Goodnight, Uncle Jay

Thanks for the gifts

Me: My uncle passed away.
Her: (puts arms around me) I’m so sorry to hear that.
Me: You’re choking me…
Her: I’m giving you a hug!

The picture below’s of a Montblanc Meisterstuck 925 Sterling Silver and 18K Gold fountain pen. My uncle Jay gave it to me when I got into law school way back in 1995.

My dad got me something similar when I graduated college. I never thanked either of them for either gift.

I was upset and petty, you see. A pen? Who gets someone a pen? A computer, a TV, cash – that kinda stuff I understood as a fella in his 20s, but a pen?

I tossed both into a drawer and forgot about them. Found them earlier this year – a quarter of a century later.

I’d meant to say thanks to my dad for his pen, but I always forgot to. And when I found the pen from my uncle, I asked my mom if I should call.

Mom: He’s sick. He won’t understand.

Uncle Jay never had any sons. Only daughters. He was always kind to me. I was too young to know what to do with kindness from relatives.

There’s this saying that I’ve always liked that goes, Youth is wasted on the young.

I was so arrogant and immature for so long. I made so many mistakes. It always feels like it’s too late. But maybe, with the boy, he’ll be better. Nuthin would make me happier than if he was better than me.

Thanks for the pen, Uncle Jay. I didn’t deserve it and I wish I said thanks when I had the chance.

Sister: Are you ok? You were close to him.
Me: I am. He got to live a long life and watch his kids grow up. Meet his grandchildren. What was he, 86? I would take 86 right now. I wish Alison got half that. He lived a good long life where he was loved and respected. We should all be so lucky. He’s no longer suffering. He earned his rest.
Her: You’re right, he did. Thanks.
Me: No, thank you for calling. I’ll give mom a call now.

Podcast Version
Location: yesterday night, having drinks with a pretty lady
Mood: pensive
Music: I hope everything is gonna be alright (Spotify)
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About Naya

Being a feminist

I’m pausing my usual nuthin to talk about a celebrity.

The last celebrity death I wrote about was George Michael. Today, it’s about Naya Rivera, who died earlier this month.

I’m writing because I assume that not everyone who reads this blog keeps up with television actresses – or 80s pop singers for that matter.

But Rivera deserves a mention for reasons you’ll soon understand.

All evidence seems to point to the fact that she and her son went swimming on an unmoored boat. Rivera probably realized that the boat was slipping away from her and made a choice – a mother’s choice.

She swam after that boat, carrying her son. She musta used all her strength to (a) get to the boat, and (b) get her wet, exhausted four-year old son onto it.

My kid’s four-years old. He’s heavy as it is; I can’t imagine how heavy he’d be wet and tired.

Yet, this lady got her son back onto the boat. It’s apparent that she used the last of her strength to get him to safety because, according to her son, he saw her disappear under the surface of the water.

Think about that.

She was close enough to him that he could see her die. There’s no way she wanted that but she had no strength left.

Alison and I used to watch Glee from time-to-time, but I don’t know anything about Miss Rivera except how she died. I gotta say, that’s enough. She died saving someone she loved more than herself.

That tells me everything I need to know about her. She died her child’s guard. There is no greater love than that.

I said it before, A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things, and crushes down, remorselessly, all that stands in its path.

Since we’re on the topic, I was asked once if I considered myself a feminist. I never thought about it, really.

I’m definitely not chivalrous because that’s just a bullshit way to say that (a) you’re gonna treat someone differently because they do or do not have a particular organ, and (b) that women are weak and need a man’s help. Fuck that.

Alison was the toughest person – man, woman, or child – I have ever met.

You would not believe the shit that Alison went through to stay with her son. And she did so with complete and utter stoicism.

I find Trump supporters particularly distasteful because they support such a weak, whiny, shadow of a man. Like, shut the fuck up you big whiny crybaby. Jesus Christ, don’t you ever get tired of whining?

Alison’s pinky was tougher than Captain Bone-Spurs entire corpulent gross body. And Alison’s mom and then my mom are the second and third toughest people – not women, people – I know. Mouse is up there too.

Women give birth. Women suffer unbelievably for their family and children. For a man to have anything but a profound respect for women, celebrity or otherwise, is to just admit that they are weak, fragile, bone-spur nothings.

If that means I’m a feminist, sure. If nuthin else, this blog is all about me being a fan of women, which I find ridiculous that I even need to point out.

