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Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010. A Day in the Life

Woke Up Fell Out of Bed
Such a event is possible, because someone with PD may act out his or her dreams. I think that I told this story, but for those of you who weren't listening, I'll repeat the story. Many of my Dreams are sports related. One dream in particular I found myself on the floor, after trying to slide into first base. You don't slide into First. What pissed me off was not that I fell, but what was I doing sliding into First Base. It's one of the first things that you learn, right after don't run with scissors.

Dragged a comb across my head,
An apt description, because I now use two hands to comb my hair. One for each follicle.

Found my way downstairs and drank a cup, and looking up, I noticed I was late.
Everything takes longer. You don't even realize it. It's as if a slow motion camera is on you.

Found my coat and grabbed my hat.

I can find my coat, but the problem remains how do I get my arms in the sleeve? How do I button up the coat? Both are difficult and embarrassing in public.

Made the Bus in seconds flat.
I rarely drive anymore. It's not that my driving is bad. It's not, I'm exceedingly careful. I'm also so tense, that my neck strains. I just would rather avoid driving.

Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
I don't know if this is Parkinson's related, but it's 50-50 if I would find my way. My sense of direction has gotten awful

And Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.
Don't think that you're boring me, but there is a good chance that I'd fall asleep in the middle of out conversation.

A new interpretation for a Beatles song.

December 31, 2010. I've never faced the Kobayashi Maru

What the hell am I talking about? What is the Kobayashi Maru? You have to go back to Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan. It's the no-win situation. Captain Kirk did not believe in the no-win situation. Ergo, he never faced it. Unlike Captain Kirk, I do believe in it, I just have never needed to face it. I guess the closest that I ever came was a dream that I had, right after the Bar exam, that the lack of a job had forced me to live on the streets. I blamed that dream upon a Hebrew National Salami that I had before going to bed.

So why do I write this now? Am I finally forced to face the Kobayashi Maru? I don't think so. I have a wonderful support system. My lovely wife keeps me from doing the foolish things, like going out in the middle of a snowstorm.

Besides Law School, I don't feel as if I've ever faced a challenge. Circumstances saw fit for me not to have children. That would have been the ultimate challenge. My work is tedious, but relatively simple.

Is PD the challenge that I've never faced before, and am I facing it now? In many ways yes. I know, intellectually, that there is no cure. Michael J. Fox believes that there will be a cure within this decade. He has done wonders. He has raised money, raised awareness, brought hope, and unintentionally made a fool of Rush Limbaugh. (He didn't need Michael's help for that.)

I'll accept Michael's optimism, and face the Kobayashi Maru another day.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010. The Four Questions

There are a few important questions in my life: 1) Why a Duck? 2) Who's On First? 3) How fast does a swallow fly? 4) Where Wolf?

If you recognize these you are not a fan of classic comedy. I am a fan.

One of my favorite songs is "Smile." Whether it is sung by Nat King Cole, Barbara Streisand or Tony Bennett, it is a beautiful song. Did you know that the music was written by Charlie Chaplin? I think that he wrote it for "City Lights." Which if you haven't seen is your homework assignment.

Nothing makes me happier than to make somebody laugh. Whether it be by telling the same joke that I've told for thirty years, or by making some pithy statement, that everyone thinks is "off the cuff," but has been floating in my head for years. As the song says, "My ad-libbed lines are well rehearsed." I am also full of pith.

I know how to tell a joke. I learned from the movie "My Favorite Year." Mark Linn-Baker gives the best lesson on how to tell a joke. Always stand, use your hands. It works. By the way, this movie is also part of your homework assignment.

What does this have to do with Parkinson's Disease. One of the indications of PD is a masked face. It no longer is natural to smile. All that I keep thinking is that the stone-face worked for the great Buster Keaton.

So if you tell me a joke, and I give you back a blank stare, don't feel bad. It may not be the joke. Then again it may, try standing and please use your hands.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010. Shake Rattle and Roll

Have we ever spoken about my legs and feet? No? Here's proof that I'm running out of material.

I don't have a typical Parkinsonian tremor. My hands, although slow, are relatively steady. But my legs shake, rattle and roll. Mostly my right leg. I also have difficulty, until my medication has hit the right level, keeping it flat on the ground. The fact that the legs constantly shake and I can't always straighten out my foot, is very uncomfortable. I can, for a few moments at a time, rest my leg upon my CPU. This does the trick, except I'm typing in a contortion similar to what Rosemary Woods, Nixon's secretary, was in when she allegedly erased the 18 minutes of a Watergate tape. It also causes my leg to fall asleep. I hate when that happens, it means that it will be up all night. (Thank you, Stephen Wright.)

Now my legs have always shook. Mrs. Winston, my eleventh grade English teacher, would say that I was disturbing the class. Now Mrs. Winston was a fine lady, but we were reading Sidhartha, If anything I was keeping them awake.

My Dad used to say that I would shake the entire Nassau Coliseum, Maybe that could be a job for me, with its current residents the place needs to be shaken.

The difference is that in those days, when made aware of it, I can control it. Today controlling it is problematical.

So let's review, and pay careful attention, because this is all on the final.

My feet turn in, my legs shake, I walk like a slow Groucho Marx, my arms don't move while I walk, my skin is scaling, my handwriting sucks.

I'm glad that I'm not single. Could you imagine my personal ad?

"Would you like to 'shake, rattle and roll?' well this SWJM
attorney is for you. Do you remember those beds that used
to be in the Catskill Hotels? You know, the ones that would
take a quarter and rock for five minutes. How'd you like
to revisit that every night? Come 'Twist and Shout,' with
me. You'll be Rocking the night away with this 'Day Tripper'
Call between 2:30 PM and 4:30 PM, because that''s usually
when the shaking stops."

Isn't that special?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010. Don't Do Today what you can put off until Tomorrow.

Forty-One years ago yesterday, a tone deaf child with braces proclaimed "today I am a man." Isn't it strange that at 13 we are required by Religious leaders to lie in Temple?

Four years later a tall, unkempt boy graduated from High School. The Headmaster, who had no use for me while I was there, told me how proud he was. It seemed that I entered a boy and left a man. Hopefully he has moments of guilt over his lack of veracity. Since I was the world's greatest procrastinator, teachers from the school still contact me about homework assignments that I failed to turn in.

Two years later, as I arrived home from 11 weeks abroad, 6'2" + and 179 pounds (mostly hair), I thought now I know everything. Two things that I didn't know is that I would never see Europe or that weight again.

A year later, while planning out his future, something that no 20 year old knows enough to do, I decide on Law School, because I don't want to go to work yet.

Entering Law School at night, was when I first realized the lie told at 13. I was not yet an adult. Most of my classmates were returning to school, after already having careers as Police Officers, Teachers. Accountants etc...For the first time my large frame felt small.

1982 upon graduating from Law School and not having a job, but, I did know a half a dozen words in Latin, I realized the lie that I had spoken 12 years earlier.

After two years of working at the definition of a "dead-end job," I open "Crazy Marky's world of law." Since I never understood how to bill, I was practically, "just giving it away." Money did come in, but I was still living "hand to mouth," only more got in the mouth.

In 1994 I married a very fine, adult woman. Because she wanted children, I gave her a 37 year old child.

Jump ahead, today I'm 54. Obviously in a reflective mood. I have a manageable case of Parkinson's Disease. You ask, when did I become an adult. I'll take care of that tomorrow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27, 2010. Marc and the Chocolate Factory

One of my prescriptions is a drug called Myrapex. One of the side effects of this drug is that it causes obsessive behavior. Whether it be gambling, drinking , drugs or anything else.

I've enjoyed the Casinos. I haven't gone in years. I don't foresee any possibility of going again. The thought of losing bothers me too much.

