Gangsta’s Paradise: Right On The Button

I remember bumpin’ to this tune way back in ’96,
Coolio killed it with this joint before his career hit the skids,
’twas a big hit for us 90s kids,
probably the closest we’d come to being gangsters, bloods or crips,
also took me back to one particular day,
one filled with thrills, spills and a whole lot of pain,
It was just another day, a game of soccer under the sun,
lunchtime ritual away from class, it’s time for some fun,
didn’t need to be a pro to be all in,
just needed heart and a child-like desire to win,
been a long time but I can still recall when the cocky young peacock tamed the hulking behemoth.

We all picked sides, ain’t nobody wanted to be the keeper,
one conceded goal will see that dude taken to the cleaners,
never mind if their teammates left them hanging and wide-open,
the blame falls on them, always, they’re gonna have to pay for it,
that role fell to me more often than not,
Ain’t no magician with the ball might as well block all those shots,
I watched from my post as the others dribbled, passed and slid,
spinning and posturing, channeling their inner Lionel Messi,
forget a friendly match, these park games were wars,
such is the mind of a child, it was win-at-all costs.

Against the backdrop of that peaceful, early afternoon calm,
the young men whooped and hollered as they kicked that ball around,
orders were shouted like some Saving Private Ryan shit,
at times it got heated but was left in the pitch,
twenty minutes of game time before heading back to class,
to silently pray that the time would go by fast,
this day was different, something was imminent,
a free kick was called, lunchtime’s over in 10 minutes.

A slick striker, let’s call him Rick, offered to take the kick,
a successful last-grab would crown him king of the kids,
but standing before him was a menacing brick wall,
let’s call him Don, that kid was built like a mini Incredible Hulk,
like a scene from an old western film the young men eyeballed one another,
one of them would fall before lunchtime was over.
Rick was ready to take his shot but Don was too close,
“better get back,” warned Rick, “this shot’s no joke,”

Brimming with ego and bluster, the big ogre scoffed
“shut up and kick!” he roared, “you’re not getting shit off!”
he set up in front of Rick, almost in a sumo squat,
that ball shall not pass, no, not on his watch,
so Rick took his shot, a loud boom echoed immediately,
down went Don, clutching his jewels, vomiting profusely,
shit was colored purple, damn, Boy, what ‘cha been eating!?
his aura of intimidation shattered, poor Don’s arrogance melted into weeping.

Tears streamed down his face as he rolled about in agony,
feeling as though he’d been castrated or undergone a vasectomy,
both warring factions gathered around the fallen beast,
with a mixture of concern and stifled laughter, topped off with disbelief,
Rick couldn’t care less about the scene that he’d caused,
“I warned him,” said he, “not to stand too close to the ball.”
just like that, the game was done, the bell was imminent,
took three lads to help Donnie to his feet, the pain between his legs worse than the sting of defeat.

That’s one particular incident that I can recall vividly,
from my enormous storehouse of childhood memories,
learn from Donnie’s error, stay humble, be confident but not cocky,
life will even the score, always, sometimes sadistically.

Ocean Drive: Follow-Up with Dr. B

A nice R ‘N B tune from late 1995,
Nice beats, smooth guitar, even a trumpet solo, this one’s a favorite of mine,
Was expecting good news from the doc around this time,
Here’s where I’ll be rewarded for the hard grind.


My next meeting with Dr. B was scheduled for the third day of October. I continued to go from strength to strength leading up to the date, rebuilding my broken body through simple strength exercises and light cardio in addition to eating healthily and taking my medication. Day in and day out it was eat, sleep, train, take meds and repeat, still running on that recovering patient treadmill, although now I had recovered sufficiently enough to work out and go for walks and short drives so it wasn’t quite as exasperating anymore. I wasn’t shifting gears just yet, though, tempting as it was. I needed to get the green light from Dr. B first before I could return to my normal routine, albeit a less intense version of it.
But I did go on my first road trip in months with the family a few days prior to the appointment to a Japanese-themed botanical garden located a few hours away from home. The sun shone and the winter air was slowly dissipating, allowing for the perfect day to stroll among plants, trees, gardens and a sprawling pond smack bang in the middle of the place although some trees hadn’t yet recovered sufficiently enough from winter and carried some bare branches as a result. It was the first time in months that I had been away from home for anything other than a trip to the doctor or hospital and I saw it as another victory over ulcerative colitis.

