Norah Jones, Election Day, and Quiche

Hile, inklings!

If you didn’t already know, today is Election Day in the United States of America: the day on which we, the People, decide on what the next four years of our country are going to look like. Or, at least, we express in an official manner how we imagine the next four years are going to look like. As we all now, imagination and reality don’t always have a whit to do with one another. Time will tell.

Hard Truth

But, in connection with the events of this momentous day, the following thought keeps running through my head:

“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.”

Every nation gets the government it deserves.

~Joseph de Maistre
Letter 76, Lettres et Opuscules

If you disagree, feel free to debate Joseph and me on the topic, but I don’t think you’ll get very far. Just FYI. ; )

Ad Infinitum, Ad Nauseam

Anyway, onward! If you know me IRL, you already know that I long ago became everlastingly sick of this year’s presidential race, and for three reasons:

1. It’s stupid to spend so much money on a mud-slinging, high-school-esque popularity contest when the nation is already in gabillion-dollar debt. I mean, it’s not just poor politics or poor choices or selfishness or foolishness. IT’S STUPIDITY. Notably, this stupidity didn’t begin with the current party in power. This brand of stupidity has been going on for a lot longer than that, probably longer than I’ve been alive. So there’s that.

2. Mud-slinging, high-school-esque CHILDISHNESS. These are the people I’m supposed to trust with the running of my country? Please.

3. I don’t care for the candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties. They each have their good points and their bad points, but the plain fact is that I simply don’t like them. Yes, you could make the argument that I don’t have to like someone in order to trust them to make good choices. I agree with you there. But liking one of them would certainly make my vote easier to cast.

Breakfast Food and Norah Jones

One thought I keep coming back to is that we Americans have it pretty cushy. Or is it quooshy? I think it’s quooshy, because I just made that up and I like it. It can even be quiche-y, if you like (and I happen to). Anyway, we’ve got it easy when it comes to voting. For one thing, we get to vote. This, if you recall the quote from above, is because we have chosen the legal establishment of that right to vote. Yay us. We’ve picked a pretty easy system to live under, and so far, we’ve done things to keep that system in place. Whether or not we will or should continue to do those things is a point of philosophy for debate at another time.

Furthermore, we have chosen this system, and so we get to stand in lines today and cast our votes. While we’re standing in line, we might have to listen to the loudly expressed opinions of people who disagree with us on one thing or another…but the good news is that we won’t have soldiers trying to arrest us or terrorists trying to blow us up or government-hired mercenaries trying to shoot us. We get to have our quiche and eat it, too: voting relatively unmolested as compared to some other attempted democracies in the world. In our case, the grand democratic experiment is a success thus far. So there’s that, too.

In closing, I leave you with the words of singer/songwriter Norah Jones, who brings the kind of honesty and just enough sarcasm to the table to have captured the essence of my feeling on all of this:

My Dear Country
by Norah Jones

‘Twas Halloween and the ghosts were out,
And everywhere they’d go, they shout,
And though I covered my eyes I knew
They’d go away.

But fear’s the only thing I saw,
And three days later ’twas clear to all
That nothing is as scary as election day.

But the day after is darker,
And darker and darker it goes,
Who knows, maybe the plans will change,
Who knows, maybe he’s not deranged.

The news men know what they know, but they
Know even less than what they say,
And I don’t know who I can trust,
For they come what may.

‘Cause we believed in our candidate,
But even more it’s the one we hate.
I needed someone I could shake
On election day.

But the day after is darker,
And deeper and deeper we go.
Who knows, maybe it’s all a dream,
Who knows if I’ll wake up and scream.

I love the things that you’ve given me,
I cherish you my dear country,
But sometimes I don’t understand
The way we play.

I love the things that you’ve given me,
And most of all that I am free
To have a song that I can sing
On election day.

In Which I Don’t Understand America

Me (writing in baby book): Hey, where did you go to kindergarten?

Ed: Sabin Elementary School.

Me: …

Ed: What?

Me: You went to kindergarten at elementary school?

Ed: Yeah…why?

Me: Why didn’t you go to kindergarten at…oh, I dunno…a kindergarten?

Ed: …That’s where you go to kindergarten. At school.

Me: The kindergarten is attached to the elementary school?

Ed: It’s part of the school. Haven’t you ever heard the term “K through 12,” or “K through 6”? Kindergarten through 12th grade, 6th grade?

Me: Yeah, but I didn’t know that meant the kindergarten is part of the school.

Ed: …

Me: Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. What about pre-k?

Ed: That’s before kindergarten.

Me: …

Ed: That’s why it’s “pre-.”

