Thursday, June 30, 2011

Passed Away Resulting from Cancer: Poh Nikbar June

Terrell Moore

I received an email in March from the mother of a young cancer patient, Terrell Moore, who I had visited at Children’s National Medical Center in December. It had taken her a long time to write me—I presume she couldn’t find the words. She wanted to thank me for visiting Terrell and other children with cancer. She also wanted me to know that her son was at peace and in God’s house—he passed away from acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Terrell was a lively high school student—he enjoyed photography, Facebook, flirting, and playing basketball and the trumpet. He was the epitome of style, especially when it came to sneakers—he actually licked his new pairs right out of the box.

Two weeks after his school prom last May, Terrell’s liveliness was stripped away as he was diagnosed with leukemia. But don’t take that, as well as my initial impression of him, the wrong way: He was a fighter. Doctors told Terrell’s mother that he may not survive the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine—many cancer patients don’t. Well, when he came off it, those same docs were surprised he was still alive.

And a week after he was discharged in January, he had a seizure at home and was transported back to Children’s. A CT scan showed three brain lesions, one the size of an egg—his cancer had spread, and returned to his marrow. The same docs told Terrell’s parents that they didn’t expect him to live past that day, but he hung on for nine more, enduring more radiation. Terrell passed away on January 23, 2011 at 2:47 a.m.

Terrell’s grandmother was present when I visited him last December. Terrell had a loving immediate family—mother Gina, father James, and brother Theydon—but, according to Gina, he and his grandmother, Nellcena, had a special bond. I recall the darkness of his room—shades drawn, sullen look on his face, trache exiting his throat. Nellcena accepted a copy of my book and handed it to him, remarking that it was special of me to come by. She was patient with him, cheerful, loving, and encouraging.

Gina emailed me his memorial service program. It included a collage of photos from throughout Terrell’s life: holding up new sneakers, hugging his grandmother, dressed for church, dribbling a basketball, and smiling with his family. Always smiling. It was difficult for me to recognize that was the same young man I met at the hospital. I wish I had gotten the chance to meet the Terrell with his whole life in front of him.

I shared my brief memories of Terrell with Gina. She said I brought her tears of joy. She also said that, based on the huge turnout at his memorial service, I wasn’t the only one he made an impression on. His friends, members of his hospital staff, and one of his oncologists were at the church, which was full of paraphernalia from his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. That team name has always made me rankle, but after his mother said that, I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Terrell Moore high school senior photo

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 27, 2011

Arlington Update: Poo

I walk up and down my building's stairs for exercise. Sometimes 72 flights. One evening, between the first- and third-floor stairs, I dodged little doggy grenades. I'm damn glad to be nimble for a half-hip dude.

This past Saturday I noticed vomit at my floor's elevators. The culprit attempted to cover it up by spraying Lysol. It remained for half the day before someone from maintenance cleaned it up.

And then there was this chemical warfare right in front of my door. I consider the possibility that this exited a Homo sapien.

Dog poop in Arlington, VA, apartment building

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Two-Time Cancer-Slaying Super Model: Part I

American Cancer Society's Cure by Design in Washington, DC
“How would you like to be a model?” Star said. “Don’t laugh—our newest event is a fashion show called ‘Cure by Design’.”

Star had just purchased a copy of my book at my signing at a local Starbucks back in January. She thought of several ways I could get involved with her employer, American Cancer Society. Cure by Design—an event in which the fashion, design and retail communities join forces with the local corporate community to benefit the American Cancer Society—sounded the most interesting.

My only previous experience with fashion shows was watching Heidi Klum and the other Victoria’s Secret Angels strut down the runway. I thought Cure by Design would be stupid. But free book publicity + free designer clothing = sign me up. Multiply that by open bar = I’ll do anything.

The event was this past Saturday at The Grand Hyatt Washington. The twenty female and five male survivors of varying ages and sizes were not your typical models. I only recently became interested in men’s fashion, have never modeled anything, and, based on my success rate with girls, saying that my facial construction is attractive is arguable.

