Sophie turned seven months old last week.
Her favorite toy is her keyboard, on which she spends about an hour a day typing outrageous thoughts. Her other favorite is Revolutionary Letters by Diane Di Prima. Right now she’s turning the pages, reading it to herself, kicking her feet, talking gibberish. She only reads for a short time and then goes back to biting it with her two tiny teeth. Two or three times a day she pulls herself to standing on the other side of my coffee table and we have meetings. Her singing voice is completely different from her speaking voice. She really likes Aretha Franklin, Frou Frou, Mariah Carey’s early work, and Christina Aguilera. I had to download Mariah and Christina because I did not previously own them. She likes to sing along. She also likes anything with harmonica or violins, so the string quartet versions of Hot Fuss get played regularly.
She’s friends with one of the four panels of the living room curtains — one of them she absolutely hates and will not play with at all, and the other two are ambivalent. She likes to watch TV — particularly Battlestar Galactica, luckily, because of the high-contrast chiaroscuro and the closeups. She loves faces. Right now she’s kissing the mirror on the floor. Later on she’ll remember her favorite stuffed toy, Miss Kitty Russell, and she’ll grab her by the face and blow bubbles into her fur, then suck on her tail for a while. She loves the curtains because they’re ska checks and she loves black and white, like all babies do — she’s shaking her favorite panel really fast back and forth and giggling weirdly right now. Who knows what she’s hearing. You can always tell the coffee’s nearly finished, because she smells it before anybody else, and smiles mysteriously at the kitchen.
It’s hard when people ask what I’m up to, or what my job is: I work for a website three days a week and a couple hours every day, but that’s not my job. That’s a glorious excuse to do what I love, which is write critically about things I care about. That’s tough to explain because women lose either way: if you work you’re fucked and if you stay home you’re a retarded brood mare, What do you actually do all day?, and this isn’t news to anybody, of course. But — I’m not a woman. And all these things and more make it hard to explain what I do all day. So then, what do you do, all day?
Just this. I love, I love, I love. I change diapers — not that scary; it’s a small piece of real estate — and I make bottles with a baby on my shoulder and Miss Kitty Russell under my arm and sometimes I gallop in place because it makes her laugh, and I say consonant sounds over and over like I have Tourette’s (“Bah Bah Bah”) and I play endless scales at the piano with her on my lap, and I read to her from Shakespeare and Rilke, and I tell her that she is beautiful and strong and gifted and I laugh and laugh at things that would be impossible to explain, and I bore my friends with stupid stories about her new sounds or her new faces or her new aversions or enthusiasms for various inanimate objects. She claps for no reason, and cheers herself on. This is her today.