Isolation Days 16-18: Not sure what’s me

(Virtually) Drinking with Friends

I spend my days completely alone, overthinking everything.

But, ever since I put up my virtually drinking with friends, others have reached out to me to do the same, which I appreciate and do when I’m mentally able to do it.

It’s nice to seeing who checks in on you.

RW: Happy Hour on zoom at 5:30p!
Me: I’m in.

Of course, I check in on some people as well…

Me: What’s going on with you?
NM: Do you know I moved?
Me: You might’ve told me. I don’t remember a lot of the past few years. Except for the things I don’t wanna remember – that stuff I remember.

Still others are mutual…

Me: We’re finally chatting! How’s quarantine?
KT: Well, I’m an essential worker so I don’t know. I’m back to work on Monday. Hey, we’re dressed alike!

Still others are as if it’s business as usual…

CV: Wait, I must’ve told you about this. It was back when I lived in Westchester.
Me: Dude, if it happened in the last five years, you probably did. I just don’t remember. I don’t remember a lotta things from the last five years.
CV: OK, here’s what happened…
Me: (later) I don’t hate him like you guys. I just think he’s lame.

Not everything was fun and games, though. Some interactions just drag me further into my head, even when it’s not intentional.

Him: One of my friends couldn’t do another shift at the hospital. So, I covered for him.
Me: (sighing) On the one hand, I’m proud of you that you’re helping people. On the other hand…
Him: I know. I’ll be careful.

I didn’t take pictures of alla them. Some I forgot…

Her: So, I’m dating someone.
Me: That’s great, how’d…
Her: (interrupting) Not really. I was just about to break up with him and then all this happened.
Me: (laughing) Only you, HEI…

…others I remembered but misplaced the pictures, and still others refused to let me take pics.

Her: God, no, Logan! I’m on day 10 of quarantine. You’re lucky I’m even video-chatting with you.
Me: (scoffing) Look at me, I look like a shaggy dog. I should shave.

The one that most affected me, though, had to do with the girl from this entry, way back when. An immediate family member of hers has the same cancer as Alison, glioblastoma.

Her: Are you ok talking about this?
Me: No. But I will. If I can help, I will.

Can’t seem to escape it. It’s everywhere these days; death, Alison’s cancer, cancer in general, and health issues like this pandemic. It grinds me down.

How do you escape your own thoughts? I’m a prisoner in my own head.

Me: I don’t believe there’s a god. If there is, he either hates us or is fat, orange, and stupid and only likes his fat, orange, and stupid creations.
Her: Well, it does seem like he has favorites, that’s for sure.

I try to stop eating and drinking by 6:30 every night. It’s part of intermittent fasting. Lost four pounds since this whole thing started.

But lately, I find myself drinking later and later. I tell myself that it’s only for now. Then again, I tell myself a lotta things.

Her: I’m surprised you’re all by yourself and didn’t find someone to keep you company. That doesn’t seem like you.
Me: I’m trying to avoid everyone these days. Besides, I’m  not sure what’s me anymore, anyways.

Location: a couch, being told about the Tiger King
Mood: weird
Music: I’m all but a victim in my prison head (Spotify)
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Isolation Days 12-16: Organizing digital stuff

Back before it went to hell

The constant stream of images and reports from hospitals is hitting me with so many awful flashbacks.

Between that and the earache, I’m…discomforted.

Still, I thought I was ok enough to finally organize the massive amounts of videos and pictures I have of the boy. And Alison.

Do you remember when I said that I only have two videos of her?

That’s not completely accurate. My brother found a video of her and sent it to me, which brings me to three (good) videos total…before the cancer. Afterward, well, I’ve got a shitton.

They just sat in my computer all this time in a folder called, Alison (Sad, don’t open).

I never listen to me.

In the past three years, I’ve dreamt about Alison exactly one time. Since Monday, I’ve dreamt of her three more.

Just like our real lives, they started off so great. For some reason, I never remember she had cancer in them.

Her: Why are you looking at me like that?
Me: I dunno. It’s weird. It’s like I haven’t seen you in ages.
Her: (laughing) Werido.

But horror happens in each dream and the next thing you know, I’m watching her go. And then I remember.

Fuck. And then I remember. I don’t wanna remember.

