The inconvenience of being happy

This happiness shit is wreaking havoc on my blog.

Yesterday my daughter said, “How’s the blog going, Dad?”
Without thinking much about it I replied, “I haven’t done much with it.”
“Why?”
“I guess I’ve been too happy.”

Even I had to take a moment to absorb what I had just said. Do I only blog when I’m unhappy?

I had a nice long ride to think about this on the way home and my answer is a sound, firm, fairly certain and resounding maybe.

I’ve written a lot of posts considered positive and uplifting and I have to have been in a good state of mind when I wrote them. But most of my earlier posts, in fact the inspiration for creating my blog in the first place was born out of a deep disharmony in my life. I was extraordinarily unhappy, dealing with illness, a divorce and consequent feelings of rejection, and having to move in with my mother. I had plenty to write about.

Nearly 2 years later I have completely reconciled those things within my control and have a firm grip on those that I don’t. Where once stood a confused, insecure and nearly defeated man now stands a man in a total Zen state with the world. I have forgiven everyone and everything. Even the most difficult of events and people. Everyone knows where they stand with me and I leave everyone as if I may never see them again. I am open to everything and kind to all. I walk around like a man with a secret when it’s no secret at all. My happiness is being free of negativity, resentment and hate. I am at peace with myself and in harmony with the world.

I spent years trying to find myself and I was me all along.

Ironically, my illness has progressed since I started my blog but I am in a better place with it than before. Dialysis, once a worse-case scenario is now my lifestyle. Some people live and act it, but not me. I am rocking it. I jump into the chair and 4 hours later I spring out of it. Instead of merely existing between treatments I instead pause my wonderful life just long enough to get a treatment. Last week I was asked to be a Patient Advocate for Dialysis patients. I asked why me and the Nurse Manager said,
“You ride a motorcycle to treatments. You ask us how we’re doing. You always feel good. You laugh and joke through your treatments. You do what you’re told. You’re the ideal patient to help someone else through this.”
I was deeply humbled. I’m also going to do it.

I feel so good I have to be reminded sometimes that I am sick.

Lastly, and by no means least important, Superman has found his Lois. A woman who has made me feel desirable, worthy and loved. It is a nice departure from feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness and loneliness. She may be my Phone Booth.

I’m not ready for a format change or a new name for my blog just yet. I’m sure I have plenty of good blogs left in me. But for now, I won’t be taking up my keyboard to exorcise fresh demons. I’m too busy enjoying my wonderful family and friends, spending time with my exciting lady friend, riding my motorcycle through the winding hills of NH, and being out living my life every minute that I am not strapped to a machine.

On paper I have so many reasons to be unhappy. But I have to tell you…

Life is good


Why not you?

I’ve talked about it before. The prevalent “victim” mentality that surrounds us. Maybe it’s a lack of general toughness in today’s world, a lack of people who, like me, were raised with a “suck it up” mentality. My parents taught me that everyone has problems to deal with, how we deal with our own will define us. Toughness was a virtue. Toughness evolved into kindness as we evolved into empathetic creatures who learned to treat all they meet with basic courtesy with the understanding that they are dealing with their own problems.

I’m a pretty tough bastard by all accounts. I’ve even been told that I’ve inspired a few people as I continue to persist against and fight like hell the constant obstacles in my path. I’m stubborn as a bull and I hate to lose. I may someday be the conquered, but I will never be the victim. It starts with one simple learned behavior. Never utter the words “Why me?”

Why NOT you? is the question that begs to be asked.

What makes me, you, or anyone so special? Whether it is pre-ordained or written in the stars, fate or karma what happens to you is your story and there is nothing you can do about it except deal with it. I choose to deal with it by defining it as my mortal enemy. Illness and death are foes to be vanquished, the bastards that cannot win as long as I have anything to say about it. Happiness is the ultimate prize, the Holy Grail.

I admire the strong among us. Today, I am downright enamored of one beautiful woman who is ten times stronger than I will ever be. She has been dealt one giant shitburger after another and has come back for seconds. Her story saddens me, angers me and inspires me. One thing I will never do is pity her because she is anything but helpless.

If I hadn’t actually seen her I would think she looks like one of the Amazon women from the comic books. Tall, packed with glorious muscles and adorned with a cape and wings. But she is not, she is a normal, if not beautiful woman with the heart of a warrior and her cape is only visible if you hold her delicate hand. There you see the scars. The scars of fighting back, of refusing to be the victim, the battle scars that come from never, ever giving up.

