March 2015

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EVENT! Featured Reading by Dammit Author Anita Kulina at the Millvale MASH @ Grist House Brewing (10 E. Sherman Street, Millvale, PA), Monday, April 13 @ 7:30 p.m., 21 and over event. Come hear Anita read and discuss “Accounts Receivable” while enjoying a beverage, brewed or otherwise. Or share some of your own talent. For more information, click here.

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Welcome, Dammit!

In this issue, Scott Bradley Smith talks about where
he learned to pay attention to stories.

What I Learned at Deer Camp
by Scott Bradley Smith

Where I really developed a sense of story was at deer camp. What I quickly learned was that deer camp was about a lot more than the hunting. It was also about the camaraderie, comprised of a lifetime of shared experiences, which often became memorialized in stories.

Talk about storytellers. In the evenings after dinner and dishes, our dads would sit around the table—lit by kerosene lamps, maybe a Coleman lantern—where they smoked pipes and cigars, drank tall cans of Schaeffer’s, and told stories of deer camps past, letting them fly scattershot around the room.


Dammit author Laura Lind talks about one guilty pleasure
and how it influenced her sense of story.

Stranger than Fact?
by Laura Lind

As a firm believer in the saying “Fact is stranger than fiction,” I am drawn to true stories—memoirs, personal essays and documentaries. It’s therefore with somewhat embarrassed curiosity that I realize how I spent more than 30 years—watching a soap opera.

When I was ten, I started watching Guiding Light with my mom. I became absorbed in the tales of blackmail, infidelity and impossible resurrection from the dead. For many pre-VCR years, I dashed home after school to see what evil the villainous Roger Thorpe was doing, or whether long-term couple Reva and Josh would reunite.

I view soap operas as being in a genre much like sci-fi, with their own set of rules. An infant can disappear for a year and return as a 20-year-old. People can drive off bridges or fall from cliffs and survive. In one storyline, Reva Shayne was cloned. In another, she had amnesia and became Amish. She married every male in the Lewis family, some multiple times.

Ridiculous as the storylines were, the show provided an odd sense of stability. Many of the actors had been on the show for nearly as long as I’d watched, so I knew how their characters’ lives had evolved over decades. I watched the characters—and the actors who played them—grow up or, in some cases, age and die. One of the most touching episodes I remember occurred after the death of actor William Roerick, who played the wealthy Henry Chamberlain. Instead of replacing him with another actor, as often happens in soaps, his character died as well. Watching Henry’s daughter mourn his loss on the show was even more heart-wrenching, knowing that the actress had lost a longtime friend, as well.

A number of my friends and relatives watched Guiding Light, as well, so it was a means of bonding. When my aunt visited from Connecticut each year, we would stay up after everyone else went to bed and watch my taped episodes. My friend Elinor and I created our own Guiding Light storylines, which we acted out in my living room. In the five years since Guiding Light went off the air, I still occasionally reminisce with a friend about the show.

I will probably never get involved with another soap opera, but I will fondly remember the unusual (and, in many ways actually, stranger-than-fact) world I visited for an hour each weekday for 30-some years.

What happens when someone shares a story with us—a true story, a story from their heart-of-hearts?

We feel connected. We realize the commonality of our emotions. How we are, as human beings, all the same. We all falter. We all fear. We all stumble. And we can all come back stronger.

This book contains those stories.

© 2015 Brandt Street Press LLC. All rights reserved.