Binvenidos! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Willkommen! Aloha! Irashaimasu! ようこそ! Welkom! Selamat datang! ברוכים הבאים! Velkomen! Witajcie! वेलकम Bemvindo! Dobro pozhalovat'! Ласкаво просимо! Mabuhay! أهلا وسهلا! Maeva! Yin dee! Isibingelelo! Croeso! Bine ai venit! Witamy! 歡迎!Maligayang pagdating! Vítejte! ยินดีต้อนรับ Fáilte!
For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve and all is Well

Silent Night

Thank you all for your notes of concern...all is well. All my tests showed no sign of cancer and my eye surgery was called off, AGAIN! Despite the stars and halos (according to the insurance company) I am supposed to be able to see fine with correction (glasses.) I disagree, but there is nothing I can do until the cataract matures to the point insurance will agree to pay. I am 20/70 in my left eye, but 20/25 with correction according to my favorite doctor Stella Kim. I just love her. Is it possible to have a school boy crush at my age?

I had a little set back while in Houston. I was given a free hotel room for the week arranged by the American Cancer Society. It turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. I had planned to post all during my trip, but the chain of events left me with little time and too weak to manage. To sum it up, cockroaches, no heat, a broken water pipe in the bathroom that flooded my toiletries. After moving to a second room, I found another cockroach which I captured and marched down to the manager prompting a full floor extermination. Then, to top it all off...I got food poisoning compliments of the hotel's over priced restaurant which caused me to extend my stay until I was well enough to fly. If there is anything I can't stand, it's a poorly run restaurant! Enough said!

I have been very busy and much has happened since I went to Houston. Quick overview: Before I left I had another wonderful dinner with my nephew Matthew and his lovely girlfriend at Claim Jumper's in Fremont. Matt and his girl are both strict vegetarians. This made it difficult for them to find something to eat. They don't even eat butter or allow their foods to be fried in oils that might have been used to fry meat products. That's really too bad because I made up for the both of them and ordered steak and lobster. WHAT? I'm a carnivore and make no apologies for that. Are you honestly going to say something after I spent over 2 years on a feeding tube? OK, maybe I'm milking that a bit, but seriously I would eat anything after that!!! Butter the living room rug and serve it up, I'm game! Hey Maureen...WHERE'S MY YAK BURGER? HUH?

Christmas Eve Traditions

I wanted to play secret Santa early this year. Every year I gather blankets for the homeless and usually after midnight on Christmas Eve I head out to the city and quietly cover those sleeping in door ways. This was something I began doing 20 years ago when I had a eye opening experience that changed how I viewed the world.

I had gone to dinner at Ernie's on Montgomery Street in San Francisco. This was THE most luxurious restaurant I had ever had the pleasure to dine in. The service was impeccable and the food outstanding. It was on the high end of the price range. The famous mahogany bar with its intricate, stained-glass back was carved from a single tree, the walls were covered with maroon Scalamandre silk brocade, magnificent crystal chandeliers hung above the main dining area. The rooms were adorned with antiques from some of the greatest mansions of San Francisco. Ernie's had the distinction of receiving 32 consecutive 5 star awards and Alfred Hitchcock chose the restaurant to be featured in his film Vertigo. To say this establishment epitomized fine dining would be an understatement. Ernie's open around the turn of the 20th century, but sadly closed their doors in September 1995. I was honestly crushed. I have NEVER had a fine dining experience of that caliber since then. In fact I aways wanted to own that type of high end dining establishment.

That night I popped for $120 meal and was driving home in my new convertible Corvette. I was on top of my game and thought nothing about spending that kind of cash for a meal. I had everything a person could ever want monetarily speaking.

As I drove through the city I noticed an unusually large amount of homeless people sleeping under large pieces of cardboard and tattered rags, huddled in doorways trying to sleep on the cold cement stoops of homes and shops. It hit me hard how unfair life can be and how awful a life like that must be. I had everything and more and they had a cardboard box for comfort without a roof over their head.

I stopped the car and stared at one old man as he shivered before me, curled up in a ball alone. I thought, "That could be me someday." I remembered I had a blanket I just purchased that afternoon for my spare bedroom. There was nothing to think about. I grabbed the new blanket, got out of the car, and quietly shrouded an old bearded homeless man as he slept. I didn't wake him. I crept away and thought, "I need to do more." As I drove home that evening I promised myself I would begin to collect clean, used blankets from any source and every Christmas Eve I would drive into San Francisco and play Secret Santa to the homeless. I usually collected so many blankets that I needed to rent a van to deliver the tidings. It was my way of giving back. I would usually send out a press release for such an event because I was a media whore in business, but this was personal and it felt so good to do it without any ones knowledge. It felt DAMN GOOD!

