Adoptee Access Update: I Exist

I was asked by an agency that aided in the fight for Adoptees to gain access to original birth certificates in Ohio, to compose an update on my experience after getting my own this year.  I thought I’d share my post with a few additions here:

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March 30, 2015

As it is my birthday and the first day of spring, March 20 has always been a symbolic date for me. It speaks of new beginnings, warmer temperatures, the return of sunshine and the subsequent melting of ice and snow from the streets of Columbus, Ohio. In 2015, I received yet another layer of newness- the release of original birth certificates for all adoptees born in this great state. I am adopted. I used to have trouble saying it out loud. The shame, the secrecy and the  jokes about being adopted made it nearly impossible for me to share that side of my life with but a few close ones. I am still healing from the suppressed hurt of being relinquished. But I AM healing and that is the good part. The changes to unseal records in Ohio were a huge part of that healing and a long time coming. I wasn’t sure it would ever happen in my life time.

The excitement had been building since the announcement the year before. A year-long waiting period was created to allow birth mothers time and opportunity to block the release of their information. Having been in reunion since November, 2004 I had no idea if my birth mother Jo would be one of those mothers. I visited her in California in early March. The subject did not come up even once as we overlooked the gray skies of Manhattan Beach nor when we conversed poolside at my hotel. Once again, she made promises that she could not keep. I recorded them so that I would remember they were not a figment of my imagination. I needed that too as part of my healing.

I went to Vital Statistics with great anticipation to begin the process when I returned from LA. The media was there interviewing others. I wished they could interview us all. All of our stories are unique and interesting. We had all waited for the day; some of us for decades. It was interesting to see so many “regular” people of multiple ethnicities, men, women, young and old. When I walked back out into the warmth of the sunlight after submitting my request- I felt at peace knowing another part of my journey as an adoptee was coming to a close.

My birth certificate arrived about 30 days later. My heart skipped a beat when it arrived in the mail. I waited til evening to open it at my dining room table to finally read it. The sun once again shone on my back, comforting me. I opened it, and was relieved to find she hadn’t blocked it as I had read happened to others (a total of 16 in Ohio). I felt a little numb as I read the documentation that showed my true origins and my given name (Gloria Marie). I told my close friends and they celebrated with me via text… wished me closure. I noted some parts were wrong. My birth father’s name was not listed but he was stated to be white. That made me laugh. I know him and he is far from. Some of my adoption paperwork was included- items I’m sure my adoptive mother no longer has. I plan to send a copy to her and to my biological mother.

Jo and I have had a rocky reunion. It has been hot and cold but mostly cold. Perhaps stagnant is a better word. Together we are a still body of water with potential to move should the wind ever blow this way or that. I have come to a place of peace with our status. She sometimes sends me texts from sunny California saying “your life matters”. The good news is that I already know this. I live my life on purpose with each day and year I remain on the planet. The better news is that on paper- I am real just like every one else I know. I am not made up. I exist and I have the paperwork to prove it.

