Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From the archives: "Do polar bears fly?"

In  light of the kind reception to my New York Times essay about recording audio snippets of Leo, I'm re-posting excerpts from what I call the "Leo Journal." This installment is intermixed with my normal "bits" journal, a diary of ideas and observations. Here it is:

November 2016
I only have to hear "eleventeen" once for it to instantly become my favorite number.

The best number that has never existed.

I've written about this topic before (notably here and here). And even if you love me, you may be blanching right now from boredom and pity (for me).

But, oh God, it is so awesome!

Is it the writer's equivalent of someone learning to walk? Run?

When Leo says "eleventeen," I don't correct him. (Probably not something I should admit.)

It's just so cute. Eight, nine, ten, eleventeen.

I do the same thing when he says "fi-ruh" (for the word fire). Ditto: lello, and hangerburger (to go with your hotdog).

It's the greatest blooper reel ever created, as far as I am concerned.

And besides, why correct him when he says, "I want to swing very higher"?

Swinging "very higher" sounds like something I'd like to do, too.

March 17, 2016
From one of Leo's children's books: "Where do the months and years go when they're gone?"

April 15, 2016
6:33 a.m.
I have to think Atlanta is some kind of bird sanctuary. I’ve never heard so much birdsong or such loud tweets anywhere else. My God! Lots of red-feathered cardinals – the only bird I know to recognize.
It gets light so early these days. Which means SOMEONE wakes up early. Cutting severely into Mommy’s writing time. I put these words down to give a sense of my life, not really to complain. It’s the change of the seasons wrought into a specific detail: Here’s what early spring means to me…abbreviated writing sessions, and also one of the few times of the year when the morning darkness dissipates quickly here. 

Atlanta, city of darkness. Lately I’ve been tweeting that it’s a city of murals. And it really is. It’s one of the few distinguishing characteristics. I guess thanks in part to Living Walls. And maybe also the specific geography of Atlanta: lots of train tunnels. The Living Walls in Cabbagetown, after all, are along the train wall that leads to Krog Street Tunnel.
I hear a voice outside – which turns out to be cat – and I look over my shoulder to see the pinkening sky through the transom window. This image = my life in Atlanta. My early morning writing life in Atlanta. The pinkening sky, glimpsed briefly through the transom window.

April 26, 2016
Leo: “My head is so full of questions.”

He asks a fairly mundane question, and then says, “My other question is: do polar bears fly?”

No, but nice try.

June 9, 2016
“He” looks at the massive pile of printed pages that is my thesis and he says, “That looks like a book.”

God-willing, kid. God-willing.

July 1, 2016
In Montreal

Leo: “Rain is like a shower for animals.”

AND: “It could be funny if chickens knowed how to drive!” (Editor's note: Transcription is accurate -- I love capturing exactly how he speaks, without correcting it).

Aug 6, 2016
Day after tomorrow? “Tomorrow’s tomorrow” in Leo language.

How do you get a unicorn? Leo: “Take a horse, mix it with a bird and then add a horn. And that’s a unicorn. Because it has wings so it’s partly a bird.” 

I’d never thought about it that way.

Sept 9, 2016
Describing a tower with no windows, he says: “You might could fall out of it.” 

You MIGHT COULD. The ultimate Southernism. Signs of the apocalypse! More ubiquitous than y’all, I’ll have you know, down here in the South. Very cutesy, actually!

He also says often, “The days don’t stop.” It seems like a comment one would make if he’s trying to process the reason why he keeps waking up, and life continues. How does this work? It seems like…the days don’t stop. “They keep coming.” And I tell him, that’s right. The days don’t stop. Because for right now, they are not going to stop, TG, as some Irish say.

September 13, 2016
Yesterday he announces he wants to teach because, I can only assume, *I* teach now. Why bother writing this entry when seriously there is no way to properly sum up the joy/amazement/wonder I felt hearing him declare he wanted to teach? 

He said it by announcing this: “Let’s turn our house into a school.”

We were upstairs, Mike was getting ready for work, and I was looking at my computer for a moment. And I was telling him my student had sent me a message about an essay she was writing for homework.

I have too many thoughts but let me try to zero in on one…if I can somehow convey the joy of teaching – and make him want to master concepts in order to be able to teach others – I think I have accomplished something. 

It was one of those perfect parenthood moments. I drove to work in a dream-like daze where the music and the steering worked in sync as I rounded the curves of the back road through the courthouse parking lot and across the railroad tracks to CNN, writing in my head while I drove and thinking of so many wonderful things that could happen.


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