Monday, July 27, 2009

another weekend in the country

I stopped for gas next door to this place and wish I'd gone in. I bet they have some great souvinirs. The interesting thing here is that the sign on the ground next to the blue trash barrel says Fuzzy's Bait & Booze. I guess they decided Bait Booze is better -- it's bait! it's booze! Why carry both? How does it stay on your hook? If you want to stop in, Fuzzy's is right across the highway from Osceola Cheese, whose slogan is Ummmm, Good.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

another craigslist nightmare

Here's a recent craigslist post:

Legal and Administrative Assistant (Kansas City MO)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]Date: 2009-06-26, 12:05PM CDT
Legal assistant, secretarial position, with some office management. High professional standards required. Comfortable and collegial atmosphere, respectful of personal and quality lifestyle. Must be a team player and willing to learn. Respectful to staff, deference given, quiet and relaxed, along with high quality work required. Small firm, specializing in unique legal area, located in luxurious renovated loft in West Bottoms, adjacent to Downtown Kansas City. Legal administration to coordinate office work and paralegal skills. Assist attorneys in legal work in highly regulated industry and preparation for hearings. Typing, transcribing, good computer skills, answer telephones and filing. Office administrative skills as may learn or have capabilities, including billing. Small office or résumés will be kept in confidence. Send resume to
Location: Kansas City MO
Compensation: Comparable according to skills, health, parking and personal days.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.


There's so much wrong here that I don't know where to begin so I guess I'll just send them my resume with this cover letter:

Dear legalstaffhr:

Enclosed please find my resume in response to your ad for a legal assistant, secretary, office manager, or whatever it might be that you seek.

I'm so pleased that you require high professional standards and offer a comfortable atmosphere, but I'm a bit confused about "...respectful of personal and quality lifestyle." Does this mean you will respect me whatever my lifestyle, or that I must respect your "personal and quality" lifestyle? Could you please define "quality lifestyle?"

I am a team player and willing to learn, so I'd love it if you could teach me what "...deference given, quiet and relaxed, along with..." means. Does this mean I'll get big rewards for being quiet? I can do that!

You also require "legal administration to coordinate office work and paralegal skills." As evidence of my high quality work, I must say that I believe you want someone who is capable of coordinating work who also has paralegal skills, however, what you have asked for is someone to coordinate paralegal skills. Will I be coordinating my own skills or others'?

I am experienced in "assisting attorneys in legal work." I used to assist attorneys in HVAC work, and once had a short stint assisting attorneys in street-sweeping work, but now I just assist attorneys in legal work.

I meet all of your requirements for office skills: typing, transcribing, etc. and whew! I'm so glad you don't require a proper grasp of the English language, including but not limited to spelling and grammar. Trying to stay on top of those things really interferes with my personal and quality lifestyle.

Could I have a large office so that my resume will be kept in confidence?

I see that compensation for this position is "comparable according to skills, health, parking and personal days." This must be where your "deference given" comes in, and let me tell ya, I'm excited about finally being rewarded for my health, parking, and personal days! I just LOVE personal days, and I can parallel park a semi, so these things combined with my health and skills make me the perfect candidate for this job.

I'd love to meet with you in person so that we may further discuss my skills and your personal lifestyle and how much you pay for excellent parking.



Friday, July 10, 2009


The kid has done it again. Jess now has her first solo exhibit in a real live gallery. The Stacks Gallery in the Carnegie Arts Center will show Jess' photography exhibit, "A Certain Joy" from July 17 through August 28. If you're in Leavenworth stop in! If you're not in Leavenworth, drive! The artist's/opening reception is Friday the 17th, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

For more info and gallery hours, visit

Monday, July 6, 2009

Welcome Sage Cohen

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Sage Cohen and her new book, Writing The Life Poetic: An Invitation To Read & Write Poetry, which does not have a blue cover - I'll fix that :) If you write anything you need this book. If I had to review it in one word, it would be FUN!

Her "TRY THIS!" exercises are fabulous, like this one: "Put on a cape and declare yourself the superhero of something: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, dog walking, properly conjugated verbs--whatever sweet spot you are ready (or even better, not ready) to claim."

So here we go! Please post your comments and questions for Sage, and of course there's a brand new shiny copy of Writing The Life Poetic (in the correct colors) waiting for one lucky participant.

Q&A with Sage Cohen, Author of
Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry
a new book from Writer’s Digest Books

How does poetry make the world a better place to live?

I think poetry fills the gap left by the so-called objective truth that dominates our media, science and legislation. Many of us want to comprehend and communicate the complexity of human experience on a deeper, more soulful level. Poetry gives us a shared language that is more subtle, more human, and—at its best—more universally "true" than we are capable of achieving with just the facts.

How has integrating the reading and writing of poetry into your life impacted you?

I will risk sounding melodramatic in saying that poetry saved my life. I stumbled into a writing practice at an extremely vulnerable time in my early teenage years. Poetry gave me then, as it does today, a way of giving voice to feelings and ideas that felt too risky and complicated to speak out loud. There was a kind of alchemy in writing through such welcoming them in language, I was able to transform the energies of fear, pain and loneliness into†a kind of friendly camaraderie with myself. In a way, I wrote myself into a trust that I belonged in this world.†

Do people need an advanced degree in creative writing in order to write poetry?
Absolutely not! Sure, poetry has its place in the classroom; but no one needs an advanced degree in creative writing to reap its rewards. What most people need is simply a proper initiation. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to offer such an initiation. My goal was that everyone who reads it come away with a sense of how to tune into the world around them through a poetic lens. Once this way of perceiving is awakened, anything is possible!

