Every Wednesday at 3 o'clock, I study
Norwegian. Am I not the greatest wife? M. and the girl are conversing
now with a complexity that I can not translate, so that inspires me a
little. ("Do you think Mama is getting fat?" perhaps they
are saying?) Also, someday we might live in Norway and this gives me
a head start on being ignored there anyway. Also, it's crucial and
important for someone my age---especially after the brain
cell-depleting exercise of bearing children---to do something
intellectually drastic, like learn a new language. Keeps you young
and alert! Also, it might come in handy one day to pretend I'm
Norwegian (or in other words, pretend I'm not American), like
when I'm traveling in, say, Iraq.
At 3 o'clock the children are at playgroup. There are no distractions. Well, actually, the children don't usually get off until 3:15 or sometimes as late as 3:30. So then I start to study. But first I check my emails---it's morning in the US, and notes are starting to come in. So I read them and maybe write a few lines back and then I start to study Norwegian. So sometimes it's closer to 4:00. That's still a good hour until playgroup ends though.
Oh, except I like to start dinner at 4:30 so it's ready for the children's return. So that cuts into studying a little. But I can practice the words while I cook! Even though NPR is on the satellite radio and I like listening to (weirdly) Morning Edition while I make dinner. Look, I can practice the words when the music interludes happen between news stories.
I'm really doing well though. I decided to start by translating the children's book Olivia. (Except right now (Wednesday, 3:49) when I'm writing about translating the book.) It's a book about a little girl who is a pig. She is feisty and hates her school uniform, just like my girl! And she has a little brother and a dog and a cat. When I read the book to the girl, we can relate to their pig family: Mommy, Daddy, sister, little brother! Except our cat ran away. And except also, that time a few weeks ago when I thought I was pregnant (I'm not! I'm not!), but I thought that I was for one fleeting afternoon (I'm not working lately, and thus my brain wallows in pools of time exploring every panicky situation I can conjure). (Like, what if the flight we're taking to the US in July is bombed by terrorists?) (And also, what if I trip and accidentally drop the baby over the balcony while walking down that hallway overlooking the courtyard on the way to the doctor's office someday? Oh God it makes me sick to think about!) So that afternoon we were reading the book and I was thinking, Oh no, this is not our family now. We're not the pig family anymore. We're the poor destitute family with all the naked children in the yard not going to school for lack of funds. We're the insane mother who had too many kids, family. And then I remembered that the next Olivia book about the circus has a new baby brother! And I really started to panic and weep, because this was a sign that indeed I must be pregnant and I would never, ever have the time ever again to write another story or read a book or even a New Yorker piece----not with three children hanging from every limb, not while living in Norway where there are no affordable nannies and you have to go out to catch fish every day in order to eat. Not while walking around in a haze because I can't understand a goddamn word being spoken around me and all my naked children are conversing away in a language I can't understand about how fat I am. Anyway, the language in the book Olivia is direct and straightforward and thus approachable. We have the Norwegian version and, yes indeed, I am translating it to English. This makes learning fun! (Or maybe---as the girl likes to begin her sentences---if you have the English version you could just send me the words, because that would be so much faster.)
So let's see. I've been with M. for six years. And I've been studying and translating Norwegian like this for three weeks. Oh, except last Wednesday, something came up. I think I was depressed. Or maybe it was during that pregnancy scare. Or, was it raining? I don't know, just something. So to be honest, this is the second week. Funny, it's already 4:17. Gosh where does the time go? Have you noticed that lately? That the days and weeks just fly by? Better start dinner.