As many of you remember, last August I had emergency surgery for an intestinal blockage at which time they found my cancer had returned basically everywhere throughout my abdomen. After taking DNA testing and talking to my oncologist I was told to go home “and let nature take its course.” When asked how long that would be I was told probably six months or so.
Upon arriving home I started having extreme complications – I won’t go into the details except to say that it was extremely painful, messy, smelly, generally disgusting. Apparently something inside my abdomen was leaking nasty stuff into my body cavity. So we got the doc back out and he told me I had a non-treatable infection in my abdomen which would shortly advance to a state of sepsis and would kill me – quickly and painlessly, mind you – in 3 to 5 days. Ok.
So I did what anyone who has five days to live does – I called up every person I loved and told then to come visit now. Jorge Alvarez, the guy above, flew on immediate notice from the Far East, stopped off at his place in Paris just long enough to pick up some things and then was off to Raleigh to see me. He brought a bottle of my favorite Calvados.
Jorge was just one of many friends who dropped everything to come and say goodbye. Me holding court from a hospice bed brought in the the occasion, friends plying me with the best bourbon they could find, a mix of Dexter Gordon, Led Zep, Dylan, Juana Molina, Steely Dan etc playing someplace in the background. Lot’s of smoking. Lot’s of gummy eating. Lots of tall tales. Lots of love given and received. It was wonderful.
Waiting for Someone to Bring me Another Calvados and a Smoke. Time Is Short!
And then I didn’t die. The hospice people were, to put it mildly, confused. Apparently I’m stronger than they thought as I fought off the infection. Of course, friends and family had to leave at some point, but I’ll always cherish my deathbed experiences of those 5 days. I don’t think one can have a better experience being in the company of those you love and being able to really speak about the things that really matter, to be able to laugh and cry without artifice or embarrassment.
The photos above were taken with my F5, the film thrown in a bag of about 100 other undeveloped rolls, presumably never to be seen again. A funny thing happened when I got my reprieve: I decided I really didn’t want to die just yet…and the 6 months thing was not carved in stone. I felt a real need to continue on Leicaphilia, doing so in a way that would evolve in any way that seemed appropriate. It’s been great therapy. I’ve also embarked on a quixotic quest to develop all undeveloped film (literally hundreds of rolls going back to 2015) which I’ve just finished yesterday. The photos above are part of that output.
I’m now 3 months into my death march, on hospice with not further treatment. And I’m feeling better than ever. Today, Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks to all the wonderful friends who’ve reached out to me – academic mentors, old loves, ex wives, forever friends, family. Their love and concern have meant everything to me.
How long do I have left? Who knows. I think it’s the wrong question to ask. The real question is what do I do with my time now that I know that it might be limited. Much of what I’ve been doing is putting a lifetime of photography in order – making sure I have hard prints of those things that mean something to me. Donna can figure out what to do with it when I’m gone, although I’m not expected that to be for a bit – fingers crossed.
I have received many emails from readers saying hello and thanking me for whatever enjoyment they’ve gotten from the blog. Each of them is special in some way. Thank you. I’m convinced they are part of why I’m doing so well. There are a lot of good people who read Leicaphilia. That makes me really happy.
You are welcome to keep them coming. I prefer you tell me how wonderful I am and how much you’ve enjoyed all the years of Leicaphilia, but if you must you can tell me where I was wrong, the things I’m full of shit about, the inconsistencies etc and I won’t be offended. You can email me at email@example.com.
I do have one regret. I once made a snide remark- a cheap shot – about a picture of a guy with a Leica who turned out to be Kenneth Wajda … a photographer with a web presence who, unbeknownst to me was also a dedicated reader of my blog. Instead of getting all huffy and calling me out for the asshole I am, Kenneth responded like the gentleman he is, which did three things 1) It made me really admire him and realize he is 10 times the man I’ll ever be, 2) it got me watching his whimsical videos about photography (think Mr. Rogers takes up photography); and 3) has made me feel like a guilty fool ever since for taking a cheap shot at such a good man. Sorry Kenneth.
300lb, 38hp beast
It was exactly two years ago today that I got my initial cancer diagnosis – Thanksgiving 2020. I’m still here. To celebrate, I’m going for a completely illegal motorcycle ride through the backroads of beautiful North Carolina on my 08 Kawasaki ZX2r, a totally worked on Moto3 bike that weighs 306 lbs with a full tank of gas, puts out 38 hp at the rear wheel and redlines at 15K. Forged Magnesium wheels with ceramic bearings front and back, lightweight Galfer Wave Rotor front, drilled lightweight rotor rear, steal braided lines, suspension completely redone by Traxxion Dynamics including a beautiful adjustible Penske shock out back, billet aluminum triple clamp, billet rearsets with gp shift, full wrapped titanium header with gp end cap, Forks revalved with cartridge emulators, open airbox with hi-flow air filter, head ported and polished, lightened and polished crank, 13:1 hi comp pistons, 32mm Keihin flat-slide carbs, stage 3 jetting, low-drag non-o-ring chain, ceramic engine coating, ignition advancer to punch redline to 15k.
