Slapstick with the boy

Twice, right in the groin

The above is a pic that Mouse took the other day. She had come by to see us and the boy asked to play tag.

I was beat so I let them run back and forth from the front of the pad to the back. I stood on the sidelines by the kitchen.

On the third or fourth run, he randomly decided to high-five me in the groin on his way to the bedroom.

I staggered to the chair, and Mouse snapped the pic above.

I am rethinking teaching him how to fight.

Me: That pic really captures it all.
Her: It really does.

Which brings me to another story. I went to go pick the kid up from Catholic school last year and when he saw me, he ran at me, full tilt.

I was distracted by something so I didn’t lean down as he came in, and he literally head butted me in right in the family jewels.

I doubled over in pain and yelled out, “JESUS CHRIST!”

That’s not the (now) funny part, though.

Nor was the funny part was him laughing and yelling, “JESUS CHRIST!” while running up and and down the hall.

No, the funny part was ALL the other schoolchildren joining him in running back and forth along the hallway screaming, “JESUS CHRIST!” at the top of their tiny lungs. In a Catholic school.

Good times, good times…

Location: home
Mood: exhausted
Music: It’s been three years (Spotify)

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Deserts, Kathleen, and the Aneyoshi tablet

You’ll most likely drown in the desert

Pac hit me up the other day:

Him: I’m looking to buy a product that has polyurethane as a material, but it’s got a P65 warning on it. how much should I be worried about this product?
Me: Hard to say; lots of people think that Prop65 goes overboard but the rise of cancer throughout the nation means that something is definitely not normal. For me, I tend to err on the side of safety whenever I can.

Pac’s an athlete. He boxes, has a purple belt in BJJ, a black belt in judo, and was a high school wrestler.

I know a lotta athletes – obviously Chad is one, as is Mouse. Alison was one too.

None of them, however, is or was in as good a shape as Kathleen Heddle, who was an Olympic swimmer. She died recently, of cancer.

When I tell people that Alison died of cancer, I wonder what pops into their heads. Someone with a poor diet that was probably overweight and had bad habits, maybe?

That wasn’t her at all. She was absolutely gorgeous with a resting heart rate of 55 and a sleeping heart rate of 35. You read that right: 35.

Whenever we stayed at the ER, I could never get sleep because her alarm would go off at 35 and I would spring awake to press the silence button to give her an other 15 minutes of rest.

I pressed that fucking button at least 20 times a night, every goddamn night.

But I digress.

She used to run from my apartment to the George Washington Bridge more than once – ten miles roundtrip. She ate like an athlete too.

Yet she and Kathleen Heddle died of cancer. It’s madness. Alison was barely 35 when she was diagnosed; Kathleen died at 55.

If you think you can’t cancer, dude, Alison and Kathleen were the last people on the planet you would think would get cancer.

If they could get it and die, you absolutely can. So could I.

People think I’m peculiar because of how I live my life and what I eat. When Chad came by for his birthday, I made him a chocolate cupcake with almond flour.

You see, experience makes us act one way over another. So does the acceptance of information. As does willful ignorance.

When I read about Kathleen dying, I immediately thought of the Aneyoshi tablets. See, they’re these stones, hundreds of years old, that dot Japan’s coastlines. They simply say, “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

Because if you built a house below the stone markers, you would die when the next tsunami hit.

Yet people did just that, despite the warnings that these ancestors laid out for them.

Alison is a warning to you. Kathleen is a warning to you.

This whole blog since December 2015 is a warning to you. If you think you can’t get cancer, think again, because what you think you know about yourself and the world is probably bullshit.

Like the desert. You see all the films and television shows about people dying from heat and thirst; it’s logical yeah?

Of course people die of heat in the desert, Logan.

Are you ready for some crazy? Most people die in the desert by drowning. Legit.

That’s because, people assume the danger is dying of thirst so they prepare for that. They don’t – at all – prepare for the possibility of flash floods, which kill more people in the desert than the heat.

It’s just like the lawyer that told me I was stupid to buy International Paper during the dot-com boom.

The stupider people are, the more sure they are of themselves. But you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know that you don’t know it.

Me? I’m smart enough to know that I don’t understand shit. All I know that I have to do everything I can to try to keep my family safe. Somehow.

Boy: I want candy.
Me: Here’s an oatmeal cookie I baked instead.
Him: OK! (eats it) Yummy!
Me: Good. (sighing) Good.

