28 April 2007
I am adopted.
My parents tell me they've never withheld this from me, even as a small child. But as a small child, I don't recall ever comprehending what that meant. I thought adopted was a thing. A tree, a duck, a shoe, a dopted. So I didn't care. Then, shortly after my younger brother was born (read: not acquired through unnatural and selfishly luxurious means), my mother presented me with a book called Being Born. I was four years old. (Side Note: An attempt to Google the cover of this book took me a ways out of my way to a YouTube video of a baby being born. The only worldly and mature response that I have to such a thing is EW GROSS.)
Being Born, much like this video, chronicles most everything from conception to birth. It starts out someting like When a mommmy and daddy love each other, they smoke a bowl and freak nasty... At least it should start that way because in my case, it's likely how it happened. In all seriousness though, it talks about the sperm, the egg, the cells dividing, the fluid, the umbilical cord, everything. My mother sat down with me, on our dining room floor of all places, and we went through the book together. I remember being engrossed, perplexed, and happily dumb, thinking it preposterous that such a thing might happen to me one day.
When we finished the book, my mother left me to look at it on my own, and of course told me that if I had any questions, to please ask them. To my parents' credit, they always encouraged our curiosity and met our questions with a mostly unwavering honesty, with the exception of our mother telling us our grandmother 'smoked too much' and that's what killed her, rather than telling us that our grandfather more or less drove her to suicide. (More to come on habits of exceptionally functional families in later entries. I swear.) My parents never hid their gay friends from us, though I don't recall them ever telling us, "Bruce loves other men the way that mommy and daddy love each other." (Only gay men are named 'Bruce', by the way.)
Upon closer examination of the book (and by 'book' I mean 'picture of infant's head sticking out of creamy, nasty vaj'), I called my mother back in to the room. She was standing above me wearing a pink sweatshirt, and I was sitting on the floor in that position they tell you not to let children sit in or else they will get hip dysplasia. I don't remember my lead-in, but I pointed up at her in all of my four-year-old glory and said, completely sure of myself, "I came out of your tummy?"
Why would I have any reason to think differently? Only months before I watched my mother grow a small bump, then a larger bump, then balloon massively with my brother. My mother would spend her pregnant days in bed as I quietly and obediently played with coloring books, puzzles, and dolls next to her bed. To this day my mother still croons, "You were so good when I was pregnant with ZJ."
Then, when it was time, my older brother and I were whisked off in the middle of the night to Jan and Charlie's, the people who would later be named my brother's Godparents, and when we awoke, my mother's bump was gone and in its place was my wet, screaming brother, alarmed as I was by his new surroundings and all of the new impositions that were to be dispersed among us.
Imagine the heart-sinking surprise, or rather, disbelief, that came when I looked to my mother for confirmation, for validation that this was, indeed, how I came to be, because THAT is exactly how she had explained it to me, and THAT is exactly how it had happened shortly before with my brother, and she hesitated, and said, "No."
I was so caught up in my newfound status of Child Anomaly that I don't remember how, exactly, my mother explained it to me. I want to say, "I know she said this and this," but I don't know for sure and I know that I have put in words on my own over the years. I want to recount it accurately, and the only way to do so is by recounting the inaccuracies as I recall them.
I remember being sad and frightened inside, and I remember not wanting to share this with my mother because it might hurt her. Outside of the book, the pictures, the question, and the unforeseeable, soul-crushing answer, the time and space before and after are nonexistent in my memory. I do, however, remember later on, either that night, or within the next few nights, we had a babysitter. I was in my bed thinking to myself that while my mother's answer at the time had left me mostly unfazed, I should be fazed because this was a big deal, and so I took it upon myself to cry. It was the most forced and fake (but still needed) crying that I ever recall doing, but it brought my babysitter into my room no less. She came in and she asked me what I wanted, and I'm sure she was beyond weirded-out when I replied, "My birth mother." I knew she was going to respond by telling me that it was impossible, but I thought it was at least worth a shot. I thought my parents might have told her something that they didn't tell me.
In the weeks, months, and years to come, I would have dreams about Her, or rather, I would have dreams with women in them that were unrecognized by me, and thus, deemed my birth mother. One time, I remember, we were in a big, white basement. There was a fountain in the middle of the grey cement floor, and a stairway leading up to what I concluded to be a kitchen. She was plump and had blond hair and a piggish face. I don't remember what she said or what we did, but I remember this being one of the images I reverted back to constantly throughout my childhood.
I'm not sure quite how I came up with the things that I did, but there were certainly several phantasms that I created in my little mind. My favorite, if only because it is mildly amusing, is Where I was Born and Where I Lived Before I Came to Live With My Parents. For some reason, I deduced that I was born in a manger (even though I knew full well that I was born at the Jewish Hospital). Not only a manger, but a manger on a city street with a classic flaming trashcan adjacent to the entrance. Inside, my parents wrapped me in soiled linens, and placed me gently in a hay-filled dresser drawer, and left me to sleep as they contemplated the dismal state of their lives and what they were ultimately going to do with me.
This is how my story begins.
1 May 2007
I was born in 1983 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Jewish Hospital. Permanent surrender papers were signed by both of my birth parents and I, their infant daughter, was placed for adoption in the loving home of Dilbert and Rowena Macintosh on November 11, 1983. I was warmly received into the family by my brother Buddy.
I know that for nine days I was in foster care, but I do not know with whom (as if I even need to clarify that). While it sits far from the forefront of my thoughts, I off and on wonder about who They were. It's not that the people themselves are important (though they did make sure I didn't die for nine days), but they're the only people who know, who could tell me what the first week of my life was like. I will never know, and I thought I had accepted that until I started thinking about it and began crying. (It's assholes like me who make me want to hand out white business cards with black text that simply read: LIFE IS NOT FAIR.)
For a long time, all I knew about my beginning was where I was born, and a few anonymous facts about my birthparents: She was a teenager, he was a teenager. Eventually more began to emerge. When I was little, my parents were omnipotent and any information that they gave to me, I consumed, digested, and regurgitated all the same without question, without hesitation. I didn't know how my mother knew, but she knew where I was 'from'. She told me that I was Russian, Turkish, Cherokee, and Bolivian. (I know you're thinking, "God. She must be smoking hot! I should enquire about a blowjob!" You're mostly right.)
I toted these facts around with me like a crackhead totes his pipe. Like a diabetic totes his insulin. Like a mother carries her newborn. (OK, that last one was almost accurate...) If people asked me if I was Irish (because my name is 'M*******', a variation of 'M****' that I made up in the 7th grade while high on individuality and life or something), I just told them yes. But as I grew older, I started to change, and I made people know that I was NOT Irish, I was, in fact, Russian, Turkish, Cherokee, and Bolivian, but thanks anyway. (We will learn later that I am not actually those nationalities, but rather, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian.)
(Side Note: I love it to pieces [and also die a little inside] when people automatically assume that I was adopted from Russia. No, no, no. I think that foreign adoptions, Russian ones included, is a trend that started somewhat recently when The System ran out of white babies and people didn't want brown babies [And why would they? They're brown!], so they had to start importing them. Kind of like with cars, though I can only assume that Russian cars suck and that's why we don't import them. Oddly enough, there aren't a lot of babies adopted from Japan. I'll have to make a spreadsheet of these facts in order to come up with more accurate racist statements.
Another Side Note: What the fuck is with people asking me what it was like in The Orphanage? Well, things were great until Batman left, what with all the cleaning and singing they made us do, but then My New Parents came and got me and we had sherbet to celebrate. What was the orphanage like. Fuck you.)
Where was I going with this.
Oh right. My fucked up life.
So my parents are Irish. They have a castle sitting in a field somewhere in Galway. My dad has blue eyes and, now, white hair. My mom has big blue bug eyes and, now, dyed hair. My younger brother, the not adopted one, has fair skin, freckles, and the same blue eyes. My older brother, the adopted brother who, somewhat regretfully, I have zero relationship with, is German and something, but not the Aryan German, the darker (but not Jewish) German. So he has jet black hair and dark brown eyes. Me? Light brown hair, hazel eyes, I tan rather than getting darker shades of pale, and the best part? My dad is 5'-11", my mom is 5'-5" on a good day, and I'm a ridiculous 6'-1" (Also, I'm by far the hottest member of my family, but you always see the ugliest people with the most debonair kids and vice versa, so I'll play nice and not lay that card down.)
