One of these things is not like the other


One of these things is not like the other. And seriously. Major points deduction here.

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“I Think It’s Normal” and Gluttony Broke Up With Me


So, this will be the last update on the health situation, which is, honestly, a pain in the butt, because when I write about it, it still feels like whining. But some people have asked, and it’s just easier to use a super public forum, where everyone can see it, than it is to tell everyone. Because yeah, everyone wants to know, right? I’m super special like that.

So, anyway, the cardiologist said my EKG, “looked funky.” I love it when they’re all technical like that. Overall, he “thinks” it’s normal. Sure, I had cardiac enzymes, but, as he put it, “normal hearts don’t typically do this, but ones that are damaged don’t do this either and don’t look this good. Overall, I think it’s normal.” As for the enzymes, “Well, it’s not entirely abnormal. It’s just not normal.”

A) Uh, what? and B) Doesn’t he know that the  “looked funky” and “I think” parts don’t necessarily inspire confidence? One thing I’ve learned over time, man, is you have to sell the shit out of it. It’s not “I think it’s normal,” it’s “Rock me, Amadeus, this test is so f-ing normal!”

Also, for future reference, the “Oh, no,” and “whoops” during the stress test were not particularly awe-inspiring.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the cardiologist is a nice guy, and frightfully honest. I liked him.

However, at one point, I did actually say, “Oh, no? Really?” I thought they trained doctors better than that. When I worked in the SNF, we had a doctor who said “Neat-o!” to everything that looked interesting.

“Neat-o!” could mean “This patient is in cardiac arrest,or it could mean, “Darn, I just spilled coffee on my tie.” One must admit,  the word neat-o does not inspire fear of death. Neat-o does not say, “Holy shit, what the hell is that?”

It must have rubbed off, because the last time a kid had a seizure in my office, the first word out of my mouth was a really panicked, “NEAT-O!”

And I wonder why no one came running.

As an aside, my own personal doctor, whom I love (I’m not a fan of specialists, but I love my primary), decided today that I have gluten intolerance. So add wheat to the loooong list of things I can’t eat. Eggs. Beef. Gelatin. Fat. And now wheat. (And all of this since the birth of my son, five years ago. I could eat all of this stuff BC–Before Chewey. I also weighed a lot more BC.)

Basically, if that shit tastes good, I can’t have it. Again, decent for the diet plan, bad for my emotional health. As a former fat girl, it’s one thing for food to slowly destroy you. But to do it like this, where I can’t even enjoy my own destruction? So, so unfair. Gluttony is awesome, man. I love Gluttony. We used to be tight.

And now, Gluttony has broken up with me, and I keep begging for him to come back, like some sort of creepy stalker.

So, at this very moment, I’m bidding farewell to my one weakness, Oreos.

Yes, by eating them.

(And yes, I know I’ll feel it later)

 

And Life Moves Along


Despite the minor health scare, life moves on. (The consensus: a wicked esophageal spasm that lasted–yes!–three hours. It sucked. As for the artifacts on my stress test, well, the cardiologist said he couldn’t explain them, so it must be fine, right?)

I might feel like I’ve been hit by a train, but I’ve still got to work. So, I got myself sprung, took a nap, and started doing paperwork.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking the kid to the dentist at 7:30. I might go into work, too. I haven’t quite decided yet. I still feel kind of under the weather, but I guess we’ll see how I feel in the morning.

So, I guess I’ll just have to shake it off, and move along. One thing about my schedule: it doesn’t allow me the time to feel sorry for myself. For long, anyway.

But, so you don’t feel too sorry for me, I’ll leave you with this story:

Hubs and I were in England, on a sightseeing tour as chaperones (of sorts) for a bunch of high school students (Yay? Oh, wait, it was free for us, so YAY!).

So, there we were on the bus, looking out the window, and everyone is sleeping or bored or whatever. Hubs looks over at me and says:

“You know what this place really needs?”

Me: “What?”

Hubs: “A comedy club.”

Me, laughing: “I dare you to take the mic from Tim and start telling dirty Scottish jokes.”

Hubs: “There are dirty Scottish jokes?”

Me: “Yeah. I’ve got about seven or eight of them. They all involve sheep.”

