Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Big Bowl of Rice

So, I've been doing some inner soul searching and trying to decide what to do with this blog venture.  It just hasn't taken off like I had hoped.  I never have quite found the voice for it I think - life's too up and down I guess to be always upbeat or always serious.  Or so it is with my life anyway.  Dramedies, as this was self-proclaimed to be, are tricky mediums.  If handled just right, say as in Pleasantville, they're genius.  But sometimes they're just a mess where no one can tell if you're trying to be funny or sad and they just end up being bored and confused, like just about every Adam Sandler venture where he tries his hand at a bit of drama.  And then there's the whole adult attention deficit order that I seriously do suffer from - I'm bouncing from dogs to sports, to complaining about traffic, back to sports.  Who can follow that nonsensical rambling?

AP Photo, Patrick Semansky

But, without a large audience to worry about offending or entertaining, there is a certain freedom to say some things just how I really mean them, and so I've decided it will go for the topic of Ray Rice.  There was no way I could retire this thing without saying something about him, you (however few of you there are) knew that right?  And that's because the issue intersects with all that I am:  a woman, a football fan and an opinionated s.o.b.

But to say this can be just about Ray Rice is a fallacy at this point because the story is so much larger, particularly in light of the Adrian Peterson indictment.  This is a story about domestic violence in the NFL, which by its very nature is a violent sport.

First, as a Steelers fan, I have to address the black and gold elephant in the room:  Ben Roethlisberger.  I am happy that he's my quarterback.  Truly, I have to admit that I am.  I think he's turned his life around to the point where I don't worry about how he represents the Steelers brand now off the field, only how he does that on the field.  He's married to a local girl, they have two kids and he's been a pillar of the community for a few years now.  I've joined in on his causes a lot since our interests in police dogs intersect.  In a football crazed town like this one, the large female fan base seems to think that's enough and this past Thursday I saw Tweets and Facebook posts all day long from women sporting his jersey. The one that bothered me was the elementary school age girl getting ready to go off to school in her pink Roethlisberger jersey.  I still have mine, I admit it.  It's the one thing with his name on it I kept.  But I'm not ready to forgive him to the point where I join all those other female fans.  I won't sport his number.  I haven't worn it since the second story broke (I still don't believe the woman who sued him - another whole blog post someone else will have to write).  I'm waiting for the day when he's finally ready to come out and say something along the lines of, "You know, I was a brute to women and treated them like objects.  I wouldn't want my daughter to run into a guy like me, and I am truly sorry."  That day, I'll dust that jersey off and proudly put it back on.  But he did his suspension, he's cleaned up his act, and I don't have any trouble cheering for him on Sundays.  If that makes me a hypocrite, then so be it.

But I'm waiting for the question about domestic violence and NFL players as a whole to be the focus instead of Ray Rice himself.  It's beginning to happen.  The Los Angeles Times ran an Op-Ed piece today about the NFL and domestic violence.  It's damning because it talks about incidents other than Ray Rice that the NFL was apparently aware of and did nothing about.  Ray Rice, let's face it, is in the hot water he's in because he was stupid enough to be caught on camera.  And he's now exposed not only himself, but the whole of the NFL.  The commissioner's office has made such a thing about protecting the brand over the decades that they forgot about protecting the women and the children and how maybe that's a higher calling.  Sweeping what wasn't national news under the carpet ultimately did nothing but build up the dirt pile that now will almost certainly come pouring out.

Now, here's the thing to keep in mind as you try to decide if you're going to watch on Sunday or boycott the games (I myself am not watching football, but that's only because I'm going to the Pirates game):  domestic abuse among NFL players is no more prevalent than in the general population.  Maybe that's the thing that should give us all pause actually.  So let's not give up the game we love.  Let's just use this horrid mess for some good and force the NFL to use the power of that brand to educate abusers and victims both.  I've always been impressed with the work they've done to promote breast cancer awareness.  Now they need to throw some resources at this issue.  And they need, in my opinion, to have zero tolerance for abusers under their employ.  And not just the knee jerk reaction that they are currently having to try and stem the tide of public opinion, but let's continue to keep the pressure on them to make this a long-term focus.  But all of this is easy for me to say and harder to do, I know, because this will be an issue with many shades of grey.  But my fear is at some point, as this whole Ray Rice thing dies down, all the other women who aren't and never will be as famous as Janay Rice will be forgotten.

