Citrus Betty, the playa

Surviving it all

Me: (with kid in stroller) Can you pop the trunk?
Brother: Why don’t you just put him in the car seat?

My brother visited me the other day.

He used to come all of the time to see my dad. Now he comes to see my mom. He travels here from Cali and I wish I had more time to spend with him but I’m always taking care of the kid.

The week he came, I started potty training. It’s been tiring and gross, I’ll leave it at that. Also been sick. Seems like I’m constantly sick; kids his age are like sponges for germs so as soon as I’m over one cold, another one starts.

So I only got to see him one night and even then, we didn’t get to really spend any time together. But we all went out – him, me, the kid, and Gymgirl – and got some food at this joint called Playa Betty’s.

It used to be a Latin fusion place called Citrus. Was last there with Alison on December 31, 2008 at 11:30PM. I know the time because I wrote briefly about it here. We sat on the second floor and she and I both ate so much that we had to head home before it actually turned to 2009.

This is a picture I took that night. It’s not great but it’s all I got. She just laughed at something I said. I’m just hilarious.

And there I was at this new/old place earlier this week with our son and another woman and my brother.

Felt it kinda perfectly summed up my life now: Very different but with some unifying things. My brother has always been a constant in my life, and for that, I’m so grateful.

At his wedding (he’s single now) I joked that he was a year older than me. Said that I couldn’t imagine how he survived that year without me. Truth is, I’m not sure how I woulda survived all this without him.

As for me, I’m trying to move on as best I can. Mainly for the kid. Suppose it doesn’t really matter why I move on, just that I do.

And I’m always thankful for the good souls that keep me company along the way.

Nate: (pointing to his room while eating dinner) Mom! Mom!
Gymgirl: You want your mom? Let me get her for you. (gets up, goes to room and returns with Alison’s picture) Here you go. Mom!
Nate: (laughs, takes picture) Mom.

Location: In front of a potty
Mood: still injured, still heartbroken, still here
Music: In my heart, she left a hole
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Rum, beer, chili, and friends

A Chili Cook-off and Birthday

Had a buncha friends from my old gym over the other day to celebrate my cousin’s birthday.

I remember meeting her when she was just a few days old so it was kinda a kick in the head.

It wasn’t entirely for her because I insisted on making it a chili-cookoff, so it was win-win for everyone.

Well, me anyway.

Friend: Does she even like chili?
Me: (confused) Who doesn’t like chili?

We had five competitors and I made a pretty good batch with chocolate and dark beer for some added depth.

Here’s the thing: I either came in fourth or last. Everyone else’s chili was just that good.

Him: Are you ok coming in fourth or fifth place?
Me: (puzzled) Sure – I got to have four other amazing chilis. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

Very, very little bothers me these days.

After dealing with – literal – life and death matters, it’s hard to take anything else seriously these days. I have no patience for the ridiculousness of others.

Besides, I have no problem supplying my own ridiculousness.

Gymgirl: Will you have prizes?
Me: The first prize is gonna be a portrait of me by my son.

Drew won both the first prize and the chef’s choice prize – a crystal cigar ashtray – because he made a killer batch with beef ribs.

It was amazingly good and I ended the day with a ton of new ideas for chili.

Her: Did you have fun?
Me: I had rum, beer, chili, and friends come by. So, yeah.
Her: Good. You deserve a little fun.
Me: (looking around) Yeah. Now I gotta clean up. Everything’s a mess.
Her: (picking up a dish) Don’t worry. I’ll help.

Location: At home, with a fridge fulla chili
Mood: still injured
Music: we keep busy. The waves come after midnight
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I’ll be busy on the 24th

I have plans, you see

My friend Rose wrote me to tell me she was coming into town.

Her: I’ll be there in August! I’d love to help you diminish any quantity of rum you would like.
Me: As long as it’s not the 24th.

This comedian named Rita Rudner once said, “I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”

It was my wedding anniversary this past Saturday. Spent it drinking by myself from 11AM to midnight.

I remember getting married pretty clearly. Was working on a project for a client until the moment we left for the courthouse; I took this one last job because I knew we’d spend the next few weeks or so just daydreaming.

She probably found it annoying but never mentioned it. I just wanted to get all the work out of my brain and desk to focus on being married to her.

