Archive for May, 2009

Ok.

First of all:

Ezra 1

Cancer 0

“What’s that? Do I want to “go again.” Um.. no.  Don’t you get it?  that was for all the marbles, and you lost.  I won.  And it wasn’t even very much fun.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again,  You shoulda done some research.  Anyone could have told you.”

Second:

Fuck.  What a year.  I am beat down.  Emotionally, physically..  busted.  I’ve got nothing left.  Treatment is over, but apparantly the side effects will linger on.  The nose bleeds will hang on until the avastin is out of my system.  The strange nueropathy in the hands and face will take a while to disapear.  Still, the relief of not having to go back in there for any more chemo makes me weep with relief.

My dad’s death is heavy on my mind.  I’ve started to dream about him nightly.   I’m mostly at peace with it, but very sad.  So the major emotions these last days have been sadness and relief.  While they may seem like strange bedfellows, I think that they go together more often than you’d think.  At least it’s a familiar feeling to me, but wildly exaggerated.

I want to thank you all for your support.  Sincerely.  It’s been a great outlet through this year to be able to write here, and know that there are people reading.  I can’t stress it enough.  There have been some great lessons this year.  The biggest perhaps has been the dose of humilty dealt by realizing just how much good will, and real generosity there is out there.   Thank you.

And now.  Time to pack up.  The whirlwind wedding tour begins.  Off to Miami.

1.

ha!

2

days left.  (If you count today..  and it’s already 6:15 in the A.M. )

Got home yesterday at 4 and went straight to bed.  Slept for 3 hours straight.  And I think I may have found the secret..  Puke FIRST, then have dinner.  Not the other way around.  Good time to figure that out, huh? Actually managed to put a little miso soup in me last night without it coming back up.

It’s pretty much a picnic from here on out.  They give me all the BIG guns on monday.  Today is relatively easy, and tomorrow will just be fun!

I’m having coffee now, and it cures all ills.  Better than snake oil. For a tuesday morning during treatment, my head is clear.  The sun is shining.  The sky is blue.

Last round (ya heard?)

It’s official.  I’m sitting here being dripped one last time.

Hill and Emmy Oz, and I drove down from Vermont yesterday morning.  The service was on Saturday, and it was beautiful.  My brother, Zach, spoke for us and it was perfect.  My old man was a home town boy.  He grew up in Putney, and never really left..  a little while for part of high school.. a little while in the service, but most of his life right there in Putney Vermont.  It felt as though the whole town turned out.  People spoke.  They all had the most generous things to say.  Those of you who were there, thank you.

I got back to NYC feeling as though I’d been hit by a truck.  Or maybe baseball bats.  It was a long week.  Lots to organize, lots to move, lots to drink.  I think I spent most of the week a little numb..  just trying to hold it together as best I could.  Trying to be there for my younger brother, for folks in the community, for myself.  But when I got back to the city, back to my own house, it all crumbled.  I didn’t have super generous things to say about him while he was alive, but goddam if I don’t miss him.  He was all heart, and he loved his kids mightily.  A sort of generosity of spirit that is uncommon.  Heartbroken.

We had to get back yesterday so that I could get fitted for my suit before launching into this last treatment.  It’s a beautiful suit.  Hill will be very happy indeed.  She’s not showing me her dress, so she won’t get to see the suit until she marches down the aisle.  Fair is fair.

I’m about half way through today’s treatment.  Already feeling like hell.  I was a little nervous that the doc wouldn’t be willing to treat me in my beat down state..  Feeling sick, overtired, various infected cuts and scrapes from tearing down walls in the old man’s house.  But he said, “well I’ve just mixed up $5k of chemo drugs, so we’re going to give them to you.”  Just punching through to the finish line.  So without something going terribly wrong, I will be finished and unplugged on wednesday..  for good..  and I’ll get to just walk away (or ride, I guess).

So here it is.  Please join me for the ride into, and away from, my very last treatment.  We’ll meet at my house in the morning.  I’d love to have as many of you as can make it.  We’ll ride to the clinic..  I’ll get unplugged (won’t take more than a few minutes), and we’ll ride back home through the park for some good lunch of some kind.  If you’d like to join in, please email me for directions.