Pittsburgh Magazine
Here's the other thing to keep in mind, however, and this is a big point:  for every Ray Rice there are good and decent men who play this game and in no way take the violence on the field off of it.  They use their fame, money and position to leave the world a better place.  Troy Polamalu springs easily to mind, Charlie Batch is another now ex-player who has always been a strong advocate for the community. And of course I couldn't do an article like this one without mentioning William Gay, whose mother was murdered by his step father.  Gay does a lot of work with local women's shelters and has been outspoken on domestic abuse for a long time.  These are just a few Steelers.  Every team has a contingent of players like Troy.  There are good, decent people who play this game.

At the end of the day, I don't know what will happen to Ray Rice.  Nor can I predict what will become of Roger Goodell.  I do believe he blew this call in every way imaginable - the elevator video make me physically ill, but seriously, did any of us really doubt what had happened inside that elevator before TMZ exposed it?  What I do want to know is what will become of the conversation that has opened up about domestic violence.  I do want to know what we can do as a society to help victims.  If this is the mess that it takes to shine a light on the topic, then maybe there is some good to be had from it.  In the meantime, I love the game too much.  I will not be giving it up.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Endless Love

There's little doubt that when I'm gone and people think about me, if they do, one of two images will immediately come to mind:  the crazed Steelers fan or the crazy dog lady.   Maybe both, but, be honest, not much else will immediately spring to mind.  So, on a week when real football began, it was a given that I would talk about the Steelers, right?  Well, the crazy dog lady part of me will be taking over and controlling the show temporarily because two rather dramatic events took place in our household recently that got me to thinking...

First, there was the loss and then nearly miraculous recovery of Kelsey's cat Tum Tum after she slipped out one night and was gone for three weeks.  And then, my oldest pet, Luke, took his journey to the Rainbow Bridge on Friday.  Both events combined as a sort of perfect storm to crowd out all other thoughts - Pirates losing streaks, badly behaving running backs, a disastrous fantasy football roster (thanks so much, Wes Welker, another dumbass heard from), and Sidney Crosby false arrest reports.  None of it mattered that much really in the larger scale of life and death that was playing out at our house.

And what it equated to was the contemplation of unconditional love and whether it truly exists in the world.  My thesis here is that it does.  But not by us as humans.  We're not geared that way, and for good reason.  We may be empathetic, we may be compassionate, we may be saints in the making, but at some core level we're self interested parties.  Because it's what we have to be to survive.  So, can unconditional love truly exist in tandem with that?  Maybe, but I've never seen it in another human being, and I've known some exceptional ones.  But I've seen it.  And I've been the recipient of it - whether I deserved to be or not (and I most certainly did not).  If you ever want to know why humans have pets, it's because no one - and I do absolutely mean no one - loves you like your pet. 

The thing about pets is they accept you without conditions.  They don't care if you're fat or thin, the smartest tool in the shed or maybe a little dull around the edges.  They don't worry if you don't put on makeup or could really stand to put that favorite lucky shirt through the wash.  Hair turning a little gray and seeing some new wrinkles around the eyes?  Don't worry, your pet won't care.  He or she won't leave you because of it or "stray" (pun completely intended).  They stay by your side through good times and bad.  I think about the default wedding vows that many of us have said and hardly any of us completely live by:  in good times and bad, sickness and health, 'till death do you part...those vows, you know.  Well, our pets actually take that all to heart.  I'm not sure we deserve them actually, but I for one am better for my pets.  And they really, really don't care if your team wins or loses.  So, I'll continue to risk the heartache and pain of losing one because of all the joy, acceptance and love they give me.

