Thursday, July 8, 2010

Another rant

Well it's been a long time since I last posted. That is partly because I haven't really had much to say. Well I do now....and holy hell do I ever.

I have to take this adoption thing in bits and pieces. I deal with it for a little while. Then I have to put it on the backburner for a little bit. Then I can re-examine it. Lately it's been back on the frontburner and today it just exploded. I'm sitting here with nothing better to do than to blog and to ruminate about what I just heard.

Here's the thing. A good friend called me up and told me to listen to an upcoming segment on a local radio station. It was called "Ask a Birthmother". Since I don't live in the area anymore, I pulled up the website and streamed it as I sat here.

So they brought on two birthmothers who had placed their children for adoption at various points. I thought I would listen to see if adoptees were properly represented as well. They weren't. The adoptee representation was one of the show's hosts who doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about his birth family. He didn't find out he was adopted until he was 13. His parents literally told him the "baby store" story and meant it. The only reason he found out that they were serious was because he found the paperwork. Somehow he's magically OK with all of this and "he has his family" i.e. the same family that lied to him for 13 years. But that's a whole other story.

So here's where I have to try to be just a little bit diplomatic. I get it. Not all adoptees have problems with their adoptions like I and so many others have. I also understand the whole "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent" thing. But I stand by what I think and feel. When adoptees who have no problems with their adoption (God bless them) are given the microphone, it tends to minimize those of us who do. Why? Because people who aren't involved with the subject and therefore don't engage in any nuanced thinking about it, have the take home message that the adoption purveyors have been hoisting on the general public for decades.....that adoption is a neat and tidy solution and everyone is happy with the outcome. Bleeccchhh!!!!!!

The entire segment was just wrong on so many levels. God bless them....they tried. But they really really missed the boat. The first was the host that was adopted. It was almost to the point of seeming like a token effort. The choice of birth mothers was a feel good choice. The birth mothers that they had on the show talked about their lack of regret. Yes they did talk a little bit about depression and one even mentioned being suicidal. But then she quickly qualified that by saying that it was something that she had struggled with before she was pregnant.....not because she had JUST GIVEN UP HER CHILD.

But none of this compares to the two things that irked me the most. The first was that there was a call-in from a birth mother who was struggling with whether she should go to the baby blessing. She was so emotional and I could feel her raw edges in my soul. She was struggling because she didn't want her emotions to ruin the occasion. That's fair but at the same time it's not. In a way it's perpetuating the same things that have been the problem all along. This woman has every right to every emotion that she has. She gave up her baby. If she shows up to the baby blessing and can't hold her feelings back she is judged because her emotions are socially unacceptable. If she doesn't show up, she is judged for being selfish and not putting her baby's "well being" ahead of her own by joining in the "celebration" of her baby going to a different family.

Seriously why is it that adoption is supposed to solve so many problems but so many more are created? The birth mother who "gave up", "placed", whatever the damn PC lingo is.....who is lactating for a baby that's not there anymore, who still wakes up in the night when she can feel her "placed" baby crying. Some live their lives so racked with guilt that they never move on from it and never have any more children. Or the child, who, whether they acknowledge it or not, will always have a hole in their heart for blood relations that were taken away without their input. Then, when and if they get the opportunity to reunite, something that should come so naturally usually doesn't. Blood relations that never got the chance to grow and develop and must be so awkwardly worked through after years of change and evolution of all involved. Not to mention trying to fit in with people that weren't always designed to fit together. Now I realize that even blood relations can feel out of place amongst each other. I can't claim special circumstances from that. I'm learning so much from the adoptive parent perspective too. Some have even said that if they knew now how difficult it would be to merge with another person's child, especially if that child was older and severely traumatized, they probably would have reconsidered and definitely had different priorities.

Expectations are surely dashed all around. It's not the pretty picture it's purported to be. When will people, not just those affect by it, get real about adoption? I don't see it ever going away which is sad because I tend to think that it hurts more people than it helps. But that is just my perspective.

P.S. I sent a text message to radio show asking why there was no adoptee representation. The hosts feebly answered that the one host was an adoptee and the other was an adoptive father. Yeah! And how awesome did your segment turn out to be? MY POINT EXACTLY!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Smoke and Mirrors

As one who has never lived in Southern California I can only speak from casual observation. I don't know how it is really. I can only say what I see. That being said, the closest metaphor I can come up with for the past four days in SoCal is "smoke and mirrors". A study in stark contrasts, perhaps?