I felt calmer and more at ease a few days later as I sat in the waiting room of Dr. B’s clinic with my parents. It was late afternoon and the sun was setting outside as the chilly spring air picked up. We were expecting positive news and were also curious to find out if it would be possible to reduce my dosage as my health had improved significantly. While I had grudgingly acclimatized to life as a chronic disease sufferer I was hopeful (and remain so to this day) that this fucking disease would eventually leave me alone forever and that I wouldn’t have to put these drugs into my system anymore. The idea of being dependent on medication in order to function properly never did sit well with me. I preferred to be healthy as a horse and free as a bird and I missed the feeling of going out with friends and traveling overseas without having to worry about lugging around a bag of medication with me.

Dr. B called us into his office after fifteen minutes of waiting. It had been two-odd months since our previous meeting and during that time I had successfully weaned myself off of the Prednizone tablets, raised my haemoglobin levels back to a healthy level and taking three Imuran tablets and four Mezavant tablets a day, the full dosage for both. My parents and I were chomping at the bit to shock the hell out of Dr. B with my progress and as we walked into his office the look on Dr. B’s face said it all. He smiled as my parents and I took our seats, visibly impressed that the walking, talking, pale-faced cadaver that he had become acquainted with a few months ago was gone, replaced by a healthier man with more color on his features and an extra spring in his step. The massive window in his office gave us a picturesque view of the sun setting over the suburbs below, painting the landscape a light shade of red-orange. It was a lovely view, the perfect setting for a very positive meeting.
“So how are you feeling today?” he asked.
“A lot better, Doctor, thanks.”
“Well, you look a lot better than the last time we met, that’s for sure.”
If I had been an anime character my surroundings right then and there would have faded into a happy, multi-colored background dotted with glittering stars as the camera panned to a low-angle shot of me to make me seem seven-feet tall as I hopped off my seat, pirouetted several times and ended the impromptu dance routine with a thumbs up while shouting ‘YEEESSSS!!!!’ at the top of my lungs as the kanji that translated my victory yell splattered across the screen for emphasis. That was music to my ears.
Dr. B gave me a brief moment to take in the good news before switching back to business mode.
“Well, let’s get to it…..

And with that began a discussion about my treatment and he also complimented me on how far I’ve come. That I had managed to bounce back from severe pancolitis and returned to healthy haemoglobin levels rather quickly were, according to him, quite impressive. He credited my good health prior to the disease as a possible reason for my speedy recovery in addition to my resilience but also added that it is still a mystery as to how a fit and healthy human being could have possibly come down with the disease in the first place. He also credited my parents for helping me in terms of diet and monitoring my dosages. It was certainly a team effort, not just a one-man show, to get me back on track.
The plan now was to keep me on my current dosages for the time being before our next meeting. Man, you would have needed a steel pipe to remove that smile from my face and my dad was practically jumping off of his seat.
“You should be proud, mate,” Dr. B said with a smile.
“I am, Doc.”

You bet I’m proud. We slayed the beast within, how could I not be?

“As long as you keep taking your medication, continue to keep your stress levels down and stay healthy in general, which seems second-nature to you, I think we can keep this thing in remission for good.”
“He takes his medication religiously,” added my father.
“Good,” smiled Dr. B, “that is good to know. Keep up the current dosage for now.”
Dr. B then added a word of caution, perhaps as a means of making sure that I stayed on the right path and wouldn’t become foolish with overconfidence, the bane of many a recovering patient.
“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that, just because you are on the road to recovery, you can suddenly reduce your dosage or stop taking your medication completely,” he warned, a tone of resignation in his voice that suggested he had dealt with patients in the past that had made such a stupid mistake, “those same people are the ones that end up in the emergency room requiring surgery to remove their bowels. Stopping treatment at the wrong time will result in the disease coming back – with a vengeance!

‘With a vengeance.’ Wow, that sounds pretty fucking serious.

