Lit Crawl 2018

October 19th, 2018

I’m excited to read at Lit Crawl with my Write On Mamas friends, this Saturday at 8 PM. I’m the first reader in our group, at Carousel Consignment on 2391 Mission Street, San Francisco.

Although excited might not be the right word: Anxious, nervous, apprehensive.

The antidote to stage fright is practice, I know. Which I do. And still.

The good news is that by tomorrow night, the reading will be behind me. I will have survived, as I always do.

In the scheme of things to be afraid of, reading out loud in front of people is not huge. It barely registers.

That’s what I tell myself.

Focus on the words and the meaning of the words. Aim to communicate.

 

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Cooperative for Education heritage tour

October 5th, 2018

If you’re like me, you plan ahead. Cooperative for Education is offering a Heritage Tour to Guatemala in July 2019, designed specifically for adoptive families. My kids love experiencing Guatemala with families like ours: This is a great way to do it.

Here’s a link.

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Poem by Wislawa Szymborska

September 6th, 2018

One of my favorite courses in my Antioch MFA program was “Translation Workshop.” Over ten weeks, we translated poetry and prose from Zapotec, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, and Polish. Of the nine students in my cohort, some read or spoke one of these other languages. But none of us felt like experts. We relied on a glossary to translate each line word by word.

We nine students encountered the same words in the original language and used the same glossary to translate. Yet each poem or prose piece was uniquely ours. By the end of ten weeks, I could almost predict the tone a classmate’s translation would take, or how he or she would choose to structure a sentence.

This poem by Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) is titled “Photograph from September 11″ (“Fotografia z 11 września”). It was published in 2002 in the volume Monologue of a Dog. During her lifetime, Szymborska published 15 volumes of poetry and was well-known in her native Poland. She received international recognition when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.

The images from September 11 are seared into our collective memory. In simple language, Szymborska describes a photograph that captured a specific, devastating moment. I offer my translation to remember.

 

Photograph from September 11

By Wisława Szymborska

 

They jumped down from burning levels

One, two, many more

Higher, lower.

 

The photograph stopped them, alive

And now keeps them

Above ground, hurtling toward earth.

 

Each one with a particular face

Still whole

And blood well-hidden.

 

There is enough time

For hair to unloose itself

For keys and small change

To drop from pockets.

 

They are continuously within reach, held in space

Precisely where

They have opened themselves mid-air.

 

In their memory, I can do only two things—

Describe this flight

And not add a final sentence.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 2018 visit

September 1st, 2018

 

In August, we met with Olivia’s birth family in Panajachel. As usual, we began our visit with prayers in the Catholic church. Olivia’s mother brings candles and blesses each of us. This year, she said special prayers for my father, who had died in July.
(I post photos of my children’s families “from the back” to protect their privacy.)

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David French interview on NPR

August 30th, 2018

Two days ago, I published a link to an Atlantic article by David French, “America Soured on My Multiracial Family.”

Today, NPR aired an interview with French, which you can listen to here.

Two quotes: First, French says the question to ask someone who is thinking about adopting is not “Are you excited?” but “Are you ready?” And Second, his advice to prospective adoptive parents: “Adopt with your eyes open and your heart resolved.”

In case you didn’t read my response to French’s original article, it’s below:

My background is different from David French, as are our reasons for adopting our children. But I agree with much of what he says in this Atlantic article, “America Soured on My Multiracial Family.”

When it comes to my family’s configuration, I don’t seek approval or permission from anyone. I’ve become used to the judgement and, yes, hatred directed at us, largely by strangers who know little to nothing of our story. As French notes, the judgement and hatred comes from all sides, for different reasons. Some believe we as white parents have no right to raise children of color. Others believe foreign-born children (especially foreign-born children of color) have no right to enter the US under any circumstance, including adoption; this faction hates everyone they view as “not American.” Still others believe adoption is wrong, period, and hate us on principle.

This is not a bid for sympathy, just a statement of what is: Our kids are our kids and we are a family. Nothing anyone says will ever change that.

 

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On being a multiracial family

August 28th, 2018

My background is different from David French, as are our reasons for adopting our children. But I agree with much of what he says in this Atlantic article, “America Soured on My Multiracial Family.”

