Citrus Betty, the playa

Surviving it all

Me: (with kid in stroller) Can you pop the trunk?
Brother: Why don’t you just put him in the car seat?

My brother visited me the other day.

He used to come all of the time to see my dad. Now he comes to see my mom. He travels here from Cali and I wish I had more time to spend with him but I’m always taking care of the kid.

The week he came, I started potty training. It’s been tiring and gross, I’ll leave it at that. Also been sick. Seems like I’m constantly sick; kids his age are like sponges for germs so as soon as I’m over one cold, another one starts.

So I only got to see him one night and even then, we didn’t get to really spend any time together. But we all went out – him, me, the kid, and Gymgirl – and got some food at this joint called Playa Betty’s.

It used to be a Latin fusion place called Citrus. Was last there with Alison on December 31, 2008 at 11:30PM. I know the time because I wrote briefly about it here. We sat on the second floor and she and I both ate so much that we had to head home before it actually turned to 2009.

This is a picture I took that night. It’s not great but it’s all I got. She just laughed at something I said. I’m just hilarious.

And there I was at this new/old place earlier this week with our son and another woman and my brother.

Felt it kinda perfectly summed up my life now: Very different but with some unifying things. My brother has always been a constant in my life, and for that, I’m so grateful.

At his wedding (he’s single now) I joked that he was a year older than me. Said that I couldn’t imagine how he survived that year without me. Truth is, I’m not sure how I woulda survived all this without him.

As for me, I’m trying to move on as best I can. Mainly for the kid. Suppose it doesn’t really matter why I move on, just that I do.

And I’m always thankful for the good souls that keep me company along the way.

Nate: (pointing to his room while eating dinner) Mom! Mom!
Gymgirl: You want your mom? Let me get her for you. (gets up, goes to room and returns with Alison’s picture) Here you go. Mom!
Nate: (laughs, takes picture) Mom.

Location: In front of a potty
Mood: still injured, still heartbroken, still here
Music: In my heart, she left a hole
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I’m back. Kinda.

Kindasorta

I’m slowly – slooooooooowly – getting back into work.

Used to lecture on these really arcane areas of the law to get my name out there and meet clients and I was invited to do so again by this great company that I used to lecture for alla the time, Lawline.com.

So the other day, I put on a suit for like the fourth time in three years and took the train downtown.

The receptionist gave me a warm smile.

Her: Hey Logan, long time, no see. How’ve you been?
Me: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Gave my lecture and said hello to a buddy of mine that works there before I left.

It was an hour lecture, so for an hour, I didn’t think about the kid, Alison, or my dad. I had a job to do and I did it. It felt good. Weird, but good.

I texted my sister-in-law to see if she was free for a cuppa joe.

Me: Yo! I’m in Wall Street at 61 Broadway. Is that near you at all?
Her: Hiya. Yea I’m not too far. Do you know the Oculus? I can meet you at the winter garden.

The last time I was there, I was with some girl – don’t remember who – driving a beat-up BMW and showing her the World Trade Centers.

What was that? 17, 18 years ago? A lifetime ago, as always.

In any case, met up with my sister-in-law, who bought me a diet coke.

Her: That stuff’s terrible for you.
Me: (shrugging) I like it better than the alternative.

We talked about stuff. Not Alison. Everything else. That was weird too.

Thanked her for the drink and company and made my way back home.

I felt almost as if Alison would be there waiting for me when I got home. Like she was after alla my other lectures. She used to always say the same thing with such joy and love:

Logan’s home!

But she wasn’t home. The kid was out. The Gymgirl was at school. Came home to an empty and completely quiet apartment.

So, as I hung my keys on the key rack, I said to no one, except maybe Harold,

Hey. I’m back. Kinda.

Location: At the Oculus a few days ago
Mood: still injured
Music: And times when you’re all alone all you do is think
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Rum, beer, chili, and friends

A Chili Cook-off and Birthday


Had a buncha friends from my old gym over the other day to celebrate my cousin’s birthday.