Me: Oh for tuna.

Ed: Well, you asked.

Me: Okay, so what about pre-school?

Ed: That’s before kindergarten, too.

Me: But it doesn’t make any sense! Shouldn’t the sequence be: pre-k, kindergarten, pre-school, 1st grade? Since 1st grade is the first time they’re actually in school?

Ed: Look, I can’t help it. There’s 1st grade, but kindergarten is considered the first grade.

Me: I don’t understand this country at all.

Insomnia + Twitter = Random

This post is really for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and, therefore, don’t get the pleasure of perusing the oddities that spew from my thumbs when I can’t sleep (which is happening more and more often of late). But those of you who do follow me might appreciate having the recent randomness collected in one place, so here it is. Enjoy. ; )

Two Whats of Twitter

1. RT = retweet

When someone tweets something I want to share with my followers, I “retweet” that person’s tweet. This means that my followers will then see the tweet with “RT” and the original Twitterer’s handle attached to it.

2. Hashtags

A “hashtag” marks keywords in a tweet and is preceded by a #. So if I tweet about writing and tag the tweet with #amwriting, my tweet will appear listed with other #amwriting tweets if someone clicks on #amwriting. Hashtags help categorize tweets and make it easier to find information on a certain subject.

Just for fun, some of us like to make up hashtags that no one is going to be searching for. A popular, “legit” hashtag is #firstworldproblems ( = frustrations with luxuries available only in First World countries). In one of my recent tweets, I made up the hashtag #literaturenerdproblems, which no one will be searching for, but it made me giggle as a play on #firstworldproblems.

So. There, dear inklings, is your brief “Twitter 101” for the day. Now you’re ready for the #tweetsomniac weirdness!

@courtcan’s Insomniac Tweets

Oh. Hi, insomnia. Fancy meeting you here. #donotfancyatall #goaway

Hi, I’m Courtney, and I’m a tweetsomniac. #Twitter #insomnia

That sad moment when you have a new interaction on Twitter and realize that you tweeted at yourself. #firstworldproblems

.@JoshuaUnruh “Holy cats” is “heilige Katzen” in German. In case you wanted to start using that.

When you’ve gestated 37.5 weeks, random contractions that just peter out into nothing (instead of turning into true labor) are #notfair.

Tweeting isn’t helping the insomnia. #amwriting wouldn’t help either, but I am sorely tempted to get out of bed and do some.
(For the record, I didn’t.)

Yesterday on Facebook, my dumb phone autocorrected “rood” to “roof.” #literaturenerdproblems

I think The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me” is one of the most beautiful songs ever. #music

Aw, now that’s just sad. RT @val_q: Things He Says to Hurt Me #2: “Claire Danes and Jared Leto? What show was that?”

I used to want to be an archaeologist too! RT @YMinisterswife Today I shall embark on an adventure I call “toy box excavation”.

Someday, I really want to throw a surprise birthday party for the next #random person to enter the public restroom.

Also of a good story. RT @CHRISVOSS One very important ingredient of success is a good, wide-awake, persistent, tireless enemy. -F Shutts

RE previous RT: Your story is only as strong as your antagonist. Discuss. #amwriting

I have gephyrophobia. #abouttheauthor #random

#insomnia has taught me that my usual suspects on Twitter are not awake at 5:30am CST. #firstworldproblems

With reservations as delineated by @barryeisler in comments, I added my name to NoSockPuppets. http://nosockpuppets.wordpress.com #NSPHP #amwriting

Look, Ma — no sleeps. #insomnia *sigh again*

‏Are u one of my family members who posts awkwardly personal updates about ur romantic life on Facebook? Please don’t tell anyone.
–@ApiarySociety, retweeted by @courtcan

#insomnia #frustrations #feelingpitiful #readytohavealegitreasonforsleeplessness #legitreasonequalsbaby *sigh*

I cannot describe the depth of my disappointment the day I discovered that #fantasyfootball has naught to do w/ elves, trolls, and dragons.

I grew up as an American in Germany. We weren’t military. Pretty sure our phones were tapped during the ’80s. #TCK #adventures

If you didn’t know: #TCK = #ThirdCultureKid = originates in one culture, grows up in another, assimilates them into 1 unique culture.

#TCK advantages: extreme cultural adaptability, flexible personality, independence, broadened horizons, heightened empathy.

#TCK disadvantages: adjustment difficulties, commitment issues, rootlessness, frustration w country of origin, never fitting in anywhere.

