Impossible Things Before Breakfast

A blog about having a baby, writing a book, and other impossible things.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The novel: progress update

So, I can finally announce that I'm working on the novel without it being an exaggeration a total lie. Hurrah! I have the plot worked out and my main scenes outlined, and a first chapter drafted. Getting past the first chapter is probably the hardest bit, because the temptation is to revise, revise, revise. Especially for a incurable perfectionist like me. But onward and upward!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Twenty two months and sixteen days

Alice is stringing more words together now, although her pronunciation is still idiosyncratic to say the least. Disturbingly, her longest sentence to date has been: 'Watch telly in a minute, mummy?' Disturbingly because I was quite convinced before she was born that we would remain a television-free household and thus avoid all such requests altogether. Ha! Ok, technically we are television-free in that we don't own a set. But then BBC iPlayer came along...

I'm not going to beat myself up about it though. When Alice still had a two-hour nap in the day, I used that time to do housework and maybe even have a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Now she only naps when she's out in the buggy, so a session with the electronic babysitter can feel like the only way to preserve a) a semblance of order and b) my sanity. And at least she doesn't see any adverts. [Cue sound of goalposts audibly shifting].

Speaking of TV, I sat down to watch Teletubbies with Alice the other day and thought to myself: wow, I can't believe it's ten years since I first watched Teletubbies and it's still on TV now! Then I realised that the REALLY unbelievable thing was that I'd watched it ten years ago. Willingly and with intent. Before I had a child. As did everybody I knew.

I know that at the time - the late 1990s - the country was still in the grip of Irony, and that infantilisation and nostalgia were all the rage. But looking back, I find that to be no excuse. After all, Teletubbies was a new programme at the time, not something from my childhood that I could legitimately get all gooey about. And as for it being somehow 'trippy', 'surreal' or 'psychedelic, man'... well, compared to lots of other children's programmes both before and since, it's pretty tame and orderly. I suppose it did speak to very studenty concerns though: toast, unpredictable cleaning appliances, and silly dancing. Oh and there was that one who was like, gay! Hilarious.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Twenty one months and fifteen days

Most of the time I walk around congratulating myself on how advanced Alice's vocabulary and communication skills are for her age. But occasionally it will occur to me that just because I can understand her, it doesn't mean she is making sense.

Example: would an outsider necessarily glean anything from the words 'yoya poon'? No. Whereas the mummy-translator renders the above into 'yoghurt spoon' and further into the full intended meaning which is something like 'I would very much like to eat a yoghurt with my spoon now. Make it so.'

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Poetry Archive update

The BBC reports: Recordings of 14 major 20th-Century American poets have been added to the free online audio Poetry Archive .

Link to The Poetry Archive.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Twenty months minus 3 days

New words: hello, biscuit, woof, Batman.

Surprised she didn't learn 'biscuit' earlier since she asks for one about every ten minutes...


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

At least they didn't ask what 'piss' means...

Selected vocabulary that drew a blank with my non-English audience at the poetry reading/discussion yesterday:
'flailing', 'polished off', 'neat', 'thumbprint', 'chopped', 'haiku'...

But considering the language barrier, they were attentive, perceptive and engaged. And I feel much more confident talking in front of a group these days. I guess when you've - somehow - ended up leading a whole parent-toddler group in renditions of Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses, Hickory Dickory Dock, and Five Currant Buns, chatting about poetry to a few Catalan teachers holds no fear.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tonight, the part of Mum will be played by...

Seventeen months ago, I wrote about how I didn't really feel like a Mother - with all that word's associations. Not deep down. A lot has changed, and now I feel as odd and fraudulent if I'm walking somewhere WITHOUT Alice in the pushchair as I did then with it. Her health, safety, development, and bowel movements are constantly in my thoughts and I would do anything to protect her. I am her mum, no question.

But am I a Mother? When I was a child I thought about my mum, and other people's, as if a) that's all they were and b) they had always known exactly how to be it. I mean, SURELY there's a switch that goes on when you give birth, that makes you all-knowing, super-competent, infinitely patient, totally nurturing, and able to to sew on nametapes, make castles out of cereal packets and cook three nutritious meals a day - isn't there? Well, apparently not. I still feel like it's a ridiculous mistake that I have been put in a charge of a baby - a person. Far from bestowing new and perfect knowledge, parenthood has, like space exploration, only revealed even vaster areas of ignorance. Everything is improvised, accidental, piecemeal and experimental, full of compromise and error.

But I have gained ONE vital piece of knowledge in these past seventeen months. Which is that parenthood is that way for EVERYONE, always. I am not alone.