Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sex With Louis CK

Say Bro.  I'm really sorry to have to say this but you and I have to have sex.  I know you're not gay and I'm not gay but it's a ratings, readership thing.  My mission in life is cancer and people get tired about reading that after awhile.  

So I polled my thousands of followers about who to have sex with to be scandalous about and as much as it pains me to say, Natalie Portman came up a cold second.  

Sorry, it's you and me Bro..  

I know that the chick in season 2 didn't work out so well but I have pictures of her if it helps.  I have pizza too.  I'm the package deal.   Hit me up when you're ready.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 6


Statistic:  1 out of every 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will develop cancer in their lifetime...

It is estimated that between one and two million dogs are diagnosed every year with cancer...


"Cancer.  Fuck."  

Everyone who has been or had a loved one diagnosed with this scourge of a disease has spoken these two words in some variation or another.   


Cancer is like the sound of silence when you're underwater.  Like when you're submerged in your bathtub holding your nose.  

After I got Malcolm's diagnosis, I was stuck there until I couldn't breathe and had to resurface. 

Scientists say that it takes about 10 milliseconds for your brain to register pain.  They also say the average person can hold their breath for a minute, maybe.  I cannot recall when the next words I spoke fell within that range but just as innate the desire to live is, so is the immediate instinct to save the life of a loved one.  

"Do whatever you can to save him."


In many life and death situations, you're not given a great many moments to think about things.  Maybe my mind was pre-wired when the diagnosis came down as Osteosarcoma and learned that it meant taking a bone saw to my boy.  

As medieval as it seemed to me at the time, I didn't hesitate in my first consultation with the orthopedic surgeon.  "Take it", I said. 

But I asked him if we could have one more week with Malcolm being four-legged.  Given the advancement of his cancer the surgeon strongly recommended against it since there was a  possibility that his right front leg could fracture or break at any moment.  

But I was resolute and we scheduled the surgery for the following week.  


Knowing the risk, I took Malcolm and Murphy camping at Harold Parker State Park in North Andover, MA, pictured nearby, and we had us a helluva time.  But in the tent that night I couldn't help but being haunted about why Malcolm didn't show me earlier he was suffering and in pain.  

If his cancer was that advanced, it must've been growing in his humerus for months and that thought hurt me the most.  As I would later discover from a biopsy, his bone was spongy with little support and structure left, and as the Orthopede related to me once the biopsy came in, he couldn't even believe Malcolm was still walking. 


They cut off his leg the following Monday, a procedure that really is quite short and simple.  


We all too often think about time as a continuum but it's a compression really.  We live lifetimes in moments and lives last for only a moment.   And I realized that Malcolm didn't have many left.  


YBD's Notes 1:  On my travels, I have since learned about and in some cases met dogs with bone cancer that never evidenced a single symptom until their legs split apart.  It's unfathomable yet fascinating to me their threshold of pain and how it plays into their natural survival instinct.  Pain Management is a new area of veterinary medicine that is trying to understand this. 

YBD's Notes 2:  Given that, I should have entitled this Chapter, 'People Are Pussies'.  In the wake of all of the recent tragedies, I mean no disrespect to anyone but I mean this as maybe dogs are a greater model for us all to learn how to live and survive.   

Monday, April 22, 2013


I'm going to take a break from the book for a blog or two to talk about something that, in my last installment, has haunted me since April 2004 and in the wake of recent tragedies seems particularly relevant.    


We all want to know.  Why did the Newtown CT and the Boston Marathon massacres happen?  

I have two things to share with you today.  First is a scene from one of the best films ever made, Shadowlands, about CS Lewis, one of the most controversial Christians and a hero of mine.  

The second is part of the answer as to why I entitled Chapter 5 of The Rock 'Giant Ants Dancing Around Wearing Top Hats' from a skit from the greatest comedian, Louis CK also a hero of mine, wherein which he's trying to answer his daughter's question why they can't go outside in the rain.  

Taken together they form the crux of my faith and that's what I'll be talking about in Chapter 6.  I've lost it then found it.  I fell from God's grace then was blessed in an unbelievable way.  

I've asked why.  I've even asked why about why in some sort of egregious philosophical stalemate.  

As much as I'm trying to keep this story moving forward I still keep retracing my steps and it comes back to the beginning, back to why.  And I know alot of people are going through this now.  And here's my thought for you - some of you are going to get about 80% of the way to finding the answer and then it stops.  

A good friend of mine, a graduate in philosophy once told me, "It isn't about the answers.  It's about the questions."  I was a young lad when we had that discussion and while those words are true to a point, but as a man whose born witness to some of the greatest glories of life and most senseless tragedies, faith takes you the rest of the way.  