Hubs: Laughs. “Do tell.” (He grew up on a ranch with sheep; he takes it as a badge of honor to know all the sheep jokes)

It became a ritual with us: we’d wait until everyone was asleep , then I’d tell Hubs one of my jokes, and then he’d get up in front of the group, take the mic from Tim, and start telling jokes about Scotsman and their sheep. Until we ran out, that is, and then we switched it the English and their cuisine.

Without further ado, here is the first joke Hubs told on the bus…

How do you know the Rolling Stones aren’t Scottish?

Because the Rolling Stones say, “Hey, you, get off m’cloud,” and a Scotsman would say, “Hey, McLeod, get off my ewe!”

It’s an awful joke, I know. It still cracks me up.

The Cardiologist Only Rings…


So I managed to land my happy ass in the hospital last night, so I’m posting this from my phone. (Shhh, I’m pretty sure my cell phone usage is breaking hospital policy. They’re cutting me slack because of my child care issues)

Of course this happened while husband is out of town.

I’m relying on two different friends to watch my children/get them to school. I’ve texted/called work and let them know. I honestly have the best friends a girl could hope for. Seriously.

One friend came to get me and took me to the hospital. Another friend came over later and watched the kids, and the one who took me to the hospital came back and sat with me in the ER until after midnight.

I’m lucky to have my friends.

When I came in, I told the ER doc (who was pretty hot, as an aside) I was relatively certain I was having an esophageal spasm, with my usual nausea. Lord knows I have enough GI problems that this would not have shocked me. I even said, “And I’m pretty certain that led to a panic attack. I’m certain it’s not a big deal, but…”

So they ran some tests, and all was well. We agreed I could go home at midnight if all remained well.

Two hours later, I’m chatting it up with my friend and feeling much better, when they came back in to tell me that, in my latest round of tests, all was not well.

Dammit, I had them fully talked into not admitting me, so I could go home to my children. But, given the family history, once those tests came back not entirely normal (me, not entirely normal? Shocking!), they basically told me I didn’t have much of a choice.

Crap on toast.

So here I am post stress test, waiting.

I think my stress test was relatively normal. So that then begs the following questions:

Do I get to go home?

Do I have to stay here?

What’s the dealio, yo?

On the upside, I was offered a speech path job at the hospital by the cute hospitalist. I suppose if the school district drives me over the edge, I’ll have my fall back position. (They pay better, too! Private industry always does)

MCC

A Summation and Undead Zombie Soccer


So here’s my week:

1. I’m blogging over at SMP authors today, where I’m chatting about how my husband and I managed to get married right in the middle of midterms my Senior year in college. Oh, and there’s a picture of me eating french fries in my wedding dress, for those of you who are interested. Here’s the link.

2. I’m still thinking about the PhD. I think, between husband and I, we’ve managed to come up with a way that it might be doable. Now I just have to hone my grant writing skills.

3. Work sucked. I have never cried so much about what’s going on there in my life. And then I realized I’m taking this entirely too seriously. I should be able to accept “People are stupid,” and move on, right? So why can’t I just do that? Accept that not everyone will agree with me, and move on?

Don’t know why I have such a problem with people making mistakes. It’s their lives, not mine. After all, I let my kid make mistakes.

Whatever.

Husband says I have to not care so much about work. Not sure how to do that, though.

4. Husband left town for a few days. He’s at gun school, and won’t be back until our anniversary. Actually, it’s a lot like our wedding: we took a long weekend, and then he went to gun school for a week, followed by training… uh… somewhere? We used to joke that we took separate honeymoons. Except that I stayed in my parents’ basement and took midterms; he shot automatic weapons. Oh, wait, that does describe us pretty perfectly. I like school, he likes guns.

5. My soccer team got killed on Saturday. I recognize the success of superior coaching, but in my defense, all of my girls were pretty lifeless. By half time, we referred to ourselves as “Zombie pixies.” Also, when I asked them what they learned during the game, it was,

Kid: “We really need to run faster. Oh, and to score.”

Me: “No. What do you think we’ve learned?”

Kid: “That we are really terrible when we’re tired?”

Me: “Well, that too. But can you think of some things we need to improve?”

Kid 2: “Who brought snacks?”

Me: “I don’t know. Now, before we start the next quarter–”

Kid 3, groaning: “We have another quarter?”

