Anthony Bourdain: I am certain of nothing

I know that I know nothing

Me: (handing her a pack) Pick a toothbrush.
Woman: (picks one) Wait…where are all the others?
Me: In use.
Her: Do you label the toothbrushes?
Me: I’ve got enough to deal with – you all have to remember which toothbrush is yours.

Made some Soleier the other day. It’s a pickled hard-boiled egg and I did it because of Anthony Bourdain’s Cologne episode of Parts Unknown, where he eats it in a bar.

Gymgirl had never seen any episodes of Parts Unknown, but, when Alison was trying to get pregnant, she and I watched a ton of episodes. In some way, we were trapped at home but it was our escape. When she got sick, we saw a few episodes here and there.

So I put on the Cologne and Senegal episodes for the Gymgirl; Alison worked a lot in Senegal and I think she woulda loved watching it.

In the Senegal episode, towards the end, Bourdain said that he had a tatoo that read paraphrase of a Greek/Latin phrase I’ve always liked, scio me nihil scire: I know that I know nothing.

He said, I am certain of nothing.

Don’t think it’s any major surprise to anyone, but I spent most of the time after Alison passed trying to think of ways to end my life with two major goals: (a) ensure my son got the maximum amount of money but only when he was old enough to use it responsibly, and (b) ensure he would not be the one to find my body.

I’m ok now, in case you’re worried.

Dispassionately speaking, those two things kept my mind racing for days…weeks? Months? I’m not sure. Was drinking a lot. Spent my time in the company of strangers trying to forget things.

Eventually, I sobered up, both literally and figuratively. Without getting too into it, essentially bureaucracy saved my life: There were certain things I was waiting for in order to accomplish goal but by the time I got what I needed, I was already feeling less depressed and more just normal, heart-breaking, sadness.

But there were many nights when I was pretty cloudy and thought about just ending it all. But those two things and my OCD kept me from making that final cut.

Me:  Do you ever daydream about, like, a fancy car?
Friend: Sure, I guess.
Me: That’s how I think about dying. I dream about it. It’s not real, per se, it’s just something I think about.
Him: Do you think you’d ever do it?
Me: No. But I think about it.

I wouldn’t be here if not for the kid. Alison was always worried because I often had bouts of depression.

Alison: Wouldn’t you stay just to keep me company?
Me: It’s never as easy as that.
Alison: Why can’t it be?

Ah, if only everyone could stay in the world because someone wanted them, desperately, to stay.

But suicidal depression doesn’t make a lotta sense, especially to the suicidally depressed. Even at my worst, I was pretty high-functioning; I knew suicidal people that weren’t even close. Bourdain was clearly high-functioning.

Two years ago, told you that I had two other atomic bombs in my life besides Alison and the cancer. My father was dying of cancer too; that I eventually told you.

My So-Called Thermonuclear Life

But the third was that one of my favorite cousins tried to kill himself in the middle of everything happening with my dad and Alison.

I remember getting that call and thinking that my life was as insane as it could ever be.

He survived, though. Alison and my dad didn’t. But that doesn’t make suicide any less dangerous. It’s as deadly as cancer because it kills you just the same.

Just snap outta it.

I’ve said that before to people that were suidically depressed, before I knew any better. It puts the blame on them – they’re doing this to themselves. But, as I said, that’s not how depression works.

No normal person wakes up dreaming of ways to end their lives. It’s the opposite of normal.

I know I’m not normal. Perhaps that’s part of why I don’t think I’d ever do it.  Because I know I’m not ok.

Never met Bourdain but I like to think that it was a momentary – and awful – lapse of reason that made him end his life. He had a kid and I doubt that, if he was thinking clearly, he’d ever hurt his daughter like that. Maybe in that last moment, he had some clarity and wanted to stay.

Then again, I’m certain of nothing. Except that I love Alison and her boy.  If only love was enough for things like this.

As long as the boy is here, I’ll stay to keep him company. He shocked me with this conversation today and made me cry.

Me:  (absentmindedly) I miss your mama.
Boy: (nodding) I miss mama too.

Think Bourdain’s daughter’s name is Ariane. Always thought that was such a pretty name.

Location: Last week, Bermuda
Mood: tired
Music: I’m sick of sitting ’round here
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1,000 times an hour

Promises made, promises broken

Watercolor view of the UES, NY,

Nurse: Do you have her password?

Without getting too deep into it, the past week has been the most difficult week at home since November. And we’ve had some awful weeks in the past three months.

My insomnia makes this surreal experience all the more surreal. What little is in color is watercolored and runs together before fading to grey again.

The doc wants us to bring her back to the hospital but she was so distraught and confused the last two times that I feel it’ll only be worse a third time.

Ultimately, I have to make that decision and it is to keep her at home, however difficult that is.

Marriage is such an odd thing. You meet a stranger one night and, a little while later, you become family. To the point where I make decisions for her instead of her own parents, who have been totally supportive of all the choices I’ve made.

I have tremendous respect for them. Her mom is about the nicest person I know and her father – a war hero – is someone I would like to call a friend regardless of the reason why.

We got married five years ago this month. I told them I would always keep her safe.

