Thursday, October 28, 2010

How Cool Is This?

Fire jumping. Vikings helmets. Free beer.

I think I just found my Summer 2011 fitness goal:

Here's the Minnesota course:

Seriously. How cool is this?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday is the New Friday

It's a short school week for the kiddos, which means it's a short work week for me. To celebrate, we're taking off for the cabin for our annual winterizing extravaganza. (Cue the air compressor and giant, rubber-handled rakes!)

I'll be away from any kind of Internet -- wifi or otherwise -- for several days. I'll catch back up with you next week!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Speaking of proofreading...

Spurred by my last post, a friend sent me this link on "The The Impotence of Proofreading," by Taylor Mali:

The Power of Proofreading

And this is why I proof everything I write a bazillion times...

Earlier this month (October 8, to be exact) this story hit the news wires: "HIV-positive black gay men to get the Bayard Rustin Project, a District campaign against AIDS."

Clearly a serious story, the lead read: "Last month, the Centers for Disease Control released new figures charting the HIV epidemic among black, gay men in D.C. The figures are grim: One in three black men who have sex with me is HIV-positive."

Unfortunately, it had to be followed by this all-too-straight-faced correction, which cracks. me. up:

This blog post originally stated that one in three black men who have
sex with me is HIV positive. In fact, the statistic applies to black
men who have sex with men. Also, the photo caption incorrectly
attributed Bayard Rustin's photo to "Wikipedia Commons." The correct
title is "Wikimedia Commons."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday

Back in February, I wrote a column about one of the most sincere Valentine's Day gestures I'd ever witnessed. At the time, I received a few "Sweet story" and "Thanks for sharing" comments from readers. But I also received this one:

"Oh, Jennifer, so sad that you missed the real meaning in this husband's gesture. Such gestures of caring and kindness are evidence of a lifetime of mutual behavior between loving partners, and your lack of insight demonstrated a real failure to understand the love that God ordained in the sacrament of marriage. But, don't fret too much, you still have time to learn. Joanne Murray"


Whenever this kind of mail comes in to the P-B offices, managing editor Jay Furst loves to add it to his blog. You know, stir the pot a bit. Which he did with Ms. Murray's letter, with this kind preface:

"Some readers are harder to understand than's a very strange and caustic note directed to columnist Jennifer Koski regarding her column Wednesday (not yet posted) -- Jen's beautifully crafted column could hardly have been more to this point, that the man's gesture was one of intimate kindness toward his wife, though I suspect this letter writer's comment is purely religious."

Okay, so that's a lot of back story to get to the point of today's post: Most column-related mail comes in within a week of the story's printing. But sometimes I get mail on a column I've long forgotten about. That happened this morning, when a reader sent the Post-Bulletin this message, about that February 2010 column--and Ms. Murray's catty letter:

"Jay Furst 'read Joanne Murray right' in his response to her remarks on Jennifer Koski's beautiful column regarding the older gentleman's loving and kind gesture to protect his sleeping wife from the glaring sun. If Joanne is incapable of recognizing that Jennifer truly did comprehend that his gesture perfectly expressed 'understanding the love that God ordained in the sacrament of marriage', Joanne is obviously the one who lacks 'insight' and really missed the mark in her caustic comments. Perhaps Joanne still "has time to learn" what love truly is."

It may be eight months after the fact, but wow -- I love that this anonymous reader came to my defense! And now, here's the column that started it all...

* * *
Valentine's Day last year found me at O'Hare International Airport.
I'd been at a conference in Chicago and was waiting for my return flight to Rochester in front of a gate marked “LaCrosse/Winona.” Close enough.

The gate is surprisingly empty for a Saturday afternoon. I have an entire row to myself, as do the people sitting across from me and to the left a few seats.
They’re a couple in their mid-60s. He’s in brown loafers and ankle-high sweat socks. Below his chocolate-covered shorts, the hair on his legs is thin and worn along the shinbone. His calves are mildly sunburned. These are legs, I decide, that are used to hiding behind long pants in February — not exposed in a golf cart. He wears a short-sleeved, button-up shirt and a mustache. He’s balding and wearing glasses that are more rectangular than oval. Trendier than one might expect based on his footwear.

