Wednesday, March 20, 2019

FULLY CRAZED

Thinking about EBONY. March 20, 2019

Today marks one year since Ebony passed. I have been through each of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief, from her book, On Death and Dyingdenialangerbargainingdepression and acceptance. In her second book, co-authored with David Kessler, On Grief & Grieving, she expanded this model to include any form of personal loss. As her book and model were initially concerned with terminal illness, and as a partner and caregiver, I found these stages to be especially and profoundly true. I would, however, add emotional agonysleeplessnesslistening to Sade a lot and inappropriate and ceaseless crying to this model, probably somewhere between depression and acceptance. 

I don’t know if I’ve reached acceptance, but lately I’ve been feeling better. I don’t know at what point this occurred, but after seeing tons of concerts – which is what Ebony and I loved to do (thank you, publicist friends) -- and probably hitting it too hard on some of my darkest days -- I started making pizza and picking up a lot of work for Billboard, which has been immensely helpful. Some time in the last two or three months, I just started feeling a little less filled with despair.

I had a great deal of difficulty dealing with her loss, particularly because the last three or four weeks of her life were so excruciating to bear. And that is what has haunted me. I have obsessed about this for months. I would suppress it and tell everyone, “Yeah, it’s okay… whatever.” But I was dying all the time and on a daily basis.

The tumor – she had had brain cancer in the form of a tumor, an anaplastic astrocytoma -- having resisted treatment, had by that point, affected her ability to swallow. She had already been affected so as to have lost her ability to speak and use of her right arm and both of her legs. She needed 24-hour care and, in spite of what the doctors and social workers recommended – “a 24-hour care facility” – a fucking “facility?” – I said no fucking way and, with Sundai, her mother, we took care of her at home. Granted, we were tragically and comically unprepared for what was in store, but in no way was I going to subject her to that. I loved her more than life itself, more than anything, and just accepted it and said, “Fuck it!” We had been together for 10 years, lived together for seven and in no way, shape, or form, was I going to allow her to be subjected to that. Nope. Strangers turning her bed, changing her, coming in and going out, different people, different days: No. Absolutely fucking not. I vowed she would be surrounded by love, her family and friends and she was going to have a life and not just have an existence. No. Fucking. Way. Not on my watch, pal. Fuck you. Maybe I’m just a tempermental Irish motherfucker, but: no fucking way and that was my motto.

So we did that. Broke all the rules and fucked up everything. Her Mother and I – we just didn’t know. We just didn’t know. Nobody tells you how it’s supposed to work and what you’re supposed to do. We just fumbled through. We made mistakes, but Ebony was never in a room without love. And she needed to be changed, bathed, cleaned and fed, but I saw it as a privilege. My honor and duty. She was always – ALWAYS – there for me. How could I do any less? Ask yourself: can you do that? For your loved one, your significant other? Could they do that for you? I had no idea if I could do that. No idea whatsoever. So… I said “Fuck that.” I loved her more than life itself, more than anything and I was there for her and down for whatever. It was pretty much, kinda Zakk Wylde-style, I said, “Fuck that, we’re doin’ it.” So we took care of her at home.

I have heard, from friends, friends of friends, that…. I don’t know. This or that. Someone gets Cancer and the partner – husband/wife/whatever – bails. I don’t understand that. Not at all. I am not here to judge that and I didn’t judge that then, but there was NO fucking way I was leaving this girl. No fucking way. Zero. You don’t even know. She was so fucking awesome, there was no fucking way anyone was taking her from me. No one. I would have taken a bullet – a fucking hail of bullets -- like James Caan in The Godfatherat the toll booth – for her to live on. My life is insignificant and hers was majestical. No. Fucking. Way. So yeah – when the fucking social workers came at me with all of their “this is the best thing for Ebony” bullshit, I said, “Fuck you. Go to Hell.” And so…  and so… with her Mother’s help, we took care of her at home. 

So that meant that her Mother, bless her soul, moved in with us to our one-bedroom apartment in Queens. And I worked nights at ABC. And that was how we rolled. It wasn’t great… Holy Hell, it was not great. We messed up a lot, but Ebony was surround by love, all the time. And we made sure she had a life, and not just an existence. So that was the deal.

