Thinking Out Loud* – The ‘She/Her’ Thing

Last month I took part in a two week, on-line residency where everyone announced their pronouns when they introduced themselves and tagged their zoom name with their identifying pronouns. Until then, I had never felt the need to put my pronouns in my email signature or to introduce myself by stating my pronouns.

I mean, why should I? I’m normal.

Oh crap.

There it is.  Cisgender privilege running the show.

Consider the possibility that being cisgendered isn’t the only identity. Consider being someone other than who you are. Consider how announcing your pronouns might let others know not only who you are but also that you are open to whatever pronouns they choose. Consider the welcoming relief of this simple recognition.

So why do I put she/her after my name? Because I want you to know that I don’t assume what your pronouns are. I want you to know that I embrace the possibility of what you choose.

 

*As the youngest in my bio-family, I was a late talker. The walking talking tribe of my older sisters and my parents were paragraphs and sentences ahead of me when I arrived. I was hesitant to speak up, to think out loud. I thought I had to be perfect. Hah!  This series, for however long it lasts, is about me speaking up and thinking out loud. 

Writing Tip #3 – Write The Ending

I love writing. I love teaching. I love teaching writing. I love listening to writers talk about their manuscripts. I love problem solving with writers. I love the delicacy and boldness of writing. These tips are things I’ve learned over the years that have held me in good stead and kept me going through the hard dry times. I hope they help you.

And hey, they are only one minute long. Click here.

“This writing tip comes from the great Marion Dane Bauer. Give yourself permission to write the end of your story. Seriously. Sometimes when we are in the dark long middle of a manuscript, we get glimmers of the ending. We feel where we want the story and our beloved characters to end up. Go ahead. Write it. Yes, it may change but sometimes writing the ending is like a creating a homing device so that when you return to the middle, you know where you are headed. You know how to find your way home.”

Thinking Out Loud*-A New Kind of Intimacy

Recently, I was walking my dog through the neighborhood and ran into a long-time acquaintance. Standing six feet from each other, we exchanged Co-Vid pleasantries and then there was a pause, and he said, “Doesn’t everything feel weird and awkward? Like everyone is afraid. It makes me sad.”

I nodded. I understood. But I didn’t feel the same. “I think we are having to learn a different kind of intimacy.”

His brow creased. ‘What do you mean?”

“I mean, last night, I went to a dinner at a friend’s house. There were four of us. One of the guests has Stage 4 liver cancer. Her husband set the protocol for what they felt was safe: Eating outside without a mask was safe. Anytime we were inside, fixing food or cleaning up, we wore masks. We all agreed ahead of time so that when the evening came, we went about having a sweet time. And we did. We told really good stories and laughed a lot. The agreement felt like an act of intimacy.”

His brow didn’t uncrease. “Wow. Well, that’s pretty interesting.” A polite minute later, he said, “Well, I gotta go.”

I had to smile. There you go, Lindsey, making people uncomfortable. Again.

Was it because I used the word intimacy?

Maybe. So often, intimacy gets defined as sex. In fact, too often being close to someone gets funneled through the tiny keyhole called sex.

A million years ago, I made a list. It was titled: A Thousand Ways To Be Intimate. I think I wrote down a hundred. Then I cut them into little strips, rolled each one up and put them in a jar. Sometimes I would pull one out with a friend or lover, and we would do what the paper suggested. Things like: Go outside, put a blindfold on one person and let the other person lead you slowly around your neighborhood. Make a bouquet of flowers from your neighborhood. Simple stuff. Some were sensual. None were overtly sexual. But each one expanded the idea of intimacy.

Like agreeing to have dinner with friends in such a way as to keep one another safe.

*As the youngest in my bio-family, I was preverbal for many years. My sisters and my parents were a walking, talking tribe. Paragraphs and sentences ahead of me. Consequently, I became an exquisite listener. I didn’t speak up. I didn’t practice trying out my thoughts because I didn’t want to embarrass myself by saying anything less than perfectly. To express myself, I became a writer, carefully crafting thoughts and sentences and putting them out into the world. But even in that arena, I have been tentative. This series, for however long it lasts, is about me speaking up and thinking out loud.

Writing Tip #2-Brave & Vulnerable

I love writing. I love teaching. I love teaching writing. I love listening to writers talk about their manuscripts. I love problem solving with writers. I love the delicacy and boldness of writing. These tips are things I’ve learned over the years that have held me in good stead and kept me going through the hard dry times. I hope they help you.

And hey they are only one minute long. Click here.

(aargh…YouTube, you are testing my vanity.)

“Brave and vulnerable. When people ask me what it takes to be a writer, I say you have to be brave and vulnerable. Brave because you are about to create a world on a blank screen or sheet of paper and vulnerable because, I think for that story to be successful you have to touch the reader’s heart and to touch the reader’s heart you have to be willing to be vulnerable and go to the deep places inside yourself.”

Thinking Out Loud* – White Privilege

I have marinated in white, chauvinist, capitalist culture my entire life. That admission is a statement of fact. What’s harder to admit is how that culture has blinded and deafened and dumbed me so much that it is sometimes very difficult for me to see my own stupidity when I speak.

It happened last week.

I love checking out the late-night hosts for their spin on current events. Colbert was interviewing Stacey Abrams (It starts about minute two) about 45’s phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger. I watched how Stacey listened to Stephen’s quips about the situation. She smiled, almost laughing at times but she waited for the moment to take the wheel of the conversation and remind Colbert that Raffensberger may not have buckled to 45’s pressure but make no mistake, he is not a champion of voting rights in Georgia and cited what he has done to hinder people having their votes counted. Boom. No prolonged soapbox. Just a quick reality check.

I exclaimed to a dear one how smart, how articulate Abrams is.

He said, “Um, you know, your white privilege might be showing.”

I gasped. I started to protest. I shut up.

Of course, Stacy Abrams is smart and articulate and all those things that any well educated woman can be. Did I point it in the way that I did because she is Black? Was I exclaiming about it because I am white and oh so surprised?

Truth is, I don’t know.  BUT I can definitely claim how privileged my words sound. And I can definitely claim how I am blind to this privilege.

In fact, I do it all the time. I exclaimed about this interview in the NYTIMES about Rev William Barber and his clarity of his thinking about poverty, race and politics. As if what? He wouldn’t?  Did I say it that way because, on some level, I am surprised by people whose skin color is different from mine can have such clarity of thought?

Ugh. Possibly.

But here’s the deal…Or at least I think it is the deal right now…Instead of getting all ashamed and defensive about my blinders and deafness and general soaking in white chauvinist capitalist culture, I can stumble forward, listening differently, opening my eyes more widely and speaking up not as an authority but as part of a bigger conversation. I can stop being surprised. I can be grateful that there is a new fabric of brilliance weaving itself into my consciousness. And I can welcome people’s nudges when my white privilege is showing.

*As the youngest in my bio-family, I was preverbal for many years. My sisters and my parents were a walking, talking tribe. Paragraphs and sentences ahead of me. Consequently, I became an exquisite listener. I didn’t speak up. I didn’t practice trying out my thoughts because I didn’t want to embarrass myself by saying anything less than perfectly. To express myself, I became a writer, carefully crafting thoughts and sentences and putting them out into the world. But even in that arena, I have been tentative. This series, for however long it lasts, is about me speaking up and thinking out loud.