You didn’t know this?

Still done

Been bringing the kid to tests for a little while and speaking with other parents. Literally, every time I speak to another parent, I find out something I feel I shoulda known.

Gonna condense about five or six different conversations into just three for clarity.

Her: (breathless) Were you stuck on the train getting here too? I was worried we’d miss our test slot.
Me: Oh, I live right down the block. We kinda rolled outta bed and ended up here.
Her: You live right down the block?! We came here from Staten Island!
Me: Staten Island?! Why?!
Her: (confused) Anderson’s the gifted and talented school for the entire city. People from as far away as the Long Island border commute into the city for hours to get in. It’s like Stuyvesant or Bronx Science for middle schoolers. You didn’t know this?
Me: (slowly) Yes?

For a different test:

Him: If we make it in, we’d sell our home in Douglaston and try to squeeze the four of us into a one-bedroom in the area.
Me: You’d move here just for a music school?
Him: (puzzled) Special Music School is the only free music school in the city, maybe even the state. The lessons are valued at $10,000, per year, per student. AND it has the highest academic rankings in the city because they only accept 24 students a year so – even though it’s a music school – they were ranked number one out of every school in the city for common core, three years in a row.
Me: Wait, it’s ranked even better than Anderson, PS 87, and PS 199?
Her: For grades K-to-3, yes. Each child is essentially privately tutored for 12 years. You didn’t know this?
Me: Yes? (laughing) Now I feel I shoulda prepared him for these tests. I bought my place decades ago and kids weren’t on my mind at all. (later) My wife would have known this but she passed away a little while back.
Her: Oh! I’m so sorry to hear that.
Me: I’m sorry to say that.

Then it got weird:

Her: Sorry, I couldn’t help but overhear your other conversation. Are you single?
Me: (amused) According to Facebook, yes. But it’s complicated. Why?
Her: My cousin’s single and she’s an educator working with special needs kids. She’s always dreamed of living in the Upper West Side.
Me: (laughing) I’m both flattered and slightly insulted.
Her: (quickly) Don’t be! Your son’s adorable and I love your jacket!
Me: Good to know…

On the topic of interpersonal relationships, with my last entry, my female friend admits that she might be catching feelings for one of the two guys that she’s seeing.

Her: I dunno if I’m ready to jump into anything serious just yet but…
Me: Is he on your side?
Her: What does that mean?
Me: (thinking) When we first started dating, Alison’s best male friend once said something rude about me. I think he loved her. She told him to knock it off. He did it again one day on the phone, so she hung up on him, blocked his number, and stopped hanging out with him.
Her: Whoa!
Me: (laughing) Yeah. The kicker’s that I didn’t know for months. She just handled it totally on her own, I wasn’t involved at all. When I asked her about whatever happened to him, she just said, “He said something rude about you.” That was it. When I found out about it later, I figured she was my person and we married just a year later.
Her: That’s really cool.
Me: (nodding) If you find hidden kindnesses and love – meaning he’s secretly on your side – then, bam, you’re done. Take it and go. Unfortunately, if you find out he’s secretly not on your side…you’re still done. Just not in a good way. Either way, you’re done, though.

Location: 9AM yesterday, W 67th listening to him sing
Mood: freezing
Music: I’m secretly on your side

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I sit where I sit and you sit where you sit

Lowe alley

When Alison passed, I made a conscious decision to not see old friends. They all knew Alison to varying degrees and I didn’t want to be reminded of her. Of the life I lost.

Also, I was planning on hurting myself. So I didn’t want them to be in more pain if I did.

Instead, I started hanging out with my gym friends and other people that knew only distantly.

Figured that if I was gonna go, they’d all get over it pretty quickly.

The diseased mind is pretty diseased.

I’m much better now.

Interestingly, I’m now legitimately friends with a lotta of these people, whom I thought of as just scaffolding. Most of them are far younger than me, so they ask me for advice and I give it when I think I have something useful to say.

Then put it all away in the vault. Unless I put it up in this here blog.

A woman I know is seeing two fellas, both of whom don’t want anything serious, as she says as well. But she thinks that one of them is developing feelings for her.

