Angela, how do you really feel?

Pretty much like this.  These fellow millennials pretty much nailed how I’ve been feeling the last five years.  Whiny?  Maybe.  Right?  Yes.  Click on the link to go to the video on Upworthy.

For me, I have been trying to do better.  Tried to rise above the situation.  After college, when I wasn’t getting hired, I volunteered for a year with AmeriCorps to get some experience at life.  I went to grad school to try to get a better job.  And the job thing still isn’t working out.  I haven’t given up.  But it’s tough to be educated and face working part-time jobs to make ends meet.  I know a lot of people do it.  I know.  It’s just taking me a while to deal with reality being much less impressive than my expectations promised.  Than my parents promised.  Than society promised.  So now what?  …I still don’t know where we go from here…

Seriously, Ang, where the hell are you?

Oh, hi.  Yeah.  I’m still here. 

I haven’t forgotten about you all.  I apologize for being missing for like, two months.  Been busy. 

Earlier this summer I worked for a nice woman in my hometown.  She had eye surgery and needed someone to do her gardening since she wasn’t allowed to bend over.  Something about blood in her eyes?  Very strange and quite frustrating for her.  But we had fun.  I weeded and planted herbs and flowers and watered flowers and snuggled with her two outside cats.  Not a bad way to spend the summer!  I learned a lot from her and have been grateful for her friendship. 

I’ve also been working in my own garden.  I planted acorn and butternut squash, zukes and cukes, eggplant, green peppers, and like, eight tomato plants!  The hot peppers didn’t make it.  Nor did the fennel.  But I have green leafy lettuce and kale and basil too.  And CARROTS!!!!  They’re so damn cute when they first sprout.  It’s always a surprise when the first greens poke their heads out of the black dirt.  I don’t tend the garden too much.  I’m a plant-and-see kind of gardener.  I did make a concoction recommended by my Garden Friend to combat the grasshoppers.  Mix water, Dawn soap, and stinky things like garlic salt, cayenne, and onion powder.  Spray it on the leaves of the plants.  The stinkies repel the bugs, and the Dawn makes the stuff stick to the leaves.  Seemed to work pretty well!  Ya know there’s just something so satisfying about going down to the garden to collect lunch. 

I’ve also been working around my hometown a bit.  It’s fun.  Helping out with events and concerts.  Visited friends in Minnesota.  Overall, except for the lack of a real job and tangible benefits, it’s been a good summer.  Oh!  And I went to Florida!  Oh, I’ll write about that soon.  That’s worth its own post. 

I’m still hunting for a job.  I decided not to give up.  A few ideas are quite promising…  And I’ve been working on something pretty awesome for the long term…  Not gonna talk about it until after the test happens because I don’t want to jinx myself too much.  Lots of studying to do yet. 

Future posts to include ideas and stories about my Florida trip, my favorite season, and turning another year older.  Stay tuned!


“Is this Heaven?” “No, this is Iowa.” – Field of Dreams, 1989

Ah, my beloved state, Iowa.

This post is prompted by my outside work as of late.  Last, last weekend we had 70 degree weather, just gorgeous.  Three days later we had a snowstorm that dumped 7-14 inches of snow on us!  And it was only 20-30 something degrees out!  Laaaame.  Now we’re back in the 60-70s which is lovely.  And the snow is mostly gone.  So this week I took it upon myself to resume clearing leaves and sticks from our front yard.

As I raked up dead grass and leaves, I realized that my shoes were holding me back!  I kicked off my Keens and wiggled my toes in the grass.  The setting sun warmed my shoulders and I had the thought, Ah, it’s finally feeling like Spring.  I paused my hard work for a moment to listen to the birds in the trees.  Bluejays, robins, sparrows, mourning doves, and a red-tailed hawk.  I tried call-and-response with the hawk; I think maybe it responded.  We’ll pretend it did.  Cool story about the hawks – Mom and Dad said we never really had hawks in the woods around our house until I came back from living on the reservation.  It’s cool because I was named on the reservation and part of my name is Hawk.  I’ll write more about that year soon.