When it comes to my family’s configuration, I don’t seek approval or permission from anyone. I’ve become used to the judgement and, yes, hatred directed at us, largely by strangers who know little to nothing of our story. As French notes, the judgement and hatred comes from all sides, for different reasons. Some believe we as white parents have no right to raise children of color. Others believe foreign-born children (especially foreign-born children of color) have no right to enter the US under any circumstance, including adoption; this faction hates everyone they view as “not American.” Still others believe adoption is wrong, period, and hate us on principle.

This is not a bid for sympathy, just a statement of what is: Our kids are our kids and we are a family. Nothing anyone says will ever change that.

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My father’s obituary

August 15th, 2018

Rest in peace, Dad.

Robert Joseph O’Dwyer (Bob) died of natural causes in San Diego, California on July 4, 2018. He was eighty-nine. Bob was the first of his strain of the O’Dwyer clan born on U.S. soil. His parents met and married in Queens, New York, after emigrating from Ireland and Scotland in search of better lives. Bob’s mother supported Bob and his three younger siblings as a teacher in New York City public schools. Bob’s father had served in the trenches during World War One and, suffering the effects of mustard gas, worked sporadically as a tailor.

Bob spoke fondly of a boyhood that involved frequent fisticuffs, street stickball, and evening runs to the neighborhood tavern to “rush the growler” (buy beer) for assorted relatives and friends. True to his Irish heritage, Bob was a skilled raconteur and collector of jokes, gifted at telling stories. Family gatherings often ended with rounds of “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” sung to the mournful strains of bagpipes.

In 1950, Bob graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) with a degree in engineering. He enlisted in the United States Navy and served during the Korean War. While stationed in Newport News, Virginia, Bob was set up on a blind date with local girl Gerry Quick, who was home on vacation from her job as a Radio City Music Hall Rockette. Both agreed it was love at first sight. They married in 1953, forging a grand and happy union that produced five children and lasted sixty-three years.

After leaving the Navy, Bob tried several professions before he found his calling as an educator. He taught at Kings Point and Aviation High School in Queens and supervised the Night Apprentice Program at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Chelsea. He retired as Assistant Principal at Alfred E. Smith Vocational High School in the South Bronx. Bob earned an MBA from St. John’s University and a Certificate of Advanced Study from NYU. He served as shop steward of his teachers’ union.

Bob and Gerry lived in Virginia and Maryland; Syosset, Long Island; and a block from the Atlantic Ocean at the Jersey Shore. Upon retiring, the couple moved to San Diego, where Bob volunteered at Old Town, the Star of India, and in Emergency Management. Bob was a faithful Catholic who attended daily Mass at San Rafael Church in Rancho Bernardo. He was an avid bridge player who loved classic films, historic documentaries, and good food. His Thanksgiving stuffing was legendary.

Bob was predeceased by his wife Gerry, parents Roger and Catherine, and sister Margaret Pineda. His siblings Roger O’Dwyer, Jr., and Mary Sheehan survive him. Bob is also survived by children Patrice O’Dwyer, Adrienne Phillips (Paul), Jessica O’Dwyer (Tim Berger), Robert O’Dwyer, Jr., and Deanna O’Dwyer Swensen (David); eight grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and nieces and nephews.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 AM, August 20 at San Rafael Catholic Church, 17252 Bernardo Center Drive, with a reception following. After the reception, Bob’s ashes will be interred alongside Gerry’s at Miramar National Cemetery.

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sandiegouniontribune/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=189881944

 

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Antigua Front Door 2018

August 15th, 2018

 

Olivia grows taller while I shrink. Still nice to revisit this memory.

The Antigua house where I lived with Olivia in 2003.

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Haircut. Antigua 2018

August 11th, 2018

Astringent scrub, straight edge razor, powder.

Red leather chair, magazines, TV in the corner.

Haircut. Antigua, Guatemala. 2018

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Antigua parade Summer 2018

August 5th, 2018


Maybe it’s the Rockette in my blood, but I see people moving in unison to music and I become that white lady with the camera, sobbing. This week in Antigua, Guatemala.

 

 

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