I remember meeting her when she was just a few days old so it was kinda a kick in the head.

It wasn’t entirely for her because I insisted on making it a chili-cookoff, so it was win-win for everyone.

Well, me anyway.

Friend: Does she even like chili?
Me: (confused) Who doesn’t like chili?

We had five competitors and I made a pretty good batch with chocolate and dark beer for some added depth.

Here’s the thing: I either came in fourth or last. Everyone else’s chili was just that good.

Him: Are you ok coming in fourth or fifth place?
Me: (puzzled) Sure – I got to have four other amazing chilis. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

Very, very little bothers me these days.

After dealing with – literal – life and death matters, it’s hard to take anything else seriously these days. I have no patience for the ridiculousness of others.

Besides, I have no problem supplying my own ridiculousness.

Gymgirl: Will you have prizes?
Me: The first prize is gonna be a portrait of me by my son.

Drew won both the first prize and the chef’s choice prize – a crystal cigar ashtray – because he made a killer batch with beef ribs.

It was amazingly good and I ended the day with a ton of new ideas for chili.

Her: Did you have fun?
Me: I had rum, beer, chili, and friends come by. So, yeah.
Her: Good. You deserve a little fun.
Me: (looking around) Yeah. Now I gotta clean up. Everything’s a mess.
Her: (picking up a dish) Don’t worry. I’ll help.

Location: At home, with a fridge fulla chili
Mood: still injured
Music: we keep busy. The waves come after midnight
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I’ll be busy on the 24th

I have plans, you see


My friend Rose wrote me to tell me she was coming into town.

Her: I’ll be there in August! I’d love to help you diminish any quantity of rum you would like.
Me: As long as it’s not the 24th.

This comedian named Rita Rudner once said, “I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”

It was my wedding anniversary this past Saturday. Spent it drinking by myself from 11AM to midnight.

I remember getting married pretty clearly. Was working on a project for a client until the moment we left for the courthouse; I took this one last job because I knew we’d spend the next few weeks or so just daydreaming.

She probably found it annoying but never mentioned it. I just wanted to get all the work out of my brain and desk to focus on being married to her.

We picked February 24th because it was exactly 10 days after St. Valentine’s Day, so it would be easy to remember.

I remember that we spent the whole day trying on the words, “my wife” and “my husband” like a new shirt.

Alison died on May 24th.

My father died on August 24th.

And February 24th is miserable day for me.

So if we ever meet up in RL, figure I should tell you now that I’m busy on the 24th.

I have plans, you see.

Location: On a train heading to Queens
Mood: injured
Music: we could be married and then we’d be happy
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It’ll never be ok

Just like that, I’m back

Woman: Mister. Mister. Are you ok?
Me: No.

This past week, I had a number of clients and friends contact all at once.
I’ve not really worked in any meaningful capacity in almost three years. But I’m right back as if nothing happened.

And yet, so much has happened.

Had a meeting on the Upper East Side with my buddy Steele’s wife for some work the other day and I’ve always prided myself on always being punctual.

She was on East 80th Street so I took the train to East 77th and got off.

When the train pulled into the station, I was so concerned about being on time that it didn’t occur to me that I’d been there. So many goddamn times.

I forgot that’s where the hospital was. The last hospital we went to.

As I walked up the stairs, saw it and my knees buckled. Ended up sitting on the stairs as I tried to catch my breath.

For those of you that know me in real life, that know my aversion to germs and dirt, picture me wearing one of my suits and sitting on a subway stairwell.

It was surreal.

Passerbys asked me if I was ok, if I needed help. Told them that I was beyond help.

Made it to my feet and made it to my friend’s door. Don’t even remember how.

Her: (opening door) Logan! Come on in. So good to…
Me: (interrupting) I forgot. (leaning against wall) I forgot this is where the hospital was. I…(chokes)
Her: (steps out, gives me a hug) It’s ok.
Me: It’s not. (shakes head) It’ll never be ok. (her baby cries)

Just like that. I’m right back as if nothing happened.


