Brothers

Reading Time: 1

A foul and acrid odor greets the nose
and violates the shirt, the pant, the underwear
for hours, days, weeks, unwashed.
Plastic flip-top lid conceals
the quartered fruit, so dry
and old, unworthy of gin or tongue.
Tired, sad, bilirubin-stained faces
surround the parallelogram
giving more than they receive
and much less than they asked for.
Age marked in hollows, dents, and chips.
Laughters, hard and coarse, rise above
the jukebox boom of same old songs
that all have heard and hummed and heard.
The owner buys a drink for one who
surely needs so much more

Writing Doomed?

Reading Time: 1

Julia Smillie wonders if technology and blogging has doomed writers.

1. Mediocre writing always had a following, even though it didn’t transcend eras.
2. Good writing still sells and IS read, while bad writing sells and sits.
3. When I first started trying to get published in the 1980s, I read The Writer and Writer’s Digest religiously. Almost every issue contained at least one column or article that said this exact same thing. Then it was the word processor that imposed too much entropy on the craft. My guess is that, were I to dig into archives of writing mags, I’d find an entire history of this problem. I’ll bet some great, old critic like Chesterton wrote about the problem a hundred years ago when labor laws limiting the length of work weeks freed up the drabble to — Oh, my God — WRITE! Like US!
4. Every time a writer produces what he thinks is a masterpiece only to earn an editor’s “Thank you for your submission, but we are currently concentrating on another genre,” note back in his SASE, he thinks technology, society, education (or lack there of), selfishness, stupidity, or a combination of all have undone the fine old craft of writing.
5. I have a hunch, based on my perusal of lit mag web sites, that the surest way to get into print is to decry the low state of literacy in America that prevents serious, good, educated, MFA writers who owe Stephen King’s advance to Sallie Mae from earning a living as a writer. James Michner (sp?), both popular and excellent, said 30 years ago, “A writer can make a fortune in American–but not a living.”

Social Services Snobs

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I recently had an experience with a social services agency that paints an unfriedly face for the organization.

Almost
Home, run by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Mary, provides teen mothers
with the chance to make a better life for themselves and their
children. In exchange for going to school, remaining free from drugs,
establishing the norms of social achievement (job, daycare, financial
assistance, child-rearing skills, etc.), the women and their babies
have a safe, comfortable place to live, help with their children, etc.
The women are in the home for up to one year and recieve follow-up help
after they leave. It’s a wonderful program.

The front office, though, is another matter.

A
woman committed to helping others applied for a position at the center
as a Social Worker. The center offered to hire someone lacking a degree
or license in social work provided that person obtain the certification
within two years. Aside from the certification, the candidate was
qualified in all respects. Even if she weren’t, it wouldn’t matter.

She
waited a week for an acknowledgement of her application, sent via
e-mail to the business manager at the center’s request. Worried that
they didn’t recieve the resume and letter, she sent a follow-up e-mail.
Still no reply. She complained, understandably, to me.

You
know what really bothers me about Almost Home? They are in the business
of helping others and all I’m asking for is a few minutes of their
time. I need their help. I need their assistance in helping me to find
a position-be it with them or someone else. I need a little bit of
guidance–and guess what? What I’m asking for is free, free. Just a few
minutes of face time. I cannot believe that they haven’t even bothered
to e-mail me back. All she could’ve said is, Yes, I received your
e-mail. Thanks for your application.

I
feel so defeated. I can’t even get in to a place, for an interview, and
they weren’t even asking for someone with a degree. How sad is that?
Her
e-mail got my Irish up. I emailed the center’s director to say I’m
surprised that her organization is so lacking in professional manners.

Why can they not even send a simple acknowledgement?  Don’t they
realize that a woman with a college degree wants to take a pay cut to
work a nasty job helping society’s most vulnerable people, it’s a
compliment?  I even sent Target gift cards to the center so some of the
young women could buy small gifts for their kids, or something for
themselves. 

The response from Almost Home’s communication director was shockingly cold, impersonal, and sarcastic:

 I can assure you that all resumes that are sent into us are diligently looked over. We
have received an enormous response from the employment ads that were
placed and as such it has taken a considerable amount of time to go
through.

We are a very small office with an even smaller budget, it is not financially responsible for us to reply to every applicant.  The cost would be prohibitive. As a businessman I am sure you can sympathize with this.  [Emphasis mine.]

I replied that I’m sorry I wasted her time, I didn’t realize the high cost of sending a boiler-plate e-mail saying,

Social Services Snobs, Part II

Reading Time: 1

Why can they not even send a simple acknowledgement?  Don’t they realize that a woman with a college degree wants to take a pay cut to work a nasty job helping society’s most vulnerable people, it’s a compliment?  I even sent Target gift cards to the center so some of the young women could buy small gifts for their kids, or something for themselves. 

The response from Almost Home’s communication director was shockingly cold, impersonal, and sarcastic:

 I can assure you that all resumes that are sent into us are diligently looked over. We have received an enormous response from the employment ads that were placed and as such it has taken a considerable amount of time to go through.

We are a very small office with an even smaller budget, it is not financially responsible for us to reply to every applicant.  The cost would be prohibitive. As a businessman I am sure you can sympathize with this.  [Emphasis mine.]

I replied that I’m sorry I wasted her time, I didn’t realize the high cost of sending a boiler-plate e-mail saying, “We got it.”

Americans give more to charities in cash, time, and goods than all other countries combined [citation pending].  We believe in helping our neighbor, and many of us would like to do so without the government’s gun to our heads.  But when an organization purportedly dedicated to helping young mothers is too uppity to acknowledge applications and too proud to say Thank You for a $50.00 donation, that charity should be shunned or its senior management fired.  My guess is that those senior managers have a lot more to lose than those they assist. </p&g