My Interpretation of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

One of my goals for this year is to post reviews of all the books I read. I decided that since a lot of the non-fiction books I get from the library I end up only skimming or reading certain parts, I would just make my own judgment call on whether or not it was "blog-worthy".

Maybe next year I will also or instead post reviews of the movies I see, since it's a lot harder to watch only a little bit of a movie. Haha, I say that now as a parent of one. I can see myself next year reminiscing, "Ah the good old days, when I could actually sit down and watch an entire film in one sitting."

But Danny and I saw this crazy movie last night that just inspires me to write a review. He just brought over his laptop and said, "Hey, can I be nerdy with you?" Okay, so it's totally nerdy to watch movies and read books and then review them on a blog, but it's also extremely fun. And this one is just so bloggable.

Who has heard of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"? The only person who had ever mentioned it to me was my brother, and I must confess his recommendation did not lead me to watch it. Sorry Joe, your taste conflicts with mine. Later, I heard a clip from it on This American Life and I was a bit intrigued. But nothing came of that, either. Until Danny and I decided to do one of those free two-week netflix trial memberships, and while looking through the hundreds of films we could download and watch, we found Dr. Horrible. I was like, "Hey, that one seemed kind of weird and interesting, let's watch it."
"But you said you were in a mood for a romantic comedy."
"Yeah, but this will be okay too. Besides, it's a musical."

SPOILER ALERT: If you want to watch the movie, go ahead and do it before reading this. Mom, I don't think you'd like it at all. And actually, because some of its content is FAR less than family appropriate, I would not be able to recommend somebody actually go see it. But it's only about 40 minutes long, and if you are intrigued and decide to, maybe this blog post will make more sense. But I don't want to be the person who you remember as telling you, "Hey, you should watch this great movie!" For your information, I rated it about a 1 out of 10 after seeing it, and now that I am reminiscing on it, about a 1 1/5 out of 10. That's pretty much the first time in the history of me rating movies that the score has increased post-watching.

Okay, so, done watching it? Or decided it's not worth it? Good, 'cuz now I'm going to write about it.

This movie is the first time that I know of that a major professional filmmaker used the internet as a medium for a film. The movie is three "acts", each about 12 minutes long. It's a musical about a guy who wants to become a super villain in his attempt to save humanity. In order to join the special elite club of super villains, first he has to pull of a heist. Meanwhile, he is in love with Penny, the girl at the laundromat. As he is going through with the heist, he runs into the girl, who finally talks to him! Bad timing. It throws off his heist, he almost runs her over with a car, but then Captain Hammer, a self-centered macho super hero, comes in to save the day. Dr. Horrible ends up saving Penny, but Captain Hammer takes the credit, and starts dating her.

Penny wants to get a building donated from the city to be a homeless shelter. Captain Hammer somehow (implied through violence) convinces the Mayor to donate the building. They keep dating, and Dr. Horrible gets more and more frustrated and upset. He then gets word that since his heist failed, he will have to murder someone in order to get into the super villain club. He easily decides to murder Captain Hammer, who is ruining his life.

Captain Hammer gives a speech at the homeless shelter dedication ceremony. Dr. Horrible shows up to kill him, but the equipment malfunctions and he accidentally kills Penny instead. In the end, Captain Hammer cracks because during the equipment malfunction, he ended up feeling pain, which ruins his super hero persona. Dr. Horrible gets to join the elite club of bad super villains, but finds it an empty victory because the real purpose of his life, Penny, is gone.

The whole thing is done with lots of cheesy songs. Not a lot of dancing. The songs all sound the same, and even Danny said so. Danny is the first to admit that he lacks musical abilities (though I think he's a great singer). So that's really saying a lot. The best part of the songs are the lyrics. Witty. Danny and I laughed out loud several times.

So why did I rate it so low? First, at the end of the film, you have this horrible feeling like, "What was the point of that!?". Second, none of the characters were good. As in, there was nobody in the whole film which was actually someone I liked as a person. I've seen lots of films where I can't necessarily relate to characters, but at least I like them. No, I hated all of these ones. Finally, the underlying message of this film is false, although I can see how it would be fun to watch as a single person.

Okay details:

When the movie ended, we were both extremely startled. "What?" I think we both said at the same time. Maybe this is a jab at the entire genre of Tragedy, though; we're so used to happy stories with happy endings, that when a story doesn't end happily it just doesn't feel over. I think it's good to appreciate happy endings; after all, isn't that kind of how we are supposed to model our lives? The Plan of Salvation leads people to be happy and have eternal life. That's the goal. Stories that don't end happily force me to make a huge paradigm shift, one that I only do unwillingly, and always leaves me feeling grouchy and unsettled.

