Geeky Mom among the Normal Moms

It was book club night. First, let me just say that I feel a little weird being in a book club at all, but it gets me out of the house. I really like the women in my book club. They’re fun, intelligent women, but they are definitely not geeky. They’re not Martha Stewart either, obsessed with perfect houses, perfect children, etc. However, most of them would probably not think an iPod was a good anniversary present (my 10 year anniversary present). What’s nice about this particular group of women is that we all have our oddities. I’m into gadgets and the internet, someone else is into reality tv, another writes, another is a little obsessed with cleanliness, another with organic food. I’m the only full-time working-out-of-the-house mom. Two others work part time; the rest are at home full time. What we all have in common is the experience of raising kids and the chaos that brings to our lives.

Book club almost always breaks down into conversations about this chaos, often because we read books about that chaos or that at least touch on it. We tend to read books with female main characters and sometimes those characters are moms which we always find something in common with. Somehow we always find a way to turn the book we’re discussing into an opportunity to share the story of breaking down in the grocery store with our kids. “When she did that, it was like the time . . .” We know we’ll get sympathy and not judgement

Since I’m surrounded by men at work, it’s nice to share these stories with other women. Although they may not always understand my particular concerns as a mom who also works full time, most of the time, our situations are similar. We all have moments of guilt, moments of joy, moments of sheer craziness.

Despite the commonalities and the enjoyment I get out of their company, being with them does make me long for more women like me. I am sure they are out there, nearby; I just haven’t found them yet. I want to be able to talk about the grocery store breakdown and talk about my iPod and the blogs I’m reading. Right now, I’m having the, “My kids are driving me crazy” discussions with the moms and the geek conversations with the men I work with–and my husband. I can live with that, but maybe someday . . .

Food for thought–literally

New York Times magazine features several articles related to food in America. The first one that caught my eye confirms my own personal theory that if you enjoy what you eat, you won’t gain weight. It also discusses the idea of Americans eating different food each generation rather than sticking to a culturally determined cuisine. This idea plays into a friend of mine’s theory that you should eat the food of your ancestors. In his case, things like cabbage and potatoes. For me, beef and lamb. I have never felt guilt over food. Lots of other things, but not food. But then again, I am lucky to not have to worry about my weight. I just think about losing 5 pounds and it happens. My favorite evening out is to go eat a good meal with a good bottle of wine. I’ll eat just about anything, though I’m partial to Indian and Thai food–since I can’t make them easily at home.

The other article is about food on the campaign trail, the common foods eaten on the road as a way of proving your American enough to be president. Here in PA, we had a little battle of the cheesesteak vs. Primanti Brothers sandwich. I have a friend who hails from my home state, Tennessee, and we argue over Kansas City vs. Memphis style barbeque. Food can be just as partisan as health care plans–which you’re gonna need after your cheesesteak.

Ah . . . Sunday

Sunday is a day of rest, a day to sit around in your bathrobe, drink coffee, and eat biscuits, and a day of frenzied political reading and watching. This morning, during Good Morning America, I discovered that (according to ABC), Bush leads Kerry 50-46. The Gallup Polls from a week ago show Kerry leading 49-48. The American Research Group provides better data, also showing Kerry leading, but their polls are from the 4th. Even the USA Today Poll shows Kerry ahead at the beginning of the month. I know there are rumors on the “internets” that these polls are inaccurate, but the average Jane pays attention to these.

UPDATE: Found this lovely site via The Volokh Conspiracy for an up-to-date view of the polls.

For your reading pleasure this morning, an article on Seymour Hersh via Bitch, Ph.D.. And this New York Times article, so appropriate for Sunday about how Bush lets his evangelical religious views guide what he does as President. You’ll find some similarities in what Hersh says and what some of those close to Bush say about the way he runs the White House.

Soccer moms engage in healthy debate

In my role as soccer mom today, I was privileged to overhear a hearty debate among the other soccer moms. One mom started in on school vouchers and how that could cause the demise of the public school system. Another mom piped up saying she was a Bush supporter. These two moms then engaged in another debate about health care costs, which drew in a third mom. I didn’t participate because I was just fascinated by the whole conversation. The mom who started the whole thing is a volunteer for the Kerry campaign. She really did a pretty good job of trying to convince anyone who was listening that Kerry is the man for the job. We’re talking about a group of primarily working middle class, many of them finding themselves struggling to make ends meet, and many of them knowing people who’ve been laid off or have been laid off themselves, so it’s not the usual suburban soccer crowd of Lexus-driving, stand around and discuss stocks crowd. It was interesting to see what Bush messages had settled into the Bush supporter’s brain. She kept coming back to malpractice insurance. But she agreed with the Kerry woman’s points on a lot of things. Anyway, I was just proud of them for having an intelligent discussion of the issues–and the men were nowhere to be found.

