sound equally terrific. He’s basically been hiding in plain sight for years, which tells you all you need to know about Big 5 acquisition and promotion choices. In addition to Urrea’s work, there are several articles and posts which list books by Latinx authors to read in the place of Cummins’ potboiler. LitHub hosted an open letter to Flatiron signed by a number of Latinx and non-Latinx authors (82 at the point of posting and well over 100 now), which provides a comprehensive starting point. There are names you’ll recognize and I didn’t.


I’ve been better about my ToDo lists this past week. Another thing I’ve been doing is trying to set up my day’s work the night before, with everything laid out and ready to go. It’s a strategy I learned from a colleague but don’t implement nearly as often as I should, and it’s obviously helpful for teaching days, but it works on catch-up and my-own-work days as well.

We didn’t get out to the park we had intended to hike in over the weekend, but we did manage a 7-mile walk around Forest Park on a crisp sunny Sunday afternoon, so that was almost as good. After a month of back-and-forth orders with backpacks that didn’t fit or were the wrong ones, I finally got my new smaller hiking pack (TheH’s was the right one from the start) and we’re going to test-drive them this weekend.


Lots of lunch meetings, class, and seminars. But then it’s the Super Bowl! And it’s supposed to be 60F on Sunday, and sunny. I can’t wait.

I finally packed up all the books that people requested, so those are going out and should show up next week sometime. Thanks for taking them.