That’s it.  Thank you all for staying tuned. Three days left.

Billsam Bars

I finally got around to taking a few pictures of the new bars.  I made these this week in my old man’s shop and in his honor.  It’s a super nice feeling shape.  I have yet to see if a quill stem can make it around that bend.  It may not.

It’s been a pretty busy time up here.  My brothers and I have been doing what we can to clean the place up and make it feel right.  We got a 15 cubic yard dumpster yesterday and started to empty out the house.  The old guy had quite a garbage collection.  We’re doing our best not to be too sentimental about stuff that is clearly trash.  Towards the end of his life, Billsam’s decision making faculties (while never speedy – always very deliberate) simply went away.  So nothing got thrown out.  We’re doing it now.  This morning we may even take a wall down and open up the house a little.

Zach’s highschool friend Mike showed up yesterday and gave us a hand.  I was in the shop making shelves for Sam’s counter, Zach was driving a tractor around tilling and knocking down derelict bushes, and mike was cleaning up around the front of the shop.  As we were winding down, Mike said, “It’s perfect..  Ezra’s in the shop creating things, Zach’s running around breaking shit, and I’m moving heavy objects..    And no-one even had to assign us those tasks..”

Hill and my sister are driving up from NYC today with Putney.  It’ll be so nice to see my girls.  Tonight we’ll have dinner at my uncle’s place to do a little planning session.    The service and reception are on Saturday.

The day before yesterday was Sam’s birthday.  He had some friends over for pulled pork.  Billsam’s place was always a bit of a haven for young guys.  They all knew him well, and shared some fond memories.  We all miss him.  Even the infuriating things about him have become sort of funny.. fodder for jokes. There has been a lot more laughing than crying.  It’s the really sad parts about him that will take us all a longer time to reconcile.  Those are the sorts of things that only really start sinking in when I’m alone..  in his shop..  “where’s the Ash?..  which of these dusty piles?  Wish Big-sam was here to tell me.”  Instant welling up inside at the thought that he’s gone gone.

I was up early today.  6:20 now and I’ve had my coffee, answered some emails, written this post.  I’ll head out to the shop now and do some clean up..  I’ve mostly been making a mess ’til now.  Time to make the place pretty.  The 15 yard dumpster will help.

In the old man’s house.

I finished my penultimate round of chemo on thursday.  Wow.  Just one to go.  On friday, Zach (brother) and I took the train up to Vermont.  We decided to stay at the old man’s house.  I slept in his room.  A little strange to be in the room, in fact on the bed, where he took his life.  Though not as strange as I’d have imagined.  I woke up early in the morning, a misty vermont spring morning, to these beautiful little daffodils on the window sill.  No ghosts here at all.

We met this morning with a women from the crematorium to sign some paper work.  I’ll probably go and visit him tomorrow, before they burn him up.  There were a few things that I didn’t get a chance to say.

I spent a good part of the day in his shop.  Cleaning it up a bit.  He clearly hadn’t been in there for a while.   I’m working on a new bar design.  The “billsam,” naturally.  Pictures tomorrow.  It would have pleased him to no end to have some action in the shop..  some local classic rock station playing on the radio.

I’m finding, quite naturally, that my memories are all fond.  We’re eating.. we’re drinking.  We’re doing the things in his house that he used to love doing WITH us.  I find myself wishing he could join in.

The mint has taken over in the old garden spot.  Having a mint julep.  That’s me at about 2 and a half in the morning with Bigsam.

What a thing.

This morning my father, William Samual (billsam) Caldwell, killed himself in his bedroom.

I’m not sure what to say.  I have debated during the course of the day about whether or not to share this here.  In the end, it seemed in the spirit of the blog to talk about it.

He suffered from depression.  He was unable, or unwilling, to get help for it.  Unfortunately depression, while treatable, isn’t something that you can cure by holding someone down and giving them a shot.  We would naturally have done so!  In the end, taking his own life was HIS only solution.

