Look, I know, no one likes going to the DMV. Even if it all goes as smoothly as possible, there is waiting in line, and probably talking to someone underpaid and surly, and waiting around for your number to be called, and so on. No one wakes up, swings their legs jauntily over the side of the bed, bouncing with excitement to go to the DMV. And I get that, I do. I didn’t set my alarm for 6:30 this morning so I could be at the DMV right when it opened because I was SUPER EXCITED to go, or because I was dying to get a new license (I’m actually kinda sad to see my California one go), or because gosh darn it, standing in line is fun. No, I went because I’m supposed to- this is what a generally law-abiding citizen does when moving from state to state- you get a new license, you register your car, you pay state taxes, you stand in line with everyone else.

And OF COURSE, I spent a good amount of time on the Georgia Department of Driver Services website, trying to make sure I had all the documents I needed to obtain this license, because waiting in line for NO REASON is infuriating. I thought I had everything- passport, social security card, proof of residence, my unexpired license. But after 20 minutes of line to get to the woman who gives you a number (not even the person who could help me obtain the license. Just the line to stand in another line, although there were chairs for the second part), it turns out I actually need TWO proofs of residence. That sounds wrong- two documents providing proof of residence? Why is there not a simpler way to say that?

Ok, FINE. I didn’t scour the website ENOUGH, apparently, and I missed the part about needing TWO documents to prove residence, so I am JUST fine taking this one on the nose. It’s my fault. I get it.

On the list of approved documents to prove residency, I see that I can bring in a bill for water or garbage or gas or what have you. But I don’t work. Generally, all those bills are in J’s name, because she is employed, and therefore is capable of paying those bills. Of course, this is not exactly how it works, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say that it is, so I cannot use this as proof of residency.

The state of Georgia has provided for women in my situation- all I have to do is bring in the unexpired Georgia license of a spouse or relative residing in the same household, and this will provide proof of residency. Ok, fine- I suppose I can wait for J to get HER license, in between working 60 hour weeks and driving 60 miles a day to and from work, once we get a bill in her name delivered to the house.

OK, though, seriously? The law states that you have THIRTY DAYS to get new licences and register your cars from the day you establish residency. But you most likely have to wait about 30 days to get a bill with your name and new address delivered, so this deadline is ALREADY virtually impossible to meet, even if you DON’T have to wait for your spouse to get licensed. I know, I know. No one is gonna pull me over for driving with California plates and ask me when I moved here, and then haul me off to jail because it was TWO months ago, not less than 30 days. I get it. But COME ON. It’s the law, and I like obeying the law.

BUT HERE’S THE THING, and thank you for reading six hundred words to get here- how do I prove that J is my spouse? Georgia does not allow domestic partnerships, and I seriously doubt showing up with my Canadian marriage license is going to be good enough. It’s not like I can skate by on J’s androgynous first name- people often mistake her for my husband when all they see is our names written down- if I have to bring her actual driver’s license with me, it’s gonna say RIGHT ON IT that she’s female.

(It just occurred to me that I could pass her off as my sister- we have the same last name, but you know. The law, and the part where I like obeying it).

If we were a heterosexual couple, I’d just tuck our marriage license in my bag, as added proof, and be on my way. But here in America, I have no such document. I can, obviously, just GO, and SEE what happens, but as I covered in the opening bit, no one LIKES to go to the DMV. No one goes there without being reasonably certain they’re going to walk out of there with what they came for, and since I don’t KNOW that just trying has a chance in hell of working, I’m… not going to.

It’s not really a big deal, in all honesty- it turns out J applied for the water bill in both our names; when that comes, I’ll set my alarm for 6:30 again and go stand in line a second time. I’ll get the stupid license, and I’ll get the cars registered. But it’s another little thing, on top of all the OTHER little things, that makes not being legally married a hassle.

 

PS-Honestly, it would be better if I still worked- I could show up with my own W2 and our lease agreement, and I’d have been done by now. But TONS of hetero women stay home with their children, and the law provides for them in multiple ways- they can get licenses, they can contribute to IRA accounts, they can obtain their husband’s military pensions. I don’t see why it should be so different for me.

PPS- This is also why a state-by-state approach isn’t the answer to gay marriage. What was I supposed to do, tell J to QUIT HER JOB because it moved us to a place where our union is unrecognized? IN THIS ECONOMY?

PPPS- for those of you keeping track at home, J’s adoption of Olivia has been approved. She has filed the paperwork in LA County, and we are awaiting a court date. For this court date, all three of us must appear before the judge. We will have to fly to CA, pay for a place to stay, and rent a car. J will miss work, at least one day, for us to spend at the courthouse. A million little things, all piled up.

