Featured, Lifestyle, Writing

Rejecting What I No Longer Accept

February 6, 2017

Last week I wrote about the conundrum I faced growing up. I loved my dear grandmother, but as I came to adulthood, I realized how she didn’t like anyone who wasn’t white. No other way to say it. She didn’t like minorities. And she didn’t like me having minority friends. On the other side was my mother, who had also grown up under the influence of that same woman and who didn’t care what color someone was if she was a good person. True, she mostly lived in white communities, but she also had a black brother-in-law, a wonderful man whom my grandmother never accepted into the family.

At college I came into my own where race was concerned. Yes, it was in the Sixties when the world was set on end. We all had our causes: feminism, racial equality, ending the war in Vietnam, saving baby seals. When we were marching, I didn’t realize how many different ethnic groups marched beside me until I saw pictures of the crowd in the papers or on television. We were united by our causes, not divided by our racial or ethnic backgrounds.

My grandmother had been long gone when I dated the rainbow coalition in college. Japanese. Chinese. Vietnamese. Black. Mexican-American. Apache. I’m sure she would have banished me from the family as she had her own daughter. It was my choice. I didn’t consciously decide to date non-whites, but I hung out with them all the time. From study dates onward, we were thrown together. Sometimes romance happened; sometimes lust happened; other times friendship happened.

Fast forward to today. A month ago I was listening to a piece on NPR about racism. Three colleges were offering courses in the subject. I nearly drove off the road. In a political climate where anger is seemingly the new normal, I couldn’t fathom anyone teaching or taking a course in racism. Was it a how-to course? The more I listened, the more fascinated I became. These courses were a combination of self-awakening, New Age philosophy and a bit of a 12-step program. The goal was not to teach us how to be racists, but how to recognize our own racist tendencies.

On the first day of class, the teacher stood before his students and declared, “I am a racist.” He proceeded to talk about things he did routinely that show some kind of bias. Students told their own stories. The goal was to open minds to what we do or think that is subtle. Once we were aware of what we do, we could change or not. The choice was ours. I raced into the house and wrote down several things I do that are racist without me being aware of them.

  • In large cities, I cross the street if I see a group of young black men with pants dragging on the ground coming toward me.
  • When driving through poor or minority neighborhoods, I remember to lock my car doors when I seen a young man walking along a sidewalk.
  • I take pride in “having friends of all colors and nationalities.”
  • I laugh at people who make racial distinctions. One example, a man talked about an Indian shop. Another man asked if he meant dots or feathers. I thought it was funny until I realized it wasn’t.
  • I look at working men wearing camouflage jackets and think “redneck,” as if being a redneck is someone I wouldn’t want to know.

I could go on, but I think you get my drift. Until I listened to that NPR story, I might never have consciously been aware of how racist some of my actions are. Yes, you’ll say I’m keeping myself safe or just being prudent, but I know that if I saw a group of white young men with their pants on the ground, I probably wouldn’t cross the street.

I have a wise Facebook friend, Ron LeBarton, who writes about some of these issues in The Good Men Project. His latest article is about white people becoming part of the solution. https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/being-part-of-the-solution-wcz/

I’m ready to be part of the solution. Grandmother, I reject your early teachings. You were wrong, but I still love your memory of everything else you taught me. Mom, you showed me color didn’t matter. My friends at UCLA reinforced this. And now it’s time for me to stand with other white people for equality for all.

 

Featured, Freedom of Expression, Lifestyle, Mothers, Writing

Conflicts

January 30, 2017

I missed last week because I was away on vacation. No, I don’t announce it on social media or send pics from places I visit while I’m gone.  Just don’t, because I don’t want to advertise when I’m away and my house is watched by neighbors and my alarm company.

I had a lot of time to think about whatever floated across my mind. One thing that kept coming back was memories of my childhood and youth when I was growing into an awareness that people are different. The fact that different people are pretty cool came later.

Going way back, my grandmother used to walk me to kindergarten every day. One mile each way (in California, so not walking uphill in snow both ways barefooted), wide sidewalks, and plenty of other parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters walking the kids safely to the elementary school. My grandmother was a warm woman who would speak to fellow parents and grands. Over that first year, however, I gradually realized she never smiled at or spoke to the few black parents whose children went to my school. One little girl was my friend in kindergarten, but I don’t remember my grandmother ever greeting her mother.