This should scare you

Thanks, Bitch. Ph.D., for scaring the crap out of me first thing in the morning. If you haven’t read her post and her links, you really must. I feel anxiety every election over reproductive rights, but never more so than now. I really do feel we might be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade if Bush wins. I might have to quit my job and join a pro-abortion lobbying group. I had a male friend who told me once that he didn’t feel that men had a right to even discuss reproductive issues–that the whole discussion should be left up to women. I told this to another male friend years later and he disagreed,but he’s a dad and the other guy wasn’t so I think he just felt like he had no stake in the discussion. Frankly, the conservative position on this, as several of the articles Bitch Ph.D. points to imply, is that the right-wing conservatives are really just terrified of sex. No one should be having it so therefore there should be no need for birth control or abortions or anything like that. Come on, people, we’re animals. We have instincts. Oh, wait . . . these are the same people who don’t believe in evolution.

Slacker all the way around

Okay, so I took this quiz a long time ago. Don’t remember what I came out as. I noticed a slight bias toward this quiz being for men–i.e. the shaving comment. But here’s the results anyway–kind of fun.

Which OS are You?

After I posted this, I took a wander around on the site and it just confirms for me why I am uncomfortable with the Geek label. It implies that geeks are all people with odd habits, no friends, weird collections, and even weirder taste in movies. That’s just not me. Just because I really like Star Trek . . .

A Case in Point

As if academom had willed it, I had one of those days where my worlds clashed. It’s like that Seinfeld episode where George’s world with his friends is about to meet up with his world with his fiancee. I’m checking my son’s homework this morning and find a note from his teacher that says he hasn’t been doing his homework. Instant guilt. I find my son, begin giving him a stern talking to. He breaks down, misses the bus and I have to drive him to school which makes me slightly late for work. I bring this guilt and anger (a little) to work with me.

At work, I e-mail the teacher, apologize profusely for my slacker son (and his slacker parents) and promise we’ll do better. I manage to put all of that aside and do real work until I’m sidetracked by a talkative co-worker. Post-lunch, life gets bad when I find out because of a programming glitch, several people have dropped out of Blackboard. I spend time manually adding them back in and dinging the programmer. I don’t understand the programming and feel powerless–akin to the way I felt in response to the teacher’s letter.

Flash forward a little, I’m plugging away again, getting ready to read some blogs and post something in my professional blog when I am dragged into the lab because a woman’s life work has been erased. (The lab I maintain is a video lab and nothing is supposed to be removed without my permission.) We spend hours trying to recover the files–no luck. We will have to import over 100 clips again.

I go home defeated, thinking I should just have been a stay at home mom, so that I could make sure my son does his homework and I wouldn’t have to deal with all of this stuff. Sigh. Do men have these tensions? It’s not like I was angst-ridden all day about the homework thing, but it was there nagging at me. I know in my heart of hearts, I would not be satisfied staying at home, but I think about it. It’s very tempting on days like these.

IT Kitchen

Okay, this idea is really great–an online workshop about wikis and blogs. I have been talking about wikis and blogs for years. I only this year got around to really using them regularly, but as an IT professional who works with faculty, I’ve been trying to encourage faculty to use blogs and wikis for teaching and research. Aside from one famous blogger in our midst (who’s now gone), the faculty seem to be averse to blogging. I held a workshop about wikis and blogs and only one faculty member came. Perhaps they’d look into this workshop from time to time and learn something. I’m planning to let them all know about it. I don’t feel like I’m enough on an expert to contribute, but I’d like to try. I can’t wait to see it in action.

Progressive Girl

Turns out–I’m neither a Soccer Mom nor a Security Mom–I’m a Progressive Girl.

Some of this stuff fits. For instance:

She drives: a small SUV but really wishes it got better mileage; once she can get a good hybrid, she will.

This is sooo true. I drive a mini-van and I’ve already declared that my next car will be a hybrid. Have to wait for the money, though.

Thanks to profgrrl’s post for this little tidbit.

Security Mom

Apparently, I’m supposed to have morphed into a security mom. I have heard this term before, but brushed it off. For one thing, I was never really a soccer mom. I just don’t fit the profile. For another, I am not obsessed about the security of my children, thinking that terrorists are going to attack their elementary school. I worry about other things–like whether they’ll become drug addicts or become pregnant or get aids or get hit by a car or die of a horrible disease. Security moms apparently favor Bush because they think he’ll protect us from terrorists. Well, as far as I know, Bush isn’t doing a whole lot about the things I’m worried about.

During the debates last night, finally some mention of women, but nothing astonishing. And Bush didn’t answer whether he would protect Roe v. Wade. That worries me. Though I hope I will teach my daughter well enough that this won’t be an issue, I really don’t want to even ponder the possibility that I would be searching for a back-alley doctor to perform an abortion for my 16-year-old (she’s 5 now.)

Sign count yesterday between my house and work: 20 Kerry/Edwards; 11 Bush/Cheney.