Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dead Can Dance

I am not sad nor surprised that Michael Jackson has died. Yes, his music has been woven through the fabric of my life. I have been chastised (and applauded) for pointing out that if he weren't fabulously wealthy, he'd be in prison or the booby hatch.

So I'll just say this: "That child molester could dance like a m'fer."

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day One

There are about 20 of of us; eight couples, and three single women. I recognize some of them from the orientation session a couple weeks ago. This group has taken the first step of commitment; most of us will go through these next four months together, gathering bearings, getting fingerprinted, taking infant CPR classes, tackling mountains of paperwork, learning how to be adoptive parents. The boy-band couple is back, as are the late-arriving lesbians from orientation, who turn out to be LA City cops. They are hilarious and I love them instantly. Two Indian women with their husbands, who can no longer adopt from India. (Apparently it has become a racket and people are getting fabulously rich out of keeping orphans in homes forever.) Some suburban types.

There's a couple I'll just call RenFair. They both wear purple. He's got a salt-and-pepper 1977 Kenny Rogers 'do and goatee; she has long, straight Crystal Gayle hair and big round glasses. She's teary and quiet. He keeps talking about the "opportunities" he can offer a child due to their extensive experience abroad, with music, architecture, special ed, and "healing" classes for children. I stop counting after the tenth time he says "opportunity."

Our social worker tells us the most successful adoptive parents are the ones who "aren't bound by negatives."

My first thought is, "Nobody here is like me."

However, there are two other single women. One of them has already found her birth mother, a 31-year-old truck driver who keeps crossing the country and getting pregnant. This is the sixth time she's given up a baby; she's also very difficult, apparently, and has a hard time finding someone who can deal with her. The other woman I'll call May. She plays with her iPhone most of the time, makes to-do lists and instead of sharing her story of why she's here, she asks how much in-vitro costs. I have a feeling I won't see her again.

We break into groups of men and women. The dark-eyed Armenian in a white dress can't keep her flood of tears back as she tells us her story: She was going to the Octomom's doctor for infertility treatments. He kept hoarding her eggs and taking her money. His nurse "misplaced" a payment and he took her to collection. She and her husband finally arrived at the adoption agency broke, out of ideas, out of eggs. "Everyone in the world is pregnant," she lamented, and blew her nose again.

We are supposed to share our feelings, but it turns more into an information-sharing session. I feel great appreciation for one of the Indian woman, who has a 5-year-old she adopted from Guatemala. She turns us all on to And the Armenian keeps crying into tissues. A solid, pretty blonde tells the group she still wants a piece of herself in her child.

I share that I just know the child I end up with is the child I'm supposed to get. But in reality, I probably don't know shit.

But I do know after the three successful couples came in to share their experience -- one with a tiny drooling 10-month-old -- I have a new appreciation for all the variations that can happen. That this impressionist painting of an idea is starting to get edges and focus.

And that we are actually all more alike than not. We all want to expand our family, and there is something about this place that binds us.

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Now Accepting Applications

We are now accepting applications for the 40licious Hall o' Fame. If you are a regular reader, you may recall that there are about three people inducted; two of them not so famous, plus Michelle Obama.

The criteria:
1. In the 40licious age range. In normal time this is someone who is 40-49 years old, but here at 40licious, all those numbers just blur together.
2. Female, preferably, or a person who does something kick-ass to further 40licious women's well-being.
3. She or he should be accomplishing or saying something inspiring about being 40licious.
Please include comments about who this person is, relevant links if possible, and the reason for your nomination. THANKS!~

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Sound of Love

The first time I ever tried making jam was in the spring after my dad died. I'd spent the winter getting his house ready. Painting. No less than five garage sales, plus a free-for-all at the end. Getting the floors finished and the mice gone. Screaming in the middle of the night as a bat whipped around the small room where I slept, alone, in the 3,000 square-foot house.

Spring came to Dad's plot of land, which sported a view of Puget Sound and a sliver of rocky gray beachfront and a towering cedar with a family of eagles in it. The warm weather brought out the blackberries that outlined his property, nature's barbed wire. A plum tree he'd planted when we moved there in the 1980s had been bearing lovely fruit for many years at the point -- jewel-toned orbs so bountiful that even those greedy fat crows couldn't take them all. That spring was also when the Californians came to buy the house, at a sad pittance.

One of the last visits I made to Dad's was to pick fruit. I spent the next several days making jam, scouring the instructions from the box of pectin. Plum-ginger jam for Christmas. Blackberry. Blackberry-plum. Plum-blackberry. All told, I ended up with several dozen very successful jars, plus a few that had to be trashed (don't try the all-natural hippie pectin they sell at Whole Foods, unless you like soap-flavored jam). I wanted everyone who came over to try the jam -- but not everyone was jamworthy. Some could only have a smear on a piece of toast. A lucky few could leave with a whole jar.