Below him sits a black gym bag and next to him a roll-on bag with a wide-brimmed straw hat on it. They’re returning from Arizona, I think. Or maybe Florida. Definitely south.
His wife wears peach pants — leisure pants, you might call them — and a pink-and-blue flowered short-sleeved shirt. Her gray hair, pulled back in a barrette, curls along the back of her neck. On her feet are blue slip-ons and white socks.

Both of them wear watches (his leather; hers gold) and have rings set so deeply on their fingers that I know theirs is a marriage that has weathered years.

They’re in adjoining seats, sharing the same armrest. And, it must be said, she’s sleeping. Her head rests on his shoulder. His left arm rests around her. Every once in awhile his fingers squeeze her arm.

In his other hand is a phone, and he leans forward playing with it. Maybe sending a text. Maybe just checking his messages.

I settle in. I thought I was going to be late for my flight, but I'm early. There are still 30 minutes until my plane boards. I'm drinking a bottle of water and eating from a small bag of Bugles that, together, cost me $5.77 at the Hudson News stand, and this annoys me a little, but I was hungry, and the combination was cheaper than the bottle of Sprite and $4.99 bag of Raisinettes I was eyeing.

I balance the chips on my black roll-on suitcase and set my water on the floor. My mind wanders over the things minds wander over when there is nothing pressing to do. I wonder if I'll need a cab when I return to Rochester. I wish I had bought my husband something for Valentine's Day while I was gone, but figure I can make a card on the flight. I become suddenly worried that I've lost my boarding pass and riffle urgently through my bag.

I look around for a clock, and that’s when I see it.

The man's left arm is still around the woman’s shoulder. But now, instead of his phone, he's holding the straw hat in his right hand, over his wife’s face. At first I think he's trying to talk to her privately. Then I think perhaps they're attempting a discreet kiss.

But I'm wrong. It's far sweeter than that. He's holding the hat to block the sun from her face, which is turned to the window where the sun has begun its descent on this Chicago afternoon so she can sleep undisturbed.

I think about all the grand Valentine's Day gestures people make. The proposals and vacations and jewelry. The flowers and chocolates. The professions of love and forever.
And I realize that the man across from me is demonstrating the most romantic thing I've seen in years. And his wife doesn't have a clue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A conversation with my husband

This will undoubtedly make it into a column at some point. But until then, I have to share a conversation I had with my husband earlier today. (In his defense, I'll tell you this: He has remembered and acknowledged our wedding date every month since we got married 14 years ago. Every month.)

Okay, so this is what I mean when I say that life provides all the material I'll ever need for my writing...

* * *

Him: When’s Hoover Fun Night?

Me: November 11.

Him: On your birthday!

Me: No…

Him: Sorry! Your birthday is December 11.

Me: Are you kidding me?

Him: November 11?

Me: Jay.

Him: I’m sorry! I’ve been in a meeting for four hours. I can’t think straight.

Me: [silence]

Him: November 7.

Me: Seriously?!

Him: When is it?

Me: I’m not telling you.

And I didn't. But he figured it out a few minutes later. Facebook might've been involved...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not-So Video Tuesday

Today's Jen's World video is so boring that I'm not going to ask you to sit through it. In an unusually long 1 minute and 11 seconds, I use far too many words to say this: This week's column is about decorating my home.

There. Now you know.

And here's a heads-up that nobody -- not my editors, not my husband, not anyone -- knows, yet. Next week's column is about a typical day at my house... including a cruel joke played on me by my husband.

In other news: I may be caught up! One thing about being a self-employed writer is that if I don't do it, my work doesn't get done. So when I take, oh, say, 10 days off to travel Greece, I have 10 days worth of work waiting when I get home.

But, yay. I think I'm back to where I was before I left -- which is still crazy busy, but in a manageable, exciting way.

And, in yet other news: I don't think I've mentioned on this blog that I've accepted a position at Rochester Magazine. It's a great mag with a fun personality and I've enjoyed freelancing for them off and on over the years. I've taken a PT assistant editor position, and I think it's going to be a great fit for me. I'll still get to do my freelance work, but at the same time will have a chance to be more heavily involved in a larger project.

For the November issue, I've written a fun little piece on returning to the "on staff" work world. I'll be sure to post it when the issue is published.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Video Tuesday!

If you live in the Rochester area, check out the two events I'll be promoting in Jen's World tomorrow. Here's a teaser:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Last Week in Jen's World...

I've been a blogging loser -- and will be for a couple more days as I continue to play catch-up from my trip. But in the meantime, here's the column I wrote about what I did while I was away...