Category Archives: Barb Rentenbach

And the Winners Are…

Emma randomly chooses the winners...

Emma randomly chooses the winners…

This morning  I placed all the names of those who commented on yesterday’s post into a bowl and Emma randomly chose five names to win Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky’s hard cover book, I Might Be You

Be prepared to be blown away.  This book is absolutely wonderful.

To all the winners – Julie L., Edie, Kathy Quoyerser, Corinne Joly and Jill – I will be contacting you by email. Your book will be sent via United States Postal Service after I’ve received your address.

And for those who want to read it, but didn’t win, please consider purchasing this terrific book either as a hard cover or as an ebook available for all eReaders, or the audiobook, which I had the honor of recording with Barb and Lois in New York City last year.  I am the “voice of Barb” and documented that amazing experience ‘here‘, ‘here‘, ‘here‘ and ‘here‘.

2

without looking…

And the winners are...

And the winners are…

“Barb Doesn’t Talk” ~ Emma

I have a friend who, when they met over a year ago, Emma observed, “Barb doesn’t talk“.  “Doesn’t talk” means she doesn’t talk with her mouth to communicate the way she can and does when writing.  Her name is Barb Rentenbach and she and her therapist, Lois Prislovsky wrote a book, I Might Be You.  I’ve written about Barb and Lois before, ‘here‘, ‘here‘, ‘here‘ and ‘here‘.  If you haven’t read their book, you must.  (Continue reading for a surprise later in this post about that book.)

I met Barb at the Autcom Conference in 2012 and though I didn’t know it at the time, Barb and Lois  would have an enormous impact on me that was far-reaching.  You see, it was because of Larry Bissonnette, Tracy Thresher, a boy I saw writing to communicate, and finally Barb, all of whom I met at the Autcom Conference, that I began looking into other ways for my daughter to communicate.  (You can read more about the process by clicking “How We Got Here“.)  Even though Emma can and does use her voice to speak, she has described her attempts to communicate with spoken language as, “I can’t talk the way I think.”  Later Emma wrote, “Please remember that my mind tells my body and my mouth to do all sorts of wonderful things constantly, but they don’t obey.”

In Barb’s most recent blog post (I urge everyone to read it) – Open Hearted Letter Quilt to Andrew Solomon –  she writes about autism, empathy, and how autistic people are often misunderstood:

“It’s like Saxe’s (1873) poem, “The Blindmen and the Elephant” where each blind man is partly in the right as he describes an elephant piece he studies, but all are in the wrong in knowing an elephant.

This autistic pachyderm will expand perceptions by presenting more pieces.”

Barb goes on to describe herself, “I don’t look normal.  I appear quite messed up and a prime candidate for nothing but pity and patronization, with a sprinkling of repulsion and fear.  I am disguised as a poor thinker.”

Still further along she quotes Emma:

“To quote my mentor Emma who is 12 (This old dog is all about learning new tricks) who wrote this by saying each letter aloud she pointed to it on a stencil board, “Autism is not what parents want to hear, but I hope that will change as more people get to know someone like me.”

This short video shows Barb typing just a few days ago.

Now there are some people who have suggested Barb is not typing on her own.  They believe that the person whose two fingers are tentatively touching her back are actually guiding her and that it is their voice and not hers that we are reading. This is a video of Barb writing four months ago…

And here is a video of Barb typing in 2011…

I am showing you these clips so you can see Barb’s obvious progress and please note, Barb is not a child.  I know that’s obvious, but it seems many people forget this or have trouble believing that people of all ages can and do progress.  Just as Barb works hard to become more independent while typing, so does my daughter.  Emma’s way of writing is slightly different in that no one is physically touching her and she points to letters on a letter board,  but she is working hard to move from pointing to the stencil letter board to the laminated letter board to a qwerty keyboard, with the eventual goal – being able to type on a computer regardless of who might be seated nearby.

