Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wii have sore arms

Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of cultivating one’s pleasures. I think it’s important to find and participate in activities and hobbies that produce joy. Life is difficult, after all, and fraught with disappointments and tragedies great and small. I believe that one antidote is to pursue fun for fun’s sake—in moderation, of course. Which is all to say that


Last week we happened into a small little bundle of money in the form of a somewhat unexpected bonus from S’s employer. After socking most of it away into savings, we quickly decided to spend the rest on a mini-splurge and get ourselves that coveted Holy Grail of video-game systems, the Wii.

“But M,” you say. “You are so not a video-game person! You roll your eyes and flee the scene when S and his brother get together twice yearly and trash-talk their way through ‘Madden NFL’ for hours on end. You dislike violence and have no desire to pretend to shoot anything or carjack anyone. Plus, you’re 32 years old, woman! The hell’s going on here?”

Well. As you may or may not know, the Wii is not your average video-game system. The controllers are wireless and require all sorts of physical movement and exertion to maneuver. And the games! The system comes with Wii Sports, which is a little collection of five games: Bowling, Tennis, Golf, Baseball, and Boxing. They’re more like virtual-reality experiences than video games in that you’re swinging your arms madly about to mimic serving a tennis ball or releasing a bowling ball down an alley. S and I have been playing so much bowling and tennis, our right arms are both strained and sore from our wrists to our shoulder blades. This is not Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, people. This is creating a little “Mii” avatar who looks just like you, from your hairstyle to the shape of your mouth, and taking her to the tennis court and the bowling alley and the baseball diamond. This is flailing around your living room like a spaz trying to match your husband strike for strike in the virtual bowling alley. This is pleasure, and I’m cultivating it.

…and then there’s Guitar Hero. Oh, my. I first fell in lust with GH when I played it for the first time at a friend’s house about three months ago. After becoming so engrossed in playing along to the bass line of an excellent, excellent Toadies song that I pretty much forgot that Maya was in the room (don’t worry! She was being supervised by three other responsible adults!), I became utterly hooked. I’ve been pining for my very own GH ever since. And now…and now…I have one!

Here’s what makes GH so fabulously wonderful: It’s supremely fun to pretend to be a guitar player in a rock band. It’s highly entertaining to sling a guitar over one’s shoulder and rock out to bunches of classic, sometimes cheesey songs that everyone knows and loves. Best of all, it’s challenging! It requires loads of concentration and hand-eye coordination to press the right chord buttons with the right fingers at the right times. It’s a skill that is developed with practice, and it is intoxicatingly satisfying to see yourself improve.
The downside to all of this pleasure cultivation is that, right now, the Wii and Guitar Hero are both so novel that S and I are spending way too much time with them and not enough time on our usual evening chores. As a result, we’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes and a kitchen floor that desperately needs mopping. I feel confident, though, that once the initial buzz wears off (by the end of this week, I predict), we’ll reduce our Wii and GH playing to a couple of times per week, as a fun and more lively alternative to TV-watching. (That’s the plan, anyway. Wish us luck!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cuteness update: Maya

Maya's a few weeks from turning two. Wow.
Last night and this morning she did something that made her mama very proud. She shared! Last night we were visiting our upstairs neighbors, one of whom is a giggly little 10-month-old named Leilani, and Maya created a task for herself of presenting Leilani with several toys to play with. "Here go, 'lani!" she announced, while dragging over Leilani's toy piano. "Here go, 'lani!" she chirped again, while pushing a little wooden car gently between Leilani's feet. And on it went until Leilani was literally surrounded in a pile of toys. I was really pleased to see Maya focusing on her little friend that way.

This morning, as I was leaving Maya at school, I saw her spot a particular toy firetruck across the room, retrieve it, walk it over to a little boy named Benji, and offer it to him. "Here go, Benji!" The teachers were impressed and praised Maya accordingly, noting that the truck she'd given Benji was, in fact, his favorite toy in the room. Well-played, Maya! (Unfortunately, though, Maya was further rewarded for her efforts by an inadvertant push from Benji as he barreled by with the firetruck she'd just given him. Sigh.)

I'm really eager for Maya to make friends. She seems to like (and be somewhat mesmerized by) other children at school and at the playground, and I want her to feel comfortable interacting with them. So this desire to share toys is a neat development and a step in the right direction, it seems.

Go Maya, go!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Going Greenish

Lately I've been trying here and there to educate myself on personal health as it relates to a healthy environment and healthy community. To wit, here are a couple of links I found today:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clinton or Obama?

