Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cam Lasley

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to an amazing man, Cam Lasley. He's a hip hop artist, who has a difference - not a disability. "Isn't everyone else different too?" he asks.

Aren't we?

You'll want to read the interview with him in TRUE, The Missing Link in Hip Hop and Fashion.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I had the privilege of meeting Elizabeth ("Lisa") Heineman the summer of 2010, when we both attended Hope Edelman's memoir writing class at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Lisa is a professor at the University of Iowa, and an incredible writer as well as a learned scholar in the areas of gender, women's and sexuality studies. She shared her story with our writing group: the devastating loss of her stillborn son, and subsequent healing from the experience.

It is my bias that what makes many memoirs hard to read, is the lack of healing, the lack of transformation, the lack of insight and growth. Lisa's book, Ghostbelly, does not suffer from that, her process is complete and all on the page. Ghostbelly is Lisa's story of her home birth that ends tragically. How Lisa and her partner, Glenn, actively grieve their profound loss, is what made this book gripping. Lisa and Glenn make arrangements with the mortician, to bring their son, Thor, home for overnight stays, before he is buried. This may sound morbid and hard to read. I will admit that this book pushed me out of my comfort zone in many regards, but that is also one of the many things I loved most about it.

Lisa is refreshingly open about her non-traditional, "unorthodox" life. I, having a very traditional life and playing very traditional roles, appreciated being more intimately connected to someone so different from me, yet with all the most important things in common.

There is something going on in my community of friends and fellow parishioners - we're in a dying season. It feels as though not a week goes by that death does not touch someone I know. Lisa's memoir was helpful in that regard - helpful to to be reminded just how personal grief is, how deep, how differently it can be felt and experienced, processed and transformed. I have more compassion having read the book, for the vastness of grief.

To be able to write such a beautiful and personal account of something so horrific, is a trick not many writers can pull off. Lisa Heineman does.

*Ghostbelly is available through the publisher, The Feminist Press, as well as other places. 

Advance Praise for GHOSTBELLY: 

 “Ghostbelly is by far the most beautifully written and intimate account of something a lot of us have 

gone through, which is the death of an unborn child. It's an incredible and moving book, and I'm so 

thankful for it.” 

—Jane Pratt, founding editor of xoJane and Sassy 

“Ghostbelly illuminates the complex emotional landscape of stillbirth—putting into frank and poetic 
words the unspeakable experience of simultaneously grieving and mothering a baby who has died. 
Groundbreaking for its exploration of the unexpected benefits of reclaiming traditional rituals around 
birth and death, Ghostbelly brilliantly demonstrates the value in determining what holds meaning 
for you, and then unapologetically going for it, no matter what others might think.”  
—Deborah L. Davis, author of Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your 

Ghostbelly contains some of the most powerful and heart-wrenching sentences about mourning the loss 
of a baby I have ever read.  —Perry-Lynn Moffitt, author of A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss 

“This is a book about birth and death seen with a smart, sensitive, well-trained eye.” —Barbara Katz 
Rothman, author of In Labor and Laboring On 

“Lisa Heineman's Ghostbelly is a poignant, haunting work. Lisa does not ask for permission, and in her 
unapologetic honesty—that sometimes becomes audacity—we find courage and freedom.” —Jen 
Silverman, playwright and winner of 2013 Yale Drama Series 

ELIZABETH HEINEMAN is a professor of history and of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies at the 
University of Iowa. Her other books include Before Porn was Legal, Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, and 
What Difference Does a Husband Make? She lives in Iowa City, Iowa. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Dollar Menu

Wil was on a frozen yogurt kick that went on for years. I don't even want to add up all the money we spent on his habit. At one point we were going daily, and nine times out of ten he'd bring along a friend, and I'd pay for the friend, too. And let us not forget, Wil would get two bowls, and I was forced to get one, too. So. A costly, but ultimately "productive" era that put some much needed weight on Wil, and introduced us to many new people and tightened the bonds between the friends we already had.

It should be made known that during this period we got to know the owner of our favorite yogurt spot, and when my book came out, he agreed to sell it at the store, giving me all the proceeds. The employees kept a Carrie Link envelope behind the counter, and they accepted cash and checks, so often I came in to pay for yogurt, and was given a stack of money. Not a bad gig.

But, as with all his phases, they end as suddenly as they begin, and offer no warning or explanation. They are just over. Now, instead of frozen yogurt, and instead of daily, he occasionally wants to go to the dive drive-in, home of the famous Kelly and the "Hope you feel better" milkshake. They have a huge board on the wall offering their flavors of milkshakes, and you can mix-and-match to your heart's content. Rootbeer/creamsicle/Oreo is a favorite. Large. I can now get him to also order a small, plain and dry burger, too, and if we do this anytime after 4:00 PM, it totally counts as dinner.

Like with the yogurt, Wil prefers we take a friend when we go. I guess he's bored to death of me. That, or he just really likes his friends. Let's go with that. Because there is often an inordinate amount of texting on his end, verging on coercion, I always offer to treat the guest. "Get whatever you want - anything at all - it's on me," I say. What I've noticed, is the guests fall into one of two categories: 1) They try to order as inexpensively/little as possible, or 2) They go whole hog.

The "cheap" friends order one little tiny cheeseburger and keep it at that. The whole-hoggers get the "basket" deals, and substitute the drink for a shake, then upgrade the shake from a small to at least a medium. When I say, "Get whatever you want," they actually order what they want.

