Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No One Reads My Blog Anyway . . .

James writes on his Mormon Midrashim blog two or three times a week. Two hundred people are reading it every day.

I am still unsure as to why I started writing on this blog. When I'm at home, I don't want to cuddle up with my computer and write about the cute or weird things my children did that day, or complain about how exhausted I feel after working for three hours and walking across campus because my second trimester energy boost hasn't kicked in yet. I want to space out or play games or read young adult books on James's Kindle.

But here are a few thoughts:

Today is Boo's last full day of second grade. The kids are supposed to go for an hour and a half on Thursday, but since she doesn't go to school in the morning, we figure she's fine. Besides, we've already given up on her report card; it certainly isn't a reflection of what she knows, only what she's done in her teacher's classroom. James decided that Boo's teacher isn't bad; she's Javert. You know, Javert from Les Misérables. She is cold and calculated not for villainy but because she works entirely by the book. No accommodations. Javert is not a good second grade teacher. Maybe she missed her calling as an inspector.

I ended up in a BBC news article yesterday. James found it while looking at headlines. After the broadcast last week, Paul Adams interviewed four of the five panelists about some of our experiences and perspectives. I referred to The Book of Mormon Musical to explain how Mormons are viewed as both naive and out-of-touch as well as "the world's last optimists." I'm pretty sure I'm not naive, but neither am I as optimistic as many other Latter-day Saints. I admire the optimists in my faith; they seem to know a lot more than I do.

Grading is intolerable anymore. I have managed to grade two papers since Friday. Maybe it's this pregnancy brain cloud that keeps me from thinking or reading well, but I feel sick at the prospect of grading fourteen more papers. 

James, Boo, Ji, and I joined my mom and dad at their house for a barbecue on Memorial Day. It was so quiet with just the six of us. Boo was hoping to have cousins to play with, but I appreciated the quiet night in which we could watch hummingbirds flit around the backyard. The neighbors came by, so she had some play time. I think I need more quiet time outside. Right now I'm either running around busy or completely useless and wiped out.

Yesterday I spent an hour in the Temple. I felt like crying every time I heard the promises the Lord has made. Maybe because He is so good and generous; maybe because I am so emotionally unstable. Either way, I want to live up to those blessings. I want to be worthy of such gifts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Possible Reconsideration

I used to listen to NPR, read news magazines, and keep up with internet headlines. 

I've given up the news. That was five years ago.

The news has been particularly difficult lately. Of course I am thrilled about Egypt's first free democratic presidential elections. And it's good to see Aunt Sheila's concerns about her seventeen-year-old driving home with friends after being up all night at a graduation "lock-in" party. The recent news stories I find most disturbing have been about Mormons.

I don't fault Mitt Romney for running for president. It's his call; no big deal. The problems arise when people say, "Mitt Romney isn't Christian. He's part of a secretive, polygymist cult." "Mormons are racist, sexist, and homophobic." Or my personal favorites go something like this: "I had a Mormon boss once, and he was a tyrant. He was a bishop, too, and he treated us like children. I would never trust a Mormon to run the country." (Maybe I should refer these journalists and internet commentators to our series, The Beatles Teach Logical Fallacies. They might learn something about sweeping generalizations and guilt by association.)

It makes me want to take a long, long nap and wake up after November 6th.

I guess I want to stop composing defensive, over-reactive responses when I'm unable to fall asleep or driving to work. Maybe I just want to shout to the masses, "I'm a Mormon woman, and I'm not oppressed!" I probably think so highly of myself that anyone who tries to tell me I'm brainwashed, clueless, or naive just pisses me off.

So, I'm going to shout a little something here:

Maybe I am using this blog as my personal soapbox.

I am a Mormon woman. I am not oppressed. I have had access to excellent educational opportunities. My family has strongly supported me in my educational goals. My husband is awesome. He actively seeks my feedback on his work. He completely supports my desire to keep working and be an otherwise full-time mother. I have a sense of self, a unique identity, and a relationship with God. I also know countless amazing women in the LDS Church: they are doctors, nurses, attorneys, artists, teachers, yoga instructors, editors, therapists, photographers, office managers, and homemakers. They are tall, short, large, small, funny, serious, lively, mellow, athletic, physically limited, curious, joyful, and complicated. These are individuals. They have opinions, ideas, and energy. Anyone who has seen a group of LDS women arrange a service activity knows exactly what I mean. Even after twenty funerals in under three years, the women in my ward have continued to step up and make and serve luncheons for fifty to a hundred of the deceased's relatives. These are all volunteer hours.

Relief Society is a big part of why being an LDS woman rules. I belong to the largest and oldest women's organization in the world. We learn to serve each other, our families, our communities, and the world. We truly have the power to change the world. That kind of power can't be oppressive.

And guess what?

I got to talk about it on BBC radio today.

You know, World Have Your Say's host and producer, Paul and Richard, were such nice news fellows, I just might reconsider giving up on the news.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Batman Is Constantly Throwing Me Off

While I am teaching, I try hard to stay focused.

That's not totally accurate.

I do try, but I don't always succeed. When we're having fun in class, it's easy to go off on a tangent. Today's tangent was Batman.

Let me back up.

We read and analyzed a really interesting essay by Barbara Kingsolver titled "Life Is Precious, or It's Not." Her main argument is that we are a society that glorifies violence so our children are learning that killing is acceptable. Her call to action is to get rid of all of our books, movies, video games, and music that represent murder ("however symbolic") as anything but the tragic loss it is. This pushes students a little too far. That's why we analyze it. I told my class today that I am unwilling to give up my Batman movies (and graphic novels).

Just before moving into the next phase of the lesson, a student asked if I had seen the newest trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. Well, he got me. We spent two minutes of class watching Bane torture Batman, and Selena Kyle in her catsuit.

It was awesome.

My life has been full of Batman awesomeness lately. Last week our friends invited us over to play the Wii LEGO Batman game.

We were greeted by this:

On the kitchen table were a selection of snacks, like these:

Yes. That is actually a venus flytrap next to Poison Ivy's carrot cake.

They had a balloon pit for the kids (not a Lazarus Pit, thank heaven). Their littlest is just younger than Ji, and those boys went crazy with the balloons.

After the girls had both had a turn battling bad guys as Batman and Robin, I was paired up with their four-year-old to battle Mr. Freeze.

Here's a confession: I think this was the second time in five years that I've played a video game (if you don't count the three times I've died on Google Pac-Man). The last time I played a game was Dr. Mario on a Super Nintendo. My brother, sister, and I had a three-player game going, but since my gaming skills are pathetic they put me on the easiest level. They were busy competing against each other, watching the other's progress and freaking out because their diseases weren't eradicated quickly enough. The screen suddenly stopped; they both thought the game had frozen. The truth was that I had won. They hadn't even noticed my few laughing diseases had all been cured by my slow-falling Dr. Mario pills. I think that's the only video game I've won.

But I stood up and played LEGO Batman.

If I look confused, it's because I am.

I kept having to pause and figure out where the A, Z, and B buttons were. Our friends' four-year-old was politely asking if he could do different tricks, like constructing some LEGO carts and things. As a heavy magnetic-suited Robin, I fell down into the depths of Mr. Freeze's ice cream factory dozens of times.

It's good to be humbled. I may be able to rhetorically analyze an argument with my hands tied behind my back, but even Batman can keep me guessing.