I quickly took up my role, though. The models were given a catwalk demonstration by a seeming professional. She showed the women how to walk with attitude, but I wouldn’t let the men remain a neglected bunch. “How should we guys walk,” I asked?

Her answer was insufficient, so I pestered. “Do we smile the whole time, part of the time, or none of the time?”

“Should we keep a hand in our pockets?”

“Seriously, how would Tyrese Gibson walk?”

During the dry run we walked as someone read our bios that we had provided to them. When I wrote my bio—a silly stream of self-promotion—I had assumed most of it would be replaced. But I finished my walk as the reader said, “And if Ben’s book, TWICE, ever becomes a movie then he hopes his character is played by his favorite musician, Lil Wayne.” Unadulterated.

With two hours left before the cocktail hour, the women began getting their hair and makeup done. The men were given the option, but all five went straight to the bar instead.

I was never one to talk about my cancer story. But in a setting like this, of course it comes up. I realized that all these other guys, from age 22 up to 51, had a sick sense of humor like me. KC, who was not far out from colon cancer, said he wouldn’t mind getting a colonoscopy every six months because he didn’t want the cancer to do him in. KC once had two or three colonoscopies within a week. “The prep was terrible. I was completely emptied out by the end of that week. You could’ve eaten off my colon, it was so clean,” he said.

Ashy also was a colon cancer survivor, and remarked on the colonoscopy preparation. “I used to have to drink a gallon of that berry shit. But this last time it was half that. I asked the doctor why and he said, ‘Well now you only have half a colon.’” Ah, the little things.

We all got in line prior to the fashion show. There was one child model, a 22-month-old girl. I got to walk behind her—a treat, except for the feeling of invisibility following in her little shoes.

Soon enough it was my turn, after the toddler and her escort made it off the stage. My adrenaline was running wild. My name was called. I walked up the steps and onto the catwalk, in front of the lights and roaring onlookers. I wore a pair of cargo shorts, a summery long sleeve shirt with turned-out cuffs and a unique inner design, and a navy cardigan, all from Homini Emerito by Mango. Walking was such a rush that I can barely remember it, and was over as soon as it began—a truly awesome experience.

My adrenaline relayed into confidence as I talked to PoorMichigan for the rest of the evening. We joked about driving off in one of the Porsches that were on display for the live auction, as well as me being famous. Regardless of my cheekbones and jaw not resembling Brad Pitts’, surely nobody could turn down a published author and model, right? Whoops! I guess I had forgotten I was only a fake model. (Don’t tell PoorMichigan that I’m only a quasi-author, too.) “I would go out with you, but I don’t think my boyfriend would approve,” she responded to my inquiry. I guess I’ll just have to become a real model in order to insure against rejection. Read about that in “The Two-Time Cancer-Slaying Super Model: Part II,” coming soon.

I met many awesome people. One survivor got her inspiration from her friend, a five-time survivor. Another survivor’s body no longer functions properly because of her brain cancer—a young and uber-fit woman, requiring a pacemaker among God knows what else. I may have been the only multi-cancer survivor. There just aren’t many of us; I’m one of the few who have made it this far. Me and Five-Time. Fucked. It’s all fucked.

I hardly sell any copies of my book. Despite its 4.5-star Amazon rating; readers who say it is their favorite book, gives them a new perspective on life, is hilarious; and my fiery desire for it to take off, it may never do so. Selling books—or anything—is very difficult. Nevertheless, my book has provided me the opportunity to participate in events like Cure by Design, and I am grateful for that.

Keep reading:
The Two-Time Cancer-Slaying Super Model: Part II

Leia Mais…

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I Bought a House

I am cheap. I vigorously research every product I buy to make sure I don’t miss a bargain. I rarely make impulse purchases or those with only short-term gains.

