My Visit to the Mayo Clinic.

MC-1After months of hard work trying to obtainn medical records and test results from hospitals in both New Jersey and Washington state. I was finally able to secure my appointments at the Mayo Clinic, book a hotel and flight to Rochester, Minnesota. It was a frustrating process that took months.  A frustrating time where I often questioned whether or not I would be around long enough to to walk through the doors of the storied institution.

Due to the fact that my first appointment was at 7:30 am Tuesday morning. My wife and me flew in on Monday, which gave us an entire day to wander around and explore an area we had never been before.

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Though I didn’t feel that going to the Mayo Clinic would help me find any new answers or a magical cure all for the progressing issues I’ve been experiencing. I arrived open minded, knowing that I would be seeing the very best doctors and getting the kind of concentrated care I had never before experienced. I’d also be giving my wife the peace of mind she more than deserves.

From my first appointment on Tuesday morning. I felt as if I was experiencing a level of care like I had never before seen. The answers of my questions were addressed and answered with a a great deal of detail and explanation. Before my first appointment MRI B-1ended, the initial three I had scheduled had morphed to six and by the time the days second one was over, I had learned more about my condition in a few hours than I had in the two years since being diagnosed.

As the week wore on the amount of appointments, test and waiting began to wear me down both physically and emotionally. After a blood and urine test, an MRI and a CAT scan the doctors all agreed that the calcification my my brain was creating my balance and speech issues, but questioned whether or not a I had FAHRS. Though not  concluded, it seems as if the radiation for a brain tumor I had as twelve year old might be the culprit. Where I had felt so positive during my first couple of days there. the last two days there left me with a much better understanding of my condition but so many more questions than I arrived with.

What’s most bittersweet about all this is I will be returning for another round of appointments and tests in late September. Not to be negative but, I sometimes with that the original diagnosis and death sentence I received (a month to live.) when I was twelve, would have come through. I, nor my family and loved ones, would have to experience and suffer from all the bullshit that followed. And while I’d describe my trip to the Mayo Clinic as very positive. I wish I’d be returning home with a more detailed and defined outline of things.

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Body, Mind, Soul and Learning my Limitations.

With each day that passes, the neurological disorder I was diagnosed with reminds me that it is here to stay and make certain aspects of my life quite difficult. Adjusting and learning to approach things differently have been keys to moving forward. As much as the physical aspects of Fahrs progress. I can’t help but feel grateful that my upper body and even more importantly, my mind remain strong. Unfortunately though, the mind and body are not quite in sync. Which, at times can get me into a bit of trouble. Case in point, last weekends road trip. Just a week after getting a new, much needed walker, my wife and I planned a road trip that would figuratively and literally knock me on my ass.

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After an amazing breakfast at Anacortes, Washington’s Dad’s Diner. We hit the road and continued on to Deception Bridge / Pass / Stae Park in Oak Harbor, making a number of stops along the way. Now,the fact that I rarely leave the apartment without a walker hasn’t had any effect on my wanting to hike, climb fences or wade waist deep in a river. Which, for better or worse, can get me in a bit of trouble. Add to it the insistence on carrying a photo bag loaded with lenses and other gear. (Perfect for someone battling with balance and stabilty issues.)

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While there, I faced down my fears of heights and walking across bridges while nearly giving myself and my wife heart attacks. The goal, though entirely my wife, was to completely exhaust myself, which I did. During the long drive home, we stopped at farms and vegetable stands where we rebooted with coffee, ice cream and apples.

By the time we made it to the ferry, I started to feel the days actvities catching up with me. I was tired, dog tired. By the time we reached home,  was flat out exhausted. Still, the long time need to put everyhing away in it’s proper place before even thinking  of rest, overcame me and as I was putting something irrelevant away, I fell back on an old suitcase prop I haven’t used in years. The suitcase broke my fall before sending my head crashing into the wall. There were a lot of four letter ords shouted before being rescued by my wife and breaking out in mutual laughter over how I never accept me limits or learn my lesson about knowing when to leave things be. Until the next time.

Clumsily Yours,

–  The PhotoGeek

Lessons Learned, or Completely Missed

IMG_3701As I recall. We were standing in the back yard of the home he and my Mother purchased when they were first married. At the time, my Dad had gone from having a steady city job driving a bus to a re-invented, self employed business man.

I recall being somewhat angry and showing some aggression towards my Father. Suddenly, perhaps understanding and wanting to quell my anger. My Father took my rather small hand in his, opened my clinched fist and placed a hollow point bullet (the same one you see pictured on the right.) without speaking a single word. While I didn’t quite understand its true meaning at the time and it’s come to mean a lot of things to me over the years. These days, I realize that he was trying to teach me that our anger, if not managed, can lead us down dark and dangerous paths.

While a short time in retrospect.,(maybe five or six years.) my Father may or may not have bent the rules of what some might consider legal. During that time, my experiences and the people I met along the way enabled me to see the world much differently from what I was being taught in Catholic school. It taught me that things are seldom black & white and that most situations contain a lot of grey areas. The things I experiences and exchanges I was given access to, taught me more than I would have ever expected. Til’ this day, more than thirty five years later, I still keep that hollow point on the end table by my side of the bed. It has never since see the chamber of a gun and surely never will. When I do pick it up and let it roll around in my palm, I often think of my Dad and that important part of our lives. The stories, the characters and the many things life taught me.

