very nearly there

Monday was the beginning of my last round.  Very little to go now.  Today I’ll go in at 11 and have this god awful pump removed..  Then, on monday, I’ll go in for my off week top up of erbitux.  But then!  that’s all she wrote!

This last round is meeting expectation.  Absolutely the most painful yet.  Hard to believe!

It’s 8:30 in the morning and i’m falling asleep at the computer.  Perhaps I’ll head back to bed.

More in a moment.

Last night’s rehearsal

Tonight is another Burgundy Stain Sessions show at le poison rouge.  (HA!  just went to the site, and the top video is one that I made for Thomas about 10 years ago! The one below it is terrifying..  makes my little bro look like a coke head with a speech impediment!)

It’s going to be a great show.

Glen, Nora, Martha, Sara, Hannah, Jennifer, Justin..  all singing.  It’s in honor of Evans R’s b-day.  Get tickets if you still can.

I hung out last night and filmed a bit of the rehearsal.  It’s a little long, and maybe only engaging if you know the people..  But there are a few nice shots in it of some really talented musicians doing what they do!

Tomorrow is easter.  I will be cooking easter bunny (it’s a tradition).  My beautiful little brother, Sam, will be coming down from VT. to cook with me.

Then, monday morning, I go in for the very last round of chemo.  Hard to believe.  Can’t wait to see the back of it!!

Come to the show tonight.  Say hello.

Big love.

Yesterday I wept.

I sat on the couch with a boiler maker waiting for glen to show up and go to dinner with me, and listened on the radio to the story of Grete Waitz’s career, and death yesterday, at 57 from cancer.  She won 9 of the 11 new york marathons that she ran, starting in 1978, (one of the two that she didn’t win, she was running with the marathon founder fred lebow, who was pretty old and sick at the time..  they held hands accross the finish line).  When she ran her first, in 1978, apparently it was her first time running the distance, and she set a course record, which she then went on to beat a handful of times.

For such a woman to die so young is a robbery.  Obviously people who aren’t famous in any way also die too young, and it’s ALL heartbreaking.  But listening to the story, I spontaneously broke into tears.  Big wet tears.  This bloody disease makes me so angry I could spit.

Sleep well, Grete.  You inspired a whole world of people.

another rough one

So, rather than regale you with the bloody details of this last round, and it’s progression of side effects, I will tell you about black bean sauce.

Black bean sauce, at the VT house, (and I think I’ve mentioned this before) is sort of a standard quickie, clean out the fridge, type meal.  Lunch or dinner.  Your choice.

Shrimp, Chicken, Pork, or just veggies work fine.  The veg that I find particularly appropriate for black bean sauce, are napa cabbage, baby bok choy, onions, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, snap peas are never bad..   but basically anything you’ve got left over in the fridge.

You can make it with canned black bean sauce, which is just fine!  There’s a particularly good one out there..  (I’m having terrible deja vu.. have I done this post? oh well.  If so I’ll boldly do it again, and if it turns out to be a repeat, I’ll chalk it up to chemo brain.  I can’t remember what I had for breakfast).  This is the stuff. Only don’t get it online, get it from your local asian grocer, for cents on the dollar.

If you’d like to make your own, you’ll need.

  • Dried, fermented black beans (which are, in fact soy beans of some sort, not frijoles negros)
  • Lots of garlic.
  • Chicken stock.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Rice vinegar.
  • (I add a little thai chile, though this is not traditional)

Peel and chop lots of garlic.  You want a pile of garlic about the same size as your pile of black beans.

Roughly chop the black beans.

Saute all solid ingredients in pre heated oil until the garlic just begins to brown.

Add chicken stock..  amount here really doesn’t matter..  add TONS if you like..  you’re going to let it reduce until you’re left with pretty thick sauce.

Add a little soy and a little rice vinegar. Use your imagination on amounts.

Then, simple as that, just reduce it until you’ve got a pretty thick sauce.

Many recipes online call for corn starch at the end.  I think corn starch is a little gross.  let it thicken on its own.

Great.  So you have a jar of black bean sauce.  What now?

I’ll let you figure it out.  Make a stir fry..  add some black bean sauce as you get towards the end.  You may need to add a little water with it to loosen the whole affair up a bit.  That’s all.

