Sunday, April 30, 2006

Good guys vs. bad guy

In today's paper, columnist Dianne Williamson reported on a case of DSS-substantiated child abuse by our state rep, John Fresolo. In addition, she reported that Fresolo had been arrested before on an assault charge against his wife. This is the same man who was so horribly rude to Petunia and me last fall when we met with him to discuss equal marriage, and he's the same man who prompted this rant of a post from me last month. It makes me furious to know that he's running again this fall, and I'm even more committed to getting him out of there. Fortunately, Melissa Murgo is considering another run--she ran against him last time and only lost by 600 votes. Petunia and I have already been in touch with her and we've promised to do whatever we can to help her campaign. We've got to get this hateful, violent man out of office.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Crafty lady

Okay, seriously, one of you needs to come over here and pry the embroidery needle from my stiff little hands. I can't stop stitching! Ever since I got that Subversive Cross Stitch book I've been stitching like it's my job. Instant gratification + obsessive repetitive patterns + excessive cussing = AJWP's dream craft. I've already completed two projects, and I have these planned as bibs for Hester Willa:

Babies Suck (with pacifier border)
I'm Their Favorite (s/he'll be an only child)
I'm Not Hester Willa

Great, no? They remind me of the "They Shake Me" onesie Orca's going to get for Hester. We'll have to team one of these bibs with that shirt for our adoption finalization--I bet it would go over great in family court. Excellent!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tough titty

So I have this recurring problem of being caught in my bra by random men as I'm getting dressed for work. What gives?

It started in 2000 when a police officer came to the door to tell Petunia she needed to move her car. I'd been heading from the bathroom to the bedroom to put on my shirt after brushing my teeth, but I froze when the officer announced himself. The bra? Orange cotton.

In 2002, we were living in a 3rd floor apartment in Dorchester when I saw some arborists trimming the neighbors' trees. I thought it was safe to get dressed as normal, but I didn't realize their cherrypickers could swivel and get a nice view of the bathroom from the skylight. Oops! The bra? Cheapo beige from Wal-Mart.

Which brings us to this morning, when I was running v. late and decided to wash my hair in the kitchen sink rather than risk a whole shower. I took off my t-shirt so I wouldn't get water all over it, and as I was drying my hair I heard the screen door open (of course I thought I'd latched it). A second later, Rob poked his head in and set our newspaper just inside the screen door, so I don't know if he got a good look. Of course, judging from past situations, I'm pretty sure he did. The bra: sheer blue with flowers.

The funniest part of all this is that I don't generally run around the house in my bra. I'm not some Matthew McConaughey playing bongos naked in my living room, know what I mean? I wear some questionable outfits, to be sure, but I'm usually fully clothed. Even in summer, my skimpiest outfits involve boxer shorts and tank tops. So here's what I want to know: does this happen to other people too, or am I just special?

On second thought, don't answer that.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More goodness

The hits just keep on coming! Check out these other bits of good news today:

--I received some books I'd ordered, Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch and Subversive Cross Stitch. A sample of Starbucks Verona coffee was included with my order.

--The Rape Crisis Center just called to say that I won Tanglewood tickets and a spa day for Clary B. in their silent auction last Sunday. Yay--I'd been meaning to check out Tanglewood's schedule, and now I already have lawn tickets!

--The electric company okayed some work we need to have done this weekend, which will save us time and headaches (we're having our trees trimmed on Saturday and need to have our power line dropped for the morning).

--I made Thai iced tea for the first time this season. I ask you, is there anything better in this world than sweetened condensed milk?

--One of my kids jumped for the first time today. He'd been working up to it for weeks, but today he got both feet off the ground at once. Even better, his dad was still here to see it!

So far, it's been a banner day. When it rains, it pours, you know?

Something good has happened

Okay, so remember that adoption conference I was so excited about? Well, there's more to that story! I couldn't bear to write about it at the time because I was on such an emotional roller coaster, but check this out:

The backstory: When we were rejected from DSS last summer because of the 2 kids under 2 rule, the social worker told us we couldn't do a single thing for our application until August 7, the day my 2nd youngest child turns two. Specifically, we couldn't take the MAPP class before our home safety visit had been written up and approved. FYI, MAPP is an 8-week class required by the state before we can begin the homestudy, so you see why it would be helpful to take it during this 13-month wait from last July to this August. Another thing to know about MAPP: it's not offered very frequently, so you're shit outta luck if you can't make the first available class.