Well actually it was during that year that I realized how much I love Iowa.  I had always felt so ready to get out of the state.  Even in college it felt too conservative.  Too rural.  Too homogenous.  But moving to North Dakota for a year was a shock.  I hadn’t believed that there were states more conservative than Iowa.  States I’d very strongly dislike more than Iowa.  Turns out, yup.  There are.  Since that year in ND, I’ve also lived in Indiana and Wisconsin.  And yet I keep returning to Iowa.  I’ve kept my Iowa license and plates and voting registration.  Somehow I just can’t let go of my statehood.  Sure I can always be an Iowan at heart, but the outward expression of it is important to me (and maybe subconsciously I knew I’d keep returning).

This state has some great things going for it.  Beautiful landscapes – hills and rivers near Des Moines (deh-MOYN, by the way, for those of you who can’t pronounce it…), bluffs near Decorah and the Mississippi River, flat plains in North Iowa, such variety!  Good, hardworking people live here.  People that truly mean well and will go out of their way to help.  Diverse cultures in the cities, small as they are compared to Chicago, LA, or New York City.  I believe Cedar Rapids has the first/oldest mosque in the US.  Marriage equality.  Smoke-free public places.  A progressive oasis in the middle of the country.

So back to the grass.  Driving around the past two weeks I’ve been amazed at how green the area around my hometown is.  Maybe I’ve been living in cities the past few years where the lawns just don’t get so green.  The color, more green than Crayola can manage, just stuns me.  Thank goodness for growing up in the country.  Now if only we didn’t live SE of a local cattle man…

Will you tell us about one of your adventures, Angela?

Oh yes, I’d be happy to.  One of my favorite adventures occurred last summer when I went to Guatemala for a couple weeks.  It had been a couple years since I went abroad, and I was super excited about it!  Turned out that Guatemala is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been!

Remember how I’ve said working in Milwaukee didn’t work out?  Guatemala is related to the job to which I am referring.  Being out of the office to travel was the part I loved though.  Anyway, my former coworker did a fantastic job planning our trip, working with a tour company to develop the schedule and book hotels for everyone; I went to Guatemala with eight adoptive families from the US and Canada to guide them through exploring their birth country.

Just in case you weren’t aware, Guatemala is a smallish country in Central America next to Mexico and El Salvador.  The country has kind of a big roundish bottom area and a rectangle at the top.  The bottom half is super mountainous and the top half is a subtropical rainforest.  Guatemala City, the capital city, is in the bottom half of Guatemala, almost in the center.

G City is a fairly urban place with wide avenues and lots of statues.  Diverse economic conditions around the hills and valleys of the city.  Just like Bogotá, Colombia, you could be driving past nice buildings, round the hillside and see a shanty town.  It occurred to me that it may have been the first time some of the families on the trip had ever seen such poverty.  And it’s an interesting thought for adoptees to think, “That could have been me.”  All part of visiting the birth country I guess.  (Perhaps I will dedicate an entire post to homeland travel later, as you’ll notice comments about it are basically absent in this post.)  We saw a couple great museums and ate some deeeelish food!  I’d recommend Kakao for fantastic Guatemalan food (kak’ik, jocón, pepián, tamales, etc).  Some of us went to the zoo, which was totally awesome, captivated animals aside.  After a few days we loaded up the bus and carried on.

Peace Statue GC

A peace statue in Guatemala City

We headed to Panajachel, a ways west of G City on Lake Atitlán.  The road to Pana was very cuuurvy, definitely a good day for Dramamine.  I was excited to see the volcanoes that line the lake and see more of rural Guatemala.  We had an ace of a bus driver; he managed a big tour bus in very very very narrow rural streets.  Once you get out of the big city where there is a mix of people; most people in Central Guatemala are Maya.  My Anthro Sense (similar to Spidey Sense) was tingling all over.  There are over 20 languages spoken in Guatemala by over 20 different Spanish descendent and indigenous groups.  In case you’re wondering, Maya refers to the people, while Mayan refers to the languages.  Our female guide, who became a great friend, explained that you can tell what town or area of Guatemala a Maya woman is from by the pattern on her skirt.  How fascinating!!  I’d never been to a country where people still dressed traditionally.  I mean, in China, most people wore very Western clothes, hardly anyone wore the beautiful silk garments in daily life.  And on the Native American reservation, the only time anyone wore leather and beading was to perform at a powwow.  *Sorry for the blur in the photo below!

Maya woman from Solola

Maya woman from Solola…I think.

