"All Dressed Up" by Red Wedding from "Red Wedding Anthology 1981 - 1985" album released by Synthetic Records (a division of Rave Up Records in Italy), Michael and Spider, 2014
April 17th, 2014
Last Saturday morning, Spider and I got up bright and early to participate in our semi annual neighborhood yard sale. We put out a bunch of things to sell (in hopes of cleaning out most of our garage) and we sold quite a bit. Then we boxed up the remaining items and took them to the Goodwill.
On Saturday evening, Cindy and Joy and David came over for dinner. Joy and David brought us a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and Cindy brought Frappy a new squeak toy (she almost always brings him a new toy and Frappy has come to expect it). For dinner, I fixed veggie apple and sage sausages along with wild rice and steamed broccoli. After dinner, we did the usual and lit a fire out back so we could sit outside and enjoy the lovely evening. We talked about all kinds of things including David’s environmental work and how he and Joy met. Before Joy and David left, we gave them our Mad Hatter teapot (sculpted for me by our now deceased friend Finley as a birthday gift back in 2005), telling them that we are finding new homes for many of our possessions as we know that our life here in this house will be coming to an end.
In a couple of days, it will be twenty years ago that Spider moved into our house here in Oro Valley and overall it’s been a wonderful twenty years we’ve had, but it’s also sad because, as I mentioned, we are both aware that our life here will be coming to an end. Spider has terminal cancer and I could never continue to live here by myself. There is no way I would be able to maintain this place on my own, nor could I deal with the memories of what we had, and so I find myself starting to let go, starting to disconnect from our house and many of our possessions I once cared for.
It’s official! Our new record album (Red Wedding Anthology 1981 – 1985) has been released (a limited edition of 400 copies) by Synthetic Records (a division of Rave Up Records) in Italy and Europe and on Monday afternoon our personal copies arrived. The vinyl itself is nice and thick, but, unfortunately, the box that our albums arrived in was somewhat banged up and the album jackets were slightly damaged with a slight bend on one corner and slightly dented on the opposite corner. No matter, Spider and I are just happy to know that our music is being shared out there in the world. When you consider that Red Wedding broke up back in 1985, it’s very cool that our music lives on some nearly 30 years later!
Speaking of Red Wedding, Carol C., whom inherited a lot of Brave Dog (the little club owned by Clare G. where Red Wedding first debuted and became the house band) memorabilia after co-owner Jack M. passed away, sent us some black and white photos of Red Wedding along with Jack and Clare and friends at Brave Dog, photos that I have no recollection being taken (although it had to be in 1981). It’s both eerie and exciting to look at photos that you don’t remember. Anyway, thank you so much, Carol. You’re a sweetheart.
Speaking of Clare, today is her birthday, and like so many of our deceased friends, we miss her like crazy.
Before our big blowout with Dee Dee, she had sent me a couple of VHS home movie tapes asking if I could transfer them for her onto DVDs, and even though we are not talking, I figured it was the right thing to do and I mailed them to her last week. Then, early this week, I received a Facebook message from her thanking me, and so I thought this might be an opportunity to reach out to her for the sake of she and Spider. I wrote to her saying that it didn’t matter how she felt about me, but that I knew she and Spider loved each other, and I didn’t want to stand in the way of that. I suggested that perhaps she could send a text to Spider simply saying “hi” (nothing more), and perhaps that would open a door to them burying the hatchet, reminding her that her little brother has terminal cancer. I then told Spider about this and that if he received a text from his sister that he needed to be open to the idea of ending the riff between them. Spider was not exactly happy that I did this, but he agreed, however, that was days ago and Diane never sent a text.
On Sunday evening, Spider and I were watching the very end of “Game of Thrones,” right at the part where the evil young king has been poisoned and dies, blood poring out of his nose, when suddenly Spider jumped up and ran to the bathroom. I followed him to the door and I could hear him throwing up big time. “Babe, are you okay?” I asked. Spider said he was okay, but I could tell that he was very sick. “Are you coughing up blood?” I asked. “No, there’s no blood. I’ll be okay” he said. “Just give me a moment.” I sat on the end of the bed and I was shaking. All I could think about was how Dr. Habib said that if Spider started throwing up blood that that would mean he only had 24 hours to live. Last evening, the same thing happened, Spider jumped up off the couch and ran into the bathroom and started throwing up, and again I freaked out about blood. There was no blood, but, once more, I found myself shaking with fear.
April 11th, 2014
One of the applications that Spider has on his smart phone (and it’s my favorite) is called “Sky View Free” and it allows you to hold your phone up to the night sky and see all the stars, the constellations and the planets (while playing beautiful and ethereal music). It even shows the satellites as they travel above you. In the past, Spider and I have composed three tracks based on the planets, Neptune (an ethereal piece about the god of the sea), Mars (an over-the-top and dramatic film score piece about the god of war) and Mercury (a dance beat piece about the winged messenger god).
