Pseudo-Pundits

Election years are tough for me. In addition to the decency-deprived, insulting ads taking over the television, suddenly people everywhere start opening their mouths and sharing their opinions about politics. Their feelings. Their theories.

In general, even if I agree with a person’s viewpoint, I would strongly prefer that person to keep it chained behind their teeth unless I explicitly ask for it. Why?

I don’t know, exactly. Maybe I just think it’s rude to talk about politics unless asked. Maybe it’s because very few people are informed enough for me to consider them credible. But I think mostly it’s because strong opinions make a lot of people sound nuts, and that can be upsetting.

I checked in with my Twitter feed yesterday while the GOP debates were going on and read wave after wave of irritation, outrage, and incredulity. It annoyed me so I closed Twitter and moved on with my evening. Sharing these opinions didn’t do anything but turn me away from reading more.

And that, I think, is the crux of the problem. In this day and age of self-published thoughts available at all hours of the day, people have gotten the horrible misapprehension that every single thought they have is worth publicizing.

This is a lie. No one cares that you are eating pizza, or that you think such-and-such a candidate is crazy. Unless you are a political pundit whose job it is to analyze and synthesize data in an effort to distill it into an expert opinion when asked, chances are excellent that no one will listen to you anyway.

This being said, it would be my strong preference for people to realize this and just hush already. If I could, I would ban political ads as well but even I’m not naive enough to think that’ll ever happen.

I guess I could unfollow and unfriend anyone on Facebook or Twitter who says stuff that annoys me, but I’d lose an awful lot of friends who, other than during election years, make me think, smile, and laugh.

The election is important. So important. But I think we really ought to focus more on being well-researched, informed voters than on sharing our opinions as loudly as we can. Unless, of course, it is your job to have opinions on this sort of stuff.

There are a lot of social customs and manners from earlier last century that are antiquated, but I think not discussing politics in public is one that is still apropos. I could be wrong, though.

What about you? Do you find the political opinions of your friends and family edifying? Do they actually influence your voting in any way?

SNOWPACALYPSE

As you know if you’ve read my About page or have been reading my blog for awhile, I live in Washington state. Wes, Aidan, and I call a small suburb about half an hour away from Seattle home.

As you can tell by how I referred to distance in terms of time, I’m not originally from here. I’m a California transplant, one of the most-loathed imports in this area for reasons inscrutable to me. I’ve lived here for twelve years, so I’m hardly fresh off the airplane anymore so I doubt anyone can tell I’m not a WA original.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve learned since moving here is that Washington is a state of extremes. If you have six inches of snow in a few hours one winter, you’ll probably get bupkes in terms of snow the next year. If you have one summer that’s blistering hot, with endless days sans rain or clouds, the next summer will probably be cloudy, humid, and blah.

Last year’s winter was mild, with hardly any snow worth mentioning, which means, of course, that this year was the SNOWPACALYPSE.

Snow in Washington is treacherous, which means that when it starts sticking to the roads you should probably hunker down and leave your car (or SUV) in the garage unless you absolutely have to leave.

Why? Because of HILLS! We have hills! Everywhere! Huge hills! Icy hills! Bobsled-run grade hills!

And ice! And other bad drivers (hi, fellow Californians!), and did I mention the hills that people slide off of?

It’s a mess.

Add to that a power outage thanks to snow-laden, frozen tree branches crashing down on power lines and you have a huge mess. A power outage is challenging enough as it is, but when it’s twenty-something degrees outside it can get downright perilous.

The one nice thing about the snow though? Refrigeration! Did you know that if you take all the food out of your fridge and bury it in the snow, it won’t go bad? The more you know.

Still, chilled food aside, the low outside temperatures can be a big problem. When our house’s temperature dropped down to 61 degrees after eight hours without power, Wes and I packed up Aidan and braved the mile-long drive to Wes’s parents’ house. They have two gas fireplaces that keep their place nice and toasty.

Plus, they have people to talk to there. After eight hours without power, Wes and I were starting to run out of stuff to talk about. And did you know that you can’t shoot zombies on your Wii without power? LAME!

Snow and utility woes be darned, we survived last week. Not only did we survive, we had a lot of fun. We played catch with Aidan in the snow, we played our guitar and clarinet for Aidan, and Wes gave our son his first snow driving lesson.

The biggest takeaway I got from that lesson? Don’t drive in the snow. It’s dangerous, and cars in the snow = death traps. I’m from California, you won’t convince me otherwise. I’d feel much more comfortable taking a dog sledding team to the grocery store.

I doubt the dogs would enjoy schlepping me and my groceries around, though. Too bad! I shall pay them with sirloin and all will yet be well!

Can you tell I haven’t left the house much lately?

Sneak Attack Dining

Wes gifted me with a day off on Saturday, to spend however I wished. I opted to do my hair and makeup and then spend time at a coffee shop for an hour, writing and editing, and then meet a friend for lunch and a movie.

(We saw Contraband, for the record, and enjoyed it)

With my hair and makeup still looking so pretty, Wes decided when I got home that he wanted to take me out for dinner. We dropped Aidan off with his grandparents and scooted.