Steele and I chatted about it afterward.

Me: BTW, I’m sure the wife will tell you but I had a mini-breakdown in your apartment and may have scared your kid a bit.
Him: I can’t blame you. He’s gotta toughen up anyway…

Funeral Blues
by W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand
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Opinion: The judge in the Five Pointz case got it wrong

VARA isn’t a great law, but it’s the law

(c) Ezmosis

Wrote once about The Pigtail Ordinance: That was when this super racist judge in 1873 tossed out alla these racist local laws against the Chinese because he knew that the laws were contrary to the Constitution, the controlling law of the land.

In other words, he upheld the main law of the land over his own personal feelings.

You see, the Constitution says you can’t hurt a group of people just because you don’t like them.

That’s equal protection, which came about in 1868; The Pigtail Ordinance was shot down just five years later, which makes it all the more impressive.

But logically, if what I just said is true – that the Constitution says you can’t hurt a group of people just because you don’t like them – then the contrapositive must also be true: If you like a group of people, you can’t help them.

Thought about that with everything that’s going on politically.

Nowadays, it’s all about one’s team winning – whatever winning entails – at the cost of following the rules. Help those you like, hurt those you don’t. That’s not how it should be.

That’s all a preface for an unpopular thing I’m about to say:

The judge in The Five Pointz case got it wrong.

Since we’re walking down memory lane together, do you remember when I flew to give a lecture in front of the Paris Bar Association? The topic I was speaking about was VARA: The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. VARA was the law in question for this case.

Most of my clients – when I had clients – were artists.

So I’ve always been on the artists side. And what I’ve always believed was that VARA didn’t go far enough to protect artists. For example:

  • Why are only visual artists protected?
  • Why isn’t the art protected if the artist wants it destroyed?
  • Why is the law written so that only works of “recognized stature” are protected?

That last one always bothered me. Because who is to say when a work is of “recognized stature?”

But that’s one of the main areas where the judge got it wrong (amongst others).

In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, he saw that the developer was kinda a sleezeball, which he was, and simply assumed that 45 (45!) works of graffiti were of “recognized stature.”

That’s just not fair.

If I put a gun to the head of the average person and asked him/her to point out the Mona Lisa or Nighthawks, chances are they’d get it.

  • What if I did the same thing but asked him/her to name any one of these art pieces?
  • What if I did the same thing to the average art critic?

VARA is a wrong law and but that’s still the law. You don’t get to cherry-pick the laws you like and the laws you don’t like.

  • A racist judge shouldn’t ignore the Constitution to help white people.
  • A (rightfully) offended judge shouldn’t ignore the wording of a poorly constructed federal law to help these artists and hurt an unsavory person.

The artists were allowed to paint on the exterior of this building. That doesn’t give them the right to prevent the building from being torn down. They could have removed their art, at their cost, or taken hi-res pictures of it, which they did.

How the developer did it – without warning – was sleazy. But VARA doesn’t comment on the character of the art benefactor.

VARA should be replaced with a better law that truly protects art and the artist. But until then, it should be followed.

Below’s me talking about the case a lifetime ago. If you want to read my notes on the subject, you can download the powerpoint here.

And now I return to my life now: changing diapers and trying to figure out a way to get my kid to eat something besides peanut butter.

 

Location: memory lane
Mood: wistful
Music: a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second hand store
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Long weekend

I’ll take a tiny win

Her: Do you know what the worst part about being short is?
Me: You don’t get to go on the adult rides in an amusement park?

This was a long weekend. The kid’s usually away at least every other weekend with my mom so I get a little break but this week, I had plans to bring him up to a birthday party with Alison’s college friends on Saturday morning.

See, I want him to have as much of the life that he woulda had with Alison. She woulda been there with her friends.

But he had a stomach thingy and we couldn’t go at the last minute.