My mother, who reads my blog, was saddened by the situation with Spider’s sister and she did say that she understood why some family members would not like family information posted for all to read, and I respect my mother’s opinion. As I’ve said before, I always walk a thin line when it comes to what I write. I sometimes make mistakes, but I try not to write about family secrets and drama, however when it directly affects Spider and I, then it can be a difficult call. As I told my mom, Spider is dying of cancer and often people in his shoes begin to look back and reflect on their lives and when he told me that he feels hurt that no one in his family has ever acknowledged his accomplishments in music for the past 40 years, I was very moved and felt like that was something that needed to be shared, and I asked Spider ahead of time if that would be okay and he said yes. To me, it wasn’t that big of a deal as I didn’t mention anyone by name rather it was just a general observation, something that Spider was feeling and going through and I didn’t expect his sister and brother-in-law to get so upset. That said, perhaps I was wrong in this case, but at the same time, as I’ve said, I am often torn on these situations. What I share is the truth, not to intentionally hurt anyone, but to tell our story, keeping in mind that I am the most truthful about myself. That is, I have written many. many things that are unflattering (even downright ugly) when it comes to who I am and my own feelings and actions. For me, it’s all about the truth, being totally honest. That’s the only way I know how to write.
On Tuesday, Spider had an appointment with Dr. Devis. She was warm and friendly as ever and she showed us on the computer pictures of the MRI that they took the day they inserted the radioactive isotopes into Spider’s liver. I couldn’t make it out at all. It just looked like a moving gray cloud to me, but Spider was able to follow the images. Dr. Devis said that it looked like they successfully reached all the big tumors with the isotopes except for one and her thought is that we should delay the second set of isotopes aimed at the smaller tumors on the other side of Spider’s liver for at least another month. She said that the isotopes are like setting off an atomic blast inside of Spider’s body and that a second blast would also do damage to a section of Spider’s liver that still remains tumor free and we should give that section of the liver time to grow. She also said that Spider could start on the chemo pill at any time.
While Spider was scheduling an appointment to see Dr. Patel to start the chemo pill, I walked down the hall to the office of Brenda C. (the social worker who facilitates our cancer support group) and Brenda and I had a short chat before Spider joined us. Brenda told me that recently Spider stopped by her office and he started crying, telling her that he was so worried about my wellbeing after his death. Brenda told me that I need to find a way to convey to Spider that I’m going to be okay. As I told Brenda, I’ve told that to Spider a hundred times that I’m going to be okay, that I’m like a cat that always lands on its feet, but obviously, Spider doesn’t quite believe me. Spider has had me under his wing since I was 18 years old and for over 42 years he has been someone who loves and takes care of me, someone who has created a safe environment in which I’ve been able to blossom all these years, someone who has always protected me from all the bad shit out in the world, someone who has always saved me from my own demons. So, I can tell Spider that I’m going to be okay on my own a thousand times, but Spider knows better.
On Wednesday late evening, we were walking Frappy around our neighborhood when we happened across a tiny baby sparrow (fully feathered) sitting in the middle of a neighbor’s driveway and the poor thing was breathing very heavily and was surrounded by an army of ants, some ants beginning to crawl on to it. Spider went back to our house and retrieved a small cardboard box and he scooped up the baby bird and placed it in the box with a hand towel as bedding and we put the box in a safe and quiet place in our garage. Later we tried to feed the bird (with tweezers and a bit of a soaked dog nugget) but the bird would not open its beak. Spider warned me “It’s probably ill and is going to die from shock, but at least it won’t be eaten up by ants or some predator. At least it’s in a safe place now.” All night, I thought about that poor little bird and I wondered if it would be dead by the morning. Nature can be so cruel.
Early Thursday morning, we jumped up, checked on the little bird who was still alive and sleeping under the towel, and then we headed off to the hospital for Spider’s endoscopy with Dr. Habib. The procedure consisted of numbing Spider’s throat (Spider said he had to gargle with something akin to thick motor oil) and then they put a camera down his throat and down into his body to look around to check to see if Spider’s cancer has spread anywhere else and to check for ballooning blood vessels and the wall of Spider’s liver, then, if they found cancer, they would remove it and if they found any ballooning blood vessels they would tie them off (as Dr. Habib had explained that a ballooning blood vessel could explode and Spider would be gone within 24 hours). After the procedure, Dr. Habib didn’t meet with Spider, but we are assuming that everything was okay as we were given a printout showing almost everything appeared normal. So, between our meeting with Dr. Devis and the endoscopy with Dr. Habib, we are feeling like Spider’s condition is stable for now and that’s a huge relief. We know that the big picture is not good, but right now it’s all about buying Spider time.
When we arrived home from the endoscopy, we noticed that the little bird was not in its box, but we could hear it chirping away. We searched around the garage following the chirping sound until we found the little bugger, and the bird seemed perfectly okay, totally bright eyed and full of energy! Spider (wearing gloves) picked the bird up and we took it back down to the location we had found it, and we placed it near a shady bush in hopes that its mother would find it. The little bird then flew up to the top of the bush and began chirping again. “At least the little thing has a fighting chance” Spider said.
