So My Dad Is Going To Be At My Critique, Apparently.

posted in: Day In The Life, Family 27
Father with child. Photo: Wikipedia.
Father with child. Photo: Wikipedia.


I told you last week that my first art school critique is tomorrow. Thanks to all who wished me luck! I took it then and I’ll take it now, especially because the crit happens is bright and early tomorrow morning and a few days ago, I got some weird news about it.

There was a panelist added to the group of people who will be critiquing me. She’s a multidisciplinary artist who has done work at/with the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) before, though I’m not sure what. I didn’t dig too deeply but I know she has some connection to the Writing Department and was part of an event in the spring.

She emailed me to ask me if I was related to John Fons, if that might be my dad. Apparently, she knows my dad.

This email stopped me cold. Not many people ask me about my dad — and never by name. His world and my world exist in galaxies far, far apart from the other. Finally, after years of trying to close the space between us, I have come to understand that it’s better like it is. To get an email from a (female) stranger asking me about my father made my stomach lurch. I thought, “Oh, great. One of Dad’s ex-girlfriends is going to be reading and critiquing my writing. That’s super. That’s just great.”

The email so shocked me that I spent a day trying to figure out how to answer it. I finally sent my reply (I wrote: “It’s possible. Looking forward to meeting you!”) and then I thought about it some more. By the time I stopped brooding and mentioned this to someone, it was really too late to ask to be moved to another panel or to not have this person on the panel. Because the more I think about it, the more I’m not so sure about this. Am I being too sensitive?

Because what was their relationship? How long ago did it occur? I’d like to think they were just colleagues, but then why didn’t she say so? She didn’t say, “Hey, I knew your dad from [this]!” It was so vague, like, “I knew your dad…” and I pictured her like, staring into space and getting…wistful.

Can I barf during a crit? I know some of you brilliant PaperGirl readers said you were art school graduates. Any pointers on barfing during the actual critique session? Should I bring my own fancy barf bag? Perhaps something I’ve collaged?

We know the world is small. I think we forget — I certainly forget — that the world is smaller than a matchbox. Or a match. After burning.

That’s My Dad.

posted in: Day In The Life, Family 1
From R-L: Dad, Me. Photo: My Aunt Leesa.
From L-R: Dad, Me. Photo: My Aunt Leesa.

I was going through the dumb iPhoto album on this dumb laptop, looking for a dumb picture that apparently is in my old laptop’s dumb iPhoto album, though it’s likely it could be in either my dumb desktop iPhoto album or my old desktop iPhoto album, which is also dumb. I have sworn that when this laptop dies, I am switching to a Windows Surface thing. Seriously, I am doing that. The Mac cloud has failed me too many times and Steve Jobs is dead. These are facts, and I never found that picture I was looking for.

Another fact: that guy up there is my dad, and this was a picture that I didn’t mean to find. There aren’t many pictures of my dad on any of my computers. There are barely any on the Internet; I found two. Now there are three.

Dad and Jane were traveling through California while I was visiting my favorite Auntie in Sacramento some months ago. I got nervous when the prospect of them dropping by came up; I hadn’t seen my dad in over five years. But I agreed. What was I gonna do? Say no? No, because that just isn’t my style, even if my stomach hurt terribly that morning and I bit my thumb cuticle on my left hand till I drew blood.

Aunt Leesa and I made muffins; the meetup was going to be brunch at her house. We made strong coffee. My auntie knows how I feel about my dad (complicated) and she knows the early story of my family (lousy, complicated) but she’s not a Ground Zero Crewmember so she’s about the best person on the planet to sit next to at brunch if you’re me and Dad’s across the table. She also grew up with the guy, so she knows when he’s, you know. Full of muffin. Which he is.

I could write a novel about how that two-hour brunch went, what with all the labyrinthine thought processes running through memory and curiosity at the same time, trying to result in conversation not emotional but still genuine, not slow-burn rage-y but not without bite. You want those who have hurt you to hear a little bite in your voice, don’t you? We all want to punish, even while we eat bacon. Especially while we eat bacon.

You know what’s weird? Writing PaperGirl.