Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Woman Who Stole My Ideas.

Dear Stephanie Meyer,

I have returned home from the movie theater, where I went with my brother, sister, and her husband to see Twilight, which is based on your novel.

I will say these general things first:
1. The actor chosen to play Edward was really hot, sure, but good heavens, we get it, he's intense. Please send a memo for him to lay off all that jaw clenching and eye squinting in the next movies. It needs to be turned down a notch. Otherwise he was nearly a joy to watch. *ahem*
2. I liked the story but sometimes I wasn't sure if the dialogue was supposed to be funny or not. I get the whole teenage thing, because I am only 26 years old and remember all too tenderly those years, but at times when we laughed we were the only ones laughing because we were the oldest ones in the theater. Were those jabs at teens? Or an attempt to connect to them?
3. The scenery was beautiful. If I could go back to being 14 and 15 I might move the setting of my vampire novels to Washington state but I don't want to copy you.

Which brings me to the less general...


Really, Mrs. Meyer, I was pretty stunned by the similarities between my vampire novels of my days of yore, and your Twilight-etc, storyline. I actually WAS a teenager when I was writing those stories about Lydia, Jeremiah, and Lucas and their struggle between humanity and vampirism, so I never made fun of teenagers, so there. And my vampires didn't sparkle in the sun (seriously, whaaaaa?) and go to the prom.

BUT my vampires didn't kill humans (except in self defense- Jeremiah once saved Lydia this way) and they lived in a large, beautiful, secluded home where they could live their quiet, gentle vampire lives without nosy neighbors asking them to come to the barbeque which they could never be able to go to because of the sun! Also when they live out in the woods, it's easier to hide the carcasses of the animals they've sucked dry instead of people.

My lead vampire man loved his lead human lady fiercely and was irresistibly drawn to her sweet scent, her mystery, her beauty. He had been waiting "forever" for her. He was also torn on the decision to make her a vampire. "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb," you wrote. That was good. But I'm still mad.

Because even though I am working on other stories I was aiming to return to my vampire novels someday and finish them. Because I am no longer 14 or 15 years old I was thinking about making my vampires older too, but still, after all this Twilight craze people will be bored with vampire stories just like after the Interview With a Vampire movie came out in like 1994, there were no other major moves in literature or film to recapture that same fascination with the immortal and undead.

It's been fourteen years and now you're here, after you found my spiral bound notebooks in the landfill or something that had my handwritten stories and put your own twist on them, and what, am I supposed to wait another fourteen years for your hype to die down? Until I can put the market ablaze with what used to be my original ideas? I mean, by then I'll have to make my vampires forty years old because when I am forty I won't want to write about twenty-something vampires. And then Jeremiah's struggle with stealing Lydia's human youth and being responsible for her life of blood-sucking animal carcasses in the woods (I mean, she was vegetarian for Pete's sake!) will have less pull on my audience. Not that I think forty is old, but it is when your whole story exists because of the sweet, vibrant teen/young adult blood of your main female character.

Despite all this, I mostly forgive you and enjoyed watching Twilight and I will try to read ahead in the series before the next movies come out. Because I'm curious to see how my series would have evolved. wink.

It's ok, Stephanie Meyer. I'm just messing with you. I don't imagine there being an actual giant chasm between all teen vampire story ideas. I mean of course the girl is sweet and young and pure and doesn't mind giving up her summer tan and mortality for the man she loves. Of course the leading man is handsome and mysterious and yearning and drawn to her. Of course there's a struggle over mortality, immortality, eternity, damnation, blood, blah blah blah.

But is it ok that since I am at least eight years older than your target audience, I thought Bella's dad was hot? Yet another eternal question...

xoxo, Nora McCourtney-Wolf

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

recent and random

...Just when I said Liam runs warm anyway, he's come down with a fever and has been alternating between being a little crankypants, a sillypants, and a cuddlypants as a result.

...I've drank (drunk? dranken? drinked?) two quarts of peach iced tea in 24 hours. I am showing no signs of slowing down.

...My brother's coming in tomorrow for Thanksgiving and staying here, woo!

...I am still freaking out a little about Thanksgiving being here this year.

...matt pond PA released a free EP for download and I am listening to it right now. Beauty abounds. Find it here: freeep at the new website

...I am doing an art show in December.

...I found Everything Pretzels, which are like Everything Bagels but pretzels. Goodness abounds.