Kid 4: “Duh. We have another half, where we will get eaten alive.”

Me: “We’re zombies, honey. We eat them alive, not the other way around. C’mon, let’s do our cheer.”

KIds: “One. Two. Three. Go. Pixies.” (They could have been saying “Groan, moan, whatever. Pixies” for all the enthusiasm in the cheer.)

Me: Moans like a zombie.

Kids: Moan like zombies and wander onto the field. Slowly. Very slowly.

At least it got a laugh.

The Doubt Monster, and Other Maladies


I had the weirdest dream last night.

In my dream, I was messing around on the web. And I came across a site:

The Best and Worst Books You’ve Never Heard Of.

So I’m reading away. And the books listed under best books were things like: War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, The Great Gatsby, 50 Shades of Gray. And I’m thinking, “What kind of ding-dong wrote this list? Everyone’s heard of these books!” And, for the last one, “Dude, really?” Because one of those things is not like the other. One of those things just doesn’t belong. (No, seriously, no slight, but really? I’m not a huge fan of erotica, but I like it well enough. I just don’t see myself studying it in college. Awkward!)

So then I get to a list entitled, Worst Books of the Century.

First on that list. Yeah, look to your right. Mmhm. It was The Marker, followed by Manos, Hands of Fate, which I think is only a movie. There were some others there I don’t remember.

In my dream, my thoughts followed a progression that I am sure, in some way, mirrors the stages of grief.

“Whoever wrote that list is a total dick!”

And then, “Hey, someone other than my friends read my book! And cared enough to make a list! Hating it is caring, right?”

Then: “My friends are the dicks who cared enough to put my book on the list!”

And, at last, acceptance: “Either way, someone read it!”

So, thank you, Doubt Monster. You make other people fix their works and make them better. Me, you give weird, totally unhelpful dreams that scream, “This person has issues with self-esteem!” (I sure do, but I have very little shame, so I guess I’ll post about it. Somewhere, some psychology doctoral student is just wishing he had someone like me to study. And Freud, bless his little lifeless heart, would have a field day with me)

MCC

To PhD or Not to PhD… That is the Question.


It’s been a super crazy week here in Meggan-land. Actually, it’s been a crazy couple of months.

Other people do personal posts really well–they’re poignant or funny or simply deeply honest.

I’m not certain I’m that person. I think my personal posts are… whiny. Which, since I listen to an absurd amount of whining, just makes me go ugh.

So, consider yourself warned.

After a really long week of dealing with bullshit, getting drooled on, being insulted (twice!), being told, essentially, that I’m useless, I’ve come to following conclusions.

I love my job.

I hate all the bullshit. (And Lord, there’s so much of it)

So that got me to thinking: what do I want to do with myself?

I have a couple of options: I could ask to switch locations (don’t want to do that, not really. It’s the same everywhere, and at least now my commute is short). I could look for another job (meh). I could get a PhD.

Uh, what? A PhD?

And the more I thought about it, the more I was like: Yeah! Let’s do that.

Now, if I have one virtue (and I’m pretty sure I only have one), it’s that I am very self-aware. Painfully self-aware. I understand my own motives, even if I think they’re less than honorable. I get me. I’ve learned, over time, that not everyone has this particular skill set.

My reasons for wanting the PhD are multifold:

1. I always wanted a PhD, but it took me about five years to get over my Master’s thesis. And then I had a baby. And then I had another one. And now I have debt.

2. I like academia. No really. I love the research, I liked designing my own study, and I have a bunch of questions I can’t find the answers to.

3. I think it might be fun to teach adults.

(Husband’s question on this point: Do you really think you could teach something you’re really passionate about to a bunch of adults who don’t give a shit?

Me: Sure. Not sure how that’s different from what I’m doing now.)

4. People in my field respect the PhD in a way they don’t respect the MS.

5. I really like being right. I like it even better when people respect my rightness (Like that sentence? Me too). Because, in this country, teachers get very little respect. You know the old adage: Those who can, do. Those who can’t teach. The adage is complete crap, by the way. You can’t teach it if you can’t do it.

6. Oh, and the timing is good. Or, to put it better, it’s the best it’s ever going to be, at least until M can retire.

(Like I said, not all my reasons are honorable).