Just last week, I joked that I would go to the back bathroom and scream because no one was around to hear me. Actually did that. Didn’t really help.

I’m out of my regular cheap sipping rum.

Time to start breaking out the fancy stuff, I suppose.

I spend a lotta time thinking about alla the people in Alison’s shoes right now. I remember the constant panic every time something happened. We went to the emergency room 11 times. 11 fucking times.

Can’t imagine what those people are going through now. Don’t wanna.

Around 11PM, I wrote someone that helped us. Don’t think I’ve really spoken to her in all this time.

Me: Sorry for the super late text. I just wanted to say, “thank you,” again for everything you did to try and help Alison. I’m using this time to edit videos and a lot of them are you helping her.
Her: Hey Logan, so happy to hear from you! Thank you for saying that. I think about you guys so often. And I miss your whole family.

This is one my shitty videos of Alison. I have more of these types but, as you can see, they barely count.

That first pic above is me almost exactly 19 years ago. It was taken March 29, 2001 by my brother sitting in the back seat of my old beat up BMW.

9/11 didn’t happen yet. I still had my life-savings. I still believed that god and happy endings existed. Man, I didn’t know shit about shit.

I loved that car. I loved my old red leather jacket. I loved that car stereo I installed myself. I loved tinkering with that car.

It’s been terribly isolating the last two weeks. I talk to friends but it’s different than having family in the room with you. So, I sit in the dark with my dark thoughts.

I think about alla the things and people that I love that I can can’t touch or hold any more.

Me: Hey. It’s me. Just wanted to make sure you’re ok.
Her: You called! I’m so happy you called. I missed you.
Me: I missed you too, mom. (sighing) I missed you too.
Her: Are you ok?
Me: (pause) Sure.

Location: Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, waiting for strangers
Mood: gutted
Music: I wish I could turn it off sometimes. Oh, I can’t escape my mind (Spotify)
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Isolation Day 11: Plans and recipes

Three (or more) ingredient cookies

Before we get to today’s nonsense, I suppose now’s as good a time as any to inform you that I make a cut from anything you buy on Amazon that’s linked here; you pay the same as everyone else and I get some extra rum money.

For example, here is a link to some powered wheatgrass.

To put your mind at ease, know that I will absolutely blow any money I receive on alcohol, you have my word on that.

Prior to my diagnosis of an ear infection – which is pretty much exactly the same because I’m literally getting the drops everywhere but into my ear – I did two things:

      1. Checked my temperature to make sure I didn’t have either the flu or COVID-19, and
      2. Checked my blood oxygen saturation levels with an oximeter that’s built into my heart rate monitor. These are super cheap and you should have one about if you do end up getting a fever because COVID-19 specifically targets the lungs.

Your normal oxygen levels should be between 95 and 100%; if you’re dropping below 90%, get to a doctor, ASAP because something’s definitely not right.

It’s a quick and dirty way to differentiate the flu from COVID-19. YMMV when it comes to accuracy.

Actually, if you end up buying a fingertip pulse oximeter, you should also pick up some of that aforementioned powered wheatgrass.

It’s particularly high in macro-and-micro-nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. It works out to be a few cents per serving and is shelf-stable versus a salad which is neither of those two things.

I mix with juice and it’s pretty good, if not a bit gritty. Who knows how long we’re gonna be stuck indoors? You gotta stay healthy and avoid making dozens of trips to the supermarket.

Speaking of staying healthy, I made some low-carb biscuits and chicken wings yesterday and today I made some some Thai penang goat curry. More on those in another entry, I suppose.

The reason I’m cooking so much is, since I can’t get to the gym anymore, I’m trying, as much as possible, to stick to my low-carb lifestyle, along with intermittent fasting, during this time.

I’ve lost three pounds since this whole thing started 11 days ago.

Anywho, I made a three ingredient cookie I found somewhere; the recipe’s way down below.

Above is what it looks like with just three ingredients, however, I modified and doubled it to make a carb-friendly version, which is also down below.

Baked it on two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Tried to do the traditional peanut butter crosshatch pattern – see the first three on the upper right-hand corner of the above pic – but it was too sticky.

Instead, I just wet my – incredibly clean and sanitized – thumb and just flattened them out, which are the rest of them.

