When my wife asked if I’d go sweater shopping with her, I immediately agreed. Knowing how much time she invests in trying to make sure I’m happy, it seemed as if my wish that she finally do something rewarding for herself had finally arrived. Having become used to accompanying her to a mall or outlet, I was a bit puzzled when she got off the highway and began navigating her way down a winding, dirt road. Was this a well crafted surprise or perhaps a pit stop where jugs of apple cider and sugar coated donuts await. Judging from the barking dogs and strange looking beasts that flanked us on both sides, probably not. It was then when my wife pointed to a small hut and said “That’s where I’m going to look for a sweater.” Being that I already own four sweaters and try to limit my shopping to bacon and records. I took a moment to enjoy the farm and meet its inhabitants. Enclosed within a wide open field were twenty or more Alpaca spread out over what looked like a pretty big field. Like many of the farm animals I’ve come across while traveling, Alpacas are pretty chill and seem more curious than bothered by visitors. Within a few moments, a number of them gravitated towards me, perhaps to say hello, or more likely to see if I had brought presents. Then, just as I began to move closer to the fence, the one pictured below came around the corner like a boss. I don’t know how she got out, but the man who ran the farm told me she was quite the escape artist.
I have never carved a pumpkin. I don’t like pumpkin pie and think the whole pumpkin spice thing is bat shit crazy. I don’t have kids, but hate that adults have basically hijacked the whole costume tradition. Aside from that, I bought forty dollars worth of candy last year and decorated my apartment door only to great ZERO trick or treators.
That said, I love the Fall, it’s colors and sweater weather. I love apple picking and the sound of leaves crunching under my feat. Each year, I visit the pumpkin patches, admire the hand crafted scarecrows with my wife and even convince her to sit and watch “It’s the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
I was enjoying my Chi Tea and downtime at Rochester’s Minnesota’s Forager Brewery when I left my seat for a quick bathroom break and tour of the facilities. Most of what I found was a designers wet wet dream. Form the cool architecture, extra nooks and crannies and magazine inspiring design, I was inspired to fire off a few shots from my camera. As I’ve grown to love shadows and contrast, I find myself leaving my flash in the bag, if taking it along at all. As I made my way back to my seat, I noticed these tea cups / lights hanging from the ceiling looking quite artful. As my days as a studio photographer seem to have come to a close, I’ve found solace knowing I’m still inspired to capture and document my surroundings.
When we originally came to Rochester, Minnesota’s Mayo clinic in late July, my initial three appointments quickly grew to nine and even after that, I still had a couple more that I had to postpone in order to catch my scheduled flight home. And while my initial trip gave me a lot of answers regarding a myriad of health issues. It brought up new one’s that I, myself may not have been able to answer. Still, I knew I was getting the best care ever and the doctors and nurses I saw looked deeper than anyone else had ever done when it came to my medical history.Shortly after returning home to Seattle, a second, or follow up trip was scheduled and booked. With an understanding that my two new appointments could easily multiply and stretch out into a week, we booked our hotel for an entire week. Strangely enough, our first appointment with a neurology specialist took me aback by concluding that any and all issues I’ve been experiencing in the past years were caused by the radiation I received when I was twelve. The same treatment that was given to save my life has been the cause of just about every issue I’ve had since. Not the answer I was hoping for, but one I can’t say was very surprising. After a quick blood and urine test, I was off to my second appointment with a neurosurgeon who looked as if he just came from the cutting room. By then, I had already been diagnosed and endured one of the longsst doctor visis of my adult life. So, we were both kind of phoning it in.
Still, we had five full days to explore an area we have gotten to know and love in a very short time. Later that week, we left knowing the cause of my issues while having the best Fried Chicken we have ever enjoyed at The Post and the tastiest Deluxe Cheeseburger at Forager Brewery. While I’m not exactly looking forward to what will come my way as far as my symptoms go. I’m grateful to have some answers and ecstatic over not having to receipt my full name and date of birth every time I approach a front desk or get called in for my appointment. I’m also grateful for not having to go over my medical history again for at least a year. Maybe the next time they ask, I’ll say “You’re the fucking doctor. You got that shit right in front of you.” Until then.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?