What’s the scariest book you ever read?

This post has been languishing in Drafts for a couple of eternities. I think it began life as a comment I left on someone else’s blog — possibly Chuck Wendig’s. I thought it worth sharing here.

What’s the scariest book you ever read?

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe
Teacher’s Pet by Richie Tankersley Cusick

I have to list three, because all three freaked me out the most at different times of my life.

House of Leaves really messed with my mind when I read it 5 or so years ago. Somebody named Gareth says the book gets into your head like a virus and changes the way you think. That’s how I perceived it as well, and it was deeply disturbing. House of Leaves is one of maybe three books I’ve ever read of which I say, “This is more than a book. And, to quote the book itself, ‘This is not for you.'”

I know “The Fall of the House of Usher” isn’t a book, but I’m including it anyway. It’s my blog; I can do that. “Usher” got to me because — well, because of the whole thing, but mainly the way it all comes to a point with Roderick Usher’s final words. “…Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? …She now stands without the door!” The man’s awful horror is infectious. Madeline herself never scared me; but the way Roderick turns her into an impending, unstoppable doom…. Somehow, in my head, he makes her over into Yeats’s “rough beast” that “slouches towards Bethlehem.” Horrible and terrifying.

Teacher’s Pet is in the Point Horror series. I probably read it when I was 13 or 14 — still my pre-Stephen-King days, so I was still ultra-impressionable (IT took care of that a few years later). 😉 But Teacher’s Pet got to me for two reasons: One, the main character was a teenage writer like me, and unlike me, she was immersed in a writing world I still could only dream of; two, I was spooked by the idea that you can get so very, very close to someone and not know until it’s too late that they’re murderously crazy. I haven’t re-read this book in years, but I suspect I would still get a little thrill out of it.

How ’bout you? What book scares you the most?

In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix

A little less than two days ago, I had what was probably the scariest experience of my life: At 36 weeks pregnant, I was involved in a car accident.

My car. Click to biggify and behold.

I won’t say much about the details, because I’m not certain of what legalities I need to be aware of in discussing this in public (before all insurance claims are settled, that is). But the bare bones of it is that I was driving on a city street and another driver pulled out of a parking lot in front of me. My car collided with the other driver’s.

As far as I know, the other driver was not injured. Both vehicles sustained damage. The other driver received a citation.

Me, I went on my first ride as a patient* in an ambulance. By the time the EMTs were loading me up, the husband had arrived. I asked if he could ride in the ambulance with me, but the EMT said, “No, the police need him to stay right here and take possession of your car. He can come to the hospital afterward.”

Having witnessed the understandably reckless manner in which the husband had arrived at the scene in his pickup, I asked, “Is he okay to drive?”

The EMT shrugged and grinned. “Well, he drove here.”

And that was that. In the ambulance, the EMT checked my vitals and stuck an IV and some saline in the back of my hand. Over the next 15 hours, I would come to hate that IV. But in the meantime, I lay there on the gurney, watching the highway recede between my outstretched feet, wondering what would happen if one of the cars following close behind us plowed into the back of the ambulance.

The EMT talked to me in a soothing voice, especially as he explained (after I asked) that hearing a fetal heartbeat through a stethoscope in a moving ambulance was practically impossible. I took the opportunity to practice my yogic breathing.

When we reached the emergency room, the EMTs took me straight up to labor & delivery triage. On the way there, we passed through multiple winding corridors and rode two different elevators. The EMT who had driven the ambulance looked at me said said, “After this elevator, there’s a set of stairs.”

I looked at him, looked down at myself strapped to the gurney, and looked back up. “You guys have fun with that.”

He grinned. “Oh, no. We’re riding. You’re carrying.”

I motioned at my belly. “I’m already carrying!” And I was even able to chuckle through my tears as I said it.

Once I was in a room, a nurse came in and started doing things. A fetal monitor was involved, strapped to my belly. When I said something about Braxton-Hicks contractions, the nurse said, “Oh no, these aren’t Braxton-Hicks. These are the real thing.”

I managed an askance look and a shaky, “Oh.”

The most beautiful sound in the world was our baby’s steady, strong heartbeat, loud and clear over the fetal monitor. The most beautiful sight was her snub nose and plump cheeks on the ultrasound. (This was when I finally truly stopped crying.) The best feeling was her regular, healthy movement inside of me.

From triage, they moved me up one floor to labor & delivery, where the husband and I spent the (restless but as restful as could be expected) night. Tuesday morning, my doctor came in, pronounced the baby’s condition “excellent” and my lessening contractions “normal for anyone who’s 36 weeks pregnant,” and sent me home to relax for the remainder of the week.

I see the providential hand of God in every moment of this entire, terrifying experience. I see his protection of the baby and of me. I see his kindness and gentleness in the ministrations and the humor of the EMTs. I see his knowledgeability, his efficiency, and his loving care in my nurses and in my doctor.

In the story of my life, God is always present — but in this particular chapter, he’s obvious.

Have a good day, dearies. And tell someone you love them. : )

___________

*When I was 7, my grandparents came to visit us in Germany. Parents, grandparents, and I took a trip to Berlin. On the way there, we were involved in a 10-car pile-up on the Autobahn (which word, by the way, is nothing more than the German version of “interstate”). My dad had to stay with the car and talk with the Polizei. As the only other German-speaker among us, I had to ride in the ambulance with my grandma. At age 7. But that’s another story and shall be told another time.