I rarely drink. I like wine. Red Wine causes me to overheat. So I stopped drinking it years ago. Every so often I enjoy a class of white wine. A long distance from an obsession.

Drugs never interested me. If I had one wish for myself, it would be that I never needed to take another pill again.

Does this mean that I'm not affected by Myrapex? I don't think so. My obsession is and has always been noshing. I've never met a Mallomar that I didn't like. Give me Haagan Daz or give me death. Four Score and Seven Oreos ago. This is the winter of my M & Ms.

I could go on forever. And I may if I don't stop noshing soon.

In all fairness to Myrapex, I always noshed. The difference is now, it's sometime uncontrollable.

Thankfully, I still walk a lot. Strange as it may sound, I'm 30 pounds lighter then when I was diagnosed.

Don't ask what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for some Bosco!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 2010. I Gotta Get out of this Place

Help Me, Please. Send help!

This is what I dread most about Parkinson's. The Blizzard. I can't possibly drive now. I can't go out for a few days. I hate being cooped up.

If I ventured out, old twinkle toes here would likely fall, and then be sued by the city, for breaking the sidewalk.

This is what I dreaded when I moved the office home. I love having people around. I love talking. I love telling a Joke. So you are my company. welcome to my humble Chapeau. Three years at The Sorbonne, and I still get that wrong. (That is paraphrased from "My Favorite Year.")

I guess that I should look at the bright side. I can catch up on my work, all of my files are here. I have no appointments to cancel. But, I'm stuck inside.

Ever since I can recall, I've wanted to be outside. I loved growing up in the "pre video game-playdate era." School was over, we grabbed a ball and found our friends. We played until dark and sometimes later. Today it's a different world.

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful evening with people that I knew growing up, and reconnected with here on the internet. One of my friends whose knees are damaged, mentioned to another friend, who has had heart trouble, that he'd like to get together with me and play baseball again. A boy can dream.

December 26, 2010. Day Tripper

Why did I take so long to have, what appeared to others as obvious problems, diagnosed? Because I will now trip out of the closet and acknowledge what my friends have always suspected. I am a Klutz!! I belong to Shlimazel's Anonymous. You've never seen such a group.

"Hello, I'm Marc."

"Hi, Marc."

"I'm a Shlimazel. I've been "trip free" for 4 days. Tuesday, I cut myself shaving with my electric razor."

That is my confession. So when I started to have difficulties with my hands, I thought that "this is what happens to an aging Shlimazel."

As a kid I always compensated for my lack of coordination with quick reflexes, strength and smarts. The reflexes aren't as quick as they once were. The strength has dissipated somewhat. I will never admit to loosing any intelligence. But, you can tell me that I've lost it, if I ever join a tea party.

Days like today terrifies a person with PD. We're expecting in excess of a foot of snow. A trip on the ice could end what's left of my career. Since my business pays for my health insurance, and nobody understands the health care bill yet, it could create a disaster. So I'm in for the day and probably longer.

At the same time, it bores me to tears. Hopefully, I'll enjoy the book that I'm about to begin.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

December 25, 2010. Father and Son

I don't celebrate Christmas. So I took the bus into the CIty to visit my mother, who like me does not celebrate Christmas.

The Buses and the street of the City are empty. It gave me a lonely feeling. I enjoy the crowds in the City. As I approached my Mom's home, I saw an old Schwinn Suburban.

As I've said before, my dad sold Schwinns. He might have been the only Jew to have a Schwinn franchise. Schwinn was not exactly friendly to the Jews.

The Suburban was the same frame as the Varsity, which was the best selling bike in the world in the late sixties to early seventies. The differences being that the Surburban had 5 speeds, the Varsity 10, and the Suburban had the traditional saddle and handle bars. This Bike has not been manufactured for 30 years.

I've said this before, although I'm not particularly spiritual, but I like to think that when I see an old Schwinn, my Dad is saying hello to me. It immediately changed my mood.

My Dad was a special man. My Brother, Sister and I each had unique and very fulfulling relationships with him. I was saddened by his death, yet in a strange way was very happy to have such a man for my father.

He knew of my condition, before he died. At first I thought of concealing it, knowing that it made him feel worse than it made me feel, But such a thing was impossible. We all go through life with relationships that succeed and those that fail. I couldn't imagine how a relationship, between a father and son, could have been better than mine.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24 , 2010. My world and Welcome to it.

Boys are beyond the range of anybody's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years.
James Thurber

So while trying to escape from my own Twilight Zone. I discovered writing. Writing, like anything else, improves with time. as I look back on my earlies pieces they are drab. Then I discovered my inner curmudgeon. When you thing about it, the curmudgeon is a uniquely American character. Where else do you find the lovable grouch. From Groucho to Archie Bunker.

This keeps me communicating with people. This got me out of the Twilight Zone.

I have this "pipedream" that some editor will stumble upon "Memoirs of a Disgruntled Attorney," maybe find the story of Flicker the Flea," or "Canad's New Immigration Problem," and say, "that's what we need a new uniquely American Humorist."
Until that time, I'll just keep myself laughing, it's the one medicine that I take that has no side effects.

For now here is Flicker the Flea

Fate of a Flicker the Flea

Freddie was despondent. His lead act in his Flea Circus, Flicker had flown off. He was also fearful that the infamous flea who had been all over the News, was his Flea Flicker.

He had trouble fathoming why flicker had flown. He turned on CNN. "This is Soladad O'Brien in New York, with the latest facts regarding the fearless flea that bit the President's Dog. The flea is feared to be the famous Flicker from the Freddie Fitzpatrick Flying Flea Circus. We now join Anderson Cooper with Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson, Felicia Fender with further details.

"Agent Fender, forgive my forgetfulness, but I was under the impression that the FBI had jurisdiction of Flea felonies in the Federal District since the misfortune of FDR's feline Felicity and his dog Fala were ferociously fed to the Fleas back in 44."

A fumbling Federal Agent Fender replied, "The Feds are still finding facts. We fanned a far-flung facsimile of the Flea to all Federal Facilities. This is just a formality, for we expect to find the fallen Flea in the forenoon.

Fitzpatrick was fearful about the fate of his fearless Flea. He switched his Television to Fox.

"This is Sean Hannity with a follow up about the Flea that the FBI is now following who allegedly made Flea food of Fido. We're here with Ann Coulter, who would like to affirm her feelings on the fate of Fido."

"Sean, this emphatically a foreign Flea from the Federation, formerly known as Formosa. The fate of Fido came forth because we don't forbid Fairs that fund Flea Circuses from farming out their jobs to felonious foreign Fleas flying from the former Formosa. New Flea Circuses should be formed featuring flag waving Fleas from the Flea Partiers."

Freddie fretted and then flung his female feline, Felicia at the foul mouthed figure featured on Fox Channel 44.

He found the Television Flicker and turned on his favorite female reporter Rachel Maddow.

"Fox is reporting that this is a Felonious Foreign Flea from the Federation formerly known as Formosa. I have found out that this is a folly formulated by Famous Fleabagger, Frank Funt. This Flea was found to be a front for Fox and friends." Film of Frank Funt feeding his fat face with a Frankfutter was then featured.

Freddie, couldn't follow this farce any further so he found his forty-four, and with one ferocious fit, fired it at the farce., while yelling the word his father, Freddie the first had forbidden him to say.

December 24, 2010. The Twilight Zone

""You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"" Rod Serling

Submitted for your imagination, one Marc Sherman, an affable fellow, a little on the lethargic side. Marc is a Lawyer. specializing predominantly in Real Estate law. Not the best, but also far from the worst. Highly ethical. Not a good businessman. The date is May, 2006. Marc invites you to join him on his journey into THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Marc's business had grown every year. He was well known and liked in the industry. Most thought he was very entertaining. Only the title closer, and the Realtor knew that he repeated the same jokes every closing.