Much Less So

Hello. Tis morning

you invade my thoughts once more

this time, much less so

Each time, I’m startled

by soft rain of tears inside

wounds reopened

You are brilliant light

Lightning, blinding and followed

By boom, in seconds

violent impact

upon your crash landing

but you never notice

Aloof, you never

Notice the ground where I once

Stood- black and splintered

the atmosphere shift

the ozone layers, my heart

depleting more, see

your eyes overcast

you play me as the extra

each interaction

moment of our lives

hostage to bloodlines formed long

ago, egg, sperm, time

five minutes of lust

a lifetime of consequence

stars never aligned

I welcome the ride

reject your disasterous

damaging entry

Implore you to go

Or stay, remain in my dreams

Waiting, for response

an answer that won’t

come easily, or quickly

now, shallow breathing

in slumber you love

me, think of me, but only

give chase til I wake

As the sun rises

sets, by sullen, angry sky

you are swallowed whole

Gone. Tis morning again

you invade my thoughts each time

each time, much less so

The Owners of Northstar Cafe had a baby and named it Brassica

This one will be quick! Everyone who knows me personally understand that Northstar Cafe is my favorite place to eat, relax, chill, whatever. Yesterday I found myself without lunch and was considering options when one of my Facebook friends (Moni) shared that she’d gone to lunch with a friend, including the link to the restaurant. I clicked the link out of curiosity (yeah, I’m nosey) and was surprised to find there was a Mediterranean based restaurant in the short north. I am a huge fan of Aladdin and had been feeling a little out of sorts since they closed their Bexley location. I often select vegan options and suddenly I no longer had good choices within short distance for lunch. Seeing hummus and falafel on the menu were all I needed. I hopped in my car and called to place a takeout order. Informed by the associate who answered that the only orders they accept over the phone were for “family style” dishes, I decided to just go in. I was a little perplexed but I understood when I arrived- Brassica is sort of like a Chipotle (but fancier like Pizza Cucinova without the pizza) for people who like lamb, pita, hummus and falafel! As soon as you walk in, the artisan asks what you’d like and you make your selections. So basically, you CAN order to go, you just have to go there to do it. On this first trip, I knew I only wanted falafel and I wanted a sandwichIMG_2805. So, I walked thru, making the choices I wanted which were falafel, pickled cabbage, beets, cauliflower and a sauce. Every thing looked fresh and tasty. The website displayed a delicious order of fries so I order some of those too. The cashier at the end asked if I wanted extra sauce with my fries. I responded, “Do I?” and he answered in the affirmative!

As I awaited my order I had a chance to look around. Brassica is warm and welcoming from the moment you enter the door. Very similar in style to Northstar Cafe’s, there is lots of warm woods but with a light green on the seating. The window seats allow you to look out into the alley or out at the hustle and bustle that is High Street. My food arrived and I happily sat by the window overlooking High (mostly because I wanted to watch my car to make sure the meter police didn’t come to cite me!). I snapped a quick photo of my food before diving in. The sandwich was served beautifully in a gold cylinder and while it looked like a work of art, I had no issue wolfing it down. Everything was fresh. This is no fast food falafel people! It was hearty, and flavorful just as I would expect at other restaurants where it is served. The fries were hot and were seasoned well (reminded me of the seasoning on Grippos). Long story short, I found my life. I forgot I was supposed to rush in and out and take it back to work.

As I mentioned this is a new endeavor from the folks who own Northstar and Third & Hollywood (in Grandview). I expect nothing short of excellence from them. At first glance we sometimes don’t like to deem every baby cute. But, this one is a  beauty! I’ll be going back to visit soon! Check out their website: http://brassicashortnorth.com/

About that dream… how The Roots, a rapper I don’t know and a Facebook friend sent me a message

I typically avoid eating late because they always bring about bad or crazy dreams. Last week I didn’t heed my own rules of eating and went to sleep on a full stomach. For once, the dream wasn’t a nightmare. I want to share with you that prior to eating, I had conversed with my Facebook and high school friend India (about Zumba), watched Jimpire (a parody of tv show Empire featuring Jimmy Fallon and members of The Roots) and listened to a song by Tink (more on this latJimpire_photocred_CDANEWSer).

It surprised me when they ALL showed up in my dream that night (well, Jimmy didn’t come).

Here’s what happened:
Somehow I ended up landing a poetry/rap gig opening for The Roots. We were on tour and it was going to be my first time out. India was there and while I was not sure of her role- it appeared she was the show host and/or show runner.

On opening night, India was getting everyone in place and she asked me was I ready. The last thing I was feeling was… ready. Quite the contrary I was felt stage fright (I always do when I’m about to do anything!). India had no time for my insecurities and told me I needed to put all that aside be ready when I was called. I kept asking her about rehearsals. People who work with, perform alongside me know that I’m a stickler for rehearsals. I find them incredibly necessary and moving forward on the fly makes my nerves bad. Like I said, India wasn’t having it. She told me I’d better rehearse in my head, my own time, whatever I needed to do and to do it quickly because the show was starting soon. The only problem was she kept calling me Tink. The only Tink I know is an upcoming singer and rapper produced by Timbaland. She has a song out now which samples One In A Million by Aaliyah.

