Saturday, September 29, 2007

I knew there was a reason

My name is Bridget, and I hate local television news.

What is it, exactly, that I find so revolting about KVOA, KUTV, KOLD, etc.? Well, many of the things that I despise about them are satirized very well in this video clip about Americanizing Al-Jazeera from The Daily Show. I already talked about it on My Adventures in Jordan, but here it is again in case you missed it. The parts relevant to this conversation come at the end.

Granted, The Daily Show was making fun of American news in general, but it certainly holds true for the local versions as well.

Still, there's another side to local news that keeps me from watching it. Have you ever noticed the cliffhangers they throw at you during commercial breaks? You're watching LOST, you've lowered the volume during the commercials and are trying to mind your own business when all of a sudden, you hear something like "A band of thieves has launched a new jaunt of terror through Tucson neighborhoods. ARE YOU NEXT?!?!?!?! Find out at ten!" Or even, "The weather was cool and pleasant today, but ARE THINGS ABOUT TO CHANGE FOR THE WORSE?!?!?!?!??! Tonight, at eleven."

Give me a break.

Today, I realized that Jeremy and I are not the only ones who eschew local news in all its forms. I've been reading Gavin de Becker's books about "the gift of fear." Near the end of his book by that title, he basically tells people not to watch local news programs. Here are two excerpts from that section:

"Local news has several favorite phrases, one of which is 'Police made a gruesome discovery today in [name of local city].' The satellite age has increased the library of available shocking footage, so that now, if there wasn't a something grisly in your town, you might hear, 'Police made a greusome discovery today in Reno,' or Chicago, or Miami, or even Caracas. It may not be local, but it is greusome, and there's some footage, so what the hell. Whether they go back in time to find something shocking or go around the planet, in neither case is the information necessarily valuable or relevant to our life."

"A serious-looking news celebrity tells of the most current danger we simply must know about to save our lives: 'I'm standing at the scene of the latest follow-home robbery to hit this posh westside neighborhood, part of a growing trend of random attacks. How can you avoid this terror?' This will be followed by a list of cautions, some of them so obvious as to be comical (e.g., 'Don't let strangers into your car'). There will be an interview with someone seriously billed as a 'follow-home robbery expert.' Then suddenly one day you'd think such robberies had just stopped, because local television will move on to the next criminal hazard. Soon it will be 'Robbers who hide out in your purse until you get home!' followed by a checklist of warning signs to look out for: 'Purse feels extra heavy; purse difficult to close; unusual sounds coming from purse...'"

de Becker goes on to claim that you can live a happier, less worrisome life by doing away with local news. I experienced this myself this summer. I had never paid attention to local Tucson news until we were in Jordan, when I updated my iGoogle homepage with a "local headlines" feature and set it to zip code 85719. All of a sudden, all I was hearing about were murders, rapes, mall shootings (really!), home burglaries, and other terrible things, happening right in Tucson.

Of course, there are times when tuning in to the local news is a necessary evil, but those times are becoming more and more scarce as the age of internet news (with video!) advances. Sadly, it's getting harder to find a serious internet news source that hasn't gone "pop." I think
BBC is one of the last ones left, even if it is not very local and also stodgily British at times.

Better stodgy and British than featuring "news" stories such as "Someone's swiping toilet paper" (I'll give you one guess at where that headline came from before you click on the link).

Friday, September 28, 2007

What's in a name?

For some reason, I am very interested in names. Especially baby names. A few years ago, I found a blog written by a lady who is even more interested in them than I am: Laura Wattenberg. She writes the fantastic Baby Name Wizard Blog.

But even more amazing than her blog is the NameVoyager, an entertaining time-occupier (I refuse to use the word "waster") that is also informative of national baby-naming trends over the last century.

For example, here is the NameVoyager chart for my name:

Bridget has never been a very popular name, hitting its peak in the 1980s at #166. And that's just fine with me. I never had to go through what poor Jen did. Come to think of it, I have never met another person with my name who is even close to my age, although two of my direct neighbors (moms with kids) while I was growing up were named Bridget. One of them was German.