As all these videos show, none of this is easy.  Barb is working hard and so is Emma.  Some days go more smoothly than others.  As Barb writes –

“I often politely ask my brain to please move my hand to do this or that only to be told, “We’re sorry due to high autism volume we are not able to answer your call at this time.  Please try harder later.”

For any of you who would like to have a hard cover copy of Barb and Lois’ terrific book, I Might Be You, I am giving away five hard cover copies.  Please comment below, saying something about yourself and why this book is of interest.  I will place all comments into a hat and will choose five at random.  If your comment is chosen I will contact you, via the email you use to comment, for your street address, where I will send you your copy of Barb and Lois’ MUST READ book at no cost to you and in appreciation to Barb, Lois and Emma for their hard work in bringing much-needed awareness to all who are like Barb and my daughter!

Emma, Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky

Emma, Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky

 

 

 

Sensing Another

Last week I wrote a post, Speaking vs Typing, which sparked a terrific discussion about language, communication and how we interpret what others say and do.  My friend Barb, who wrote (with Lois Prislovsky) the not-to-be-missed book, I might be you commented:

“my dear neurotypical friends, first, let me say i love that you all are putting your heads together to break down this truth into practical ideas to help me and my autistic peers who struggle mightily with spoken language communications. em is right, “language is an awkward way to communicate” and i argue that is true for everyone but highly challenging for those of us who are autistically wired in the “vanilla cake” or “mail truck” way that em and i are. it took me years to think in language. but prior to that my thinking was not faulty it was just not language based. thinking in language is not efficient for me. i wish i could give you a pretty little fact package about what works so folk like me could get such treatment and soar socially and academically. of course, the problem is…it is hard to say in language. typing makes it way easier, because i can control the speed of each thought and break it down to smaller parts to be better described by letters one peck at a time. speaking requires a rather unnatural process for me perhaps like you singing a song you heard in another language. u may be able to imitate the sounds but the meaning in each mimic is not precise. since most folk are not yet well practiced in telepathy the best way for me now is to communicate through typing. but still my thinking is not easily translated in to words. feelings, sensations, visions and perceptions that are cleanly processed in my mind dont fit well into letter symbols. there i said it – or something close. thanks for caring. trying b”

Barb’s comment made me wonder whether my daughter is able to “hear” my thoughts, even if just a little.  And that if she were able to, it would make sense that either typing or speaking would feel like an inferior, less efficient form of communication, perhaps it would be viewed as somewhat barbaric, and certainly a less sophisticated way of communicating.  So I asked her, “Can you hear my thoughts?”  To which she answered, “No.”  Not undone, I asked, “Do you feel them?”  To which she did not reply.  This post is not about mental telepathy, but is more about how we sense each other.  Some of our senses we are taught to fine-tune and others society either doesn’t recognize or doesn’t place as much importance on.

But what if we lived in a culture that did encourage sensing another’s presence and feelings?  What if, from the time we were born, our sense of other people’s state of mind, their feelings, was nurtured.  Would that change how we communicated with each other?  What if spoken language took a back seat to our intuition?  What if we lived in a society that placed more importance on our presence, than on our words?

All of this reminded me of a conversation I had with a couple of friends, both of whom are Autistic, about disability and society’s role.  I wrote a post about that, ‘here‘.  One friend said that if we lived in a world where everyone used a variety of alternate forms of communication, where a longer time period was allowed and expected between words, and supports were anticipated and provided, then people who do not speak would not be considered disabled, just as I am not considered disabled because I cannot juggle or jump as high as an Olympic high jumper.

If children were taught at an early age to sense each other without relying on language, would we evolve into a species where language was viewed as unreliable and untrustworthy?  Does my daughter view language as a lesser form of communication?  Is she not as motivated to communicate, either through typing or verbally because her other senses are more finely tuned?  Does motivation even enter into all of this?  My brain is constantly looking for intent, motivation, but what if this isn’t what’s going on at all?  What if this has nothing to do with any of that?  What if she is trying so hard to communicate by typing and speaking because she understands I want her to, but not because she has the same need that I have?  Does music call to her because it is less about the lyrics and more about the beauty of the music, the feelings the music evokes?

