My mother is like another country I used to live in, familiar but no longer a place I call home. When I visit, I don't stay long; dysfunction is the official language, the terrain is a desert of constantly shifting emotions, and the weather is grey when it's not dark and stormy. Estrangement is so much easier.
"It's completely alone," I said. That baby, that poor baby. What had it done? "Nobody is coming for it."A meditation on adoption, heartbreak, and healing, by Sarah Church Baldwin for The Rumpus: Build-A-Bear.
Softly she asked, "Would it be OK if we called it 'her'?"
It was then as though my therapist's finger grew very long. It arced through the air, crossing the space between us, and touched my chest, the tip of it pressing into my heart, and my body collapsed around it, folded in on itself from pain, the worst pain I had ever felt because it had no source. I was the pain. I saw that baby on her back, alone, and I understood that she was me. In that moment I was flooded—intellectually, emotionally, physically—by the very knowledge I had so long barricaded myself against: that someone had given birth to me. And worse: that I had not been fit to keep.
Déjà Lu republishes locally-selected scholarly articles from journals connected to regional anthropological associations around the world. The result is a PDF-heavy but fascinating collection of long reads on obscure topics. Via. [more inside]
It had never, in my most repulsive nightmares, occurred to me that my dad might have molested my brother. I believed their unfixable, codependent-isn’t-even-a-big-enough-word relationship was about addiction and guilt and mental illness and hubris and narcissism. No other explanation was needed. When I read Steve’s name on that list while standing in my study with the Russians at my feet, everything froze: the air, my blood, my breath, my brain. I felt it was true. I believed it was true. And I wasn’t even remotely ready for it to be true.-The Terrible Things I Learned About My Dad: On Abuse and the People We Love
Already well on its way to a monster opening box office, Furious 7 is the latest installment in the little franchise that could: ridiculous, more diverse than just about anything else coming out of Hollywood, and beloved by critics like Roxane Gay and Todd VanDerWerff. But in the end it's all about family. (And occasionally cars.) [more inside]
[E]ven though the restaurant's cartoonish decor bordered on offensive, it was still a temple to a people and a cuisine that America couldn't ignore. Taco Bells were everywhere. In every strip mall. Off every highway exit. Even the racists, the immigrant-haters, the people who'd laugh at my elementary-school stand-up comedy routine would run for the border.John DeVore writes about finding the "unexpected, self-affirming solace" of home... at Taco Bell. [more inside]
You can laugh or sneer at Taco Bell. Shake your head at its high fat and salt content. Go ahead and lecture on what true Mexican food is. My mom would probably just roll her eyes at you, and take a broken yellow shard of crispy taco shell and use it to scoop up the pintos, cheese, and salsa.
The Ghost Children of China Forty-five years ago, China inaugurated an era of population control, amid fears that too many people would bring catastrophe. In 1980, it officially announced a national one-child policy, forcibly limiting the size of families. But there have been, inevitably, second (and, rarely, third and fourth) children: children who go unrecognized by the government, have no official identity – who are left to live outside the institutions of regulated society. Little Jie is one of them. [more inside]
Friends often try to assure me that people mean well, urging me to go easy on them, to be gracious, to give people the benefit of the doubt. "People don't mean to be offensive," they tell me. "They just don't know how to say it without coming across that way."Nishta Mehra writes about her family's experience with learning how to navigate the landscape of interracial adoption in a "post-racial" America: Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair.
What these friends don't understand is that when the act of defining your family structure becomes an expected part of every day of your entire life, you grow tired of being gracious. It's exhausting to have strangers view your life as an up-for-grabs educational experience. For my kid, it's to constantly hear the underlying message: "Your life, your family, doesn't make sense to me. Someone needs to explain it to me. You owe me an explanation."
It's the people who live comfortably inside majorities who tend to discount any sort of commentary from minorities as being "overly sensitive." And I imagine that it's hard to step back and grasp the fact that when the world you occupy is built to accommodate you, you fit inside the boxes. You make sense. You are expected.
You are a good man, and a good father, but all this good cannot continue to make up for the race we cannot touch. I am so tired of slipping into black and out of daughter whenever race is evoked. I need for you to meet me as your daughter, as your daughter of color, all at once. We cannot keep evacuating our bodies to love each other. We cannot simply ignore the way our bodies are policed and politicized as antithetical, irreconcilably raced when we stand side by side."An Open Letter to the White Fathers of Black Daughters, from Kelsey Henry in Bluestockings Magazine.
