Ancient conversations, just ancient

Conversations


For you to get the full effect of this story, you have to know that I’m a germaphobe.

Not a terribly bad one, but enough that I’ll return home to get bottle of hand sanitizer if I leave with it or buy a new one immediately.

At last count, I have 14 bottles of them. That I know of.

I gave the little guy a bath the other day and he did something he’s never done before:

Me: …and that’s why the story of Tyre, the seige of Alexander the Great, and the Elvis Barbershop. Wait, what are you doing?
Him: (concentrating)
Me: Wait, are you…? No, don’t you…don’t…ohmygod…what are you doing?! For the love of god, stop! Stop! Stop! Don’t! Oh, man…
Him: (doesn’t stop until he’s done, inhales, smiles)
Me: (sighs) Well, papa’s gonna go throw up now. Then we’ll clean you up and figure out how to sell this apartment. We can never come back here.


Was on 41st Avenue, between Main Street and College Point Avenue in Queens the other day. Saw this lanky construction worker lead this group of elderly Chinese women around the construction site.

That’s him in the pic above.

He spoke to them in polite but limited Chinese, despite not being Chinese himself. I had to chat with him.

Me: Dude, that’s cool.
Him: What?
Me: That you took the time to learn the words to talk to them.
Him: (laughing) Thanks! I try. I figured I should learn how to say the right thing.
Me: (holding out hand) I like meeting nice people. The world’s fulla douchebags. It needs more nice people.
Him: (smiles and takes my hand)


Striking up conversations is a skill, but not always one that ends up anywhere meaningful. Although they’re all interesting in their own right.

Me: (interrupting) …sorry, I have to ask how old you are before we go on.
Her: 22, why?
Me: Oh, that won’t do at all.
Her: (laughing) Why? How old are you?
Me: Not to ruin this lovely conversation but…ancient. Just ancient.

Speaking of conversations and foreign languages, here’s a video with Oakland Raider, James Cowser discussing dim sum with much (much) better Chinese than I ever have.

Went to dim sum with someone recently but that’s a story for another time. One can only jump around so much in a single blog entry without making the reader’s head spin.

I think I hate James Cowser. Purely out of jealousy.

Location: all over the place
Mood: not good, not terrible. Meh
Music: I’m a funny little thing, I can tell you this for nothing
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A(nother) night in Solas

A goddamn rock


My cousin invited me out again and I figured I should try and be social. We ended up going to my old haunt Solas downtown. The last time I was there,  I was with Alison.

Used to go there every week or so for years. Turned 30 there. Also found a lost heart once on the long walk home from there as well.

And old habits are hard to break

Me: Hi. My name’s Logan, and you are…?
Her: (laughing, takes hand) Joan.
Me: Joan. Y’know, I knew a lovely girl named Joan in college…

I asked another woman to take a picture of me and my friends.

Me: Focus on me, the others don’t matter.

Which was a joke, of course. Because the night was only bearable because of them.

Me: You’re 27 right? You don’t have a drink?
Pez: Yes. And no.
Me: (handing her mine) Here’s a gin and tonic. Do you know the story about how it came about?
Her: (laughing) No.
Me: Great, I’ll tell it to you. It started when the British were in India

Think I was fine, for the most part; was there a few hours. But then the bouncer – who’s an old and dear friend – showed up and I totally broke down. I remember introducing him to Alison.

“I’m gonna marry that girl one day, man. You watch.”

He gave me a bear hug and said he was sorry. The owner came out and gave me a hug and and handshake too, which only caused me to break down once again.

Me: I never thought I’d ever be single and back here again. I’m sorry I’m such a mess, man.
Him: (gently) You’re doing great.
Me: (bursting out laughing and wiping eyes) Sheyeah, I’m a goddamn rock.

Just managed to pull myself together when Bal and Mouse from my wrasslin class were leaving so I  ended up leaving with them as well.

Bal headed to NJ and I walked Mouse to her station.

Me: I’ve been meaning to ask – are you dating X?
Mouse: (laughing) You should ask him. Why?
Me: (shrugging) No reason. Let’s just say I’m curious. Oh, what are your thoughts on Nietzsche?
Her: (smiles, thinks) Blessed are the forgetful for they get the better of even their blunders.
Me: Ah, that’s my favorite quote from him. There’s a lot I’d like to forget.
Her: It’s funny: You’re a nice guy, without being a puppy.
Me: (laughing) You’ll have to explain that to me someday but I’ll take that as a compliment, I think. (arriving at station) See you in class on Monday?
Her: See you on Monday.

