Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jail Birds

Bio-mom doesn't have the perfect 'Leave it to Beaver' family. But who does? Her own unit is in tact and doing fine (husband & daughter) but her extended family is not so great. She has a nephew in prison in Nevada. It seems to be one of those gray areas. Basically, he was 19 and the girl was 16 and her family pressed charges. I think he had trouble before that though. I don't know bio-cousin so I'm certainly not rushing to any one's defense. I don't rush to persecute in this case either... so that's where I stand in case you were curious.

Bio-mom tells me that she looked up her nephew's release date and decided to also look up my bio-dad and see if he has a record. And it turns out he does. He did some time (a few months) in late 2007 for attempted theft. So, that's nice, huh? She told me that bio-dad at some point had a lurid affair with cocaine... on again, off again. That's when she lost touch with him. He's probably still been in and out of that world. So, I'm really not in any rush to get in touch with him. I haven't decided yet whether that makes me feel guilty or not. Bio-mom says not to feel guilty. She doesn't want the drama either.

It's not that I would hold it against him or judge him harshly or anything like that. I have another close relative in prison too - the brother that I (sort of) grew up with. I say "sort of" because he was in and out of trouble from childhood and considering he is 8 years older than me, that's all I remember of him - being in and out of juvenile hall, jail, and then prison. He wasn't around all that much. This situation is different though. My brother hurts people in ways that are unforgivable to me. I don't know what bio-dad's situation is but the main reason I don't want to rush to contact him is because I don't want the drama. I know what will happen. I will feel like I need to keep in touch with him because maybe that will help him in his life. I will feel like maybe I should give him some money for this or that because I know that the hole he may be in grows exponentially more and more difficult to dig your way out of the further down you go. I know that life is such that the better off you are, the easier it is to achieve success. I feel it's important to give people a boost in life and to give second chances. And I feel somewhat responsible when it's someone I know. But there is only so much of me that I can give. I have to look out for myself and my future too. And maybe that can be an example for others to do better at looking out for their own lives and taking care of themselves. But at the same time, people learn in different ways and have different needs in life. Okay.... now I'm starting to delve into the debate for and against individualism. I'm really not in the mood to talk philosophical or political theory today. But now everyone has an idea of the internal debate that goes on in my head. I hope I'm not the only one who debates with herself. I don't think I am.... but maybe I am. I'll debate that with myself for the rest of the day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm Busy

I'm busy. Really pretty busy. But I hate those people on Facebook who are always posting about how busy they are:

[at 6:30am] "Working out at the gym. It should be illegal for anyone to look THIS good!"

[at 7:43am] "On my way to work, stopping for Starbucks and a morning meeting... I'll be sure to roll my eyes at anyone in line who looks like they're taking their sweet ass time cuz if they are they must not be busy and important like I am."

[at 9:08am] "It's time to make some sales calls. Channeling my inner douchebag."

[at 10:52am] "Now I'm off to give a presentation at a client! Uptight, boring suit - check. Pretentious brand name brief case - check. Phony, upbeat, shallow personalty - check. Creepy smile that makes children cry - check."

[at 12:01pm] "Off to lunch at that new restaurant owned by that hot chef on Food Network."

[at 12:04pm] "Gotta cancel lunch, just got a MAJORLY important call. Things are about to get out of control. I. AM. SO. COOL."

[at 6:39pm] "Crazy day man. Off to a dinner to launch my idea for crotchless jeans to Levis. I'm an innovator."

[at 10:22pm] "Picked up a piece of litter on my way home from my super awesome busy day. I like to give back to the community. Besides, I threw that Panera cup there DAYS ago and it hasn't moved since. WTF is up with that? Don't homeless people pick this stuff up for extra cash from the city? Whatever dude. Tomorrow I am SO BUSY!"

It's as if these people think they will instantly vanish from the face of the earth if they aren't always telling everyone how busy they are. And it's not exactly a stretch to say that this makes them feel more important. Doesn't take a psych Ph.D. to figure that out.

I don't want to be one of those people. But really, I'm busy. I hate telling people, "Well, I'm doing this and working on this and starting this and finishing this..." Part of me doesn't want to be held accountable in case I decide to drop one of those things or if one isn't successful. Another part of me feels, "Who gives a shit?" But I think my friends probably do..... I guess??? I've always had trouble gaging how important I am or am not to other people. It's safer to just assume no one cares and not let myself be vulnerable.