Is all of this way too esoteric and ethereal?  EmTypes ICI

 

Audio Book “I might be you” Giveaway!

Barb Rentenbach, author of the wonderful book I might be youwhich if you haven’t read it yet, you must, is giving away the audio version to the first 5 people who click on this link and enter your name.  Ready… set… GO!

For those of you new to this blog or who may have missed the posts or who read them the first time, but can’t remember them any more or those of you who want a refresher course on all things involving Barb (and why wouldn’t you?) I wrote about recording Barb’s book last spring, you can read all about it ‘here,’ ‘here,’ ‘here‘ and ‘here‘.  If you want to hear directly from Barb about the giveaway and why she is doing this, read her post “Introducing: ‘Ask Barb’

Now I’m going back to bed because I seem to have caught some nasty bronchial cough, runny nose, sneezing, achy, maybe even feverish horror that I mistakenly thought was allergies but that I am now convinced is a distant cousin to whooping-cough.  In other words I’m miserable and unless you want to read an entire post about just how awful I feel, you should go now and pick up that FREE audio book quickly while they last.

No, no, never mind me… *coughing while feebly gesturing you to get on with your day.

Barb Rentenbach & Lois Prislovsky in the recording studio (I was in the ‘cave’ aka recording booth with headphones on)

Barb & Lois

“People Have to Listen”

Stop Hurting Kids is a campaign to “end restraint and seclusion abuse in schools.”  Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories is a 27 minute film by documentary filmmaker, Dan Habib.   Creator of Including Samuel and Who Cares About Kelsey?  Dan Habib is “Filmmaker in Residence at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire.”  The transcript of Restraint and Seclusion is available here.

For those of you who do not have the time or inclination to watch the film, here are a few quotes from it, which I hope will serve to pique your interest enough to watch the film in its entirety.  Because this is happening all around us, because this could be one of our children, because we, as a society, must become aware of what is going on, because without awareness and protest this will continue, because prejudice and brutality are not the answer, because as Barb Rentenbach continues to remind us, I might be you, because as my daughter, Emma has said on numerous occasions, “People have to listen.  Mommy, people do not listen to Emma.”

“The National Disability Rights Network reported that in recent years, the misuse of restraint and seclusion has resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.”

Peyton Goddard – “It was bruted power jired by purses wrongfully called teachers trying to beat I. This war wasted my rest. The sweet in I evaporated out.”

Helena – “He slammed me up against the wall, arm barred me across the throat and lifted up so I couldn’t breathe. And then whispered, “How am I supposed to talk to you nice and slow so you can understand?”

Wil Beaudoin – “One particular day we went to see my son and we were going to give him a haircut. So, we took off his shirt and he was covered with bruises and abrasions, fifteen to twenty on his body…everywhere.”

Peyton Goddard – “Fright opted I timid, silent and unable to fight back. Telling myself sweet lies that the tortures did not matter.”

Brianna – “I did not have a speech-generating device. Good evaluation would have made that happen. I tried to tell my mother. She did not understand me or she thought the teachers knew everything.” 

Peyton Goddard – “Try to see potent powerful potentials in each pierced person. There you will free their gifts. There I can feel I’m treasured. There nary I’m fret. I’m ready. Are you? Try please.”

Larry Bissonnette, Peyton Goddard and Tracy Thresher at TASH

TASH 6

 

We Are in This Together

It is in our best interest to remember that we are all the same.” ~ Barb Rentenbach in her book, I Might Be You.

One of the most insidious and destructive messages parents are given about their Autistic child is “the list.”  I am referring to that list of deficits we are given.  The list that enumerates all the reasons why our child has earned the “autism” diagnosis.   It is a list that divides.  It sets us a part from our child.  It makes us question our maternal instincts.  It makes us wonder what we did wrong.  It is the list that becomes our to-do list.  A list of things we now set out to “fix”.  Or so this was my experience when my daughter, Emma was first diagnosed.