Let's talk politics briefly, shall we?
I was disappointed to learn that John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race this morning. I liked his populist spirit and his focus on alleviating poverty. However, I very much like the remaining Democratic frontrunners, HRC and BO, and hadn't preferred one over the other until I read this week's New York Times editorial endorsing Clinton. I think the Times makes a convincing argument for Clinton, mainly that she talks not only of general ideas but in terms of specific policy and details. For instance, and as we all know, she has very specific ideas about health care in this country, and she's been tweaking and adjusting her ideas over the years as she learns more about the challenges of writing policy that just about everyone can agree on.
Also, as the Times pointed out, Clinton is well-known and respected among world leaders. I think this is important---super important, actually---now that the U.S. is so poorly regarded in the international community.
Of course, I like Barack Obama, too (as does the Times). If he were to win the Democratic nomination, I wouldn't mind. I like his optimism and his reluctance to jump shoulder-high into the political fray. I just agree with the Times that Clinton's experience in Washington, her understanding of policy, her formidable international image, and frankly, her gigantic brain, make her the best candidate overall.
Anyone agree? Disagree? Wish this post were about anything other than politics?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thanks, Internet!

I just found this perfectly informative and easy-to-read Web site that lists all of the Farmers' Markets in the Los Angeles area. Here it is!
I love that it includes the location and hours for each market.

...and here is a super-excellent site I just discovered (slow day at work), which lists, by state, which fruits and veggies are in season each month of the year.

Per French Women Don't Get Fat, I'm going to try to pay more attention to what produce is in season when I plan meals...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nice to see you again

Hello! My little family and I just got back from a lovely week-long trip to Falls Church, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., to visit S's family. We had an excellent time---so excellent, in fact, that I found myself in a bit of a teary funk on Sunday afternoon, after we arrived back in L.A. I just love Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. We'd live there if we didn't live here. And I adore S's family and all of our friends in the area. It's difficult getting to see them all only once or twice a year, especially now that many of these friends have kids.
Anyway, we're back in sunny SoCal now, getting back to our routines bit by bit.
I've been adjusting my resolutions for 2008. I started reading French Women Don't Get Fat in Falls Church, and it's changing the way I think about eating and weight loss. I'm inspired to seek out higher quality ingredients for cooking, focus more on using fruits and veggies that are in season, and eat for pleasure. Also, it makes me want to go to France! If S and I start saving now, we should have enough money for a French family vacation by the time Maya graduates from college.
OK, S has American Idol on right now, and it's making me tense. I just can't stand these ridiculous, overblown, under-edited, forced-sentimental audition episodes. Ugh. Why must Fox trot out these delusional young people, many of them with sad stories, some of them with what seem to be mental illnessnesses, and exploit them for fun and profit? Errgh.
*shakes fist*

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I so love New Year's resolutions! I jump on any excuse to reflect on my current situation and consider how it might be improved. Also, I've always been in love with the idea of "starting fresh." Granted, I'm not great on the follow-through. I'm a little lazy, and I procrastinate, and I feel tempted to quit when I feel I'm not succeeding. However, those fairly huge obstacles don't stop me from trying in the first place, so at least I can give myself credit for that. (Right?!)

I haven't crystallized my resolutions for '08 yet, but I've been brainstorming. Here are the ideas I'm batting around so far.

  1. Empty the dishwasher within 24 hours of running it. Duh. I realize most people do this already. I am not most people, and, as a result, we tend to have a sink perpetually full of dirties and a dishwasher-as-storage problem in my household. Sigh. I am pleased to report, though, that I've already begun acting on this resolution and have had success so far.
  2. Always be enrolled in either a dance or yoga class. I'm on hiatus from my tap lessons and am about to sign up for a yoga class offered by the city, so progress is already being made on this front as well.
  3. Go to the gym on most Mondays, Fridays, and weekends.
  4. Eat five fruits and vegetables per day. I embarked on this goal once already, back when I first read The Okinawa Program, a book I just can't recommend highly enough. (If you're interested in science-based overall health, this book is for you.) Back in 2005 I was doing pretty well with this plan until I got pregnant, and then all hell broke loose and egg-salad sandwiches and processed cheeses replaced lettuce and grapes. Time to try, try again!
  5. Continually remind myself to be patient, firm, and loving with Maya.
  6. Teach Maya table manners. (An uphill battle, this one. Yeesh.)

I also like some of the practical, useful, and research-based resolution suggestions offered on the New York Times's Well blog this week---especially the whole splitting-an-entree thing.

Anyway, what do you think? Am I off to a good start here? I feel like I'd also like to choose some reading selections for '08, and set some goals for my emotional health as well. Of course, it's easier to funnel one's willpower into one or two specific goals rather than, say, a dozen of them, so I guess I'd better be careful not to overreach!