The characters were completely unreal. Obviously, what's real about super heroes and super villains, you retort. Oh, have you paid attention in the past decade, or did you notice the gazillions of attempts by the film industry to humanize super heroes? Just because certain things about a character are fantasy and "wouldn't happen in the real world" does not necessarily diminish a character's believability. Let me show you what I mean.

The most blatantly offensive character (in my opinion) was Penny. She is static, spineless, and flat. Static because no matter what, she never changes. Even when Dr. Horrible was "texting" (maneuvering his heist via his iPhone), she just shrugged off his weirdness and continued to like him. Nobody would do that. Nobody should do that. She is spineless because she doesn't even like Captain Hammer when they're dating; she just convinces herself to keep dating him because he cares about her cause. She is flat because the only depth of emotion the writers gave her was an unbalanced absurd amount of caring for homeless people. As in, she likes to go to the soup kitchen and volunteer, and canvass for signatures to get the building donated. So what happens to her? She gets thrown in the trash by Captain Hammer, who then just uses her as a sexual object, and then she dies proclaiming, "Captain Hammer will save us all!" Since she's the only major representative of the female gender in the entire film, what kind of message does that send about how to treat women? Sick, sick, sick. I hated it.

The next worst character, but only slightly, was Captain Hammer. Even though he's dubbed super hero, the truth is he is the antagonist. He never actually does any heroic deeds, just walks around posing with his muscles and bragging about past and future sexual conquests. But the truth is he has never actually been able to sustain a relationship with a girl for more than one night. The writers obviously wanted to show how pathetic and lame he was even though he touts himself as being All That. What happens to him? In the end, he somehow gets shot by Dr. Horrible's device, which causes him to feel pain. This confuses and rattles him so much, that he can't stop being emotional and spends the rest of his days crying on a shrink's sofa. He never notices that Penny, his girlfriend, is dead. He never attempts revenge on Captain Hammer.

The protagonist was Dr. Horrible. He is a scrawny nerd who is basically completely confused with his life. It seems he wants to save humanity, but the only way he has determined how to do so is by joining forces with the super villains and living a life of crime. But at the same time, what he really wants is to be with Penny. These two goals conflict directly. He never has the guts to tell her of his secret ambitions, and as Penny goes dating Captain Hammer, his mind becomes so warped into killing and become the next super villain, that he completely loses sight of what is important to him. As he goes to kill Captain Hammer, he checks for any sight of Penny, but she is not to be found. His equipment malfunctions and, to his astonishment and Penny's detriment, he has accidentally fatally wounded her. He watches her as she dies, as she states her pathetic assurance of Captain Hammer's devotion to humanity. He then goes off to eat, drink, and be merry with the bad super villains, but the final image is of him blogging, looking completely miserable.

The main message that I got from this film is: "Life as a single person sucks and always will." There wasn't any kind of contrast between married and single people actually in the film, but because I am married, that is the perspective from which I draw my experiences. Watching the film, I kept thinking about my peers from High School who probably loved this movie. I wondered if I would have liked it better if I had been single, and because I decided I would, it lead me to believe that this is really a film about single adulthood sucking rather than super heroes and super villains and poorly written songs with catchy lyrics.

Think about it: all of the main characters are searching for something which they don't yet have. Penny seeks philanthropy, Captain Hammer seeks sexual dominance, and Dr. Horrible seeks the power to change the world. Really, they are all confused about what would bring them true happiness, a theme explored more specifically with Dr. Horrible's character. We don't know enough about Penny to know what would make her happy, but we assume that since we as an audience find Dr. Horrible amusing, eccentric, and fun, she probably would, too. We want them to be together, but she doesn't even know he likes her. Captain Hammer is too prideful to realize he is unhappy, and frankly as an audience we don't care if he ends up miserable because he's so despicable. Dr. Horrible thinks he wants to change the world, not realizing his ambitions not only directly conflict with his dream of a happy life with Penny, but they also result in the utter obliteration of any possibility of that happening. All of these characters are confused single adults who have no real purpose in their lives, or at least any purpose that will actually make them happy.