Here's the thing that started it all. 6 years ago was the last time I was there. I was on a work assignment similar to ones I had done in the past where one of my best friends was always there. Not so this time. He had just been diagnosed with a very serious illness so he was in the hospital and I was working without him. I had also just barely started learning about adoption issues a few months before that. So not only was I up in arms about my friend, I was very fragile emotionally as I began that journey into dealing with all the adoption issues. Not a good combination really. I don't remember much about that trip besides overwhelming sadness.

As I headed back there last week I wondered how it would be now that things in my life are so much different yet somehow the same. I still struggle with the same issues as I did then but to a somewhat lesser degree. I've definitely become older and wiser as the story goes. How did it turn out? My head is still spinning from it all.

First of all, my hotel roommate was a fellow adoptee. How serendipitous! I had to marvel at her strength and things she has overcome. She's only 18. I still had my head stuck up my hindquarters when I was 18. I had no clue why I was so sad all the time. So I have to give her props for that. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet and talk with a fellow adoptee/kindred spirit. We had a couple of good talks but she also wanted to be with her friends. So I don't know how much of a friendship we will have but I guess I'll just have to see how the universe works this one out.

I also struggled, once again, with being there without my friend. He's from there. I heard so many stories about SoCal from him. Very gritty and crazy stories because he came from several bad neighborhoods. So that's partly what I base my theories and observations on.

What are my theories? I see sharp juxtapositions. Gorgeous scenery blanketed with heavy smog. I see areas of heavy poverty and crime yet I marveled at the beauty of some of the graffiti. We saw all this as we drove to and from posh museums on the hills that contain some of the most celebrated art pieces on the planet. Being surrounded by gazillions of people yet being able to sit on a beach surrounded by said people and being able to have a few minutes of pure peace and oneness with the sounds and sights of the sea. The ultimate was having some time to wander on my own in a shopping center near our hotel in Anaheim. There was a karaoke talent contest with impressionable and beautiful children, no more than 6 years old, participating. God bless them for chasing their dreams and paying their dues in the trenches. I could never take that away from them. But I have to wonder.... how much of it really is their dream? How kind will the world be to them in chasing their dream? Not very. What are their chances, after paying their dues, of keeping their head on straight and seeing through the smoke and mirrors that is fame? Celebrities whose lives have turned into train wrecks just make me sad for them and those who choose to laugh at them. Sure they chose that life. But everything is supersized there. The myth of Hollywood hangs in the air. Its intense and its intoxicating. I even found myself groping in the smoke and mirrors a bit and I was just watching that world from a bus window and meandering in and out of it on our various stops.

There are many things and places that make my soul sing in SoCal and many people who I think would be my kindred spirits especially compared to my current locale. I have to say though that going back there was exactly the stark contrast I needed to show me where I was back then to where I am now as well as how much some things never change.

Much needed reality check!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Mistakes

OK so....about my plethora of art classes..... I'm having a great time and also realizing how much I still have to learn. I'm taking the time to learn and practice to get all the concepts down so things look right or as close to right as possible.

Best of all, I'm becoming very acquainted with the lovely concept of happy mistakes.....the kind where the project or the medium doesn't do what you had does something way better! How fabulous is that? It's kinda stressful in the process to watch "good" plans go out the door. But that's where the magic of the happy mistake comes in!

I love that I am also becoming more acquainted with my personal style of handling the mediums. I've already had two drawing professors tell me that they like my style. One called it edgy and modern. The other called it lyrical and modern.

And the creative groove?! Fabulous and zen and funky and everything else. LOVE. IT!

A Zen-like Birthday

So how did I spend my birthday today? I did a watercolor. It's not fantastic but I'd say pretty damn good for being my first formal watercolor. I was in the zone. I was trying things and most of them worked. Overall, not a shabby way to spend my b-day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Clay Play

Looking back, it's amazing to realize how much learned about myself just by fiddling with lumps of clay for four weeks. I really sent myself through the wringer on this one. It really is a reflection of life and having hurdles to jump at every level of the process.

My first disclaimer: Watching claywork on a potter's wheel being demonstrated just looks oh-so-soothing and oh-so-easy. I'm here to's not!

First of all, just centering the clay is a challenge. Even seasoned potters still have their days where they can't center worth a crap. That definitely helps me feel better. It does help if you have good aim to just plop it down smack in the middle of the wheel. Then you have to hold your hands properly to mold the mound so it stays centered and works out the air bubbles (hopefully there are none). The process involves molding it into a sort of cone shape and then pushing it back down several times. This makes sure the clay is on true center if you do it right. If you don't or you are having an off day, it's just an endless source of frustration. You also have to make sure that your hands are wet enough to make the clay more pliable but not so wet that it's saturated. This comes more into play later. If clay is not wet enough, it's too abrasive and your hands get a microdermabrasion treatment which I can't say is entirely bad. Exfoliation never really is. With practice though, you can figure out the right pressure to use and get your feet to coordinate the speed of the wheel.