But we’re living in a time when stupid is full-on run amok, so there you go.

Anywho, I wanted you to know that Rivera died, not as a celebrity, but as mother trying – and succeeding – to save her child.

That’s a life worth remembering. That lady was tough as shit, actress, celebrity, or whatever. Tough. As. Shit.

OK, back to the usual nonsense next week.

Podcast Version
Location: my slightly less-hot apartment
Mood: humbled
Music: She is the best thing that’s ever been mine (Spotify)
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Dear Alison…

Today is your birthday


Dear Alison;

You would be 41 today. I’m sure, like always, people would still wonder why you were with me. I still wonder that.

I gotta say, life’s so meaningless without you but I stay for the boy and the occasional happy moment when it comes. It does come from time-to-time, but the demons are always close behind.

They’re my main company these days again. At least you’re not here any more to worry about me. It’s ok, the boy’s away and even the Devil takes pity on me. There’s no profit in cruelty to a broken man. Plus they’re not bad company, as company goes.

Speaking of the boy, he’s doing well. He’s with your parents right now. You were right, a backyard makes all the difference. I bought him a bike and he loves it. It’s blue and yellow. Between that and the unlimited carbohydrates out there, he may never come back.

He’s been there for a while because…well, you wouldn’t believe what’s going on and I wouldn’t know where to start. I suppose we’d be debating again; I think I’d win this time, though. Humanity’s just as awful as always and getting worse by the moment.

If given the choice, I think I prefer my demons. At least I know they want to hurt me. The honesty’s refreshing.

I wish you were here. Selfishly. Because I’m lonely and alone. Without you and your optimism to keep them at bay, they’re hollowing me out again. Life without you and your hope is singularly soul-crushing. They come when I’m on my knees and I find myself there more often than not.

I’d wish you a happy birthday but, since you’ve gone, it’s always anything but.

I’m sorry you’re not here and that I am. It’s so perfectly unfair. You loved the world and I hate it and yet there you are and here I am.

What a cruel joke life’s played on our family.

I would’ve written sooner but it’s taken me three years to be able to write you this. I’ll do better. Been trying to get off my knees. Really.

I have to go. They’re back again. They’re my only lifelong companions, it seems. Another cruel joke on us.

The boy will sing you a song in a bit, along with his classmates. I can’t join him because I don’t want him to see my real face. I’m hiding it as best I can, but he’s smart like you. It’s only a matter of time.

Oh, Alison. I would do anything to trade places with you.

We’ve missed you so much.

I’ll love you until the end of the world.

The Hubs

Goodnight, Nick

I miss my tribe

Decades ago, my mom was gardening in front of our apartment when a woman came out and started talking to her about plants.

She was Greek and spoke with a crazy thick Greek accent; my mom was Chinese and spoke with a crazy thick Chinese accent. Somehow, though, they connected – probably because both saw the world the same way,

They became best friends, to this day. Everyone finds it ridic cute, that these two lovely women found each other in this sad little world of ours.

When my dad died, it was this friend that called my mom constantly, just to make sure my mom was ok. That’s what friends do.

My mom wasn’t, of course, but her friend made it a little better, I think.

In any case, that woman’s husband, Nick, died earlier this week. I wasn’t super close with him, but he was in the fabric of my life since my earliest memories of the world.

Nick died this week right before his birthday, which bothers me greatly because Alison died just right after hers. And like Alison, and my dad, Nick suffered before he died. That makes me irrationally angry for reasons I can’t properly express.

Like Fouad and Kirk, he too died of pancreatic cancer. Three people I’ve known in less than a year. It boggles the mind and breaks the heart.

That pic above was taken almost 12 years to the day by my brother. Nick had come by for my sister’s birthday. They did things like that.

Their family has never shown us anything but kindness. When money, beauty, and possessions go away, kindness stays. That’s why I’m a sucker for kindness; it’s the only thing really worth anything in this shitty world.

It’s my mom’s turn to support her friend now. It’s hard; my mom just had surgery and this damn pandemic hangs over us all. But she does what she can.

A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own. This was and remains true. There’s nothing I can do or say to my mom’s best friend beyond, I’m sorry, and I understand. Cold comfort, but the truth, nonetheless.

It’s good they have each other. Life’s hard enough without your people. She’s Greek, my mom’s Chinese, but they’re both part of the same tribe. In that sense, they’re lucky.

