Catching up around the way

It’s an improvement


There’s been an unceasing parade of people through my neighborhood and door since my first post this week.

Kinda feel like people are taking this opportunity to catch up with me since so many haven’t really seen me in years what with all the things that went on with the kid and Alison.

Her: How are you?
Me: Utterly craptastic, you?
Her: I’m sorry.
Me: (shrugging) Honestly, it’s an improvement over my usual suicidally depressed nature last year.

My cousin stopped by to help watch the kid and, god love her, gave me just some terrible advice that I took.

Me: Dude, you were so, so, so, so wrong.
Her: Yeesh….well here are some adorable pics of your son to make you feel better.

They were adorable pics and it all worked out anyway. See above and below.

Then several guys from my gym stopped by for lunch and to meet finally my son.

Me: (to son) The first two guys you can talk to but avoid that guy.
Him: Hey, I’m great with kids. (turning to son) Right?

They brought Cuban Chinese food and I provided some really cheap beer.

Him: Rolling Rock and PBR? Man, you weren’t kidding when you said it was crappy beer.
Me: I need to get back to work and make some scratch. (looking at the food) And I told you guys, don’t get the Chinese food there. It’s terrible. (The Cuban food is excellent)
Him: Don’t worry, it’s for Andy and he’s not here yet so he doesn’t know.

And then another friend called me out for a late lunch and to bring me to her friend’s townhouse to check out what $15 million buys you in Manhattan. Amongst other things, a kitchen bigger than my apartment and a cool shaft where you send up and down wine.

Her: We’re wondering if we should put in a pool or sauna in the basement.
Me: Heck, do both. I’ll come over when it’s done.

Still another buddy has been texting me about all the stuff all of us are dealing with as we’re getting older. The texts culminated in this, which made me literally laugh out loud:

All of this woulda been fine except the kid – who normally sleeps like a brick – has been waking up in the middle of the night and needing a change. So I’ve been getting about four hours of sleep a night.

Plus I’ve been scrambling to have a sitter because both my regular and the Gymgirl are out. That means it’s just me and the kid, oftentimes.

Speaking of Gymgirl, spoke to her late the other night just to tie up some things. While that was great, for various reasons, it didn’t help the sleeping issues at all.

Man, I wish her every good thing.

As for me, I wish everything about my life were different. Every single goddamn thing.

Except the kid. He’s perfect. He’s my perfect little guy.

If only he’d sleep a little better.

Heck, if only I’d…

Location: Utopia Diner at 2PM
Mood: sleepless in the UWS
Music: We can change or part ways, and you take what you need
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Sewer

Massol Dental and My Mom

A little while ago, when Alison was in the ER for the umpteenth time, two buddies of mine showed up despite my telling them not to.

I think that most of my friends must have read that because my Facebook and email exploded after my last post with people wanting to meet up.

It was flattering but I told them all that I was busy with the kid, which is the truth.

But even then: Three people are swinging by while the kid’s asleep this week, another friend came by already, the ABFF told me she was stopping by as well, and this sweet girl – who’s also a pro-fighter – from my new gym wrote me this really upbeat message. Some of the mothers I know also boosted my ego as well:

Her: When you’re ready to date again, I have someone for you.
Me: This *just* happened!
Her: I didn’t even know you were dating again when you told me that you were exclusive with Gymgirl! Anyway, what are your thoughts on pharmacists?
Me: They give me drugs, what’s there not to like?

Of course, all this was balanced out by my mom:

Her: You’re single again?
Me: Yeah, it’ll be fine, I’ve been…
Her: Oh no! Can you function by yourself? What about the baby?
Me: Thanks, mom. (nodding slowly) That’s just what I needed right now.

Speaking of my mom, she sent this to my brother (in blue) recently, who sent it to me with a title: I’m. 46. Years. Old.

Told my brother that it doesn’t matter how big the kid gets, he’s always gonna be my little guy.

On that note, I had to scramble to find someone to take care of the kid while I went to the dentist for a final fix. Ending up having my cousin from the Cornell trip come by.

Me: Have you ever taken care of a kid while he’s being potty trained?
Her: (dismissively) I have two dogs. It’ll be fine.
Me: I literally have nothing to say about that.

The dentist is actually the wife of another friend of mine from the gym: Massol Dental, NYC. Honestly, it was the nicest dentist’s office I’d ever been to – much better than my usual dental joints. It felt kinda like a spa but with teeth drills.

She was amazingly nice and I probably spent way too much time pestering her for childrearing advice because she has sons, while most of the people from my daily life have daughters.

Me: I didn’t know parenting would be so gross.
Her: Oh, it’s gonna be gross for a long time.
Me: (nodding) OK, good to know.

Eventually, she got to the task at hand.

Me: You’re lovely, really, but I hate being here.
Dentist: We get that all the time. Open wide…
Assistant: (later) Do you want to hold these [foam stress relievers]? They’re for children but…
Me: (mouth numb, nodding) Sewer.
Her: Here you go.

I’m 45 in less than a week but I got a birthday cake today after all.

