POEM: Young at Heart

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“Young at Heart”

 

The oldest person I have known

had paper pale skin that hung

in sheets off her

frail emaciated frame,

a thin wisp of a woman

with silver white hair

and glasses with lenses so thick

they opaqued with light

or magnified her

round eyes anime large,

the bright blue orbs

of a young pretty girl

trapped in an old woman’s body.

 

She wore flowers in her hair.

 

 

 

If you enjoyed that poem, please come to the Massillon Public Library’s Local Author Fair on Saturday, April 14th from 11am – 2pm where I will be reading, along with other talented local authors.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the poem.

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*This poem was inspired by the day 9 prompt for National Poetry Month, courtesy of Cuyahoga Library

*image courtesy of http://publicdomainpictures.net/

 

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Book Review: Kisha Nicole Foster –POEMS 1999-2014

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I first had the pleasure of seeing this poet perform one of her poems at the Cleveland Main Library some time ago. I remember she put her whole body into her performance, projecting her voice, and infusing each syllable with meaning and emotion. This book is a testament to how well her performance poetry works on paper as well as in person.

Some of her poems are abstract, relying on sound and impression to create an emotional impact, so that while I did not know what every line meant, my impressions were strong; moods were set. I could hear and imagine each line as I read, and sometimes I read them aloud to make audible connections I might have missed with a silent reading.

Others are all too clear in their meaning. She doesn’t hold back, so that when you read verses about painful loss and heartbreak, you empathise. Much of her work is deeply personal: reflections on loss and desire and how past mistakes inform the better person she has become today.

Absence of punctuation in some poems aids in the blending of lines to create multiple meanings, not knowing where one thought ends and the other begins. She is adept at using color and imagery, and some lines stand out such as (from “POEM. ONE. FOR. EVERYONE.”)

“let’s tell the truth to shame the lies”

The subject matter varies from one poem to another as well: homages, such as “A Viking Story”; love poems, such as “Say Come Love”; and others that are calls to action or deeply personal such as “UNTITLED.”

“in the cold wind of Cleveland you brought me home

to rewalk the path that I laid

move the mountains I made”

This is an eclectic collection, disparate subjects and styles united by her unique voice. I enjoyed this collection immensely and heartily recommend, Kisha Nicole Foster: poems 1999-2014, to any poetry lover.

Current Events: April 2018

Every April is National Poetry Month, as decreed by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. One of the things I love most about living in northern Ohio is the writing community. Cuyahoga and Cleveland have two of the best public library systems in the entire country–for very good reason: both support their writing communities with literary events and outreach programs, public readings, open mics, and free workshops and classes.

During the month of April, for several years now, Cuyahoga County Public Library has celebrated National Poetry Month each April by giving the community a month of daily poetry. If you sign up for their email reminders, each morning you will wake up to a new poem, a poetry recommendation, and–my favorite part–a writing prompt for the day! I can’t recommend this enough; it’s one of my favorite things about this time of year!

As if that isn’t enough, there are tons of poetry events throughout both Summit and Stark County. I’m going to share a few with you, and I’m really excited to be reading at some of them!

Saturday, April 14th, 1030am-1230pm: (free) Literary Cleveland Poetry Workshop
@ Cleveland Main Library
–bring 10-15 copies of a poem you would like to workshop

Saturday, April 14th, 11am-2pm: (free) Local Author Fair
@ Massillon Library This will be my second appearance at this Local Author Fair. I hope you will stop by and discover some great local talent!

Sunday, April 15th, 2pm-4pm: Foolin’ Around with Poetry
@ South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch of Cuyahoga Library
Meeting Room 162 (20)

Saturday, April 21st, 1pm-230pm: (free) Open Mic Poetry Featuring CSA Student Poets
@ Cleveland Main Library
Literature Dept
2nd floor

Friday, April 27th, 6pm-9pm: Nervous Dog Akron Poetry Night
@ Nervous Dog Coffee Bar
I am thrilled to be reading some of my poetry at this event!

Saturday, April 28th, 9am-430pm: (free) Western Reserve Writers’ Conference
@ South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch of Cuyahoga Library
If you are not lucky enough to live in Ohio, you can still check out your local libraries to see what events they host during the month of April. And email knows no state boundaries, so you can still sign up for the Read Write Poetry emails from Cuyahoga library. No matter what you choose to do, I wish you a happy April!

