Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Bearing the weight

Boy: Papa, it’s raining.

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you sleep in your room. You’re almost three. I’ve written you twice before. I should write you more.

I’ve been sleeping better lately. I dream a lot but I’m a terrible sleeper. Your mother didn’t have this problem. I hope, in this regard, you take after her.

There are things that I hope you’ll take from me, and things I hope you’ll take from her.

The most important thing I want you to take from both us is the ability to bear the weight of the world.

If you ever read through this blog, I want you to tell you two things:

  1. Papa probably made up most of it; and,
  2. I talk about bearing things, quite a bit.

I always thought I could bear more pain – emotional and otherwise – than most. Then I met your mother.

She was, and remains, the bravest and strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never met anyone who bore as much as she did.

I hope never to meet another, because to watch it is soul-crushing.

The first time your mother and I spoke on the phone, she was unkind to me. But she immediately called me to apologize and ask how she could make it better.

I told her, “You get points in life for being brave.” I think I loved her at that moment. There is nothing more attractive than bravery.

You’ll meet a lot of people in this life that have all the trappings of bravery: They yell the loudest, act the craziest, threaten the most. They are many things, but they are not brave.

The truth is, we are made in our sleep and by our lonely. Bravery is quiet and happens when no one looks or notices.

And bravery requires you to bear things you don’t wanna: Disappointment, pain, ridicule, and loss.

We’ve lost so much, you and I.

There will be times when you can’t bear it any more and you’ll want to cry.

I want you to remember that rain happens when clouds can’t bear the weight they carry.

Likewise, tears happen when people can’t bear the weight they carry. So put it down and cry for a bit.

It’s ok to cry. Papa cries a lot when no one looks or notices. Papa carries a lotta weight, you see.

Anyway, once you’re done crying, you pick up the weight again. Because life is nothing if not bearing the weight of the world.

The world will teach you things like anger, greed, hatred, and cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I’m so sorry. I wish so many things were different.

But here – in the four walls of our small Manhattan apartment – I’ll try and teach you curiosity, patience, and kindness. With those things and bravery, you’ll be able to bear the world.

And always remember that you get points in life for being brave.

Love,

Pop

Me: Yes. The clouds can’t bear the weight anymore. But it’s ok. They will again and then it’ll be sunny again.
Him: Sunny again… I like the sun. (thinking) Papa doesn’t like the sun.
Me: (laughing) That’s not wrong.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

Location: home with the boy
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I love you oh so well
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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

Halloween 2018

The Nightmare Before New Year’s Day


It’s Halloween.

Thought about my first Halloween with Alison the other day. It was exactly 10 years ago today. That’s her shoulder in the pic at the bottom of this entry. She dyed her hair brown.

When everything went down in 2015, I remember thinking a lot about the movie title, The Nightmare before Christmas. That’s exactly what it was.

Can’t properly express to you the depth of the sadness and anxiety we all felt then. Probably for the best.

I remember hearing ages ago that Vincent Price was supposed to be Santa in the film but his wife passed away and he was “so grief-stricken that the director felt he sounded too sad for Santa.”

Man, I totally get that. I was a zombie for years while Alison was sick and continued after she passed. I was a shadow of myself.

Halloween fills me with a dread. Cause it’s the start of the holiday season.

My son was supposed to be born around Halloween but he wasn’t so Alison took a walk around the neighborhood that day.

She took these pictures in this entry.

She was so happy that day. She was in love, pregnant, and about to be a mother. Everything she ever wanted. And it all turned to shit a week later.

I worried for a while that the boy would feel my grief but I wear my painted faces in front of him to hide it as best I can.

Time’ll tell if it worked.

In any case, today, I’m going to dress up the boy and myself for Halloween. The Gymgirl’s coming too.

At the end of the day, I’ll take off my costume but I’ll keep my painted face on until New Year’s Day, so the kid doesn’t know how much I hate the holidays.

And I do so hate the holidays. Dunno if that’ll ever change.

Location: 2015, in my head
Mood: crestfallen
Music: Painted faces, fill the places I can’t reach
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You sold me out, kid!

