You know who I’m talking about. The woman who manages the local coffee shop that is way too cool for you to be visiting on a frequent basis. The woman who once help run a buzz worthy film festival in your metropolitan city. The woman who knows a little bit of something about all of the new “hot spots” in town. The woman who appears to know more about music, film, art, theatre, and literature than 99% of the American populace. You know who I’m talking about, people like Anna Petrillo, a certified hipster.
Anna will certainly blush and chuckle after reading the above paragraph, but it’s all true. Another truth is that Anna, along with a few other adoptees, has been a leader in the Washington, DC area adoption community; without adoptees like Anna, high quality post-adoption services wouldn’t exist in most places. Yet another (facetious) truth is that she’s kind of crazy. Honestly, who gets nostalgic about their time in Minnesota..?
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: You’re big on film and music. What’s the best film you’ve seen recently? What are you listening to and what’s the best show you’ve seen this year?
Anna: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is one of the more noteworthy movies I’ve seen this year. It’s not a film watching experience that will bring pleasure to most in a traditional sense, but I’ve been encouraging people to see it with the mindset that you’ll get out of it as much as you put into it. The central themes of the film are about the origins of life, of human consciousness, spirituality, and love; and the subsequent loss or challenges to those as told through the death of a child in a family. Most of the movie, however, is simply a series of powerful images of nature and music. I think movies like this are helpful in that they can give us a sense of comfort as we move through life somewhat confused, but completely surrounded by beauty, depth, and fragility if we choose to see it.
I’ve been listening to a lot more quiet, atmospheric music lately. The albums I’m listening to right now are King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, “Diamond Mine”, and Six Organs of Admittance, “Asleep on the Floodplain”. They both draw inspiration from the countryside, from nature, from “found” sounds that blend with composed music.
One of the best shows I saw this year was Deerhoof. They have great energy and charisma that matches their astute playing. I love bands that are able to show the audience that they are having fun AND concentrating on playing well.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: (I love Deerhood…) You no longer live in the tundra we call Minnesota, but you are a Macalester grad. What do you miss the most here?
Anna: I miss the slower pace of the midwest, and in general the more friendlier attitudes of folks. I work in the service industry, so I interact with a lot of people all day, every day. I don’t need to be surrounded by people smiling and being nice all the time, but I find it very grating (and sad) when someone is in so big of a hurry to get back to checking their email or going to sit in their car in traffic that they can’t say hello or at least make eye contact with the person that is doing them a service.
I think Minnesotans value hard work, but also equally value their time with family, friends, or the outdoors. In DC, work and the individual always comes first. I also miss all the great restaurants and bars!
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Would you mind talking about your experience as a KAD attending a midwest college?
Anna: I came to college in St. Paul without having known there were so many KADs there. I had no idea! I grew up in rural PA and MD where there were very few people of color. I picked a school like Macalester because I knew it had a small, but diverse student body and it was located in a medium size city.
I really lucked out by meeting so many other Korean adoptees at a time in my life when I was ready to be more open about how being adopted has affected my life. Even though I knew there were other adopted people out there (I had a few domestically adopted friends growing up), I never really wanted to talk about being Korean and being adopted with other people until I was about 16 or 17. I think up until that point I didn’t want it to seem like I was being negative or victimized because I had these different, sometimes challenging times in life that were related to my adoption.
In college it was really helpful for me to be around other Asian Americans, not just Korean adoptees, and compare all of our experiences and learn about identity in a constructed, intellectual way. I think that’s a major benefit for attending a small liberal arts school. And even though that’s not something that my family was able to give me growing up, I credit my parents for at least raising me to have the strength and intelligence to figure out how to get there on my own. I would encourage college bound KADs, whether they are in the midwest or not, to consider what kind of environment you will need to be both socially healthy as well as academically engaged.