It was not fucking easy. I say “fuck” a lot in various forms and it is an adjective that I adore. Please forgive me.

This is the kinda shit that I have been dwelling on for, well, now a year.

When things winded down… when things got bad… we had to admit her to the hospital and, in the emergency department – they don’t say “the emergency room” anymore, they say, “the Emergency Department” -- they had to administer a feeding tube through her nose. At that point, she had stopped being able to swallow food. We had, by that time, switched to feeding her soup, but… it was not working and it was more than we could handle. So we went in.

Because Weill Cornell is a teaching college – Cornell University -- often you don’t deal with doctors, you get residents and interns; well, some fucking jackass resident came in – who didn’t know Ebony and had never treated her -- and didn’t know what she was doing and didn’t properly lubricate the tube and anesthetize Ebony. While she was inserting the tube, Ebony let out a squeal of such intensity it haunts me to this day. To. This. Day. You understand? Ebony was the toughest person I have ever known – she stubbed her toe once in the apartment, yelled out, and for a moment she looked really fierce and pissed off, but only at herself for doing it, and then she just moved on, sat down on the couch and that was it – that was Ebony -- she was a badass -- but now here she was, no longer able to speak and eliciting a sound like a baby bunny or a kitten being strangled. And I started losing it, “What the fuck are you doing?” Sundai, Ebony’s mother, was at her side next to me and started stoking her arm, holding her hand. The resident removed the tube and started again, and again, Ebony squealed. I started swearing a lot – a lot -- at the resident, “Get that fucking thing out – you’re hurting her – you fucking FUCK -- go get somebody who knows what the fuck they’re doing!”

It was not a pleasant, ah…  time. Yeah, it was bad. The resident looked pretty startled by my outburst and removed the tube and went to get the doctor. While we were waiting – like, forever –  Ebony had fallen asleep and the attending physician making rounds came over with some med students in tow – he did not introduce himself or even look at her chart or ask about her – he just started poking her sternum with his index and middle finger. Now, I have seen doctors do this before with Ebony, as a means of waking a sleeping patient, but they did it gently.— and they always said, “Hey, we have to wake her up and this is formality and this is what we do.” This guy was poking her with increasing force because she was not responding. I mean, like, what the fuck? I said, “What the fuck are you doing?” He was this tall, older white man, white hair, white coat, really condescending, and said, “Young man, I am trying to establish her condition and she needs to be awake for that.” And so I said, “She’s resting because one of your idiot residents doesn’t know how to insert a fucking feeding tube and was hurting her. And now you’re hurting her. Why don’t you come back later?” He got all snippy with me, puffing out in front of his team and said, “Sir, calm down. I can get security and have you removed if you don’t calm down.” Calm down? Calm down? That’s when I lost it. I just blew up. I absolutely lost it.  “Oh yeah? Well, I can come back with a news truck from ABC and their prettiest correspondent and she can interview me outside the hospital and I will shit-shame you to whole world and ask why an institution as revered as Weill Cornell – (I really punched that) -- employs doctors who actively hurt their Cancer patients. How do you think that’s gonna fuckin’ fly with Administration when it runs on GMA, World News and Channel 7?” Of course I was totally, totally full of shit and letting my Irish freak flag fly high, but he left without saying anything and went on to the next room. I was a complete, total wreck and I apologized to Sundai but she kinda smiled – she knew I was just trying to protect Ebony -- and I just stayed next to my girl, holding her hand until one of her regular residents – who knew her and worked with her before – came in to make things right, and assured us that he would insert the tube himself, he’d done it many times and so on.

At this time I was living on 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night. I was going from the hospital to ABC and back to the hospital –- and the fucking subways, don’t get me started – fuck De Blasio and Cuomo, those petty bitches --- until Sundai arrived around 10 and then I’d go home, sleep for a bit, get up, shower, go back to the hospital and so on. Wash, rinse, repeat. By this point, I had to call out of work. Ebony was given a room and her doctor actually made an appearance and took us aside and said that, you know, this was a late-stage symptom of her cancer and they would have to insert a gastric peg, which is a fucking medieval apparatus that requires an operation. They insert this into the stomach and once it’s in, a protein-rich foodstuff is injected directly into the stomach through the peg via a large plastic syringe. She would no longer be able to ingest food orally – no more Friday night pizza, no more Lay’s BBQ chips, no more anything. It was awful just to even consider. I knew we were near the end.

