Cleaning the darkness around us

Magic Soap

Her: Did…did you just wash the fruit with hand soap?
Me: Yeah. It’s fine.
Her: It’s not! You can’t do that!

People are often horrified when they see me wash fruits and vegetables – all fruits and vegetables – with my foaming hand soap. What they don’t know is that I use castile soap, which is made from vegetables and safe to use on pretty much everything.

If you’ve ever been out at a store, you’ve probably seen the most famous one, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I tend to buy the peppermint one.

Bronner had an interesting and tragic life.

He was a jew born in Germany and, when the Nazis took power, he implored his family to leave with him to America. But his parents felt they were German – Jewish Germans but still Germans. They refused to believe that they were in danger in their own home country so he left alone.

The last he heard from them was a single postcard from his father that simply read:

You were right. – Your loving father.

His parents were murdered by a country they loved that didn’t love them back.

What a terrible thing, to realize that a country – or anything – you love, not only doesn’t love you back, instead, wishes you and your family harm.

I’ve always been fascinated by bright things that emerge, directly or indirectly, from dark origins. The hope is always that some good can come from something awful and tragic.

It’s the hope, at least.

Random thought for a random day.

I hope you all stay safe. And I hope you’re all loved by someone or something that you love.

Me: Honestly, it’s fine. You gotta trust me on this.

Podcast Version
Location: my kitchen, popping painkillers
Mood: contemplative
Music: tell me if you love me or not (Spotify)
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Damaged people are dangerous

They know they can survive

Well, my neighbors are back. So much for the afternoon screaming.

Years ago, I was casually talking to someone at my gym and I mentioned that I grew up poor.

A fella there overheard and scoffed.

Him: Nonea y’all know what it’s like to be poor.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Him: (shaking head) You’re not poor unless you’re black and’ve gone hungry.
Me: Well, one of those two applies to me. I’ve had sleep for dinner plenty of times.

I grew up before the microwave. Or, at least, before the microwave was affordable.

Both my parents worked, so I’d come home, alone, and unlock the door to our tiny apartment and go to the sink.

I’d go to the sink for two reasons: (1) To wash my hands, and (2) because my mom would always put two unopened cans of Chef Boyardee in a pot with hot water trickling out of the faucet to warm them up.

Ideally beef ravioli but, really, whatever was on sale; cheese ravioli was always such a disappointment.

Then again, I grew up wearing homemade clothes. My grandma knit those hats my brother and I are wearing in the pic above.

Anywho, my mom always left a note that said something like:

Please try to save some for your sister – I love you!

It was then that I realized that “serving size” was a joke. That was dinner. She wanted me to put it in a bowl but that just meant something else for me to do so I’d just eat it outta the can and tell her I washed the dish.

In hindsight, the canned spaghetti and meatballs were the worst.

I mean, I still ate it, but, yeah…

Watching the news these days, I’m reminded of things like that. People waiting in lines for food at the food banks.

I remember all the goddamn lines we stood on, growing up.

One fall day, my mom bundled my sister and me (my brother was away) in our warmest clothes and we stood in line for hours for something. I complained the entire time. Finally, she grabbed me by the shoulders and said:

They’re giving away free vaccine shots and we can’t afford to get you two shots any other way. If you want to eat tonight, you’ll wait.

And then she turned away and tried to hide the fact that she was crying.

Man, I felt awful at that moment.

I was 12? I’m 47 now and, while I don’t remember how the shot felt, I remember how making my mom feel inadequate felt.

As a parent now, I feel it all the more. I do what I can. They did what they could.

Realize it’s a luxury that I don’t have to worry about my next meal any more. If I want a party pack of tacos, I buy myself a goddamn party pack of tacos.

I have sleep for dinner these days outta choice, not necessity.

This lady named Josephine Hart once said something like: Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.

This pandemic is filling my head with such sad thoughts, I cannot even begin to tell you. But, perhaps that’s for the best.

Cause, I know I’m damaged.

If nuthin else, I survive shit, even when I don’t really wanna.

Podcast Version: Damaged People are Dangerous
Location: my empty apartment, now with lots of cheesecake
Mood: can’t look at another piece of cheesecake
Music: Man, I was dealt these cards and I played dem out (Spotify)
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Lunch by the river

Noticing things

Me: Yo, what are you up to? I can’t do any more work and I’m going stir crazy here.
Him: Screw it, come on by. Do you have any extra gloves and masks?

I’ve been trying to catch up on work, but it’s hard being here with the sheer emptiness of it all. I miss the boy terribly.