And with that, as we celebrate the return of Kelsey's beloved companion Tum Tum, I'll say a final goodbye to our old, old man Luke.  His gentle, quiet and patient ways will be missed in a house full of high strung females.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Freedom of Choice

Up in Smoke, Paramount Pictures 1978
There is so much to talk about this week that it was hard to know how to narrow it down, but in the end, what larger event in the world of a Steelers fan could there at this juncture in the season than the arrest of Le'Veon Bell and the now unfortunately named LeGarrette Blount for possession of marijuana and DUI.  If you follow football at all you undoubtedly know about it, if you follow the Steelers you definitely do, and it's all over the Internet and sports shows, so there's not that much to add to the facts of the case.  Despite my working only about three miles from where they were arrested, I wasn't there of course because I was doing what most of us were doing - working so we can afford to buy sports tickets, so I can't add any interesting tidbits about it.  So I was tempted to pass it by, but in the end, I decided I want to weigh in, not to everyone in general really, but to the football players themselves.  This is my open letter to all of them, Bell and Blount most especially:

Hey Guys,

As a fan, I can tell you that we adore you.  You're like rock stars to our adoring eyes.  Yet I know you're young and that's all overwhelming.  As is the big money.  Nice problem to have maybe, but I suspect it's not as easy to handle as we'd all like to think.  Lots of people look to you now with their hands held out, I'm sure.  And professional sports can raise you up, but throw you right back down in the blink of an eye.  So, at you're age, you're trying to just figure stuff out and enjoy life, all the while having a lot of pressures the rest of us don't.  I also am not so old that I can't remember that flush you get when you're first out on your own and feeling like you have the freedom to do anything you want.  Stay up late drinking and dancing in my day.  Maybe the activities have changed, but human nature hasn't, so I'm sympathetic to the core concept that is operating in your heads:  as long as it's not hurting anyone else, there shouldn't be a problem with me doing it.  My life, my choice.

Well, here's the thing you have to know:  it is your life.  And it is your choice.  But you made it already.  You made it when you aspired to play in the NFL.  You traded the freedom to have a little afternoon toke for having thousands, if not millions, of people wearing a jersey with your name on it every Sunday.  You traded so that kids go to sleep at night with a Fathead of you watching over them on their walls.  You traded for money and fame.
You pay a price for that, I know.  Potentially you pay a dreadful price in your long term health.  There's a strong physical risk that you take every day you put on pads.  You pay with your privacy.  The scrutiny that we subject all of you to on and off the field is relentless in a social media world.  I can't even imagine what that's like.  But, here's the thing, this is the life you chose.  What you have to know now is that you are role models, whether you think that's what you chose to be or not.  That kid looking up at your two dimensional face on his wall every night dreams of becoming you.  You want him to be the pothead version or the talented and successful running back version of you?

You went to work for an employer who understands the reputation the league and the players have.  That employer is adamant about protecting that brand because its popularity is what's allowing all of you to become potentially very rich.  It's your choice to work for the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But if you want to, then you have to obey certain policies and procedures.  Let me tell you, out in the real world it's exactly the same.  You're not above that.  No one is.

I'm sure by now you've had it explained to you that your actions hurt not only yourselves but the team and the organization.  But you hurt all of us too:  the fans.  I don't have your money.  I struggle to pay my bills with enough left over to come see you play or to buy that jersey.  If the best team possible isn't on the field because some of the players are suspended for off field actions, then the whole of the Steelers Nation is hurt.  So, think of it like that when you're deciding on your pre-flight activities.

I have an opinion on marijuana.  I grew up in the 70's after all.  And I have a case of hard cider sitting next to my case of pumpkin ale just waiting for football to kick off, so even if I didn't have the particular opinion I do, what kind of a hypocrite would I be?  But, the fact of the matter is it's illegal in this state.  So, I don't do it.  Period.  I don't really think my life sucks because of that.  I heard what Ryan Clark said about it, so maybe you think that's a mitigating factor.  But, here's the thing: you know full well if you get in trouble out in public with it, the league has to take action.  It has to.  And you KNOW that.  So, what exactly were you thinking?

One's football career is like one's infancy.  They're both pretty intense, but short lived.  You will, before you know it, unless your name is Tony Gonzalez, have to move on to your life's true work.  Then you can live your days in a daze for all I care.  But, for now, quit being a dumbass!


Your adoring fan, SteelerFanMom

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

99 Problems, but Lack of Sports Ain't One

I have to be honest:  the Pirates recent losing streak was gut wrenchingly painful, but there is a secret part of me that has been happy to have the break.  When I came in last night from mowing the yard until it was too dark to see any more after a full workday, frustrated that I'd easily missed half the game, I grabbed up my phone and demanded that Siri tell me the score.  She cheerfully announced that the Pirates were losing 8-1 at the top of the 6th inning.  I accepted the results with mixed feelings:  it heralded almost certainly that the Pirates were going to drop their 7th game in a row.  They are now out of the playoffs if the season were to end today.  But at least I hadn't missed much, and it would seem that I won't have to struggle next week with how I'm supposed to pay for baseball playoff tickets at the same time I'm buying my hockey package.  Sports is the greatest escape there is.  It entertains, it can inspire, but it can break your heart.  It can also cause some other issues...

My hat shelf runneth over.  I moved here with a rather extensive collection of ball caps, 90% of which were Steelers hats dating back three decades.  You can't get rid of them.  Ever.  They all mean something.  You got them for a reason - like your team winning a Super Bowl, or two.  Looking at them brings back memories you wouldn't trade for anything. Now, I've got two other teams' hats adding to the chaos.  I've got hats hanging off bed posts, bookshelf corners, doorknobs, sitting in baskets, hanging out in my get the picture.  Many more and I'll be a candidate for a show about hat hoarders.

It took two weeks before I saw Guardians of the Galaxy.  Seriously.  Best movie of the summer.  Hands down.  Completely in my preferred genre, and I struggled to find time to see it.

I'm broke.  All the time.  It was one thing to buy tickets to a Steelers game here or there.  A bit of a challenge to add in Pens tickets.  Now I've got a ticket packet for the Pirates.  Yet, imaging moving all this way only to sit at home less than ten miles from where all this excitement is going on is just unimaginable.

Being immersed in sports does not lend itself to climbing a career ladder.  If you've got to leave after eight hours to head down to the sports park, you're going to miss out on whatever your more ambitious co-worker is willing to do with the remaining hours of the day.  At this point in my life, that's a trade off I'm more than happy to allow, but I did bristle when a client accused me of "galavanting across the country" when I took two days off to attend the Stadium Series game in Chicago this past spring.  A few years ago, I would have traded in my personal happiness to serve the client's satisfaction believing it to be my duty - now I know if the Penguins had made it to the finals this year, I was going to be calling her to announce that I'd be back off galavanting.

There is laundry in a pile in front of the washer.  The dogs need baths.  Big time.  The kitchen floor could stand to have a mop run across it, and I still need to mow the front yard.  But that's not what I spent the evening doing.  What did I do?  You guessed it.

Now instead of having two sports to potentially break my heart, I have three.  Today I rode the high of learning Brett Keisel is coming back to the team, to the low of learning that Le'Veon Bell was booked on pot possession, to the final high of the Pirates snapping their losing streak.  I'm emotionally drained, and I've got less than any say in it.  Everything that happened today was completely out of my control.  All I can do is stand by my teams through the highs and lows.  All I can give them is my loyalty and my money.  They've got plenty of both.

Yeah, not having an off season any more can be expensive, exhausting and sometimes frustrating.  Would I trade any of it?  Not on your life.  Raise It, Buccos!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Problem with Baseball: How the Problem Started

Cowboy Fan Hubby is in town visiting for a week and as we watched the baseball game wind down last night, he turned to me and said, "So, how about The Bridge?"  I looked at him somewhat blankly and responded, "What about it?  I've seen exactly an episode and a half."  He wouldn't tell me.  So, I'm guessing it's gotten even more complex and messed up then the little bit I've seen, and I'm itching with curiosity, but who knows when I'll get to sit down and catch up.  I'm still sawing through season four of Game of Thrones.  There are only so many hours in a day, and only a few days a week when baseball doesn't rule the airwaves here.  As a matter of fact, I got a Blu-Ray player for the upstairs TV for my birthday, and when I hooked it up and turned on my beloved Game of Thrones (Season 3), the "Root Sports" logo at the top right of the screen could still be seen across lovely Jon Snow's face.  I guess I watch a lot of sports upstairs...

I am the most unlikely of baseball fans.  I did not grow up with baseball fans.  My mother would on occasion sit down and watch a World Series game and maybe Dad would sit down with her, but for him it was all about the pigskin.  They didn't even have a baseball team at my high school.   And on my own I concluded it was a boring game where only brief spurts of action took place in between long periods of nothingness.  I would see pitchers whose guts looked they had, pun intended, downed pitchers of beer instead of being finely tuned athletes and dismissed it altogether as a summer distraction and nothing more.  That said, I have always loved movies about baseball because they seemed to capture an aura of Americana and nostalgia that was appealing.  Baseball movies, Bang the Drum Slowly and Pride of the Yankees notwithstanding, are often feel good movies with happy endings, telling a tale of America at its finest and proudest.  They are often tales of hope and realized glory.  So maybe the seed was in me all along and just needed a little tending to make it sprout and along came my Lovely Philly Friend, up for the task.

