Archive | January, 2011

Thoughts on adoption

27 Jan


I mentioned I was adopted in my introduction and while I don’t want to blow the importance of that out of proportion, I thought it’d be a good thing to share some thoughts on it. Who knows, it might help a few people out there, who might be embarking on a search for a birth parent or a lost offspring. It is an important aspect of my life’s tapestry, and has had some effect on who I’ve become, but the story of my life is constantly being written, and there’s no reason why the uncovering of a previously secret history means you have to constantly look backwards instead of forwards. On the contrary, knowing your place in the world, which is hopefully what fuller knowledge of one’s origins can bring about, can only mean that you look forward.

In a bittersweet way, however, there is no way of getting past the fact that adoption is about grief and loss. I’ve always known I was adopted, but I’ve not always known about the loss or how to deal with it. It’s kind of been there, but wasn’t so great as to be recognisable. Some adoptees go their whole lives without exploring their past or feelings at all, which is ok, if they are ok with knowing no more.

Sadly, where it is needed, society doesn’t allow adoptees, and especially birth mothers, to grieve the loss and I’m only just starting to realise how damaging that could be.

In a way it seems impossible to experience grief for a loss you cannot remember (in my case), but when you are told of the loss and the life changing outcome, you have no choice but to react. But how do you react to something that society seems to ignore? To be involved with adoption is a lesson in loss. My adopted parents lost the dream of having kid of their own (although I would later become theirs), my birth mother lost me and I lost her and in the event lost an old life in favour of a new one. I also inherited two families- one I would grow up with and another I would never know.

The emotional aspect of this has been surprising and quite intense, as although I’ve now met Moira (my birth mother), and heard her stories, the story doesn’t end there. How we choose to work through our recently forged relationship, and what the perimeters of that relationship may eventually be, remains to be seen.

But knowing each other is alive and well, is perhaps the most important things for both of us, especially for a woman who had to loose a child and potentially never see it again.

Trout Mask Replica

24 Jan

Some of the best things in life are challenging, there’s no doubt, and you don’t often realise their brilliance until it’s almost too late. Now, Trout Mask Replica may well be one of those things. Don’t get me wrong here, Trout Mask… is not a music album you would find in many music fan’s top 50 albums of all time. Well, not your average fan at any rate. It was recorded by the recently deceased Captain Beefheart (not his real name, funnily enough) and his so called “Magic band”.

This experimental opus, released in 1969, was a fusion of delta blues, free style Jazz, avant-garde strangeness and general out of tune clarinets and sax, brain rattling repitition and plenty of enthusiastic banging. The whole album sounds like a bunch of stoned freaks broke into your garage with lots of random instruments (which they’d forgotten how to play), and decided to record an album. Which it kind of is.

Its brilliance lies in its unashamed exuberance. It’s not a joke. The Magic Band really meant it. It has tracks which border on all out lunacy and have you wondering what the hell they were all on (shouts of “Fast and bulbous!” are sure to get your neighbours interested, in the wrong way). But hey, one man’s lunacy is another’s psychological mecca. Even the album cover art gives the casual viewer cause for concern. The guy on the cover has a fish’s face. Not normal, that. By all accounts, the photo shoot was a very unpleasant experience, as that trout wasn’t a particularly new trout (and from what I’ve heard, they smell pretty bad as soon as you take ’em out of the water). A small price to pay for art I suppose.

Don Glen Vliet (for that was Beefheart’s real name) passed away just over a month ago, in his native California, and it’s solely because of this weird and wonderful double album of experimental noise that I can honestly say that I’ll mourn his passing. Both him, his band and this album have been on my mind today because last night I had to explain to my Dad who Beefheart was. He’d read some obituary some weeks back and had ended up reading about the guy’s life (and his friendship with the late Frank Zappa). My Dad’s experience of the ’60s is very much one of the generation gap- he was the wrong side of thirty when this racket came out, and didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of hearing it. He might have got to hear Engelbert Humperdinck’s latest at the time, though, if you see what I’m saying.

Still, Mr. Vliet can rest easy in his grave knowing that in the end even my Dad got to know who he was. Pity he had to die first, but that’s show business for you. However, I’m not quite ready to play my Dad ANY of  Trout Mask Replica yet. He thinks I’m quite weird enough as it is.

Fast and bulbous!

First words!

10 Jan

Right, then…

This is my first post on a brand new blogging site, so part of me feels I need to announce something momentous to the world. In the absence of such a thought, I’ll just say that I have no idea which direction these blogs are going to take, and that may actually be quite a good place to start. Life seems to be getting exciting at the moment (at least in my head, if not in actuality), so perhaps a very excellent time to start sharing some thoughts on life.

I’m from the north west of England, which has always been a rather inspiring corner of the globe. It rains a lot, but it never seems to stop people being very creative. if you counted all the bands that have come out of Manchester, I think you’d be thinking about it all day.

But on a more personal level there are a few other ‘life stories’ which might interest others and even be of help. I work in education as a support tutor and e-learning advisor (and also teach graphic design part time), so there might be something to talk about there, although talking “shop” isn’t all that fun when you just get back from work is it? I’m also adopted, and recently got in touch with my birth mother, so there is plenty to go at there. As that is an on-going story I’m sure some of my anecdotes might help other people and perhaps give me some inspiration and ideas too, as it can be quite a weird and emotional journey.

The question of exactly how much to share on-line has been crossing my mind a few time, I must say. I expect I’ll decide the perameters of that as I go along.

Books and film are likely to feature heavily as well. And Art. Photography…yep, love photography. Currently doing an MA course in Contemporary Literature and Film, so don’t be surprised if those kind of topics crop up at times.

Just had to watch Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” (American spelling) for aforementioned course. I was predisposed to disliking it, and was expecting a complete saccharine coated puke fest. While the film didn’t intirely avoid that discription, it was far better than I thought. An odd middle ground between being an all out disaster film (think “The Towering Inferno”) and some intimate character study (definitely don’t think “The Towering Inferno”). As is the case with Stone’s films, it didn’t manage to completely avoid political comment, despite appearing as if it might have a more personal agenda….some slightly dodgy Christian theology creeping in there as well.

Maybe some other thoughts on 9/11 later? Could be controversial!

So…that was my first post! Confused? Let’s hope so; we’ve got plenty of time to figure it all out.