Food is an interesting trigger

Rock in a Stream

Food’s an interesting trigger.

When I had the mutton curry in the Bahamas, it reminded me of the very first time I ever had any curry.

It was actually one of my dad’s favourite dishes. He made it at least once a month. I remember that I thought it was disgusting the first time I had it. But it grew on me.

Fast forward to earlier this week: I’d been talking to my mom a lot for various reasons and I remembered the curry and thought of my dad.

While at a Korean supermarket near my pad, I came across my dad’s fave brand and bought it.

Sleepy Logan spent a good part of the night chopping up some goat, onions, and carrots to make it. My dad loved goat but only made the curry with chicken, otherwise my mom wouldn’t eat it.

This whole night, my pad smelled like my childhood home and – if I closed my eyes – I could imagine him making it downstairs while singing a Japanese song.

Boy: What’s that?
Me: Curried goat. My dad liked it.
Him: Can I try it?
Me: Sure! (gives him some)
Him: (makes a face, shakes head)
Me: (laughs) Maybe in 42 years, you’ll have it again and think of me.
Him: (putting food on plate) That’s a long time!
Me: It happens just like that, kid. (snapping fingers) Just like that.

Don’t have the words to express how much I miss my dad.

I’ll just simply say that my heart aches in a way I hope you never feel but know you will one day. For that, I’m sorry.

Because it’s just awful. It brings you to your knees.

On a related note, my mom’s been dealing with her own stuff recently but that’s her story so I’ll leave it there.

She told me something once years decades ago that I used as a guiding principle of my life prior to Alison getting sick and I was reminded of it recently.

When I was a kid, got upset one day over something that was probably nuthin.

Her: You let the world affect you too much. You should be like a rock in a stream.
Me: What does that mean?
Her: Imagine a rock in a dirty stream for a 100 years. You take it out and smash it open, you’ll see that the inside is dry. It’s unchanged. Nothing from stream got into the rock. It’s in the stream but unaffected by the steam.

There’s a power to being in the world but unaffected by it. Of course one should change and grow but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about having hopes and goals and pursuing them, unfettered by the whims of the world.

People ask me how I’ve done so much in my life and my mom’s comment to the teenage me is a major reason why.

To me, things are either productive or just mental masturbation (OK, I watched Star Wars, The Rise of Skywalker recently but that’s another story). More on that later.

My 20s and 30s were best described as living a pretty blissfully uninvolved in life. I went to or threw parties (and invited 2,000 of my closest friends), worked, traveled, washed, rinsed, repeated.

I was in the stream of life but unaffected by it. Even when I met Alison, it was the two of us separate from the world. We were in it, but separate from everyone else. That was nice in its own way.

That is, until November 8, 2015. Then I felt every bump, bruise, and papercut. Because she suffered. And I felt all of it.

Mouse once said that, in some – not all – respects, it’s harder for the caregiver than it is the cared-for. That’s true, although my dad and Alison suffered more than I would wish on anyone I didn’t despise. Even then…

Speaking of wishing:

Mom: I wish…I wish things were different for you.
Me: Me too. But wishes are just that: Wishes. I’ll be ok. Honest. I survive things. It’s what I do. Even when I don’t wanna.

I’m still affected by the world but – gradually – less so, I think. Maybe in time, I can be who I was once before? One can only hope.

I wouldn’t mind, actually, if it was just me and the kid – in the world but unaffected by the world. But I don’t think that’s possible anymore.

Cause I want the boy to be in the world, more than I want not to be.

Little girl at the park: You want to be my friend?
Boy: (nods, laughs, and spends the rest of the afternoon with her)

Location: Chatting with new old friends around the way
Mood: affected
Music: Mama don’t cry, long as we try. Maybe things change?

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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

Until you notice them changing

Twice in a row

Her: Do you want to buy some raffle tickets? Only a dollar each!
Me: I don’t have the kinda luck that people want. But what the hell, I’ll support. Gimme five.
Her: You never know, Logan.

Went to the holiday party for my gym the other day. One of the owners – the wife of main coach/owner – asked if I wanted to buy some raffle tickets. So, I bought five just to support.

She started pulling out tickets and the first two tickets were…mine.

Her: If I didn’t pull the tickets myself, I woulda thought something was fixed too.

To make matters worse, I inadvertently took the two best prizes.

Woman-in-the-crowd: What?! Boo! You can’t win twice in a row.
Me: Evidently, that’s not true.

Felt guilty about that so returned one of the two – a water bottle – the following week; was hoping to exchange it for a tee-shirt. No go so far, which is fine since they’re both friends of mine and have always treated me much better than warranted.

If you’re ever in town and want to check out a great fighting gym, check out Evolution, which is my home-away-from-home.

I’m usually there when the boy’s in school. Trying to avoid the inevitable.

Owner of the gym: What I like to do is pull up pictures of people I went to high school with. That makes me feel a lot better.
Me: That’s the only reason I come here.

Went to my friends around the way for new year’s again.

