Trying not to fake it

Went out to eat again

Gymgirl: We’re both human. People make mistakes
Me: Some more than others.
Her: Like when you trusted Pac to watch the place?

Went out to eat with my cousin and her fella, along with the Gymgirl and my buddy, Pac – that’s him making some congee above.

We went to another hot pot joint, this time Spring Shabu Shabu in Flushing.

Me: The wait’s over 30 minutes? Why don’t we go someplace else?
Him: This place has all you can eat sides, veggies, and ice cream.
Me: Sold.

We stuffed ourselves silly. Being on this diet, it takes a long time to feel full – and this time I felt full, finally.

I had a good time. I feel like I’m faking it a lot but there are moments when I think I’m not.

Hopefully, in time, that feeling’ll go away.

Me: I want to have some ice cream but…
Gymgirl: (stopping eating) Say it! Say it!
Me: (confused) …I wish I had some peanut butter.
Her: (reaches into bag and triumphantly takes out a package and hands it to me) Here.

The company helps.

Location: Still at home with a mouse
Mood: still discomforted
Music: I feel like like there might be something that I’ll miss
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Taking a shower with a Mouse

All Cast of Amontillado-like

It was my anniversary recently.

Gymgirl: I’m sorry, it must be bittersweet.
Me: No, just bitter.

It sucked. That’s all I have to say about it.

There’s a mouse in my house.

The last time there was a mouse here, it was almost a decade ago. At the time, I’d trapped it in my bathroom and told Alison about it afterward. I remember that moment well.

This time, heard something in my utility closet and opened it to find that it chewed through every single thing it could in my pantry. I easily threw out $100 worth of food and there was sugar everywhere because it went through a huge bag of baking supplies.

We didn’t find it so, after spending most of the night looking for it, I decided to just call it and take a shower.

And while taking said shower, looked looked up at my shower curtain (which is made of a dimpled cloth) and there was the mouse looking right at me.

Right. At. Me. Eye level.

Mouse! I yelled and the Gymgirl came running over.

I told her to seal up the door with packaging tape to trap it and myself in the bathroom (they can easily slip under doors).

I then proceeded to chase it around my tiny, tiny bathroom with a rolled-up magazine.

The problem is my damn busted arm; I couldn’t move fast enough to get it and the mouse snuck into the space between my sink cabinet and the wall. So I sealed it up, all Cast of Amontillado-like.

It gets crazier; the Gymgirl noticed its tail sticking out from the side of the cabinet so we taped it there – but after a day, we felt bad and released its tail.

As far as we know, it’s still stuck behind the cabinet.

We set up what we hope is a one way tunnel out through a trap. Fingers crossed it works.

Me: Well, this has been quite a night.
Her: Do you want a drink?
Me: (nodding) Sheyeah.

Location: yesterday and tonight, stuck in my tiny bathroom with mice
Mood: discomforted
Music: take it for what it is. Go on and take it, for what it isn’t
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She’s stuck

She’s not in Queens

The boy’s at my mother-in-law’s right now.

She’d written down the names of two friends on a piece of paper the other day. Looking at it, he said, “That says, ‘Mike’ and ‘Pat.'”

He’s only three and can read and do simple math. This makes me so proud but it also reminds me that he’s getting older and smarter. And he’s asking questions.

The problem is that he’s asking questions that I can’t answer. Questions I don’t wanna answer. Questions that I have no response for. Because there’s no response. No good response, rather.

Him: Papa, mom’s in … Queens.
Me: No…no…she’s not.
Him: Not in Queens?
Me: No. But it’s time for bed.
Him: (nodding)

That was a few months ago. A few weeks ago, he asked me:

Him: Why doesn’t mommy come?

Holy shitballs.

Lemme tell you that nothing – nothing – can prepare you for that question when you’re in my situation (and god, I hope you’re never in my situation). I completely chickened out and choked. Completely.

Me: She’s…stuck. She wants to be here but she’s stuck.
Him: She’s stuck? (nods) She’s stuck.

Told this to my mother-in-law who, to her credit, told me as gently as possible that Alison woulda wanted me to tell him the truth.

Alison and I talked about that years ago and we agreed to be honest with our kids about whatever we could.

Felt like such a coward. Have a hard time dealing with cowards and liars and here I was being both with my son.

After a bath a few weeks ago, he looked at me and said, without prompting:

Him: Mommy’s stuck.
Me: No. (shaking head) Papa…misspoke. She’s not stuck.
Him: She’s not stuck?

And I told him what no father should have to say to any three-year old, or any kid ever.

He nodded but didn’t understand. Which, I suppose, is a good thing. He will one day and that makes me feel sick. As for me, I went to the bathroom and pulled myself together. Kindasorta.