Of course, I say I like my name now, but there were periods during the 80s that if you had asked, I would have told you I wanted to be named Diamond (I think I had watched one too many episodes of American Gladiators).

Like any parents, Jeremy and I thought long and hard about what to name our daughter. And I'll be perfectly honest and admit that NameVoyager had a part in the process (the last thing I wanted was to name my child "the next big trend" without realizing it).

Eventually, we narrowed it down to two names: Miriam:

(whose peak levels of popularity are strikingly similar to my own name's, albeit in different decades) (also, you can see why everyone who hears her name says they have a grandma, great-aunt, or other elderly friend named Miriam);

and Veronica:

NameVoyager couldn't have warned me at the time, but in retrospect, I am very glad we did not name her Veronica. I had never heard of it (we were living in Syria at the time), but shortly after Miriam was born, I found out there was a popular new TV show named "Veronica Mars." A close call, to be sure.

I'll leave you with a peek at what my next choice was to name a girl: Cora.

You have to admit, it is a very appealing candidate for a classy, beautiful, yet not at all overused name. I've loved it since my little sister and I spent our Saturday afternoons re-enacting the cliff scene from Last of the Mohicans (though admittedly, we used to argue over who got to be Alice, not Cora).

Why am I sharing this, when I never share my personal baby name favorites ahead of time? And why do I say "was"? Because, dear readers, it has been used, and by none other than Miriam's new cousin. It's hard to believe, but the 384th-most-popular girl's name in America was secretly (at least on my part) shared as a favorite by two sisters-in-law, and the secret was not revealed until shortly before the baby's birth. So now I'm living in some kind of alternate reality where there is a baby girl named Cora Palmer, but she's not mine!

So where do you fall on NameVoyager? Is your name a reflection of that decade's trend, or do you come a few decades too early or too late? What about your children's names?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Where the sidewalk ends

Maybe someone from the City of Tucson reads this blog, because they're currently in the process of putting in a sidewalk all the way to the library.

You may recall my troubles walking to the library, having to cross a busy street, sans crosswalk, half a dozen times.

More excited about this development, I could not be.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Making it home in nine pieces

We're back in Tucson now after a lovely week-long sojourn in Idaho Falls. But we didn't get here without going over a few bumps.

The first was upon check-in at the Salt Lake City Airport. In an attempt to cut down on the number of pieces of luggage I physically had to handle, I had purposely packed just one large suitcase, and packed it tight.

Apparently, the few books and other items I acquired in Idaho did not weigh nothing - we were seven pounds over the limit. I decided not to waste time arguing that since I wasn't checking the maximum number of bags, they should let the extra seven pounds slide (which, by my luggage allowance, could have been 50 pounds in an additional suitcase).

So I set about "shuffling" (that was the agent's term) seven pounds of luggage from the large suitcase to either the portacrib or the carseat. You can see why I wasn't having much success. Portacrib cases are meant to hold just the portacribs, and carseats aren't heavy on extra storage, either.

In the end, I took out enough books to make up seven pounds, put them in the seat of the carseat, and then had the agent double-wrap the resulting awkward package with tape.

The carseat, books, and everything else arrived safely in Tucson. Now came the tricky part. I needed to get myself from baggage claim to the parking shuttle, a lobby and two street-crossings apart. To remind you, here are the nine elements of the equation:

1. me
2. humongous suitcsae
3. portacrib
4. carseat/seven pounds of books
5. stroller
6. Miriam
7. my purse
8. laptop bag
9. Miriam's backpack

If you look carefully, you'll notice there are two hand-intensive items, namely the suitcase (to be pulled) and the stroller (to be pushed). So I tried my best to arrange/drape/hang/attach everything else to those two things.

I made it all the way from baggage claim to the first curb wearing my laptop bag, holding the portacrib, pulling the humongous suitcase with the carseat slung over the top, all while pushing the stroller (filled with Miriam, Miriam's backpack, and my purse) every few steps with my foot.

That got to be ridiculous fast, so I tried letting Miriam out and having her push the stroller. That got ridiculous even faster.