Contrast that to life as a married person: my whole life centers around being married, and my family goals. Danny told me yesterday how much happier he is being married; as a single person, he always just wondered "What's the point?" As a married person, there is always a point. As a mom, there's always a point. The point is to take care of, love, nurture, and enjoy being with family. Of course there are still problems and conflicts, but they are never as fundamental as those that the characters from this film experienced. We know what will make us happy, and we're not stuck doing things that will destroy any chance of us achieving that happiness. Watching people, even fantasy people, ruin any chance of happiness in their already meaningless lives is just not very fun when you've found purpose and meaning in your life. It left me with the feeling, "Well, those people sure were stupid. I'm glad I'm not like them."

I think the reverse would be true, as well. I remember being single, and how unstable and scary life was. It was hard to know what I would be doing the next year. I looked for purpose and meaning in places that they really weren't (like obsessing over a career). I guess there was something fulfilling about my career, but in terms of major purpose and meaning for my life, there is zero comparison to my current job as wife and mom. Yet, if I were a single person who had not yet figured out what to do with my life, I may leave the film with a weird feeling of relief, "Well, my life sucks, but at least it doesn't suck as much as theirs!"

I do give one part of the thing a "10"; it wasn't in the film, but apparently it's in the DVD release of the film. Anyone, and everyone, who has ever analyzed a piece of art or a book to death, would enjoy the hilarious song that the filmmaker wrote as part of the DVD commentary. It is the second clip on the "Return to the Scene of the Crime" episode of This American Life.

Jane is learning to pull herself up on things


Wow I am totally addicted to this phone. I am going back to bed now I swear


"A Few Good Eggs: Two Chicks Dish on Overcoming the Insanity of Infertility" by Julie Vargo and Maureen Regan

Just finished this book, and there's a lot to say about it. First of all, I will say that I'm glad I read it, but I would never recommend it to an LDS person going through infertility. There has to be a book out there that addresses infertility from an LDS perspective. If not LDS, then Christian. That was the major flaw with this book, in my opinion; by the end of the book, I had lost nearly all my respect for the authors. But I did learn a lot, so I am glad I read it.

Here are the top things that I learned:
- I had never heard of "secondary infertility", which is where you have a child, but then experience infertility later. So while these issues don't seem to affect me and Danny right now, who knows, they could.
- The textbook definition of "infertility" is lacking. "Inability for a couple to conceive after a year of trying" is the definition, but what about the people who conceive, and then miscarry? Those people are also experiencing infertility, and see the same kinds of doctors.
- OB/GYNs sometimes think they know how to treat infertility, but the truth is they should refer you to a Reproductive Endocrinologist if they want what's best for you. And sometimes they don't, and you can spend months of wasted time and money. How ridiculous is that!?
- Sometimes infertility treatments include husbands giving their wives shots. Ouch.
- I didn't even realize how expensive it could be. I knew it would be astronomical, but not that astronomical!
- Some people don't know that when you age, your eggs age too. I thought everybody knew this. It seemed like common, everyday knowledge to me. But both the authors were totally shocked to learn that their eggs were always losing viability as they aged. How do people not know this? I don't know. Maybe I just paid super close attention during sex ed?
- Some infertility has causes that are totally unknown, and it can account from 5-15% of all infertility cases. That's insane. How would you ever deal with the problem, not knowing where to begin!?
- Most important thing I learned: some specific things that may go through an infertile person's mind while dealing with family. More on this later. Also, what to say to people who have infertility issues.

Why I would not recommend this book to an LDS person looking for some solace in their infertility insanity:
First of all, I only carefully read 3/4 of the book. The last 1/4 was mostly about relationship stuff, and as I skimmed through, I found that it was very hard to relate. For example, they spent a long time talking about why men don't want children as much as women. Well, I know that Danny puts his role as "father" before his role as "bioinformatician". Maybe other LDS people have a different experience; it seems the church advocates putting parenthood first. "Family first" type thing. Also, the authors seriously wrote something like 'Even though it's hard to believe, men connect sex with love, so when you look at them as just a sperm donor, it can be hard for them.' Well, yes, I'm sure the problems with baby-making sex are horrible. But isn't it kind of obvious that sex is connected with love? When they wrote that part, it was not in jest. Who doesn't connect those two!??!?! People who, like the authors, spent a good portion of their lives having multiple sex partners outside of marriage, probably. I'm glad I can't relate to that.