So back to the adoption conference: After telling P., the head of adoptions at HLW, about our situation, she said we could take their next MAPP class! It starts on July 11, and P. said she'd simply hold our paperwork until August 7. When I heard the news, I felt like I was floating. I thanked P. enthusiastically, then went into a corner of the hall to bawl my eyes out.

The next morning, I read over the application P. had given me. Though HLW would come to Worcester for our homestudy, we'd have to go to them for the MAPP class, which seemed fair. But then it hit me: the class is from 6-9pm on Tuesdays in Boston, an hour away. The kids' parents come for pick-up between 5:30-6pm. I wouldn't be able to make this class, special permission or not, and I was crushed. It was like more proof that I was choosing other people's children over my own child, AGAIN.

At first I couldn't see how I could ask my families to rearrange their schedules for me. I know that child care isn't a luxury for them, and I take pride in my consistency and availability. But after a while, I decided that it couldn't hurt to ask. Maybe they had a little flexibility in their schedules, maybe not. But this is very important to me, and at least I'd know for sure.

So the following Monday, I wrote the parents a nice letter and spoke with them at pick-up. The very next day, one of my families said it was no problem to pick up their child at 4:30pm; in an amazing display of kindness, they also said they could take the other two kids if their parents couldn't get off work. I was elated! But then, characteristically, my other family was silent on the issue until I brought it up again this morning:

AJWP, striving for a neutral tone: So, have you given any thought to whether you're able to pick up the kids at 4:30 on Tuesdays in July and August?
Dad, confused: What?
AJWP, trying not to freak out: For my MAPP class--that adoption class, remember?
Dad, dodging the question: Oh yeah.
AJWP, desperately: Junior's parents said they could care for your kids on some of those Tuesdays if you're not able to take off work an hour early.
Dad, confidently: Yeah, hey, maybe we could trade off. I bet we can work it out--we've got plenty of time.
AJWP, shaking with mixture of anger and relief: So do you think it's safe for me to go ahead and register for the class?
Dad, magnanimously: Sure. Why not?

So there it is, folks: Something Has Gone Right With Our Adoption Plan! Huzzah!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A bit of the bubbly

Crazy champagne hot tub, here we come!

I can hardly wait. This little resort in the Poconos promises all manner of tackiness; really, the 7-foot tall champagne hot tub is just the beginning. This place boasts indoor AND outdoor mini-golf, paddle boats, "nightlife," and lots more. It's Disney meets Club Med meets Penthouse, if you catch my drift.

I have a soft spot in my heart for tacky hotels. The year I turned 25, Petunia took me to a different tacky hotel, the John Carver Inn in Plymouth. It's quite a place: John Carver boasts a Pilgrim Theme Pool with a hot tub shaped like the Plymouth Rock and a water slide running through a life-size replica of the Mayflower. I almost peed when I saw it. I always thought nothing could beat the John Carver Inn, but this champagne hot tub looks pretty promising.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Baby A.

Baby A. died last fall when he was only 4 months old. He would have been one my kids. His parents told me that his gravestone would be placed in the cemetery sometime this spring, and it was there when I looked for it today. Seeing his marker made the emptiness of his death even more tangible.

Whenever I think about Baby A., I think about what he'd be doing in that precise moment. Maybe he'd be eating lunch (he'd be on solids now), maybe he'd be fingerpainting. Maybe he'd be crawling, or clapping his hands, or "reading" a book. At the exact moment I saw his gravestone for the first time, I thought, "He'd be right here in the Baby Bjorn with me, bundled up against the chill." In moments like these, I can almost feel his small, weighty body against mine.

I only met Baby A. once in living flesh, a memorable day in which he pooped on my changing pad and his parents' embarrassment made me smile. But his mother and I corresponded throughout the last several months of her pregnancy and during the first few months of Baby A.'s life, so I had a bird's eye view of his transition from womb to arms. And I made changes, too, anticipating his arrival as surely as his parents: I bought more infant things, talked with my other kids about babies, and worried about configuring my program so I'd meet the needs of all the kids in my care. I spent so much time planning for Baby A.'s care that it's hard now not to imagine what he'd be doing (napping with the other kids, probably, or having a bottle). My grief takes the form of an imaginary baby.

Thankfully, Baby A. is buried in the cemetery a block from my house. I've always gone there with the kids to seek relief from the chaos of the playground and the sameness of the backyard, but now we go to visit Baby A. as well. The kids don't remember anything about him and most days we don't even stop at his grave, but it comforts me to know that all of my children are together.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day: So What?

