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Mr. Latimer is a real grown-up.

October 30, 2011 2 comments

Yesterday, I got to spend the afternoon with Mr. Latimer. I’ll admit that when he rolled up to the bus stop to pick me up, I was not in a very good mood. I’ve been off track the last few days, which led me to have an off-track morning. I left my Transpass at my apartment so I had to pay for the bus, which was irritating to me since I already paid money to have Transpass. I decided to get into it with the crazy guy who kept talking to me at the bus stop. Then when I got to Upper Darby and Mr. Latimer arrived, I smacked my head on the car as I went to get in. I had to catch myself from wallowing in my own annoyance so that I could be pleasant company for Mr. Latimer, especially since he graciously offered to help me with a suburban errand and I did not want to seem ungrateful.

Another reason I wanted to be present while spending the afternoon with Mr. Latimer is because I knew he was probably feeling off-track, too. I posted early in this week that it was my brother’s birthday and that my dad and I don’t really acknowledge to each other that his is hard for us. Yesterday, though, after a few minutes in the car, he told me his girlfriend has showed him my post. We didn’t have  long conversation, but it was the right conversation. While I’m an adult-like person and don’t need as much parenting as, say, a six-year old, I do still need my dad sometimes. And this is not meant to sound critical at all of Mr. Latimer because I believe he’s always been a good dad, but I think he’s a much better dad now than he ever was before.

Although Mr. Latimer and I have been through some rough things together, we’ve dealt with them in different ways due to our different perspectives in our family. But really, my dad has been dealing with harder things for longer. In the past, he didn’t deal with those things very well.

So what changed?

Well, I think he has. Sure, he’s the same old Mr. Latimer. He makes dumb jokes and thinks most problems can be solved by wrasslin’. But he always makes the changes about himself that he can. Over the years, I have seen him work to become a better man. I don’t think it’s easy to change. Often, it’s terrifying because you have to recognize and accept that something’s not quite right in the first place. So as I’ve always loved and respected my dad, I think now I’m starting to understand him. And it’s making me love and respect him even more.

OK, sorry about all. I know Mr. Latimer’s fans were expecting something funny. So here is a typical Mr. Latimer interaction, a Christmas memory from 2010:

(Mr. Latimer opens my Christmas gift to him, a Philadelphia Judo Club t-shirt)

Mr. Latimer: I thought you were going to get me a Penn shirt.

Me: You hate Penn.

ML: I know, but I still want a shirt.

Happy Birthday Part II.

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Dennis posted this as a comment, but I don’t want my four loyal readers to miss what he wrote because I think what he wrote is wonderful. Dennis captures more of what I and so many others loved about my brother:

“I was hesitant for a brief moment about sending you that picture, but I am so glad that I did. I believe that in doing so it keeps him a part of our lives. Without getting too sappy, Scott was the most genuine and truest person I have ever known. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him or utilize the lessons I have learned from him. He showed me the true meaning of friendship. And he taught me how to view the world with an open mind and an open heart without filters for race, color, or religion. In the diverse environments I’ve worked in, I’ve often thought of his genuine curiousity to know and understand people, and I have found many answers in so many difficult and challenging times. “

Categories: Family, Friends, Learning, Life

Happy Birthday.

October 26, 2011 9 comments

This morning, I received a photo message from my friend, Dennis. The message contained a picture of my brother in a compromising position, yet my brother’s composure remained unapologetic. Why would Dennis send me an inappropriate picture of my brother? Well, today is my brother’s birthday, and even though he died over 10 years ago, Dennis likes to celebrate his birthday with the sick sense of humor that brought them together in the first place.

I wish I was more like Dennis.

I don’t know how to celebrate my brother’s birthday. Hell, I can barely say my brother’s name out loud. (It’s Scott, by the way). Most of the time, his birthday just creeps up on me and I think that the date doesn’t really mean anything to me. Today, though, I had a really hard time and I blame social work. This year my field placement this year is at a women’s transitional shelter which practices the Sanctuary Model, a form of trauma-informed care.  As a part of my work, I co-facilitate a group on Wednesday mornings which addresses trauma-related emotional triggers and responses, and how to develop healthy coping techniques.

To prepare for these sessions, I’ve been reading articles about how trauma impacts brain functioning and the ways in which our coping techniques can become maladaptive. In the middle of this morning’s session, I found that I was getting upset and I slowly realized that today was my brother’s birthday. Suddenly I began myself thinking about his death (he was killed by a drunk driver) and frantically wondering if I was practicing the destructive dis-associative behaviors that my co-facilitator and I were discussing with the group. I was mortified to think that I was slipping into an observational member of the group instead of maintaining my role as facilitator. As a therapist, yes, I can integrate my experiences and insight into my practice in order to empathize with clients; however, I can never, ever make it about myself and detract from the client’s needs.