So as we entered the Atitlán valley we stopped to try something absolutely crazy – one of the most memorable activities of the trip was zip-lining at Reserva Atitlán!!  I knew I had to do it.  Face my fear of, well, dying, and just do it.  Most of the kids and a lot of the parents on the trip decided to take the plunge too.  The rest of the group continued up the mountain on a hike.  The guides pointed out a spider monkey and a coati as we scaled the mountain to the jump-off point.  I was almost last in line because I wanted to “let” the kids all go first.  Ha.  Anyway, they strapped me in (we’d donned harnesses at the bottom of the mountain) and explained how to stop.  Here’s the scene: I’m standing on a wooden platform.  The cable above me stretches out into the void.  Haha.  I am hooked to the cable and staring out across the tops of the trees to the landing site eight seconds away on the side of another mountain.  The guide man says, Okay, go!  A million things flash through my mind but one thing I remember thinking was, “Don’t swear too loud, there are little kids on the other side!”

There were eight zip-line cables that took us down the mountain.  The first few that were over the canopy were the most exciting, but it was still fun to go zooming through the trees on the last ones.  It was one of the days you remember how alive you are and how much fun that is.

The rest of our time in Pana included shopping and boating to a couple little tiny towns around the lake.  The first town we toured was San Pedro La Laguna, where we visited an artist’s studio and gallery and a women’s textile cooperative.  Both were fantastic examples of people using their talents and native knowledge of their area to provide for their families.  Generally I believe that people should stay true to themselves.  Like, these people should be careful not to be exploited or depend too heavily on tourist groups for their income, but at the same time, no one is really coercing them to do so.  They own their own business or share their income with the group they work with.  So I guess I should just relax.

Naturally dyed fibers near Lake Atitlan

Naturally dyed fibers near Lake Atitlán

Our last group stop in Guatemala was Antigua, a Spanish colonial town not far away from G City.  Antigua has a gorgeous town plaza, cute cafes, lots of good restaurants, and great scenery.  The town is nestled between a few mountains and volcanoes.

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala from Sky Cafe

Green is everywhere – trees, grass, mountains!  And speaking of green, I wanted to share information about an amazing organization – As Green As It Gets. Here’s their mission, pulled from their website –

“AGAIG provides coffee farmers and local businesses with training and support that enable them to create profitable, marketable products, thereby allowing them to improve their quality of life and help their communities in an environmentally and economically sustainable way.

Our goal, at its simplest, is to help those in poverty by enabling them to increase their income by engaging in well-paying economic activity. This activity is most beneficial when it is environmentally and economically sustainable – viable in the long-term without damaging to the environment. It should also be mindful of the community’s needs and give back through better-paying jobs or access to services and infrastructure.”

Two coffee farmers gave our group tours of their plots of land, and we planted a few coffee trees with them.  Each guide took us to his home.  Our guide’s home was a humble place but very nice at the same time.  He showed us how he sorts and cleans the beans.  Then his wife and daughter roasted the beans and ground them for us to sample as brewed coffee.  His family made a delicious meal for us too.  The kids even got to help make the tortillas!

Making tortillas in Ciudad Vieja

Farmer’s family making tortillas in Ciudad Vieja

What struck me most about Guatemala were the people.  If anyone needs a lesson in resiliency, they need to go to Guatemala.  The country was ripped apart by a bloody civil war, which was actually in the news recently.

The people have forged ahead though.  They’re creating cooperatives and schools to share information and goods.  Women are collecting and weaving these amazing textiles of fibers dyed naturally.  Families are farming.  People are conscious of their environment and thinking about sustainability.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Chapines (plural for chapin, a person from Guatemala as they call themselves) are tough.

My other favorite place was an afterschool program in Jocotenango, just north of Antigua, called Los Patojos (The Youngsters).  The school’s creator, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes, grew up in Joco and knew that young people needed a safe place to learn and express themselves.  The kids learn all kinds of study skills, art, break-dancing, and other awesome things!  their current project is developing the field across the road from the center into a soccer field.

A Los Patojos kid doing something fancy

Neither group asked me to promote them, but please consider checking out their websites, Liking them on Facebook, or making a donation to each group!  I’m passionate about helping people help themselves.  Chapines already know how to help themselves; they’re already geniuses about their country, but sometimes a little word of mouth is really helpful.

