Today was an unexpectedly lovely day. I’m solo parenting again this week — Andrew was technically here for most of the week, but he was attending a workshop in Geneva, so he’d wave goodbye to the baby and me first thing in the morning and come home post baby’s bedtime. Now he’s away for a couple of days, and I decided to give myself a break by booking the babysitter for one, non-French class afternoon (luxury!) so that I could have some time to myself.

This was brilliant.

M & I went to Kindermusik this morning, and two more mums from my mums’ group just joined, which was awesome. Now there are four of us from the group in one class and another mum in the toddler group that meets immediately before ours, so we all got to see each other and catch up a little.

At the end of today’s class, I mentioned that M & I were going to grab lunch at a café before heading to the babysitter’s flat. My mum friends spontaneously decided to come along. This is one of the very few times I’ve managed spontaneity with M in tow, and it felt really good. We hopped on a bus with a caravan of strollers and snagged what has now become our table at the café and all had lunch together, including the babies.

Afterward, I dropped M off at his babysitter’s place and headed to EPFL, where instead of going to class, I went to the library. It was my first time there, and it’s just lovely — clean design, plenty of workspaces with outlets everywhere, natural light, and complete silence.

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I gave myself an afternoon of revision. It was amazing to get some work in during the day instead of at night when I’m exhausted. I finally nailed a chapter ending that’s been eluding me for weeks. I’ve been rewriting and tweaking it every few days, and today, within 10 minutes of sitting down, got it.

Good way to end what’s been an exhausting week of parenting paired with the emotional exhaustion from current events in the U.S. Best of all, the kiddo & I both had a good day. He had a blast between music class, the group lunch, and an afternoon playing with his babysitter and her toddler.

I was amused by comments of, “Wait, you gave yourself the afternoon ‘off’ to work?” Yes. Absolutely. Because writing is sometimes *the* thing that replenishes the well.

Have a great weekend!

 

Speaking of racism, privilege, empathy, and humanity, here are links to a few excellent pieces I’ve read recently.

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK by Kiese Laymon (really rather devastating piece). Excerpt:

My Vassar College Faculty ID affords me free smoothies, free printing paper, paid leave, and access to one of the most beautiful libraries on Earth. It guarantees that I have really good health care and more disposable income than anyone in my Mississippi family. But way more than I want to admit, I’m wondering what price we pay for these kinds of ID’s, and what that price has to do with the extrajudicial disciplining and killing of young black human beings.

Jacqueline Woodson’s response to her introduction at the National Book Awards. Excerpt:

To know that we African-Americans came here enslaved to work until we died but didn’t die, and instead grew up to become doctors and teachers, architects and presidents — how can these children not carry this history with them for those many moments when someone will attempt to make light of it, or want them to forget the depth and amazingness of their journey?

How could I come from such a past and not know that I am on a mission, too?

This mission is what’s been passed down to me — to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of.

The Chris Rock interview on vulture.com. Excerpt:

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Well, that would be much more revealing.

Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

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Although the Thanksgiving holiday is problematic, I appreciate having a day to step back and reflect on all of the things I’m grateful for. Since moving to Switzerland, we haven’t had a “proper” Thanksgiving with family and a full turkey. Our first year, we did the best we could with what we could find. Andrew made turkey schnitzel, and I made all of the sides and desserts. Last year we were in Zurich, where Andrew had an event. That made this year particularly special.

Andrew has been developing systems for performance, so he works with theatre people and dancers. As a former dancer and theatre person, it’s a little strange to be on the outside of these shows — not to go to auditions and rehearsals — but they’re still my people. This year, someone that he has been working with invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.

She’s American. Her husband is French. The show’s director (an American living in England who happens to be a fellow Wellesley alumna), the playwright, and the playwright’s wife (also a theatre director) flew in from England. Our hosts and another couple who were there are scientists. Even though it isn’t a biological family, it’s a close knit group that’s relaxed around each other and who laugh and tease and talk about anything. We also ranged across generations from our almost 9 month old to the playwright & his wife who have full grown children and a couple of grandchildren, which added to the family feel.

Dinner began with a round of Kir Royale, made with amazing crème de cassis from Burgundy, France, and then we had the full turkey, all of the sides, and a couple of pies. It was lovely, and even the baby got to have some turkey and mashed potatoes along with the grown ups.

It’s been a crazy year, and while there’s a lot to be thankful for, I’m particularly grateful for:

— friends, old and new, near and far

— my happy, healthy, active, and curious little boy

— having this opportunity to live abroad

— having health care

— my online communities

— my in-person mums’ group

— simple and free technologies like Skype & Google Hangouts that let me easily and regularly connect with family and friends back home

— support from close & extended family

It’s a complicated time to be an American with so much difficult news from Ferguson to UVA. There’s a constant deluge of stories revealing racism, sexism, and general inhumanity. I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege and having the ability to tune out for a few hours, or even a few days, to recenter and recuperate. I’m not sure what there is to do but continue to listen, signal boost, and attempt to highlight underprivileged voices. I hope we can find ways to see and understand our common humanity and to empathize with one another. In the meantime, I am constantly and immensely grateful for my various communities and the care we take of each other.

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