Happy places


Went out to Queens twice this past weekend. The first time was with the boy and the Gymgirl when we stopped by a Chinese joint in Flushing.

Waitress: Does he speak Chinese?
Me: About as well as I do.

Then, on Sunday, my buddy Pac took the Gymgirl, my cousin, her fella, and me out to Korean restaurant out in Queens. (Eating’s a big thing for my friends and me.)

Her: There’s a great place in Murray Hill, Mapo.
Me: That’s one block from my childhood home!

The Gymgirl and I got there a little early so I walked her to my home and showed her my old digs.

Me: Alison was the last person I brought here over a decade ago.
Her: I’m sorry.

I looked where we were heading and saw the train tracks from my youth and crossed the street. Was gonna mention why to the Gymgirl but decided that was too dark for the day. Not that we didn’t veer dark.

Me: I can show you pretty much every place I got beat up.
Cousin: You remember that?!
Cousin’s fella: We never forget getting beat up.

That’s mostly true. We all have our scars. It’s always sad, that we have no scar to show for happiness.

In any case, we ate a ton of food…

Cousin: You’re ordering more food?
Me: You’re a Lo; you’re supposed to be able to eat.

So afterward, my cousin got us some shave ice – I can only think, as penance for her inability to keep up with the rest of us.

While there’s no scar for happiness, it is still nice when your mind wanders to some happy place; as I write this, I’m reminded of when the Gymgirl taught the kid how to put on his own shirt:

Gymgirl: (suspicious) Did papa help you?
Him: Yes!
Me: Wha?!
Gymgirl: Was papa supposed to help you?
Him: Noooooo.
Me: You sold me out, kid!

Location: In Queens, picking up my son
Mood: wistful
Music: the only living boy in New York
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Mae West and my friends

A busy but nice weekend

Her: I’ll watch that.
Me: What?
Her: That film you just mentioned, “Hans Solo?”
Me: HAN! It’s HAN Solo. He’s not Swedish.
Her: Han? Well, that’s a dumb name.

It was an oddly busy weekend. The Gymgirl and I stayed in and watched a film on Friday and my buddies Bryson and Steele were both supposed to come by early Saturday morning but Bryson was stuck in DC.

Him: It’s the grand opening of our DC restaurant and we’re running into issues so I’m gonna be stuck here.
Me: These are the types of things one can’t make up.

So Steele, his wife, and his kid came by and met the Gymgirl and also got to know my kid now that he’s talking.

Steele: (laughing) And you were worried he’d never speak.
Me: Well, that’s long gone now.
Him: I brought a greek lasagne with a bechamel sauce.
Me: You had me at lasagne.

Afterward, the Gymgirl and I went to the gym for a few hours. While we were out, I had a roast going in the sous vide machine that Steele gave me a while ago, which was a lucky thing because my cousin and my comfortable pants buddy came by after dinner.

Him: Your girlfriend invited me to your home for dinner. Be prepared.
Me: I’ll put a stop to that. Serving at 5:30PM. Don’t bring more carbs.

We ended up playing Pictionary and the Gymgirl and I were doing ok when the Gymgirl started drawing that picture you see above…

Me: (five seconds in) Mae West?
Her: How did you get Mae West!? How did you possibly get that?!
Him: He only knows that because she was probably popular when he was kid.

Then the very next day, went with the boy and the Gymgirl to my friend’s Bagman’s house in Westchester this past weekend where we were served a ton of amazing food.

And there was also some stupid human tricks, which really made the trip.

All-in-all it was a great weekend with family and friends.

Wouldn’t mind a few more of those if I could get them.

Location: around my dining room table, attacking ants
Mood: rested
Music: Bet on the winners, worst of you’s born to lose
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J.B. Penn and wearing the life

Friends and incredibly comfortable pants

Me: I ate too much. Do you have any fat pants for me to wear?
Him: Logan! You don’t go to someone’s house and ask to wear their clothes!
His girlfriend: Ignore him. I’ll get you a pair.
Me: (5 minutes later) God, I’m so comfortable right now.