For a time, we were a happy little family, my parents, my older brother, and myself. I was the most intense three year old anyone had ever me. I was fiercely independent, astoundingly articulate, that is, when I chose to speak, which wasn't often, and I was frighteningly smart, reading, finishing complicated puzzles at my Montessori school, and discussing aeronautical engineering at length. Things were good, and then my supposedly sterile mother went and got pregnant. Bad idea.
I distinctly remember hoping my brother would drown during his baptism, and I remember the night I went into my parents' room, found an economy size bottle of baby powder, and doused my younger brother with it. When my mother yanked me out of bed and stood me in the middle of her bedroom, she put her arms over her head and yelled, "Did you do this?" I crossed my arms over my chest, gave her a deliberately apathetic look, and said, "Yes." My mother explained to me that I could have killed my brother. As if I didn't know that.
Shortly thereafter, my dad took and Official position in Missouri and we moved. Missouri demarcates the beginning of Sex Play. I tried sticking a popsicle stick into my urethra while sitting spread eagle on my bedroom floor with my friend Elizabeth. I tried to deliver a baby doll my friend Jennifer had shoved under her shirt and half down her pants with a plastic spatula on the floor of my closet, the orange shag carpet agitating my already sweaty hands as I tried to decide whether or not to look at my friend's vulva. It was all innocent, natural, what kids did...what they do--because they are little animals with big feelings splitting the seams of their tiny bodies.
One day, I got married to my friend Tara's brother, Tony, and we had a small ceremony under a bridge in a creek with Doritos and Skittles. Then we got naked. And when my mom found out, boy was she pissed. I remember seeing her head come up over the edge of the grass. I don't know that I got spanked or punished, but I felt shamed for quite a while after.
Our time in Missouri was short-lived (and thank god because, well, it was Missouri). and when we moved back, we briefly lived with my Godmother, Anita. Behind Anita lived to kids the same ages as my older brother and me, Howard and Vivian. Sex Play continued with them, it continued with my brother, and then, with my babysitter. Only when Sex Play happens with your male babysitter, the technical term for that is Child Molestation. I was in Kindergarten and I knew that it was very, very wrong, but it mostly felt good, so I didn't think I should tell anyone.
Then, one fine day, Brian stopped babysitting for us, and in came a social worker with anatomically correct dolls and a list of generic questions meant to extract the badness like Epsom salts. They asked me every question, they showed me the dolls, they gave me crayons and told me to draw things. But I was no fool. I knew that if I said anything, I was going to go straight to jail and that would be the end of that. So I did what I, to this day, do best: I lied and I manipulated. I knew exactly what to say and I said it like it was the truth so the would leave me the fuck alone already, and they did.
It will and won't shock you to learn that even after things stopped with my babysitter, they continued on with my brother. Years later, in the fifth grade, we would go back to spend Labor Day weekend with Howard and Vivian (who I can only now assume were also abused). The four of us stayed up all night in the living room, playing truth or dare, and doing things I didn't dare repeat until college. I gave my first blowjob at the age of ten (So who can really blame me for being so good, right?), and a week later, I got my period, and a week after that, my brother started fucking me. (Even now, people my age, people older than me, when I tell them about this, like to attempt to quell me by saying, "Oh...well...at least he's not your real brother." Uh. If your step dad rapes you are you going to feel better if I point out the fact that he's not "really" your dad? It's amazing I don't punch people in the fact more often.)
That went on until I was about 13. I remember a pregnancy scare in the sixth grade, where I sat in the bathroom during a break while trying out for AAU basketball. I'd put a pad in my underwear hoping for something to show up. I was sitting in that bathroom stall thinking about the least devastating way to kill myself if I was pregnant.
It's not like there weren't 'opportunities' to say something, there were. We were even found out a few times. I wrote about it in my journal at school, my teacher read it, and I was marched right into the office of Pat Sims. (Feel free to send her a Christmas ham. Or a pipe bomb.) She sat behind her desk, and I sat in a chair in front of it, next to my father, both of us in our coats, while she interrogated me, made me feel more crass and ashamed than anyone ever had. Of course I wasn't going to say anything to her.
And the one time I did say something to someone? She told everyone. Humiliated me and then denied it.
But since nobody of importance knew, they couldn't really do anything. (Years after the fact, I am convinced that my mother, in all her own abused dysfunction, knew damn well what was going on and didn't say a fucking thing. She didn't stand up for me the way that she promised the State she would, and this is why, when I call my house and she answers, I simply hang up.) Consequently, there were years of weird behavior, some of which, I don't even recall. I peed in odd places, I would wake up in the middle of the night and jump on my bed, deliberately hitting my head on the ceiling, and the way I used my sexuality as an outlet is simply incredible.
We are still very, very much at the beginning.
6 May 2007
Names are one of those things that, by its very nature, creates discussion, evokes questions, and extracts more information than is probably actually needed, sometimes too much. My name is M*******, and the spelling, origination, culture, and story behind that name is, at the least, a weekly discussion in my life, or at least it was for a time. I worked at a grocery store, people asked about it. I worked at a Pizzeria and my customers asked about it there too (I am now relatively legendary in my hometown), and my three years at the largest Gap in the country warranted more questions and conversation than I am normally comfortable with having.
(Side note: When I tell people that I used to work at the Gap, their reply is usually something like, "You? Really? They let people like you work at the Gap?" What they mean when they say 'people like you' is 'people who have [as I like to refer to it] a brackish ice chunk in place of their heart'--and that' OK. What I normally tell them is that I worked primarily with men and fags (the two sects of human beings whom with I most frequently interact), and that they appreciated my honesty and straight forwardness. It was and wasn't good for business. Like when I took belts out of peoples' hands and told them to go across the street to Kenneth Cole because their belts are FAR better quality? Yeah, not good for business.)
Anyhow, years of standing behind a counter with a name tag meant stonefacedly withstanding the most reprehensible of people who wanted to know about my name. "Oh, muhLAY! What a pretty name! Are you Hawai'ian?" Yes. Yes I am. Normally my 6'-1" stature throws people off from guessing my Polynesian heritage, but not you. You are quick as a fox and ignored my definitively Eastern European nose and massive bone structure. Too bad for you I'm all out of cookies, dickweed.
I also got, "Mally! It's Mally, right?"
"No, it's 'M****'."
"Oh! Is that the Gaelic way? With 'e-i-g-h?"
No, actually 'M****' is Gaelic way--it's Gaelic for 'Mary' which means 'bitter' in Hebrew. Imagine that.
Inevitably, people would ask exactly how I got such a name, and the story I would tell would (and still does) go like this:
When my parents got me, my mom wanted to name me 'Anna Catherine' but my dad said, "You can name her whatever you want, but I'm calling her M****," and that's what they did. They named me Anna, but I've been called 'M****' all my life. Then, in the seventh grade, I got this massively brilliant idea (Years later I would realize that this was not, in fact, the case at all, but that my idea was horrifically stupid and would be the catalyst for loathsome human interactions for what may prove itself to be the duration of my life.) to change the spelling to 'M*******' so that people would...I don't know...immediately recognize my inherent uniqueness such that thoughts of me might overshadow those of people named Sheniquah or Mickaylah.
Then my inquisitor further complicates things by saying, "What do you mean when your parents 'got you'?" I mean when my parents were washing their linens on the banks of the Nile and they found me floating face down in a cluster of reeds. Boy. Whoever left me there sure didn't know much about child safety and welfare, but it makes for a good story, no?
When I explain that what I mean by my little 'euphemism', my explanation is met with any one of a variety of expression/utterance combinations. Sometimes people ask me questions about my adoption, sometimes they say, "Oh...interesting...," and sometimes they don't say anything at all. It's interesting though: there's a handful of people whom, when I tell them I'm adopted, say, "Oh. Sorry." and for a minute I am internally filled with glee thinking Yes! I'm sorry too! You must get how horrible it is! But then I realize that they really just don't know what else to say and I go to my dark place for a while.
Around the time I started spelling my name differently was around the time I started being noticeably taller than my family, though it was always clear that I was going to be taller than them at some point anyway. In the first grade I outgrew my mother's shoe size. In the second grade, I started getting pubic hair. By the time fourth grade rolled around, I had full grown underarm hair (that my mother refused to let me shave), bush, and then got my period shortly after turning 10.
