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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Grief can be fatal

The boy’s first picture

If there was a single moment that captured everything about my cleaning out Alison’s closet, it was when I found her Filofax, opened it, and something fluttered out.

For those of you that didn’t know her personally, this was a rarity. Because she was the single most organized and clean person I knew. Nothing fluttered out of anything when she was here because she always put everything away where it belonged.

But what fluttered out was a sonogram of the boy. Our first picture of him.

I remember walking into the room one day and catching her staring at it with a look of such love. Realize now that she musta taken out that sonogram a million times to just stare at her son.

Several friends and acquaintances have recently had babies. While I’m thrilled for them, it reminds me how much we’ve lost.

And I don’t think anyone except a mother could truly understand what must have gone through her mind when she was told she had cancer and would die.

Do you know the very first fucking thing she said to me was? Not about herself or even the cancer. It was,

I won’t see him grow up?

She cried for 24 hours straight after that. I didn’t think a body could cry so much. It was only five days after he was born. Fuck all.

Goddammit. Just typing that hit the pain button full-on and I’m trying not to be a basketcase.

So I put away the photo and try to not think about my most aching possible past.


Just watch the first four minutes. It’s worth it.

I’m putting stuff away cause, unchecked, grief can definitely be fatal. If not for Mouse and the boy, I wouldn’t be here.

In the past 45 days or so, a number of people that have been experiencing grief have reached out to me, exactly as I did to Leigh’s husband when Alison died. And like him, I’ve been trying to help as much as I can.

It’s hard. Cause I gotta dredge up things I’d rather not. But people like Leigh’s husband did that for me so I gotta do my part.

The thing is, you don’t know true grief until you feel it yourself.

And, while I wish you wouldn’t, you will, cause there’s nuthin you love that you won’t lose someday.

If you’re lucky, your grief will only be a small fraction of mine, which – trust me – is a blessing.

In fact one fella I spoke to whose wife died of cancer and left him with two boys told me, “Wow, I wouldn’t think it possible that someone had it worse; but you two’ve had it worse. I’m sorry.”

It’s a shitty achievement we’ve unlocked and one that I wished we didn’t, but, then again, I wish for a lotta things.

In any case, whenever I speak to someone about their grief, I’m reminded of the kid that said that I shoulda moved on after a year. As the video notes, you never move on; you move forward.

Evilly, I used to wish that she’d feel my grief for herself – like I said, I’m not a good person – but I was different then.

Now I just feel pity for her cause she’s just a dumb kid that’s never dealt with it. For better or worse, she will feel it one day, and I don’t think she’s equipped to deal with it.

I barely was. I barely am.

Now, I did promise Alison that I’d be here to take care of her son.

I didn’t mean it then. But I do now. I do. Really. Although there are moments that take your breath away, and not in the good way.

Me: Goodnight, kiddo.
Boy: Mommy’s sick.
Me: What?
Him: She’s sick. She died. She won’t get better.
Me: (dumbstruck)
Him: I love mommy. But she died.
Me: (fuck me) Get some sleep.


As I was writing this, one of the two people I still mentor called me to tell me that he’s worried about cancer with his aunt that raised him.

Man, it really is the emperor of all maladies.

Location: Earlier today, midtown, wishing I had an electric scooter
Mood: thoughtful
Music: in your shirt, the pain it really hurts

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What do you have for me?

Friday Pt. 1

Went to the gym on Friday night because I dropped the kid off with my mom. Was planning on going home and going right to bed because I agreed to see a buncha people that night but then the ABFF dropped me a line.

Her: What are u up to this weekend ?
Me: What do you have for me?

Before I knew it, I was at her pad breaking my fast with some Moscow Mules and Peruvian food with her and some other people.

Me: To be clear, everyone thinks I’m a good human being because I lost Alison and my dad. But I was never a good person; I was only good because of Alison.
Her: I don’t believe that.
Me: Yet it’s true.

The ABFF convinced me to not shelter the boy from the women/people in my life.

