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Formspring Q&A

More Q&A, brought to you by my formspring site.  I answered these a couple of weeks apart and it’s funny how my focus is slightly different so it sounds like I’m contradicting myself:  I don’t have any time to myself, or I do have enough time for myself.  I stand by both answers, though.  There was a different context to the questions and where I went with the answers.  

Remember, you can ask me anything!  I haven’t skipped any questions so far, but I still have a backlog, so if you’re still waiting for an answer, hang in there.

Are you eating paleo?

Nope. I don’t agree with the fundamental premises of paleo eating. I do like meat, though, and my personal dietary needs require me to eat a much higher proportion of protein-to-carbs than is recommended in the standard American diet. (I’m hypoglycemic.) So I end up with a very similar diet. If I’m going to look for a recipe online, I almost always search for a paleo one. I’m coming around a bit towards the idea of eating “whole foods,” but even then, I don’t think the potential value of eating this way outweighs the value of convenience food, special treats, or low-cost food. I just think there is a lot of room for “error” in what human beings eat. And I think that the range of dietary needs amongst individuals is enormous, although I’m convinced that everyone could stand to eat a lot less sugar. Massive quantities of sugar don’t seem to do anyone any good.

A bit off topic: Kelly Elmore has an excellent post about how paleo eating relates to extended breastfeeding and attachment parenting. She endorses them all while I don’t, but I appreciate the connections she makes, probably since I made the same connections myself when I decided I didn’t agree with any of them. Anyway, it’s worth reading if you are interested in paleo at all.

What is the toughest thing about being a stay-at-home mother?

That’s difficult to answer. I suppose the most challenging thing is the need to be constantly “on.” To be a good parent, you are teaching almost all of the time. You’ve got to be on the lookout for those teachable moments, and you have to control your temper, and you have to be aware of the behavior you are modeling for your child. Deciding on how to handle all kinds of different situations takes a constant effort. And the child keeps changing, so you’ve got to keep learning and growing too! It’s a relentless process.

But that is all challenging in a good way, really. The thing that is more negative to me is that my time is not my own anymore. I mean, I chose to have a child and I’d make that choice again in a heartbeat. It’s the best thing that I ever did. But still, once you’ve done it, you have a tiny human being who is dependent on you, 24/7. If I want time for anything else, I have to manufacture it. And I do manufacture it, but the effort is unending. There is never a time when I unexpectedly find myself alone, with no demands on me, without having scheduled it or arranged it in some way. Right now, I am able to write this response because it is naptime, which I’ve worked very hard to maintain, and which I had to put extra effort into today because of 2 unusual events. And there are always unusual events that make every day a challenge.

I still don’t have a reliable way to find time to shower every day, and my daughter is 3.5! I suppose that is the toughest thing, in a nutshell.

What would you be doing if you were working?

Making a whole lot more money, that’s for sure. But really, I assume you mean “working outside the home.” I must say, I’m working harder now than I ever have before in my life.

As for working outside the home, I have absolutely no idea what I would be doing. I was in the middle of a career change when I became a full time parent. I was a software developer then I went back to school and got a degree in some weird mix of engineering and business that could have led to a number of careers. 

How do you like being a stay-at-home mom?

I love/hate it. I love the mom part, and I love the “stay at home” part, but I hate the tedium. After putting in a 12 hour day of cleaning poop and doing dishes and controlling my temper and playing 150 games of hide and seek, I don’t have that sense of, “Wow, I did a great job today and I feel really proud of myself.” Maybe I should, but I don’t. I just feel tired. I have to do other things to get that feeling of productiveness and accomplishment.

However, there is nothing in the world more enjoyable than spending time with my daughter, and I feel like the luckiest person alive to get to do it as my job. I laugh and smile and get the warm fuzzies more than I ever have in my life, and the thought of working full-time is revolting. Why would I be anywhere but with her?

Now that Sam is 3, I have enough time for the kind of things that give me the sense of accomplishment that I need, so it’s pretty ideal. I think that it will be important for me to slowly transition back to those other productive endeavors as she grows older, but I don’t think I’ll have any problem with that.

What is your central purpose?

