Well-known for her iconic hut perched atop chicken feet and her flying mortar and pestle, Baba Yaga is the quintessential Slavic witch of the woods. Familiar throughout Eastern Europe as the frightening witch who entraps children and young women, she is older and more complex than a mere cannibal bone collector. Baba Yaga is also the wise woman and earth-mother who protects the forest, the animals, and the wisdom of ancient traditions in danger of being forgotten in a modern world. …


Talking to Children About the Election

I am trying to find the words to explain to my children what happened, to tell them where we will go from here, as a family and as a nation.

When Trump first began to garner support before the primary, I made the hasty knee-jerk statement in front of my family that if Trump won the Presidency we would look at alternative places to live. I told them I did not want to live in a country with a fear-based mission defined by misogyny and racism. …


Finding Our Way as Geek Parents

One of the many things that overwhelmed me as a new mother was trying to figure out where I fell on the spectrum of parenting philosophies: Attachment parent? Tiger mom? Ferberization fan? Dr. Sears subscriber? Bringing Up Bébé believer? Not to mention a chorus of friends and family with their own sets of best practices. There were so many voices to sort through…from my mother to Mister Rogers to Super Nanny to Dr. Spock, and so many questions: Will you let your baby cry? Does she sleep in bed with you? How long do you plan to nurse? Will you…


Writing Day at Mary Anne’s. (Photo by Mary Anne Mohanraj)

I spend a lot time thinking about how to reconcile being a mother and being a writer (and not just because I have a new book, Geek Parenting, coming out next month.) I’ve been reflecting upon what it means to be a parent today, compared with the way I was raised.

I grew up with a mother who was wholly devoted to her family. Both she and my father are the children of Ukrainian immigrants who worked grueling day and night shifts in factories and cleaning office buildings. My parents made the conscious choice to always have a parent present…


One writer’s progress toward a stronger, healthier body

Those of you who read Kyle Cassidy’s blog or twitter feed have followed his gym adventures and running milestones over the last few years. He has inspired many, myself included. Part of Kyle’s motivation came from watching as Neil Gaiman started running and eating healthily back in 2011.

I kept thinking to myself that if Neil and Kyle could do it, so could I.

I finally made the commitment, along with a few friends, to begin working out in December 2013.

In the beginning, I despised it.

The first morning we met at the tiny neighborhood gym, I was grumpy…


Reflections on the end of 2013

Louise Glück is my favorite living poet. Snippets of her poetry appear throughout this blog and on my tumblr. I love the music of her language, her mythic sensibility, the beauty and raw emotion contained in each collection of words.

I woke up thinking about this one, her poem “Twilight.” It seemed perfect for the end of the year:

As someone who is nostalgic by nature, I reflect on the past quite a lot, from the ancient history to ancestral stories, from childhood memories to pivotal moments in adulthood.

Something that they all have in…


On loving a writer

1.

Although I love you, I may not see you for hours or days or weeks, even if we live or work together.

2.

When writing, my inbox and voice messages pile up around me until I forget that they are there. My intention is to get to them, but in all probability, they will be lost. I appreciate your efforts to send me repeated messages. I do not see these as nagging reminders. …


A reflection on ritual and reconnection

It’s 2am, and I’m putting lights and garland on the tree.

Earlier this evening, it was a mostly joyful and noisy team effort of uncovering boxes and assembling, and tomorrow, after breakfast, we’ll put on the bulk of the ornaments.

But right now, it’s blissfully quiet.

Everyone else is in bed. Loreena McKennitt is softly playing, I’m drinking eggnog, and I’m reminded of decorating the tree in my first Chicago apartment on Janssen Street in 1995.

That was the year I started my tradition of putting up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. I usually…


Art as an invitation to intimacy

I have a lot of questions.

I was one of those dreamy-eyes kids who tirelessly asked questions, then devoured books looking for answers. I loved college and grad school because they offered some answers and raised new questions, and they also provided me with a context and community to discuss and argue and dream.

Questions inspire me to write.

With my novel, The Silence of Trees, I wondered about the nature of evil. I wanted to know what made people react so differently to a horrible experience like war. …

Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Writer, fueled by coffee.

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