Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Falling, Falling

Because of passport issues, we stayed on the American side of the Niagara Falls (the less-pretty-not-quite-as-spectacular side). We went off-season, so many of the attractions weren't open.  But thanks to climate change, we had some awesome weather for mid-March: sixties and seventies and sunny.

The first day we walked right up to the falls.  You can get right up to them!  You could jump, if you were so inclined!  And because it was a weekday and, again, off-season, we didn't have to fight a crowd to take pictures.

Friday and Saturday we explored some of the wineries in the region.   Most had opened in the past few years after growers discovered the climate was perfect for wine; Welch's Grape Juice had gotten their concord grapes there for years.  There were some excellent dry whites and dry reds (my favorite) but their sweet wines weren't bad either.  Tastings were about five for five dollars, or four for four.  We brought six bottles home.

Two last highlights of the trip: 1. Walking to a nearby casino in the pouring rain, a couple offered me fifty dollars for my umbrella (I refused--it's a horrible umbrella that flips inside-out when there's a five mph gust of wind, and I'd bought it in Notting Hill, London!) 2. Inside the casino--smoky and slightly depressing, we chose a penny slot machine, spent two dollars, won thirty,  and promptly left.  If only I'd sold the umbrella, I'd have come up $80 ahead!

It was good to get away, even for a short while.  Now back to 40-hour work weeks and book edits!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Road Trip!

Tomorrow we drive to Niagara Falls, NY, for a short trip.  Neither of us have been there, and it's about an eight-hour drive from Cincinnati--not too bad.  I finally get on full time with benefits, and the first thing I do is use my vacation hours.

I'll consider it a present to myself :)

On an unrelated note, "The Hunger Games" open this weekend.  I reallyreallyreally want to see it.  I've been mildly obsessed (is that an oxymoron?) with all things related to the movie, but I'll have to wait until I get back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Modest Proposal

Last week, a county board of commissioners in North Carolina rejected a “state family planning grant that would cover contraceptive supplies along with other medical services related to family planning.”   Chairman Ted Davis said, “If these young women were responsible people and didn’t have sex to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”  

We’re in the midst of a war on women—specifically, women having sex outside of marriage—and a good solution has been hard to find.  Shame and stigma doesn’t work anymore.  Gone are the days when pregnant young Suzie is sent to stay with her aunt until the baby is born.  Now, teen moms are celebrated on television.  Unfortunately, the Constitution prohibits us from arresting consenting adults for having sex. 

What about the church?  The Catholic Church promotes abstinence outside of marriage and discourages the use of birth control even within a marriage. But studies show most Catholic women have used some form of birth control.  How often do we see huge families anymore?  That can’t all be due to the rhythm method.  In fact the Catholic Church has done such a bad job discouraging sex outside of marriage and the use of birth control among its own members, that they’re actively fighting the federal health care law that require insurers to cover contraception.

Clearly we’re going about this all wrong: shame, legislation, and God have not stopped women from having sex.   No, in order to seriously reduce the number of women having sex outside of marriage, we need to make sex for women as undesirable as possible.  We do that with three little words: Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been practiced for centuries in parts of Africa and the Middle East.  There are a few different kinds of FGM, but the most common procedure involves cutting off a girl’s clitoris.  She may be two weeks old or fourteen years old.  Without the clitoris, sex for the girl will not be pleasurable.  She will still be able to have sex and get pregnant, but because the act itself may be painful now, she will surely wait until she is in a happy and stable marriage.

Now, some short-term problems have been associated with FGM, such as infection, hemorrhaging, and psychological trauma.  But once trained doctors are performing the procedure in a hospital environment, the number of infections and death by hemorrhaging will decrease if not disappear completely.  And if the cutting takes place while she’s still a baby, she’ll no more traumatized than a boy is from his circumcision.  

Imagine a generation of women growing up, not wanting sex.  Imagine the money we will save not having to pay for birth control or unwanted pregnancies.  Without physical desire to distract her, she can concentrate on school, her career or, better yet, her husband!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good Timing

Today I was offered a full-time position at my library, complete with benefits and more responsibility.  When full-time positions opened in the past, I was reluctant to apply.  What about writing?  What about my dreams?  But every day I edit.  Every couple weeks I meet with my writing partner, which really helps me focus on improving chapters I've written.  I'm headed toward the finish line.  And I'm confident that no matter how many hours I'm working, writing will remain a central part of my life.

This evening, though, I'm just excited about paying off my student loans sooner.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


For those not using google reader, I've changed my site layout.  My old one wasn't very customizable, and I couldn't adjust the length of the column to add a button for Amazon.  We'll see if this one sticks, though.  It's kind of girly.

After discarding some horrible title ideas for my book (the funniest, most horrible one was "The Agnostic Godmother"--ha!), I've settled on one that doesn't sound awful.

Actually, when trying to come up with a title I took the advice of a blog post by the literary agent Rachelle Gardner.  First, determine the genre and tone of your book.  Then, go to Amazon and find twenty or so books in the same genre that have titles you like.  Write them down and think about what you like about them.  Then, setting that list aside, brainstorm words and phrases associated with your own book; nothing is off limits.

I wrote down a lot of words and ideas, but it wasn't until I started thumbing through my draft that I'd transferred to my Nook that I came across an apt phrase that I think might work.  When I hand out my first draft to my beta readers, I'll offer them money or cookies if they can think of a better title.  But it feels good to have one in my head.  I'll mention it here once I've tested it and received assurances that it is, indeed, better than "Another Mother," "Temporary Mom," and "The Agnostic Godmother."

From what I understand, a lot of book titles end up being chosen by the agent of publisher, so it could easily change (ha, I'm pretending that I'll find an agent or publisher... it's nice to dream!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Four Years

I'm in a bit of a blogging rut.  I keep thinking of things I want to write about--Iran or the assault on women's rights, for example--but by the time I make it to my computer I feel diminished.  What do I have to add to these topics?  What makes my own perspective unique?

Anyone who's maintained a personal blog has likely asked themselves these questions, and I've certainly asked them many times over the past few years.  Actually, Sunday, March 11, will be the four-year anniversary of my first post.  I initially created it as a place to post photographs and remember parts of our trip to London.  At the time, I was still wary of writing too much personal information in a public space, so I didn't provide much context.

In March, 2008, my brother and I (and my friend Nancy) flew from Cincinnati to London to see my dad, who flew there from Kenya with my other brother, who met him in Nairobi a week earlier.  This had been my dad's first extended trip to Kenya, six months, and seeing him safe in London was surprisingly emotional for everyone.  He leaves again next week, after spending nearly three months in Ohio.

London's Gatwick Airport, March 2008; we're hoping to get a flight home

I'm still editing and revising; today I topped 80,000 words.  Things I've had trouble translating into blog posts have been much easier to talk about in fiction.  Maybe I should throw in an Iranian subplot?