All About AJ

Okay, maybe not ‘all,’ but enough…
I discovered blogging in May 2004 and like many of my neighbors here on, my life hasn’t been the same since. The medium has opened up not only a new world of expression for me, but a new way of thinking. Every day is now a new experience; a new story; another opportunity to put into words the things that make life special; recording them for myself first, but also for anyone else who finds enjoyment in relating to my experiences.

As a music enthusiast, my original intent was to use this space as a repository for the memories of the many concerts I’ve attended over the years, and still do as a regular part of my life here in Music City, USA — Nashville, Tennessee.

However I learned soon after I began writing that these events were merely the tip of my personal iceberg; nearly all else that surrounded them began to naturally exert their own influences as integral elements in my stories.

So I decided this might also be a good opportunity for me to record my thoughts on other important events in my life; my childhood; the loss of my Mother to inherited Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease; my Dad’s remarriage and our subsequent move to Southern California; my tumultuous relationship with my Stepmother and the things I’ve learned about myself since she passed in May of 2000; my self-discovery as an athlete in high school and college and the after-effects of my fading youth here in the years of my middle-age. All of these things simply flowed out of me week after week in the most wonderfully surprising eruption of expression that I had ever experienced. I had no idea I had it in me.

But I did it for myself; not only because it was extremely cathartic, but in so many other cases, it was healing as well. And that would have been enough, in and of itself, since that was all I really wanted to do in the first place. It was always supposed to just be me, talking to me about my life. However something else happened that surprised me. I found that in describing to myself the uniqueness of what growing up I had assumed was a pretty ordinary existence; I also managed to touch the sensibilities of others who read my stories.

What followed was something I totally didn’t expect: friends. And while I wouldn’t recommend for everyone to take unnecessary chances, trusting the complete strangers you meet on the ‘Net, I am delighted to say that I have been very lucky to have discovered real friends here among my Blogland neighbors — another continually solidifying factor in my experience.

Subject Matters
I don’t talk politics; I don’t debate religion. This blog is an official no-trash-talking zone (unless, of course, I particularly wish to talk about that funny thing that happened last week while I was taking out the trash).

However I suppose if there has been one defining tag that could be placed — intentionally or otherwise — upon my blog, it would probably be defined by its overriding focus on my family’s battle with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD). It’s certainly a topic that I’ve spent a great deal of time discussing, and of all my subject matter, appears to have the greatest resonance with my both my regular readers and those who find this space from the search engines. And there’s good reason for that, as the reality of AD is now such a huge issue in our society.

But more than likely, this isn’t your Grandfather’s Alzheimer’s Disease. The strain that has ravaged generations of my Mother’s genetic line is much crueler. It is the rare and hereditary Early-Onset Alzheimer’s that afflicts less than 10% of all Alzheimer’s sufferers, robbing its victims of their minds years before the more common — and sporadic — “elderly” variety, with which most people are now familiar. To wit: EOAD took my grandfather at age 57, my uncle, at age 48, my mother at 48, my aunt at 53, three cousins (aged 48, 53, and 54), my second-eldest brother at 46, and currently, my youngest brother, now in his early 50s, is near the end of his slide into this insidious disease’s icy chasm.

As for me, I turned fifty in 2006, and so far it appears I’ve been spared the family curse — however, were I to begin onset, I’d be the oldest of all my affected family members to do so. In other words, it’s unlikely at this point (knock on wood).

And with even the remote possibility of myself being affected, given what my family has been through over the past 20 years as the backdrop, I know how precious life is. I know how much I want to celebrate every moment; relish every joy; learn from each heartache and every mistake. I want to have the opportunity to dip my toes into this wonderfully vast pool of potential friends that only a medium such as the Internet could afford.

My blog allows me do these things; that’s why I write.

But please don’t misunderstand; this isn’t a pity party. I’m not looking for sympathy here. I’ve had a wonderful life, with lots of victories to offset the losses. I have a wonderful wife of 32+ years, and two grown, bright and beautiful children. I’ve got plenty to celebrate.

And if you’d like to celebrate along with me, I’d sure love the company.

Welcome to my world.

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