You are my hero. My inspiration. My partner in the fight against those bastards. It will be my honor to march headlong into battle together, as a team that can never be vanquished. Your strength will empower me. The bastards will never beat us.

“Why me?” will never be uttered by our lips.

You know who you are, now you know what you mean to me. You are my Lois.

The open road

You may or not believe me when I tell you this, but 32 years ago as I was lying in traction with 4 fractured vertebrae, 3 broken ribs and a nurse picking gravel out of my ass, that I was dreaming of my next motorcycle (and of course about the hot chick I was going to see when I crashed). I had to dream of the next bike because the one that I had just crashed was a mere pile of twisted metal.

People were amazed that even during my recovery I still loved the notion of the motorcycle. I was unfazed by my injuries, the lure of the open road always called to me since my boyhood days of clutching to my father’s waist as we roared around on his bike. I was barely 17 when I got my first one and only 23 when I had my crash.

I stayed away from the call of the road through my late 20’s and by 30 I was married with no expendable income and a wife that never entertained the notion even if I could afford one. She was amazed that after what I had been through I wanted another and just a bit fearful of me making her a widow. For the time being I had to be satisfied with daydreaming and slobbering over every bike that I saw go by. I craved the wind in my face and driving as if I were a very part of the road itself. I romanticized it to say the least.

Not needing the approval of anyone, I bought one last fall. Once I started her for the first time this Spring, I knew that I hadn’t romanticized it enough. It shook as if it were the heavy breaths of the mighty steed. It required taming and finesse. We name our steel steeds after a woman, because it’s a thing of beauty and at the same time, the moment we lose respect for her it will buck you off. I named mine Bella.

Bella and I have spent a lot of time together and have earned a mutual respect. We have learned to ride the bumps and hang the curves in unison. We are enjoying our trips and are experiencing an unexpected bonus. We are both celebrities and members of a very exclusive club.

Celebrity status comes in the form of strangers asking me at gas stations and stores what year she is and commenting on how pretty she is. In the form of people seeing the helmet and saying “Oh, I’m jealous.” Bored husbands in minivans teeming with screaming rugrats looking at me at stoplights with pure envy.

The exclusive club is other bikers. Apparently, it is courtesy and custom to wave at passing bikes as we zoom by each other on highways and side roads. We all do it. Harleys to Hondas, we’re all in the same wonderful club. And we watch out for each other, should a car mess with a bike it’s a lot like when a hockey player knocks over a goalie. Shit hits the fan as the protectors come off the bench.

I can’t tell you how much joy I have already gotten from Bella. She’s made a routine commute a religious experience. A ride to and from dialysis a complete and meaningful experience. It has become an escape, a way to become one with nature and a way to make an ordinary day one for the books.

I suppose one additional perk is that it is one giant FUCK YOU to those who say that someone in my position shouldn’t be doing it. I’ve had cancer twice, 2 near fatal accidents, 2 near fatal staph infections, a kidney transplant and I’m still going. Nothing has killed me yet, I’ll be damned if I’ll take the “safer” road for my own benefit. I want to die having lived, with a giant goddamn smile on my face.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is out and Bella is beckoning to me to ride her…

This thing of ours

“Is it love? she asked.
It was so soon
but wonderful
and new
to define
he couldn’t label
wasn’t quite able
to say what “it” is

“Is it enough?”, he asked
that you’re my first thought
when I wake
my last before I retire
that my heart feels
as if it’s on fire
your text, your call
my smile says it all

“But is it love?” she implored
she wouldn’t be ignored
then she was sorry
she began to worry
about pushing him too far
she began to cry
he asked her to stop

What she didn’t understand
his feelings were fine
they were all about her
and her fragile state

“Will you love me someday?”
he had to concede
he was sure in his heart
that this was the start
of the life he desired

“Yes, I will love you someday.”
then asked to pump the brakes
he had weighed the stakes
and wanted to take it slow
to get to know her
to savor the newness
only fools rush in
and only a fool would blow this

First on his mind
he had to decide
if he just wanted to fix her
be a magic elixir
for all of the hurt of her past
or was it really love
on its own merit
what he wouldn’t do
to clean her slate
to undo the damage
her tormentors had given
instead of love

She reluctantly agreed
he knew it incensed her
she was too intense for him
she knew they were destined
she felt the connection
across the many miles

“I love you”, she said
“that’s how I feel”
he wanted to say it
but it had to be real
there would be no return
should he misread
this exciting reprieve
from loneliness for love

“I’m falling for you,” he said
she cried tears of joy
but it wasn’t enough
he was just being tough
she deserved better
he had the power to let her
find happiness at last
he knew what he had to do
and picked his moment

“Do you like me more each day?”
he nodded his head no
“I love you more each day”
“Did you just say…?”
“Yes, my sweet. It is love.”
She was joyous, relieved
filled with delight
He soaked it all in
it finally felt right








Music Challenge

Pensitivity 101 has asked me to participate in the weekly music challenge. It looked interest so I’m giving it a shot.

