Tuesday, September 22, 2009


No, I'm not dead yet. The theatre I act with and do PR for moved to our newly rehabbed digs, and we open this coming Friday. I am up to my neck in getting media coverage, amongst other things, so I'm a bit insane. I'll try to post something for the weekend, but in the meantime, you can take a look at our efforts by going to:


It's been an all out effort, but will be worth it...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Because I was there.

I was in NYC 8 years ago on that Tuesday morning. I was in for the wedding of my former paramedic partner the Saturday beforehand, and it was the morning Mrs. N. and I were due to leave. I remember the confusion at first, as no one was quite sure what exactly happened when the first plane hit, but then watching the second plane hit, I knew right away this was no accident. We were staying with my mother in my old neighborhood in the Bronx. Immediately, and with a sense of dread, we tried to get hold of my brother, also a NYC paramedic. He works the overnight shift, and we were afraid that he might be on overtime, or was called back on duty and sent down there.

It turned out to be the latter, but fortunately, they kept him in the Bronx, and did not send him down to Ground Zero. Next, we tried to get hold of my cousin, who worked at Federal Plaza, which is a stone's throw away from the WTC. That took longer, as all the cell phone lines were jammed, but we did eventually find out that she did make it out of there and was headed back to her home in New Jersey.

I grew up in the northernmost end of the Bronx, so getting out of there was easier than in other parts of the city. We tried to go give blood at one of the local hospitals, but the line was so long for that, and we had a 6 1/2 hour trip ahead of us. We decided that we would give blood once we returned to Rochester. On the way to that hospital in the Bronx however, I encountered an eerie sight, as 2 F-15's screeched overhead of us, part of the aerial the patrol that wound up encircling the city for that day, and several more afterward.

We kept the radio tuned to whatever news stations we could find on the way, even trying to get whatever information we could going through the mountains and constantly picking up and losing stations. There was no music playing that day. Wherever you tuned to, there was only one story. We made it home, stunned, shocked, but relived.

We also realized how close it could have come to being victims, as we were not far from the WTC the day before, taking a day trip into Manhattan to revisit some old haunts.

So when you stop to think about today, think about the lives that were lost, both civilian and rescuers. Keep one rescuer in mind: EMS paramedic Ricardo Quinn, a former colleague. He died when Tower 1 collapsed. You can read about him here:


Because I was there, I cannot help but remember...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A rock and a hard place.

"Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament." - George Satanyana.

Here' s my predicament: One step up and two steps back seems to be where my life is headed at this point. As much as I have wanted to move forward with both career and life goals, it seems as though I am stuck in neutral, with no clear way to shift forward - at least until last week.

It's no secret that I struggled with depression about seven years ago. A laundry list of reasons, from 22 years of riding on an ambulance, to my illness and transplant, to the loss of a very dear friend, all these things built up to the point of crushing my psyche. It also had the effect of stripping away the best part of me, the Mr. Nighttime that was evident during my long years as a paramedic.

This was driven home to me recently when I was reconnected with an old medic buddy of mine, who recounted the story of what I did in the emergency department of a particular hospital in Brooklyn. I remember the incident well. It was my buddy's first week as a paramedic, so new that the sheen was still bright on his license that he carried in his wallet.

We brought a patient into this hospital that was having some mild trouble breathing, and before we left, I wound up shoving a doctor out of the way while he was trying to intubate the patient, (he was doing it wrong) for he was killing the poor man. I intubated the patient on the first shot, and just growled at the doc to do what I told him when I told him to do it. My buddy told me how awed he was by this that he never saw anyone do that to a doctor before, and to this day he tells that story from time-to-time.

I remembered everything about that incident, save for the part at the end. My buddy told me, "Yeah, but when you told him (the doc) he was about as useless as tits on a bull, that's when I almost lost it."

I said that?

This was the part that got to me. I began to recognize that the Mr. Nighttime that could have the brass cojones to say and do what he did in that emergency department all those years ago, that Mr. Nighttime is what is missing today. Well, not missing, but buried somewhere. It was that Mr. Nighttime that drove himself to being a writer, a speaker, an actor, and it is that Mr. Nighttime that got himself promoted twice within the medical center where he worked.

The person who I was back then was aggressive, and focused. I lost a lot of that along the way, and have been struggling to get it back for the past 10 years or so. I need to get that person back completely, if I am ever goign to gey myself out of this suck-ass job, and where I want to be as a person, and as a writer, amongst other things.

I put myself back into therapy recently, and through an exercise we did, the one thing that stood out was that the most important thing that I saw in myself was my desire to help people. I can't do that as a paramedic anymore, and I have not been able to find that one thing that allows me to have that with the regularity that I was used to: the day-to-day stimulation from riding on that ambulance provided. I get it piecemeal now, through writing, acting, improv and some other ways, but it isn't the same. This is what I think, has been the greatest impediment to my being able to move forward.

My predicament? Getting back to where I once belonged.