Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

July 28, 2006

Wavin' It All Good-bye

Born in California, adopted in Wyoming, returned to California where I've spent all my life except for a year in Iran and odd bits of time on the road, it's time to leave this state. The move date is August 11. I just can't get my head around it. I'm going to miss our little bungalow like crazy. There's a weird urgency inside my head. Am I certifiable or what? But the teabag tag said, "An adventure will change your life."


Sixteen days left until escrow closes and we must be gone, outa here for good, bye bye now. Tent for termites & fumigation, signing title papers, plumbing and roof repairs. Doo dah.

I don't have a mother, sister, aunt, cousin, or other relative to help me, guide me with advice. Times like these I really feel the lack of roots. My only rule of thumb is: If it hasn't been used in a year, it gets donated or tossed. If anyone has any better advice, I'll read it with gratitude. Trying to co-ordinate everything, make all the reservations, shut off utilities, close accounts, check paperwork, find non-existent boxes. Around here supermarkets smash all their boxes, bind them, and pay to have them hauled away. Used to be you could scavenge enough to fill your car with boxes. Not any more. Sign of the times.

Ch-ch-ch-check lists...

Books, clothes, dishes, cookware, books, journals, tools, books, sewing machine, typewriter, laptop, books, bed, did I say books? soapmaking materials, garden goods, bicycle, bathroom doo dads and those pesky odds and ends you don't want to take but you can't leave behind, books, and dog. Where's the dog gonna ride? Yikes. Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kep' his family fed...

Shove it all somehow into a 12-foot U-Haul hooked to the Ford 150 diesel pick-up. Up Highway 5, pushing north through the oven of the central valley in August heat without air conditioning (uses too much fuel). As of this morning 104 people have died from two weeks of 100-plus temperatures in the state. The sun is hotter now, five minutes in the sun gets you a burn if you're fair skinned. Your body absorbs the heat so quickly. No one around here has ever had air conditioners. Ever. Now you stand in a store and within half an hour your legs are dripping with sweat. The humidity, the lack of breeze, is sweltering.

Posts here and visits to other blogs may be sporadic for the short term. N will be moving ahead of us, taking this desktop with her on Aug. 3, with her boyfriend. May not see a keyboard for awhile after that unless I unpack the laptop. K got back safely from Guatemala. I know how to spell relief.

Here is an album of quick photos I took to remember what it looked like in the midst of moving out of our beloved house:

This album is powered by

July 26, 2006

From My Garden

This is the salad I made last night. Everything in it came from my very own organic garden and tastes so fresh and full of nutrients. "Everything" is chopped

Beet greens
Heirloom tomato
Haas avocado

I added chopped cold chicken breast and whipped up a quick ranch dressing (mayo, milk, and dill) . It's a complete meal with a grain (I like sprouted wheat bread, the kind you get at Trader Joe's) with butter. Yumm.

I took the photo to keep a visual of the memory of the kindness of nature and its gifts to us from our little garden for after we move.

Lists, Fears, Hurricaines, and Hags

The Chernobyl video kept me reeling for a few days. It's a hard act to follow. But life and the ol' blog must go on.

Today I found Ta-Da, a handy little tool for list making. I'm not one of those list making types, you know, the (ahem) a-personality orderly types. I'm more the distracted, diffused and disorderly type. But sometimes lists are as important as chocolate. Like for when it's time to move one's life to another city after living in the same town since rocks got hard.

We're doing some repairs and packing and trying to keep everything straight as we race down the home strectch toward the close of escrow. My memory is pathetic, so lists are my salvation. Lists of things to do and lists of those lists. You know how it is. So I made my first tentative little list. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. We're moving a thousand miles from here. So each item on the list is another step closer.

I could make my list either shared privately or publicly. I opted for public because (I admit it) I'm an attention whore. And anyway, I don't plan on putting up any porno or embarassing secrets.

I'm feeling kind of queasy today. Thinking about K flying home from Guatemala tomorrow. That adoptee panic thing that overcomes me. Everyone says "Don't worry" or "Breathe," as if I can just paste on a formula to take this knot out of my gut. They're right, of course, but I still wake up in the hours before dawn feeling as if I'm suffocating, drowning in my own thoughts. Partly the world situation, like a mass open sore, partly being an adoptee, partly the move, partly the anxiety about my loved ones. I mean, we're selling everything and moving a thousand miles just so we can be near her. If anything happened...