Time once again for Laura Venturini’s Weekly Song Challenge! Here, as always, are the rules:

Copy rules and add to your own post, pinging back to this post.
Post music videos for your answers to the musical questions.
Tag two people to participate!

Post a video of a song that makes you think of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Trace Adkins, and don’t tell me you don’t like Country, wrote this beautiful song from the perspective of a fallen soldier in his final resting place. If it doesn’t bring out powerful emotions then you may not be human…

this song is a beautiful homage to the fallen hero, in his or her final resting place

Post a video of a song that has the word war in title or lyrics.

this song was conceived while the band was touring Afghanistan and saw the war play out before them. This is for the soldier, about the soldier and the horrors they endure

Post a video of a song that is part of a movie soundtrack that had something to do with war.

this song is not about War, but as a critical part of the soundtrack of Good Morning Vietnam it has taken on a whole new context for me , and I suspect for many more who saw this powerful movie. As it played, horrific, visceral scenes of warfare, carnage and bloodshed that was the Vietnam War played out in front of us. Never has there been such a paradox to have such a beautiful song as a backdrop to senseless death and destruction

I nominate my lovely Bella and Good Buddy Steve if they feel so inclined to participate…

Living

I have gone on record as being divided on how I feel about Social Media, Facebook in particular. I hate the politics and the pursuant hatred and vitriol from idiots with “keyboard balls”. I hate the vague statuses in which some attention hound posts “ooh I’m so mad!” so all of her friends will reply “What’s the matter honey?”. Then there’s the 50 year old housewives doing duckface selfies. Enough already.

The one thing I have always liked about FB is catching/keeping up with old friends. I have deeply enjoyed this aspect of it. Having graduated HS almost 36 years ago I love that I can see what people who I don’t actually see often (or at all) are up to. One such person is Tim. The last time I saw Tim was after we had a fistfight after school in 9th grade. I don’t know to this day why we fought, but it was over quick and he moved soon after. That was 38 years ago. He and I connected on FB about 8 years ago and have been very friendly but never gotten together.

That changed this week. I posted a pic of my new (to me) motorcycle

and several minutes later a IM popped up. Want to ride?
Hell yea, I replied. We worked out the details for Monday, the weather was looking fine.

We met at a restaurant we both knew. He had come from 50 miles south of me and the plan was to ride into the White Mountains of NH where, I think it is safe to say that God himself designed these roads for Motorcycles and merely allows cars to use them as needed.

He pulled in right on time. I knew what his bike looked like and a fair idea what he did as well. He got off his bike, took off his helmet, lit up his trademark cigarette and just said, “Billy Mac. You haven’t changed a bit.”
“Well, gee Tim. I would think I’ve changed a little since 9th grade.”
We talked for a bit, mostly small talk and we then saddled up. I told him I was a bit of a Rook so I would follow him.
Off we went.
There are certain rules to follow when riding in a group, even if the group is two. I learned them from my dad. Don’t ride side by side, ride staggered. If the leader is occupying the left side of the lane, stay in the right so that another driver doesn’t try to occupy the lane. Don’t get too close. I was nervous at first but I did fine. At the first stop, Tim likes to stop frequently and have a smoke and talk, he asked how long I had been riding.
“Less than a month.”
“Wow”, he said. “You’re doing great.”

At the next stop I asked where we were going. He told me we were going up Cathedral Ledge. I asked more questions and he said to just follow him. Before long we were taking a left into Cathedral Ledge State Park. We then began an upward climb on the windiest road I ever saw. Cars were crawling up and we had to pass a couple because if we didn’t we would have rolled back down the hill. It was that steep. We reached the top and there were hundreds of bikes and cars. We dismounted and I followed Tim to a clearing. Where I saw this…

The view was breathtaking. We talked for a while, got into a little more detail about our lives, elaborated on things we knew about each other from Facebook posts. Finally, he said. “Dialysis, huh?”
“Yup. If you look over there (I pointed to a clearing not visible in this pic), that’s my clinic right there.”
“They’re there. And you’re here, huh?”
“Absolutely. When I’m not there I’m living.”
Tim’s a quiet guy, a man of few words. “You sure as hell don’t look like a dialysis patient to me. Not that I actually know what one looks like, but it ain’t this.”
“Thanks, man. That’s the point.”

