The Teri Tome – Top Hits and Duds of 2018

 

On March 18, 2015, I launched The Teri Tome, and for almost four years I have been sharing, sharing and oversharing.

For those of you who have stuck with me, post after grueling post, you know The Teri Tome is a mishmash of my life, my potential (or not), my political opinions (sorry about that), and everything in between…

…While desperately trying not to drag my family or friends into The Teri Tome fray.

Blogging has been my creative and mental release.  Some would accuse me of TMI.

And I would agree, but it feels good getting all that you-know-what off my chest.

At the end of 2017, I put together the TOP TEN BLOG POSTS IN 2017 based on the posts that received the most page views.

Now, I know you are eagerly waiting for my Top Posts for 2018, but I thought I would change it up a bit by giving you the Top Hits and Duds instead.

Since I only wrote 18 posts in 2018, the pickings are slim, so I’m only going to bore you with four 2018 posts: The top two duds, and the top two hits.

And since I need to stretch this post out a bit, I thought I would also throw in the best and worst of all time (2015-2018).

The 18 posts I wrote in 2018 generated almost 100,000 hits, which I will happily and appreciatively take.

I’ll start with the 2018 duddiest…

#1 DUD 

GLOBAL WARMING – THE NEW NORMAL:  Our world is hotter today than it was yesterday, but this post was a B-O-M-B.  Climate change keeps me up at night but apparently not so much for my readers.

#2 DUD

LIKE A PRAYER: This post was written as fiction to disguise a wedding I attended. I’m sorry it was a dud because the topic is one that many of us know all too well: Siblings who hurt each other.  I didn’t get a ton of hits for this post but it did generate a flurry of emails, mostly to point out that the lyrics of Like A Prayer had dual meanings of sexual innuendo. But I did not intend for it to be anything more than a post about a deceased mother who loved the song, and about her children who found it impossible to love each other.

And now for my top two 2018 besties:

#1 BEST

SELF-PUBLISHING TIPS:  Okay, so bad enough my climate change post was such a dud, but come on people. I’ve been pouring my heart out for a full year, and this post was my winner?

#2 BEST 

AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA’S YOUTH: IT’S UP TO YOU TO STOP THE GUN VIOLENCE:  Young people are more than just victims of gun violence; they are now among the leading voices calling for adults to wake up and change our nation’s weak gun laws and deadly gun culture.  Why this post wasn’t my reader’s number one, I have no clue. But it was my personal number one.

G.O.A.T. (THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME)

BULLIES ARE COWARDS AND WHY I REFUSE TO TURN THE OTHER CHEEK: This post has garnered close to 300,000 page views. I should be happy for the views, but I’m saddened that my number one keyword on The Teri Tome is “bullies.” Many bullies also fit the DSM-5 diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, a lack of empathy for others, are vulnerable to criticism, and attempt to get his or her own way through aggressive, threatening, and hurtful behavior toward those who have less power. (Does this sound like anyone you know?)

D.O.A.T. (THE DUDDIEST OF ALL TIME) 

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY: In 2014, I wrote a novel titled Our Romantic Getaway in which I mention nine songs. My marketing genius idea was to mail out a free signed book to anyone who emailed me their fave song out of the nine.  Except that as my duddiest post of all time, no one got the free book giveaway memo!  FYI: I still have plenty of books so email me a shout out! (Oh and one more FYI: NO, the book is not about me, and YES, I am wearing a top in my author photo.)

In reviewing my duds and hits for 2018, I can honestly say that regardless of their popularity, I’m happy that I put it all out there, and I still have no regrets. Not yet, anyway. Plus, I write because it’s not a choice, it’s a must, and one of the few things in my life that feels genuinely me.

The Teri Tome has allowed me to sate my obsession with words and the power they have.  I am also blown away by the realization that my thoughts and dreams and fears and loves and even hates can all pour out of me with just 26 letters.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019!