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Chicago rapper Tink (photo cred CDANEWS)

In the dream, I have the sense to know that I’m not Tink. Yet, the headlines and promotions for the show stated it was The Roots featuring Tink. I never tell India that I’m not Tink but I DO tell her I don’t know what songs I’m supposed to do. She tells me (I have no recollection). I tell her I’m not prepared. She still doesn’t care. She tells me to get the words written, put them somewhere and be ready to GO when it’s my turn. I somehow get a typed copy of the words and review them but I have ZERO sense of the melody. Zero. I continue to panic and decide that based on the music I’ll just go with the flow. However, I then worry that the audience (I can see them waiting; there are hundreds) will see and know that I’m a fraud. They call my name… Tink’s name. India asks me if I’m ready. I’m not but I go anyway. Thank God I woke up!

Perhaps you pray, perhaps you don’t but I do. In my prayers, I asked God to tell me the meaning of this dream. There had to be more to this than the fact that I had eaten Bibibop too late. I got two answers. Let me back up. First, a couple weeks ago I heard God’s voice tell me that I need to write. That I should write every single day. I said, “yeah, okay” and went on with my life. So when I asked, I received two answers:

  1. The first answer was a gentle reminder that I was supposed to write EVERY day. It didn’t matter if no one read it. It mattered that I did it. It was further explained that I keep saying I want to be a writer and yet I’m not exercising my pen or keyboard in the way that I should, practicing the way that I should… And I was asked- how, without preparation, would I ever be ready when my turn came? Whoa.
  2. If you are always ready, you never have to prepare! Ummm, ok. I knew that but I gotta figure out how this works with my creativity style of “go-with-the-flow”
  3. The final response was that no matter how often people try to push me to be like others, I can only be myself. I don’t have to follow the styles of others, the format of others or anything else “of others” in order to have success. I’ll never be Tink. I don’t need to emulate her or anyone else. The best person I can ever be and the one I know most personally is myself.  I need to stay in my lane and it’s always better if I let folks know- that ain’t me, bro!

These answers were so incredibly timely as I’m always on a path of self discovery. Sometimes though, I forget to just be me. Some can’t really handle me (and that’s ok). This was just the reminder that I needed- that I’m in the right place but there are things I need to do to stay in the right place. It’s taken me a long time to figure out who I am and this is just one more lesson on the journey. I’m just going to go with it. So practice, practice, practice it is! You guys may get tired of my posts. But if you don’t and you actually enjoy them- please SUBSCRIBE! 😀

My New Lunch Hideaway: Fox in the Snow Cafe

As someone who works on the outskirts of downtown, I am always looking for a new place to escape and find lunch. Today I just wanted to enjoy what is likely one of the final remnants of sunshine and lukewarm days in Columbus, Ohio until spring returns. I planned to head to Chipotle but discovered some markers I need for a class were sold at Blick in the Short North. Let’s see (I thought)… markers or Chipotle in the opposite direction? Well, I decided on the markers and headed to Blick. On the way back I remembered that the last time I traveled 4th Street, I discovered the whereabouts of a cafe I’d read about on Columbus Underground. They gave it a write up that was just interesting enough that I’d want to check it out (find it here: http://www.columbusunderground.com/first-look-fox-in-the-snow-cafe-in-italian-village). The main thing I remembered about the review was that it was located in Italian Village (where the heck is that?) and that the pic made it look cool. So on the way back to work, I took 2nd Avenue over to 4th and turned right.

So, I found it and entered in what seemed like the back door (where there is off street parking) and made my way to the front. I’ll be honest- that part is awkward as you do something I absolutely hate: walk physically past food that is sitting out to be served. TherFISCPastriese was an array of pastries- cinnamon rolls, biscuits with jelly, muffins and a host of other options. I thought about all the hair and skin particles floating in the air and tried not to be grossed out enough to turn back. At the counter were friendly staff who helped me decide on a drink (a mocha) and convinced me to try a pastry despite my previously mentioned concerns. I observed that they serve slow drip coffees. While I was being rung up, I asked the cashier if they were “pretty much a coffee and pastry shop?” and he answered affirmative. But suddenly, a member of the kitchen staff comes out with a BEAUTIFUL breakfast sandwich served on a cutting board instead of a plate. I said- WAIT! We promptly changed my order (thanks for understanding bro!). By the time I finished ordering (interpret – holding up the line) my coffee was ready. It turned out my barista is a latte artiste and fashioned a beautiful feather from the frothed milk just for me. Ok- he does it for everyone. Dang it! Anywho- I danced a happy dance all the way to my table admiring my latte and took its picture.