I'm so weary from the fear.

A little voice keeps saying, "Face our fears." So last night I did. I dove down into the hurricane inside and rode with it, leaned into its howling winds. I spun around in my private vortex and agonized. It threatened to eat me like a crunchy snack. But I wouldn't let it. I stayed with it, hung on like a rodeo cowgirl.

Pretty soon (so odd) a million sounds whirled in my head, thoughts spinning by at warp speed, like all the thoughts I've ever had and all the things I've ever learned, and all the things I've ever heard, there in the dark I heard them. R snored softly beside me. How is it guys can sleep through hurricanes?

After awhile I felt a losening, a lightening, even knowing that it would only be temporary. But a great weight came away, like that old hag dream some people get climbed off of me. At least for one night. Going to have to do it all over again tonight, but I'm sick of this fear controlling me.

July 23, 2006

Chernobyl Legacy Video

The Chernobyl Legacy by Paul Fusco is a really tough video to watch, yet it is hauntingly beautiful. More profound than the greatest poetry. It's not comfortable to watch. Not at all. You will come away changed. Watch it. Immerse yourself in something that could affect every human being. I put it on my blog because it moved me to tears.

(I just realized that chernobyl means wormwood in Russian, the subject of my post yesterday. Was it coincidental? I don't know.)

July 22, 2006

Keep Your Baby

I strongly urge any expectant mother who has been coaxed into giving her child up to an infertile couple to read the information-packed site Keep Your Baby. I also quote here from a presentation by Nancy Verrier:

"In her book, Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst tells this story:

A young boy lies in a hospital bed. He is frightened and in pain. Burns cover 40 percent of his small body. Someone has doused him with alcohol and then, unimaginably, has set him on fire.
He cries for his mother.
His mother has set him on fire.
It doesn't seem to matter what kind of mother a child has lost, or how perilous it may be to dwell in her presence. It doesn't matter whether she hurts or hugs. Separation from mother is worse than being in her arms when the bombs are exploding. Separation from mother is sometimes worse than being with her when she is the bomb.

I am not suggesting that we keep children with mothers who will set them on fire, but I am suggesting that we have to understand what it is we are doing when we take him away from her.

It is curious that in the literature there is no differentiation made between the terms mother and primary caregiver. Often it is even pointed out by the author that when using the term "mother" he is actually referring to any mother-figure who acts as the primary caregiver. In other words, it is implied that the mother could be replaced by another primary caregiver with the child's being none the wiser. It is my thesis that this is not true, and that the severing of the ties with the biological mother and replacing her with another primary caregiver does not happen without psychological consequences for both mother and child.

For these babies and their mothers, relinquishment and adoption are not concepts, they are experiences from which neither fully recovers. A child can certainly attach to another caregiver, but rather than a secure, serene feeling of oneness, the attachment in the adoptive relationship may be that which Bowlby referred to as anxious attachment. He noted that "provided there is one particular mother-figure to whom he can relate and who mothers him lovingly, he will in time take to her and treat her almost as though she were his mother." That "almost" is the feeling expressed by some adoptive mothers who feel as if they had accepted the infant as their child, but whose infant had not quite accepted them as mother.

There is reason to believe that during gestation a mother becomes uniquely sensitized to her baby. Donald Winnicott called this phenomenon "primary maternal preoccupation." He believed that toward the end of the pregnancy "the mother gradually develops a state of heightened sensitivity which provides a setting for the infant's constitution to begin to make itself evident, for the developmental tendencies to start to unfold and for the infant to experience spontaneous movement..." He stressed that the mother alone knows what the baby could be feeling and what he needs, because everyone else is outside this area of experience.

The mother's hormonal, physiological, constitutional and emotional preparation provides the child with a security which no one else can. There is a natural flow from the in-utero experience of the baby safely contained within the womb to that of the baby secure within the mother's arms, to the wanderings of the toddler who is then secure in his proximity to her. This security provides the child with a sense of rightness and wholeness of self.

