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22 December 2004 @ 07:40 am
Before the beginning....  

Okay. Counting back from late August of 1949, we get … hmmmm … 1948 late November? Sometime in December? Sounds like they might have been at a holiday party and got … friendly. They ended up in a Situation. It wasn't a Tenable Situation. Maybe they weren't married. I guess that's the most likely reason, but there are certainly other possibilities. It might not have been a holiday party. It might have been something else entirely. Who's to know? In any case they made some Arrangements with some lawyers and a couple of families. One family wanted a son; the other, a daughter.

When I eventually showed up they discovered I was a boy, so I ended up going home with Mr. & Mrs. Joseph N. Haskell; otherwise known as "Joe & Ellamae," known by some as "Uncle Joe and Auntie El," known by me as "mom and dad."

(Want weird? Try this one on for size. Had I been born a girl, I wouldn't have been just a different sex, I would have been raised in an entirely different family in an entirely different place with an entirely different environment; in other words, I would have been an entirely different person (save whatever fraction of our being is "nature"). Sometime last year my mom (that is, Ellamae; I have no clue who or where my biological mother is, although I've now been informed what my family name was at birth) said something that caused me suddenly to think rather deeply about that. It was just too weird for me and made my head spin so I've tried not to poke at it too much of late. I suppose I'll revisit it from time to time in the future.)

In any case, there I was and here I am.

To be continued…

 
 
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Jim Rittenhousejrittenhouse on December 22nd, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC)
So if you had told your parents that you really were a woman, trapped in a man's body...
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 22nd, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)

…they would have sent me to the best psychiatrist they could find. Remember, I was born in 1949. Things were different back then.

Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of the Fredcritterfredcritter on December 23rd, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)
Btw, since I only just opened the bottle of vermouth and waved the cork over my last reply, let me mention that, yes, your comment displayed great cleverosity and I did get a chuckle out of it.
Jim Rittenhousejrittenhouse on December 23rd, 2004 07:32 am (UTC)
Oh, goodie. We only exist to serve.
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of the Fredcritterfredcritter on December 24th, 2004 12:26 am (UTC)
Excellent. In that case you could bring me maybe another martini?
Jim Rittenhousejrittenhouse on December 24th, 2004 02:06 am (UTC)
Yes, sahib. Shaken, not stirred, with a stick of celery in it. It shall be my pleasure.
gomeza on December 22nd, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC)
Wow, and I thought my origin story was odd. I for one, am glad things turned out the way they did.

Although I'm sure we'd never have met if you had turned out to be a girl, given your explanation above, and I too think there's a lot more "nurture" that goes into who we are as adults than there is "nature", I have this feeling that some of the essential qualities which make you valued by your friends might still be the same. I am not really very spiritual, and I claim to be an atheist, but quite frankly, you have always struck me as having a very old soul inside - I believe that's a good thing, in case you're wondering. :)
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 22nd, 2004 03:43 pm (UTC)

Wow, and I thought my origin story was odd.

Do tell?

Yeah. Despite lacking his chops, I sometime identify with Superman. You know: "Strange vistory from another planet, crashed to Earth and raised by Kindly Old Ma & Pa Haskell in the town of Minneapple…"

Although I'm sure we'd never have met if you had turned out to be a girl…

Probably not, but considering the possibilities without discounting too many of them out of hand is part of what made my head spin when I tried to think seriously how differently things might have turned out.

you have always struck me as having a very old soul inside

Thanks. I think I know what you mean and I agree it's a good thing. I tend to think of myself as strictly empirical, which is why I'm so surprised whenever I notice just how very spiritual I really am. I think perhaps I've bumped up against The Big Woo too many times to be able to discount it. In any case, yeah, you may be right about the age of my soul—there have been times I've certainly entertained that notion, and you're not the only person to have mentioned it…

gomeza on December 22nd, 2004 07:25 pm (UTC)
re; do tell
I think I will, I'll post it in my LJ under some sort of "family only" lock. Trouble is, I've received several different versions of the story from my mother, so I'll have to generalize, I guess. I'm not sure I'll ever know the exact truth.

Yep, it's a funny old world...
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 24th, 2004 12:25 am (UTC)
Re: re; do tell

I am interested, but please post only what you're comfortable with. I suppose I don't have to tell you that, but I reckon being explicit about such things is never a bad idea. Me? I grew up in a time when it was perfectly legal for the Post Office Department of the Federal Government to "inspect" (open, read, and potentially share with any other interested governmental agency) any and all mail, without probable cause or warrant, totally at its own discretion. I guess that accounts, in part, for my tendency to pre-edit everything I put in print. Gosh, I sure am glad that things are so different today.

The exact truth? Heh. Who among us is so privileged? … Or perhaps "so burdened" might be a better choice of words.

Indeed. This funny old world keeps turnin'…

Jim Rittenhousejrittenhouse on December 23rd, 2004 07:34 am (UTC)
Frack, so that's the reason you had that Superman suit at Congenial stuffed in your guitar case. I thought it was just your loungewear.
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of the Fredcritterfredcritter on December 23rd, 2004 11:51 pm (UTC)
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
barbary_coast on December 22nd, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC)
My father was adopted, though not until he was 14 and had himself legally emancipated from his birth mother, an east coast socialite type who'd gotten herself pregnant by her married lover in order to 'force' him to divorce his wife and marry her. When that trick didn't work, she dumped him into the foster care system but periodically reclaimed him from his foster parents, the people I knew as my grandparents. She did this until he was 14. At that point, when she announced that she was coming back for him again, his foster parents packed all of his belongings and set them out with a note that said if she took him this time, she could not bring him back ever again.

