Archive for the Personal Notes Category

A quick update…

Posted in current events, on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , on November 2, 2014 by Sarah aka Sarjé

I haven’t posted any new poetry for awhile. I spent the last few weeks editing and compiling poems for a first book prize. I’m not holding my breath, but look at it as a worthwhile effort in working to be a better writer. The process made me aware of a lot that I should work on, but I gained a little more confidence, too–just putting that envelope into the mail gives me hope in one day being a professional poet.

Now, it’s November, which of course, means NaNoWriMo. I’ll be pantsing, entirely–I have only a slight concept. But I’ve done this annual challenge for so long, it’d feel wrong not to try again, this year.

I’ll try to get back to new poems in December. Thanks for reading.




Posted in Personal Notes, poetry with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2014 by Sarah aka Sarjé

I built

up a wall made of bottles and cans and perched high

up on it until

I believed that what

I saw and what

I said

was beautiful and true.

I built

up that fortress, at once feeling tall but languid with voices that said

I was


all alone in my crow’s nest of


I put


into smaller and smaller black boxes confessing to not

hing up until now. There’s this hairline fracture creepi

ng across my mind and a light weakly streaming throu

gh the cracks in the  wa

ll. But it’s still winter’s l

ight, and still a confessi

onal, and now

I know how sm

all I am looking

up at



Merry Christmas

Posted in current events, on writing, Personal Notes on December 26, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

Christmas is basically over, but I thought it’d be nice to throw a quick update here. I’ve been hard at work in the grocery store. I spent some of November working on NaNoWriMo, but didn’t win this year…still, it was a lot of fun.

To be honest, there aren’t many new developments in my life, but I’m happy with the general progress I’ve made in 2013, and am looking forward to next year. I think 2014 is going to be a good year for more folks, but I’m a wishful thinker.

I’ve met some great people this year, and am very happy to have made new acquaintances and friends. Everyone in this world has value and is important, but I think I’ve met some who will be especially important to me both present and future. And that’s a nice feeling.

More poetry and stories are coming, but first I’m going to learn how to use my new DSLR. 🙂

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year. 🙂

Embarking on Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

Posted in on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

In July, I’m going to be working on another month-long writing program, NaNoWriMo’s writing camp, which bills itself as “an idyllic writer’s retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” To be honest, life hasn’t been any much crazier than usual. Just warmer, and with more power outtages.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was created with the purpose of folks writing novels of 50,000 words or more, in a month. I’ve participated in the November program for a number of years, winning only once–2011. This year, I’m rebelling.

My plan is to write 50,000 words (although, the wordcount goal is flexible at Camp–and you can change it up through July 25, when “validation” begins), but not of a novel.

Instead, I’m planning to clean house. To sweep away the detritus of my mind’s rooms, focusing on short stories, poems, and script ideas. Ideally, at least one story will stand out, and lead to a better plan for November, when I’ll work on a novel again.

I’m also considering trying some children’s literature, for which I may also sketch out illustration ideas.

So, I’m using Camp as a clearinghouse. Some of the work will indubitably be posted here. I’m also gratified to have found a group of likeminded folks working on a wide variety of projects, all of whom are interested in critique and future publication.

For one week in July, I’ll also be at a real-life camp, living in a tent and writing in between sessions of gorging myself on Danish food, dancing, and singing my lungs out. Thankfully, there’s also internet access. 🙂

This is gonna be fun. If you’d like to join me, visit

Welcome Back, Paul. (An Open Letter)

Posted in current events, Opinion, Personal Notes with tags , , , , on May 2, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

Recently, Paul Miller returned to the internet after a year offline.


Thank you for sharing your experiences and feeling about your year offline. It resonates deeply with me. I too have experimented with being offline–being about the same age as you, I’ve had this secondary life since I was eleven or so. One of the things I find most interesting is that as creative, intelligent, depressive people, we desire so much. We desire information. We desire truth. We desire connection: perhaps the greatest attraction of the internet.

Ironically, I feel connected to your story and your experiences because they were brought to my attention by the internet. I’m not writing this to you in a letter, by hand. I’m posting it on a public blog.

I spent large swathes of 2011 and 2012 avoiding or simply being unable to connect to the web. I traveled a lot, I wrote a lot (yet another half-completed novel, the year I won NaNoWriMo, which I still intend to–someday–get back to). I met a lot of people. I tried some new stuff.

