Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Which Autumn Justifies Her Spelling

Autumn has been writing me notes lately. She always has but these are crazy because, for the most part, her latest notes are coherent and mostly spelled correctly. She's growing up! There's still some work to do. I should save this for our family blog but this cracked me up way too much. Plus it's been pretty quiet here so you get an Autumn post, ha! Every Monday, Autumn's class has a pre-spelling test to determine whether or not they can spell the words for the week. If the student can already spell all the words, they study enrichment words instead. Autumn usually has to do the regular spelling words. This week, they are doing "ea" words with a random -ign word thrown in for fun. This is from her test:

I don't know why but I laughed so hard. Autumn spelled it wrong but blow me away if she didn't justify it with diacritical marks! She did it on the whole test.

On the weekends, I've been doing some extra practice with my friends Chuck and Matt. We're having another combatives seminar in March. I'll write more about it later but if you want information on the seminar, you can visit the aikido events page. After the second Saturday session, I'm going to test for a black belt on the material. A panel of my peers and current and former teachers will decide if I passed or not so I'm kind of nervous. I think I'll do okay but in the next two weeks, I'm going to be practicing scenarios, aka The Hard Part.

When I came home Sunday, Autumn left the little note in the picture on my keyboard. It took me a bit to decipher it because I think she left out part of a word but my interpretation is "I hope you had a good time a(nd) your geting a black belt." ME, TOO, Little Miss. And I did have a good time! We've had a blast practicing and I'm glad. I occasionally wonder if my partners are getting a good workout with me being so small but these practices have reminded me that good partners are invaluable. We have a great time because we all have different strengths in our sizes and shapes and we respect each other.

Anyway, I still have some more Tales from the Dark posts to share and I'm in the end stages of a wedding shower I'm giving on Sunday so things shouldn't be quiet around here for too long!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tales from the Dark 2

I made the mistake of thinking that this would be easy! I mean, not easy to share but easy because I don't have to write much. But, editing my old writing and reliving a time that's pretty well faded is tougher than I anticipated. I wonder if someday, somewhere I'll re-post bits of this blog and relive that, too. I don't think it's a bad thing. But it is rather interesting.

The day I found out my dad had relapsed, I went to a seminar led by Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny, one of the founders of Dog Brothers Martial Arts. The seminar was pretty small if I remember correctly but we had a great time. I think 2005-2006 marks my introduction to "combatives" although I don't think anyone called it that when we were starting. It's crazy to think that next month I'm taking a certification exam based on the foundation from all those years ago.

Anyway, when I got out of the seminar, I had a bunch of missed calls but no messages. And that's where this picks up...

Not from that seminar but this is one of the first photos ever taken of me doing aikido! It's around the same time period.

1/10/06 :: Title: The Long Version
...waiting for Crafty Dog to leave so I could shake his hand, I saw my brother Donnie called. I told Michael (note: my friend's husband and my off and on classmate) that he probably just wanted to come over and I'd call him back. I didn't and I am glad because driving home would have terrible if I hadn't gotten multiple calls from girlfriends about lunch this week which prevented me from finding out.

When I got home, Mike was sitting in his chair in his office, looking grave. All the lights were off in the house except for the lamp over his shoulder. Mike had me pull up a chair.

"Sharaze, please don't assume the worst." He took a deep breath, "your dad has been missing since yesterday morning at 11 am. He went to your cousin J's place but he never made it home."

Can you imagine? Stories I've recently read about alzheimer's patients, moms disappearing and closed cases ran through my head.

"Your mom called me to ask me what to do. I recommended she file a missing persons report since he's been gone over 24 hours. As the police left her place, J called to say your dad had come by. He said he didn't know where he'd been for the last day and a half and then he left again. The police are now looking out for your dad's truck because they think some of his health problems may have caused something to happen."

At this point, I started to cry because I knew. Mike told me not to jump to conclusions but I knew that although to our knowledge he had not relapsed, he was back on drugs.

We called friends to ask them to pray. While I was on the line with Stephan, Mike told me my dad was home and it was bad. Very Bad.

He'd been at a crackhouse with another of my cousins. E was high, came by J's place, and then he and my dad drained my parents' checking account and had a multi-hour binge.

The good news? my mom is smarter (or more burned) than I gave her credit for. Most of their money is in the savings and he has no access.