Her: Kids are resilient. As far as they know, everyone is just your friend.
Me: He asks about Mouse all the time. I told him she was coming by this past Saturday because we chatted but then plans changed and he was pretty…confused.
Her: Kids are resilient, Logan. He’ll be fine.

Her sister and I also chatted about dating in NYC.

Sister: I’m taking a break.
Me: Man, I feel that, as a woman, online dating’s gotta be easier.
Her: (rolls eyes) No. And it’s exhausting. And the same guys you didn’t want in the first place keep showing up over-and-over again.

Looked at my watch and told them I had to run, thanking them for the company and hospitality. Hopped a train downtown.

Soon, I was in an Italian restaurant with a dear friend of mine. It was his birthday.

Me: I wanted to buy you dinner.
Him: (laughing) You better have cash, because that’s all they take here.
Me: Get outta here…

Ended up having a latte and paying for most of dinner but not all, which was a disappointment.

We chatted for a bit. He lost his love to cancer too. It’s part of the reason I avoided seeing him. That, and another friend of ours also has cancer.

Suppose I’ll have to write about that as well soon.

Me: I wanna contact him. I’m just a coward.
Him: You’re not. (gently) Write him. He’d love to hear from you. I know he would. (later) I met someone. An old flame dropped me a line. Hoping things will work out.
Me: I hope so. You deserve a good life.
Him: You do too, Logan. (later, on 3rd Avenue) I’m always here, if you need anything.
Me: I know. I’ll see you soon.

Stopped by Solas for a spell and talked to some people there. There’s more but that’s all I wanna say about this part of the story.

It was after midnight when I left for my appointment but then I got sidetracked by another old friend.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

It was a long Friday night and the kickoff of a three-day crazy insomnia streak.

Location: home
Mood: insomniatic
Music: I know that, time will heal it

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I have my rules

Whatever works for you, bud

Her: Hey!
Me: Hey!

Ran into a girl from my gym today while I was walking with the boy.  Like I said a million times before, NYC’s a small town sometimes.

Turns out that she babysits in my area. I’m literally collecting babysitters like other people collect Pokemon.

Speaking of babysitters, I was chatting with someone the other day on the train that mentioned that she babysat. As the Germangirl used to say, I’m a talker/glattzüngig.

Her: Your son’s so cute!
Me: Thanks! I have to keep him regardless, but the cute helps. (later) Oh, you’re right by my gym. You should join us, it’ll change your life.
Her: (laughing) Sure. Let me know when you’re around.

She’s super young but seems like a sweetheart. She has a blog as well. I miss having a group of blogger friends.

Speaking of the gym, I legit thought I’d have to change gyms this week for a number of reasons. I even called up a new one in my area to find out details to switch.

I swear, I have PTSD from my old gym.

Him: You’re fine.
Me: I was actually more anxious about this than I woulda imagined.

Speaking of friends, spoke to another young lady I knew from waaay back but never made it into this here blog.

She’s going through a breakup too, as is a friend of hers. We said we’d all get together at some point. She also wrote me something very nice about her friend and me.

Speaking of friends getting together, saw Curt a few more times. He and I have radically different ideas of what it’s like to be out and about in the city. Radically.

Her: 23.
Me: (laughing) Of course your are. Let’s play a game: How old does my friend look? (pointing at Curt)
Her: 25?
Me: OK, and me?
Her: A bit older. 27?
Me: I’m older than that, but thanks for making my night! Enjoy your evening, ladies.
Curt: (later) See, you care about things like that. The moment they told you their age, I saw you check out. And she’s the best looking person here.
Me: (shrugging) Still not my type; just seeing if I’m still me. Besides, I have my rules.
Him: (shaking head) You and your rules. I honestly don’t get you at all.
Me: (getting up to leave) It’s simple, man. She’s not the prize. (pointing at self) I’m the prize.
Him: (shaking head) You’re nuts.
Me: No, I’m Harvard. See, anyone can apply. Not everyone makes it in. Besides, I’m just killing time. I know what I want.
Him: (laughing, rolling eyes) Whatever works for you, bud.

