What do Madonna and Eddie Vedder have in common?

I’m sure they have more than I will discuss, actually.  But to me, they have this in common:  they were both my childhood heroes.  To ones that know me, that will not surprise them.  I was fortunate enough to have a mom who supported my inner performer long before I realized that this inner, artistic being was the driving force of me.

If you’ve read a long, or seen me on Facebook, you can probably say you know about why I am “obsessed” with Eddie Vedder, so I’ll start, instead, with Madonna.  The year was 1988.  I just got the patchouli-laden cassette tape, Like a Prayer, and was already wearing the tape threading down to shreds.  At age seven, I’d seen the video.  I was only aware that she was controversial in the media.  I may not have understood the weight of all the inferences in the video–what I cared about more was this was an amazing woman.  She inspired me.  I knew she was taking heat for doing something radical–and I loved it with every fiber in my being.

I created an interpretive dance to the song that I dragged my (Mormon!) friend, Samantha, into.  Mom patiently watched as I leapt from the coffee table, came down to one knee and twirled about our otherwise unused den.  I still listen to this album when I vacuum or clean the house…great calorie burner…

I also remember hearing the track that she shares with Prince.  It’s a slow, almost R&B-like duet.  I didn’t know Prince, I didn’t know of his infamy, but I knew that this was something quite special.  Prince radiated sexuality, and I picked up on that, yes, even at age 7.

Loving Madonna as a young girl shaped my feminism, my advocacy for women’s rights, and my own desire to be a female performer.  She inspired me–she told me through her music–to celebrate being female, to celebrate being artistic, and that if people didn’t like it, well, tough shit, frankly, because I have a right to do this.  I love her to this day.

As a teenager, Erotica, came out.  I didn’t ask for it.  I didn’t buy it until much later in life, but I kept my peripheral vision on it.  It seemed that these bold and erotic expressions were okay.  That it was okay to be bold and female and sexual.  Society doesn’t really teach girls to be aware of themselves, or what’s okay and what’s not.  I knew, at 13, that this exploration of art and music and sexuality was okay–well, at least it was for Madonna.

I could go on and on…

I could also go on and on about Eddie.  But I loved him, surprisingly, for the same reasons, in ways.  For example, there was something about him climbing up on a stool during MTV’s Unplugged and scrawling “PROCHOICE” on his forearm that just ignited me.  A man fighting for women’s rights?  A man who would go to conferences to advocate for women’s rights?!  Wow, amazing.  (and sexy, but remember, I was going to marry him and all…)

Eddie shaped my political beliefs.  He may not have given me this rebellious, strong-willed “freedom for everyone” attitude, but he sure did spread it like wildfire. He was my childhood role model.  I didn’t have any male role models, really.  Yes, my beloved grandpa, but he was 1240 miles away.  So Eddie became the stand-in male role model…he shaped my taste in men, my political views, my musical preferences, my poetry…my world.

So, yes, now you know that Eddie and Madonna have at least this in common:  me.

Keep on rockin’ in the (supposedly) free country,

Rachael

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The Beauty of Dreams…

There’s a Devin Townsend song called “Grace.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Devin Townsend or “The Devin Townsend Project” or “DTP”, please do yourself a favor and get acquainted!  You will thank me later.  Don’t be put off by the label “metal” or “progressive metal.”  What you will find is a beautifully (heavy) and melodic mix of songs, ranging from introspective quiet/experimental, to whack your steering wheel with your thumbs awesome.

I happen to be wearing a Devin Townsend Project tee in this picture that I’m including.  But what does they have to do with what’s coming next?  Well, my youngest stepson is named after Devin Townsend.  And we’ve had the blessing to meet him twice, both of which times he was so gracious to our family, and totally made our boys happy.

Dreams do come true.  Can you imagine just doing the art you’re born with, and then find out that someone in another country named their son after you?  Pretty amazing, right?  Well, when I met my husband, he had not planned on anymore reproduction.  But he knew that I’ve had a dream since I was a little girl to have a little girl of my own.  So we went to the Penn U hospital fertility clinic about IVF.  We got all the expensive documents.  We chose not to do it.  Even with a vasectomy and my inadequately-sized uterus, they could offer us a surrogate.  But after much thought, I veered toward adoption, only to be horribly dissapointed.