(Side note: At first glance, it seems to make perfect sense that someone who is tall would go through puberty earlier, but when I really think about it, it doesn't make sense. Even if my body is bigger, doesn't my body know how old I am? Then again, I don't think it was the hormones in the milk...)
Inevitably, people began to wonder where I got my height (and probably, they secretly wondered where I got my good looks and hazel eyes) and they would inquire. I hit a point where I just didn't want people knowing I was adopted. I thought it made me too different, that they would think what I thought: that I just wasn't good enough to keep, and they wouldn't want me around. Because if my mother didn't want me, why would anyone else? So I told them I got my height from my grandfather who is actually tall, and, on an unrelated note, a complete asshole.
Eventually, I gave up on telling people that it was my grandfather's genes that were passed down, and I just started saying that I was adopted. A lot of people would automatically say, "You are not!" People still negate me when I tell them I'm adopted as if it's trendy to be sloppy seconds or something. Sorry, but if I'm going to lie to you about anything it's about whether my sunglasses are fake Prada or whether or not I really want to be driving an SUV--you know, the really important shit. (For the record, my sunglasses are Perry Ellis and I got them at TJ Maxx because I have a nasty habit of losing my sunglasses, and I'd prefer to drive a Honda Accord rather than an SUV, though the Infiniti land cruiser has a nice womb-like quality and comes in that nasty metallic rust color that I hate so I could throw myself a real pity party in there.)
Anyhow, it was around this same time that I started being a teenager and picking my music how I saw fit. One of my favorite artists at the time was Sarah McLachlan and she had this song called "Wait". It's lovely and I still listen to it. I remember laying in my bed at night, my Walkman tucked neatly by my side as I mouthed the words: You know if I leave you now/ It doesn't mean that I love you any less [I'm giving you up for adoption]/ It's just the state I'm in [I'm 16]/ I can't be good to anyone else like this [It's a completely selfless decision to do this] When all we wanted was the dream/ To have and to hold that precious little thing [A baby]/ Like every generation yields/ A newborn hope unjaded by their years [But we are simply too young!]
How can that song not be about me? Don't her eyes look a little green on the cover of this album? Doesn't her hair look a little like mine? A little reddish, a little wavy? The words say it all though, really. She wrote that song for me, and she wanted me to hear it so that I'd know she wanted me to find her.
When I presented this theory and all of the supporting data to my best friend, Angie, she looked at me with a look that said, "Are you serious? Your are, aren't you. That's fucking sad dude. Sad and kind of funny. I'll have to laugh about this later, after I wipe this incredible smirk off of my face."
I supposed I always knew that it wasn't true, but this wasn't the only time that I did it. There was a tall woman with eyes my exact same color who worked at Glamour Shots at the mall. I found it exceptionally unfortunate that there wasn't anything to buy or peruse at Glamour Shots, and so I feigned interest in video games so I could stand across the pedway and stared at her. I did it again with a woman who ran a camp that I went to. Any time I saw some tall woman who remotely resembled my features, I'd fixate on her until she left or I left or it got uncomfortable for one of us. My final reprieve came when I moved to Chicago and I knew the likelihood of her being there was slim.
10 May 2007
As much as I avoid what is commonly referred to as 'The Media', living in a big city small town metropolitan area has made such a goal unattainable. Thus, I am constantly confused about my place in society, the relevance of my sexuality versus the standards set forth for my gender, how I can be sexy without being slutty, and just what cell phones are on the cutting edge of technology. (It's funny [in the way that means 'not actually funny'] that I should mention 'cutting'. Don't worry, you'll see why.) The one thing the media has successfully managed to do though is ingrain in me several brand identities (I took the most intricate survey over the phone about a year ago, but only because I loved the way the girl talked.) and with that, instill several brand loyalties.
Macintosh. Starbucks. Gap. Coke. Fage. Banana Republic. Nike. Speedo. Chipotle. Pilot. Seventh Generation. Tyson. Krinos. Fiji. Tom's of Maine. (I am, at the very least, a conscious label whore.) Nexxus. Isopure. Barilla.
But my all-time favorite: Gillette. Gillette Sensor Excel to be exact. They give an amazingly close shave, smooth and flawless (but watch out for your ankles!), and are easily wielded in times of crisis. At both ends of each cartridge is a C-shaped metal band that keeps the razors safely in place. But with the flick of any other piece of sturdy metal, such as a barrette, and earring, or screwdriver, the band can be easily popped off for ease of use. Cross-sectioned, the razors themselves are actually L-shaped, giving the user the advantage of a small grip; slivers on the fingertips are as much a giveaway as bracelet bundles and wristbands.
For the entire duration of my 'cutterdom' (which I assume is much like an eating disorder or alcoholism and is a lifelong battle, a woods never to be emerged from) I used Gillette Sensor Excels. I'd wait until no light came in under my door, and I'd sit at my desk and work diligently, setting numbered goals for myself, exceeding them, and not stopping until whatever I was using for absorbent material could be wrung out. The only time I didn't use Gillettees was when I was hiding cuts from my therapist (one week in the Psych Ward, a place free of shoes, caffeine, corners, and edges was enough for me, thanks). I had to move to a more inconspicuous area, and industrial grade razors yielded the best results when applied to the inner ankle.
Cutting, or 'self mutilation' as 'mental health professionals' like to call it, is a phenomenon ('Phenomenon' has such a nice, jaunty, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses kind of ring to it, no?) much like adoption in the respect that you either 'get it' or you don't. Most people fall predictably under the latter, having never been abused, refused, or so hopelessly desperate to rid themselves not of life, but of death, a death with various but equally vicious methods of attack, though none kind enough to indulge you in brevity. Cutting, contrary to popular and sheltered belief is not about death, but rather, rubbing death in its own face and saying, "Fuck you. I'm going to make it, even if I have to prove to myself that I am still alive by bleeding a little bit (or drinking a case of cheap beer and passing out, blood-covered, in my bathtub), the that's what I shall do."
It was a self-fueled fire that ignited when I was a junior in high school and was extinguished with but a squirt only months later. I was beginning to admit abuse to myself, opening up that time capsule I'd hoped to bury forever, but that repeatedly poked an edge above the surface. I'd get in a fight with my parents, and because sex was the only thing that had yet to validate me in my forsaken little life, I would sneak out of my house and get into cars with boys six, seven, ten years my senior. Later, in college, I would give blowjobs with little hesitation, a performance to be followed closely by a meltdown that desisted with me drunk and tearful on the edge of a bed that was certainly not my own.
I didn't know what my feelings were or how to deal with them, and my horror was pulled in and pushed out with a frequency that is easily likened to respiration. I was angry with no one, I was angry with everyone. It took some time to figure out that the person I was angriest with was myself. I am smart. I am strong. I am capable. I am now and I was then. Why? Why did I let such a thing happen to me? And then why the fuck, of all things, did I let it happen again.
I could have said no.
I could have told someone.
Tell your parents. (Aren't my parents the ones who hired this babysitter? Aren't my parents also my brother's parents?)
Tell a teacher. (The will think that I am dirty.)
Tell a trusted adult. (A trusted adult? You mean like a social worker? A doctor? A parent? You mean one of the negligent assholes who got me into this fucked up mess? Please.)
But still, there must have been something I could have done, right?
Well, I'll be honest. I started masturbating as soon as I was dexterous enough to do so. I, like most children, fondled myself wherever and whenever, but usually at highly inappropriate times. My favorite thing to do was watch soap operas. I was in Kindergarten and I would sneak into the living room and watch snippets of Days of our Lives while not so tenderly humping a sofa cushion on the floor. Soap operas were an endless stream of soft-core porn at my immediate disposal.
So I asked my babysitter, ALSO an abuse victim (Boy. Bet you didn't see that coming...) if he wanted to play soap opera with me. Do I need to go into further detail here?
In my mind it was (and on some days, given my mood and whether or not I'm believing in god at the moment and if there's any Diet Dr. Pepper left, still is) my fault. It was my idea. It was my poorly executed plan, and for that, I should pay. Pay I did. Tenfold. Maybe (read: probably) more.ca
So what the fuck does this have to do with adoption?
Nothing. I'm an attention whore, remember?
OK, not quite. While cutting was my method of self-punishment for having been a five year old harlot and soliciting sexual attentions from my babysitter and brother, the moon waxed, the tides changed, and I focused my anger elsewhere.
