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Linda Kulman Headshot

My Gal Pal Sarah and Me

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You might be surprised to find out how much Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and I have in common.

She's in her 40s and I'm in my 40s.

She's a hockey mom and I'm a mom who's been to a hockey game.

Asked by ABC's Charlie Gibson whether she agrees with the Bush Doctrine, she answered without blinking, "In what respect, Charlie?" Asked by my 11th-grade American history teacher (also named Charlie) to explain the Monroe Doctrine, I wrote on my test, "Why do I need to know this? It's not like I'm trying to run for vice president or anything."

But like Palin, I held elected office. During my junior year in college I was sitting in an auditorium filled with university bigwigs and parents (including my own), not paying much attention to the induction ceremony at hand when I heard my friend Bill nominating me to be the secretary of the academic honorary society Phi Beta Kappa that's a lot older than Alaska. I then had to leave the building and sit outside on a car bumper in the parking lot with my opponent (the editor of the school paper) while the yeas and nays were counted. It was so embarrassing, but I won! Yay! And so the whole next year I got to carry out my awesome responsibility of signing my name on the certificates for new inductees on a line above the word "Secretary," and most of the time I spelled my name right but occasionally I got confused and did not.

Until recently, Palin got her hair color done at a salon in Wasilla called the Bee Hive. I get my hair colored, too. Only I get mine done at a Washington salon called Roche, which, if you say it with sort of a French accent, can sound almost like Roach. And for the record, I did have a bee hive outside my office recently, except that I thought it was a hornets' nest. As those stinkers were swarming around my desk (no screen on the window), I used all the artillery at my disposal and killed them with my Webster's Dictionary (OK, so I'm not the head of the Alaska National Guard). Only later, when my husband came home and said, "Honey, why did you kill those bees? They are our friends, not our foes," did I realize what I had done.

Mrs. Palin can practically see Russia from her house and, in an amazing coincidence, I can practically see the Swiss Embassy from mine.

She says things like "the economy needs fixin'," as though there were no g on the end of the word. (Maybe Palin is really short for PalinG.) I say things to my husband like, "Honey, dinner needs fixin'."

But despite these many similarities, I think that the governor and I will never be friends. That's because, as a working mom, I try to understand what she was thinking when she struck the house chef from her government payroll, but I cannot. What I want to know is, How does she get dinner on the table every night for that big family of hers after workin' all day, especially those weeks when Todd's away? Has she convinced her children, as I have, that breakfast for dinner is a huge treat? Or does she just pull a moose pot pie out of the freezer and nuke it for six minutes before serving?

Here's another thing I wonder. Does she ever worry that she's short-changin' her constituents by spendin' too much time in the kitchen preparin' dinner or that she's short-changin' her kids by spendin' too much time workin'? The reason I ask is that in my circle of friends, I don't know a single woman who does not constantly do the calculus in her head about balancing family and work. If they don't work, they feel that they're missing out. If, like me, they do, every day feels like a robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul situation -- Peter, in this case, is standing in for the kids.

It goes without saying that Gov. Palin had to appoint her old school friends to help her out runnin' Alaska and that she includes Todd in so many of her meetin's. How else would she ever get to see her "guy" and gal pals?

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