Introducing: SPINE IPOETRA: a mini-series of free verse.

The Process

The Process

This process involves various books from my shelf (I’m sure my father is having a canniption just looking at this photo), one smelly cat named after Cheese, and this awful mauve carpeting that the previous owner put in and I can only reconcile by vacuuming obsessively.  I warn you: do not do this at home.  Especially, the smelly cat.

Now, without adieu, the series.  Keep in mind, this is a very professional series, meant to only be captured in some NYC gallery where they space each picture out seven feet and ask you to peer very closely at the minute details in order to get the full effect.  You are getting a sneak peek on this blog. This involves politely mumbling to the people who are already hovered around the picture so that you can squeeze through and get this fuller image.  However, this is not like a concert where you shove your way in and hope the artist falls into your open arms from some stage.  The artist, myself, is inevitably walking around holding a martini class, wearing respectable glasses without prescription, and smart shoes (loafers of some sort).  Do not worry about those stains on my pants, those came during creation.

Scene #1: Ode to Richard Wright’s Childhood

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Black Boy/ Where Are You Going/ Where Have You Been? / Saving Fish / from Drowning / Virgin Soul

Scene #2: Water Birth


This Close / After / Floating in My Mother’s Palm / Becoming Me / The Lucky One

Scene #3: “The slut you are so bent on becoming” – Jamaica Kincaid

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Lust & Other Stories / Hotel Of The Saints / One Secret Thing / speak / Roar Softly (and carry a great lipstick)

That one had an e.e. vibe.

Scene #4: Southern Gal

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What Makes Us Southern/ Three Cups of Tea / Mississippi / The Same Sweet Girls / Unruly Women / Woman Hollering Creek / Switch Bitch

Scene #5: Adolescents 

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The First Days of School / Blonde / Having a Lovely Time/ Looking Around / Writing Down The Bones / Drinking The Rain

Scene #6: Memories Before Death

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Speak, Memory / bird by bird / Or Give Me Death

Scene #7: War


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The Things They Carried / INTO THE WILD / the Language of Flowers / THE THIRD ANGEL / The Autobiography of My Mother / V.o.i.c.e.s FROM THE MOON/ A Lesson Before Dying/ Surrender

Scene #8: Catholic School Girl (For my mom and her endless lectures.  There will be no last because I will continue on this tradition). 

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My Education / The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Sex / The Language of LOVE / The LAST LECTURE

Scene #9: Drowning in my own body (for my grandmother)

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We, THE DROWNED / The Darlings / the grandmothers / little beauties / On Borrowed Wings

Scene #10: The Odyssey As Told By Women

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Moo/ Monstress

Now it’s your turn: Create your own spine poetry for National Poetry Month and link back to my blog and I will share it at the bottom of this post.  CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!

Swoon-Worthy Bookish Valentine Gift Guide


Create your own flame with this Bookish Valentine Gift Guide

The Big-Hearted Book Lover:

Big Hearted Book Lover

Big Hearted Book Lover

For the Coffee Shop Daters:


For the Bright & Bookish:


For the Note Passer:


For the Girl Who Carries Her Weight in Books:


For the Girl With Lists That Have No Titles:


Girls Who Celebrate Caturday with Books:


Bookish on a Budget (Nothing Over $15):


“My Heart is in July”

Here’s my month in photos.  If you can’t see them,  just imagine a lot of catstagrams, boyfriend faces & ice cream.  I think that pretty much sums up July.  Oh wait, you have to know that my nephew was using his “powers” to “move something with his mind” on the bottom right.  He once tried to do this in a fast food play place and because a kid near him wouldn’t be quiet, he hit him.

A few things about July:

The seagulls riding the ferry just want to be queens and kings.

Tiger’s Blood is the best snow cone flavor AND it makes you feel like you can wear a cape and no one will look at you funny.

Fromage, my cheese flavored kitten, likes to read science fiction, especially Ray Bradbury.

Girls in beach hats are sexier than girls in bikinis.

Rain boots must have ridiculous patterns or they are null and void.

Lily pads are meant to have a feet perch, so thinks the tiniest member of my family.

Coffee on a hot day makes a girl feel like “a whore in church.”  That’s the South for you.

My great-grandparents were the original hipsters so says the picture in the bottom left that my Uncle dug out of my Great Aunt June’s photo albums.

Chocolate chip pancakes and watermelons is the ONLY breakfast of champions.

& the thing that made me feel most beautiful this month was a card from my dear friend, Nat, saying: “If I could change anything about you, it would be a mistake.”

July, 2013

July, 2013

And as expected, the winner of the GIVEAWAY IS……. DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..




Elisa @ Elisasspot.wordpress.com, please send your mailing address to clmannes@gmail.com.  PS. Your blog name just makes me want to call you “Sass pot.”  So, thank you for that.  This giveaway winner was chosen by putting all of your names on slips of paper and pulling a slip from my favorite winter hat.  My Mom was the first slip pulled, but no one in my immediate family can win (kind of like the lottery…or Monopoly time at McDonalds).  Everyone else, there will be more giveaways on the way thanks to the lovely people at Penguin and their support of those of us that read.