POEM: Thinking in Poetry

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“Thinking in Poetry”

Narrating my day
as I go about the hours,
silently writing in my mind
that the corn on the cob I examine
is yellow with absorbed sunlight,
its golden white kernels
its own clouds and sun,
huge globes plump with the rain
of so many seasons,
and the taste of spring

the drowsy sun fades
behind the black silhouette
of a springtime tree

the air smells of lilac
or honeysuckle or apple blossoms,
the pungent sweetness
of blooming spring flowers

 

 

 

 

*Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the poem.
*image courtesy of http://publicdomainpictures.net/

Friday Flash: An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days

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Favorite Things Journal

Wednesday, December 20th:

I suppose, in light of what’s happened and happening, I should try to look on the bright side. I kept a Favorite Things Journal before recent events caused the world to fall into chaos, so in the interest of trying to keep spirits up and sanity intact, I shall keep up the practice of only writing the good things going on in my life.

Today I was given the gift of life. An early Christmas present perhaps? We live in a smallish town about sixty miles outside Cleveland, so luckily we were spared the brunt of the explosion. We have sufficient food, toilet paper, and–Thank goodness our well water tastes awful!–cases of water. The food and water does not require refrigeration. We have plenty of batteries. It would seem we prepared for eventualities, but I’m simply a bit of a hoarder when it comes to things like that. So that came in handy.

 

Monday, December 25th:

Merry Christmas to us. My son and I still have enough food to last awhile. We are avoiding tap water, since some unpleasantness in the neighborhood has led me to be suspicious of its contents. However, thanks to some forward thinking, unusual for me, I have been collecting snow to melt over the fire. We don’t normally use the fireplace, so in the absence of firewood I have been burning things around the house. Some things work better than others, though I confess burning the bills was the highlight of my week.

I actually haven’t had to burn any furniture yet. It’s amazing how much crap we can rid ourselves of in a pretty good fire. I had some broken chairs, treated wood unsuitable for burning anyway, so I broke them down and used them to board up the windows and the door. I turn on the small battery powered radio once a day to keep informed. Since we live in a less populated area, the looting has not made it to our house yet.

 

Monday, January 1st:

I should probably write in this journal more, since it’s a new year and all. My son and I are home all day every day, so we have been reading the paperback books and magazines we have, rationing our food supplies, and brainstorming survival strategies. For fun, we imagine breaking into bookstores for new reading material, as well as requisite materials from other places: gas, matches, batteries, food.

Since we no longer have a car, we are not tempted to drive anywhere far, which is probably for the best anyway. The longer we stay home, the safer we probably are.

I’ve found a way to strain the melted snow through cloth and double boil it to rid it of contaminants. I’m sure we’ll be able to go to the doctor, just to be safe, once everything gets back to normal. In the meantime, I will keep writing. When this is all over, this might make me famous, right?

 

Wednesday, January 3rd:

So far the new year continues to smile on us. One of our neighbors finally noticed the smoke from our chimney (why did it take them so long?) and managed to get into our garage. Luckily, I was able to club him over the head with a shovel. I’m contemplating crossing the street to his house and raiding his cabinets for supplies. He might have some meds that will come in handy, since ours are running low. Hopefully, he will have something to help us recover from whatever is wrong. He doesn’t look good, so maybe he was sick too, but now we can raid his supplies so blessing in disguise, right? Only positive things in this journal. Plus, he was pretty thin, so disposing of the body shouldn’t be a problem.

He broke into our home. Breaking and entering. When things get back to normal, we have an airtight case. It was self defense.

 

Friday, January 5th:

Positive things. Positive things. The radio still works. The garage is emptying fast so less to clean come springtime. Hair falling out so less hair to clog the drains. No electricity, so don’t have to worry about a short causing a fire.

Saturday, January 6th:

My pen still works. One less mouth to feed. I’d say he’s in a better place, but there’s no such place…just nothing. I’m glad there’s nothing. I want nothing. I have plenty of aspirin left, so hopefully my exit will be painless. It shouldn’t take many anyway, since I’m so weak. I’m glad there’s no afterlife, because telling off any sadistic deity I’d meet would take too much energy anyway.

 

 

 

 

*Today’s flash was inspired by the fact that I do, in fact, keep a Favorite Things Journal. When things don’t go well, it’s sometimes a struggle to find a positive thing to write, so this story is a natural extension of that. I hope you enjoyed it.

*image courtesy of http://publicdomainpictures.net/

 

Books Read in 2017

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Greetings!