I spent a good deal of my life not knowing that I had abandonment issues, though I remember not being able to do the heel-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead-and-fall-down thing at Bible camp and having the guy who ran the camp ask me, "Have you forgiven your mother for abandoning you?" It was more or less concluded from the way I cried following the question that apparently I hadn't. After that, I didn't give it much thought. Then during my second or third week at college, I had a bunch of friends over to my apartment to drink. We drank, and they left. I was stunned. Drunk and stunned and so freshly terrified at my abrupt solitude, and the fear that it would last eternally, I began cutting again. I vaguely remember being ecstatic about how much blood there was. (I read a book once that quoted a woman saying that cutting without a lot of blood is like having a salad for dinner when you could have had a steak. And that's why I have given up cutting and have taken to pastures nationwide, razoring unsuspecting cows at random.)
Again, I had to be punished. I had to suffer the consequences of being so intrinsically bad, unlovable, and imperfect, that even my own mother could not bear such a burden. Mothers love their children despite their imperfections, their shortcomings, right? A mother loves even her ugliest child. (I've seen this happen, yet, oddly, it there is no congruity between the statistics on ugly babies and hysterectomies. This really only works to bolster my logic, for which I am grateful, even if it means feigning blindness when approached by less attractive individuals.)
Do I attribute adoption and only adoption to my cutting? No. Responsibility for such drastic and self-deprecating action falls solely on the shoulders of my parents at large. OK. It falls on me and I daily accept my responsibility for that. Although, while we're on such a happy topic, you might find this little gem about the suicide rate among adoptees to be quite informative. (Disclaimer: I have not actually read the article, so someone please tell me what it says and if the evidence is not in my favor, I shall remove the link or re-route it to the PeTA website. Or not. Fanatics are unreasonable people and we don't want that.)
20 May 2007
I wanted to start off by listing several excuses as to why I haven't written, but the only one that's 'legitimate' is the one that goes a little like this: My hesitation in writing here has to do with lots of things. This is the one forum I write in where everything I say is completely accessible to anyone who wants it. While copywriting issues are sometimes a concern of mine, in this instance, that's less so. While I'm not quite narcissistic enough to assume that everyone I know is out there Googling my name, if they do, this blog comes up immediately. Is there anything in here that I wouldn't 'say to someone's face'? No. I'm regularly described as 'aloof', and I'm under the impression that honesty really is the best policy (though is more a tool of discretion than one of convenience).
OK where am I going with this.
Everything that I say in here could/ would/ will be said to the appropriate people at the appropriate times, but until that time presents itself, I'd rather not hurt any relationship, be it fragile or not, by sharing with the world things that I've not yet shared with the ultimate receptor of given information.
Also, I know that there ARE certain people out there who ARE Googling me, digging around here and there, and I've stumbled on such people who have (without telling me first) put up pictures of me on their blogs and whatnot.
Last but not least, I'm trying to keep this on a timeline rather than writing about my fleeting feelings as they occur to me (because god forbid I should relinquish control over my feelings and just say what I'm really thinking). I want this to be about adoption and ONLY adoption and I want to discipline myself enough so that I don't 'accidentally' end up writing about my job or my social life when it's not 'pertinent'. Thus, I think about these posts for days in advance and run my thoughts repeatedly through a proverbial coffee filter so I only have to spend two hours rather than six laying in bed on Sunday morning typing.
I went to Catholic school for the majority of grade school. Before that, I went to various public schools for various reasons. The last public school I attended before switching was a school the spawned from a gentrification catastrophe and meant I was going to school compiled of upper middle class Jews and lower class (read: Section 8) blacks. Integrated into this tense racial dynamic was a small community of handicapped kids. Kids in wheelchairs who drooled a lot and had to have their feet strapped to their chairs lest the kick someone inadvertently, kids with mush-for-brains, fetal alcohol syndrome, etcetera. These were the kids I normally 'hung out with' because I was the only white girl in my grade, and attempts to be friends with the black girls in my grade proved futile and even got me punched on several occasions. (Insert speech about being a product of one's environment and/ or nature versus nurture.)
After miserable bus rides full of castigations, racial slurs, sexual harassment, mild beatings, and what amounted to small tortures, I was moved in to Catholic school. I was no longer in the racial minority and things, as far as I could tell, were going to turn themselves right around.
Instead of being hated because of my race, I was now whispered about during class and ignored at recess because I questioned God. I questioned religion. I questioned history. I dared to answer questions aloud when nobody else knew the answer. And then, then I did myself a huge disservice by openly questioning abortion. (If I didn't think it would get me shot, I'd have a shirt made that reads: SUCK IT UP OR SUCK IT OUT!) We were supposed to choose some 'humanitarian crime' and write a report on it. I chose infanticide. I made the entire paper up completely and it was believed out of convenience and gasped at by everyone. ("They even have chutes in the delivery room that go right to an incinerator if the mother doesn't want her child!") (Oh, if only some of us could have been so lucky...)
But the questioning I did was unhealthy and unsafe. It gave the other kids 'ideas'. Nobody liked me challenging this and that and I may as well have had 'PINKO COMMIE' embroidered on my shirt.
Because of all this, I decided to go with a fuck all attitude when it came to choosing high schools. I decided on a reputable public school 20 times the size of my grade school. Around this time, I got very in to Wicca, and dressing like a heathen and being churlish in general. My parents attempted for the umpteenth time to have me put back in to therapy. Only this time, I wasn't sent back to Jerry, the big bear-like guy who was always trying to get me to play soccer because my long, gangly arms would make me a great goalie. This time, we went to Catholic Social Services of Southwest Ohio and I met with Jane Brown. Jane and I liked shooting the shit, I liked making her mad telling her about all the things I'd shoplifted, about the older guys I was making out with, about my 'boyfriend', about the fistfight I got in with my dad because I wouldn't get off the phone, about the baby my brother was about to have out of wedlock.
And then we started talking about adoption. I knew, because I wasn't 18, I couldn't take it too far, but they did have a 'ledger' system. I could write a letter to my birth mother and give it to the agency, and they could keep it. Then, one day, if my birth mother had psychic premonitions or stirrings, she might magically appear and ask if such a program existed, and then they would say, "YES!" and give her my letter. But could they ring her and tell her that I'd written her a letter? Absolutely not. That might, oh I don't know, give her a taste of her own medicine or something. That might hurt someone. That might ruin someone's life. That might bring someone's life to a crashing halt in an indiscernible heap at their feet.
Oh sorry. Was I projecting a bit there?
Anyway, Jane told me to write a letter to my birthmother. So I did. I did it on a legal pad during Ancient and Medieval History. It was about a page long list of trivialities and awkward questions about breast size. (If my memory serves me correctly, I believe I referenced 'Grand Tetons'.) When I gave it to Jane, she balked. She told me if I wasn't going to take it seriously, then we just wouldn't do it. I was really crushed, and I remember it being extremely hard for me to articulate the fact that I didn't know what I wanted to say. I didn't know what I wanted to know or the questions I 'should' ask. And still, I really didn't know whom I could discuss this with. Not Jane. Not my parents. Not any of my friends, because seldom did anyone get it. "Why would you want to find her? She gave you up. She probably has her own family now. She probably doesn't remember you. She probably eats newborn infants for breakfast. It's probably too painful for her. You will probably hurt your real family. This is probably..."
I crumpled up the yellow paper, shoved it in my monogrammed backpack, and left to take some initiative. I went home and got on the internet (which was still 'new' enough that lots of people didn't have it and those who did were using dial-up and you still were worried about 'minutes'). I went to an adoption registry and put in all the information I knew about myself. Where I was born, my birthday, my eye color, hair color, ethnicity. And then it began asking me questions about my mother. What was her name? What was her last known phone number? Address? Date of birth? Well fuck. If I knew that shit I'd be on Google.
I put in my information the best I knew it, I saved it, and I never went back.
26 May 2007
All during high school, I was never involved in a dynamic that could have been definitively referred to as 'A Relationship'. The reasons, I'm sure, were numerous, but there are a few still outstanding:
1) Even if, in my teen-aged naïvety, it was within my immediate capacity to 'love' someone, I could not have. I was simply too angry, buoyed too fiercely to something anchored in an aphotic league, too selfish to give of myself, and with no room left to take from another.
2) It should come as no surprise that I was far more cultivated than any of the males my age, and because males inherently act younger than their female peers, there was created a social rift so mammoth, that to try to defy it would have certainly led to charges of statutory rape.