So, for those of you who care... I'm busy. Doing what, you ask? Well, I started school. I got accepted to Chapman University's master of arts in education program. My focus is educational leadership and administration. It will be helpful for me in order to advance my career in the university setting. It could also be helpful if I want to work in other school settings. I'm thinking I might look back and thank myself for doing this once I have school-age children. Also, because I work at Chapman, the degree is pretty much free. Can't beat that with a stick!

I'm taking 2 classes for the MA on Wednesday nights, back to back. But I'm also taking a photography class with Andrew on Monday nights at Goldenwest community college around the corner from my house. It's a digital photo class so teaches us photo basics (I need a brush up, it's been years) as well as how to operate my awesome new camera and how to use Photoshop. I'm loving it so far and so is Andrew. Gonna get some great photos of Europe for our honeymoon!

I'm also really busy at work. Things have been rearranged and I have been given more responsibility. It's good but there's just lots to do, plain and simple.

Tonight we signed a contract to put in all new ceramic tile floors in our condo. We're also redoing the kitchen and bathroom. New cabinets in both. New granite counter tops in both. Tearing out old lighting in the kitchen to put in recessed lighting. Cutting a hole in the wall in the kitchen to open up the living space. I think that's it. Lots of stuff to pick out. People in my home. Busy. But again, fun & a positive experience so far.

Wedding planning... yes, I'm still working on it. We're going for 10/10/10 for those of you who haven't heard yet. I picked the place and have made choices on what packages & events I want. Just need to get the quote from them and sign the contract. It's on my to-do list. So is honeymoon planning. And I'm further along with that! = )

Changing some habits. Trying to get to sleep earlier (I failed tonight). Also trying to eat healthier and exercise more (not doing so hot at that). Trying to quit procrastinating so much too. Taking more of a head-on approach. No, not the headache reliever you apply directly to your forehead. Trying to be more assertive with a few things that have eluded me. Trying to shape a few things & relationships in my life that have caused me stress.

I'm also still just trying to live my life and do the things I enjoy... reading Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult books, going to the movies, going to the dog beach, seeing friends, seeing family, playing Guitar Hero, sewing, conjuring up social commentary and political soapbox topics, etc.

I'm trying to do some more sewing for profit. I think I might like it. It's a scary endeavor though. You're really putting yourself out there when you offer something you created with your own two hands.

Oh, and I am doing editing work too for one of the professors I work with. He has a project every other month or so. It's nice extra income. I'm working on a book of his right now. I'm going to solicit my services to some other professors as well. I want more money.

Speaking of money, I'm gathering up anything and everything to sell on ebay for my wedding & honeymoon fund. I'm doing pretty dang good so far. Ebay is easy but still takes a little hunk of my time every month.

Lastly.... I'm writing a book. It sounds silly for me to actually state that intention. Who the hell am I? I'm no one. I can't write a book. Crazy. Several of my friends have been SO (EXTREMELY) kind as to suggest that I should. I don't know how serious they are about it but I have thought about it for a few years and now I just have more and more to add. The problem is, I'm not willing to talk about some of the stuff I want to... should... need to... will... put in the book. I think I'm just gonna start writing and see what happens. Can't hurt, right?

So, just so all interested parties know.... I'm busy and this is what I am up to. Not complaining or trying to seem AWESOME. It's all good stuff and I'm excited about it. Life's too short to not just go for it. Besides, I have all of the opportunity in the world in front of me. I just need to reach out and grab it. Or maybe tickle it. Or smack it on the ass. Whatever. I would be an ignorant fool not to appreciate it and wrap myself up in it's potential.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finally, We Meet!

Finally.... I say finally for bio-mom's sake. She didn't get to lay an eye on me when I was born, didn't get to see my full head of black hair or count fingers and toes. I have only known about her for 4 months but she had been waiting 30 years to see me, meet me, hug me after kicking around in her stomach for 9 months. And apparently I was very kicky, always moving around. Me? Kicky and fussy? I know what you're thinking.... no waaaaaay, not Christina! ; )

They drove into town on Friday night. We decided earlier in the week to meet on Saturday afternoon. After tossing around lots of ideas in my head about when, where and how to meet, we decided upon meeting at my place first and then going out to a restaurant for lunch. It was a good decision. I didn't know how I would react when I met her and I was pretty certain the opportunity for emotion on both sides was very great. She asked if I just wanted to meet her or if I wanted to meet her daughter and husband too. It was an easy decision for all of us to meet: bio-mom, bio-mom hubby, bio-sis, Andrew & me. Oh yeah, and Maisy & Charlie too of course. They came over at about 1pm and the gate was open for them to drive in (thank goodness - I didn't want to have to come down to the gate and let them in and then meet her in the parking lot). She called when they drove in and then she appeared at my door moments later.

