We Have To Do Something About That Straight Hair

There is a picture hanging on my A-moms bedroom wall of me when I am about eight-years-old.  If you could see it you would be convinced that Madeleine Albright was my first-mother, I look just like her.  My hair is a perfect copy of hers during the Clinton administration.  My A-mom loves this picture.  It was taken at now long closed portrait studio just down the street from the beauty shop where I got my first professional perm.

We didn’t have an appointment to have my picture taken that day, but Mom was so thrilled with my new look she convinced the woman who ran the studio to take my picture right there and then.   This was a great victory for my mother in the war that she had waged on straight hair and she was going to have record of it.

The war on my locks started just as soon as I had any hair to speak of as far as I know.  I cannot remember a time my mother was not entrenched in the battle.  She was not a hairdresser, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her in her quest to make my hair “acceptable”.

Most of the memories I have of our first house are of the bathroom sink.  I spent hours there having my hair washed with Breck shampoo, always twice, always followed by an icy rinse.   Then being pulled up, half dizzy, to have my hair combed through with a rat tail comb, from the ends,  ripping and pulling until my scalp ached.

Then into the kitchen chair, sitting there for hours, dripping with Dippity-Doo hair gel while Mom put in scratchy brush rollers, each with a pick into my scalp to hold it in place.  A hair net was then tied around that whole mess and I was expected to sleep in those things.  I couldn’t even lay me head down.  It was absolute torture, like wearing a  porcupine on your  head.

In the morning came the “comb out”.  I remember tears in my eyes when Mom would backcomb my hair,  pull, bang, bang, bang.  Then brush, rip, brush, and enough hairspray to glue my eyes closed.   Mom would look and pat, pat pat, spray, spray, spray, then turn me around in the kitchen chair looking all the time, then spray spray spray.  At last she’d tell me to go into the bathroom and look at my hair.

I didn’t realize that I looked like a four-year-old blond Ladybird Johnson then, but I did know it looked strange.   The other little girls I knew had ponytails and pixie cuts, their hair flowed or fluffed, mine was hard and poufy.  It was also prone to denting.  It made Mom very mad if I dented my hair.  She’d have to get the rat tail comb and hairspray out and fix it.  I didn’t like that very much either.

At some point Mom decided the answer to my hair problems could be fixed with a perm.  A home perm.  As I said earlier, Mom wasn’t a hair dresser, well she wasn’t an instruction reader either.  I sat there for hours while she tried to get my hair rolled up on the tiny pink plastic rods, the little papers falling to the floor, as she made disgusted noises.  She finally decided to use Dippity-Doo to get my hair to stay on the rods.  Not a good idea.  I came out looking like a dandelion gone to seed.  I got a pixie cut.  I was thrilled.  Mom was not.

As my hair grew out, the battles raged on.  Rollers again, followed by a just slightly more successful home perm, think Rosanne Rosannadanna.  Finally Mom had tired of fighting the battle on her own and called in the professionals.  I got the first of what would be many Mom enforced beauty shop perms.

Getting the first perm was kind of fun, the hairdressers all made a fuss over me and I listened to them talk grown up talk.  The woman that gave me the perm was much more gentle than Mom.   When she had finished I did look different than when Mom did my hair.  By this time I knew it wasn’t what I wanted my hair to look like, I wanted long straight hair like Lori Partridge, but it was nice to be the center of attention.

To say that Mom was thrilled doesn’t even begin to describe it.  She just raved over how wonderful I looked.  So it was off to the photo studio immediately and record of that day still hangs on her wall.  It truly is one of Mom’s great triumphs.  My hair looked exactly like she wanted it to for one afternoon.  She was never able to duplicate the style again.  After a few weeks of trying she gave up.  I didn’t exactly have the hairstyle I wanted, but it beat the hell out of the hair helmet.

Elements Of Style Internet Style

Seems that everyone on the internet is a great writer.  I know this because they tell me.  All the time.  It seems to be a defense mechanism.

I’m not a great writer, and according to many, have no clue as to what makes a great writer.   Luckily all the great writer’s out there have been kind enough to point out exactly what I should be striving for.  As far as I can tell these are the rules..

1. Point out as often as possible what a great writer you are.  Don’t be shy, you have to let those that do not recognize your talents know how great you are.   After all great writers are not known for their modesty.

