Earlier this afternoon we closed the doors to our apartment at Angeline by dropping off the keys. Angeline was, without a doubt, the best rental experience I can remember. Everything from our apartment, the staff, our neighbors, and our neighborhood was fantastic. We enjoyed having a library next door to us during the almost three years we were there, a city park behind us, a historic movie theatre across the street, and a healthy grocery store just under us. After our dropoff, we picked up some fresh cookies at Colombia City Bakery, did some food shopping at QFC, and even got to say goodbye to the panhandler who stands at the end of the grocery store parking lot. As good as our time there was. We had to decide to either go back East or stay and buy a home in Seattle. Choosing the latter took a lot of thought, but in the end, I think we’ve been happy here.
I’ve quickly found myself becoming an angry old man. You know, the kid of one who shakes his fist at the clouds and yells at kids to get off his lawn. Considering I was an angry kid and an angry adult, this should come as no surprise to me or anyone who’s been lucky enough to know me for a while. Still, maybe for the first time in my life, I find myself attempting to relearn how to think and go about my life without judging others and perhaps be a tad less harder on myself.
Forgiveness and closure are powerful tools that have brought me more peace than I could have ever wished for. While I’m still learning and trying new ways to balance life. Having overall lower exceptions when it comes to myself and others has been a game changer. I still struggle to find that balance and overall acceptance that, no matter how much I wish it, we do not live in a perfect world.
I’ve started to gather pictures for a book I hope to publish before the earth or yours truly goes “Kaboom!” It’s one of two projects I’ve had in mind for some time. The working title is “Bystander” which will focus on my years photographing and interacting with bands, musicians and artists within punk, hardcore and indie rock over the years. It will hopefully include anecdotes about the artists , as well as various quotes from the many interviews I’ve done over the years. I’ve already got someone to write the foreword and ideas as to which photos for the front, back cover and inlet will be. I’ve been posting about four pictures a day in one of my facebook folders. Allowing you to see new material on an almost daily basis. I’m posting a link below and welcome you to both visit and comment whenever you see fit.
A few years back during a visit to my gastroenterologist, he told me that he was just sharing with his secretary how inspired he was by me and my ability to bounce back from each medical setback, emerging stronger and a bit more wiser. Being that I had been seeing him for an entirely different set of challenges for close tot fifteen years, he had seen me move from one health setback to another. While I was taken aside and visibly humbled by his words, all I could come up with was some gibberish about how, after all these years of fighting, I was tired and I wasn’t to sure I wanted to fight anymore. Note that this was a few years prior to my latest discovery of another brain tumor and being diagnosed with a neurological disorder that has no cure or known treatment.
Still, to this day, I find myself fighting and adjusting to meet new challenges. Truth is, we’re all a lot stronger than we’ll ever give don’t give ourselves credit for. No matter what a person, or doctor tells you. It can’t override your desire, strength or determination to make the most out of what you have.To be happy with what you do have or can do and not to be preoccupied with the things you don’t.
For as long as I can remember and most likely longer, I’ve always been surrounded and inspired by art. As a kid, my mom worked as a secretary for a huge advertising agency and would often bring home art books and have artistic nudes (Two of which I still own and proudly display in my own home.) hanging for all to see. Whether intended or not, it set me on a course that still inspires me to create, build and make things that I feel might be impactful.
It’s worth noting that my Mother’s early influence and my trips to her midtown office, where I’d often find myself sitting in with the companies art department. It was those moments and exchanges that would play a major role in my early development, as well as becoming a major influence on my wanting to write and inevitably become interested in picking up a camera in order to document my surroundings. Many years later as childhood led to adolescence and adolescence led to adulthood., I can’t help but notice how much art and the desire to create still drives me. Now that my Mom is following my blog, it might be time to thank her and tell her that I understand and even partially agree when she says, “We’re a lot alike,.”
I was planning to email my Mom with some pictures of the framed pictures we put up in the bathroom, but since she is now following the blog, I might as well post them here.
(These images were taken at a local Vietnamese restaurant / billiards hall. I refrained from using my flash so not to disturb the flow of the game while giving the players their respect and anonymity.)
If you’d like a clearer view of the pictures featured here. You can see them Here .
