City of Ember

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's a kid book. I know that. Give me a break. I've been a little tired, and all the heavy literature I've been reading lately have made my brain feel heavy.

So I needed a good dose of brain candy. And I have to say, this was a delicious serving.

I first heard of this book the way I'm sure most people did: after they made the movie.

And since the book is written approximately for ages 10-12, I doubt any of you have read it. But if you write a book, and less than 5 years later, it is a movie that included toys in many fast-food kids' meals, you've done something right.

If you're looking for a fun, super fast (I read the entire book in about 6 hours) young dystonian/adventure book, this fits the bill.

The city of Ember is surrounded by darkness. No one ever goes out into, and no one has ever come to Ember out of it. The darkness within Ember is held at bay by lights attached to every building, at every corner. All the lights are powered by an ancient generator. But the lights are beginning to flicker, leaving the city and all its occupants in the dark, for longer and longer periods.

Two young children, one motivated by dreams of a city of light, desperately search for a way to lead their families through the darkness.

I enjoyed the book. There are two other books in the series. Which leads me to my feelings on series. As far as movies go, they are usually just disasters (unless we are talking about Jason Bourne, and then there could not be enough movies.) But as far as books go, I just love the story to keep going and going and going. I'm always excited when there is another book.

But the reviews for the next two books weren't very good.

Have any of you read them? Any opinions? And what about the movie? I kind of want to see it now (because yes, I enjoy kid movies.) If you saw it, did you like it? And could I watch it with my six year old?

Throwing in the towel

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Okay, I'm not really going to quit.

(After all, an active overweight person is healthier than an inactive thin person, and blah, blah, blah...)

But I sure feel like it.

I'm starting to remember why I've never been successful on any of my weight loss endeavors.

Because THEY DON'T WORK!!!

Exercise is eating up all the time I'd rather be doing other things. Like watching the long list of movies I'm dying to see before residency starts. It's eating away time for naps, and books, and photo albums, and walks with my kids. I feel better when I exercise. I feel better about myself. I have more energy. But less free time in which to use that energy.

Dieting is turning me into a guilt ridden monster. I can't take my two year old out to lunch and share a hot dog without thinking about how much the scale is going to make me regret it later. A six year old sharing jellybeans with me shouldn't make me feel like a bad person.

But the complete lack of new weight loss means I'm doing something wrong.

And I DO NOT want to hear the words of encouragement that everyone tries. "Oh, you're just gaining muscle, which you know weighs more than fat." Well thanks. Thanks a lot.

Sorry you had to hear all that.

I just needed to vent. And now, I'm going to go have some meaningful time with some carrot sticks.

Where we come from

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I think that people generally have two feelings about the place they grew up.

That place can become the most wonderful, idyllic place to have grown up. It is a source of perfect childhood memories. No place will ever be able to compare. People who feel this way want nothing more than to get back to where they grew up.

The other option is that the place becomes something to escape from.

For a long time, Utah has been that second type of place for me.

I moved to Utah from California when I was 10. My dad had been serving in the Navy and we had lived some amazing places. I loved my time in the high Sierras. My time in Southern California by the beach.

I resented the move to Utah. And even since then, California took on that idyllic image in my mind. I would tell everyone I was from California. I always planned on moving back there.

Even as I grew, and Utah became where I was "from" and everyone I knew was here, I still, tucked away in my mind, wanted to get away.

Hubster has had the same feelings. He spent his high school years in small-town western Montana. Utah always felt like more of the same.

We have talked for years about how nice it would be to leave, to start over, to get away.

It's funny that it takes the getting away becoming a reality for the place I grew up in to take on that childhood beauty.

I never once appreciated the mountains until I realized I would be leaving them.

The Handmaid's Tale

Monday, April 27, 2009

I guess it's time for another confession.

I love me a good dystopian novel. Being a rather optimistic and cheerful person, this usually surprises people.