 

 

The other day, J showed me a picture someone had posted on Facebook- a young man was holding up a sign with his name, birthdate, and place of birth.  The lengthy caption underneath said that he’d been adopted as an infant, and although it was a closed adoption, he was very interested in finding his birth parents, and could social media help him?  Did anyone have any information about him or his birth, and could they share?  And of course, could everyone seeing this picture “like” and “share” it?

Of course, the man and his wife had contacted his adoption agency and gotten no information, which is why they were turning to social media, and which is why this ASTOUNDING amount of personal information was now available to me, a COMPLETE STRANGER (but that is a rant for a whole ‘nother post, not this one).  I also read the comments, interested in what people had to say about this situation.  There were people wishing them luck on their search, and several people very concerned about whether or not his adoptive parents were supportive or okay with his choice to find his birth parents, but no one, NO ONE, expressed any concern about the birth mother.  No one.

This man was born in 1981 in California (OMFG, YOU GUYS.  THIS IS ALL INFORMATION THAT WAS RIGHT ON FACEBOOK I AM SHOCKED AT HOW MUCH I KNOW ABOUT THIS GUY IT’S UNBELIEVABLE  SORRY I CANNOT GET OVER THIS PART RIGHT NOW), which, although more than 30 years ago now, we can all agree is the “modern” era.  As in, adoption was not something women were forced to do, if they didn’t want (generally speaking, of course, I know, I know, even in these modern times, yadda yadda, limited abortion access, I know), and giving up a child in a CLOSED adoption was most likely one of several choices this man’s birth mother was afforded at the time of his birth.  What I’m trying to say, very inelegantly, is that this man was not born in 1910, or 1810, or some other time where women were generally not permitted to make these choices themselves.  While I KNOW that I am presuming an awful lot about this woman, I feel reasonably sure that she had SOME ELEMENT of choice in the matter of the adoption of her child.  I might, of course, be totally wrong, which has been known to happen, but even if I am wrong in this particular instance, I feel comfortable making the argument that is forthcoming (eventually, I promise).

And that argument is, simply, that this man’s birth mother made a choice to have a closed adoption FOR A REASON.  And maybe it’s because my family is sort of on the other side of the equation (I’ll explain in a minute), but I think it’s deeply disrespectful of the wishes of the birth mother to harness social media (or a private investigator, or a psychic, or a shaman, or whatever) to find her, when she SO CLEARLY made her wishes known.

You and I don’t need to know her reason.  There are a million times in our lives where we will simply not know the reason for something.  Even her child, obviously adopted into a loving family, is not OWED an explanation, or a meeting, or even any information about his birth mother, simply because she declined to offer it.  I am aware that this might be an unpopular opinion, and I don’t care.  If I were to make such a momentous choice, and to decide, in my right mind, that I wanted the make the adoption closed, so that my offspring couldn’t find me, then I would hope that everyone involved, the nurses, the agency, the loved ones in my life who knew what I’d done, would have the decency to respect my decision.  They might not like it, and that’s fine.  I’ll hazard that there are people in my life RIGHT NOW who do not approve of my choice to not work in my chosen field in order to stay home with my child, and they’re entitled to their opinion, as long as they RESPECT me enough to not bother me about it.

But what if she was YOUNG and IMPRESSIONABLE and CHANGED HER MIND, I hear people out there saying.  While I allow that it may be possible that she did, in fact, later in life, wish that she hadn’t closed the adoption, the fact is that she did.  That at the time, she made the decision that was best for her, and now she, and the resultant offspring, have to live with that.  We’ve all made decisions that we wish we could change now, in retrospect, but life doesn’t work that way.  You don’t get to change the fact that you ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s, no matter how much you regret it.  She doesn’t get to magically open her adoption because somehow, now, she thinks she made the wrong choice.

[GIANT ASIDE: I don’t know, man. I think people making those sorts of arguments about the birth mother changing her mind are being kinda douchey about it.  You think a woman, no matter how young, just gives a child up for adoption easily?  Like, with no thought about the potential ramifications?  That’s the same argument people are making about women using abortion like birth control, and I DEFINITELY think those people are douches.]

