Tag Archive for connection

Understanding The Other

by Linda Lambert

You may remember Laura Rink’s first Resistance blog on Ignorance in which she sought “to understand my fellow Americans better,” those individuals who were other—not white, straight, or middle class as she is. She developed a substantive list of ten books.

Like Laura, I seek to deepen my understanding of others, to seek connection, and to have empathy. A whole lot of Americans, including members of my own family, voted differently than I did. To me, they are “other.” And that’s why I requested and picked up the following book at the South Whatcom Library: The Making of the President 2016.

Subtitled “How D______ T____ Orchestrated A Revolution,” and authored by a conservative political strategist who played a significant part in electing Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Roger Stone’s tome was an unlikely volume for me to tote home.

I am reading a book by a man who has written for Breitbart and Fox News, and who has been banned by CNN and MSNBC for his “politically incorrect” criticism of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Roger Stone is a guy who says the reporting standards of alternative media “are superior to the networks and the cable news behemoths.” To get a feel for who he is, watch this interview by Charlie Rose on CBS News.

I am reading a book by the author whose provocative tiles include The Man Who Killed Kennedy, The Case against LBJ, The Bush Crime Family, The Clintons’ War on Women, and Nixon’s Secrets.

On election night, so many of us were gobsmacked: “How could this have happened?” Roger Stone provides his answers, divided into three parts, in The Making of the President 2016 (362 pages):

  1. How D____ T_____ Hijacked the Republican Presidential Nomination
  2. How Hillary Clinton Stole the Democratic Presidential Nomination
  3. How T_____ won the White House.

(In writing this review, I have broken Red Wheelbarrow’s rule to avoid the name of the current president, but omitting his name from the title and headings of Stone’s book is unacceptable to this librarian.–The RWB webmaster made an editorial decision to blank out all but 45’s initials above)

I read with respect for an author who provides thirty (30!) pages of well-researched endnotes and for a writer who has contributed Op-Ed pieces to The New York Times. Yes, Stone is politically my opposite, but what he writes contributes to my understanding of those who voted for an individual I do not respect.

The election of our current president moved me, a newbie to the activist movement to Do Something! My wife and I marched in the Bellingham Women’s March. Then we joined Whatcom Undaunted, a newly formed group founded by Betsy Gross, one of dozens of groups under the Indivisible umbrella.

I lean on the twenty-five smart, involved women who meet every three weeks to have study sessions, share information, and promote action. You can check out our website built by Sue Ming and myself under Pam Helberg’s leadership. Work on the website has been my main contribution so far, but I have upped my attention to the League of Women Voters material and meetings and I strongly believe the quotation emblazoned on our website (“A leader once convinced that a particular course of action is the right one must be undaunted when the going gets tough.”—Ronald Reagan) and the description of our group: “We are a group of energized women dedicated to generating positive change.”

The act of resistance, too often heavy on pushing back, fighting back, and counteracting, necessitates forward movement, especially by those inclined toward the creative arts. As Toni Morrison said:

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

The writers in Red Wheelbarrow already knew that. That is why we publish a Resist essay every week.

Author’s Bio: Linda Q. Lambert is a retired community college library director, a recent graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Southern Maine, the mother of four sons and three daughters, and grandmother to thirteen. She also holds a masters degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California and one in library science from Emporia State University. She’s working on a bio-memoir of George Reuben Anderson, a civil war vet and her great grandfather. 

She inserted the initial Q in her name to honor the Quinbys who adopted her and to eliminate the alliterative overkill of Linda Lee Lambert. She is married to Amory Peck. Linda blogs at lindaqlambert.com

A Life of Words

When I was in 8th grade, my mother gave me a Christmas present: a blank five year diary. The green vinyl cover was held closed with a lock and key. I wrote every day in that diary, important things like “Betsy missed school again because she has mono” or “I’m going to the World’s Fair.”

This gift from my mother revealed two huge messages. The first: that I can write and it feels good. The second: that a private place to write is a safe place to express my inner thoughts. The written word served as the river on which to float my inner thoughts. I discovered writing letters. I joined the high school newspaper and became co-editor, but I never published anything that I wrote. I discovered Ayn Rand and I decided I was one of the few. My best trotted out high school fantasy was to be invisible, thus freeing myself from my daily embarrassments, such as having curly hair or boys not liking me. I lost interest in the diary. Eventually the key went missing, I cut off the latch, and I tossed it in the garbage.