The reason I lost respect for the authors is that it took them decades to figure out that they wanted to be moms. They put it off until their mid/late thirties. It didn't seem to be "worthwhile" at first. They were way too busy with their careers. I think most LDS women would find this kind of attitude insulting, especially if you were trying to conceive while reading about it. I know I found it to be obnoxious. It was hard to read through that section of the book, because on the one hand both the authors tried to say, "It's not your fault if you experience infertility," and on the other, they kept beating themselves up for putting career over family for decades. In the end, they basically advocated messing around in your twenties, but then by your late twenties you should try to figure out if the boyfriend you're with actually wants to be a father. You dont have to ask him out right; you can find out in a sly way, and if he doesn't, you should think about getting a new boyfriend. It's hard to relate to this attitude when you are taught your whole life to find someone with similar life goals to date (while being abstinent), and quickly marry (and be totally loyal to afterward). It's probably a good thing that these women advocate thinking about fertility to women who are in their twenties. But as an LDS person, I know that I've never seriously considered a world where my married adulthood didn't involve parenthood as a goal. I think most other LDS people would agree; parenthood is super stressed in our religion, and to marry somebody who you don't know how they feel about parenthood - well that's kind of unlikely. And I just think if I were trying to conceive, reading the chapters these women wrote with this attitude would make me want to pull my hair out with frustration. It is already super stressful to be LDS and infertile, without having people tell you that it's okay to not think about family for the first part of your twenties. I haven't looked for it yet, but now I'm interested in reading a book about this from an LDS perspective. I think it would be a good thing for me to read, because I would be able to learn about what I don't know, while not being put off by the differences of lifestyle between me and the authors.

The fact is that religion has everything to do with creating life, the purpose of life, etc. and that is a huge part of sexuality, the sexuality that deals with making babies.

The way the authors dealt with religion was by either referring to God in random places, "Pray for strength," or by insulting organized religion as a whole. The one lady did weird things on top of the infertility treatments: she got some weird voodoo type doll, she did aromatherapy, she washed herself everyday with a loofa to exfoliate her skin and let the "bad energy" out, she ate a tablespoon of molasses every day, and included in this list was, "and I went to church." Huh?

I lost respect for the authors because they both talked about their pre-marriage sex life. Why would they do that to their husbands? I'm sure if I were a husband, I wouldn't want my wife to write a book with stuff about previous boyfriends.

Honestly, the women had their husbands write about two paragraphs in the whole book. Hello, it takes two to tango! It would have been really nice to have had a book with perspectives from all involved parties. Plus, the authors mentioned dozens of times how important it was for them to have met each other; they never mentioned how much they valued and appreciated their husbands. What? I think that's kind of weird. Maybe it's the truth though; maybe women undergoing infertility really, really, really need another infertile woman to "dish" with. Somebody with whom they can relate, who is not their husband.

Also, the way these women mentioned abortion made me cringe. The truth is the real world is NOT like how these women think. Not all people sleep around before they get married, and not all people think that abortions are ethical.

Even if you're not LDS, I would not recommend this book to somebody who is experiencing male infertility problems. It's barely mentioned in about three places in the whole book. The rest of it is solely focused on female infertility problems. I know that female infertility is more than half of all infertility (there's just so much more that can go wrong on the female end, is how Danny explains it to me), but it seems like a book with the monochre: "overcoming the insanity of infertility" would include the other 30-40% of "infertility". They did, to their credit, spend a lot of time discussing "unknown infertility", which seems by far to be the most difficult to deal with.

Despite all these caveats, I feel like I am a better educated, more compassionate person after reading this book. The main thing I learned was the thought processes that at least these two women had when they dealt with fertile people, and family members. It was a huge eye opener to me. I wish I had known some of these things before. Some of them are just like, "duh." There was a whole chapter on how to deal with the people you love saying retarded things, like, "Well, maybe it's God's way of telling you you shouldn't be parents." Or, "You're not pregnant yet, but I bet you sure have fun trying!" Yeah, all those shots and drugs and hormones and doctors' visits and money money money - SOOOO much fun. Who the heck would say something like that!?!?!? But then, some of the other comments they included, I have totally said or thought, which made me feel terrible, but it also helped me understand better exactly why it was so hurtful and stupid to say those things.

The authors said that one really hard thing is when family members ask about tests and procedures, because usually no news is bad news, so when you ask and they have to tell, they not only let you down, but they have to relive being let down again. So now I know that it is a good idea not to ask questions about that. I think people with more common sense than me would be like, "duh!" but I guess I'm not that smart. The other thing is, it should be the infertile person's prerogative to bring up stuff if they want to talk about it. Again, a more intelligent person would have been like, "duh!" It's really crappy because all of this not talking about things makes it a taboo to talk about, which is perhaps worse than feeling uncomfortable talking about it. It's not good that society doesn't allow infertile people a place. I mean, it's SO much more common than I ever thought, but you hardly hear about it, and when you do it's very hush hush, and there's all this shame and crap associated with it. It should not be so. Yet, it is also not my place to start talking about such personal issues with others, as long as I am not infertile, you know? Perhaps this perpetuates the problem? Anyway, me trying to embark on a lone crusade to change attitudes about infertility in our culture would be less than counter-productive.

