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Good afternoon & Happy Halloween!

You know what that means, right? It means that tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, for one thing – Happy Birthday, Mom!* Also! It means that tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo!**It was a dark and stormy night

So the gist of National Novel Writing Month is that you write a whole novel in 30 days. It doesn’t have to be a poished novel (or even a particularly good novel),*** but a novel. You write every day, you meet your word counts, and you make your story hit the page.

Or, if you’re a poetry writer, you can show solidarity with your fiction-writing friends, by taking on the challenge as a 30/30 – thirty poems in 30 days.****

And guess what! 7 Hills Slam is getting on the bus this year! Every day in November, 7 Hills will post up a prompt on our Facebook page for your NaNo/30 needs. Will you join us? We’d love you to join us! Feel free to post up your stuff to your page and tag it with #NaNoWriMo and #7HillsSlam (#NaNoWorm-O?) so everyone can find each other in this muddle-y, Good Times, inky-ass writing thing ~.o

Here’s to November!

***

*yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay CAKE!
**Also known as That Month When I Realized I Left Half A Draft of a Long Fiction Piece Untouched For Six Months – oops – and try to get back into the swing of it (finish it? Oooo – the possibilities!)
***For reference –

****Yes, haiku count. Because everyone has a frustrated day (or seven) like that someplace in the month. Also, just like in the fiction-y NaNo, there’s no obligation for the writing to be good – just written – so no need to be shy with the page. There will be gems in there among the rocks; it’s 30 days of mixed bag, y’all.

Oh, vacation. As of 3 o’clock yesterday, both Will Dearest and I are on vacation for a week! To celebrate, after work yesterday we grabbed some grocery store lobsters (they’ll cook them for you – joy!) and I steamed up the corn from the farmers market*, and we had a family picnic on the living room floor – which was truly lovely.

While I’m wrapping my head around the idea of a week without waking at six and going in to work, the smallest cat is laying on top of a handled bag from Old Sturbridge Village. He has killed it two tiemz, even tho’ he was frightened of it when it first arrived because it smelled strongly of fudge. I’m impressed with his fortitude and bravery. I am planning to channel his osm spirit in the coming days.

I have some plans for the week: I’m thinking about taking everything out of the sun room and reorganizing it. We are going to paint Man Cub’s room at some point. He and Dearest Will have already taken advantage of the weekend and the good weather to build a (gorgeous!) fire pit in the yard, and we are all eagerly awaiting the cement’s curing to test drive it. I would very much like to get back into my yoga practice, which has derailed over the last month because of Busy. I want to pick up some big pots and some soil, and replant the english ivy that’s looking droopy. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a few days this week.

But first, I got things to do. We have a 2 o’clock slam practice that we’re looking at ending around six tonight. We have a slam team send-off tonight, as they’re to Boston for Poetry Slam Nationals on Tuesday, another practice tomorrow night, and laundry and sundried other odds and ends to handle before we all depart.** Also, I have to order oil and pay the bills sometime today. So I think after Thursday, it will be about really digging into the move-stuff-around-in-the-house business. And going to the movies with Man Cub. I’m looking forward to it, just bringing the focus back home for a little bit.

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Guest blogger today! I am so very pleased, dear reader, to introduce you to one of my favorite people in the whole world, Suzi Banks Baum. Suzi is a fantastic collage artist and half of the Femail  duo, and blogs up a hella good storm over at Laundry Line Divine, She is also the driving force behind the great new book, An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice – which just had its Amazon release. Read on here to find out the backstory to the anthology.

What Was I Thinking?

by Suzi Banks Baum

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy
and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.
To put our art, our writing, our photographs, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation-that’s also vulnerability.”
—Brené Brown Daring Greatly

Vulnerable is exactly how I felt when I invited 35 women to jump into the freezing cold waters of public opinion and share themselves and their perspectives on living lives pumped full with creativity in Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. At that point I knew wanted to put my words and images out in to the world, but publishing a book? Being that public terrified me. So, I figured I’d rather have some co-conspirators.