Marc had a loyal group of Realtors referring him business, but after 20 years he was receiving a larger proportion of his business from return clients. Somebody told him when he first opened, "Make sure to return every call. The only complaints that I've ever received were for not returning calls." He returned every call. Hence, he took pride in the fact that he never received a grievance.

He didn't live a fancy life. His expenses were few. He rarely faced adversity. He didn't know how good he had it!

He had been experiencing problems on his right side for about a year. After seeing numerous doctors, he finally went to a Neurologist, who confirmed that he had Parkinson's Disease.

That day, Marc entered the Twilight Zone!

It was his own Perfect Storm. The Country was about to enter the worst Recession in 70 years. The first thing that dried up was Real Estate. Whatever initiative he had seemed to be lost in a cloud of depression. His father, who he had always had a wonderful relationship with, had taken ill at 80.

His wife, far wiser than he, saw the opportunity to purchase another apartment in the building, which Marc would use as his office. She knew, long before he did, that his days of commuting were over.

Except for the times that he was around his father, he was sullen. Strangely nobody abandoned him.

Now in the throws of a major Neurological disease, he began to realize he must escape The Twilight Zone. That as the T-shirt says "Life is Good."

Now the question remains can a man in his fifties, suffering from a Neurological disease escape the Twilight Zone?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1939) is a short story by James Thurber. The most famous of Thurber's stories, it first appeared in The New Yorker on March 18, 1939, and was first collected in his book My World and Welcome to It (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942). It has since been reprinted inJames Thurber: Writings and Drawings (The Library of America, 1996, ISBN 1-883011-22-1), and is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories in American literature. The story is considered one of Thurber's "acknowledged masterpieces". It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name, with Danny Kaye in the title role, though the movie is very different from the original story.
The name Walter Mitty and the derivative word "Mittyesque" have entered the English language, denoting an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not. In military circles, this usually refers to people who try to fake an impressive career. The story had an influence on other humorists, notably Mad founder Harvey Kurtzman (who borrowed the story's sound effects), playwright George Axelrod (who employed Mitty-like fantasies in The Seven Year Itch) and animation director Chuck Jones (who created a Mitty-like child character for Warner Bros. cartoons).

If you haven't read Thurber, you owe it to yourself to do so. Thurber along with Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman and the wonderful Dorothy Parker were among the members of the Algonquin Round Table were a group of uniquely American Humorists who would meet each day for lunch from 1919-1929. Since most of the attendees were writers, it was inevitable that their stories would spread through their writings of the time.

When I first saw Danny Kaye in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," I said I am vindicated! If this imaginary life is good enough for Thurber, it's got to be good enough for me. I've often imagined these fantasy stories that lived in my own head. One day, about a month after I had invented the Nom de Plume, JelloMarx, about six months after the diagnosis. I decided to let Walter Mitty escape, I wrote "Jello in the land of Oz." Through many incarnations later, and with the help of Sarah Palin, it became, "The Magnificent Maverick of DC."

Other characters danced through my mind. One of my favorites was The Right Reverend Snark of the first Church of the Internet.

These characters and stories have given me enjoyment. I also hope that others have enjoyed them. Although this story might be dated by now, here is "The Magnificent Maverick of DC."

The night that John McCain first asked Sarah Palin to be his running mate, she had a weird dream. She dreamt that she had been taken from her home was somehow transported from Wasilla, Alaska and landed in a mysterious land called Washington, D.C.
As she exited the house with her pet Moose, named Veto, she heard giggles. It was the strange inhabitants of this land called Republicans. It seems that Sarah had landed just in time to be the 51st vote to defeat the Health Care bill of the Wicked Senator from the left.

Then suddenly, from out of nowhere came Air Force 1. Out steps Laura Bush, in a puffy dress carrying a wand.
Laura: are you a good Washingtonian or a Bad Washingtonian?
Sarah: Who me? I’m not a Washingtonian at all. I’m Sarah Palin from Alaska. Who are they.
Laura: They are the Republicans. They have come to welcome you to Republican land.
For you are their hero. You just defeated the Health Care Bill.

The Republicans began to sing.
This is a day of Independence
For all rich people and their descendants
Let the joyous news be spread
National Healthcare at last is dead.
Hooray! the Bill is Dead
Which old Bill?
The Health Care Bill!
Hooray! the Health Care Bill is Dead.
Thank you- Insurance Lobby, deny that claim, disallow that test.
Thank you, the Health Care Bill is Dead. It’s now part of History
Thank Sarah- Sarah- Sarah. She’s helped us defeat Hillary again.
Hooray- we’ve won again, yell it loud, yell it clear.
Let them know
The Health Car Bill is Dead!
We represent the Christian Coalition, The Christian Coalition, The Christian Coalition
And in the name of The Christian Coalition
We Wish to welcome you to Republicanland.
We represent the Gun Lobby, The Gun Lobby, The Gun Lobby
And in the name of The Gun Lobby
We Wish to welcome you to Republicanland.
Suddenly in a puff of smoke and a pants suit, arrives the Senator of the left.
Hillary: Who killed my bill. Was it you?
Sarah: It was an evil bill. It favored the poor.
Hillary: This isn’t over, I’ll get you my pretty, and your little Moose too.
So on the advise of Laura, Sarah decided to walk the Green Mall to seek the counsel of the Magnificent Maverick of D.C.
Shortly down the path Sarah sees a man in a Paul Stuart Suit, with golden cufflinks on his monogrammed suit.
Sarah: You’re obviously a lawyer. So why do you look so happy.
Lawyer: I’m one of the lucky ones. The law school forgot to give me any ethics.
Sarah: I’m going to see the Magnificent Maverick of D.C., maybe he can use you in his administration.
Lawyer: Even without ethics? I’ve often thought what would I do with ethics if I had them.

I don’t want to work Pro Bono
That’s always been my Credo
I need my Mercedes Benz
And My Haircuts they cost Plenty
So it’s really elementary
I have no need for any friends.

I take a large retainer
Financially I’m the gainer
Their futures I portends

You are clearly narcissistic
So let’s not be unrealistic
You will never make amends

Oh, I wear silken ties
And Thousand dollar suits
With the judges I am often in cahoots
So I win all the Lawsuits

I am just a bottom dweller
Can not accept a failure
I take any large stipends
So it’s ethics I avoidI’ll never represent the unemployed
Or those who need to wear depends.

So Sarah has found a traveling companion.

As they continue their sojourn, they come across the famous fat, right wing radio talk show host.
Sarah: What troubles you, talk show host? The Republicans are still in charge and we just defeated a major piece of Liberal Legislation.
Talk Show Host: My, friends, I was born without a sense of humor.

When a Conservative has no wit
He’s nothing but a twit
And he cannot sell what he airs
Just because I’m the fool
The one who’s always so uncool
I’m the one without fanfares

I’d be funny, I’d be charming
And often times even disarming
And laugh at Fields and Marx
I would have drinks with all the boys
And make fun of all killjoys
I’d have retorts for all remarks

Picture me a crowded bar
A raspy voice says low

Hey Moe, Hey Moe

I throw a pie, Oh My

Just to laugh at Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Woody Allen
My life would be awoke
Maybe understand the joyless
love of the French for Jerry Lewis
If I could only tell a joke

Lawyer: We’re off to see the Magnificent Maverick of D.C. I understand that he has placed Whoopie Cushions all around the White House. Maybe he can teach you what is funny.
So off the three friends went. A little slower now due to the largess of the Talk Show Host.
As they get closer, they cross paths with the famous fundamentalist preacher, The Far Right Reverend I.M.A. Phony.
Yeah, I know I blamed Katrinas
On Men misusing their own Weiners
against Gods will they serve
so listen all you sinners
don’t be losers be all winners
sleep with Sally and not Irv..
You have tried all of the ruses
With no plausible excuses
Said the Lord you don’t deserve.
Therefore, I want all sinners censured
(Talk Show Host)
Liberals all be indentured
And all my capital ventured
If the Maverick is a Maverick we deserve
Then I’m sure to get some cash
(Talk show Host)
A wit
My Way
A Gun
Finally as they reach the home on Pennsylvania Avenue they are granted an audience with the Magnificent Maverick. But where is he. In the oval office is a curtain, coming from behind the curtain is a familiar voice.
Veto, charges the curtain. It’s Joe Lieberman behind the curtain. He has no power here.
Lawyer: So what have you learned Sarah?
Sarah: There’s no place like Nome!