So it’s Earth Day. Yahoo.

Strangely, my neighbors have been celebrating Earth Day all week by de-cluttering their yards. The Circus Family finally got rid of 2 truckloads of shit (propane tanks, rusted bikes, an ATV, a busted old boat, etc.) that had been cluttering their postage stamp yard; trash from the has-been crack house next door was hauled away; and the former sex work/drug trade parking lot across the street has been polished to a high shine. Now it’s so spiffy I bet I couldn’t find a used syringe if I tried.

As for us, Petunia and I bought a compost bin. Next we’re going to start wearing batik and holding drum circles—y’all come join us if you’re in the ‘hood. I admit I’m a little sketched out by the potential smell factor of the bin, but I like the idea of composting at home. Plus, I placed it right along the fence where the neighbor kids like to tease Clara, so even if it does stink a little, I’ll be getting even in a passive-aggressive kind of way. What? Just doing my part for the environment!
And in late breaking news, we received our first Christmas gift today. For Christmas 2006. From my in-laws, who really are outlaws since they practically disowned their daughter when we got engaged. I’m just so very glad they find it in their hearts to send us tasteful gifts like the one pictured here. I think you’ll agree it’s gorge-ous (or gourd-ous). So, uh, happy holidays. Christmas, Earth Day, whatever.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I heart Savers

I scored big last night at our local thrift store: I got a pair of old school roller skates and an awesome skin conference t-shirt from 1996, both mint. Does it get any better than that? I'm wearing the t-shirt today and I have big plans to break in the skates this weekend at the cemetery near our house. Sweet!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

4 unrelated parts

Part 1
Last night L&Y came over to talk about music for their wedding, which means Petunia played Closer to Fine for them and L&Y played shaker eggs in accompaniment. I swear I'm not making this up. Lesbians are crazy, you know?

Part 2
Last night was my last rape crisis center shift of the month, which means I'm now free to move about the cabin. Tonight I have to stop by the library, run a friend out to Spencer to pick up her chainsaw (again with the lesbians!), go to the grocery, pick up a prescription, deposit a check, and drop off some used clothes at Savers. See what happens when you can't leave the house for 3 days running?

Part 3
I had a nice talk with my dad last night, and I'm feeling more hopeful about our adoption plans and my family's involvement. I'm trying to be patient, but it's hard.

Part 4
Heard in my kitchen this morning:

Petunia to kids: I'm going to pet my snake friend inside my pocket.
Kids: Ssss! Ssss! Snakeys! Ssss!
AJWP: Now I'm going to lose my license.

The kids love Petunia--she's a total rockstar to them. They love everything about her, from the way she makes us breakfast to her shiny new crutches. On Tuesday, my oldest drew a picture just for her (and hello? He's never drawn a picture for me), then called up the stairs to her, "I love you, Pet!"

That's all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Inertia takes over

I screwed up, guys: I put on my jammie pants right when the kids left at 6pm, and now I have to take them off to get ready for company. All I want to do is lie down on the bed with the cats, my Easter chocolate, and my stack of books (current read: Nursing America*). I have no motivation tonight! It'll be great to see L&Y, but I sure wish I could entertain them in my ripped and ratty flannel bleeding reindeer jammies.

*Note to self: I need to write a post about the term "inner city." It bugs the shit out of me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spit shine

I have an interview tonight with a new family, which means I'm v. stressed today. I've been cleaning/picking up like crazy, trying to fit it in when the boys are occupied with other things. The boys will leave between 5:30-6pm and my interview with the new family is at 6:30pm, which means I have many things to do between now and then:

--finish dusting living room
--inspect plush balls, stuffed animals, and all fabric surfaces for baby snot/spit; if snotty/spitty, spot clean or hide in washing machine (and remember to run washer after interview)
--sweep downstairs and spot mop
--clean top of fridge (in case the mom is tall, you know?)
--sweep and spot mop upstairs
--vacuum entryway and bedroom
--clean windows and mirrors
--wash dishes and put away
--clean up yard toys and pick up Clary's poo
--sweep front porch
--change shirt

I think that's it. I HATE these interviews--they're so stressful! They always go well, but the long day and extra housework nearly kills me. Also, of course I'm on call tonight for the rape crisis center; with my luck, I'll probably get a crisis call at 6:45pm. Knock wood that doesn't happen!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jesus Owns Stock in Lane Bryant: An Easter Story

Nothing says "Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today" like a trip to the emergency room, eh?