Now that I live in California, I am privy to people who have fruit trees. Last year it was peaches. This year, my friend Jessica has plums. Millions of them. Maybe even zillions. All from one big tree in her front yard. So I went over there with my empty tyvek Trader Joe's bag and came home with a tyvek Trader Joe's bag groaning with the weight of deep purple plums.

The first batch of my plum-ginger jam is more like sauce that might be OK for BBQ or over ice cream. This mishap was due to what I will admit was operator error. (Do not drink wine and make jam, as you just might skip over a few very important points. Making jam is 98 percent science and 5 percent art and 3 percent overlap). But tonight I tried again, and I could tell that the lovely ruby mix was just the right consistency that it will set beautifully.

As the jam cools, the metal lids make little popping sounds, sealing the jar. It's the sound of love, as I make a mental note of who in my life is jam worthy. I might have to make more.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Introducing the Compliment Lady

I'd like to take the opportunity to introduce the Compliment Lady to you. She's available for events and parties, and takes it upon herself to offer a free compliment to anyone who wants one. Sincerity guaranteed!

You'll see her later this summer at the Artwalk in Chinatown, and again at the Company Gallery in September. And who knows where else she'll turn up! Let us know if you'd like her to come to your shindig and we'll see what we can arrange.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

At work, we have the annual spelling bee, which I won in 2007. I hope this informative video will help others prepare to bee the best they can bee on bee day!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Little Things

There is no more exquisite love, friendship and torture than among cousins.
Gen-Now McGradys continue the tradition.

Children in our family, at least in my generation, have always been hard-won. My father married his first wife in the early 1960s. When the relationship soured, she picked up Ilya, their 3-year-old son, and spirited him away to Israel. My dad, a big Irish-Catholic guy, didn't stand a chance in those days, when there were no laws and no rights when it came to intercontinental kidnappings. A barely working writer, he fought until his heart bled dry to see his son. He saved file cabinets full of paperwork and letters and pictures of Ilya. There was even a botched attempt to get him back. Little Ilya screamed at the top of his lungs, as he was trained, when my dad appeared in the kindergarten playground. She never gave him Dad's letters.

Dad went on to marry my mother, Colleen, and I was born, and then my younger brother. The custody battles were epic. My dad, who had managed to scratch out more of a living than my poor artist mum, won by default. Then he moved us across the country. My mom's heart bled dry and she cried every day as she swept the floors of the Buddhist monostary where she stayed.

In all, my dad and his two brothers produced 12 children. We've been much better, as a generation, about child snatching and such. Most everyone has remained married for the past 20 years or so. The eight boys have produced fabulous, healthy, grogeous broods of children. All good natured and smart and funny and athletic and entirely loveable. Oddly enough, though, we four girls haven't been so lucky when it comes to getting -- and staying -- pregnant. (However, Elizabeth was blessed with sweet Mary the Fairy, and the world is a much better place because of it. Even that was a tough win).

So tonight, I call a girl cousin who's had a terrible time of it. We haven't spoken in months. They've gone through so many disappointments and humiliations and extreme pain in their fight to have a child. I want to tell that I'm adopting, that it seems easy, that it seems right, and does a child really have to come out of your hoo-hoo to be yours?

"Hey," I say, "I've got news. I'm adopting a baby."
"Oh my God," she says, and there is a long silence. "We just got out of our first adoption meeting three minutes ago."

It's all in tandem. It's all happening this instant to us at the same time, because it's right and good. And because our kids will need cousins the same age to go oyster picking with.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baby Steps

Lucy needs to make room

We were all there together: the suburban couple who both wore round wire-rimmed glasses; the very big blonde with the creamy skin and lovely handmade glass jewelry accompanied by her mother; the two young guys who looked like they were on break from boy-band rehearsal; the unapologetically late lesbians; the empty-nesters.

We came to hear Sheri, who stood before us, a tall OC specimen with clear blue eyes, hair to the middle of her back, surfer tan, toenails painted like watermelon slices. She was funny and confident and cool and immediately trustworthy. As she should be. She's been doing this kind of thing for 15 years. She's done it herself a couple times.

We rifled through our packets as Sheri gave us a crash course on all we'd need to know. The money part. The logistics. The timing. The emotions of it all.

There will be many emotions. So far I've been in puddles of tears and soaring like a super hero, and quite a few stops in between since I began having the dreams. The dreams are of babies. I am holding them and playing with them and wake up feeling sweet and like I miss someone. The last one involved two small cherubic African-American twins, I didn't want to let the girl go and told her adoptive parents, who in the dream were friends of mine, that I would take one if it got overwhelming. They laughed and said no, but you can go get your own, and gave me a number to call. And the babies vanished when I awoke.

So why, you may wonder, was I in this room last night, with these other people, munching on pretzels and licorice from Costco?

It is because we are all beginning our process of adopting a child.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009


The only thing better than hatching a great plan is feeling really, really good about it.

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Monday, June 1, 2009