Newsday….Errrrr…. Tuesday: Slacker Edition


Favorite Tweets:

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Favorite Search Terms:

  • bookshelves with books: Did this really need googling?

Book News:

Newsday Tuesday


Favorite Tweets:

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Favorite Search Terms:

  • tooth fairy coloring book: I can only imagine a child finding this under their pillow and being upset it isn’t a quarter.   I still think you’re a good parent.
  • hobbit coloring sheets: We’ve got some crayons on the blog recently.  This was too exciting not to post.  How would you even begin to color those hairy feet?
  • open windows and books: This is a lovely sentiment.
  • what dr seuss books really mean: Little did you know he was a political cartoonist during WWII.

Book News:

Project 365 | Week 49

Day 347 | Cat Nap

Shoved in the cushion.

Shoved in the cushion.

Don’t ask me how I got a cat this handsome or this photogenic, but he’s even a looker while he sleeps.

Day 348 | Tree Trimming

First Real Christmas Tree

First Real Christmas Tree

Brittni couldn’t believe that I didn’t know that you have to water these.  She whipped out her little watering can like a ninety-year old gardener and showed me the way.

Day 349 | Away in a Manger



My mom took my nephew to look at Christmas lights and he suddenly became a shepherd boy. Fits right in with his converses and shaggy Justin Bieber hair.  (Does anyone know how to correctly spell Bieber)?

Day 350 | Midsummer



My new life quote.

Day 351 | SELFIE



Good hair days are few and far between.  They need evidence.

Day 352 | “Glitter is the herpes of crafting”  – BD

Bookish Bulbs

Bookish Bulbs

Sunday afternoon crafting session with my cat lady double.

Day 353 | Progress Reports

Period Grades

Period Grades

Progress reports is almost never a good day.  It was even raining.  Jane Eyre should have come in and taught them a thing about the weather dictating feelings.

Project 365 | Week 46 & 47

Day 335 | Peter Pan

All Teeth

A Miniature Peter Pan.  Never wants to grow up, just jump on the bed.

Day 336 | Split Ends

Jas is really bad at the hair stylish, so we haven’t brought him.

Tail in the face, tail in the face.  Sounds like a Ren & Stimpy song.

Day 337 | It’s Risen! 


Bread that got left at my house when it was supposed to go to the Thanksgiving Table.  When making it again, it sunk.

Day 338 | Let Down Your Glory, Glory! 


Everyone needs a good sunset picture.

Day 339 | Nose Knows

The Night Creature

Day 340 | The Making

Mixing and Baking

The little bits of Thanksgiving. (Behind the scenes).

Day 341 | Quote of the Day


I thought my student’s quote and my quote went along together swimmingly. Shout out Lil’ Wayne for making that happen.

Day 342 | Double Mint Gum


Over Thanksgiving, we cloned my boyfriend.

Day 343 | Bump in the Road

If you’ve ever wondered how spoiled my cats are.

They not only model, they sleep like an old married couple.

Day 344 | Storytime

Bedtime Stories

Mau reading the menace bedtime stories.  I was kicked out of my position as almost-favorite and in stepped the boyfriend.

Day 346 | Happy Days

Christmas Card Photo

I won’t really put this in my Christmas card, but I will blast it out all over the blogosphere.  If you want a Christmas card, just email! : ) It’ll be like A Month of Letters all over again.


Project 365 | Week 44 & 45

My life can be summed up into four categories: Love, Teach, Pet, Write.

Day 314 | I Know I am

This is what it means to be a teacher.

I sat him next to a girl who is constantly told how awesome she is.  She literally told me last week that in her house, she’s not allowed to use words that she can’t spell.  That means no Mary Poppins’ fun as a child. (Supercalifragilisticexpeealadocious) He’s awesome too, and apparently, he knows it.  9th graders are ingenious.

Day 315 | Planner


I think this really shows how much I have my priorities in order.  Don’t celebrate your first 9 weeks as a teacher EVER, but do celebrate the candy holiday!

Day 316 | Beer Belly

Cat Nap

My kitten hasn’t mastered sleeping arrangements yet, or maybe she has.  Whatever she does, she takes up the whole couch and I’m squished in the corner.  It’s true, cats have staff.

Day 317 | Obama V. Romney in 9th Grade English

Soap Box Preaching

I gave my students the last 30 minutes of Tuesday to do soap box campaigns.  They each got a minute or two to stand up and prove their point.  While it was animated and theatric, it was also informational.  My students were surprisingly well-informed.  Here’s the board after the soap box.

Day 318 | Bookishness

Nothing less than obsessed with my book stats on goodreads.

It’s like the geekery that I’m supposed to have for facebook, I instead have for book social media. I’m sure you all would agree. : )

Day 319 | Bedtime Skype


I look drunk on tiredness.  I’m sleeping in it with that smile.  However, going to bed with hearts and smiles, there’s no other way.

