Monday, January 30, 2012

The Bunnies Hopped to Their Little Home in the Woods, Ate a Good Supper, and Went Straight to Bed. The End.

Sian just passed her driver's license exam. She is officially a licensed driver. I hope she's happy, since I am now sending her on every errand I can just so I can sit home and watch movies all day. Well, okay, not really. I don't watch movies all day, but I can still send her on all my errands for me and she actually enjoys it. I'm getting used to this really fast.

The other day, as I was reading Little Gary into sleepy oblivion, Husband walked by and said, "When is the last time you read a fiction book?" Yes, I was reading Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, by Robert Bork, out loud to my four-year-old. In my defense, Little Gary often enjoys listening to me read my books aloud because the sound of my voice soothes him when he just wants to take a nap -- especially if I'm speaking gibberish as far as he's concerned (there are times when he only wants stories about bunnies in the woods or monkeys on the bed, you understand, and won't be satisfied with the idea that the welfare state is only getting more support because of envy). I, on the other hand, spend a lot of time not being soothed by my reading material. Bork's book isn't exactly easy fare, either intellectually or emotionally; however, I feel compelled to educate myself as much as possible. At least when I read non-fiction I can get stuff done while I digest ideas. When I read good fiction, nothing at all gets done until I finish.

Case in point: I finished Bork's book and picked up The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. When I finished it the next day at around noon, I was still unwashed and in my pajamas, the kids were talking about eating their own shoes for nourishment, and I had to swim up and out of the story for what seemed like hours. In fact, my emotions were extremely close to the surface for a long time afterward. That's what happens when I read fiction. It's just a mercy that The Lovely Bones is fairly short or Husband might have had me committed.

Book report: Slouching Towards Gomorrah, though written in 1996, is incredibly insightful and applicable to events going on today. Bork intelligently interprets cause and effect for the radicalization of American institutions and the reasons behind our slackening morality as a country. I think Bork is as much a prophet as Tocqueville, whom he quotes extensively. There is so much I would like to say about his points, and maybe I will in future posts (this is your only warning). Even if he sometimes sounds like the Grumpy Old Man, I would love to be able to write as well as he does.

And, as a bonus, it puts four-year-olds to sleep quite nicely.

Just now, I sent said four-year-old with his older sisters to get an ice-cream cone from the grocery store. How sweet is that?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Bollywood Has My Vote

This morning when I went to collect the whites from the dryer, I found a dead mouse. It was all wet and bedraggled, stuck to the metal next to the lint catcher, a smear of dark blood trailing down to its body. I admit I squealed in surprise when I realized it wasn't lint, and then I fetched some tissue and disposed of the broken little carcass. Somehow, poor, wee mousie got himself in with the wash, where he died a horrible death. His revenge, however, was in getting blood all over the whites while he whirled gaily with them in the dryer, so now I have a pile of clothes that need to be hand washed for blood spots before being re-washed in the machine. I have the blood of a mouse upon my garments. Well, I actually have the blood of many mice upon my garments in the more figurative sense. I do feel bad for them, the little vermin. I usually say something over the body before disposing of it; something like, "You were the perfect mouse, doing exactly what a good mouse should do. I'm sorry you had to die, but we are at cross purposes here, since good mice are exactly what I don't want  and can't have in the house. You poop and pee indiscriminately on everything and make nests in all the wrong places, which is horribly unhygienic. You also have a creepy way of rustling about at night and scritching on the drywall. I hope you're frolicking in pleasant fields now, where there is nary a cat to hunt you or evil humans who desire your demise."

I guess that's not so much a eulogy as an indictment and justification.

So I've found that Bollywood movies are smashing entertainment when I'm on the treadmill. They're perfect because they're often silly in a lighthearted and fun way, colorful, full of music, romantic, and lengthy (thus prolonging my workout). Plus, the English subtitles can sometimes be hilarious. I have always been fascinated by India, and while these movies aren't often extremely deep, they're surprisingly insightful. They usually revolve around a boy and a girl and love. I'm a sucker for love stories, but unlike the shallow, amoral, and insipid fare of American romcoms, Indian romances Bollywood style are good for the whole family. They convey a sense of morality and duty to family. They compel you to root for the triumph of the love of the two main characters, which is always threatened by something dire -- whether the threat is from family or circumstances -- or both -- but you want them to triumph in the right way and not take the easy way out.

In American romances, the movie ends when the hero and heroine finally overcome the obstacles and share love's first kiss (or its equivalent). In Bollywood movies, it is forbidden for the hero and heroine to kiss on the mouth, so that first kiss never happens (though they tease you with it constantly). Instead, the hero and heroine declare their love and do a lot of dramatic hugging. You'll probably also get a music video at that point. Then, just when you think it's over (because that's where an American romance would end), a Bollywood movie provides a thoughtful intermission, following which you're off and running into the second half of the film, where a new set of obstacles arise and must be overcome. It's like getting two movies in one.

And the dancing! So fun.

They're insightful because they give you a glimpse into what Indians think of themselves in relation to the world (remember, they spent a long time as part of the British empire, and that had a huge impact). You also get a sense of what honor means in their relationships with family and in the romantic arena. Bollywood, of course, produces just one type of Indian films. There are plenty of exquisite Indian movies that are beautifully filmed and highly dramatic, sometimes extremely disturbing and heart wrenching, and exhibit the real pain of life. Bollywood concentrates on humor, music, and comic romance, but they're still very interesting. Plus, it's hard to walk on the treadmill when you're crying too hard; exercising while laughing is just so much easier.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Treadmill

As you can see from my last post, my routine got a little upset during the holidays, and I didn't keep up with my mental exercises from The Four Day Win. I was observing to myself this morning how quickly I reverted back to old thinking patterns. The Dictator wiped off her red lipstick and started shouting obscenities and insults about my plumpness and Wild Child purposely re-tangled her hair and went back to launching pizza cravings as retaliation for the mere thought of counting calories. The moral: the mental exercises really, really work, but only when conscientiously undertaken.

Husband and I bought ourselves a Christmas present, which we had had on layaway for a while. We'd been in the market for a number of weeks, but on Black Friday, we decided to shop around for a good deal on a great treadmill -- even though we didn't get around to shopping until late afternoon. Amazingly, we found an amazing deal, so last week, we brought home our new NordicTrack in the back of the van. Somehow, we hauled it up the stairs (I nearly blacked out, it was so heavy; as it was, I couldn't walk for quite a while because my thighs were completely jelly), and it's now the newest addition to our bedroom furniture. The idea was that Husband would exercise in the early mornings before leaving for work and I would use it for regular morning workouts and then as a means to take much-needed breaks from sitting at the computer for hours a day, writing. Further, I could multi-task my exercise with mental downtime by watching a show on Netflix. Although we haven't yet managed to move everything in the room to facilitate television watching with treadmill exercising, I have had a lot of success with reading and using the treadmill at the same time. What I never expected (and what veteran treadmill users are probably completely familiar with) is the sea-leg feeling you have after completing a workout and walking again on non-moving ground. Weird.

While Husband has enthusiastically dived into the workout/counting calories mode of getting fitter and healthier, I've had to be very careful about where I let my thoughts stray. His enthusiasm is contagious, but I know all too well that I need to continue moving through the mental preparations before I start actively limiting caloric intake. Seeing the success I've already had with changing my thoughts, I'm much less inclined to allow The Dictator to guilt me into what I know has never worked for me in the past, even if that's what nearly all the professional diet advise urges. We'll see how it goes.

For now, the entire family is enjoying our treadmill. Even Little Gary informs me he has to exercise and then walks a quarter of a mile to half a mile at a time.