Her: So, should I stop seeing him?
Me: No. You’re not a stalker.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: It means that you’re not trying to read his mind. He said he wants it casual and to see other people. You have to take that at face value.
Her: I get the feeling…
Me: (interrupting) Stop. Don’t say what dude stalkers and rapists say. Things like, “I know she really wants me. She’s just being coy.” Or whatever. When people tell you what they want – or don’t want – you should believe them. People tell you what they’re all about if you listen.

After she left I started thinking that I should take my own advice when an old friend contacted me.

Him: How’s the kid?
Me: He’s good. Just waiting for him to be old enough to make some scratch and start pulling his own weight around here.
Him: (laughs) You becoming a tiger mom?
Me: No. But he’s the best parts of me and Alison. He could be someone.
Him: You coulda been someone. You chose to be like everyone else.
Me: I chose to have quiet life with the woman I loved and a kid or two if we were lucky. We weren’t. That’s why you sit where you sit and I sit where I sit.
Him: Didn’t you once say, We make our own luck in this world?
Me: I did. Before I realized that everything I touch turns to shit.
Him: Not everything. (thinking) And maybe that’s what he’ll want: A normal life.
Me: If he does, I hope he gets it. One of us should. I’d rather it be him anywho. I’d bear it all, if I knew he’d be ok. Alison too. She said if she knew that what she was going through was taking pain from him, she’d do a million times over.
Him: (sighs, nods) Yeah.

Location: meeting up with Joe and boy on 61st
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ve forgotten my past. I am only a mask, just a pretender
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We’re not talking about saving the world

You talk funny

One of my earliest memories is a kid saying to me, “You talk funny.”

I’m pretty sure that I spoke with a thick Queens plus Chinese accent back then but used some over-sized vocabulary. My dad drilled SAT words into us as early as I can remember.

No wonder I didn’t have any friends.

Fast forward to now, I can’t bring myself to talk to the kid in any other way than the way I normally talk. But I’m realizing how odd I must sound to other people.

Me: How’s your sandwich?
Son: It’s lovely, papa.

My buddy Spak has made fun of a few phrases I use, but – oddly – the ones that he points out the most are the ones from Alison.

Me: We’re late, let’s get crack-a-lacking, Lo!
Son: Let’s get crack-a-lacking!

Mouse has noticed it too.

Her: How was your day?
Him: It was amazeballs!

But it makes me happy to hear the words that Alison used coming out of his mouth. I can’t help but smile when I hear him say them. I want, so much, for him to have her influence in his life, somehow.

Of course, there are things he says that are exclusively mine.

Me: Do you wanna have a bubble bath?
Him: Sure!
Me: (later) How high are the bubbles?
Him: (runs to the bathroom, runs back) It’s so high! It’s cray, daddy! It’s cray-cray!

Some of the things he says to the world are so hilarious that I can’t help but think he’s brilliant, even if it’s just a typical dad thinking typical things of his typical son.

Uncle: Are you watching TV?
Son: It’s on but we’re not watching it.
Uncle: Then what are you doing?
Son:  Just talking
Uncle: Oh nice. What are you talking about?
Son: Nothing.
Uncle: You’re not talking about anything?
Son: No. WE’RE NOT TALKING  ABOUT SAVING THE WORLD!!

God, I hope he has friends growing up and I’m not screwing him up too much.

As an aside, he also runs cray hot – dammit, I have to stop using that word – like me. This is him when it was 40 degrees out. He flat out refused to wear his jacket, hat, or gloves.

Location: home, with Mouse and the boy
Mood: amused
Music: Sometimes you will hate me, but that’s alright
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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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It’s terribly lonely

So different from everyone else

I’m doing only a little work these days and yet it still manages to overwhelm me at times. Whatever work I do has to be interesting and challenging enough to keep me engaged for something more than just a paycheck.

Of course, it’s nice to talk to adults from time-to-time. Well, nice for me at least….