3) To this day when I am hit on, this line frequently runs through my mind as I'm trying to think of the best way to decline someone's invitation to 'show me around town', "Dude, I am so far out of your league you couldn't by tickets to a fucking game in my league!" I may be considered by some, given my past, to be damaged goods, but it so happens that all of my good qualities are so outstanding, that to call me 'damaged goods' is the same as referring to an Aston Martin with a replaced headlight as 'damaged goods'. Other people in situations similar to my own (not all of them, but some of them) are referred to as 'damaged goods' and it's more like an '87 Chevelle that was T-boned by a Hummer right before slding into a cess pool.
Just some analogies to consider.
Eventually I met someone. Eventually, I fell in love. Eventually, I got myself so ensnared in my own heartstrings, they had fashioned for me a noose that slowly asphyxiated me, my lack of oxygen inevitably leading to lack of vision. I tried so hard in and for that relationship. I gave so much of myself and asked for nothing in return. I loved with a passion unequalled, a passion never before seen in me, at least, not with people, lovers. When it ended, it was all I could do to not end myself. Not physically, but in terms of of actively living. I stopped eating for about two weeks, but I made a very pointed decision not to stop anything else. I would not stop waking, sleeping, showering, laughing, crying, writing, being. I wasn't going to let myself die with what had once been--I was not going to make this everything.
The end came back in January, and for a while I was convinced I'd never be able to date, to kiss, to love, or to be loved again. I wanted back what I used to have, and I wanted nothing else. That, thankfully, is no longer the case. I wish my progression for that to this would have been more like a coma, stating abruptly, painfully, with injury, but with an acknowledgement so deep and traumatic that my body took over so that I did not have to experience it. Then, one day, it was all over, and I was suddenly 'OK'.
Now, as the sun peeks almost menacingly over the horizon, I have new challenges to face. It's not as if finding someone 'worthy' is difficult, as the men I tend to kiss and hold hands with work in tall buildings, manage large sums of money, oversee corporate mergers, and sue companies whose names are followed by 'LLC'. The are all catches, and so I am I.
It used to be my policy to be very up front about my past, about adoption, about abuse, about the time I called my mother a bitch and she threw a raw potato at my head, about my fuckup brother who is 26 and has three kids (Have you heard of anal sex?), and my fucked younger brother who goes to community college and aspires to make a living by being in a band whose name is equal parts clever and abysmal. I used to be the uncensored tell-all type. I quickly learned, however, that when you give this information to people to form a first impression, it is often also their last impression.
I can't really say that I blame anyone for that. Dysfunction is a bitch like that.
Sometimes people ask me, "Well why would you want to be with someone who doesn't accept you for who you are?" Because that is not who I am. I refuse to think that the world owes me anything. I refuse to feel sorry for myself. I refuse to let years of sexual abuse ensure that I will only have missionary position sex silently, clothed, and in the dark. I refuse to let any one of a number of the jarring traumas I have experienced collapse me and send me spinning backwards into the depths of endless depression. I don't refuse to assume the fetal position, but I refuse to be seen in it. A phrase I heard years ago and often like to repeat is: Handle you business, don't let your business handle you.
I fucking live that.
That is, in terms of abuse.
Adoption is a slightly different, considerably sadder story.
When it comes to men and relationships, even relationships that are platonic, I am meticulous. I make it very clear through my words and my actions that I do not need it. I can live without you, your face, your scent, your sex, your cuddling, your family, your joys, your sorrows, your quirky love of antique toys, and your penchant for drinking too much on the weekends. And this is the truth. It is the truth that I do not need these things, but it would hyperbolic to say that I don't want it. I do.
The biggest part of this, the most strenuous effort, is making sure that at no point do I create even the appearance of necessity. I will not ask to borrow anything, be it money or a stepladder. I will not ask you to help me make a meal, even if it is for both of us, even if you want to help. I will not ask you to pick me up or drop me off, even if it is raining. I will not let you buy me things, even if it's just a coffee. The one and only thing I've ever demanded from my friends and partners is honesty. Please tell me if you don't want me around, for I want not to burden you.
Were I to ask someone to bear the burden of Me, what would happen? Abandonment. That's what. If it is an impossibility to ask of one's mother the most basic of necessities, then it is an impossibility to ask that of anyone, lest they leave you. The foremost association that I have with my primary caregiver, the one designate by herself, by genetics, by biology, is one of undependability. If even an umbilical bond is weak enough to break, it must speak indelibly to lesser bonds.
2 June 2007
There was this one night, a Saturday, the very first Saturday after I turned 21. A friend had called me and said he wanted to do something for my birthday. I could only imagine the fun that was to be had that night. I remember things about that night, but the can be categorized neither as big or small. I remember details and snippets, and I remember then in terms of a greater scope, but the magnitude of that greater scope is lost on me today, was then as well.
I know I got to his apartment on the Brown Line, and I remember this only because I remember that it was my means back home the next day. I wore Gap jeans with distressing on the thighs, flip flops probably, and a black shirt from H&M that did great things for my already-good tits. I drank on the way there, mixing Grey Goose and Ocean Spray, the vodka-to-juice ration being something like 3:1.
I don't remember arriving at his apartment (or maybe I do, but I arrived there several times in the following years that I don't know which time was which), but I remember a group of us leaving, walking down the alley parallel to Belle Plaine, Jason sliding his hand around my waist, and my drunken contentedness. It was also warm for the season. We took a cab to the School Yard, and in the cab, I helped myself to the cabbie's Burger King fish sandwich. (Silly drunk girl...)
Our arrival was met by a throng of intoxicated warm bodies that belonged to a horny set of early twenty-somethings. We packed in and eventually found a table where I drilled my way through about eight White Russians, followed by shots of Stoli, followed by a drink that I didn't order but happily drank anyway. Just when I thought I couldn't drink anymore, I chased all of that with Blue Moon.
We could have been at the bar for half an hour, we could have been there for four hours. I have no idea. I know that we left and got in a car with a girl. I remember being very worried that I was not wearing a seatbelt and very worried that the girl was drunk. Neither of those concerns came to fruition in any important way. A few minutes later, we all exited the car, and I trudged up Jason's lawn, slurring my speech and stumbling through leaves. (I don't know that I have ever gotten drunker than I did that night.) When we got inside, I kept saying that I needed to lay down, and I was put in Jason's bed.
Again, not that it is necessarily relevant, but I have absolutely no idea how long I was there. I was awakened though, with Jason and my friend Israel shaking me, telling me I needed to get up. I was vomiting all over myself. It was everywhere. It was in my hair, down my shirt, in my eyes, my ears--any place it would settle, it did.
I spent the rest of the night shivering on a bare mattress in the din of a reading lamp, Jason sleeping soundly beside me on the floor, but waking at my slightest stirring, offering water and food, whatever I might want for. (Later that year, I would tell Jason that I liked him while he was high on coke, I would nearly sleep with him several times, I would drunkenly make out with his friend Ellen while he watched intently, stroking his cock, I would smoke clove cigarettes at his table while he made me breakfast, and I would eventually make it very clear that he would never, ever be good enough for me.)
I awoke the next day with a bean in my ear (I've been extremely wary of eating Chipotle before heavy bouts of drinking since this incident), vomit in my hair, and that nasty acidic film lining my parched mouth. I drank water from a masonry jar, splashed a bit of water on my face, and headed out into the Sunday afternoon. This Saturday night would quickly clone itself on weeknights (though oddly, it never compromised my schoolwork), intensify on weekends.
The night in question, however, was the night of November 5, 2004--the night after my Birthmother found me.
8 June 2007
In the fall of 2004, I’d been living in Chicago for just over a year, and was moving in to my second year of college. I’d take a year off after high school to ‘find myself’. I remember my senior year when everyone way talking about what they wanted to do and what school they wanted to go to, and I thought they were out of their minds. How could they have known that? How could they, after just 17 years of living, have figured their lives out that thoroughly? It was beyond me. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do and I knew that trying to move forward with something so major while my life posed more of a threat to me than any other external force would be a major move.
So I took the year off, worked about 70 hours a week, and worked on doing a major overhaul of my life. I started seeing a therapist about my abuse, though my parents still didn’t know (still don’t, really) the full extent of what had happened. The first time I told my dad, we were in the food court at the mall. I bought him a coffee for Gloria Jeans, and just laid it out for him. (Being so transparent often works against me, because, frankly, people don’t necessarily want to know if I think they’re ugly. But in this case, blunt was called for.)