That list, filled with judgment, a critique of my not-yet-three-year-old child, the same child that just moments before, I knew was different from what I expected, different than my son, yet still was a part of, was now branded with “other”.  If we are going to make such lists, I think it only fair the “evaluator” and all members of the human race be given similar critiques.  I would be curious to see how each of us stands up under such scrutiny.  Let us be evaluated by someone who does not share our particular neurology.  Let us each be judged by another – another who deems themselves superior.  Let’s see how well that plays out.

Loneliness is the most predominant side effect of our unique design. Many times, autistics revert to isolation by default rather than preference. It is infinitely easier to back away and not try to be included instead of oafishly stepping in and attempting to convey you intend to be a part.” ~ Barb Rentenbach in I Might Be You.

Have you ever felt like a fraud?  Have you ever said something to someone only to realize you said the wrong thing?  Have you ever been in a social situation and left, wondering why you feel uneasy, upset or just sad?  Have you ever spent time in the presence of a group, yet felt lonelier than had you been alone?  Have you ever had the thought that if people really knew you, they wouldn’t like what they found?  Have you ever felt separate from, less than, not good enough?  Have you ever felt critical of the way you look, the shape of your body, the size of a particular body part and wished it were different?  Have you ever thought if only that part was smaller, larger, different, if only the number on the scale was less, if only your hair was lighter, darker, straight, curly, your skin was a different shade, your height…  Have you ever thought if only X was different, I wouldn’t feel this way?

Remember a time, no matter how brief, when you felt that magical euphoria of connecting with another human being?  That moment when you felt the wonder and bliss that only comes with friendship and love, the beauty of connecting with another?  Remember what that felt like?  Wasn’t it beautiful?  Wasn’t it unlike anything you’ve ever felt?  A kind of anything-is-possible feeling?  A feeling of all being right with the world, that joy of knowing we belong.  Who among us has not experienced both?  Who among us has not felt the horror of feeling separate from, the worry that we are somehow damaged, not right?  Who among us has not felt the inextricable sadness that comes from feeling we are all alone?  Now add an entire society, a whole group of people, all of whom have decided we are “less than”.  Feel what that feels like.

Go back to the memory of bliss, of joy, of connection.  Feel the vibrancy, the exuberance that comes with that.  Which do you choose?  Would any choose differently?  We are all served by remembering we are more alike than not.

Reach out and connect with those who may be struggling with separation. It takes just one person to care to change a life for the positive. Be that for someone.” ~ Barb Rentenbach in I Might Be You.

Emma, Barb & Lois the week we recorded the audiobook of I Might Be You

Em, Barb & Lois

The Audio Book for “I Might Be You” is Here!!

Barb Rentenbach’s fantastic, funny, poignant and beautiful, must read book, I might be you. An Exploration of Autism and Connection is now available as an audio book!  Full disclosure:  Barb, who is non-speaking or “mute” as she describes herself, and Autistic, asked me to be her voice for the audio book, an honor I cannot begin to fully express.   I do not receive any proceeds from the sale of the audio book.  The payment I receive is the joy I feel knowing that Barb was pleased with the end result.  It is a joy that is literally priceless… That all of you, who purchase the audio book, may benefit from Barb’s hard work is the metaphoric icing on an already sumptuous and exquisitely rich cake.

Barb is non-speaking and writes with a sharp-witted, R-rated, take no prisoners eloquence.  She is brutally honest in her description of her life as someone who is often mistaken as someone she is not.  For anyone who has ever felt they are on the fringes of society, felt they didn’t “fit in”, judged, seen as an “outsider”, as “other”, as less than, this book will resonate.  For anyone who has ever felt insecure, shunned, rejected, judged, criticized or misunderstood, this book is for you.  I Might Be You is about how we are more alike than not.