This also messed things up for me because I was hoping that a neighbor or a sitter could watch him while I went to one of my oldest friend’s bday parties. But it’s not fair to stick someone with a vomiting kid.

Besides, I was worried it was the flu, despite him not having a fever.

So I stayed in the whole weekend. Then I started feeling rough. So the Gymgirl came over and spent one day watching him while I slept and drank fluids. She even brought him to an indoor playground through the pouring rain.

The Gymgirl is pretty short. I’m no giant but she’s tiny. I tell her that I could easily bench press her.

I like her cause she’s got a big heart, though. Actually met her because she did a few fundraisers for Alison.

I was in the living room resting when she was playing with the boy in the other room and smiled when I heard them interacting.

Her: Who’s that? Who’s that? (pointing at Alison’s picture)
Him: Mama.
Her: That’s right! That’s your mama.

Often write about how the only luck I’ve got is of the kind you don’t want.

But I did wake up this morning to this text from my phone from ABFF:

I have two kids with temps of 104 and one threw up tonite. So it’s good Nate didn’t come by…

It’s a tiny win but a win nonetheless. I’ll take it.

Me: Look at it this way, you and the kid can see eye-to-eye.
Her: I’m not that short!
Me: (looking over her head) Wait, where did you go?

Location: A white desk this time
Mood: tired
Music: So come over, just be patient and don’t worry
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A Parliament of Owls

A Murder of Crows

 

Me: What is that?
Him: Owl. Owl.

When I was younger, there was a film called The Crow that I loved. Heard they’re gonna re-do it.

Always thought that crows were cool. They’re all black, sociable, are one of the few animals that mourn their dead, and seek revenge.

Alison, however, preferred owls. In fact, we have several owl figures in the house, all purchased by Alison throughout the years. She was always surprised when I pointed out that we had other owls here and there.

Her: Oh! I didn’t even notice. I wonder what it is about owls that I like?
Me: What’s there not to like? They’re nocturnal, solitary, eat everything, are highly intelligent, and are quietly dangerous. 
Her: (laughing) I’m going to name it “Reginald.”

The Gymgirl also likes owls, as her family name has a part that means owl in her native language.

As luck would have it, one of the first words from my son is owl. He can recognize both regular and barn owls as owls.

I find the whole thing both peculiar and interesting

Since everything went down, I don’t suffer superstition well. I don’t believe in signs or the supernatural or anything of the like.

But I do like this, somehow. That my son likes owls. It must be Alison in him. This little thing makes me happier than you might imagine.

Did you know that owls and crows are mortal, natural enemies? They will try to kill each other on sight.

I’ve always said that we spend our lives seeking out our tribes. So, perhaps I was a crow that became an owl. Or maybe I was an owl all along.

It’s better this way, I suppose.

A group of owls is called a parliament. A group of crows is called a murder. I’d rather be a party of a parliament than party to a murder.

Current political climate notwithstanding.

Location: The same black desk
Mood: pensive
Music: You were only waiting for this moment to arise
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Disquieting

Everything worries me

Him: How’s it being a dad?
Me: Disquieting.

The boy is rambunctious.

He’s kinda like a cat that randomly runs into another room for no reason, only to hurriedly run back. Like the cat, he knows exactly why he runs, but the observer does not.

As I told a buddy, life with him is disquieting.

Not because of things like that, though. That’s comforting, somehow; that he’s a happy child, doing happy child things.

Rather, it’s because of something that Alison related to me once that her mother told her: The day you have a child is the day you start to worry and never stop.

I agree with that. And my case is especially anxiety producing, for two reasons:

1) I do this mainly alone.
2) Everything worries me.

On the former, I don’t have Alison’s keen insight into child rearing that she seemed to have naturally. She had an answer for everything.

Wish she was around for a million reasons, one of which is that I don’t have anyone to discuss rando child-rearing things with.

On the latter, that’s a different matter.

The other day, we stopped by a Super Bowl party with the same neighbors I spent NYE with. While there he fell and hit his head while playing around with RE Mike.