Another thing I understand better now is how it could probably be very hurtful to people with infertility to be around pregnant people. This has happened to me, from the perspective of being the pregnant person. And it was hard because I was not sure what the other person was feeling, so I just felt nervous to say anything. It's okay when people with this problem don't want to be around me just then, and I can deal with that. And it's extremely important that I don't talk about pregnancy problems with those people; it's not fair, or nice, or compassionate, which are all things I want to be.

The main thing the authors advise friends and family of infertile people to say is, "I don't want to keep asking about the baby stuff. Just know that whenever you want to talk, I'm here." Why couldn't I have known that a year ago?!??!

All in all, I'm glad I read this book, there are major conflicts with life views that I have with the authors, but I think reading it has helped me to be more compassionate and understanding. I'm hopeful to find a similar book on this subject from an LDS/Christian perspective, but I would never actually do more with this book than talk about it if it came up in a conversation, or write about my thoughts/reactions to it on my blog (i.e. I don't plan on sending copies to the infertile people I know - it's not my prerogative).


"The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

My friend Miranda wrote about how this book transformed her marriage. I would have put a link to that post on her blog, but it seems to have been deleted or something. Sorry, Miranda!

Well, she raved about it, and said that reading it and putting into place the principles expressed in it was the sole thing that saved her marriage. I was like, "Whoah, you guys are happy - I didn't even know that at one point you would need a book like this!" She's a person I trust, so I decided to go ahead and read it.

I was not able to read the whole thing, but not for the reason why I usually stop reading a book. And I found it really obnoxious just now, when looking on Amazon, that the number one most helpful review of the book only very begrudgingly admitted that the ideas in the book are right and can help a marriage.

So, first the ideas, then why I stopped reading it.

The thesis of the book is: Men are simpler than women. If husbands' needs get met, they will be happy and therefore they will naturally meet the needs of their wives. Husbands' needs are food, sex, and appreciation. The main reason women of today fail to meet their husbands' needs is because of the evil feminist movement.

Instead of gently nudging women into believing her, Dr. Laura is extremely blunt and uses a hammer-over-the-head approach with tons of examples (like from callers to her show, or emails), and even more absolutes: "You will get divorced if..." So, it's not a feel-good book in any way whatsoever. And if you know anything about Dr. Laura, that's the way she is on her show, too. She doesn't tend to focus on the exceptions to the rule in psychiatry; she prefers to be blunt and assume most people are sane. I suppose that is a good assumption.

Reading this book was the first time I had ever read any negative commentary about the "feminist movement". I've read a few books with obvious pro-women's-lib undertones, but most just assume that "the feminist movement" happened and everything now is "normal" and "the way things should be." I've found the books that are more blatantly pro-feminism do not sit well with me, but I hadn't ever been able to articulate quite why. Recently I checked out a feminist book about breastfeeding. It was a collection of really wordy hard-to-sift-through-and-get-the-main-point essays whose main idea was always, "Women have it hard because..." I think that sums up why feminist literature is annoying for me to read. Actually, the first book on pregnancy I ever read was totally feminist, and not in a good way. It was like, "Pregnancy sucks because..." I guess I just prefer to not read laundry lists of complaints about life when there is no real solution proposed (besides the impossible change-your-gender).

In High School I truly thought I believed women should do whatever they want when they want. Now, as a married adult with a baby, I believe that ideally women should do what will be best for their family, which in the case of having small children is almost always to stay at home and raise them. I don't believe that it's possible for women to do whatever they want when they want. I do believe women can do whatever they want within reason, in a long-run time frame. You can't "have it all" at the same time. You might be able to "have it all" at different times, over a long period of time. In the end, it's not about "having it all", it's about doing what's right and best for you and your family. 

It was really refreshing to read her opinion of why the women's lib movement did more harm than good because it articulated into words things I had felt and known to be true. Like how pressure for women to work and have careers (by the feminist movement) has been very harmful to the home. And how women now feel entitled to do whatever they want, which any toddler knows is not going to be allowed. Feminism has created generations of selfish, man-hating women. Feminism causes women to blame men for many of their problems.

