Monday October 31st, 2011

Leave closet door open for 2 minutes and out of nowhere come two cats that were only moments ago fast asleep.

Professional Writing - Narrative:

My Mother's Child
Co-Written by: Jimmy Cooper

I am not my mother's child. I'm not suggesting that I disowned my parents — it's just not physically possible to be my mother's child because my mother didn't carry me in her womb like most other mothers do. People seem surprised when I tell them this, especially given our similar looks and personalities. I don't recall exactly when my parents told me I was adopted or if they did at all but I've known for as long as I can remember. I've often wondered what life would have been like had I walked a slightly different path.

My birth mother's name is Kate. She was only nineteen years old when she fell pregnant with me. She was single, working in a tiny hair salon, and anything but ready for the responsibility of motherhood. She didn't have the heart to go through with an abortion so she decided to give her baby up for adoption. She contacted an agency in the area and was told that the hospital could help her make all the necessary arrangements once the baby was born.

Although the uncertainty of how things would unfold came with loads of stress; she wasn't more than three months into her pregnancy when a co-worker informed her that she knew of someone who wanted to adopt her baby. Those words changed everything. Kate felt an enormous sense of relief and was grateful that she may have found someone to watch over this baby growing inside of her.

That someone was a lady named Caroline, whose quiet voice pleaded with Kate about how much she wanted to adopt her baby. Caroline wasn't able to have children of her own but desperately wanted another child. She explained that she and her husband had already adopted a baby boy through an agency two years earlier and the chances of them getting another child this way were very slim. The only alternative was to find someone willing to do a private adoption and that's exactly what Caroline did — I was adopted.

I was only three days old when I left Kate's arms for Caroline's. There was no looking back after that — not until I was seventeen and had enough money saved up to take my very first solo vacation. I decided to hop on a plane to the place where I was born on the east coast of Canada. The thought of looking for my birth mother did cross my mind but it wasn't significant enough for me to consider how to actually go about finding her. That being said, you never realize how close you are to someone; all you need to do is find the right links in the chain.

It wasn't until I arrived in Fredericton that I learned Kate was my grandmother's sister's daughter's coworker and could be reached immediately. Once this link was presented, the big question that wouldn't leave my mind was whether I should meet her or not. I chose not to consult with my mom because I wasn't sure if it would hurt her feelings; but I couldn't help but wonder why she had never told me of this simple connection. The words now or never kept running though my mind and curiosity won me over as it usually does. I decided to press forward.

I was at my great aunt's house when Kate and I spoke for the first time on the phone. We had few words to share despite being of the same flesh and blood. We said so little that it was almost like a silent agreement to meet the following day at her salon — the same place she had been working while I was growing inside of her. I hardly slept that night. My stomach was tied in knots with the realization of what was about to happen. There was a faint sense of finally coming home but it was little more than a shadow in my mind. I arrived early the next day absolutely terrified.

I waited in a windowless classroom that was the upper floor of the salon. Empty chairs that were normally occupied by giggly, young girls aspiring to be hairdressers were instead full of silent anticipation. The three walls in front of me were mirrored from floor to ceiling. I gazed blankly at my reflection, reminding myself to breathe. I was distracted for a moment by the piles of plastic chairs sitting upon two long rows of tables in the center of the room. They made a path towards open cupboards that protruded from the walls. A jury of wigged styrofoam heads with expressionless eyes returned my vacant stare with a silent verdict.

The silence was soon replaced by footsteps climbing the stairs, coming closer and closer. They sounded crisper than any other footsteps I'd ever heard, each clunk reverberating through the room. I could hear my breathing getting louder and louder even as it became more and more shallow. My eyes and mouth were dry. Silence returned to the room as her feet became motionless. All I could hear was the sound of my beating heart. The lady who had given me life was standing directly across from me. We stared. Silent.

A pair of eyes precisely shaped like mine with similar lashes and the exact shade of blue reflected back at me from an unfamiliar face. It felt like I was looking into a mirror as my eyes moved down to a nose that also resembled my own; then my dimples and finally my smile. Her teeth were crooked and discolored in places and my mind escaped for a few moments as I thought of the times I had cursed my parents for forcing me to wear braces all those years. Neither one of us knew what to say so we just embraced. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be feeling so I didn't pull away until she did.

I numbly followed her downstairs towards her personal workstation that was situated along a wall in perfect formation with four others just like it. Her co-workers were standing together trying their best to be politely calm but their expressions betrayed their excitement. The salon was sparkling clean with soft shades of pink contrasted by splashes of glossy black furniture and dark cotton towels. I stopped suddenly as my eyes landed on the photographs around the edge of her mirror— I never knew my mom had been keeping in contact with Kate over the years. The photos helped me to relax a little with a feeling of familiarity at what was an otherwise awkward moment in time. Conversation began to flow as I told her about the memories each photo held.

I learned that she and her co-workers had always referred to me with the name she had given me at birth — Cheryl. I felt uncomfortable when they addressed me with it, as if the legitimacy of my existence was trapped in somebody else's memory. My birth certificate had been changed immediately after the adoption but Kate had never given up that name — to her, I was Cheryl, her baby.

Although the lady standing before me nurtured me with her body, she was nothing more than a complete stranger to me. She was never there when I needed someone to mend my scraped knees or bandage my bloodied elbows. She was never cheering from the sidelines. She was nowhere to be seen when her growing girl needed comfort the most.

My mom was. Despite the missing bond that a mother should have with her child, I felt grateful towards Kate for that much.

I think Kate was relieved that her decision left me with a mom who provided me with a lifetime's supply of love — like a real mother should; it just so happens it wasn't the same woman who gave birth to me. I may not be Caroline's child but I am certainly her daughter.

New growth ...

This is one of the two dragon fruit plants that I am growing; it being the smaller of the two. Cute ... and exciting!

Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness(es) ~ Jean Vanier


Taken from Merriam-Webster:
High and tall mean above the average in height. High implies marked extension upward and is applied chiefly to things which rise from a base or foundation or are placed at a conspicuous height above a lower level. Examples: a high hill or a high ceiling. Tall applies to what grows or rises high by comparison with others of its kind and usually implies relative narrowness. Example: a tall thin man.

Taken from Yahoo 字典:
高 (ㄍㄠ) (gāo) tall ; high; of a superior grade or type; (of voice) high ; loud;( Polite) your respected.

This was one of the new vocabulary words in my grade 5 class last week. When I asked one of my students to make a sentence, he responded with, "Teacher Jenny is very high."

Of course this caused a bit of a chuckle from me while another student attempted to correct this sentence by stating, "Teacher Jenny isn't high."

Still slightly giggling, I agreed, "You are right.  Teacher Jenny isn't high ... today."

How could I resist?!  It was unfortunate that I was the only one able to see the humor in this conversation!

Teaching English can be a lot of fun sometimes!

Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!

I try not to have road angst here in Taiwan due to the fact that I'd spend a good chunk of my time being angry.

Please bear with me on the above image taken from Google Maps. The blue line represents a mass amount of scooters weaving in and around one another during rush hour, presumably on the mad dash home, hoping to make it through the green light.

The red X represents ONE guy on a scooter who was unfortunate to catch the red.

Please note that turning right on a red is illegal in Taiwan.

Mr. X decides to get off his scooter despite the thirty or so of us lined up trying to get through the small space between the sidewalk and the cars and slows traffic to walk his bike around the bend and then stops everybody so that he can then mount his bike and continue to drive on.


When you then meet someone like this at the next red light ten seconds away, it's extremely difficult not to push them over and then proceed to say as politely as possible, "You're a dumbass."