Location: Riverrun, pushing my son on a swing, wishing everything was different
Mood: pensive
Music: I don’t think you know how I feel (Spotify)
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Liquid Paper, Trump, and talking fish

How do you tell a fish that it’s wet?

Boy: Add that, add that! (points)
Me: Which song?
Him: I’m a Believer. Oh, click the “Remastered” one.

The boy’s been home for a few weeks now and we’ve kinda gotten into a rhythm, although it still leaves a good deal to be desired.

On thing that I realize as a parent is just how different his life will be from mine, growing up.

I had the most random thought today when we were listening to Spotify; he asked me to put on I’m a Believer, which made me think of the Monkees, which made me think of Liquid Paper.

See, Liquid Paper was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, the mother of Monkee, Michael Nesmith.

Now, for those of you too young to know what I’m talking about, Liquid paper was essentially a small bottle of white paint – legit – that you used to paint over a mistake you made while typing something.

As I write this out, I realize how crazy that must sound to the Twitter generation but there you go.

And that’s kinda the point of this entry: How to even begin to explain things to people that need a ton of background information to even start to understand?

I mentioned this to a buddy the other day.

Me: It’s like trying to explain to a fish that it’s wet.
Him: What do you mean?
Me: Think about what that would be like. You have to first explain the existence of water – because he has no clue such a thing exists, it’s like explaining oxygen to a caveman – then you have to explain dryness, land, the earth, it goes on…

Here, I’d have to explain paint, typewriters, ink, letters, etc – all before I got to Liquid Paper.

Which brings me to a final point. I, stupidly, got into an online argument with a Trump supporter from my old church right when Trump got elected.

He was a nice enough fella but his ignorance was so profound that I found myself defriending him because I couldn’t figure out where to even begin explaining how little he understood about the nature of the world.

And now that Trump’s finally leaving office, I find myself sheepishly relieved that I don’t have to face the jaw-dropping stupidity and malice I had to deal with on a daily basis for the past four years.

I just have to explain to the kid how the world works.

Which I’m not even sure I can.

Him: Why did John Lennon die?
Me: Someone killed him.
Him: Why?
Me: I don’t know.
Him: Why did mommy die?
Me: I don’t know that either. There are some things, we can’t know.
Him: Why not?
Me: Let’s have lunch. Grilled cheese?
Him: Yes!
Me: Done.

Location: home, grilling up a cheese sandwich and trying to understand
Mood: unsettled
Music: I couldn’t leave her if I tried (Spotify)
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A weekend with friends

Had a lotta visitors this past weekend

Had a pretty full weekend, all things considered. The main thing was that I had a sitter so that I could roll with a buncha friends early on Saturday at a friend’s place in Billyburg.

A new guy gave me a lift back into the city.

Him: You have a lotta friends in this city. I mentioned that I knew you and some guys overheard and came over and started talking about you – good things. That’s cool.
Me: (laughing) I probably owe them money.

He dropped me off at 14th Street and 7th Avenue where Mouse picked me up to head home.

She was supposed to stay over and play Exploding Kittens with me, Chad, Pez and Iron Chef but she had to bail for personal reasons.

But not before she was nice enough to drive me to Koreatown to pick up some pre-seasoned food and then come back with me to help me clean up the place.

Boy: MOUSE! I missed you!
Her: I missed you too – give me a hug!

She also found time to roll around with the boy on the mats.

While she was here, Paul and his wife stopped by with their two-year old daughter. She and the boy got along great – I think he’s just so thrilled to see other kids after spending 10 months with his grandparents.

This is him showing her his tablet, to which he may or may not be addicted to at this point.

After Paul and his family left, Mouse left soon after but then Chad, Pez, and IC showed up. It was the first time in a while that I had people over with the kid and it was pretty great, I gotta say.

Boy: Where can I sit?
Me: You can sit next to uncle Chad.
Him: Yay!

Now, Iron Chef’s an actual chef so, while I grilled up the stuff from Koreatown, he made some shrimp and mushrooms, and finished it off with some Japanese dessert.

I probably shoulda taken pics but trust me that it was all killer. Then we got down to finally playing some cards. They’d never played before so I told them we had to all tell our best three-minute story to decide who went first.

Iron Chef won because it involved him getting naked on the streets of NYC.

Me: (to Pez) To be honest, men look for any reason to get naked. I can’t call Chad without him answering naked.
Chad: It’s true, you gotta be free.
Me: Things have to air out.