I love this boy and I don’t wanna tell him things like this but these were the cards we were dealt.

Thought about Hobbes and his whole “nasty, brutish, and short” quote. For some, it’s shorter than others. It’s that unfairness of it all that eats at me the most.

A good friend of mine told me that, when you lose someone, you feel this uncontrollable rage that pops up randomly. He said that it never goes away.

Wrote him today and told him that he’s never said anything truer in his life.

Location: stuck in my head
Mood: angry
Music: I can’t believe she’s gone
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Burnt Bacon = Shattered Dreams

Dieting around town

Because of the Gymgirl’s hardcore diet, we’ve been cooking a ton. Mostly bacon, which I cook now because she wrecked her first batch.

Her: This place smells like burnt bacon.
Me: It’s what shattered dreams smell like.

She didn’t even break her diet when we saw ABFF for her kid’s birthday party. And they had cupcakes. Harry Potter cupcakes.

Me: I’m super impressed.
Her: I need more food.

The Gymgirl has two brothers and we met up with them and their respective wives for dinner the other night at her younger brother’s pad in NJ.

She brought some fish and asparagus that I made for her so she wouldn’t have to break her diet.

Me: Would you mind if I just ate what they have?
Her: Sure! You can eat whatever you want. Have a cheat day.
Me: Sweeeeeeet.

I brought a bottle of whiskey for them, since I had it…

Her Older Brother: Why do you two smell like alcohol?

…which I seemed to have spilled all over the interior of my bag on the way there. Evidently, I have the worst luck on NJ trains vis-a-vis my bags.

It was fine though, as they had plenty of food and drink. Ended up eating everything there.

And then some.

Other Brother: Do you want dessert? We have cookie dough ice cream and vanilla ice cream.
Me: Yes.
Him: Which one do you want?
Me: Both? (thinking) And do you have peanut butter?

They did, and I almost ate all of it.

We brought some board games to play and had a nice time before her other brother’s wife had to go because she was pregnant and getting tired.

They gave us a lift back to the City and dropped us off downtown so we walked around a bit before heading back home.

Her: Did you have a good time?
Me: Yeah. It was fun.

It’s still weird being back in the world. And yet, here I am.

Location: same planet as you
Mood: super busy
Music: ‪What do you do when a chapter ends?‬
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Starting a diet

Filling up the holes in our souls

This pic is from the Chinatown in LA but I liked how it looked.

The Gymgirl and I have been talking about starting a new diet for various health reasons and, because of this, we went out to Chinatown for dim sum the next day because the diet we were thinking about wouldn’t allow us to eat rice.

We went to Golden Unicorn, one of the more well-known dim sum joints in the city, but they weren’t serving dim sum at that time so we tossed down a few bucks, walked down the street to Dim Sum Go-Go, and had six plates of food.

Her: I want more food.
Me: OK, how about some dumplings?

So we walked over in the freezing cold to a dive dumpling place and had another plate of food.

Her: I want more food.
Me: OK, how about some Vietnamese food?

So we walked over in the freezing cold to a Vietnamese joint and had a bowl of soup with noodles and some rolls.

Her: I want more food.
Me: OK, how about some more noodles?

So we ordered more noodles and ate that before heading home.

I should note that it was so frigid that this is what I saw the entire way home: The Gymgirl running in heels, trying to get out of the cold.

She’s actually running in the below pic.

We eat a lot.

Her: There’s a hole in my soul that I’m filling up with food.
Me: I understand that. (thinking) Remind me to put that in the blog.

Location: home, fixing a window
Mood: coooooold
Music: Standin’ on canal and Bowery. She’d be standin’ next to me
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Salvaging broken things

The Gymgirl did my family a kindness

Me: What are you doing?
Her: Nothing…

The weather’s been absolutely brutal here in the City. It’s made my injury, which was (kinda) getting better, excruciating.

I was out today because I put in a bid for a portfolio of work that I wasn’t expecting to win and yet I did. So, suddenly, I find myself working again as if nothing’s happened in the past three years. And yet, so much has.

On that note, the boy accidentally broke the little grey ceramic owl from this entry, and crushed a little part of me at the same time.

But you can’t get mad at a toddler for being a toddler.

Still, I remember when Alison bought them for his room, before he was born. I teased her about her obsession with owls.

In any case, I was so busy that day that I didn’t have time to mourn the loss of it, though it stayed in the back of my mind.

The Gymgirl was here when the owl broke and she swept up the pieces. I assumed that she threw them away but I found out that she saved them.

When I came home the other night, I found her sitting at the table with some epoxy and all the pieces trying to glue them all together.

Ultimately, she did and put the grey owl back where it belonged in the boy’s room.