That Chirstmas, my older brother, who, for the sake of not his privacy, but my own, I will call ‘Buddy’(a hilarious and cruel irony), is also adopted. During one of a handful of conversations I’ve had with him [in the past eight years or so], he asked if I’d done anything in terms of searching for my birth parents. I said yes and no, that it wasn’t really an ongoing search, that I appropriated information when it was convenient for me. He asked if the next day I’d be interested in going to Catholic Social Services to see what we could find out. I agreed.
In our self-righteous youth, neither of us bothered to call to see if that was even feasible. We were assholes for assuming that such an organization would be open the day after Christmas. (He, for the record, is still an asshole, but for other reasons.)
On the way back, it was just the two of us, in my car, with me driving. It was mostly quiet save for some bad rap crackling out of my 1987 sound system. We’d long since been out of touch, though now that I consider it, I don’t know how in touch we ever were. Even in our younger years, my brother took it upon himself to go out of his way to torture me. Not in any normal sibling way, but in ways that were beyond terrible.
During the days of Sibling Abuse, which was constant and ongoing, spanning years, my brother was a huge proponent of bribery. I remember one time, he bribed me with a Nirvana tape. Shortly after, he stole it back from me, and then bribed me with it again the next week, claiming this time, it was for keeps.
Throughout high school, I was rebellious in my own ways, none of which were illegal or particularly harmful, whereas my brother had weekly run-ins with the police and copulated with a staggering number of Republicans. (WTF?)
It was because of his habitual disregard for my family, for our efforts to do everything we could to help him while simultaneously doing all we could to stay the fuck out of his way, that I wasn’t surprised at our silence in the car. I figured though, that at this point, our ‘relationship’ was so far gone, I had nothing to lose.
“So, tell me about what happened when we were younger,” I started.
He knew immediately what I was referring to. Surprisingly, he not only acknowledged what happened, but ultimately accepted responsibility. (I couldn’t get him to admit that hi himself had been abused when he was younger, but I’ll take what I can get and besides, that’s about him, not me.)
We went to Panera (Trattoria to the suburbanite masses!) and talked. I told him about cutting, about depression, he told me that he doesn’t really love his wife (and I can’t really blame him—I can’t say I love her myself), that he regrets having kids, or at least, having and keeping them. (My parents encouraged him and his girlfriend to give the baby up for adoption, because it was such a loving choice, the jerks.) It was a heart-felt discussion with the ‘heart’ lying primarily on his side.
(Note to self: Purchase writer’s book that gives advice on how to bring massive tangents full circle with original topics. Like, now.)
So. Fall 2004, I’d regressed a little, spent a considerable portion of my time getting drunk and listening to Tori Amos, reading She’s Come Undone, and (not surprisingly) maintaining a near perfect GPA.
One Friday night, I was nappy quite happily when my mother called me. Against my better judgment, I answered.
“Do you know someone named Joann?”
“No. I’m sleeping. Bye.”
“Wait. This woman Joann just called here looking for you. She said she has information about someone you’ve been looking for on the internet.”
“Did you miss that part about me sleeping? Because it wasn’t a joke.”
“Will you just write down her number?”
So I did. And then I went back to sleep for all of 30 seconds before I sat straight up and said to myself, “It’s her.”
(Side note: I really wish there was another way to convey the revolutionary ‘It’s her’ thought without sounding so trite and New Line Cinema about it. SRY.)
I wanted to be really, really sure about this (self esteem issues [psh, yeah, like I have those…] can have that effect on a girl), so I did a reverse search on the number, curious as to why it wasn’t the same as Cincinnati’s.
Joann must have been busy, out saving the world or something equally important, because she wouldn’t pick up her phone.
Eventually, after thwarting Armageddon, she called my back. “Hi! My name is Joann and I’m a private investigator. I’m contacting you on behalf of your birth mother.”
“Do you think you could call her?”
Um, the NAPPING, people. It is of utmost importance to college students.
When the fuck do you think, bitchcake? When I damn well feel like it. I’m an adult with newly found freedoms and I do what I want!
“Well, now, I suppose.”
18 June 2007
He is a fake child.
No doubt he was born of a woman, but this origin has not
been noted by the social memory.
As far as everyone and, consequently, he himself are concerned,
he appeared one fine day without having been carried
in any known womb: he is a synthetic product.
Since his earliest childhood, the unknown mother has been
one of the chief figures of his mythology.
He both worships and hates her, smothers her with kisses
and seeks to debase her.
Whenever the child tries to reach beyond the bureaucracy of
which he seems an emanation to his true origins, he finds
that his birth coincides with a gesture of rejection. He was
driven out the very moment he was brought into the world.
The child senses that a woman tore him from herself, alive,
covered with blood, and sent him rolling outside the world,
and he feels himself an outcast. - A collection of excerpts from St. Genet
Prior to calling my birth mother (I'll call her 'Mary'), I called a few other people first. I called my best friend, Kate, who was living in England at the time, I called my friend Aaron, and I called my friend Susan. I did not call my parents.
When I finally did call Mary, I was rather calm about it. I dialed her number, she answered, and knew it was me. I remember only a few distinct things about that first conversation, which probably took place over about nine or so hours. One of the first things she asked me was about how my life out. I gave her the honest truth. I told her about the abuse by both my brother and babysitter, I told her about the depression, the cutting. As it turns out, she too was abused by a babysitter. She was not angry, just sorry.
We talked about our idiosynchrasies, our mannerisms, gesticulations, things like that. She ate tartar sauce a lot during her pregnancy. I like tartar sauch a lot. She eats just about everything but carrots. I only recently forced myself to like carrots. At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom. I was sitting there staring at my feet, and I wondered if she has bunions like I do. When I returned the first thing she said was, "So do you have huge bunions on your feet?" It was...one of things you expect to happen but don't honestly expect to happen.
I asaked her about my father (I'll call him 'Joseph'), and she said he spilt during the seventh month of pregnancy (up until which she was dead set on keeping me), returned the day I was born, took one look at me, and denied that I was his. This was really OK with me. I didn't feel one way or another about whether or not I wanted to be in touch with him. I told Mary that if she ever ran across him, it would be OK to give him my information.
The next few evenings, Mary would call me and we would talk for an hour or two. About a week after she'd initially got in touch with me, I got a phonecall from her on my way out to dinner. I saw her name on my caller ID, swallowed hard, and put my phone back in my bag. I felt everything. I fell sad, sorry, ashamed, and ill. How could I have wanted this for so long? I'd dreamed of it, written about it, cried and begged for it, and now, here it was. It was right in front of me and not only was I choosing to not look at it, I was trying to resist the urge to walk away from it.
I ceased to take her calls for about a week, and then I got a voice message saying she'd gotten in touch with Joseph. Joseph was ecstatic. Joseph called me the very same night while I was drunk at Walgreen's buying condoms. (Way to kill my buzz there, Joseph.)
When I answered, Joseph immediately identified himself by saying, "Hey, M*******, it's your dad." I'm sure I said, something like, "Uh high," when I actually meant, "Dude. You are so not my fucking dad." It became immediately clear why Joseph had called. Joseph had Post Adoption Stress Sydrome and was plagued by feelings of sadness and guilt (gee I wonder why). Joseph needed me to forgive him for abandoning me. He needed my help in assuaging his guilt.
We talked for some time as I became more and more aware of the train wreck happening before my eyes, helpless to stop the metal from twisting, the wheels from screeching, and the conductor from dying.
Again, when I asked about my life, I didn't hold back. When Joseph asked if it was my father had abused me, I told him no. Because it wasn't.
So imagine my horror the following day when I had a voice mail from a very hysterical Mary saying that she felt sick, wanted to go to my parents house and kill them.
This couldn't be happening. THIS couldn't be MY BIRTH MOTHER. I could not have come from this--from such hatred and impulse.
I want to see Jamey, my therapist at the time. "I don't know WHAT the fuck is going on. Really." I had him listen to the voice message, and he said, "What was that all about?"
"Jamey, I said I don't know!
"Why don't you call her?"
"And say what exactly?"
I did end up calling her. And when I asked her what in the hell her message was all about, she explained that Joseph had called her and told her my dad abused me.
I calmly explained that such was not the case, and that pretty much ended it.