In the interest of seeing how what I consume affects what I produce, I’ve been keeping track of the books I read for several years now. It started off as an entry into an annual library drawing and has since become an interesting way to look back on my past reads. Since the list is long, I will not launch into explanations of every book, though I may describe ones that are especially good or bad.

My list is shorter this year than in the past, partly because I have started reading more periodicals (which I do not list). I’ve also consumed more craft and cookbooks. Since these types of nonfiction are not so much read through as browsed and used as inspiration, it didn’t seem fair to include those titles in my tally unless I actually read them from cover to cover. My other non cover-to-cover reading is primarily Rattle poetry magazine. Poetry requires more thought per page, even though the pages themselves are usually much less than a traditional book.

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Here is a handy little color code, to make things easier:

Ebooks (novels, non fiction, & graphic novels): Red

Audiobooks: Blue

Physical books: Black

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  1. Extreme Makeover: Apocalypse Edition by Dan Wells (ebook via Overdrive)

–one of the most original science fiction stories I’ve read in years. A cosmetics company creates a beauty product that accidentally overwrites your DNA, which naturally has apocalyptic consequences. It’s satirical, funny, witty, and horrific. Every science fiction fan should read this.

  1. Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick (audiobook via Overdrive)

–It’s by Philip K. Dick. What else is there to say?

  1. In the Company of Russell Atkins (poetry anthology) (paperback)

–I read this mainly because I attended the book launch in Cleveland. I had never been exposed to Mr. Atkins’ poetry before. While I can’t say his verse was my cup of tea, the other contributors whose poems appeared in the anthology were greatly influenced by his work. I didn’t love every poem, but those I did, stuck with me.

  1. Aesop’s Fables (paperback)
  2. True Grit by Charles Portis (ebook via Overdrive)

–Every year the Massillon library and the Massillon Art Museum collaborate to promote a book for the NEA Big Read. True Grit was the 2017 selection, free copies were available all over Massillon, and the Massillon Art Museum’s main exhibit featured costumes from the movie adaptation.

I’ve never been a fan of westerns, but this book, told by the main character about an adventure from her childhood, made me reconsider the genre. The things I didn’t like about the other westerns I’d been exposed to was the lack of characters I could identify with, their overwhelming machismo, and the stereotypical depictions of cowboys doing stereotypical things. This novel is nothing like that.

The protagonist is Mattie Ross, a young girl whose father was murdered. She hires a gunman to hunt down his killer and accompanies him along the way to make sure she gets her money’s worth. She’s believable both as a child forced to bear the burdens of adulthood and a no nonsense female character; she suffers no fools and fights to be taken seriously. I really felt for both her and the gunman, Rooster Cogburn. I loved it.

  1. Wonder Woman volume 1 by Greg Rucka (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  2. Female Force: William Moulton Marston, the Creator of Wonder Woman (digital comic via Hoopla)
  3. Lock In by John Scalzi (ebook via Overdrive)

–In the tradition of great science fiction, this novel shows how technology adapted to humanity–in this case, to deal with a condition that traps people inside their bodies–transforms human society. There’s also an awesome murder mystery that’s complicated by that same technology.

  1. Bombshells volume 1: Enlisted by various authors (graphic novel via Hoopla)

–I read this mainly on the recommendation that it is a great graphic novel illustrating female superheroes. After reading it, I honestly don’t understand how anyone could think that.

In an alternate history dominated by female superheroes, Bruce Wayne never becomes Batman because his parents are saved by a female superhero. Other male heroes never emerged or at least serve different roles. However, while all the men are off fighting the war, the female heroes are still sexualized objects for male pleasure; they are all basically Forties pin-up girls that just happen to fight crime too.

Batgirl wears a baseball-themed costume complete with tiny shorts and wields a bat. Wonder Woman meets up with army brass who give her a costume to wear as well; she thinks she’s dressed as one of their goddesses, because she sees a pinup girl painted on the side of a plane. And don’t even get me started on Harley Quinn. Her plot made no sense, and each page…just, no. Read it if you must, but you’ve been warned.