Wes had done a search for the best local restaurants and found an Italian one he wanted to try (you can check out their menu here). When we pulled up, we were a little skeptical.

It was in a strip mall, with a jungle of vegetation outside and neon lights on the windows. It looked…Umm…Like not the kind of place you expect to find really yummy Italian food.

Still, we would not be deterred. We walked in and found a tiny little restaurant crammed full of patrons. We were seated at one of the last empty tables and promptly attended by one of the best waiters I’ve ever had.

Everything we had there was absolutely scrumptious, surpassing our expectations and ensuring we went home with happy bellies stuffed full.

As we left, I looked back at the restaurant. Sandwiched between a Mexican supply store with a display of cowboy boots in the window and a self-service dog washing store, it was completely unassuming. You would never think it was voted one of the best restaurants in that city.

If I had just been walking by, I probably would not have given that restaurant a second thought, and that would have been a mistake.

It just goes to show you…Sometimes eating at shady, rinky-dink places gives you salmonella. But sometimes it gives you the best surprise dining experience of your life.

Change of Plans

Children are the great game changers. There’s an old saying: If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

I’d like to amend that to say: If you want to help your children learn adorable sabotage, make plans.

There are very few plans I’ve made in the two years since Aidan joined our family that he hasn’t tried to derail in some way. Like, for example, the day he was born.

He was born on his due date, which happened to be a Wednesday. I figured he had a really small chance of being born on his due date (like, only a 5% chance) so I made some plans. I was on maternity leave and figured it was the one day I could count on him to not be born, so why not make plans to meet my friend for lunch?

And then BAM! I woke up that morning at 3:30 am with contractions. NO LUNCH FOR ME.

Another example is the writer’s conference I went to. It was the first time in his whole 1.5 years of life that I was planning to be away for a couple days. I made plans to have family members take care of him, and then I eagerly anticipated getting to mingle and network and learn and feed only myself.

Sure enough, the day before the conference Aidan threw up all over the patio. It later turned out he was just fine, but I still stayed home from the conference the next day because a sick baby needs his mama.

Or, for yet another example, the vacation Wes and I took last year. It was the first vacation we’d taken in two years and we knew it was likely the last chance we’d have to get away for another couple years.

Wouldn’t you know it? Aidan got sick the day before we left, and got me sick too to boot. Wes’s poor mom had the dubious pleasure of caring for our sick baby, and I had the dubious pleasure of sneezing my way through Victoria, BC.

And now we have Tiny Baby, the latest addition to the Mitchell family. Tiny Baby has decided to differentiate him/herself from Aidan by making my pregnancy chock full of thrills and mysteries. One of these mysteries necessitates me having to take it easy for the rest of my pregnancy, which means yet another change in plans: No exercising.

I’d been planning to keep walking on the treadmill throughout my pregnancy, and maybe start reincorporating some weight training once I got through the first trimester, but no dice.

This’ll just make it even more satisfying to lose the baby weight, right? It’s always more fun to have even more work to do, right?

Sigh. Still, I have cute babies so it’s worth it. And soon I’ll have all kinds of cute baby weight to lose, too!

No One Enjoys Mouth Breathing (except scuba divers)

You never realize how amazing it is to breathe through your nose until you have a cold for three straight weeks and are deprived of the pleasure. Then? Then breathing through your nose is the only way to live and you feel like you might suffocate in your sleep thanks to some toddler’s wayward germs and aversion to sneezing into his sleeve.

Not that I’m talking about any toddler in particular. Ahem. AIDAN.

Seriously though, I always feel such joie de vivre when I’m fully recovered from a bout with illness of any kind. While watching my bathrooms grow grubbier day by day as I lay on my sickbed (i.e. the couch) I wished for energy. I wished for health. I wished for Netflix to just skip to the next episode of Thomas the Train already instead of making me get off the effing couch every half hour.

Yes, I let the TV entertain my child when I’m incapable of breathing through my nose. Judge me silently if you must.

Now, though? In the cold light of a winter’s day to which I awoke without a horrible hacking cough and sore throat that made me feel like I swallowed a wire grill brush?

I AM SUPERWOMAN.

Thanks to my newfound amazing health and also the second trimester (my favorite of the trimesters, indisputably the very best one) there is nothing I can’t do. Clean bathrooms, windows, hardwood floors, counters, and clothes? Check. Vacuum all the carpets I have access to? Check. Polish the tables, thus freeing them from the scurf of the thrillion and a half meals we served and ate on them over the holidays? CHECK.

I may already be missing some crucial pieces to my son’s Christmas toys, but gosh dang it I am back! I am alive! I can now set to work removing the imprint of my sad, sorry self from the cushions of my couch!

That is, until Aidan inevitably picks up yet another illness from the Sunday school nursery (or, as I’ve begun to call it in my bitter little head, The Pandemic Breeding Ground). I love the ability to sit through church knowing Aidan is playing with trains and loving his life, but I really wish he didn’t come home with his very own edition of the Pestilence Plague every week.

Oh, well. It’s building a good immune system for my boy, yes? I am capable of looking at the bright side of this situation, because I can breathe through my nose.