2. Use big words.  The bigger the better.   Keystrokes count, you want to use as many of them as possible.  Great writers are intelligent, intelligent people use big words.  It really isn’t about communicating your point clearly, it’s about the great big words.

3. Use words that are almost never heard in regular conversation.  This is essential in message board posts and blog comments.  This shows that your level of everyday discourse is on a much higher level than most.  This helps you appear to be intelligent, all great writers are very intelligent.

4. Make your point over and over again.  Writing is all about conveying your thoughts.  Let your readers have more than one chance to understand your point.  Don’t worry about being wordy, your a great writer, words are your oyster.

5. Don’t get too picky about the actual definition of the big and infrequently used words.  You are a great writer, you have license to assign brand new meanings to your words.  If called on your usage, simply explain that you were using an archaic definition that you found when perusing your complete copy of the Oxford Dictionary.  All great writers have a copy of this book.

6. Punctuation is for the little people.  If you are to make a mistake, it was because you were caught up in the creative process.  Only the most jealous and frustrated would dare to point out the mistakes of a great writer like you.

7. Point out what a great writer you are.  People need guidance.  Since you are so talented, some will not recognize your  greatness without having it pointed out to them.

8. Always give clues to your creative process.  Your readers love to get a glimpse of how the great writers work.   Use phrases such as, ” the ink flows freely from my pen” and “as my thought s formed themselves on the page”.

9. Drop names.  The more literate the better.  This shows that you are well read, all great writers are well read.  It makes no difference if you have read these other writers or not, you will be seen as among them in your readers minds.

10. Point out what a great writer you are.

11. Compare yourself to some of the great writers of the past.  Your work does put you squarely among them.  If Fitzgerald had internet acces, he would be on your buddy list without a doubt.

12. Point out what a great writer you are.

As far as I can tell if you stick with these simple rules, you too can be a great writer.

On Being An In-Law

I have a big weekend coming up. It’s my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. All of my hubby’s brothers and sisters are coming back to celebrate and see our house. I invited mt b-sisters to come too, they won’t be coming.

My in-laws have always been wonderful to me. Especially my husband siblings. I like them very much. I wouldn’t say that we have any kind of real connection though. It doesn’t bother me, I’m an in-law. We get on well, which is good, and makes things much easier for my husband, but that’s the extent of it. It is how it should be.

The thing is I feel like an in-law in every family type relationship I have. In my adoptive family, I’m treated very much as just that, I’m included but mainly as an after thought. With my birth family, I’m not even always thought of. I’m no closer to any of them than I would be if I was “married in” as they say up here.

I think that’s part of the reason things like anniversary celebrations are sort of lost on me. Because I don’t have any real connections I don’t feel like I have anything I can really celebrate. I’m not a part of any dynasty, any line, any family reaching back into time. I’m simply just here.

I do envy that things like anniversaries can be celebrated. I just can’t imagine what it is like to feel any real connection to something like that. I just don’t have any way to take any pride or comfort in the milestones that mean so much to others. I do wish that I had something to base my existence on like they do. But I don’t, I am and that’s all there is.

So I will do what is expected of me. I’ll help with the arrangements. I’ll show up looking clean and respectable. I’ll smile for the inevitable photographs knowing that when they are shown if anybody asks who I am, the holder will say, “Oh she’s just an in-law.”

I Smell Like A Wet Dog

That’s right, I smell like a wet dog, a dirty, happy, shedding, wet dog.

As you might remember, we’ve had some trouble keeping the pooch at home.  We thought that our problems were over.  We, at great expense, had pruchased the whiz-bang, super neato, fully optioned, invisible fencing system from our nearest big box home improvement store.

The combination of traditional fence and the “zapper”, as it came to be known, cranked up to the point of causing me worry for the future health of the neighborhood children, seemed to be working fairly well.  Puppy dog seemed content within his space, just as long as he didn’t get too close to the fence.

But my husband and I had a dream.  A dream of no visible fence.  We thought the first best thing to do would be to start reducing the power on the fence.  It also bothered me to see the dog hesitate when getting near the fence.  I wanted him to be happy and carefree.  It’s hard to know the true mind of a dog.

So last night, we turned down the fence.  We didn’t turn it off, just down.  According to the literature that comes with the fence, the dog shouldn’t have noticed.  We ate our dinner, bid the dog a good night, and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, no dog.  At first I thought he might be asleep in the huge clump of daylillies where he likes to hide.  Nope, he was gone.  So I head out into the knee high wet lawn (did I mention both of our lawn mowers  are broken?) calling for him.  No dice.