Me: You know, I met (your husband) the first day he started work there.
Her: Oh, that means you’ve known him 20 years.
Me: What? No, that can’t be…holy cow.
Him: Yup. 20 years.
Me: Now I need that drink…

It’s becoming a mini-tradition for me. The kid really loves going there, which is an added bonus.

And he even made it until midnight before, rapidly, crashing.

Son: (on the way home) Is it January yet?
Me: It just became January.
Him: It still feels like December.
Me: I know. Sometimes, you don’t really notice things changing until you notice them changing.
Him (sleepily) OK, papa.

Location: yesterday, on the phone with a client
Mood: tired
Music: I got issues but you got them too
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Travelogue: Bahamas 2019 Pt 3

A Wedding or My day with Pac

While Mouse was off doing her own thing, Pac and I decided to explore the island. The first thing we did was hit up the local KFC. Of course.

Me: Should we get a large order of fried chicken and then hit up the Greek place next door for a gyro?
Him: I didn’t come to the Bahamas for Greek food.
Me: We didn’t come here for KFC either!

Afterward, I went to the local supermarket for some fruit and soda.

Me: Do you want some oranges?
Him: I can’t think of food. I’m too stuffed.
Me: You’ll regret this later.

We met up with Mouse and some other people for dinner and drinks.

The next day, Pac and I went out again to try another fish fry, this time, right under the bridge.

Waitress: Do you each want a fish or split one?
Me: I’m not…
Him: (interrupting) We each want one.
Me: There you go.

Me: God, I’m so full, that was huge.
Him: We shoulda done this the first day.

The next day was the wedding itself.

The weather was just perfect. I’d tell you more but that part is their story, not mine.

Afterward, came the party.

Romance was in the air.

The next day, Mouse took me out for some all-you-can-eat.

Me: How is it? Worth it?
Pac: Worth it. They have oxtail and mutton curry.

And then it was time to go home.

Pac: I’m ready to go home, have a green smoothie, and make out with my girl.
Me: I just wanna see my kid.
Him: What should I get her? Chocolate and wine?
Mouse: No girl is gonna be upset getting chocolate and wine.
Me: Good to know…

Location: the boy’s room, surrounded by toys
Mood: worried
Music: We’ll hit the coast on the late night
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Travelogue: Bahamas 2019 Pt 2

All glory

After the hectic travel day, the next few days were us all enjoying Atlantis,…

…then looking for relatively affordable food, and catching some rays.

We eventually hit up the water park. If you watch closely, you can see Mouse in all her glory.

Not going to lie, I watch that on repeat and laugh each time.

This was one of the tamer slides. It was fun being on them again.

We managed to hit up the beach some.

It took a few tries to get the shot below. Tough job, but the things we do for art.

There was a reception for the bride-and-groom-to-be so we had to head back eventually to get ready to go.

We may have had a drink or two before we left.

Me: How is it?
Her: Awful. (continues drinking out of the bottle)
Me: (nodding) Lemme have it when you’re done?

But we managed to clean ourselves up enough to be presentable.

Friends from the gym, and my kali class, were there.

It was really nice seeing everyone out and about in a different environment.

There was an open bar so we probably drank a bit more than we should have. But it was still a really cool night.

Her: (concerned) What?
Me: Nothing – you look really great.
Her: (smiles) Thanks, you too.
Me: (rolling eyes) Well, I always look good…
Her: (laughs, pushes me)

Gonna re-watch that video above now, so I’ll tell you more tomorrow or something.

Location: earlier this week, NJ
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I hate to hear that you won’t come home
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Travelogue: Bahamas 2019 Pt 1

A wedding in the Bahamas

My cousin got married in the Bahamas the other day. So Mouse, Pac, and a lotta our friends took a plane to see her get hitched. I ran late.

Pac: I’m like 15 min away.
Me: I’m 35-40 mins out.
Mouse: LOL. Y’all better run.

Turns out that we needn’t have worried as we were on the tarmac for over 90 minutes because of the weather.

But we finally took off.

Me: (moving tray) Here, you can lie down.
Her: How?
Me: You’re like 4 foot 2. You just lie down.
Her: (thinks, lies down)

A few hours later, we landed in sunny Nassau. The three of us immediately stopped off at a Fish Fry. Because that’s what we do.

Me: I’m hangry. How long will the fish curry take?
Waitress: An hour? Get the fried fish, it’s faster.
Me: Fried fish it is.

 

Me: Frozen drinks?
Mouse: I’ll buy them for us.

Everything was closed by the time we got to the hotel but Mouse snuck into a hot tub and gave us a ring to join her.

Afterward, we went to a local joint called Anthony’s and had some more fried food.

Not a bad way to spend a cold winter’s day.

I had come here once before with Alison and there were moments that were less than ideal on this trip.

That’s all I wanted to say about that.

Location: not the Bahamas, that’s for sure
Mood: cold
Music: Tell me, is this the part when
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A Christening in NJ

Across the river from my pad

My buddy Steele had a christening for his son so Mouse, the kid, and I went over to NJ one weekend to celebrate with them.

We picked him up from school so we had to change him in the middle of the Port Authority.

We ended up getting there a bit early so we went to a small playground pretty much looking at my apartment across the river.