I'm glad she wrote this book because it has been a huge force for good. Her main goal was to remind women that marriage is about serving your spouse. Her audience was wives who feel under served, who want to take an active role in changing their marriage. I think that philosophy is based on sound psychology; you can't change other people, you can only change yourself. Apparently, this book has saved hundreds of thousands of marriages. Even if it was just Miranda's, I think it was worth it for her to write this book.

Dr. Laura makes a big deal about staying home and making the house a "home". She makes a big deal out of home-cooked meals; a much bigger deal than I've ever heard anywhere else, outside maybe some General Authorities' talks. She makes a huge deal about caring about your husbands' feelings (duh) and needs (duh) and thoughts (duh).

And if you actually read the book, she isn't saying that wives should become sex objects to their husbands. She does say that they should put in an effort to being sexy, though. She says husbands totally love and appreciate it when their wives try to dress up for them, and make them feel manly. I don't think anybody who has a husband can argue with that!

Now, why I couldn't finish it.

This book was not written for me. I am a stay at home mom who already does the things Dr. Laura says will make a happy marriage. But I felt guilty anyway when I read example after example of how couples ended up in divorce because the wife failed to care for her husband. This is not a great book to read when the stresses of pregnancy sometimes prevent you from making the perfect dinner, or being perfectly sexy, or whatever. This is not a great book to read if you are a perfectionist like me who is already very self-critical, and already understands that marriage is about serving your spouse.

I felt much better after talking to one of my friends, who said, "Oh yeah, well, you just have to remember that Dr. Laura is totally a womanizer; like she says that if women make an effort, men will just naturally serve their wives like they should but the truth is that both husbands and wives have to make an effort." I think this is true. I guess Dr. Laura believes that since men are simple, it is easier for them to serve their wives if they are being served. But that is a huge assumption, no? I guess in Dr. Laura's defense, the book was really written for wives.

And here's the other thing my friend said, which Danny thinks she is completely right about: "Plus, men should never read that book. It will just inflate their egos and make them think they can do whatever they want." Danny and I read a chapter or two together, and he totally agrees that the effect the book would have on males is not positive. I think that's probably why she went on to write the sequel, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage."

So I didn't finish it, but I do recommend it, if you can stomach Dr. Laura's style. You have to remember that she is a horrible listener. She listens to her callers for about 2 seconds before assessing their situations, and that is annoying. I don't see why anybody would ever call her thinking they would get sympathy. She mostly ends up making fun of her callers. And sometimes they totally deserve it. And if the end result of all of her work - the radio show, the books, etc. is to help people transform their marriages into a relationship that works, I am totally for it. Just don't read it when you're pregnant, and don't forget that you are most likely not nearly as stupid as most of the people in the examples she gives.


"Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth" by Boston Women's Health Book Collective and Judy Norsigian

Well, the whole thing started going downhill when I flipped through this book in the library and the first page I opened to was the sex positions during pregnancy illustration. Not exactly something I want to be looking at, let alone in a public place! But I decided to give the book a try anyway. It's interesting to read things about pregnancy that are new to me, and I had heard of this book, or at least the one, "Our Bodies, Ourselves." I haven't read it though.

Okay so I skipped to the part about prenatal testing, because to me that is a way to quickly assess the point of view/agenda of the author, which is sometimes buried and not so obvious in other places. But in a general book about pregnancy, I've noticed you can have three attitudes about prenatal testing: 1, focus on the tests but don't talk much at all about what you do with that information, 2, talk about the tests and mention that one very tough consequence could be to "not continue your pregnancy", or 3, talk about the tests and bluntly talk about abortion as an option.

Personally, I prefer books with the first attitude. The next best option is being overly blunt about abortion as an option, even though I disagree that it should be or really is. The worst possible thing a book can do is include something like, "You will have to decide whether or not you will continue your pregnancy." Let's parse this sentence: 'You' are referred to three times, whereas your unborn baby is completely ignored and therefore trivialized. "Whether or not" implies some sort of balance, when the truth is there is choosing to abort is almost never comparable to choosing to have a baby. And "continue your pregnancy" is a complete euphemism, which I think helps perpetuate the evil belief that pregnancy as a form of birth control is okay. If instead, they reworded it as, "You will have to decide whether or not you will kill your unborn baby," it would be much more offensive, but much more accurate.

So the book lost major points for me on it's attitude about prenatal testing.