I nodded my head vigorously. There was no way in hell I was going to go through that shit all over again, pun intended, and I certainly didn’t fancy the idea of having my bowels cut out of me and having to live with a bag hanging out of my abdomen to shit in.
Yeah, HELL NO!!! Fuck that shit! Pun not intended.
“I’ll be good, Sir,” I responded, “let’s keep this thing dead and buried.”
Ever the master at keeping our meetings light-hearted and tension-free, Dr. B then changed the subject.
“Have you returned to your normal life yet?”
“Not yet, no. I wanted to check with you first.”
“I see.”
A grin then formed on his features. This had to be good news.
“I think you’re good now,” he replied happily, “but please continue to take it easy in the meantime.”
The good vibes surged through my system once more and I had to fight the urge to stand up and perform that anime style victory dance-plus-pose. This was one of the happiest days of my life and it had to be a good day for Dr. B, too. Right from the start he seemed to make it his personal mission to restore me back to good health and get me back into my normal life, including the martial arts training, and on both counts he succeeded with flying colors. Yes, he had done it again!
“Thank you for the good news, Doc.”
“Keep up the good work, mate.”
He then turned his attention over to my parents, who had helped to make all of this possible.
“You both did well to help him get to this point.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” my mother answered proudly.”

Dr. B then turned back to his computer and set about booking our next appointment, which he did so for the following January. He also left me with some exciting parting words.
“So like I said, just keep up your current dosage. Come January, let’s see if we can take the first step towards weaning you off at least one of your meds.”

Oh hell yes! One big step back to total normalcy!

I nodded my head enthusiastically. “Yes, doc. I’m glad to hear that.”
“Until then, take care and stay healthy.”
With that, my parents and I shook hands with Dr. B before departing his clinic. Peak hour traffic had begun during the drive home and my parents and I found ourselves stuck in slow-moving traffic, no doubt surrounded by stressed-out afternoon commuters coming off of another exhausting day at work, but I didn’t care as my mind was elsewhere. I lapped up the good vibes from that positive meeting with Dr. B and as the family vehicle continued to crawl along the traffic under the darkening sky as night fell, all was good in the world. It had been a long, hard climb to get to this point and as I looked up at the road ahead, the mountain’s peak had become visible through the clouds and mist.

Leave out all the rest: Good luck, bro

People are temporary, not all but for some the sentiment rings true,
immediately comes to mind whenever I remember you,
a fragile soul you were, somewhat volatile but full of spirit and pep,
it was almost Christmas time the day we first met,
by your own account yours was a life colorful and tough,
born out of misfortunes, some of your own making, but I ain’t here to judge,
can’t say we were best buds but got along well enough for you to open up ranting and raving whenever the days seemed rough.

And so it went for the next year, chopped it up whenever we could,
talking about life, the bad and the good,
it was hard to keep up once you got going,
you talked a million miles per hour I sometimes couldn’t get a word in,
but still I listened, I guess you needed someone to lean on,
I should know, even loners need a friend to count on,
I was privy to every battle you took part in, internally and externally,
offered advice as best I could, unsure if I was even helping,
you hid your pain well when we spoke face to face,
but with phones between us the conversations went to a darker place,
I won’t go into details but shit hit the fan at times,
took some doing to keep you sane, to keep you in line,
promised that it would be glorious on the other side of the storm,
that pain doesn’t last and soon you’ll get what’s yours.

And soon enough it passed but I won’t take credit for it,
you won the war and now can enjoy the spoils that come with it,
I was happy for you, bro, you well and truly earned it,
but little did I know that something was bubbling beneath the surface,
lost touch a few months later, conversations became sporadic,
perhaps you’d moved on, hopefully to a life that was awesome and fantastic,
then you came screaming back, a text message appeared just like that,
the party must’ve ended after a while for the text spewed forth vitriol and bile,
apparently I’m a phoney and a snake that was stringing you along,
gaslighted and stabbed you in the back and that we’re foes from now on,
shit had me wondering what you’d been smoking,
I guess it’s the end of our friendship, fine by me, so be it
I ain’t mad if that’s what you think of me and the time I’d put in,
you want to be a coward and victim? Go ahead and live with that shit.
but you crossed the line when you did the same to some people we knew,
they are some of my best friends, bud, that was a revolting move,
it’s sad and pathetic, the levels that you would stoop, exposing yourself as a weak, bitch-made fool,
I thought of putting hands on you for that, I ain’t gonna lie,
but doing so would be an unnecessary waste of my time,
good luck in life, bro, you are going to need it,
you’ve burned these bridges for good, there’s no turning back from it.

But still I wish you well, wherever you are,
I hope you’d found peace and happiness, whether you’re near or far,
be strong and hold on, keep yourself in check,
make each day count, don’t do anything stupid that you’ll regret.