I spent the rest of the day trying to hold it together. At one point, I talked to my dad to discuss logistics regarding my upcoming birthday and neither of us mentioned what today was, confirming once again that I am truly Mr. Latimer’s daughter. I found myself wishing terribly I knew how to do what Dennis does and honor my brother in a way that is true to this spirit. Since Dennis is basically my surrogate big brother, I’m going to try to be like him right now and offer a little tribute list to my brother.

Some things that were awesome about Scott:

1. His hair: Until my brother was in his late teens, he kept his hair short to hide his curly locks and avoid teasing. Then he decided to embrace his natural looks and let his grown into an electric shock of blond curls. It was amazing.

2. His trillion watt smile: My brother had the biggest and best smile of anyone I’ve ever met.

3. He was a big, giant weirdo: My brother had strange taste in clothing, conducted gross experiments with food, and was constantly trying to invent ways to save time that were extremely impractical.

4. He was a compulsive over-achiever: In the last year of his life, my brother was a full-time college student with three jobs, one of which was a teaching assistant. He was applying for internships on top of all that.

5. He loved what he did: My brother was an engineering student whose first love was physics. When he went to parties in college, his friends would realize he was missing, only to find him alone in a dark room with a flashlight and his text book.

6. He made everyone feel special: I don’t know how he did it, but he made everyone feel like he was their best friend. If you were Scott’s friend, he’d give you anything you wanted, listen to you for hours, and always find a way to make you laugh.

So there you have it. Happy Birthday, buddy.

Categories: Family, Learning, Life, social work

Haikuesday 10.25.11

October 25, 2011 3 comments

Ms. Jasmin was sick,

So I taught the kids alone.

It wasn’t so bad.

Categories: poetry

I don’t like the other side of the fence.

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

As I mentioned too many times before, sometimes I get hurt practicing judo. There are times when it hurts a lot and I have sit out for a couple practices, and there are other times when the pain is just a little annoying and I can push through. Really, I could care less about the pain. I only get upset when my injury means I have to step back from training. Otherwise, it’s just part of the game.

Today, however, I had the reverse, sucky experience of hurting someone else. And I know that you can argue that it’s not my fault. Accidents happen, especially in a sport like judo. I can’t remember getting angry with the person I was working with when I’ve gotten hurt during class. I know that person was not trying to hurt me.  And the girl I was working with was very cool about the whole thing. But still, I felt pretty terrible.

There’s not much else to say. It’s just another thing that I have to learn from and move on.

Categories: Injuries, Judo

Elusive myths: Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and balance.

October 21, 2011 1 comment

*Warning: this is all stuff that I’ve gone on about before. Feel free to skip.*

In my field, there is a lot of talk about achieving “work-life balance” and practicing “self-care’. I think these concepts are a joke. My program requires that students spend 24 hours in the field and take four classes. For these classes, we probably have anywhere from 200-300 pages we should read as well as multiple papers, presentations, and exams. So if we go to work three days a week , spend 10 hours in class , and actually complete assignments, that doesn’t leave that much time for anything else. I’m not trying to complain here; I’m trying to explain that logistically, I don’t see how I can get all of my work done and still get eight hours of sleep every night.

Now, there are people in my program that never seem to stress out. They even do things like “go out” on the weekends. Some of them have “relationships”. I am fascinated by these people. How do they do it? Between school, work, and judo, I can’t seem to find a good way to fit in anything else. I know it’s my own fault. I told myself this year I was going to be more social, but somehow that manifested as me joining student government and getting involved in other things at school. So my way of becoming more social was just to take on more commitments. Right. And this week and the next are mid-terms, so in my attempt to get ahead in my work so I’m not slammed, I skipped judo and stayed up stupid late every night. Now I feel like I’m getting sick, but I’m still all twitchy from not going to practice. Stategy = backfired.

So when am I going to figure this out? Sometimes, I think never. I comfort myself by pretending that the students in my program who seem to be perfectly content are faking it and go home and cry every night. But I’m still going to try–I won’t give up on the hunt to find the elusive creature we call “balance”.

Categories: Learning, Life, School

Haikuesday 10.18.11 Part II

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s such a small thing

When our elbows or knees touch.

Still, it is human.

Categories: poetry