Lack of updates lately

I know that recently I haven’t been updating as much and many of those updates have been “smaller” (that is, fewer cases) than usual. Often this is an indicator that something’s gone wrong in my personal life. I want you guys to know that everything is fine with me.

Michael’s a teacher, and he tutors after the school day is finished, so he works long hours. Well, school is out for the year and although Michael is still tutoring, he isn’t working nearly as much as before. It’s a lot easier for me to get my updates done when he’s not around. This isn’t because he interrupts me, or grouches at me for being at the computer, or anything like that. It’s all on me: since we get so little time together during the school year, I feel an obligation to spend more time with him now. I feel guilty if I’m in my office at the computer and he’s sitting in the living room watching TV alone.

Other news: My father just got engaged to be married. I’m so happy for him. Without going into details, my parents’ marriage was very unhappy and I was delighted when they got divorced in 2011. Seriously, my first reaction (after, you know, the shocked “Holy CRAP” stuff was over with) was “This is the best news I’ve heard all year.”

My dad is a wonderful person who deserves a happy marriage to a good woman. I think he will find it with Carolyn. I’ve only actually met her once and for a few minutes only, but everything I’ve heard about her is good. Dad really values my opinion; he often asks for advice, and confides in me things he doesn’t share with others. He has asked me to let him know if I think marrying Carolyn would be a bad idea. I don’t know if he would call off the engagement altogether if I say so, but he would at least seriously consider it. But so far I haven’t seen any red flags. Quite the contrary, actually.

(The next five paragraphs are going to be about her, so just skip them if you don’t care.)

Carolyn lives in Dad’s apartment building; that’s how they met. They’ve known each other for a year or two but only recently started dating. She’s never been married before. They plan to stay engaged for at least a year, maybe two, so they can get to know each other properly and make sure they’ve made the right decision. I like that. This was a precaution my parents didn’t take before they got married to each other.

She is a recovering drug/alcohol addict who’s been clean for about 25 years. She took some classes and passed some sort of exam recently to become a certified drug counselor. Not only does she counsel other addicts (the certification just means she can get paid for what she was already doing on a volunteer basis), but she would like to open a sober living house in town. This isn’t just a “hey, I’d like to do this someday.” She’s taken actual steps towards this goal and is trying to get funding and stuff. I really like that, how she’s trying to give back to the community and help people who’ve had the problems she used to have.

Carolyn is the head of the janitorial staff at a nearby hospital. I like that: a good job, a supervisory position, which shows she’s a responsible person. She’s deeply religious and credits God with helping her get clean, but she doesn’t expect Dad to join her church. In fact, she suggested they could alternate churches between them: spend one Sunday at Carolyn’s Baptist church, then the next Sunday at Dad’s Presbyterian church, and so on. I like that too.

She has written and self-published a book about her life, how she grew up and got involved with drugs and stuff and then got clean. The problem here is that Carolyn doesn’t have much of an education. As you may well imagine, the schools for black children in southern Alabama in the 1950s were not very good. She moved up to Ohio with her family for high school but got into drugs and didn’t attend much, and ultimately dropped out altogether after a year or so. So there are a lot of errors with grammar and punctuation and so on in the book (although the spelling is surprisingly good and, oddly enough, she shows correct use of semicolons). There are some formatting issues too.

There’s no electronic copy of the manuscript still extant — Carolyn didn’t have a computer at the time, hand-wrote it, and paid someone else to type it for her. I volunteered to re-type the book, fixing the mistakes in it as I go along. She was very happy with this and so is Dad. Once I’m done, he’ll email it to my brothers and sister to read. Obviously this is going to take awhile. I’ve been occupied with this task for the past several days.

As far as I go, things are going pretty well. Michael and I went to a rock concert last week. I’d never been to a rock concert before and I was not sure if I should go: I loved the bands that were playing, but I’m so sensitive to noise and crowds, and I thought the experience might well prove overwhelming to me. But I stuffed earplugs into my ears and went anyway and had a great time and got a t-shirt.

Regarding the Charley Project and my guilt about not spending more time with Michael, I think I just need to get over myself in that regard. If I got paid for this, I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. I just need to sit down, get it done, then spend the rest of the day how I choose. If that means Michael has to watch a few hours of TV or a movie or two with only the cats for company, so be it.