...I haven't read the Twilight books, but judging by the movie trailers I have seen on TV, this Stephanie Meyer lady found my old handwritten transcripts of the vampire novels I was writing and abandoned when I was fourteen and fifteen. The only difference I can see is, my story didn't only take place in a dusky, gloomy wood. This all means I can probably never finish my old vampire stories because they'll be lost in the flood of vampire books that will be published to keep up with the vampire mania, kind of like all those forgotten Harry Potter-y and Lemony Snicket-y books that have flooded the market in recent years. No one ever reads them. And dang you, Stephanie Meyer, for like digging in my trash or reading my mind or something.

...I FOUND MY OWL NECKLACE, which I have probably never mentioned here before so you're probably like, So? What? This owl necklace from BoyGirlParty was a birthday gift from Gabe last year, and it went missing all spring and summer and most of fall up until yesterday. Which means since my birthday last December, it spent more time lost than on my neck. I was so sad and embarrassed for losing it. I found it yesterday in my coat pocket. Which I have already worn several times this year and several times last spring. Oh, Nora. OH, NECKLACE! I now have my eye on this octopus one, and if I ever get it I promise not to lose it.

...Seriously. This EP is good.

xoxo Nora

Monday, November 24, 2008

celebrity blahhhh

We are sitting here watching E! because we like The Soup, then we zoned out on our laptops during the show about the Playboy bunnies, and then E News came on and I looked up.

Seems Heidi and Spencer have tied the knot in a secret wedding, and, surprised, I wondered, "What!" out loud. Then I forgot about it and looked at my laptop again.

Gabe tsked. "I can't believe you just cared. That's sad, Nora."

For the record: the only part of The Hills I've ever seen are when they make fun of it on The Soup, and I happen to think that Heidi and Spencer are pretty useless, even as forms of entertainment. To borrow a phrase from Joel McHale, I am disturbed by Spencer's "flesh-colored beard" and Heidi... put some clothes on.

In other celebrity news that has no effect on my life, Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz named their son Bronx Mowgli. There better be a good reason for that.

I am all for unusual names but I wonder what it is that comes over celebrities when they are naming their offspring. These aren't pets who get to pull off cool names. They're human children. And because their parents are famous, not only can an entire classroom or school bus make fun of these kids with wacky names, but the entire world can have a good chuckle about it too. And BLOG ABOUT IT.

I like to think that these kids who've been announced into the world as Pilot Inspekter, Banjo, Kal-el, Poet, Audio Science, Bluebell, Poppy Honey, and Daisy Boo actually are named things like John, Elizabeth, Jacob, Sarah, Sam, and Iris but their parents are just playin' with us. Because they should not be playin' with their kids like that.

I purposefully left Apple off the list above because I actually think that's a cute idea. Apple. Aww. I said I was all for unusual names.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear Mother Nature, where the EFF did you come from??

So, the last week of October was pretty cold. In a good way. Crisp air, clear sky, sparkly stars overhead at night. And then the first two weeks of November were warm and wet. I don't think the sun peeked out for more than a hour during that stretch. It was either raining, or threatening to rain, with lighter-than-air water droplets suspended in the air, sticking to my eyelashes, making my hair think it's supposed to be curly.

(It's not.)

And now. Holy moly! It's suddenly below freezing and we've had some fleeting, forgettable flurries. (I still won the snow bet with Gabe, though, since we didn't have any snow that stuck before November 10. He owes me a new shirt.)

It's been nice, really. Remember that this kind of weather was my life until I was almost 23 years old, and I've only just come back from the southern sauna this year. I like it. I am not complaining. I do have to dig out hats, mittens and scarves for Gabe and myself, but we did Liam's winter shopping at the end of September before our landlords turned on the heat and we were in a popsicle-ass frenzy over how bone-chilling it was in our apartment. Liam is properly equipped with a puffy hooded winter jacket, hat and mittens, plenty of long sleeve shirts and hoodies, and of course his own internal furnace which seems to be set to near-fever without actually making him sick. We do need to pick up some boots for him, but the actual real snow seems a little further off still.

It's time to clean this place top-to-bottom in preparation for the first Thanksgiving we'll ever be hosting in our home, and stock up on some hot chocolate, and bake with apples and cranberries. I'm going to try my very first anadama bread, which I am both nervous and excited about.

My favorite part of this time of year- the smell in the air, and the clarity of the sky at night. Oh, those stars! They are so much clearer from now until spring than they are in the haze of summer. I love the bare trees against the blue-green dusk, the spattering of puffy clouds, the early stars just shining, shining.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For the love of God, Frankenstein!!!