Some are kept in shoe boxes in a forgotten closet corner. Others are glued carefully into albums and kept on the family bookshelf. Many have been lost forever, destroyed out of panic or indifference. In Ukraine, whose tumultuous 20th-century history has spilled over into a bloody battle for its 21st-century identity, every picture tells a story. RFE/RL's Daisy Sindelar traveled to six Ukrainian cities to talk to people about what their old family photographs say to them about who they, and their country, are today. [more inside]
Can the U.S. Ever Fix Its Messed-Up Maternity Leave System?
Most new mothers are in their 20s or 30s, which means they grew up in a world of female Supreme Court justices, politicians, and astronauts. They have more college degrees than men, they entered the workforce in near-equal numbers, and they chose their careers assuming that having children wouldn’t mean losing money. Almost two-thirds of women with children under 6 work, about twice the rate of the previous generation. "I went to college and found something I loved. I got a job. I married and had babies and just assumed maternity leave was something that existed," says Annalisa Spencer, 31, an electrical engineer in Salt Lake City who has three children, and got no leave for the third. "Nobody told me it would be like this."[more inside]
Oklahoma. This was a place where Kathryn's workplace had a cussing jar, a quarter per swear, and the words written on it, “Let Go and Let God.” Here, Christianity was the religion — Tracy and Kathryn were believers — and Oklahoma football was the religion — Tracy and Kathryn were believers — and people could be decent and kind and judgmental, sometimes all at once, which was why, when Tracy told some Rotary Club friends that she and Kathryn were getting married, she kept her eyes planted above their heads so she wouldn't have to look at their faces.
Locals couldn’t understand why police hunting the murderer of a 13-year-old girl were taking DNA samples of elderly women. A high profile Italian murder investigation exposes the secrets of more than one family, with controversial collateral damage. [more inside]
What makes for a merry Christmas? According to a study [PDF] published in 2002 in The Journal of Happiness Studies, having positive experiences with your family and buying environmentally conscious gifts helps - as does being older and male. [more inside]
When Mark Birley died at the age of 77 he left behind a legacy of London nightclubs for the aristocratic set ...and a highly contested $200 million dollar estate with last second will changes, phony ex-girlfriends, and feuding children. Maureen Orth explores the family life of the nightlife king.
An elderly Pennsylvania Dutch woman and her adopted daughter in the kitchen, making quesadillas and talking about life. (SLYT)
My Grandma the Poisoner. And now, once again, I feel like I’m supposed to care. Like there should be closure. Either I purge my past, forgive her, and arrive at a higher vibrational state, or I find proof of what she’s done over the years and expose her once and for all. I’d always planned to search her house one last time, but now the house is gone. And nobody is exhuming any bodies, and Grandma doesn’t even know what Grandma did. And there’s not going to be any grand finale. And as I sat there listening to Grandma sing with my children—not quite crying, I wasn’t quite crying—I realized that I didn’t care what had happened, that nobody cares what happened, that caring is for cops on CSI and doctors on ER and muscle-bound Marines in the movies. [more inside]
Things happen. "Psychic" events mainly take place in dramatic and family-based situations. Not in a lab. Here is one example. [more inside]
Who are these sisters? We’re never told (though we know their names: from left, Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie; Bebe, of the penetrating gaze, is Nixon’s wife). The human impulse is to look for clues, but soon we dispense with our anthropological scrutiny — Irish? Yankee, quite likely, with their decidedly glamour-neutral attitudes — and our curiosity becomes piqued instead by their undaunted stares. All four sisters almost always look directly at the camera, as if to make contact, even if their gazes are guarded or restrained.*
We were each other’s firsts. I was 16, a stressed-out immigrant kid, she was the daughter of Colombian Catholics who were quite fond of the church’s policy on pre-marital sex. So it took us quite a while to awkwardly, semi-defeatedly concede to each other that we had run out of excuses to avoid sex. “This weekend?” I said grimly. A very sweet Guardian piece called "My parents helped me to lose my virginity" by novelist Boris Fishman.
Last month, a video of a teenager coming out to his family went viral, (trigger warning), now viewed almost 6 million times. The young man who is disowned and abused in that video, Daniel Pierce, after receiving more than $90,000 in donations to live on his own, has now asked that donations be re-directed to Lost-N-Found Youth, a shelter in Georgia for LGBT Homeless Youth. Rolling Stone profiles The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families
Staging lives: "Who do you want to be? Or, more accurately, who could you have been? Czech photographer Dita Pepe takes these musings quite literally, re-imaging her life in a hundred different scenarios in her series Self Portraits with Men. Pepe’s photographs are disarming in their nonchalant subtly, the artist possessing an uncanny ability to become a seamless member of each family." [more inside]
What Should A 4-Year-Old Know? "She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always OK to paint the sky orange and give cats six legs. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn't care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud." (ht sonika on FB for this)
The Cherry Cordial Revolution Do I help Grandma? Or do I follow the (eavesdropped) rules and refuse to buy Grandma her cherries?