I took the long walk home again to the west side and ended up chatting with Gradgirl before I hopped the train and made it back to my pad.

She was there when I arrived.

Me: How was your night?
Gradgirl: I was out. Danced with some people. You?
Me: The same. Jealous?
Her: (laughs) No. We both knew you’d end up here with me.
Me: So it seems. Come on in. The place is a mess.

Blessed are the forgetful.

Yeah. There’s so much I’d like to forget.

 

Location: same old haunts
Mood: deflated
Music: Got no place to go but there’s a girl waiting for me down in Mexico
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Parenting with Logan

Social Constructs

Her: Is that a wine carrier?
Me: Strictly speaking, it’s a rum carrier.
Her: Logan! You can’t use a rum carrier for his lunchbox!
Me: Why not? There’s no rum in it.
Her: It says “rum” right on the flap. What is wrong with you?
Me: How much time do you have?

Alison’s BFF and several of her college friends paid for a preschool that started this morning. One of Alison’s other college friends gave me four bags fulla clothes that ABFF brought back for me. I brought her a beer.

ABFF: His birthday’s coming up. Are you doing something?
Me: Not sure.
Her: Are you getting him a cake at least?
Me: I’ll get him a muffin.
Her: A muffin? It’s his birthday!
Me: A muffin is merely a naked cupcake. I’ll put peanut butter on it for frosting.

The ABFF is a lawyer. Another lawyer friend of mine was giving me parenting advice, despite her not being a parent, regarding my choice of lunchbox.

Her: You can’t send him to school with a rum carrier.
Me: Logically, it’s the best choice. It holds a change of clothes better since I roll them, and can hold his drink and food container more easily. It’s fashionable and will probably be easier to find as it’s taller than it is long. I refuse to raise him with these absurd social constructs.
Her: Didn’t you say, “Communication is what the other side hears?
Me: (groaning) Fiiiine. Let the record reflect my vigorous objection to this acquiesce.
Her: So noted.

Location: 40 mins ago, surrounded by children
Mood: adulty
Music: get up and stand up and climb the rope of hope
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Dealing with the anger

My normal’s not normal

Boat Basin Cafe in Riverside Park

There’s not much to do these days but wait. So I pass the time with conversations and trying to get back into the real world.

It’s hard watching the news lately. Partly because of Trump and his racist idiocy. Partly because both Serria Leone and Burkina Faso are in the news lately.

Alison used to go both nations regularly to try and help people. She put herself into harm’s way all the time for others and I could not have possibly been prouder of her.

That Trump and his ilk are alive and she is not enrages me.

A buddy of mine and I met up for lunch the other day. He told me his mother committed suicide. I never knew.

Me: How did you survive that? I’m asking everyone because I don’t know how to.
Him: (shrugging) You do, somehow. But you never stop being angry. I’m angry right now thinking about it – and that was years ago.

It concerns me that my son is around me so much. I’m told they absorb everything. So I try my best to hide it all. The anger, the sadness, the creeping madness.

Me: I worry about the kid. I mean, a few times a week, I gotta put him in his crib so I can go to the bathroom so he doesn’t see me cry. That’s not normal.
Gradgirl: (gently) That totally normal. (laughing) That’s probably the most normal thing about you.

He and I sing a lot of Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder to pass the time. I do, rather, and very off-key. He just claps.

Me: Man, you better develop some rhythm when you get older; your mom was the best dancer I knew.
Him: (laughs, claps off tempo)

And I find what little amusement I can here and there.

Me: College? (thinking) I graduated in 1993.
Daisy: I was one then.
Me: Gah! I just threw up a little in my mouth.
Her: Me too!

Location: the waiting room of life
Mood: conflicted
Music: Trying to live without your love, is one long sleepless night
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A bundle of three sticks

All your powers, and all your skills

Aged Rum on the Rocks

There is no way I could possibly do any of the things I do for my sanity if not for my sister and mom watching the kid on the weekends. And my sister has a full-time job and two rambunctious boys of her own.

Doubt she’d approve of any of my weekend extra-curricular activities but she helps me anyway.

