Bad things to great people

I woke this morning to an absolutely beautiful, cloudless day. Spring and Summer have largely evaded the Northeast so far this year so I deduced that I really had no choice but to take the iron steed to my Nephrology appointment. I saddled up for the 50 mile ride south.

As my window had suggested, it was nothing short of a glorious hour ride and I’m pretty sure I smiled the whole way. I made excellent time so I rode around a bit before I pulled into the Medical building the suggested ten minutes early. I parked Bella, wiped the dust and pollen off of her and went inside.

After I checked in I went to sit in the waiting room. Seeing the helmet, several people struck up conversation with me about riding, the weather, etc. I’m still amazed at what a conversation starter a helmet is. After several minutes of small talk, I was called in.

My doctor, who handles most of my needs including monitoring my progress on dialysis, glanced at the helmet, surveyed my jeans, boots, tanned arms and face and said “Well, I guess I don’t have to ask how you’re feeling, do I?”

“I could lie to you, Doc but I feel great.”

After a thorough 30 minute evaluation he concluded that indeed, I was feeling great. He ordered some routine tests and sent his Nurse in to do some follow-up exams. Her name was Madison.

Madison was very good at talking to patients and we immediately began talking as she breezed through her routine. It didn’t take long for her to start talking about her fiancĂ©, and how he was critically injured at work. He is a tow driver and he was hit by a car. I suggested that maybe it was the opening for him to maybe get a better, safer job someday. That’s what I do, put a posi spin on things. She agreed. Then she said something that really resonated with me,
“It seems bad things happen to the best people. As a nurse I see it every day.”
“Can I expound on that?” I asked.
“Sure.”
“It’s been my experience that the illnesses and accidents create the best people.”‘
She was visibly intriguedby what I said. I kept it as brief as I could as I told her what Chronic Illness and my experiences in the blogosphere with the many Chronically ill bloggers that I loyally follow and interact with have shown me. That illness and injury bring out the best of us. I have stopped short of calling it a blessing, but it is undeniable that when faced with unpleasantness and uncertainty many people develop a true appreciation and zest for life that “healthy” people may never achieve. We love more, fight less, forgive more easily, breathe more deeply and waste fewer moments because we don’t have the luxury of guaranteed longevity.

Madison is young, I would guess no older than 23. She was enthralled by my thoughts but I suspect she is taking my word for it to a large degree. She is too young to have seen a lot of the ugly in the world. But I know that I gave her something to think about. She is a good nurse and I’m sure she is decent and kind to all of her patients. But I hope that she will learn to treat her more hardscrabble patients not with pity or sympathy, but instead as the warriors that they are.

Every day is a beautiful day if you take the time to find the beauty. It beats waiting for a better day that you may not be around to see.

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








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…

Destiny

He stood patiently at baggage claim as an endless stream of bags that weren’t his slowly passed by. He wasn’t in a hurry, he had waited so long already.

This is crazy, he muttered to himself. Maybe so, he thought, yet here I am.

It started as a harmless online dalliance. Over a surprisingly short period of time, it evolved into a drug he was dangerously addicted. Deep conversations by phone, erotic exchanges by text, it was a different relationship each and every day. He had tried to back it down, to rein it in but he couldn’t. They were into each other. She claimed an empathic connection, the pragmatist in him couldn’t deny it. He felt it also.

As of today, they had never actually met.

She was profane and classy, beautiful but didn’t know it, vulnerable and strong all at the same time. She had been hurt all of her life by the ones who should have loved her. He complimented her and she rejected it, she didn’t feel worthy. Then she realized that he wasn’t trying to build her up for a fall, he just wanted her to feel good enough. He saw beauty in every one of her quirks. For the first time in years, he was excited about someone.

She believed in destiny. He politely dismissed it, he didn’t believe like she.
She had repeatedly told him that she was crazy, but didn’t explicitly tell him to stay away. She would be delighted to learn that he loved crazy.
She told him she was all over the map, that she is an emotional roller coaster. He should have been cautious or hesitant to engage. But he wasn’t.
She told him that they would get together one day, despite the thousands of miles between them. He repeatedly told himself that this began as a dalliance to have fun with, but it wouldn’t end well.

There were too many obstacles.

Yet, here he was now, just hours away from meeting her face to face.

He took a ride sharing service to the hotel. As the car got closer he could hear and feel the thunderous roar of the great waterfall. He remembered going to Niagara Falls with his parents, he remembered it as a cheesy tourist spot with cheap souvenirs and too many people. When she told him that part of her post-divorce plans was to travel, she mentioned Niagara Falls. His heart skipped a beat, that was a manageable trip for him. Niagara Falls would take on a whole new form in his memory if this weekend turned out as it did in his head.

As he stepped out of the car he grabbed his phone and quickly texted where are you?
He collected his bags and paid the driver. As he put his wallet away his phone chirped.
At the rail, come find me
She was being playful, as expected. He dashed into the hotel, checked in as quickly as the Desk Clerk could move and paid a bellboy to put his bags in his room, the second key in his breast pocket.