When Ebony got out of surgery, and came around, her mother and I were there and the nurse came in to check the wound and explain to Ebony about the gastric peg. The nurse peeled back the gauze over her stomach and I saw Ebony look at it and in that moment, she looked at me and I saw a look of defeat that…. I’ve carried with me, along with that squeal, and it haunts me to this day. It fucking haunts me. It was just heartbreaking because I couldn’t do anything to help. I was powerless to help the woman I loved. I just told her over and over not to worry: we would learn to handle it the way we learned to handle taking care of her at home. “No problem, baby.” I kept saying “I love you so much, honey,” and I just held her hand and kissed her and said that over and over and over.

Shortly after that, maybe about a week, we had to make the decision to move her into hospice. There was nothing that the doctors could do at that point. The tumor was resisting all treatment. I just stayed at the hospital and spent my time at her side and going to Au Bon Pain for coffee. She was on some pretty decent medication and slept quite a bit. Judas Priest’s publicist, Chip (seriously), sent me the advance of their then latest, “Firepower” and I loaded it to my phone and played it for her. When she was awake, I told her to squeeze my hand whenever she heard a song she liked. She squeezed my hand the entire time. Priest, of course, was her favorite band. And I will never forget that. Never.

In the dark days leading up to the 20th, I had been at the hospital pretty much round-the-clock, not sleeping at all. I was overcome with fear and such sadness, people would call me – “How’s Ebony?” -- and I would just start crying. That kind of awful, heavy crying where you’re just unable to form words and the tears run hot down your face and your nose is running and there’s never any Kleenex around. I’d get it together and go back in the room and was all ‘Happy Guy’ when Ebony would wake up. “Hey, baby!” Finally, after four sleepless nights at the hospital, Sundai said she would stay and I should go home and rest. I kissed Ebony goodbye and went home and crashed. 

At little after two in the morning, her Mother called. She couldn’t even speak, so the nurse got on the phone and said, “Her breathing is dropping. You should get here.” I was still dressed when I crashed so I got up and grabbed my phone and punched up a Lyft. 3 minutes later I was downstairs and crying to the driver, “My wife is dying. I have to get to the hospital right away!” The driver, whose name was Ralph, picked me up at 2:37 a.m. in Jamaica and got me to the hospital, on the Upper East Side on 68thand York, at 3:04 a.m. If you know Queens, you know that even at that hour, that is a fucking miracle. A fucking miracle. I tipped him twenty on the app and gave twenty in cash and ran upstairs to her room.

Her Mother was next to her and moved for me. Ebony’s breathing was labored, but soft. I sat next to her and held her hand. I kissed her and said, “I love you,” over and over again. The machines were beeping so I put some music on with my phone – I played “Legend,” the hits collection by Bob Marley and the Wailers – I thought that would be pleasant and peaceful – and put my phone on her shoulder. Ebony passed shortly after 7 in the morning, while I was holding her hand. “Stir It Up” was playing... I would have preferred “One Love” but you take what you get. 

For months now I have been reliving those final weeks over and over. Ebony was everything to me. She wasn’t just my “fiancée,” she was my best friend, my lover, my confessor, my life coach, my dream girl, my champion and when I lost her, I lost fucking everything. Every goddamn thing. She was the one person in my life that I knew, without a doubt, loved and desired me as much as I loved and desired her. Ten years and never once was it anything less than that. Even right down to those last weeks, when her Mother would leave the room and we were alone, I’d say to her, “Hey, whaddya think? Can we fuck in this bed or what?” And she would give me a look and a half-smile. Yeah, jokes: but all love all the way.

