Hero-acquisition is a hobby of mine

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Many moons ago I started telling you about a new hero I've acquired, courtesy of Google. However, in what some of you may describe as typical behaviour from me, I digressed A LITTLE BIT (written in caps not to be yelled out loud, but merely for sheer emphasis and irony) and started rambling on about some of my other heroes instead, never revealing the person who inspired the post in the first place.

Well, being the queen of the anti-climax, I shall do so today.

Right now, in fact.

Her name is Connie Schultz and she's a columnist for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

I found out about her on that long ago day while I was poking around on Google and reading some news headlines. The Pulitzer Prize winners had just been announced and so I clicked on the link.

And boy am I glad I did, because that's how I found Connie Schultz, this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary.

I can't remember exactly why I clicked to follow the links to The Plain Dealer and Connie's columns (I originally clickety-clicked on the Pulitzer link to see who won the prize for literature), but I did, and when I got there and started reading her columns, I was hooked.

Here's why:

The first column I laid eyes on was titled: Don't dismiss trailer parks.

And then she wrote: "I am descended from trailer trash.

Mind you, I never thought of them that way. They were just my beloved grandmothers who spent their last years in compact homes set up on cinder blocks and nestled among the weeping willows of rural Ohio. Their trailers were tidy and clean and always smelled like something good on the stove, and we never called them anything but "Grandma's home."

I was in college the first time I ever heard the term "trailer trash," and it made my eyes sting. Nowadays, people don't throw that slur around with the same sloppy ease, but the stereotypes of those who choose to live in trailers endure."

And with those opening paragraphs, Connie Schultz unwittingly made a life-long (for yes, I'm very loyal to my heroes) fan out of me. So I settled in with a cup of coffee and I started delving into her archives.

Do you know what it feels like to read something someone has written and to think, "Wow, I would love to meet him/her?"

That's exactly how I feel about her. Read on. I'm sure you'll feel that way too.

Her columns are written with such eloquence, yet it reads with conversational ease.

Sometimes she writes about her personal life: husband, children, dogs and Thanksgiving dinner.

Here's her hilarious account about singing in the church choir during the Christmas season: "The choir members performing this Christmas Eve gave up precious family time and countless episodes of "CSI" for evening rehearsals. They stoically weathered simmering resentments of the musically challenged who (a) think they should be the soloists and (b) can't quite believe their ears that you-know-who got it instead. They've endured the tyranny of those who read music versus those who do not.

And, if they're the altos in the choir, they've spent endless hours as background instruments droning rum-pum-pum-pum while the sopranos send pigeons flying with their soaring descants performed on tippy-toe.

Yes. I admit it. I suffer from that dreaded affliction.

I have soprano envy.

I am an alto. I didn't want to be an alto. I wanted to be frilly and feminine and hit something higher than middle C without sounding like a mating rooster, but alas, God took one look at me and said, "Nah."

Most of the time, though, she uses her platform in the newspaper to serve as a voice for those who don't have the ability or will to speak up for themselves, from children to single moms to animals and everyone in between.

In this way, she used her digital pen as sword to fight a Cleveland restaurant that had been forcing its coat check employees to hand over all of their tips to the management. That column received such an enormous reader response that the restaurant changed its policy one day after it was published.

But the issues addressed by her goes well beyond the Cleveland city limits. At the height of the frenzied debate surrounding Terry Schiavo, Connie Schultz remembered that: "There are 71 other patients at the Florida hospice where Terri Schiavo stays."

About Ohio's Issue 1, an amendment banning gay marriages in Ohio "and all civil unions and strips health benefits to unmarried couples gay or straight at public colleges, including Cleveland State and Ohio State," she wrote these words that took my breath away: "I learned from my mother that those who are most secure in their faith feel no need to hammer others with their certainty. The walk of faith begins and ends with the journey within, and that's a path fraught with mystery and best guesses. My own faith makes me neither right nor righteous because it demands so much of me that I am still trying to find. Empathy, forgiveness, compassion - I never have enough."

I could spend a whole week rereading her columns and quoting them for you. Instead, settle in with your own beverage of choice and go and find her here. (You'll end up at a page asking your gender, date of birth, etc. Just three quick things. Slightly annoying, yes, but totally worth it. Then you'll be redirected to Connie's current columns and her archives.)

I bet that when you're done reading, you'll want to meet her too.

5 Comments

Red Dahling,
Between actively particpating in your blog, trying to keep up with my blog; which no one reads and dealing with suezilla at work ie..the pits of hell. Now you want me to read more fascinating commentary. When will it all end and I can get some sleep. Have you fed the boy yet ?

Ok, I'll do it. But don't expect me to learn anything.

Natalie said:

I am from Cleveland.
And we here don't think she's all that wonderful.

But I'm glad you do. She won a Pulitzer. That's a good thing, sure.

pylorns said:

Not Bad. Im always impressed with good writing.

martha said:

You're trying to sabotage my job hunt, aren't you?

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • martha : You're trying to sabotage my job hunt, aren't you?... [go]
  • pylorns : Not Bad. Im always impressed with good writing.... [go]
  • Natalie : I am from Cleveland. And we here don't think she's all that wonderful. But I'm glad you do. She wo... [go]
  • bookstorediva : Ok, I'll do it. But don't expect me to learn anything.... [go]
  • bookstorediva : Red Dahling, Between actively particpating in your blog, trying to keep up with my blog; which no on... [go]
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