Yesterday afternoon Petunia and I were cleaning out our shed and switching over our clothes (winter to summer, doncha know) when she slipped on a ball that Clary B. left on the concrete step. Petunia slipped and fell hard, her right ankle twisting underneath her body and catching on the step above. It was horrible, the kind of thing you don't even think to laugh at. I was with her in a flash, then ran into the house for ice packs, a kitchen towel, and our ibuprofen bottle. We had a scary few minutes when Petunia got shocky--she went all cool and clammy and started dry heaving from the fright and pain--but fortunately it passed quickly and I was able to drive her to the ER.

The ER folks did a good job with her and got her in and out relatively quickly--only 4 hours in all. Not a single health care professional introduced him/herself to Petunia, but other than that, it wasn't too bad an experience. Most of the waiting came from x-rays; she'd had one set taken, but the radiologist needed some different angles to be sure she didn't have a break. The official diagnosis is a bad sprain, so she's out of work for several days and giving her ankle the old RICE treatment; she's also sporting a v. fetching air cast and lovely aluminum crutches.

Here is the moral of story, according to Petunia: "Jesus wants me to rest. He doesn't want me to exercise. He said, 'I like you just the way you are. I love plus-size women!' Jesus owns stock in Lane Bryant."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hoppin' mad

I live for the LGBT parents who stood in line to get tickets to this year's White House Easter Egg Roll. You just know Dubya is seething!

Here come the brides

Our friends L&Y are getting married on May 13, and last night they came over to talk turkey with us about their plans. It turns out that Petunia will be playing her guitar and singing during their ceremony, which will be lovely. I'll be doing a reading, helping with set-up, taking photographs, minding the gifts, and paying the restaurant folks; in short, bossing people around all day and night.

I love this plan!

This is my true calling. Ever since I saw J.Lo. pull that Evian spray mist from her blazer in The Wedding Planner, I've aspired to a similar position of bossiness and responsibility. And not for nothing, I've had 3 weddings myself. I know a little something about the bridal industry. I'm knowledgeable about Biedermeier bouquets and fondant frosting; I've even learned to pin boutonnieres correctly. Being Prepared is one of my greatest talents, so I'm a natural for this role. Wish me luck on their (read: my) big day!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Band fags

If you're looking to meet the love of your life, might I suggest gay band? It worked for me: Petunia and I started dating 7 years ago today.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You said the world was magic/I was wide-eyed and laughing

So I made Petunia watch the Indigo Girls DVD with me last night. Right off, she belittled me for calling it a CD, then made fun of me for saying “DVD” like an old lady. At least I didn’t call it a tape, which is what I started to write at the beginning of this post. And at least I didn’t try to rewind the DVD at the end of the concert as I’ve been known to do.

At any rate, the DVD was awesome. It featured a 1990 blast-from-the-past peek at dear old Amy and Emily, and I couldn’t get over how young they both looked. Every time Emily came on screen (we do still call them screens, don’t we?) I exclaimed incredulously, “She looks really good!” Petunia attributed this to the soft-focus lighting, but I though she just looked young and fresh despite her appearance in a collar-up, long-sleeved purple polo shirt. Amy Ray, however, looked like ass.

[I almost hesitate to write this next part, since one of my friends from college is Amy Ray’s biggest fan (think restraining order—that type of fan). She’s hardcore: she wanted the opening lines to “Joking” tattooed on her back and would break out in a pantomime of “Get Out the Map” without so much as a single shot of tequila on board. I haven’t heard from her in years, but I just know I’m going to get a call from her being like, “I know you didn’t write those evil things about my girlfriend!” and I’ll have to be all, “Don’t lie--you know she looked like ass!”]

Poor Amy Ray. She looks good these days, but she looked like hell throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. In this particular DVD, she danced like she’d been watching too many Madonna videos and sported a bouffant rat’s nest along with her pride necklace and ripped jeans. At least she’d changed out of the social justice t-shirt she’d been wearing in the car, but it wasn’t much of an improvement.

And the fans! The fans were my favorite part of the whole thing (well, aside from singing along to “Secure Yourself” like the loser I really am). Petunia and I counted 27 mullets over the course of the hour, which makes me wish I’d gone to grad school in Athens like I’d planned rather than changing it up for Tufts at the last minute. We also saw several Grade A examples of feathered bangs and a few long-in-the-front, short-on-the-sides anti-mullets as well. What really made me laugh was seeing all the ‘90s-style sensitive men singing along with Emily and Amy—I bet it came as a real shock to them when their girlfriends finally came out!