For years I did this until I became very ill for the first time in 1995. After that it was hit and miss although my company was involved in helping Glide Memorial feed the homeless and sponsoring the Easter Seals Telethons. I made sure there was always some charity we were giving to, but nothing has ever felt better than playing Secret Santa!

My last night in town before I headed out to Houston for my annual cancer check up, I couldn't find enough time.  I wanted to buy a dozen blankets and make an early Secret Santa run. It doesn't seem give me the same feeling unless it's Christmas Eve, although I know sometimes it's the only way I can accomplish it. There's something about doing it on that special night that just knocks it out of the park and makes my heart pound with joy.

From Houston I continue my tour to the Sunshine State. I won't be back until February as I will winter somewhere warm. So tonight I will spend a peaceful evening alone after an exhaustive 3 weeks. Tomorrow I will be one year older and wiser (I hope.) When I reflect upon the past, it was good...damn good, the future...well..that's not written yet.

I'm still contemplating on auditioning for America's Got Talent in February. I've rolled the idea around and thought how cool it would be to inspire others who might be about to give up on their cancer fight as I once wanted to, to give hope to those who might be wavering. Having a positive attitude and a will to live is more than half the battle.

And I think, if I won, I would donate all the money responsibly to cancer research at my discretion. Besides, I'm not doing it for the money, I want to inspire and give hope and maybe a little shock and awe. After all, who would expect a man that lost his tongue to cancer to be able to sing? My vocals are getting stronger and I think even if I didn't make the cut, it would be fun. My biggest concern is whether or not I have the stamina for it! I'd need a team of helpers for sure and maybe a wheel chair standing by. I'm really not sure what to expect. But then that's life in a nutshell...we never know what's just around that corner do we?

It's time to settle in with my hot cocoa, a roaring fire, and watch It's A Wonderful Life. I need my wings! Anybody here a bell? Yes, life is wonderful...tonight let there be peace on Earth.

God bless you all, Merry Christmas!
Peace B

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Season and Reason to Celebrate
Christmas Joy!

Last night I spent a very special evening with my friend Isabel. We have always enjoyed dining out together. It's kind of "our thing" and it is always best when you can spend one on one time without a whole gang. Better bonding time. It's more personal and you can connect and better communicate. Although Isabel and I don't always see the world the same way, (we drive each other crazy sometimes constantly) we are always there for each other. So, last night we had our annual Christmas Dinner at my favorite local restaurant in Fremont, Papillion's.

If you recall, Isabel was the one who selflessly spent months with me in Houston as I recovered from surgery after losing my tongue. She stepped away from running Walin Enterprises, Inc. to care for me. During a dark moment after my first cancer surgery, I was out of the hospital and recovering in an apartment located in Houston's medical center, I had a breakdown. It was the only time I was ready to let go and give up. It didn't look like I would ever talk properly again and I NEVER dreamed I would ever be able to eat food or sit down for a real social meal. I cried in her arms and told her I didn't want to live. I wanted to end it all and get it over with. Living this way was NOT living.

In true Isabel fashion she snapped, "Then I'm waisting my time here if you're just going to give up. I should just go home." The world has always revolved around Isabel in her eyes. I was used to it by now, but not understanding my pain didn't help. I was at the lowest point of my entire life.

That night I promised myself I wouldn't do anything rash, but if in one years time I had not made major progress, I would find a way to end it all. DO NOT JUDGE ME. Until you have been in my world, you could never understand.

At this moment I had endured ten and a half hours of surgery, my tongue ripped out, body parts and skin tissue were rearranged like a patch quilt, my neck dissected like a science project. I was sustaining life through a feeding tube attached to my belly, a mere 100 pounds wet, and I was preparing for weeks radiation and chemotherapy. All this and never knowing if any of it would actually save my life.

As you already know, I'm still here! My speech is remarkably improved and I can consume almost anything with minor modifications. I'm still scarred  and I have issues with pain, but at this point it's manageable. My biggest issue, aside from the pain and fatigue, is the traumatized fat lower lip I have been left with after my mouth was filleted open to remove the cancerous enemy within.

During our Christmas meal last night we feasted on crab cakes, cream of asparagus soup, a spinach salad with hickory bacon, and a BIG whiskey peppercorn fillet with vegetables. I completed my meal with a Tawny Red Port, compliments of Charlie the owner. Every time I dine there he buys me a drink and though I'm not a drinker, I always graciously accept because he serves the good stuff!

During the meal I reflected upon the dark day I told Isabel I wanted to end it all if I could never eat again. I explained that if I had I not improved, this moment in time would have never existed. Tears welled in our eyes. This is why I said what I did. I didn't want to live without ever having moments like this wonderful holiday meal in my life. I hope she finally understood.

Happy Holidays Everyone!
Bon Appetit!


Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi