Thursday, March 31, 2011

thirty-three

Have you ever heard the Patton Oswalt sketch about how people should only get twenty birthdays? (adult language, beware.)Basically he thinks that after you grow up, only the new decade birthdays, 30, 40, 50, etc, should count.

I have some empathy for this approach. There is nothing especially special about thirty-three. I haven't had time to reflect deeply on my life past present and future, or come up with any great insights about the tick tock of the ageing process. Despite these lacks, however, I had fantastic day. This is what I love about the Birthdaversary - while one, individual 33rd birthday might not be SUCH a big thing, combined with a 31st birthday and a 6th anniversary well - it's a fun week to be us! (and a good excuse to be a tiddly bit extravagant.)

So yesterday Nana arrived at our house around 10am, hung out for the day and then at 4pm we kissed both her and J goodbye and went out on the town. Checked in to a gorgeous hotel, had a romantic french dinner near the waterfront, caught a movie, and then well...went back to our gorgeous hotel for a glorious uninterrupted night of sleep.

I love my life. Mostly because of the many lovely people who I get to love and be loved by. It was a perfect, happy day. ♥

Only one more Birthdaversary holiday left!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let the Birthdaversary Begin!!

This year our birthdaversary is actually an entire calendar week! This is the first time this has happened in six years, which I guess given the way the calendar works makes complete sense. Still, it's fun to remember the week we got married, when our birthdays fell on a Sunday and Wednesday just like they do this week.

For those of you just now tuning in, the A+A Birthdaversary Week stretches from today, which is Andrew's birthday, through Wednesday which is mine and finishes strong on Saturday with our wedding anniversary. We planned it this way because heck, why not. This way neither of us will ever forget our anniversary!

So today my love turned 31. (I know, he's such a youngster!!) This is the first year, birthday-to-birthday, of fatherhood for him and I have to say he wears it well. Let's take a quick walk through memory lane, shall we?

Sleeping in with Daddy - a year ago this month.


Piano time!


Swim lessons! (and yes, another excuse for me to linger over a shirt-free photo of my husband. mmm.)

I love this photo from last summer because obviously they're not seeing the same thing...

on the beach, early fall.

trick or treating with J the Pooh...

...and finally, full circle one year after the first photo, an outtake from comicon.

There is a lot of uncertainty in this world, and being a parent has only highlighted that for me. But there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of, and that is this man. In time I have known him he has grown up a lot (a baby of twenty-three when we met!!), and I hope I have too. But he is still the same patient, loving, handsome, and exciting person I first fell unexpectedly head over heels for all those years ago. Not to mention the most adorable dad I could imagine finding for my child.

Happy Birthday love.

Friday, March 25, 2011

glimpse

"Wow," Keba said to me as we threaded our way through the crowd at a neighborhood event. "I am getting a real glimpse into your life. It's intense." We stopped at the dessert table.

"What do you mean?" I turned to face her. I was wearing J in the ergo on my back, so I glanced to make sure she couldn't reach anything on the table. She patted the back of my neck, babbling in her not-quite intelligible way.

"Are you kidding? Everyone is staring at you." Keba grinned, "Wondering where you got that baby." I smiled and looked at my neighbor who, a week away from her due date, wasn't exactly inconspicuous herself.

"It's because my baby is so gorgeous." I winked at her, and our conversation turned toward the event we were attending, the food provided, and our favorite topic of discussion - the building and neighborhood we both call home.

I thought about what she had said later, after putting J to bed that night. We live in a diverse neighborhood, where there seem to be just as many brown faces as pink ones and it's not at all rare to see a mix-matched family like ours. But yes, people look at us. At first I was always looking back, trying to figure out what they were thinking and if they were curious and why. Now I have all but forgotten about it - if Keba hadn't mentioned it I would never have noticed the extra attention we were getting.

It is actually pretty easy for me to forget that our family doesn't look like other families, these days. This is due to lots of really good things in our life. Everyone in our life knows our story, and we are constantly spending time with our neighbors, friends, and extended family - all of whom have also at this point forgotten that there is something different about our little trio.

At this point J doesn't really know that we are different either, at least not in a way she can name. But at some point, long after I have become totally used to who we are, she'll realize it. It is important for me to keep this in mind, and be ready to answer questions and hear the feelings. Keba's sensitivity was a good reminder.

Thursday morning word spread through our building that Keba's water had broken. Texts flew, passing updates as we had them. Her mom arrived and as J and I went about our day we ran into Keba walking the stairs, pausing to breathe while her husband or mother rubbed her back. All three of us were part of the crowd of friends and neighbors that cycled through the expectant mama's livingroom to cheer her on and have a peek at the birthing tub sitting where the dining table used to be. J was enthralled with Keba's belly pointing and patting it, and sidling along the couch to stare deeply into her eyes. She knew something big was up. That night I joined two other women from our building as things got more serious. We took turns rubbing Keba's back, bringing washcloths and ice chips, and timing contractions when her husband or her mom needed a break. As I listened to my friend breathe I marveled at how strong and beautiful she was, and what a big work I was witnessing a small part of. I went home around ten, before the midwife arrived, kissing her shoulder and whispering a thank you. I felt wistful, happy, tense and teary. The next morning we woke to the news that her beautiful girl had arrived safely in the night and all was well.