Location: out and about
Mood: thoughtful
Music: makes me feel like nobody else, nobody else

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Dear Nate… 004: Understanding is gold

Defending something you didn’t choose

Dear Nate;

It’s May so I spend a lotta time thinking of your mama.

This fella named Nilesh Jain once said, “Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion, sect, and you spend rest of your life defending something you didn’t choose.”

I’ve always felt that everyone is who they are because of the parents to whom they were born.

For good or bad, you either inherit your parents views or rebel against them. Don’t know which path you’ll choose but I hope you understand why I live my life as I do.

I chase understanding, not knowledge. Friends, not fortune. Meaning, not entertainment.

There’s a saying called, “Tiger Parents,” where Asian parents push their children for success through any means necessary. To a large extent, I’m the result of tiger parents.

But I don’t want that for you. I want something greater for you: Not knowledge but understanding.

I look at my role in your life as your guard and instructor. My job is to protect you so that I have time to show you what I know and hope you find some wisdom in it.

My life is full of instructors: Uncles Chad and Agapito teach me violence but are some of kindest souls I know. Uncle Aki is the single smartest human being I’ve ever met, yet uses that brilliance to help others, including us.

You see, we are all the average of the five people we spend the most time with so I make sure to spend time with those that can instruct me. Because they bring value to me, so that I can bring value to you.

I don’t want you to root for a team because you happen to be born in that team’s city, or – even worse – hate someone else because they were born in a different city. Or to different parents.

That’s beyond worthless in my eyes and, I hope, with time, your eyes as well.

Understanding lets you maximize the valuable and minimize the worthless. And none of us are here very long so the sooner you can separate the wheat from the chaff, the better.

If most people aren’t here very long, your mama was here for just a beautiful moment in time. But she died knowing things. Things she told me that I will tell you because they made my life richer and will do the same for you.

For all this, I also hope you grow up enjoying frivolous things, because there’s joy in the ability to be extravagant.

But knowing that something is frivolous makes it ok; thinking that the unimportant is important is not.

To collect gold, you have to know what is tin. Because, you see, you don’t get gold by making it; you get gold by washing away everything that’s not gold.

The self-made wealthy are wealthy because of what they eschew, not because of what they acquire.

We’re all given 24 hours here; what you do with it plots out your life, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have 26,280 days here. Use them wisely. Surround yourself with kind and knowledgeable instructors.

Speaking of luck, you’re my son – and Alison McCarthy’s son – by pure luck. For us, it was the best possible kind. For you, only time will tell if it was good or bad.

I hope it’s the former but luck, and life, is what you make of it.

In the end, I don’t want you to be some imitation of me. I want you to be better than me.

Love,

Papa

Him: (randomly) We don’t have a mommy at home.
Me: (pause) No, we don’t.
Him: Is she stuck?
Me: No. Papa misspoke.
Him: Where is she?
Me: She’s…she died.
Him: She died? Why?
Me: She got sick.
Him: She got sick? Will she feel better?
Me: I don’t…no. She won’t. But I’ll tell you all about her because I was her best friend and she was mine. (clears throat) OK?
Him: (laughs) OK!

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish
Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Location: Central Park West and W 72nd, crossing the street
Mood: unhappy
Music: Not enough time for all that I want for you
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Catching a film

It’s a good thing


I finally saw Avengers: Endgame the other day. It was pretty good, I have to say.

It also makes sense why they split it into two films, cause, man, it was long enough as it was.

A buncha my friends said it made them cry, but there was only one part that made me. Without giving too much away, one of the dead significant others came back and called a character on his mobile phone.

That made me cry.

Because it’s just another thing that’ll never happen again.

The Gymgirl patted me on the shoulder, which she does a lot for me. Her kindness helps.

Well, that and our inadvertent comedic moments.

