You make me crazy, you love me unconditionally, and you have sacrificed so much in your life for myself and my brother, Philip. You have endured the death of two husbands, the loss of a child, and watched me struggle for my life on multiple occasions. You also were our biggest boosters, came to our defense, taught me not to let my physical shortcomings (my partial blindness, and partial deafness) be an impediment to achieve anything I wanted to. You accepted the women I have loved in my life irrespective of what religion they practiced.

You taught both of us how to appreciate music, even if we didn’t quite appreciate it when we were very young. You took me to your singing lessons as a young boy. You encouraged our artistic pursuits as we got older, Philip with music, me with acting.

You have become a doting grandmother, and yes, if you look up the definition of a Jewish mother in the dictionary, your picture is probably there.

Recently, you have taught me the meaning of courage, having broken your leg, enduring surgery, learning to walk again, and pushing through the pain that accompanied it. It mirrored my own struggles with my illness and transplant, and recovery, as I needed to learn to walk again. If I inherited anything from you, it was perseverance in the face of the odds. You came to see me in the hospital in Rochester, twice, walker and all, and all of your 83 years.

We love you very, very much…even if you do drive us crazy from time-to-time.


…and something continues.

While that was being taken care of, a CT scan, MRI and ultrasound found that there was a small narrowing in my portal vein, one of the two main vessels in the liver. It wasn’t impeding blood flow, or causing a problem with the liver function, but my surgeon felt it would be good to place a stent in it to ward off any future complications. They didn’t know if it was something that happened as a result of the surgery, or something that was an anatomical abnormality. In either case, a week after my discharge, I headed back to Rochester to have the stent put in.

I was told that I would be there for 24 hours, which turned into 72 hours. There were some small blood clots around the stent (actually two stents), and they started me on a regimen of Coumadin, a “blood thinner.” So, now I’m home, and dealing with the side effects of this medication, of which tiredness is one of them. It reminds me too much of the fatigue I experienced from my liver disease, though I’m told that it will pass. I hope so, as it’s a little unnerving, to say the least.

It’s always something…

The first year post transplant. One big “shit happens” moment, and it did last week. Somehow, somewhere, I picked up both a bacterial and viral infection that landed me in the hospital for close to a week. A few weeks beforehand, my liver enzymes began creeping up, and as it happened, corresponded to when they reduced my immunosuppresion medications. It’s normal to do this, but it’s not an exact science. I thought for sure I was headed for rejection, which actually happened before, during my first transplant back in 2002 (I was transplanted in 1997).

I felt fine at first, no symptoms whatsoever. then about ten days ago, out of nowhere started the chills, but initially no fever. I called my transplant coordinate and it was decided that I should make the trip down the Thruway to Strong as a precaution. Fortunately, I was directly admitted as opposed to spending an interminable amount of time in the ED. By the time I got in there, my fever was registering at 102F, and I was feeling pretty lousy. Twenty-four hours later, all that changed.

I was connected to an IV and given IV antibiotics, one in particular, Daptomycin, is a new class of them, and is akin to an atomic bomb to bacteria. It has no known resistance (yet), and works quickly and efficiently…


To be continued…



Talkin’ ’bout a revolution.

I’m going to catch hell for this, I know it, but I’m afraid I can’t help expressing my opinion on the idea of gender blind casting in the theatre. In short, while it can work in some cases, in many others, it simply doesn’t. Case in point: The latest Broadway smash  musical Hamilton, is looking to cast women in some key roles:

Washington and Burr as portrayed by women? Am I the only one that sees a problem with this idea? We’re not talking fictional characters here, such as in The Odd Couple, which has cast women in the roles of Felix and Oscar. In Hamilton, we’re dealing with people that really existed. Big difference as I see it. While gender bending is nothing new, just because it can be done doesn’t always mean that it should be done. I think that many an audience member would have trouble accepting the idea of both Washington and Burr being portrayed by women, especially in Washington’s case. Every time you pull a dollar bill out of your pocket, there is his image staring back right at you. Burr might not be as recognizable a figure as Washington (his main claim to fame was killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel), but it’s still plenty obvious that in the annals of history, he was a man, as was Washington.

Some have pointed out that in Shakespeare’s time, men played the roles of women on stage. This however was an unfair comparison, as in that day and age women were forbidden from performing on stage. It was considered unseemly, and acting as a profession in general was not held in high regard a sit were. In our day and age however, as this is no longer an issue, the idea of either gender playing any role seems to be paramount. Even in film, sometimes characters can be written with no particular gender in mind This was the case in the landmark science fiction masterpiece, Alien. The character of Ripley, which vaulted Sigourney Weaver into stardom, was originally written with no gender in mind.

Hamilton however, would do a disservice to reality by casting women in roles that clearly were meant to be portrayed by men. You can’t simply toss aside history for the sake of art, at least not in this case.

