Monday, June 18, 2012

On This Day After Father's Day

I have an essay I wrote about my father’s death that I’ve tried to get published for, well, four years and counting now. That’s how it goes with writing. You send out. They reject. You revise. You send out. They reject. You revise. The work you feel is worth holding onto, you hold onto with a choke hold. Other work you catch and wind up releasing into the blue. Or the dumpster. Or that adorable little trash can at the bottom of your computer screen. 
Though he’s gone, dad’s essay won’t die. At least not for me. It’s not the type of essay you might imagine. Dad wasn’t Ward Cleaver. We weren’t close-knit. In fact, we rarely, if ever, knitted anything (unless you count that seventh-grade Home Ec pillow in the shape of a turtle, which was sewn ... poorly and by me alone). 
Anyway, one thing I’ve learned upon my dad’s death is the role I played in our lack of communication and subsequent lack of closeness. (Politicians call this accountability.) I’d like to say I don’t have regrets, but I have regrets aplenty. Maybe enough to fill something loosely resembling a canyon. And maybe that’s why I have this essay I’ve caught and refuse to release. For me, it’s an attempt at immortalizing our relationship, no matter how thin our relationship was or wasn’t. 
Photographs are another way to try to immortalize the moments, the people, the things we love. I snapped one today of nail clippers. You heard me. Nail. Clippers. According to my stepmom, these particular nail clippers were my father’s. She gave them to me in a paper bag, along with some other assorted mementos. I don’t know if any of said mementos capture the true “stuff” of my dad, but I’ve formed a bond with these clippers. They are not your run-of-the-mill stainless-steel talon trimmers. The cutter, is, in fact, embedded into a plastic sportscar. The plastic sportscar is painted sportscar red (duh). It’s not all that different from the shade of the car I bought from my dad less than a year before he died. Technically, I called the color of that car mid-life-crisis red. So I guess if I ever bring myself to cut my nails with the sportscar, I’ll call it a mid-life-crisis manicure. 
Without giving anything away (because I’m sorry, I’m going to continue holding out for that illusive publication acceptance), the sportscar makes an appearance in dad’s essay. It’s less than a supporting-supporting role, but trust me, it’s there. 

And on my desk and in this very post, it is here. Here it isanother reminder of dad’s absence on this day after Father’s Day. 
Don’t worry, dad, the sportscar isn’t doing 100 on some lonely stretch of highway. 
It isn’t hastily parked next to some beater.
It isn’t cutting the craggiest of cuticles. 
It isn’t stuck in a traffic jam.
It isn’t cleaning toe jam. 
It isn’t clipping anything or driving anyplace. Fingers (and nails) crossed.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adoptive Lochia (Honestly, I’m a little ashamed of this title, but somehow, I couldn’t resist its power.)

I told (all two of) you it would be hard for me to update this blog on a regular basis. Just as I told (all two of) you “A Good Nipple is Hard to Find.” 
Well, loyal fans, you can be thankful I’m back in the diaper again, and I hope, if nothing else, this latest post leaves you smelling like Eau de Desitin. Now that I’ve lost (all two of) you, I’ll rattle-rattle-rattle all the way back to the point. (Holy sh#t, I mean, holy poop, these baby jokes are awful.) 
Any-who ... I spent the better part of today writing copy for new moms. You know, spinning lies about how a woman’s nether-regions will totally snap right back into shape after childbirth. You’re right, that’s not fair (but it’s at least 69% funny). I’ve never given birth, and there’s a decent chance I’m never going to give birth (at least not in this lifetime). I’m okay with that. Actually, I’m happy with that. I no longer ache for pregnancy and childbirth. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I’m a parent now. Or the fact that you probably shouldn’t make a prenatal smoothie with gin and tonic. 
While I don’t deny that pregnancy and childbirth are beautiful miracles, plenty of what happens as a result of these beautiful miracles isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows. Without further annoying the sh#t (sh#t, I mean poop) out of mothers who have given birth, let me just say: "It sucks to be you!" I mean, you rock the house. Seriously, you squeezed something that big from your loins, and afterwards, may have had the pleasure of experiencing lochia or hemorrhoids or constipation or all three at once (while caring for a newborn). 
Before you start tossing breast shields at me (I don’t have to wear those either), take it easy. I’ve had my fair share of pregnancy and postpartum irritations, too. When I have to actually answer questions like ... “... blah, blah, blah ... and you and your husband are thrilled to have Ava as part of your family, yes or no?” that’s my lochia or my hemorrhoids or my constipation. When you adopt, you’re asked a boatload of inane questions. In fact, you are questioned about everything. Without making generalizations, okay, with making a huge generalization, parents who give birth aren’t asked a whole lot. They don’t have to get fingerprinted or background checked. They aren’t given psych evaluations or required to produce letters of recommendation. 
They “Just Do It.”  
And of course, Ava has her own love seat. 
So you see, whether parents become parents in the back seat of a Chevette or in a courtroom, each of us has incredible ups and downs to endure. Fear not though. These incredible ups and downs are only permanent.

PS. Ava is 4-months-old now. She is most definitely part of our family (and we are thrilled about it). The legal blah, blah, blah is proceeding normally. Cross whatever you can for us.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

All In

Diane Keaton said her father, then dying of brain cancer, told her to take more risks with her heart. Diane Keaton. Annie Hall. The one who dated Pacino and looks that good on Medicare. Iconic already chiseled into her tombstone. 
If only I could touch success, beauty and hutzpah like hers. 
Yet I learned Diane and I share something. We both risked our hearts through adoption. My risk is called Ava. Her risks are called Dexter and Duke. 
Even when the papers have been signed, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted, there will be no certainty in this terrifying, this intoxicating role called Mom.   
Yet Diane and I plunged into this canyon of doubt. We leapt with faith. We pushed all in. 

She's still got me beat. She did it alone. And at 50 and 55. Badass.