“Why don’t you look into foster care?” I did, on several occasions, only to find out that the ultimate goal of this was to reunite the child with their birth families, no matter how shitty they were.  I could not risk having my heart broken again, and again.  Sadly, I chose to give up this (otherwise seeming) great option.

A time later, I created a gofundme account, and in two weeks, I got about $600.  I still have that, and I am putting away $10-20 of my own meager funding each pay check and as I can.  I realized I need to promote harder.  It will be expensive to adopt otherwise.  After those two weeks, nothing.  I kept going to meetings, researching options, etc.  Friends gave helpful advice.  No one wanted to let me borrow their uterus, alas.  (you can laugh, I’m only half-serious.)

Spending a year helping to raise an infant girl to toddlerhood made my yearning stronger.  I went to an adoption meeting in September that made me horribly jaded and disinfranchised with that system.  It seems that this has become a capitalist venture, indeed.  Some private adoption companies even have claim on “stork” babies–ones that are dropped in the baby bin at hospitals, and would have been, otherwise, free.

But my never-failing optimism sprouted up after a long bout of depression.  She’s out there.  Maybe she hasn’t been born yet.  Maybe she’s waiting for me already.  With 0ver $70K in student loan debt and a house to build, I still forge on in my hope.  What do we have, if not hope?

My husband had the opportunity to name both of his sons.  One got the family name, one got named after Devin Townsend.  He wanted to name her “Gretchen Nebraska” after a King’s X song/album.  “Um, no,” I said.  “You had the opportunity to name your children, one after music.  You can have Gretchen as the middle name.”

It only made sense that my whole life mom would call me “Princess Grace” or just “Grace” because as a clumsy, left-handed daydreamer, I can be anything but graceful at times.  I liken myself to a beautiful giraffe…so elegant, so awkward, so graceful, yet jarringly so.  When I met my in-laws, whom I love as though they were a wonderful, adoptive family (they are, indeed that), I discovered that my mother-in-law, Susan Pennington had multiple pseudonyms:  Sue, Susan, Penny, Grace.  Her husband starting calling her Grace because his favorite hymn was “Amazing Grace.”

So Grace makes sense, if we indeed get a choice in her name at all.  So, after much thought, I updated my gofundme account, and decided that I would start again.  For someone who has battled clinical depression and infertility issues more than half her life, I have never been able to crush the unfailing optimism that was born into my soul.

Thank you for sharing this moment with me, just by reading this.  Please feel free to share it abundantly.  I can even mail or email or fax you flyers.  Thank you for reading my blog and sharing my thoughts on writing, music, and cats.

Below, see the link and share!  Also, note the lyrics and check out Devin Townsend…

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Graced by Adoption

We know that it’s only  human.  We know that it’s only love.  Enjoy these appropos lyrics, if you will:

We know that it’s only human
We know that it’s only love
We know that its far too close to home
To see it now

Love all we can before
We learn all we came for
Learn all we can before
The road leads to home

Grace, grace, grace, grace

High road warning
High road warning

Grace, grace, grace, grace (Say no more)

High road warning
High road warning

Laugh, love, live, learn
Laugh, love, live, learn

Eternal I, eternal I, eternal I, I, I

My child tells me
We are the fallen men
My child tells me
We are the fallen men

Laugh, love, live, learn
Laugh, love, live, learn

Oh my god

Grace, grace, grace, grace

Never fear love
(High)
Never fear love
(Road)
Never fear love
(Warning)

Never fear love
(High)
Never fear love
(Road)
Never fear love
(Warning)

We know that it’s only human
We know that it’s only love
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love
Love all we can

I know the way, and you know the way
We all fall down if we fear love

Never fear love
Never fear love
Never fear love
(Warning)

Never fear love
Never fear love
Never fear love
(Warning)

(Devin Townsend Project)