This One’s for You, Ken

 

The photograph above is my all-time favorite, the back story of which I will share more about later, so stick with me.

On November 13, I ranted about something Trumpian on Facebook, which prompted my dear and old college friend Ken to post this response: “I like it better when you are happy.”

Happy Teri seems like an oxymoron to me, although not quite at the jumbo shrimp level.

But Ken’s one-liner called me to happy action. Sort of.

Now, the last blog post I wrote back on October 17, was about My Elephant, which was not even close to happy.

So, in honor of Ken’s request, on November 14, I set to writing a happy Teri blog post.

November 14 turned into November 21, and then Thanksgiving arrived.

For those of you who are not in the know, holidays don’t make Teri happy.

So, I figured I would wait until early December to find my happy, but then, you know…those damn Christmas songs on FM 106.7 that I hate to listen to, but can’t stop myself from listening to, make anything remotely close to happy Teri, impossible.

Teri with her hands tightly glued to the steering wheel bawling her eyes out, while weepily singing ♪Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire ♪ would not make Ken proud.

I promised myself—for Ken—that I would not write another post unless it contained some morsel of happy Teri.

(FYI: I have never gone this long without blogging, so thanks for nothing, Ken.)

Fast forward to Christmas Eve, and here I am still searching for any flicker of happy for my next blog post.

Flicker?  Just writing the word has me teetering toward the dark side.

It’s Christmas Eve. You know what that means—the dreaded flickering yule log. Just thinking about those wretched logs perfectly burning in that perfect fireplace makes me well up with unhappiness.

So here I am sitting at my desk at 4:38 pm on Christmas Eve, and I’m struggling Ken.

Almost ready to throw in the happy towel, I look around my desk and think that maybe something might give.

And there it is. Sitting right in front of me on my desk, in all its glory.

The fave photo of me with my grandmother, Mammy (pronounced May-Me), given to me in 2001 by my aunt—the first time I met my father’s family.

I had never seen the photo before, and I was obsessed with it for so many reasons, and on so many levels.

But mostly because I saw a happy Teri.  Okay, I wasn’t full on smiling, but oh my, look at that grin.

Now mind you, I’m sure at whatever age I was in the photo, I didn’t know anything about happy.  It seems to me that being happy is an adult obsession.

My aunt presented the black and white photo to me at a lunch she hosted at her home with my other aunt and three of my half-siblings for what I assumed was our first ever meeting.

It was an out of body experience for sure.

But even weirder than meeting my aunts and siblings at forty-eight years old was that photograph of Mammy and me in front of a Christmas tree.

My eldest aunt explained in meticulous detail that the photo was taken at my grandmother’s apartment on Huron Street. (Now for any of you that know me or have read my posts, Huron Street does not make Teri happy.)

She went on to tell me a lovely Christmas Eve story about my two aunts being there, as well as my Uncle Lou (who I hadn’t yet met), and my mom.

I fingered the photo gently. I traced my grandmother’s heart-shaped face juxtaposed to my chubby round one.

I spoke out loud, explaining to my newly found family, where, in the Huron Street living room, it looked like the tree stood—most likely in the far-left corner. I told them that I was certain we were seated in the old musty club chair that sat in that room for years.

Mammy’s arm was protectively wrapped around me, and she looked glowing. My tiny hand was lightly touching hers.

Behind us, I could see a stocking hung on the tree, most likely home-made by Mammy, and a card perched on a branch that may or may not have been Mother Mary. I wondered if my dress was also home-made.

“Were we both dressed in white?” I asked my aunt. She couldn’t remember.

When I came back to my grinning face, I noticed my eyes. They were gazing up at someone.  And I could tell—that someone was special. Very special. Happy special.

There was a happy twinkle in those eyes; I could see it. Can you?

The studying eyes were intently fixed—staring steadily, watchfully, and with complete adoration.  The person on the receiving end was making baby Teri immensely happy.

“Who am I looking at?” I asked my aunt.

She couldn’t remember.