It lost even more points for me when it had a story from the point of view of a woman who had an abortion because the baby would have been born with major health impediments. She said that sometimes she sees glimpses of her son playing with her daughter (to cope with the grief, she decided to have another kid right away), but she knows that eventually that will "go away." No, lady, you are wrong. That will never go away, and you will always have to live with the fact that you chose to kill your own baby. I don't know how people will be held accountable for choosing to abort; it was clear to me from the story that this lady was not religious and had very little understanding of the Plan of Salvation. I'm sure glad I don't have to be the one judging.

But this book did have something that no other pregnancy book I've read had: a large section on speculations about the long-term effect of selective abortion on society. And all of those speculations were negative. They cited China and India, where the proportion of women to men is out of whack. They also speculated how reducing/eliminating certain forms of mental disability (e.g. down's syndrome) from the population would increase it's negative stigma. They also went on to talk about how it would be really tough for people who love to go camping and have outdoor adventures to have a baby with spina bifida, or intellectual bookie types to have a baby with down's syndrome, but on the other hand there is nothing to guarantee that your non-spina-bifida child will even LIKE camping, or that your non-down's-syndrome baby will like reading! This point is drastically under-emphasized in our jump-to-abortion culture. There is zero guarantee that your baby will be like xyz. And anyway, if your main reason for having a baby is to somehow live vicariously through them, or make sure they are "perfect" or have the "perfect life", you probably shouldn't be a parent anyway.

I also appreciated that they had a story from the point of view of a lady who has two children: one with down's syndrome, the other without. She said that the most difficult thing by far about having a mentally disabled child is not going slow, or the things her daughter can't do, etc. What's hard is how society devalues her daughter. She, the mom, doesn't feel sorry for herself, or see herself as unfortunate, or her daughter as "less", but everybody else around her does. The book also mentioned that studies have shown that families with kids with down's syndrome function almost identically to families with "normal" kids.

I skimmed through most of the book. I was retarded and read the section about still births. Yeah, that's not something you should do when you're pregnant.

I really enjoyed reading the part about advocating for better maternity care. There was a story about a lady who organized a riot outside a Maryland hospital that refused to give VBAC deliveries, and eventually her activism reversed their decision. That was inspiring. I don't think VBAC is right for everyone, but from what I understand, in most cases VBAC has fewer risks to everybody. I can believe that. Mostly, it's absurd that a hospital would refuse them outright.

But all in all, I would not recommend the book. It has some good stories, and some good perspectives, and lots of people collaborated to get very up to date information. But it was extremely frustrating how painfully politically correct they tried to be the whole time. Especially in their use of the pronouns "we" and "our". There was one sentence that made me laugh out loud, because it made zero sense. I read it to Danny, and he agreed. It was something like, "The women faced with this challenge must decide to support our family by working or stay at home with our children." - except even more ridiculous. Come on, you can use "their" when it makes grammatical sense!

"The Salem Witch Trials"

Here's another book where I am hopeless to find a picture of the cover. It's from lucent books, and was one of those historical reader things that tries to be neutral and unbiased but falls short. It was interesting to read about this; there was a lot that I didn't know before. Like for example, some of the girls probably really were genuinely afraid that the people they accused were performing witchcraft on them. And also, later one of the judges confessed that he believed he sentenced several innocent people to death. And one of the main accuser girls later confessed to accusing innocent people, and offered an apology. Also, five years after the ordeal, in 1697 I believe, there was a state-wide (I think) call for fasting and prayer, because there was a huge famine. Most people believed it had to do with punishment for the hangings of witches.

I also hadn't known that over 100 people in total were put in jail, mostly women but some men, accused of witchcraft. It's so weird that the people who were apparently the most interested in it were the ones to blame others. I think this was something I never really understood when I read "The Crucible" back in 7th grade. But then again, it still doesn't quite make sense, except that people are a lot more sensitive about their own flaws than others'.

"Lone Stars: A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1836-1936" by Karoline Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes

Okay so the truth is I mostly just looked at the pictures in this book. An excellent read for somebody who is interested in quilting and family history, and lives in Texas. Most of the 60-something quilts shown in this book have a picture and story of the maker, as well as details about the quilt. Reading it, I also gained an appreciation for Texas history.


The most important

The Relief Society in my ward is great. They are always sending emails about things that are coming up. There was a lady who had lived here for a long time, but moved away about a year ago, and was back in town for a visit. The RS decided to do a get together lunch thing, and invited everyone. And I decided to go, even though I don't know half of the women in my RS, and certainly not the one who used to live here. But it was fun, everybody was nice, and I got to know people better. I'm way glad that I went.