Came out with a consistency like a grainy fudge. Really good with a cup of almond/oat/regular milk or coffee, alla which I had on hand for various reasons.

Here’s the thing about the carb-friendly version of the cookie – it’s got all three macronutrients: Protein, fat, and carbs.

In fact, peanut butter’s mostly fat: 72% of calories come from fat, 15% from protein and only 13% from carbohydrates. It’s perfect if you want to lose weight and not be hungry.

It also has fiber, both insoluble and soluble versions, which isn’t a macronutrient but is still super important.

While the protein of peanut butter isn’t perfect – it’s low in one called methionine – either versions compensate for that with the addition of the eggs, which are rich in methionine.

What I’m saying is, should the world end tomorrow, you should:

      1. Have a shitton of peanut butter because of alla the above and because it’s shelf-stable, plus
      2. Make these cookies.

Cause it’s ridic easy and they delish, yo. Get that wheatgrass too.

Gradgirl: (when we first met and watching me eat tablespoons of peanut butter) I read your blog. Man, if people only knew how much peanut butter you actually ate.
Me: I’m pretty sure I’m mostly peanut butter now by weight, if not volume.

Original recipe
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg

Carb-friendly version
2 cups peanut butter
1 cup erythritol (you could also skip the next five italicized ingredients and just add a second cup of erythritol, which will give you a more cookie-like cookie)
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup coconut crystals
1/4 cup honey
9 drops stevia
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (also optional)

For both versions, 350 degrees for 11 minutes.

If you put in molasses, it should look exactly the same colour as pumpkin pie, the filling at least.

You could also do straight erythritol instead of alla the other sugars but note that there’s a sizable chunk of humanity that have GI issues with it. I’m not one of them but you have been warned.

Location: you guessed it – a still almost empty UWS apartment building
Mood: inebriated and fulla goat curry
Music: something ’bout you that’s got me dazed and confused (Spotify)
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Isolation Days 9-10: Seeing the doc

First human interaction

As I said in my last entry, went to sleep on night 8 with a massive headache and an aching jaw.

When I woke up the next morning, Day 9, I had a terrible earache, which was oddly comforting as I was worried it was something else, like COVID-19, or Sleepy Logan was doing stuff again.

Rang my brother to ask him what I should do. I’ve never had an earache in my entire life.

Him: Normally, I’d tell you to go to the medemerge but this is a unique situation.
Me: Lemme call them and see how busy they are.

Turns out they were completely empty. Took me less than three minutes to see the doc.

Her: Well, you definitely have an infection in your ear. Nothing a few drops can’t help. Can someone help you put them in?
Me: Nope, you’re the first meaningful human interaction I’ve had in days.
Her:  Oh, I’m sorry.
Me; Yeah, me too.

Funny thing’s that I put up a pic of me on Instagram and people thought it was my eye, when I was just rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of it all.

My eye was much worse a few weeks ago: click here if you’re not squeamish. If you are, absolutely do not.

Went to my local pharmacy to pick up the script but they were closed so I went to pick up the peanut butter I needed for later. My local supermarket’s now selling paper bags cause plastic bags are outlawed here in NY, these days.

When I went back to the pharmacy, waited behind a barrier of tape to get my meds.

The woman at the counter was just about to hand me my bag when the pharmacist in the back – who’d been speaking in increasingly strident tones – started yelling into the phone: “No! Do NOT come in. Wait outside. Sir. Sir! SIR! Do not come in! We’re locking the door now.”

With that, he sprang from the rear of the drugstore to the front and started yelling at the guys in the front to shut everything down.

This whole time, the cashier is continuing to hold my bag, despite my asking for it a dozen times.

Me: (leans over barrier and grabs bag from cashier’s hand) I’ll be leaving now.
Her: Hey! That was rude.
Me: (walking away) So was making me wait for no reason when – clearly – stuff’s about to go down, miss.

As I walked to the front, a crowd had gathered outside because they locked the door. They opened the door to let me out. Everyone outside was at least 70 years old.

Me: (exiting) Did they tell you what’s going on?
Old lady: No. They just locked the door.
Me: (walking away from crowd) They locked the door for a reason. I wouldn’t be standing around here or going in for at least the next hour, if I were you. Jus’ say’n…

And just like that, they all scattered.