December 23, 2010. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Anne Frank saw the good in people while hiding from the Nazis. Victor Frankl remained positive while in a Concentration Camp. Helen Keller was a role model, while not being able to see, hear or speak. I would be more self absorbed than I appear to be if I could not make something positive out of PD.

THE GOOD: A short time after being diagnosed, I discovered writing. As I've previously stated, I've always had a vivid imagination. I lived in my own version of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Walter Mitty was a character created by James Thurber in 1939, who lived in his own vivid fantasy world. I started to write these stories, and although they are yet to be published, I'm enjoying writing the stories.

THE BAD: Most of the bad is too obvious to mention. The worst is not knowing. I've been successful in blocking my imagination from seeing the worst. So far, the natural progression and a positive attitude have kept me from experiencing too much of the Bad.

THE UGLY: We all have our egos. Although I was never a Brad Pitt, I wasn't unattractive. Now I show the tell tale signs of PD. Scaling on my face and a masked look. The scaling has dissipated, because i switched to an electric razor, but it is still slightly there.

So for now I'll enjoy the good, live with the bad and manage the ugly. There are no choices.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 23, 2010. This is My Life

There are currently about 1,000,000 people in the United States who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. However it is estimated that about three times that amount or about 1 in 90 people have the Disease, but have not been diagnosed yet.

Early symptoms go relatively unnoticed. For instance, my first symptom was my handwriting. The letter were cramped and difficult to read. Since my handwriting has always been poor, I ignored this for some time. This coupled with a difficulty grasping fine objects, for example a pen or a fork, led me to believe that I was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. This made sense to my General Practitioner, because I was constantly typing. That was ruled out quickly.

When I finally was diagnosed, I asked the prognosis. The Doctor said, "You don't die from Parkinson's."

I'm a trained Lawyer, so I read everything, so I found out that it is true, that people don't die from PD per se. People do however die from the results of Parkinson's, falls, aspiration pneumonia, infections. Furthermore, about 1 in 3 develop Parkinsonian Dementia. That thought scares me the most.

So to revisit yesterday's post, bravery is not the issue. This is my life. It may have 10 more years, it may have 40 more years. It's foolish to be morose. I'm not being brave, I'm accepting a fact and doing the best that I can to live with it.

So I'll wake up in the morning and go to work. I'll watch the old movies on television. I'll watch the Yankees. I'll quote Groucho forever. I'll read. And someday, many years from now, someone will ask if I'm comfortable. I'll answer, "I make a living." Those will be my last words. Leave them laughing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21, 2010. If I only had the Nerve

A friend of mine called me brave today, when referring to these writings. The truth is, I'm scared shitless!

Brave is for the first responders at 9/11. Brave is for the troops at Normandy. I'm not Brave.

I'm a decent writer, who has found a mechanism with which to cope with a possibly debilitating disease. The best that can be said about me is that I have good survival tactics. But bravery no. If I accept that honor I'd be a fraud.

I have minor symptoms. I'm lucky that the progression of the disease in me has been slow. But frankly the thoughts of loosing my ability to speak, to perform the functions of daily living, scare me so, that I choose not to face them.

Brave, I am not!

December 21, 2010. Man's Search for Meaning

"Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose
one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.

Victor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. His best-selling book, Man's Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism, and originally published in 1946 as trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager), chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. (Wikipedia)

It isn't the type of book that I ordinarily read. After all it isn't about Baseball, nor written by Philip Roth, but about three years ago a friend recommended it to me. Victor Frankl was an amazing man. His attitude and will to live kept him alive while in a Nazi Concentration camp.

The book, as much as anything else, caused a change in my attitude regarding PD. You might say that I had a catharsis. Frankl survived the Holocaust and lived to write about his experiences. Frankl lost his wife and Parents to the Nazis, yet his attitude favoring living never faltered.

There I was, ignoring my business, not appreciating my wife and being an all around bore.

This wonderful man, who had been dead for 10 years, reached me as I'm sure he had reached many during his lifetime,
He taught me that I was still alive, that I was still vital and that there was plenty to feel good about, He gave me back my sense of humor.

So I have a neurological disease. From time to time I might be uncomfortable. But feeling sorry for myself doesn't help. It makes every day a drudgery. It makes people not want to be with you. If Victor Frankl can find reason to carry on in a Concentration camp, I can find it with a tremor.

December 21, 2010. Back in the Saddle Again.

"...maybe it's the time of year. Yes, and maybe it's the time of man. And I don't know who I am. But life is for learning..." Joni Mitchell.

I don't know what hit me yesterday. The day didn't go particularly badly. I think that the cold weather just got to me.

I've got to learn that we must all accept the invariable changes in life. Weather it be as mundane as the graying of your hair, or as tragic as the loss of a loved one. These, and diseases are all part of life.

Sometime I tend to forget that everybody has their own problems. They may be less verbal about them then I am. I've rarely found people unwilling to discuss the disease, but I can't imagine that these people will stay if I complained about the problems.

All of the problems have solutions. The Micrographia (small writing), is solved with a laptop. The driving in solved with a train. I walk slower, so i give myself more time.

I don't know if the PD will get any worse. If so today is the best day of the rest of my life, I'm going to enjoy it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20, 2010. Isn't it a PD?

Parkinson's Disease thinks that every day is April Fools Day. It fools you. I'll go days upon days, swearing up and down, that the Doctor must have screwed up, because I'm fine. Then it turns around. My leg shakes, I shuffle my feet when I walk. I feel like an old man. A very good looking, old man, but an old man, nonetheless. Picture Paul Newman in "Our Town," not Henry Fonda in "On Golden Pond."

I'm sure that there have been studies done on the effects of temperature on Parkinson's sufferers. I'll never read one. Why should I. I know first hand. In the hot weather, the sweat pours out like the water falling from Niagara Falls. In the winter, "Every single breeze seems to whisper, you freeze." You're probably thinking, "hey this schmuck is cold in the winter, what does he expect?" I've rarely been cold before. I've gone through entire winters without turning on the heat.

There are days that it just gets to me. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I just want to walk erect and briskly. I'd like to be able to shave, without using two hands. I'd like to easily button my sleeve button. I'd like to have the option of wearing laced shoes.

I'm sorry, I cranky and grouchy today. This will be better tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 20, 2010. You can't always get what you Want.

I don't know of any Real Estate Attorney who is particularly happy with his or her chosen profession. Very few of us expected to be doing this. Most of us thought that we'd be arguing before the Supreme Court. It's Mundane, Tedious and Boring. (As an Attorney, I've learned to be redundant and repetitive). Until one is established you must rely upon outside sources for business. Those outside sources want control over your part of the transaction. This can't happen.

Now business is slow, because of the economy and a change of location. I would be thrilled to go back to the type of work and volume that I was doing 6 years ago, but I don't think that I could handle 3 closings in a day. I just move too slow.