In preparation for this post, (and a version of this that I will be submitting to the Huffington Post) I asked both Barb and Lois Prislovsky, Barb’s therapist and co-author of I Might Be You to give me their thoughts on the making of the book and subsequent audiobook.  Lois wrote: “Barb typed, “being heard may be as close to helping to cure all that ails ya as one prescription gets.”  I agree.  As a psychologist, I get a daily front row seat to this truth.  What I find most remarkable about Barb is not her spectacular growing wisdom, wit, or even her gifted powers of perception.   It’s her patience that I think is unparalleled.   This book literally took her over 10 years to write one disappointment, milestone, and letter at a time.  My chapters were faster because as Barb says, I am, “less interesting”.  No one book or person has taught me more.  Barb is my favorite author and teacher.”

It took Barb ten years to write I Might Be You because she knew there would be those who would doubt the words in the book were her own and some who would even accuse her of not typing this book herself as she first learned to type with a facilitator.  Determined, she spent ten years learning to type independently, each word spelled out, one index finger jabbing at a letter at a time as she pushed beyond her physical and neurological challenges that made typing completely on her own so very difficult.  Ten years.

I asked Barb to weigh in on what it was like for her to hear her words being spoken out loud by someone who not only was not autistic, but who needed a great deal of direction during the recording!  By the way, Barb was a terrific director: kind, patient, encouraging, yet exacting and uncompromising in her insistence that her words be given the voice she needed them to be.  I wrote about my experience of recording her words ‘here‘, ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ on this blog.  But this post today… this post has to be Barb’s words, Barb’s experience written in Barb’s voice and not mine.  This is what Barb wrote to me:

“health: the state of being free from illness or injury.

“in preparation for this piece, az asked me to “let me not speak for you but rather hand the huffpo mic over to you”.

“i think she just cured my autism.  and what a great slogan ‘mics to mutes’ makes.

“before some poor clerk from the dmv (department of miracle validation) at the vatican calls my number, please know I am still an autistic mute so it will just go to voice mail.  but, i have finally been freed from 4 decades of ills.  it turns out being heard may be as close curing all that ails ya as one prescription gets.

“for 40 years, autism has been seen by all to hold me back.  today, autism propelled me forward as my whole self towards my life’s goal of being a successful writer.

“am i dreaming? yes. and this dream i hand pecked.

“az asked specifically what is my experience of hearing my words being read by another.

“well, it is healing.  for several years now, people have read the words i typed and that has allowed me to accomplish a more independent and quality life.   but those words were read.  meaning people ran them through their personality filters and voice boxes and simply got my gist.  the gift az is referring to is completely different.

“my lourdes miracle cure happened at the hangar studios in nyc.  there, my great difficulties in communicating and forming relationships were lifted – permanently.  this spectacular healing happened when a beautifully open woman with a strong, feminine, and southern twang free voice gifted me what i lacked with no cords attached.   my not so virgin az appeared and did not read my gist.  she got out and selflessly let me drive her luxury voice for a full week to transport my 10 years of pecked letters to let my 40 years of not talking be heard.

“i still don’t look normal.  i appear quite messed up and a prime candidate for nothing but pity and patronization with a sprinkling of repulsion and fear. i am disguised as a poor thinker with a filthy squeegee whom most veer to avoid.  so why did az give me the key? because I asked.

“like me, like you, like “THEM”, poetry is best heard.  two of my favorite lines from derrick brown’s poetry are, “dumb as a bomb on a boomerang” and  “kiss like u couldn’t beat cancer”.   being heard is key.

“we are all each other’s cure.  god cares about us all through us all.

“please say this out loud as i am borrowing your voice to be heard again (only a lunatic would give up voice jacking at this point.  plus think of the icky karma involved if one denies an autistic mute such a simple request.) : “i will not be as dumb as a bomb on a boomerang.  i will be here and hear like i couldn’t beat cancer so today i free myself and others from illness and injury.”

hear and ask to be heard.

“thanks for listening.  healthy b”

Barb and Lois at Hangar Studios in New York City ~ April, 2013

Barb & Lois

 

The Audio Book is Finished!