After twelve days, the trip was officially over and a few families chose to return to the US.  The rest of us, about five families and yours truly, journeyed on to Flores, Guatemala to visit Tikal.  Quick archaeology/history lesson: The ancient city of Tikal was inhabited for a several hundred years before it was abruptly abandoned about a thousand years ago.  The ancient Maya left behind tons of artifacts and magnificent temples.  Currently, excavations are still underway (to some extent because exposing the limestone speeds its deterioration) but only about 10 percent of the entire city has actually been uncovered.  Our group stayed at the Jungle Lodge in the Tikal park.  It was totally awesome!  The bugs were supersized which was really creepy, but we saw spider monkeys playing in the trees above us while we swam in the pool. *Okay so the photo below was taking at a wildlife rehab center, and it’s a howler monkey, but you get the point.  MONKEYS!!!

Howler monkey in Tikal area

Howler monkey in Tikal area

Carlos, our fantastic guide, finagled a deal that got us a van ride into the park, which NEVER happens.  At this point we were all exhausted, and the intense heat/humidity zapped all our energy, so we were extreeeemely grateful for the ride.  Anyway, we walked up a bazillion stairs to the top of Temple IV.  Talk about a view!

tikal panorama

View of Tikal temples from Temple IV

It’s pretty humbling to be in the presence of the Ancients.  I know our guide explained how archaeologists think the Maya constructed the temples, but I’ve forgotten now.  However they did it, it’s amazing.  The stones are massive, as big as cars.  And the Maya were particularly good with science.  They built their main plaza with acoustics in mind.  If you stand in the middle of the plaza and clap, you can hear it echo around the basin.  It’s said to sound like the call of a quetzal, a gorgeous little green and red bird that graces the Guatemalan money named for it (quetzales).  It’s pretty rare to actually see a quetzal, but we did see a rare parrot!  And more monkeys.  Okay I’ll be extra honest, I really couldn’t wait to go to Tikal because I really, truly, super duper wanted to see a monkey in the wild.  I took Primate Behavior in college, in Iowa, where the only native primates are us.  And we’re not really native to Iowa anyway!

I truly loved my 17 days in Guatemala.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.  Someday I’ll go there to volunteer at Los Patojos I think.  Stay with my friend and her husband in Antigua and work for food in their pastry shop!  Soak up the sun in the cool mountain air.  What a life!

What do you wish you had the opportunity to read before your reunion?

Someone posted a link to this blog on a Facebook group I’m in and I checked it out.  Now, I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with the purpose of the blog in general, but I love the re-posted part of this entry.  I haven’t written much about my actual reunion yet, but Ms. Verishine manages to capture many of the words and feelings I would use.  I think the points she lays out are really useful to keep in mind when approaching a reunion relationship.

I’ll include the link to the original blog I lifted this from below.

Posted by Mirah Riben on Friday, March 22, 2013 on the blog called “Family Preservation      Advocate: The Blog of Advocate Publications”:


Reunification of Adoption-Separated Persons

When the media has asked me about reunion outcomes I always tell them that just like all other     interpersonal relationships, they run the gamut from great to awful and everything in between and many – as we all know – can go back and forth and back again.  Parent and adult child relationships are difficult as is, but add the baggage of feelings of rejection, guilt, feelings of betrayal, loss, shock, anger, feelings of abandonment….and you’ve got a powder-keg waiting to explode.

When adoptees or parents who have relinquished ask me about reunion I have often said: Expect nothing except to find the truth. Whatever you find, good, bad or indifferent will be your truth.  I also usually remind searchers that they are proceeding at their pace in their time and readiness, but the person they are finding and seeking to enter into a reunion with is totally unprepared and caught off-guard. They often need time to readjust to this new reality.

Recently, a Facebook conversation led to another point of view.  The views expressed by “Buck Wheat” as she is known online, were so thoughtful and insightful, so  important to share that I asked her to write a guest blog post. 

I hope it opens a healthy and helpful discussion.