The initial post-natal bonding and imprinting experiences are part of a continuum and according to Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept, are hormonally triggered and must be responded to immediately. She said:

If the imprinting is prevented from taking place, if the baby is taken away when the mother is keyed to caress it, to bring it to her breast, into her arms and into her heart....what happens? It appears that the stimulus to imprint, if not responded to by the expected meeting with the baby, gives way to a state of grief.

It appears that this state of grief is felt, not only by the mother, but also by the baby. There is a natural rhythm and sequence to events which when interrupted, as in the case of the relinquished child, leaves him with a sense of something lost, something missed. The adoptive mother might be at a disadvantage in coping with the affective behavior of the child, for she doesn't understand the depth of his grief or the limitations placed upon her as his mother. She has not been told that her baby has suffered a trauma, a profound sense of loss, and is in some stage of the grief cycle. His security has been challenged, his trust impaired and bonding made more difficult or impossible.

Perhaps this would be a good place to stress the difference between attachment and bonding as I see it, because these two terms are also often used interchangeably in the literature. I believe that it would be safe to say that most adopted children form attachments to their adoptive mothers. Their survival depends upon this. Bonding, on the other hand, may not be so easily achieved. It implies a profound connection which is experienced at all levels of human awareness. In the earliest stages of an infant's life this bond instills the child with a sense of well-being and wholeness necessary to healthy development. The bonding with the biological mother, which begins in utero, is part of a continuum which, if interrupted, has a profound effect on the child. It seems that the loss experienced by the infant is not only the loss of the mother, but a loss of part of the Self."

No adoption agency discloses this information. I propose that this sign should be posted on the wall or website of all adoption agencies.

July 21, 2006

La Fee Verte

Where is everybody? Too hot to sit at a computer, I guess. Well, I'm going to keep on posting anyway. I found a recipe for absinthe yesterday, so I thought I'd share it just for fun.

My favorite literary and artistic era was the close of the nineteenth century where decadance preceded the first world war. The gothic, romantic, decadent writers, poets, and artists have long fascinated me. We're talking van Gogh, Verlaine, Manet, de Maupassant and Toulouse-Lautrec, to name a few.

One drink they made famous, and which has enjoyed a renaissance since the mid-1990s, is absinthe. As I mentioned in an earlier post, since the genealogy book given to me by my b-uncle (of course I'm not in it) traces my maternal ancestry back to the 1600s in Switzerland. I can't help it. I guess I'm inclined toward things made in Switzerland, including chocolate, cuckoo clocks, and absinthe. Since I will never know the real story of my relatives, at least I can aquaint myself with some of my European cultural history.

From Wiki: "Absinthe, aka the Green Fairy, is a distilled, highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs including the flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium, also called wormwood. Although it is sometimes incorrectly called a liqueur, absinthe does not contain added sugar and is therefore classified as a liquor or spirit.

Absinthe is often referred to as la Fee Verte ("The Green Fairy") because of its coloring — typically pale or emerald green, but sometimes clear. Due to its high proof and concentration of oils, absintheurs (absinthe drinkers) typically add three to five parts ice-cold water to a dose of absinthe, which causes the drink to turn cloudy (called "louching"); often the water is used to dissolve added sugar to decrease bitterness. This preparation is considered an important part of the experience of drinking absinthe, so much so that it has become ritualized, complete with special slotted absinthe spoons and other accoutrements. Absinthe's flavor is similar to anise-flavored liqueurs, with a light bitterness and greater complexity imparted by multiple herbs.

Absinthe originated in Switzerland as an elixir, but is better known for its popularity in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers whose romantic associations with the drink still linger in popular culture. In its heyday, the most popular brand of absinthe worldwide was Pernod Fils. At the height of this popularity, absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive, psychoactive drug; the chemical thujone was blamed for most of its deleterious effects. By 1915 it was banned in a number of European countries and the United States. Even though it was vilified, there is no evidence showing it to be any more dangerous than ordinary alcohol although few modern medical studies have been conducted to test this. A modern absinthe revival began in the 1990s, as countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale."

It has taken on a mythological aura. You can read about it in a beautiful book by Barnaby Conrad. You can buy it from Spain or eastern European countries, but it's pricey. Or you can make it. I have neither tasted it nor made it. I've only read the Conrad book. Most recipes make the raunchiest-tasting drink imaginable. This one looks more promising. Herbs are procurable at online shops.

