My Liebster Brings All the Folks to the Blog

liebsterI received a notification today for WordPress that my blog was BLOWING UP!  Hey Australia, Hey Ghana.  How you doin’?  *bats eyelashes*

The Liebster Award has been passed around to various blogs to highlight good reads with small followings.   Thank you AdoptiveBlackMom for recommending my little corner of the internet.  *blushing*  ABM is one of the few other adoptive moms of color blogging about her experiences so I see us as kindred spirits.  Her writing is amazing so I’m glad that she recommends mine to others.

This blog is a hodge-podge of stuff as I’ve been recording my life here for quite some time.  I’ve talked a bit about grad school, traveling the world, dating, marriage and infertility. Lately I’ve been focusing on our adoption journey and parenting our two-year-old foster child (pre-adoptive placement) Nana.

So on to the questions that ABM asked:

Why did you start blogging?
I’ve been blogging since the 90s…literally.  If you ever happened upon an old blog, “Black Girl in Iowa” that was me.  I used to share my crazy Iowa stories over email and then moved to a blog to make it easier.  Plus I was sending my craziness over my work email and that was a no-no.  When I left Iowa and went to grad school in 2005,  I wanted my friends to continue to follow my adventures.  I needed a new name and India Arie’s CD was on repeat so Complicated Melodi was born.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your adoption journey?
But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners. Surat Al’Anfal 8:30

We started out this journey wanting to have a biological baby, but that wasn’t our path.  Then we (he) wanted a newborn baby.  We were offered a couple of situations but none of them seemed right.  As someone who plans for a living and feels like I should have some clear ownership of what happens to my life, this was a challenging process. We were trying to add parameters where they didn’t belong and control or influence the process. But when we relaxed, let go and let God, it worked out exactly how it was supposed to.  Nana was brought into our lives and I can’t imagine a better fit.

How do you practice self-care?
I don’t think I’m a particularly good example to follow.  I would say that self-care for me is having time to myself to use as I choose.  I’m blessed to have a partner, an active partner, that can tag me out and I do the same for him.   On a daily basis, I talk Nana to school, Wood picks her up and feeds her.  I tag him out after work and take over and then we switch off with bed duties.  Since she goes to bed at 7:30, we both have from 8 on to ourselves.  If I want to go out for happy hour after work, or need to go to an event, I have permission to go and not feel guilty because she has her father there.  When the playoffs are going or during football season, Wood ducks out early to go to the bar.  We give each other time as we need it and I realize that is an extraordinary blessing.

If you could be doing anything else right now in your life, what would it be?
I would slow travel with my family through Central and South America, eventually traveling the rest of the world.  We could stay in various cities for weeks or months as we felt, learning the language, volunteering and building a global network of friends.  Of course, we would be independently wealthy or have some steady way of making passive income.

What are your predictions for the next year on your journey?
Hmmm… This is a good one, because I predict amazing things to happen in the next year.  I predict that we will successfully adopt Nana by the end of this year, perhaps before National Adoption Day in November. Yay!  Nana will grow out of some of her anxiety as she continues to gain stability in our home and our families treat her as one of their own.  I am dropping little time capsules of ideas in Wood’s head about adopting another child, a little boy maybe. Perhaps we will start that process sooner than later.  I am working little by little to gather a tribe of people of color who are interested in fostering/adopting. I predict mix-matched groups of children and parents gathering at our house, eating good food, listening to music (there must be background sounds!), laughing, loving and supporting each other.

Who to pass it on to..that’s a hard one.  Most of the blogs that I follow have already been nominated or have a fairly large audience.  I’m going to have to think on that one a bit but until then, thank you all for stopping by.  Kick off your shoes and stay awhile.  It’s comfy here.

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Can Adoption Be Funny?

A segment on Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC’s show poked fun at Mitt Romey’s family picture, specifically pointing out his adopted African-American grandson. She later tweeted an apology to Romney’s family.

MHPapology

Was this wrong or just unfunny? Can adoption, and more specifically transracial adoption be the subject of humor?

Hanna Rosin loves R. Kelly. Really?

Ya’ll know that podcasts are my pleasure,right?   One that regularly listen to is the Slate Double X podcast with Allison Benedikt, Hanna Rosin and June Thomas that focuses on women’s issues.  I don’t always agree with their assessments and more than once I’ve rolled my eyes hard as they attempt to discuss issues related to women of color without actually bringing on anyone outside of their white, middle-class, east-coast circle to bring a different perspective.   After listening to their latest podcast, “The Chanksgiving Edition,” I’m really irritated with Hanna Rosin. 

At the end of each podcast, they discuss something (article, book, recording, video) that they have enjoyed and recommend it to the listeners.  Hanna Rosin’s apparently loves R. Kelly and recommends his on-the-fly love songs for Rolling Stone. 