Here it is:

Reunion and Expectations

by Charlene Verishine
I hear both moms and adoptees say to enter into reunion with no expectations. I believe this is misguided advice. I also believe it is impossible. I cannot count the number of times I have read or heard adoptees and moms say I had no expectations but it isn’t long before I hear them say what they found wasn’t what they expected! Remember, you are entering into      reunion because YOU believe you are ready. Expect that there may never be the perfect time for those you find and they may not be ready.
From my experience and research, here is what I believe we can reasonably expect.
We can expect to find a wounded soul. I know it seems obvious but it’s important to               remember because we need to be kind, gentle, and compassionate with the trauma survivor. We can expect that there may be some sort of self-medicating for the pain. Be it drugs       (prescription or illicit), alcohol, workaholics, or food. It’s natural for humans to self-medicate and we should not condemn or judge them for it.
We can expect that our “other” (I use the term ‘other’ when referring to adoptees or moms. It is for brevity and not intended to diminish anyone) may not be able to face their pain thus unable to acknowledge ours. It isn’t their fault! People are ready to face it at their own pace and we must respect that. Setting an example of facing our own is all we can really do. Tell anyone who isn’t ready that they might have ‘adoption issues’ and you’ll likely be met with rage. Haven’t we all seen someone scream ‘I’m NOT angry’ complete with the red face, vein pulsing in their forehead after you ask them why they are so angry? It is easy to believe they are being self absorbed, don’t care how we are affected, flawed for not being strong enough to see their own let alone our pain but it is simply fear. There is no value, comfort or healing in taking it personally because it isn’t.
We can expect that people don’t understand the difference between feelings, beliefs, and the truth. This certainly isn’t isolated to adoptoworld. Understanding the differences is      critical! By far, this is the most important thing I’ve learned in my journey. It made the          difference of feeling crushing pain and despair to understanding and compassion.  Feelings and beliefs fluctuate. The truth is constant. Feelings are happy, sad, angry, shame, etc.        Feelings are never wrong, they just are. We need to honor, and validate them. Beliefs are a different matter and it is healthy to question them, it isn’t disrespectful. I find myself          explaining these differences most often when talking with moms and adoptees about           rejection and abandonment. I am very careful to challenge beliefs, not feelings. I challenge those that say ‘I feel rejected. I feel abandoned’. I do that because those aren’t feelings, they are beliefs! I strongly believe that there is no rejection of people in reunion – ever. It is a         rejection of the pain, not us.
We can expect that trauma victims may not know what the truth is. Just because our other says something doesn’t make it true. You will be told their beliefs but they could be false and can’t be assumed the truth. This is counter-intuitive, I know. The brainwashing by society and the adoption industry affects us all at some time to some degree. I lied to myself and lived in denial to survive. The fog is very powerful. It wasn’t long ago that I would’ve said I had a choice, that I had no regrets. Those were my false beliefs and not the truth. As with everything with adoption, you can’t take anything at face value and must look deeper.  Does anyone out of the fog really believe the adoptee that says adoption had no affect on me? Do we believe the rape victim that says it was her fault?
We can expect that we, or our other, may unconsciously sabotage our reunion. This can       happen when we believe inherently (often unconsciously) that somehow we are unlovable, that we don’t deserve good things in our life, we can’t trust anyone. How can one not have a seed of the belief of being unlovable when the one who was supposed to love them the most left them? Moms tell themselves they are unlovable because what kind of person gets themselves in a position to lose a child to adoption? We may believe we aren’t worthy of a           relationship, that they are better off without us. Our misguided belief of ‘rejection’ may       terrify us and give us any reason to ditch our other. A get them before they get me defense mechanism. What can be most confusing is that a pullback can come when reunions are      going well. It’s the realization of all that we’ve lost and will never get back that can cause some to put the brakes on. Again, it’s the pain being rejected, not the person.
We can expect that reunion will bring grief to the surface. I didn’t start to grieve the loss of my son until after we met face to face. Grief can cause us to lash out at our other or anyone else. It is akin to having psychological sunburn. Things that would not normally hurt, the slightest touch can cause an extreme pain reaction. The grief can seem never ending. I found making a list helped. Putting it down on paper stopped it from being free-floating. It allowed me to give it the respect and acknowledgement it deserved. I don’t hold back the tears anymore. I hope that one day I’ll discover I don’t need to add to the list anymore.
We can expect that social graces we give and receive from those close to us may not apply in adoptoworld. For example, a friend would return your call or email in a day or two. We need to understand that our other may need time to process, may have an uncontrollable urge to prove that you aren’t that important. You see, we convince ourselves that it hurts less when we diminish the value and importance of our other. Another false belief because trying to    ignore our pain certainly doesn’t make it go away. We’d all be pain free if that actually worked!
We can expect that if setting healthy boundaries is hard for us it will be exponentially more difficult with our other. We all have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. It is      natural for adoption to cause ‘nuclear’ rage and it could be directed to our other instead of the adoption industry where it belongs. It isn’t fair or right but understandable. Moms need to have compassion and patience for their kids that vehemently exclaim that we had a choice; there wasn’t a gun to your head. Expect that the miniscule exception to the rule, the ‘dumpster babies’, women who just don’t want to parent, abortion will be referenced.
We can expect regression. Moms will often regress to the age when they lost their child. I’ve seen my son regress to the contemptuous teenager, raging toddler and then to the kind, contemplative adult in mere moments. I couldn’t believe the youthful energy I had upon     reunion. The downside was that some of the immature attitudes came through as well. The world was once again black and white and not the spectrum of gray that comes with           experience and maturity. This wasn’t constant but my younger ‘inner child’ would come through when triggered.  I’m grateful I was able to recognize that when my son said he never wanted to see or speak to me again it was his inner child coming through. If I took him at his word, face value, I would have left him alone and it could’ve been decades before we reconnected again, if ever. I followed the advice of a wise adoptee and continued to send my notes of loving and missing you every month or so. After over a year of silence, he has        responded. I know there will be mountains and valleys on our path but I will never give up hope!
We can expect that we can’t travel this journey alone. We need the support and compassion of those that are on the same journey and those that have travelled before us. It takes work to know something intellectually and to know it in our bones. I believe it is our responsibility to face our own pain. I believe we have a duty to learn about our other’s experience and pain, too. Above all, we cannot judge and condemn them for not facing their pain or healing on our schedule. We need to accept where they are. We can only change ourselves.