Finally, a passer-by came to my rescue and rigged up the portacrib on the suitcase, under the carseat. So then I only had to push and pull, and not kick with my foot. In this manner, we made it to the parking shuttle.

Why do I do these things? I have no idea.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Something's not right

Being the upstanding citizens that we are, the three of us women (my mother- and sister-in-law and myself) decided to report the indecent exposure incident mentioned in the previous post to the police. Our job was made easier by the fact that we knew exactly who the culprit was: George Jones.

You see, in a bizarre coincidence, we returned home after our unfortunate experience only to see the exposer's photograph in the newspaper in a routine change-of-address announcement for a registered sex offender. All three of us were sure it was him. So my mother-in-law went to the police station the next day to file an official report.

As she waited in line, the desk clerk elicited a few details about the incident. When he heard what had happened, he said something to the effect of, "Oh, that must be old George Jones. I've had 40 years of law enforcement experience, and I've been dealing with him off and on for 35 of them." Apparently, Jones has done this kind of thing plenty of times before last Tuesday. He's even done it at the library before.

I don't know what kind of a system it is that allows a person like this to be free to walk out and about, exposing himself at will. But at least our report will be added to the pile of complaints against him so they'll be able to get him in jail (again) that much sooner.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Travel, Utah/Idaho, and indecent exposure

Miriam and I are in Idaho Falls visiting the Palmer grandparents. It was quite a trip to get here: a 2-hour flight from Tucson to Salt Lake City, and then a 4-hour bus ride to Idaho Falls.

Travel. I'm always amused when fellow travelers tell me, after a long flight or bus ride, how lucky I am that my child was so well behaved. I usually just smile and nod, but what they don't know is that I have exhausted my personal stores of patience, ingenuity, and candy-as-bribery to ensure Miriam's well-behavedness. Perhaps I should take it as a compliment that I'm doing it in what appears to be an effortless manner.

What I wasn't doing effortlessly was transporting all of our hud to and from the airport. When I was dropped off at the Tucson airport, I was dealing with my purse, my laptop bag, a bag of snacks, a huge suitcase, the stroller, Miriam's carseat, Miriam's backpack, and of course, Miriam herself. I must have looked so awkward because after a minute of me trying to get everything together by myself, an airport policeman came over and helped me to the check-in counter. Thank goodness for nice people!

Utah/Idaho. It's been a while since we lived in American Fork, so I had forgotten what it's like to be in a place that is predominantly Mormon. Or at least, a place where Mormon-ness is common enough that it's well understood. As we walked from our gate to the baggage claim area, I stopped at a fast-food restaurant to get some lunch. The cashier was obviously Russian, with an accent and the Russian name and everything. I was almost going to start talking to her in Russian until I remembered that this is the land of returned missionaries, and she probably gets talked to in her native language by us Americans several times a day. Sigh.

Also, the shuttle bus driver played catchy arrangements of primary songs over the bus stereo on the way from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls.

Indecent Exposure. We came all the way from 18th-most-dangerous-city Tucson to safe little Idaho Falls and yet managed to be victimized in our first 24 hours. My mother- and sister-in-law, Miriam, and I were walking out of the Idaho Falls Public Library last night. As I was buckling Miriam into her carseat, my brain registered a very out-of-place sound coming from right behind me in the dark parking lot. It was a zipper unzipping. I'm sure you can guess what the man standing there was doing when I turned around long enough to slam the door shut, lock the door, and tell Grandma Palmer to get the heck out of there.

Welcome to Idaho!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thoughts on weaning

It's been a week now, so I think it's officially official: Miriam Damascus is weaned.

Upon reading that sentence, most of you probably had some variation or degree of the reaction, "Ew." Perhaps a small portion of you think that's it's...well, neat.

You might not believe me when I tell you this, but I never intended to nurse my child for two full years. In fact, I used to be one of you, one of those people who thought any nursing that occurred when the child could walk around and say a few words was really, really weird. But sometime during the last two years, I changed my mind.

