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Organ Recital

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 10/14/2022

Squeezed show art Squeezed

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam's phone has been ringing. It's a lot of his small business friends and they're experiencing similar things. They're feeling pressure. They're feeling squeezed. ----- When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make. ----- Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level. As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions. ----- Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen. The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

What do you call it when your certain plans are suddenly upended? They're changed with no warning? You call it a God-stop. On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares his experiences with them.  ----- A friend told me a story about how he had applied for a job a long way from home. His potential new employer had said they were going to make a very attractive offer. My friend and his wife began discussing selling their home and moving their kids to a new school. It was certain to happen and then…it didn’t. The job offer never came. His calls to the new employer to get an answer or a...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam spent Monday evening at a big party for a small group of twenty-one year olds. To say the least, times have changed. Here's what he saw. ----- A moment after midnight on March 4th, 1990, I stood on a barstool and declared loudly to the packed bar that I had just turned twenty one years old. I was in Boulder, Colorado. A moment later the bouncer had me by the shirt and said, “That means you used a fake ID to get in”, which was true. I was nearly carried, my feet barely touching the ground, to the door and tossed into the street. Oddly enough, the same story happened to my wife, long...

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Resident Cynic show art Resident Cynic

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

My real name is Charles. But Chuck and Chas live inside me. Chuck was trying to get out this week. Chas had to try to keep in under control. ----- An icicle hangs from the roof of my house. I’m looking at it but still can’t quite believe it. Icicles are very rare here. Usually reserved for the freezer door that was left open overnight. A winter storm blew through and Mobile, Alabama is doing what it usually does when it gets below average cold – we’re freaking out. School is cancelled, quote, “out of an abundance of caution” for the kids. There’s no rebuttal to that phrase. It...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Storms blew through Monday night. It was tough weather. I survived. My daughter? It was the aftermath of the storm that nearly broke her... ----- My favorite oldest daughter is upset. “I just can’t deal with this. It’s just too much,” she keeps saying. She’s leaving for a bit. She needs to get out of the house. “I’m going to Starbucks,” she says. “I’ll be back later.” My wife and I say nothing. You see, the power is out. The big storms that cruised through Monday night left us in the dark. It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the power company estimates another thirty hours...

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God On Our Side show art God On Our Side

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On New Years Eve, I watched a conversation in my kitchen that was exactly as I hoped it would be.  ----- A friend called this past fall. He said, “The Holy Spirit told me to call you and tell you the Holy Spirit wants you and me to make a podcast together. Will you help me?” My goodness. What do you say to that but “Sure. I’ll help you.” The podcast is about his spiritual journey. He brings his friends on from time to time to tell their stories. My job is to keep us focused on the topic, keep us at around twenty minutes per episode, and toss out a contrary opinion that will help...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Yesterday was the winter solstice. Brings back memories... ----- Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Said another way, there is more darkness on December 21st than any other day. It’s also the day I got engaged many years ago. The story I like to tell is that my wife, who was then a collegiate volleyball coach, was watching VHS videos of players she was hoping to recruit. I asked her to stop the video and pay attention to me for a moment or two. She reluctantly did with a “this better be good” expression. I asked her to marry me. She considered the...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

A family tree of photographs is at the top of the stairs at my father's house.  ----- A picture hangs at the top of the stairs at my parent’s house. It’s of my mother’s grandmother, my great grandmother. I think it’s Grandma Leena. My father and I were trying to figure out who it was. My mother had told me about the picture and about Grandma Leena for years. I never listened. There are a bunch of other pictures. At the top, near the ceiling, are pictures of my mother and father’s family and they form a family tree, coming together, picture by picture, generation by generation,...

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More Episodes

My friends and I attend an organ recital together each week. It's not what you think...

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The pickle ball bug has bitten. A buddy put together a group of guys all about the same age to play each Wednesday evening not long ago. We all showed up, most of us knew each other, debated the rules for a while, and we got started. It’s now a regular thing.

Each time we gather we shake hands, we catch up and bit, and each of us, whether we’re asked or not, goes through what’s called The Organ Recital. It’s a part of what happens when men of a certain age or older gather. Maybe women, too, but I can only speak to what the men do. We talk about what hurts on our body, how well or poorly we’ve been sleeping, who we know that is sick. We talk about digestion. About what foods are kind to us and which ones we struggle with. Which spices upset our stomach. Which medicines help and which ones don’t seem to do anything at all. It’s the Organ Recital. It doesn’t last long. Usually someone says, “Hey, enough. We sound like old men. Let’s play.” And that ends it. And then we start putting on knee braces, patella tendon straps, and tendonitis sleeves. It’s so sad.

My father has a golf group that has set up rules around their Organ Recitals. He and his buddies have played golf every Friday morning for the past decade or more. Their rule is that once the last putt falls into the cup on the first hole, the organ recital must end. It’s a rule they’ve all embraced. However, my father says, many of his friends are now nearly deaf and they keep giving their organ recitals anyway because they can’t hear anyone telling them to stop. It’s the rare privilege of the hard of hearing – not being able to hear when you’re being admonished.

My dad is quite the pickle baller himself. He plays several days a week at the Via Senior Center in Mobile. He’s got a regular crowd and they pair up to play and then they swap teams and they do it for hours. Men and women. He invited me a few weeks back. I guessed I’d be the youngest person there, which was true, and that I’d have an unfair advantage because of that, which was untrue. I got my tail beaten repeatedly. These so-called seniors are savage pickle ball players and what they may lack in speed they make up with precise ball placement. At one point my 85-year-old father and I were playing together and across the net was an 83-year-old lady and her sixty-ish year-old daughter. Father son versus mother daughter. The mom had a wicked serve and at any time could place the ball within a millimeter of wherever she wanted it. My dad and I just barely won, and I walked off the court laughing at the thought that my youth – which is very relative – would create any advantage.

At some point in the match, I lunged for a well-placed shot from the 82-year-old mother and pulled something in my lower back. I soldiered on, unwilling to admit to myself that an 82-year-old was making a fool of me on the pickle ball court. I, of course, dutifully reported my injury the next week at my pickle ball group’s Organ Recital. But when asked about the opponent who did this to me, I kept things a bit vague.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.