When she passed, I was a total wreck. I didn’t want to accept it. She was still warm, her hand in mine, and I kissed her cheek and once on her mouth and I wasn’t ready for her to go. I wasn’t prepared. It wouldn’t have mattered, I think. I just could not believe it. Thinking about it now… thinking back, I remember all the people that helped us, especially those who actually came to the hospital in those final weeks. Angus McIndoe was among them. He came up a lot, actually; I think he was there for me more than anyone, just because of his work schedule. He got out late and he’d show up at like, 2 in the morning and we’d have coffee and he would talk me down from whatever ledge I was on at the time. He also went through this with his father-in-law and knew what I was facing. One night, he brought me a meatloaf sandwich, which was awesome, and said, with his amazing brogue, “I can’t remember if you said Meatball sandwich or Meatloaf sandwich, but this is fuckin’ great. It comes with ketchup and gravy…” (I had told him I had been craving a Meatball sandwich at some point, and there ya go… the sandwich was awesome, by the way.)

My buddy, John, came up to see me and was terribly perplexed.  I know he didn’t like seeing Ebony like that, didn’t like hospitals, but she was asleep and that was pretty much where she was at that point, but she looked peaceful. But he was there --  there for me --  and, stymied, was like, “Do you want to get a coffee?” Just what I needed at the time. My friend Leslie, this kinda famous hot-shot actress, whom I have known as long as John – since I was 18 –came and brought her cool black esoteric shamanism and comforted me with her presence.

Kerry Anne DiGiovanni arrived -- and I will NEVER forget this – she totally looks like a young Rhoda – Valerie Harper – and the night before Ebony passed – Kerry DeeGee, DeeGee, Deeg -- and brought bags of snacks. Pirate Booty popcorn – of course she had to bring something about “Booty” – it’s a long story --- but nuts and a bunch of stuff… basically for Ebony’s Mother and me, but she was a welcome presence because she and Ebony had kinda palled-up in Newport. Deeg was no-bullshit – her mother was fully Irish and her dad is Italian and that’s a comical recipe for a no-bullshit SNL skit. Deeg was and is no BS and neither was Ebbs. Deeg was from Jersey and Ebbs was from Queens and they bonded over that. “Outer boroughs, baby!” I am totally, kinda, almost, basically pretty sure Deeg is mobbed-up and I am terrified of her. But of course that is absolutely not at all true. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE MAFIA. Nevertheless…. Ebbs would say, “So what? She likes you, her family likes you. You’re not getting clipped.” – Okay, so just right there – that’s how awesome Ebony was! She was totally down with my absurd, idiotic fascination with the Mafia (there’s no such thing as the ‘Mafia’). Like, she could quote “Goodfellas” and watched reruns of “The Sopranos” with me. And, ya know, here we were. Just, ya know, whatever. How fucking cool is that? Yeah. It’s that fucking cool. ANYWAY… neither of them was taking shit from anyone and they both loved cars and just her being there made me feel kinda okay for a little bit. That was it. Just people being people and sharing themselves in our time of need. Deeg, by the way, drives a stick. Yeah. Ebbs was always envious of that. “She’s a badass,” Ebony once said. So her presence that night was magical and fully appreciated. I will never forget that, or anytime friends came and visited. 

They all made things a little better, at the time. But no one and nothing could truly prepare me for the moment when Ebony passed. There is nothing anyone can say or do: as Liam Neeson’s character says in “Love, Actually” – “You’re basically fucked.”

When someone passes in a hospital, I learned, you get three hours and then you have to leave. The doctors came in, residents… nurses… social workers… they tell you, “Her body is transitioning, you have to leave…” I didn’t want to and I wouldn’t leave. Fuck them. But they keep coming back and telling us this. Eventually, there was no getting around it. But I wouldn’t leave the room until somebody came and sat with her. I didn’t want my last memory of her to be alone, in a hospital bed, in a cold room. Nope. Fuck them. I started cursing and said, “I’m not fucking leaving until someone comes in here and sits with her. That is not going to be my last memory of her, alone. Fuck you.” So there was some small commotion and then Winnie, this Jamaican RN came over – she had been around since Ebony was admitted and we’d talked about reggae and Jamaica and stuff – and she said, “I will sit with her.” And so she did. And we packed up everything, her Mother and I, and I, crying like a bitch – we left.

