On And On

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Meeting my father (and half brother)...

Last night I met my father and half brother for the first time in the parking lot of an Irving's gas station in Augusta, Maine. I couldn't have picked a more classic setting.

The meeting went very well. We all shook hands in the parking lot and agreed to enjoy some fine cuisine at Applebees. After being seated at our table, it took a few minutes to get comfortable dialogue going, but it happened. I didn't know what to expect in terms of what my father would look like, but when I saw him my first thought was, what else would he look like? I intended to have pictures here today, but as luck usually has it, my digital camera shit the bed just as I was about to start snapping away.

We stayed at Applebees until they were closing the place, but by then the whole staff knew our story, so they were just letting us have the run of the place. When they found out my camera wasn't working, a waitress offered to go to her car and get her digital. She said we could just keep the memory card; alas, when she got to her car, her camera was not there. Troy and I walked across the parking lot to Shaw's and bought a disposable. When those get developed I'll scan them and post some here.

I thought I would be angry when I met my father, but I wasn't. Then I was angry at myself for not being angry. I can't explain it, other than I'm getting older, I have a family of my own now... I just don't have the time to be angry. I also talked to my wife on the way up about how apprehensive I was... like I was losing a piece of my identity. However strange it may sound, not knowing my father was like some badge of honor -- like I was part of some exclusive club. But I feel fine now. The whole thing happened so fast, it's still very surreal.

If I haven't talked much about my half brother, it's because I still haven't quite come to terms with that. I already have younger brothers, and I'm comfortable with that dynamic. Plus, I always knew I had a father...but I didn't know I had another brother out there. For the record, our stories are very similar. He has known David longer, but went the first ten years or so of his life not knowing him. He also has younger brothers.

All that said, I'm still processing how I feel about the whole thing. More thoughts later...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Check this out...

This morning I talked on the phone with my father. It was the first time I have talked to him. Ever.

Heavy enough for you?

It all began on Friday. That’s when I got an email from my brother Troy. Did I mention that, prior to Friday, I had never heard of Troy? He’s thirty.

So, this weekend I gained a father and a younger brother. I’ll be meeting both of them on Wednesday. At this point, I don’t even know what else to say, but I’ll post more as this whole situation shakes itself out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bet You Didn't Know...

I’m fairly confident that even my closest friends have no idea how poor I was growing up. Part of the reason is they’ve never asked (why would they?); the other part is that it isn’t a big deal to me. After all, I’m not poor now, so what difference did it make? Not much, but here it is anyway.

My friends don’t know that our living room wall was cracked…it had even buckled right above the stovepipe. This was never fixed. As far as I know, it wasn’t even discussed. I honestly have no idea if my family thought they couldn’t afford it, or just didn’t think it was a big deal. It just never came up.

My mom was sixteen when I was born, and my parents never married. My mom had my brother L two years later, and then seven years after that she had my baby brother P. We each have different fathers, and while all three of us know that, we just don’t care; we’ve never thought of each other as anything but brothers.

When I was fourteen my mom did finally get married, to a man who was not the father of any of us. I was too old for anyone to pretend to be my dad, but my two brothers weren’t. L caused enough trouble to make my stepfather stop trying with him, but P was just about to turn five. This gave my stepfather hope. Suffice it to say, any of P's success in life has been in spite of, not because of, my stepfather.

At any rate, when they got married I decided to stay with my grandparents. We had spent most of our lives moving in and out of their house anyway, and I had never lived anywhere but in that town, so I stayed.

It is their house and their living room I am referring to. The house was only about forty years old in the eighties. But it was really older than that, because my grandfather and his father built the house in the 1940’s by nailing an ice house to a carriage house, then adding a half story above it. There was a dirt cellar, and the first floor consisted of my grandparents’ bedroom; the living room, kitchen and bathroom. Upstairs were two bedrooms. Having set that scene, try to imagine that for a time in the late eighties or early nineties we had living in that house: me, my two grandparents, my two brothers, my mother and stepfather, my aunt and uncle and their infant daughter. Ten people, three bedrooms. Good times were had by all. I honestly have no idea where everybody slept.

We did have running water, but no hot water. As a child, I remember a cast iron bathtub in the bathroom, but I don’t remember it ever working. It did, however, make a fine storage unit. It was removed when I was in junior high, I think. In my house, we took something called sponge baths. This meant heating water on the stove, putting it in the bathroom sink and washing yourself with soap and a washcloth. Heat from the woodstove was rarely able to make it into the bathroom, providing a thrill all its own.