Years before, I had started writing my own stories about how I spent my days as a mother, what caught my attention internally, and how I righted the boat of my serenity over and over again with small creative acts. I wrote never thinking anyone but a few close friends would read these stories. I was just writing. But in April 2009, I dared to title the writing Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. At a writing conference, I spoke to a literary agent about the work, wondering if there was interest in the world beyond my sphere for a book about how I raised myself as I raised my children. (Please note elevator pitch in the last sentence. “Can I describe my book in 10 words or less?”)

Standing before a literary agent is much like any other moment in life when you are Dorothy at the feet of the Wizard. “Is there anything in your bag for me?” “Could there be another human aside from my best friends who might be interested in my writing?” Standing there, knees clattering (and go ahead, tell me I was supposed to own my brilliance, stand for all mothers, flirt with the agent, shine shine shine), palms slick with sweat, lips dry, eyes blurring, I learned I was to go home and build my author platform. “Come back when you’ve built that,” said the agent.

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Ok, so! Let me tell you what I was super secret squirrel about last week – I made a Thing!

Here’s the scoop – over the last year, Dearest Will & I have been doing yoga together, and both of us have been interested in learning to meditate. It’s been nice that the gentle yoga practice that we do together* has some guided meditation at the end, but we’ve both wanted something more. We tried a yoga nidra cd. We tried some chanting stuff with Deva Primal.** A little flirting with it, right?

And then enter the panic attacks.*** Poor Dearest Will started having them at the end of last year, and has been working with a therapist around that stuff, to some really great success.  A couple months ago, she suggested to him that he should try meditation. Osm, right? She sent him home with some YouTube links, and a mission.

After some browsing the YouTube clips, hilarity ensued, as well as some aggravation on my part – why, for the love of Pete, do meditations always take place on the freaking beach? I find the beach to be one of the most stressful places I can possibly imagine – the heat, the garbage strewn all over the place, the reek of suntan lotion and stale beer, crowds, sand that follows you home and gets into everything you own. Lawdamercy, why??

So I ranted, Will giggled at me ranting, we discussed at length guided meditation clips and what we would both actually want from one. Being a skittery animal  myself,  I held that any good guided meditation should start with, Shh – it’s alright now.

So, in secret, I set to work. I wrote a script. I edited it. I read it out loud to myself and scrapped it. I started again. And again. And a third time, until I got it close to where I wanted it.

Then I emailed my friend Steve. This guy changed my life in 1990, when he handed me a cassette tape with Surfer Rosa  on one side, and Goo on the other side – omogod, blissful noise! Seriously, I had No. Idea.† Anyway – Steve’s still making Good Noise these days, and with that in mind, I asked him if he could do 8 minutes of ambient music suitable for meditation.††

Steve sent me the track he came up with, pointed me in the direction of good (and free to evaluate) mixing software, complete with notes on how to cut and paste pieces and fix volume, and I got the hell on it.

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Ok, so I’ve been awol for a couple weeks, right? Here’s the scoop (anti-scoop, maybe?) –  I’m working on a project that I can’t talk about just yet (it will be revealed over the weekend, and then I can talk about it), and it’s just killing me. I’ve actually been picking away at this for about a month now (ok, almost two months), and it’s all I want to talk about, but I can’t, so instead I haven’t been talking about much of anything. Except the day-to-day business of being around here, natch, and that doesn’t feel really blogworthy. But then I realized that, indeed, things are happening. So let me tell you about things that are happening (that I can talk about)!

I made them a fanceh logo!Let’s start with the part where I got adopted by a slam team. Nono, I didn’t make it onto a slam team.* The 2013 Worcester Slam Team asked me to be their coach, and I couldn’t be more honored to work with such an osm group of poets. Watching them come together with their writing has been really great. Also, I would love these people, even if they weren’t writing super poems – they’re just really great people, and I love being in their presence. I feel a little gifted, really – two of them are housemates, and three of them are the ladies with whom I meet to write on Monday nights. It’s been lovely to reconnect to the slam while not having to actually compete – totally fun!

And I’ve been working on a scarf thing. So I saw this really sweet scarf on Pinterest, right? All made up of tiny little crocheted hexagons – so dainty! So pretty! And I was hoping for instructions at the pin’s website, but alas, it’s a picture of something that a blogger had just purchased. And I don’t know how to make hexagons. So I started to dig around to learn how to make hexagons, but in the middle of researching** I had this (somewhat related) idea that I could make a scarf from different sized circles.