April 6th, 2014
Spider and I are not usually lazy when it comes to keeping our house clean (in fact, we are known for keeping a very clean house), but ever since the cancer diagnoses, our priorities have not been about the house and there are times when neither of us have the desire or energy to do housework and thoroughly clean. Anyway, we haven’t cleaned the guest room since Dave and family were here until a few days ago, and when I went upstairs to gather up the sheets to wash, I discovered that Dave and family had left behind a handmade thank you card on the bed. The card was so cute and included personal thank you notes from each member and there was a drawing of the whole family reaching out to give us a big hug, not to mention a Trader Joe’s gift card inside. I also forgot to mention in a previous blog that when the family arrived for the second half of their visit, the girls gave us each bracelets they had made (using rubber bands and a loom) and they brought us a container of beach sand that they had gathered in Santa Monica. How cool is that?
Well, it looks like our relationship with Dee Dee and Paul has come to an end and it’s sad because we have always been very close. For some strange reason, Spider’s sister has not been exactly sympathetic or understanding when it comes to me about what we are going through, rather she lectures to me that Spider and I are old, that we’re not the only ones who are dealing with cancer and all couples must face the loss of a partner. I understand all that. Yes, we are old, but Spider is only 62 years old which is pretty young in the scheme of things to be dying of cancer. Yes, I realize that we are not the only ones dealing with cancer as once a week we attend a cancer support group and there are people there who are also dealing with end stage cancer and it is very sad. Yes, I realize that all couples must face the loss of a partner, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Spider will never get to enjoy his retirement years and we will never get to enjoy our golden years together, something that Diane and Paul (who are a decade older than us) have been enjoying for a long time. Mind you, it’s not that I don’t think Diane doesn’t care about us, but it’s her approach that is all wrong. Add to this the fact that Diane does not seem to like my blog, something she has been sarcastic and critical of since I first started writing. I guess it’s because I say things that are too personal and honest and that bothers her and Paul (like when I pointed out that Spider is hurt that no one in his family has ever acknowledged his achievements in music). So, Spider sent Diane an email explaining these things (and I will say that his email was a bit harsh, but truthful from our point of view) and she in turn responded by unfriending us on Facebook and then she posted on her page – When one door closes, sometimes you wanna get a hammer and nails and make sure the bastard stays shut. Anyway, I’m sure Diane’s head will explode if she reads this, but I don’t care. As far as Spider, he tells me that he doesn’t really care either. I don’t know if I totally believe him, but he says at this stage of his life, he doesn’t have time to deal with people (including family) who can’t be loving and supportive of us.
On Friday evening Spider and I went to join some of his work buddies for a retirement party for one of his fellow coworkers at Old Father’s Inn. At first I didn’t want to go. After all, for years Spider has been telling me that a lot of his coworkers are Republican types, guys who love guns and hunt and guys who use the word faggot on a regular basis, thus, with the exception of a handful of guys Spider has been close to, he has always been low-key about the fact that he is gay at his workplace (never denying it, but never talking about it) and so, because of all of these reasons, I didn’t want to go, but then, at the last minute, I had a change of heart. I decided that I would walk through my fear, that Spider and I have nothing to be ashamed of and that I would go as his partner and I would hold my head up high and that’s exactly what I did. Guess what? Spider’s coworkers couldn’t have been more open and friendly towards me. Mark R. (of Mark and Liz) was there and so was Don H. (who found out about us a long time ago by going to the Red Wedding website and had sent a message that he was cool about our relationship) and this helped me to feel relaxed, but ALL the guys were cool. I realized then that these guys really liked and cared about Spider as a good worker and a good guy, and none of them (as far as I know) cared about the fact that he was gay. There was a band that played classic rock and one of Spider’s coworkers (Phil) was the bass player and as I sat there, I wished that Spider and I could be back in bands. To top the evening off, the girlfriend (Angie) of Phil followed us out into the parking lot in order to hand Spider a book (about thinking outside the box when it comes to cancer) and when she handed it to him, she looked as though she was going to cry.
Last evening, Cindy and Robert and Lauren came over for dinner and to watch a movie (The Wolf of Wall Street). I fixed a veggie casserole and salad and Robert and Lauren brought a strawberry rhubarb pie and, although the movie was three hours long and all about greedy people, we all seemed to enjoy it. Oh, and knowing how much I love animal cookies, Robert brought me a specially designed bag celebrating the 100th anniversary of the cookies. That was sweet…..and so were the cookies!
On Tuesday, we meet with Dr. Devis to find out what the next game plan is for Spider. Dr. Devis said that they were going to insert another round of radioactive isotopes into the other side of Spider’s liver to address the new tumors coming up. She originally said that this would be done about a month after the first round of isotopes, but it has now been five weeks and this procedure has not yet been booked, so I’m wondering what the holdup is.