Went to watch the fights over at a buddy’s place the other day. Think that the past three years, the people I’ve spent the most time with are from my gym.

Initially, it was because they were the only people I saw since I only ever was at my pad, the hospital, or the gym. Unless one of my buddies showed up at one of those places, didn’t see them, even if they were just around the way.

Now, it’s just because they’re part of the landscape of my life these days.

In some sense, I’m a tabula rasa to them. A guy mentioned off-handily, Who knew you were a womanizer? which made me laugh.

Another person was surprised to hear I was a lawyer, let alone gave lectures in front of the Paris Bar and around the world.

Me: Don’t get it twisted, I wasn’t very good.
Him: Is that true?
Me: No. (shaking head) I was excellent.

So much of who I once was is gone. Don’t think of that as a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a thing, I suppose.

I suspect that to most of the guys at my gym that I’m just this old widower with a kid that hangs out with the Gymgirl, eats everything in sight, and washes his hands like a madman.

You know, I’ve got two closets with about 15 suits, an untold number of shirts and ties that I never wear but I wear the same five or six athletic clothes over-and-over again. Literally never wear anything from my old life.

Which makes sense, I suppose, since I never wear that life anymore either.

I am wearing some incredibly comfortable borrowed pants in this pic below, though. That’s a borrowed dog too.

A dear friend called me recently.

Her: Are you ever free for lunch? There’s some business we could do.
Me: I dunnno, I’m pretty busy with the kid.
Her: XXX is involved. You know how much money he’s made in the past for our guys. There’s a lotta money to be made, Logan. One lunch.
Me: I’d love to see you. But I’m not that guy any more.

This book called Captains Courageous had a character named Penn. Penn was once this fella named Jacob Boller that watched his entire family die before his eyes and his mind snapped. He stopped being Jacob Boller and became Penn, a completely different person – although, every once in a while, Jacob would come out.

Don’t think I’m anywhere near that degree but right now, I’m so different from the person I used to be.

I’ve gone from being this ruthless capitalist husband to being a 1950s house-wife.

It is not I.

And that’s fine with me. So little matters to me anymore. Pretty much just the kid and the Gymgirl.

Me: (dropping plate of food)
Son: (running in) Are you ok?
Me: Yes. (thinking) You know, your momma used to ask why I was always dropping things.
Him: Momma? She’s in Queens.
Me: (shocked, slowly shaking head) No, boy. No she’s not in Queens. She’s…away. But she misses you, that I know. (smiling) Cm’on, I’ll make you another sandwich.
Him: Peanut butter!
Me: But, of course!

Location: earlier today, the park
Mood: twisted
Music: It seems a heavy choice to make
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Alison saved the day

Nothing is ever as it should be

Went to Boston this past weekend on a last minute, 48-hour trip with the Gymgirl. (I’m as confused as you are.)

Had a great time and was gonna write about it but the kid got sick while visiting Alison’s mom in NJ. They’re in the ER right now. I think he’ll be ok but I’m waiting.

I’m a wreck. Alison once said that the day before you become a parent is the last day you’re not worried. She’s right. Even more so with me. For obvious reasons.

In any case, here’s a something I was working on last week that’s much happier so I post it instead as I wait.

I hate the waiting so.

The kid started going to a five-day-a-week school recently.

When I arrived to pick him up, the teacher wanted to talk to me.

It seems they took his thermos out of his lunchbox, and – for some inexplicable reason – thought it was some other kid’s thermos and wrote that kid’s name on it.

It was annoying but an honest mistake and they felt terrible about it.

I was gonna buy him a new one when I remembered that when Alison moved in here, she bought a multipack of these things called Magic Erasers (that’s what the cap’s sitting on in the pic above) and scrubbed both bathrooms methodically until they sparkled.

She was so proud. She said that Magic Erasers were her favourite cleaning product ever.

I spent a solid 20 minutes going through the entire utility closet and found a single Magic Eraser tucked into the corner and used that to clean his thermos – you can’t even see it.

That made me happier than you might imagine because I know that if she were here, and this happened, she would have done exactly that.