We picked February 24th because it was exactly 10 days after St. Valentine’s Day, so it would be easy to remember.

I remember that we spent the whole day trying on the words, “my wife” and “my husband” like a new shirt.

Alison died on May 24th.

My father died on August 24th.

And February 24th is miserable day for me.

So if we ever meet up in RL, figure I should tell you now that I’m busy on the 24th.

I have plans, you see.

Location: On a train heading to Queens
Mood: injured
Music: we could be married and then we’d be happy
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It’ll never be ok

Just like that, I’m back

Woman: Mister. Mister. Are you ok?
Me: No.

This past week, I had a number of clients and friends contact all at once.
I’ve not really worked in any meaningful capacity in almost three years. But I’m right back as if nothing happened.

And yet, so much has happened.

Had a meeting on the Upper East Side with my buddy Steele’s wife for some work the other day and I’ve always prided myself on always being punctual.

She was on East 80th Street so I took the train to East 77th and got off.

When the train pulled into the station, I was so concerned about being on time that it didn’t occur to me that I’d been there. So many goddamn times.

I forgot that’s where the hospital was. The last hospital we went to.

As I walked up the stairs, saw it and my knees buckled. Ended up sitting on the stairs as I tried to catch my breath.

For those of you that know me in real life, that know my aversion to germs and dirt, picture me wearing one of my suits and sitting on a subway stairwell.

It was surreal.

Passerbys asked me if I was ok, if I needed help. Told them that I was beyond help.

Made it to my feet and made it to my friend’s door. Don’t even remember how.

Her: (opening door) Logan! Come on in. So good to…
Me: (interrupting) I forgot. (leaning against wall) I forgot this is where the hospital was. I…(chokes)
Her: (steps out, gives me a hug) It’s ok.
Me: It’s not. (shakes head) It’ll never be ok. (her baby cries)

Just like that. I’m right back as if nothing happened.

Steele and I chatted about it afterward.

Me: BTW, I’m sure the wife will tell you but I had a mini-breakdown in your apartment and may have scared your kid a bit.
Him: I can’t blame you. He’s gotta toughen up anyway…

Funeral Blues
by W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand
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Long weekend

I’ll take a tiny win

Her: Do you know what the worst part about being short is?
Me: You don’t get to go on the adult rides in an amusement park?

This was a long weekend. The kid’s usually away at least every other weekend with my mom so I get a little break but this week, I had plans to bring him up to a birthday party with Alison’s college friends on Saturday morning.

See, I want him to have as much of the life that he woulda had with Alison. She woulda been there with her friends.

But he had a stomach thingy and we couldn’t go at the last minute.

This also messed things up for me because I was hoping that a neighbor or a sitter could watch him while I went to one of my oldest friend’s bday parties. But it’s not fair to stick someone with a vomiting kid.

Besides, I was worried it was the flu, despite him not having a fever.

So I stayed in the whole weekend. Then I started feeling rough. So the Gymgirl came over and spent one day watching him while I slept and drank fluids. She even brought him to an indoor playground through the pouring rain.

The Gymgirl is pretty short. I’m no giant but she’s tiny. I tell her that I could easily bench press her.

I like her cause she’s got a big heart, though. Actually met her because she did a few fundraisers for Alison.

I was in the living room resting when she was playing with the boy in the other room and smiled when I heard them interacting.

Her: Who’s that? Who’s that? (pointing at Alison’s picture)
Him: Mama.
Her: That’s right! That’s your mama.

Often write about how the only luck I’ve got is of the kind you don’t want.

But I did wake up this morning to this text from my phone from ABFF:

I have two kids with temps of 104 and one threw up tonite. So it’s good Nate didn’t come by…

It’s a tiny win but a win nonetheless. I’ll take it.

Me: Look at it this way, you and the kid can see eye-to-eye.
Her: I’m not that short!
Me: (looking over her head) Wait, where did you go?

Location: A white desk this time
Mood: tired
Music: So come over, just be patient and don’t worry
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A Parliament of Owls

A Murder of Crows


Me: What is that?
Him: Owl. Owl.

When I was younger, there was a film called The Crow that I loved. Heard they’re gonna re-do it.

Always thought that crows were cool. They’re all black, sociable, are one of the few animals that mourn their dead, and seek revenge.