Traditional European Absinthe Recipe
(from Phil Heiple)

One ounce dried chopped wormwood
One tablespoon fennel or anise seeds
One tablespoon dried angelica root
One teaspoon dried hyssop leaves
One half teaspoon coriander seeds
One quarter teaspoon caraway seeds
One pinch cardomon pods
750 ml. 151 rum

In a glass container add the wormwood to the 151 rum. Set aside in the dark for four days (minimum--you get the majority of the thujone)) to ten days (maximum--all the thujone but a nasty, bitter taste). This will give you an authentic green-colored tincture (the green comes from the chlorophyll, and does not indicate the presence of the active ingredient, thujone). Only 151 rum gives a greenish hue (vodka will not). Then strain out the wormwood and add all the remining herbs and spices. Wait four more days, then strain these out and serve. Best drinken mixed with cold water half and half. Add a teaspoon of sugar if it too bitter. Other people prefer shots with a water chaser (have it ready). Or dribble a little in a tall glass with ice and sour mix or cranberry juice.

July 20, 2006

My Yellow Fabric

It could be that God has not absconded but spread,
as our vision and understanding of the universe have spread,
to a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle,
so powerful in a new way,
that we can only feel blindly of its hem.
--Annie Dillard

Yesterday my color coded anxiety alert was on orange. I'm back to yellow today. I didn't mean to hang it out there in the wind for all to read...er, yes I did. Sometimes I feel so lost and abandoned. Sometimes I see that a person has to get lost before she can find herself, if even for a little while. I was just scared, that's all. I pushed it down and I'm managing again now. The only thing I could do was to cry out to the universe to show me what to do.

It seems that whenever I feel the most anxious, the most lost and depressed, if I can just manage to ride it out, I also feel the most open and filled with potential. How is that? My K is fine and well in Guatemala and assures me that everything will be alright. Funny, that's what I always used to say to her. She will be flying home in six more days. Every day I hear from her is a day when my anxiety alert stays on yellow.

The deal is that when I have no other choice but to let go, and I do let go, there's a release, a welcome sense of freedom that doesn't come often enough. That's when I let the universe do what it will and in the whirlwind I land somehow clearer and higher than before. Then it all settles and after awhile another crescendo of high anxiety and depression hits and the whole thing begins again. It's the way some of us grow, apparently. For me it's the result of seeing with my heart and feeling with my brain. Groping in the dark for answers that are only whispered at best.

This morning I lay in bed after getting R off to work with a stack of books and journals beside me. The weather was cold and gray outside the curtainless windows. Tom Buddah took a day off from his painting our home today. Propped up on pillows, I stared at the newly painted white walls for awhile and enjoyed the way they look with the orange shellac woodwork. Butterscotch light from the pole lamp (snatched from the curb across the street on trash day) next to the bed fell over my journal. The only furniture in the room is the dresser (Angelina across the street said she would like to buy it) and the bed. I sipped yerba mate and read and wrote. For hours. Pouring it out all over the page. More and more. I never knew I had that much to write. Some of it even actually made sense.

Among the books I'm reading is (and doing the practice work in) Heather Sellers' marvelous Page After Page. I love her style and her gentle nudges toward picking up a pen and falling in love, passionately, with writing. She says to write honestly and from the heart, and that is all any writer needs to know. So I do. And I stumble and wonder how to draw a line between private and public, journal and blog. I mean, there are just some things you don't hang out there in the wind for the whole world to read, aren't there? There are so many terrific women bloggers out there with such incredible talent and whom I enjoy so very much. They are like the cream on the milk. They rise to the top and melt your heart. My aspiration is to find a way to write like that. I think that's about the best thing I can do.

July 18, 2006

No Compromise

Loneliness. Stolen from Amy Eileen Koester

I'm feeling so filled with anxiety and depression today. I could go drink myself senseless or take drugs, but what good would it do? I'd still have to return to "myself" when I came down. Only I'd have a hangover or whatnot. I feel so alone in the world, even though I have a family and friends. I always think the worst. I always feel as if the world is about to crash down around me. Other people say "You're too pessimistic." Or, "You're so cynical." Yeah, what else is new?