My Elephant

A Republican guy friend recently asked me: Does everything in your life lead back to Me Too?

Now in the old days, I would never define my friends as Democrats or Republicans.

But that was waaay back when, before you-know-who.

Plus, my friend’s question was laced with thinly veiled skepticism, while shoving in some other hurtful rhetoric about protecting men and boys, with poor Judge Kavanaugh thrown in.

I felt anger, frustration, sadness, and madness. But I kept my mouth shut.

I regret that I did not answer him, but I was afraid that if I did, something vitriolic would pour out of my mouth, and that I might later regret my words.

Regret vs. regret.

Yesterday I saw a movie trailer about Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton, to be released March 29, 2019.

As I watched Dumbo soar over the crowd, I got full body goosebumps.

Good for you, Dumbo.

And then just like that, those sicko images crept into my brain.

[Push em out push em out.]

My elephant.

As a kid, I loved Dumbo. He was so relatable. He was an only child, no father (although his name was Jumbo Jr.), with a fiercely protective mother. I would often wonder what happened to his dad, and rationalized in my head that if Jumbo Sr. was in the picture, he would have saved his kid.

Poor Jumbo was taunted and bullied for his big ears—and given the cruel name of Dumbo.

He was ridiculed and treated poorly, but he was sincere, naïve, kind, and truly magical.

Sure, he had big ears, but oh my how he could soar and fly.

Aside from his mom, his only friend was a mouse named Timothy, who believed in him.

And then there was that crow, named Jim Crow, who first made fun of Dumbo, but then convinced him that he could fly with a magic crow feather. (And yes, his name was indeed Jim Crow.)

My favorite part in the movie was when Dumbo was getting ready to fly off the platform in the circus act and prove himself as worthy of love and respect.

I can so vividly recall that first time I watched in horror as Dumbo stumbled off that platform.

I was young, but I will never forget how I silently rooted and prayed that Dumbo would prove all of his tormentors wrong, change his life, and live happily ever after with his mom.

“Lord have mercy,” I will never forget praying to myself, parroting what my grandmother always said.

[Okay, so I can’t remember actual dates, and times, or when it started, or how I got there, or why I was alone, or lots of it, so how can I remember Dumbo and Lord have mercy?]

And then there was that happy ending; that memorable and joyous part when the feather falls out of Dumbo’s trunk, and he realizes that his greatness comes not from the magic feather, but from within himself.

The feather wasn’t his savior; he was his savior. It was up to Dumbo to save Jumbo.

And at that last final moment, Dumbo opened up his ears and soared over the incredulous crowd, proving to them that he was special.

Dumbo, the maligned, became Jumbo, the respected; the hero of the circus.

Why all this talk of Dumbo/Jumbo?

Because watching that trailer about Dumbo triggered Me Too.

Why? I have no clue.

But it triggered something that I had forgotten. One small nagging thing that for years I couldn’t remember.

But now I know.

Before Me Too I referred to my “issues” as “the elephant in the room.”

Unlike Disney Dumbo my elephant was dark and menacing, popping up here and there, in the unlikeliest and often inopportune of times.

Anywhere and everywhere, any occasion, every movie, any song, any anything, or, or, or.

Those despicable visions creeping up and in.

Despicable me and my despicable elephant.

“The elephant in the room” has been in that damn room with me for my entire life.

Actually, “the elephant in the room” has been with me in every room, in every corner, for every second, of every day, no matter where I go or who I’m with, or, or, or.

I know many of you are thinking: Get over it.

Don’t you think I want to? Who would want to live like this?

The answer to my friend’s question should and could have been a simple one: Lord have mercy, yes.

 

One Hell of a Movie Trailer

I feel sick to my stomach.

I keep looking back on the past two weeks and asking myself is this for real or am I smack in the middle of one of those spine-chilling Hollywood movies about the disintegration of the United States as we know it?