There is no question I'm from the former group, whenever I'm being taken out by someone, I scan the menu for the cheapest thing on there, and order that. I wouldn't dream of "taking advantage" and getting what I actually want, let alone "upgrading" it in any way. The other morning in meditation I had the dawning realization that I have globalized that mentality. The Universe "says" to me/you/us every moment of every day, "What do you want?" and I, historically, order off the dollar menu.

I have committed to believing and internalizing that the Universe is at the least, as "generous" as I am, and certainly has more in store for me than a burger basket with a shake upgrade.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Let's Fight

Just in case you don't "read Wil" fluently, my birthday card says, "I love you so much I cry in the inside of my heart and love talking and fighting with you - you are a rock star - love Wil."

Wil's favorite word is, "No." He answers no before he's finished hearing the question. He loves to "fight" just for the fun of fighting. Often, when he is extra contrary, I say, "Let's fight." To which he laughs.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. I hope you all have someone you love to talk to and fight with in your life.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Wil loves Valentine's Day. He loves love. He loves to tell people he loves them. He even loves to write out valentines, despite his general distaste for writing. This year his list was ambitious: teachers, ALL the kids in his program, and favorite friends from school. Nearly 50 valentines.

We broke the task into bite-sized pieces, deciding he'd do 5 a day for 10 days. That was all well and good but when I'd pull out all the stuff, he'd add more people to his list. He also decided to write a (short) personal message to each person, and put some thought into the matter. To one of his teachers (teaching a group of special ed students for the very first time), "I like your teaching and your abilities."

I've been back to the store for more valentines but I think we'll run out of both cards and time. If you don't make it on The List, don't you worry. He loves you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And Twice on Sundays

For the last three Sundays in a row, Wil has gone to church not once, but twice. The last two weeks he was able to ride his new bike up there, lock it up all by himself, be amongst the first to arrive, and set about greeting each and every person that walked in the door. He'd sit with a pre-arranged family for the first service (aka his 8:30 family) and then mosey on over to coffee and donuts. About the time that was breaking up, he'd head back over to the church and repeat the whole process. Greet. Sit with his 10:30 family, and back over for more donuts, then ride on home. This killed four hours of an otherwise very long day, and we were all quite happy with the arrangement.

Today Wil had both his 8:30 and 10:30 families all picked out, but a little thing called freezing rain attempted to thwart him.

He could not be thwarted.

We donned our snow boots and tentatively walked through the crunchy layer of ice covering the several inches of snow accumulation. It almost unnerved him, but he trudged ever forward. The usually packed service was quite thin, but the faithful few were there. Unfortunately, his 8:30 family got iced out and he got stuck sitting with us.

Coffee and donuts was cancelled and so we trudged back home, assuring him if he really wanted to go back for the 10:30 service, one of us would get him there. He felt quite certain his 10:30 family would be able to arrive safely, and so back he went. Not only were they there, but several other families of choice were there, making the efforts well worth it indeed.

And aren't any efforts to do what we love, worth it?

Thursday, February 6, 2014


So, I finally have something to tell you of interest, actually, several. Let's start with the fact that I was blessed by the weather gods and avoided storms on both ends, and had a glorious vacation in Philly with my friend, Terry. We did nothing, nothing and more nothing. Woke up the next day and repeated it. After sitting in our jammies and robes until noon, walking, coming back and having lunch, showering about 2:00, it was nearly time for Beer O'Clock. "You don't really need to mountain bike or ski, or something like that to have fun, do you?" STM asked. I marvel that after 28 years of being together, he still marvels at that essential fact about me.

Terry, aka The Truth Teller, helped me uncover a few things that are irksome to me. She didn't help me uncover the fact that they were irksome - I was well aware of that -  she helped me uncover why, and what I could do to make them less so. Likewise, she helped me see the role my choices played in the irksome-ness. In the end, it all comes down to choices and attitude, doesn't it? Why is that so hard to "get?"

When I got home I got to pick up my NEW CAR! I think that one should get a new/different car every 17 years, whether they need to or not. I had grown very attached to my car, Virginia. She took Woohoo to preschool and she took Woohoo to college. Now Woohoo is buying her from me. I had that feeling you get when you're pregnant with your second child, and you wonder how in the world you'll ever love another child as much as you do your first, but then two seconds after the baby is born you figure it out: Love expands. You grow a new heart. There is no scarcity to your capacity to love.

Silly to compare a car to a child, but Virginia had come to feel like an important member of the family. She was a constant through years of change and uncertainty. She is an outward expression of everything I hold dear: efficient, faithful, dependable, reliable, low-maintenance, modest, steady as a rock.

Let me just say this about my not-yet-named new card - cars have come a long way in 17 years! I don't quite know what to do with all the bells and whistles! Having Pandora in the car feels like I've died and gone to heaven! Seat warmers? Ahhhhh... Dual-controlled heating/cooling? Brilliant!

So, yes, I walked out with my same car, only newer, and told the gal, "I'll see you in 17 years!" Why mess with success?

Finally, Wil is doing the Polar Plunge on Saturday - a Special Olympics event. If you feel so inclined, any donation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to all of you that have already generously supported Wil!   Wil's Polar Plunge Webpage.


Driving a car without brakes--stopping the card Fred Flintstone style, new year at college with new roommates, a house so filled-to-over-flo...