For me, #TCK advantages far outweigh disadvantages. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

I should blog about this. #TCK

Being pregnant is like having eaten the biggest meal of your life & feeling crazy stretched & bloated, but w empty tummy. Also, epic boobs.

#insomnia = #lackoffilters #tweetinginappropriatethingsatsixam

I’ve been reading “Night of the Iguana” by T. Williams. So far: Nymphos = 1, nubiles = 2, lechers = 1, natives = 2, iguanas = 0.

So many blogs with headlines like “This Is Why Your _________ Is a Failure.” <-- Define failure?! Maybe the struggle is just part of growth. Also a spiffy scarf. RT @LukeRomyn: Don't buy roses or chocolate, get her a tank of gas. My phone is dying. Probably a sign I should try sleeping again. Later, y'all. #insomnia

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 1

Hile, inklings!

As I’ve hinted in my last few posts, I have a few reflections to share about the joys of pregnancy thus far. In case you think this isn’t something you care to read, consider that the prepositional phrase ending the preceding sentence is a sample of deep sarcasm, which sarcasm might just be enough to make this post enjoyable even for you non-pregnancy-buffs.

Happily, the sarcasm is also an indication that I am feeling LOADS better. BANGERANG.

No baby bump yet. So here's a cute picture of my cat, instead.

So, to celebrate my return from The Nefarious Kingdom of Nausea and Exhaustion, I’ve put together a list of ten things that, if they didn’t surprise me entirely over the last few months, at least caused my expectations (expectations, get it? ha ha) to morph into something unrecognizable pretty much overnight.

As part of my celebration, I’m being rather more verbose than I’d anticipated, so I’m breaking up the list into two parts. Here, for your reading pleasure, is the first half:

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 1

1. It can be horribly scary.
Okay, so this one isn’t going to be funny, and it doesn’t apply to every pregnancy. But yes, this adventure can be scary. I already knew this, because I’d suffered a miscarriage back in 2006. So this time around, when I started spotting during Week 5 again, I was terrified. A visit to the doctor and a blood test showed low progesterone levels. Granted, my doctor hasn’t said the low levels caused the spotting, and she hasn’t said that I would’ve miscarried without progesterone supplements. But I took progesterone supplements through Week 10, and the spotting stopped, and I’m still pregnant at Week 15, so there you go.

Part of this scary experience is that, because I’m human, the fear trumped the joy at being pregnant. Ed and I let family and friends know what was going on because we desperately needed the spiritual and emotional support. Family and friends were spiritually and emotionally supportive. This was awesome.

Family and friends were also happy and excited. This was not so awesome for me, because although I was happy, I was not excited. I was scared, and it took all my focus to keep the fear to a minimum. Honestly, I couldn’t let myself start to be excited until around Week 10. In the meantime, everyone else’s joy sometimes felt overwhelming.

Hitting Week 14 some ten days ago was a blessing of ginormous proportions, because that was the start of the second trimester, in which the risk of miscarriage drops significantly.
Even so, I still get a little scared sometimes. Prayer helps. : )

2. It can be messy.
So. Progesterone supplements. You take one supplement per day. You do not take it orally. You also do not take it anally. And that’s all I have to say about that.

3. You run a triathlon. Every. Stinking. Day.
Since the advent of Week 12, this part has improved somewhat.

But between Weeks 5 and 12, the level of exhaustion was un-freakin’-believable. I spent anywhere from 10-14 hours per day asleep; or, if I wasn’t asleep the whole time, I was sprawled languidly on the couch or in bed, continually debating whether or not the pressure in my bladder was worth the effort of dragging myself vertical and down the 100 miles of hallway to the bathroom. Twenty minutes of conversation left me feeling like I’d just spent two hours doing high-impact aerobics. The ten-minute car ride to the doctor’s office was the equivalent of a BodyPump class. Said doctor tells me, “You need to be walking every day.” I meekly nod as though in agreement and think to myself, Doc, you are a funny lady.

4. You will want to slice off your boobs.
Hormones! Ah, the joys of them! One of the fabulous things they do is make your boobs hurt. And when I say hurt, I mean HURT. Hugging people is painful. Stretching is painful. The touch of clothing is painful. Putting on your bra is painful. Taking off your bra is painful. The only thing that’s not painful is sitting still whilst wearing said bra. Lying on your stomach is a thing of sheer impossibility. The torture does not stop, and you will want it to stop badly enough that removal of your breasts starts to sound like an attractive proposition.

There will also come a time when you’ll need a bigger, better bra. And that’s all I have to say about that.