Runs like a banshee all the way to 15,000 and wants more. It only goes 110mph top speed, but it goes 110 literally everywhere. It’s fun to dump liter bikes in the canyons on this thing. It will outrun hapless Sheriff’s deputies on semi-twistie backroads with an ease which is something I take great pride in. Nothing like running from some 21 y/o kid with a badge and a 500hp Police Charger on your 38 hp Ninja 250. Given the rural areas I ride, the lack of police helicopter support, my extensive knowledge of every backroad and county line with a 300 mile radius of Raleigh and stupid riding skills honed banging plastic fairings at 160mph in CCS and WERA Cup races back in the 90’s, riding like a hooligan while being chased by the cops is one of the few transcendent things in life with relatively no downside ….as long as you stay committed. So, today, as part of my thanks to myself, I’m going riding. Wish me luck.
Every day is a gift. Cancer is one of the many ways that we are reminded of this. Thanks, Tim!
There is no god, only the Highway Patrol.
Light the wick.
Fly on those wheels!
Shoot them rolls/files!
Don’t scratch either, yourself or bike.
I’m thankful I stumbled across your words and photos.
And that bike gives me the vapors. I need to lie down.
Silly girl, you.
Our absence of a graduated licensing system keeps all the cool smallbores gray-market-only.
Ever since getting a chance to whip around an acquaintaince’s “lol street legal” TZ250 in the late ‘80s, it’s been an itch just waiting to be scratched, the opposite end of the practicality curve from a normie EX250 Ninjette.
Yes: My favorite bike of all time was an Aprilia RS 250 that I used to flog on the backroads. No lights, pure race bike. Put in into storage when I moved to Paris in 2003 and when I cam back it was gone. Bought a road legal Aprilia RS125 but it just wasn’t the same.
You do know that Kawi is bringing a 4 cylinder ZX4R to the States next year, right? 18k Redline. If I’m alive, I’m buying one.
Enjoy your ride on that fiendish machine. I prefer a comfortable Mercedes Benz myself, but each to his own.
Oh, and don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Here’s to 2023!
Never give up…
… and may you keep on never giving up.
Best wishes, Stephen.
I’m presuming you survived the bike run yesterday. If not, oh well….
Hang in there, buddy. See Christmas and the new year and then another and…well, live the moment but go for the next moment too.
Had the time of my life. Thinking of going out tomorrow for al all day affair.
Glad you’re still around, Tim. Keep riding!
Rock on, roll on, Tim!
Speaking of speed. This is my daughter at the Isle of Man TT, her first time.
John McGuiness just came by at about 110 through Kirkmichael, about 20 feet away.
Those guys are nuts. Period.
Yeah, pretty nuts but in the Pantheon of Nuts are these guys
I’ve seen more than one of those passengers hanging lifeless from a tree. It’s frightening.
At the risk of showing my age here, my hero was the wonderful British rider Chris Vincent. The sidecar handicap race was always the highlight of the bike races at ‘Brands’. I was amongst the crowd there on that fateful day when we witnessed the death of the late great Florian Camathias.
It was the beginning of the end of my love affair with bikes.
Tim, I only just found your blog this afternoon.
I think you now need to follow up your death bed excursion, with a live funeral.
Maybe run a slide show.
‘Life’s a carousel’
All the best, cb.
First time reader suggesting I do an film/digital comparison of my death throes. Tough crowd. But not a bad idea. A Leica M4 with Tri-X vs my D200.
Well, I did manage to get a UK G licence, but the only two bikes with motors I ever rode were a little Francis Barnett and my son’s Derby C-something, a Spanish scrambles bike. It was highly unreliable..
Never did take to bikes much: if it falls over when left alone, without being propped up, then it’s unsound engineering. Four wheels are better; you know it makes sense.
Rob, it’s a sensorium. It doesn’t need to be ultimately rational, as in examining risk, but it does meet the human need for complete engagement.
Well, Dan, it could be said that a little messing around with one’s third leg provides perfect timing, complete engagement, but I’d still rather settle for the more rewarding four-legged model of coming to a similar sensorial conclusion.
I put my latest NEFs into the computer this morning, straight after breakfast. Though the birth of a new project, the shooting enthusiasm was distinctly absent a few minutes after sitting at the computer. That wasn’t reaction to the snaps, but to the loss of freedom that I suddenly discovered all over again. I hadn’t quite realised/remembered just how much I dislike computers. This little iPad is so much more pleasant to use. In retrospect, the professional golden age for me really resided towards the end of the gig, when about 99% of my work was colour transparencies. Bliss: edit, make the presentation and that was mostly it!
I’ll swing with you on the first analogy but with the caveat that you won’t get the crabs on a motorcycle…..