Alison, however, preferred owls. In fact, we have several owl figures in the house, all purchased by Alison throughout the years. She was always surprised when I pointed out that we had other owls here and there.

Her: Oh! I didn’t even notice. I wonder what it is about owls that I like?
Me: What’s there not to like? They’re nocturnal, solitary, eat everything, are highly intelligent, and are quietly dangerous. 
Her: (laughing) I’m going to name it “Reginald.”

The Gymgirl also likes owls, as her family name has a part that means owl in her native language.

As luck would have it, one of the first words from my son is owl. He can recognize both regular and barn owls as owls.

I find the whole thing both peculiar and interesting

Since everything went down, I don’t suffer superstition well. I don’t believe in signs or the supernatural or anything of the like.

But I do like this, somehow. That my son likes owls. It must be Alison in him. This little thing makes me happier than you might imagine.

Did you know that owls and crows are mortal, natural enemies? They will try to kill each other on sight.

I’ve always said that we spend our lives seeking out our tribes. So, perhaps I was a crow that became an owl. Or maybe I was an owl all along.

It’s better this way, I suppose.

A group of owls is called a parliament. A group of crows is called a murder. I’d rather be a party of a parliament than party to a murder.

Current political climate notwithstanding.

Location: The same black desk
Mood: pensive
Music: You were only waiting for this moment to arise
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Closets full of her

Good save, Logan

After all these months, finally decided to clean out Alison’s closet.

Her clothing management was a lesson in urban organization.

She managed to put her entire life into an dresser and a closet measuring 6′(w) x 2′(d) x 8′(h). All her clothes were perfectly pressed and hung. Several had tags on them.

I remember she told me that she was excited to work out and get back to her “normal weight.”

I find people use too many superlatives to describe things. Let me just say these simple true things:

  • The sun is hot.
  • Space is cold.
  • I loved her more than anything.
  • I was in agony as I cleared out her things.

Spent a few days on it. Was pretty mechanical about the whole thing towards the end. With the random tourette’s sprinkled here and there for effect.

Managed to clean up a little more than half of it all before I had to stop. Gave away as much as I could to friends and family. Donated or tossed other things.

Kept far more than I intended. Had the most peculiar thought while I was cleaning it all up:

She’s gonna kill me if she comes back.

Ah, if only.

I’d kill myself a thousand times over if only. But you knew that.

The Gymgirl helped one day. I asked her if her helping me bothered her. She asked me if it bothered me. We both said no.

Caught her crying on the sofa over something of Alison and mine, but she wiped her eyes, cleared her throat, and continued to help. Almost wept myself because of it.

Gymgirl: (later) I wish I met her. I feel we would have been friends.
Me: Sure. You’re nice. She liked to clean stuff up.
Her: Wait, what?
Me: Well, you’re a mess…y person…?
Her: (shaking head, laughing) Good save, Logan.

The Gymgirl ended up cleaning up and tossing out a lotta my junk while I was focused on her stuff. She found my 1999 law school yearbook.

Her: (reading it) I’m surprised at how modern everyone looks.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: I thought the pictures would all be black and white, people would be wearing funny clothes, and the guys would all have waxed mustaches.
Me: (laughing) How old do you think I am?!
Her: (thinking) I was nine when you graduated law school.
Me: (shaking head) Not what I asked.

Location: A clean(er) apartment. For now.
Mood: sigh
Music: A brown headed stranger, with a five-letter name
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Everything turns

Should be a good thing

Before everything went to hell this past weekend, a good friend of mine just had a promotion at work so a whole slew of former co-workers and such got together to wish him well in his new position. It was nice seeing everyone out and about.

As for me, I feel as if I’m running in place. It seems everything I touch turns to s__t in one form or another. This past weekend being a case-in-point.

Everything that should be a good thing – like the birth of a child or his first steps – is followed by some horror or, at the very least, some downer.

Clients are calling me again but it’s always for the most complex of work.

Used to relish the challenge. Now I just wonder if I should get a job doing something mindless and insignificant just to not think about anything at all.

Man, for five days in 2015, I had everything I’d ever hoped and wished for. It’s 2018 and I only have one thing that really matters to me.

