Jeannette Cook was born in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Boston University, she studied law at the University of Detroit Mercy, and was a clerk for the Hon. Steven Rhodes before moving to Brussels in 1997. Two children and a whole other lifetime later, her first poem was published in 2004. Jeannette blogs about writing, motherhood, and life in Belgium at ceci n'est pas une cuisine.
Why do you blog? > I need an outlet that is more dynamic than my journal. I also like the gratification of immediate publication.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The first time a total stranger left a comment.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Participate in the blogosphere. Put in the time.
What are you reading at the moment? > Stasiland by Anna Funder and This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Bleak House.
What is your favourite poem? > 'The Waking' by Theodore Roethke.
What is your favourite song? > 'You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You' by Dinah Washington.
Who is your favourite composer? > Fauré.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > The right to keep and bear arms – the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. I still agree that it is right, but no longer unconditionally.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Johnson vs McIntosh. This is an early Supreme Court case involving the sale of land by Native Americans to an individual. It sets out the 'Discovery Doctrine' – that is, that the US government acquired title to land in North America based on the European model of colonization. According to the Court, Native Americans did not have title to the land, because they didn't use the land in the same way the European-Americans did. For the first time, I saw that the US Supreme Court could be self-serving, instead of just. (Yes, I was very naïve.)
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > In the US, I would institute universal health care. In Belgium, in federal elections, I would allow any candidate to be voted for by any citizen, irrespective of whether the candidate or citizen is from Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Human error, greed or ignorance. The same as it ever was.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Do what you love. Keep doing it.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No. I think that would be torture.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Curiosity.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Hypocrisy.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Oh dear. Sometimes I think that white lies are the grease without which society could not function.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I have difficulty taking creationists seriously.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.'
What, if anything, do you worry about? > If worrying were an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medallist. Top worries involve kidnappers and paedophiles, crazy drivers, and ending up a bag lady.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd learn more languages.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > London. If I could, I'd be there in a heartbeat.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Off the beaten track, in the countryside, near the sea, with a cove-type beach to swim in and cliffs and/or dunes to walk in, a reasonable walking or biking distance from a village with a café and a bakery, but otherwise not too close to anyone or anything else.
What is your most treasured possession? > My notebook. But also my cello.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Rose. I have thought about this a lot, because I love the idea of a pen name.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be a really good dancer.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Manchester United (this one's for the boyfriend).
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I wouldn't change too much except to move to a house with a garden so we could have a dog and a cat. I'd undoubtedly give up the day job, but only so that I could volunteer to do something I like better.
What animal would you most like to be? > I'm pretty happy being human, but if I had to be something else I'd go for being a dolphin.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]