Dec 19, 2014

C.J. Campbell

Have you ever heard a song on the radio, gotten goose bumps and thought... that song is going to be big?

I went to my local story night.  I went by myself.  Just like the first time I went to roller derby, all the people I asked to accompany me backed out or got sick before I went, and I wanted to go so bad - I went by myself.  It was fun.  It's always been a treat to me to put my headphones in and cue up This American Life  to listen to before I clean.  I imagined some of the people would be good and some would be nervous. That was true, but I was not prepared to hear someone's voice and get goosebumps. I did.  This chap told a story that made me laugh, genuinely hard, and think, genuinely deep.  I was happy about having gone.

I went back the next month to hear more people and there was the guy again.  I was sort of excited to hear him tell another story.  I wondered if he was a one hit wonder or if his voice was going to hold and what would come out would give me goosebumps again.  This time he made me cry.  Sitting right there in the middle of the back row, trying to be all inconspicuous and cool, he said things that reached way down into the bottom of my belly and made me want to jump out of my chair and scream "ME! He's talking to me! That's me!" I couldn't wait to see the video later of the story he just told.  A week later I messaged the curator of the space and asked when the video would be up.  He said they had problems shooting and the videos wouldn't make it to the light of day.  I spent time trying to remember the story he told and no matter because it's the voice that does it justice.

There's nothing like watching an artist do what they do well, no matter how many time you re-sing it... you just want the artists' voice. So, I went and heard him tell stories a third time and this time I asked if he wrote them down. I asked him for a card, or a blog, a something. He did write. He has a blog.  He has a book.  That was the beginning of this...


I'm helping with this campaign and I am honored to say I'm making the book cover.  As you can see the project is fully funded and then some. So what.  Buy a copy.  It is really excellent art coming out of this desperate place here in the Midwest.  This is the flower that grows in the crack of the sidewalk, the beautiful that grey cement, empty factories and honking cars can't stop.  It's the guy that can make the most hardened middle-aged lady with mascara on, both laugh and cry in the middle of a small crowd of strangers. Go buy it.


The Zen of Beard Trimming: Stories of Punk Rock, Poverty, and the Search For Peace by C.J. Campbell

"Like a modern-day Candide, writer C.J. Campbell started his journey to achieve peace in the bosom of a safe environment with a well-meaning adviser to guide him, and like Candide, he journeyed out into a world where everything went wrong, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in excruciatingly heartbreaking ways, but always in entertaining ways. Seven years of his travels are painstakingly detailed in his memoir The Zen of Beard Trimming. Punk rock meets leaving Christian Evangelism meets Scandanavian models meets a mismatched cast of unlikely characters and scenarios in a fearless, brutally honest chronicling of the time-honored search for (meaning, love, peace, an apartment, food, and a damn microphone that works)."

Dec 2, 2014


Some days I feel like I kicked ass.  This day I managed to; get two kids to school and home safe and clean with homework done and snacks/lunches packed, finished an illustration of someone's house, calculated shipping to France, went to the dentist, got two fillings, hit the hardware store, the copy shop and the grocery with a numb face.  Cooked dinner, vacuumed, did a load of laundry all before leading a Girl Scout meeting while simultaneously entertaining a four year old boy at the meeting.  I'm still trying to catch up from when I was sick, so some some days this week have extra things in them, so they look like today but with added phone calls, errands, laundry, coffee and staying up late. Sometimes when people say I should sit down and try a new show on TV or I really should read the book their telling me about I feel like kicking them in the shins.

Human Limits

Nov 26, 2014

List of Minor Complaints

1. When your socks fall down inside your boots and bunch up on your feet.
2. Wind-shield wipers that only wipe a few stripes of clean.
3. Empty wiper fluid with salty roads means you have to get out and throw snowballs on your own wind-shield every stop.
4. Chapped lips.
5. Iced car door.
6. Snow in the sleeve.
7. Fogged up glasses

Nov 25, 2014

The Day After

I sat up late last night, like too many nights in my life, watching things burn on the television.  Switching between CNN and Fox News and C-Span, tabs open to Twitter, Livestream and Facebook, wondering if the chaos would come to our front door.  I remembered a time when we were at work, with radios on in offices, and televisions on in the break rooms, and loved ones on the phones, watching things crumble and trying to find out if everyone was accounted for.  This is how we are trained to find the truth now.  A press conference, and then we stick news channels in every orifice, and watch the live feed waiting for the anchor to confirm the the flames in front of our eyes.  

In the quiet morning over coffee, I look out to make sure the world is there and sit down to read what headlines were crafted while I dreamed away the smoke. We go on to work and school and sorting socks, the chaos at bay far beyond side-walks that need to be shovelled. We type thoughts out into the communal water cooler of the internet, and eagerly read through the sides of our eyes others' posts, all the while thinking carefully about the world.  We will talk about, how to talk about, how to talk about, how to talk about, why we stayed up late watching things burn, to our children.


Michael Whyte  · Rockford, IL · "Playing 'the race card'?" Dude, it's America. The "race card" is always in play. You're talking about a country that only exists because of the genocide of the indigenous people; that only thrived due to the slave labor of what was seen as an inferior race. This isn't ancient history.The Voting Rights Act happened IN MY LIFETIME, not in some distant antiquity. A black president is elected and America pats itself on the back for being able to count votes, pats itself on the back for being "post-racial," while a huge (HUGE!) segment of the white population very publicly loses its f'ing mind...even before the guy takes office. In the meantime, our worthless "liberal media" foments racial divide, the Congress treats the president with less respect than they treat the janitor, but no one is supposed to play "the race card" and we're all supposed to pretend to be be "color blind." What is happening in Ferguson, Missouri isn't about the killing of one young man. It's about what goes on when the cameras are off. It's about what goes on when the TV networks don't have a story to sensationalize. You don't know. You like to think you do, but you don't. That's what's on my mind, Facebook."

Nov 22, 2014

Dishes that take Days

Since it got cold I've been turning on the oven/stove more often. The usual banana breads and muffins and brownies are turning out good. I love a great soup, one you can simmer all day. It gives some humidity to the house and anticipation to your belly. Last week I made an unintended huge pot of chicken soup and had too many leftovers and not enough lefteaters. On Monday I got a request for mashed potatoes and suddenly something that hadn't occurred to me in in all my years of cooking and loving soups fell from the heavens and onto our plates.

Displaying IMG_8207.JPG
Mad Gravy

I took left over chicken soup and made it into gravy. 

Some of you just read that and said "duh" and others of you gasped in amazement. I would've been on the gasping side had I just read that elsewhere a week ago.  So, I put potatoes in a pot and a container of soup in a pan.  I added flour and cornstarch a little at a time to the soup and by the time the mashed potatoes  were finished the soup was thick.  It was so good I was mad.  Mad that I had missed the opportunity to make this for the last twenty years but didn't.  Mad that nobody I knew made this. Mad that I couldn't fit more than two plates of it in my belly. 

It seems like all of my favorite foods involve multiple days of cooking and left overs.

Left over chilli = chilli mac, chilli cheese dogs, chilli cheese fries. 

Left over mashed potatoes = potato pancakes, twice baked potatoes, shepherds pie

Stale bread = bread crumbs for everything, bread pudding, great French toast. 

Left over whipped cream = on cereal, in coffee, folded into fruit and yogurt. 

Left over pancakes = jelly rolls, pb&js

Left over Asparagus = fancy omelettes

Left over fried rice = fried rice omelettes

Left over mostaccioli = baked pasta

Left over soup = Mad Gravy, pot pies