The other question that bears asking is, why? Why do it? Will it serve the story better in any way? Will it make a point in some way? What about the playwright’s intentions? In his own words words, Hamilton’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda stated that,

“I’m totally open to women playing founding fathers once this goes into the world. I can’t wait to see kick-ass women Jeffersons and kickass women Hamiltons once this gets to schools,” (See article link above for a further explanation.)

I’m sorry if this sounds somewhat chauvinistic, but why would he want to confuse kids into thinking that the Founders were actually women, and not men? It’s a simple historical fact, and not some kind of value judgment. I guess as I read more and more about that era in history, I became more convinced that facts need to be told correctly, even if it is a musical theatrical production.

Maybe however, I’m just getting older, and less tolerant of change for change’s sake.


You don’t have to thank me. You have to pay me.

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”Jim Rohn
There was a recent article that I came across on Facebook, via Freelancers Union, that quoted a Huffington Post editor as saying that he doesn’t pay his writers because:

“When somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real, we know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”

I call bullshit. While it’s very noble to volunteer your writing skills, when it becomes your primary source of income then getting paid is an essentially part of your craft. As some of the comments pointed out, does this editor get paid for his services? Most likely, which brands him a hypocrite. It’s hard enough for freelance writers to et paid for their services at at reasonable rate, and on time, without having editors like this making it even tougher on us.

Yes, when I first started writing, I did a lot of it for free, in order to establish a portfolio of work. However, once I made the decision to make a go as a freelancer for a career, that changed. I may not have gotten paid a lot sometimes, but at least I did get paid. Now that I’m planning on resuming freelancing again once I’m recuperated fully, you can bet that I’ll be demanding pay for what I write. I don’t want to stay on SSD forever, as much as it has helped tremendously.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin
Here’s to the restart of my writing career, and here’s the link to the article in question

Dear Dad…

Twenty eight years gone today. Always a bittersweet Valentine’s Day. Happpy that I’m alive to celebrate it with my Patti, but still hurting that my dad isn’t there to see that I have survived. So much left unsaid. You never saw me act, never met your granddaughter (my niece), never saw Philip promoted to Lt. at FDNY-EMS. You went int to the hospital to have an operation to save your life, which it did, but also gave you HIV via a transfusion. This is not irony, it’s tragedy of the first order. If it had only been six months later, this would not have happened.

Closure? No, I hate that term. I’ve never experienced it when it comes to this. I’ve come to terms with it, but I’ll never close the door regarding my feelings on this.

Love you, Dad. Myself, Philip and mom miss you…

Dad - Navy boot camp 1943

A valentine….

What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.” – author unknown

I’m very lucky.

Six years ago, I made a major life decision that was needed, but wound up causing immense pain to the woman I was married to for 21 years. Our relationship had been deteriorating for some time, and we both knew it. One of us had to do something, as we were both suffering. That task fell to me, and I made the decision to leave the marriage, initially separating, but later on she initiated the divorce. I guess it was her way of maintaining some control over things.

Shortly before the divorce went through, I became reconnected with a college friend that I had not seen in a few years. Patti and I met my first night in the dorms at the University at Buffalo back in 1981. We became friends quickly, hanging around with the same crew of people on the floor. Now, when I say friends, I mean just that. Friends. Not “friends with benefits,” just friends.

After my graduation in 1985 (Patti graduated the year beforehand), we stayed in touch, and she even attended my wedding in 1989. We lost touch for a long period of time, and as I found out many years later, was living in NYC for three years, working as a speech language pathologist in a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We would reconnect after my move to Rochester in 1999, but again, lost touch.

Flash forward to 2010: A mutual friend gets in touch with me, and I asked her if Patti was still living in Syracuse. She was, and said friend gave me her contact information. I gave her a call, and we began talking. That’s how it began, small talk that grew into my bouncing opinions off of her. It turns out she had been through something similar with her ex-partner some years prior. Patti can be brutally honest, which is what I needed at the time. I was wracked with guilt over the separation, Having a woman’s point of view helped to clarify ertain feelings I was having, in addition to the help from an excellent therapist.

I drove out to Syracuse from Rochester to have lunch with her one day, and discovered that our lives had taken somewhat parallel courses. She taught in one of the toughest areas of NYC, and now was teaching in the toughest area of the Syracuse school district. She dealt with some of the same things that I dealt with while working as a paramedic in Brooklyn. We reminisced, and something just clicked.

I found myself running out to Syracuse more often for lunch with her. Then just before my divorce was finalized, our friendship took a turn to something more. We’ve been together ever since, something I hardly expected. The last thing I was looking for was another relationship so soon. It found me instead, and throughout all the turmoil of my illness, I could not have wished for a better person to go through my life with.

She has endured my illness, which was a hellish time as she never had to deal with something like this before. Now, she helps me through my post transplant rehabilitation, and we look forward to the day when I’m completely independent again. I could not have made it through the recurrence of my illness and transplant without her. Yes, she is a caregiver, in the traditional sense of the word, but she’s more than that.

I love her with all my heart.