Friday, August 29, 2008

Wow! . . . Hey, wait . . .

This morning in the car, I heard on the radio that McCain had chosen Governor Palin of Alaska as his running mate. When the announcer then employed the feminine pronoun "she" I nearly gasped. A woman? He chose a female running mate?!? Awesome! Tell me about her credentials, radio people!

"Well, she's adamantly pro-life and won the governorship on an anti-corruption platform after blowing the whistle on some crooked party big-wigs. She's done an effective job of cleaning up Alaskan politics since her election."

Cool. What else?

"Uh, she's a woman."

Yes . . . you said that already.

"She's a really sincere woman. And she won a beauty pagaent once. And since she's soft-spoken, if Joe Biden gives her a hard time in the debates he'll look sexist."



People, is that the best you've got?

"Actually, we're kind of faked out, too. Maybe McCain was trying to appeal to Hillary supporters, except Palin is pretty much the exact opposite of everything Hillary stood for. The only thing the two have in common is that they both possess a pair of X chromosomes."

Yeah--I've never even been a Hillary supporter, and I still feel kind of demeaned. If McCain thinks pro-Clinton women will vote Republican just because some female (any female) is on the ticket, that's kind of insulting. And if they do it, the insult is merited.


I love the idea of a female VP, but I don't want it to happen like this. For all that I'm not a Hillary fan, it was rather breathtaking to see a woman seriously considered for the presidency because of her undeniable leadership skills and experience. On the heels of that heady historical moment, it's painfully anticlimactic to see a woman tapped as a potential VP despite her lack of skills and experience, just because she's a (safe) woman.

Neither outside observers nor people familiar with Alaskan politics can imagine Gov. Palin actually running the nation or squaring off with Putin, and those are real considerations when her running mate is over 70. This choice pokes oil-rig sized holes in anything the Republicans say about Mr. Obama's level of experience. The more I think about the whole thing, the more it irritates me, especially since I can't imagine Obama ever making such a superficial choice.

And despite all this, I will probably vote for McCain anyway. Which just makes me want to cry. Hard.

And that's a whole other post in itself . . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

How to Get Rid of a Heel

Don't worry folks - I haven't fallen desperately ill or been kidnapped by nefarious brigands. We just returned from a long trip and, let's face it, on the rare occasions when I had access to a the internet I didn't feel like exerting the mental effort that blogging usually requires. I was on vacation, after all.

I'll try to write something meaningful and thought-provoking about our trip sometime soon, but in the meantime, here's a totally random thought some of you may find beneficial.

Do your family members have a certain aversion to the heels of bread loaves? Do you periodically find that your loaf has been reduced to the two all-crust ends that no one is willing to eat? That's certainly the case in my family, and I think I've finally found a way to increase heel appeal: spread Nutella on them. Slather it, if necessary. 'Cuz Nutella makes practically everything taste better.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I Little Imagined I Was Capable of Such Depravity

Phillip's sister Emily recently returned from serving as a missionary in Croatia, and today we drove out to hear her speak in church. Several other relatives were there, including Cousin Jodi, who I haven't seen in person for nearly a year--long before she became pregnant with Baby #2. After the meeting today when I saw her cute, seven-month-pregnant tummy, I am mortified to confess that I cooed and rubbed it without even asking permission. Good. Freakin'. Grief.

I’ve heard stories about nutty people cheerfully rubbing pregnant women’s tummies without so much as a “by your leave,” and I never dreamt I would do that to another person, even if they are related to me. Sorry Jodi. And Alissa, when I see you in a couple days, I promise to exercise more restraint. Yeesh.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Forget Self-Esteem

The current marriage debate in California prompted me to pull out an old textbook that compares sociological findings with LDS doctrine on the family. The book contains numerous essays by psychologists, family therapists, and the like, and I was particularly interested in Wells and Burr's* take on the idea of self-esteem.

The authors note that in the previous century, many social scientists believed that the best way to improve someone's quality of life was to increase their self-esteem. In recent years, however, scholars have found that the exclusive focus on self (e.g. my needs, my happiness, my progress) often leads to selfishness which doesn't actually make a person very happy.

While it is, of course, important to see to your needs and take time for yourself periodically, many scholars are shifting their focus from improving self-esteem to improving relationships. They believe the most effective way for a person to increase their happiness is to "heal relationships with others, and to cultivate love and harmony and forgiveness in their relationships."

These ideas really resonate with me as a full-time mom. My responsibilities leave little time for hobbies, and I find that if I devote a morning to some personal pursuit and only interact with Joy when she absolutely refuses to be ignored, all that personal time doesn't actually make me feel better. My happiest days are the ones when I'm fully engaged with my daughter while she's awake--playing with her, teaching her, or even just watching her make her own fun. In my pre-motherhood, so-not-into-babies stage of life, I never would have dreamed I could get so much satisfaction from watching a toddler pick up pebbles or from reading her "Goodnight Moon" for the hundredth time.

The same is true at night when Joy is in bed and Phillip and I are free to attack our to-do lists. If we each spend the whole evening working separately, we get lots done but feel kind of empty at the end. On the other hand, if we take some time to talk or just cuddle on the couch and watch the dust motes settle, most of our work still gets done and we are a lot happier and closer as a couple.

In short, personal activities can be fun and satisfying, and I do find time for them now and then, but whenever I shove them to the top of my priority list they turn to ashes. By contrast, when I turn my attention to nurturing my relationships with my family and others I get a lot more satisfaction from life, and they probably do, too.

*M. Gawain Wells is a professor of psychology at BYU; Wesley R. Burr is an emeritus professor of family life from the same school. The book is Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family, edited by David C. Dollahite. A bit pricey, but an excellent resource.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

In Which I Dream of Tomato Paste

I think pregnancy has affected the subject matter of my dreams lately. Whereas I used to dream about bizarre things totally removed from reality (e.g. helping Robin Hood fight a giant pizza), these days my dreams tend to be about everyday situations. That can be stressful when I repeatedly try to do a mundane task and it doesn’t work out. For some reason I can handle dreams where I should be able to fly but can’t manage it, but dreams where I simple cannot get the dishwasher to run are really exasperating.

What’s more, daily life dreams can be downright disorienting in the mornings when I drift in and out of reality and quasi-reality. In my dreams I feel like I’m up and going about my usual routine, until I suddenly open my eyes and discover I’m back in bed again. Sometimes this happens several times in one morning, and it's a little disconcerting. In the Robin Hood dreams, I'm involved but some part of me recognizes it's not real. In everyday dreams, I'm not as aware that it's fake so it's strange to be in one room of the apartment then open my eyes and find myself in another one.

This morning’s dream scenario was a particularly odd case. Last night I tried a new curry recipe that didn’t turn out anything like what I expected. The flavor balance was strange, and I’m not really looking forward to eating all the leftovers. In the wee hours of the morning, my dream self got to wondering whether I should have put in half a can of tomato paste instead of the whole can. I spent most of the morning trying to check dream cookbooks or look up the recipe on my dream computer, and often I would wake up just before I “found” the answer, only to drift back to sleep and begin the search anew.

Of course, when I finally got out of bed (for real) the first thing I did was fire up the computer and check the recipe. It turns out my dream self was on the right track—I should have put in just a tablespoon of tomato paste instead of the entire can. No wonder dinner tasted weird.