But I have to weigh my reasons for wanting to get more education against the cons. So here they are:

1. Money

2. Time

3. I don’t want to completely remove myself from the clinical side of things. I actually like the kids. I like the puzzle of figuring out what’s going on with them. It’s my favorite part.

4. I seriously just paid off the Master’s degree last year. Can I really do that to myself again?

5. Money

6. Time.

I’m already super busy with the full-time job, the kids and their various activities, and the writing gig. I know something will have to give. I don’t know what. It can’t be family, because I’m not completely driven by my career. I like it, but I’d give it up in a flat second and work at (Insert local burger joint here) for them if I had to.

The job I need to pay the bills. I have two little mouths to feed. I can’t afford to spend a fortune in loans. I’ll never retire if that’s the case, and God knows I’d retire tomorrow if I could get away with it. With a Master’s degree, I can work just about anywhere (except in academia). We could afford the cost of my tuition if I was working full time–it’s not so different from day care, actually. But I don’t know if I can work full-time and get the PhD. I rather suspect I can’t.

Also:  I don’t need a PhD. I want a PhD.

I want something new and different.

If I had my druthers, I’d be a full-time writer. Alas, there’s a lot that needs to happen for me to be able to do that. For instance, I need to write a book that actually brings in money after I’ve paid for all my stinking advertising.

So, until I am making Stephanie Meyer money, I guess I’ll have to settle for the day job.

I wonder, am I in the middle of a midlife crisis? I think this means I need a Ferrari and a boob job.

Oh, wait, the way my luck operates, if I went in for a boob job, I’d come out with testicles.

I guess I’ll have to continue to contemplate the PhD.

MCC

However, I am taking donations for a Ferrari if someone’s buying. Oh, and would you mind paying the student loans? That’d be great.

Writing Wednesday: Narrative Mode


All right, so this post is actually more about me and my preferences, rather than what makes good writing.

Lately, I’ve read a couple (2 or 3) books that use both first person and third person narratives. In the books I’ve read, it’s been first person for the heroine, but third person for everyone else. In one of them, the third person narrator wasn’t even the hero. It was literally everyone BUT the hero. His son. His mother. His best friend. I was shocked when the cat’s narrative wasn’t among them.

I HATE THIS.

In the first novel I read that had this construct, I thought, “Well, that’s an interesting experiment, but… ugh.” I firmly believe it was well done for what it was, but the transitions were jarring.

To me, it’s a lot like having too many perspectives when you haven’t written an epic. It smacks of either author hubris, or an author who doesn’t have enough plot to make it all the way through, so she has to go back and add something. Or, worse, an author who falls in love with her male lead (or other characters), but doesn’t have the ability or the desire to show us why the hero is such a great guy from the heroine’s perspective. We simply must have his perspective, too. Only, not in first person.

I think I could have handled it better if I’d had multiple first person POVs. Better than having both first and third. It’s either a clever literary device, or it’s laziness. And either way, you don’t want your readers thinking about your motives while they’re reading your book. Because that means they’re not paying attention to your story.

In the next book I read with this same construct, it was even more jarring, because the third person narrator was unclear. As in, it would start with the hero alone in a room. Okay, it will be from his perspective, right? Then, a friend of his comes in, and we get some stuff from his perspective. Is it omniscient? Uh, no. It was omniscient for about three lines, but, for the most part, it was a limited third person from a minor secondary character’s point of view.

This is for purely selfish reasons, but I beg of you: DON’T DO THIS.

I’m not saying this as a writer. Both of these authors had Big Six contracts, and I’ll be honest: sure, I’m published, but I don’t have one of those. They probably got advances, and I didn’t. This isn’t about writer jealousy or sour grapes.

This is me, Meggan Connors, the reader. DON’T DO THIS.

Both books had good stories behind them, stories I really liked. Both books are Book One in a series. Both books had a huge marketing campaign behind them (okay, there may be sour grapes about that).

But what I remember the most about them? The 1st person/3rd person crap. I wanted  to like this device, because I liked the stories. I enjoyed the first person story A LOT. I did finish both books, which says something, because, given how short my time is lately, if I loathe a book, I put it down. I wasn’t always this way–I used to finish every book I started, no matter how much I loathed it. But now, I have too much to do, and too little time to do it. It’s why I’m currently having a love affair with my crockpot. Without the crock, my family would never eat.