The Indigo Girls feature prominently in the soundtrack of my adolescence and early adulthood, which is as stereotypical as it gets. Here’s what’s not stereotypical, though—my 20-year old boyfriend introduced me to them when I was 13, and my dad and I attended Indigo Girls concerts together throughout my high school years. Also, a straight couple I know had “Power of Two” as their wedding song (yes, she went to Smith) and at our legal marriage celebration, a gay male friend of ours lobbied hard to hear Petunia play “Closer to Fine” on her guitar, earning himself the coveted title of Honorary Lesbian. I love the Indigo Girls, as unoriginal as that may be, and I love all the mullet-wearing fans who love them, too.

I dedicate this post to missscarlet--thanks for the idea!

It runs in the family

Okay, y'all--my brother Orca started a blog!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Trick dog

Clary B. leaps for a stick and lands on her mama's camera. Good times all around!

Cradle Episcopalian: An Atheist's Tale

Easter is coming up, which can only mean one thing: it's time for my regularly scheduled religious ambivalence. Festive, no?

I was baptized Anglican and I've attended Episcopal churches on and off since I was a child. I'm not a believer, so there's no ambivalence about that--I don't go in for all the Christ/God/Ghost stuff. Here's the catch, though--I love the liturgy. I love it even though I don't believe a word of it. Also, I like going to church.

I like sitting in musty, cool, dim stone churches (like the one in this picture, Grace Church, the place where we were married) reciting the same liturgy my father's people have recited for years. I like the connection to other parishioners, and I like the thought of the "worldwide Anglican community." I like the formality of it all: the organ, the candles, the wine, the choir, the robes, the stained glass, the smells and bells, the kneelers, the prayer books, the hymnals. I feel at home in Episcopal churches, which makes it a shame I can't seem to get on board with the whole point of the religion.

At different times in my life, I tried to believe in God. I tried as a child and again when I was in college. Sometimes I wish it could happen for me, since it seems like it might be easier to have a faith to fall back on when things get tough. Other times, I'm glad I have the spiritual freedom to go my own way. I'm comfortable with my atheism, but sometimes I'm uncomfortable with my enjoyment of church pomp and circumstance.

The good thing about the Episcopal church is that it welcomes questioners and doubters, so maybe it also welcomes atheists disguised as cradle Episcopalians. I always feel a little guilty about attending church, though many devout Episcopalians have told me it doesn't make a difference what I believe while I'm sitting in the pew (and, in fact, at least a few well-known Episcopalians have made careers on just that principle). Still, there's something deceptive about it. I don't hope to get religion, just to connect with other people and my own ancestors, and that seems a little disingenuous.

Now that Easter is upon us, I have to decide: should I go to church or not? I'll let you know what happens this weekend.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Adoption conference review

When I drove down to Bellingham on Saturday morning, I followed a steady stream of cars and minivans off the 495 exit. We drove straight, turned left, and came upon the big, new, beautiful high school where the ODS adoption conference would be held. Once I found a parking space, pulled in, and shut off the engine, I just sat there for a minute to gather my thoughts. "Be brave," I encouraged myself. "Put yourself out there--don't be shy."

I walked inside the building and looked around the lobby. It was a mostly white crowd and I was one of the youngest people there, but I saw folks in Mickey Mouse t-shirts and folks in Brooks Brothers suits; folks wearing Birkenstocks and folks with 2-inch crosses around their necks. Who were the birthparents? Who were the adult adoptees? Who were the adoptive parents or waiting adoptive parents? It was impossible to tell and useless to speculate.

After checking in and leaving my donation of school supplies, I headed into the bookstore, which was held in the school's library. Once inside, I was floored by the sheer number of titles. The bookstore was set up with sections on general adoption, various countries (China, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, etc.), multiracial families, LGBT adoptive families, and so on. I'd read many of the general adoption books and several of the children's books, but there were many small press titles I'd never heard of. I got a little overwhelmed and teary at the sight of so many adoption-related books, but I circled the tables anyway and wrote down names and titles of books I hoped to read (ODS has a lending library for its members). In the end, I only bought two books, We See the Moon by Carrie Kitze and I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla by Marguerite Wright.