We can expect that our capacity for love, compassion, and empathy can carry us through.”

What’s wrong, Pants?

So asked an ex-boyfriend last week when I texted him.  Pants is a silly nickname I gave him and then he gave back to me somehow.  Started with my cat.  This nickname.  Not relevant to the story except to say that I still appreciate his steadfast friendship.

What is wrong.  Well stuff.  Of course it could be worse.  I wrote about this all last week.  However, today I had a conversation with my mom that got me thinking.  And needing to write.  Bless her heart, my mom.  She looks for jobs for me all the time.  She has been super supportive of my time off to grapple with finding my birthfamily and deal with the job in Wisconsin not working out last year.  Emotionally and financially.  I totally appreciate what my parents have done for me and I would be in a bad place or dead if I didn’t have them to lean on.  But what can I say?  I’m scared.  Paralyzed, really about this job search.  I mean, do I break down and try applying for minimum wage jobs?  Do I apply for admin asst jobs that are probably below my skill set and hope it leads to something more?  Do I hold out for something that would challenge me, let me grow, and be a true career?  I suspect the true answer is something in between all these options.  Which sucks because I’m just so tired.  Tired of trying so hard.  Damn.  It’s really hard to be hopeful these days.  And yet somehow I keep trucking.  Not sure why most of the time, but whatever works.

Wish me luck at my doctor appointment this Friday.  If WebMD is right, I’ve got something      between bronchitis and pneumonia.  Awesome.

Whatever happened to Minnesota nice?

Right?  I go up there to visit some friends and end up getting robbed.  Sorta.  They threw a rock into my car, shattering the glass and damaging the opposite door.  And they stole my backpack!  I hope they enjoy wearing my favorite jeans, awesome sweater, favorite t-shirt, scarf I got in Poland, earrings I got in Guatemala…..And all my makeup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I’m just saying, I have gotten quite used to not wearing makeup in the past year.  Mostly because I worked at the Y where no one else wore any, so I’d go with miiiinimal makeup.  But still!  I spent a lot of money, hard-earned money on my makeup!  Damn. Double damn.

They stole my glasses too.  Who knew I’d miss my glasses so much!  They were pretty awesome.  U-Turns.  Look em up.  Very cool.  But apparently discontinued.  Shit.  I picked out two new pair and will pick them up soon.