January 18th Blackout FTW

So, you might’ve heard that a lot of sites are participating in a blackout today. But probably, you haven’t heard about it. Because the media aren’t really talking about it a whole lot. And, as we all know, we don’t know anything the media doesn’t tell us.

< crickets >

< /crickets >

The reason for the blackout are SOPA and PIPA. To summarize, SOPA and PIPA are bills that might soon be passed in the United States that give the U.S. government a stranglehold on…you. And me. And every single other person in the world who does what I’m doing right now*.

If SOPA and PIPA pass, this scenario could come true:

You quote four lines of copyrighted song lyrics on your WordPress blog.

Somebody complains.

The government shuts down WordPress.

Not just your blog.

WordPress.

All of it.

No, it’s not likely. But SOPA and PIPA would give the government the power to do that. (And when, in all of history, have governments not done something they have the power to do?)

To explain this in a casual, clear way that we can all understand, some people got together and made the following video. Some of you might feel offended by some of the content…but keep in mind that the laws which protect these people’s right to say what they think are the same laws that protect your right to say what you think — and that is the right our government is talking about curtailing.

In support of the blackout, I won’t be on Twitter or Facebook for the next 24 hours. (Those are the two websites I use the most.) That’s just a tiny droplet of protest in a big intarwebz ocean…but still, it’s my droplet, and I’m adding it.

Don’t just read this post and watch the video.

TAKE ACTION. CLICK HERE.

See you dears on the other side.

*I.e. using the internet.

We Can’t Eat Money (Bees & Colony Collapse Disorder)

bzzzzzzzzz

I’m sitting here watching “Vanishing of the Bees,” a documentary about colony collapse disorder, which is killing bees worldwide. (One example: 40,000 hives in California abandoned for no discernible reason over the course of 3 weeks. That’s more than 2 billion bees.)

One culprit in the United States: systemic pesticides on our crops. And guess why? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency never does their own research. This federal agency relies on the research done by the chemical companies, who stand to gain the most from keeping systemic pesticides on the market.

Systemic pesticides are the grandchildren of chemical warfare developed in Germany during World War II. Germany, France, and many other European companies have already banned these pesticides. When will the United States wake up?

And why is any of this important? Well, aside from the effects of pesticides upon the human nervous system, there’s also pollination. No honeybees means no pollination, which means no fruits and vegetables. Do you want to pay $25.00 for a tomato?

The future of the honeybee will define humanity’s ability to live on this planet.

“Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we can’t eat money.”

~Cree Indian Proverb

My Terrifying First Blog Post!

Also: I’m Working On Getting A More Interesting Blog Background (Very Important!)

Firsts” are hard, and I’m not the first to say it.

First day of school? Terrifying, if you’re an introvert. First job interview? Intimidating in a my-palms-could-water-your-plants sort of way. First date? Exciting enough that your stomach transports itself to someplace where gravity doesn’t exist, then pops back into your body suffering from free-fall nausea.

For a writer, the scariest part of any story — whether it’s horror or romance — might just be the very first line. For a blogger, the Frightening First comes in the form of the obligatory introductory post.

So, my dear reader. This is where we find ourselves: smack dab in the middle of my first post, with you watching me flounder about as I try to overcome the nervousness, the fear, the — dare I say it? — angst* threatening to paralyze everything from my brain all the way down to my fingertips.

I’m still typing, though. And you’re still reading. Good, this is good.

Where does the fear come from? I’ve blogged elsewhere for years, so I know I’m not worried about what others will think of my blogging (which, *ahem* is not to say that I don’t want to hear about what others think of my blogging [which, in turn, is a brazen request for comments. Yes, I’m finally learning to be wanton. Huzzah!]). I’m not ashamed of my writing, as People In The Know have boosted my ego enough that I believe I actually have some idea what I’m doing. I’m not concerned about fallout, backlash, backstabbing or any of that deplorable ilk.

No, I think what distresses me is this: When I ask myself what I should write about in my first blogpost, the answer is, “I don’t know.”

Should I talk about myself? Should I delineate the whats, wheres, whens, hows, and whys of my life? Surely nobody wants to read my Autobiography In 1000 Words or Less Fewer. Maybe a “thesis statement” of the purpose of this blog? Nah. And I’m pretty sure that you, dear readers, wouldn’t want to listen to me blather on about the latest antics of my cats as a cover for not knowing what I should write about.

Although, if you do want to hear about the antics of my cats, I’m sure I can oblige.

It’s funny how just the act of writing can clear the mind and crystallize the purpose. In writing out these questions, in sharing my ponderings with you, gentle readers, I’ve come to a conclusion: I don’t need to give you my curriculum vitae, and I certainly don’t need to fall back on the academia of thesis statements. None of that is why you’re here. And I know that.

I guess what I really want to tell you is that this blog is going to be about writing. My writing, as well as writing in general. If you read me regularly, you’ll find out about me in due time — maybe more than you wanted to know! If it’s less than you wanted to know, I am always open to questions, comments, concerns, and encouragements.

I especially love cookies. Chocolate chip or shortbread, please.

Oh, and if you want a little more incentive for spoiling me with said cookies, I tell a Courtney story on my About page. 😉

* I don’t like the word “angst.” In English, it has philosophical connotations that go beyond a simple state of fear. But the German word “Angst” means nothing more than “fear.” It’s not some kind of psychological superlative. And yes, I’m annoying myself by using it that way in this post!

** The photo of me is by the fabulous Julie V. Personal Style Photography.