Saturday, April 27, 2013

Holy crap! I forgot to blog! Oh, title, I need a title. Ummmm, New levels, that's it. New Levels.

Wow, I've been working on a bunch of things when I'm up to doing anything, and not working on anything when my body says "oh, no, not today, bubbie."

Like today.  I signed up for a yoga class that would meet every Saturday morning in Troy during April and May. I have been to exactly zero of them.  My wife and I attended a yoga class at the same place a few months back.. That was fine because, first, my wife could prod me into going, and second we headed out for a nice breakfast after class, and third, since we two were the only ones in the class, the yoga instructor could adjust things for the slightly slower of her students (me)  Could I set an alarm and get up on time? Yep. The latter half of this week has been very slow.  The energy levels are just not as usual.  Just because I went home.

I've been writing stories about growing up in Lansingburgh (part of Troy, NY) for about six months now.  My stuff, along with a lot of other folk's recollections about the 'Burgh from the 1940's until the 80's, have been anthologized into two books so far.  My stories run the gamut from the day I was born  to the house where I spent my childhood to where I played baseball. The amazing part of the stories of the other contributors is how we all shared the same experiences of growing up in what for us was a small town, and that for many of us all we needed was there already in the 'Burgh or in Downtown Troy.

To write these stories I have had to go back the Burgh first in my mind and then with a camera so I can see what the places I wrote about look like now.  The pictures end up in the book. But I can see the house where I grew up, or house(s) and think of the good and also the sad things that happened there. Down the streets to the schools I went to.  The ballfield where I played.  Where historical figures of America strolled the avenues, not knowing they were going to be historical figures.  People like...
 Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of US
 Herman Melville, Author of Moby Dick
And Loretta Young, but she was kind enough to sign the picture for someone so you have less guesswork.

These folks are long gone now, as is most of my family.  My parents are in Oakwood Cemetery at the top of the hill, my sister lays in a smaller graveyard down the hill.  Relatives still above ground are scattered.  But in my mind when I go to the back to the Burgh, for me it is 1973.  No one is sick, I'm in high school wondering about college, and will the Mets get back in the pennant race?  Everything is potential, no idea what's coming.  Scary, but also the sky is the limit.  And when the sky came crashing, and then did it again and again, you learn to pick up what is left and keep on going. Another day, you open your eyes and let's see.

Richard Cohen, Meredith Viera's husband, has MS and has also written extensively on coming to terms with disease and mortality, including his own.  In a recent book, he interviewed, and pretty much moved in with, 5 families dealing with everything from cancer to ALS. And these people just keep on going, living their lives as best they can, denying immediate demise for some later date, and enjoying what can be enjoyed with family and friends, and a support network (both internal and external).  The book is a few years old now, and circumstances change (he says not knowing if all the folks in the book have since died or not) but it is inspiring.

For the past year or so I've been in a writing group at a book store down the road apiece.  The writers are congenial, talented, and the laughs come easy.  Now we are in a break and brought my stuff to a new group in Troy.  I seem to be spending more time in Troy over the last two years than I have over the last twenty five, even when I worked there.  Of course, in my head is 1973 Troy, but I can also see a new generation is trying to forge new businesses.  They have to up their game, as the saying goes.

My writing with this new group has to start fresh and I can not depend on old stories to get me through with this group. Gotta up my game, take the time I get each day to go for more.  Will it poop me out? Yep.  But the next day I can rest some.  I know where things stand, like the people in Mr. Cohen's book.  Do I have a health problem? Yep. Will it kill me? Not really, but it can open doors to other things, and meanwhile turn me into a peanut with a baseball cap on my head.  Anything you can do about this disease? Nope, just keep moving. Keep moving. Eventually I'll fall into a hole and dirt will be pushed over it, but that's always been part of the deal anyway.

Mr. Cohen is still moving. The three people whose pictures are in the today's blog are not moving anymore, but in their time, they  lived as best they could. President Arthur had Bright's disease, and he did his best especially in the latter part of his Presidential term to keep things going while combating the exhaustion.  Chester just upped his game for the whole nation.  Imagine if we all did that.

Later. Thanks for reading. Move.

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