Q & A

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I am Sharon Lyn Stackpole. I am a past journalist, past public official, sometime pianist and always have been, always will be, an artist.

I’m sharonlyn9 on Twitter. For now.

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“How is it that you have a pacemaker? You’re so young.”

I have tachy-brady syndrome. My heart stops when I sleep. I also have atrial flutter. Between a calcium channel blocker, a beta blocker, and a pacemaker — ablation being unsuccessful — I was told my rhythm is now as close to normal as they’ll ever get it. Somehow, that sounds perfectly within my character.

There is a family history.  I lost my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother early, each to fatal heart attacks, in my childhood. My pacemaker was implanted in 2004, when I was in my thirties.

I am a You’re the Cure Heart Health advocate for the American Heart Association. I’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill for stronger legislation on heart health issues.

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“Are you a writer?”

If you mean have I ever been paid for what I wrote, the answer is yes. I have worked as a stringer, columnist, reporter and sometime copy editor (in more or less that order).

I have been a freelance writer for Wonderful West Virginia magazine. I write poetry, fiction and short narratives for the Art House Co-Op in Brooklyn, NY.

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“Are you an artist?”

Yes.

An artist is someone who enjoys looking at the world through their own eyes, not someone else’s.

Artists grant themselves the right to feel what they feel, when they feel it. And then they can turn it into something compellingly beautiful — if they so choose.

Everything in life, from the said quality to the outcome, it’s all choice. You know it’s so.

I am also an affiliate member of the Global Art Agency.

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“Are you a musician?”

Now we get to the difficult question. Now I understand why others hesitate when asked, “Are you a writer?” “Are you an artist?” Because this is the one I want so badly to call myself and I also can’t really claim it.

Music to me seems the most beautiful way to articulate emotion in a way that words and even image could not, though the latter two complement very well.

I am not formally trained and my playing is deeply flawed.

So: no.

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“Don’t you feel self-conscious having people know everything about your business?”

This used to be my answer:

I could, but why start now?

This is my answer now:

I started.

Yes, I do. Thank you for noticing.

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“Why did you first get involved in politics?”

Which reason would you accept?

I held a municipal office from 2003-2010.

I’m a registered independent (non-partisan).

I got involved in politics because the town needed a municipal Recorder, and the person they wanted wasn’t interested, and that person suggested me.

In other words, I was second choice, but I was okay with that.

I enjoyed my job very much. It felt good to be a part of something — to feel as if I was effecting positive change.

Apathy is a real problem in our society, from where I’ve seen it. If you really care, if you want to make a difference,  get off your computer and go talk to, go work with, the people with faces.

That’s where you can really do something real, all right?

Otherwise it’s just noise.

I’m not in municipal politics any more. Like newspaper journalism, it was more of a time and a place kind of thing. There’s always another path to take.

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“Where did you go to school?”

Fairmont State. Then, West Virginia University. Both are excellent.

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“I like your drawings and paintings. I wish I enjoyed art like I used to….long story but I was almost an art major. When it became “work” though, it seemed less enjoyable.”

Oddly enough, I think “almost an art major” is what my college adviser wrote on my permanent file. I’m being facetious, of course. I love my college adviser, even still. We’re friends.

I understand, and I felt the same way, at the time. I very much disliked the idea of creation as an assignment. I still do.

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“You’re from Virginia? Richmond’s really pretty.”

*sigh* All of Virginia is pretty. However. West Virginia seceded from Virginia in 1863. Pay attention.

Though I was [technically] born elsewhere – having no control at the time over where I was dropped – I was declared a bona fide West Virginian in 1995 by a judge, barring all details as to why that was necessary.

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I grew up here, I went to school here, all my children were born here, and they went to school here too. I love my home state, and don’t you dare misalign it to me, around me, or near me.

It’s home to me, and either you get that or you don’t. If you don’t, door’s that way.

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“Your blog is so personal. Is it just for friends and family?”

“I never met a reader I didn’t like.” –Will Rogers. Mind you, Will Rogers didn’t meet everybody.

It’s not just for friends and family, but also for complete strangers.

Which is totally dangerous.

And I don’t recommend it for anyone.

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“Do you have depression? And if you do, why are you talking about it?”

Why wouldn’t I talk about it, is the real question. I think that’s part of the problem: jillions of people are going around pretending they aren’t depressed when they are, and saying they’re fine when they’re not, and then they worry that they’re crazy, when they’re anything but crazy; they’re just lonely, because they’re not telling the truth, maybe no one is.

We all go around with our masks on pretending to be okay but the truth is, life is difficult and love is a gamble and we’re going to care a lot about people whether they reciprocate or not.

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So really, look at it another way. You’re not crazy. You’re brave. Why? Because you’re still here.

Face it. All of this life is tremendously difficult to navigate, and on any given day who can say how responsible anyone is going to be with everyone on their dance card? It’s scary.

I talk about it partially because I’m whistling in the dark and it makes me feel better, but also because if I feel it then surely someone else feels it too.

And then also: the only thing worse, for me, than feeling miserable: is feeling miserable and alone. So okay then — at least you aren’t alone.

That’s something, isn’t it?

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“Your blog is so honest. How do you find the courage?”

I don’t know.

I reason that if I feel it, someone else has felt it, and if I say it first, maybe that person will feel a little less alone.

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For myself nothing as felt so awful as the feeling that I’m completely alone in the world. And even now, I have that feeling a lot.

Though if you live as long as I have –

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you’ll find that’s not such a bad thing. Embrace your environment is my advice. Love your space. Got damn, do you know how nice it is to have alone time? It’s beautiful. Don’t complain. Enjoy it.

I can’t help feeling that no one is really reading what I write anyway.

–And I also wish more and more these days that were really true.

No offense. It’s not you. It’s the world and the pantheon of trolls that the internet has become. Not your fault. Try not to let my shock and horror offend you. You’re just not standing where I am.

 

This quote (which has become my favorite) was given to me by one of my first bosses, who most unfortunately died of a heart attack on the tennis court some years ago. (I read about it in an AP release, on the job, while I was working as a reporter at the News-Register. And I said, “Hey, I know that guy. Er,…knew that guy.”)

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” — T.H. White (The Once and Future King)

…So I make it my aim to go out there every day and try to learn something. And avoid tennis courts at all costs. The internet, too, if I can. I suggest you do the same.

4 Comments

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  1. I am a Brady from Buckhannon, WV. Will send you an e-mail about Brady heart info. This family heart problem is different it appears.

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