Father’s Day

Growing up, I didn’t know a lot of good dads. My alcoholic father was either absent or impaired, many of my friend’s mothers were single or their husbands worked full time and weren’t around much. None of the women in my family had successful relationships so I had no good male role models, and men were mostly off stage, unseen except in the pain they left behind, and unnecessary in my world. Women seemed to operate without men, and most of them did just fine, or, in the case of my mother, better, without a man getting in the way. The good men were like happy bonuses, appearing in short bursts to take my friends somewhere cool or teach them to drive. Without a  proper father figure, I began to believe I didn’t need one. That maybe women really were better on our own.

But I have come to know some really great men over the years. Guys who are loyal and caring, who are open-minded and sensitive and fun and funny without being cruel and really good friends and husbands. Some of these guys have become fathers in the last few years, and already I know their little girls will not have a lack of positive male role models who encourage them to be strong females. My friends will be great fathers; they are great fathers. I’ve witnessed it myself, heard the pride and wonder in their voices as they talk about their kids as people, seen them encourage their independence and guide without smothering.

I know W will be a great father someday, too, and all of this gives me hope that women aren’t on our own the way it seemed to me as a child. Just because some of us had bad dads doesn’t mean we have to be attracted to the kind of man who is abusive or distant, too critical or controlling. There are good guys out there, and they are raising another generation of boys who will grow up to respect women and take responsibility for themselves. Those are the men who deserve to be fathers.

So, here’s  to you, dads. Your children, and wives, are lucky to have you.

Spring Is in the Air

For such a short month, February sure packs a wallop. There are so many application deadlines and events and holidays and birthdays (I guess lots of people have sex in May, huh?), and it feels like a generally busy time for all of us. February means business. Now that the Christmas trees are out of the house (though, I saw one on the curb just last week!) and we’ve stopped living on cheese and wine and chocolate and are ready to come out from under our blankets and away from cozy fireplaces, step out of our slippers into non-elastic-waist pants and leave the holidays behind, it’s time to get back to work. 

And I did. I did publicity outreach emails, wrote guest blog posts and answered interview questions, applied to two MFA programs and wrote a statement of purpose, entered seven novel contests, applied for two conference fellowships and wrote the corresponding personal essays, and applied for the NEA fellowship for the first time. (Man, that application is a hassle—but it’s free, so why not?). I accepted an invitation to be on a writers workshop panel in June and to teach a workshop in September. All this on top of my regular trying-to-write schedule and, you know, life.

I have also sort of met my goals of getting outside more and spending less time on social media. I am still not writing enough, but that feels like it’s getting closer. I’m getting to the point where I notice things I want to describe, scenes I witness seem to slow down so I can capture them in my memory and I write them down when I get home. I’ve been making lots of notes, and I’m pretty sure the writing will just pour out of me when the time is right. The fact that I am now feeling hopeful rather than terrified is a shift in itself that tells me I’m making progress, even if it’s not all on a conscious level. Writing is tricky that way.

I think the change in weather also makes me more positive. It’s staying light after 6 pm and the air smells like flowers and the cherry blossoms are blooming pink confetti all over my neighborhood and the sun is out more and the wind isn’t icy on my cheeks. I can open the car windows when I drive and when I’m working so I can hear the birds twittering their songs. I love spring.

This spring means a paperback release for Hand Me Down (I’d be so grateful if you preordered a copy!) and decisions about what to do for next year. I think February was just the primer and March is going to be all kinds of busy, but I also think I’m ready after my winter hibernation.

Change is in the air. I can feel it building. Shifts—in our location, our focus, our behaviors, our perceptions—can be hard, but the other side of the transformation seems promising right now. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.