It's the final rock that you climb or the last bend on your journey or sadly enough, it's the last breath you breathe with a loved one. Or your last whisper.  Why.

None of us can ever answer why.  God doesn't give that gift to us.  But he gives us the gift of asking...

Friday, April 19, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 5 Continued

It was slight, almost imperceptible Malcolm's limp at first.  I kept asking my girlfriend, Anna, if she saw it, too, as we walked along the Charles, and she said she didn't and that I was being neurotic and too maternalistic.   Which in hindsight probably wasn't too far off the mark.  If I could've bubble wrapped him without a PETA intervention, I may just have.  

Still I took Malcolm to a vet in Watertown, MA, and walked him all over the clinic like a show horse and they didn't see anything either.  Sad as it were he was like a shimmy in a steering wheel that you can't reproduce when taken to the auto mechanic.   

I knew it was there.   But at the time I was thinking it was perhaps a recurrence of his OCD which he was diagnosed with back in Texas that the bitter cold New England winter had exacerbated.  Or Malcolm had Lyme Disease which is exceedingly common up here that can lead to a degenerative neuro-muscular melt down.  

I vacillated for a couple of weeks half convincing myself nothing was wrong yet half knowing something was.  

Three things happened next.


My dog got cancer.  My girlfriend left me.  And she took the truck.  

In some cruel cosmic irony, this Texas boy, who within six months of moving up to Boston, became a country song.  


I remember when Anna and I first moved up to Boston in 2003, we were looking for a place to take Malcolm and Murphy for a hike and surveying a map we saw the Emerald Necklace, a sprawling almost contiguous swath of parks designed by the great Frederick Olmsted.  

We got lost looking for Back Bay Fens and saw a beat cop at a convenient store.  I pulled into the parking lot and asked him for directions, which in a thick, sweetly grating Boston accent he gave us smilingly.  

"Thanks but, say", I asked him, "I'm not from around here but I can't help but notice that there aren't any street signs in this city.  Why is that?"  

Without a second's hesitation he replied, "If you don't know, you shouldn't be here."  


Maybe he was right.  I shouldn't have been there.  I should never have left my native state of Texas.  But just like playing a country song in reverse doesn't get your dog, your girl, or your truck back, one cannot undo the order of things.  


I finally insisted that the vet in Watertown take X-Rays on Malcolm to be sure and when he delivered the diagnosis, I remember saying, "Wait, what?", as though my comprehension needed to catch up to the reality.  

I didn't even know dogs got cancer. 

Sure enough the vet showed me the star burst pattern on Malcolm's radiograph, an image permanently etched in my memory.  Through my tears I asked a question that, although I didn't know it at the time, would design and determine my fate for the rest of my days.  

"But, why?"  


YBD's Notes 1:  I'm an honorary New Englander now and as I write this, in the wee hours of the morning, the great foghorns on the Narraganset Bay bellow nearby and rock me with pleasure.  

YBD's Notes 2: I didn't realize until writing this vignette that Back Bay Fens was where the final mile of our walk began.  Ironically, it wasn't our first choice.  The Esplanade was.  Funny how things work out.   

YBD's Notes 3:  I find people who use tragic circumstances to further a personal agenda distasteful and even though I am a transplant, I just want to let the people of Boston know that I stand proud with you.  And to that beat cop, "Maybe so.  But I am here."  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Charles

After my post, Fish sent me a pic she took of the Charles River walk.  It isn't the bend but it shows some of the beauty besides.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 5



I love comedy.  Not the easy, one-liner, spoon fed sitcomy crap but the bold, unapologetic, nook and cranny kind.  The kind that creeps up on you in unshakable fashion with unspeakable precision and for me, that's Louis CK.   But it took me years to find him.


The year that I was selected as one of San Antonio's 'Rising Stars' was the year that I decided to betray my Texan roots and move on.

While in college, I had built a consulting practice that focused on commercializing technology and within just a few short years, I was at the top of my game but it wasn't good enough.  Texas had a great and growing nucleus of high-tech and bio-tech startups but I wanted to be a part of cutting edge research and that meant going to either the West or East Coast.

I choose the latter and loaded up Malcolm and Murphy and Anna, my girlfriend at the time, and we moved to Watertown, MA, into a rental a block off the Charles River.


I don't think the terms solace or contentment apply to men like me but we can come close enough and walking along the Charles with Malcolm and Murphy on our daily constitutional got me as close as I'd ever been.

The beauty is indescribable.  There's a bend in the river where time seems to stop, where the light catches its surface refracting a spectrum of colors and a stillness to it.  We'd walk it up and down, back and forth in awe of the Charles.

I still remember that place with absolute clarity not only for its stunningness but as a simple, singular answer to the question I had at the time as to why I moved there.  Yes.