She left him there on the porch with all his stuff.

If his birth mother had managed to keep him, he most certainly would never have met my mother and I would not have been born. Funny old world.
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 24th, 2004 12:46 am (UTC)

Wow. Did he have to struggle with questions of identity and security throughout his life, or didn't it affect him in that way? I imagine being left on the porch with all his stuff at age 14 must have been a defining moment (although certainly not the only one). How old were you when you learned of his history, and how did it affect you? (As I said to gomeza, I'm interested, but please share only what you're comfortable with.)

…I would not have been born.

Yeah, like that. Curious areas for speculation. And wide open as well, since there's absolutely no way to really know what the alternatives could have been. Unless, of course, you want to take a strictly deterministic approach, in which case there would be no room for speculation at all…

barbary_coast on December 27th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC)
He died when I was only 8, so I have only scanty memories of him. I knew that he was adopted even when I was a child, but it never made me feel any differently toward his adoptive parents. So far as I was concerned, they were his parents and therefore my grandparents -- at least until he died, when things got rather strange with them. In hindsight, they strike me as being every bit as horrid as his birth mother. I was always slightly scared of them when I was a child and now as an adult I look back at them with a mix of anger and regret because I never really got to know them either.

I know that my father had quite a murcurial personality and that he did risky, 'exciting' things, but also that he suffered from what extreme depression (what my mother called his 'black' moods). He went under the North Pole in a Navy submarine, he built race car engines and loved racing, barnstorming buildings in his airplane... that sort of thing. My mother has said that he had a huge need for attention and love. She says that he was emotionally needy and insecure. That doesn't surprise me, all things considered.

Poor man died of cancer when he was 36. I wish I'd had a chance to get to know him better. His parents, btw, ceased speaking to any of us when my mother remarried. They were Christian Scientists and they said that my mother had 'killed' my father because she talked him into seeing a doctor. Supposedly, that 'weakened his faith' enough to allow the cancer to kill him. Such ignorance. In hindsight, I realize that these people never took him to a doctor when he was sick, and they raised him to believe that any illness he suffered from was due to his own spiritual failing. How horrible. The man was abandoned by his birth mother and raised by religious freaks zealots. I can almost understand them being 'zealous' enough to not want to speak to my mother again after his death (after all, they blamed her for it), but I've never understood why they chose to never to speak to me and my siblings again. We were all that was really left of him on earth. They're both dead now too, so I'll never really know them.

How did all of this affect me? For one, I realize that 'family' has nothing to do with blood ties. Blood ties are meaningless without love, time, and emotional commitment. Emotional ties are all that matter. There is nothing sacred or holy about the family that one is born into.

What else? It's made me understand from a very young age that some people have the capacity to regard other people as if they were nothing more than toys or props. Some people are so self-centered that they are almost like emotional hurricanes that leave wreckage in their wake everywhere they go. Did his birth mother have any clue about the damage she was doing to her child all those years by leaving him, taking him, leaving him, taking him...as if he was nothing more than an inconvenient toy? I doubt it. She would bring him back because he cried, or because she was tired of changing diapers, or later on because it was so much 'work' to get him ready for school. She liked the superficial idea of being a parent (photo ops!) but not the reality of it. My grandparents were stuck with the messy reality of parenting. I suppose that they loved him, though I have no way to know that for sure. For all I know, they adopted him out of some sense of religious missionary work. I don't know. All I know of them is that I was scared of them when I was very young, and then later on was cut off from them by their choice. They treated me and my siblings as callously as his birth mother treated my father. I never understood how they could simply cease to speak to any of us.
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 29th, 2004 08:34 am (UTC)

wow

Thanks for sharing that. It's pretty amazing and interesting stuff. I guess everybody's got their story to tell, but that one's pretty intense. And on top of it all, the poor man only lived to be 36! How sad.

Peter Hentgesjbru on December 22nd, 2004 08:34 pm (UTC)
Interesting series of events. How is it that I didn't know you were adopted before now? I'm glad you didn't end up as a girl because that means it's so much easier to talk to you. For, you know, shy guys like us.
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 24th, 2004 01:01 am (UTC)

How is it that I didn't know you were adopted before now?

I dunno. Because the subject never came up in your presence? It's something I've neither hidden nor flaunted, but rather would mention when it seemed relevant to the conversation but otherwise not. I guess there are some things I wear on my sleeve (or, as in the case of my kippah, on my head), and other things I keep buried, but that's neither.

I'm glad you didn't end up as a girl because that means it's so much easier to talk to you.

Heh. If I were a woman you probably wouldn't even know me. (Heck, I probably wouldn't even know me.) Besides, who's to say you'd want to talk to me if I were a woman?

Lianatezliana on December 22nd, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC)
Very interesting. At what point did you know you were adopted?
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of Geri's Fredfredcritter on December 23rd, 2004 11:55 pm (UTC)

I've always known (for Fred values of "always"—that is, I can't remember a time when I didn't know, but then I don't have any time-linked memories before about 2nd grade; my memory access system seems to be unusual and rather non-chronological). Thanks for asking; there'll be more on this at the top level before too long.