Although, to be honest, it is such a wonderful thing:

Me: Who am I?
Him: (pointing to me) Pa, pa!
Me: (nodding) And who is that? (pointing at picture of Alison)
Him: Mu, ma!
Me: (smiling) Oh, that’s my smart boy.


Location: still in the basement of my brain
Mood: troubled
Music: And I’m on my knees, looking for the answer
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Alison’s last gift to me

 Everything else can burn

I think that all good relationships have secret kindnesses as invisible string, keeping people together. All bad relationships have secret cruelties as wedges that push people apart.

Alison and I had very little bad between us. The good stuff, man, it was good.

The thing I loved most about Alison and my dad were those secret kindnesses. My dad, for example, told us he loved us every time he saw us.

I’m told not all Chinese fathers do that. Wouldn’t know. What he did with us was all I knew.

Told you once of one of Alison and my secrets. But I’ll tell you again, anyway: For Christmas, we always got each other the same thing every year – a single Christmas ornament.

I always got her some beautiful, classy thing. Cause she was my beautiful, classy thing.

She always got me some funny, goofy thing. Why that is, I dunno.

The ornament you see above is what she gave me in 2013. Cause she knew I loved The City so.

In 2015, before she was diagnosed, she gave me one with a father, mother, and son. I think I actually hugged it.

In 2016, when she had the goddamn cancer, she asked me to come to the room and, with her one good arm, handed me an ornament.

She had asked her mom to get it for me. I stammered out a “thank you” for it and tried my best not cry in front of her.

Even in all her suffering, she thought of me.

God, I cannot think of a fucking thing I ever did in my otherwise unremarkable life to deserve her.

That was the last ornament I would ever get from her.

This year, tried six times to put them up. Couldn’t do it. So I put up the stuff the kid made in his art class instead.

Wanted to take a pic of the ornament from 2016, but that’s a no go.

In case you’re wondering how I’m spending the holidays. I sit alone a lot, when the kid is away or sleeping, and shout obscenities. For serious.

Leigh’s husband said it’s like tourettes. And it is.

You’re randomly sitting down and some memory comes up and and hits you in the face and you scream out, “FUCK!!”

It’s always a memory of some tiny kindness of hers that tears through me the deepest.

The memory of her handing me that last ornament was enough to make me sit down on my cold shower floor  and struggle for breath while the kid mimed “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” outside in front of the tube.

That ornament was her last gift to me. The kid, the best.

If the house ever burns down, I’m grabbing the kid, the ornaments, and my network attached storage device.

The last one because it has stuff like “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” for the kid. And cause it has alla my pictures and videos of my families before we got broken.

Everything else can burn. Just like 2015-2017.

Location: 11 days from the new year, as if it matters
Mood: drowning
Music: My drink’s my only remedy, for pain of losing family,
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The brightest thing I got

My college friends finally got to meet my kid

Her: He’s so chill!
Me: (laughing) It’s funny. So many people use those exact words to describe him.

My college friends never met the kid all this time.

Was always worried about Alison getting sick since her immune system was weakened, and we were never in a social mood all these years. It’s easily been four years or more since any of them have been over.

But I decided that it was time for them to meet him. They’ve all – quietly and not-so-quietly – done so much to support us. The problem with seeing them all is that it just makes everything that much more real.

And I despise my reality so. But I’m stuck in it.

So, I cleaned up the pad, picked up a dozen danishes, some cheese, and some olives, made 14 cups of coffee, eight cups of tea, and laid out alla my mugs. Tried to do it like she woulda done.

Everyone was just great. As I knew they would be. They brought their kids, who were also great with the kid. That’s him sitting on my friend Kathy’s lap.

You can still see my messed up left eye.

On the plus side, only broke down once. Quietly in my blue bathroom. So I suppose that’s a step forward. Yay.

After they all left, I put the boy down for a nap.

Me: You’re a star, kid, you’re a star!
Him: (laughing, shaking head) No. No.
Me: Do you know how to say anything but “no?”
Him: No.
Me: (nodding) S’ok. You’re still my star. You’re the brightest thing I got. Poppa loves you more than a fat kid loves cake. (sighing) Mama too…

Location: my white couch
Mood: struggling to make it to 2018
Music: If you ask me how I’m doin’, I would say I’m doin’ just fine. I would lie and say that you’re not on my mind
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