Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oprah's sister

Oprah Winfrey’s discovery of her secret sister made big news recently, and this has led to a lot of talk about the reunion of family members separated by adoption.

I was listening to an NPR discussion of the topic in the car yesterday, but had to snap the radio off because what was being said got me agitated. I have strong views about this subject and didn’t want to unnecessarily raise my heart rate while driving.

Here’s the thing: All human beings have the right to know who they came from.  It is knowledge that is more than mere information, it is connective tissue. It is identity.  

Can you imagine not being allowed access to your own birth certificate? That's a reality for six million American adult adoptees.

Although the closed adoption system has undergone reform in the last few decades, and the need for adoptees to know their heritage has come to be widely understood, most sealed adoptions records remain sealed.

There are only two states that never participated in the sealing of adoption records (Alaska and Kansas) and six other states that now allow access, but most do not.

I was raised by a family that was not biologically mine, but I was never legally adopted. The issue of sealed adoption records does not affect me personally, but I sure do understand the need to know. I sure do support the right of anyone, anywhere, to know who they are.

There's lots, LOTS, more I could say about this issue, but don't want to get too wound up. I'll just say how happy I am for Oprah's sister. Wow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

snow, flu, flew

The second residency of my creative writing program in North Carolina turned out to be a disaster. First there was the snow. And then the ice. And then I got sick.

This was the view out my window the second day I was there. This little bit of snow caused the whole city and my college to shut down.

Our schedule for the week had to be completely rearranged and we were shuttled to alternative locations for seminars and workshops.

Since I'd been looking forward to balmy temps in the 40s or 50s I was pretty disappointed by this, but made the best of it. It was fun to see the people I'd met at the first residency again, and it was interesting to meet my new workshop group.

Things would have been fine if it hadn't been for the illness that suddenly descended upon me like an evil demon from Hell.

I spent the last three days of my residency cooped in my motel room with a fever, chills, and lungs that felt like they were on fire. I was as sick as I can remember being in a long, long time and miserable that I was missing so much. And then there was the misery of flying home sick.

At least I got a lot of good comments on my work, and look forward to the writing and editing to be done in the next few months. My next residency will be in May and I can only hope it might be a little more enjoyable!

While I was away the opening of a photography show that includes two of my photos took place. I was sorry to miss the opening, but here's a fun little video of what I missed:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Woodward Avenue photography show

Two photographs by me are going to be in this show. I'm thrilled to be part of it, but won't be able to go to the opening reception because I'll be in North Carolina for the second residency of my MFA program. Darn!

Woodward Avenue is Detroit's main street. It's the spine of the city, running straight up from the river, through downtown and into the northern suburbs. Woodward Avenue is known as M1 - Michigan road #1. It's a National Scenic Byway, and defines Metro Detroit.

I love Woodward Avenue, so this project was a lot of fun. Each photographer participating was assigned a mile of Woodward in which to find something significant to shoot. My photographs are details of The Spirit of Detroit, a statue that sits in front of the Detroit City Hall at the foot of Woodward and Jefferson.

Here also are two of my photos that were not chosen for the show:

I really like the way this project made me step outside of my box and photograph things I wouldn't have normally shot, in ways I wouldn't have normally shot them, with great results.