Been having drinks with friends, online. My nightly drink card’s pretty full but not everyone’s willing to let me put up pics.

Still, you’ve met my buddy, Bryson, before.

Me: Good god, look at that beard.
Him: (laughing) I hate it but the girls (his daughters and wife) love it.
Me: You’re black and Asian; black don’t crack and Asian don’t raisin. You’re doing it all wrong, you look like your age. (later) Hey, can you send me a pic of this for my blog?
Him: Sure
Me: (later) Jesus Christ, look at the size of my head!
Him: (laughs)

Had to make that pic smaller so my enormous noggin didn’t take up your entire screen. Also drank with my buddy, Paolo, whom you see in the pic above.

Him: What are you drinking?
Me: Grapefruit beer.
Him: Not rum? Wait, that sounds like you.
Me: I got it for Mouse but she’s not around so I’m drinking it. Man, that hair is weirding me out.
Him: Can’t get to a barber, what with the kid and this lockdown.
Me: Got it. Suppose I’ll be rocking that look myself, soon enough.

Speaking of Mouse, one of her friends, whom I’ve only ever met once, reached out to me to see if I – and the kid – was ok. It was really rather sweet.

Alison always believed that the key to anyone’s heart is through their kids and she was totally right.

On that note, two other women from my past also contacted me just to see how I was. Combining the three convos so this entry doesn’t drag on forever.

Her: How is your little trouble maker? I’m sure he also misses you terribly.
Me: He’s great! We Skype like this, daily.
Her: I’m sorry about what happened with your wife. If nothing else, she was lucky to have you as a husband.
Me: I wonder about that sometimes.
Her: Trust me, it’s awful out there. I’m seeing someone that…(trails off) Well, now’s not the time to be alone, Logan. (looking around, laughing) Which I am.
Me: (nodding) You and me both, lady. At least you have a dog.

Location: a still almost empty UWS apartment building
Mood: inebriated and fulla cookies
Music: If we have each other then we’ll both be fine (Spotify)
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Isolation Days 7-8: Keeping busy

Nobody believes it, or Mr. Gray

Been waking up late – after 9AM most mornings – but also going to bed late. Mainly working on projects that I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t been able to because of time and the kid.

That’s what I tell people, at least.

Closer to the truth is what I told you about years ago: Everybody knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it.

I do what most people do when Death makes himself known – keep myself busy and try to ignore him as best I can.

Household stuff

      • Did my taxes – right before it was announced that we had until July 15th. Just as well.
      • Filled out the census.
      • Patched, sanded, and repainted a hole in my bathroom.
      • Assembled some new dining room chairs and tossed the old one – the one, above, on the left is the old one, the one on the right is new. Need to fix the bottom of the new ones.
      • Assembled a new entryway seat and tossed the old one.
      • Collected all my knives I had hidden around the apartment (more on that in another entry).
      • Practiced doing what I do with said knives.
      • Cleaned my oven and then baked a ton of low-carb cookies for myself (more on that tomorrow)
      • Dusted. Oh, the dusting…

I think the reason it took so long to toss out the chairs and benches was because I remember Alison and I putting them together, together. Now I did it alone. It made it harder than it should have, for a multitude of reasons.

But one thing that she firmly believed in was that things had to be useful.

If they weren’t, she insisted that they be tossed. If not for her, I’m certain that I would be (a worse) hoarder. So, I did take solace in that.

Still, it was…difficult.

Technology stuff

      • Converted my wired network from a hodgepodge of Cat4, Cat5, and Cat5e cable to pure Cat5e. No, I didn’t have any Cat6 and I find it too rigid to work with.
        • Used to know how to terminate ethernet cable from memory but I knew I’d forget, so that printout you see above I made 20 years ago at my old job at CNET. Kept it all this time.
      • Upgraded my mixed powerline network from 100mb to gigabit (!).
      • Laid a mesh network over my current 801.11ac network, backhauling upstream data through the aforementioned Cat5e network.
        • As a sidenote, my internal speeds went from a laughable 10-17MB/s to consistently above 100MB/s. I’ve never seen that ever before, ever.