So, like I said in my previous entries, I hopped onto my scooter and zipped down from the UWS to the LES to take Chad out to eat.

Here’s a quickie vid on what it’s like out there.

It was honestly the perfect day to be out and about. It took me twice as long to get there as it should’ve because I kept stopping to take pictures or video. Once I finally got there, we tried to figure out what was for lunch.

As you know, I’m a sucker for a gyro, so that’s what I got.

He got a gyro burger, which makes no sense to me but he’s an adult so…

Me: OK, where we going, man?
Him: It’s a nice day, we can eat by the river.

My lungs are mostly ok but, honestly, walking those few blocks was difficult. Not necessarily bad, but noticeably not normal.

This thing is truly a bear. Being audited while you’re trying not to die is a new experience, lemme tell ya.

And I’ve had a lotta shitty experiences.

We finally got to the river and it was just perfect. More people were out than probably should’ve been but definitely less than the normal crowd. It was nice to be in society again.

And the food was so good that we both agreed not to speak for five minutes as we enjoyed it shoveled it into our pieholes.

Afterward, we chatted for a bit when I locked eyes with one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen in my life. She was stupid attractive.

Me: Hi there.
Her: (laughs) Hi!

Chad commented that I should have spoken to her more.

Him: Whoa, she was hot and that was a huge smile she gave you, why don’t you talk to her?
Me: (laughing) How do you know she had a huge smile?
Him: (puzzled) What? I saw.
Me: (nodding) OK. Yes, she was beautiful, and, yes, that was a big smile she gave me. But here’s what I noticed….
Him: (afterwards) Oh, that’s really interesting. I never thought about that.
Me: I have my rules. I always have my rules.
Him: (shaking head) I don’t get it but, ok. Man…

It’s a little party trick of mine; noticing little things and trying to make sense of what they mean. Hopefully correctly.

All my senses have been dulled for so long but I feel a little bit of the old me from so long ago.

After a bit, we headed back to his place but stopped off at a local bodega.

Me: Hard seltzer. I’m secure in my manhood. Do it?
Him: (laughing) Sure.
Me: Oooooh, mango…

We kept some good social distancing in his tiny pad.

Honestly, it was good to see and speak to another human being again. I didn’t realize just how cruel and harsh solitary confinement is. And this is nuthin compared to that.

Me: Well, I guess I should go.
Him: Are you ok to get home?
Me:  (getting up) Well, we’re about to find out.

Podcast Version: Lunch by the River
Location: a few days ago, the John V. Lindsay East River Park
Mood: hungry
Music: I notice every single thing, that’s ever happening (Spotify)
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Doubling-Down, Pt 2 – Baseline

Histrionic Personality Disorder

This is a long entry because I just wanna get this off my chest and be done with it.

I saw Chad the other day, which is another entry.  We were talking about this whole crazy situation when somehow our old coach came up, and this is actually why I returned to this topic.

Him: I want you to know for sure; he told me that he was kicking you out because Mouse was dating you.
Me: Oh my god, thank you for telling me. There was always a part of me wondering if I was crazy or not.

Continuing with my last post, on the three steps of an apology, our old coach always did Step 3, like offering free classes or taking people out to eat, but he never did Steps 1 or 2.

One day, a huge newbie came to the gym and we were doing take-downs. My coach asked me to work with the noob and the first thing he did was tackle me at full-speed, completely tearing my ACL.

My coach told me that he wouldn’t charge me for classes and also did fundraisers for Alison when she got sick, both of which I appreciated. But note that both are only Step 3.

He not only never did Step 1 – apologize for setting me up with a newbie without properly instructing him on what to do – like the acquaintance from my last entry, he doubled-down on 2.

You really should’ve just gone with it, Logan.

Meaning, I caused myself to tear my ACL and not the 200-pound newbie, who tackled me, and my coach’s poor supervision.

My coach wasn’t even looking at us when it happened. Trust me when I tell you, I went with it.

That was it. Eight years later, nuthin. He just left it with Step 3 and the double-down.

Actually, I finally hit the red line with him when he triple-downed with me with his weird attraction to Mouse and started me thinking deeply about what his damage was. It’s just creepy and weird all around.

Did you know that you need a physical injury for cancer? You can’t mentally will someone to get cancer, you have to have something actually injure you – a virus (HPV), a particle (asbestos, coal), a physical action (tick bite), something.

Well, when you hurt someone, without early intervention, that injury metastasizes like cancer.