I don’t want my readers remembering more about a craptastic literary device I used than they do about the story.

Because I’ll be honest, I didn’t buy Book Two of either series, and I don’t really want to. Not because the stories and the world building weren’t great. They were. But because every time the story transitioned, I had issues. Every time it would start out in third person, I’d think, “Oh, no, not again.”

If you want to write in third, then write in third. If you want to write in first person, then do that. But don’t do both. Make up your mind and stick with it.

I, as your reader, will thank you.

–MCC

Welcome Author Tracy Hewitt Meyer!


 

I’d like to welcome author Tracy Hewitt Meyer to The Bodice. You can check our her book, Wren’s Fantasy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Soul Mate Publishing. Without further ado, here’s Tracy!

Ever in search of a fresh, light, and subtle perfume to call my ‘signature scent’, I found myself at the local mall the other day. Perusing the brightly-lit counters in a major department store, my head spinning from the heady scents that hung in the air, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. I didn’t want anything too strong, too light, too expensive, too cheap. I wanted a scent that evoked my personality. Can a perfume do all of that?

Then I couldn’t help but wonder, how do we, as writers, use scent in our stories? Scent can create memories, inspire love, lure others to us. It can reflect a heroine’s personality, much the same way I want my signature scent to reflect mine. I don’t wear spicy, heavy perfumes because that’s just not me. If your heroine is a red-headed, salsa-dancing man-killer, she might wear that kind of perfume.

Scent is just one more way that we define the character of our book. But if the reader can’t actually smell the scent we’re describing, can it work? When we read a book, usually the only smell is of the page we’re holding, or the remnants of dinner, or a lit candle. But our heroine must smell nice. We have to use words to ignite a physical reaction in our readers, where they can almost smell the heroine’s intoxicating scent floating right off the page.

What’s the trick to incorporating scent into a story? First of all, you must use a scent readers can identify with. You might like how swamp milkweed smells, but if a reader doesn’t know it actually has a nice fragrance, and most probably won’t, your heroine ends up smelling like something the cat dragged out of the dirty creek down the road.

Common scents are, of course, flowers:

  • jasmine
  • lavender
  • roses
  • violets
  • lilies

The Duchess of Cambridge left a trail of gardenias in her wake as she walked down the aisle to marry her prince.

Common, well known herbs that are used in perfumes are

Your heroine can also smell like vanilla and fresh air. Use your imagination! If you do use a scent that many might not have heard of, make sure you describe it with detail so rich, the reader feels like she is there in the room. How to describe a scent? Research that scent on the internet or at the library. Use the descriptions written to help shape your own take on it. It would be even better if you could find the source and take several sniffs yourself. Then form your own opinion.

So, did I find my signature scent? I did walk out the door with a small bag, a little glass bottle tucked inside. Only time will tell if it’s my signature fragrance or not. But I’m wearing it now as I type this blog and I have to tell you, it smells like wild flowers kissed by a new morn’s rays – warm, fresh, and slightly sweet.

I’d like to thank Meggan for hosting me today. I had a blast! Now tell us what your favorite scent is and have you ever used an unusual, atypical smell in your novels? If so, how did you describe it? If you’d like to see how I handle scent in my stories, please check out my website for more information. http://www.TracyHewittMeyer.com.

Cheers! Tracy

So, Bodiceites, Tracy has been generous enough to offer up a copy of her book, Wren’s Fantasy, to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite fantasy hero (books or movies). After all, we’re always looking to expand our reading lists here at The Bodice.

(And here’s a peek at Tracy’s book! It looks great!)

 

MCC and the Goldeneye


So the other day, I was watching The Princess Bridea fantastic movie, btw–and thinking about a friend of mine. This is a friend I’ve mentioned before: Red. She’s since passed on, and you’d think that watching a movie that we watched together (more than once) would make me maudlin, but it didn’t.

Instead, it got me thinking of the last movie we saw together in the theater: Goldeneye (I just totally dated myself).