Her: I’m balling in this bathtub.
Me: You’re “bawling?” Are you ok?
Her: No, not “bawling” – “balling.”
Me: We have a 17-year age difference. I have no idea what that means; is “balling” good or bad?
Her: (laughs) It’s a good thing.

It’s May. I hate May.

Location: earlier today, 68th and Broadway, with a toddler
Mood: blah
Music: I would never do you wrong
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All the places I’ll never see

Decrepit old man

The Gymgirl kept doing things for me all week for my birthday, including buying me a Red Velvet cupcake.

She also pulled a bunch of my friends from the gym together for a surprise dinner for me last week but I had a stomach bug so I couldn’t really eat anything, which is a shame because it was at my favourite local joint of Cuban-Chinese food.

They came back to my pad to play some games but I had to call it an early night because I started getting feverish. It was a rough two days – we were supposed to go to see the Gymgirl’s family the next day but I was so sick that I couldn’t make it.

Her: Call me if you need anything!
Me: …

The next day, she came in to check in on me.

The Gymgirl: (upbeat) You look much better. (pause) Hey, are you ok?
Me: Sorry. (distracted) I’m better. I’m just thinking of Alison. She felt rotten for years. I just think about how much she suffered and endured…
Her: I’m sorry Logan.
Me: No – I’m sorry I’m such a downer all the time.
Her: You’re not. (later) At least you’re not projectile vomiting.
Me: Yes, there is that.

Eventually, I felt good enough to get out of bed and we had a nice day together and watched a few travel programs.

I like to look at all the places that I’ll never see in real life.

Her: Why don’t you actually go?
Me: (shrugging) I’ve lost that drive. Plus the kid and work means it’s hard to get away. This is like the next best thing. (watching a show on St. Paul Cathedral) I do like London, though. I’d climb that the next time I’m in London.
Her: It’s 30 stories! You’d never make it, you decrepit old man.

Also saw my boss for drinks the other day.

Me: I wanted to say, “I’m sorry.”
Him: (surprised) For what?
Me: For how things turned out. I had all these beautiful plans – personal and professional. And life ____ed me outta all of them. I thought I’d come back this summer but I just wanna take care of the kid. That’s all I want to do these days.
Him: You don’t ever have to apologize for any of that. And raise your son. We’ll be here when you’re ready. Trust me – when he goes to school, you’ll be itching for something to do.
Me: (laughing) Maybe…

Location: the gym, pretending I’m not 46
Mood: hopeful
Music: I’m a little bit home, but I’m not there yet
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Falling to the level of our training

Defining things

Me: Can you pack stuff for a picnic and I’ll meet you in the park? It’s beautiful today.
The Gymgirl: Pier?
Me: Perfect. I was also thinking of getting us half a roast duck.
Her: Woo-hoo!

I had run down to Chinatown for a haircut and some food but the weather was so nice that we made last minute lunch plans.

We’d not been out in a few days because we both got sick with a stomach bug so it was nice getting out.

We’d also not been able to get to the gym, which we both wanted to do.

This fella named Archilochus once said that, We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.

In a way, at our gym, we’re both training for something that will hopefully never happen. But I thought about that quote for a different reason.

You see, if not for this blog, I’m not really sure how much I would have remembered about our meeting.

Don’t remember much from the last several years. My mother-in-law thinks it’s because I slept so little and sleep is when your memories are set.

This is probably a good thing. There are horrors I experienced with Alison that I don’t wanna remember. But there are things I wish I did remember. About Alison. About the boy. About the Gymgirl.

All I know is that, after Alison died, I could barely function. So I just did that which I trained myself to do – after all, you are what you constantly do and after years of womanizing,* that’s what I defaulted to.

Well, that and drink to excess.

And as the fog of all the alcohol, craziness, and misery slowly faded, the Gymgirl came into focus and what I thought initially as another disposable relationship became anything but.

My life and luck has been – admittedly – complete s__t. But she and the boy are welcome outliers to my otherwise execrable existence.