Certain as I was of my life choices and damn well determined to do great things and then, on one of our daily walks, everything changed.  My whole life reduced down to a dog walk along the Charles.

When Malcolm limped.  


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Do You Call Cancer?

Even though I wrote the Title of Chapter Five of 'The Rock', a long time ago, I now find myself lost.  Very lost.  I've typed, re-typed it to the point that I'm creepily seemingly like Jack Torrance from the Shining.  Typing away and none of it seems to make sense.  

And yet the Chapter needs a title.  

But it made me think. Most nearly everyone has been through this, so what would you call that chapter in your life?  I'd like to hear.  

Title or not, Chapter Five of The Rock continues this Friday...

Friday, April 5, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 4 Continued

Dented Doors


The two hardest things in life are opening doors and closing them.   And I wasn’t about to let Murphy into ours, me and Malcolm. 

We had reached a rhythm and routine and there was no room for another.  Indeed the very evening Stevie brought him home as a surprise, I was already trying to ship him right back out and one of the first calls I made was to my parents. 

‘You need a dog’, I said and put my best sales pitch together citing that they needed more than just their two Persian kitties to illuminate their golden years.  But they declined and I called friends.  And then friends of friends, but no one wanted Murphy. 

We were stuck with him, the half-crazed, chewing on sheetrock, micturating in every square foot of the house, train wreck of a puppy, Murphy.  I still can’t recall what I did in life to deserve a first and now second Great Pyrenees, but I was paying penance for it now.

The price wasn’t that steep but taking into consideration that I was working day and night and often slept on the couch in my office I just didn’t have the strength, time, or even inclination to help heal this poor little abused puppy. 

But as fate would have it, I didn’t have to.  Malcolm healed Murphy.  Mostly anyway.  Within weeks, it was like all of Murphy’s anxieties were gone.  He wasn’t righted completely but he was better and happy and Malcolm had found a mate. 

To play with sure but to torment most probably. 

By the time Murphy had come into our lives, Malcolm had become uninterested in dog toys and yet whenever I’d bring a new one home for Murphy, Malcolm would claim it as his own and unwilling to share for an hour or so just to assert the order of things.  And it would drive Murphy nuts. 

Malcolm’s authority was always absolute.  Hell, he broke me and to the point where I was singing girly songs to him and I’m no push over.  But watching the two of them together, I learned that dogs need to have both human and canine companions and though I didn’t know it then, this is where 2 Dogs really began. 

Not with Malcolm and even with Murphy but their togetherness.  They were inseparable.  

Doors are never fully open or shut.  They are in a constant state of in-between.  It took a long time for me to love Malcolm.  To learn how to care for him as a parent.  And the damnable tragedy is that no manner of love that I had learned, that I had so reluctantly been willing to give Malcolm spared him from what came next.  


YBD's Notes 1:  The photo is of Murphy when he first came into our life.  

YBD's Notes 2: To my former Muse.  Though I came up with it a long time ago, I never knew how to use it until now.  Thank you.  

YBD's Notes 3:  Malcolm and Murphy's companionship reminded me of a song from an much underappreciated movie, Hudson Hawk sung by Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Shrugged

It's time for me to return to Facebook.

I could spend an hour at least discoursing as to the reasons why I deactivated my account but I learned what I needed to learn.  

There's a great book that I eschewed in my younger years but I read it as a grown man and it has inspired me ever since.  It's about an immigrant who built a life and a legacy against all odds.  But it's more than that.  

For me, the sad thing is what got lost in the midst of all this is my profound and absolute appreciation to the people who have been a part of this story and continue to be.  Through the walk, through Murphy's diagnosis, the wilderness that followed his death, and the Tour to celebrate his life.  

I thank you but I did all of these things because I loved a dog.  

Not for you, not for fame or celebrity.  Hell it wasn't until recent that I even saw myself of Dogs 101, no disrespect to the production company.  

But I realize now I am no longer one of you, and I shrugged.  

I needed to.  And not because I don't care for you or don't value you but I must.  

There's a great philosopher that once said...  

Monday, April 1, 2013

In Memoriam

In the spirit of Easter, I've made some pretty special memorials for the lost companions of the friends the fuzzybutts have made on our travels.  Some big, others small.  Some living and organic, others static but eternal but I've always tried to do something singularly unique each time.

But the one I completed last week, I am particularly proud of.  A friend of mine collects sea glass in memory of Max, her Golden Retriever, and she kept the shards in various vases and jars.

I had this idea to suspend them in a false window that I designed and built so that the afternoon sun would illuminate the sea glass and she could add to it everytime as she scoured the rocky shoreline of Narragansett Bay, searching for her long lost memory of him.