Actually, the conversation was very interesting to me. I sat next to a girl in my ward who is a sophomore at BYU, a MESA major (Middle East Studies and Arabic). This was my major before I realized that I couldn't actually teach Arabic K-12 in Utah without a different teaching degree. It was fun for me to talk about where she's at in the program, though.

And then I learned that she and her mom had lived in Kuwait. But not only that, but the other lady on my left had lived in Dubai. And the lady at the other end of the table had lived in Saudi or something. They were all wives of people who worked in the oil business. Interesting. They all had experience with Arabic and Arabic speaking people. That was also interesting.

We had a way interesting conversation that maybe I will blog about later - it was on whether or not we think it's a good idea to hire members of the church as live-in servants when you live abroad. What was so interesting was all of the women had different perspectives based on their actual experiences (they hadn't had live-in servants, but knew people who had). Well, all of the ladies at my end of the table, that is. Mostly it was so neat that these were women who were so well traveled. It was fun to talk about the Middle East with other people who have been there.

But that is not the topic of my blog tonight. As I spoke with this MESA major girl, it was almost like I was looking at myself in the mirror a few years ago. But it felt like quite a few years ago, even though I'm only 23, and have only been graduated from BYU for less than a year. It seems like eons ago since I was a MESA major, trying to figure out how I could use Arabic in my future life.

This girl was doing just that, trying to plan out her life and how her major would affect her future. She wanted to know why I wanted to go into teaching, and I said it was because it didn't conflict as much with my goal of having a family. She hadn't seemed to have given that much thought or value in her decision making process. She later talked about how she wanted to go into xyz if she didn't get married right away, and then zyx if she did, and I just kept thinking, "But...those things won't make you as happy as you think. Being a good wife and having children will make you much happier."

I think you can gain some happiness and satisfaction from an interesting, fulfilling career. But it's not even on the same level as the kind of happiness and satisfaction you get out of having a family. I can't express with words how great it is to be Danny's wife and Jane's mom. I kind of wanted to shake this girl and be like, "But those things don't really matter as much as you think they do. They aren't the things that will really make you happy. They don't matter as much as you're worried they do!"

But obviously you can't tell somebody that. The whole point is that you have to figure it out on your own. The "figuring it out" is the whole point of living on earth.

I was talking about this with Danny, and he said, "Yeah, I felt like that a lot on my mission. It was so frustrating to be like, 'I know what can bring you true happiness, but you don't even care!' " It wasn't quite that bad today; I really think this girl will figure it out eventually. It's so hard when you're single and have no clue what the next semester will bring. It's impossible to plan for the future in concrete ways. I shouldn't assume that planning it would make her life happier. I know that for me, it took a long, long time to truly understand which things matter most, and which things are expendable.

The BYU Alumni magazine had a really interesting article about how moms can use their BYU education at home. I've been really thinking about how this is true for me. It's not like I teach Jane how to speak Arabic or French; she can say, "dugha dugha dugha" and "gagagaga". I'm not "using my Arabic" right now, yet my education was immensely valuable in ways I don't fully understand.

What I do understand is that I am super fortunate to be able to stay home with my baby, soon babies, take care of our home, and be Danny's wife. My education helped me do these things, TONS, but my education goals are NOT the most important ones in my life. My family goals are. This is a huge paradigm shift. Education goals used to be the most important, for like, the past two decades of my life.

But I feel really satisfied that I am in the right place right now, at home. I love my home, and I LOVE my family. Any career comes second to this. Danny says that he thinks that in the Celestial Kingdom, the men will get to all be stay-home dads, too. "But, we have to eat." He tells me that sometimes he's jealous of me. He feels like his day begins when he gets home.

I just don't feel sorry for myself because I'm not making money, or out and about with other adults every day, or teaching, or whatever. I feel happy that I stay home to raise my own kids, and to create a loving home atmosphere. These things matter, and they bring me joy.

So I implore you, if you are an unsatisfied stay at home mom, please remember that what you are doing does matter, in fact, it matters the MOST, and has more potential to make you happy than any other thing you could possibly be doing.

And if you're a single student/working person, please remember that the phase of "me me me" orientation (college, independent single living, etc.) is just that: a phase. It will not last forever. Someday your purpose for getting up in the morning will be tied somehow to your family, and it will bring you joys you never knew.

So don't despair if things don't work out exactly right with your school or your job. They aren't the most important. Your family is, or will be. Or, I guess I should say, your family can, and should be.