Me: I wanted to say thank you. For everything. For all the things you do around here. With me, with the kid.
Her: Of course. (laughing) It’s not a big deal. But what brought this on?
Me: (shrugging) No reason. Life. Just…thanks.
Her: You’re welcome, Logan.

*Alison hated when I used that word: Womanizing.

But I don’t know a more appropriate word. I don’t think what I did/do really falls squarely in the realm of dating, or pick-up, or what have you – for reasons that are my own. They’re different things to me.

And once I met Alison, I stopped so I never spent any time thinking of a different word.

And once again, I’ve stopped. So it remains the most appropriate word I have.

Location: noon, yesterday, Pier I in NYC
Mood: grateful
Music: we’ll never know when, when we’ll run out of time
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Disposable relationships

Here we go again

Gymgirl: (puts on music)
Me: (after several minutes) What are the lyrics to this song?
Gymgirl: “____ you, I don’t need you, I can be just fine without you.” (the next song plays, Here I go Again) These two songs sum up our entire relationship!

The Gymgirl and I bicker a lot. Not sure it rises to the level of full argument, most of the time, but there’re definitely disagreements.

The problem with me is that I’ve been spoiled by living in NYC and by my old single life. For me, if there was an issue with a relationship, I’d just get another one.

Used to tell people that you can crash and burn all night at 20 different bars and parties but at the 21st, you might meet the girl of your dreams.

Meeting people has never been an issue for me – even when I didn’t need to meet anyone. Wanting to stick around was my issue.

The Gymgirl’s no slouch herself at meeting people so I think we both looked at whatever we were initially as disposable.

Neither of us thought anything much of what might come of us getting together, just that it would be nice to have some company.

Somewhere along the line, we realized that the other was the best company we could have.

But our relationship’s imperfect because life is imperfect; we’re each broken, in our own ways.

Still, we’ve discovered that we’re both pretty good at fixing broken things. Kindness floats, you see – itself and other things.

That Brave New World fella once said that, Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Both the Gymgirl and I catch ourselves forgetting how terrible our lives were before we met each other and, when we bicker, somehow forget that we’re not disposable to each other.

And then we wait until the other remembers.

Ideally…

Me: Man, how does someone as tiny as you get so angry all the time?
Gymgirl: Are you saying I’m short?! Come down here and say that to my face.
Me: (pause, laughter)
Gymgirl: (laughs) You can’t leave me, I’m perfect.
Me: Sheyeah…

Location: Bicker-city
Mood: hopeful
Music: gonna hold on for the rest of my days
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Heading north

I want to be wherever


The best thing about having this here blog is seeing the changes that’ve happened across all this time.

I don’t always use pictures that relate to the entry I’m writing about. For example, this entry is when I met a waitress that looked just like Natalie Portman, but the picture is one I took when I met a girl named Alice.

I don’t mention every person I meet in this blog for a number of reasons, least of which so many people I meet stay in my venn diagram. Natalie didn’t but Alice did.

Alice and I’d not seen each other in years; as I said, before Alison got sick, we stopped being social and in the world because Alison and I lost so many pregnancies. And then the fucking cancer came.

Been gingerly stepping back into the world here and there. When I was young and single, had a rule that served me well: Never turn down an invite.

It’s how I met both Alison and the Gymgirl. And a lotta others.

Anywho, Alice invited me to her birthday party the other day and I decided to go with the Gymgirl to this bar called The Churchill.

Cause I’d decided to stay here in this world so I might as well take part in it. From time-to-time, at least.

Alice: Logan! (hugs me tightly) You came. I haven’t seen you in…
Me: It’s been a while.
Her: (hesitatingly) How have you been?
Me: (shrugging) You know…it’s been a lotta rock bottom. But, maybe I’m heading north.

 

My brother wrote a song once about a girl named Alice – not this Alice – that I’ve always liked.

I seem to like women whose name begin with “Al.”

Location: Not north yet
Mood: pensive
Music: I want to be wherever Alice is
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