The vision of Dr. Ford won’t go away: Her soft, child-like voice, the heartbreaking definition of fight or flight, two front doors, the hand over her mouth, making eye contact with Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh looming over her defenseless self, the uproarious laughter.

The vision of Judge Kavanaugh won’t go away: His angry contorted face, his unhinged shouting, the lame definition of Devil’s Triangle, Renate Alumnius, his promises of revenge, his blatant denial about his drinking, the disrespect he showed to Senator Amy Klobuchar.

And all those old white men sitting decorously like strutting peacocks, making believe they come from a place of honor and integrity. Pretending they want what’s best for the American people.

It’s enough to make anyone want to chug a hundred kegs of beer.

Every time I watch the news and see any one of those nasty old men, I want to scream at the top of my lungs: TERM LIMITS!!!

Where the hell do we go from here?

Beginning in 1998, Igor Panarin, a Russian professor and political scientist, has been predicting that the United States will first collapse and then morph into six separate parts: The California Republic, The Texas Republic, the Central North-American Republic, Atlantic America, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Among other things, he forecasted that financial and demographic changes triggered by the intervention of foreign powers, mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation would lead to social unrest, national division, and ultimately civil war.

Panarin even predicted that the wealthier states might get so fed up with the corruption and partisan politics that they may even withhold funds from the federal government effectively seceding from the Union.

Panarin also said this: “The U.S. dollar isn’t secured by anything. The country’s foreign debt has grown like an avalanche; this is a pyramid, which has to collapse. … Dissatisfaction is growing. … There’s a 55–45% chance right now that disintegration will occur. … There is a high probability that with the collapse of the United States, Russia and China will become economic superpowers, and will need to collaborate to rebuild the world economy with a new currency once the United States (and the U.S. dollar) cease to exist. …Occupy Wall Street protests have highlighted the ever-deepening split with America’s ruling elite.”

At the time of his predictions, the first thing I thought was that the guy was bonkers.

The second thing I thought was that it would make for a great movie!

Pure fantasy, but it could be an apocalyptic best seller!

And now, well I feel like I am watching the trailer of a doomsday movie that is soon to come out.

To know the fate of the United States, don’t forget to tune in on November 6th!

He Could Not Comb His Own Hair Without Help

After five and a half years of captivity and horrendous torture in North Vietnam, John McCain finally came home. His body was broken, but not his spirit. McCain was left permanently disabled and was unable to raise his arms above his shoulders.

And yet, according to “President” Trump, John McCain was a bogus war hero, and he made a mockery of his years of torture and captivity: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr. McCain said nothing in response. How many people would have been able to do that?

I wonder how long Trump would have lasted as a prisoner of war in Hanoi?

Oh wait, he was a draft dodger and received five deferments during the Vietnam War—four for education and one for bad feet. Aw, poor Trump had bone spurs.

John McCain endured among other unimaginable torture: Bayoneted in the left ankle and groin, a broken shoulder as a result of a rifle butt, suspended by ropes with his broken arms behind him, two years in solitary confinement in a cell infested with roaches and rats, frequent beatings, and tortured with cables.

Someone had to help him comb his hair.

Upon reading those words in the New York Times today, my heart was heavy.

Not only because we lost a true American hero, who loved his country, but also because we are left with a germaphobic, self-absorbed, self-concerned tyrant, who copped five draft deferments and has yet to visit the thousands of American soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Trump is not invited to McCain’s funeral, and I’m happy about that. Not that he would have attended, because he’s a coward.

I regret not having mailed the letter I wrote to Mr. McCain following Trump’s searing put- down of him and amidst the booing of McCain at Trump rallies.

In part here is what it said:

Dear Senator McCain,

I am so sorry that Donald Trump made a joke about your time in captivity because if not for your sacrifice, I might not be free.

And thank you for answering the call to defend our country’s freedom, and for putting America before yourself and for your undying patriotism.

Finally, thank you for defending the Constitution, which allows me to be able to write this letter to you at all.