Maybe they cater to my sarcastic side. Maybe they are a way to cope with all the gloom-and-doom-end-of-the-earth possibilities my dad fretted over at the dinner table. After all, at least nothing could be as bad as what happened in the books I was reading, so what did I have to worry about?

1984, Brave New World, The Giver, Fahrenheit 451 (to name a few) are among some of my favorite books.

A surprising number of dystopian novels are assigned reading during high school. Maybe this is where I get my love of them. They felt like some of the first grown-up books I read.

So, after reading the back of The Handmaid's Tale, I was surprised that 1) I hadn't read it earlier and 2) I hadn't even heard of it during high school (which, it turns out is a good thing. This is NOT a book a high schooler should crack open.)

After reading this book, I feel like it is a book I'm expected to hate. With all its descriptive language, demoralizing situations, and almost dismissal of the concept of ingrained humanity and dignity, I feel that few people I know would enjoy the book. Most would probably not even finish it.

So, even though I "should" hate it, I don't.

Margaret Atwood's sparse and austere story follows a woman through the overthrow of the United States and the implementation of a militant theocracy.

It is a time where the oceans and air are toxic from pollution, nuclear energy has gone awry, women are over-zealous on birth-control and abortion. All these factors have lead to a precipitous drop in the birth rate. Healthy infants become the most prized commodity.

The main character, found to be one of the few women healthy and uncontaminated enough to still bare children, is stripped of her relationships, her dreams, her right to read, even her name, to be farmed out to high-ranking families, in hopes that she will conceive and bare that family a baby.

Marginalized, but highly valued, the Handmaids only role in society is to be shipped from infertile couple to infertile couple in order to "replenish the earth."

The new government spends a lot of time talking about how modern society had taken away everything of value to women. They no longer felt child-bearing was important. They no longer viewed their bodies as sacred, subjecting them to surgery and vulgar fashions. Relationships no longer had any meaning, as both men and women jumped from relationship to relationship.

But, like all great dystopian novels, that is where the great irony lays. Through helping women "fulfill their greatest potential," the women are stripped of identity and worth. Sex loses all of its intimacy and meaning, and becomes purely a commodity, a business transaction.

Although this is the prevelant theme throughout Atwood's book, I was just as intrigued by her commentary about other social issues. Accused on only being "man-hating propaganda" I felt that the arguments were infinitely beyond the supression of women.

The new government touts itself as a more holy, pure religion. This new belief system is forced upon each individual. Conform, or die. It is the eptimoe of religion without spirituality. Prayers are called in, not said, not felt.

What matters more? Freedom to, or freedom from. The argument in the novel is that in order to guarentee freedome from, any freedom to must be restricted or eliminated.

The nameless main character glides through all these morality issues, nearly too numb from her own losses to react. Mostly, she can only observe.

I desperately wanted her to find her happy ending. To find her daughter that had been stripped from her. To once again feel a connection to another person.

But, once again, like all great dystopian novels, the Handmaid's Tale givens no answers.

Another Playoff, Another Headache

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So, you may or may not know (and based on who is most likely to be reading this, I'm going with not knowing) that the NBA playoffs are going on right now. (As in basketball, for those who are already lost.)

Years ago, I probably would have been in a similar state of oblivion. Sports were just not part of my life until I met Hubster.

Actually, let me revise that. Sports were not part of my life until I married Hubster.

Because for the couple years we dated, we never watched sports together. We did go to one basketball game with my dad and brothers, but that was it. Never once watched a single game on television, never talked about draft possibilities, never talked trades.

I knew that Hubster loved sports. But I didn't quite understand until we got married. And football season came.

There were moments when I thought, who is this crazy, screaming, foul-mouthed, couch-slapping, jumping fanatic I've married? Sports turn my normally mild-mannered, soft-spoken, laid-back Dr. Jekyll into a screaming, name-calling Mr. Hyde.

Our living room, no, the whole house, is filled with "Worthless!!" "Overpaid slackers!!!" "Suck wads." "Sorry excuse of a point guard!" (Oh, I failed to mention that most appearances of maturity go out the window as well.)