Really Hanna?  I’m so disappointed in you.   If you know anything about black women’s concern with R. Kelly’s history regarding underage girls, it seems you would steer clear from endorsing him or his music.  At least publicly.   I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you didn’t know that he is a pedophile, that he peed on a black girl and avoided prison time for it.  Perhaps this is  a blind spot for the feminist community at large since Jezebel.com was also slammed last week for its review of R. Kelly’s newest musical offering. 

I think Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieux said it best when she tweeted:

“It’s 2013 and I still have to explain to people why I have issues with R. Kelly.  Guess we need a White victim to emerge so folks will get it”

That may sound harsh but it just underscores how when it is brown and black bodies that are being fondled, its all fun and giggles.  What if he had peed on a  14 year old nice Jewish girl.  Would she be tee-hee-heeing at his sex diddies then?  Would she just LOVE R. Kelly then?   Girl, go’ head with all that.

Can Michelle Obama have a moment?

mobamamasterclass
@joelcifer: “Michelle Obama teaching a master class on keeping tabs on your man”

I’m not on Twitter but I keep wanting to make that move because I feel like I miss out on all the shenanigans.   People are extremely witty and come up with all kind of craziness to help pass the workday.   According to the media, First Lady Michelle Obama stays giving folks to side eye.   The latest iteration was people having a bit of funny by captioning this picture.  Joel Pavelski @joelcifer tweeted, “Michelle Obama teaching a master class on keeping tabs on your man.”    *dead*

But then I felt bad for her because I know how it feels to have folks policing your face.  Especially if you are like me and  happen to suffer from BRF – bitchy resting face.   And even more especially if you are a black woman and are continually concerned about being thought of as “angry.”  It is a constant exercise in ensure other folks feel somewhat comfortable around you.   It has decreased as I’ve gotten older, but I still get called out for my facial expressions.  I may be sitting, lost in thought, minding my own business (much like Mrs. Obama was) and inevitably someone will ask me “what’s wrong.” 

“Uhmmm….nothing”, I typically respond, a little confused by this question and a bit defensive.

“Oh, you look like you are upset about something.”  

“Nope.”

“You sure?”

Okay, now I’m upset because BRF has struck again.  I ACTIVELY have had to work on sitting in meetings with the sides of my mouth slightly upturned in order to look more pleasant.  And still, the Hubster routinely tells me that I rolled my eyes when I just looked away. 

Michelle was probably minding her business, tired from traveling all the way from DC to South Africa (which is a 17 hour flight), irritated with all those fake greetings and making a list of all the things she needed to do when she got back to her hotel room.  The last thing she was thinking about was someone schmoozing her husband.  Sometimes, you just don’t feel like being “on.”  It’s unfortunate that she can’t just be human and have a moment. 

Being my sister’s keeper

I have a coworker whose child has been sick for the past year and was recently admitted to the hospital.   I’ve never met her son, but last week after work I went to the store and bought a bag full of snacks – chocolate pudding, Capri Sun, twizzlers, Honey Bears, candy, Fruit Roll Ups and Hot Cheetos.  Since I had no idea if he was hooked up to monitors and tubes, I tried to buy things that were easy to eat.  I tried to make it teenage boy friendly by throwing in a Nerf football and a pack of cards but I must admit that the bag looked a lot like I would want if I was in the hospital.  I trekked down to the hospital and sat with her and her son for a while, told some funny stories and left them with the bag of snacks.

This week her son underwent surgery so I made her a lasagne and plan to drop it off when her son gets home, hopefully before the end of week.   Bear is trying to steal it so I have to get it out of the house pretty soon.

This isn’t to brag about what I did, but I do feel like these gestures are a bit out of the  ordinary.  It seems to me that we have lost some of our fundamental ways of caring for our sisters.   We are always there when it’s something good like a bridal shower, a birthday party or a baby shower.  But when it is an uncomfortable situation such as dealing with someone’s grief, fear or pain, I’m not sure my generation has really been shown what to do.

There are things that my grandmother used to do – go sit with someone a while at the hospital, run errands for them, bring a meal or tidy up their house.   They didn’t have to be your best friend, they just had to be a woman in need.  And because you were a woman who at some time had needed someone,  whether it was a sick baby,  overdue rent, a chronically ill spouse, bail money for a wayward child or the death of a parent, you went.  Even after you worked all day, took public transportation home, and cooked for your family, you and your friends would call each other, assign days and duties and you would go.

It’s strange, but even with all of these ways of connecting, we are really disconnected from each other.   When you just had a home phone, you just answered and dealt with whatever was on the other side of the phone.  Now we can just ignore the call, thinking, “I’ll call her back when I get a chance.”  And a day goes by and then a week.  What if she really had a need right then?

