I was adopted into an Evangelical family, in Minnesota, USA; as an only child.
It was fuct.
Unable to find suitable reflections in the community around me, I turned to books as a means of escape. Though in following the wishes of the adopted mother, I was soon performing in annual holiday musicals.
While these forms of creativity were acceptable, others were not. Further confined by a community that reinforced norms set in the home, certain energies were suppressed.
Midway thru high school Taoism was introduced, along with the Gnostic Gospels. These books, along with poetry, and music, enabled my mind to expand beyond what I had been fed.
After leaving the US, through ScreamFreely & DreamFreely I continue to work towards the empowerment and growth of the community in which I was raised.
Though that's the quick and easy version, read below for the less than pleasant, albeit more complete, overview.
I'm not sure how soon it was, after I was born, that I was sent to the orphanage; minutes, hours or days?
Months later I was shipped up to the frigid winter of Minnesota, purchased by a husband and wife in their mid-thirties. A consolation prize for winning at whiteness and capitalism, if not life's natural processes for procreation. I spent the next 14 years playing a pretty little monkey for the entertainment of as many white people as possible.
The trade-off was being sent to one of the "best" public schools in the state, Orono Public Schools. They pride themselves on having practically no people of color attend, or work at, their institution; and a very small number of students from middle or low-income households. Perhaps, pride isn't the right word, though they are still having issues - preferring to vilify, demean and punish those who don't adapt to their Euro-centric executive molding.
Though I tried. I had glasses and braces in fifth grade, still being dressed by the woman who bought me. Bounced between the accelerated and normal classes; my anger issues reared their head around this time as well.
They tested me for everything they could, but I continued to provide top scores for all the wrong exams. There was not the excuse to medicate me, nor punish me beyond detention or suspension for reacting to racism every now and again.
Every Sunday was church at Wayzata Evangelical Free Church. We went early because she sang in the congregation choir and he was an usher; they even let him count the offering money, while I watched!
Wednesdays were reserved for choir practice and Pioneer Boys; think Evangelical Boy Scouts for Jesus. I was the excuse for the male to be a troop leader, and eventually, the program director. And while some may wish to dispute my cynacism, their is credible substantiation for the allegation.
When I was perhaps 14 or 15 the local neighborhood boys were all dyeing their hair blonde; it sounded like fun. Though, for my part, in retrospect, I question if it was an attempt to be white, or to try the outfit on for real.
Then again, perhaps it was my first step towards rebellion? Shortly after when asked where I was going, I would tell the woman that I was off to shoot heroin and f$@% hookers.
It was a joke, as I was unable to swallow pills until my early twenties, and I still don't like needles. Sex is cool, but I was raised to believe people were more than objects of desire; despite my own treatment as an object, with teeth.
The shock value wasn't the aim, more an attempt to distance myself from the ability to be manipulated by hollow values that were never practiced with any semblance of sincerity, or consistency, and still are not.
The above video being an example of the previously alluded to discontent with superficiality. Though I was fortunate enough to have a few guiding lights to show me the warmth I sought to provide others.
Nonetheless, anger always seemed a healthy defense to keep the insincere at bay.
Better feared than collared you might say.
Anger is a gift, right?
In the end she got me; a high school sweet-heart who had also been adopted. We originally met on a church missions trip to Chicago. It was the first time I was allowed to spend time near other non-white people; and the first time I fell in love with someone who I thought could understand, and accept, me for who I was.
After high school, we both dropped out of our respective universities to attend Columbia College in Chicago. There we took a class called the Biology of Human Reproduction; opting for the lifelong program.
Naturally we had to get married due to social pressures of affluence and propriety; though I'm going to digress from this narrative for the sake of our child.
The separation was unpleasant, to say the least, and it remains unresolved. Which is a large part of what continues to inspire, and propel my work today -- finding my way back to my child.
My first job, after caddying as a teenager for rich white people at Wayzata Country Club, was working in food service. And it was back to this industry which I returned, in an attempt to make ends meet during most of my twenties.
Curiously enough I was never given a chance to be a server, always relegated to being a busser, or a host. Even at the vaunted Hell's Kitchen, where the CEO wrote me a recommendation; after I was fired for being late to a shift I didn't know I was supposed to work. The drunkard GM who fired me was fired two weeks later, for being drunk on the job. Though I was not allowed to return to their employ. Afterall, I was, as the CEO called me, a survivor.
The University seemed the safest place for me to exist, there was a higher ratio of non-white to white people than elsewhere in Minnesota. I could blend in, even if I wasn't a student.