What does this have to do with me?  J and I chose an anonymous sperm donor for Olivia.  We had the choice between an anonymous donor and one who was “willing to be known,” and we chose the anonymous donor, SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE he was anonymous.  While I understand that someday, Olivia may want to know “where she came from,” the truth will be that she came from our love and our dedication to raising her.  She will have no way of contacting the man who offered her his DNA, and she will have to live with that fact.  It will be NONE OF HER BUSINESS why he chose to donate anonymously, and it will be one of the millions of things in life she will just have to accept.  She will also have to accept that her parents are gay and her eye squinch shut when she smiles, and there will be nothing she can do to change those things.  This might sound harsh and terrible, but COME ON.  There are tons of things we force our children to JUST DEAL WITH, whether it be broccoli or little siblings.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s really, really not that big a deal.  REALLY.

BUT WHAT ABOUT HER MEDICAL HISTORY, I hear those same people yelling.  Oh, fuck off.  Did you straight parents interview the person you were planning on having children with regards to their medical history? “Oh, I was GOING to have kids with you, but your mom has breast cancer.  NEVERMIND.”  At the time of his donation, our donor was somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 years old, with 2 living parents in good health.  He doesn’t know JACK SHIT about his medical history, and besides, any HUGE genetic anomalies would have disqualified him from donating IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Olivia will never meet the man who gave her some DNA, and I really don’t think her life will be any poorer for it.  I hope she doesn’t spend time searching for someone who doesn’t want to be known, or time worrying about or missing someone who’s express wish was not to know her.  What a waste of a beautiful and amazing life that would be.

So, good luck, David Smith, born in Chico, California, in 1981.  But I hope you don’t find out who your birth mom is because some asshole on Facebook decided her privacy and desires aren’t really that important.

My post about kids with curly hair seems to have been popular enough to warrant an Adult Version, so here you have it:

What Noemi Does To Her Own Hair, Which May Or May Not Work For You.

For those of you just joining us now, this is me and my current hairstyle:

photo (19)

I think (my mom can chime in here, if she’s so inclined) I had mostly just wavy hair as a child, but things seemed to have morphed during puberty giving me a head full of curls I butchered with short, unflattering cuts until I finally grew it long in high school.  At which point I simply changed what direction I took in my abuse of my hair, and that is by soaking it in a disgusting L’Oreal product called Pumpin’ Curls, which is essentially rubbing alcohol, and carries the warning that it is FLAMMABLE.

In college I wore it butch-ass short, and then took the following two years to grow it back out, so it wasn’t until I moved to Seattle in 1999 that I finally had both enough hair and enough of being displeased with it that I decided I should DO something about it.  Y’all, I didn’t have the internet at home in 1999, so I’d go to the local library to check my Hotmail.  And then, after seeing no job offers in the aforementioned Hotmail account, I’d wander the stacks, trying to look employable.

BDOC: 1997

BDOC: 1997

Which is where I ran across Curly Girl: The Handbook.  This book gave me a reason and the tools to change everything about the way I dealt with my hair, and if you’re interested in the science behind curly hair and why you need to baby the shit out of it, this is a good place to start.

I’m not going to bore you with a big long discussion of all the products and techniques I did to get to what I do now (I mean, unless you want me to, via email), so here’s exactly what I do.

I use four products total: shampoo, conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and gel.

Shampoo and Conditioner:

shamp_cond

These are Deva products (made by the company started by the author of the Curly Girl Handbook), and I usually order them online, but some salons do carry them, with the attendant mark-up, of course.  If you see this at Target or the grocery store, it’s stock that “fell off a truck,” and you’re going to pay WAY over retail for them., so stick to the salon or the internet.

Low-Poo: I know, it’s an idiotic name.  This is a low-lather shampoo that gets my hair clean, given that I’m unable to shower every day, and have a tendency towards greasy-ness.  The 12 ounce bottle pictured above lasts me… uh, a long time?  At least a couple months?  Gentle enough to use every day.

One Condition: I use a metric fuckton of this, which is why I buy that huge pump bottle size, instead of the 12 ounce size like the shampoo.  I shampoo first thing when I get in the shower, rinse, then apply conditioner and go about the rest of my shower.  I rinse as the very last thing before I exit the shower, and I don’t COMPLETELY rinse.  My hair still feels a bit slippery, not squeaky or rough.  If I feel like I’ve rinsed TOO MUCH, I just add a little bit back.

Styling Products:

KC_prod

Knot Today: This is a leave-in conditioner, and I use a healthy dollop (I don’t know- usually when you read these types of posts, they tell you amounts in coin sizes. So, uhhhh, silver dollar size?  I have no fucking clue).

Curling Custard: This is a gel, and I use a small scoop; the amount that fits on my first three fingertips when I dip them into the tub.