What do you think?  Have we lost some of those ways of caring for our sisters?  Do you have a sister circle that gathers around and takes care of each other in times of duress?

Community Wanted, Suggestions Needed

One of the thing that is a consistent theme in my wish lish is that I want to our house/friend list to be more of a community.  I envision being very comfortable with folks coming over for dinner at any time during the week, people dropping by with kids/or without, wine drinking and loud conversations that last until folks are very, very tired.  I want kids piled into the guest bedroom or on pallets on the floor while the adults continue on with raucous conversations.  I want to stop by my friend’s house that have babies and they feel like I’m helping not someone to be entertained.  I want salsa in the living room and random guitar playing.  I want love and happiness and (slight) messiness.  Friends don’t need to be entertained.  They just need to be there.

The problem is that none of this falls in line with how my friends are.  We are in this weird socioeconomic group where our houses need to be perfect – like a picture on houzz, before someone stops by.  There needs to be schedules and invites weeks in advance.  And appropriate food choices.  And they need to be entertained.  What’s that about?  I will admit that I add to this drama by being particularly ocd about food being beautiful and tasty.

Add to this that Bear becomes very anxious at the thought of folks coming over and him having to entertain and the house being messy.  I’m very surprised by this but in a lot of ways he’s way more formal than me and much less social.  He grew up with a lot of real aunts and cousins around.  So I know there was a lot of sharing and caring and family support. No entertainment necessary.  But maybe the issue is that these were all family members.  And my friends aren’t family – at least to him.

I didn’t grow up with a lot of people around.  My mother isn’t very social so we only had one play-aunt.  But I remember stopping by their house and them stopping by ours, kids running to play in each other rooms and our mother’s somewhere doing motherly things that were mysterious to us since we weren’t allowed in grown folks conversations.  We went over my grandmother’s house a lot but she didn’t have a lot of random folks over either.

Having a lot of people around for long periods of time can also be tiring for me.  But as I get older and am in more situations where this is required, I see myself getting much better.

I guess neither of us have a model for what I’m feeling and that’s why it’s difficult.  I feel like we really need to get this support thing going before we have kids in our lives.  Any suggestions on what we can do?

Maybe It Isn’t Race

I have a secret.  Shhhh…  *leans forward and whispers*

I have no white friends.

I find that strange.  I’ve lived in predominantly white neighborhoods, went to to PWIs for school and work mainly with white women.  We get along alright.  We go to lunch sometimes and share funny stories, but rarely do we meet after work.  I don’t chat with them on Facebook or call them just to chit chat.  I could only tell you the name of one white person that I went to college with, and that’s only because she was into diversity so she was always at the Association for Black Students events. I kept in touch with very few over the years.  I’ve just never been able to create a deep and meaningful relationship with a white woman, or hispanic woman, or asian woman – just a non-black woman.

It bothers me.

I went to an associate’s potluck and the Hubster and I were the only black folks.  Not a big deal.  It happens all the time.  But I just couldn’t feel it.  Conversations were stilted.  There were lots of awkward pauses.  I really felt like what do I talk to these women about.  I’m like, don’t they talk about Real Housewives of New York like my friends and I do? They don’t pass on best places to get your eyebrows done or pedicures?

Perhaps it was the group of people that were at the party.  They were all native Texans and most had never lived any place else.  They were into hunting deer (and including it in their gumbo) and crab boils, raising kids and rooting for their respective Houston college teams.  The menu was all casseroles -blech.  The women stood around and talked interchangeably about dating and c-sections.  They all seemed to know each other from working together.  My husband and I were the odd people out.  But now that I think about it, maybe it wasn’t race at all.

Reality Check

Heard on Hollywood Exes:

“My reality check was when my Gucci discount was rescinded.” This statement was followed by exclamations of shock and empathy. Another ex kept it going with, “Didn’t that make you just run and honey, I would rather have a public pubic hair count before I do that.” Really? Besides that being a very unladylike thing to say with some new friends, it was real extra. She went on to describe walking in the store and being turned away. “What you mean I can’t see the special black book no more? That is like…how do you come back from that?”

Now they brought it back to perspective with contrasting themselves against someone who can’t relate, but it was interesting.

I had a friend named…hmmm…let’s call her GB. GB had this real annoying way of when you were complaining about something, she would piggyback on your complaint with something that wasn’t even on the same level and actual was a step up from your situation. Let’s give an example.

Me: “Girl, I didn’t even realize how low my bank account was. My rent check came back with a $35 fee because I bounced the check.”

GB: “Yeah, girl. I hate when I get low and I don’t know about it. I was checking my savings and I only have $2000 left. That’s crazy.”

But as I’ve gotten older…and have a little more cash, I find myself making statements like that.