Miriam loved nursing. She never took a bottle. Not once. Ever. At around 12 months, she figured out a sippy cup well enough to start drinking whole milk. But the nursing continued because she loved it, and I was content. I knew that if she ever started getting grabby or obvious about it, I'd wean her in a moment. But she never did anything embarrassing in public.

While we were in Jordan, I could tell that breastfeeding's comforting hold on Miriam was losing its grip. So I decided to wean her when we got back to America. I nursed her for the last time on her birthday, put her down for a nap, shed a few tears to mourn the passing of an era, and then practically jumped for joy at having my body back.

Our nursing experience encompassed two years, three continents (two of them twice over), a nursing strike, more bouts of mastitis than I care to remember, a close call with losing my milk when we were all terribly ill, and some very strange nursing locations. Off the top of my head, I can remember nursing Miriam in disgusting pit-toilet public bathrooms in the Middle East, on public buses amid crowds of Arab male passengers (very, very well covered, I assure you, though it took a lot of creative blanket engineering), inside a worker's shed at the baptismal site on the Jordan River (guarded by Jeremy, thank goodness, because they didn't know I was in there and one of them tried to get in), and in various other "interesting" locations and situations.

Every once in a while, Miriam pipes up and tells me that nursing is for babies, and that she's a big girl now, and doesn't need nursing (or "nurses," as she calls it). She also talks about baby cows being nursed by mama cows, which probably stems from the cows living on the farm across the street and the very visible udders on some of them.

Even though I did enjoy extended nursing, I'm happy to be myself again. Now I can take all those medications that I couldn't before because of the risk of transfer through breastmilk. Bring on the Vicodin!

Just kidding. Kind of. I'm getting my tonsils removed next month, so having to take Vicodin is a very real possibility.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A pretty good movie

No one I know has ever heard of it. None of the movie critics whose opinions I depend upon saw it. I can't even remember how I heard of it. But The Painted Veil is a pretty good movie.

We watched it last weekend and I enjoyed it. Throughout the week, I continued to think about it - I just couldn't get it out of my head. So I watched it again last night and loved it even more. I can't quite put my finger on what it was exactly that moved me so much. But I think it has something to do with the fact that in many ways, I very much identified with Kitty Fane. In the movie, her husband drags her off to some far-flung foreign location, about which she knows close to nothing, in the name of research. We watch as she slowly finds ways to cope with her new surroundings, and eventually, in her own way, even (spoiler alert!) flourish.

There is also an interesting twist on the standard "romance" plot: the two people falling in love in this film are, in fact, husband and wife.

Also, the soundtrack is amazing. Movie soundtracks are my favorite genre of music these days.

Has anyone else seen this movie? Or even heard of it? Or am I the only one?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The swimsuit of the decade

After ten long years, I am finally the owner of a new swimsuit.

It's this one, from Shade Clothing. You know how when you own an article of clothing for so long, you sometimes lose your ability to judge if it's still acceptable to be wearing out in public? It took a chance glance at a photograph of me wearing my old swimsuit to break the spell. Not only had I been wearing the same swimsuit since my sophomore year of high school, not only had it been purchased for a few dollars at Marshall's back in the day, and not only was it hideous to begin with (that was the reason I bought it - I went through a "the garishly-uglier, the better" phase), but I had worn it while pregnant with Miriam and it was stretched out in all the wrong places.

When my sister was here, we went swimsuit shopping to try to catch some summer clearance sales. All we found were racks crowded with mismatched two-piece tops and bottoms, all more for decoration than function - you know, the kind that you have to keep re-tying or adjusting. I thought I was doomed. Then Shade's swimsuits went on sale, my problem was solved, and my self confidence is restored. My old swimsuit was getting so bad that I didn't even feel comfortable wearing it to take Miriam swimming in our lane's shared pool, even though we're the only ones who are ever there.

I have a few other items of clothing that are very old that I wear on a regular basis. I've had my favorite pair of running shorts since 1995 and they are still going strong. In fact, that's them I'm wearing with my ancient swimsuit.