I love where I live. The gift that is my neighbors, our community, cannot be overestimated. As I held that hours-old baby for a few moments yesterday morning (while my own child flew into a jealous rage) I thought about how these glimpses of each other's lives enrich us, educate us, shape and hold us. Keba's baby was born into such a big love - parents, neighbors, grandmother and more. There are strong webs of care that connect her to J - who arrived in this circle via a different path but is here just the same, at the center of her own big loving web of support and tenderness. Our families come together in different ways but here we are, living and sharing lives with each other.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'tis the Season - Geekmas has come and gone




It's hard to believe that this year's comicon has already come and gone! This is a family tradition for us now, and in many ways this was the best one yet! Andrew did some work for his friend Aaron's podcast, which got us press passes and early admission this year. (Podcast features adult language, for those of you who click through.) This meant that we were first in line for Wil Wheaton, which was fantastic. The media guests were awesome this year, and it was fun to watch Wil horse around before the lines opened with his former castmates from TNG and Felicia Day from The Guild.


J responded VERY differently to the costumes and other insane stimuli that abounds at these things this year. She adored all of the artwork that was up everywhere and the people watching. She hated pretty much everyone in costume. Above she is trying to hide from the very friendly Borg.


I like this photo because it sort of looks like Andrew is aiming J the way the SandTrooper is aiming his gun. In reality she is attempting to escape. In our defense, lest you think we were out to traumatize our darling child, she was into it until she realized that Daddy was going to stand right next to the scary gun-weilding robot. That's when she bolted and I snapped the photo. This was the last attempt to get near anyone in a scary costume.

Nothing to fear from Rogue, however. Obviously our girl knows who the good people are. Also, I have come home on more than one Daddy day to find her dressed in superhero outfits. She probably didn't even realize the nice lady was wearing a costume.

And of course, she had no problem with the nice old men we posed for photos with. She looks bored in this photo but mostly she is disappointed that Commander Riker wouldn't give her his watch. (In his defense it was a Rolex.)


And we are pretty sure she thought this guy was her Papa C.
All in all it was a wonderful geek-mas, and you know what that means. Birthdaversary is right around the corner, hurrah!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Domesticated Lent

It took me a long time to figure out what my Lenten discipline was going to be this year. So long, in fact, that I didn't really start it until yesterday. For those of you who aren't keeping track that would be a full week and a half after the official beginning of the season. I'll just call those first nine days my "Lenten Discernment Period."

I am surprised each year by how many of my friends who are of non-liturgical Christian traditions, and even some who are not Christian at all, celebrate some sort of Lenten fast. Perhaps in our culture of excess and consumption there is something compelling about a project that seems to require giving something up. Lent, for those of you who may not know, is the season of the church year that immediately precedes the season of Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday and goes for forty days - an echo of the time that the scriptural Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his ministry of healing and miracle working. In the Episcopalian tradition that I am part of (and this would be similar for Catholics from what I understand) this time is seen as a chance to also wander in a desert of sorts. Things are toned down in mass. In my parish we don't have flowers, and the silver chalice sets used for communion are traded in for a simpler glass. The color is purple, to remind us of the royalty of Christ (also, we note in Godly Play, purple is a serious color and what is coming is something quite serious). This is the only time of year when the Rite of Reconciliation is formally offered in my parish (also known as Confession). And yes, many individuals look to tone down something in their own lives, often by giving something up.

I loved giving things up when I first began to celebrate Lent over a decade ago. I gave up coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, meat, sugar, you name it. But, in time, I found that I grew out of cigarettes, married a non-drinking vegetarian, and let's face it - the sugar thing never lasted the whole forty days. For the past four or five years I have been rather captivated by the idea of taking something up for Lent - using the time to wander in new deserts instead of revisiting the familiar ones. A couple years ago I took up running for Lent. Last year I took a yoga class, which stretched my mind and spirit as well as my body.

But this year it was so rainy when Lent began. On Ash Wednesday I perched on the window seat and marveled at the fervant, frantic, pounding raindrops and just couldn't imagine taking up the running project again just yet. Yoga didn't fit the schedule. I wanted to do something that would stretch me - not just physically, or maybe not physically at all. Last week I walked into my kitchen and it hit me. Housework is my desert.

I am capable of cleaning but domesticity has never really been my focus. I am, after all, a liberated woman with a husband who can cook and do dishes. I am a project person - so sometimes I sew, or crochet, and it's not completely unheard of for me to up and clean a room of the house but there is no rhythm to how I tackle the chores of domestic life. Since it is Lent I will go ahead and confess that I am often guilty of the "have we?" method of cleaning. (This method consists of asking Andrew a question like "have we cleaned the litter boxes lately?" and then moving blithely on, trusting that since I have done the chore of remembering it he will do the actual, you know, chore.)