If you’ve got an under powered stove (i.e. No Wok burner.. so most of us), a nice trick is to slightly precook, and heat the protein, and then let the wok get hot again before proceeding.  Add your veg, in the order that you’ve decided is right, and toss the protein back in..  It’s already warm, so it won’t cool the concoction down too much, and you’ll still have stir-fry instead of some sort of insipid stir-saute.

Ezra out.

(for those interested in bloody details, Thursday was a pretty good day.  Glen and I made a trip out to astoria to visit the build it green warehouse.  Wow.  A place and an organization all you NYC folks should know about.  Build It Green.  On our way out we stopped at BZ grill for some good gyros and fries..  another good stop for the cheap eats tour.  After thursday, though, I took a bit of a turn.  Spent fri and sat with good intentions, but without the energy to get out of bed..  Finally last night knowing that I’d never pull out of the slump unless I MADE something, I decided to shoot black bean sauce..  Not a very good video, but a thing made anyway!  The side effects, of who even knows what at this point, are pretty brutal. Mouth sores. Sores all over me. Pain. Nausea. No appetite. Insomnia. No get up and go, etc..  Simply going through it at this point, though.  One more bloody round to go and I don’t doubt that it’ll be the worst yet.  But then!  Sunshine.)

just 2 left

Radio silence..  I’m sorry.

Haven’t had too much to say.  Each round gets a little worse..  The pain lasts longer.  I’m two days from another treatment cycle, and still having to take pain meds.  WOW.  This chemo stuff is powerful.  I had 5 days of vicious mouth sores (tongue sores, to be precise), which I’ve decided are the WORST of the side effects.  But at this point my eyes are on the horizon.  I’m just two bloody cycles from the end, and in 5 days the worst of this next one will be over.  I’m as good as done with this stuff.  Then I get to begin the slow but steady recovery.  I’ll gradually get stronger, the bits of me that have had trouble healing while being assaulted with chemo drugs, will get back to the business at hand, my skin will clear up, my hair will come back, and hopefully the pain will go back to wherever it came from and leave me the hell alone.

During the last few months I’ve been doing quite a lot of planning.  I know that towards the beginning of this recurrence all was called into question..  did it make sense for me to continue to try to be a bike builder, or should I move on to things that I could do in a weaker state?  Should I write, should I take photographs, etc..  In the last months, though, the bikes have been pulling me back (even though I don’t know how long it’ll be before they let me ride one again!  Though, I did take a quick spin on a customer’s bike the other day, just to get it up to Grant’s tomb, where I shoot photos, and it felt GREAT!  A little strange, admittedly, given a considerably different anatomical reality in the region of my whatsits..  but great none the less).  I’ve decided to continue.  Not just continue, but actually dial things up a bit.  I will be expanding the shop, and turning it into TWO spaces.  One for metal, and one for wood.  You heard it here first, Fast Boy Cycles WILL be offering wooden fenders a la carte again by the end of the summer.  This won’t be a full time affair, they will be sold in batches..  three or four times a year a mailing will go out to the mailing list, and it’ll be first come first served.

I plan to spend the month between the end of my treatment and the end of Hillary’s semester, building out the new space, installing new equipment, designing new jigs and fixtures, etc.  Once Hill finishes up her semester, we will take a bit of a much needed vacation up in Nova Scotia, if we can swing it, and when we get back, I’ll dive back into building bikes.  There’s a bit of a queue already in place, but if you’ve been thinking for a while about getting a fast boy, and have been uncertain about the status of the whole affair, now is a very good time to order!

I understand that this is a bit of a gamble, but one can’t just live scared, you know?  The notion that I could recur any old time is definitely affecting some of the decision making, but I can’t let it simply shut me down.  I think that having this project as I finish treatment will be a good thing.. will make that transition go a little better.

I went to the bronx just now to look at a table saw.  In some strange twist of coincidence, and synergy, it turnd out that the guy selling the saw lived in putney for a few years back in the seventies and his wife was the cook at the day care center that my mom ran, and remembers me and my brother well!  How nuts is that!?  (Eva and Carol, if you’re reading this, Dianna Warren says hello). Answer an ad on craigslist, and you never know who you’ll meet!  (she’s also a colon cancer survivor).  Weird.  Life can be beautiful and strange.  The saw is great.  I’m going to buy it. Tomorrow. (Taking the Rican with me for muscle.  We’d all be lost without friends.)

Big love.