Dear Upstairs Neighbor,

While I am sure that your cinderblock boots are fashionable in your circle, please refrain from doing the effing LOCOMOTION on my ceiling while you're wearing them.

Thank you!

Nora C. McCourtney-Wolf

The Golden Office

Gabe was laid off from the production/warehouse job he'd been at since June, and a staffing agency placed him in an office full of women who are ages 50+.

Just in case you don't know, Gabe is 25 years old, and he still has holes in his ears from his old gauged piercings, and one of his arms is fully tattooed. So at work now, he's not exactly in his element. Not to mention the cloud of perfume is bad for his allergies.

As an Office fan I have been secretly (because I am not sure he'd think it's funny) thinking of him as Gabe the Temp, like Ryan the Temp.

Gabe has other popular culture references in mind, however. He just texted me on his 15-minute break and told me, "I feel like I'm stuck in an episode of The Golden Girls."

Only my other most favorite show. I replied: "I want your job."

A few moments later I could feel the sadness in his electronic communication. "It's not a funny episode."

No such thing!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

mind yer beeswax

As evidenced by my recent posts, you know I am happy about the outcome of the presidential election.

What makes me severely UNhappy about this past Tuesday is the number of states that voted to ban marriage between two people of the same sex, and the ones that are barring unmarried couples from adopting children. My head explodes with anger and sadness and I have a lot of very bad words to say about the people who think that's ok.

Until I can sort out my thoughts and feelings and say something that actually means something, I'll direct you to AndreAnna's blog, which will direct you to a lot of others who agree with us.

A non-political post will come soon. I know you're all puking on political stuff and I understand. Soon I will tell you how excited I am to be hosting my family's Thanksgiving Day celebration. Because I have been dreaming about hosting it for like sixteen years now.

I know. Maybe I wasn't your average ten-year-old.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

seventeen and four

Today, Liam is seventeen months old.

Also: on this day four years ago, Gabe proposed to me in our empty apartment on the eve of our move to Texas.

Liam and Gabe, I love you more than everything.

This is a big day, hm?

xoxo Nora

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I was lying on the couch at 11 pm, my insides vibrating with anxiety and anticipation. The map on TV was equally blue and red but the electoral votes were tipped in Obama's favor- I wanted to celebrate but I was just afraid of a repeat of the complete and utter disappointment I felt four years ago when Bush was re-elected.

It's still too early, the newspeople were saying. It's too early to call.

Suddenly the TV screen flickered and I saw live footage from Chicago. It was the same live footage they'd been cutting to all night, but this time the vibrating I felt inside of me was all over that crowd and I knew something had happened.

Then I noticed this at the bottom corner of the screen:

And I just laid there thinking, "Already?" How can they know already? Are they sure?"

It took a few moments but I got it: it was real. And I was so, so relieved, and unbelievably happy.

I moved to the floor, eyes wide, hands over my nose and mouth. It was real. President Obama.

I cried. I cried and laughed and wiped my eyes and said, "Oh, thank God."

Liam, concerned over my tears and gasping breaths, came and sat in my lap. He rested his back against my belly and held my hands. He turned to look up at me and smiled reassuringly.

Once he realized mama was crying happy tears he got into the spirit and was pretty happy himself:


I can't even put into words my relief now. I am so glad enough of us were fed up with the direction this country was taking and are so ready for someone new, someone who will make a real difference. I believe he can. Barack Obama, I am so proud to have you as our new president.

In general, I have a lot of faith. I may not go to church but I find God in the sky, in trees, in the ocean, in love, and in goodness. I find him in nature.

Unfortunately my faith in people has been waning sadly as I get older and as I come across less love and goodness. Since becoming a mother, my heart has been waxing and I have just been hoping for more reason- outside of my home and my family- to begin believing again in people's ability to touch others' lives in a generous, warm, and open way.

Today my heart feels closer to full and I happily hold an "O" over it. O for Obama and everything he represents.

There's a lot of goodness coming, I can feel it. And I cannot wait until January.

Thank you.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


In these last hours before the election results I am chewing the insides of my mouth and furrowing my brows in anxiety.

As my son sleeps I know he must dream of things he likes, such as whales, elephants, bananas, water, Sesame Street, blocks, dancing, and laughing.
I also know he dreams of things like compassion, communication, fairness and equality, because those are some of the things he knows about life; that is what Gabe and I teach him. I know of his dreams because I can see the person he's becoming, and he's wonderful.