We talked about randomness, as people do while playing cards.

IC: I used to go to the jazz club downtown. (pause) Because I like jazz.
Me: Sure, I went there too because I like jazz. Big, bouncy jazz.
Pez: (laughs)
Chad: What guy doesn’t like big, bouncy jazz?

Forgot who won but it was either me or Pez. I suppose it doesn’t matter.

It was a nice innocuous night. What more can you ask for in this day and age? 

Location: home, wondering if we’re ok
Mood: tired
Music: She’s gone in the blink of an eye (Spotify)
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Too little is better than too much

We know our own

We had a gas scare in the area that meant we were waiting for an all-clear for a while so I brought him with me to the supermarket.

I dunno why I’m unable to talk to him like he’s a kid. I just…can’t. I’ve never been around kids before.

Him: What does it mean that a banana’s not ripe?
Me: An unripe banana has large molecules called oligosaccharides which are too big to digest. When a banana ripens, those oligosaccharides break down into simpler glucose molecules that you can digest, which manifest as the brown dots on the skin, which – as you can see – are not there.
Him: What happens if you eat something that’s not ripe?
Me: Bad things, kiddo. Bad stomach things.
Him: Oh. Ok, papa.

As I write this out, all I can think is, “Hopefully, he’ll have friends.” Then again, I didn’t growing up and I turned out fine.

Fine(ish).

Mostly fine.

Alison thought I was great, albeit with a giant, giant head.

Speaking of friends, I’ve been helping a buddy with a new hobby; something that I used to do years ago but just stopped doing for a variety of reasons. But he loves it. He gave me a buzz today.

Him: I met one of our kind today.
Me: Get outta here. How?
Him: At the gym. I was just making small talk and I mentioned what I do in my spare time.
Me: And what did he say?
Him: (laughing) He said demons know their own.

On that note, my only friend in that life’s been MIA since COVID. Wanna know the crazy thing? I don’t even know his real name after 20 years.

How’s that for a kick in the head?

Finally, a girl I’ll call Curls is going to start teaching the kid to fight. I’ve been chatting with a ton of people – including two of the highest ranking people in kali – about how to train this boy to be safe.

And the grand poo-bah told me: Remember too little training is better than too much at that age.

He’s the main man so I took his word to heart. Plus, I think the kid’ll have more fun with Curls and Chad than me.

Between the friends and family, I wonder if I’m better with people around or not.

After all, men go crazy in congregations,…

Location: home, making steak for my son, who’d rather have a bologna sandwich
Mood: tired
Music: …they only get better one by one. (Spotify)
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For serious, how did you not know?

Too little is better than too much

About a dozen years ago, I told you a story about a frog that met a snake. I friend told me years later that he heard a similar story but it was about a scorpion and frog and I liked that better so I’ll retell it.

See, this scorpion wants to cross a river and he spies a fat frog. So he asks it to carry him across. The frog goes, Screw you. You’re just gonna sting me.

To which the scorpion goes, Nah, we’ll both drown if I do that. That doesn’t make any sense.

So the frog shrugs his frog shoulders and figures that’s logical, lets the scorpion hop on, and off they go.

Midway through the river, the scorpion suddenly stings the frog, who goes, WTF!? Why’d you do that!? As the poison starts going through the frog’s body, the frog manages, Why? Now we’re both gonna die.

The scorpion nods, and says – just before he goes under, I’m sorry. It’s in my nature. You knew what I was when you picked me up.

In that entry, I talked about the betrayal of SA by Hitler and the betrayal of the Pakistani government by the Taliban.

Tonight, I just heard Trump’s speech condemning the people that are now facing trial and unemployment because of his exhortations and lies.

Of course, the orange one takes no responsibilities for what he’s done and those people are fucked. Or should be.

And I ask myself the same thing I always ask myself: How’d you not know? People tell you what they’re all about if you just listen.

Location: home, rolling with a buddy that just got her blue belt
Mood: better
Music: It’s such a drag to be on your own (Spotify)
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Simple is anything but

Some good reason

Boy: It was unexpectedly warm today.
Me: Man, do I talk like that?

I’m not sure how five-year olds talk but my son looks like a five-year old Chinese kid but acts like a 65 year-old Italian man.

Him: Do you want to listen to Linda Ronstadt or Neil Diamond?
Me: Uh…

I forgot to mention that, when I went to pick him up last time, Mouse was nice enough bring the whip to get him. But we first stopped off in NJ to meet up with Pac and his girl for some Korean food.