She used to have a picture of the three of us – her, my brother, and me – with a quote from an Aesop’s Fable about how twigs can be broken but three twigs in a bundle cannot.

I liked that picture. Both for the quote and because I looked good in it.

Funny – the only thing that survives my pathos is my vanity.

My dad’s back in the ER.

With Alison, my brother was a huge help as he was a doctor. He answered every crazy question I had for him at all hours of the day. He insisted on being here for Alison when he knew her time was coming.

And now, he does the same for my father. Dunno how much sleep he gets.

I’m reminded of a scene in the Godfather – both the book and the film – where Vito Corleone tells the undertaker Bonasera, I want you to use all your powers, and all your skills. I don’t want his mother to see him this way …. Look how they massacred my boy…

I used all my research skills to try to save Alison and my father.

And my brother used all his medical knowledge to do the same. All with the same result.

I also used all my legal skills for the dirty work of getting together everything I needed to take care of Alison when she was here and after she was gone.

Last week, poured myself a stiff drink, sat down at my computer, and drew up the paperwork I had for Alison, took out her name, and typed in my father’s. Then I edited them for his needs, went to his bed and went through everything with him.

It’s a fraction of what my brother does for him but took all the strength I had left. Which is not much.

Me: Sign here. And here. Initial here. I have to notarize that now, Dad. Wait…OK.
Him: (tired) Is there a lot more?
Me: Not a lot. (clearing throat) We’re almost done.

Then came back here and drank myself silly. Spent the rest of the night in a daze.

Daisy: Are you OK?
Me: No. (thinking) Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy again. But it’s better than reality. In a way, none of this is real. You and me. All of this. The reality is, tomorrow, you go back to your job and life. And I go back to the nightmare that’s mine.
Her: Yes. (taking a drink) But that’s tomorrow…

Location: home, trying pull myself together
Mood: empty
Music: You and me, always between the lines
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Constant Daze

Hoping for an empty mailbox

Empty street in Brooklyn

Gradgirl: I’m worried about you being home alone, drinking like this. Is the other girl free?
Me: Funny you bring her up…

My mailbox was empty today. Usually, most days, there’s some new awfulness for me to deal with.

Invoices for things I’d never wish for anyone to pay, letters of condolences from banks, overdue notices – all death-related s___t.

There’s so much death-related s___t that greets you after you lose someone by way of a ceaseless stream of banal horrors: Letters, email, voicemail.

For those new to my blog, prior to Alison getting sick, I don’t think I ever cursed in over a decade here. And now my days and this blog are an endless stream of profanities. Cause it helps deal with the constant pain.

Speaking of constant pain, that’s what my father’s dealing with.

So, while I got an empty mailbox today, I also had to deal with things for him.

I can’t interact with him too long; can’t handle the cumulative sadness of everything. It bears down on my soul, like the sky on Atlas’s shoulders.

Feels weird complaining about anything as my dad lies somewhere out there, nearing his end.

And yet, I just want a break from this misery. Even if it’s only an empty mailbox and a day devoid of just another helping of s__t by way of electronic device.

Summer Street Fair in the Upper West Side

Although I do get some respite here and there.

Artistgirl dropped out of this story but Daisy and Gradgirl are still around; both are sweetly concerned about my well-being and check in on me more than I woulda expected them to.

In addition to the company, they also provide me with some much needed levity along the way.

Daisy: You gave me “Daisy” as a name?! Why “Daisy?”
Me: Well, you said that New York puts you in a constant daze so…
Her: Oh. My. God. You’re a writer and that’s the best you could come up with for me?
Me: OK, maybe not my best work…
Her: (goes to fridge pulls out two of three remaining beers, putting one into her bag) I’m taking these.
Me: You know, the other girl brings me vodka and you take my beer.
Her: (mouth agape, glares) So rude! You never compare a girl to another girl, Logan!
Me: Man, I’m….
Her: (opens fridge again, takes last beer) Well, you just lost your last beer.
Me: Dammit!

My son chasing after a ball

And I did have a moment of pure joy today, too. My son came back from a week away.

Me: Hey! Gimme a hug, you!
Son: (laughs, hugs me)
Me: God, I’ve missed you so much, kid. (kisses him, sighs) I’ve missed you.