Soaked to my knees I return to the house to wake my husband and tell him the good news.  He was more than thrilled.  I got in the truck to go check out doggie jail while hubby dressed for the search.  No luck at the pound, though there was a black dog with floppy ears I thought about loading up as part of my own doggie exchange program.  “Hello, City pound?  My dog ran away this morning so I stopped by and got another one, just give my dog to the people who come looking for the cute black one with floppy ears, we named him Rex.”

I returned home dogless.   We did some more searching until we both had to leave for work.  It was decided that hubby would alert the proper authorities to the disappearance when they were available.

I got in the truck and headed through town.  When I stopped at the sign leading to the town square, I saw my dog.  Lying down beside the road right in front of the courthouse.  At first I thought that he might have been hit.   I was sick and frightened.  Then he turned around, in order to get more comfortable, I presume.  Now I was mad.  I pulled over and grabbed him by the collar and pulled him toward the truck.  He knew he was in deep shit, he just went limp.  It was about then I noticed that he was completely soaked.

I’m sure several people had a good time watching me lift a wet German Shepard-Chow mix, at the height of his Spring shedding (his soft underfur comes out in huge, now wet clumps) into the back of a Suburban almost completely full of empty moving boxes.  Nobody in that truck was happy.  Not me.  Not the wet dog.

I go back home while calling my husband to help me get the dog back into his area, there was no way in hell he was getting loose again.  Oddly enough he was already on his way, he had received a report of out little fugitive sitting in front of the cafe a few minutes before.

When we got him corralled again, we turned the fence back up.  I only had time to changed my shirt before I had to leave.  So I smell like a wet dog.

My Little Town

I just read an excellent blog post from a wonderful writer. Joy spoke of the neighbor- hood she grew up in.

In her neighborhood everything was the same, but the people were different. In the neighborhood I grew up in, the houses were different, but the people were the same. We all had absolutely no ethnic heritage. The places our ancestors came from wasn’t even worth a mention. Everyone just identified as Americans, not German-Americans, Irish-American, Italian-Americans, just Americans. The thought that we were anything else would have been disloyal in some way.

My own adoptive Mother and every other Mother I knew cooked the same food, mainly meat and potatoes. Spaghetti sauce made from ketchup and ground beef was considered exotic fare and was only to be served infrequently, and God forbid that garlic be added, nice people simply did not use garlic. The saving grace of the dish was that it was served on limp overcooked American Beauty spaghetti, that made it alright, once in a while.

We had no “old country” traditions, we celebrated every holiday just like everyone else did. It was all Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Jack-o-lanterns, with no mention of where these traditions might have came from. When in the fouth grade a new teacher made the mistake of telling us about her Jewish traditions, she was fired. We couldn’t have nice red blooded non-ethnic children singing the Dreidel Song. It just wasn’t done.

In addition to there being a complete lack of Jewish people, there were no Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, or Presbyterians, only Methodists, Baptists, and those that attended the Chuch Of Christ. Other religions than the three, or professing a lack of faith was completely unheard of. I’m not sure that I knew Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans or Unitarians even existed until I read about them in my Childcraft Encyclopedia.

The biggest celebration was the county fair. One year there was a black man who ran the Tilt-a-Whirl at the carnival, more people came to look at him than watch the demolition derby.

I think I believed that the cowboys had killed all the Native Americans, other than that last one crying in the commercial on TV.

I had no way of knowing what a strange world that I was being raised in. I had no reference point. I thought everywhere was like my town.

I’m glad that it isn’t.

Home Decorating and Adoption

I saw a television show today about adoption. On the surface it was supposed to be one of those home decorating shows that run on HGTV and DIY 24 hours a day. The premise of the show had two very hipply dressed hosts visiting a home in need of spiffing up. They achieve this by selling the families old possessions in a yard sale, then use the money to buy new hipper decorating things. It is implied that with this done the family will experience complete happiness, at least until they aren’t hip anymore.

In this episode they came to rescue a family of three living in an average tract house somewhere in southern California, like they always do. Dad was a slender balding systems analyst and Mom was a big and perky party planner. The daughter was a beautiful impish eight year old obvious international adoptee. Though it was never mentioned, I assume she was of Indian decent.

