Another Look at the First of the Month

“…inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.” Terry Pratchett, the author of over fifty best selling books.
(https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/213780-inside-every-old-person-is-a-young-person-wondering-what)

I am trying to figure out how I lost all that melanin in my once black hair. Where did a set of numerous tennis serves go now that each one creates a micro-quake in the muscles of my back? Is there a contest between my two upper eyelids to see which one can droop the furthest? That one gets ever harder to follow.

I am still that 29 year old in what is left of my mind. It’s just this new guy I awaken to in the morning who I notice in the mirror.

It’s Blown By

“This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.” Rudyard Kipling the renowned, late, English novelist.

For me, it went by in a flash. It went faster and faster with age. I’ve published 300 pages of memoirs in three books. Those long-term memories seem like yesterday, including, the first commercial flight I took on a rainy day in 1949.

It seems like this week that my son beamed from ear to ear as we bought him a new Toyota Tacoma truck. He treated that truck like a fine piece of jewelry and sold it for a remarkable price ten years after the purchase. It just happened. Didn’t it?

Stay close to those you love. It’s all going to blow by much faster than you ever imagined.

Yes, it’s trite. But it’s so, so true.

A Third Look at a Relationship That Skidded and Fell

“Memoir is about handing over your life to someone and saying, This is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it.” Jeannette Walls, an American writer and journalist.

Memoir simply is a French word for memory. Some just stick in your craw and won’t go away.

I remember a number of such incidents as a  self-unaware, college student. I had a lovely, growing relationship with a coed from another school.

She was buoyant and spontaneous. I remember once we ate at a down-home diner and I scarfed an exceedingly, unhealthy, chili dog down my innards in about 3 nanoseconds. On the way out the door she laughed and noted that she could drop some of her table manners with me at times, when, I was so engrossed in the “food race” that I wouldn’t notice.

Then on meeting her parents and dining with them, I was equally ill-mannered. A series of misfires continued. After that school year, I found myself visiting her at a camp where she counseled that summer. Alfie, a movie about an over the top, ill-mannered rogue, was the hit that summer. The woman gave me a detailed account of my similarities to Alfie and that was the end of that.

Those events were attention-grabbing curves in the road. Perhaps, were it not for the lessons of that failed relationship, I would never have become more self-aware and married the love of my life.

Oh Those Tests

“Most people, whether men or women, wish above all else to be comfortable, and thought is a pre-eminently uncomfortable process.” Vera Brittain, a 20th-century British writer.

I guess that is why my college major was history. I would run through the notes about ten times, using a magic slate on the first go-round. The magic slate was a plastic pull-up sheet attached over a cardboard backing that was about the size of a sheet of paper. It allowed easy erasure flipping the sheet upwards, and huge savings on the cost of paper. That was a good idea for most college students, which is even truer today.

 The key reason for the slate was that writing helped me memorize, and I HAD a good memory. Spewing the memories on the next morning’s test was far more comfortable than thinking through a problem. That, as Vera notes, was uncomfortable.

You’ve been there. Right?

A Day in LA, a Third Look

It was a picturesque day in LA in about 1980. I was about to go for lunch in Century City when I crossed an open plaza. 

In that plaza in a boxing ring with many strands of gray hair, was Muhammed Ali sparring with another fighter. When he was young his trainer said he floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. There wasn’t much floating and no one was getting stung. At 38, he was a mere whisper of the fighter he had been.

One of the iconic figures of that century had met his match, Father Time. I only saw him again when he lit the torch at the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, still, loved by people in every corner of the earth

Friends

“At college, more than anywhere else, one was likely to make the friendships that supported one through life.” Vera Brittain, the late British writer. I was once told by a youth counselor that most lifetime friendships occur with those close friends you have at 14.

I have long lost my best friend at 14 although we did speak briefly a few years ago. My closest college friend I did follow until his untimely, tragic death in a recent, private, plane crash with his spouse and family dog. I am still recovering from the shock.

This place where I post, the Internet, has reconnected me with good college friends and that has been a delight. It becomes particularly important as an oldster. One likes to think that, on balance, the Internet is a real gift to most of us. Don’t you think?

Wherever we connect, those old friends are so, so engaging in our later years bringing back a bit of our youth.

One Whale of an Athlete

The day I was convinced about Carlos Alcarez, this year’s number one male tennis player.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Yesterday a once in a generation athlete in tennis showed us all how the game should be played. He does not have the unmatched fluidity of Roger Federer, but at 19 I have never seen a better player.

When by all rights he should have been emotionally bankrupt after beating his boyhood idol the day prior, Rafa Nadal, he overpowered the world number one, Novak Djokovic. He did it with unmatched speed, power and touch. The nineteen year old played with ice water in his veins against arguably the greatest player who ever lived at the top of his game.

The teen’s name is Carlos Alcarez, a name the most ardent tennis fans will now never forget.

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Nerds?

“Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know. For me, the spark that turns an acquaintance into a friend has usually been kindled by some shared enthusiasm.” Sara Vowell, an American author.

I guess nerd has gradually changed it’s meaning over my lifetime that began in the mid-20th century. At that point, Civil War vets were breathing as was Babe Ruth. It had been only 42 years since the Wright brothers first success at Kitty Hawk.

One Sunday afternoon 31 years later, two tennis nerds met in downtown Baltimore, a place that to my knowledge has never hosted an international, professional, tennis event. In those days a nerd was the player who got picked last for the sandlot team.

A few days later they played the game. One week later they attended a tennis tournament in Washington, D C.

They were married nine months after they first met just filled with their tennis nerdity, enthusiasm and passion. That was my spouse, Kristine, and me. Thank God for HUGE favors.

Fiction?

After I wrote this, I did manage to write two novelettes, one published and one still in draft.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

I have written over 400 blogs and three published books of memoirs. None of that prose was fiction.

I have thought about writing fiction, but it is a higher wall for me to climb. The late E.L. Doctorow said the process was like being on the highway and only seeing what was in your headlights. That is a part of my creative nonfiction process. I pick and choose topics and different words I had not anticipated. But to me the fiction is more complex.

On the other hand, it is good to have an intriguing challenge in what is left of my future.

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Reading

“I don’t think we should read for instruction but to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.” Henry Miller, the late American writer.

YouTube video tutorials have a massive market share in instruction . No reading. If only I could follow them.

I remember taking an engine apart as a fifteen-year-old without the vaguest idea of how to put it back together. My brief life as an autopsy surgeon for local governments demanded no piecing back together. I can have trouble with a band-aid.

Give me a piece of fiction or non-fiction that takes a healthy shot in the dark at relating to your spouse or boss. But aren’t they the same?

I guess our best chance at luxuriating is with that good book hiding in a closet, a basement if you have one, or likewise, for an attic. The biggest problem, finding a good book.