Before you roll your eyes at me for being shallow, in addition to the huge violation of my privacy and my stuff, it’s really the inconvenience of replacing everything and having to shell out the cash that I really don’t have to do so!  Like, really, Universe, I promise I was already feeling bad enough about my life and poor enough without this.  Thanks.  Under my mom’s impressive clandestine guilting…*rolls my own eyes* I try to learn something from each experience.  Maaaybe getting robbed is supposed to put more fire under my butt to write coverletters and apply for jobs.  Problem is, I’m having a crisis of confidence.  It hasn’t really been since the new year that I’ve been applying for jobs, it’s been the last five-six years in general.  Since college.  I’ve been doing these one and two year stints at volunteering, jobs, and grad school.  I’m just not sure it’s been building up to anything.  Through therapy this past year I’ve come to appreciate myself and my talents much more, but it’s still hard to translate that into something….really useful in my job search.  Gaaaaah!

The past two weeks have been tough.  Of course I know that many many many people are having a harder time than I am.  Of course.  But like I tell my mom when she gets too gushy for my taste, that’s fine, and I’m sorry for those other people, but this is happening to me.  Right now.  And it hurts.  And I’m scared and lost and just want something to go right for me.  Something I want to go right.  Not what I need, but what I want.  Bah!

Aaaaand that’s my rant.  In other news, it’s getting warmer.  And that’s nice.  …except the allergies part…. ha.

What’s hot off the presses today?

I check CNN for the news report every day.  When I’m not annoyed as hell that they print      typos, sometimes I’m excited about the stories they cover.  Today is one of those good days!  Linguists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have started to document Hawaiian Sign Language.  I was skeptical after reading the headline since they mentioned shaka, the pinky and thumb out wiggle sign, that President Obama has been photographed doing.  One sign doesn’t a language make.  But they saved themselves by explaining later that deaf Hawaiians have developed a language that the signs are 80% distinct from American Sign Language.  THAT really might make the language distinct from a dialect!  Hooray!  So exciting when languages are documented and we can learn  more about the nature of language. Especially when it’s a sign language!

Why do you care, Angela, you ask?  Well my history with all of this is that I worked in Purdue’s Sign Language Linguistics Lab with Dr. Diane Brentari, a world renowned sign language linguist.  Diane literally wrote the book on sign language linguistics.  I took ASL from two fantastic Deaf instructors at Purdue.  I’ve learned to love and respect Deaf culture and the language its members use.  I love the creativity of ASL.  I like the flexibility of the syntax.  I like the challenge sign language presents to traditional spoken language linguistics.

I’d like to make the most of this post.  There are lots of misconceptions about sign language.  Here are some fun facts:

1. There are TONS of different sign languages.  Basically each country has their own SL.  Yeah, okay there is International Sign Language, but I’ve been told it’s basically just used at conferences and as a way to bridge all the different languages.  Kind of a lingua franca.  Not really something people use in their everyday lives.

2.  Sign languages are NOT just spoken languages signed.  SLs have their own structure (syntax) and pieces that are kinda like sounds and syllables (phonology).  There may be  borrowings from spoken language into signed language, but SLs are organic, created by their users (who may never have heard a sound in their lives).  My advisor, Dr. Brentari, is in the middle of a fantastic project, about the contact and possible overlap between signed language and spoken language gesture.  Very very very cool stuff.  …So there is Signed English, but that’s used in schools by interpreters who….well I don’t actually know why.  Maybe they don’t understand that ASL is a real language or they don’t respect it?  I dunno.  Go for ASL.  Just do it.

3. American Sign Language is more closely related to French Sign Language than British Sign Language.  Why?  Wouldn’t it be closer to BSL b/c we got our spoken language (English) from the British?  Nope!  Mr. Gallaudet, the guy who collaborated with the American deaf community, had learned French Sign Language and started the first university dedicated to educating people who were deaf.  BSL and ASL are so different that signers can’t understand each other….at first.  I say “at first” because it seems easier for deaf people who use different SL to communicate than for speakers who speak different languages.  What?!

It’s true.  At least that’s what happened to me.  On my way to Guatemala last summer I had the most amazing experience.  I was sitting in the airport, waiting to board the plane, when some hand movements caught my eye.  I watched for a few minutes and realized that yes, this younger man was signing with an older man, not just gesturing.  I couldn’t quite understand what they were signing, so I figured that it wasn’t ASL, but a different sign language!  Cool!  I made my way over to them to introduce myself somehow.  Through signing the two different languages we used, we figured out that the young man was the son of the older man, and they were going to Guatemala to visit family.  The young man was Deaf and his father was hearing.  By speaking Spanish to the father, I found out that they lived in Sweden, but had family in Guatemala.  The son and I were able to carry on a simple conversation through different signs and a lot of smiling.  Truly one of my favorite sign language experiences.