OK, my mom may have a point…

Location: earlier today, a plush leather dentist’s chair
Mood: amused
Music: you can’t get what you want, but you can get me
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What’s there to celebrate?

I’m dull and vicious again


This blog has always been about people entering and leaving my Venn Diagram. Although some the leavings have changed dramatically  – and horrifically – in the past few years.

Gymgirl’s dropped out of this story; there’s more but that’s her story to tell.

Friend: You seem more upset about it than others in the past.
Me: Well, it’s my birthday next week, and it was more abrupt and random than usual.
Her: You should be one to talk about leaving people abruptly and randomly.
Me: (shaking head) The truth is, it’s not so much that she left me – I get that – it’s that she left the boy. She’s the only one that met him. That’s what bothers me the most.

A lot’s going on in my life that I’m trying to get a handle on, least of which is that I’m turning 45 soon. It sounds so weird as I write it. Never thought I’d be single at 45, mainly because I was married and thought that was it for me.

I wanted it to be it for me.

But I’m going into 45 alone. Had a couplea people ask to do something and I’m honestly not sure. What’s there to celebrate?

Did see some friends over the weekend to watch the fights. And ate a lot more than I shoulda.

Him: How much chicken did you just eat?
Me: Clearly, not enough.

Probably drank a lot more than I should have as well.

Him: You should stop drinking.
Me: You’ve never said that to me in all our nights out before. So, I’ll stop.
Him: Good.

And I’m still me, as broken as ever.

Me: So what line of work are you in?
Her: I teach paddleboarding on the Hudson.
Me: (sighing) I have to sterilize everything you’ve touched now.
Her: (laughing) What? Why?
Me: Cooties, obviously.

Actually, it’s not true that I’m going into 45 alone. I have the kid. The kid’s enough. Dunno how anyone could ever leave that face.

Picked him up early from my mom on Sunday, despite little-to-no sleep, because I wanted to see that face so.

Me: Where we going?
Him: Home. Home. (smiles) [Gymgirl’s name]?
Me: (shaking head) No. It’s just you and me, kid. I’m sorry. We both really liked her, I know. Is it…is it ok if it’s just me again?
Him: Yesh. Yesh. (nods deeply then points at mouth) Eat. Eat.
Me: (laughing) That’s my boy. You and me against the world, right?
Him: Yesh. (touches my mouth) Eat.
Me: (nods)

Location: in front of a glass of rum and amaretto
Mood: dull and vicious
Music: the lovers and the lonely, start to whisper all about me
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Travelogue: Cornell University 2018, Day 2.5, 3.0

The food pic entry


Gymgirl and I were planning on eating dinner by ourselves the last night we were there but my cousins and their friends were all pretty easygoing and cool so we just ended up eating with them again.

Ras: No more buffets!
Me: I’m all about quantity over quality.

Alison was always into tapas – I never had any until she introduced me to them. By luck, everyone wanted to have that for dinner. So we went to Just a Taste, which was still packed with a 30 minute waiting list despite all the other restaurants being empty.

We figured that was a good sign.

Because Alison and I have had tapas so often, I did most of the ordering although some of her favourite dishes – Pan con Tomate and Croquetas de Jamón weren’t available.

But other things that she loved like Patatas Bravas were available so I ordered those plus we had two carafes of sangria for alla us.

Afterwards, Young and I started talking.

Him: I’m still hungry.
Me: We should get a sandwich for dessert.
Ras: You’re having meat for dessert?
Me: If we’re lucky!

We ended up going to a Jimmy Johns and ordering and splitting a Gargantuan.

The next day, we woke up, packed, and started heading back but not before having some Vietnamese food first.

Once again, I was so hungry that I didn’t take any pictures.

It was early when we got back. Ras and Young headed back to their pad and Gymgirl headed off to a family thingy.

That just left me alone in the empty apartment.

So I took out Alison and the kid’s picture and poured myself some rum.

Me: Just us again. So, what’d you think of Cornell?

Location: In front of a painting of Campari
Mood: missing my son and wife
Music: Tryin to raise a family is an empty home
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Travelogue: Cornell University 2018, Day 2

Buttermilk Falls


Didn’t get to sleep the night before until it was late.

I was gonna spend the day inside writing while everyone else went on a hike to Buttermilk Falls but the weather was too good not to go.

Gymgirl: You’re going hiking?
Me: I’m as surprised as you are. I mean, I’m gonna complain the whole time, but yes.

Got dressed and grabbed my bag.

Her: Oh! Don’t forget to bring your picture of Alison.
Me: (feeling for her picture in the bag) Got it.

We went downstairs to meet my cousin and her boyfriend, Young, who’s only a few years younger than me (no pun intended).

Cousin: You’re going hiking?
Me: I’m as surprised as you are. I mean, I’m gonna complain the whole time, but yes.
Young: (later) This is great. Now I know why she likes making fun of how old I am.
Me: Yeah, this is just great.

We arrived at the falls and it was pretty empty. Most people were away for the Easter holiday, which meant we had most of the hill for ourselves.

We ended up hiking for a solid 90 minutes or so, mostly uphill. The girls really enjoyed it. Us, not so much.