Location: home, with the boy again
Mood: just…bad
Music: It seems a heavy choice to make
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Whales, squid, China, and monsters

May you never see monsters

Display of sperm whale and giant squid battling in the Museum of Natural History

This blogger wrote an interesting fact about giant squid, which are monsters that average about 42 feet in length. Their biggest enemy is the sperm whale, another monster that averages 52 feet in length.

Giant squid are considered commonplace in the oceans yet if you go to wikipedia, there’re almost no pictures. Because none have ever been caught alive. They’ve almost never been seen, even though they’re, evidently, all over the place.

  • There are 360,000 sperm whales.
  • Assume one eats one giant squid a month, that’s 360,000 giant squid eaten each month.
  • That’s 12,000 eaten each day. (360,000/30=12,000)
  • That’s 500 each hour. (12,000/24=500)
  • That’s 8.3 eaten each minute. (500/60=8.3)
  • That’s about one every 7 seconds.

One a month is a really conservative figure: if it’s one per week, that number jumps to one squid being eaten every  1.7 seconds. But scientists, examining the bellies of caught sperm whales, think even that is too low.

They think that they’re eating between 3-8 per day. If that’s the case, as the blogger noted, that means that there are over 3 million – over 3.6 million, really – of these life-and-death battles between these two giant monsters happening every day.

Hold that thought.

You know, years ago when I worked in China, I remember telling this young executive that I needed to call my parents to give them my opinion on a second family car to replace my mom’s old one.

Him: (rolling eyes) You’re telling me that your family has two cars? Each of your parents have a car?
Me: (puzzled) Yeah, it’s pretty common. Most families have two cars. I have a car too.
Him: (scoffing) You have THREE cars?! That’s impossible. (sarcastically) Everyone in America must be a millionaire then.

Speaking of China, when my sister was there teaching English, she said that some parents wanted their kids pulled from class because they didn’t want their kids learning English from a Chinese person.

Her: (confused) But I grew up in America. It’s my first language.
Them: (ignoring her) No, I want my children learning from an American.
Her: But I’m an American!

Not to pick on just China, just recently, I told a relative that I didn’t eat for three months as a teenager and lost about 60 pounds. She too scoffed that it was impossible.

Was thinking about alla these stories the other day as Alison strapped a five-pound weight onto her weak leg and managed to lift it ten times, which is something that, if you knew what she has been through, is as impossible to me as those stories above were to those people.

There are people are fighting these impossible and monstrous battles every day; while it’s commonplace to them, it’s alien to us. Alison struggles to stand, to eat, to have any semblance of a normal life.

It’s something that one can’t fully comprehend unless one has experienced it.

And good god, I hope you never do. I hope you never battle monsters and I hope you never experience the hell that is a stage four cancer. I hope you never experience all-too-possible impossible horror.

That’s my Christmas wish to you: May you never see monsters.

Me: Can you do one more?
Her: I’ll try.

\’

Location: in front of two five-pound weights
Mood: hoping
Music: I’m always pretty happy when I’m just kicking back with you
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Finding comedy when you can

Caught a cold

Empty NYC #2 subway car, 2014
I’m sick.

Was on the edge of a cold for a few days but the body decided to just take it all the way there yesterday.

It’s probably just as well, I need to just spend a few days resting the shoulder, which is still wonky.

Unfortunately, had to wake up this morning an cancel meetings I had lined up for the rest of the week.

As a byproduct of my being 41, a number of my clients these days were originally friends of mine. This leads to some interesting conversations.

Me: Can we reschedule for next Monday, 10AM?
Him: Can’t that’s prime bathroom time.
Me: (laughing) I’ve never had to reschedule a meeting because of … prime bathroom time.
Him: …that you know about!
Me: Can I use this in my blog?
Him: Sure, just don’t use my name.
Me: OK, Jon (not his real name…or is it?)

The key to life, I think, is to take the comedy you come across in life and enjoy it.

Which seems harder and harder these days, seeing as there seems to be so much unspeakable evil in the world.

Location: should be the bed
Mood: sick
Music: cradle your head in your hands and breathe, just breathe
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A night out with some college buddies

Met up with some friends I’ve known for 23 years

Signs at Jongro BBQ in NYC
Last night I said goodbye to an old friend, which is a post for next week maybe. And then said hello to eight college buddies for our semi-regular meetup.

