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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04


2004-06-04 ... 11:10 a.m.

MY SILENCE

Can be explained by a combination of a busy week at work, near-lethal self-absorption (I beat the dead horse out of love! And because it's funny!), and a full and active and very drunken social life. Last weekend I attended, and needed a full day to recover from, Louisa's party, where my comrade and I successfully completed Operation Get Very Drunk And Embarrass Ourselves. We have a new habit of leaving each other drunken cell phone voice messages from the party, when we are but a few hundred feet or separate apartment-areas away, and I am sure this is very annoying for everyone else but we think we are funny, which is all that matters. Pre-party drinking was accomplished at Secret Polish Bar, which is a great place to go and eavesdrop if I ever start to feel too comfortable inside my happy little liberal life, or if I start to semi-believe the na´ve fiction that everyone thinks like I do. A few beers' worth of overhearing of how women are EVIL WHORES and the MEXICANS are TAKING OVER AMERICA and how the problem with KIDS TODAY is that they don't get the SHIT KICKED OUT OF THEM often enough will go a long way toward curing me of that attitude.

Which is a nice segue into another na´ve fiction that keeps getting deflated with a jolt: that the fact of Nora's adoption is invisible, or at least not considered noteworthy. During the adoption process, I attended classes on being a "conspicuous," mixed-race family; I read all kinds of books and articles about adoption issues; and I did a lot of thinking about what Nora being Asian and us being white would "mean" to her, both now and in the future. But then we adopted her, and all those philosophical issues kind of faded to the background, at least on a daily basis, as we are too busy being her parents to think very much about it. And I know I should get used to the odd comments of strangers, as we will probably hear them millions of times throughout our lives, but right now it is still very new and strange.

a. A coworker loves looking at my new Nora-pictures and each time exclaims, "She looks so much like you!" My brain always stutters over this and I am not sure how to respond. Did she forget Nora is adopted? Does she honestly think Nora looks like me (after all, people don't have to be biologically related to look alike)? Is she "all too aware" of the adoption fact, mistakenly believes that I am defensive about it, and is making this comment in a goodhearted but misguided attempt to reassure me? I usually just smile and say nothing (etiquette for cowards!), but this happens so often I am going to have to think of a comeback eventually.

b. On the train, a young Korean woman coos over Nora's cuteness and then says to me, "I bet she looks like her father." She has this look on her face like ha ha, I made a joke, but also expectant---she is clearly waiting for the Whole Story, for me to either say that my husband is Asian or that Nora is adopted. I owe this woman nothing so I just say, "Some people think so" and go back to looking out the window and watching Nora as she points out all the "blah" on the train.*

(*This is the kid's latest obsession. It started with rug fuzz. When she was younger she used to pick up all should-have-been-vacuumed bits from our living-room area rug and try to put them in her mouth, and I would say, "No. That's blah." Soon she learned to say the word "blah," associate it with "something you should banish from your surroundings but NOT EAT," and spent a good amount of her on-the-rug playtime handing me rug fuzz and helpfully labeling it "blah." Nora has now moved on from policing the blah on the rug to policing the blah IN THE WHOLE WORLD, and wherever we go she points at street garbage and spit-globs with her tiny imperious finger and says, "blah." "That's right, blah," I say, and try to change the subject, because I want to reinforce her use of language but I don't really want to get into a Complete Catalogue Of Chicago Litter. That cigarette butt: blah! This Kit-Kat wrapper: blah! That orange peel: blah! The crumpled kleenex! The discarded Target ads! The puddle of GOD KNOWS WHAT! All blah! It's enough to make you wish you lived in the country, although I don't doubt Nora would just switch to pointing out organic blah [twigs, grass clippings, animal poop] and it would be the same old story.)

c. As I pushed the stroller along, a woman sitting on a park bench yelled, "IS THAT BABY FROM THE ORIENT?" This left me speechless with horror but also full of a strange kind of mirth, like the feeling you get when you hear someone use the word "Negro." Yes! Nora is from the Orient! The air smelled strongly of spices! She was delivered to us wearing a tiny veil and tucked in next to a hookah! Peter Lorre popped out from behind a pillar and tried to sell us some black-market diapers! Unfortunately I had no pile of Edward Said books to chuck at this woman, and she was kind of old and street-crazy-looking and thus perhaps should not be held responsible, so Nora and I just continued on to the playground all Oriental and Occidental, respectively.

I can't get too much on my high horse about the insensitive comments of others, however, because just recently I told a friend that the cry of her five-month-old sounded "just like a howler monkey!" And IT DOES! It is very monkey-like! I would be excited to have a baby with such a talent but I don't think she appreciated it, so I apologized.

BOOKS

1. Registration required to read Michiko Kakutani's cranky review of the new David Foster Wallace. Her criticisms are all completely valid, but they are also the same reasons that I tend to really like Mr. Wallace's stuff (although I much prefer his long-format work to short stories). I will reserve judgment until I can read Oblivion myself (Amazon shipped it today) but let's be honest here: I have a blind spot where DFW is concerned. I would bet money on me liking this book.

2. Unbending Gender is a neat book written by a self-described "reconstructive feminist" that deserves major props for the awe-inspiring breadth of its scope: time suckage, capitalism, gender, domesticity, poverty, justice, child care, philosophies of power, and lots more. It is personal, political, and theoretical while still being easy to read. Highly recommended, not least for reprinting this Doonesbury cartoon: J.J. asks her husband Rick, "I know you love Jeff [their young son] as much as I do. So why don't you seem as torn up about not being able to spend time with him?" Rick's response: "Well, it may be because I'm spending a whole lot more time on family than my father did. And you're spending less time than your mother did. Consequently, you feel guilty while I naturally feel pretty proud of myself."

It is a minor point in this huge book, but when you start looking around you get amazed all over again at how deep this assumption runs: most people distinguish a "good" father by comparing his kid-time to the minimal contribution expected of the traditional male breadwinner, whereas a mother's contribution is judged by comparing her to a full-time homemaker.

I must stop before this gets too long, but I will natter on about my kid a bit more and mention that Nora's new word is "robot." I cannot tell you how proud I am that her very typical toddler vocabulary (mama, dada, cat, up, juice, more) has suddenly taken the giant leap into "robot." It reminds me of a crazy neighbor who always gave out raw potatoes for Halloween, and when you sat down to sort your candy---chocolate pile here, Dum-Dum category here, gross stuff you plan to give to your dad over here---the POTATO always ended up all alone in the POTATO category. All of my kid's words thus far have been about her day-to-day life, and then there's robot. And this was the craziest leap-of-logic paragraph ever, except for maybe that one where I was setting descriptions of tsetse fly anatomy to folk song melodies. Time to go.

---mimi smartypants ruined it for everybody.

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