Hanging on to every smell, smoke, and sound before my son heads off to college and everything changes.
On July 2, 2014, Hannah Richell's husband Matt was killed in a surfing accident at Bronte beach. [more inside]
BuzzFeed LGBT editor Saeed Jones joins journalists Steven Thrasher and Dave Tuller to discuss sex, gay men, and what we are (and aren’t) doing. (SL Buzzfeed)
"I was a nervous wreck because I was about to betray my beloved grandmother and visit her darkest secret. Her secret had a name, and I was going to see him." (SLNYTimes: Modern Love)
Long-Lost Photos Show What Hasn't Changed About Motherhood In 50 Years. Is a collection of 50 year old photos from around the world by Ken Heyman. Taken originally for the pulitzer-nominated book Family (co-authored with Margaret Mead), they were left sitting in a storage container for decades.
I Am Loveworthy: How a Transgender Woman Found Love. (Previously, by the same writer.) Useful resources for participating in the discussion: Ohio U's Trans 101* : Primer and Vocabulary guide; GLAAD's Transgender Media and Education Program
Stick Family Feud: "Whether you love them or hate them— and many do despise them—few trends reveal shifting family values in a mobile, personal-branding-obsessed society as do family stick figures."
In the past month since publishing his essay, "Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege," Princeton freshman Tal Fortgang has become a hero of many in right-wing politics for his refusal to believe that he enjoys privilege. [more inside]
7 month old baby pulls tail of cat. Cat scratches baby. Father of baby kicks cat butt. Then things go rapidly downhill between the 22 pound house cat "with a history of violence" and the family... [more inside]
The Handsome Family are an alt-country and americana band based in Albuquerque via Chicago, Texas and Long Island. They have currently finding a new audience thanks to having their song Far From Any Road used as the theme from True Detective on HBO. [more inside]
"My dog bit my child" A thoughtful post from blogger Lola the Pitty with excellent tips on how to monitor play and help kids to successfully interact with family pets. [more inside]
The Made Up Words Project is an on-going undertaking by illustrator Rinee Shah (who you may remember from her Seinfood poster series.) The goal is to collect and catalog the made up words that we share with family and friends.
Jeremy Cutts of Idaho, his wife Stacey and their two little girls age 10 and 11 are all big Volkswagen fans. So when they spotted a VW pickup truck that had been abandoned for 45 years and gradually buried in the foothills outside of Idaho Falls, they weren't just going to leave it there...
In this short documentary, filmmaker Darrin Johnson explores the status of atheism within African-American families and communities, and meets some non-believers from California about their experiences with breaking from religion.
What we knew of Angus was this: Angus—the only name we had for him—was a flight surgeon our mother had fallen in love with during World War II, planned to marry after the war, but lost when the Japanese shot him down over the Pacific. Once, long ago, she had mentioned to me that he was part of the reason she decided to be a doctor. That was all we knew. She had confided those things in the 1970s, in the years just after she and my father divorced. I can remember sitting in a big easy chair my dad had left behind in her bedroom, listening to her reminisce about Angus as she sat with her knitting. I remember being embarrassed, and not terribly interested. I was interested now. Even 30 years before, her affair with Angus had been three decades old. Now, 60 years after he had fallen into the sea, she wanted to follow him.[more inside]
Mothers in law have long been a focal point of Indian society. With the modernization of Indian culture, their roles are changing for better and for worse.
Brenda Schmitz wrote a letter to STAR 102.5′s Christmas Wish in August of 2011 – one month before she passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 46. She asked her friend to send us her wish once her husband David had found someone else to love him and to help take care of their four boys. David has found someone and Brenda's Christmas wish has been granted.
There's a deep, dark lake here, and the cabin is perched next to the rocky shore. Old, and made of peeling, stained logs, it belongs to my grandfather, Antonio 'Pit' Allard. He's had it for as long as I can remember.
Rob Meline always dreamed of being an astronaut. He became a teacher instead. But the beloved faculty member at Camas Prairie Elementary in Spanaway, Washington kept a family secret. When he fell victim to it in October 2012, he became the symbol of a flawed judicial system. What his students did next was out of this world.
In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city administrators tasked with carrying out the survey. "But the women couldn't stop writing."