Pretty certain I spent the next few weeks getting out of my head, drinking my face off. It was total fucking agony and I spent nights in the apartment, knowing I had to leave as we were a two-income household – trying to figure out what the fuck to do – and obsessing over pictures of her and watching videos of things that made her laugh. Key & Peele, SNL, Graham Norton, Chappelle, Mitchell & Webb, various late night talk show bits… one of the things she loved and made her laugh that I am just thinking of at the moment was an SNL skit with Andy Samberg playing a white rapper named “Blizzard Man.” She would giggle hysterically when he would rap, badly, while all around him people were scratching their heads. “This is stupid,” she would say, and just giggle and I would lean over and tickle her, which she hated, and we would make out for a bit and then go back to watching the show. She loved the movie “Keanu,” also with Key and Peele, and especially liked the “code-switching” scenes. I asked her about that, “Did you ever have to do that?” And she said, “Yeah. Not with you. But with black people who think that because I’m black, I must love Beyonce.” That’s how I discovered Junglepussy. One day Ebbs came home from a four-day load flying around the country, and some FA or ground crew guy started talking to her about Queens underground hip-hop. She came home and said, “Hey, do you know Junglepussy?” And I was like, “Is this a test?” And she explained that someone had told her about this chick who was pretty cool and rapped and, eventually, we looked her up and Ebbs – who was not into rap – said, “She seems cool.” And PS—we were living in Briarwood, in Jamaica county in Queens, just 15 minutes from where 50 Cent got shot and Nicki Minaj broke – so we were at least vaguely aware of upcoming artists. So later on, I went to see Junglepussy in Boston because Ebbs had turned me on to her. But that was not at all even close to her musical interests. She loved metal. Rock and metal and the more extreme, the better. Our first show together was an extreme metal band from Greece called “Rotting Christ.” Yeah. Not something you’d put on the wedding invites.

Race was a thing. Not a thing I was psyched to talk about, but it was very real and affected us, both as victims and bystanders. I thought when I moved to New York Fucking City that there would never be baggage. Nope. Ebony and I experienced some of the worst shit I have ever seen or heard. In New York City, where I foolishly thought that could never happen, and also in my hometown of Newport, where I ignorantly thought that would totally never happen. It made me sick. Mostly, I was in shock; but later disappointed and aggrieved because I wanted to protect her and wanted nothing to harm her. We were walking to the beach one day when some jerks drove by us and yelled, to us, but at me, “N----- lover!” I was so stunned I was speechless. Speechless. Like, what do you even say? She seemed to take it in her stride, “Baby, do you think this is the first time I’ve ever encountered racists? This is now not new. I love you. Don’t sweat it. Those guys are dickless.” Still, I was ashamed.

The whole race shit bothered me, because I didn’t know how to make to make it better for her. She was just a really cool person and had to try to walk between the raindrops and it broke my heart to know she would have to suffer any indignation in the least. That was something I knew I would never truly understand and it upset me because I couldn’t ever make it better. Like cancer. She was just this awesome person, born and raised in Queens, who loved metal and white boys with long hair. She could talk you under the table about Motown and Stevie Wonder and Donna Summer and all the shit she grew up with, around her – she was born in ’76 in Queens, a neighborhood over from Hollis and her early years were spent growing up with people blasting hip-hop – and her (she said) “bougie” relatives on her father’s side, who had owned a hip jazz club in the 60s --Run DMC, LL Cool J – from their cars, boomboxes, whatever – and she – having black friends and white friends – happened to like Anthrax (a thrash metal band from Queens that blew up around that time) and eventually, got into more and more extreme metal. She didn’t like Hair Metal at all, although she liked Love/Hate, though I suppose it’s because she was attracted to (LH singer) Jizzy Pearl. But she wasn’t a fan of hip-hop either. But she was all about the rock – “the rock” – and followed that. In spite of what others thought of her.

Yeah, I’m rambling. So what? Are you in or out? She was a fully-Hell-bent individual, totally her own person and PS: she fucking loved Slayer. When I met her… oh, it was magical and perfect. At that point in her life, she was into industrial and goth and goth-metal. We met because of the Brooklyn goth-metal superheroes, Type O Negative.