Despite her current residence, Lovely Philly Friend (LPF), is a Pirates fan deluxe.  Her husband perhaps even more so.  And she was devout in her mission when I first moved here, in advance of the rest of the family and therefore all alone, to introduce me to the city.  When spring came, that included baseball.  It was something to do, and I love her company, so I tagged along to some games.  The first thing you discover is that PNC Park is a jewel of a stadium.  The views of downtown, which I believe is a stunning skyline, are breathtaking.  I spent the first couple of games drinking Yuengling (PNC Park is where I discovered it) and wandering around the building.  The game going on in the background was a mere distraction.  LPF made note of my general ignorance of the game and began to teach it to me, but she had a long way to go.  When I first moved here, I referred to Andrew McCutchen as the good looking guy with dreads.  I had no idea whatsoever who he was and what he was capable of as a player.  And he was the only one of the team I could even describe that well.  I had never heard that the positions had numbers.  I don't think I even knew that a batter could pop off foul balls until the cows came home and not strike out, and certainly wasn't aware that was an actual strategy to try and stay alive at bat and wear the pitcher down.  I had no idea about pitch counts or why someone would bunt when no one else was on base, or why managers sent in pinch hitters.  What I did know was the the Pirates were a down and out team that hadn't had a winning season in almost 20 years.  And while Pittsburghers were gamely (if you will) loyal to their team after all that time, they didn't invest a lot of hard earned dollars into going to games just to watch them lose in person when they could sit at home and watch them lose for free.  That made tickets plentiful, so when the rest of the family arrived, it was an easy way to get out of the house on a summer's evening.  We went several times that first year, the husband picking up on my continuing education.

But a funny thing started to happen with the team.  They actually started winning a few.  For a brief time they actually challenged for first place in the division before collapsing to finish as per usual.  However, everyone, even me, knew that the days of perennially losing baseball might be nearing its end.  Coupled with a growing appreciation of the actual game itself and picking up on the undercurrent of excitement in the fan base, I began to actually go to games to watch the action on the field, not the cavalcade of interesting fans in the stands.

A baseball fan was being born.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Problem with Baseball, the Introduction

This is the year as a football fan sees it:

Life truly begins on opening weekend in September.  It's a feeling like your happiness has been hibernating since late January (early February).  You get a little taste during the draft and you get to work out your dormant fandom to get it ready during training camp and preseason.  But it all truly begins that opening weekend.  Saturdays and Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays) now seem "right" somehow.  My daughter will tell you she finds the sound of football on television soothing.  I know exactly what she means - it's the soundtrack I grew up with on the weekends.  If you're really a big fan, you've got now five days a week where you get to see actual action:  high school, college and then the pros.  But you live it and breathe it every other moment of the week.  It's water cooler fodder ("did you see that play last night...?"  "Can you believe that Ray Rice only got a two game suspension?"), it's a primary driving force for your wardrobe choice, your social life revolves around it, and it's even a deciding factor in your decorating choices.

But it's also a force to be reckoned with in terms of time management.  So, when the Super Bowl is over and the confetti has flown, there is a secret relief for a brief time because all the honey-dos that have been neglected can be attended to, all the movies you didn't see during the season can be ordered On Demand, and you can actually read a book or two.  That feeling lasts for a few weeks, until you find you miss football and begin waiting for the next season to begin.  Summer activities are just how you spend your time waiting for at least training camp to begin.  But at last the cycle begins anew.

 This is the year as a hockey fan sees it:

The last second clicks down on the last Stanley Cup final game of the season and most of us experience a bittersweet sensation if it's not our team about to hoist the trophy - we're ready for the season to be over so we can start licking our wounds and looking toward next year, but "next year" seems like a long way off.  So we busy ourselves with over-thinking what went wrong this year (unless, of course, we're that small percentage of the fan base who are the ones celebrating and having parades) and tending to yard work and summer chores, all the while absently wondering, "Is it October yet?"