We met up at Korean restaurant called Jongro BBQ that I’d not been to before.

We picked the coldest night of the week to do it but it turned out for the best since most of the joint was empty.

Brrrrr

It’s fashioned like an old time Korean village complete with signposts and a bike that we all debated if we should try to ride.

Bicycle

Gar: Well, let’s order first. Should we get some steak or ribs? Or maybe some steak tartare?
Me: Yes.

Steak at Jongro BBQ in NYC
We also had some unaged, unfiltered rice wine that looked like soymilk and served in chilled metal bowls. Delicious.

Drinks at Jongro BBQ in NYC

Ox: What do you think?
Me: I like any alcohol I can get in a plastic bottle.
SJ: And with a twist-off cap!

Afterwards, we ended up playing something they called credit card roulette. We all put our credit cards into a bag and the waiter picked out four of them; the four he picked didn’t have to pay while the other four picked up the tab. I was on the losing side.

Credit Card Roulette

Me: Dammit!
Ox: Looks like all the lawyers have to pick up the tab.
Me: Nobody likes lawyers.
SJ: At least you’re not Cappy, he had to pick up the tab himself last time.

Steak at Jongro BBQ in NYC

Afterward we caught some drinks over at a nearby bar.

Me: (to waiter) Seven Old Fashions with rye and a martini. Do you need to write it down?
SJ: (laughing) Yeah, Logan, he needs to write down, “Seven Old Fashions with rye and a martini.”

Old Fashioned

After the drinks came, we settled into more more conversations. We’d all known each other 23 some odd years, which boggles my mind.

Ox: You know, my wife and I read your blog on occasion.
Duck: Yeah, I read it too sometimes.
Me: Ah, thanks. I always wonder if anyone reads it.
Gar: Man, you have some opinions!
Me: I am nothing if not opinionated. Then again, what do I know?

I had an early morning phone conference so one of the guys and I headed over to the west side to catch the train uptown.

Jeffe: It was good seeing everyone. We should do it more often.
Me: More than every six years at least. Good seeing you man, get home safe.

Location: in front of computer screens
Mood: chilly
Music: I’m a part of your circle of friends
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Survival of the strongest

Most people misunderstand the phrase, Survival of the fittest

Fishes off Bermuda Docks

Been meaning to post this for a while.

My coach just forwarded an article by a Ph.D named Dr. Rhadi Ferguson about who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman. You can hear the author read it in his own words here.

Now I agree with almost everything the doctor says with one major exception. He says:

In battles the strongest guy does not [always] (sic) win, nor (does) the fittest, but the one that has those qualities and is the smartest.

With all due respect to Dr. Ferguson, he gets what everyone gets wrong about the term “Survival of the fittest.”

If I say to you the words, “Survival of the fittest,” what do you hear?

Dr. Ferguson – and most people – invariably people hear, “Survival of the strongest.” They define fittest as being physically fit.

But this is an issue of logical equivocation: The meaning of “fit” in this phrase doesn’t mean physically fit, but appropriate to the situation.

In that sense, then, the actual meaning is the opposite of what most people think.

The phrase: Survival of the fittest, means: Survival of the most appropriate.

If you were locked in a smoke-filled room having a 3-foot window with a small girl, a strongman, and a billionaire, while the girl is the weakest, the poorest, and the most inexperienced, she will most likely survive because she is the most fit – the most appropriate – for survival in that situation.

I think that’s why I have so many interests; I wanna have the broadest skill set possible for any situation that arises. One of my goals for 2015 is to dust off some skills I had that were once pretty good and sharpen then up.

Tank in Staten Island

Speaking of 2015 and having skills, I started the year, as usual, by making a huge pot of chili and by fixing some technology around the house.

We were originally planning on heading out for dinner but the weekend was rainy and my shoulder was killing me.

Her: (canceling a dinner reservation) Open Table will be so mad at me for canceling that reservation.
Me: You know that OpenTable isn’t sentient, right?

 

2015. Maybe this will be our year.

Homemade Chili

One more nerdy pet peeve of mine; people seem to think that Darwin coined the phrase, but he didn’t.

A fella named Herb Spencer, who read Darwin’s work, came up with the term. Darwin used the term himself five years after On Species came out.

OK, now I’m done.

Location: at my desk again
Mood: hopeful
Music: You can get along if you try to be strong
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