I was a fast an accurate typist. Better than any assistant that I had hired. Now my fingers don't move like they once did, hence I'm slower.

Insurance prices are ridiculous, and they don't cover all of the drugs.

Yet, through it all, I'm somehow not depressed.

After having been depressed for the first year or two after the diagnosis, I snapped out of it. I remember thinking , "where will I be, when I get over this feeling?" My answer was I'll be back where I started. Only older and having wasted time. Somehow this worked.

I began looking at what I had, not what I didn't have.

People don't mind discussing the condition, but, nobody wants to hear me complain. Yeah, Parkinson's disease sucks! But so does cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Leukemia etc... we all have known somebody who has been stricken with these
diseases. They try to carry on the best that they can.

So I will continue to do what I know how to do, and be thankful that I have something to do. I walk, I talk. If I wet my pants, Mattel could make me into a doll. I have plenty of familiar and friends support. I got it good!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18, 2010, New York, New York

In May of 2004, I drove to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for a conference. As I passed the North Carolina border, I saw walking on the shoulder of Route 95 a Tortoise. The Tortoise was remaining in his or her lane, and clearly within the upper limits of the speed limit, so I didn't report it. I don't know where that Tortoise was going. I'd like to think that he was headed for a Tortoise convention or family reunion, at a local Tortoise resort. I hope that it was local, because there is no way that he has made it out of North Carolina yet.

No matter how upbeat I try to be, I must sometimes face reality. Today I was about a spry as that Tortoise. My legs felt like lead. Strange how that is, because just as fast as the "Tortoisia" (made up word) comes on it can go away.

When we last left our hero he was taking the Q60 bus into Manhattan to have lunch with his mother. Lunch was wonderful. For those who don't know my mother, I'm sorry to say that you're missing out on a special lady. The women in our family age very gracefully. I think that it has a good deal to do with that they're always active. Mom continues to take courses, she'll join her granddaughters for the ballet, she always keeps up with the news. She also looks and acts at least 20 years younger then her age. Today I can't say that about her youngest child.

After lunch, I took the bus back to Queens. The bus was crowded, hence I gave up my seat to a mother who had her hands full with two young children. I soon realized that if I tried to remain standing, on the moving bus, I would most likely fall. So I got off to walk the last mile. My legs were so heavy that it felt like, what I would imagine, quicksand would feel like. So I ducked into the subway and took that the rest of the way home.

Just two years ago, it wasn't uncommon for me to walk from 82nd Street on the East Side to the Museum of Modern Art, through Central Park, exiting near the Museum of Natural History, down Columbus and Broadway past Lincoln Center to Columbus Circle back to the train on 53rd and 5th. Sometimes I would stop in one of the Museums. I love this City. There is no place like it in the world.

I just realized, while writing, this that the City, along with my friends and family, have kept be vibrant and vital.

I originally had entitled this piece, "Days of Lead and Molasses." Now I'm changing it to, "New York, New York." The Liza Minelli version, of course.

December 18, 2010. Bus Stop

This afternoon I will be taking the Queens Boulevard Bus into Manhattan to meet my mother for Lunch. As a child, I often depended upon the Q60 Bus to go into Manhattan. I remember New Years' Eve 1973, my friends and I went to see "The Great Dictator," which was playing on First Avenue and 61st Street. That theater later turned into a porn house.

I was oblivious to the other people on the bus back then. Not so much anymore.

I can usually tell, upon entering the bus, if it will be a smooth ride. I greet the bus driver. This is a function of courtesy and also a test. If the driver ignores me, I'm in for one hell of a ride. Herky Jerky stopping and lots of horns. The second indicator is, does the driver wait for the elderly people to sit before he or she take off?

Most of the drivers are pleasant, some are terrors. I once had one pass me by, while I was standing at the stop flailing my arms. Because of the heavy traffic on Queens Boulevard, I was able to catch up at the next stop. When I said to her, "You drove right past me at the last stop," she responded that she "didn't see me." I'm not easy to miss. That was one hell of a ride.

The first few seats are reserved for the elderly and handicapped. I try never to take those. This way they're free for the 17 year old with the music so loud that the headphones barely muffle the sound.

Excuse me for digressing, but I just fell asleep at the keyboard. I found that I can sleep through anything. I've fallen asleep in Temple, in the Theater, even while having my teeth cleaned. It happened again.

I wake up a few seconds later to find that my page is filled with whatever letter I was leaning upon at the time. This may be the only concrete benefit to Parkinsons.

The truth be told, not even I can fall asleep on the city bus.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17, 2010. Reality, What a Concept.

Yesterday, I overdid it. I left the house by 7:30 AM. Drove to my Dentist on the Island. Then did two closings, drove home and then rushed to take a 4:00 PM train back to the Island for an office dinner.

There was a time that that type of hectic schedule was normal. Now as a function of age, and PD, I can't do those things any more. I think my friend saw this last night, and went 50 miles out of his way to drive me home. I had my train ticket, but gladly accepted the offer.

By saying that I can no longer do this is not succumbing to the disease, but accepting reality. Had my friends not been the special people that they are, chances are that I'd have made it home without incident. Would I have been too proud or stupid to ask my wife to drive out and pick me up? Probably, yes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not curling up into a ball and giving up today. It's now 7:15 AM. I've already done an hours work. When I finish this, I leave to catch an 8:58 train for the Island. I've learned that the worst thing that we can do in our lives is give up. I've also learned that the second worst thing is to ignore reality.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 15, 2010. Bridge over Troubled Waters.

Change in a friend (I call it that because I refuse to consider it an illness), brings out the best and the worst in people. For the most part, I've been blessed with the best. Maybe it's because the friends that I've chosen to keep are special people.

As I've previously stated, when first diagnosed we chose to tell very few people. As time went on and little everyday activities, like rising from a chair or putting on my jacket, became noticeably more difficult, there was little choice.

When word of my condition started to pass through the grapevine, I heard from an old acquaintance. I had chosen long ago not to pursue a lasting friendship with this person. We were friends for a short time a long time ago. Even then people would question, "why are you friends with somebody do obnoxious." After he wore me out, I decided that it wasn't my responsibility to befriend somebody, because nobody else would.

One morning I received an e-mail "Dear Marc, I hear that your sick. Let me tell you what is going on in my life..." I chose not to respond. Was I wrong?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010. Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Being a Real Estate Attorney on Long Island without relying on a car is like being in New Jersey Government without relying on corruption. It just doesn't happen. I've done the best that I can. The problem is not lack of ability, but lack of confidence. I can still do most of the things that I did before, except there is a section of my mind that doesn't believe that I can.

It is a weird disease. when the symptoms first appeared I described it as a loss of instincts. Just imagine if you had to think about everything that you had previously instinctively done. That's the way it felt. You still know how to do everything, but you question whether you're doing it right.

It also has strangely effected my sense of direction. If I exit a building in Manhattan, I invariably head the wrong way. It's gotten to the point where if I think that I should go one way, I go the opposite.

But today was different. Today I was comfortable behind the wheel. I don't know why, but there are good days and bad days. I have some control over it. The more that I exercise the better I feel. I feel better in cool weather. Other times I just feel fine. It doesn't help my sense of direction. This morning I headed for Long Island, I writing this in Iowa.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13, 2010. Chantilly Lace

There are days that my condition is obvious. Today was not one of those days. except for a sweating episode this morning, I even forgot that I've got PD.

I had appointments in the City and White Plains today. Everything went without a hitch. I did however make an interesting observation about others and about me. My observation,: Manners are more likely to be displayed to a pretty girl then a balding middle aged man anytime.

The appropriate response to this observation can be "duh," "no shit sherlock," or "say goodnight Gracie."