Most of the families house was a mish mash of things that seemed to have all belonged to the parents since before their marriage. There had been no thought given to decorating, except for the little girls room. It had been painted a bright blue, with bunk beds covered in tulle, and finished out in a Barbie and Horse theme. I imagine it was the Mother’s idea of a perfect little girl’s room.

In this show, each family member is responsible for deciding if their own things will be put in the garage sale, and the hosts speak to them individually about things that they feel need to be sold. They spoke with the little girl first.

The host assumed that she would want to keep her Barbies, she didn’t. She said that she never played with them and didn’t care if they were sold. He then asked her if she wanted her new room done in a horse theme, since there were so many on the high shelves all around the room. She said no, she didn’t really like those either, and since they were on such a high shelf she never got them down. She didn’t like her bunk beds either.

They then brought in the Mother and told her that the girl didn’t want the toy horses anymore. The Mother refused to let the toy horses be sold, she had always wanted them so badly as a child. All the while the girl sat there, with that reserved erect posture, so different than the adoptive Mother, saying nothing, looking only at the TV host who had taken up her cause. It looked to me like she actually had some hope in getting rid of the unwanted toys at first, but then I saw a look of resignation, she knew she would be keeping the horses. I knew that look so well.

I felt so bad for that little girl. I knew that wasn’t the first or last battle she would lose. I knew exactly how she felt.

I didn’t watch the rest of the show, I already knew how it would come out.

Adoptee as Muse

One would think that adoption would be a stimulus for the arts, and it does seem to be when it comes to adoptees. I know of many very talented adoptees working in all kinds of disciplines and mediums. They write, paint, play music, I’m primarily a weaver. Most are work with a high level of technical proficiency combined with a good bit of talent.

We start to run into problems when we act as muses. Even the thought of adopting can inspire the average potential adoptive parent to create some of the worst kind of poetry ever written in the English language. They then post this on the internet to the praises of all who also are caught up in the desire to grow their family. Not a thought is given to the offense of first parents, adoptees, or the matter of good taste.

I wish I could say that it ends here, but no, in this day of inexpensive music recording and MySpace music, adoptees also inspire song. Lots of songs. All of them bad. Most start off simply, a reedy voiced girl heard over the gentle strumming of a guitar, or the sound of a electronic keyboard, lamenting the loneliness and poverty the poor child has endured. Then the music builds at the mention of the adoptive saviours, ending in a fake string enhanced crescendo that would make any big haired, power ballad pushing, 80’s band step back in awe. Yes, it is the worst kind of crap.

I am not as familiar with visual media created by those inspired by adoptees, though I’m sure it’s out there. It does seem that ever adoptive parent fancies themselves a fashion designer, one only has to type “adoption” into the search engine at Cafe Press to see hundreds of efforts on that front. I wouldn’t suggest eating right before doing this if you are an adoptee, or at all sensitive.

All I really want to know is what we have done to deserve this kind of mistreatment? Most of this focuses on the most innocent among us, the very young children. What have we done to so offend the God’s of decency? Why is it that we must endure this artistic flailing directed toward us? Is this the price we must pay for creativity later in life? It just seems so unfair to forever be associated with such crap.

For the love of God, if you think you might be inspired by an adoptee, or the institution of adoption, and are not an adoptee, just don’t do it. Stop. Think. Focus on something else. We will all be better for it.

Home Study Questions

It seems that a lot of adoptive parents feel very validated by the fact that they have passed a home study. This investigation seems to be the magical factor in proving they will be the bestest parents ever.

But I wonder.

Based on my own experiences, and those of other adoptees, I propose the following questions be added to all PAPs home studies.

As you may know, many potential birth parents love to swim, as there is a chance your potential child will inherit this love of the water, do you have a pool? If not, are you willing to build one before your child reaches school age?

Adoption agencies can only work as the instrument of God, not as God himself, are willing to sign a hold harmless agreement with God in the event that your child should turn out to have a mind of their own?

Do you have sufficient closet space for your child? One child under the age of four will require at least 3 square feet of space, after the age of four or the weight of 60 lb., attic or basement space may be utilized.

The Adoptive Children’s Act of 2002 states that all adoptive children shall be provided with a pony. This pony is subject to inspection by local Animal Control Agencies. Have you completed your pony care check list, completed your pony care classes, and enclosed your stable inspection form?