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.