Break for freedom – Day 10 (The bullet)

Day 10 – Sunday, August 20, 2017 (The bullet)

7:51 a.m. – Back home from my walk. I looked up around 6:40-something this morning and said: “I want to go out.” In short order, out I went into the early morning cool.

I did not get as sweat-soaked today. I think (I don’t want to say this too loudly) I may be beginning to carve away power from fear. If you happen to bump into fear at a social event, please don’t let on. Fear is quite the control freak, any sign that someone is breaking free of its grasp makes it angry.

For whatever reason, perhaps because this is the month I got shot, I found myself thinking of the bullet lodged in the frontal lobe of my brain during the walk. The brain has no nerve endings, so I don’t feel it. If I were to identify one disappointment linked to its presence, it would be this; I don’t set off airport alarms. I had plans of approaching an airport metal detector and bowing my head forward so it would be the first to thing enter its realm. My thought was, the bullet will set the alarm off, the inspector will point at my head and ask, “So whattaya got in there?” and I’ll respond, “You’re never gonna believe this.” But, alas, these detectors don’t detect lead.

The bullet has been part of my being for most of my life now, 33 years the 24th of this month. It has done its damage, and no doubt plays a role in my life, to some degree. It has its limitations. Name one, you ask? Sure. It couldn’t stop me from taking my morning walk today.

KahrmannHeadXray2.jpg

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For James Scott “Jim” Brady aka Bear

Break for Freedom – Day 6 (My Dad’s day)

Day 6 – August 16, 2017 (My Dad’s day)

Back home 8:22 a.m. – A different day, in large part because today marks 48 years since my father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann, died. My father was and is the greatest gift my life has given me. Today’s walk, a truly sweet-morning mist in the air, was kind of magical. I reversed the walk starting yesterday so there is a nice uphill stretch, the soft-pain in my thighs from pushing the pace a welcome event.

As I was getting close to home, I remembered that 48 years ago, my father was alive in the morning. He was pronounced dead at 1:43 p.m. in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. Peritonitis took his life. The day he died, the world, for me, became a dangerous place to be. He was only 55. He was also my best friend.

I love you, Dad, my whole wide world. As Bob Dylan wrote: “And if there is eternity, I’ll love you there again.”

No power on earth could have stopped me from walking today.

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For my father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann, (Feb. 20, 1914 – Aug. 16, 1969).

Break for Freedom – Day 3 (Spaghetti Squash)

Day 3 – Sunday, August 13, 2017

7:26 a.m. – Ugly morning. First awake moments loaded with all kinds of discomfort, emotional, physical antsiness.  You don’t plan a day’s first moments; you live them.

In the shower, a few minutes ago, I realized the isolation has separated me from my body. This new awareness, I am pleased to report, riles me up, makes it far more likely I’m getting out the door this morning. I cannot shake the images of violence from the White Nationalist/KKK/Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday. I’m sure Donald Trump’s response-statement further secured his white-racist voting bloc.  If the man ever walks in front of my car I am not going to let my dislike for him have so much decision-making power it makes me to forget the brake-pedal is on the right.

8:47 a.m. – Home. God, what a beautiful word. I walked the same distance, again, without the armor of dog, walking stick, music, pepper spray.

It felt cool out. Three minutes in, I am soaked through and unable to tell if I am actually cold or not. A mishap of sorts from yesterday has me burst into laughter a few times, and that helped. I recently got on Instant Pot, a kind of pressure cooker. My friend, Annie, had suggested it as a help for someone like me whose patience mirrors the size of a gnat when it comes to preparing meals. I thought I’d begin with Spaghetti Squash.

I cut the squash in half, put some water in my new pressure cooker, saw it was set for 10 minutes, and on it went. I suppose the best way to let you know the outcome is to give you a paraphrasing of the conversation I had with Annie afterwards. I called her in Hawaii.

  • Hey, Annie. I just wanted to thank you for the Instant Pot idea. It’s great.
  • I’m so glad.
  • I had spaghetti squash!
  • Wonderful! How was it?
  • Drank it through a straw.
  • You drank – How much water did you use?
  • About three and a half cups.
  • Oh my God!
  • Too much?
  • (Laughing) Peter, maybe three-quarters of a cup.
  • I drank both halves.

Anyway, Day 3s’ walk is under my belt, next to the spaghetti squash.

Break for Freedom: Day 2 (Ha!)

Day 2 – Saturday, August 12, 2017

I’m going to have to get out of my own way if I am getting out the door again at eight today. They say, Keep it simple for a reason. As my friends, Maria and Annie like to say, Ha! They say this to me in a text or email from time to time, and at the best moments too. Maria lives in Florida and Annie lives in Hawaii. Recently, I suggested to Maria that we either have a baby boy, or adopt one, and name it Mueller, after Robert Mueller III, the man heading up the investigation in Russia-Trump and a man who, by any measure, represents all that much of our country needs to wake up and remember our country stands for.  Maria responded with a glorious, “Ha!”