“If we stop through Rome, then we can only stay two days because of the flight connections. That’s messed up we can’t stay until Sunday morning.”

As you acquire more “things” and become more financial stable, your pain points become a lot different. Sometimes, the pain point seems utterly ridiculous, like not being able to buy a custom Gucci, in comparison to what your own pain look likes.

Hubster as Handyman

When Bear and I bought this house, he started making lists of all the things that he would do. The problem was, I had never seen him fix anything. That’s not entirely true. He’s done a couple of smaller things and honestly, I wasn’t overly impressed. Why not? Let’s just say that Bear is an “intuitive” fixer. I’ve seen him take three hours to put together a television shelf that should have taken 30 minutes because rather than read, or even look at, the directions, he would rather “feel” his way through. The shelf was put together perfectly, but I’ve been giving him the side eye ever since. Needless to say, I was not that enthused about his homemade honey do list.

As we started to have more professionals come in and money flowing out, Bear continued to say that he could do many of the things that the professionals were doing. I started to wonder why I was so opposed to him trying. I always wanted a man who could fix things, who would take ownership of our house and step up to do all of the man shit. My need for control, for things to look a certain way, and frankly, my lack of trust in his “intuition” was keeping him from being what I asked God for.

I decided to step back and let him step up. Instead of first suggesting that we hire someone, I began to encourage him, to hype him up, to support him. And you know what, he is AWESOME. You see those pictures?

  • When the electrician couldn’t finish because the chandelier was faulty, Bear said he could do it. We bought the new chandelier and we have light!
  • We originally planned for someone to replace a white porcelain sink with a stainless steel sink. When the sink didn’t fit the hole right, we scheduled someone to cut the granite and fix the sink. While walking in Lowe’s, I encouraged him to try with a cement sink since the size and weight was similar to the porcelain. It fit perfectly, he fixed the plumbing, hooked it to the dishwasher and we have water!
  • Bear swore up and down that he could install our appliances. And guess what, he did.
  • Now Bear has a fully loaded honey do list that includes installing our cooktop and range hood, sanding and staining the stairs and replacing the ceiling fans. I’m all in as his assistant to hand him tools and cold beers as needed.

I’m so proud of Bear. It’s wonderful to watch him blossom and feel confident in his abilities. I learned a lesson too. When we (strong black sisters) have been doing things on our own so long, it may be easy for us to just call someone to handle it. But that is the wonderful part of being married. We have someone to share the burden. That means giving a losing a bit of control, but gaining a partner for life.

Getting Closure

Yesterday I met up with some friends for Happy Hour at Trulucks. Apparently they have very nice seafood but we were all about the drinks. Plus they also had these carrot and malted chocolate cupcakes. They were delicious. They also have this bread that tastes a bit like raisin bread. It’s yummy!

Of course being women, the conversation eventually focuses on men. One of my friends is having a hard time. An ex (one of the significant ones) recently married. I’ve never had this experience but I am empathetic to how I might feel if I found out Bear had married. Even though we weren’t together at the time, it would still hurt. So my heart ached for my friend who in a sense is wanting closure. She thinks that maybe she missed a cue when he was trying to gauge interest in a rekindling, or she should have called him one more time when they stopped speaking after a stupid text fight. Maybe if she had done something differently, she wouldn’t have to wonder if it could have been her posting Facebook pictures of her ring or making wedding plans.

We’ve all been there. It’s not even that we want HIM in particular, we want him to want us. As she peeled back the layers of the relationship, we realized that she didn’t trust him, didn’t trust who he was and his actions immediately before his marriage showed that the core of who he was had not changed much. Another round would have only been delaying the inevitable.

We wondered aloud if she was having a problem because she didn’t have any closure? What is that any way? Who came up with this idea that we need the other person to explain their shortcoming and failings, that they need to detail what they were thinking as they were breaking our hearts, that they have to apologize for being who they always were.

The reality is that people don’t owe us closure. And as one of my girlfriends pointed out, everyone can’t give you closure. They just aren’t capable. You are asking them about a situation and they end up creating more questions than answers because they don’t know themselves. So then what?

Sometimes you have to create your own closure. Here are couple of things that I’ve heard or tried before that I suggested to her.

The Unsent Letter: Write/type a letter to the person with all you feelings, frustrations, love declarations. Write until you can’t write anymore. Fold it up, save it in a drawer, or save it in a misc folder on your hard drive. The point is that you’ve said all you needed to say. Plus you’ll also be able to reflect on the relationship. The good and the bad. The more clarity on the relationship helps you to reframe the situation so you don’t either idealize the situation and what could have been or hate the person so much that you can’t forgive and move on.

Reclamation: Sometimes we tend to stay away from situations that make us remember the ex but you should go back to your old spots and make new memories. She can make the alone or with someone else.

How have you gotten closure in the past?