When it finally is October and puck drops on a new season, it's both a relief and a burden.  Eighty-two games is a definite time commitment and hockey, if it's your team playing, demands your total attention because anything can happen in the blink of an eye.  I, for one, generally greet those little breaks dotted throughout the season as the time I scramble to get some household tasks done or spend time working late so that I'm ready for more hockey.  Time away from the game, therefore, is a necessary evil.  Just like time away from football.  But it is necessary.

In short, there is a pattern to life as either a football fan or a hockey fan that is sustainable.  I, for one, spend from May to the end of August pushing to get most of my holiday shopping done.  What I can't finish off during the summer I reserve for college football Saturdays because the Steelers are my passion and Sunday is all about chores in the morning and solid football all afternoon into the late night.  I mentally line up the books I'm going to read in the off-season.  I partake with great abandon of the summer movie season, not really worrying that the latest blockbuster actually sort of sucks as long as stuff blows up.  I take the time to sit outside and gaze out at the fireflies as the day winds down.  I lovingly detail my car most weekends.  And then, after I do all of that, as summer winds down and the leaves begin to lazily fall from the trees, I thank the sports gods because all that spare time goes away in favor of the Steelers and the Pens. Some of you who are reading this likely are nodding at this point, totally getting what I am saying.

This is the life I have lead.  This is the life I was prepared to live for the rest of my days.  And then I moved to Pittsburgh, and since I was here I dipped my toes into the waters that are professional baseball...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lost and Found

I occasionally am challenged to explain why I was so angry with my mother for keeping the fact that I was adopted a secret.  The prevailing opinion of those who ask is that my parents loved me and that's all that mattered.  I understand that, but I think you had to have walked in my shoes to really understand my point of view. Most of it emanated from the fact that I had trudged into dozens of doctor's offices over the previous almost nine years and filled out hundreds of forms espousing a medical history on behalf of my side of the family that was utterly false.  When you're in a pitched battle to save your kids' lives, you don't need to find out you're firing defective weapons.  But there was also the loss I felt.  I had identified with what I always believed was my legacy.  I thought I had family out there - even if I didn't know them very well.  I thought I belonged.  And then, in an instant one stressful night, I found out I didn't.  I was lost.

Therefore, it was with some trepidation that I gathered with my mother's side of the family after her funeral, but they couldn't have been nicer.  I have written about that day before, so I'll just sum it up by saying an incredible weight was lifted off my shoulders that day.  It would seem they weren't discarding me, which they certainly could have.  So, when I was deciding where to go after life in Texas, while what I said about moving here for the sports is completely true, I was also very happy to be close to all these good people too, since the hub of the family is in Washington, PA (or Little Washington, as it is known to the natives).  That fact has been on my mind since last week was the annual family reunion, which I always attend if I'm not traveling for work.  It's always full of good and easy conversation, usually seasoned with a few salty stories about family members I never knew.  They are easy to be with; a feeling of inclusion, familiarity and warmth runs through the event.  The food is good, the beer is plentiful and the company is great.  And I couldn't be more grateful to be a part of this family, although it's not without its bittersweet realities as well.  I only wish I could have been a part long before.  And I realize that it's likely that my parents moved so far from their home not so Dad could hunt (I should have been more suspicious when The Deer Hunter came out) and fish, which was the standard storyline, but so we wouldn't be around anyone who might spill some beans they clearly didn't want spilled.  But at least I am now.

But, what I've really been thinking about this week, in the days after the reunion is the age old question of nature v. nurture.  Since the shock of discovering I wasn't who I always thought I was, I've often thought about that.  How often have I done or said something and then had the thought immediately after, "I am SO my father's daughter?"  Too many times to count.  I think I tried to pattern my behavior after the nobler aspects of my dad, but I ended up being more like my mother.  The father and mother who raised me, not the people who conceived me.  Who knows if I'm anything like them?  Who cares at this point?  They gave me my brown eyes and reddish brown hair, which I now know is Irish in origin, not Scottish.  My mom and dad gave me everything else.  Including this family I am a part of now.

And that's how I finally let my anger go.  My mother, whether it was ultimately a wrong or right decision, seemed very intent that my true origin must be kept from me.  I think she sacrificed a lot to try and keep her secrets.  I know she did it out of love.  Love, it turns out, may always be a true emotion, but people can do the wrong things in its name.  Yet I can forgive her now because in the end she gave me this great family.  I am found.