And, whoa – surprise! This has been the Most Relaxing Thing Evar. See, I have issues with relaxing, across the board. I always feel like I should be doing something.*** And having something to do with my hands while Screwing Off On Purpose (what most people call Relaxing), calms that business down like no other thing. Guilty pleasure admission: I love to watch teevee and do needlework. So I’m making this scarf, and all of yesterday was spent in front of Hulu, watching episodes of comfortable junk-food teevee like Merlin, and crocheting circles. I’m about half way to Scarf, and plan on showing it off like whoa when it’s all done.

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Ok, so that sewing kitty gif sat up on the blog for over a month before I felt like I had something urgent enough to talk about to actually write up an entry.* It’s been that kinda of spring, so far. Thank goodness sewing kitty is adorable. Also, if you’ve come to this blog, according to my stats page, there’s an eighty percent chance you’re hungry,**  and there are plenty of recipes on the site, so really I haven’t been terribly worried, right?

Anyway! It’s not just that the rain has had me a little bit slow (holy, carp, I’m tiring of the grey weather!) it’s more than that. I’ve been working on some stuff that has my head in other places, and some days it’s really hard to hone myself to a clear focal point for the blog. Aside from the fact that soccer season is back in swing and I haven’t really adjusted to the schedule change yet, I’ve been working on another book.***

And this book is new to me – loosely, you could call it sci-fi, or urban fantasy (there are no spaceships, but there’s both tech and magic in it), and outside of a handful of short stories, I’ve never really delved into trying to put something like this on paper. I’ve always wanted to (one day I’ll write dragon fic!) but haven’t ever figured out how to navigate the doing. This is seat-of-pants stuff, and as a task-oriented person, and as someone who really likes to have a clear vision of what I’m doing, a little harrowing at times. (Also, I’m one hundred percent sure that this is not a book that I could show to at least four people whom I love very much, as they would cough at the content.)

Which is to say, the going has been slow – I think I started this thing some five years ago as part of a NaNoWriMo attempt.† I put it down for a year someplace in there, when I got stuck. I’ve been picking at it intermittently for what seems like a dog’s age, and cussing at it occasionally. There was a whole summer when I sat in bed and whined something to the tune of, “If I only knew what my staaaaatement iiiiiiiiiis – wahhhhh!”†† I wrote three short stories that happen in the same world, after sitting down to work on the novel and getting sidetracked. I made file after file of drafts, and made a bunch of print-outs. I sat down and made a synopsis. And then another one. I had an idea of the ending, but was fairly hopeless about the execution of said ending. And then I put the thing away again, and didn’t touch it for a while – four months, five months, maybe. Incidentally, that’s kind of a long time for a project  to sit, y’all.

But listen – something has shifted. Someone once described writer’s block to me as the time when your imaginary friends stop talking to you. Well, all of a sudden, they’re talking to me again \o/ And they’re rather chatty, actually. I’ve been nosing into my google docs while on break at work. I’ve been toting a paper printout and a notebook to the soccer pitch when Our Man Cub has a practice. I’ve been keeping a notepad on the bedside.

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You may or may not be asking where the heck this blog went*. So what up, Apple Moskowitz, where have you been? We’ve seen nothing but a kiwi video since freaking Hanukkah, Ms. Maam. For reals, what the hey?

Well! It’s been a bit of a Thing around here at Chez Moskowitz, what with all the holiday stuff.** If you’ve been following along, you know that the family comes in from far flung parts of the States for Thanksgiving, and then things really don’t slow down until about now. I really like now – there’s way less stress, and I can discover cool stuff like if you add a can of mushrooms, a little paprika and a the juice of half a lime to some leftover buttered rice and then warm it in a skillet, it’s a pretty osm side dish for dinner. It’s the little things, friends. It’s the little things.

Also, I’ve taken over handling the Poets Asylum blog – whee! Go check it out – mostly it’s stuff that relates to the Sunday night reading here in Worcester, MA, but there’s also some fun stuff about poultry poetry events out and around the region, info on deadlines and opportunities for poets, breaking poetry news,*** and the occasional cartoon. Good Tiems.