And most importantly, I needed to tell you that despite Trump and his booing followers, most Americans are filled with fiery patriotism and consider you a true American hero.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by the late great John McCain:

“We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always.”

“I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land. I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way.”

“I don’t mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.”

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s.”

Respect — Just a Little Bit

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my life was forever changed in the summer of 1967, when I was the ripe young age of fourteen.

1967 was a tumultuous year for me. The rest of America was in a tumult as well, dealing with peace rallies, the Vietnam draft, race riots, and war demonstrations.

A real shitstorm of a year that I wish I could forget.

But what I will always remember was the connection I had with the then unknown Aretha Franklin’s hit song:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.

What R-E-S-P-E-C-T meant to me in 1967 was a hope for dignity, bravery, empowerment, strength, guts, courage, nerve, daring, confidence.  Every time I heard that song, I felt a kinship with it.

A year later, in the late great 1968, Aretha released (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman, but this time her words did nothing for me.

I was certain that no man could ever make me feel inspired.

But then I heard it on the radio in 1984, and it was like I was hearing it for the first time.

It was a few months after my son was born, and it hit me that I could indeed be inspired by a man. Not as a wife, but as a mother to a son.

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
Till your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more

Rest in peace Aretha and thank you for inspiring me.

Global Warming—the New Normal

Globally, this year is shaping up to be the fourth hottest on record. The only years hotter were the three previous ones.

Since modern record-keeping began, seventeen of the eighteen warmest years have occurred since 2001.

WAKE UP CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS, because temperatures are going to continue to rise, heat waves will only grow hotter and more intense, fires and floods will forge on, annihilating everything and anything in their path.

Make no mistake about it: Our world is getting hotter and will threaten and ultimately destroy our basic necessities for survival like food, water, and electricity.

Prepare for Climageddon because diminishing food supply, water scarcity, and unreliable electricity is in our future.

Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and some of the most beautiful places on earth will cease to exist.

Places like Key West, Florida, the Rhône Valley in France, the Alps, California’s Nappa Valley, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Venice, Italy, Glacier National Park in Montana, the Dead Sea, the Maldives, the Amazon, and Alaska are suffering severe global warming consequences, with some facing the prospect of vanishing entirely.

And what’s so incredibly frightening is that so far efforts to tame the heat have all failed miserably.

But the absolute scariest part about all of this is that WITHOUT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, the rest of the world has united to fight climate change.

Thanks for the win, Donald.

A New Dawn Aka the Name Game

For as far back as I can remember I always thought my middle name was spelled Dawne.

I first saw the spelling of it in my teens, on my Social Security Card, and took it for granted that my mother for some reason or another chose to spell it that way.

And over the years I’ve joked with my friends about the “e” at the end.

Dawn with an e. A typo? A misspelling? A careless mistake?

Why the e?

But the sad truth is that every time I asked myself the why-the-e question, I always came back with the same follow-up:

Why the me?

The me was the harder of the two questions.

And the e? Well, that mystery has recently been solved.

Last month, while combing through ancestry.com I came upon myself, and I discovered that my middle name is Dawn. No e.

I was sure that ancestry.com had made an error, so I ordered an original birth certificate, and upon its receipt, I discovered that there was, in fact, no e.

Sixty-five years later, I guess it’s good to know.

But I’m still in the dark about the me.

On a recent Saturday, while listening to my favorite songs on my iPod, I passed a mirror and caught my image.

I intently checked out my reflection. I critically scrutinized myself.

Mirror mirror on the wall.

I looked old, and most definitely not the fairest of them all.

I was eyeing myself up and down, not in a critical way like I need to lose weight—but with an eye for WTF happened to me.

Not just this week, or last week, or last month, or last year, but five, ten, twenty, forty, fifty years ago.

All the way back to fifty long years ago.

And that memorable day back in high school when I received my Social Security Card in the mail.

There it was. Three names.

My first name had been completely obliterated. Theresa had been replaced with Teri.