When I came home and chattered about my day to my single, working mother, my grandmother would raise her eyebrows if I mentioned  the black girl’s name. Her frown, her slightly pursed lips, her averted eyes told me that she disapproved of something. At four and a half, I didn’t know why what I said upset her, but something did. I tried to be a good girl, but it was so hard when I realized she didn’t like my little friend.

Elementary school gave way to junior high (now called middle school) and eventually to high school. By then, we no longer lived with my grandmother, but her disapproval stuck. Living in California is like living in a huge ragout of races and ethnicities. My classrooms had a lot of Hispanics and Asian kids. I just thought of them as friends, not as my Japanese friend, or my Mexican friend, or my black friend. But, somewhere in the darker recesses of my mind, my grandmother’s disapproval remained.

By high school I was no longer living in Southern California but is a smallish town in Colorado out on the prairie. I cannot tell you how out of place I was. I entered a structured community that had two, count them two, Japanese families and three Chinese families. The Chinese families were stereotypes, running laundries and restaurants. All Mexicans were assumed to be illegal and were looked down on, even though they might have been the third or fourth generation ranchers on this prairie land. I talked with two girls on the bus my first day, only to be taken into the counselor’s office and told that I needed to watch who I sat with. There seemed to be an unwritten code that white girls didn’t sit with brown girls. Well, now.

And that was my exposure to racism in my formative years. I didn’t really perceive it as such, but it was there. I didn’t embrace it, but I didn’t play by the rules set up by teachers, grandparents, and others in my life. Thank goodness my mother didn’t care about those distinctions. She taught me that people were people and to be enjoyed for all their differences. And that set up a conflict between the teachings of my beloved grandmother and my dear mother. Which was right? How was I to find my way? How was I to chart my own path, to decide what I believed?

And then came the Sixties, when I saw the older rules bend, break, and morph into new rules. Was I going to embrace the inadvertent racist teachings of my youth? Or was I going to embrace and love differences? Talk about conflict.

To be continued next week.

Featured, Martin Luther King, Poetry, Writing

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King

January 16, 2017

The following poem is one I run every year at this time. I usually read it at events honoring Dr. King, but I had to turn down invitations this year to go on vacation with my husband.

With apologies to those who might find this too political.

STONE OF HOPE, 2011

Granite statue gazes outward,

seeks proof the dream

continues

 I have a dream

looks for footprints

on the path to freedom

that one day on the red hills of Georgia

laments ridicule of a president

with the audacity to dream

 the sons of former slaves

sees a country

broken by religious hatred

and the sons of former slave owners

hears uncivil discord not

peaceful civil disobedience

will be able to sit down together

wonders what happened

to embracing differences

at the table of brotherhood.

abandons hope of government

for all people.

I had a dream.

Granite statue gazes outward and weeps.

Featured, Lake Writers, Lifestyle, Point of View, POV, Sally Roseveare, Writing, Writing Style

Some Cliches Are True

January 9, 2017

It is said that when a writer dies, an entire library dies with her. It may be a cliche, but it is true. Take away a unique voice, and you lose all future books. Stories never told are lost forever. So when my dear friend, Sally Roseveare, lost her brief but intense battle with cancer at the end of 2016, I was heartbroken.

When my husband and I moved to Smith Mountain Lake, we knew no one. Not long after we settled into our new home, my husband found a notice in the local weekly for something called “Lake Writers” and a phone number. I called, spoke with the nicest man, Jim Morrison, and learned all about this club. Where it met. Who was welcome to join. How it functioned. I had just finished a draft of my first Mad Max novel, so I decided this would be a good group to join.

Sally was my first friend in the group, although we couldn’t have been more opposite. She was the quintessential Southern lady, soft-spoken, gentle manners, measured speech and a sensitivity that caused her to weep and laugh, sometimes at the same time. I was a free spirit from Southern California with a strong overlay of New York City snarkiness.