For anyone else, this is probably something that’s quickly forgotten. But because of what happened to Alison, any time he hits his head, feel a panic that I can’t describe.

Didn’t sleep well for a few nights afterward.

After all, what is anxiety if not the fear of the hypothetical?

Parenthood, ideally, is filled with love. But for every drop of love, there’s a commensurate drop of fear, I think.

All the more for me because of what happened to our family and because he’s all I have left that matters from her.

Then again, I suppose fear’s the bargain one makes for love. For some it’s too high a price to pay, and I get that. Now more than ever.

But I still think it’s worth it. I’d do everything all over again in a heartbeat.

Man, if you could see my kid laugh and not love him, you’re a tougher person than I.

And I’m made of titanium.

My mom: He said “I want daddy” while you were away.
Me: Get outta here. Wait, “daddy” or “papa?”
Her: Daddy.
Me: I wonder where he learned that from?
Her: Does that really matter?
Me: No. I guess not. (leaning in) Did you miss me?
Him: No!
Me: (laughing) Well, that didn’t last long.

 

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand
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Something for her

The Gymgirl turns 20-something

Her: We should do something for her.

The Gymgirl turned 20-something the other day.

Brought her out to eat sushi downtown and we were going to spend a weekend at my place when my cousin decided we should throw her a surprise party at a beer joint around the way.

My cousin introduced us, you see. Well, after a fashion, but that’s another story for another time.

The thing is that I threw a surprise birthday party for Alison when she turned 30. That was the first and last surprise party I ever threw anyone. Felt guilty for Alison for throwing one for The Gymgirl. Then I felt guilty for the Gymgirl about feeling guilty about it.

Wrote once about the difference between guilt and shame: Shame’s hating what you are. Guilt’s hating what you’ve done.

When I tell people that I have little to no shame, that’s true. It’s why I was pretty good out there. I know what I am and I’m ok with what I am.

But, the truth is, that I struggle with guilt far more than most people, I think.

Logically, dispassionately, I know it makes no sense.

That Alison’s gone now and the Gymgirl’s here. And yet I wonder if I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing. Having any joy at all. Moving on with my life. Not only going to a party but planning it.

Was going to tell my cousin that I couldn’t do it. But I refuse to be controlled by that which makes no sense.

The fact is that the main things that Alison would have wanted for me are: (a) to be right in the head to take care of the kid and (b) to meet someone good and decent that would help me take care of the kid.

Obviously, it’s way too early to figure out if the Gymgirl’s that person. If there’s even is the possibility of another person out there for me. Or if I could be someone for someone else.

But I’ve always been stupidly optimistic like that. Even when all evidence tells me otherwise.

Me: Ok.

After dinner, we went to my regular hangout downtown, Solas. A friend that’s part of the establishment lost his significant other as well. That’s his story so that’s all I’ll say on it.

We talked a few moments outside. He showed me pictures and it was too much for me to take.

So I went upstairs to a seat I used to sit at for years doing pickup, hoping it was empty. It was. So, I sat and cried.

But then my friend Drew came upstairs and sat down next to me. He’s the handsome weirdo next to The Gymgirl in that picture up there.

Me: (after a bit) I never wanted anything else but her.
Him: I know.
Me: Sorry, man.
Him: For what?
Me: For being such a whirlpool of sadness and depression alla time.
Him: You’re not. Not all the time.
Me: (laughing) Good. (wiping eyes) Well, we’re pretty sober. Let’s fix that. Lemme buy you a drink?

The Gymgirl and I ended up stumbling out of the bar after 1AM. She didn’t have a drop of alcohol because of her meds. I couldn’t say the same.

Me: Sorry I’m such a mess. I hope you still had a good birthday.
Her: It was great. Thank you.
Me: Sure. Everyone deserves a nice birthday. (thinking) You may have to carry me home.
Her: I’d do that.
Me: I know.

Location: My son’s room
Mood: conflicted
Music: I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe that I’m in too deep
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