All we really have in the world are our tribes; the people that love us, I suppose.

Everything else is just hot breath and lies. And what good is that, in the end?

Goodnight, Nick. Your family misses you very much. We all do.

All this death around me wears on my psyche, I think. I’ve been talking to other people that, like me, have dealt with depression in the past.

Buddy: I haven’t hugged anyone in over a month!
Me: Dude, me neither. I don’t think I’ve touched another human being in over a month. I’ve also not hugged my son in this time, which is excruciating.
Him: Man, that must suck.
Me: So much. So much.

I miss my son terribly. When this is over, I’m gonna hug the crap outta him.

He’s gonna complain the entire time and I’m not gonna care, I’m just gonna do it. I’m bigger than he is and there won’t be anything he’ll be able to do about it.

I cannot wait.

Podcast Version: Goodnight, Nick
Location: you’d never guess
Mood: sad and pensive, and missing the people I love
Music: If we never met, I’d be drunk, waking up in someone else’s bed (Spotify)
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You don’t have a soul…

…You are a soul

Four people I know – two acquaintances and two dear friends – lost their moms in the same number of weeks.

Rang the friend I’ve known the longest just recently to check in.

Bryson: I didn’t make it in time to see her. I was three goddamn hours away when I got the call. Because I know – because of what I’ve seen – I told them to do what they had to do with the body. I didn’t want to remember her that way.
Me: You don’t have to explain to me. You know, we don’t have souls. We *are* souls, we *have* bodies. You wanted to remember her soul – who she was to you – not her body. You made the right choice. If I could do it all over again…
Him: You should write that down. That was beautiful, thank you.
Me: It’s true. And true things are often beautiful. I’m sorry, brother. When I say, “I understand,” you know I do.
Him: Yeah, I know.

The boy’s been noticing that I’ve been sighing a lot.

Boy: Why do you (exhales sharply) so much?
Me: Because I think of your mama a lot these days. All the time, but more than usual these days.
Him: I miss her.
Me: Me too. But she gave me you and that makes it all a little better.
Him: I love mommy. To the moon and back.
Me: (sighing) Me too.
Him: You did it again.
Me: (nodding slightly) So I did. (boy leans over and hugs me)

Made me realize how lucky I am to still be able to ring up my mom at will so I did and told her I was going to see her this weekend.

Her: How about Sunday?
Me: That’s perfect.

As for my friend Bryson, told him I’d be there with rum any time he wanted.

Me: The kid’s away this weekend so if you’ve got time, I’m there.
Him: Thanks. I gotta clear up a few things but yeah. You know, we’ve known each other 30 years?
Me: Now you’re just being mean. (laughing) On a related-ish note, I lost 20 pounds! I’m so damn gorgeous now, if I were gay, I’d date myself.
Him: (laughs)
Me: I’ll see you soon, brother.
Him: See you soon, brother.

Right after I wrote this, I found out that Kirk Akahoshi passed away from stage four pancreatic cancer. He leaves behind a young wife named Jacki.

I know exactly what Jacki’s going through right now and I don’t envy her one bit.

It never goes away, that feeling of loss, helplessness, and anger.

It’s a horror and it’s all shit.

May she weather it the best she can. I hope she’s surrounded by good souls.

Here’s more of their story.

Location: the basement of my brain, again
Mood: gutted
Music: I will love you till my dying day
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Goodnight, Fouad

That’s what friends are for

I’ve known this fella Fouad Youssef, for well over a dozen years. You’re literally looking at the best picture I have of him with me because someone else took it.

He had the distinction of meeting every women I was ever somewhat serious with – every single one.

This was happenstance; you see, he was the bouncer at Solas and saw both the people I brought there and the people I met there.

Was literally there every weekend for years and spent countless special nights there. He was the one that flipped me upside down in this entry here over a decade ago.

We talked a lot over those dozen years. About his life and mine.

Man, did he love his kids. Don’t think we ever talked without him bringing them up once he had them. His eyes lit up when I showed him my boy.

Him: Being a father, a parent. That’s everything.
Me: I get it now. It’s amazing.
Him: (reaching for his phone to show me pictures)

He died yesterday. He was the person I mentioned here. Fucking cancer.  He was just a bit older than me. His kids are so young.

Our mutual friend, KF – who also lost his love to cancer – and I both agree that at least he’s at peace now. It was awful what the cancer did to him. What it does to people. KF sent me a picture and I had to sit down to catch my breath.