After leaving the bookstore, I headed into the huge auditorium and took a seat. I looked around and was shocked by the sheer number of people--hundreds of folks were there, all of whom were touched by adoption. It was so powerful to see a living, in-the-flesh community that I got a little weepy all over again.

Once the keynote address started, I was riveted: Marlou Russell, author of Adoption Wisdom, spoke about her experience as an adoptee and about the complexity of emotion and circumstance in adoption. She talked about the pairings of love and loss, of grief and hope, and I started to cry again. When Marlou told us it would be "an emotional day," I laughed and muttered, "Ya think?" which made the woman next to me smile. After the speech was over, she asked me, "Is this your first conference?" My transparency made me smile through my tears.

My first session was about the impact of equal marriage on LGBT adoption, and I was the second person to make it to the room. I laughed again when I saw a box of Kleenex with a sticker reading "Provided by ODS ACONE" at the front of the classroom. Since I'm all about Being Prepared, it felt like they put out a little welcome mat just for me. Amazingly, one of the next people to walk in was a woman I recognized from a party at a mutual friend's house 3+ years ago. We reintroduced ourselves and took each other's email addresses, which was wonderful. Immediately, I felt the isolation begin to lift.

My first workshop was memorable for its presentation on Oklahoma adoption law (co-parent adoptions by same-gender parents aren't recognized in OK), but it was the connections I started to build with other prospective parents that really made me feel good. I talked with 2 men from Arlington who are also adopting through DSS and well as with a woman whose 2 sons were adopted from DSS. It's crazy how much more supported I felt after the session.

My second session was about motherhood, and it was led by an adoptive mom whose kids are now in their 20s. She shared some personal experiences with us, which comforted me, but it was the self-care stuff I really found helpful. She helped me realize that people in my life don't necessarily know how to respond to my plan to adopt, so it's important for me to tell people what I need from them (hello, Mom!). She also validated my increasing awareness that this period of waiting is comparable to biological pregnancy in many ways, and that I have a right to the excitement and fear I'm feeling. I'd been a little skeptical about this workshop when I chose it, but it turned out to be very powerful.

Lunch came next, and by this point I felt so overwhelmed I seriously considered going out to my car for some alone time. I could feel the tears welling up, and I thought I could use a break. As I tried to decide what to do, I heard a shriek and looked over: it was my friend N., a new friend I've made here in Worcester! Both of us were overwhelmed and emotional, and we talked briefly about the intensity of the conference. Connecting with her made me feel a million times better, so I ran out to the car to get my lunch and raced back to the cafeteria to fuel up for the afternoon.

A total flashback moment ensued as I stood in the doorway to the cafeteria: how many times had I entered a school cafeteria and wondered where to sit? Should I sit by myself, which would be more comfortable? Should I force myself to sit with strangers, which might be wonderful or traumatic? Finally, I spotted the men I'd met in session 1 and made my way over to them. "May I sit with you?" I asked politely, feeling like a complete loser. Fortunately, they welcomed me warmly, and we ended up talking a lot about our respective experiences with DSS. We exchanged email addresses and promised to catch up with each other in the "Alternative Families" networking meeting later in the day.

My third session was about transracial adoption and the identity development of white parents. The presenter, a white mom of a Latina daughter, was also a therapist in Cambridge, and she and her business partner developed a theory about the stages white parents go through when they adopt children of color. It was v. interesting and gave me lots to think about; she encouraged us to locate ourselves within the framework and strategize ways we could reach the next stage. It felt good to do some work on my own racism, and I felt a little better prepared to parent a child of color.

My last workshop was supposed to be on paying for adoption, but I went to a different one instead about preparing children to answer questions about adoption. The most powerful thing I learned in that workshop was the WISE model--that when someone approaches you or your child about adoption (or about difference in general, I think), there are 4 equally valid ways to respond: Walk away, It's private, Share something, or Educate others (see? WISE). When I told Petunia about the model, she thought it would be helpful for the kids at her work as well as for Hester. I figure it'll also be helpful to me, since I have a tough time walking away or telling people flat-out that what they're asking about is private. So that was empowering, too.

Finally, the "Alternative Families" meeting took place at the very end of the day. Shockingly, I ran into a former housemate as well as a former colleague during this general discussion and networking session. There's nothing that makes a person feel less alone than realizing she's in good company! It felt great to see those folks again as well as to reconnect with C&D from Session 1 and lunch.

