I went to Google & all I got was this crummy obituary

All I have are his name on my birth certificate and two fuzzy pictures from 1971.

I keep those photos in my copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I have for years. There’s no significant reason for keeping them in that book. It was probably the thickest book within arm’s reach when I decided to put the pictures in a book to prevent them from curling up.

Because I’ve been listening to D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, ol’ DFW and Infinite Jest have been top of mind. And then Anonymous decided to take down Go Daddy and in the process half of the Internet. So there I was with three minutes of free time and the random urge to see if my biological father had a Facebook page.

He doesn’t. What he does have is an obituary. He died in 2010, survived by a wife and two beloved cats. There was no mention of children. Just the cats.

So now I’m left in the weird position of mourning a man I’ve never met before. A man who is responsible for my very existence and not much else. I’m also mourning the fact that I’ll never get to meet him and see what that was about. I feel a little like I squandered my opportunity, one I was never entirely sure I wanted to take advantage of.

I didn’t seek him out for a thousand different reasons. I could never really define what I wanted out of meeting him and I could never quite imagine how I would handle it if he denied me. My daddy issues are legion and the thought of adding to them did not appeal to me. Plus, the people I know who were adopted as kids had really bad experiences with meeting biological parents. All of them. Granted it’s only three or four people, but still. . . it was enough to let my fear keep me from seeking him out.

And now I can’t and that makes me sad. The whole fucking thing makes me sad and a little angry, but mostly really weird. I kind of wish I hadn’t ever typed his name into Google this afternoon. Ignorance really is bliss, darling ones.

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10 Comments

  1. Lori 10.Sep.12 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t know what to say, so I’ll go with I’m sorry. That’s a sad/strange position to be in. I think you should write more about it, but that’s just because I like to read what you write.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 11.Sep.12 at 10:20 am

      Oh, I will definitely write more about it as soon as I can figure out what in the hell to say.

      Reply
  2. Christa 10.Sep.12 at 10:46 pm

    Oh, whoa. I’m sorry, friend.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 11.Sep.12 at 10:20 am

      Thank you. It’s so weird.

      Reply
  3. todd 11.Sep.12 at 10:37 pm

    In a way I can sort of connect. I had have never met my father for forty-five years. Even though he’s still alive, it’s still awkward trying to communicate with him. It’s easy to speculate how my life would be different (if at all), but that seems like a waste of time and energy. “What’s done is done.” By the way, I have finished reading Mr. Wallace’s BRIEF INTERVIEWS with HIDEOUS MEN. His writing is on another level. I really enjoy it and look forward to completing INFINITE JEST.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 12.Sep.12 at 9:43 am

      I am going to listen to Infinite Jest this winter. . . I am so excited. I’m curious to see how it goes. The audiobook is 56 hours long & comes with a PDF of the footnotes.

      Reply
      1. todd 13.Sep.12 at 10:56 am

        From your experience, how well do think the written word translates as an audio book? From my limited experience, not very well. Usually I am preoccupied with a task and miss out on the story’s continuity.

        Reply
        1. Jodi 13.Sep.12 at 11:11 am

          Well, I usually listen to audiobooks in the bathtub where none of the tasks are too pre-occupying. I treat listening to a book much like I treat reading a book. That is, I don’t do anything besides listen/read. You’d probably miss out on continuity or something if you were watching TV or a movie while reading a book too.

          A lot of the books translate pretty well. There are some I love listening to so much I’ve listened to them over and over again (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green being one). There are also times where I ping pong between the audio and the written book (this works well with doorstops ala Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet).

          I’m kind of a finicky, nit-picky reader and I find I’m more forgiving when I listen to books. Some sentences, paragraphs, etc. sound better than they look on the page. Also, this prevents me from constantly copyediting/re-writing awkward sentences, so that’s nice.

  4. todd 11.May.13 at 9:10 am

    Despite numerous personal dramas and various time constraints, I have managed to complete INFINITE JEST. Forgive me, but holy fuck! Reading Mr. Wallace’s ambitious tome was a task well worth undertaking. Subconsciously, is it possible you may have your photos of your father wedged in your copy is because, like Hal, you’re also attempting to figure out who “Himself” is? This is just a guess on my part. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. In any case, thank you very much for recommending the book. You rock!

    Reply
    1. Jodi 11.May.13 at 9:15 am

      First of all, congratulations! That is a serious undertaking and finishing it is quite an accomplishment.

      I’m sure there are a host of subconscious and barely-conscious reasons I keep my father’s pictures in the book. It would probably take an INFINITE JEST-like effort to figure it all out, and who has time for that?

      Reply

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