So this Lent is my domestic Lent. I am going to explore the discipline of keeping house. I am going to clean the kitchen even if no one is coming over. I am going to sweep daily even if the nanny is bringing her dog with her tomorrow. I am going to fold clothes the day they come out of the dryer. I am going to see what I learn about God and myself by treating my home as if the Divine dwells here. Because, of course, I suspect she does.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

speaking of adoption and television

Apparently at least one of the comedy pilots being shot for the fall season is adoption themed, called Lost and Found the plot, as per tvline:


The multi-camera comedy centers on Jo (Spiro), a narcissistic thirtysomething New York City bartender and party girl whose life is turned upside-down when the conservative 18-year-old son she gave up for adoption turns up on her doorstep.

Oh yeah. That sounds hilarious.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Adoption and TV - the geek edition

A few days ago the newest Open Adoption Roundtable came out and I didn't think I'd have much to contribute. This time the prompt is about television: How have you seen open adoption portrayed on television? What did you think? What, if anything, would you like to see?

Heather came up with it after noticing some interesting trends on twitter after MTV's reality shows that deal with adoption would air. I don't watch reality t.v. and at first I couldn't think of anything really adoption related on the shows I do watch, at least not recently.

Then this past Saturday night (as a result of spending the day at Emerald City Comicon, which will get a post of its own)I decided to watch a couple episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation before going to bed. It's been a while since I've spent time in the Star Trek Universe, and even longer since I watched TNG. And I just happened, somehow, to pick two epsiodes with adoptive themes. I was thinking about these when I realized just how much sci-fi loves to work with adoptive, ugly duckling type tropes. Of course, these adoptions are usually inter-special - human child adopted by non-human "alien" species or vice versa. Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine especially use alien species to make allegorical commentary on inter-racial and inter-national issues.

The first TNG episode I watched was from season 4, called Family. It's an episode that is entirely centered on members of the crew reconnecting with their families after a particularly traumatic shared experience (the Borg, for any out there who are geeky enough to care.) The captain returns to his home in France to see his family for the first time in 20 years. The doctor gets some things out of storage on Earth and finds a message from her dead husband for her teenage son. And Worf, a non-human who was adopted and raised by a human couple, has an unexpected visit from his adoptive parents who wish to offer him comfort - something that is anathema to klingons. As they tour the ship with Worf and have side conversations with other crew members outside of his hearing it becomes evident that they do everything in their power to adapt to and support Worf's klingon identity. When he was a teenager and refused human food his adoptive mother learned how to make klingon blood pie. But, in a poignant moment, his adoptive mother acknowledges that much of Worf's search for identity had to be done without them - they're not klingon after all. All they could do was support his search and trust him to have integrity in it. It is obvious that it has been a difficult and lonely road for both Worf and his adoptive parents.

The second episode was the reverse - a patriarchal alien species had claimed an infant human as a spoil of war and he had been raised by one of their captains as his own son. Initially the crew of the Enterprise plans to send him back to the remnents of his biological family, until it becomes obvious that the boy would rather die than give up his identity. He is returned to his adoptive family, seemingly without any provisions made for him to reconnect with his first family later on.

Of course, in both of these fictional and fantastical cases -as in most adoption themed Star Trek episodes - the biological parents are dead. So they are not really an issue. I started to think about it more, and I realized that killing off the first parents is actually a very common way for scripted television to work with adoption, even more updated and less geek-centric shows. House, for example, one of my favorite medical dramas, flirted with an open adoption for Cuddy, a primary female character, but ended that storyline with the expectant mother delivering and deciding to keep her baby. When Cuddy does adopt, a few episodes later, it is a child whose mother dies, without other family to claim her.

Medical dramas are the worst offenders in adoption-land, in my opinion. (and I watch more of them than I probably should.) Private Practice is a show that loves to put its fictional children characters into dangerous situations, and has had several adoption storylines as patients file through Oceanside Wellness. But, of course, we don't see how these stories end, just how they begin - whether they place and so forth. They have had some decent portrayals of first moms and some downright despicable ones - the most recent being a mother who tried to sell her baby in the hospital shortly after giving birth. And when one of the main character's teenage daughter gets pregnant adoption isn't even considered. Which is fine, but very different than how the doctors seem to treat all the other pregnant teenage patients they encounter.

Shortly after J was born I became intensely dissatisfied with the way babies were treated on television. Why, I realized, that isn't what babies are like at all! I thought about it some more and came up with a theory as to why babies were portrayed so falsely - as such caricatures of what these small humans are really like. It's because babies can't act - there is no one to give a nuanced and wonderful performance of babyhood because the only people who could possibly be cast as babies are busy being babies and they have to be tricked into doing predictable things in front of a camera.

I wonder something similar about open adoption. No one who isn't in it can possibly understand what is is about. It's only when it goes wrong that it becomes sensational. Perhaps this is why its media presence is, at the moment, strongest in news stories and reality television shows. It is much easier to write scripts that deal with the timeless issues around identity and belonging without this new and hard to conceptualize wrinkle of an ongoing relationship between first and adoptive families to work with.

I'd love to see more complex portrayals of open adoption on television. I'd love to see it happen in scripted shows, where questions can be asked and explored without exposing any real person's life to voyeurs.

Anyone out there seen some good scripted treatments of open adoption?