And playoffs are the worst.

Because everyone gets their hopes up, even though they know that their team has no hope of getting beyond the first round. But playing a team much better than yours is apparently no excuse for losing.

Hubster's NBA team is the Jazz. For obvious geographical reasons. And in this season's playoffs, the Jazz are playing the LA Lakers. And one thing that you should know about Jazz fans. They hate the Lakers.

Don't get me wrong. I love the NBA playoffs. I love that the Jazz are in the playoffs so that I can cheer them on, and hope for the upset. Although I do it without the screaming, couch-hitting, name-calling, and jumping.

I've gotten used to Hubster's game-day rants. In fact, I've come to find it somewhat enduring. That he actually has a venue to act like that is wonderful. (Unlike me, who thinks pretty much occasion is okay to act in an overly emotional way.) And I don't take it personally anymore.

And although I hope the Jazz do well, I really just appreciate it when it's all over.

Not in my job description

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last week, I wrote that Hubster and I did everything equally. That we shared all tasks, and willingly made up the slack when the other was stressed out of their mind and unable to function (which we take turns at about every other week.)

Well, I lied.

There are things that I simply will NOT do.

And I'm not talking about cleaning up puke, defusing exploding diapers, or cleaning up "what on EARTH is that?!!" stuff on the floor.

We both do that.

What I'm talking about it much worse.

I DO NOT smell suspicious food in the refrigerator.

Is that milk still good? I don't know, you smell it.

How long has this casserole been in here? I don't know, you take the lid off the tubberware container and look at the stuff.

Do we have any tomatoes? I don't know, you go digging around in the back of the produce drawer and tell me if everything is still recognizable.

I just can't bring myself to do it. I have puked into the kitchen sink after opening a three-day-old bottle. I'm pretty sure that smelling a may-or-may-not-be-expired gallon of milk, and then tasting it just to be sure, and having either one of those prove that, yes, indeed, the milk is bad, would ruin my ability to cook for at least a week.

And that would be bad. Because cooking is the one thing that Hubster does NOT do.

(Oh, and I don't kill spiders.)

Because it's Monday

Monday, April 20, 2009

Or it was.

And Monday is as good as anytime to start something new.

I was going to post this earlier. But a incredibly grumpy pair of boys and an incredibly invigorating round of Wii Fit have delayed me until right now.

I've been thinking about how to incorporate quotes into my blog. Because I love them. I avidly collect them. Anytime I come across on that I love, I must write it down. Books I'm reading, billboards, plaques at museums, commercials, the internet. The source doesn't matter. I scribble them down either in the notebook I always carry around with me. Or an scraps of paper in my purse. On on the back of envelopes on my desk. They are tacked up in random spots around my house.

So, if I haven't made it clear...I LOVE quotes.

I thought about doing something on my sidebar, but when I would change the quote, the previous would just get lost in the internet void.

So, I've done some posts with quotes in them (Which also allowed me to give my opinion about the quote and the person who said it. Because I do like to give my opinion.) But those posts just get lost in the archives, so really, it was no better. And there are so many other things that I would rather write about than quotes. I just really want to share my favorite ones with you.

So, I'm going to do a weekly quote. On my sidebar. (First, because daily is too frequently, and monthly is way too spread out, and secondly, because it is just easier there.)

So, tell me what you think of my weekly quotes. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, sometimes famous, sometimes obscure.

And if you know any good ones, send them my direction. I'm sure I can find a blank piece of wall to hang them up on.

Wuthering Heights

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm sure that most people read this book sooner in their lives than I did. But the occasion just never came up. Unlike most of Austen's books, I wasn't surrounded by people who had read and loved this novel.

The only person who has told me anything about the book was my mom. And she HATED it! Which didn't motivate me to run out and read it.

But after some thought, I decided I really should. After all, it is a classic. And can I really call myself of lover of classical British literature without reading Wuthering Heights?