As a kid, art had a very prominent place in our home. Though we did not have much money to speak of. My Mother’s knack for decorating and her relationship with the art department at the company she worked as a secretary. provided for many opportunities to bring home art and advertisement poster prints. While my wife in completely foreign to the idea of art in the bathroom. It’s something I became used to seeing by the time I was just starting elementary school.
About a year prior to my moving to a neighborhood just a few blocks from Times Square. A friend of mine convinced me to spend New Years eve freezing my ass off in a spot secured hours before the mercurial ball fell, welcoming the new year with new hope, a clean slate and number of resolutions that would surely broken within a matter of days, if not hours. Though I never would repeat the act and seldomly go near that tourist trap in my eight or so years as a Hell’s Kitchen. I had earned the right to say. “I did that.” Bone shivering cold and tinging extremities aside. It was somewhat of a right of passage from adolescence to adulthood.
As 2019′ Record Store Day quickly approached and the weeks turned to days. I did everything in my power to convince my loving, supportive and determined wife that I did not want or need to partake in such shenanigans. . Still, in the end. It felt as though she was, not only interested, but determined to go through with a plan. Regardless of proper and scientific research. In the days that led up to the event, she sent me the RSD release list and even sat down to go over my picks.
Friday night came and after arriving home from dinner. We set our alarms for 6:00am. In the back of my head I imagined either sleeping through the alarms droning or my wife flat out inability to get up that early on a weekend morning. Surprisingly enough, neither occurred and we were on the road in time to arrive just two minutes after the store’s scheduled 7:00 am opening.
As we approached the store, drove past the awaiting crowd and noticed that the line to get in stretched around two corners. An admitted sufferer of agoraphobia and one who lacks the needed patience to stand in line. I quickly remarked, “Fuck this, let’s go get breakfast. Without much debate, we turned the car around and headed back to our home base where we experienced a first, in that we were the first customers to enter our favorite breakfast spot. After copious plates of french toast, eggs and bacon. I was convinced to give it another try.
Upon returning to the scene of the crime. The store had opened and the line was now half the original size. As we inched closer to the corner and our opportunity to enter. We began to see customers emerge from the store with bags spilling over with records. My wife teasing me about the store being empty by the time we finally gained entry. Still feeling anxious about our choice to join the crowd. I couldn’t help but imagine the line that awaited inside.
When we finally did make it inside. There was indeed a line wrapped around the first floor leading to the stairs that bring you to all of the gleaming, shiny records. As I tried to navigate my way to the end of the line. I not only lost my wife but felt myself being swallowed by the limited pressing horde of vinyl junkies. However, after a few calls and texts, we found ourselves navigating our stairway to nerdville. Once there, we quickly split up, quickly grabbing copies of things on our list. While I was quick to scoop up the last copy of the Devo Box Set. My wife did an exceptional job scooping up most of what remained on the list. From there, we headed downstairs to join the checkout line and sped off to nearby Georgetown where we ended our record shopping day by indulging in Japanese styled hamburgers. And while I promised to never get swept up in Record Store Day mania. I can pound my chest while proclaiming “I did that.” And while I promised myself to lay off buying anymore records for a while. I’ve already planned to return on Monday to pick up the remainders from that original list. Until then.
My first night and post surgery at the hospital was terrifying to say the very least. Having my vital signs checked every hour on the hour throughout the night left little to no time for sleep. To make matters worse, I was in constant pain and felt a an enormous amount of discomfort due to the restraints of being hooked up to tubes and plugged into an intravenous.
I’ve found the doctors and nurses here to be very patient and understanding. Their heartfelt dedication to making the kids here as comfortable as possible can not be overlooked. Although I’m just another scared kid in here. I feel that just about everything has been explained to me in a way I can understand without sounding the least bit condescending. Something I greatly appreciate. Especially considering how scary this has all been.
My second day here had a specialist they flew in from Canada (I feel so important.) perform what he described as “Plumbing on the brain.” Being that the tumor is so large and cannot be removed. They instead inserted a shunt, which would be best described as a giant straw that sucks the juices from the tumor and flushes them through and out of my abdominal cavity. (Swoosh!) They only shaved one side of my head for the operation and though my grandmother suggested a comb over. My mother insisted that the other side be cut or shaved. I look like a fucking bowling ball now.