Joseph apologized, but continued to call, saying he wanted to meet me, that he was making plans to come to Chicago and see me. His voice messages were sometimes 5 minutes long. If my service cut him off, he'd call back and continue. I didn't reply until he left his last message.
I stormed into the bathroom.
My roommate poked her head out of the shower.
"What's going on?"
"This motherfucker just left me a message saying that his son is SO excited to have an older sister, that he wants to talk to me, and that he's going to give him my fucking cell phone number!"
"Dude, that's not cool."
"I KNOW!" I yelled as I slammed the door.
(I should probably give you a frame of reference here and say that this all happened over a period of about three weeks.)
I called Mary and told her about Joseph calling me non-stop. Apparently, he'd begun to barrage her as well, suggesting that one day he, Mary, and I were all going to move in together and be a nice, happy family.
So I set up a conference call (during which I drank lots of hard lemonade). I had Mary on the line when I called Joseph, only Joseph didn't know that Mary was listening. I explained to Joseph that being in touch with him wasn't good for me right then, that he wasn't respecting (or even recognizing, for that matter) my boundaries. I told him that he was welcome to send me letters and pictures, but that I didn't want him calling anymore. He surprisingly complied, and that was the last time I spoke to Joseph on the phone.
It's also the last time I spoke to Mary on the phone, as well.
*Janus: Two-Faced Roman God of Gates, Doors, Doorways, Beginnings, and Endings
21 June 2007
There are only a few blogs here that I consistently read, mainly because with my other diaries, I've managed to dedicate myself to some 50 complete strangers and I can't fit many more in my Monkey Sphere.
Honestly, this blog is quite the secondary desire for me. It's not that I don't want to maintain it (I do), but I want to want to do more, to do better. Aside from time and desire though, I'm sure there are other contributing factors, like conflict. No one who comments regularly has left anything remotely argumentative, but then, I don't really open myself up to that. I don't tag my posts generally, and most of my posts have simply been what most of you have taken to calling 'Your [My] Story'--which is fine. I would have picked something more along the lines of 'Morbid Yet Practical Bitchfest' or 'Twenty-Something Chicagoan Lives Vicariously Through Sartre Book'. (And really, if you haven't done everything short of hijacking a shuttle to Mars to get your angry adoptee hands on that book, I don't know if we can really be friends. Or blogmates. Or whatever we're called.)
I've been doing lots of reading. (I'm impartial to commenting religiously because some people respond to comments on their own comment and I suck at Teh InTaRwEbZ and don't care to figure out how commenting works with RSS feeds, but I DO read.)
Oh right--lots of reading. It's started to brew something 'deep within me' (if you parding such a grossly Emo-type expression). It will come out eventually in The Longst Rant Ever Posted at Bogspot. (Leroy, you might wet yourself.) But for now, I will say this (interpret it as a disclaimer or a precursor or however the fuck you want--I care not):
I HATE adoption. HATE. IT.
I want to like it. I want to like it in the same way that I really wish that I could like cilantro. I know that if I did, if I could, that it would open up a whole new world for me. I would be readily accepted at more tables, wouldn't hate so many things that, were it not for the cilantro, I would LOVE! Cilantro is SUCH A GOOD IDEA! But a poorly executed one. (Nice work, God.) (I don't actually believe in God.)
That said, I do my best, and think of cilantro like an acquaintance at one of my parties. If I invite cilantro, I'm more than happy to mingle with it, talk to it, pour it a screwdriver. But if cilantro shows up to the party unexpectedly, I will smack a bitch.
Does that make sense?
I think The Beatles are SO overrated.
Oh wait that's irrelevant.
I'm trying. I'll get it all out there one day. I promise.
[Just don't leave.]
27 June 2007
Lots of you are going to hate this post. You are going to hate the post and you are going to hate me a little, too. That's OK. I want to say, "I don't care," but what I really mean is, "I don't mind that." It's a small price to pay. And please remember, this is not a personal attack on anyone. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. At the end, I invite you to speak your mind, to get angry, to tell me what you think. I want you to be and feel heard. BUT IF YOU CAN'T BE CIVIL I WILL CUT YO' ASS!
There are days when, yes, even I consider adopting. People have asked me that a lot in the past, usually under the pretense of, "Wouldn't you like to return the favor done for you?" As if. If anyone owes anyone a favor, it is my parents. All of them. My birth parents owe me for sacrificing my life so that they could live as happy, child-free teenagers, and my parents, well, I gave them a child. They more or less owe me the world. I'm already getting TWO pianos when my parents die, but I mean, what the fuck am I supposed to do with two pianos? The only remedy I see to both dilemmas is that my parents buy Tori Amos and she sits in my parlor and plays both pianos at once.
On one hand, I say, "I would never adopt. I would never put a child through what I have been through, even without the abuse, and honestly, knowing how I feel about my parents, I don't know that I could bear to think that my child felt that way about me." On the other hand, I say, "I might. Who better to raise an adopted child than an adoptee? I could better empathize, better relate, better guide, better communicate." As things stand for me now, no, I don't think I will ever adopt.
I wish I could eradicate adoption. I wish it would be outlawed. I wish we could take all the leetle tiny babies all over the world, the gender-inferior in China, the over-produced and under-wanted in Eastern Europe, the crack babies in Harlem--all the babies who weren't lucky enough to be Dumpster Babies--and get rid of them. We would wipe the slate clean, burn all the old books, change all of our old ways, and be happy with our own babies who looked like us and acted like us and became abusive alcoholics JUST! LIKE! US!
Unfortunately, that's just unethical (not to mention mildly disturbing that I even fathomed such a thing), and it can't be done. Even if it could be, and someone suggested it, I would be like, "Look dudes, you're being fucking unreasonable. Put down the hose. We'll go get some TCBY. My treat!"
"So, you orphan-killing, frozen-yogurt-eating, whore-who-claims-to-be-a-woman, what DO you and all of your intellectual prowess suggest?"
I'm glad you asked, my underlings--I'm glad you asked.
Since we can't outlaw adoption, let's get the ball rolling in the right direction and outlaw international adoption.
"But why?!" you ask in exasperation, "Where will we get cute little Chinese babies to carry around in our Prada bags?! They look just like Furbies, you know..."
Let me explain some things to you.
There are people in America who want to adopt, and for a variety of reasons. Some are infertile, some are not. Some were fertile, and now they own the Orlando Magic, they want to adopt every baby in the world. They want to do something good. They want to do something selfless.
Have you ever noticed that people who volunteer claim to do so because it makes them feel good about themselves? It raises their endorphin levels. It makes them feel more like humans and less like androids. While that's sweet and all, how noble is it really? You're basically getting a high off of temporarily relieving the distress of someone's misfortune.
So as a selfless act, people decide they want to take in an underprivileged child, give it a better life, better opportunities, they want to give it a chance. Great! We have eleventy gazillion underprivileged black children right here in America! Wait. What? Oh you don't want a black child? Oh. A white baby...O...K... Well, there's a waiting list. It might take a year or ten, depending on your tax bracket is. What did you say Mr. Jones does for a living again?
When Mr. and Mrs. Martyr find out what a pain the fucking ass it is to get a white baby in America (and Jesus what a fucking price tag!), they decide to go elsewhere. You can go to Russia, Romania, any of those places that have good grain alcohol really, and you can have a white baby. She might be a little older, but don't worry, she will catch right on to English and you will never hear the word 'tchotchke' again! Or, you can up the ante a little, and choose from our Exotic Other collection.
Yes, yes. That's so open-minded of you. It's so accepting...so...wait does it only eat rice? What will you tell him when he asks about his skin color? You know they're good at math and playing the cello, right? Does he play the cello?
Problem #1: Overseas adoptions of the interracial variety lead who a whole slew of negative attitudes from other children, and it makes it difficult for the child to establish an ethnic identity.
Problem #2: Overseas adoptions of the non-interracial variety still have the accompanying problem (that all overseas adoptions have, regardless of race) that taking the child from her homeland will only work against her when she wants to find her biological family. (And she will. They always do, despite what they may say.) On top of that, if and when she finds her family, how will she communicate with them? What kind of massive letdown will it be when you fly to Guangdong and she can't even talk to her mother?
Those two things, both individually and together, are not massive, life-threatening obstacles and I acknowledge that. But let's talk about problems on a more global scale.