We left, descended the hair-raising winding road and set out on the last leg of our journey. We ended up on a very winding stretch of 29 miles that begins with a sign “no gas or services next 29 miles.” The first 3.5 miles were straight up. Then the curves began. I followed Tim’s lead and we began a stretch of snake curves where you need to lean your whole body into the curve or you wouldn’t make it. It was do or die time for me. I summoned my courage and went at it.

Part of me wanted to slow down but I didn’t. I rolled with every turn, mimicking every move Tim made. The wind blew us about, the noise in my helmet was deafening, the adrenaline was pumping. I was exhilarated in the place of fright. At one point I screamed over the din of the engine to no one in particular
LIVING!”

No mortal man heard me, it was for the ears of God alone.

At the next break we talked about the rush of that section of road. I was in heaven. I felt accomplished, I felt like I had performed above my pay grade. I felt alive.

Tim and I later parted ways with a commitment to do it again. We will. I can’t wait. It’s days like yesterday that remind me why you have to deal with the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. The bike, good friends, good conversation, the outdoors on a beautiful Spring day, adrenaline. That’s the good stuff.

I may be stuck in a dialysis chair 3 days a week. But on the other 4, you’ll find me out doing something that someone told me I can’t or shouldn’t do.

I call it LIVING.

Happily Ever After

She’s a romantic at heart. Despite all of the ugliness in her world she believes in a Happily Ever After. If anyone should be discouraged by love, it’s her. Yet she persists. She’ll find her White Knight if she has to punch his Noble Steed right in the mouth and knock him off and then drag him away.

He isn’t. He told her at length about how he wanted to believe in a happily ever after but it just wasn’t his nature. He was a man of facts, of pragmatism. Things had to make sense to him. Besides, he didn’t feel he had anything to offer. Women want security, a future. He could offer neither. His final answer was No, he didn’t believe in a Happily ever after. Maybe for someone else but not him. His only cogent offering in the way of explanation was that he was broken beyond repair.

“That’s a shitty answer, coming from you” she said. She was right. He, for the first time had no snappy answer. Not one that would satisfy her.

She asked him to write a Novella. In order to access her big, wonderful heart one must first seduce her mind. He was up to the challenge. After all, it’s just words. He set pen to paper and he wrote a story about a boy and a girl. It was sentimental, it was passionate, and it was genuine. It was also fiction. She loved it. Until the boy dies at the end. It ruined it for her. Where was the happily ever after?

He insisted that this was how the story must be. She insisted that true love always has happy endings. Don’t you see that?, she implored. He didn’t see it. He couldn’t. He could write it, but he didn’t believe it. He’s just not a romantic type.

Then he read what he wrote again. He took in his own words as if reading them for the first time. Who wrote this?, he jokingly asked himself. When he came to the tragic end, he recognized his own voice, his own life, his own tainted and shattered perspective. The boy died at the end because the author refused to believe that he could ever be happy.

Then he read it again. And again. He came to the stunning realization that the guy who wrote this is a romantic. He had to be. He poured his heart out onto paper about what he wanted in his heart of hearts and he called it fiction. He wasn’t fooling anyone, not even himself. He feels unloved, unwanted, unappreciated and lonely to the darkest recesses of his soul. But somehow, through his writing a sliver of light emerged. He believed, he just didn’t feel worthy, and his tactic of shutting people out so that they can’t hurt him simply wasn’t working anymore.

He painfully admitted to himself that yes, he wants love. He wants romance. He wants to savor moments with someone and count the minutes until they are together again. He wants spirited conversation and comfortable silences. He wants passion and intimacy. He wants to give everything to one person without another crushing rejection. He wants crazy. He wants fun. He wants to allow himself to be vulnerable yet unafraid of being hurt.

He wants something he’s never had and until now he thought it was just too late.

Now he wonders if it’s time to tell her that she’s right. She deserves more than anything to have a Happily Ever After. The least that he could do was try to believe with her.

Maybe the boy lives at the end after all…