I look way too excited to get some food into me in this pic.

The restaurant we went to was actually a branch of the place we normally hit up.

Me: (to Pac’s girlfriend) So, in the Queens place, there’s a sign that says 90+ people eat for half off and 100+ people eat for free. When Mouse and Chad turn 90, we’re going to make them regret that choice.
Her: That’s some long term planning.
Me: Gotta have goals in life.

And in the middle of dinner, someone had a birthday party there. Man, I miss indoor dining and birthday parties – can’t remember the last time anything memorable happened for mine.

Pac: When are you gonna move outta your Upper West Side basement apartment and into NJ?
Me: I will stab you in your eye, man.

Speaking of the Upper West Side, Lviv’s back in town. She was away for a spell and hit me up the moment she walked in her pad.

She’s been thinking about new living arrangements and asked about my building.

Her: I doubt I’d move to UWS unless there was some good reason to.

I was gonna tell her that it’s the Upper Best Side but my life is needlessly complicated as it is.

And trying to simplify it is anything but…

Location: home, making ribs
Mood: hard to say
Music: you don’t know it all (Spotify)
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Re-Assembling Things

Projects I didn’t want

After over 10 months, my son finally played with someone his own age the other day; a young girl named Izzy he met at the park.

It was sweet and unexpected; unexpected because he was scheduled to meet up with the ABFF’s kids over the weekend, and I assumed they’d be first. But, I suppose, like father, like son.

I wrote the ABFF before we left.

Me: What’s the food and alcohol situation like?
Her: Pizza. Corona Lite, Sweet Action, white vino.
Me: I’m down. We may be a bit after six but order me a slice or two as well.

One of the very last things that Alison and I did together was build the kid’s nursery.

She was super pregnant but so excited to welcome this kid into the world and have everything be just perfect. I did most of the building but she cleaned and assembled smaller things.

It’s one of the reasons that I was so reluctant to paint.

Alison bought this really great dresser that she spent days researching to make sure it fit just right and got good ratings. Unfortunately, the part that keeps the drawer from shooting out snapped just after everything went to hell.

I vaguely recall calling their customer service to buy that plastic part and the woman I spoke to said that I needed to buy the entire side of the dresser.

Me: So lemme get this straight, instead of being able to buy a dollar’s worth of plastic and metal, I need to buy an entire other side of the dresser, dismantle my entire dresser, and replace the side – which is fine – just to keep the drawer from flying out?
Her: Yes.
Me: Well, that sounds ridiculous. Would you do that?
Her: (laughing) No sir, I would not.

It was fine. This was during the craziness of Alison’s cancer so I was just careful. But, because the kid’s been away so long, I forgot about the drawer and pulled it too hard, causing the drawer to fly out and almost hit me. He was eating brekkie so he was fine but I decided to buy a new one that day.

I ended up just picking out a wider dresser that was the same height. Now, the day that the kid and I were supposed to see the ABFF, the new dresser arrived. Of course.

Unlike last time, I was going to have to put this together myself. I figured I’d head up to the ABFF’s, chill with them for a bit, and then come down and spend the remainder of the night putting it together.

But on the way out the door, Chad gave me a ring.

Him: Hey, I’m in your area and wanted to see if you wanted to get some food.
Me: Dude, I will buy you dinner if you’re willing to help me put together a dresser.
Him: Works for me.

I told the ABFF that I wouldn’t be staying, said hello to all the girls, and then dashed down where Chad and spent the next four hours trying to decipher some seriously bad directions.

It was pretty late so I told him to just go and I’d wrap things up – together, we did a solid 80% of everything that needed to get done so I just did the last 20% myself until late in the evening and then the rest the next day. It took most of the second day to put everything in place and clean the joint up.

The last thing I did was attach the dresser to the wall. Because Alison asked me to make the place childproof.

Her: Promise me that you’ll always keep him safe.
Me: Of course. And you know I never break a promise.
Her: I know, that why I married you and that’s why I asked.

And that’s also why it had to be the same height, so I could use the same mounting bracket to attach it to the wall.

It was super sad. Everything changes on me when I wish I could just have some stability and sense in the world.

On that note, my mother-in-law keeps telling me to take apart the crib and put it away but I’ve been resisting it.

Alison took a picture of me building it on September 13, 2015, at 6:35PM.