Sally offered to read my draft, which in my naivete, I thought was a final draft. She was kind enough to tell me it was all right as a first draft, but there were several things she thought should be changed. She said the voices of the two narrators were neither distinct nor compelling. She couldn’t tell who was telling the story without going back to the chapter heading to see whose point of view I was using. Really? Point of view? Well, maybe. Then she said I didn’t have a good hook at the beginning. I knew what a hook was, so I reread the opening chapter. She was right. No solid hook. Further, she didn’t like the way I presented the conflict. After all, this was the story of a marriage that dissolved because of the intervention of fate (an auto accident leading to traumatic brain injury) and a maniacal doctor who filled the wife’s head with ideas that weren’t her own. Hmm, no conflict? What about the fights the husband and wife had? Wasn’t that conflict? Lastly, she thought that maybe I had the wrong narrators.

Well, what did she know? Sally had only read the first fifty pages or so. The story really got rolling further along.

I continued attending Lake Writers meetings twice a month. Each time, I learned a bit more of my craft. When I was finally ready to confront my manuscript again, I realized Sally was right. No good point of view. Lousy voice. Conflict masquerading as wounded feelings without going much deeper. I needed a rewrite.

Once my main character claimed the story as her own–thank you, Mad Max, for yelling at me one night to tell the story your way–I undertook a total rewrite. Gone were the twin narrators. In was a single narrator, who had started life as a tertiary character. Gone was the conflict manifested at arguments; in came internal conflict about doing the right thing. A good starting hook.

Sally was gracious and read the rewrite, in spite of the fact that her sensitivity was challenged by my sometimes rough speech, a few f-bombs from one of the male characters, and some mildly graphic sex. She read and commented on the entire manuscript this time, questioning where I could write better, suggesting a tightening of the plot, beating me up to show the action and emotions, rather than tell them. And she was right.

And now, Sally’s great voice is silent. Her gay laughter gone, her gentle Southern accent adrift on the wind. This gentle grandmother who killed people in her cozy novels took her third novel and all her stories with her. We are left with her two novels, memories of her gentle nature, gestures of kindness that she wore like a second skin.

Rest in peace, dear friend. I will miss you always.

What do you think? Is she telling stories in Heaven, making people laugh, even as she recounts her research into the possibility of stuffing a fully-grown man’s body into a Porta-Potty? Probably.

Featured, Lifestyle, Marketing, Writing, Writing Style

Don’t Swing at a Pitch in the Dirt

January 2, 2017

This blog spawns from a series of discussions I had over the past few months with newbie writers. None had published anything; all had grand dreams of hitting that ball out of the park, a home run the first time out. I can belabor the baseball metaphor endlessly, but let us put it aside. Time to bring baseball and publishing expectations together.

What I mean by not swinging at pitches in the dirt is that the ball is out of play as soon as it gets dirty. Any player who would swing at something hoping for a hit would strike at the ball, but nothing would happen.

The same thing happens with writers. We all know we have a great book in us. We all know it will be a best seller and that we’ll enjoy fame and fortune while we whisk out our next great opus. If wishes were Porsches, Betsy would drive like a queen.

I was working with several new writers who all wanted to write the next great American novel. I hope one of them will, but it won’t be the stuff dreams are made of. (Sorry, Bogie, couldn’t resist the last line from The Maltese Falcon.) Writing, to quote my friend Brad Parks, is hard flipping work. I asked these writers what their typical writing day was in order to judge the seriousness of their hopes. Only one wrote every day. Some thought about writing every day but never found time to sit and actually write. No matter that I shared they could find twenty minutes daily to put something on paper. No matter that if they wrote 250 words a day they’d have a novel-length draft done in a year. “A year,” moaned one man. “I can’t wait a year to have a successful novel.”

And you won’t if you don’t et started, but I bit my tongue and didn’t say that. That same man wanted to know what the ROI was on writing a novel. He wanted to know what profit a book could make. If he churned out two books a year, “Could I make a minimum of $70,000?” Maybe, but not likely. Even less likely when you listen closely to “churning” out books. We’re not making butter here.

I gave a workshop with my publisher, John Koehler, at the Virginia Writers Club Symposium on what to expect when you get ready to publish. We covered getting an agent, keeping an agent, finding a publisher, self-publishing, and the dreaded public relations/marketing. We didn’t hold anything back. We tried not to be downers, but we focused on honesty. Not everyone who publishes a novel makes enough money to live on. Would that we could, but most, if not all, of us need a primary source of income while we get started. Or for our entire careers.

Publishing is not for the faint of heart. I always ask newbies what their audience is for their books. If they are honest and say “friends and family” first, then they should self-publish and promote their books accordingly. If they think their book might have commercial appeal, then they have other options. It all comes down to numbers, and these have nothing to do with royalty streams.