So long as people continue to adopt overseas as opposed to taking in some mulatto or worse, those children will continue to have no place to go. They will be raised in group homes, in foster homes, and on the streets. Once they turn 18, they are no longer a ward of the state and are 'free' to go. Where is it that they're going? (There are many right answers, but choose the best possible one. Remember to darken the bubble completely; don't circle your answer.)
b) Their local State University
c) Community College
If you chose d) Prison, A+ SUPER JOB!
Chances are, the minorities being sMarymed over in favor of more moldable specimens were not aptly cared for, likely abused, and sorely undereducated. This means that once they lose juvenile status, they have few options. College is likely not one of them. Best case scenario is that they go on to get minimum wage paying jobs, and live 'decent' lives. Worst case scenario is that they become involved in crime and violence, perpetuate abusive cycles, create more children to be shuffled through the system and end up like them. Statistics are in favor of the latter.
One a socioeconomic level, this works to widen the income gap between whites and minorities, increase crime, promote segregation and racism, and decrease the quality of life for all Americans.
One might argue that at the very least, international adoptions help ease burdens in other countries, and that's commendable, right?
Well, let's see. Are you really easing anyone's burden? By agreeing to clean up their messes and shoulder the burden of their ill decisions, are you really helping them? If you carry you new Chinese baby everywhere, will she ever learn to walk without holding your hand?
The fact of the matter is, if we keep adopting the babies from China, their issues with gender inferiority will only worse. If we keep helping to clean up the mess still spilling over in post-Choucescu, Romania will never learn from its mistakes. If women think their children have a shot at being adopted by nice American couples, what will stop them from using contraception that the State speaks badly about, or, worse yet, prohibits?
OK I have to shower.
10 July 2007
I have to be at work in eight hours which is one of a billion reasons that I shouldn't be doing this right now, but I just opened a can of non-diet soda, so why not further indulge in gluttony and irresponsibility and write in my blog and listen to AFI because they're all dreadful and woe is me and while that's not really how I feel right now, it's not that far from it.
I just wrote an e-mail back to Mary, replying to the one she sent me at the end of April, and thanking her for the grauation gift she sent me, I told her all the things about me that I'm comfortable with her knowing, and I even included some pictures of my face and pictures that I've taken that I now realize speak volumes about my true feelings about this 'whole thing'.
I hate being such an asshole about how often I write, how often I keep in touch, how much I share when I am, but I also hate the fact that I'm even in this fucking situation. I am COMPLETELY resentful of the fact that I've been so 'put out' by this. Pardon me if my mother a complete fucking stranger, there's not much I can do to help that, and invading my own privacy on your behalf is considerably more difficult than you might think. Sometimes I think I'd be more comfortable sending my pictures and stories to someone doing life upstate because at leat then, I know they'd never come and get me and at least then if I wanted to go and get them, I could do it on the other side of the glass. I wouldn't have to worry if I was hugging tight enough or smelling good enough. They would always be there, and I could come and get them, have them whenever I wanted, could leave them when I didn't, and all they'd have is the dreadful weight wait.
I'd never have to worry about you leaving again because you would have nowhere to go.
Anyway, part of what I wrote to her was this:
Anyhow, I've been (quite obviously) doing a lot of thinking, and I'd
like to make a request. This is really hard for me to articulate, so
bear with me, and pardon me if I sound completely demanding. I'd like
anyone on 'your side' (Tim, Julie, your mom, your brother, Kathy,
anyone really) to write me a letter. It can be about anything, but I
suppose I'm looking for their ideas, things about themselves, what
they've heard about me, questions they have for me, stories or
pictures they'd want to share, thoughts about what it was like when I
was born or given up--anything. I would prefer hand written (or typed
for the sake of convenience) letters, but I'm not going to be picky as
this is a fairly demanding request on my part. Let me know if I'm
being an asshole. I'm not sure WHY that would be particularly
helpful, but it's an idea that came to me, and one that I feel
particularly strong about. If there's anyone that would like to
participate but feels super adamant about e-mailing me, I'd like them
to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In all actuality, I think I'm perfectly within my rights to request something like that. I think it's the least they can do. I'm also extremely curious to see Joseph or his side of the family.
Anyhow, I'm sure I'll have a reply first thing in the morning or shortly thereafter.
13 July 2007
Last week, I met up with a fellow blogger. We had a good time, we ate, we drank, we watched people throw dollars at the feet of The Tin Man (of which there are several). We got down to the nitty gritty which was an interesting dynamic since I'm and adoptee and she's a birthmother.
One thing she asked me was when the last time I was in touch with Mary was. I told her that aside from an e-mail back in April that I'd sent only in an attempt to get information from her from ANOTHER blogger, I really hadn't been. She'd sent me Christmas gifts as well as a graduation gift, and I hadn't so much as said OH HAY THX. So then she asked me something along the lines of, "Don't you wonder how that makes her feel?"
Well of COURSE I WONDER how that makes her feel and that account for more than half of my reasoning behind not beind in touch with her. Sometimes, I don't write back because I don't have time, sometimes, it's to be vindictive, and then there comes a point when I'm done being vindictive AND I don't have the time AND this might be the time that I was too vindictive and sat around too long and she's written me off [again] anyway. So fuck it. Instead of writing her back tonight, I'm going to bed early. Instead of writing her back tonight, slide me another Westmalle Tripel. Instead of writing her back tonight, I'm going to watch anal porn and eat string cheese.
Instead of writing her back tonight, I'm going to do fuck all because it will get me out of writing her back.
Yes, I do think about the way she feels, and I imagine it's probably not quite as soul-crushing as the way I felt for, oh, 21 years before she out of the blue decided we should be BFFs and post pictures of one another on our MySpace pages (you'll notice that shortly thereafter, my MySpace page disappeared and has yet to reappear, though that's partially due to the fact that MySpace is Frech for THE DOG'S BOLLOCKS). To wonder why your kid, a complete stranger, whom you've met but twice in your life, has not written you back to comment on the captions of the photos of you sitting poolside in Acapulco is probably quite similar, but rather incomparable, to what it was like for her to wonder why you didn't want her in the first place. And now I'm supposed to chuckle at the umbrella in your daiquiri?
And that ain't it--I've got more (like you couldn't have guessed that): At this point in time, I've already decided that I want to limit my contact with her. I don't want to compromise with her about this, this is going to be at my dictate. This is going to be me straight-armed with the heel of my hand on her forehead while she swings fruitlessly at my torso. "No, no, no," I'll say, "I simply can't be bothered to make deviled eggs for the reunion this weekend, and quite possibly ever. You understand, don't you?"
I do not want her to meet my parents. Not now, not ever. I am the only thing they have in common, and while I understand that's quite a monumental commonality, it's one that wouldn't exist had they not acted so selfishly. So if they never meet, too bad, so sad, I don't give a fuck.
This means that Mary won't come to my wedding. I haven't told her that yet, and the thought of doing so is enough to make me not want to date.
I will also not let Mary meet my children. I'm already confused enough about who is what and where everything goes, I don't want to be involving my kiddos in any sort of emotional struggle. If they want to meet her when they grow older, I will not stop them from doing so, but she's not going to be a prominent figure in their life.
All this means that I'm going to have to be very careful about how I procede. It's like building a camp fire: you get it just big enough to keep you warm, but careful, because you don't want to burn down the forest.
Then there's this:
Despite the abuse, despite my traumatic and impaired childhood, despite everything that was fucked up about everything, here I am. I am ungodly smart, and people love to point this out about me. I had an offer letter for my job signed before I graduated from college. I have been 98% self-sufficient since I was about 18, sometimes working 80 hours a week. I have a career, I live in the third largest city in the country, and I make some damn good fucking pottery.
I am the one who got me here. It was ME who called time out and postponed college so that I could get my shit together. It was ME who worked retail to pay all of the bill that were in MY name. My parents gave me a base, yes, and for that I am grateful, but everything that I have today is mostly a direct result of MY actions.
I NEVER want Mary to think that she made a good decision.
I NEVER want Mary to be glad she gave [me] up.
I NEVER want her to take ONE FUCKING OUNCE of credit for anything good in my life.
Maybe that's selfish or unfair or fucked up.
Or maybe I've felt singular, family-less, and so god damned alone for so long that it is only fair to me to refuse pluralization on behalf of the feelings of the woman who said, "No, not today. Not this. Not now."
So when someone asks me if I think about how she feels, the answer is 'yes', and I even care, but the fact that I care is a fact not created in me out of obligation.