Now, the routine itself:

In the shower, I shampoo and condition, leaving a bit of conditioner in when I do my final rinse.  Now, this next part is different than what I talked about doing for kids, because it’s a bit more involved and you’re an Adult, and can handle it.  Before I get out of the shower stall, I run my hands over my hair and squeeze some water out.  My hair is still SOAKING.

Now we go straight to product.  I know, it’s WEIRD.  Your hair is dripping down your back, it’s itchy and uncomfortable, but SERIOUSLY.  This is the step that changes everything. I put my silver dollar (or whatever) amount of Knot Today in my hands and smear it around on my palms.  Then I flip my hair forward and holding my fingers like a rake, I shake my hair loose from its slicked back state.  Now the curls are “loose” and I scrunch the Knot Today in all over, scrunching up from the bottom, adding a bit right in the front (where my “bangs” would be, if I had them).  Some people will tell you to rake this product through your hair to make sure every strand is coated, but my curl pattern is too delicate for that sort of treatment.  If you’re just starting this sort of routine, you’re gonna have to play with it a bit to see what works with your particular hair, so if you think this shake and scrunch technique is TOO delicate for you, try something more.

My hair is still sopping wet.  With it still flipped forward, I use that same scrunching motion to dry it with a microfiber towel (I use automotive shop towels). This is all the drying I’m going to do, and I don’t even do that much.  Just enough for it to stop dripping.

Now, this part might just be me, but at this point I leave the steamy bathroom and start getting dressed.  It’s most likely bullshit, but I feel like the transition between hot bathroom to cool bedroom “shocks” the hair cuticle shut, preventing it from losing more moisture.  I TOLD YOU IT WAS MOST LIKELY BULLSHIT.  I DO IT ANYWAYS.

Once I’m dressed, I flip my head forward once more, and again with the scrunching motion, add in the Curling Custard, concentrating on the ends of my hair.  And that’s it.  My hair is still very wet, but that’s all I’m going to do with it for the rest of the day.  The hardest part from here on out it keeping my hands out of it- the more I mess with it before it’s dry, the more I disturb the curl pattern.  When I worked, the 15 minute drive to work was just enough time to let my hair “set.”  I’d arrive at the parking garage, scrunch the curls one last time, and TA-DA!

It sounds like a lot, but I GUARANTEE it takes less time than blow-drying and flat ironing.  Try it!

Some additional thoughts:

If you’re using silicone based products to tame the frizz or as a “heat protectant” because you flat iron, you’re going to want to do a clarifying shampoo first before you try new products.  Those silicones have coated your hair shaft, and these no-detergent shampoos aren’t going to be strong enough to remove this buildup.

Your hair is gonna look worse before it looks better.  I know, this TOTALLY blows.  Start the first time on a Friday night, so you have the weekend to throw yourself a pity party and write me a scathing email about how you wasted at least 15 minutes reading all these words and your hair looks like shit.  It’s cool, I can take it.  Generally, you should stick with it for 2 weeks, but I started seeing a difference by the third day (so, Sunday in my hypothetical above).

If it’s cold where you are, you’re also up against the dry air, which is counterproductive to all this moisturizing you’re trying to do.  You can do as much drying as possible at home using a diffuser, or you can wait to try this when it’s warmer, or you can have frozen hair (this was my choice.  I know, I know.  Colds are still caused by viruses).

The importance of a good hair stylist cannot be understated.  They don’t need to be specially trained and only do curly-haired clients, although that’s not a bad thing.  What they do need to know is how to cut curly hair in general (like no bobs that end around the ear where all the hair is one length, JESUS H. CHRIST, even people with STRAIGHT hair knows that gives you triangle head like that Dilbert chick); and how to use thinning shears.  NaturallyCurly.com has a tab where in salons and stylists in all 50 states are rated by other people with curly hair, sometimes at great length, so if your current stylist isn’t working for you, you might want to check it out.

YouTube has a bajillion videos with all kinds of women with all kinds of hair types doing these sorts of techniques- it really helped me to watch a real live person SHOW me how to do it.

I don’t have a good “second day” hair routine- if I did my hair the day before, and don’t sleep on it until it is BONE DRY, it looks good enough the next day to wear down (although I think some of this has to be attributed to the CUT, which has that tousled-just-out-of-bed look to it anyways.  My undying gratitude to my stylist, Kellianne). After that it’s a million and one variations on the bun/ponytail.  If you find something that works for you, drop me a line, eh?

If it’s not painfully obvious by now, I like to talk hair, so feel free to tell me what works for you.