The, Ha!, is loaded with humor, love for life, and the radiant, healthy defiance (playful in these instances) found in the face of one who is not about to have their love for life and equality tampered with.  Every time one of them fires off a Ha!,  I want to hug them. My life is far better off for the presence of Annie and Maria. For those who think men and women can’t be just friends, Annie’s been a friend of mine for 30 years at least, and Maria’s been a friend of mine for 40 years.

So, it is now 6:48 a.m. in the opinion of a digital clock that sits on the cluttered top of a two-tier filing cabinet. Oops! Changed its mind, it’s 6:49. Eight a.m. is coming into view. I need music and movement and a shower.

I suppose, too, if there is going to be any benefit to either of us, I’d be wise to offer a glimpse of my emotional state, which, of course, is physical and, spiritual too. I’m packed with fear and the sweat has started. Emotional, spiritual and physical equal one because they are one

7:42 a.m. – I’m out the door. (No dog, no music, no walking stick, no pepper spray.)

9:04 a.m. and I am finally home, another soaked shirt under my belt. Same distance walk as yesterday, followed by a trip to the store. Walking outside is something like being in another world. It’s overcast today, damp out. There is a street I walk on near here with large beautiful houses. I like looking at the care and love and creativity people bestow on their property is great fun.

There are gifts to going into the world you don’t expect. I walked past a tall, older woman with a Scotty on a leash. I said, “FDR would be proud.” She laughed and we talked for a few minutes. Here face had some serious scars and skin discolorations. It gave me great joy to continue looking right at her, smiling, listening, keeping our eyes connected. The discomfort you might feel when looking at an appearance influenced by scars, discolorations or whatever has nothing to do with the person you are seeing.

I told her I used to say dogs are people too until it occurred to me I was insulting the dogs. She burst out laughing and said, “That’s a good one!” We parted smiling.

Day 3 of this effort awaits. The good news is, it ain’t here yet. I’m going to have a cup of coffee now.

Ha!

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For Annie & Maria

30 years ago today

Thirty years ago today I was held up and shot in the head at point blank range. The bullet remains lodged in my brain. If you think this is a difficult day for me, it is anything but. In fact, the anniversary of the shooting finds me with an extra spring in my step, as the saying goes. First, the remarkable truth and gift that I still have my life is never lost on me on this day. That truth has a little extra glow to its already formidable luster.

I don’t spend a lot of time (anymore) thinking about the details of that morning. I was held up by two people, one, a teenager, was the shooter. I never did see the second person, the one who emptied my pockets while the kid held the gun to the side of my head. It was around five in the morning and it was dark and no one except the three of us was around.  After the person relieved me of the $63 in my pockets, the kid shot. I came to on the ground and somehow, I have no idea how because I have no memory of it, I got back to my feet. Soon a voice from down the street called out to me. I saw a slender man in pajamas hurrying towards me. I would later  learn his name. Mark Jenkinson. He was and is an extraordinary photographer and gifted writer.

The reality of that experience was, and in some respects, still  is,  out of my comprehension’s reach. I didn’t learn how far out of reach until the first year anniversary when I got together for dinner with friends, including Mark, at the 7A Café in the Lower East Side.  It was Mark who introduced me to  how beyond my comprehension’s reach that morning was, and how remarkable the human mind is at getting us through life’s rougher waters.

We sat together at dinner’s end and I told him my memory of that morning. That I’d heard him call out and when he reached me he took me by the arm and said, “My wife’s calling the police and ambulance,” and how we began walking towards his house and how I could see he was struggling to stay composed because I was bleeding profusely (20 percent of your body’s blood supply is in your head) and how when I saw police cars from the NYPD’s 84th Precinct in Brooklyn coming up the street I pulled him into the street and flagged them down because I was afraid they wouldn’t see us in the dark and that would mean the end of me.  And, how, when they stopped, I got into the back of the lead cop car under my own steam.

Mark gave me a gentle smile and said, “You’re completely wrong. The only thing you’re right about is you were lucid. The fact is you kept falling down and getting up when I saw you.” He went on to explain that he was laying me down on the front steps of his house when the police arrived and that I had to be helped into the back of the cop car. His more accurate memory of that morning was, while emotional to absorb, comforting because it made more sense. I realized that my memory of that morning reflected the mind’s capacity for survival. My mind was only allowing me to perceive what it could handle. Had it let me know the reality of my physical condition my ability to be lucid would have perished, and I probably would have to.

So, here’s to the miracle of life. Here’s to the all too few truly courageous and compassionate people like Mark, and lastly, here is my message to you. Remember to live. Please remember to live.