So that's that! That's the conference in a drawn-out, unedited, grossly verbose nutshell. I was sad that Petunia couldn't be there with me, but I was so heartened by the responses of folks at the conference. I saw old friends and made new ones, and I learned about resources I hadn't yet discovered. Also, I was (and am) so proud of myself for my boldness, for pushing myself to engage and to make connections with other people. It couldn't have been a more positive experience, and I'm so glad I went.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ira and me

Holy shit--today I met Ira Glass!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Garden State

So I watched Garden State for the 3rd time on Wednesday night, and I loved it even more than I did the first couple times around. Have you seen this movie? My brother Orca recommended it to me, and after I raved about it he recommended seeing it again with the commentary turned on. Orca is good for this kind of thing--he also showed me Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, which is hilarious. Since I totally crack up at America's Funniest Home Videos, you know I loves me some MEEC. However, I do understand that it is Not. A. Choice. and that I'm going to hell for getting such a kick out of it.

But I digress.

Here's what's rad about Garden State: the writing. It's so funny and unexpected, like the shirt in the bathroom and poor Jelly's death. I can never make up my mind about Natalie Portman (same with Scarlett Johansson--is she a good actor or actually really, really bad?), but she cracked me up in this movie. And Zach Braff is excellent, though I realized last night that he bears a striking resemblance (in personality and manner, if not in appearance) to my high school boyfriend W. So there's that. Maybe what I like most about the movie is that it's a little zany--it's real life taken a step too far, but the emotions are still recognizable.

Next up on the Netflix: an Indigo Girls concert. Before you call me a wicked dork, think of it this way--it's like continuing ed for lesbians. You know I'm right!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Number two

As a public service, I bring you this link to Crapper's Quarterly. I found it while looking for a site about the World's 10 Best Bathrooms (don't ask). Enjoy!

Détente + Bated Breath

Well, my mom finally called on Tuesday. We had a v. brief conversation about nothing in particular, but I'm taking it as a good sign that she called. I hope we can get to the adoption stuff soon.

And speaking of adoption, this Saturday is my adoption conference! I'm so excited for it. I just pulled out my conference program this morning, and here are the workshops I'll be taking:

1. Same-Sex Marriage/Same-Sex Adoption: Though I know a lot about equal marriage and adoption (like how it bars us from adopting internationally, etc.), I want to attend this workshop to hear about the ways to legally protect our family. Joyce Kauffman, a lawyer in Cambridge, will be co-presenting with Laura Nemeyer from Adoption Resource Associates.

2. Adjustment to Adoptive Motherhood: This one's supposed to help soon-to-be adoptive moms and new adoptive moms understand the impact of motherhood. I don't know how they're planning to do this, but it should be interesting.

3. Adopting Across Race: The Identity Development of White Parents: This one sounds really neat. Since it's very likely that Petunia and I will adopt a child of color, I want to learn as much as possible about becoming a bi-racial or multi-racial family. I hope the presenters will include info about internalized racism and give us some suggestions for future learning.

4. Financial Issues Surrounding the Adoption Process: I'm taking this workshop because we'd really love to do a private domestic open adoption, but we just can't afford it. In our state, it's anywhere from $20,000-$40,000 to complete an adoption like that, which is WAY out of our league. Whenever we ask about financing a private adoption, folks from the private agencies tell us that people get the money from their families, from loans, or from fundraisers like bake sales (for real--we're read or heard the "bake sale" thing at least 5 times). At the very least, I want to learn more about the federal tax credits.

5. "Alternative Families" Open Discussion: Though I take umbrage at the "alternative" label, I'm really looking forward to meeting other LGBT adoptive parents. I'm glad that ODS is so welcoming of queer parents.

So that's that! Too bad Petunia will still be in Las Vegas--I know she'd love to attend the conference as well. Just thinking about Saturday makes me feel all butterfly-y!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hey Jealousy

Petunia gets to travel a little for work, and sometimes I get jealous. For example, last November she went to Orlando for a national conference. She stayed with our friends T&R in their new house, then went to Epcot, MGM, and Disney for free because R. works with The Mouse. Petunia called frequently to say that the weather was warm and sunny and that she was having a blast.

Meanwhile, I was at calling hours for my uncle Earl.

He'd died suddenly of a heart attack on Friday, so I made plans to attend his weekend service as soon as I heard the news on Friday night. To her credit, Petunia offered to fly home, but I told her I'd only be in NY for a few hours since I had to be at work on Monday morning. She was very sweet, but it was incredibly strange to go from the funeral home to my cell phone. "I'm so sorry it was so sad," she yelled over the noise of the Aerosmith roller coaster at MGM. "I wish I could have been there with you!" she roared.

