Are the Paris Accords really this unimportant? Is it true that the US can’t even really withdraw until the end of Trump’s term? Is Trump making a hoopla out of this to mask an utter lack of accomplishments and a failure to carry out any of his campaign promises?


There is a great stigma about discussing one’s own mental health in our society. . .

This is a serious problem, especially in academia.

There is an even greater stigma attached to discussing your digestive troubles at work. Or sexual dysfunction. Or reproductive issues. Or any illness, to be honest. 

I have to confess that I wouldn’t be super happy if colleagues started regaling me with any details of their medical histories. The only thing I welcome even less is hearing about the health issues of students. 

God, can nothing just be private any more? Not every issue of one’s personal life requires a discussion group in the workplace. 


I showed Klara a picture of herself when she was little. She lit up and said, “Baby!” She loves babies. 

I tried to explain to her that it was Klara. She gave me a very superior look, pointed at herself and said, “Kava!” And then pointed to the photo and said, “Baby!” If she knew the word “dummy”, she surely would have added it. 

Hold Your Pity

And here is a comment to the post I linked to this morning:

It’s a recurrent feeling I get whenever you talk about how your kids are growing up 100% American, they don’t speak your native language and don’t have any ties to your culture: you are very adamant that this is good for them, being full Americans and not having to carry the background of your immigrant past. I feel a pang of sadness for them, for what they are missing and don’t even know; and for you, for what you’re losing of yourself by raising children in an alien culture, even one in which you are completely integrated.

It really got on my nerves, to be honest. It’s preachy and condescending, and I hate that kind of thing. Don’t perform sadness in front of people who didn’t ask for it. It’s beyond obnoxious when somebody starts expressing unwanted and and unwarranted compassion. Oh, poor you, it must suck so badly to be you, I’m dying of pity right here.

If that blogger’s children or my Klara decide to learn the language of their parents in adulthood (or any other language), there’s nothing to prevent them from doing that. If they decide they want to explore that culture (or any other culture), they most surely will. I learned Spanish and everything I know about Hispanic civilization in adulthood, didn’t I? 

Among all the kinds of damage parents can do to a child, learning or not learning a language is simply not there at all. And by the way, the best manner to guarantee that a child will detest a language and a culture is to have the parents pester them with how important their knowledge is. I say, gosh, just let the kids be. They have a lifetime to figure out what they do and don’t need to learn.

Out of Place

I identify profoundly with this post:

But every so often, I feel, very acutely, how ill-suited I actually am for this culture into which I work so hard to integrate my family. How uncomfortable so many of the interactions are and how lonely the whole immigration endeavor feels.

 A woman observed Klara and me playing outside yesterday, loudly admired how beautiful Klara is, listened to Klara prattle on and on, and then asked. . . if she speaks English. Because if a 15-month-old mispronounces a few words, it’s got to be because she is a child of immigrants and not because she is very little. 

Klara’s speaking is very advanced. She says “thank you” and stuns everybody at daycare with how many toys and pictures she can name. But she’s 15 months and she only has 10 teeth so far. Of course, she mispronounces words. It’s not an accent. It’s how kids speak. 

An alternative is to hang out only with university people who are not congenitally incapable of noticing nothing but one’s accent. OK, I went out with 3 colleagues who are moms to the playground. And it was even more uncomfortable than the encounter with the “does she speak English” lady. Two of the three colleague moms were immigrants themselves, so that’s a plus. Accents were not mentioned at all.

But oy vey, the entire time we spent on the playground, they exchanged slogans. It was like they were robots who had their Demonstrate Your Liberal Identity setting turned on. I love talking politics but these colleagues weren’t talking politics. They weren’t talking at all. They were mechanically delivering lists of points I’d heard and read before. Verbatim. 

Then they started gleefully listing everything that made them superior to the locals. And that’s when I began to miss the “speak English” lady and wished I could chat to her instead. She hadn’t understood 80% of what I said but that was still more refreshing than the slogans and the gleeful superiority over the country pumpkins. From the linked post, this is how the encounter with these colleagues made me feel:

And then I got angry that I have to socialize with people for whose company I am so ill suited, and who can’t and don’t actually want to get to know the real me, or if they did, I know they would not like me, because the real me has no place in their world.