Before you decide whether you want to go the traditional route and seek an agent or self publish, you might try this.

  1. Take your age and add three to five years to it to learn your craft and get a decent manuscript ready.
  2. Add two or three years to find an agent.
  3. Add two or three years for your agent to sell the book.
  4. Add another one to two years once the book is sold before it is published, longer if you are seeking a print contract. In that case, add another year or two.

That’s 8 to 10 years before you have your book in print, maybe longer. AND THEN YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO MUCH OF THE MARKETING AND PROMOTING YOURSELF. Sorry to shout, but this is the kicker most writers hate. Publishers don’t spend much on promoting debut authors. If you don’t hit a home run immediately, they lose interest and there goes your next deal.

Even with this, writers continue to take chances and write because they can’t stop writing. More power to you. Knowing that the on deck circle is the only place you can dream of that game-winning homer, you go back to your keyboard and try again. I’m proud of you for sticking to your dream.

I hope I haven’t punctured your dream too much. Know what will be expected of you. Know what to expect of yourself. And put that butt in your chair, fingers on your keyboard, and get out of the way of your story. Who knows, you may be the next National Book Award winner in fiction. Go for the dream. Just don’t swing at pitches in the dirt.

Featured, Poetry, Writing

Twas the Night Before Deadline

December 26, 2016

with apologies to CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE

‘Twas the night before deadline, when all through the house

Not a writer was stirring, not even his mouse;

The laptop was set up on the table with care,

In hopes that the words soon would appear.

 

The images were nestled all snug in his head;

While visions of page proofs filled him with dread;

And good guy in mischief, and bad guy with a rap,

How to keep the right words, and edit the crap.

 

When out on the street there arose such a ruckus,

He sprang up in anger at loss of his focus.

Away to the window he flew like a flash,

Drew back the curtains and peered through the glass.

Red lights swirled on ceiling and wall,

Shattered concentration caused him to bawl.

When what to his curious eyes did appear,

Images of pages, blank and austere.

 

He wielded a pen so sure and so quick,

He knew in a moment his edits were nixed.

More rapid than eagles his cross-outs they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Bracket! now, Period! now Colon and Slashes!

On, Comma! on, Hyphen! on Quote Mark and Em-Dashes!

To the top of the page! to the top of the wall!

Now erase away! erase away! erase away all!”

 

Ideas that normally flowed freely and fast,

Now met so many obstacles they left him aghast;

So on the pages his cursor stood still,

Hours to deadline and no words to kill.

 

And then, in a twinkling, he heard in the hall

A shuffling gait of his wife’s slow footfall.

As he drew back his head, and was turning to see,

Into the study she carried fresh coffee.

 

She was dressed all in flannel, from her head to her foot,

And her clothes were all rumpled, no makeup to suit;

A cup she set on the table with care,

Steam rising and swirling, to drink it a dare.

 

Her eyes—how they twinkled! her dimples, how merry!

Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a berry!

Her droll little mouth was pursed up like a bow,

And the hair on her head was as white as the snow.

 

He wished she’d call his editor to plead

All he wanted was more time to re-read.

His editor he knew would laugh and deny,

He was behind in his contract, he could only sigh.

 

That editor so mean, so nasty and bold,

“Don’t ask for another second,” his memory so cold,

With a nod of his head and a stroke of his pen,

He showed him the way out of the mess he was in.

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to the work,

Delete key melt down, words appearing from murk,

Finally laying fingers on keyboard with a touch so slight,

He typed and typed well into the night.

 

He sprang from his chair, the manuscript to send

The deadline met, the last words “The End.”

His editor sent a note full of delight,

“Happy deadlines to all, and to all a good write!”

Featured, Lifestyle, Peace, Writing

A Time of Peace

December 19, 2016

I’ve been thinking about prayer circles lately. They come in all flavors and colors. Some are built around discussion and the calling of names of those we hold dear and protect. Others begin and end with meditation, with long periods of discussion in between. Still others are only conducted in silence.

Around the world we’ve witnessed some of the worst of human atrocities. No matter which side of a conflict one may be, the outcome from bombings, suicides and war call for us to long for peace. I know how much we’ve listened to hate speech, watched families split over their political choices, seen hate symbols proudly displayed. And we’ve also witnessed the smallest of human triumphs and goodness.