Below is the link to the CNN story on Hawaiian Sign Language.  If you have any questions about sign language, I can direct you to other links and information.  Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve come away enlightened!

What’s up, Buttercup?

My mom says that to me all the time.  Mostly when she calls me to say hello.  The phrase may have come from my grandpa, not sure.

I’m writing to say that I haven’t forgotten about my blog.  My next post is about something very important to me, and I feel like I need to get it right.  This may be the only time it gets written down for real, and I want to make sure I get everything in there.  I’ve considered compiling all my posts and expanding on them to create a book someday.  A memoir I guess.  We shall see.

Aside from working on that post, I’ve been visiting friends and family, working odd jobs around my hometown, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life.  At the very least, I’m feeling better about my “friend situation.”  Someone wise once said that friends are the family you choose….or something like that.  I agree.  Friends I’ve met through an adoption connection are some of the best I’ve ever had.  I’m super thankful to the Universe that these people have come into my life.  I’ve always wanted sisters, and through my adoptee friends, I finally have a few 🙂  I’ve got a fantastic brother already, but I’ve even managed to add a few brothers to my family too.  At least that part of my life is getting better!

I continue to struggle with the job search though.  Last night I watched the Dustin Hoffman episode of the Actors Studio on youtube.  One of the last things Mr. Hoffman says to the students is what a shame it is that we’re pressured to know what we want to do with our lives while we’re in our 20s.  “It’s a question mark decade….if you’re waiting for the job,  you will die.”  Okay, two things then.

1. Apparently I need to give myself a damn break.  It sounds silly, what with my year of volunteer service on a Native reservation, a Masters degree, and having traveled to 5.5 countries since 2004 (two of those countries twice!), but I feel like I’ve failed in the last five years.  I’m not where I thought I would be and I’m definitely not doing anything I consider important.  Shit.  Last year I did quite a bit of therapy, EMDR therapy – look it up, I recommend it for adoptees – and I did make some progress with releasing my regret and accepting where I am.  But I’m definitely not at peace yet.  So Dustin says to chill out.  SO much easier said than done.

2.  Don’t wait.  Maybe he means I should try to take little steps every day toward something, anything, and the Universe will meet me in the middle.  Or maybe he means I have to create the whole thing myself.  That seems a bit  unlikely.  I don’t live in a vacuum.  So steps every day it is then.  Damn.

This might not sound related to anything I’ve been writing here, but I promise it is.  Someday if/when I have a daughter, I’m going to do my very very best to instill a gigantic sense of self-worth in her.  I want her to be able to tell me why she’s good.  What she can do.  What she likes.  What she doesn’t like.  What she wants/needs to work at.  I’ve probably spent the last five years underestimating how awesome I am.  And I don’t mean for that to sound boastful.  But for most of my life, I’ve wondered what the hell I’m good at, if I’m really good at anything, and why the hell no one else can see me.  But no one else could see me because I didn’t see me.  I AM awesome.  I am smart.  I can solve problems.  I think in global terms, how decisions affect lots of people.  Systems.  Networks.  I’m generally a nice person.  I make friends fast.  I care about people, hot damn do I care about people!  I want other people to succeed…  Okay, Ang, now go write some of those damn coverletters.  You’re on a roll….

May a reader request information about something? Will you look it up?

Of course!  I’ll do my best to research your question and get you an answer!

One question that came up during a conversation with several adoptive parents once was about glasses for their Korean born children.  Ah hah!  I said, I just saw that a friend posted something on Facebook about glasses for Asian faces.  Why would an Asian face matter you ask?  Because the shape of many Asian faces doesn’t really support most glasses frames.  The bridge of a person’s nose, ya know, the sticky outty part that nose pieces rest on, is flatter on many Asian faces.  So glasses just sliiiide right down a person’s nose.  So here’s the link!  I can’t actually endorse the product since I haven’t tried it, but here’s the information for you all to make your own judgments.

It makes sense though right?  I’m trying to think of other products targeted toward a certain group.  The first thing that comes to mind are oils and special shampoos for African-type hair that can dry out quickly with mainstream products.

What else is there?  Leave a comment if you think of something!