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.
When agreeing or planning to attending any type of county or state fair. You have to open yourself to being exposed to some outlandish and outright redneck culture. Outdated and often unsafe carnival rides that feature soundtracks from the earl 80’s. D list cover bands who haven’t updated their sets since the Reagan. Deep fried everything and of course, the occasional Trump supporter or mullet fashioned family. It’s low brow entertainment in the third degree. And like it or not. Once you enter the fairgrounds, you are a consenting, willing participant and member of its subculture. For, it is only with that acceptance and embrace, that you will truly know the pleasure of eating bacon on a stick while crowding near a pen of newborn piglets to coo and look on in awe of their cuteness without even a minute sense of irony.
Over the last two weekends, we traveled to two separate fairs. One a County fair, the other, the mighty State fair. While I avoided the rides, one of which was featured on the news due to it breaking down. I took a bunch of pictures, had the worst BBQ in my entire life and chose not to seek the answer to the question, “WTF are elephant ears, anyway?”
So go, try the bacon wrapped hot dog, mount your five year old on an unwilling sheep and ride the wooden roller coaster and have a blast. Life is short and the rewards often outweigh the risks. Worst case scenario, you end up on the news when the fire department arrives to rescue you from a ride called “Satan’s Revenge”.
It never fails. Whenever I enter a record store, it happens. Something, whether it be a song, a record, a shirt or any exchange regarding music. A connection is made. From my days as a teen working in a record store or m\y visits to record stores in any town, city or country I’ve visited.
During my first days in Seattle I found myself in a small record shop talking to a native New Yorker who did time on the early New York Hardcore scene. He pointed himself out in a Live DVD of the first Bad Brains show at CBGB’s. Later on that week I struck up a conversation with another employee who used to volunteer at the legendary Gilman St. Project. Just last week I was pulling records out of the bin when I learned that the clerk behind the counter was also originally from New York City and worked at a record store just a few blocks from the one off St. Marks St. where I was working nights.
Then there was this Sunday when I visited a record store a mere block away from where my wife and I had just devoured delicious servings of chicken and waffles. I had been to this particular store numerous times when I first settled in the area and had always found something to my liking. On this day, as I took my stash to the counter. I noticed the clerk was wearing a shirt from the surf rock superhero band Daikaiju. I pointed out the shirt and asked when/where he had seen them. Adding that I had had the pleasure of seeing them up close at a bar in Brooklyn, NY.
In late 2017 I found a kindred spirit while talking music with the record guru at a local West Seattle record store. and found myself in deep conversation could go on and on with countless stories regarding friends and relationships that began while visiting record stores or going to shows, but I’ll spare you of my never ending tales of geekdom. Instead, I offer this images of the mighty Daikaiju from their show at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn, NY.
For some time now, i’ve been meaning to share my music column with this blog’s readers. I started writing as a kid and wrote my first published article from my hospital bed at the age of twelve. I started and published my first music print fanzine when I was sixteen and well, the rest is history. Back in 2016, as a music blog I co-created was coming to and end. I was offered my own column writing for a website that I was a major fan of since it’s print days. I’ve headed up the column for a year now, writing reviews and doing interviews. Having my own column has given me the opportunity to expand my taste in music, reach out to and engage people who have inspired me with their art and even given me the courage to start writing my own stories. Below is a link to my column, as well as some of my recent interviews for the site.
United By James
An interview with John Lisa (Seeper/Serpico)
An interview with Peter Horvath (GreyHouse / The Anderson Council
An interview with Joe Gorelick (The Hasbros, Red Hare, Garden Variety)
An interview with Fair Panic’s Torry Anne Daines
It’s Sunday and I’m still trying to finish a music review that, by all means, should have been finished and submitted this past Friday. After writing chapters extolling the virtues of this particular artist and their thirteen-song opus. Still, I hang on word, a sentence or the right description that will close out this upcoming release. Words that will allow me to finish and submit . Words that will allow me to go on with my life and maybe, just maybe, die a happy man.
Knowing that, once again, I would not find the right words to properly articulate my feeling on the subject. I loaded up the mini cooper with my camera and bag of lenses I would not be using and drove to nearby West Seattle and Seacrest Park for a few photos of downtown Seattle. Though the sky was blue and the sun was shining bright. It felt as if this was one of the coldest days I’ve experienced here. Still, the chance of a blue sky and a clear day in Seattle is hard to pass on.