Me: It’s nice here. I wouldn’t mind living someplace like this.

Afterward, we walked over to Waterside restaurant and settled into our seats. I remembered going to Steele’s wedding ages ago. I sat next to the same people that I sat next to then.

It was all rather surreal.

On the positive side, once again, I made the fool’s choice of filling up on the appetizers before the main course.

Me: Dammit, we did the rookie mistake again.
Her: Speak for yourself. I’m picking shrimp over everything else, always.

Although we did partake of some dessert.

Plus, for the kiddos, there was an insane table of candy. I might’ve accidentally left the boy’s box of candy there.

My sister-in-law, who lives near the restaurant, came and took the boy for a sleepover, allowing Mouse and me to drink to excess.

Mouse: Let’s get our faces painted!
Me: I’ll support your getting your face painted.
Her: Fiiiine…

It was a really great night.

There’s more because Steele and his entire family were very involved with Alison and our lives but that’s all I wanted to say about that.

Him: Thanks for coming.
Me: Thanks for having me. I’ve been…better.
Him: (nods)

Location: earlier today, a dance studio above a supermarket
Mood: embarrassed
Music: we’re torn, torn, torn apart
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Dear Nate… 005: Language is telepathy

Some things demand perfection

Dear Nate;

Owls.

Stephen King wrote in On Writing that writing is, “Telepathy, of course.” That’s the power of words, of language. It passes time and space. Mr. King made me think of a bird, just as I did to you right now.

You just turned four recently but you could be 14, 44, or 94 when you read this. I may not be here when you read this but long after I’m gone, these words – my words – will be here and, suddenly, I’m with you again.

That’s why I keep everything I find that has your momma’s words on them. Even all her labels. It’s how I can hear her even now.

Words live on long after we’re gone so words matter.

Recently, I worked with your Uncle Chad on something called a Schultz Choke. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever learned but it has to be almost perfect to work. So I practice it.

I’ll teach it to you one day.

I suppose that you’re tired of my teaching you things. Maybe you even hate me at times. Because I demanded perfection in certain things that you think aren’t a big deal.

I understand. I sometimes hated my dad because he was always teaching me things, things that I didn’t think were a big deal. Now I get it.

I wish he were here to teach me one more thing.

But I digress. Yes, not everything demands perfection – often, good enough is good enough. But some things do. The Schultz Choke demands perfection, for example.

Language demands perfection as well. Because it has to be almost perfect to work the way you want it to.

In speaking, the right cadence, the right volume, the right words, the right body position – all these things affect how the listeners hears what your soul wants to say.

In writing, all the more so. Because – since you’re not in front of them – you don’t have things like cadence, volume, or body position to help you communicate. You only have the naked words themselves and  grammar to organize these words.

And that’s why things like vocabulary and grammar matter so much to me and why I’ve made such a big deal about it all these years. Because the loneliest people I know are people that don’t understand that if you cannot make yourself understood, you’re speaking Martian while everyone else is speaking English.

Just a few weeks ago, Aunt Roz came by to tighten up an important speech. Because I spent years writing and editing to understand how to string words together to give my thoughts life and she wanted my help in being understood.

Her: Speech was a hit! The jokes that got the loudest laughs were definitely yours.

Ending up with your mother was just a thought in my head but it was words that made it happen.

If you learn nothing else from me, I will teach you this, the power of words. And, ideally, the Schultz Choke, perhaps some kali, and how to make a decent bowl of chili.

As I just said: You don’t have a soul. You are a soul, you have a body.

Your soul is what writes and speaks. I hope it does so as perfectly as possible so that it can be heard the way you want to be heard.

Because, my hope is that you’re a soul that has something valuable and good to tell the world.

It’s all your mama and I ever wanted for you.

Him: When is mommy coming back?
Me: She’s not. She can’t.
Him: Because she got sick. (nods) I miss her.
Me: I miss her every day. Every day. But she gave me you and that makes it all a little better.
Him: I love mommy. To the moon and back.
Me: Me too. (sighing) Me too.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish
Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens
Dear Nate… 004: Understanding is gold

Location: Yesterday, swinging lightsabers near Columbus Circle
Mood: busy again
Music: You’ll be more than alright.
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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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Halloween 2019

Particular Street

I’d meant to post this a while ago but life kept getting in the way.

Do you remember that story that I told you about Alison taking one last October walk before she gave birth in 2015?

I accidentally found myself there with the boy, right before Halloween.

After I accepted being there – part of me wanted to just take the long way around – I told him all about how much Alison loved walking down it.

Him: (surprised) Mommy was here?
Me: Yup. She loved this street.

It was the first time I’d been there since just before he was born.

Handled it pretty well, I think, all things considered. Although the boy has a way with words that seem to cut me even though he doesn’t mean to.

Him: Will she come back in a 100 years?
Me: No. She won’t.
Him: Because she’s in heaven?
Me: If there is a heaven, you can bet she’s there.
Him: (thinking) Maybe she’s with your papa.
Me: (nodding, laughing) I would think so.

And the holidays begin…

Location: right near Central Park
Mood: sick?
Music: I have often walked down the street before
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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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