It was a short walk to the main viewing area. He scanned the crowd, the mist stung his face as he tried to find her. He had seen hundreds of pictures of her but she rarely looked the same. To mix it up she had refused to tell him what color her hair was or what she would be wearing.
Then he saw her.
He didn’t know how he knew, he just did. He worked his way through the bustling crowd, gently squeezed in next to her at the rail and politely apologized to the person whose space he had just invaded. Looking straight ahead, he said her name aloud.
“You found me! Very impressive”, she said. Her Southern accent was a hundred times sexier than the phone ever allowed it to be.
“I knew it was you.” he said. “I could sense your aura.”
“You don’t believe in Auras and such bullshit”, she scoffed.
“I didn’t believe in a lot of things until I met you…” He turned to look her in the face. No amount of selfies he had viewed could do her justice, she was beautiful. He didn’t tell her, she didn’t like compliments and he didn’t want to cheapen the moment.
“So how do you want to begin?”, he asked playfully.
“How do you want to finish?”, she teased.
“Simultaneous I hope”, he looked deep into her eyes with a huge grin.
“Oh my”, she said. “I guess the question is whose room is closer.”
He held out his hand and began to lead her away from the rail. She joined her hand in his. They took a few steps and he turned and embraced her. It was at that moment, as he savored the smell of her hair that he realized that the moment had finally come. They were really together.
“It’s really you”, he said.
“It’s really me”, she said. “We’re wasting time, let’s go.”

They entered the hotel lobby and compared room keys. Hers was closer. The anticipation was getting the best of the both of them. Waiting for the elevator, riding the elevator, walking to the room they tried to keep a casual demeanor but their hands kept dancing around each other as they walked the seemingly endless hallway. At last they reached the room. She pushed the card into the slot.

As the door closed behind them, she slammed into him, pinning him against the door. Her hungry mouth consumed his. He feverishly ran his hands over her body, the curves that she was self conscious about were now his obsession. He grabbed her firmly and picked her up, hungrily kissing her as he made the way to the bed. He laid her down, began to take his shirt off when she rose up from the bed, grabbed him by the neck and pulled him on top of her.

He tore her blouse open and began to kiss her from her neck all the way down. He wanted the moment to last, he patiently and playfully worked his way to her panties. Pulling them aside, he began to pleasure her. At first he teased, then he settled into giving her the most intense pleasure she had ever experienced. The woman who had told him that no man had ever pleasured her in this way was clutching the sheets, crushing his ears with her strong legs and breathlessly panting his name. He persisted until she cried out in pleasure. After, her legs slowly relaxed their grip, she let go of the handful of crumpled bedding and wagged her index finger at him and provocatively motioned for him to come to her.

He stood, his pants falling to the floor and went to her.
“Are you pleased?” he asked.
“Oh my god, I’ve been missing out on THAT for my entire life? Can you do that again?”
“I can, but first I want to do this…” With that he rolled on top of her and entered her. It had been ten years since he had even kissed a woman, it had been forever since a man had made her the center of his affections and they made love for hours. She, after each round, said she wanted to pleasure him. He insisted that it be about her for once. He was savoring the moment, for him her pleasure gave him his. He reveled in giving this beautiful woman the loving that he knew she had been lacking from the moment they first talked.

They woke the next morning in a heap of wrinkled bedding and discarded clothing. They ordered room service, they were ravenous and dehydrated. When the food arrived, they weren’t able to answer the door. She was going down on him and he wasn’t about to let anything interrupt her. They made love again and after, he limped to the door and opened it to find a tray of cold breakfast and stale coffee. They devoured it as if it didn’t matter.

Niagara Falls is a beautiful place, especially if you actually leave the room and enjoy it. They wanted to leave the room, they tried but their passion was insatiable. When they weren’t exploring each other’s bodies, they were talking. Elbows on pillows, staring into each other’s eyes they reminisced on the events that led them here. They laughed, they teased, they talked about things that used to be. They marveled at the fact that they had finally come together. She had once told him that it was a WHEN, not an IF. He hadn’t believed her. He hated false hope. They pinched each other to see if the past two days had actually happened.

He was happy for the first time in as long as he could remember

What they didn’t talk about was what would come next. The 2400 miles that would once again separate them was a sinister figure lurking on their horizon. He knew that he would take it easier than she would, he was accustomed to not being happy. This was just a reprieve from the dull and predictable life that has been void of happiness for so long. But her, he felt bad for her. She deserved to smile, laugh and experience pleasure like she had this weekend every day. And he knew that he could be the one to make her happy. But for those miles and the buoys of life that tied them to where they were.

As they checked out the next morning, they took one last look at the mighty falls, soaking in the cold mist as it splashed their faces. They stared speechlessly, not wanting to ruin the moment by speaking.

Finally, he turned to her.
“What’s next?”, he asked her.
“For now, I have to go back to my life.”
“So then that’s it?”
“We’ll figure it out. Destiny, remember?”
“I can’t go back to my boring life. My routine of dialysis, sleepless nights, being so far from everyone.” He stared deeply at her and grabbed her by her arms. “And I don’t believe in destiny.”
“What do you believe in, then?” she asked.
“Tragic endings.” He leaned in and kissed her deep and hard. He then straddled the railing and came to a sitting position.
“What are you doing?” she cried out and grabbed for him.
“Ending this the only way it can, on a high for a change.”

He pulled his hand from hers and fell backwards, disappearing into the roar of the falls.