Category Archives: diversions

Surviving Motherhood: things to get excited about, right now

A friend’s dad, visiting from the UK, told me he thought that women made better stay-at-home parents.  This was within the context of my friend, his son, taking 6 weeks off in-between jobs, and going on and on about how great he would be at stay-at-home-dad-ness.  His father didn’t agree.

“It’s just natural [for women to stay home to take care of kids],” he kept saying.  “It’s biological.  It comes naturally to you.”  (By “you”, he apparently meant “all women, everywhere.”)

Really?  Because I don’t know that it comes naturally to me, let alone to most women I know.  Sure, we can give birth, and breastfeed, and all those hormones can make us superhuman, especially when it comes to getting up in the middle of the night.  But being a full-time parent is hard, people!  It’s not the running-about-after, cooking-for, cleaning-up-after a toddler that does me in; it’s the mental exhaustion of doing all these things, all day long, every day, without the built-in adult stimulation that full-time, paid employment brings to the table. Continue reading Surviving Motherhood: things to get excited about, right now

Listening to Language: what English sounds like to the non-English speaker

Spending time in a foreign country–even a country where you know the language really well–will make you reevaluate the concept of understanding.  After a day or two in France, I sometimes have a hard time switching back into English, and I start dreaming in an amorphous, bilingual haze.

Writing becomes even more dicey: my fiction slips more than anything else, so that I’ll write sentences with one or two badly-translated adjectives, or verbs.  The worst is, it all sounds good to my mind.  G and I will start to speak in both languages at once, adding colloquialisms and rambling expressions in whichever tongue we prefer.

Most impressive of all, however, is our ability to tune out any language–English, French, Bulgarian–if we don’t expect to hear or understand it.  While out to lunch with my brothers and sisters-in-law, all speaking French, I was oblivious to the fact that the table beside us was filled with Brits, all speaking some form of my native tongue.

The following short film is a pretty example of the opposite phenomenon: what does English sound like if you don’t understand English?

I fell asleep early, to be awoken by

I fell asleep early, to be awoken by thunder, and rain.  G was still up and working, hunched over the kitchen counter, his laptop a neon Mondrian of microchip entrails.

The dog was on the floor at his feet, his eyes wide and white-rimmed, shaking through the storm.  I lay with him on the red and pink linoleum, my head on his neck, and pulled out clumps of his winter undercoat, until we were both surrounded by clouds of black fur.  It’s stuck to my hair and in my ears now.

He’s my first child, after all.