Went to sleep on night 8 with a massive headache and an aching jaw. I felt like exactly what I was afraid of might happen, was happening – I was getting sick by myself.

I’ll tell you about more about that tomorrow.

For now, I will say that I had to go out because: (1) I needed to see a doctor and (2) I was out of peanut butter.

Hard to say which one was the priority.

Ended up buying five pounds of peanut butter, which should last me the week. The quarter and rum are there for size comparison.

Had both the peanut butter and the rum for dinner tonight.

I wrote this watching the CBS weekend news. In the segment on Italy, the magnitude of what this virus does didn’t really hit me until he said the following at minute 1:17:

The cases that don’t make it end up here, with the morgues overflowing…Every person died alone. Without family or friends.

It’s that gaping yaw of existential loneliness that I told you about earlier. Everybody knows they’re going to die, yeah?

I wonder if I’ll die alone.

Man, I miss having a family. My own, that is.

The boy sent me that image over Skype. If you’re with family, you’re lucky. Because I have to love someone through a television screen.

Not gonna lie, I’m jealous. I used to have my own family, you see. For all of five days.

And now, during this historically crazy moment in time, I find myself completely alone with just Harold, five pounds of peanut butter, and 3/4 of a liter of rum.

Well, it’s not altogether  bad, I suppose.

Location: an empty UWS apartment building but with killer network speeds
Mood: inebriated
Music: you’ve been on my mind, honey (Spotify)
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Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against cancer and COVID-19

If I had either cancer or COVID-19, I’d personally try to get some

I pause my usual nonsense to give you some information. None of this should be considered medical advice, only my own personal experience with chloroquine, a somewhat well-known adjunct cancer therapy.

When Alison first got sick, I immediately threw myself into cancer research. By the time four months had passed, I was often asked by doctors and nurses if I was in the medical field myself only because every spare moment I had was spent reading anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding cancer-treatments.

This video was probably one of the most influential things in my research.

In addition to three very well known GBM survivors, the rest of the interviewed are board-certified doctors and researchers from institutions like MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Lenox Hill – the surgeon that’s interviewed, Dr. Boockvar, was Alison’s last surgeon.

If you go to minute 37, you’ll start to hear about the drug from both the narrator and Dr. Raymond Chang – a Yale MD, formerly of MSKCC. What he says about chloroquine for cancer could easily be applied to COVID-19:

A very nice example (of a repurposed drug) is the use of an old malaria drug – which is dirt cheap – chloroquine, for brain cancer. Nice (clincial) trials have been carried out showing improvement of up to 50% survival time when it’s added to standard chemotherapy. It has almost no side effects.* It’s one pill a day. [This means that the patient doesn’t] need to go to the hospital, get a drip, any of this. It’s dirt cheap. Why not? Well, the FDA hasn’t approved it’s use for this condition. Or the information is not widely disseminated. There’s no big drug company behind the manufacturing of choloroquine to bring to market for this use. Nobody makes much money. [If] suddenly every brain cancer patient takes choloroquine, it adds very little to the bottom line.

It took several months but I ultimately got some for Alison but we were never able to give it to her because she had chronic low white-blood cell counts and the fear was that this would further depress them.

*This is one of the side effects, along with a more common one of retinopathy, although even this is rare and can be tracked by your local ophthalmologist.

How it functions is that it (a) tampers down inflammation, and (b) it blocks virus from multiplying in the body – the latter is precisely how it was used as an anti-malarial drug.

In hindsight, I wonder if I should have given it to her after all. I wrestle with these questions in my quiet moments, all the goddamn time.

But I digress.

Hydroxychloroquine, like chloroquine, is a synthetic quinine and is a metabolite of base chloroquine because it has an additional oxygen and hydrogen atom (a hydroxide). It’s one of only two drugs currently considered to be fast-tracked by the FDA as a possible cure of COVID-19.

Note that, while chloroquine showed promised in clinical trials for brain cancer, hydroxychloroquine did not – see below. Also, hydroxychloroquine is considered both weaker and safer than chloroquine.

The former always puzzled me because the addition of the hydroxide means that it’s more basic/alkaline than chloroquine, and bases have tended to be correlated to longevity in cancer patients.