After some recovery time, I had my intravenous taken out which allowed me to explore the floor, it’s unit and some of the unique characters I’ll be spending my time here with. More about them later, as they each deserve further, detail and description. The food here, as imagined, is awful. If you came here healthy and ate the food. You’d most likely leave on a stretcher. The meals are scheduled and depending on what you’re here for. Are planned and chosen for you. Due to the fact that a brain tumor doesn’t call for any strict diet. I tend to choose the hamburgers that closely resemble and taste like hockey pucks. (Not that I’ve made it a habit to feast on hockey pucks in the past.) Luckily, whenever someone plans to visit and asks if I need anything. I answer convincingly with “Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds” or any other fast food franchise within blocks of the hospital. Whatever medication they’re giving me is making me very hungry.
(Stay tuned for parts IV and V) Coming Soon.
When I called my Mother this morning. In a somewhat puzzled state of mind, She asked me for my address. Being that I’ve told her countless times before and included it with the cards, letters and various mail related items I’ve sent her. I was puzzled as to why she was asking me again. “I your address &#$^@?” she asked.”Yes, that is my address.” “Well, I’m so pissed. The post office returned my package.” I knew the reason before she could even speak. As this has happened several times since my wife and me moved to Seattle. “Did you include the apartment number?” The one I’ve instructed you to always include?” “No, don’t they know you live there by now?” Now, I recall reminding her to do so more than a half a dozen times now, to no avail. However, my dismay or anger had nothing to do with her forgetting mildly important things.
My anger stems from the fact that I started insisting she stop sending me these packages back in 1994. Again, to no avail. Now,when you think about it. That’s almost twenty five years of unwanted, unsolicited packages. Items she’s purchased at places like K-Mart, Wall-Mart and other big box stores I myself, refuse to enter. knowing full well that any chosen package will contain items I will either have to throw out, pass on to someone who most likely think I’m nuts, or find room to store. Each box, envelope or package sent includes a unintentional amount of anxiety. The kind that comes with having things you don’t want or need thrust upon you. Not to mention, the inevitable phone call asking, “Did you get it?” “What did you think?” In the end, I don’t want to be surrounded by things I don’t need or one’s I can’t get rid of without the guilt associated with discarding items gifted by loved one.
Just for the hell of it. I decided to revisit twelve year old me and rewrite the article I mentioned in my last post “Unfinished Business” What I wrote below was taken from the school newspaper article I mentioned, a journal I kept at the time as well as memories that still remain fresh all these years later.
Several weeks ago, I began experiencing severe headaches. It all started during school hours and became such a distraction that I was often excused to go down to the Principals office to request they call home to have someone pick up and take me home. Being that I’ve built somewhat of a reputation as a trouble maker. I was initially scolded and told to stop slacking off and get my ass back to class. Days passed and as the headaches became more sever, my trips to the principals office increased. Despite all of the warning signs, health concerns took a back seat and I was sent to see a school shrink. I was asked questions like “Is there anything or anyone bothering you?” “Is everything okay at home?” You know, text book questions one would ask. “No, man. I’m just experiencing crippling headaches. Can I go home now?”
Within a couple of days I was in a doctors office. His assertion was I had been experiencing intense migraine headaches. Something that could easily be tamed by medication, which he described. In the days that followed, my condition worsened, I wasn’t making it to school and due to my parents conflicting work schedules. I was staying with my grandmother. By then. I was not capable of eating and could not handle any light, whatsoever. I vividly recall the overpowering light that emanated from my grandmothers 12′ inch B&W TV being more than my eyes could take. Quickly, (I’m talking about a matter of days.) I began hallucinating. (Here was this kid who sucked at fifth grade Math hallucinating ratios most kids don’t know of until grad school,) That’s when I remember being taken to the emergency room.
Upon arrival, I remember being taken in pretty quickly. (No three hour wait to have his temperature taken, given a few aspirin before being sent home with a bill resembling a school loan for this kid.) A CAT scan taken that night revealed a rather large pineal tumor on the middle of my brain. From there I was quickly admitted to the hospital where I had emergency surgery that was meant to keep me alive. Though I was not told at the time, my parents were gently told to make funeral arrangements. The date was October 11th and by all projections, I would be dead before I got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner….
To be continued…or not.