I’m at an age where I say goodbye to people and it’s forever – in the infinite time/space sense of “forever.”

All goodbyes are sad, but the forever ones just gut you.

Fouad wasn’t a close friend but he was someone like Leigh – someone that I saw often and happily. He was part of the fabric of my regular life.

And that piece of fabric is now gone. You notice when there’s a chunk of fabric missing from anything. I’m missing all these major chunks and feel as if my life is in tatters.

I feel emptier knowing that he’s not in this world. No man is an island and all that.

It hit me a lot harder than I thought it would, mainly because I knew what his family was going through. I relived it.

I felt so terribly sad and lonely at that moment that I called a few people to chat but got no answer.

Suppose that’s how grief works. You call out but never get an answer.

Him: You’ll be ok, Logan.
Me: How do you know?
Him: (shrugging) Because you’re always ok. You’re tough.
Me: I don’t know if that’s true. But thanks for always listening.
Him: Of course. That’s what friends are for.

Location: Last night, with friends ignoring monsters with foolishness, like trying to spot it
Mood: gutted again
Music: Please say honestly, you won’t give up on me

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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

Grief can be fatal

The boy’s first picture

If there was a single moment that captured everything about my cleaning out Alison’s closet, it was when I found her Filofax, opened it, and something fluttered out.

For those of you that didn’t know her personally, this was a rarity. Because she was the single most organized and clean person I knew. Nothing fluttered out of anything when she was here because she always put everything away where it belonged.

But what fluttered out was a sonogram of the boy. Our first picture of him.

I remember walking into the room one day and catching her staring at it with a look of such love. Realize now that she musta taken out that sonogram a million times to just stare at her son.

Several friends and acquaintances have recently had babies. While I’m thrilled for them, it reminds me how much we’ve lost.

And I don’t think anyone except a mother could truly understand what must have gone through her mind when she was told she had cancer and would die.

Do you know the very first fucking thing she said to me was? Not about herself or even the cancer. It was,

I won’t see him grow up?

She cried for 24 hours straight after that. I didn’t think a body could cry so much. It was only five days after he was born. Fuck all.

Goddammit. Just typing that hit the pain button full-on and I’m trying not to be a basketcase.

So I put away the photo and try to not think about my most aching possible past.


Just watch the first four minutes. It’s worth it.

I’m putting stuff away cause, unchecked, grief can definitely be fatal. If not for Mouse and the boy, I wouldn’t be here.

In the past 45 days or so, a number of people that have been experiencing grief have reached out to me, exactly as I did to Leigh’s husband when Alison died. And like him, I’ve been trying to help as much as I can.

It’s hard. Cause I gotta dredge up things I’d rather not. But people like Leigh’s husband did that for me so I gotta do my part.

The thing is, you don’t know true grief until you feel it yourself.

And, while I wish you wouldn’t, you will, cause there’s nuthin you love that you won’t lose someday.

If you’re lucky, your grief will only be a small fraction of mine, which – trust me – is a blessing.

In fact one fella I spoke to whose wife died of cancer and left him with two boys told me, “Wow, I wouldn’t think it possible that someone had it worse; but you two’ve had it worse. I’m sorry.”

It’s a shitty achievement we’ve unlocked and one that I wished we didn’t, but, then again, I wish for a lotta things.

In any case, whenever I speak to someone about their grief, I’m reminded of the kid that said that I shoulda moved on after a year. As the video notes, you never move on; you move forward.

Evilly, I used to wish that she’d feel my grief for herself – like I said, I’m not a good person – but I was different then.

Now I just feel pity for her cause she’s just a dumb kid that’s never dealt with it. For better or worse, she will feel it one day, and I don’t think she’s equipped to deal with it.

I barely was. I barely am.

Now, I did promise Alison that I’d be here to take care of her son.

I didn’t mean it then. But I do now. I do. Really. Although there are moments that take your breath away, and not in the good way.

Me: Goodnight, kiddo.
Boy: Mommy’s sick.
Me: What?
Him: She’s sick. She died. She won’t get better.
Me: (dumbstruck)
Him: I love mommy. But she died.
Me: (fuck me) Get some sleep.


As I was writing this, one of the two people I still mentor called me to tell me that he’s worried about cancer with his aunt that raised him.

Man, it really is the emperor of all maladies.