Let me just say first that the week leading up to this, I was a complete mess. I was stressed about everything and my anxiety and stress manifested itself in frustration (as usual). Everything made me upset all week. Andrew was thrilled to be living under the same roof as me... never a dull moment! I told him early on, "Look, I'm just going to be upset and stressed and I'm not going to sleep well and everything will frustrate me and I might take it out on you a bit. Don't take it personal." I had all these stupid fears in my head - "What if they don't like me?" "What if she's disappointed that I don't look more like her... blonde, thin, light eyes?" "What if she thinks I'm an annoying idiot?" I tried on different outfits before they arrived and I even went so far as to corner Andrew about which eyeshadow to wear. As though she might say, "You know, Christina... I really don't like your eyeshadow. This just isn't going to work out. Have a nice life."

I wasn't just stressed out, I was emotional about it too. I don't know what it is.... I seem to be hard-wired to only show emotion when I'm alone. Well, "only" isn't fair to say.... "mostly" is better. And that's a lie, I do know why I do that. I'll save that for another post. So, in my car on my drive home from work that's when I will often let my mind wander and that is when I would get emotional about it. Just the thought of bio-mom's emotion was enough to get me started and bring the tears.

Back to Saturday.... They were standing there on my welcome mat at about 1 in the afternoon. I could see fuzzy but familiar figures smiling through the screen door. Familiar from their pictures, of course. And all of the anxiety seemed to culminate in sort-of an anti-climactic way and then just fizzle out (like some unseen force was making fun of me about being anxious in the first place). Then I was just genuinely happy to be meeting them. It was a good feeling. They came in, the dogs showed their typical excitement at having a visitor, she met Andrew first, hugged him, I think. Then she turned to me with a happy and relieved look on her face and hugged me for what seemed like a long time. The emotion was there but the happiness and relief seemed to take over. We both let out a big exhale.

Now my attention was turned to bio-sis. She's 16 so, "is she going to be angsty and not want to be here?" was my big worry. I didn't see any signs of it though. She was smiley and her body language was relaxed. She actually ended up bringing a friend at the last minute and I think that was a good idea. The friend was very... well... friendly! And she seemed genuinely interested in what was going on. I can't blame her. Reality TV stuff going on around her! I hugged bio-sis and there was no tension. Bio-mom hubby was completely relaxed and easy-going. After we all met, it was small talk for a bit. I showed them the condo and we hung out in our little back yard for a few minutes. After a bit it was time to head to the restaurant so we hopped in our cars and headed out to the Rusty Pelican. It's a nice place, kinda beachy, not too fancy, especially at lunch time. And we were having such a late lunch that it was nice & quiet and almost empty.

We sat there at lunch for 2 and a half hours talking about our lives and family and Andrew wanted to hear the story about how all of this unfolded for bio-mom but from bio-mom hubby's point of view. It was good stuff. Not awkward at all. Bio-sis was very quiet but she wasn't exactly disinterested. She just had heard most of these stories before and I'm sure she didn't know exactly what to say. Bio-mom said it is not unusual for her to be quiet. All through lunch I could feel all of their eyes staring at me, breaking down my face, trying to figure out how I look like her, probably studying expressions and gestures too. When we finally left the restaurant, we made tentative plans to see each other again the next day.

Sunday she had plans with her friends to come out to Huntington and ride bikes on the beach. We ended up meeting up with them. It was her family and 2 other families. Everyone was very nice. They are very easy-going, "let's order another pitcher of beer" kind of people. One friend met me, hugged me and told me, "Thank you for making my friend so happy." It was sweet. Later on during lunch that same friend said, "I'm sorry to be staring but I'm just looking for how you two might look alike." It was funny that she called it out like that... I appreciated it. There are similarities in the smile and the shape of the eyes. I did notice that it seems we have the same hands. Maybe some of the same hand gestures while we're talking too and even a tilt of the head that seems familiar.

They had to leave town on Monday morning so when we said "bye" it was with anticipation of our next meeting. I told her there was a good chance we would be in their neck of the woods in the next few weeks. I'll make sure that happens. The next thing on my life's "to-do" list is to tell my parents about the meeting. My dad already knew about it but he advised me not to tell my mom about it. I wasn't surprised to hear that, especially considering they decided not to tell me I was adopted. Keeping secrets seems to be their specialty. I'm not going to follow his advice but I still need to be delicate about it. My dad has been so protective of my mom over the years that it has actually turned her into the fragile person he has always assumed her to be. It's true that what we expect from people and from life, we often get! I expect my relationship with bio-mom and her family to be a good one and although in it's infancy, that is already a reality.