Warning: rant alert, but beautifully written–;) .
At this moment I’m trying to align what I’ve just seen on tv with rereading Jennifer Lauck’s second blog post in the Countdown to Publication feature on She Writes about her soon to be released memoir Found, her fourth book now in re her adoption and being an adoptee. She implies that the biggest shame for humanity of the past 100 years is adoption.
That’s a pretty self-aggrandizing, conflated, skewed, and inaccurate statement! Personally, I think my list for biggest shames would have to include the Holocaust, dropping the atomic bomb, the Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, massive and perpetual human rights violations across the globe, famine and rape in Africa, female genital mutilation in the primitive strongholds of Islam that few in the world community even know about…and for the moment at least we can throw in the beating of the Egyptian people who have risen up against a thirty-year dictatorship in the streets of Cairo, and the severing of their contact with the outside world.
Astoundingly, the first pages of Found draw a parallel between the nuclear testing in Nevada of the early sixties and Lauck’s birth mother’s pregnancy. Read it for yourself in the Amazon pre-order listing’s look inside widget here. What on earth would make anyone view her advent into the world as on a par with something of the weight– literally– and significance of nuclear testing? How amazingly arrogant! Is this conflation supposed to make us care enough to keep reading?
Moreover, there have been two sequels from Simon and Schuster that didn’t sell, and so now Seal Press is gullible enough to think that a fourth memoir about the same victim, same subject, will.
In 2001 the Willamette Weekly in Oregon– Lauck’s home state– investigated claims by family members that Blackbird–which rose high on the NYT list and put Lauck in the spotlight as an authority on adoption– broke faith with much of the truth. The article is convincing and consistent with the sense one has that this writer likes being the center of her own universe so much she’ll fabricate it. We know hyperbole in memoir is a given–one wants to tell a good story, after all– but what of the claims she’s made in the two She Writes blog posts that she is committed to “the truth?”
Sorry, JL: I just don’t see you as all that underprivileged and hurt. I don’t see myself that way either.
You and I are not victims unless we choose to be. And bashing Oprah for raising the issue of adoption on her “reveal” last week– well, c’mon. She sold a gazillion copies of Blackbird for you, didn’t she– so you could hang out in that Ashram or wherever you went when you had the great misfortune to not have another– yes another– NYT Best Seller???? And ummm let’s see, wasn’t Oprah violated by an uncle so that she had a baby at fourteen that died? And she wouldn’t have had any guilt, grief or trust issues or abandonment issues of her own, right?
And you’re faulting her for earning millions while you were sitting in the lotus position in the Himalayas or wherever you hung out, for getting her act together, not only empowering herself but founding a Girl’s School, turning millions of women on to their inner power, financing a good chunk of the election of the first black president of the United States and giving away millions to charity? Have you done any of those things, o dear lucky enough to be fully clothed, in your right mind and published fellow writer? WTF!
Here’s a tasty little slice from the referenced post: “So all this is a long way around to the very big question. Will this book, this heartfelt, true and achingly honest book, be understood? Will Found ever make it to the talk show circuit? And, will my journey be any less valid if the answers are no?”
Gag me with a tampon, JL. Maybe you should let someone else call Found a “heartfelt, true and achingly honest book” instead of pre-reviewing it and before we all get out air sickness bags.
I know, I know, I don’t sound the least empathetic, compassionate, or concerned about the many women and men mourning for their lost mothers who feel abandoned.
Guess what. We all get abandoned one way or another over time– we all get that dirt or that boot in the face– from a spouse, from someone else in a position of trust. When someone dies. At work. At home. From a relative. Maternal rejection in any form is painful and believe me, it hurts when you get it from a mother who shuts you out and plays your need for her like a violin. I just posted a poem about it at La Parola Vivace– The Bird of Dust— it’s not about my mother doing her best: it’s about her breaking my wings with her rage and inconstancy and emotional goings away and how her mental illness took her away.
Yes, this is my truth and like you, I try to be about the truth– otherwise, why write. Yes, I /we need to own that what happened to me and others whose mothers turned against them and/or terrorized them was very bad. But the fact remains: I did have a mother and you had two. You had the one that loved you enough to surrender you, who knew she couldn’t handle it, and whoever adopted you. Put down the violin.
And guess why I don’t write about this very often anymore? Because I’ve bled the whole issue dry and gotten so much literary mileage out of it, it’s unbelievable. Three books of poems, a bunch of short essays here on this blog that people who care about me have been kind enough to read and yadda yadda. Dwelling on my past also takes me back there, back and down into the throes of poor misunderstood Jenne’ with all of her wounds and problems. Poor poor Jen who needs the world to take care of her and nurture her and prop her back up.
It is time for all of us engaged in strip-mining our painful personal histories to get a grip. It is time to stop being a victim and acting like one. It is 100 percent past time to shut the fuck up and get on with our lives and begin turning them around.
Oh, I’m still not quite there, I can assure you. I lost the enamel on my teeth and have a mouthful of cavities, and I’m dental-phobic. I’m still having trouble with good-byes and completely letting go. Part of me is still trying to go home to a twenty-year relationship that was a roller coaster ride and part of me still thinks, “I’ll just nurture a little bit, and be there a little bit, and it will be fine.”
But. Paying very much court to this situation in my life is not as good for me as being about the business of writing and moving on however I can. Going over and over it sucks. If I stay there, I’ll fall back into my alcoholism, I’ll feel so sorry for myself. If I stay there. It will be the Second Comings and Goings of Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton. I’ll lose touch with the phenomenal sense of power I have from laying claim to my own art, work, and life over the past year and admitting to myself that I’m a writer. Doing that is one of the things you’ve done well and you should probably stick to that. What about a book How to Fight Back From Every Kind of Personal Misery??? Oh– sorry– maybe that is what your book’s about. But it sure doesn’t sound like it from the drum of pathos you’re beating on the SW blog.
Now I know I’ve alienated at least a few passers-by. I’m sorry. But really.
Last night I saw a post on She Writes from a woman in a burkah, obviously posted before the Mubarak regime cut off the Internet: she pled for world attention and prayers. Now there’s someone we should be thinking about today; she’s got the double whammy. She’s in a Muslim marriage in which she’s the property of her husband, perhaps, for starters, which puts her one down out of the starting gate. Now she’s out in the streets, where the military is moving in; I just saw a tank open fire on a group of people.
You and I are free to shed all of the tears we need to over our sorry little dilemmas; we live in the U.S.. It will be a cold day in hell when someone shuts off the Internet on our First Amendment Rights; I would be the first to bring down whoever tries it, with my bare hands. Let’s try a little gratitude and buck the fuck up, shall we?