Memories Of Old Days (Part II)

It’s funny: when you are 18 or 19, you never think that anything can bring you down. Nothing can stop you. You are invincible. Death has no meaning (except for those who have left us in its wake and tore our hearts asunder). We think we are Gods; Time-Lords, immortal…and yet we are not. We are simply Human Beings who think that just because we are young nothing can happen to us outside of an accident. When I was 19, that was just my mid set. I partied for days on end; went on road trips to see bands (Peter Gabriel and the Pat Metheny Group are two that come to mind) and to see my favorite city in the world, Montreal. I went to see friends at other colleges and stayed for days on end. I did 24-hour Term Papers (which I was the MASTER at…research, footnoted, written, typed and proofed in one day. Never got a grade below a “B”). I drank like a fish and paid the price hang over wise and almost with my life on more than one occasion. In short, I was Iron Man, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk all rolled into one and nothing was going to touch me.

Then we had 9/11, the intervening years of uncertainty and horror from PTSD. A rocky marriage (hey, this shit happens after 20 years together), PTSD, Bi Polar Disorder, degenerating discs, and now potentially the most frightening words you don’t ever want to hear. Think of what those words are, and I don’t even have to write them out for you. For the past several years I have been exhibiting signs (but not all at the same time, which is why this threw Doctors off) of some of the same diseases that Ground Zero workers were getting. I was exposed to the cloud, I worked there for another two years…and now it caught up with me. Every Captain America has his Red Skull, Iron Man his Baron Zemo, Incredible Hulk General Thunderbolt Ross. I am not Superman, but I may have been hit my kryptonite.

Two additional small growths were found on my lung. They do not know whether or not it is definitely cancer…they only know I need a biopsy, and fast.

And yes, I am scared shitless. What else can you be at this point except numb as well. Honestly, I’m having a hard time processing this except for one thing. Despite the fact I’ve been a long time smoker (which is the first suspect, and what can I say about that except for its validation), 50 year old men don’t slowly have their bones fall apart and growths pop up in a two year time frame like this. There was no warning signs, no signals in my bloodwork or body scan. Nothing. This was found because my Doctor (who I see for pain management as well as overall health) knows I’m a 9/11 Survivor. Knows to look for certain things that a lot of the medical community don’t because he has several patients in the same boat…and it all started with an annual chest x-ray. The plus side is that it appears nothing has spread to lymph nodes, etc. I can only make one assumption that every figure in Government will deny because they have already insulated themselves against lawsuits:


And because of that, I may very well be dying with two young girls who need their daddy. And because of that thousands of others may have the same issues. And I know one of the purposes in my life is this: these bastards let it happen to us, told us it was safe to go back and work, and now thousands of families are affected. Be forewarned, Washington…there will come a day when I’m going to be riding in on a white horse and all hell will be riding behind me. And it will be the thousands of us you killed because you did not protect us on 9/11 and because you said it was safe. Chernobyl was safe for a while too; at least the Soviets cleared it all out. The Japanese need a way to “save face” so they let people die while they figure it out about how to stop any more contamination from that damaged reactor. Maybe Godzilla can stop them before it hits them on the head that just maybe we mutated a lizard…OOPS!

They say to know what you write about…I guess I’m about to get a whole new area of expertise.


Memories Of Old Days (Part I)

I’m waiting for the CAT Scan that will determine if I have a normal life in front of me (as best you can define “normal”) or if I’m very ill. I’m hopeful about the former more than the latter, but when you come close to death’s door like I have been so many times in my life, you have to believe that somewhere in there is going to be a moment when no matter how fast you run or hide, that which we call Death will eventually catch up with you. No news is usually good news, but sometimes the delays are from a physician getting second and third opinions on what he suspects from the test; and I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this may be the case. Naturally, your mind turns back to certain points in your life and certain people you know and who will stay with you no matter what you do. I was reading about Moss Hart this morning, and somewhere way back when I did a play of his. I had the lead; in fact, it won me an award for my Middle School’s drama Award and a try out for the High School for Performing Arts. Yes, I was an actor once; and I had the acting bug VERY badly.

I always found myself loving Neil Simon’s plays and doing them after a while of rehearsal, but I couldn’t go through the first two read throughs without laughing hysterically. My friend and I once did the “Odd Couple” where we split the role; I started out the first half of the play as Felix and ended as Oscar in the second. I did Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” with a girl in the Drama class who always managed to play my wife in no matter what production we did. Perhaps because we had a certain chemistry between us that was there…teenage tension at 14? Could have been…and it was only fitting that I eventually developed a crush on her. (She turned out to be quite a beauty, and even signed my autography book as “Love, Liz- your “wife”). Turns out neither of us would act as we both wound up consigned to the same Wall Street prison that so many kids from Staten Island found themselves doing simply because their parents did it and they had the connections to get the jobs. I tried doing a scene or two from “A Hatful Of Rain” playing the Ben Gazara part as the Korean War vet who returned with a drug problem; little did I know how prophetic this would be years later. At the time the worst I did was have a beer or two and have a couple of cigarettes here and there, but drugs? Me? Nah! That’s why it was so difficult to do that part and that’s why it was so challenging that I decided to take it.

I took chances. I was best at comedy (“dying is easy…now comedy is hard” as someone once said) but I didn’t have the emotional maturity for drama at that point. I was great a farce, light comedy, slapstick, name it. I was always the jokester; probably because I make up for my getting picked on in school with quips and one liners that would slice and dice my opponent to shreds. Unfortunately, a black eye usually followed, but that’s been a defense mechanism for me ever since many times diffusing a situation as well as making one worse. But I had a promising career ahead of me. I had someone from the HS For Performing Arts (that’s the school from the movie and TV Series “Fame”) in the audience during my performance of “Light Up The Sky” and was asked to audition for the school. That’s rare; usually you have to ask them. At this point though, I had pretty much picked out my school as a college prep school (one of the best in NYC) which I made and sent off a letter of intend to attend. But secretly, I went up to Manhattan to try out. They game me some material to read (I think it may have even been Neil Simon) just prior and I had about a half hour to prepare for about a 5 minute scene. Long story short, I made it. I could be playing “House” now instead of Hugh Laurie (who everyone says I look like). I could have been holding an Oscar or two and been through the customary 3 marriages (there is nothing better than being a straight heterosexual man in the acting community as the women are usually gorgeous, smart, and extremely horny). But one road I didn’t travel. One road that led me toward a 4 year period of my life where I barely passed my classes, spent way too much time partying, and graduated by the skin of my teeth. It led me to meet the woman who forever holds a special place in my heart; and it led me to some of my closest friends (and my best friend) that I have today. It led me to a spiritual experience that I may not have had otherwise.

So while one door closed…another opened…and that led me down yet another corridor of my life…

“Now the wings fell to ground as the miles they were crossed
All the years seemed like days as the time it was lost
For without his solutions and reasons for why
He should come up for air to the town once his by

So soon on his way
Shadows from the pathways
Memories of old days”

-Gentle Giant