But overall, nothing was really that different from what it is now. Except that I didn’t have any excuse for my laziness. I couldn’t say, “oh, I meant to finish that book, but got distracted by blogs.” “I’ll work on that painting after I look at some inspiring photos online.” “I can’t work out now, I need to watch these technique videos.” “I’ll go outside and take photos of nature as soon as I’m done looking at these lolcats.”

I wasn’t doing any of those things–wasn’t getting distracted by the internet’s myriad time-sucks. And wasn’t making or doing the stuff I always think I’m going to do, either.

I did spend a lot of time around real people, which is good–sometimes. But others–oftentimes, in fact–it can be more draining. I try to be open and giving of my time. Some folks take that as an opportunity to tell me their life’s story. Some folks go further, and take advantage of good-will, as it pleases them.

Is this because good-will is rare? That people don’t know how to respond when someone is generous with their time and ability? It seems as though we’ve lost track of what it is to act with grace and good-heartedness, and how to respond to such actions. Manners are rare, but we’ve been saying that for decades, right?

And it seems, these days, we are so timid, afraid to act at all. I’ve seen people collapse in hot weather, while others walk idly by, or stand frozen, and have been the one to run for help, or help them up myself. When did we become so afraid of acting? When did we get so used to watching, and not doing?

Are we a nation of self-serving individuals, instead of the kind and generous Samaritans we would like ourselves to be? Are we a world of people that are too wrapped up with our specific experience? Do we, as people, lack empathy?

There aren’t easy answers. The questions are even more complicated than what I’ve asked–take socio-economic factors into account, take independent histories, take outliers–your mileage will vary.

My point, really, was that it’s worth it, for all of us, to take some time offline, when we can. Maybe not a week, a month, or a year–but a day? An hour or three? The internet is a real place, a whole world inside our own, and we are real people inside of it. But there are real folks living next door, down the road, across the country, who we could differently interact with in-person.

Honesty seems to come more easily in the written word, or with the barrier of distance. How many people have opted to end a relationship via phone, Skype, email, or text, rather than face-to-face? My last relationship ended face-to-face, and I credit my ex with having the humanity to choose that route. Especially considering, we met online.

I’m grateful, in a way, that the internet has finally been accepted and legitimized by most of society, considering how long I’ve been here, talking with and connecting to strangers around the world. I’ve formed amazing friendships and relationships over the last ten years, through this medium.

But it’s important to meet people offline, too. I met one of my best friends while traveling last year. She and I bonded over internet memes, television shows, and gaming culture. But we also bonded because we stayed up for hours on end, talking in swampy heat, about anything or nothing. We live a thousand miles apart, but we still talk on a regular basis.

There is truth, information, and connection to be found everywhere. In words written millennia ago. In a Google hangout. In a conversation at a bus stop. In a blog post.

So thank you, Paul, for your experiment, and for your honesty about what you experienced. It’s always good to feel connected. Online or off.


Sarah Haynes

Fat and Happy/Not a “Before”

Posted in Fat Activism, Opinion, Personal Notes with tags , , , , on April 28, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

I’ve been inundated by updates from friends who’ve made “successes” and “progressions” in their lives. And I’m happy for them–when they’re happy about those changes.

But–and maybe this is me being selfish or pessimistic–I can’t support them. At least, not in the way they probably want me to.

Sure, I will sometimes hit facebook’s “like,” on the photos and posts about your wedding or your kids, about your new car, house, or body. That post about how you made it through a marathon (and then got drunk [yes, sometimes this is a post]), or how you cooked your dinner. Sure, a quick “like” is easy enough, especially if I’m amused.

But does that mean that I support your decisions? Not necessarily.

Especially–specifically: those before-and-after photos of your weight loss. Ugh.

You know how someone created an app for blocking baby pictures on facebook? I want one for fat-activists, to block before-and-after’s.

I’m fat.

I am not a “before.” You weren’t, either.

You aren’t an “after,” now. Would you really want to be?

You are living in the moment of having lost weight. You think this moment is magically better because of it. And it is so, because you think it.

But the truth is, you always could be happy–even when you were fat. Gasp! What a revelation. I know.