Day 320 | OMM Writer

OMM Writer

I may not be doing NaNoWriMo, but I’ve written 4,755 words in November on OMM Writer.  After this blog, I’ll be up to 5,000 hopefully. I’m writing a short story that at this point, makes little sense.  It’s just words and eggs and girls in Shakespeare.

Day 321 | First Stockings

Santa, Baby!

The boy and I may be earlier than radio Christmas music, but we have new stockings and a tilted worldview.

Day 322 | Acorn Garland

Fro and the Great Outdoors Come to Christmas

The best thing about raking and blowing the yard all day is finding acorn caps for an acorn garland.  If you don’t have a lot of money and you have a little Christmas tree, you can make your own.  It may look more Charlie Brown than Martha Stewart, but you’ve made something with your own hands and recyclable materials.

Day 333 | Cat Nap

Can’t sleep with the cheeser.

The big cheese went all Wisconsin on Jas’ butt.

Day 334 | Miss Honey

Oh, you know…

Just my Miss Honey moment this week (from Matilda).  Monogrammed cupcakes from 9th graders, who knew they had hearts under all those hormones?

Project 365 | Week 41

Guys, my blog has been sucking.  Don’t worry, this week there will be book reviews and bookgasms and bookishness.  I’m finally getting used to my schedule of taking classes and teaching classes and grocery shopping.



Sunday Drive

This week is going to be a drive through my small town.


Wires & Land

This is one of my favorite places on my drive home.  It’s where the farms are mixed with a bit of wire.

I read this poem this week and it’s what reminded me that I can find something beautiful in something ugly.

Valentine for Ernest Mann – Naomi Shihab Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.


Shower Curtain Light

Ignore the claw marks.  That would be my kitten, Fromage.  She not only likes cheese, but curtains, blankets, decorative chairs, etc.


My little town involves their secret cuddles.

Secret Canoodling!

I can’t help but take these photos.

They should be on that new Animal Planet show dedicated to cuteness.


Slash & Burn

This is good for the harvest.  This is good for the harvest.  This is good for the harvest.


Children’s Section of The Country Bookshop

I went to get the next book in The Wildwood Chronicles because it’s written for 24-year-olds and fifth graders.   I happened upon this chalk door, (like a gate into the secret garden).   Don’t worry, I didn’t break the seal of childhood by selecting a chunk of chalk and scribbling a 24-year-old heart onto the door.  I really wanted to though, maybe next time.

PS. This is The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines.  Their motto is “Bringing the World to Southern Pines.” 


“We like big bird….with ranch & hot sauce.”

Political voice in small town America.


Poe looks dashing in blue.

Somehow, I managed to mix Lewis and Edgar in one Creative Writing Club flyer.

Project 365 | Week 39

The week that I was introduced to 2chainz and took more pictures of my cats.

Day 272:


As a child, I didn’t plan fairytales and imagine wedding dresses, I made lists.

And then it became this…

Single handedly keeping the post-it note company running.

Day 275:


Can you imagine what I’m going to be like when I have real live actual babies?

Day 276:

Picasso Toaster Struddle

I should have had him sealed into glass and sold at auction.  It’s like finding the face of Jesus in your french toast.

Day 277:

“Listen Immediately.”

My students thought I needed to be educated immediately.  After I told them I listened to NPR and explained what National Public Radio meant, they thought it necessary that I listened to these songs.

Some lyrics:

“Scrr..Scrr.. Wrists moving, cookin’ to it
I’m in the kitchen, yams everywhere
Just made a juug, I got bands everywhere”

You should take that literally, yams everywhere.  2Chainz loves the autumn season.

Day 278:

Burning House

Yesterday, I discovered this awesome website called The Burning House.

It has pictures of what everyone would grab if their house was burning down.

This is my burning house list.


  • Journal
  • Bird Bookmark
  • Grandmother’s Necklace
  • Travel Sewing Kit
  • Cat(s)
  • Easter Gnome
  • God Shaped Hole | Tiffanie DeBartolo
  • The BFG Post Card
  • Letter from my Mother
  • Jade Elephant from my Father
  • Journals of Sylvia Plath with Sticky Notes
  • Annotated Alice from my Mother
  • Sally Doll
  • Grandparents
  • Shoebox from my Father

I’m more sentimental than literal.  I would probably need a pair of underwear, my computer, and wallet.  If you do this on your blog, I really want to see what you’d take so link back in the comments.

My grandparents are the most important thing in this pile. My mother writes me letters about her childhood whenever I live far away – those are the second most important thing.

Day 279:

Outfit Choices for Teaching

In the morning, I send my mom my outfits.  She always gives the best outfit advice.  The second and third outfits were actually worn.  My students tell me that pants that high-waist  are called “mom jeans” and I need to stop wearing them so high.  Due to the traumatic experience of wearing “mom jeans” last week, I chose not to wear them this week.

Day 280:

The ultimate Taylor Swift Love Story.

My sweet babies. Jasper is deathly afraid of the living room fan so he needs the comfort of a woman.