We did get a telephone when I was a sophomore in high school, the first time I had ever had one in any residence I had lived in. It was a glorious day.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back again

This post was ever so gently prompted by M. Heh.

I was going to post on the 4th, but the day got away from me. Independence Day festivities?
Partly to blame, but mostly I was spent after helping my sister-in-law move into her first apartment. Which, of course, is nicer than ours. Alas.

That said, C and I just noticed a house for sale in Buxton that we love. Probably can't do it just yet, but it turns out that the first time home buyer's program under Maine State Housing is very helpful and not just for the poor anymore. Due to home prices in York and Cumberland County, you actually can make a decent income and still qualify. We will be following up on that shortly, and I'll keep you posted.

Finished reading "Cloud Atlas" and those of you that haven't, should. Time well spent. Just started "The Name of the Rose" by Eco. I have wanted to read it since eighth grade, but haven't felt up to the challenge until now. I'm about sixty pages in and finding it a pleasure to read. Beautiful writing, but the word "opaque" comes to mind. I'm told that was intentional on Eco's part, and the reading get's easier after about 100 pages. Apparently he wanted to weed out the casual reader. I guess that's one way to do it.

Went home to Dover-Foxcroft on Sunday, and was reminded for the 157th time why I left that town gleefully back in 1992. I honestly don't know where people work, or how the town has survived this long. A classmate of mine who got her Ph.D. in Archaeology is now director of economic planning for the town. I wish her all the best, but I can't imagine what she's going to do. Incidentally, she also went to UMF. Fascinating what UMF grad's are up to these days. See this blog; and this one, and of course, this one.

I'm going to pretend to work now.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Currently reading "Cloud Atlas", and it is excellent. I'm stuck in a section of the book that is a bit convoluted, but the beauty of this novel is that if you keep reading, it will change. Mitchell seems to write in every conceivable voice and style, and does so effectively. I'll take a slow section here or there if it means getting to read something so refreshingly different.

I'm home this weekend with Alex. I have the AC running, but at the moment he has a little spray bottle full of water and is having a hell of a time spraying himself. I may join him shortly!

About that last post, and my mother-in-law spending the night...it actually went well. Remarkably, I am able to say this in spite of the fact that we lost power that night at around 8 p.m. (horrendous thunder storms). The three of us just relived old memories for a couple of hours and went to bed. We went to the graduation the next day, where I got a ridiculous sunburn, and that was that. All in all, relatively painless.

I'm pretty anxious for classes to start again. Not because I miss them, so much as I want to "hurry up already" and finish this degree, because there's another one waiting after that. At the moment I am fairly certain that I would like to do the PhD at B.U. How remains an unanswered question. I fully intend to cross that bridge when I come to it, and not a moment sooner.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Tonight, my mother-in-law is spending the night at our place. If I'm:
a) still alive, and
b) still there
we are going to Massachusetts tomorrow for my wife's little sister's high school graduation. She lives in a town called Halifax, which is apparently just before "The Cape." Here's hoping they have a somewhat interesting commencement speaker.

On the reading front, I plan on starting "Cloud Atlas" later on in the weekend. If M is to be believed (and he was dead on about "Old School"), then I'm in for a great read.

C and I are looking to move in the coming months. Until I hit Powerball (which isn't likely since you have to play to win), we won't be buying a house in Southern Maine... but we do need a bigger place.

And for any that didn't know, after the layoff I mentioned in the last post, I returned to a former employer. Since college, I have worked for five different companies... and I'm already starting to recycle. If you were wondering why I'm working on my Masters degree now, perhaps that will help clear things up for you.

Did I mention my mother-in-law will be spending the night?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Having Been Laid Off...

...I did not go to work today. Today was my first official day as "one who has been laid off." I'll tell you this, a severence package makes getting laid off a little easier to take. In a sense, my former employer is paying me for the next three months (roughly) to spend my time with my family and look for a job that I might enjoy. I'll take it.

About those vocabulary boys from my class (which is done, pending my final paper): one of them is a freelance journalist for, among other publications, Rollingstone.com. In addition, he spent some time running his own online magazine out of NYC, which alas folded due to lack of funding. I will now officially cut him some slack. But not much.

I spent the day with my son today (he'll be two in about eight weeks) and, as usual, he made me laugh out loud. He is now trying to jump; not from anything, just up into the air. He crouches down and explodes upward...every part of his body including his hair, looks like he is jumping, but he never actually leaves the ground. Which makes him mad, so he does it again. And again, and again. A good time for dad.