I bring my lunch to work most days. If I do buy a sandwich then I’ll often save half for the next day. I won’t get a drink with meals, even if the eatery offers Coke Zero which I love. And even if Coke Zero only costs $1.

I wait to do laundry until I visit my parents, because I don’t want to spend $10 for two loads on my condominium’s machines. My dirty laundry sometimes builds for four weeks.

I live in south Arlington in a building riddled with roaches and asbestos because it’s way cheaper than any other complex in the area given the same inclusions like a gym, parking and utilities.

Based on JD’s willingness to spend money, my reticence has little to do with genetics. I would just rather deposit money into my index funds and ETF in order to increase my future wealth. Additional money in the future is more valuable to me than some money now.

I am not poor or stuck with student loans, and I’m fortunate enough to have a steady job. Our ailing economy needs people like JD—instead of people like me—but when it comes to personal finance I look out for number one. My friend, Hamburgers, and I expect nothing from social security, and are preparing accordingly. In fact, we wouldn’t mind if politicians told us that anyone under 30 would never see a cent from social security, but would continue to pay the tax to help bring down the deficit. We’d be OK with that. Since few young people vote anyway, it wouldn’t be political suicide. Bring it on, Obama.

My two largest purchases ever had been a plasma television and used spin bike. I have never bought a car, couch or kitchen utensil/appliance/furniture of any kind.

Enter Benjamin 2.0.

I got into slim-fit shirts and low-rise pants. The form-fitting apparel and reduced crotchal fabric make me appear taller and leaner. Though I still search for coupons and buy on Black Friday, my new clothing comes from pricey retailers like Brooks Brothers and

Keen sneaker good for shoe liftMerrell slip-on good for shoe liftAnd then my insurance changed, and for the first time my rocket shoe is covered with no annual or lifetime cap. I’ve already gotten my four existing left shoes lifted, but also purchased three new pairs just in case coverage changes. And I happen to like fairly expensive shoes, like Keen casual sneakers and Merrell slip-ons.

And then I bought a house—a three-story, three bedroom, two full bath, two half bath, end unit with a fenced backyard, walk-in master closet, and new refrigerator, dishwasher, and roof.

Woodbridge townhouseWoodbridge townhouseWoodbridge townhouseWoodbridge townhouseWoodbridge townhouse
Woodbridge townhouse

I am probably going to replace the carpet, and replace the steps with laminate. And the laptop I’m currently typing on is rapidly progressing toward death—and thus a replacement. I need to buy dress socks that match my new pants. And Google TV looks pretty awesome. I could really use a pull-up bar for my apartment. How about a tattoo before summer ends.

I consider the house a new form of monetary investment, and my electronic devices investments into happiness, and my clothing an investment in myself. I kind of like the new me—less predictable, more of a risk-taker, and more confident. And with animalistic sex appeal. See for yourself as I strut mosey down the runway at next week’s Cure by Design Fashion Show put on by the American Cancer Society.

The new me is also sure to invest more time into my book, which I am determined to make successful. I just need to get it in the right hands, need more publicity, more press releases, blog posts, speaking engagements, TV appearances, radio interviews, and of course more fashion shows. Benjamin Rubenstein, the Two-Time Cancer-Slaying Model, is ready for hire. Calvin Klein? Burberry? K-Mart? I will literally work for $1. Fuck it, I’ll pay them. What, you don’t think a 15-inch cancer scar is sexy?


Postscript: My townhouse is officially on the rental market. It resides in the much sought after Old Bridge Estates community in Woodbridge, VA. Holla at yo boy for more details.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Now Batting, #6, Benjamin Rubenstein

My aunt and uncle have Baltimore Orioles season tickets, and the seats are disgusting. I went to the game two weekends ago against the Nationals. See, I'm batting! Well, almost, at least.

Benjamin Rubenstein on-camera at Baltimore Orioles game

Felix Pie, take your .259 on-base percentage and 0 home runs and get the hell out of the way of the camera so I can be on TV again.
Baltimore Orioles on television

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