Me: …so that was the Battle of Vienna. It’s the reason why Europe’s Christian and not Muslim and is also a great example of how, when you lose your primary weapon – in this case, cannons – it’s better to bail than pour good assets after bad. Which is my point.
Him: Honestly, how do you know all this ____?
Me: (shrugging) We’re all given 24 hours to spend. It’s how you spend it that makes us different. For me, the choice is between self-improvement and mental masturbation.
Him: (laughing) You roll around on the ground with sweaty dudes all day, I’m not sure you should be one to talk about mental masturbation.
Me: I don’t like to run or lift weights. Wrestling’s the most economical way, in terms of raw time, for me to be physically fit.
Him: You’re the strangest dude I’ve ever met.
Me: Mission accomplished, then.

Went out to NJ this past Saturday and met up with an ex again.

Afterward, I went to a birthday party for a gym friend but rang up Mouse ahead of time.

Me: Free for a drink beforehand?
Her: (pause) Sure.

We ended up showing up late and leaving late.

There’s more to alla that, but that’s all I wanna share right now.

Life surprises me, almost always in ways I don’t like. Still, the occasional nice surprise happens here and there.

The boy, meanwhile, is always surprising me. Suppose time will tell if they’re ultimately good or bad.

Teacher: (in Irish accent) Mr. Lo, I have to tell you: In 11 years of teaching, I’ve never had a three-year old student read before and certainly, nothing like your son does. Every book I pulled out – even up to third grade level – he could read. I honestly don’t know what to do because he’s so far ahead of any child I’ve ever seen.
Me: He must take after his mom.
Her: Your son should be in the gifted and talented program. We may have to send him to another grade for reading.
Me: (shaking head) I don’t want that. I don’t want that for him.
Her: Why?
Me: Because…because it’s lonely. (long pause) It’s terribly lonely to be so different. I know it too well. (agitated) I don’t want that for him. To be so different from everyone else.
Her: (gently) You might not have a choice, Mr. Lo.

Solitary trees grow strong. But only if they grow.

Location: the pit of my brain
Mood: worried
Music: 11 minutes away and I have missed you all day

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A poor imitation of myself

My own sense of self

Me: If, one day, you find out something horrible about me, I hope that you’ll remember that I was a good friend to you.
Him: How bad?
Me: Not murder or rape bad. But bad. I never said I was a good person. I like to think that I’m a good friend, though.

My friends wonder why I keep certain people in my life. I suppose it’s because – despite their faults – they’ve always been good and loyal to me. For the most part.

Told this to one of the people I mentor. Because, I think, he holds me in high esteem. And that worries me. Cause I’ve made so many mistakes in my life.

Do you know what Charlie Chaplin, Hugh Jackman, Adele, and Bryan Cranston all have in common? They’re all poor imitations of themselves.

For example, Charlie Chaplin entered into a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like competition. He came in 20th place. Same with the rest of them – you can click the links to read their stories.

There’s this line from Elton John’s Rocketman that goes, “I’m not the man you think I am at home.” That’s kinda how I look at myself these days.

You see, I realized that Mouse saw the worst parts of me and still stuck around for over 18 months. Spoke to her about it recently:

Me: Why did you stay so long?
Her: I was hoping. Then I stopped hoping.

It’s almost like I’m waking up from a nightmare and realized how crazy everything made me. How crazy I was.

Mouse sees me as this terrible version of myself and I can’t really blame her because – at best – I was a poor imitation of myself, of who I thought I was. At worst, I was exactly who she thought I was.

But maybe I can be better. I’d like to be better.

Fucking cancer took so much from me. Even my own sense of self.

I’d like to be the best version of myself again. For Mouse, for myself, for the boy.

I suppose, even if I come in 20th, at least that’ll be closer to who I thought I was versus who I actually was after everything went to hell.

Another friend/mentee:

Him: You’re the strongest guy I know, Logan.
Me: Sheyeah, I’m a goddamn rock. (shaking head) I’m not sure if you’re saying that seriously or not.
Him: I’m dead serious. I dunno many people that coulda gone through what you went through and be ok.
Me: That’s the thing: Am I OK? I think I am now, but I’m not sure. And that’s what’s scary.