Alison saved the day.

Location: 24 hours ago, Boston Commons
Mood: anxious like you couldn’t believe
Music: Miniature disasters and minor catastrophes bring me to my knees
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The Captain and the Kid

Having Tea with the Kid

Me: I love you, kid.
Him: I love you too, papa.

Holy s__tballs! Well, this was the best night this month, which, let’s be honest, is a low bar.  Not gonna lie, I might’ve wept a little. Just a bit.

Got no one to share it with, so I share it with you.


Speaking of the kid, I try not to write about him cause I always try to remember what it was like when I was a kid: I didn’t want to be discussed and dissected in public.

But now I get why my parents did it. Cause parents love their kids so much that they wanna talk about them and show them off.

So I allow myself a post every so often.

When my sister-in-law brought him home the other day, the song Clocks came on and he knew all the words and that the band was “cold.”

No idea where he picked that up from; she had no idea either.* Kids are really like sponges.

A song I’ve been listening to a lot is a song called Imaginary Tea about a dad writing about having imaginary tea time with his daughter.

I loved you before I heard ever heard your voice
Before I even knew your name
I loved you before I saw those pretty eyes
I loved you right away

That’s precisely how I feel about the kid and if ever there was a song that summed up parenthood, it’s this song.

Speaking of parents and parenthood, the one-year anniversary of my dad passing will be this Friday.

The kid’ll be away and I’ll be locked in my room with my half-bottle of rum, which is all that’s left of the rum from the cruise.

Last year, I had people around. This year, it’s just me and Captain Morgan.

Holy s__tballs (again). What an awful month this has been.

Then again, everything around me seems to go to hell. I’ll take it, though, if that means the kid’ll be ok. Alison woulda felt the same way.

We’d suffer any sling and arrow if the kid’s ok.

Me: Do you wanna hear that song again?
Him: (nodding) Yes, papa.
Me: OK!

*edit: My mother-in-law told me they listen to the album in the car; mystery solved!

Location: surrounded by dishes
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made
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Graduating

Enriching our lives

Bought a new car seat for the boy earlier today.

I remember how excited Alison was when the infant car seat arrived.

My random screaming out of obscenities continues, unabated.

The boy “graduated” from his school earlier this week. Two, actually. One was an art class, the other a music class. But really, they were a way to socialize him with kids his age. That was the goal, anywho. Along the way, I met these women that became the Mother’s Group that I talk to almost every day. In that sense, it socialized us both.

Friend: This is it, a first graduation!
Me: Whoa – well, let’s hope it’s the first of many.

If you live in Manhattan north of 42nd Street and are looking to start your kid off in some program, check out Rutgers Preschool and Eastside Westside Music Together. Amazing programs with amazing people.

Gymgirl: (watching TV) I’m pretty impressed that you figured that part out.
Me: (dismissively) Of course, I’m ridonk brilliant.
Her: Eh, you’re alright.

Speaking of graduating, not only did the Gymgirl graduate as well, she also started a new job recently so, after she got her first paycheck, she took me out to eat Korean BBQ in Korea Town at place called Jongro. A boy could get spoiled like this.

Went to that place years ago with my college buddies.

Leigh’s husband wrote me to tell me that he thought The Gymgirl sounded like an amazing person. It’s a lot for someone to deal with people like us that are saddled with such grief. I agree.

Although I feel I enrich her life in my own inimitable way.

Gymgirl: I need to post on social media that I graduated. What did you post when you graduated?
Me: I didn’t have the internet back then.
Her: (laughing) Good god, you have to put that in your blog.

Location: yesterday, wandering the parks in the heat
Mood: same?
Music: We pass the waiting with a warm meal
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Father’s Day 2018: Hands on my back

Trip to Chinatown

My Father’s Day was spent with the Gymgirl taking me to dim sum in Chinatown but the lines were out the door. So she bought me two lunches back-to-back. Soup dumplings at Joe’s Ginger and then Pho Bang on Mott Street. Was gonna stop by to see my buddy Rain but we had to get the kid.