Also I’ve been doing yoga with Dearest Will. Ikr? As my brother said when I told him, “Wow… I guess the floor did feel a little bit colder…” But in seriousness, it’s been really lovely to have a partner for yoga, and to get bendy and bondy at the same time. Speaking of bendy, did you know that Yoga Journal just started another 21 Day Challenge? I kinda loved it last year – they put up different little videos every day so you can try things out.

This year they have two levels of videos – stuff for newbies and then an intermediate level set. This? Is absolutely wonderful on a number of levels. First and foremost, because due to some chronic pain issues (mean old sciatica. Mean old S/I joint), in spite of daily practice, I’m sort of always at the beginner level. Also, Will is just beginning, and hopping in at the deep end really sucks. This year they also have a tracking thing, where you can tick off what you’ve done, and see it laid out for you. I love me some ticky boxes, I do.

Speaking of ticky boxes… Other stuff I adore right now includes 750words.com. It’s a website where you sign up and write every day, and it counts you off to 750 words (see what they did there?) It’s totally private, which means that you can write any little thing at all without fear of broadcast (or accidental broadcast). Also, and this is my favorite bit, you earn badges for your writing – there’s a badge for starting (it’s an egg), there’s a badge for writing 30 days in a row, there’s a badge for writing without distractions (a hamster on a wheel – adorbz), a badge for your typing speed, a badge for participating in their monthly challenge to write every day… You get the picture. Totally fun.

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So December by us is such a flurry full of celebratory business as to make the whole thing nearly overwhelming – actually, it starts in November, with the full family Thanksgiving and my family in town, and doesn’t really slow down until a few weeks into January, but let’s just concentrate on what’s going on by us in this fine month*:

Man Cub and I have birthdays, then Skipper Jane’s comes up. Hanukkah, Christmas, then Will Dearest’s birthday. Then right there, BOOM it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s a good thing I like cake,** I’ll tell ya. It’s a little zooey, and I joke that we hemorrhage money, but I try to take it one piece at a time, and it generally works out.  I’ve finally finished shopping for Hanukkah and the birthdays, and the Hanukkah stuff is wrapped, with just the rest of the Christmas stuff to pick up and wrap, and I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m even a little bit in the spirit of things \o/

Tonight we will sit down to a traditional Hanukkah meal*** of that pasta I made last week that was so yummy, and we’ll light candles and trade presents, and it will be lovely.

Which is to say, A Very Happy Hanukkah (or just a Very Lovely Evening if you’re not celebrating) from our family to you and yours ♥

Also, the Maccabeats have a new video out for the holiday!

(more videos under the cut)

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It was no distress broadcast that saved us. In the end it was a forged map and some boat songs brought us home.

In the giants’ nest someone figured out the math in the hymnals, how prayer is incantation, and the way the sextant seeks the stars. Sums were worked, equations were fashioned, paper was folded specifically. We sang our shanties from the scattered coasts of the Isles of Brides to familiar orchards on familiar cliffs. They stamped our passports when we landed.

By then the figurehead was drunken, but the paper ship had held. Between us, a roll of quarters, a bottle of beer, two lemons, and a dog dressed in motley. Some documents (authentic), bills of lading made for an empty hold, and a book of verse written along the way.

The book and the dog were claimed at customs.  We ate the lemons on deck and passed around the sweating beer bottle. It would be days before we got our land legs back.

Nice! Got all the stuff that involves the oven finished before the house gets too hot to want to cook. There’s a pasta salad chilling in the fridge for after Man Cub’s soccer practice, and bread is baked. I got the dishes (with the exception of the loaf pans, which are still hot) done in the cool hours of the morning, and did yoga before it got warm enough for the cat hair in the carpet to stick to my skin. This afternoon, in anticipation of Thursday’s heat wave, we shall install the ac units, and set up Pretty Pretty Princess Land*. \o/

In other news, I made the fancy yoga mat bag for Zoe! Look! Look!

Zoe had been biking to yoga class with her mat stuffed into her backpack, and it wasn’t working out for her – it bonked her in the back of the head, it got in the way when she looked over her shoulder, and was generally a nuisance. She wanted a big wide comfy strap so she could wear it messenger bag style and have it sit tight and not wobble. Also, the bag needed to be wide enough to accommodate her ittty bitty laptop for visits to the library and sundry other writing expeditions, as well as having a non-rounded bottom so said lappy doesn’t bounce around in the bottom.

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todays

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