The four signs of aging on a man are, 1) The comb over. Patented by Rudolph Giuliani, this is an exhibition of the sheer stupidity of the male of the species, who actually believes that the world is fooled into believing that he is not bald. I have not resorted to this drastic measure; 2) The inability to properly measure one's waist, -or- "Hey mack, you'd look better in the size 40 that fits than the size 30 that hangs way below your "pupik." 3) Buying a convertible. He can't get in nor out of the car. His wife freezes when he drives in March with the top down. And it ruins his beautiful comb over. But there he is, in his sun glasses, with the mirrors on the inside, so he can see his own reflection, drag racing a 19 year old on Cross Bay Boulevard; 4) A seat on a bus or train is offered to you.

I will admit to, until recently, only having been guilty of Number 2. A few weeks ago a nice young man (use of the term, "nice young man," may be number 5) offered me his seat on the 7 train. I turned him down and have been in intense therapy ever since.

Today on Metro North, I stood from White Plains to Manhattan. This wasn't for lack of manners of the young people aboard the train. Two did offer their seats. To Two very beautiful, ladies in their early twenties. A bald spot, a paunch and a shuffle in the walk can't compete with a wiggle and a walk and a giggle and a talk...

Somehow this I understand and can accept.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010. Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe (Lennon and McCartney)

In less than 3 weeks I'll be 54 years old. Yet in my mind, I'm 25. Not that I could or would try things that I did at 25. There are substitutes.

I'd look silly going to the school yard to play Basketball.

At 25, I drove a 280 Z. How ridiculous do balding, aging men look in a Sports Car? Not quite as ridiculous as that same man, 45 pounds overweight trying to get out of the car. Invariably a beautiful 25 year old woman will walk past. This overweight, comb-over of a man will suck in his gut, make sure he has his viagra and greet the woman. Things go well until she says, "Hello sir, you remind me of my grandfather!"

In the words of the Late Harry Chapin, "A tame and toothless tabby can't produce a lion's roar." What Harry neglected to say, Was "Nor do I want to." For you see, I don't mind middle age. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't mind PD. But as one door closes another opens.

My outlook is much better than it was. I found a hobby. Instead of remembering Baseball games that occurred in my imagination, I've discovered words. words like "avuncular," "conundrum," "ennui," and "Curmudgeon." When these words appear upon my screen I don't have PD, I'm not middle aged, my hair isn't falling out and I weigh 195 bounds.

PD, in a way, helped me to discover this pleasure. I still occasionally get the frustration of striking out. I'll go for weeks without an idea. Other times I come up with "Eggs but no Ham." Writing that was a blast. So far deep inside my archieves, I will reprint, """Eggs but no Ham."

Apologies to Dr. Seuss

Would you like

that piece of ham?
I can not eat Ham,
for Schwartz-I-am
I was circumcised at eight days old,
and ever since then, I’ve done what I’m told.

Would you try it
just this once?

No I think that I’ll stick to
my Gefilte Fish for Lunch.
I will not eat that piece of Ham,
Nor can I date the Shikse named Pam.
But I’d like to, said

I’m sorry you can’t eat
a slice of Ham.
How about a can of Spam?

Nobody wants Spam in a can.
Not I, nor that nebish name Stan.
I will not eat it
when I Pray.
I will not eat it
at the end of day
A Jew won’t eat Spam in a can
I will not try it Schwartz-I-Am

Would you try it in the Shul?
Would you eat it with a Fool?

Would you get this through you head.
I cannot eat food that’s ill-bred!
I will not eat them in a Shul.
Nor will I eat them with you, you fool!
The animal must chew its Cud.
So I guess your party is just a Dud.
To a boy named Murray such is banned.
I will not try it, Schwartz-I-Am.

Would you eat them
in the Temple?
Please come here and
try a sample!

I will not eat them in the Temple.
What’s your problem are you really that simple.
I will not eat it from a box.
I’d just prefer a bagel and Lox.
You see this Beanie upon my head.
It’s just not the way that I was Bred.
I will not eat Spam in a can.
I will not eat it, Schwartz-I-Am.

A Shrimp! A Shrimp!
A Shrimp! A Shrimp!
Could you just this
once try a Shrimp?

A Fish that shelled, I will not eat!
Not even with that Shiske Sweet!
I would not, could not, eat his food.
I could not, would not, I’m not being rude.
I will not eat your Lobster Bisque.
My Mother may catch me, I won’t take the risk.
A Cheeseburger, I’ve never had.
Not even as a Little Lad.
I will not date that Shikse Pam.
Although, I’d like to, Schwartz-I-Am.

Nobody will know,
There’s no one to show
Would you, Could you, Just like Moe.

I would not, could not,
even with Moe

Would you, could you,
on the Sabbath?

I would not, could not, on the Sabbath
Not with Moe. Not with the Shikse Pam.
Not in the Temple. Not in the Shul.
I cannot eat this what you serve,
So you’ll have more left in reserve.
Ask me no more. Do you have some Schmaltz?
You went to the wrong store, this Nova has no zalts!
Now listen while I tell you just one last time,
for I fear that I can no longer rhyme.
I will not eat a slice of Ham.
I will not eat Spam in a can.
But I changed my mind about the Shikse named Pam
I am no fool said, Schwartz-I-Am.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11, 2010. If I were King of the Forest

If I were King of the Forest, Not queen, not duke, not prince.
My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz.

The feeling of mortality carries with it a feeling of trepidation. One of the bonuses of being large, is that trouble generally avoids you.

As a teenager, my friends and I were mugged in Flushing Meadow Park. The muggers avoided me. even as recent as about 6 years ago, I told some kids on Queens Boulevard to shut up, when I heard them making anti-Semitic comments. They looked at me and shut up. I never got into a fight. I never had to.

I'd command each thing, be it fish or fowl.
With a woof and a woof and a royal growl - woof.

Today when I walk, I often shuffle my feet. I'm often stooped over. I'm leery of every shadow. I look at the shoes of kids on the street. Predators always wear sneakers.

As I'd click my heel, all the trees would kneel.
And the mountains bow and the bulls kowtow.
And the sparrow would take wing - If I - If I - were King!

Part of a man's ego is the illusion that he's invulnerable. That illusion is gone. It's time for reality.

Each rabbit would show respect to me.
The chipmunks genuflect to me.
Though my tail would lash, I would show compash
For every underling!
If I - If I - were King!Just King!

So today, I'm not invulnerable. My weapon of choice is pen. You know what they say, "The pen is mightier than the illusion of the sword."

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010. Weebles Wobble, but they don't fall down.

How many of you out there remember the toy called "The Weeble'? "Weebles Wobble but they don't fall down." That's the claim that the commercial made. If memory serves, Weeble's were these little round creatures, all butt, no legs. Not unlike that blind date that you had last week.

Although physically I am all leg and no butt, the same claim about wobbling, but not going down can be made about me. I have days, like today, that I describe as wobbly. I'm alright if I keep moving, but the minute I stop, I'm swaying.

Sometimes, along with the wobble, I have an involuntary, backwards step. I call it my moon walk.

Why am I telling you this? Because no matter how many times I wobble and moon walk, I haven't gone down. There are moments that are frustrating. For instance, rising from a chair or putting on a coat can be a chore. I constantly talking to myself, "Come On!" "Get up!" It seems to work, because nobody has had to get a crane for me to stand. Nothing less than a crane would work.

There are plenty of times in life when one wobbles. PD is a wobble and I'm not going down!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9, 2010. Mean Mr. Mustard

Something has loosened the filter in my mind that made me hesitant to speak my mind.

There was a time that I had a long fuse, but when it blew, watch out. But now whether it's age, almost 30 years of law, or the realization of mortality that a major neurological disease gives you, I no longer loose my cool. I'll say what's on my mind, with less hesitancy and far more sarcasm.