In the darkest moments of this last year, I have never once contemplated suicide..  I can only imagine how one must be suffering to actually take their own life.

This afternoon I went into the shop to do a little work and clean the place up.  I start a round of chemo tomorrow, and as soon as it is done, I’ll be headed up to Vermont to pick up the pieces.  That will occupy the rest of my NON-chemo time before the whirlwind wedding tour begins.  Hard to imagine that today had to be my last for such a while in the shop.  My father wasn’t much of a dad.  He wasn’t a natural.  He sort of sucked at it.  I DID, however, cut my teeth as a fabricator in his wood shop as a small kid.  It felt right to spend some time in my own shop remembering him.  I played the Dire Straits.. a favorite of his.. and spent some time thinking of the old man.  Rest in peace, billsam.

Haven’t posted for a while.

I’m smelling the barn. When you take a horse on a trail ride (and I DON’T), there’s a point in the ride when they get renewed energy..  when they start to recognize where they are.. when they know they’re close to home.  They get all punchy and excited and start moving a little faster, excited to be almost home and to get the saddle off, and to eat something.  This is called “smelling the barn”

That’s more or less where I am these days.  Just REALLY eager to be done with all this.  Get the saddle off.  The end is in sight, and I’m getting a little punchy.  The last couple of rounds of chemo have been pretty rough.  Puking and etc..  I think it’s just the build up of chemo drugs in the system after 5 MONTHS of treatments.  On tuesday (a day late this round because of blood counts), I’ll go in for my penultimate round.

Immediately after finishing treatment, life gets pretty crazy for a while.  We’ll be heading down to Florida for Hill’s sister’s wedding two days after my last treatment..  Stop in North Carolina on the way home to have a little party with her family.  Then back to NYC, only to turn around and head up to Nova Scotia to get married ourselves (somewhere in there I need to have a minor little surgery to remove this f*%ing port).  Back to NYC to throw a party that you’re all invited to (not kidding even a little..  June 13th, NYC, be there).  Then, back down to North Carolina for ANOTHER party with Hill’s family and friends.  WEEEE!  June is basically all parties.  JULY, on the other hand, will be a return to quiet, normal, workaday life.  I can’t wait!  I’ve got LOTS of bikes to build.  Lots of good ideas that I simply haven’t had the time, energy, or health to work on.  The idea of weeks at a time passing with no obligations.. no trips to the doctor.. just work in the shop, sounds like some sort of paradise to me (I have a cool job).

I’ve been working for the last month or so on making various jigs, and tools to speed things up in the shop.  Life has been much too busy and costly for the last bunch of months for me to be able to seriously consider moving shop..  so I’ve been doing what I can to make operations in the current location a little smoother.  I’ve invented a new system for mitering tubes!  Very exciting.  Met a machinist/bike polo player, who’s able to make me things that I design in Solidworks..  Super accurate bits and pieces for tools that I’m making (he’s getting a custom Polo frame).  I mitered all the tubes for two bikes the other day in about an hour..  With the old set up, one bike’s worth would take more like two and a half (and have been about half as accurate).  Come by the shop and I’ll show you how it works.  (valancy..  I imagine that your eyes are glazed over by now..  Here’s a little tid bit for you..  These guys are making a movie about me.  Not kidding).

I’ve got a new project bike in the works.  A bit of a modern take on a classic design.  A porteur bike modeled after the french ones of old.  A bike with steering geometry that’s INTENDED for carrying heavy front loads.  Pictures soon.  Finished the frame yesterday.

That’s all I got.  I’ll try to be a little more on top of this blog as I roll down the home stretch.  My last day of treatment, if everything stays on schedule, will be may 20th.  I’ll be riding to and from that session.  It’s going to be a group ride.  Stay posted for details.

My love.

Oh oh..  and some of my bikes (including the assless) will be hanging out in the NYC Patagonia stores for the month of may for those of you in NYC who want a closer look.  Hill’s cargo bike is in the SOHO store, and the Assless is uptown.  Others will come and go.