Somehow, in my head, I kept thinking that maybe I’d be able to give the kid a baby sister or brother somehow but that seems unlikely. So, I guess that’s my next project.

Soon. Really.

Location: home, sitting in the front room staring at all the changes
Mood: reluctantly accepting
Music: he tried to reassemble it (Spotify)
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Remember who survives

Dissected and discussed

Him: What’s wrong?
Me: Papa’s seen things like this before, and it’s…it’s never good.
Him: Are you scared?

We were doing his math problems when I stopped and watched the news.

Copyright AP

When 9/11 went down, I remember almost every minute of it. I called my brother and woke him up, much to his annoyance. But that annoyance turned to horror and disgust once he and I slowly realized what was happening.

Together, on the phone, our worlds changed. I was glad to have shared that moment with him.

Copyright AP

I felt that today watching the television with my son. That disgust and horror, knowing that I was watching history unfold with him – something that will be dissected and discussed for years, decades, centuries to come.

And he and I saw it together.

And yet, for all the lessons of history, it’s always the mindless mob that repeats it, again, and again, and again.

Copyright AP

But, I was glad to have shared this with my family. Just as I was glad to share the horrors of 9-11 with my brother.

I feel I owe this boy all the knowledge I’ve accumulated in my otherwise unremarkable life. That’s the debt I owe him as his father, what all good parents owe their children.

It’s sad, the lesson I gave him today was one that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to tell him until years from now. But I suppose he saw the unease on my face.

Me: I’m concerned. There’s a difference. Lions are bigger and stronger then people. So are bears and…giraffes (Editor’s note: I wasn’t ready for this conversation, giraffes were the only big thing I could think of besides whales – I shoulda said whales). But people are always the most dangerous because we can out think alla them. The smarter you are, the safer you are. Remember that. Remember who survives. The intelligent survive.

Copyright AP

Location: home, watching the tube like it was porn. Which I suppose it is.
Mood: horrified
Music:
Do you believe in what you see?
(Spotify)
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It’s spring in January

It isn’t hell

Speaking of FOMO and not caring, last year I threw Chad and Mouse a joint bday party but this year, Chad just swung by on his actual bday and I just got the two of us a massive amount of Vietnamese food.

Him: Somehow, they knew it was my birthday and gave me two cans of coke.
Me: (puzzled) Yeah – I told them.
Him: Oh…

He only recently started getting a taste for good alcohol so I taught him how to make Hemmingway’s favourite drink, the daiquiri. At least, my version of it.

We pounded about four of them each and just discussed his new hobby, which is a wholly different conversation.

Me: I baked cupcakes.
Him: Thanks!
Me: They’re mainly for the kid, but I saved you one for your born day.
Him: I’ll take it.

Another friend stopped by this week; she was just in the city to train but the gym wasn’t open that day so I invited her to come here to shower and clean up.

Me: Do you want brekkie?
Her: Oh, I couldn’t…
Me: (rolling eyes) You’re a guest, are you hungry?
Her: I could eat.
Me: A heart-attack sandwich it is then.

Like I said, I have no shortage of friends. It’s the shortage of family that weighs on me the most.

Speaking of family, do you know the Roman/Greek myth of the seasons centers around family?

Essentially, the goddess Ceres – from whom we get the word “cereal” – was the goddess of grain and harvest. Her daughter, Proserpina, was kidnapped by Pluto and she refused to allow anything to grow until her child was returned.

Eventually, she was, but Proserpina had eaten six pomegranate seeds and, because of that, had to live in hell for six months out of the year.

During this time, Ceres despaired and so came winter until her child was back and spring could return again.

The boy came home this week – after all this time – and it was spring once again, at least in a tiny UWS apartment.

Me: He’s home!!!
Him: (inspecting the house) The bathroom’s dirty. Grandma’s bathroom is cleaner.
Me: (laughing) Everyone’s a critic. Also, to be fair, no one’s bathroom is as clean as grandma’s…

Ridic easy daquiri
One shot of light rum
1/2 a lime, freshly squeezed
1.5-2 TBS agave
Soda water
ice

Squeeze half a lime into a highball and mix in the agave and shot of rum until it’s thoroughly blended. Fill the highball halfway with ice and then the remainder with soda water. Gently stir to combine. Pound.

Repeat until every person of the opposite sex looks beautiful.

Location: home, without any rum but plus one boy
Mood: tired but content
Music: It’s so cruel what your mind can do (Spotify)
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