I loved those owls because Alison got them for the boy – because she loved him even before he was born. And now also because the Gymgirl did something so kind for us.

I once said that kindness is valuable because it’s so rare. I value kindness above all other traits because it’s such an attractive quality. It’s why I loved Alison so.

As for the Gymgirl, she has an uncanny knack for salvaging broken things. A boy could fall for a girl like her.

Because, like I said, all good relationships have these secret kindnesses that keep people together.

Me: Thank you. (thinking) That means a lot to me.
Her: It’s no big deal. (shrugging) It’s not perfect but I think it’s good.
Me: No, it’s perfect. Thank you.

Location: Antartica, I think
Mood: freezing but happy with my owls
Music: When they say only fools rush in, then I may be foolish
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Needlepoint

Que Sera Sera


I kept a couple pills of Alison’s super strong painkillers for emergencies.

Well, this past Saturday, I had that emergency.

I’ve only ever left the mat three times: Once when my ACL was torn, once when this girl neck-cranked me in 2011, and again this past Saturday when that same girl-now-woman arm-barred me.

I should mention that she’s ranked eight levels above my level.

In any case, she and I now run around in the same circle of friends so we’ve hung around socially before. But we’ve only ever met on the mat maaaybeee 20 times, tops?

Probably more about 10 times. And one time was that neck-crank time.

She’s actually a very sweet girl woman that’s now an instructor. But on the mat, something turns off in her head and she just gets super aggro.

Normally, the more experienced people are more chill but with her, I have to stay on my toes just to not get killed.

Anywho, this past Saturday, she  gets my arm in what’s called an armbar and I immediately hear: POP-POP  in my elbow and am blinded with pain.

The whole thing took less than one second; the Gymgirl was watching and she said it happened insanely fast.

The Gymgirl had her own injury not that long ago and she talked to me as I left the mat.

Me: (hopefully) Maybe it’s not so bad, it doesn’t hurt all that much right now.
Gymgirl: It’s cause you’re fulla adrenaline. When it wears off, then you’ll know how you really feel.

Well, the Gymgirl knew what she was talking about.

Right around Columbus Circle, I almost doubled over in pain. Made it home and immediately popped one of those pills I was saving up.

Both the woman and the coach wrote me that night and the day after to check in on me, which I appreciated.

She’s genuinely remorseful, as is the coach. Now usually, I’d just say que sera sera and just move on with my life.

But I’m a (single) dad now and I can’t afford to go to the ER for what is, essentially, a hobby.

Me: I think she’s is a bit too wild for me to roll with. So, I feel – for my own safety – that I have to ask that I never roll with her again.
Coach: That’s understandable. I’ll keep you two away from rolling. I’m sorry again.
Me: Thanks. I appreciate it. I’ll be fine. I don’t think anything is broken. Also, painkillers are lovely.

On that note, I gotta say that I understand why people can get addicted to painkillers.

Just taking care of the boy for the past 24 hours has been ridic difficult.

Me: (picking up son from bath and hurting arm (again)) @#$@#$@#!!!!
Son: (laughing) @#$@#$@#!
Me: No! Fiddlesticks! Say, oh, fiddlesticks!
Him: (laughs)
Me: (sighing, wincing) This is not good at all. I should take up something like needlepoint.
Him: Needlepoint.


As an aside, I have to say that I’m still getting used to the stark differences between my current and old coach.

When I tore my ACL and got neck-cranked, my old coach blamed me for both of them.

I remember lying on the mat in a haze – the same mat that I was lying on this past weekend, actually – with a completely torn ACL and my coach was yelling at me, “Why didn’t you relax!? You’re fine. If you tore your ACL, you’d know it.”

And with the neck-crank he simply said that I shouldn’t have let her touch my neck.

The more distance I have from that relationship, the more I realize how toxic it all was.

Oh well, que sera sera…

Location: my white drawer, rationing my last two painkillers and rotating my ice packs
Mood: ouchie
Music: Now I have children of my own
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Coffee makers, airplanes, and the people I know

The difference between knowledge and wisdom

Gymgirl: Shoot, I just realized I can’t bring a water bottle on the plane with me.
Me: Why don’t you have the water they give you?
Her: Do you know where that comes from?
Me: Well, at least have the coffee.
Her: It’s the same water.
Me: Actually, I have an interesting story about that…
Her: Can you tell me later? I’ve a ton to do.

Amazingly, the Gymgirl went on another trip recently. This time to Colorado to see her bestie for some skiing.

Did you know that airplane coffee makers are the reason behind a lot of plane delays? Like, a LOT of plane delays.

The reason is more complex than you might think but – for the sake of brevity – it’s like that Brown M&Ms story I told you about years ago:

It’s not so much the coffee maker but what the coffee maker represents.