This weekend, I watched a woman in line in front of me at the mall get very upset because one customer was taking too much time (her words, not mine). She made a comment about the clerk’s ethnicity, as if that was a reason for the slowness.  I made a joke about a truly ugly Christmas sweater on a nearby mannequin. By the time she reached the clerk, we’d talked and laughed for five minutes. She was in a good mood, paid her charges quickly, smiled at me and left. Small thing, but I reached out.

One of my girlfriends was in a mall across the country when she saw a woman on the verge of tears. They were looking at cards. After several audible sniffs, my friend reached over and invited the sad woman to have a cup of coffee with her. As strangers know, stories flow without restraint. The sad woman had had to put her dog down the day before. She couldn’t go home without crying. My girlfriend sat with her for over two hours, sharing tales about their pets, crying a bit over lost furry friends. They ended exchanging email addresses with promises to have coffee again when times are better. My girlfriend knows it will happen. They’ve already made a date for between the holidays.

It’s not just women, but men generally don’t tell us they’ve done random acts of kindness. They keep their actions to themselves. Women talk to other women, hoping to find inspiration in the actions of others.

And we have reached a time of peace with the coming of the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, all are centered on peace. We might not agree, but Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are also founded on peace. Isn’t it time to look beyond the color of the skin, the head scarf, the body tattoos to see the real person underneath? We might not always like what we see, but we should look anyway, don’t you think? I like being surprised when I find the jewel.

In the words of a recent philosopher, isn’t it time to “give peace a chance?” Thank you, John Lennon, for those words of wisdom. We aren’t all living by them yet, but these’s still hope that we will. Or, “can we all get along? …Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it.” Thank you, Rodney King.

What about you? What are you doing to give peace a chance? Whether on the global scale or in your heart, you can do something to help us all get along. I’d love to know what you are doing.

I finished decorating my house and am taking a quick nap under the tree with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Featured, Kitties, Lifestyle, Writing

All About Kitties

December 12, 2016

After people complained about me exercising my Constitutional rights to freedom of speech when I posted the open letter to the president-elect, I decided to write the most benign post I could think of. Kitties are safe, unless I rile the dog people. And if I do, get a grip. So from my kitty:

My name is Mocha and my humans treat me really well. We live in a nice house in the woods, so I have lots of mousies and chipmunks to hunt and bring back as gifts. I usually don’t eat them, even though we all know kitties are apex predators in every environment they inhabit. I prefer to think these fuzzy gifts are brought home to show my love. I get plenty of laps to nap on, although not always when I want to nap. Odd, sometimes my humans actually aren’t sitting down waiting for me to jump up. I’m still training them.

I love Christmas, because I can play hide and seek under the tree. No sooner had my human mother put finished decorating the tree than I had, just had, to nap under it. I spend a lot of time there every day, although my space is shrinking. What are those boxes doing in my space? Again, my humans need to understand my needs come first. One thing I don’t like about Christmas is getting exiled to camp. They call it camp; I call it jail. I do like the people who fuss over me at the vet’s office when I board, but I’m not all that fond of the doctor. I’m sure he’s a very nice man, except when he has needles in his hand. Those I do.not.like.

I have a good life. I guard my outside property from other kitties, although the puppies in the neighborhood are kind of friendly. I have a new doggy neighbor. His name is Moose and he is huge. Not by kitty standards, but by doggy standards. Sometimes, though, doggies see my wagging tail as an invitation to play, not as a warning that I don’t want to be chased. More than one has learned that I am a weaponized kitty, which doesn’t mind laying open a nose if necessary.

Okay, I wrestled the keyboard away from the kitty by tempting her with treats. She’s off chasing the laser dot.

If you are stressed out this year, and who isn’t, invite a kitty onto your lap. Pat a puppy, Hug a horse. Our animal friends can put us at ease in no time.

And that’s my non-political post. Over and out.

Featured, Lifestyle, Nothing to Lose, NPR, Smith Mountain Lake, Writing

Pizza Guys and Others

December 5, 2016

Years ago, I read an essay that appeared on NPR about being nice to the pizza guy. Given we are now in the season of good will toward all, it bears remembering that we need to be nice to people we might not consciously notice.