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Lynne’s Latte – a beauty right?
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The bar facing the kitchen

So, let’s talk about the overall place and atmosphere. I was probably the only non-local person in the place. Fox in the Snow is like the Cheers of coffee houses and folks were familiar and chatting. I’d forgotten that it boasted large windows as it was previously a garage. The wood work is beautiful and there are plants EVERY WHERE! I’m a such a sucker for succulents, hanging and other green plants (I found out some were fake, but that didn’t change my enthusiasm)! I chatted it up with a lady who sat next to me about the plants, particularly since she had some in a bag (she recommended my next field trip http://rosebredl.com/). The kitchen is open (like Northstar) with a glass pane through which you can see the cooks working if you desire.

My sandwich came out hot and delicious (I ate it all). The egg was fluffy and light, the bread fresh with a crunch on the outside and the spinach inside was flavorful. I was not disappointed.FISCSandwich

Oh! And I did drink my coffee. It was a different experience, minus all the extras from Starbucks. It was pretty and I will need to reflect later on if I really liked it. I like my milk with coffee if you know what I’m saying.

Overall- great experience. The food was good (Far above most of my daily options one of which is Wendys). The plants, sun-inviting windows and warm wood tones are incredibly inviting. I can see myself going there to hide out from my work peers, enjoy a sandwich from the kitchen and maybe, maybe- one of those beautiful pastries.

**One more thing- while traveling up 4th strFISClogoeet, the cafe is actually rather nondescript but you’ll know it by the fox on the wall. >>>>

First Listen: Jordin Sparks is Right Here, Right Now

I’ll be honest… I don’t support many mainstream R&B artists. They just don’t have much to say these days about anything beyond sex, sex, money, cars and oh… sex. Don’t get me wrong. This kind of music does have a purpose and place… Think pulsating and still twerking bodies in the flickering lights of a night club and on long car rides. Yes- the right playlist will get you down the road in a jiffy! Former American Idol winner Jordan Sparks has decided to throw her hat in the ring with a switch from a largely pop sound to one that is decidedly more R&B. If the fact that she has a song titled Boyz In the Hood doesn’t convince you, perhaps it is her crooning that her guy shouldn’t “double tap that hoe”. I actually laughed at that song and the accompanying lyrics. The promise ring wearing Jordin was a mere 17 when she joined American Idol and its safe to assume that she is looking toward a promise with a different focus and outcome.

Let’s get to the music! At 25 and with current project Right Here, Right Now, Jordin is attempting to prove that she is now grown and sexy and can R&B vixen with the best of them. Don’t get me wrong, she still has a couple of pop-like tracks for long time fans. This project however ventures into other waters. Songs like They Don’t Give remind me of the liberation of Janet Jackson via Rhythm Nation. On this track she is telling her love that we need not care about what others think- we got this.Yeah, Janet. There is also a reggae joint via Casual Love featuring Shaggy where Miss Sparks is telling her love interest that she’s not the casual lover type (Sidebar: Shaggy is a smart dude. He reminds me of Snoop hopping on the proper wagons to keep his name in the limelight). The song has just enough reggae swag to have you pointing your imaginary guns with a quick body whine. Jordin also features R&B newcomer (for some), Elijah Blake on Unhappy. Unhappy appears to be in response to her break up with Jason Derulo who claimed in interviews that he was never really happy with Jordin who saw him through a broken neck injury and beyond. You couldn’t tell he was unhappy publicly (I saw the interviews of you espousing your happiness Jason!), as even she missed the signs but apparently he was faking it. I digress. Tell Him That I Love Him takes a step deeper look into losing your mate to another. By the time this song, followed by 11:11 appear, I’m hoping she’s almost over him. Heart break is a mutha and I wasn’t in the mood. The project rounds out with 100 Years, a slow groove about a new love (yay for Sage the Gemini) and a head bobb’n It Ain’t You (which sounds like Tinashe’s 2 On AND All Hands on Deck).