Why isn’t the coffee maker working?

  • Is it electrical? If so, it’s on the same electrical circuit as the plane and you definitely don’t want a plane in the air with a faulty electrical circuit anywhere.
  • Is it water? That means no water for bathrooms, of course, but water is also linked to the cooling systems, amongst other things. Another major issue if you’re in the air.
  • Did someone forget something important, like the coffee itself? If so, what else did they forget?

It goes on. Like I said, it’s not the coffee maker, it’s what the coffee maker represents.

In some way, I look at life that way. I always wonder what something means. It’s part of why I never get a good night’s sleep.

A girl I dated once brought a book over that didn’t seem like her speed.

When I asked her why she had it, she said it was for a “co-worker,” but she had just left work. Why wouldn’t she just give it to the co-worker at work?

Here, I had a bit of knowledge: The girl had a book that seemed out of place. But knowledge, by itself, is meaningless because there’s a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom.

On Facebook, I’m still friends with a number of Trump supporters for various reasons who are given a set of data on a regular basis. Yet they somehow draw precisely the wrong conclusion each and every time.

Because they see data and think that equates to understanding. But the two are very different.

Anywho, it turns out that that the girl I was seeing was cheating on me  – she actually got that book for her ex and was planning on meeting him, for the third time, it turns out.

As for the current state of politics, I realize that I’m more irritated than anything else.

I’m irritated because, like I said, people tell you what they’re all about if you listen, and what they’re all about isn’t what I thought.

Location: dunno, but it feels like Antarctica here
Mood: freezing
Music: If I take you and your word, then I’m empty handed
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You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here

5PM, right?

It was a long weekend, this past weekend, so I brought the boy to my in-laws and stayed for lunch.

MIL: Do you want a sandwich?
Me: Yes, please.
Her: (later) Do you want some pizza?
Me: Yes, please.
Her: One or two slices?
Me: Yes, please.

Because my son was away this past weekend, the Gymgirl and I celebrated her birthday.

Oh, and also because it was her birthday.

I tried to throw a surprise birthday party for her but my coach – god love him – kinda threw a wrench in our plans.

Him: (coming over to the Gymgirl and me) How are you two doing with today’s lesson?
Me: Good, we’re just practicing.
Him: Great! Oh, and for tomorrow’s game night, it’s at 5PM right?
Me:  …
Him: (looking puzzled, turns to Gymgirl) It’s 5PM right?
Gymgirl: (laughing) Yes. 5PM (he leaves) So…game night is at 5PM?
Me: (laughing) Yes. 5PM.

Now that the cat was outta the bag, she helped me clean up the joint that day and we ordered pizzas for everyone.

Me: Should I order two or three pizzas?
Her: Well, the coach and you will be here, so that’s two pizzas right there.
Me: Three pizzas it is.

Lots of people from our old and new gym stopped by for pizza and board games. We actually ended up playing games, including some Jackbox games, for about six hours.

The time really flew. It was 11PM before we knew it.

Coach: Should we start wrapping up?
Me: Well, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Location: home, fixing the window
Mood: coooooold
Music: one of us gets too drunk and calls about a hundred times
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A gross weekend

Dinner with my BJJ Coach


This past weekend was pretty gross.

It turns out that the Gymgirl got sick with the Norovirus and the kid got it from her and I got it from him. She was away this weekend so he and I were home together since Wednesday night with him being a mess and, later, me being a mess.

Him: (softly) I don’t feel so well.
Me: (weakly) Neither does papa. And good use of the word, “well” as an adverb describing a verb versus an adjective describing a…
Him: (interrupting) I don’t feel so well, Papa.
Me: I’ll stop talking and get us some juice.

Essentially, we did next to nuthin all weekend except try to not be quite as sick as we both were. He ended up getting a fever as well.

It was shame because I really wanted to start the year off right and hit the gym hard as well try to increase what little work I’d done since Alison passed.

On the former, I did manage to carve out some time to go with my gym buddies to head over to the Hofbrauhaus here in NYC to celebrate my coach’s birthday.

You can watch him in action – and sign up for his Instagram account – here.

Coach: What should we order?
Me: What are you thoughts of ordering this entire section? (points at half the menu)
Him: (puts menu down) That works for me.

On the latter, I just gave an updated GDPR presentation to a buncha lawyers, which seemed to go really well.

But this Saturday night I was just a sick dad with a sick kid trying my best to keep us from being too sick.

Me: Do you want to read something?
Him: No. I want to go to bed.
Me: Oh, thank god. Let’s all go to bed.

Gotta say, as gross as it is sometimes, still the best job I’ve ever had.

Location: two nights ago, my bathroom floor, waiting…waiting…
Mood: gross
Music: Oh, I just don’t know where to begin
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