I bet you thought I was going to write about the useful lessons I’ve learned being a mom….nope….not there yet….far from being there…and I am sure I am going to keep repeating these mistakes for another 18 years. Ask me what I’ve learned when I’m 90.

As some of you know, I decided to try to “write a novel” in a month after somehow coming across the NaNoWriMo website.  Why? I really have no clue. “Because it is there?” Perhaps.  So I could reference “my novel” at future dinner parties? I don’t go out. In any case the challenge presented itself and I can’t let a good challenge pass me by.  I am happy to report that I am 21372 words into my goal of 50 000….if you average 250 words per page, that means I’ve written 87.5 pages of pure genius crap…(ok crap is being hard on myself, its not THAT bad…but one day, I’ll let you be the judge)  since November 1st. This really is a case of quantity over quality, but I’m hoping with some editing, there might be just a little quality buried just below the surface of the 50 000 word count. And, it is amazing how a story starts to write itself the more you become completely emerged in it.

Although there are dishes piled in my sink (the situation isn’t  helped by the fact that a pipe recently rusted through, and is now being held by duct-tape until Rob’s return). My diet and exercise is severely lacking…how many times can you throw pomegranate seeds and pistachios on lettuce and call it dinner? I am proud to say that I am ALMOST half way there, and there is no turning back now!  As  frustrating, silly and obsessive as this NaNoWriMo thing sometimes  always seems (why am I pouring every spare precious minute into a novel that will likely never be published), I’m really enjoying the process, and I am starting to remember that I am a huge history geek, and I LOVE useful-less facts. I am going to share a few of them here, because, I know you REALLY care…but really, some of them ARE interesting.  I’ll leave it to you to put the pieces together of what this book is all about 🙂

1.  Mongolian Shamans would burn the scapula bones of a sacrificed sheep, then read the cracks in the bone in order to tell the future (bet you didn’t know that huh?).

2.  The word Assassin comes from the Arabic word Hashishin, or users of Hashish (I think I knew this once upon a time, but had forgotten).

3.  Under Khublai Khan the Mongols twice tried to invade Japan, and failed horrendously. The 1281 failed invasion resulted in approximately 3500 ships being sunk and 150 000 sailors being lost.  The Japanese attribute their “victory” to the Kamikaze, or divine wind which sunk the entire Mongol fleet (as the entire fleet was built or acquired in 6 months…many of the ships were flat bottomed river boats and not at all fit for the ocean).

4.   Although we were just there, I didn’t realize that the area of Istanbul known as the Hippodrome still has the real Roman Hippodrome 15 feet below the city (it was the size of 5 modern football fields). It is yet to be excavated.  The Egyptian Obelisk which still stands in the middle of the area known as the Hippodrome is actually at the ground level of the teal Roman Hippodrome. The obelisk and other objects had been strategically placed by Constantine the Great in order to build excitement and suspense during the chariot races.

5. Princess Khutulun, the cousin of Kublai Khan was a kick butt wrestler and Mongol warrior. She refused to marry unless a man could defeat her in wrestling.  None succeeded. Girl Power!

6. And on the other end of the spectrum: Footbinding often resulted in women having feet no larger than 7.5 cm.  Sometimes the feet would become so infected that the girls’ toes would fall off. This was seen as an advantage as it meant smaller feet! Apparently men found the wobbling of small footed, dainty women to be extremely sexy. Talk about clash of cultures when the Mongols founded the Yuan Dynasty and conquered the Song in the 1270s!