My sister went over there while he was missing. I talked to her and to my mom about how he was doing. It is almost painful to hear the lack of anger, the lack of drama that once accompanied these times. My sister was polite. She said, "it's bad. He's wasted. Not on alcohol." My mom says the first thing he said when he came in was, "you're going to leave me, aren't you?" She just said probably so. And then he sat down to a bowl of cereal. His first food in 2 days.

He has high blood pressure and cholesterol. He is 50 pounds overweight. He has sleep apnea and his blood sugar last night was 380. Mama said that she wonders why he'd do this when it would probably kill him and would almost certainly kill his family.

She is at work now but stayed at my grandmother's last night. Penny offered her place and we offered ours but she wanted to stay at her mother's which is across the street so she could make sure he didn't start selling things off like last time. During what I call "the darkest time," he sold everything out from under us...our house, our clothes, our toys, our cars.

Donnie and I both called him and said hi. Tonight we will meet and talk about what is next.

I will go to work where we are learning about recovery from grief and addiction and where people know what to say and have been there and done that. Stephan is processing the story and will be our adviser.

And maybe I am grown up enough to ask him why and actually listen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tales from the Dark 1

Drug addiction is in the news in the wake of the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman. There have been some great articles and I love the compassion that many authors bring to the table: former addicts often live in fear of relapse; other authors talk about how addiction is a valid disease despite that initial choice to use; another delves into all of our addictions, not just the ones that kill us so dramatically; Russell Brand writes about the ongoing battle and how no disease renders its victims as unlovable as addiction.
I noticed, though, as my friends would post these links, people often recoiled from the idea that drug addiction is a disease like diabetes. I think I get that. It's hard to be compassionate when many times addicts are in and out of jail, selling things off that their families need, destroying everything one high at a time: see above Russell Brand quote.

I made several comments that I don't believe anyone wants to absolve addicts of their sins. I try so, so hard to think of my dad in a compassionate light. I don't know what abuses he endured as a child. I don't know how his mom's extreme indulgence affected him as an adult. I do know he struggled with depression and was likely bipolar so it's possible that he was self medicating. But I don't know. I can only guess and I worry about writing about this time in my life because I don't want to tell someone else's story. People try to tell my story from time to time and it's rarely quite right or with the point I want my life to make (hope, in case anyone was wondering).

All this is to introduce some old blog posts I resurrected from the time when my dad relapsed after many years of sobriety. I thought about writing about that time, thinking of Hoffman's children and what they must be going through, and then I remembered that I have a ton of archived blog posts. So, off and on for the next few days, I'll share some of the posts from the months between my dad's relapse and death. It's the time when we staged an intervention and a time of emotional turmoil for me (and my family but I'm going to try to speak for myself alone). I won't edit a lot but I'll probably do a little to make it more readable. Here goes:

1/9/06 :: Title: The Short Version
Apparently my father just got home from a 36 hour cocaine binge with my cousin (who is his age). His first in several years. My mom has gone to my grandmother's because this was his last chance. Our prayer is that he'll go to treatment, that he isn't suicidal, and for wisdom about what to do next. My mom and I had a surreal conversation about flashbacks. I think I'm reasonably okay now but this is a blow. Because of the suicidal issue, we 3 kids called him, told him we loved him and to hang in there. :/ Meaningless but at least he's spoken to all of us without drama.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Young Aikido Students vs. Molly the Cat Blender

This is what I did over the weekend. Ha! I have been, to use a phrase I've heard some people hate, out of pocket for a while preparing for an aikido seminar. It went so well! Max Roach Sensei from Mountain Wind Aikido in Rome, GA, came to town to teach a seminar and oversee testing for some of our students. He is the headmaster of a private school that also has international boarders. Five of his international students joined us this weekend along with his 9 year old son. They were a great group of kids. They stayed with us and I had fun getting things together for that.

I like how the weekend played out. We had a Friday session and then two Saturday sessions followed by testing. Chuck and Don, who have been here before, will come to town in March for a joint lock seminar. If I can get myself together in time, they will also do a black belt test for me which is pretty crazy and exciting. I don't feel ready! But, if it pans out, we'll probably do the same format.

Anyway, check it out. This is possibly the funniest picture anyone has ever taken of me.

I have no idea what he said that was so shocking but the next photo I'm doing this. Seriously. I have no idea.

This is what I look like when I teach but what's kind of amusing is what you can't see. My left arm, the one that's trailing at the bottom? That hand is attempting to hold someone in a joint lock while I adjust someone else's hand. Ha! My poor partner. I did eventually let go.

One last thing...when you do aikido right, it looks like this. That's a lot of smiling!