If you’re able to get a script, you can actually purchase chloroquine yourself. 100 pills are $23 here; it was in stock yesterday but appears to be sold out today. I would continue to recheck if you suffer from any cancer or COVID-19 and have a prescription for it.

Actually, if you can get a prescription – that is to say, convince your doctor to give you one – you can walk into any pharmacy today and get some if you’re currently suffering from either cancer or COVID-19. 

S/he’ll more likely give you a script for COVID-19 versus cancer but that’s a separate, very annoying, issue.

      • Here’s a recent paper on both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19.
      • Here’s a paper on how both were used against cancer in general.
      • This is a relatively recent summary of the dozen or so (very small) clinical trials on chloroquine as an adjuvant treatment for cancers, generally, including glioblastoma.
      • Again, studies show that hydroxychloroquine appears to provide no survival improvement in glioblastoma patients, as opposed to base chloroquine.

Anywho, I just wanted you all to know because people should know about this drug. It’s amazing, off patent, and needs to be further explored for other aliments such as cancer and the coronavirus.

We’ll get back to regular nonesense next week.

Location: a slightly less empty UWS apartment building
Mood: nostalgic
Music: We need someone to lean on
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Isolation Days 5-6: A gaping yaw

Getting outta Dodge…again

Him: Where are we going?
Me: (as upbeat as possible) To see your aunt!
Him: Yay!

The redheaded babysitter and my regular babysitter have been the only company that the boy and I’ve had the last four days.

Because I manage my building, I realized that – with the possible exception of two people on one of the upper floors – there was no one else in my building.

Right around when I came to that realization, my sister-in-law called to check in on us and said that there was a chance that the mayor would be shutting down all non-essential travel. While I read that this wasn’t likely, I still felt this really cold dread.

You see, if anything happened to me, the boy would be all alone in the building. I could fall down the stairs (again), cut my my head open (again), get sick and pass out (again), or any number of things.

That’s when I hit the grief button (again). If Alison was here, at least it would be the three of us. But I didn’t feel safe being alone with just the two of us so we got outta Dodge (again).

Me: We’re out the door. What do you need from me, if anything?
Her: Just bring some extra clothes and I’ll bring them to my parents. Who knows how long he’ll be there?
Me: OK. We’re already on the subway.

I was about the same age as the boy when the Blackout of 1977 happened. I remember that my parents didn’t seem like themselves that day, even all these years later.

Didn’t want the boy to hear or feel any anxiety as I took him out of the city, so I played a version of “lava” with him to try to not have him touch anything. That was fine while it lasted.

Him: I’m tired of this game.
Me: (sighing)
Him: You’re doing (imitates a sigh) again.
Me: (nodding)

We were the only ones in our car.

I only saw my sister for a moment as I buckled the kid into the child seat and dashed off to catch the train back.

Me: Please try to be good, ok?
Him: OK. Bye, papa! (waves)

Told Pac that I’d support his mom’s business – Noona Noodles – while things were sketch.

Me: Should I head to your mom’s?
Him: Nah, she’s not picking up.
Me: Actually, fuck it, I’m here. Lemme see if she’s open.

She was – place was dead quiet. I was the only customer in the whole joint. Picked up some Vietnamese pho and a 40 on the way back, for no particular reason.

Woulda picked up more food but it’s just me. It was delicious.

Tried to be as productive as I could: Did my taxes, submitted my census form, and finally got around to cleaning up some digital files.

Found some pics of my family before everything went to shit. That’s an entry for another day.

On my last one pound jar of peanut butter to boot. Went through two jars in five days.

I already miss the boy. But he’s safer there than in an empty NYC apartment building with just me. Growing up with no friends, I’m used to being by my lonely. But this feels different. Finding those pictures didn’t help.

It’s a gaping yaw of existential loneliness that only comes with profound moments of grief that I can’t quite seem to explain.

Her: What are you going to do?
Me: Seeing as I’m here in this building by myself, I’m going to go to the back room and randomly scream for a bit.
Her: (laughs)

Location: an empty UWS apartment building
Mood: inebriated
Music: standin’ out there alone. A yearning, yeah, and it’s real
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Isolation Days 1-4: At least Sharon’s living it up

Heading to Chinaworld

Him: What did you get in Chinaworld?