Location: this afternoon, the 17th floor of 1 New York Plaza
Mood: regretful
Music: I think it’s gonna be a long long time

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The 9th Step

I think that’s who you really are

Me: You met me at a strange and awful time in my life.
Her: You keep saying that.
Me: In some ways you never met me. Who I actually am. You only ever met me all f____d-up.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a 12-Step program where Step 9 is apologizing to all the people that you’ve wronged.

In some ways, since the 4th of July, I’ve been trying to do something like that.

People that grow up with zero friends seem to fall into two camps: The ones that learn to do ok by themselves or the ones desperate for companionship.

I’m definitely  more the former than latter. All the times that I said that I set Alison apart, the obvious question is how did I treat everyone else?

For better or worse, most people I’ve met in life were/are disposable.

There’s something about being social and glib that there’s always another interaction around the way, another new relationship just with a wink and a smile.

I’m better than most at shallow relationships; slightly more than half of the people I dated between 33 and 35 are still on good terms with me.

After Alison died, I went into full pickup mode and met a number of women. A total of zero are friendly with me. Well, one still kinda talks to me.

Don’t remember much of that time except the pain, guilt, and insomnia. Everything hurt. Everything was agony. Women and alcohol were a great salve. But somewhere along the line, I think I was just awful to everyone.

It’s hard to be nice to people when you’re in agony. And I hid it so well that I suppose that people kinda forgot that I was clinging onto life.

It sounds like I’m making excuses for myself and perhaps I am, to an extent, but I’m also just trying to let you know maybe why I was as I was.

I contacted about six people, including my brother and sister-in-law whom I stopped interacting with for various reasons; only my brother and sister-in-law responded.

Well, they responded and so did Mouse. But not the way I’d hoped.

Mouse: No. (shakes head) I think that’s who you really are, Logan.

Location: home, alone with the boy
Mood: thoughtful
Music: I need direction to perfection, no no no no, help me out

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It’s gonna be ok

Suddenly, everything’s different

Him: Another drink?
Me: Thanks, but I can’t. Got an early morning tomorrow.
Him: I thought the kid was away.
Me: He is. I’m in court tomorrow morning.

Sorry for the lack of posts.

Took on some work a little while ago and it all came to a head this past week regarding three court cases; and I’m only a lawyer in one of them. In the other, I wear my other professional hat, and in yet another, I’m the petitioner, representing myself.

Been almost five years since I was last in court.

Submitted my legal memorandum to one client this past Wednesday after working on it for several months. Then, that same day, met up with another client in court downtown and happened to have my own case in the same courtroom with the same judge.

Turns out that there were several errors in my paperwork – not in any of the others. I suppose, when you’re your own lawyer, you’re less exacting.

That’s what I tell myself.

Guessing that the weight of what was going on must have shown on my face. Cause this stern judge admonished me for the errors and then looked at my ashen face and brightened a bit (only a bit) and said, “It’ll be ok, counselor. It’s gonna be ok.”

Then he signed my OSC and suddenly a lot of things were different in my life. And different for the boy. All with the stroke of a pen.

The judge also signed an order for my client, who’s also a good friend of mine. The path of his life just changed along with mine. And we walked out of the courtroom different men than the ones who walked in a few hours earlier.

Buddy: Thanks, I’m not sure I woulda done this if you didn’t help.
Me: Well, I wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t do it, so…same. Thanks.

Afterward, we met up with my buddy Pac…and Mouse, for some Vietnamese food.

Me: (getting up) Can we talk for a sec?
Mouse: (hesitates) OK.
Me: (privately) Thanks for coming. It really means a lot to me.
Her: I didn’t come just for you, they’re my friends too.
Me: I know. (nodding) I’m still glad you came.

Afterward…

Pac: Is lunch on you, Logan?
Me: (thinking) Well, considering the three of you are the only people I consider that I actually mentor, sure.
Him: I was only kidding!
Me: It’s fine. (taking out wallet) I want to do it.

The picture way above is with my buddy from around the way. He’s a writer and he and I talked about the craft. It felt almost normal.

And the drink was in the hotel I once stayed at with Alison when it was called Nylo but it’s now The Arthouse Hotel.

Everything changes around here. Sometimes I hate that. Sometimes, that’s for the best.

Suppose time will tell which is which with this massive change I made in our lives.

