the french vs koreans

There was an article on how a diet company was trying to win the French market, but had to adjust their slogans to French culture — a deeply pessimistic one apparently. For Americans, we respond to pro-self-esteem messages like “You can do it!” or “You deserve it!” or “You’re the best so here’s the best!” whereas the French respond more to “try this system, it worked for me” or “if you work really hard, you may lose a pound or so.” Nothing over the top or too flowerly, pro-me for them. And then the article concludes they have the most pessimistic culture around, but doesn’t that go to Koreans? I don’t have facts but my ma says 1 in 20 commit suicide — and that 1 jumps all over the place in terms of gender, age, and socioeconomic conditions. (And mind you this stat is from my mother, who claims things like “99.99999%” for everything that helps her argument.)

Sorry France, I think Korea gets this one. Thank you.


Feels like it was just two seconds ago when I used to listen to “Caterpillar Girl” by the Cure. Now it’s all about The Very Hungry Caterpillar in my house. I have not had children so long that I don’t remember life before. This current existence is the one that seems like a hallucination, but I’m told at some point, this will switch.

There are other things I remember. The ice cream truck that trolls playgrounds plays the exact same song as the trucks from my childhood. At this point, First Son announces “ice cream truck” whenever it swings by and I just encourage him to sing along to that theme song with me, and say “Thank you for the beautiful song, ice cream truck! Bye-bye!” I don’t know how long I can get away with this.

When I was home from college, my friend Alex and I searched high and low for summer jobs. We went to several interview together, including one for a bartending training workshop, throughout which I couldn’t stop giggling. Most likely, Alex said something that made me crack up, and I was still just barely out of my teens, so I was just easily a mess. Another gig we also tried to get was ice cream truck driver. I was out early on on that pursuit, on account of my terrifying driving skills, but Alex actually did one route in a mildly dangerous neighborhood, since routes like the ones through our hometown were hotly pursued and won well before we were like, embryos.

That is all.


I’m in trouble. Every time First Son doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he roars like a dinosaur. (To be honest, his dinosaur sounds precisely like his lion and his bear and his tiger — but he lets me know which animal he’s imitating, which is very helpful.) I think he’s trying to intimidate me into doing what he wants, eg, stop telling him No, you can’t bite Mommy, No, you can’t sit on your brother, etc., etc. Very serious stuff, but unfortunately, his roar cracks me up. I had to leave the room when Husband scolded him so that I wouldn’t ruin things. I sat through a meeting yesterday trying not to laugh, thinking about it. This is really bad.


The Wonder Twins have that nice, new baby smell, and First Son smells like…vinegar.

into the trees

I had expected my father to drop off a library book two nights ago, so that I could return it for him. Instead, he spent an entire day wandering around Brooklyn, looking for an open library branch. He took so long he forgot to eat, so by the time he found his way back home again, he was exhausted. He said he walked all over Prospect Park.

“Did you get lost?” (I get lost there all the time.)
“Were you scared?”
“No, not really. I tried to let go and just enjoy myself. The park is very beautiful.”
“I’m calling you to wish myself a happy birthday.”
“Yes, happy birthday to me.”
“That’s nice.”

We discussed a fight I recently had with my mother. He said he wanted to stay out of it because he didn’t have the energy for such things. I said, I know, fighting is a waste of time. In general, I don’t let too much time to go by in a disagreement, no matter how much I am invested in my side of the story. We talked about how much time he thought he had left. He thinks three years, to make sure all the grandchildren are on their feet walking and getting into trouble.

I left the conversation with a renewed feeling of admiration for my father’s spirit. When my mother told me the story, I imagined him confused and distressed. Instead, he tells me about his effort to just go with the flow. (Rock star spirit.) Imagining him wandering through the park reminds me of the scene of Vanessa Redgrave in Howard’s End. In the beginning of the film, right before her character dies, she walks through a vivid field of bluebells that gleam in the dark…and that is all. I am reminded how much I love him, but there’s a tinge of sadness to this feeling, of course, because I am also aware that we have him on borrowed time.


Here are a few sentences First Son can say

Mom, come.
Take my hand.
Wake up.
What’s that.
Be right back.
Baby crying now.
Change diaper.
Eat dinner
No bath.
More cake.
Birthday again.
What’s so funny.
Sooooooo big.
This one.