For my first few months in a new school and town, I had been viciously bullied and called “Theresa the greasah,” so a family decision had been made long before the Social Security Card arrived that my first name had to go.

And I was okay with that.

Terry with a “y” was deemed too masculine. Teri with an “i,” now that was an excellent Westport Connecticut name according to the fam.

One might read this and think “How awful.”

I didn’t feel awful about it. But I was praying that “Teri” didn’t rhyme with anything hurtful.

So I was mentally prepared for the first name, but as I fingered the Social Security Card, the middle name struck me as odd.

D-a-w-n-e.

I immediately thought that the e at the end was weird, but I wasn’t about to ask my mother any questions. That was back in the old days when children were seen and never heard.

So I begrudgingly accepted Dawne, although I would have much preferred Dawn.

And then there was my new last name.

It had been changed to something else because I had been recently adopted by my step-father.

Now, I was upset about that.

Actually, I was devastated by that.

I didn’t want to be adopted, and I certainly didn’t want to change my last name.

Because that meant that my father, whoever and wherever he was, let me go.

He gave me up to some other man.

My father gave me up. He gave up on me.

Turns out I was wrong about that.

Turns out I was wrong about a lot of things back then.

I would come to find out almost ten years after my Social Security Card arrival that my last name was illegal, and then of course last month, that Dawn-with-an-e was a typo.

Illegal and typo.

Just like my first, middle, and last name on that Social Security Card, I was all scrambled up and nothing was left of the original me. No security at all.

Back to the mirror, mirror on the wall.

There was no one to ask. No one to reassure or reaffirm who I was seeing, staring back at me.

Me with illegal-typo me.

No makeup, just plain-faced, with frizzed up hair, and haphazardly dressed in my daughter’s hand-me-down clothes.

Most people tell me I look like an entirely different person with vs. without makeup.

And many of them think they are being brutally honest when they confide to me that yes, I look better all dolled up.

“You don’t think I know that?” I always respond to them.

“Then why go out bare faced?” they ask.

Because I don’t care.

And because I feel the full force of me with a naked face.

And anyway, with the war paint, I feel fake, unnatural, itchy, unreal. Illegal.

In the old days, it was all about:

Mascaraed eyes black to the max. Check.

Fake smile. Check.

Every strand of hair in place. Check.

My fancy clothes, my fancy shoes. Check. Check.

Now it’s about:

No makeup, naturally dried hair, dressed in hand-me-downs. That’s me. The authentic and real me.

Broken blood vessels, dark circles under my eyes, my disappearing eyebrows, and those despised sun dots and spots. I no longer call them beauty marks. I know full well what they are.

I feel the plain me is my best me.

The free, fresh faced me, able to run outdoors any time, and anywhere and immerse my whole self in a torrential down pouring of rain. No worries that my makeup will streak or smudge.

And it is so helpful when the tears come streaming down. No worries that black mascara will run down my face like one of those scary clowns.

The sensitive me, immersed in the unforgettable scent of a fresh storm, the mesmerizing pitter-patter sounds the wet stuff makes, and the hypnotic effect that each drip and drop have on my psyche as they gently or ferociously land on my makeup-free face.

Or the poetic me that adores the clean taste of rainfall as I gaze upwards with arms outstretched and imbibe in a wondrous drink from the clouds.

And when I sometimes wash my hair in the tumultuous downpour, I wonder if anyone who loves or loved me is looking out at the same tempest, at the same time, and dreaming about what ifs.

Because those who have been nearest and dearest to me, know I adore the rain and the dark, dreary days, the squalls, the windstorms, the whirlwind gales, all of them.

But gazing at my rainless, unpoetic, and makeup free mirror image, I studied the sad eyes sadly studying me back.

Who the hell am I and who the hell else is out there?

So many of us feel connected to our ancestral roots. We dream of tracing our familial trees. We dream of finding long lost family members or experiencing the Aha moment.