12 tracks and all are worth a listen unless you’re like me and uninterested in break-up songs. I went on the ride with Jordin and while we were re-routed for a few minutes, we found our way to the main roads again. She’s got it all- dance beats, dope beats, reggae and slow grooves to help you get over your broken heart. All she’s missing is a diss record! Where’s the diss track Jordin?!! Anyway- Jordin is doing music her way and it’s refreshing. Go get this.

Review: Tyrese’s Black Rose

Tyrese’s 2015 release, Black Rose had me at liner notes, complete with vocal information, lyrics and a cover reminiscent of Marvin Gaye concert footage. I purchased the regular edition (the deluxe includes some stuff I don’t care about lol) and immediately popped It in for the ride home. Some folks (Tyrese included) have stated that he is bringing back real R&B. As a true fan of music I would say that R&B has never gone anywhere but what has changed are the faces of those being propped up by mainstream as current representation. This has been going on for years as somehow boy bands with mediocre voices replaced in popularity the voices of existing male groups like Boys II Men. But I digress (til another day my friends)… Tyrese does have a winner if you enjoy R&B music with smooth grooves and is of the sort where the singer can actually sing, without help from the studio gadgetry. Think of the rawness in The Five Heartbeats when Eddie King, Jr grabbed the mic and sang a capella during their first performance.  Tyrese has the grit and ability to star in a remake for sure!

So, let’s get into music. Black Rose is comprised of 14 tracks including the stellar lead song, Shame (matching the ever powerful vocalist Jennifer Hudson who shines on bgvs), features from  Chrisette Michelle (Don’t Wanna Look Back), Brandy (The Rest of Our Lives), Marsha Ambrosius (though not credited for bgvs on Picture Perfect) and his TGT homie Tank (Prior to You).  I don’t know about you but I like to be wooed by music. A good beat is great (Tyrese has them) but add some appeal by giving me some poetry and intellect in the midst of your pursuit.  That said, I’m not here for the ratchet, unnecessarily explicit lyrics that are highly over played by mainstream radio today. Tyrese brings us some balance. One thing that surprised me was that he had writing credit on every song. In fact, the Black Rose Tyrese reminds me NOT of the persona he displays via his social media accounts, but of the Lately, on-the-bus-singing-about-Coca-Cola-drinking-Tyrese of yesterday! I mean, I know he’s from the hood but he tricked me back in the day into thinking he was just a nice guy who liked to write lyrics and sing aloud on the bus like me! Black Rose is a love letter and this Tyrese is eloquently pursuing with words a love he has injured perhaps irreparably. This is evidenced on Leave where he croons- ‘if you ever leave, I would be helpless, you would be hopeless, like a sea without a beach, what would life mean?’ I don’t know about you, but I’d go back at least one more time!

This cd certainly deserves some major spin. You may find that it reminds you of some of the tone and angst experienced on a Marvin Gaye cd without stealing Marvin to make it happen (Cough! Robin Thicke!). Tyrese certainly has vocal chops and here he uses them well. On Without My Heart, he went so low and deep in tone that my passenger and I looked at each other and exclaimed “daaaaamn!” Other stand out tracks are-  Waiting On You, I Still Do and the sensual Gonna Give You What You Want. The only expendable is the song Dumb Sh-t which began as a diss song toward comedian Spanky Hayes (google it). Minus that one song, this entire project could be played during any radio station’s “quiet storm” show. It covers the entire gamut of a relationship from good to bad to “oh crap, I might have messed up for good this time”. Overall, this project makes me forgive Ty for becoming Black Ty and later his horrid, relationship advice. But isn’t that what music is supposed to do- Make you forgive and forget past transgressions, dance and bob your head until you forget everything becoming putty in his hands?