My first thought about the book was the odd voice that the story is told through. Not first person, not third person. It is not told by one of the main characters. But rather it is told as a story, the housekeeper/nanny related the going-ons of Wuthering Heights to an individual who is new to the area. The entire story is slanted by the housekeepers personal feelings towards the characters, and thus it was difficult to develop my own opinions of the different people.

Heathcliff should be the villan that all villans are compared to. He is the standard of all villans. Bitter because of his childhood friend, Catherine, bestowed her love on someone else, he sets out to destroy the happiness of everyone related to her and her new family. He sets out by financially ruining Catherine's brother, but does not stop there. He manipulates everyone until he has complete physical and emotional control over everyone around him.

The dispair that he brings with him is tangible in every page of Emily Bronte's story. The oppressive presence of Heathcliff is unsurpassed by any book I have ever read.

Nearly done with the book, I felt that there was no way for the story to end happily. Nearly everyone had died, many purely because of the lack of a nurturing hand and the hope of joy. The "heroine" had also come under Heathcliff's powers and slowly I watched her change into a bitter, detached individual instead of the vivrant, caring girl she was.

But happiness came, just as it always should. It came for the heroine and her love. But it never comes for Heathcliff, despite his desperation for it. He never feels the peace and serentiy that love can brings. Even to the end, everything was extreme, desperate, and wild for Heathcliff.

Most literary villans have their redeeming quality. But Heathcliff had none. He could have used his love of Catherine as a redeeming quality. But he never did. He treated his own feeling of love as a weakness, as a reason for revenge.

For the other characters, it was their love that became their redeeming quality. How they used it to be long-suffering, self-less, forgiving, and sacrificing. And in the end, peace came to them.

In the end, it is not what we have, but what we do with it that determines what we are. And no where is there a more powerful allegory of this than Wuthering Heights.

About Time

Saturday, April 18, 2009

After a few more snow storms, I'm beginning to think that finally, finally, spring is on its way.

I spent the day strolling through gardens with my family.

Enjoy some glimpses of spring.

Take two and call me in the morning

Friday, April 17, 2009

My oldest son woke up with a high fever this morning. Not high enough to rush to the emergency room. But high enough for him to feel achy and for me to call his school and excuse him.

I know that it is most likely some virus that he caught from school. And that he will probably be over it by tomorrow.

However, both my medical training and my panicky parental side worry. Could he have meningitis? No, he has a slight headache, but no other symptoms. Could he have pneumonia? No, he couldn't have a cough. Could he have this, or that, or this other terrible thing? No, he's just got a bug, and it will pass.

But should he not get better, or his fever get higher, or he have other symptoms that scare the crap out of me, it is nice to know that the emergency room is less than 10 minutes away.

We hear a lot about the "good ol' days." But in terms of medicine, there never was never anything good about the old days.

150 years ago, if a child woke up with a fever, there was nothing to reassure a parent that it wasn't that child's final moments. No way to differentiate mild from serious. And if it did turn serious, what was anyone going to do? Bleed them? High childhood mortality has been an extremely common thing until recent times.

It is only thanks to leaving behind the "good ol' days" that we can, for the most part, feel secure that our children will make it through childhood sniffles, fevers, and aches, and reach adulthood.

I am grateful to live in a time where I can give my little boy Tylenol, cuddle with him on the couch in front of our favorite Pixar movie, and trust that he will be fine in the morning.

Perfect Fit

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Last week, I got a lot of great advice about things I could do to my diet/exercise plan.

And like always, I thought of excuses about why this one and that one wouldn't work for me.

The one that I know what true was that I needed variety in my exercise plan.

A little background on my approach to exercise:

I have been to a gym once. That was during high school as a guest with one of my friends. Yep, a whole ONE time.

I've had lots of reasons for this. Financially, things have always been a little tight. There just wasn't the cash for a membership that I may or may not have used. After I had kids, I was away from home so much of the time, that I felt too guilty to be away from home even more just to work out.