I don’t have a clearly defined central purpose. I used to feel really guilty about that. Now I don’t. I’m the kind of person who, if left to my own instincts, will not act at all until my goals are 100% defined. (Meaning, I would never do anything at all.) I only started making progress in life when I let go of that and started going wherever my interests led me.

Now that I have a better sense of who I am and what my values are, I have done some work on trying to define my central purpose, but it’s all still quite rationalistic for me.

I think some people can define their central purpose early in life (and good for them!), but the rest of us should realize that, however desirable it is to have a life-long central purpose, that it is something that we have to work towards by means of focusing on lesser goals. The Little Things are important!

More Q&A

Another easy blog post, courtesy of formspring.

What were your views before becoming anObjectivist?

I was 16 or 17 when I became an Objectivist. At that point, I believed in capitalism, at least implicitly, I was almost an atheist (but still wallowing in agnosticism), I was a great man-worshiper (meaning I was already in love with the accomplishments of humans throughout history), and I was an implicit individualist (and suffering greatly in not knowing what that meant). I think I was a pretty typical teenager, except for the godlessness. Ayn Rand spoke to me in the intro to The Fountainhead when she said that the novel is “a confirmation of the spirit of youth, proclaiming man’s glory, showing how much is possible.” Hold your fire, indeed!

What has been the hardest thing to understand about Objectivism and what has been the easiest?

So far, the hardest thing to understand has been the idea of the arbitrary. I even wrote about it on my blog a little bit:


But right now I’m struggling with the idea of duty versus causality (in ethics, not metaphysics). I’m finding that I don’t really have a clue what it means to be selfish. Well, I have a clue, but I’m certainly not acting selfishly as much as I would like. It was easy to understand in the abstract, but it’s not so easy to implement.

The easiest…hmmm. I hesitate to say any part of Objectivism has been easy to understand, now that I’m realizing how shallow my understanding of selfishness is. I guess I’d say that the trader principle (in the political sense) was easy for me – or, to put it negatively, that you can’t get something for nothing. Of course, a better understanding of the trader principle might help me to understand selfishness better, so I probably don’t understand it in the spiritual realm as well as I do in the material, or political realm.

It’s all integrated.

What is your dream vacation?

One that does not require me to clean any poop.


A lot of my electronic friends started answering personal questions from anonymous strangers on this formspring thing recently and I swore to myself that I would not start.  The last thing I need is yet another time-suck.  And why would I open myself up to prying minds that way?  But I succumbed, just like with Facebook and Twitter.  Now, I think Facebook is the most awesome app of the decade, and I’ve found a way to live with Twitter and get what I want from it without spending much time on it.  Maybe formspring will be fun, too.

Besides, it gives me an easy blog post, which I really need right now.  I am still so freaking busy that I’m feeling anxious just writing this intro, so without any further ado, here is some Q&A, brought to you by me via formspring.  (Just click that last link if you want to ask me a question of your own.)

How did you discover Objectivism?

My mom gave me a copy of The Fountainhead when I was 16. I knew immediately that this was the way I wanted my life to be. 

It took a while for me to read Atlas Shrugged, though, because the first few pages are so depressing. I was concerned that AS would not live up to TF, and if it didn’t, it would have tainted TF for me. But a few months later my curiosity finally got me to plow through until I met and fell in love with Dagny. I had been disappointed enough by people at 16 that finding that Ayn Rand was consistent was a profound experience.

I would say that I became an Objectivist immediately, mostly based on a sense of life reaction, but also based on my teenager’s understanding of reason, independence, and even freedom. Of course, my understanding has grown immensely since then, but there was never a transition for me.

How did you meet your husband?

Adam and I met in New York at the Ayn Rand Institute’s auction and banquet celebrating the 50th (60th?)anniversary of the publication of Anthem. Adam lived in NY at the time and was volunteering at the event. I lived in Los Angeles but was in NY on business and so was lucky enough to attend. There’s more to the story but you’ll have to ask me if you want more!

Would you rather be skinny with an ugly face or fat with a pretty face?

Oh, come on, really? Anyone else?

What would be the best workplace perk?

Coffee, but I think they’ve already figured that one out.