Hidden Treasure

Since I was a young boy, I’ve always been intrigued by old cars and trucks. Unlike some, many of my earliest memories don’t involve trips to Disney Land or rides on the merry-go-round with a parent looking on proudly documenting the moment on super 8 film. Not me, my most cherished memories involve my dad taking me to the junkyards just beyond Shea Stadium by Willets Point to find a part for his latest clunker or to exact a debt from someone who couldn’t cover the split on the recent prize fight or that week’s Football game. Those early trips to the unpaved roads and auto part graveyard, along with our treks to the train yards in Woodside, Queens would help shape my love of art, antiques, crate digging for records, antiques and finding the beauty in things others often leave behind. Here’s to seeking out, searching and finding those hidden treasures.

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Last Words and their Indelible Impact.

I was living in Midtown Manhattan when my grandmother was hospitalized. The smart as whip, quick witted person I had known my whole life was quickly fading. and though I could not accept it at the time., was not returning home or even graduating to one of those old age homes that, at the time, had only seen in movies and on TV. With trips from the Broadway office where I worked quickly becoming a challenge. I decided to stay with my Dad in Staten Island, just blocks away from the hospital she had been admitted to.

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One weekend morning.as I held her fragile hand in mine. She turned to me and in a weakened voice inquiring about an incident I hadn’t thought of in close to twenty years. Referring to a second grade incident that I took the blame for but never played any part in or even witness. “Why did you throw that girl’s snow boots out the window?” Those words, the last she would utter before passing away served as a heavy burden I still carry today. Of all the things I did. The bloody noses and black eyes I gave out to those who came to me looking for a fight. The times I mouthed off to teachers or questioned the religious dogma we were being force fed. The one she took to the grave was the crime I never committed.

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While I still look back, dream and write about my childhood and growing up. Rarely do my dreams include the angel who played a pivotal role in my growing up and becoming a man. The few times she’s showed up in my dreams, her role mirrors that of her real life presence. Through thick and thin, my grandmother was always that of a care giver and a peace maker. Whereas she always comes up in conversation with my Dad and Step Mom. I often feel that I never had a chance to thank her for her infinite kindness, hard work and guidance. I promise to always be grateful and appreciative. Oh, and just a reminder. I never touched her boots.

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Independent Bookstore Day

In support of Independent Bookstore Day, a celebration of books and the independent spirit that comes with owning, operating, working or choosing to shop in one. We headed to Tacoma to join in all the fun. Everything from the old school printing presses set up in the adjacent parking lot to the record, book and comic shop was so much fun. Though we missed the opportunity to take home the tacoccentric Tacoma shirt. We stayed in a line long enough to make one our own take home prints on one of the Wayzgoose! Letterpress machines. After that, it was off to Wooden City Bar for Pizza , Foss Waterway Seaport and a long look at the Tacoma Bridge before heading home. And though the rain the weather girl promised did come. It was hardly enough to put a damper on our plans.

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My First Full Out Record Store Day Participation.

About a year prior to my moving to a neighborhood just a few blocks from Times Square. A friend of mine convinced me to spend New Years eve freezing my ass off in a spot secured hours before the mercurial ball fell, welcoming the new year with new hope, a clean slate and number of resolutions that would surely broken within a matter of days, if not hours. Though I never would repeat the act and seldomly go near that tourist trap in my eight or so years as a Hell’s Kitchen. I had earned the right to say. “I did that.”  Bone shivering cold and tinging extremities aside. It was somewhat of a right of passage from adolescence to adulthood.

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As 2019′ Record Store Day quickly approached and the weeks turned to days. I did everything in my power to convince my loving, supportive and determined wife that I did not want or need to partake in such shenanigans. . Still, in the end. It felt as though she was, not only interested, but determined to go through with a plan. Regardless of proper and scientific research. In the days that led up to the event, she sent me the RSD release list and even sat down to go over my picks.

Friday night came and after arriving home from dinner. We set our alarms for 6:00am. In the back of my head I imagined either sleeping through the alarms droning or my wife flat out inability to get up that early on a weekend morning. Surprisingly enough, neither occurred and we were on the road in time to arrive just two minutes after the store’s scheduled 7:00 am opening.

As we approached the store, drove past the awaiting crowd and noticed that the line to get in stretched around two corners. An admitted sufferer of agoraphobia and one who lacks the needed patience to stand in line. I quickly remarked, “Fuck this, let’s go get breakfast. Without much debate,  we turned the car around and headed back to our home base where we experienced a first, in that we were the first customers to enter our favorite breakfast spot. After copious plates of french toast, eggs and bacon. I was convinced to give it another try.

Upon returning to the scene of the crime. The store had opened and the line was now half the original size. As we inched closer to the corner and our opportunity to enter. We began to see customers emerge from the store with bags spilling over with records. My wife teasing me about the store  being empty by the time we finally gained entry. Still feeling anxious about our choice to join the crowd. I couldn’t help but imagine the line that awaited inside.

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When we finally did make it inside. There was indeed a line wrapped around the first floor leading to the stairs that bring you to all of the gleaming, shiny records. As I tried to navigate my way to the end of the line. I not only lost my wife but felt myself being swallowed by the limited pressing horde of vinyl junkies. However, after a few calls and texts, we found ourselves navigating our stairway to nerdville. Once there, we quickly split up, quickly grabbing copies of things on our list. IMG_5019While I was quick to scoop up the last copy of the Devo Box Set. My wife did an exceptional job scooping up most of what remained on the list. From there, we headed downstairs to join the checkout line and sped off to nearby Georgetown where we ended our record shopping day by indulging in Japanese styled hamburgers. And while I promised to never get swept up in Record Store Day mania. I can pound my chest while proclaiming “I did that.” And while I promised myself to lay off buying anymore records for a while. I’ve already planned to return on Monday to pick up the remainders from that original list. Until then.