Being fat and feeling badly about that state are two separate things. Society generally sends a message that we should feel badly about being fat. But we can rewrite that message. Our feelings are ours–we have them moment-to-moment. We can be happy and feel good while being fat.

My weight has fluctuated plenty in my adult life. It will surely continue to do so. However, I have found it generally sticks around the same thing it is RIGHT NOW–which means I’m technically “obese.” (Side note: I got fed up with the Wii Fit a long time ago, mostly because every time I stepped on it, I got the cutesy “hee, that’s obsese,” response–which I find especially suspicious coming from a Japanese design–ALL AMERICANS ARE OBESE compared to the Japanese. Unless, of course, you are Perfect Human Chris Traeger.)

My being fat or obese does not mean I am unhealthy. Oh, and if I am unhealthy (which would be between me and my doctor, if I had one–meaning, if I had health insurance [different-but-not-unrelated issue…]), it doesn’t mean I’m unhappy.

My point, dear formerly-fat-people, is I don’t care that you lost weight. I don’t “like” blatant before-and-after images. I might “like” pictures of you wherein you look really, really, happy. Or you’re holding an adorable cat, or a particularly-becoming lasagna. I might “like” a photo because of the background, for gosh’s sakes. And yeah, maybe your point was, you are all-kindsa skinny now, and you’re happy about that.

Be happy. Please, be happy. But don’t hitch your happiness to the skinny-wagon.

Cause, I bet that your weight will fluctuate, too. I bet at some point, that Wii voice will shrilly tell you that you’re obese, because you happened to put on a few pounds over the holidays, or hit the weights a lot and gained muscle, or hell, maybe a cat is clinging to your back for dear life.

If you’re truly happy, you don’t really need to post before-and-after photographs. You just…post photographs. (Or, you just…live? [I don’t get it either!])


By the way–please LIKE me!!

I designed a shirt for Milwaukee Pridefest. Please vote for it, so I can visit everyone who’s living proud in Milwaukee. (Just click and LIKE.) Thank you!!

Two poems: beyond the marow / The Contents

Posted in Personal Notes, poetry with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

Back on the poetry front, I’m trying to play a bit of catch up, and I liked the prompts for April 15th and 16th that Poets and Writers list:
April 15
Choose a favorite line from one of your poems and write a new poem using that line as the first one.

beyond the marrow

beyond the marrow, the core of bones—

there is realization: that with us

it was as if I was trying to light incense

from a lit cigarette, to create a flame

where none could ever exist,

and even if you burned for me

(a little), you’d always eventually

burn down to a fractional thing of

yourself, not nearly enough to love.

April 16
Flip through the dictionary (I did this with the first book I found, The Shell Collector, by Anthony Doerr) randomly and choose ten words. Write a poem with each word in every other line. (The words I found were: index, hypnotic, cocoon, droplets, knuckles, bramble, voluptuous, belt, dozen, clot.)

The Contents

Little girl, walking through your tiny town,

walking to the library, to go through the card index,

to find somewhere to escape, from the shouts,

from the hypnotic battle between grown ups.

Cocoon yourself in someone else’s life,

live within the story of the story, never-ending.

Book in hand, droplets on your glasses, here comes

your pup, she wandered but came running to walk you home.

Your knuckles get whiter as you grip the binding,

bound to be cold and frightened of what you’ll find,

and brambles catch you as you shamble on uneven walks,

homeward bound, those few enormous blocks.

And in the door, the greeting is voluptuous,

What did you get? something good to read? I love you

dear sweet girl of mine, I love that you love to read.

They’re belting out praises for your qualities, in joyous moods.

You can’t possibly understand the contents of bottles,

which come in dozens and get scattered, like dandelion seeds.

They shower you like raindrops, in hugs and kisses,

a sudden aneurysm, a clot of love, barreling down upon you

and by the library, a train hollers as it passes by.



I especially love this prompt, because it reminds me of a scene in Before Sunrise, when a street poet approaches the couple walking in Vienna:

So, I would like to make a deal with you. I mean, instead of just asking you for money, I will ask you for a word. Yeah, you give me a word, I take the word, and then, and then I will write a poem, with the word inside. And if you like it, I mean, if you like my poem, and you feel it adds something to your life in any way, then you can pay me whatever you feel like.

We all want to add something to someone’s life, don’t we?