At the end of my college career, the rise of feminism was encouragement that I needed. I am from the consciousness-raising generation of American women, encouraged to tell each other our stories and share our previously private truths. I took to heart the phrase “The personal is political.” In those years when Walter Cronkite was replaced by “All Things Considered”, I wrote isolated essays and short stories, and then turned to journaling, a habit I continued for thirty years. I filled notebook after notebook with my slanted handwriting, teasing out those inner thoughts that were inconvenient to express aloud. In my fifties, in the midst of a personal crisis, I threw all of my journals out.

I lived in Kentucky for 32 years, an out lesbian making tactical decisions to survive and thrive in a difficult environment. When I ventured into my first writing class, I tried my hand at short pieces while encouraged by the instructor to politely mask my identity. During this class I wrote a piece that I am particularly fond of, entitled “What Is Said, What Isn’t Said.”

Barack Obama’s inauguration spurred the start of my blog. My then-partner-and-now-wife Lynne and I, along with two friends, drove ten icy hours to Washington DC and stood on the Mall in 18 degree weather for eight hours to witness his inauguration. This experience was so rich and so many people wanted to hear about it, that I posted the story online (http://skyandlynne.blogspot.com). I’ve continued sharing stories from my life through that blog since then. Blogging opened up a pipeline of responses from readers, who comment or email me, often with their own stories, inspired by what I wrote. Eight years later, I have accumulated a body of work: stories, nature writing, essays, and poems that I am proud to reflect on. I also have been enriched by connections with readers. (And it’s all free!)

Every word that I am able to write is precious to me because I write with a monkey on my back. The monkey is self-doubt and self-criticism. Joan Leegent calls it an occupational hazard for writers. John Steinbeck wrote about excruciating self doubt. Garth Stein speaks about it. In a workshop at Whatcom Community College, Dawn Groves attributed it to our biological mind wanting to protect us from hazards. It stops my hand, it tangles up my energy and before long, I am playing Freecell!

The advice of many successful writers is to develop a sustainable writer’s work ethic, to keep pen to paper despite the critical voice challenging my every word, to keep at it. I have a standing date with two different friends to write each week, a structure that keeps my fires burning and jump starts my writing throughout the week. I also find inspiration by connecting with other writers, through gatherings (RWW), workshops (Village Books) and conferences (Seattle7) as well as listening to interviews with published authors (Chuckanut Radio Hour).

Shortly after I moved to Bellingham in 2009, I joined a writing group at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. I found myself in the company of people who were wilder than I was (not a high mark since I am more weedy-colorful-garden-wild and not hike-the-Pacific-trail-while-recovering-from-heroin wild.) My only obstacle was my own inner critic. I have learned so much about the craft and power of writing from sitting down face to face with this diverse group. It offers me a venue for my written efforts, and also proves to be a way to deepen connections with other people. Being part of a writer’s group is not only a chance to be heard, but a chance to listen to other writers. Like the diary my mother gave me, this writing group has been a gift that I didn’t know to ask for.

Taking care of my mother as she progressed through dementia is the subject of the memoir I am working on.

I appreciate the writing community in Bellingham, and I extend my thanks to the supportive, stimulating energy of the Red Wheelbarrow Writers.

“You are never too young or too old to write something fantastic.” — Jim Lynch

Author’s bio:

SkySky Hedman’s blog, SkyandLynne.blogspot.com continues to be a venue for her personal essays/stories, and a rewarding connection with readers. She is currently compiling a memoir about being her journey of being a reluctant caregiver for her elderly demented mother. She sends a special shout out to the BUF Writer’s group, which has been a steady source of writerly help and friendship. Her work at the Alaska Ferry supplies her with a good supply of stories each week while leaving her time to enjoy the beautiful northwest with her spouse, Lynne and dog, Winnie. She looks forward to more connections with readers and writers, and thanks the Red Wheelbarrow Writers for their support of the local writing community.