The sarcasm was always there. One doesn't watch every Marx Brothers' Movie multiple times without a little Groucho rubbing off. But I was hesitant about speaking my mind. Something happened.

There's something about coming to the realization that someday all of this will end, that gives one license to speak up.

I've become a lovable curmudgeon. So far, I've gotten away with it, but how long can that last?

I think that it's time to move on to the next role, "avuncular sage." Stay tuned. I'll be back tomorrow, same bat time, same bat station.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010. Taking Care of Business

From June 1985 until June 2008, I conducted my business out of my own office. As the end of my last lease was nearing, it became apparent that it was imprudent to renew. I was often taking the train in order to avoid the 50 mile round trip commute. My office mates moved and took my name with them. Luckily they moved closer to the train. So with my old mates, in Syosset, and good friends in Merrick, I had two sets of dear friends allowing me access to their offices.

So now, I drive when I have to, take the train when I can. I don't look like your typical Attorney. Instead of an attach case, I carry my files and computer in my back pack.

Because of the help that I've received from my friends , my business has functioned pretty much as it did before.

There was a time that I had a photographic memory. I had what I described as a file cabinet in my head. I remembered everything. Unfortunately I'm stuck with 35 millimeter head in a digital world. Computer programs like "Log-me-in" and Outlook have made my computer a virtual office.

I'm not convinced that my memory issues have anything to do with Parkinson's Disease. I think it's a function of age and the fact that I just have so much RAM in my head.

I never loved what I did for a living until I thought that I might not be able to do it anymore. Now unless I find something more challenging, i will continue to do this for a long time. I'm convinced that one's physical well being is directly related to one's mental well being. As long as I continue to feel vital there is no way that Parkinson's can get the best of me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010

I wonder how many people that observe me think that I'm drunk. Can I get a show of hands? One, Two...Hey you in the back, only one hand! Certainly no feet!

When I'm tired, I have a very labored gait. Although I haven't fallen often, I do look wobbly. As I've said before, I rarely drink, and never more than 1 glass of wine. Furthermore, people with PD, have a blank stare, often described as a masked face. This could also be mistaken for somebody who has had too much.

At least if I'm going to be mistaken for drunk, let it be Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou.

I was warned when first diagnosed that everything would take longer. what used to take me 1/2 hour to get ready in the morning now takes an hour. To me I'm moving at the same speed,but apparently not. so now I've described a slow,drunk man.

There also can be mental problems associated with PD. This is something that I suspect I'll never know. Can one recognize signs of dementia in themselves?

So far I feel that my mind is sharp. I keep reading and writing so that it is constantly challenged. The neurologist occasionally tests me, by having me count backwards from 100, in increments of 7. 100,93,86,79,72....I'm still the fastest this side of Jethroe Bodine.

December 7, 2010. Notes from the Underground

My wife hates the Subway because of the filth. I hate the Subway, because of the fear.

Have you ever noticed how people lean over the platform to see if a train is coming? Does that speed up the train? It must. I often take an involuntary step backwards. I recognize this and stay far away from the edge of the platform. Therefore, my trains are very slow.

The steps are steep and only accommodate two abreast. Therefore, the inconsiderate person walking downstairs forces that teenage couple walking upstairs to unclasp their hands. More often than not the teenage couple, or the five friends walking together are cognizant of their rights, so that inconsiderate elderly man will just have to wait at the top of the steps. Anyhow, what's his problem, he has a walker to lean on.

Steps are no fun with PD. I sometimes feel like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo, when I'm at the top. I must hold on to the rail, while trying to avoid the six month old piece of chewing gum on the underside.

Today, I have an appointment in Manhattan. Since I no longer drive in Manhattan there is no choice. Did I ever tell you about the first time that I drove in Manhattan? It was July 13, 1977.

Do you know the significance of that date? The entire City of New York blacked out.

Ii was with the young lady that I was seeing and her younger sister at Lincoln Center seeing Boz Scaggs in concert. Half way through the concert the lights went out. The two ladies and I got into my 69 Impala and drove back to New Jersey. I dropped them off and turned around and drove back through the City to Long Island. The Bronx was burning.

You would think after that experience driving downtown at Holiday Season would be easy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6, 2010. I fought the Law and the Law Won

I was meant to study Law. I wasn't meant to practice Law! There's a large distinction there.

Studying the Constitution is great. It's a marvelous document. My Diploma from St. John's is written in Latin. I had it translated. The diploma says, "1) Everything that you learn here will be useless in the real world. 2) You're excused from Gym class- signed Epstein's Mother."

I went to Law School at night. Worked full time during the day. After 4 years of this, I had no job and no money. You see, they didn't tell us, that in 1982 in order to get a good job as a Lawyer you had to have graduated from an Ivy League caliber school or be in the top third of your class.

I was in the top third, for one semester. Then the bottom third dropped out. Algebraically, the top third becomes the top half.

But, in 1982 I graduated, passed the bar and ever since have been called Lawyer.

I never intended to practice Real Estate Law, and to be frank, it's kind of boring and redundant. (To paraphrase Robin Williams, "The dictionary, under redundant days 'see redundant.'")

In May of 2006, my Dad had open heart surgery, which forced him at 80 to retire. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, and the recession was beginning, and I was a Real Estate Attorney. Business fell faster than a Koufax curve. Depression set in. And the warm weather had started, so Nabisco took Malomars off of the shelves.

With too much time on my hands, I started writing. It was a blog called "Memoirs of a Disgruntled Attorney," by JelloMarx. Jello, being the lost Marx Brother could write things that Marc could not. For instance, Jello rewrote the entire score to West Side Story. It became West Wing Story, starring Sarah Palin. It was "The Dems" vs. "The Reps." Perhaps you've heard it's biggest hit, I See Russia
(Sung to the tune of “I feel pretty”)

I see Russia,
Big, Bad Russia,
I see Russia and Russia sees me!
And I will crush her
If you elect me to be VP.

I’m for drilling,
Lots of drilling
It's so thrilling how drilling can be!
So the drilling
Will escalate if you elect me.

I’m the beauty Queen from the Bering Strait:
I got my make up and clothing for free.
Free for a pretty face,
Free for a pretty dress,
Free for a pretty smile,
Free for a pretty me!

I am running
And campaigning,
I’m debating and relating with joy,
While I slander
The Ex-Senator from Illinois!

(The Palin Children sing)

This is my Mother the Former Running Mate,
The most powerful Mom on the ice
She approves of her children who procreate,
As long as we don’t use a Birth Control Device.

She should be VP.
She’d be one heartbeat away.
If she is the VP,
No one would disobey.

Where we live you need heat
Cause it’s zero degrees,
We get Polar Bear meat,
From our local Hardees.

In school we should read the Bible now
Send for Hannity!
Here are the books that she’ll disavow They violate Christianity!

She once was obscure,
But now she’s maligned,
She’s going on tour
Leaving Dad in a bind!

I see Russia,
Big, bad Russia
They despise us because we are free.
Salt Lake City
Is full of real Americans, like me.

Ma ma ma ma . . .

It stopped snowing,
It is sunny,
It’s so sunny and it’s only July,
It’s so sunny,
That my parka is nearly dry!

Ma ma ma ma . . .

I can see the KGB from the Bering Strait:

What KGB where?

You know that he’d rather be free.

Which? What? Where? Whom?

Free for a pretty face,
Free for a pretty dress,
Free for a pretty smile,
Free for a pretty me!

Free for a pretty me!

I am running
To be the first female Pres, you see
It’ll be stunning when I get to see,
the expression
On the face of Hillary C!