I'm anxious about everything, but mostly right now about K, my daughter doing her studies in Guatemala with her future sister-in-law. I heard the lead story on a radio station I listen to and saw it as the lead story on Amnesty International that the number of women raped, murdered, and dismembered in Guatemala has been increasing yearly since 2001 and the men who murdered them are rarely if ever held accountable. This isn't exactly a comforting bedtime story.

I read blogs of other adoptees who have it a million times worse than I do, which makes me look like a whiner. But even so, I can't ever seem to get happy. I can't seem to crawl out of this permanent sense of impending doom. I can't even find my sense of humor. I know it's sloshing around in there somewhere, but it's gone into hiding. Like a polka dotted lamprey eel into a cave. I searched keywords "adoptees and depression" and "adoptees and anxiety" and found a lot of links. But staring at the screen, reading what I already know better than my own name, doesn't help in the least. It's like telling someone who is sick that they are sick. Here is a sample of what I've been reading. Good, but hardly helpful, even from one of the best:

"John Bowlby ascribed the threat of abandonment as the greatest fear a child can suffer, and stated that children who experience repeated separations or threats of abandonment become angry and dysfunctional. Harriet Machtiger noted that the fear of abandonment is one of the most common fears of childhood and a dominant theme in child myths. Because of their experience with abandonment, is it possible that this threat is one which hangs over the heads of all adoptees like the sword of Damocles all their lives, but about which they might not be consciously aware?
I believe that it is, and that it is this threat which causes the generalized anxiety so often found in adoptees. Anxiety is different from fear. Goldstein said that fear sharpens the senses and drives them into action, whereas anxiety paralyzes the senses and renders them unusable. Anxiety's paralyzing of the senses might be what many clinicians describe as "numbing", and what some adoptees experience as an inability to get on with their lives. Children who have been abandoned have an early awareness that they need to be cautious, alert and watchful--a response which is called hyper-vigilance. This gives them the means by which to try to avoid another abandonment, but it does little to foster the true Self of the individual. It instead creates a false self."--Nancy Verrier
So I sat down and wrote a poem about my emptiness. No, it didn't relieve the anxiety and depression. It just distracted me for a little while. Words. They're all I have, but they can't begin to heal what's wrong. I don't think anything in the universe ever could.

No Compromise

In dreams lost and alone I wander
this abandoned house
from makeshift living room,
down shotgun hall,
pacing, searching, ghostlike,
Not really a person here at all,
only a puzzle piece locked in gray and meaningless rooms.

Wandering in a loop of grief,
Aborted memory and love
Curtains swell through screenless windows
My footsteps echo forever
toward the infinity of never was.
--Marie Jarrell

July 17, 2006

Oregon or Bust

Photo of some sunflowers I planted in our front yard. They make me happy.

Our house is finally in escrow. If everything goes through, and I think it might, we have to be out by the end of August, and we'll be headed for Oregon. Right now the repairs, painting, and getting rid of everything is taking up every waking minute of consciousness (I plan on posting about this in more detail tomorrow).

Everything and everyone I know is in flux. It's as if there's this humongous darkness that looms around us, closing in. There's a sense of urgency in the air. I don't know how else to explain it. Take the permanant background anxiety I know better than my own name (based on an utter lack of personal grounding) and the greater global situation combined with The Impending Move and what you get is galaxy-sized anxiety on steroids. I'm probably certifiable and should check myself in right now instead of typing on my keyboard. My mantra these days is "Change is good, change is good, change is good."

Even so, I'm going to miss so many things here. I need to type them out, not so much for the reader but for me, to appreciate what I'm leaving behind for the unknown.
  • Our bungalow
  • The garden with its veggies, fruits, herbs, trees, and shrubs
  • The 96-cent, 97-cent, and 99-cent stores in our community
  • The wonderful Mexican, Central American, and South American folks who populate our neighborhood.
  • The video store where we rented about a billion films and became friends with everyone there
  • The locally owned stores in our neighborhood
  • The cool sea breezes that keep our town cool while most of the rest of the country bakes in the summer
  • Avocados
  • Oranges and other Mediterranean fresh produce

Tom Buddah (my secret name for him), the guy who helped us to fix the sidewalk in front of our house when we hooked up to the sewer, is doing the house repairs for escrow. He lives in a tiny trailer behind a house with his dog Brodie. Here he is at our kitchen table trying to eat a turkey sandwich, which is a huge and tiring chore for him, since he doesn't have a tooth in his head. He can't hold much food down anyway (he's been known to lose it in our backyard). Anyone you know probably eats more in a day than Tom eats all week. Mostly he'd rather be drinking a can of Milwaukee's Best.

