I used to think you had to cover your nose when you sneezed to prevent spreading germs, and also to avoid utterly grossing out everyone around you. Ha! Shows how much I knew.
According to folklore, you have to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze, because otherwise your soul might escape! What's more, the devil can enter your body when you sneeze, in which case you need someone else to say "God bless you" in order to drive the devil away.
When you sneeze is important, as well:
"If you sneeze on a Monday, you sneeze for danger.
Sneeze on a Tuesday, kiss a stranger.
Sneeze on a Wednesday, sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on a Thursday, something better.
Sneeze on a Friday, sneeze for sorrow.
Sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow.
Sneeze on a Sunday, and the devil will have domination over you all week."
So the good part is, theoretically, if you have a cold on Sunday, you can't be held responsible for your actions over the next seven days... Who knew that sneezing was so demonically perilous?!
Abhorsen is the third book in a trilogy by Garth Nix, set mostly in the dweomer-rich Old Kingdom, where Charter Magic is set against the corrupted powers of Free Magic, and the Abhorsen is responsible for sending the spirits of restless Dead beyond the Ninth Gate. I'm glad I picked this book up, despite my disappointment with the second one. Where the first novel, Sabriel, was engaging with its entertaining premise and rich depictions of character and setting, I felt that the middle story, Lirael, left something to be desired in terms of plot. Thankfully, this third piece proved to be as enjoyable as the first, and forms a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy. I wouldn't recommend it to my demanding reader of a husband, but I'll definitely be revisiting it sometime when the local bookstore shelves yet again run dry.
Post-Partum Digression: part 4 of an 11-part essay
The Third Month
Four weeks and no morning sickness to speak of later, I was reading on the Internet how I only had 20 days or so left in which I might safely take RU-some-bunch-of-numbers-or-another, the revolutionary abortion pill. I was pretending to explore all the available options, but the truth was that my staunch pro-choice stand was turning out to be more of a stance than a stand. Apparently, while I had gone around all my adult life loudly proclaiming every woman’s right to choose what she would do with her own body, this did not actually apply in real life once the woman and body in question were me and mine. I couldn’t even blame this hypocrisy on my husband’s pro-life leanings, since he’d already told me that the final choice was mine and that he would stand behind me no matter what. No, it was my stomach that was turning and churning at the very idea of abortion. It was undeniable: I was, in fact, a polemical poseur.
Besides, an insidious voice in the back of my mind had started whispering, how bad could it be? I was already at the tail end of the supposedly physically wrenching first trimester, and I was feeling just peachy keen. And would it really mean the end of the world to produce the potentially perfect fruit of the practically perfect union between me and my perfectly perfect husband? It wasn’t as if I was some silly unwed teenager who didn’t even know the art of erotically unrolling a condom. Not to mention the fact that we had evidently managed to beat absurd odds by actually getting pregnant on the Pill while dozens of people around the world sweated and struggled to conceive a child—surely that was some kind of sign, wasn’t it? What’s more, continued the insidious voice, look how much plumper and perkier your boobs have become… and isn’t your hair just fabulous?
Quiet, Insidious Voice, I ordered. Don’t you remember that I am a feminist? Don’t you know that big breasts and big hair are just a male stereotype of feminine beauty? Don’t you recall that women have not only the ability, but the responsibility to be so much more than mere baby factories?
Insidious Voice conferred with my equally traitorous body and produced a resonant burp by way of reply.
I looked back at my computer monitor and found that, by a mysterious search engine mishap, I had arrived at a website called Baby.com. "You will experience increased flatulence throughout your pregnancy," it told me. "This is only to be expected, given that the little life inside you is taking up much of the space inside your stomach area."
It’s not enough that I’ve been revealed as a poseur, I thought. I have become a pod person.