I’m failing that promise right now. Keep thinking there must be something else I can do.

But there isn’t. There’s only the waiting.

The last time we were in the hospital, the nurse wanted to make sure I was family so she asked for the password I gave them when I admitted her.

It’s the same three words I’ve been saying 1,000 times an hour, every waking hour, since the beginning of November.

Me: Yes. It’s: “Please be ok.”

\’

Location: hell
Mood: struggling
Music: Skies turn to the usual grey
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You can’t be afraid if you laugh

If only something was enough

Old Fashioned with Rye

Met up with RE Mike the other night at a bar in midtown. Had myself an Old Fashioned with Rye and met some folks.

The usual summer swing.

Church in Manhattan

Lately, the press is all about Robin Williams’ suicide. There’s a number of a things going around that somehow glamorizes the whole notion of suicide in general, which bothers me no end.

Years ago, I wrote about a much less well-known comedian named Richard Jeni doing the same thing.

Felt then, as I feel now, what a colossal waste.

And the other time I wrote about suicide was with another comedian named Richard Gethard, who’s thankfully still alive.

I like Richard Gethard. I liked Richard Jeni. And I grew up watching Robin Williams – remember seeing him first appear as Mork on Happy Days back when it first came out. They made me laugh.

Stephen Colbert once said that, “If you are laughing, you can’t be afraid.” That’s one of the truest statements there are. I suppose that it’s why the people that have some of the saddest experiences laugh the hardest. It’s the only way they survive.

Sometimes, though, I think people just get tired of being afraid. And sometimes it’s not enough.

If I could have wished them something, woulda wished them something that was enough.

————-

Here’s a really good page on suicide, including the main question, “Are you thinking of committing suicide?”

Location: prepping for travel
Mood: disappointed
Music: Oh how can I survive? Will I make this drop this dive?
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Two Scenarios

Hope you had a better weekend than me

It was not a good weekend. Without getting too much into it, there’s something about disappointment that’s particularly hard to bear.

Suppose I give you – totally randomly – $100 but there are two scenarios:

Scenario 1
You don’t know me and I just randomly hand you $100 and tell you that I give out $100 to anyone I like that day and you’re that person. How do you feel?

Scenario 2
You don’t know me and I just randomly hand you $100 and tell you that I just gave out $100,000 to the first guy I met, $10,000 to the second, $1,000 to the third and now $100 to you. How do you feel?

You feel different, don’t you? In Scenario 1, you’re elated. In Scenario 2, it’s a lot less so.

The funny thing is that the baseline transaction – me giving, you getting $100, unearned – is exactly the same.

What we expect of the world shapes our perceptions of what happens to us and those circumstances make things happy or sad.

It was not a good weekend.

————–

On a slightly positive note, just put up my Facebook page for A Great First Date and already have close to 200 likes.

If you’re on Facebook, consider giving me a like?

 

Location: chained to my desk with a broken computer
Mood: deflated
Music: I’ve been thinking about you. How are you doing these days?
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Embracing the Randomness

Last night, met up with my friend Ben – who writes Conceived and Composed, that clever pic above is his – and my other buddy, PB.

Got together to down some rum and $0.10 wings downtown. Always tell myself to limit myself to a half dozen. Never happens. We chatted about photography and life: re the former, I picked up a new shooter; re the latter, work is heating up, finally.

Am at an age now where I think I’m able to ride out most storms. The stuff that’s been going on with the Rutgers kid committing suicide got to me, like all the stories do – depression is something I think most insomniacs have dealt with and the response has been the It’s Gets Better campaign, which I’ve always believed was the case. Because it does get better.

Anywho, after stuffing ourselves with wings and booze, we discovered that a relative’s of Ben’s owns the local banh mi shop so we had to stop in there too after our greasefest. Piggies we are.

Unlike a lotta places in the world where people gotta do the terrible things to just survive, here we get randomness to enjoy. But only if we decide to do it.

———-

Installment two of my dating/relationship This Modern Love column on Techorati is up today.

Speakinga which, gonna have to change my posting schedule to Monday and Wednesday for this here blog so I’m not super swamped. See you Monday, yeah?

Location: home, trying to get work done
Mood: hungry
Music: I’m surrounded you know, it’s all around me
YASYCTAI: Embrace the randomness. (3 hrs/1 pt)
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Doing it for the Crackers

There’s always something waiting around the corner

Remember that deal that Sheridan wanted to know if I wanted in on? He closed it with RE Mike and it was just reported in the NY Post. I’m super happy for him but…damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.

It’s the third deal that Sheridian and I didn’t do together. The first, I made bank but he missed; the second we both missed. This one? $15.85 million. Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.

Hate being this poor. Hate always worrying about scratch. Was about to have a pity party when I read that Ruslana Korshunova jumped outta her Manhattan building in a suicide. Stopped me cold. She was wealthy, beautiful, successful…and 20.

What troubles would be so big at 20 that you’d swan dive off a 9th floor building when, externally, you got it all? I dunno. Hate suicide stories.