Tom rolls his own cigarettes with Bugler tobacco.

Tom's voice is deep and twangy and resonates throughout the house in a comforting way.

Tom makes that loud pirate aaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! sound all the time and sighs deeply because his back hurts constantly, and his legs were also broken in three places in an accident.

Tom is stick-thin with such long arms that his hands nearly brush his knees when he walks. He can stand on the floor in the bathroom and nearly touch the ceiling, even though he's only about 5'8".

Tom always aims to please.

Tom has a huge heart. He respects nature and animals and plants and is very humble.If there is a heaven, he's headed there for sure.


The overwhleming power of our own need as a human being to be recognized.
To be valued.
To be accepted.
To know who you are and the truth of where you came from, even if it was a dark whirl pool.
The thing I've come to face is that there is no pure truth.
Just perspectives.

- by stillwater heron
a fellow adoptee in a commenting on the crappy behavior of a natural mom toward the child she relinquished.

As someone who fancies herself a writer (of sorts), I find this to be a valuable reminder, especially when it comes to creating fictive characters: To come out of my own whiney-ness long enough to understand other people's points of view. Not necessarily agree with, but understand. This ability to capture character convincingly is tough for me. It's easier to hide under the blanket of my own misery than to follow the course of another human being's development--all the way back to how s/he got to be that way, to unravel the clot of negativity that surrounds her/his behavior and find that the only thing that's different about us is our personal histories. This doesn't excuse crappy behavior, it just shows that human beings often make difficult and wrong choices. And also listen to the wrong advice.

July 12, 2006

45 Good and SimpleThings

Today R tried to go onto the internet without a firewall and virus protection and came up with 25 trojan horses (I'm not kidding). Our hard drive is FRIED because he lost our virus definitions and firewall software.

So I'm typing this post on a friend's computer. I won't be blogging again until we resolve this issue. Anyone who's into Astrology knows Mercury has been retrograde since July 4 and will be until September 4. That means glitches in communications (computers, wrong phone calls, missing emails and letters, bad orders, misunderstandings, and all sorts of things like that the wazoo). Today is an excellent example for me.

For my last post before I have to hang it up for awhile, I thought I'd leave this list with an invitation for anyone to add things to it if you like. I'd love to read your additions. Back when I can to read everyone's blog and write out my thoughts here. I'm going to miss everyone. Bye for now.

From an email I got. See if the items on the list don't make you feel good by the time you're done reading them.

1. Falling in love.

2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.

3. A hot shower.

4. No lines at the supermarket.

5. A special glance.

6. Getting mail.

7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.

8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.

9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.

10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.

11. Sound of a creek or brook.

12. A bubble bath.

13. Giggling.

14. A good conversation.

15. Lots of tall, beautiful trees

16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.

17. Cool breeze through the curtain.

18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they Love you

19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.

20. Running through sprinklers.

21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.

22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.

23. Laughing at an inside joke

24. Friends.

25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.

26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.

27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).

28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.

29 Playing with a new puppy.

30. Having someone play with your hair.

31. Sweet dreams.

32. Hot chocolate.

33. Road trips with friends.

34. Swinging on swings.

35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.

36. Making chocolate chip cookies.

37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.

38 Holding hands with someone you care about.

39. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.

40. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.

41. Watching the sunrise.

42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.

43 Knowing that somebody misses you.

44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.

45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

July 10, 2006

Mommy, Linux Ate My 'Puter

If Blogger had categories, I'd file this post under "tech." Or, better, "transitions into elsewhere."