Me: This was a terrible idea. We should just push the two of them down the hill and get something to eat.
Young: Nah, they’ll both just say “wheeee!” alla way down.

We got as far as we could go before we had to turn back. Well, that’s not completely true.

Me: It says it’s dangerous and blocked off we should…
Gymgirl: (goes around fence)
Me: …just ignore all the warning signs and go in anyway.

Gymgirl: (later) Why don’t I take a picture with you and Alison?
Me: (nods)

Afterward, took the hike back down and then went to the Statler Hotel for brunch. Was so hungry that I forgot to take pics.

Cousin: I thought you were just going to eat bacon.
Me: I didn’t know steak and salmon were an option.

When we were done, most of them wanted to see the brain exhibit that was going on but Young and I both decided to head to the library there and just chill for a while.

Took some more pics of Alison there. The library was where I spent most of my time in college and I always wanted Alison to see it. It looks like a scene from Hogwarts. She woulda loved it.

Gymgirl met up with us a little while later and took some pics of me.

Everyone ended up going to some wineries around the area but I just wanted to sit in the library and think and write for a bit.

When everyone got back, we went out for dinner but this post is getting long and you’re probably bored so I’ll just finish it up tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of my family in Cornell, finally.

I’d been waiting so long to take it, y’see:

Location: In front of a red painting
Mood: missing my son
Music: every now and then she dreams of all the lovely places
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Travelogue: Cornell University 2018, Day 1

All good or all powerful?


The Gymgirl and I decided to head up to Cornell with my cousin Ras and her guy. Ras’ brother, RL, was in grad school there so it was a good excuse to go while the kid was away for Easter.

I was last there ten years ago, right before I met Alison. We always talked about going up there, especially after we went to her college, but something always came up.

Me: Would you mind if I brought a picture of Alison up with us?
Gymgirl: Of course not.

We got out of the city late so didn’t end up there until after a quarter past six and checked into the Marriott there.

Her: You never stayed in a hotel here before?
Me: I have but this is nicer than what I was used to. When I came back after I graduated, I did mostly couch surfing.

It was late so I persuaded them to go eat dinner at one of the food halls I used to go to as a freshman there, RPU. It was almost empty, which was just great for me.

Ras’s brother had some friends join us.

Friend: Y’know, you’re just a little over a year older than my dad.
Me: Well, this dinner’s ruined. (turning to RL) Thanks for inviting your friend to come eat with us.

Neither Gymgirl nor I had been feeling well; the kid got a stomach bug and we, in turn, did as well.

Ras: Man, you ate a lot.
Me: Imagine what I woulda eaten if I wasn’t sick.

I walked them through my campus at night where I kept thinking that Alison woulda loved to have been there. I told her about the clock tower there and she said it sounded nice.

We went to my cousin’s office for a bit where we had a beer and then finished the night over sangria in Collegetown.

RL: I recall Neil DeGrass Tyson once said that you can’t have a God that is both all good and all powerful. He has to be either one or the other.
Me: My friend believes – very much – in god but has always said something really similar that answers that.
RL: Which is?
Me: He believes god exists but is convinced he’s evil. He said that every grotesque leader was once loved and thought of as a savior. That what the Devil’s all about. (shrugging) I don’t know what to believe but I see his point better than ever now.

Location: three nights ago, Collegetown Bagels
Mood: lonely
Music: marry me, your father will disown you
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Her chair was never dusty before

I love you oh so well

Gymgirl: You have glitter on your face.
Me: Dammit. I’m a 44 year-old man and covered in glitter all the time.
Her: Yes. You’re a very sparkly 44 year-old man.

The kid goes to art class twice a week. This means twice a week, I do a double batch of laundry and search for glitter in my house. It’s things like this that I think Alison woulda loved. Being a mom.

In many ways, being so busy is a good thing. Keeps me from dwelling on stuff. That’s why the quiet nights are the worst. Got time to think of everything and don’t wanna.

Artistgirl dropped me a line recently, just to ask for some legal advice. She’s back in the dating world. Gradgirl just wanted to say hi, and Daisy told me she’s happy as well.

I’d like to be happy.

The world keeps turning and I wonder how it’s possible.

Alison spent a good deal of time in her professional life trying to fight this disease called Guinea Worm. It’s gross. Don’t google it.

President Carter just announced earlier this week that it’s been eradicated from South Sudan. That woulda made Alison weep with joy. God, she was a such a beautiful soul.

Speaking of weeping, I was walking on Broadway the other day when Dave Matthew’s Oh came on right as I was in front of the medemerge. There are lyrics that go:

I hear you still talk to me
As if you’re sitting in that dusty chair
Makes the hours easier to bear.
I know, despite the years alone,
I’ll always listen to you sing your sweet song
And if it’s all the same to you
I love you oh so well
Like a kid loves candy and fresh snow
I love you oh so well
Enough to fill up heaven, overflow and fill hell
Love you oh so well

And I just lost it.

The world turns and I look at her dusty chair and just don’t know how it does without her.

Oh…

Location: Yesterday, at the dentist’s. That’s for next time.
Mood: sigh
Music: You are here with me. Makes it ok. Oh girl, you’re singing to me still.
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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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