The thing about the Gymgirl is that’s she’s so young, she never really thought about how she might raise a kid. But I’m pleasantly surprised that she and Alison woulda seen eye-to-eye on a lotta things.

Yesterday was the first Father’s Day I remember since everything went down last year. Don’t even remember if I saw my dad last year. Was in such a haze of grief, exhaustion, and alcohol.

After the Gymgirl left to see her own dad, I went shopping with the boy. He wasn’t feeling well so he just sat on the sidewalk and refused to move. Thought that was kinda frustratingly amusing. My dad woulda thought so too.

I always sigh when I think of things like that. Did it again just now.

God, I loved my father. He was difficult, but I think all fathers have to be a little difficult. Alison always told me, “Remember that we’re gonna be their parents, not their friends. At least, not for a really long time.”

When the boy sat down on the street, I tried to reason with him but ultimately had to start walking away for him to get up. Sometimes you gotta do that.

As for me, this lady named Mignon McLaughlin once said that, The past is to our back. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.

Don’t believe in much of anything these days. But in my head, Alison and my father are behind me, with a hand gently on my back in support.

I try to raise my son as they woulda hoped and wanted me to, which isn’t that hard because we all saw the world the same way.

That’s why I loved them so.

Location: yesterday, wandering Chinatown in the heat
Mood: pensive
Music: always thinking of you but I can’t think of the right words to say
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Take your chances as they come

Waiting and hoping

Me: Where were we?
Gymgirl: I was talking about you.
Me: That I’m the best thing that ever happened to you?
Her: Why would I say that?
Me: Because it’s the truth!

Drunkenly met the most beautiful girl at a bar, once.

I was walking in, she was walking out. She was also drunk and happened to be on a date. I was heading out to talk to one girl after spending the night with another.

Called the girl walking in my Ship-in-the-Night girl. After a while, I knew her name was Alison, but – long after we started dating – still teased her that the girl I met that night wasn’t her.

Not so much because I didn’t think that she was that girl, but because I wondered if she was my girl; if I were her fella.

If we were each other’s person.

Then, one September day, we told each other that we didn’t wanna be with anyone else.

Alison: You’ve finally accepted that I’m your Ship-in-the-Night Girl, huh?
Me: (nodding) Yes.

That was a great day. Probably one of the happiest days of my life.

A good friend of mine was given an opportunity to start his own gym and asked me my thoughts.

Told him, honestly, that he owed it to his future self to take his chances as they come.

I mean, that’s the thing with every facet of life, yeah? You’re presented with an opportunity and you have to decide whether to stay with the devil you know or push all that doubt to the side of your mouth,  shut up, and take your chances.

When Alison met me that night, my business was failing. A family friend stole most of my money. Was drinking and womanizing way too much.

And yet she saw something in me that made her take a chance on me.

She believed me when I told her I was looking for her all those years. While it was the truth, I can see how that might be a hard thing to accept with a fella like me.

I admit that in my sleepless nights, I worried she’d wake up one day and realize she’d made a terrible mistake.

But she never did.

She’s been gone only a year and I’m already in another relationship. Can’t express how guilty that makes me feel. But she’d want what was best for me and the boy.

And Alison knew I loved her and only her. That’s all that really matters to me.

That’s not entirely true: I want the kid to know I loved his mamma completely.

Did everything I could to save her for us. Life f___d us anyway.

The Gymgirl left this story a while ago. Suppose in the simplest terms, she and I both thought that it was too early for us to be in relationship. She had school and life going on and I had…well, you know what I had going on.

But I can’t be a hypocrite and tell my buddy, and everyone else, to take their chances as they come and not do it myself.

You see, the Gymgirl sees my broken self and thinks I might be something or someone great. Or nearabouts. And I think she’s something great also.

So we both take our chances. And we wait and hope.

Me: I think we should give this another try.
Her: I don’t know, Logan.
Me: You can’t leave me. I’m perfect.
Her: (laughs, rolls eyes)

Location: my usual spot, wondering
Mood: cautious
Music: I’m beyond your peripheral vision
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