I don't eat at McDonalds or shop at malls or supermarket chains. I used to hang those ubiquitous AOL CDs that came in the mail every week in the bathroom to use as shiny round wallpaper. So why should I use Microsoft products? I'm as leery of Microsoft as I'm obsessed with replacing it with Linux (maybe you have similar fantasies). So far, I haven't found an online kernal that includes an .exe (or similar) file to actually boot the software. Anyone had any luck scoring one yet?

I dug up an old 1999 Linux book with unopened install disks that I bought at a thrift store last year. Big mistake. Yesterday R tried to partition the hard drive to give Linux its own, so we could escape Windows whenever we could. He loaded the old CD and clicked through the DOS base install. What we should have done was to put Linux on its own drive. But nobody thought of that. So Linux summarily wiped out our hard drive. Hence, we had to reformat. Hence, on top of getting the house repairs done, trying to get rid of everything, keeping things as neat as possible as agents and looky-loos traipse through occasionally (never when I have the house looking good, only when it's a disaster), we said "so long" to our data. Not the first time.

I just talked to my friend Kendra. When I told her that today everything seems unreal, that things seem strange and distant, as if I'm looking at them from another dimension, she said everyone she knows is in transition. There's no place to turn for answers except inside. So I'm listening hard with my ear to the door of my intuition [sound of celestial violins and ambient-angelic female vocals].

July 06, 2006

Head Bang

July 05, 2006

A Sort of Tribute

I'm not sure why I posted The Declaration of Indpendence yesterday. I think it's because, as a typical American, I never actually read it in my adult life. And now that I have, I see so many parallels with what happened back in the late 1700s with what's happening in the early 2000s.

Being an adoptee, I also feel a strange connection with "independence." It's not easy to sort through and put it into words, really. But I guess as an adoptee, in a sense I've always felt indendent of everyone. By independent, I mean disconnected. Abandoned by my first mother and never connected to my second. I've always felt disconnected to other people, as a matter of fact. Drifting. Maybe other adoptees can relate to that. I suppose disconnected has a negative connotation, while independence sounds more positive.

In a way maybe it's good to be independent of a real identity. That way you don't get stuck in some rut or ideology or loyalty that keeps you from a larger view. I acted out quite convincingly the artificial identity that others created for me. Now maybe I can make my lack of identity work for me by taking a larger view of the world and maybe helping to change it for the better.

Today I was reading some powerful posts on Chosen Babies. I haven't been reading the list for awhile and now I'm lurking again. One of the big threads recently was dealing with aging aparents. I have felt this huge weight of guilt over not visiting my amother for six years when she went into board and care and later to a nursing home when she could no longer care for herself. I was an only child and never loved her, resented the hell out of her in fact. All I did was to make sure her bills were paid. That's pretty much what she did for me, although she did try to love me on her own terms, I suppose. Overall, she was a cold woman. I must have learned it from her, but maybe not. I don't want to hold onto this grudge. I just don't know how to let it go yet.

Someone on the list said that adoptees don't owe anything to their aparents. That's the validation I've needed to read for nearly ten years now. It is such a liberating idea. We don't need to kill ourselves caring for "ungrateful" (as some of us adoptees have been called) aparents only to build up a mountain of resentment and carry it around with another mountain of guilt for the rest of our lives. I opted out of the resentment and took on the guilt, if you know what I mean.

I have two daughters who are my blood. I nursed them for four years each and tried very hard not to pass along what my amother did to me--i.e., lay guilt trips on them, overpower them with my own sense of incompleteness, manipulate them, etc. I think, thanks to my incredible husband, that I succeeded.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm flying above it all, looking down on my past from a distant objectivity. I almost feel free of it all. Then other times, like today, I feel completely dependent on all the pain, the smothering secrecy, the abandonment and rejection, the weight of guilt and all that goes with being an adoptee. I know, like Gwendolyn says, every adoptee is different and has a different experience. She has made me see that it's important not to generalize (which I tend to do with everything from my highly opinionated viewpoint). Thanks, Gwendolyn, for helping me to see this.

No, I've never seen a therapist. Sometimes I think it might help. Then other times I hear horror stories and I decide I'll just keep sitting here at the keyboard and typing out my heart, putting it onto the screen for anyone who cares to read it. Atilla the Mom calls it Cheaper than Therapy. She's so right. I feel as if there's this warm and indpendent ("loose") community of adoptees and first moms who are gentle with each other and supportive and creative and intelligent, and I'm getting to know many of them from the inside out. This connection is priceless to me, even if it's virtual. The fact that we share the same feelings and that we aren't alone any more. I don't think it will get much better than this for me, at least. I've pretty much exhausted everything else that might "heal" me. Now I know I will never heal, but I can become more human.

July 04, 2006

The Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

July 02, 2006


Well, this is July 2, nearly Independence Day. I need to "think out loud" a little today. While I'm doing a yeo(wo)man's (one that performs great and loyal service, as in "did a yeo(wo)man's job in seeing the program through") job of freeing R and myself of an overburden of physical possessions so we can move to Portland, I'm doing a poor job of freeing myself of ideas. I'm doing even worse freeing myself of opinions, which I catalogue and wrestle with abandon here in my cereal box. (Fortunately, readers can click through in two seconds if they don't like the "look" or "feel" of what they see, before they actually read a few lines or even paragraphs. There are just too many other things to see and do on the Internet. But that's freedom in action. Freedom implies choices. But maybe we have too many choices? That's the subject for another post.)

I wonder, though, about how independent we really are because there's a lot at stake here, not only for adoptees, but for everyone on the planet. Adoptees with closed records are basically slaves, as I argued in my Adoption is Unconstitutional post. Here's what Webster's says about INDEPENDENCE:

Not dependent: as : not subject to control by others : SELF-GOVERNING (2) : not affiliated with a larger controlling unit (1): not requiring or relying on something else : not contingent independent conclusion (2) : not looking to others for one's opinions or for guidance in conduct (3) : not bound by or committed to a political party c (1) : not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood) independent of her parents (2) : being enough to free one from the necessity of working for a living man independent means d : showing a desire for freedom independent manner synonym see FREE.
I can tell you that all of my life I've always looked for approval and validation (validity) from other people. I have no idea what it feels like to be "self-contained," and content within myself, regardless of circumstance. If I didn't/don't get validated, I felt/feel lost, alone, invisible, infinitely unreal. I don't know if that's because I'm female in a male-dominant paradigm or because I'm an adoptee, or for both reasons. I think it comes from not having a core self from which to operate. Some who visit this site would argue that that's not true. That all of us have core selves, even adoptees. That's a philosophical argument that I refuse to join because nothing that anyone tells me can substitute my own experience, what I know is true for me, rather than what I believe because someone told me it's so.

Being an adoptee with closed records has, ironically, also made me rebellious. I finally got everyone in my family weaned from television about seven years ago. No longer slaves to that. Now I'm working on changing my OS (operating system) from Windows to Linux, which probably has its own problems, but at least we won't be slaves to Bill Gates.

The next huge umbilical cut from "the system" will be to find a way to live more sustainably with a smaller footprint (wherever we live), i.e., bicycles, public transport, growing food, bartering/trade, permaculture, alternative energy (we have a few diesels for now), steering clear of corporate consumption as much as possible and purchasing goods with alternative and compassionate hearts, etc. One of my other blogs, Winds of Homecoming, is devoted to this mindset.

Yeah, my records were closed, and yeah, I searched and "found," and yeah, I went through a whole second round of rejections because none of what's left of my blood family gives a flying fuck about me. I'm struggling with that and trying to make sense of what's left of my life, on my own terms, despite the deep and relentless ache that reverberates in the emptiness that is supposed to be my "core."

Basically, what I'm suggesting is this: Adoptees with closed records are never going to win substantial change through the court system because the court system is moribund and corrupt. Instead, we need to break free from this enslavement entirely by making a whole new start. We need to begin to think differently. Here are some ideas I came up with. There are many more, although they are all incredibly more difficult to do than to write about:

  • Stop worrying about what others think.
  • Stop being afraid of authority and the rules it imposes on us, rules that imprison us and instead work around them, through them, despite them. "Step over them," as I've heard it phrased.
  • Begin to take our lives into our own hands, to see things as they really are instead of how we are told to see them.
  • This isn't something your parents will tell you, not something you will learn in school or in the universities.
  • This is something called intuition, a much atrophied function that could lead into glimpses of our infinite selves. I know this sounds "way out there," but something in me knows it's true.