Having been through 9/11, a couple of blackouts, a hurricane here and there, and just random emergencies, gotta say that this pandemic is something entirely new for me.

Spent most of the past weekend with the redheaded babysitter and the boy. She’s an actress so she literally lost all her gigs at once and I just found out today that the boy’s classes are cancelled until the end of April.

With her help, I was able to head back down to Chinatown in order to pick up some more supplies and support the Chinese community at the same time.

So, I hopped a nearly empty train – dressed as I’ve always wanted to dress in the city as a (not-so) closeted germaphobe – and picked up some stuff. One thing I made sure to get was some frozen dumplings from this hole-in-the-wall that I love.

Unfortunately, it was only after I returned home that I found out that the boy’s classes were cancelled. I immediately regretted my decision to only buy a single bag of frozen dumplings and only one bag of groceries.

Sitter: (laughing) I told him you went to Chinatown.
Him: Honestly, I think I prefer the name, Chinaworld.

Everything’s been a whirlwind of activity, mainly because everything’s taking longer and longer to do.

This is my local no frills grocery store, which had a line, the length of which I’ve never seen before.

TBH, there’s never a line of any sort here.

And I had to call both the NYC Dept of Finances and NYC Dept of Buildings for work; that took the entire morning – because you have to go through the 311 number for the city and the hold times were cray – and I eventually gave up.

With the kiddo being as young as he is, evenings are difficult because there’s nothing that we can both watch together.

Him: Why don’t we watch the news?
Me: The world’s a disaster and we’re surrounded by cretins; there, I just saved us 30 minutes.
Him: Cretins!
Me: No, don’t…nevermind…

On that note, I accidentally got an order confirmation for a woman named Sharon in Iowa who seems be living it up by prepping for isolation very differently from me and – gotta say – I’m slightly jelly.

Well, if nuthin else, Sharon’s living it up…

Location: surrounded by cretins and an awesome little boy
Mood: beat
Music: For a second, I thought you loved me
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What New York City’s been like this week

I broke my heart today

Him: I broke my heart today.
Me: Saywhatnow?
Him: (sadly) Look. See. I broke it…

Went to Berlin two – maybe three – times? It’s both the capital and largest city of Germany; it’s also the largest city in the entire EU proper.

But I remember that each time I went, I thought it was like Queens, New York on a quiet day – and I’m talking the suburban part, not the busy centers like Flushing.

Basically, it felt empty to me. Having spent most of my life in Manhattan, no other city really feels like a “city” to me. Every other place feels like a small town.

Well, New York’s felt like Berlin all week. With COVID-19 freaking everyone out, the city’s really emptied out.

Went downtown by my lonesome the other day. Chinatown – which is usually bustling – was pretty quiet and I even managed to snap a pic where most of the street was empty. Can’t remember the last time I was able to do that.

Was swamped with work all week so I didn’t get to the gym until today. Heading there, Times Square felt like it does at 11PM on a Tuesday night, and not like it usually does at 11AM on a Thursday afternoon.

Was chatting with some of the fellas in the gym and they noticed things too.

Me: How’re things?
Curt: My clients are in places like Brooklyn and they’re not going to work so they’re all cancelling on me. No one’s coming into the city just for personal training.

Didn’t have much time to chat because I had to update my license information for a Zipcar-type service and went to their office. Of course, It was closed.

So I went home, showered, and went to pick up my kid when a friend texted me that she wouldn’t be bringing her kid in for the play date we had set up.

Her: Hey I don’t think I’m going to head into the city tomorrow. Plus I heard the school is closed?

Because I was running around and showering, I didn’t check my other messages.

Yup, the boy’s school was closed all next week. Dammit.

But I didn’t have too much time to think about it as I dashed off to pick the boy up to bring him to a gymnastics class. At least I had people watch him. Or, so I thought.

Sitter: I’m so sorry. I can’t do this weekend. My mom is super paranoid and actually moving me away.

At the gymnastics class, I struck up a conversation with a young redhead who said that she might be free to help out.

Her: When were you hoping?
Me: Honestly, I’m pretty flex if some of the other sitters bail.

They bailed.

It’s all been pretty maddening and I felt myself deep in thought when the boy came over with a broken plastic heart that he got from someone over St. Valentines.