Liam came with us today when we voted.
He was in his dad's arms as Gabe cast his vote. He smiled at me when I was done, and we walked outside into the warm, golden November afternoon. He doesn't know it yet but he was involved of this day, part of Gabe and I doing our part to make our change. He won't remember it, but I'll remember running into one of my oldest friends, and Liam sitting in the grass with his son, the two little boys smiling shyly together and sharing handfuls of grass because that's what they know: sweetness, kindness, fairness. Openness.

He found a leaf today that was almost as big as he is. To him, that leaf was the world until he had lunch.

I can't believe today is already today, Election Day. Things are about to change, and I hope it's for the better, because I know Liam isn't the only one: There are so many other kids out there who deserve better than the future we're heading toward.

The past eight years have done little good, and I hope tonight sets into motion the next eight years of everything getting better.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor?

This post serves no other purpose than getting this issue off my chest because I am confident there is nothing I can actually do in real life but get over it.

There's this new lady who moved in upstairs. I remember the day she moved in because she took advantage of that day to also have a family reunion in our hallway as everyone she ever gave birth to and all of their kin were yammering and yelling and stomping and running everywhere. I didn't think much of it though; my thought process was more along the lines of "It's nice that her whole family would come and help her," because I didn't yet know I should have been thinking, "They are probably too scared or beaten down to do any differently."

Every Friday since then, it's the same thing. All of her relatives come over and they run and stomp up and down the stairs repeatedly, and they hold conversations with one person right outside my door and the other person all the way up the stairs- two flights up. I know it's Fridays because that's the day Liam spends with my parents every week, and every Friday I think, "Those effers are lucky my son is not napping right now because SMACKDOWN."

Also, she's always yelling to her dog in the stairway, loudly/ obnoxiously/ unnecessarily. You live in an apartment with a dog, you keep them on a leash in all public areas. Common sense: you don't let them wander, and if they do, stop screaming your head off, you crazy old bat. Just go get your animal.

But, whatever. You know. On with life.

A few days ago, we returned home from the pet store where we'd brought Liam to see the birds and fish, and we parked right in front since we were only home to eat dinner and we planned on going out again as soon as we were done eating. The rules of my building are, you park in the back parking lot unless you are unloading stuff or parked short-term. (Two tenants think this doesn't apply to them and park there all the time and block the way, but again, on with life. Whatever.)

This crotchety lady from upstairs happens to come out to let her dog pee just as we're pulling up. As I exit the car the dog trots over to me and I smile. I am not big on petting dogs I don't know so I just say, "Hey, sweetie," and wait by the car talking to Gabe as he removes Liam from the car seat. As the dog is checking me out, the loon upstairs is calling her and the dog's ignoring her. (I can't blame her.) Her voice is getting increasingly loud, and she's obviously incredibly pissed at this point. Finally she just SCREAMS her dog's name at the top of her raspy smoker lungs- instead of just coming over, taking her dog gently by the collar and guiding her inside.

So Gabe looks up, startled, and kind of shakes his head, because let's all agree here: this lady is just annoying and she doesn't need to be all screamy around people she's never formally met.

The lady sees Gabe's subtle reaction and says this, all in one breath: "What, she's goin' deaf, SORRY," and starts swearing and bitching to whoever's unlucky enough to be on the other end of her cell phone. As she pushes- yes, pushes- her dog inside she passive-aggressively adds, "And don't pahk ya cah out front, neithah,"* and slams the door and swears some more.

We go inside and as I am unlocking our door she is entering her own apartment, out of range of our sight, and she slams her door. Twice, for emphasis of how badly she needs attention and/or a muscle relaxer.

Today I was in the kitchen making a tree ornament when the front door of the building opens and I can hear grocery bags bumping dramatically against the screen door and feet stomping. Before I even hear the obscenities I know who it is. Then the yelling starts, "Eff this, eff that, don't pahk out front, eff eff eff, I can't even unload, eff, eff, etc. Am I right?" Some younger voice responds unenthusiastically.

I look out the front window and the driveway is wide open. There's plenty of room for parking and unloading your four bags of groceries. And holy cow! Stop yelling and swearing RIGHT OUTSIDE MY DOOR because I am tired of your stupid bitter voice and your complaining and I wasn't even parked out there and I am obviously the only one who can hear you right now! Even if the men who park in front could hear you, you aren't winning any sympathy from them with your bitching and moaning and stringy hair.

I just HATE that mentality of "If I complain loud enough I will bitch everyone into submission and the world will be mine!" Get over yourself! Really. Trying to sound literate never hurt, either.

Ok, I am over it now.

*In Maine accent this means, "And don't park your car out front, neither," which still isn't proper grammar but, you know... whatever.