Location: Earlier today, midtown, wishing I had an electric scooter
Mood: thoughtful
Music: in your shirt, the pain it really hurts

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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

Love: Early and Often

Father’s Day 2019

There’s a lot going on again that I gotta sort out. Trying to organize it so it’ll make sense to you…and me, I suppose.

The main thing from last week was that my son graduated from pre-3K. My mother-in-law was there and I was glad she got a chance to see his school.

MIL: You know, I went to Catholic school for years. This reminds me of things.
Me: Everything reminds me of things.

It was Father’s Day yesterday. I spent a good part of it with Mouse.

Because that’s what she does: She shows up when she knows I’m on my knees. She sits with me and tells me that it’ll be ok. Even when we both know it won’t be.

I love her. Dunno if I ever told you that.

Do though. Suppose I have for a long time. Maybe it was obvious to you. Everything is obvious once you accept the answer

See, I accepted it too late. Told her even later.

It’s one of my ten thousand regrets.

Even though I didn’t wanna, thought about my dad a lot over the weekend. A man’s dying, and all…

That’s kinda what I said to my MIL when she was here: I try not to think of Alison and my dad.

Because it’s painful. It’ll always be painful, I suppose.

Lemme tell you this one story: When I was 32, I stayed over at my parents house in my childhood room because I had an appointment in the area.

Everyone had left by the time I woke up so I got dressed in my room and walked out the door to go upstairs. There, I saw something strange on the steps.

It was two hard boiled eggs that my dad made me for brekkie. And he wrote on them: “Good Morning” and “I love you.” I remember laughing and thinking I had to take a picture of it.

I’m so glad I did.

The running joke is that Asian/Chinese parents are not effusive. A college roommate told me that his father never told him that he loved him.

Him: I have no idea what it’s like, to have a father that says that.
Me: I’m sorry. I have no idea what it’s like to have a father that doesn’t.

But that was my dad. He loved me, my siblings, and my mother. And he wasn’t shy about telling us.

Hoo-boy, that man embarrassed me more times than I can count. And I’ll probably embarrass my son.

Because when you love someone, you should tell them that you do, early and often. See above.

Anywho, I try not to think about my dad because I loved him so and the weight of my grief equals the weight of my love.

Which is a shit-ton.

God, I miss all these people I love so.
But there’s no place for the love to go.

Location: home, in front of several glasses of rum
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I keep on wantin’ more of you and me

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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Michael and the emperor of emperors

Karma is garbage


Met so many wonderful souls when Alison got sick. One was a fella named Michael. He’d been diagnosed with GBM six years ago, three years before Alison. Yet he was much higher functioning than her: He still worked and swam almost every day.

He did every experimental treatment he could. We spoke often, even after Alison’s death, the last time being July 23, 2018. He was worried about me.

How’s that for a kick in the head?

We talked about our kids a lot. Michael had two little girls that he adored. He fought like crazy to watch them grow up, just like Alison did.

And, just like Alison, he doesn’t get that chance, cause he died this week.

Fuck.

John McCain died this week as well, which is certainly less impactful but still a nice dose of fuckery for me and my addled head.

Michael was also the one that introduced me to Jeffrey Weiss who died last year from this goddamn thing. All of them died from the same cancer that took Alison.

Fuck. Did I say that already? I think people overuse it; it’s like antibiotics IMHO. You should use it when you really need it.

In any case, cancer’s called the emperor of all maladies; if that’s true, then GBM is the Emperor of all emperors. Capo di tutti capi. It’s kills so perfectly that, I gotta think that the other cancers are jealous.

I’ve always prided myself on not really hating much. There are things I dislike but few things I hate. Who has the time to hate?

But I hate this goddamn thing. If I could kill it with my bare hands, I would, then revive it to kill it again.

I’ve also learned to hate the concept of karma.

If ever there was a horseshit idea, there’s karma. Alison and Michael sure as fuck did not deserve this bullshit deal they got. Dunno anyone with GBM that did.

Sorry, I’m rambling. I’m battling a cold and my sleep’s been awful these days. August has been awful. It’s been a month of lies, terrible truths, death, and endings.

I’m tired of it all. I just wanna sleep and not know anything, especially about this fucking cancer. Blessed are the forgetful and alla that…

But I do know it.

I know a lotta things I don’t wanna know. So many things.

Fuck.

Location: a red chair
Mood: sick
Music: Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray, it might come true
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