5. The baby is an interior decorator. Or maybe a Third Culture Kid.
The kid is growing. Yay! That’s what s/he is supposed to do, and that is a glorious thing. And s/he is not shy about making sure there is enough room in your torso for the accomplishment of all this glorious growth.

In a nutshell: Your interior organs get moved around, and it starts happening pretty early on. I almost don’t have the words for it. The closest I can come to describing it is pressure in odd places. It’s like somebody’s putting their hands flat against the inside of my abdomen and pushing out. This is not the baby’s kicks I’m feeling; it’s too soon for that. No, this is the stretching of uterus, the stretching of ligaments, and the rearrangement of intestine location. It’s WEIRD. And sometimes it keeps me awake at night.

If you don’t know what a Third Culture Kid is, here’s the brief lowdown: A TCK is a person like me who has grown up in two cultures and combined the two into one unique personal culture. This carries with it a host of odd quirks too numerous to go into now. But one of those quirks is the desire to move across the country (or across the world) every few years. When I can’t do that, I rearrange the furniture — just like this kid is rearranging my insides.

Okay, thus ends Part 1! Come back on Friday for the second round!

Can We Bare It or Bear It: The Breasts of Superheroines

So, I’ve never been much of a superhero comics reader. I was an Archie, Betty, and Veronica kind of girl for a good many years, but I only ever owned two or three superhero comics. The most memorable of these featured a Huntress short in the back. I read that one over and over again.

Addendum:
Also, there was this:

Probably 1982 or 1983...5 or 6 years old. Dude.

< /addendum >

Over the last year or so, Josh, comics aficionado extraordinaire, has done his deadlevel best to further my superhero education. Mostly, this occurs through my listening to his conversations with his son and watching said son imitate whichever superhero is on his childlike plate for the day.

Usually, Josh’s kiddo gives me new insights into Spider-Man. But Josh also introduced me to All-Star Superman and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so I’m getting quite the smorgasbord.

This morning, Josh texted me a link to this blogpost by one Dave Dorman (which, since the writing of this post, Mr. Dorman has deleted). In his article, Mr. Dorman expresses his disapproval of a new comic called Saga, allegedly being marketed to kids.

Mr. Dorman finds Saga offensive because of this:

I know nothing about Mr. Dorman except what he says in his blogpost and in comments on that particular post: He is a father; he himself draws curvaceous superheroines; he advocates breastfeeding; and he finds Saga to be offensive simply because it’s being marketed to children.

According to several comments on his blogpost, it’s possible he posted before researching, as several people opine that Saga isn’t being marketed to children at all, and its creator intended it for an adult audience.

As of this writing, my own comment on Mr. Dorman’s post is awaiting moderation. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the matter:

On one hand: Superhero comics marketed to kids, in which women are drawn scantily clad or in suits so skintight, every outline of every boob and butt curve is visible. These women are unmistakably meant to arouse sexual attraction. Repeat: marketed to kids.

On the other hand: A superhero comic marketed to kids (?), in which a partially bare breast is drawn to illustrate breastfeeding. Hardly any curve is visible at all.

If one disapproves of the barely-there curve of a bare, breast-feeding breast, it would be hypocritical to approve of the sexy superheroines who keep their shirts on. In superheroines marketed to children, the only difference between the bare breast and the clothed breast is the color of the ink.

I’ll also take this moment to state that I’m continually perplexed and annoyed by the apparently general North American aversion to bare breasts during public breast-feeding. Yes, I do realize I’m coming from a cultural background (German) in which public breast-feeding is considered normal and acceptable; a German would be horrified at the idea of asking a breast-feeding mother to “cover up” or leave a public area.

But this pervasive, North American distaste for public breastfeeding irritates me. To tell a breast-feeding mom to cover up or go away is to express that the breast’s primary function is sexual, which is not the case at all. Yeah, we all know guys like ’em — but they don’t exist primarily for guys’ enjoyment. Breasts exist primarily for feeding babies. And I’m saying this as a woman who has never had children.

A bare, breast-feeding breast shouldn’t be any more “offensive” or arousing than a bare arm. Or a bare hand, if you’re from a culture that considers bare arms a sexy taboo.

For another take on this, do pop on over to read Josh’s thoughts on this. I quite appreciate both his analysis of the situation and respectful but still in-your-face way in which he chooses to present it.

___________________

Weigh in, y’all. I know you’ve got something to say about all of this; just please keep it courteous and respectful of one another! : )

The One Where I Get Interviewed for #KindleAllStars

So, when I mentioned earlier today that Tony Healey at fringescientist.com was gonna post an interview with me “tomorrow,” I was thinking of “tomorrow” in terms of *my* time zone.