My exercise equipment has been the sidewalk when Hubster is home and a stationary bike I bought 5 years ago when he's not.

But I am limited to those no longer. I have a new outlet.

Wii Fit!!!!

My brother-in-law brought it over last week, and then seeing the covetous look in my eye, asked if we wanted to borrow it for a while. (So, actually I have a new outlet until he wants it back.)

We can't afford a Wii system right at this time. But it is now of the list of "Must Haves!"

I'm sure that I'm a little late on this bandwagon, but this thing is amazing. The first day after doing a full workout on it, I was sore everywhere. Which was great!

It is like having a personal trainer at home. And with the variety of exercises, I don't get bored. I can do this thing for hours (instead of pushing myself for a full 30 minutes on my stationary bike and hating every minute of it.) Yoga, strength training, aerobics! I have to talk myself into stopping, mostly because someone wants to watch TV or someone else wants a turn.

And there is a competitive aspect to it. Everyone is trying to beat other people's scores, which pushes them (and me) to work harder.

And, according to the Wii, I've lost another pound (although my home scale says it's just half a pound, but I'm only listening to the Wii now.)

So, if you can't tell, I'm pretty excited about it.

So, excuse me, I've got to go and beat Hubster's boxing score.

Wearing the Pants

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I really hate that phrase. But you hear it all the time.

"Who wears the pants in this relationship?"

I feel very lucky. Hubster and I have an amazing relationship. Most of what I do is due to the support and strength I draw from that relationship.

Both of us grew up surrounded by examples of very traditional gender roles. Husband goes to work, makes the money. Wife has the children, stays home, keeps house.

And while we both have deep-rooted appreciation for our mothers and their "stay-at-home" roles in our lives, we have done things differently.

While I technically have not "worked" (as in brought home a paycheck), I have spent the equivalent of two full-time jobs getting first my undergraduate degree and then my medical degree.

Hubster has always been 100% supportive of this.

Hubster has worked full-time, and gone to school part-time.

Our boys have spent a lot of time in daycare, a place neither Hubster nor I spent any time in as children. But given our time, we both take equal care of the boys. Hubster has changed just as many diapers as I have. He bathes the boys probably more often than I do. He gets up with them in the night. We both have stayed home from work to be with them when they are sick.

We both take out the gabage, do dishes, and put away laundry.

We have not done things "traditionally."

And even with that frame of reference, things are about to dramatically change. When I start my residency in June, I will have a paying job. One that pays the same as Hubster's current job. When we move to Iowa, Hubster will spend most of the first few months at home with our boys. And then he is going to graduate school.

Things are shifting. I will be the money-maker. Hubster will be the student. And we will both continue to be the joint care providers for our boys. (With the help of some daytime paid child care.)

I didn't go to medical school with the intention of being the main provider for our family. I went because I could, it was an amazing opportunity, and because it did offer the possibility that things would eventually be better for our family.

We both knew that these changes were going to occur. But sometimes the changes feel overwhelming. I worry that Hubster will feel usurped in his role as "provider." (Even though he constantly reassures me that he doesn't and won't.)

(I also worry about Hubster being in charge of meals while I'm working 80 hours a week. Because he really is NOT a good cook.)

How important are gender roles to you? If things were suddenly reversed, how do you think you or your significant other would cope? Is your image of you flexible enough to allow what is best for the family to occur, even with the chance of wounded pride to yourself?

So, when people ask, "Who wears the pants in this relationship?" I don't know what to say.

This relationship is a two way street, with mutual responsiblity and respect, with flexible roles, and people that are doing the best to adapt to whatever life gives them.

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the flowers are starting to bloom.

Easter is a wonderful time for it to start feeling like spring.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

You know how on crime shows, if the detectives find a fingerprint, everything is pretty much smooth sailing from there? Because they can just put the fingerprint in their computer and it comes up with a match. And then they have their suspect.

