Sunday, August 10, 2014

A New Beginning

     Well here we are again and here I sit wondering what the hell to write about today. I haven’t had a clue until a reader asked how long I’ve been writing. As most of you know I have pretty much covered this, a few times. Maybe what I haven’t covered is why I retired. Some know, some don’t.
Yeah, I wish I looked like this.
     I am now just shy of my fifty-fifth birthday and I am retired. That may be over simplifying it. I was forced to stop working and go on disability. Now, before everyone jumps to conclusions, I did everything within my power to not stop working. I went to doctor after doctor. I did the acupuncturist. I did massage therapist. I followed every doctor recommendation. Nothing was working. My feet were simply shot from standing on them for over thirty-two years on concrete.

     Years ago, when I first started working in professional kitchens, and I use the term loosely for some of the places I worked, there were no such things as fancy pads to stand on. No one warned us to get better shoes, other than sneakers. Of course, in your teens and early twenties, you know everything anyway, so most of us probably wouldn’t have listened. It wasn’t until many years later when I went to culinary school that it sunk in that I was killing my feet. What I didn’t realize was the damage was already done, I just didn’t know it yet.

     Side note here: I went to culinary school years later because for me to advance, I needed that little piece of paper. I may need to do a separate blog about going to school so late in life. I had a blast, and that is all I am going to say for now. 

     Anyway, back to the story at hand. I really was at the pentacle of my career and having the time of my life. I’d gotten much further that I had ever thought I could go. I loved my job. I was doing something that I truly loved. It didn’t hurt that I was finally making really good money. It’s amazing what a difference that little piece of paper did. Yet another reason I push education. 

     Yeah, well that ended and rather abruptly. I had my first heart attack at age forty-nine. That set me on my ass for a while. Between that and the feet, I was done. I might need to also say here, that it isn’t just my feet but my knees also, although not as bad. Oh, and now the ticker. I had my second heart attack three years later. It was worse than the first. 
Yeah, I wish my doctor looked like that!
     My doctor sent me to a Social Worker and she got me all fixed up and sent off all the forms to Social Security. Now I had been warned that it sometimes took several times to apply and that I may have to appeal the decision, not only from the Social Worker herself, but from others who had been unfortunate to go through the process. One guy told me, while sitting in a wheelchair, that it took a year for him to get approved. To prove how bad a shape I was in, I got a positive response in only six weeks. Yep. I have a train wreck for a body. 

     I was damn lucky. I had already emptied my savings with paying all the doctor bills. I then cashed in my 401K to pay other bills and to have a little something to live on. That first year after quitting work was the worst year of my life. Not only did I feel like crap from the heart attack but I was depressed because I really missed my job, and the money. 

     Like most jobs, once you leave, the friends you had slowly start to fade away. After all, you’re not part of the group anymore. You don’t know about the daily grind and the things that went on “at work”. Yeah, I had a few friends outside of work, but the majority of colleagues I had been working with or had worked with in the past. Trust me when I say that the people in the food industry are a tight-knit group. Well, tight-knit until you’re no longer part of the group. 

     Basically, what I’m saying here is, I was looking at losing everything I had worked for because I didn’t have a paycheck. I was sitting in a house that was quickly going downhill because I couldn’t take care of it, alone. I became so depressed I truly thought of suicide several times. I felt worthless. I couldn’t do anything and I am the type that can’t just sit still and do nothing. I later moved into an apartment, which was killing me. I hated it. 

     That is when I was contacted by an online friend (about the only friends I had at the time) who said there was a woman who needed some advice and a beta reader for a book she was writing. It was a crime/romance type thing that had a couple of gay guys in it. She wanted to make sure that the two gay guys were true to life. 

     That day changed my life. I felt somewhat useful for a change. We became friends and she sent me a few books. Then she said that there was a whole M/M genre and that I should check it out. I did. What I found was a plethora of books that I could relate to. Okay, for the most part. Many of them made the same mistake as my new friend had made and tried to put a dick on a chick. There were some good ones out there and then some really rank ones. I became a reviewer for a short while. I wasn’t very good at it. I have a tendency to speak my mind and I don’t hold back. Not a good thing if you’re reviewing books, I found out. 

     So this friend pushed me into writing. She really pushed me. Made me join a writing group which pushed me into writing very short shorts. I’m talking five hundred words or less. That was tough. BUT I did master that. I got very good at it actually. I then wrote a short story and the moderator of the group pushed me to see about publishing it. Yeah, right. That’s going to happen. Well I’ll be damned if they didn’t take it. I made $25.00! Woo-hoo! 

     Hey, it wasn’t much, but it gave me some hope. I was pushed some more, this time from another woman. This little English woman pushed, and pushed, and then pushed some more. See, I had written several other short stories and a novel of sorts. Okay, maybe it was more of a novella than an actual novel. Anyway, she pushed me to self-publish a short story and then another one. I wrote another novel and it went over pretty big. Oh hell, it was number one on Amazon for a short while in gay romance. I was over the moon! 

Now this is the way to celebrate!
     That first published short story saved my life. Even though this hasn’t been the easiest last few years, I’ve learned a lot. Made a lot of new friends and have had a good time. I also was able to go to Paris, a lifelong dream of mine. I must have gained ten pounds in a week! 

     I would just like to thank those who pushed me, encouraged me and took the time to help me. Without you, I don’t know that I would be here. 

     This is a good time to say it. You know what I’m gonna say, don’t you? Yep, it’s that time again. If this doesn’t prove to you that what you do can help someone along the way can make a difference, I don’t know what will. Even the smallest of things can give someone hope. Lift them up just enough to get through another day. May even safe a life. I know this to be true. So please, take just a moment to do something nice for someone. It doesn’t have to cost anything except a little time. Believe me, you will benefit from it as much as the recipient, if not more! 

     Have a great week, y’all! 


Yep, just because I can!


  1. Wow. The things we go through who make us who we are. Thank God for the friend of yours who pushed you. Very inspirational, Max. Thank you for sharing your journey. xox

  2. Thanks for sharing Max! I have a friend that pushed and nudged me into the writing. I'm so glad she did. Friends keep us going!

  3. Yay, Max. All of that made it so that we could meet!

  4. I am so thankful you are still here and still you. You are a magnificent, multi-talented man.
    Love you!