Before I left Rhode Island, I had once gone to this radio promotion thing at a Strawberries somewhere upstate – Pawtucket, I think -- hosted by Michael Gonsalves. Michael Gonsalves was a DJ on 94 WHJY in Providence. You might have heard of him. He put together the Great White show at the Station in Warwick. I was on the guest list for that show and was still in NYC and couldn’t make it back. That was the night of the Station fire.

When I met him, back then, up at the Strawberries, he was doing some in-store thing and he had this late-night metal show on weekends and he had exposed me to a ton of cool music. So I went up there, not really sure why, but just because and I got to chat with him for a bit. “What are you liking right now that I should check out?” I said to him. And he – short RI guy with long brown hair and wearing a long leather trench-coat – very of the times and Bon Jovi  “Bad Medicine” era – and picked out a CD and handed it to me. It was “Slow, Deep and Hard.” The Type O CD that featured the incredible punky-metal doom song, “"Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity.” I bought it and played it and was forever changed.

Turns out, Type O drummer Johnny Kelly – well, his ex – used to tend bar in NYC with a buddy of mine. And I had told my friend about this awesome band – and that’s how I met Johnny Kelly. We’d both come in one this one night when we could get hooked-up on free booze and he was like, “Oh, you should come to such-and-such show.” So, that’s how I got to know Type O. He put me on the list and I never missed a Type O show in the area. Later, I was dating, um, an adult entertainer, and she was shooting for Hustler with a photographer who was dating the drummer from Life of Agony, who used to be the drummer for Type O before Johnny. He has a band now called “A Pale Horse Named Death,” and me and my then-girlfriend were at his 30thbday party and Johnny was there…

Now flash-forward a few years and Johnny and Kenny Hickey (Type O guitarist) have a side project going on and Johnny wanted to drum up some press because they’re going to shop their record. Peter Steele, Type O singer, was, um, indisposed at the time, so Johnny and Kenny had this going on and it was produced by Big Vin – Vinnie Paul – the drummer from Pantera and Johnny asked if I would help them get a little press and I agreed to interview them for KNAC.com. 

So… on December 27th, 2006, I am at the show, saw the show and Johnny brings me out to Duff’s in Williamsburg (the old Duff’s) and says, “We’ll do the interview here, but let’s get a drink.” So we go in… and that’s when I first saw Ebony. Ebony was 5’11” and wearing 6” platform creepers and towering over everyone and she just looked so fucking hot. I said to Johnny, “Who’s the foxy black goth girl?” – I literally said this -- And he was like, “I’ve seen her around… she’s a metalhead but I don’t know her. Slitzy knows her. Go talk to her!”

I think about this moment a lot because she was so beautiful but so intimidating. And Johnny, God bless him, was so blasé. “Yeah, whatever.” So later, Johnny and I did the interview in his truck and then I went back in and tried to figure out how to talk to her.

Not easy: she was surrounded by guys. But I just got my Irish up and decided I would stay until I was ready to fall over, but one way or another, I was going to talk to her. Right about the time when Johnny and almost everyone left, I was ready to throw in the towel… and I turned around and she was right there, with a mission to talk to me. “You look like Lestat!”

I was confused. “Lestat? You mean like Tom Cruise?” I couldn’t even imagine how anyone would compare me to Tom Cruise. “You mean because I’m short?” I didn’t get it.

“No! Like the book! Did you read the book?” I was like, “Uh, no…” And she went on to tell me that, according to her, Lestat looked like me. In the description I guess. And that’s how we met. But I was so freakin’ hammered, I didn’t want to embarrass myself and did and Irish Goodbye when she was talking to some other guys. I figured I would see her back at that bar another time. So I kept going out there looking for her. It took me a year, but on Superbowl Sunday, 2008, I ran into her again.

Now I know I am WAY off the topic, but we’re goin’ now.

So, I met Ebbs again and we closed the place – Duff’s, the old one in Williamsburg – and went out for breakfast. She said, “Hey, there’s a show this week with a band I love. You should come.” That would become out de facto first date.

I knew the second band on the bill – an Austrian Satanic Black Metal Band called Belphegor – and their publicist, Charles. I called him up. “Dude, what’s up?” he said. I said, “Charles, I met a girl.” And he said, “Oh, shit! What do you need, brother?” And I asked to be on the guest-list and a photo-pass (because Ebbs had also told me she was an amateur photographer and loved to shoot bands). And he said, “Dude, you’re in. Let me know how it goes.”