So once the centering is mastered then you can move on to opening the mound up so that you can raise into the form of your choice. Our first obstacle was the cylinder. An 8" high x 4"wide tower of clay. Frustrations galore. Too much pressure, too little pressure. Too much water, too little water. Not raising the clay in proportion to the speed of the wheel. Not having your hands in the correct positions. The result was all the same......collapsed towers of clay. There was also the issue of checking the thickness of the walls and the bottom. It had to be the perfect thickness so that it wouldn't explode in the kiln. I had that happen on several pieces. My other problem was that when I was attempting to raise the clay into the cylinder form I would get bowls, plates, candleholders.....everything but an 8"cylinder. However, I do remember the magic of the moment I finally had the perfect combination of water, pressure and hand placement. The clay raised as though it was touched by an angel. Such a fleeting and ephemeral moment. That is when I learned how much the clay responds to what you are thinking, even if you don't know that you are thinking it. Somehow, in that moment, I was in the zone. It fleed as quickly as it came when I came to and started intellectualizing it. However, I did learn to get to that point easier so I could continue to make semi-successful pieces. I can't wait for school to start to be able to go back and start practicing again.

So anyway, I did have some semi-successful pieces only to destroy some of them when trimming them too much or having them be so thick that I had to carve them tremendously to save them or not carve them enough and have them explode in the kiln. The delicacy of touch applies just as much here as it does in the process of throwing the clay.

Even fewer pieces made it past the bisque firing. Once they did, I knew I was pretty safe. The only thing to do now is not to mess up the glazing which I did do on a couple of pieces. Some glazes don't play well together. Even with all of my knowledge on color theory and color grouping, I still managed to make some pretty decent raw pieces look pretty horrendous. Oh well!

So many lessons and obstacles at every point. But I learned so much about myself through this process. I worked really hard and spent a lot of time on it. I came face to face once again with my perfectionism and my tendency to think too much. I have friends that I rag on for thinking too much about things and here I am, just as guilty as they are. The few fleeting moments where I was able to step outside of that and to give up the control and just go with the flow of the clay and the wheel were the moments where the magic can begin to show itself.

I can't wait for school to start again!

Back to the Drawing Board

Being back in an art class was like stepping into another world. My instructor for my drawing class was lovely. He kind of took the view of giving us a subject and just waiting for the surprises on how we interpreted what we saw. He said that was the fun for him....putting an ordinary subject in front of us and seeing 15 different takes on it. I couldn't believe how freeing that was. I think I would have been more discouraged had he graded on technicality and execution etc.

The zone that I would go into was just indescribable. I would start out being so overwhelmed by the subjects. Sometimes it was all I could do to put the pencil to the paper and just put a line down, especially when I saw the skill of some of my fellow class members. Then somehow I would start to sketch, endlessly trying to just get the forms just right. It would get frustrating because I can be such a perfectionist. Then, all of a sudden, a light would come on and somehow I knew how to make it work. I would go into a flurry of sketching then stop after a bit to look at the grand scheme only to see something better than I could have hoped for. Sure, it wasn't dazzling in all of its intricacy. It certainly won't make it onto any museum walls. But it was me! It was my artistic voice starting to come through. It was such a self confidence boost especially since it has been so long since I last attempted anything like that. I loved how each assignment just challenged me even more and opened me up for taking more rewarding risks. The teacher was just amazingly good at seeing what I was trying to do and encouraging it with just the smallest of suggestions. I wish that I had him again for the upcoming drawing class. However I am excited because the person I do have is a truly gifted artist who is pretty well renowned in these parts and I can't wait to see what I can learn from him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Am I Living the Dream? here I am back.....back to the old blogging board. I'm here in my new stage of life. I took the leap and feel quite intrepid at times.

I'm living out in the boonies and realizing just how much of a city girl I have become over the last 12 years. I'm in prime ATV country now so I will admit to falling for that redneck-ish vice. I'd even go out long as it was clay or paper targets. No hunting for this one. All things considered, I really don't fit in with people around here. I consider myself pretty progressive on most issues. People around here believe everything Fox News tells them. I've had to do more censoring of myself in the last two months than I have in years. I didn't say much to most people before about my opinions on issues. Now I do it even less. Sad.

Thankfully I've got a lot to keep me busy with school work and all the necessary things for my grad school application. Thankfully my classwork in artistic endeavors doesn't require me to censor myself. Equal opportunity therapy.......what a lovely concept.....which is why I'm so in love with it. Maybe I really am living the dream. In fact, all things considered, I'm pretty sure that I am.