  1.  The Shape of Home by Lee Chilcote (paperback, poetry re Cleveland and suburbia)

 

  1. Hag-Seed (a Hogarth Shakespeare novel) by Margaret Atwood  (ebook via Overdrive)

–The Hogarth Shakespeare series is a collection of modern day adaptations of Shakespearean plays by modern authors. In this retelling of The Tempest, Prospero is an actor cast out of his acting company who lives alone with his young daughter. It’s an original take on a classic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  1. The Flintstones volume 1 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh (graphic novel via Hoopla)

–When I heard there were a series of graphic novels tackling Hanna Barbara characters, I was intrigued–but I was blown away by this one in particular. The story looks back at the creation of the town of Bedrock, Fred and Barney’s wartime history, and even tackles social issues like racism and the treatment of indigenous peoples. It is one of the wittiest satires I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

  1. World’s Best Life Hacks: 200 Ways to Make Your Life Easier by Sarah Devos (ebook via Hoopla)

–I picked up a few helpful tips via this quick and easy read!

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (ebook via Overdrive)

I’ve wanted to read this book for years, but it always seemed to get pushed back for other things. This book is so sad and beautiful. I really identified with the characters. I just loved it.

  1.  Protect Me (Mind Sweeper series, book 0) by AE Jones

–I love this Ohio author’s work. I enjoy seeing the world through the monsters’ or freaks’ point of view, which is usually both interesting and funny. I wonder what that says about me.

  1. Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton (ebook via Overdrive)
  2. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (audiobook via Overdrive)
  3. Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1 (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various
  4. Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various
  5. Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various
  6. Wonder Woman Vol. 3: Iron (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various
  7. Wonder Woman Vol 4: War (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various

   23. Wonder Woman Vol 5: Flesh  by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

  1. Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (audiobook via Overdrive)

–This was a beautifully told dystopian tale with a message of hope.

  1. Wonder Woman Vol 6: Bones by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  2. Wonder Woman Vol 7: War-torn by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  3. Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka and various (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  4. Wonder Woman ’77: Vol 1 by various  (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  5. Scooby Apocalypse Vol 1  by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

–This graphic novel is another fun reimagining of classic Hanna Barbara characters, though it isn’t as witty as The Flintstones retelling. It’s pretty much a straight up monster story with Velma and Shaggy working in a secret lab that causes the apocalypse. It is okay, but I honestly didn’t find it that interesting.

  1. Fight Club 2 (graphic novel via Hoopla) by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Cameron Stewart

–Another interesting but weird read. I did not think it was as good as its predecessor, Fight Club (the novel).

  1. The 6.5 Habits of Moderately Successful Poets by Jeffrey Skinner (ebook via Overdrive)
  2. Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (ebook)
  4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (audio book via Overdrive)
  5. The Walking Dead and Philosophy by multiple authors (ebook via Humble Bundle)

–I’ve been slowly working my way through the Pop Culture Philosophy series of ebooks I bought via Humble Bundle. If you get a chance, I strongly suggest you read them. The series tackles real philosophy problems by setting them in pop culture situations. This one tackles morality in stellar fashion, especially such sticky points as suicide, the ethics of killing, and the rights of a person (or zombie).

  1.  Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy by multiple authors (ebook via Humble Bundle)

–(see above) Same general take, but with different questions set in different worlds.

  1. Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams  (audiobook via Hoopla)
  2. The Walking Dead volume 27: The Whisperer War by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

–I read this again to refresh my memory before reading the next installment. The book is good up until the disappointing ending. I know other fans loved it, but it didn’t make sense to me.

  1. The Walking Dead volume 28: A Certain Doom by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

–I loved this installment! This book is so much better than the one before. There is character growth, unexpected twists and turns, and actual resolution for many plot points. Like all Walking Dead stories, there is more story left to be told. There always is; that’s the point of the series. But I felt very satisfied when I finished reading this one.

  1. Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart (ebook via Hoopla)
  2. Improv Sewing by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut (ebook via Hoopla)
  3. Wonder Woman, vol 2, Year One (DC Universe Rebirth) by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  4. Hoopla: the Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain (Trade paperback via library)

–I began embroidering this past year, mostly via YouTube tutorials and practice. However, this book inspired me to sew my own original artwork and think outside the creative box I’d put myself in. It’s a series of articles about different sketch artists that use embroidery in unusual ways–from embroidering cartoons on fabric and stitching street maps on garbage bags to creating miniature portraits. I checked it out of the library three times, and I kept the last checkout overdue ten days so I could really finish. I rarely buy paper editions of books, but this one is definitely a must-have.

  1. Terminal Alliance: Book One of Janitors of the Post Apocalypse by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Overdrive)

–I can’t imagine anyone other than Jim C. Hines–author of The Princess series, Goblin Quest, and Libriomancer— writing a book about space janitors and making it work. He brings the same irreverent humor to this science fiction gem that he’s brought to his other fantasy titles. Reading this is pure fun, and there’s actual science in this science fiction too!