So many people cross our paths every day, some more recognized than others. Think about who all knows your daily habits. Your neighbors, of course, are likely to know when you are home or not. They may not say anything about your comings and goings, but they know. And if you ever needed help with something, one of them would come over.

If you get your mail delivered rather than going to a postal box, the letter carrier knows your habits almost as much as you do. She knows what catalogs you get, where you buy things (think a lot of Amazon), when you get cards and letters. And you need to let the post office know if you’re going to be out of town for a while so it can hold your mail. The same holds true for the newspaper. In the old-old days, you had milk delivered, but that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

More people are out in stores and restaurants at this time of the year. Waitresses work longer hours. They deserve smiles, understanding, and tips for what they do. Your friendly barista may be stressed because more people want fancy, noisy coffees. Be patient. He’s doing the best he can. His machines can only make so many lattes at the same time. And the mail carrier, who cannot accept gifts, deserves letters of support to her supervisor. When the mail loads double and triple, and mail is often late, all the more reason to let management know you notice what a good job she’s doing.

What happens when service isn’t delivered with a smile, when your food arrives late and cold? Is it your right to rip the person a new one? Never, in my opinion. But if you want to politely point out that something isn’t to your liking, that’s your call. If the spirit of the season moves you, maybe you keep your complaints inside just this once. Likely as not, your server knows things aren’t perfect. Maybe just let it go.

And what about that pizza guy? The one who delivers your pizza to your door. Hot. In his own car. Using his own gas. For him, find a little extra thanks, a little extra tip, and a huge smile. He’s working hard.

 

Featured, Lifestyle, Politics, Writing

An Open Letter To the President-Elect

November 21, 2016

I don’t usually write political posts on this blog, because 1) I don’t want to be castigated, 2) I don’t want to divert from writing about happier things, and 3) I don’t want to turn away from  writing about books and the writing life. But, I have to write this letter to the President-Elect or I’ll explode. Fair warning: the opinions expressed in this letter are strictly mine. With apologies to Daisy the Curly Cat whose image graces this post.

 

Dear President-Elect,

Before I go any further, you should know I didn’t vote for you. I voted against you when I cast my vote for another name on the ballot. I liked little of what made up your platform. You can guess what I didn’t like, because I’m one of those awful over-educated women who actually follows politics, thinks about what she believes would be good for the nation, and votes accordingly. I don’t think what you ran on is good for the nation.

That said, you are the president-elect of the ENTIRE nation, not just your followers, or those who shouted hateful rhetoric at your campaign events. Now, as the president-elect, I implore you to put these hateful things and those angry people aside.

You don’t like the Affordable Care Act. A lot of people don’t, but for many it’s the only insurance they’ve ever had. It has major flaws, which I think you and your administration can fix without dumping the entire act and leaving a void for what could be years. There are 20,000,000 people with insurance under the act, many of whom will vote your party out if you allow it to be trashed without any replacement plan.

You don’t like any of the trade agreements that previous presidents worked so hard to create. If that’s truly your position, then stop buying cheap steel from China. Bring back your own manufacturing from Mexico and other countries where labor costs are so much lower. You can set a good example by putting actions behind rhetoric.

You don’t think global warming is real, that China made it up. Please, just once, listen to scientists who can tell you this is real. You may deny that greenhouse gases play a role, but denying the oceans are rising will turn your beloved Mar-a-Lago estate into beachfront property. You said you have a very good brain. Listening to experts in this field will show the rest of the voting public that you are willing to learn.

You won the Electoral College vote, but over 1,000,000 voters gave your opponent more of the popular vote than you got. What you have is not a mandate to govern; it’s a warning that if your initial choices prove unwise, the 2018 midterm elections could leave you in a very awkward place.

I may not approve of your cabinet choices. I may not approve of your advisers. I may not approve of how much attention you pay to members of your extended family who have no experience in governing. I may not approve of your rhetoric about draining the swamp in Washington. No, wait, I do approve of getting started with that last point. You have the right to assemble a cabinet you are comfortable with, but I don’t think every appointment is going to be rubber-stamped by Congress. Be wise with who you nominate.

You have a right to show the world that you can be a decent leader. I’ll be watching every appointment, every law you sign, every speech you make. As Harry Truman wisely said, “The buck stops here.” It does. Everything you put your name on will be part of your legacy of public service. I pray that it is a wise legacy.

Signed, a voter who is watching and waiting

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