Location: home, telling someone that I’m sorry
Mood: hopeful
Music: more than worth it

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More Random Conversations

Clearly, a better choice

Saw Mouse three times this past week including over the blackout we had over the weekend. More on that later, I suppose.

Nuthin’s changed so you’re not missing much.

Me: More food or alcohol?
Her: Alcohol.
Me: Done.

Continuing from my last post, friends I’ve not seen in ages have been reappearing in my life. The Professor, for example, was in town to give a lecture.

Me: You’re taking forever to finish your drink.
Him: I drink 5cc’s of liquor every five minutes.
Me: I see. Well, afterwards, we can discuss how the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman, nor truly an empire.
Him: That was an interesting non sequitor.
Me: (shrugging) No more so than your drinking my rum at a rate of 5cc’s per five minutes.

Been hanging out with some new friends as well. A buddy of mine has a very different take on dating than I do:

Him: Your rules are insane, man.
Me: Everyone has criteria.
Him: (shrugging) Not me. I figure one outta seven will be attractive enough to date but when it comes to ______ everything goes. When I had my own apartment, I’d just meet someone, go back to my place and ________, _______, and _______. Afterward, I might ________ but sometimes I just ________ ________ or she’ll ________. Either way, she’d ______ or _____ and I’d just _____ and it’d be fine. Although there was this one time this woman and I _______ and she ______. The next day, my buddy was like what’s that on your ______ and it was her ________.  (laughing) That was crazy.
Me: (standing up) OK, you need to stand in the middle of my pad and not touch anything. My kid lives here. I need to burn everything you *did* touch and then take a shower. And you should get checked out.
Him: Eh, I’m fine. Probably.
Me: (walking to the bathroom) I’m going to take a shower now. Don’t. Touch. Anything. I’m serious.

But some of the best moments in my entire life have also been happening lately and I’m always excited to see what else in store for the two of us.

Me: When you grow up, do you want to be like papa?
Him: No, I wanna be a pirate.
Me: Clearly, that’s a better choice.
Him: Then I wanna be a monkey.
Me: (nodding) Again, better choice.

Great song; weird video. Not sure if I like it but Asian dude’s the lead so I gotta support.

Location: earlier, the Oculus
Mood: rested, almost ready
Music: I’m right back where I started

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Fiddlesticks

Random conversations with the Gymgirl and my son

Gymgirl: Man, you look good.
Me: I was just thinking the same thing.
Her: (smiles)
Me:…I do look good.

Feeling a bit run down cause the boy is waking me up at all hours of the night for no real reason.

Need to get some rest cause the Gymgirl and I are traveling together again, which reminded me of a conversation we had while we were staying at that hotel in Boston and I had forgotten to pack some earplugs for the trip:

Hotel representative: (on phone) Yes, Gymgirl’s an elite member, we’ll send that right up.
Me: Great, thanks! (turning to Gymgirl) You’re brilliant! Cm’here…
(5 seconds pass)
Hotel representative: (on phone) Um, I’m still here. You guys didn’t hang up.
Gymgirl: (bursting out laughing) Write this down for your blog!

Speaking of conversations of the inappropriate stripe, I used to say goddammit a lot for obvious reasons. But the kid was copying me so I stopped. The stopping has helped to a limited degree.

Me: Say, “Oh, fiddlesticks!”
Him: Oh, fiddlesticks!
Me: Great!
Him: (10 minutes later) Goddammit.
Me: Noooooooo! Fiddlesticks!! Fiddlesticks!
Him: (laughs) That’s funny.

A very limited degree.

He’s been staying over my sisters or mother-in-law’s at least half the weekends so hopefully that’ll help.

Gymgirl: We’re keeping him this weekend, right?
Me: Well, legally, I have to keep him for the next 16 years.

Still, the hope is that – at least linguistically – we’re all a good influence on him moving forward.

Gymgirl: OK, dude, I’ll be ready in five minutes.
Me: You’re sticking with “dude,” huh?
Her: Yeah, dude.

Well, that’s the hope, at least…

Location: my desk in the bedroom
Mood: tired
Music: no, there’s nothing not to love about me

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