  1. Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson (graphic novel via Hoopla)

–When I saw this graphic novel on Hoopla, I was pleasantly surprised! The story takes place shortly after A New Hope and the destruction of Leia’s home world of Alderaan.  The rebel leaders tell her to take time to mourn and lay low; the Empire has a bounty on all the survivors of Alderaan. Instead, she wants to gather them all together to keep what’s left of her home alive. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers, but this story sheds some light on Leia’s past and her motivations as she moves forward to save what she can of the world she left behind.

Now I’m just waiting for a series to be written about the older Leia, General Organa.

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My books read list this year is significantly shorter than last year, mostly as I consume lots of different things that I don’t necessarily read cover to cover. Currently I am reading a paperback version of Betsy Greer’s Craftivism (courtesy of my local library), Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle (hardback poetry anthology courtesy of the library), and The Very Best of Tad Williams (ebook collection courtesy my friendly neighborhood library via the Overdrive app).

 

I have temporarily put down (mid-read) How to Be a Craftivist and Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy due to time constraints. I need to prioritize library reading over the books I own so I can read them before they are due, and I proudly own those last two books. Since they are nonfiction essay collections, it’s easy to simply put them down and pick them up again as time permits. The Tad Williams book especially became a priority, because my son was really excited to share this author’s work with me. He hasn’t been this excited about reading fiction on his own in awhile, so I wanted to read it at the same time so we could talk about it together.

If you’d like to discuss any of the books in my list, feel free to comment below or contact me through Twitter or FaceBook. In the meantime, have a lovely week!

 

 

Current Events: New Year’s Resolutions for 2018!

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I know you must be weary of reading other people’s resolutions for the new year. They are inherently selfish posts aimed not at you–the reader, but rather written for the benefit of the author: a public affirmation of their intentions for the new year. There’s something special that happens in a person’s brain when they write their goals down. The act of writing makes the idea concrete and mandatory. Combine that with the possibility of public accountability, and you have a recipe for (at least some measure of) success.

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So, in the tradition of utterly selfish writing, I am announcing my goals for the coming year. In the spirit of honesty and accountability, I did not accomplish all my goals this past year–mainly getting a literary agent. I did accomplish others though–such as reading more non fiction and poetry. I had a table and read at a local author convention, and by preparing and printing my own materials to sell I discovered I loved publishing my own work. It was empowering. Can you guess what my New Year’s Resolutions are for this coming year?

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1. Publish a book.
I want to publish my work. Although I have blogged and written for the past ten years, I have yet to publish a complete book. I still have my unpublished science-fiction manuscript, which I honestly love and think is pretty damn good. However, I am more heavily into poetry at the moment, and I still write quite a bit of flash fiction. I have a backlog of stories and poems, so I’m not sure if I want my first published book to be the novel or a collection of my shorter works. I may do both.

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I’ve considered ordering a small amount of print books (to sell in person), as well as making the work available by POD or as an ebook. My local library also has options to publish for free (Self-e), although I doubt that would give me print options. I’m also still open to the traditional publishing route, but, in the meantime, I am working toward self-publishing. Either way, I’m getting at least one book out this year.

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2. Market my book.
I’ve already worked on my “brand” this past year by setting up a more professional author site, as well as matching social media accounts and even business cards. I generally try to attend as many writing conferences and workshops as possible, although this year I was sadly unable to make some of them due to a family emergency. My writing blog is informal, but my author site functions as a resume with sample writing for prospective publishers.

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So when I say “Market my work” I’m talking about marketing the book I plan to publish this year–which will involve public appearances. I’m extremely nervous when speaking in public, so this is something I’ve been working to overcome for awhile. Hopefully, I will improve with practice.

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3. Learn to make one origami form with a dollar bill.
I know this one has nothing to do with writing, but I’m terrible at origami. It’s something I’ve wanted to learn for awhile. I don’t need to learn a bunch of complicated forms, just a simple one that I can do well. I want to do it with dollar bills because I can use it for a craftivism project involving play money. Also, if I leave a tip with paper money, it might be cute.

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I’d love to hear what your resolutions are, if any, for the year 2018! If you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments below. And Happy New Year!
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**due to the holidays, my posts will be scheduled slightly off from the normal two weeks. My apologies. Happy holidays!