I have always believed that it was fundamental and essential to my self healing that I figure out my who and where.

I spent a lifetime trying to fit the pieces together, convinced that I couldn’t move forward until I stepped backwards in the hopes of figuring out where I had been. Who I was to people.

Some fifty years ago and way before the internet, I would drive around Bridgeport, trying to find streets, houses, and tenements, in a desperate search for answers, and something—anything that might spark a memory or two. Good or bad. Something solid to hang on to.

And then after the internet, and with the same driving courage, I was able to find out more about me and my mysterious roots.

My years of familial searching and then finding, taught me to be careful about what one wishes for.

And to be mindful that in the looking, one might actually find something, and that something might be worse than the not knowing.

As an example, I tried to find out who my father was for years. And once I was successful in my pursuit, I discovered that there was a massive divide between who I dreamed my father was, and who he turned out to actually be.

In my search for the truth about my father, the truth was indeed stranger, and much more personal and painful than fiction.

But I’ll save that story for another time.

Growing up, I was never sure about who I was. And sixty-five years later, I’m still partially in the dark.

And even though I’ve already unearthed some painful stuff, I’m not afraid of finding out more.

In the end, I am who I am, no matter what I find out.

I was in the seek-and-you-shall-find mode, no matter what the outcome.

Call it a late-in-life crisis. But to be honest, this crisis has been a lifetime in the making.

I decided to treat myself to a tell-all for my 65th birthday.

I threw fearful to the wind and decided to research the two most sought-after companies who collect DNA information—Ancestry and 23andMe—before making my final decision about which one to go with.

Ancestry has sold over three million DNA kits and counting. It has user-generated content that has made it possible to produce more than 70 million family trees and offers access to over 16 billion online records.

I know, I sound like a commercial.

And then there’s 23andMe.

More than 1 million people have been genotyped through 23andMe.com.

If you’re curious about why the company is called 23andMe: It’s named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in each human cell. They also offer estimates of predisposition for more than 90 traits and conditions ranging from baldness to blindness.

I wasn’t interested in predisposition. That would be way too much information for my liking.

I wanted to find stuff out, but I’m not that curious.

I’m interested in family stuff, not health stuff.

It would be my luck to rummage around and find some unintended and wholly unwanted predispositions. Baldness? Blindness? No thank you.

I love rainstorms. Healthstorms, are a whole other ball of wax, and I prefer to stay as in the dark about them as possible.

So I decided to go with Ancestry.com.

For $99, I was sent a vial in which to deposit my saliva. I mailed it back, and three weeks later I received the written details of me.

Within minutes I discovered the new Dawn, no e.

When I finished reading the Teri report, I looked around my desk at all the fading black and white photographs of me as a baby, with my grandmother, great grandmother, and mother.

I thought about the patchwork quilts and crocheted afghan blankets, the nursery rhymes sung in French, the recipes for rhubarb pie and macaroni with hamburger casserole.

Try as I can, the words to the French ditty have long been forgotten, but I see in those photos that I was someone special to somebody.

And I finally realize that I don’t need the photographs to recall the love. I can unearth the adoration any old time I want to, in the deepest caverns of my mind.

I can ensconce myself in my grandmother’s afghan and quilts, amidst the quiet memory of the why and who I was at least to her.

The rest I guess be damned.

Because I finally feel at peace with me.  With or without the e.

The Secret Sits

Robert Frost’s poem “The Secret Sits” is one of my all-time favorites.

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Secret, with a capital S.

It’s a simple couplet; just two lines of poetry that rhyme, but brilliantly speaks volumes to me.

I’m sure it speaks volumes to you as well.

And I’m equally sure that how and why it touches you is entirely different from what Frost’s poem means to me.

Its poetic rhythm is in anapestic trimeter; a rhythmical combination of anapest: (A foot of poetic verse consisting of three syllables) and trimeter: (Three iambic feet within a single line of poetry).

Three.

Tri.

In the middle.