In any case, we were in college, and I was enrolled in a course called “Environmental Literature: The Importance of Place” or something uppity like that. I was an English Lit major (eventually, I took enough Linguistics courses to major in that, too), so of course I took classes that sounded pretentious. Thing was, I loved this class (I loved skipping it, too, but that’s a story for another day). I still enjoy reading Rick Bass, Terry Tempest Williams, and others. The landscapes they portray are quite lovely, and I’m a girl who likes setting, so when I see that Rick Bass has written an article for one magazine or another, I’ll always buy it.

And then we got to the section of the course where we talked about “erotic landscapes.” I remember reading our text and going, “Oh, my.” If you’re feeling “fingered by the desert,” or some nonsense like that,  then, uh, great? I didn’t know dirt and sagebrush could do that. I’ve lived in the desert for most of my life, and I can tell you one thing: the desert doesn’t do jack for me, but if it did, I wouldn’t stick around to enjoy it. I’m pretty certain it’s the sign of the zombiepocalypse.

I digress.

So, anyway, I wasn’t entirely mature enough to take “erotic landscapes” seriously (Truth be told, I’m still not, because I still laugh until my sides ache at some of that imagery), but I was mature enough to apply it everywhere I went. Including at the movie theater.

Imagine, if you will, this scenario: an inappropriate female, whose mind is somewhat dirty, who is currently studying “erotic landscapes,” and who goes to see, of all things, a Bond movie.

Freud had nothing on me that day.

Everything had sexual connotations. Even the popcorn had some sexual connotation. And there I am, with my very proper friend (she couldn’t have been that proper, because she liked hanging out with me, but that’s beside the point), and during the movie, I’m howling.

I thought that movie was the funniest thing I’d ever seen in my life. But I didn’t keep it to myself and giggle quietly. Nope. In my obnoxiousness, I had to share it with her.

The beaches: “Oh, look at his waves, lapping her silken shores.”

The guns: “Look at him stroking his big gun. She wants to stroke his gun until it fires.”

Airplanes: “I bet he wants to put his plane inside her hangar. Over and over and over.”

And when the missile silo opened up, and the missile rose up out of the water, I was laughing so hard I could barely choke out something vaguely coherent. Something about her “hot, wet chalice” and his “rising missile.”

Luckily, the theater was relatively empty, so I don’t think I disturbed too many people. Mostly just my friend, I suppose.

It’s so terribly immature, and yet, to this day, I can’t watch Goldeneye and not laugh, even though, once, I managed to keep my comments to myself (I was with my grandmother. Even I have a line I won’t cross. Doesn’t mean I didn’t giggle during the movie.). I get that the movie isn’t supposed to be as funny as I think it is, but still. It’s Hi-larious.

Maybe it’s held on to its “funny factor” because of who I was with that day. We never saw another movie in the theaters together–I went to Europe and she went to school out-of-state, and once she came back, she was too tired to go out to see a movie with me–and so this movie has a special place in my heart. Of all the people in the world, Red was the one who most appreciated my sense of humor (besides Hubs. That man gets me). Oh, she tried to downplay it, and sometimes she would act like she disapproved (while she was laughing, of course, which just made me try harder to be worse), but once she got sick, whenever I would go over there, she seemed to make sure that whatever movie we watched would allow my inappropriate flag to fly. (That was a horrible sentence. My apologies. And yet, I think I’ll leave it. The benefits of having a blog–there’s no editor to tell you no!) But I can tell you all this: we watched movies where I could make her laugh by saying something outrageous and suggestive. I’m pretty sure we watched Goldeneye more than once.

I can guarantee you, we weren’t watching Beaches or Old Yeller.

Here’s my list of special movies:

1. Goldeneye

2. The Princess Bride

3. Two Days in the Valley (first movie I saw with Hubs. Lots of violence–Hubs’ version of a romance. That and Terminator.)

4. The Incredibles (when I first saw this movie, and Jack-Jack turned into a flaming demon, I thought, “Whoever wrote this had a kid with colic,” because Lord, that reminds me of Monk when she had it. Every time we watch that scene, Hubs and I will exchange The Look and start to laugh).

5. And, go ahead and judge: Zorro the Gay Blade. It’s what Red and I watched when we weren’t watching Goldeneye. Also, I have a thing for George Hamilton’s tan. Not George Hamilton. His tan.

What about you? What movies are special to you, and why?

Leave a comment, and, uh, I’ll wish a pony upon you. That would work, right?

–MCC