27 April 2010

Half life

I live a double life. Half of me is resident crumb-sweeper and bedtime storyteller of our family of four, while the other half is mentally miles away dreaming up projects, threading the needle of a story, and compulsively suggesting to Amazon that Penguin make The Poisoner's Handbook available on the Kindle until it is. I'm a junk food addict who has convinced herself to eat healthily. I'm a recovering over-achiever who can be extremely lazy. I'm what Figen Çakır calls people like us, a 'double agent': half of the time defending Turkey when I'm in the US, half the time longing for all things Americana when I'm here.

My last post is about being a hybrid of two-or-more things.  I wonder while burning sage to clear out negative energy in my house if I've left some parts of my life deliberately hidden to savor and protect them. Kept the dualities and unlikely opposites tucked away. Can all this business about duality and different aspects of one self start to be a drain on the senses? Enter the half-life. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, a half-life is the time taken for the radioactivity of a specific isotope to fall to half its original value. I'm interested in how science, creativity, and domesticity intersect in this respect. If I were to equate it to being a work-at-home mom while living abroad, have I been quietly urging myself along to be half-living in several realms at the same time?

Yanking myself from one realm to the other has become second nature, but I'm starting to slow down, to make the transitions smoother. My daughter is nearly two, and she has taken reign over my computer, navigating keys effortlessly to fast-forward through two hours of Sesame Street in four minutes. While she pages away, I work on a cross-stitch of frolicking bunnies. Some days this all seems more surreal than is healthy. She now eats at the counter with me, scooping up cream cheese with crackers from the tub while I think 'this is not a good long-term habit' and munch along with her. This simple act of eating makes me think of my mother. She supposedly liked bread with butter and cream cheese, and lately I've sorely been wishing I knew more about her than that and she read Ingrid Bergman: My Story and canned all sorts of fruits and vegetables. But invention and imagination are wonderful devices in filling in the gaps, and creating a legacy of eating crackers and cream cheese with my daughter at the counter might be one microscopic way to stay present in all these contrasting realms.
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