Sunday, September 28, 2014

I hate my home town.

We all grew up somewhere, whether it be in US, Canada, France or the Ukraine.  I picked the last two  because I'm hot there, blogger wise.  Bon jour and хороший деньок!

A couple of weeks from now I'll be giving a talk at our local shrine to author Herman Melville, when the Lansingburgh Historical Society is going to host a fete' to this book I am plowing through, or, I mean writing about Herman's time in my hometown about 175 years ago.  The house I grew up in remains on 1st Avenue.  The color has changed, the insides as well, but it is still home, the only true home I have had, except for all my time with my wife.  She is my home.

The stories remain, however, and the continuity of them is as varied as the autumn leaves on that huge maple tree in the back yard.  Those leaves took days to rake up, but I would make leaf roads and my dog would follow the road as I made moved my rake along.  And when we were done, the yard would already be filling up with the next batch.  I walked to school. No one bothered me. I had a sense of peace and happiness, just like I thought everyone had.

That's about the time I started hating Lansingburgh.

We moved from 1st Avenue (the house on First Avenue was too big).  My dog died.  I got bullied at the new school.  My father got sick and died.  My mother revealed her mental illness through her behavior, and her needs that I could not fill (because I was discovering my own bipolar disorder [this diagnosis not confirmed until 2005]) Family crisis after crisis. I could not find a job because I had absolutely no skills after years of taking care of a father who it turned out was going through what I am now doing.  So I got a government job (insert your own joke here).  My mother was very concerned about money, because she gambled it all away, and asked me for money or just took from my savings account, while promising to pay it back.  That never happened.  Then, my sister died.  My mother was devastated, and she turned toward her sons for support and we did what we could.  I'd visit once a week, as long as my tension filled stomach and brain could deal with it.  Even took a month off, which of course made things worse.

When my mother died, Lansingburgh became an anathema to me.  On the day of her funeral, I was driving to my brother's house, pointing out to my wife's family the places my family had lived.  And how rundown the whole town looked.  My stomach still in knots even at the thought of going there.  My brother still lived there, as did some of my sister's family.  My parents and sister are buried there.  All it was to me was misery.  I had enough problems.

Until I got more problems.  In my case medical, or, really neurological, and while I was working at a job that I liked, and with people I loved, it became obvious to me that I needed to change.  So then came Tai Chi, yoga, reiki, and time at a Buddhist monastery (and a few shrinks) and I began to learn forgiveness and relaxation.  My sister's daughter got married and Jackie and I attended the service in Troy.  Using a process I learned from those monks started me on a new road of freeing myself from the anger and sadness of the past.  It's not totally gone but I am a lot better.

So much so that when, once upon a Facebook, a high school friend contacted me and we began having lunch in Lansingburgh with other folks from the village.  From this came stories, and stories became a series of books. And then I walked into the Melville house in Lansingburgh for a book show and a walk about, ending up in the attic which had a unique resemblance to the attic I played in two blocks north.  I had never thought about Herman Melville, even though I had read the historical marker many times.  Just an "oh" , that's all.  Until about a year ago.  I was beginning to dive more into my genealogy  and found cousins and history I never knew.

More stories.  And on came the thought that maybe I could write a big story, talk about this village where amazing people lived and did great things.  And the research began in earnest.  The story is being put to paper.  And it is being welcomed.

So on October 16, I'll talk about these stories.  And yes, my stomach will be in knots, for those there and those that inspired me...Just people living their lives, and doing what he could.

Show up.  I have a story to tell....about my hometown.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The weird stuff I'm doing - and I'm medicated!

1.  I keep rubbing my thumb and middle finger and when ever I'm not moving around.  Holding a book? The non-book holding hand takes over the movement.  Unless I'm working in my yard, or writing ( except when I stop to correct something I've mistyped like happened just a few seconds ago - again with the rubbing!) it's there when ever my hands are not doing something else.  My psydoc says its a "brain peal", that in my DNA, somebody way back when did that thing and that part of my brain with that part of my history is reacting to what is going on.  MS is pulling back the onion of my brain and finding all kinds of things, as apparently somebody way back had a tough time using a handkerchief and used alternate ways to dispose of nose waste.  I hope MS "picks" something better next time.

2. I go to the bathroom cabinet, open the door, reach in for the toothpaste, and then pick up my toothbrush from the Mickey toothbrush holder neat the sink.  Paste on brush/ Brush teeth/ Spit/ Rinse!  I then put the cap on the toothpaste, and stick said paste in the Mickey holder, and the toothbrush on the cabinet shelf.

3. My tongue sneaks out of my mouth now and then, dog - like, tries to lick my nose.  As there is a bit more of a difference between where my mouth and a dogs mouth end and our respective noses begin, I merely appear odd.  I am used to that.  My wife has warned me that should I suddenly start panting and rolling on the grass, I will be taken to the vet.  I figured "what the hey?", i mean, how much worse can it get? On the other hand, I know of no dogs with MS or are bipolar.  They certainly don't come to support groups.

4. Of course, I realize that I had done a silly thing in the bathroom with the tooth brush and tooth paste.  I open the cabinet door, remove the tooth brush and, after a few pulls on Mickey's head, get the toothpaste away from him.  Paste on shelf, brush in Mickey's head.  I close the cabinet door by opening it all the way until the hinges crack.  Humph, I must be stronger than I thought.  I leave the slightly unhinged bathroom cabinet door that way.

5. A weekly ritual is the assignment of pills to their daily boxes morning, afternoon, and then bedtime (the bedtime pill container used be the all day pill holder until I started to love mood stabilizers).  This week I was going through the routine and when I was finished I saw a pile of white pills on the table.  And I had no idea what they were.  My wife suggested I take one to the pharmacy and ask them what it was.  But a crack detective writer was on the case. Me.  I compared the night pills against the day pills and noted the size, shape and color of each.  Solution: take a picture of the pill and match it up with my doctors' list that has all the scripts on it.  Why did I suddenly put the Prozac in the wrong place after doing it over and over for years.

6. It's not just occasionally when I walk into a room wondering why I am in there, it's nearly every time.  You know, as a writer, its tough to realize that what you most enjoy doing, and sharing, can be manipulated by my own I become more Dory:

than Story:

I normally do not wear ties when writing.  It does not matter what I wear, unless I am with my wife and we are relaxing somewhere and she sees me scribbling away in my notebook.  "Didn't need to come here if you were just going to write."

Sometimes in the middle of the night, I get up and sit at the kitchen table or in the den, and write to the early morning hours, sipping tea or coffee until I start to droop, and then back I go.  Since I have no place else to be, it doesn't matter when I get up.  The vibrant dreams (thanks anti-depressant) keep me terrified and amazed at the same time, so some of those writing times are giving what's is the MS unoccupied part my brain a break.

A couple of weeks back I know I got up at 3:00 AM.  I have no idea what I did or thought, or how long I was where I was wherever was.  Maybe I just stood still in the den.  Of course, the hallucinations stand at the bedroom door to beckon me to return to Slumberland.

I'm writing a mystery novel and this thing in my head is the greatest mystery of all.  Will it let me finish the book? Stay tuned.