Barb’s audio book is finished!  Ol’ Barb had me quoting Shakespeare, Stephen Hawking, Ralph Waldo Emerson and many others, as well as her own words…  It was an incredible process, with me wearing headphones, seated in front of a microphone in the sound room (or as I called it – the cave), while Barb and Lois (with Chad, the wonderfully upbeat and accommodating sound/tech guy sat in an adjoining room with a huge picture window so we could see each other) gave me direction, sometimes with hand signals, but more often with Barb typing her instructions, which Lois then read.  Chad alerted me to any technical issues that arose such as when a word sounded scratchy or slightly garbled or if I forgot a word or said a word incorrectly.  All in all it took more than 20 hours, probably more than 30 all told to record.

I am told the audio version of I might be you will be available for purchase and your listening pleasure by next week, but I will leave a link here when I have one.

In other news… I am doing a webinar on Parenting Toward Acceptance, Monday April 1st at 4:00 PM  for DIR Floortime, ICDL with Brenda Rothman, Mother and Blogger – Mama Be Good and Melody Latimer, Mother, Blogger – AS Parenting, Autistic Self-Advocate and Director of Community Engagement, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, ASAN.  I will leave a link Monday morning when I have one.  Until then have a lovely weekend everyone!

Directed by Barb

Barb is a wonderful director.  Here’s an example of yesterday’s adventures and challenges for this verbal, literal-minded, non Autistic as I did my best to embody Barb in all her mischievous, non verbal, antics as described on page 56 of her book, I might be you.  This passage took me more than thirty minutes to get right:  “Freedom.  But the mission is far from complete.  No middle-class chain-link fence to hop and then pay dirt.  No, Sir, our musty mansion sits on acres of green, rocky earth dramatically sloping to the Tennessee River.  I take ever caution to avoid a tumbling fate.  Even the most mischievous princesses don’t swim in dirty water – Southern daddy saviors or not. I assume my most stable forty-five-degree stance and horizontally hike to the neighbors’ inviting castle, remove restricting PJs, and let the fun begin.

 “I think, Wow!  The water is so cold it may make my heart stop.  This sure beats picking or rocking stimulation.  I consider holding off on my 3:00 a.m. phone call-evoking mimicry because I fancy enjoying a longer prerescue soak.  Alas, my scrawny self control fails me again and I sound off with a loud medley of “”you are not going,” “You can’t get in the mail truck,” It’s a fire,” and other such bizarre phrases the sleeping wealthy find disturbing when emanating from their private estate.”

This isn’t a silly story about some southern belle with far too much time on her hands who is up to no good because she’s bored and wants to piss Mom and Dad off.  No, this is a description of Barb’s elopement in the middle of the night to skinny dip in a neighbor’s pool.  It’s funny, but it’s also not funny.  It’s poignant and powerful and yet it says as much about us “normals” as Barb describes those who are not Autistic, as it does about Barb.  Straddling that precarious razor-sharp edge of self-deprecating humor while not holding back any punches is what Barb does best, but say these lines out loud without the right balance of self-reflection, honesty, desperation and rage as well as humor and all those beautiful words Barb painstakingly wrote are lost.

So after each sentence I would glance up waiting for Lois to give me the thumbs up signal before moving on.  On that particular passage there were no thumbs up.  Instead I could see Barb’s bent head as she madly typed things like, “AZ you’re doing great.  But you have to give this more power.”  or “okay AZ you’re taking it too literally, you need to loosen up.” or “Again.   Not so monotone.” And so I would do it again.  And again.  And again.   And again.   At one point I had the thought – I’m not going to be able to get this.  But then I looked over at Barb rapid fire pointing at the letter board and I thought, Damn it.  I will get this.  I have to.  For Barb.  I have to get this right for Barb.  And then I’d take a deep breath and try again.  Because she has trusted me with her words.  She has given me the greatest privilege a person could give another, she has asked me to be her voice.  And that.  That is the single biggest compliment I have ever received from another human being.  And I’ll be damned if I don’t do her words justice.

