After a difficult birth and an emergency helicopter lift to Phoenix, AZ, I was christened, Dawn Michelle Bear. My father was working and was not able to accompany my mother to the hospital. He made one request, if I was a boy he did not want me named after his father, so my mom, still a little angry, gave me the feminine version of my father’s and grandfather’s name. Michelle, was given to me by my maternal grandma, my only whisper of normalcy. To my knowledge, she is not a fan of the Beatles, I believe it was a sign of her newly found relationship with God. Bear, originally spelled Baer, was changed by my great great grandfather shortly after World War II.
My dad never really told me a lot about his side of the family growing up. All I know is that he is a mix of German and Irish, the German features are seen in him and the hearty Irish in my aunt and uncle. He has worked hard his entire life, but not in the areas where it counts. The last successful relationship he had was with my mom. They divorced over twenty years ago. I am told I take after him.
Similar to my father, my mom is a wage slave. I often see her work fifty to sixty hour work weeks even though I hear her lungs rattling like microwaved popcorn bags. She is full blooded Navajo, and like morning sickness when she comes across specific foods she recalls her boarding school days and becomes physically ill. I was not taught my language because she was taught to be ashamed of it.
I believe I am made up of the best parts of both my parents. Though my mom was ashamed of her language, she kept my maternal family very close to me. I grew up proud of my Indigenous heritage, and while I may not speak my language, I continue to learn much about my culture and try to incorporate what I learn into my writing. Writing is what I want to do, it is my passion, and to date I’ve even been able to scrub up a little cash from it.
My first experience with poetry is reading a child’s edition of Emily Dickson’s “I am nobody” poem, in middle school, and since, have dabbled in reading poetry for pleasure. A few of my favorite poets are Charles Bukowski, E. E. Cummings, and T. S. Eliot. I love Cummings and Bukowski because they stray from traditional forms while being able to convey their intent with concise language. I like Eliot for his descriptions that often leave a haunting feeling. Though I love poetry, it’s the hardest for me to write.
I prefer the short form of fiction and am currently diving into the realm of a full length book.