Tony, however, is not in my time zone. Tony dwells far, far away in a land called “United Kingdom” — which, of course, means that he’s a couple+ hours ahead of me.

As a lifelong expat-turned-repat-turned-expat-turned-repat, not to mention as an adult TCK*, I really should’ve remembered that.

All of this is to say that, because in his world, it is already November 16th, Tony’s interview with me has gone live, and you can click this link to read it. Bangerang. Comments are, as always, most welcome (and encouraged!). ; )

______________
*TCK = Third Culture Kid. Someday, I shall explain this in-depth. For now, suffice it to say that I am an adult one of these, and it makes me cramazingly crazy sometimes.
😉

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

There is a children’s book which, sadly, I have never read. It is Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Although my English teacher mother and my bibliophile father kept me in English-language books whilst I was growing up in Germany, they seem to have missed this one somehow. I arrived at college in Oklahoma in 1996 to find fellow students referencing this little book all over the place. This book, and the film The Princess Bride. I didn’t know what anyone was talking about.

In the interim, I’ve seen The Princess Bride about a bajillion times — but I’ve never gotten around to getting my hands on Alexander’s story. For my purposes today, however, all I need to know about his story is the title and the cover art. I can extrapolate pretty well: Alexander’s day is starting out sucky and it’s just getting worse.

(On a side note, my fingers keep wanting to type “Aleksandr.” Apparently, I am Russian today. Yeah, baba.)

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Wednesday

Yesterday, I could relate all too well to Alexander’s story. It all started when I poured my coffee, zested it up with Truvia, and then opened the fridge — only to discover that there was no milk in any form. No cow, no goat, no almond.

I cannot drink coffee without some form of milk. My tastebuds haven’t the constitution for the purely black stuff.

So. No coffee for Courtney. If you know me at all, you know that this was pretty much THE harbinger of Doom.

The doomish trend continued when I settled in to work out our monthly budget, which I do at the start of every month.

NOTE TO SELF:

Never do a budget without having fortified self with coffee.

I shan’t divulge my budgeting details, ’cause that’s nunya. ; ) However, I will say that upon close review, the finances looked worse than I’d anticipated. In fact, I’d been anticipating good stuff. There wasn’t any. Just bad stuff. I slumped in my chair, rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands, and plodded on.

Things got worse when I opened a bill, and it was medical, and it was unexpected, and it was for several hundred dollars, and I don’t think I should have to pay it. A phone call confirmed my fear that the only way to get out of it will be to haggle with the insurance company that hasn’t provided our insurance in almost a year.

The only haggling I enjoy is the haggling one does with European vendors who don’t speak one’s language.

Yes. I would rather stand in a dirty, open-air market and argue over trinkets at the top of my lungs with an irate vendor who is trying to cheat me and whose language I don’t speak than have a phone conversation in English with an insurance company.

But that’s beside the point.

The point is that by now, I was bawling in horrid frustration over my budget forms. This was followed in quick succession by slamming the back of my head into the corner of the kitchen cabinet and then poking myself in the eye with a fingernail.

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

In Which Things Get Better

Since Judith Viorst’s book was published in the more innocent, less snarky age of 1987, I’m assuming Aleksandr’s story has a happy ending and a Moral To The Story. (Word.)

My happy ending came in the form of a phone call from my mother. (How do mothers always know?) She said, “Daddy and Grandpa stopped at Sonic on their way home, and Daddy paged through a Gazette while they ate. Here’s what he found… .”

What Daddy found was an article in the Oklahoma Gazette. And the article was about my book.

As a placeholder for what you’re reading right now, I posted the following on my blog yesterday:

Odds bodkins and gadzooks! My novel is in today’s Oklahoma Gazette!

Read article “Write-hand view” by Danny Marroquin.

Cramazing!

 

Every Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Has Its Silver Lining

And that, my dear inklings, is your Moral To The Story.

Are you having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

I’ve minimized a lot of my worries through witticism and sarcasm in this post. I won’t minimize yours. If you’re struggling with something more serious than budgeting woes and bumps on the head, my prayers and good thoughts are with you. I understand that there is darkness so deep, silver linings aren’t visible. (I’ve been there.)

But if you’re just having a bad day — what’s your silver lining?

It doesn’t have to be something like your first novel’s cover art in the newspaper. (Although that’s pretty freakin’ cool, lemme tell ya.) Your pick-me-up might be a literal ray of sunshine. A smile from a stranger. A call from a friend.

Or maybe it’s chocolate. I ate a lot of that yesterday, too. ; )

How do you turn a bad day around? Let’s talk.