Something’s always waiting round the corner. True, sometimes it’s fail, but sometimes it’s win. Regardless, you hope and you hope. Cause, statistically speaking, 10 outta 10 of us are gonna get our tickets punched – so why’d you ever wanna rush the matter? It’ll come sooner than you know it.

Admittedly, it’s hard to go from caviar and crackers to just crackers. But really, I got no complaints; don’t have enough fingers to count all my blessings.

Plus, when a girlie says she wants to spend some time these days, I’m (fairly) confident she does it for the company.

I mean, she’s certainly not doing it for the crackers, yeah?

800.SUICIDE / 800.784.2433

Location: 21:44 yest, getting whacked w/a stick in the UWS
Mood: sad
Music: and it breaks my heart, it breaks my heart

Grace and Mercy

Do you know the difference between Grace and Mercy?

Him: The fine is $2,000 a day for non-compliance.
Me: (coughing) You either gotta kill me and sell my body parts a nickel a shot, or we’ve gotta work something out.
Him: (laughing) We don’t have a department for that type of collection. (pause) I can give you two more days. Can you be in compliance by then?
Me: (nodding) Hell or high water.

Do y’know the difference between Grace and Mercy? They’re two sides of the same coin.

  • Grace is when you get the good things you don’t deserve.
  • Mercy is when you don’t get the bad things you do deserve.

Been posting less these days – cause I’ve never been into ranty posts. I did call my brother about two days ago, though. Guess something in my voice worried him. Or maybe mom told him about my shaking. Dunno.

Today I was running around all morning, having one unpleasant meeting after another, before I finally made it to my office.

And there sat my brother.

He dropped everything and took the 7AM flight outta Florida. I was in the hood, thought I’d see you, he joked. Then he looked down for a moment and asked, You ok?

Outside, my three employees were working, my partner was in her office, and I had clients waiting. I said it before, the words that’ll make a grown man cry are, I’m on my way. Just showing up’s even better.

But a boss weeping in his office doesn’t do anyone any good. So instead, I coughed, cleared my throat, frowned and nodded. He got it.

Later that night he and his friend Kathy had dinner with my folks, laughed, and sang about two American kids growing up in this heartland on the road home.

Today I got mercy from a total stranger and grace from my earliest memory.

Yes, I said honestly, I’m ok, now.

Location: 22:00 yest, Rego Park
Mood: hopeful
Music: life goes on Long after the thrill of livin is gone

One point five

Location: Queens, locked outta my office
Mood: irritated at myself
Music: The more you ignore me, the closer I get

Painting by Constellajen whom I met online
Me: Mom, don’t cry, my hands always shake.
Her: But they’re not supposed to…

Mom’s terribly worried about me these days. I tell her not to be and yet – well, mothers are as they are.

When she first came here, my mom tied a 1.5 minute egg timer to the phone. Once a month, she would call her mom and they would talk for exactly 1.5 minutes. No matter what, they got off the phone after 1.5 minutes. It’s all they could afford. Her mom worried about her too. She was 26?

Can you imagine?

Here’s the thing: unless you know me in RL, you and I most likely wouldn’t be anything back in those days. What a world we live in, where communication is a commodity. Text, email, fax, blogs – we can all connect.

Veijukka asked who gives me pep talks, I don’t really need them. Because I’m so much in my own head all the time. Sometimes, though, I could use a quiet connection.

Thanks for listening this week. It’s been rough.

I’ll see if I can’t get slapped again by another girl this weekend to keep y’all entertained.

Safe

Insomnia is wretched misery

When my four-year relationship finally disintegrated, my sister came to see me. I hadn’t slept in days. She brought food and told me to go to bed, then sat quietly in my living room and read. I slept for hours. When I woke up, she was still there.

Over Xmas, I wasn’t sleeping causa the work drama. But my brother came to visit. I remember laying down on the floor where he was working and passing out. It was the first poison-free sleep I had in two months.

I suppose you’re all sick and tired hearing about Heath Ledger. I liked his films, but that’s about it. He might have been a prince or a scumbag, I dunno.

But I had myself a little freakout when I read about how he died. Cause he’s the same type of insomniac as me; his mind was “always racing,” he said and “pills failed to work.” That’s me.

Good god, it’s wretched misery.

There’s this line that goes, Everyone dies alone. But that’s just horses___. Most people don’t die alone. But what a way to go if you do. Poor bastard.

Sorry, I’m sick and moody. On a happy note, it was Chinese New Year yesterday (xin nian quai le!). I took the day off, saw the family and ate my weight in dumplings.

On an even happier note, it’s the weekend.

Location: in my apartment, cleaning
Mood: cloudy
Music: oh, how I need Someone to watch over me

Mighty Forces in a Golden Cup

Basil King once said, Be bold – and mighty forces will come to your aid. I think this is true. Your friends, your family, yourself. It all comes together, somehow. Not perfectly, but it does.

It’s been 16 months since I became single. Seven months since the car accident. Three months since the theft. And I’m still here.

I drink a little more, I drive a little less and my clothes are exactly the same. But I’m still here.

Location: well, my mind’s elsewhere
Mood: hopeful
Music: I thought it out this very day. Noon upon the clock
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