Eventually I walked into an old haunt, famous for letting freshmen drink, and asked if they needed any help. A man drinking at the bar asked if I knew how to run a sound board, to which I replied,
"You wanna learn?"
He had served in the Army for a time, among other various jobs, and was a talented musician himself; as well as an experienced drinker. Before this, I had not been accepted by the local music scene, though through this experience I was able to become a gatekeeper of my own, or at least, I got a bit more local notariety.
I helped a local University group put on shows every other week, highlighting local non-profits and musicians. And I eventually got my hands on a video camera, along with editing software.
I was also enabled to continue learning and creating music. Though the venue for which I was working never got a music license, and eventually we were shutdown.
So we re-focused our operations on another business the family owned a few blocks away, known as Downtime. Soon we were providing support for local music festivals, and our little hole-in-the-wall became a hub for the hippie scene.
Without a stable income, or community support, outside of my fabled position as the token creative, intelligent and angry brown person, I remained estranged from my own child.
I've glossed over, for the sake of brevity, working at the Subway in my hometown, getting kicked out of my purchaser's house for the idea of smoking weed; getting arrested by them multiple times for trying to have a conversation. Attempting the mentorship of a locally renown white executive, landscaping for some of the suburb's wealtiest denizens, putting locks on doors for their wives, and a slew of other shennanigans.
Between all of the music, marijuana and whiskey, I continued to attend community meetings, gatherings and protests. Raised to believe that if one participated in their community, demonstrated an ability to provide quality service, and expressed their opinion with clarity, that one could manifest change for the better.
It seemed my only hope for ever seeing my own child ever again; to abandon hope was to abandon them. And I had already been abandoned a few times over: #BeingAdoptedMeans.
Science says our brains don't fully mature until our late-twenties; so by thirty I was starting to get a grasp on all that had actually happened thus far in my life. And I started being able to more fully articulate how I might be able to live the rest of it, not just survive.
Ignorance had not been bliss for me, while the best of intentions had most certainly paved the path to a hell.
Eventually, I tried returning to the University of Minnesota, and I was admitted. Though upon my second semester I learned that my purchasers had conspired behind my back to visit my child, against my wishes.
Needless to say I was furious, and distracted; the semester had been successfully sabotaged. In an attempt to salvage a tech job I had recently acquired, I dropped out again.
It was my first real-job! And I even got a trip to PyCon out of it. Though that Spring, as the organization attempted to grow, I was sidelined. We were a small group of coders, led by a self-taught programmer. Social stigma, and gross negligence, led me to leave the company.
I returned to food-service for a time, helped a restaurant open, and even got a chance to serve. Until operational necessity requested I go back to bussing.
Eventually, I found another job in tech. This time as a database administrator, and tech-tool maker. Again, I found myself being listened to only when convenient; and this time, I decided I needed to leave the state completely.
Taking the moments of stability to get my passport, I soon caught a flight down to Latin America. I had a bit of savings, and I just needed a break from whiteness.
Diversity was becoming a buzzword, and I thought I might be able to ride the wave to something sustainable. In due time, I was kicked out of the program; mind you, not before mentoring half my cohort.
Though I was houseless during my participation, something the founders of the academy saw not fit to remedy. Though they mentioned they had done so for others.
So after my expulsion, I decided it was time to leave the state for good. In my mid-twenties I had lived under the roof of a vet, and his childhood friend. They were living in Chicago, and seemed to have made a comfortable life for themselves.
I had a place to crash.
While making vain attempts to find employment, I was continually nagged by a project I'd started many years ago. It had been left unfinished, though in my tedium I learned that another had similar aspirations, and the resources to invest in finding further success than I.
As well, I had liberal access to marijuana, guitars, a piano, and an electronic drumset during this time. I was enabled to take the first steps towards my own holistic healing.
The second steps involved me returning to my country of birth, which I finally did a few years ago. Though it remains a struggle. The process of acculturation being complicated by my complexion.
Cara-indio they call me; indian-face, basically. Though I've since taken the moniker Gringo-Indio to placate my own sensibilities.
Financially, I finally found stability last Summer, after replying to a Facebook post seeking English teachers. My interview was conducted by a Welsh woman, who was able to see beyond the color of my skin, and willing to offer my services to their clientele.
With this new found sense of certainty I've started to re-explore my past misadventures. Collecting their remnants, and recomposing the fragments into the future I once dreamed was possible.
This domain now stands as a testament to these efforts.