As a quick aside, y’all (that’s for you, Barb) will be pleased to know I whipped through Chapter 7, which is entitled:  Autistic Sex:  For a Terrible Time, Call.  Because when the words are raunchy that whole upper crust, uptight, WASPY thing works beautifully and it’s funny just because the two are a perfect blend  of lewd and classy, which is… funny.

Em shows Lois how to jump on a pogo-stick

*Em on the pogo-stick

The Barb Show…

I’ve written before ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ about how I don’t always get jokes.  It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor, it’s just that a great many jokes are hard for me to understand why other people find them funny.  Jokes or anything that starts with the words “Two” (of anything) “walk into a bar…”, or The Onion, (I can’t tell you how many times Richard will thrust some headline from the Onion at me, only for me to say, “wait, what?  I don’t get it.  Why is that funny?”) fall flat.  At this point, Richard now tells me jokes or shows me things that he knows I won’t laugh at because he finds my response as funny if not funnier than the actual thing.  Apparently humor is all the more so when someone is completely clueless. I’m good at that – playing it straight.  

For those who follow this blog, you know by now that I am in the recording studio all week recording Barb Rentenbach’s terrific book, I might be you.  Barb has a wonderfully nuanced and, at times, sarcastic wit.  I can do sarcasm, and wit for that matter, except, as it turns out, when I’m reading aloud someone else’s words.  In addition to this challenge of mine, when I’m nervous, my blue-blooded-upper-crust-WASPy heritage becomes even more pronounced.  So when I’m reading some of Barb’s naughtier bits, not only do my cheeks turn quite pink, I also pretty much stomp all over the delivery of a number of her otherwise humorous sentences.  Because if you read a sentence that is funny as though it weren’t and said it straight, carefully articulating each word as though doing an exercise in drama class, the humor is completely and utterly lost.  The only analogy I can think of that captures this is, imagine reciting the Commodore’s 1977 hit song, Brick House.  “She’s a brick —– ‘ouse, mighty, mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out…” but instead of saying the words as they were meant to be read, carefully articulate each word as though reciting a psalm in church.  I think that gives you an idea of what happened a couple of times in the recording studio.

Fortunately I do have a sense of humor and can laugh at my fumbling.  Barb and Lois were kind and patient.  Even when I had to repeat the sentence until I got the inflection right, they did not fall on the floor in hysterical laughter or poke fun.  I’m grateful to them.  Really.  Because truthfully, that had to have been pretty funny to witness.  The good news is, I was able to get it right… eventually, which is important because this book, this incredible book by Barb and Lois deserves to be heard as it was written, with elegance, eloquence, poignant power, laced with self-deprecating humor.  Every few moments I’d look up to see Barb beaming at me and Lois giving me an enthusiastic thumbs up and I would continue reading feeling exuberant and grateful to be involved in such an incredible project.

Barb showing Em encouragement later that afternoon.

Barb Rentenbach

The Adventures With Barb Rentenbach in The Recording Studio Begin!

I’m speed blogging this morning because I need to be in the recording studio in a little while where I will be at Barb’s mercy.  For those of you new to this blog, read Friday’s post ‘here‘.  For those of you who cannot cope with clicking on a link  – I’m recording the audio book version of Barb’s fabulous book  I might be you which she wrote with Lois Prislovsky.  Barb is non-speaking and writes with a sharp-witted, take no prisoners eloquence.  She is brutally honest in her description of her life as someone who is often mistaken as someone she is not.  For anyone who has ever felt they are on the fringes of society, felt they didn’t “fit in”, judged, seen as an “outsider”, as “other”, as less than, this book will resonate.  For anyone who has ever felt insecure, shunned, rejected, judged, criticized, and/or misunderstood, this book is for you.  I might be you is about how we are more alike than not.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so excited to go into work!

More to follow…