Thinking of a Longtime Friend

Earlier today as I was waiting for the elevator, a man who closely resembled a healthy mix of my Dad and a mafiq hitman who is either on his way to execute a contract or preparing for a life in witness protection . Though I didn’t mention either, his striking look and mannerism seemed enough to get us past the usual “How are you today?” or any mentions of the weather.

MandyII-1Though memories of Just Jake’s, Depot Square, The Meatlocker didn’t immediately roll off the tongue. My long time friend, Mandy did. Having lived in New Jersey for over a decade, Montclair, with it’s little downtown always offered something to eat, drink or do. No matter the draw of the town, it was always the time I spent with my longtime friend  that made everything seem so much better. Her laugh, her smile, her kindness and positive attitude always inspired me in enen the darkest times. Despite our geographical locations and the fact that we are almost polar opposites, we’ve managed to stay close friends for over thirty years. Now, with her now living in Europe and me residing on the West Coast, it hard to say when we’ll be able to sit in the same room together. However, with tools such as Skype and social media, I’m sure we’ll be able to keep in touch for years come. If you’re lucky enough to find someone, anyone who loves you unconditionally and not only accepts you for who you for who you, but reminds you how special you are to them, be sure they know how much you appreciate and cherish the fact that they’re a part of your life. Thanks to that dude by the elevator for jogging my memory.

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… And so it Begins

Thanks to the to the advice and guidance of a friend and gifted artist, I’ve decided to embark on selling prints of some of the many images I’ve shot over the years. Though still very much in the idea stage. I’ve begun to reach back to some old favorites, look into possible places to print and the right website to host my images. I hope to start small with just a few images, ones picked with the customer in mind. (Not necessarily my favorites, but ones that might appeal to a broader audience, while still reflecting my overall style. Below is an image taken back in the early nineties with a Nikon EM film camera and 50 mm lens. Special thanks to Jenn for the inspiration. You can buy her prints here. It Does Art

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You’re a Lot Stronger Than You Might Think You Are

 

Though it might seem clique. We really are a lot stronger than we’d ever take or give ourselves credit for. I recently had a chance to catch up which both my Father and Brother. During each conversation I was asked how I was feeling and how I was handling the progressing effects of what was diagnosed as Fahrs, but is now being linked to the radiation treatment I received as a child. Gory details aside.

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Both my Dad and my Brother expressed how inspired by my strength and perseverance. Here I am, struggling to walk and maintain any sense of balance and these two are telling me I’m their hero. As a kid, I was a boxing enthusiast. I played all types of sports with varied degrees of skill and success, but what I wanted most was to be a prize fighter. To me, that was tough. However, as I grew up, I came to learn and strongly believe that true strength and toughness came from the inside. The ability to overcome, survive and get past any darkness

that may have descended upon you. Still, with all those beliefs and concrete knowledge of universal truths, it’s something I’ve never allowed myself to apply to my own situation. And while I’ve always been able to feel empathy and sincere concern for those who struggle in any way. I still struggle to apply those same feelings to my own struggles. So, to all my friends, family, loved ones and anyone out there who is fighting any battle, Keep fighting, you’re a lot stronger than you might think you are.

Good Eats

Earlier today, after leaving Rochester and the Mayo Clinic, we made a pit stop at Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis for our days worth of nourishment. Though we were warned of the lines and the wait to get in, we could have never expected the time we spent waiting for people to exit the diner in order to let the next ones in. Imagine our surprise when we got in the door to find out that there were no tables. Just more people lined up against the wall like a police lineup, waiting for a spot at the counter to open up.

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As one who’s always loved diners and preferred sitting at the counter than be being seated at a table. Just watching the crew slide by one another taking orders, cooking and bringing food or fresh coffee to patrons can help build your energy and the appetite needed to complete the overloaded plate that will soon arrive. While enjoying our breakfast we met some locals and learned that Al’s was once an alley that cut through the block and had been serving breakfast since 1950. In the end, we had a great experience, service, food and conversation. We’re heading back to the area in late September and will definitely make Al’s a priority. If you’re ever in Minneapolis, you should too.

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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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Something Different

I love goats. Goat milk, goat farms, goat petting, goat yoga, goat sanctuaries, goat rescues. I just can’t help but feel happy when I’m in the presence of goats. When I lived in Jersey City, there was a landmark cemetery that employed goats to maintain the landscape there. I used to visit to feed the goats on a fairly regular basis. It was a stress reliever that had a very calming effect. So, when my wife insisted on going out for gelato instead of ice cream, I have to admit to being a bit irritated. That is, until I saw a sign that not only made me smile, but helped open my mind to something different. Goats or not, that was some damn good gelato. And while I don’t see myself giving up on my ice cream scoop or embarking on more ice cream driven road trips. I’ll definitely keep an open mind when asked about returning to Seattle’s Fainting Goat.

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The Last Weekend

Since making my appointment with Rochester, Minnesota’s  Mayo Clinic close to a month ago, I’ve caught myself referring to the weekend of 07/27 – 07/28 as “my last weekend.” Though not intended to be morbid or prophetic of any kind, I somehow equate this long awaited trip to be somewhat of an ending or beginning of some sorts. These next few days will mark what I see as the final chapter of my search for answers. After several years of my troubling symptoms being written off by my asshole doctor as post brain tumor, post stroke symptoms. I finally sought treatment outside his umbrella of  short sighted ignorance which eventually rewarded me with the knowledge that I had another brain tumor and later finding out that I had a rare, virtually unknown neurological disorder known as Fahrs. One that had no cure or known treatment.

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While I do expect this coming week in Rochester to be helpful. My expectations regarding any breakthrough information are almost non existent. Instead, I’m hoping for a sense of closure, as in ways to adjust my lifestyle while moving forward. instead of looking back in anger, asking why. I hope to live in the present, moving and thinking forward. Adjusting to and facing any challenges this disorder might throw my way and tackle the head on. In the end, what’s life without living?

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