What he said  – and the sad way in which he said it – made me laugh to myself, although I tried my best not to show it.

Me: Broken hearts are pretty hard to fix, kid. But we’ll see what we can do, okay?
Him: OK, papa. I hope we can fix it.
Me: (nodding) We’ll do our best.

Location: surrounded by paper, computer parts, and a cracked plastic heart
Mood: resigned
Music: But big hearts move slow, get left behind
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What to do about the boy?

I wish it worked that way

Me: Do you wanna watch it now?
Her: Sure.

A little while ago, Mouse mentioned that she never saw Forrest Gump so I convinced her to watch it. It’s kinda hard to explain why it’s so endearing; you just gotta watch it to understand it.

I’ve always liked it on a personal level because I could relate to one important theme: The things that you think are holding you back as a child are actually the things that push you forward as an adult.

In the movie, young Forrest can’t walk properly so he has to wear these heavy braces. Because of them, his already outsider status is made all the worse. One day, while out with his best girl, he’s attacked by some local bullies. This is where the famous line, “Run, Forrest, Run!” happens.

So he runs. And while he runs, his braces tear off and he finds that he can run faster than anything because the years of carrying all that extra weight on his legs made them strong. It’s his ability to run that set off every good thing in his life. He never stops.

People don’t seem to believe me when I tell them I was a super fat kid. I don’t look like it at all. In  my head, I still carry that weight with me.

Yet, I think that almost every good thing about me came from my being fat. I started on a diet at 14 and, like Forrest, never stopped; I’ve been watching everything I eat for over three decades. I know exactly how much fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates I eat and have for 32+ years.

I’ve also been exercising and stretching for that long. I’m more flexible than most people half my age and regularly pass for someone in my early 30s despite almost pushing 50. I also regularly physically fight people – literally – half my age.

It also turns out that it’s not just your body that ages as the years pass but your mind as well. There, the diet has helped me as well, but so has other childhood misfortune.

You see, I had no friends as a kid. And we were poor so that meant every summer, I was home alone with my siblings with no air conditioner and no cable. So I went to the library every single day from the moment it opened – often until the moment it closed.

Remember sitting outside, alone, waiting for the librarian to come to open it. This wasn’t just for one summer, this was for years.

I remember that I decided to read every single book on the east side of this library (the children’s section). Took me three or four summers but I did it.

Every. Single. Goddamn. Book.

And when I did, I had no one to tell. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone that.

The thing is, that enabled me to know things that other kids didn’t know. Like:

Again, already outsider status is made all the worse.

Yet, once again, the things that made me weird, makes me interesting now.

Alison: (the first time we were on the phone together) I’m doing a crossword puzzle. It’s asking me for Caesar’s first name but Julius doesn’t fit.
Me: That’s because it’s his middle name. His first name was “Gaius.”

She told me that she set me apart that moment.

Which brings me to my current existential crisis: What to do about the boy?

Do you remember when I told you that zebras cannot be tamed and that I’m grateful for my adversaries? Well, I don’t want him to be near lions and I don’t want him to have any adversaries.

And yet, I know he needs them.

I don’t want him to be fat, nor do I want him to be friendless, nor do I want to strap weights onto his ankles. But adversity makes us better – if we survive it.

Just like art only happens with restraint, all I know from personal experience is that excelling comes from limitations. But the boy will grow up in the heart of Manhattan, by Central Park, surrounded by the wealthy and the lucky. And with friends.

How do I make him anti-fragile? Or is that out of the hands of a parent and only left to life and chance?

Then again, perhaps he’s been dealt enough blows already with the loss of Alison. I feel guilty alla time that he only has me, a sleepless and strange old man, to keep him company and raise him.

Perhaps that’s enough adversity for a lifetime and I should give him as comfortable a life as I can.

But I find myself unable to do that.

Him: I wish mommy was here.
Me: Me too, all the time.
Him: (thinking) Can I have ice cream?
Me: No.
Him: Why?
Me: Because. You can’t have anything you want, just because you ask for it. That’s not how life works. I wish it worked that way, but it doesn’t.

Location: alone with the boy and my thoughts
Mood: conflicted again
Music: Tell me, won’t you miss Manhattan?
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