"Memoirs" helped to pull me from the funk. It made others laugh and more importantly, it made me laugh. That is better than any prescription.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 2010. Paperback Writer

We all live many lives.

As a child, I like many other boys of my generation, wanted to play baseball. I was slow and couldn't hit a curveball.

As a teenager I wanted to be a Rock and Roll Singer. I can't hear a beat, and am completely and utterly tone deaf.

In College, I wanted Girls. That's for another story.

In Law School I wanted to argue before the Supreme Court. That actually has happened. On my last trip to Washington, I got into a heated argument with a Tea Partier protesting in front of the Court. I remember asking him, "Justice Thomas, don't you think that this is inappropriate?"

Around the time that I was diagnosed, I discovered the greatest outlet for my frustration and anger. I would write.

I started by recanting tales on a blog called "Memoirs of a Disgruntled Attorney." I went by the name of JelloMarx. These tales even bored me. I started writing parodies of songs, movies and my favorites, Dr. Seuss. I was elated the day that I learned that something that I wrote called "Eggs but no Ham," about a man named "Schwartz-I-Am." was posted in the New Orleans YMHA. Some of them were good, some not so good. But I found an outlet.

Friends and family wondered if I could be serious. I wrote on some Political sites, but found that most of the people there, both liberal and conservative are crazy.

One day, I decided to write about PD. The response has been great and it has kept me out of a funk.

I'd like to publish this, but it's not why I write it. I write because it helps me to remember how truly good my life has been and will continue to be.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 4, 2010. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.

I've never attended a Parkinson's support group meeting. I suddenly realized that except when I go to the Gym or to the Doctor's office I have no contact with other people who have PD.

The upside is that I can continue to live in my cocoon, and not acknowledge the worst aspects of the disease. the downside is that as empathetic as friends and family are, they don't have first hand experience.

The Queens County Parkinson's support group meets in Forest Hills on Monday. I may attend.

I was never one to discuss personal issues. Obviously I've changed.

My wife, who is a Geriatric Physician, knowing what I might see, is concerned that it could depress me. My thoughts are that if it does progress, and it might not, it's a fact of life. Getting depressed over it helps nobody. It will hinder enjoyment of whatever good years are left.

I intend to enjoy myself. So, " Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor. " (Groucho)

December 4, 2010. Am I the King of "Da Nile." or a cockeyed optimist.

May 2006 was a rough month My father, shortly after his 80th birthday, went in for heart surgery. At the same time I had become convinced that there was a neurological problem that caused my difficulty with a pen, a fork etc... After going to my General Practitioner, an orthopedist, a hand surgeon and Neurologist, I was referred to a Parkinson's expert. Within 5 minutes the Doctor had a diagnosis.

Now who do I tell. My family, they were going through enough. My office, Yes, I needed some assistance. My friends, some yes.

Because the three great communications systems are Telegraph, Telephone and "TeleMarc," I told too many people,

Reactions varied. Many claimed to have had relatives who had PD, and lived a long and healthy life. Many were supportive by just being there. Some disappeared.

I've read many things about the disease since then. I know that it can take many paths.

Michael J. Fox, feels that we are within a decade of finding a cure. Whether this is realistic or not, I'll choose to believe him. It wouldn't help anybody otherwise. I'd bring myself down, thereby inhibiting any progress. It would make me a burden to others, something I hate. So I'll remain a combination of the King of denial and a Cockeyed Optimist.

Friday, December 3, 2010

December 3, 2010. God Never Gives Us Back our Youth

Somebody who I didn't particularly like once said to me, "Work to live, don't live to work."

He was a slime, but his words were right.

In my prime I did 200+ closings a year. I was in the office on Saturdays and some Sundays. I often didn't take vacations. And like the lean days, I lived hand to mouth. Only more got in the mouth. I did closings from Montauk to Saratoga.Today instead of a car I often take the Railroad. Instead of an attache case, I carry my laptop in my backpack. Due to the economy and my circumstances, I do far fewer closings.

Today things are different. Although I know that it is importantI do what I can to get by. I doubt that my last words will be, "Damn, I should have done one more closing!"

I don''t know what the future holds for me. None of us do. I do know that it isn't exactly what I had planned. If i knew then what I know now, I would have done a lot differently. As the words to one of my favorite songs say, "God, never gives us back our youth." Ain't it the truth.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2, 2010. Hot Town Summer in the City

I used to love the change of seasons. Now I dread Summer and fear Winter.

One of the common symptoms is that your inner thermometer is off. Some feel unusually cold, others unusually warm. I experience the later. In the summer months I experience "flop sweats." When I go out, within a half of a block of my home, I am profusely perspiring. I'm not talking sweat on the brow. I'm talking gather the animals in pair and build an ark. I know, I'm not being fair to the women out there, as you all longingly regret what you missed out upon.

Winter I fear for the obvious reason. One slip on the ice and my career is over.

I took one slip on Continental Avenue two winters ago. I was alright. A couple of elderly ladies offered to help me up. I felt like Max Bialystock. I got up on my own.

But this is the fall. It's clear and crisp. I'm going outside. Bye.

December 2, 2010. Hold me Tight

As the train slowed down into the Station, I realized that I was off balance. Are my hands, clinging to the bar, strong enough to keep me up, while the pull of the train was fighting against me?

Thoughts went through my mind. Who would be able to lift me if I fell? If I fell upon the tiny lady next to me, would she be flattened as if she were in a "Loony Tunes" Cartoon? Would the Conductor wait for me to get up, or would he stick to the schedule of keeping the train doors open for 1 1/2 seconds? What's to become of the Mallomar in my back pocket? Why do people buy Ann Coulter books? Has anybody ever made it through Ulysses?

As I've previously stated, balance is a key issue for people with PD. My arms were strong enough to hold me up, but I'm convinced that others would have gone down.

On trains I try not to stand too close to somebody, because, all joking aside, if I fell on somebody that person could get seriously injured. I'm also cognizant of who and how far below me somebody might be on steps.

The fall may happen. The damage can be controlled.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, 2010. There's Something Bigger Than Phil!

Let me take you back to 1973. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks release "The 2013 Year-Old Man" Reiner interviews Brooks, who is the old gentleman. At one point, Reiner asks the oldman,
“Did you always believe in the Lord?”
“No. We had a guy in our village named Phil, and for a time we worshipped him.”
You worshipped a guy named Phil? Why?”
“Because he was big, and mean, and he could break you in two with his bare hands.”
“Did you have prayers?”
“Yes, would you like to hear one? O Phil, please don’t be mean and hurt us, or break us in two with your bare hands.
”“So when did you start worshipping the Lord?”
“Well, one day a big thunderstorm came up and alightning bolt hit Phil. We gathered around and saw that he was dead. Then we said to one another,‘There’s somethin’ bigger than Phil!’

”I'm a big guy. I'm slightly over 6'2", and weigh about 240 lbs. Which is why I find it so difficult to accept the fact that wind could be disastrous.

Nothing ever knocked me over. When I played Hockey, if you tried to check me, you were going down. When I played Basketball, I couldn't dribble or jump, but if I planted my feet in the paint, I was getting that rebound. Now I've met my match. And the son of a bitch is invisible.

The coldest places in the Metropolitan area may well be, 1) The southern tip of Manhattan; 2) The Nassau Coliseum Parking Lot; 3) Queens Boulevard. What do these places have in common? They all have tremendous wind gusts.

Today was rainy and windy. As I entered the stairway going down to the subway on Continental Avenue at Queens Boulevard, I felt a gust of wind move me. Move me! Let me at that guy! My opponent is crafty. He may force me to avoid him in the future.

Have I met my match? Not really, but I must learn to be more careful. with PD comes clumsiness. I didn't go down this time, but it opened my eyes to the possibility that it may happen.