This time, jealousy struck last night after she told me she'd had crepes for lunch and swum in the pool all afternoon. "Is it warm there?" I asked longingly. "Yes," she replied. "That's nice," I muttered, "It's snowing here."


If you know me in real life, you know I have age issues. Specifically, I have a long and storied history of being mistaken for older than my actual tender age:

1. When I was 16, a coworker of my dad's saw my senior portrait. "That's a nice photo of your wife," he told my dad.

2. When I was 17, a Blockbuster employee informed me I could get a free video rental on Mother's Day if I brought in a photo of my kids. "How old are your children?" she asked.

3. When I was 18, a 16-year old asked me if I had a daughter named Claire. Perplexed, I told him no, and he responded, "Oh, I thought you did. This girl in my class looks exactly like you. I thought she was your daughter."

4. Also when I was 18, I worked as a para-professional psych assistant for a psychologist in private practice. Almost a year later, she realized my age. "I thought you were much older!" she exclaimed.

5. When I was 21, a woman I'd never met told me to be careful with my "cheap Irish skin. It wrinkles so easily!"

Add to all those comments a prematurely aging body, and I've got myself a barrel of issues.

It's odd, though--now that my age is catching up to my face, I'm a lot more comfortable with myself. I've been through a lot of Saturn Return issues lately, so that helps as well. Also, it seems like everywhere I look, I see vital, happy women in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and sometimes even 90s, and they give me so much hope for my future. It seems odd that I'm looking forward to turning 30 when I spent so much time fearing it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ohmigod, I could just dye!

Sometimes I'm such a dope. Like last night, when I was at Target and impulsively decided to buy a bottle of semi-permanent hair dye. I was all, "Hmm, I don't want anything too drastic," so after examining all of the brown-y shades for a good 15 minutes, I chose a bottle called Navajo Bronze* to add a little warmth to my natural color.**

I colored it early this morning, and the results are in: I dyed my hair the exact same color it already was. Way to go, huh? Apparently, there's such a thing as being too conservative with Ye Olde Hair Dye.

*Who comes up with these crazy names? Navajo, my ass.
**That might be the gayest thing I've ever written.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Vegas, baby

Well, Petunia's off to Las Vegas; she'll be back early Sunday morning. Normally, I don't mind when she travels, but this time I'm feeling a little sad. It's probably because we didn't get to see much of each other over the weekend (she worked, I played), but I was v. sorry to say goodbye to her. At least she was off work today--she made breakfast for the kids and me, putzed around the house with us, and planted all of our summer bulbs before it started raining. She's a star, that Petunia, and this tiny house already feels lonely without her.

Of course, I'm planning a week of special comforts to cheer myself up. Tonight: my virgin visit to The Container Store on my way home from Logan (the verdict: not as exciting as I'd thought it would be, which is a relief). Tomorrow night: a trip to the library, then Garden State and Beauty Night. The rest of the week: whatever strikes my fancy, whether it's going to bed at 6:30pm, taking myself to dinner and a movie, or strolling through the park with Clary B. Regardless, I'm looking forward to a great weekend with the much-anticipated ODS adoption conference on Saturday and the Terry Gross/Ira Glass interview on Sunday. Good times!

Mini-break in Meriden

We're back from Connecticut, and boy howdy! am I ever tired. In my defense, I did a lot more than I thought I would since the hotel skimped on decent cable and the pool was right off the lobby, which meant that Petunia's colleagues would have seen my hairy legs every time a session ended. As it was, I spent lots of time with Canada and Clary B., which was v. fun. Highlights from the weekend include the following:

--Visiting the New Haven Ikea, where I showed remarkable restraint.
--Prancing around downtown New Haven and getting so warm I took off my sweater, making Friday the first t-shirt day of the year. Also, discovering that New Haven is much nicer than its reputation suggests (kinda like Worcester, come to think of it).
--Taking Clara to the ocean! It was her first time on a beach, and she loved it. I only wish I'd brought a longer leash so she could have gone swimming instead of just wading.
--Visiting New York with Canada. We went to Serendipity, Dylan's Candy Bar, and Central Park. Good times!

As if all that wasn't thrilling enough, when we got back to Worcester we discovered that our daffodils, grape hyacinth, and regular hyacinth had started to bloom. How's that for a sweet welcome home?


Was it worth the 2-hour wait?