I've never been fingerprinted in my life. Never had any reason to.

So I always thought that if I were ever to commit a crime, I pretty much had a free pass. I could leave fingerprints over everything at the crime scene. It wouldn't matter. There wouldn't be a computer in the whole world that could match it to anything.

(This is off course assuming that everything else went well. Like no witnesses, video cameras, photographs, etc, etc. Of course. And that I would conjure images of Katherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment.)

Well, it looks like my days of getting off scott free are over.

Part of my physician licensing paperwork is going down to the sheriff's office and having a complete set of fingerprints taken and entered into the FBI database. This is all part of my criminal background check. To make sure that they are letting psychopaths become licensed physicians.

And apparently keep future criminal activity in check as well.

So there go my dreams of the perfect diamond heist.

In a Slump

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I need to get back on track, both with posting and my now titled "so-called-diet."

It has earned that name, not from lack of effort, but from lack of results.

I'm working on not getting discouraged. But I feel that after four months of nearly daily exercise, a lot of vegetable juice and low-fat yogurt and minimal treats, I should have more to show for it than just 8 pounds of weight loss.

I think that I could get better results with more time spend exercising, but it is all that I can fit into my day. And you think that going from zero minutes on zero days a week to 45 minutes on 6 days a week would have had some effect.

I'm sure that I could lose weight if I ate less. But I'm already eating a lot less. I'm hungry a lot of the time, and I'm working on letting hunger be a good feeling. If my stomach rumbles, I try to think, "That's the sound of results." But really, it is just the sound of a grumpy girl.

I feel like I'm fighting against so many things.

One is my gender. Hubster eats terribly, despite my best efforts. And a few months ago, he got in an exercising mood, and spend a few minutes each day jump-roping. In a week, he had lost 3 pounds. With no diet changes. I'm beginning to think it is just easier for men.

The other thing is my metabolism. I feel that it has come to a screeching halt since I've had my kids. It is very easy for me to gain weight. Just a couple weeks of not being super careful (like a job interview trip) and I will gain several pounds. And then they don't come off.

Ever, apparently.

I'm not going to quit. This is the longest I have stuck with any diet and exercise plan.

And there is a lot of evidence that overweight, active people are significantly more healthy than normal weight, inactive people. So the overall benefit is still worth it.

But I want some results!!

There's No Place Like Home

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It feels like I've been away for forever.

But I have a good reason.

Over the weekend, Hubster and I flew to Iowa. And bought a house!!

Our very first house. It's really ours! (Well, pending something disasterous on the inspection and worse case scenario with financing. But parring those two's ours!!)

(Oh, and prepare yourself for a lot of exclamation points. I'm extremely excited about this whole thing.)

I have lived in an apartment every since I first moved out of my parents' house the summer after I graduated high school. It's been pretty much the same for Hubster (just five years longer.)

We've raised our two boys in apartments.

While it has been convenient in terms of needing to move for various reasons, and more affordable, it obviously has had it's drawbacks.

My boys have never had a yard. They can't go outside unless I'm with them. We have to be "considerate" of those who share walls and floors and ceilings (which means no Tonka trucks in the kitchen.)

The worst part about it has just been the whole temporary feeling. Each place we've lived, we think, "Oh, we're just here for a little while." We don't feel settled.

But all of that is going to change. We have a house!

Granted, it's not a beautiful house. It needs a little "love." But everything it needs are just surface treatments: paint, new carpet, new light fixtures. Things I probably would have done anyways, regardless of the home.

Living Room

(Needs paint, but the floors are nice)


(Needs new floor, but the cabinets are new)

But what the house has are things you wouldn't be able to fix. Location! (Isn't that the rule of real estate?) We are next door to what is most likely the best elementary school in town. We are in a gorgeous neighborhood (I can't believe we could afford a home in that neighborhood!) We are only two miles from the university and parks. It is just wonderful!!

Oh, and it has a yard.