So I met Ebbs at the show and gave her the photo pass and she was giddy and cool and that night I asked her out on a proper date. And she said yes. And that was the night I fell in love. And I think if you asked her, she would say the same. And that show was headlined by an extreme metal band from Greece called “Rotting Christ.”

Yup. That was how we met.

Please forgive me for my rambling nonsense. It’s been a year and so much has happened. But sometimes I am stuck, reliving all this, alone and sad.

Lately, recently, I guess except for writing this, I have been thinking more about all the great times, the wonderful, silly, amazing things that we did together and all the little things. The happy things. Making pizza. She was born and raised in Queens and very, very particular about pizza, and the ones that delivered in the neighborhood she thought were, “just okay.” -- Once she went out with her fellow flight attendants – FAs – and they went out somewhere in Los Angeles (the JetBlue hub out there is Long Beach Airport) and got pizza (for reasons I will never comprehend) and Ebony, reluctantly, agreed. She told me she had a slice, took one bite and was like, “No.” -- So we decided to try making our own, you know, for fun. That quickly turned into: I would make the dough or roll it out and prep the pizza and she would stand in the kitchen next to me, or leaning against the wall, wearing high heels --- she loved to wear heels and I loved that she did – and drinking red wine, and just looking sexy and making me laugh. That was our little thing and I miss it so much. I miss so many things…

I remember the first time we kissed and we were just looking at each other, very closely – doe-eyed – and I said to her, “You smell SO good… you smell like the beach.” And she stared laughing. And I was like, “What?” and she said, “That’s cocoa-butter. I’ll explain it to you later.” And then she kissed me. I had so much to learn.

I think that’s about where I’m at right now. It still hurts and I think of her often, but when I do I think about all the things that were wonderful and I try not to dwell on the rest, the “bad.” Sometimes, I can close my eyes and picture a moment we had together and it seems so real, so tangible, it’s like she’s right there and it’s hard not to cry, but it’s a happy kind of crying.

Ebony’s final wish was to be cremated and have her ashes scattered over the water/along the Fjords of Norway. I had originally planned to do that today, commemorating her passing, but financially, it wasn’t in the cards. I still plan to do that, but it will either be later this year, in the fall, or in 2020 on this day.

At this point, I have listened to all my smart friends, people that have been through Hell, and promised myself I would not make any “major” life plans for a while. I have decided, now that, after living at home, I know my Mother is better and okay on her own, I am moving back to New York City. I’m not stupid – I’m going to stay here now that the weather is changing – and enjoy the summer – and I will move back in September. I will hold Ebony’s ashes for now because they mean so much to me; but I will honor her. I think, either in the fall, or on this day next year. I owe her that and I will honor that. Right now, I’m getting back to whatever is fucking normal, or at least normal for me. And right now, I’m actually in a pretty good place. Mostly because I loved and lived with the best person ever. I know who I am, I know what I’ve achieved and I know what I’m capable of. And it was because of Ebony.

I’m a prankster, a joker, a sarcastic prick, a self-effacing asshole: but I am all about love and living my life to the fullest. As Ebony would. And I have to carry on, and love her -- and honor her --- and remember her and stop sulking and feeling bad. Because she fucking loved life with both arms around it. And isn’t that how it should be, for all of us? Yeah. I’m in. I’m totally down for that. Because she was fucking worth it. She was a badass. And she would have pushed me forward.
And that’s where I’m at right now.

Fucking hashtag EbonyRules. #EbonyRules

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Angel on my Shoulder

My Raphael sketch of an angel, the first tattoo I ever got, now 30 years old, re-inked and electrified for the 21st Century, for Ebony. Artwork courtesy of Darren Rosa at Rising Dragon Tattoo on 14th Street (the same artist who did my dragon). I know she would love it — especially the purple. It is a small gesture but one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Going to Brazil...




The Love of my life is off to see Motorhead.
We will have to catch up with her after the show.

Ebony “Evelyn” Caprice Duncan
Fiancée, friend and total badass
January 12, 1976 — March 20, 2018