But I think the very oldest is the shirt from my 2nd-grade Girl Scout troop, which dates it back to 1989. Anyone who knows me probably knows the exact shirt I'm talking about, because I love this shirt beyond all reason. It's one of those where every girl drew a small picture about Girl Scouts and then we had them all silk-screened onto the shirt. My name is right under a drawing of a tent with what I can only assume is two people in sleeping bags inside.

What's the oldest article of clothing that you still wear on a regular basis?

Curses! Foiled again.

That Mendoza...

When I last talked to her on Tuesday, I was in a pretty good mood. I only had to wait on hold for about 25 minutes, and she said they finally had everything they needed to get this refund going. She said she'd call me in a couple of days to let me know how it was going, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. How did I know? Well, she's said that almost every time I've talked to her and it's never happened.

So I asked her again if she had a direct number. And she lied again and said that she didn't. But she did give me a great tip: she said that if I called at around 4pm, the wait time wasn't as bad. I made a note of it and passed on the information to my mom, whose turn it would be to call.

Well, it turns out Ms. Mendoza is more devious than I previously thought. My mom called today at the suggested time and get this - Mendoza goes home at 3 o'clock!

Blast! Always one step ahead.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Six years ago today

I've always been intrigued by flashbulb memories. When I was learning about them in high school psychology class (in 1998), the example that was always given was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Obviously, none of us in that classroom, except maybe (maybe) the teacher had been alive at the time. So we understood the concept, but I don't think we really had much to compare it to. There was the Challenger disaster, of course, which I actually do remember. There was also the fall of the Berlin Wall and the death of Princess Diana (the latter having happened so recently, however, that it hadn't really evolved into a flashbulb memory yet).

But from now on, I think the classic, textbook example of a flashbulb memory will be September 11th. I know a common response to these kinds of tales is often, "I don't care where you or anyone else was when you found out about what had happened." So if you don't care, don't read on. If you do care, please know that I care, too, and I'd like to hear your story.

I was living in that most awesome of places, the BYU FLSR (Foreign Language Student Residence - basically a nerdy place full of nerds who live with other nerds and nerdily speak foreign languages to each other all day) Japanese House. I woke up early on that Tuesday morning, got a bowl of cereal, and sat down to check my email while I ate. The page (which I have unsuccessfully searched for on internet archives) that came up had only one sentence of news, something cryptic like, "World Trade Center incident kills 9." I thought it must be a mistaken reprint of a headline from when the WTC was bombed in 1993 and went on eating and checking email.

Around that time Jeremy, who lived a few doors down in the Arabic house, called me. He had just talked with a Palestinian friend on the phone, who had told him the news (but with slightly more detail than Yahoo! had at the moment). I then broke a major rule in the FLSR and turned on an English-language news channel. At almost that exact moment, the first tower collapsed. I watched it happen live on TV.

The rest of that day still feels hurried and stressed, even in memory. I went to class as usual and remember seeing hordes of BYU students gathered around the few television monitors in the bookstore, watching the events unfold. There was the Devotional, which was changed to a prayer meeting of sorts. But most of all, on that day and even more in the days to come, there was a sudden sense of importance attached to the fact that for two years now, Jeremy had been studying this obscure, strange language called Arabic. It seemed as though the pieces for his - soon to be our - future were falling into place.

In many ways, I think September 11th acted as a catalyst in our relationship. In the week before the attack, we were at that awkward "so, are we getting married or what?" phase of a long-term dating relationship. I'm not saying we wouldn't have gotten married had the attacks not happened - just that those events seemed to allow us to see our plans more clearly. We got engaged in October, had to deal with sending out wedding invitations during the anthrax-in-the-mail scare soon afterwards, and were married in November after having our flight to Portland annoyingly delayed by that idiot who ran back through the security screening area so he wouldn't miss a football game.

Other random things I remember about that day: hearing that Julie Stoffer (of recent 'The Real World' fame) was supposed to be on one of the doomed flights - this turned out to be true; hearing that a Mormon missionary conference was supposed to be held at the WTC that morning, but everyone through individual miraculous events managed to be absent - this, of course, was false. I also remember everything being called "the NYC and DC attacks," which at some point - I don't know exactly when - changed to simply "September 11th." Off the top of my head, I can't think of another world event that is known simply by its date.

What does your flashbulb memory illuminate?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Two things Miriam

In honor of Miriam's second birthday, I will share two things Miriam-related that have happened recently.

1. I feel like I should mail IKEA a check for "babysitting" my daughter yesterday. She played with her farm animal set for two hours straight while I cleaned the house. Awesome.

2. Someone has been teaching Miriam English on the sly. We were at church today and Miriam was playing with her quiet book. There's one page where you velcro felt shape cut-outs to their matching counterparts. She picked up the tan triangle and said, out loud, "triangle."

This wouldn't be weird except I've never taught Miriam the English words for shapes. She knows them in Arabic but I'm not sure where she learned the English words.

Sooner or later we're going to have to teach her more English. The weird looks I get when I explain that you have to ask Miriam "what's your name" in Arabic in order for her to understand are getting to be a bit much.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Giving Tucson's theaters an ultimatum

My sister was in town last week. We took the opportunity of free babysitting to go see a movie.

Specifically, we saw The Bourne Ultimatum. By the way, I think it should be pronounced ul-TI-ma-tum (not ul-ti-MA-tum) because that way, it matches the titles of its two predecessors.

Anyway, we've been to the movie theater in Tucson exactly one time in nearly two years of living here. So we had to look up the theaters all over again on the internet. We found one that was fairly close to our house, and decided to go there.

On the way, I was struck by the contrast in going out on the town in Tucson and going out in Amman. In Amman, it's always an exciting and refreshing experience: there's the mystery of flagging down a taxi, the glamour of its being a large city, and that special feeling of being in a foreign country and hanging out with the locals.

In Tucson, we walked three steps outside our front door, got in our car, locked the doors, drove to the theater through mostly quiet streets, walked brusquely and purposefully through the dark parking lot, and entered the theater.

Do you know how much it costs to go to a movie these days? Something like 9 bucks. I didn't know that. But babysitting was free, so we paid it and went inside. I was immediately disappointed with what our hard-earned 9 bucks had bought us.

The theater was hideous. To begin with, the seating was very old with ugly, worn upholstery. The slant of the seating was far from stadium style and not nearly steep enough. The screen looked dusty and small. But most of all, there was a nasty pee/puke/miscellaneous-body-fluid smell mingling with the standard movie popcorn smell.

We didn't even take our seats. We walked right out again, got our money back, and drove to the theater across town for a later showing. That theater, I am glad to report, was perfectly normal.

The movie was fantastic. When it was over, I checked my phone and my poor sister had texted me about half an hour earlier (at 11.30pm). This is what it said:

"Bridget there r cops outside - i'm kind of scared but i think everything's fine. I just don't want u 2 freak out when u pull up."

Oh, Tucson

I bet you can tell which category I'm filing this one under...

Friday, September 07, 2007

A photo exhibition

It's not every day that you attend a photo exhibition that features your own work, but Jeremy and I had one such day recently.

The University of Arizona's Center for Middle Eastern Studies' 17th Annual Photography Exhibition featured two of Jeremy's photos (one as a cornerstone piece) and one of mine. We submitted them for consideration back in April and got back to the US in time to attend the opening reception for the exhibit.

Here are the photos that will be on display there for the next year.

First, a panorama of Ba'albek, Lebanon, taken in November of 2004. This is the photo of Jeremy's they chose as a cornerstone piece.

Second, some ruins from Troy, Turkey, partially submerged in the mud of December 2004.

Finally, Musyaf Castle in Syria, taken in April 2005. This is a place that I don't think a lot of people visit. Which is a shame, because it's rather special.

Reborn, again

OK, I've received several responses about birth experiences via email because nobody wants to scare everyone.

So in the comments, you don't have to share your whole story. Instead, just tell me...

Were you satisfied with your birth experience? Why or why not? And what are you going to do about it for next time? How did your opinions on childbirth change after having a baby (if applicable)?

These are all questions that this book - indirectly, I might add - got me thinking about.

Please share.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


(You know you're reading too many books when your "What I'm Reading List" on your blog can't keep up with real life.)

I don't think I've ever mentioned here on this blog, or even on Miriam's blog, what a traumatic experience giving birth was for me. And I'm not going to give gory details, either, because I don't believe in unsolicited labor horror stories. I will say only that it was extremely traumatic and it has taken, lo these two long years almost exactly, to get over it enough to even consider giving birth again.

(To give you an idea of how much it has stayed with me, I still can't listen to Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" (the song that was, inexplicably, stuck in my head during labor) without getting the shivers.)

But here's a book that has suddenly helped me tremendously: Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy. Basically, this is a book that I have been wanting to read since Miriam was born, and so you can imagine how happy I was when I found out a few months ago that it actually existed. It is exactly what its title suggests: a history of birth through the ages.

It is very distantly related to
A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (a fellow Mormon) in subject matter. But while A Midwife's Tale just made me glad I wasn't giving birth in 18th-century New England, Birth has made me excited about trying again in the 21st century.

The best thing about Birth is that it's not a "choosing a birth method"-type book. I've always found such books less than helpful because no matter how hard the author tries, they always come across as being preachy, snobby, or dismissive of one or several methods. Birth does not even try to give advice. It is a simple account of, well, the history of childbirth, that withholds judgment wisely, and entirely.

Another reason this book really struck a chord with me is that in the end, it reinforced my personal beliefs about childbirth that were formed while we were living in Damascus. I was pregnant with Miriam at the time and we were seriously considering arranging our travel schedules (involving trying to get to Arizona in time for Jeremy to start his PhD program) so she could be born there. While talking with my Syrian OB, he said something interesting along the lines of: "Childbirth is not brain surgery. It's something that happens all the time, everywhere. I like to treat it as a natural thing, not as something that women need to be saved from."

Believe me, if there had been a way to give birth to Miriam in Syria, we would have found it. As it turned out, we had the above-mentioned less-than-stellar experience here in Tucson.

Not that I'm complaining - I realize that everyone (including my midwife and myself) did everything they thought was right at the time. But when I do it again, I sincerely hope it will be different. It's hard to get over the sense of guilt that keeps pushing itself on me for being dissatisfied with my previous birth experience. After all, I still managed to come out of it with a healthy baby, right? That's the most we can ask for, and more than some people get. Still, I think I'm allowed to hope that next time will not be the same, but better.

I don't think I'm alone, either. I know there are plenty of moms who read my blog and I'm interested in hearing your stories of birth, both satisfying experiences and those that were not.

In the meantime, I'm grateful for Birth, the book that has armed me with stories from the past and instilled in me the confidence to give childbirth at least one more chance.

See the next post for comments.

June, June, JOAN!

I generally consider posting videos as an entire blog entry to be a copout, but I'm making an exception. First, because it's all I have time for at the moment, but second, because this one really makes me laugh.

We all heard about this poor girl, so I won't embarrass her any further (except for linking to the video, apparently. And also this one of Jimmy Kimmel making fun of her (skip ahead to about 1:45)).

Today's video is one you don't feel bad laughing at, at least I didn't. It's all in good fun. Basically, this lady totally forgot the words to the song she was performing at an outdoor concert, but she faked it really well, and in a hilarious manner. Here are the lyrics she was trying to sing, in case you are unfamiliar with them, as I was:

June is bustin' out all over
All over the meadow and the hill!
Buds're bustin' outa bushes
And the rompin' river pushes
Ev'ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!

June is bustin' out all over
The feelin' is gettin' so intense,
That the young Virginia creepers
Hev been huggin' the bejeepers
Outa all the mornin' glories on the fence!
Because it's June...

June, June, June
Just because it's June, June, June!

But as you will quickly notice from watching the video, that's not what she sings. Stay for the second replay when the maker of the video puts up some helpful subtitles. And watch her face up close when she starts flubbing her lines.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Going through withdrawal already

I just finished reading Eclipse.

And now I'm going through highly-anticipated-sequel-withdrawal for the second time this summer (the first time being with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

I'm happy to have read it, of course, but extremely sad it's over already.

I'll have to find a new reason for getting up in the morning, and soon! Any ideas?


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