Why did you write Writing the Life Poetic?

While working with writers for the past fifteen years, I have observed that even the most creative people fear that they don’t have what it takes to write and read poetry. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to put poetry back into the hands of the people––not because they are aspiring to become the poet laureate of the United States––but because poetry is one of the great pleasures in life."

Who is Writing the Life Poetic written for?

Practicing poets, aspiring poets, and teachers of writing in a variety of settings can use Writing the Life Poetic to write, read, and enjoy poems; it works equally well as a self-study companion or as a classroom guide. Both practical and inspirational, it will leave readers with a greater appreciation for the poetry they read and a greater sense of possibility for the poetry they write.
What sets Writing the Life Poetic apart from other poetry how-to books?

The craft of poetry has been well documented in a variety of books that offer a valuable service to serious writers striving to become competent poets. Now it’s time for a poetry book that does more than lecture from the front of the classroom. Writing the Life Poetic was written to be a contagiously fun adventure in writing. Through an entertaining mix of insights, exercises, expert guidance and encouragement, I hope to get readers excited about the possibilities of poetry––and engaged in a creative practice. Leonard Cohen says: "Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." My goal is that Writing the Life Poetic be the flame fueling the life well lived.

Is it true that your book and your baby were conceived and birthed at the same time? What did you learn from this process?

Yes, I often refer to my son Theo and Writing the Life Poetic as my multi-media twins! I found out I was pregnant with Theo about two months into the writing of the book and I was making final edits to the book in layout two weeks after he was born. It was fascinating to have two of the most potent creative processes I’ve ever experienced happening in tandem. What I learned is a great respect for the birthing journey; it is one that has completely rewritten me along the way.

I am writing a monthly column this year for The Writer Mama zine titled "The Articulate Conception" which chronicles my journey of becoming an author and a mom. Through the course of ten essays, I am exploring this double-whammy birth trajectory--from the twinkle in my eye to the bags under my eyes. The first column is available here:

What makes a poem a poem?

This is one of my favorite questions! I’ve answered it in my book, but it’s a question that I’m answering anew every day. And that’s what I love about poetry. It’s a realm where invention is not limited entirely by definition; there is room enough for the endless possibilities of the human. Every time we try to draw a line around what a poem is, something spills over into the next frame, shifting the point of view and demanding new names: olive, token, flax, daffodil. A poem is all of these, or none of them, depending on the quality of light and how the blade in the next room stirs the night.

What do you think people’s greatest misperceptions are about poetry?

I think the three greatest stereotypes about the writing of poetry are:

1.That one has to be a starving artist or deeply miserable to write great poetry.
2.That reading and writing poetry are available only to an elite inner circle that shares secret, insider knowledge about the making of poems.
3.That poetry does not fund prosperity.

I hope very much that Writing the Life Poetic helps offer alternatives to some of these attitudes and perceptions.

I’d love to conclude with a poem of yours. Would you be willing to share one?

Of course! Happy to!

Leaving Buckhorn Springs
By Sage Cohen

The farmland was an orchestra,
its ochres holding a baritone below
the soft bells of farmhouses,
altos of shadowed hills,
violins grieving the late
afternoon light. When I saw
the horses, glazed over with rain,
the battered old motorcycle parked
beside them, I pulled my car over
and silenced it on the gravel.
The rain and I were diamonds
displacing appetite with mystery.
As the horses turned toward me,
the centuries poured through
their powerful necks and my body
was the drum receiving the pulse
of history. The skin between me
and the world became the rhythm
of the rain keeping time with the sky
and into the music walked
the smallest of the horses. We stood
for many measures considering
each other, his eyes the quarter notes
of my heart’s staccato. This symphony
of privacy and silence: this wildness that
the fence between us could not divide.

About Sage Cohen
Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry (Writers Digest Books, 2009) and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. An award-winning poet, she writes four monthly columns about the craft and business of writing and serves as Poetry Editor for VoiceCatcher 4. Sage curates a monthly reading series at Barnes & Noble and teaches the online class Poetry for the People. She has won first prize in the Ghost Road Press poetry contest and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. To learn more, visit Drop by and join in the conversation about living and writing a poetic life at†!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Barbie Ate My 401(k)

Most people blame the state of the economy for the demise of their retirement funds. I blame Barbie.

It started out innocently: As a child I received the occasional Barbie gift at Christmas and birthdays. Grandma Margie and Aunt Millie hand made tiny clothes for my dolls. I saved my Barbies, and when Jess was two, unpacked them for her. Things kind of snowballed from there.

As a victim of only child-single parent syndrome, if Jess wanted another Barbie (and she always did) she got it. Barbie car? Done. My size Barbie - yep. Vet Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Rock Star Barbie, Holiday Barbie, Barbie shoes, Barbie clothes, Barbie hangers, Barbie food, all of Barbie's friends and relatives and all of their stuff - uh-huh, Barbie really does have everything, and it's all in my garage.

About the time Jess turned 21 I realized she doesn't really care to save things for sentimental reasons. And really, does it have so much sentimental value when you have zillions of them? She agreed to pass the Barbie collection along to another child.

I know a little girl who is going to look at these piles of Barbie things and say "SWEET!" and it will make me happy to give them to her.

She can't have my Barbies though - I'm saving them for the day I can play Retired Barbie.