You wanna stop cancer? You gotta get it early, Stage 1. If you do nothing? The worst outcome happens.

That’s why they’re so lonely. Because they not only don’t try to stop it at Stage 1, they double and triple-down, to ensure that there’s no relationship.

I remember bringing the three steps up with the acquaintance and he just scoffed and essentially said, That’s just you, most people don’t need that. That’s demonstrably false, especially since he’s destroyed every relationship that mattered to him, ever.

That’s like saying, you don’t need medical intervention to cure cancer, just drink lemon juice.

Dude, your naked belief doesn’t change something factually true. The truth is that the best bet for curing cancer – and it’s a shitshow, lemme tell ya – is to throw every scientifically valid thing against it.

You screwed up and you wanna save a relationship? The starting point for everyone on the planet is the three steps. Everyone. That’s baseline.

If I’m honest with myself, I never got over that my coach destroyed my physical body and just moved on with his life. I can’t, I don’t have that luxury.

For the rest of my life, when I wake up, my knee reminds me of his failure as a coach and – frankly – as a basic, decent human being.

Our mutual friend asked me to forgive him and I told him honestly: No. He’s never done the baseline of what forgiveness requires. Not for any of us: Me, Chad, Pac, Robinson, just off the top of my head.

He injured us all in some way and went about his life and those injuries metastasized. What could’ve been an easy fix – I’m sorry, I had a bad day, I’ll make it up to you – is now insurmountable because of the doubling/tripling-down.

It’s your fault.

And that’s why these people are the loneliest people I know: Their 14-year-old selves were somehow taught that you never apologize for things (properly – all three steps). Their adult-selves, and others, pay the price.

They share more with Trump than they can admit. And Trump is a lonely soul.

Interestingly, all the people I mentioned – Trump, Michael Scott from the office, my acquaintance, and my old coach – all seem to suffer from Histrionic Personality Disorder.

They have weird relationships with the opposite sex (they can only have opposite-sex relationships that have some sexual component to it), are attention-seeking, and have poor impulse-control, among other things.

The two people I know personally definitely had traumatic childhoods, and I do pity them. But I also accept that they will never change because they don’t want to. They make the conscious choice to not change and to double- and triple-down, every single time.

That’s not healthy for anyone. I don’t wish them any ill; I just don’t want to risk getting injured again.

None of these people are bad people. Like everyone, they’re capable of good and bad actions. But if they can’t accept responsibility when they factually hurt other people, it overwhelms whatever good they possess.

At least for me.

Look, I get what happened to me was eight years ago. But what’s changed besides time? Time not only doesn’t replace the three steps, time makes the three steps even harder – for everyone.

Halsey wrote a song called, You Should Be Sad for her ex. She was basically saying that she wanted the relationship to work but it didn’t. She was sad over what was lost but, at least according to the song, he didn’t even give her that: Grief over losing the relationship, Step 2.

I get it. Cause that’s baseline, man. I’m sorry. I feel bad. What can I do to fix this? That’s baseline.

Podcast Version: Doubling-Down, Pt 2 – Baseline
Location: my empty apartment, which is fulla carbs
Mood: thoughtful
Music: I tried to help you, it just made you mad (Spotify)
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Doubling-Down, Pt 1

Everyone’s got a red line

Do you remember when I gave you that three-step PSA on how to apologize?

      1. The words: “I’m sorry.”
      2. Some manifestation of contrition: “I feel awful about what I did; there’s no excuse.”
      3. Some overt act to try make things right again: “I’ll make it up to you. Let’s go to counseling.”

Think about Michel Scott from The Office: He’s lonely because he regularly hurts people but he can’t seem to do Steps 2 or 3. He can barely do 1.

The actress that played Pam said that she broke down twice while filming the episode where you saw why Michael was Michael.

[Michael is] asked what he wants to be when he grows up and he says, ‘I want to be married and have 100 kids, so I can have 100 friends and no one can say no to being my friend.’…This is when I had to turn off the episode.

I get it. I always make excuses for other people’s shitty behaviour.

But I submit that a lotta lonely people are the ones that don’t understand that apologies are a three-step process.

And the loneliest ones are the ones that not only don’t understand this, they’re the ones that double-down; they make the situation worse, so that there’s no coming back.

As much as possible, I make this blog about me. But screw it, I’m in a writing mood for reasons I’ll tell you about tomorrow. Lemme tell you about something on my mind lately.

I have an acquaintance that does Step 1: He apologizes for things, but that’s it. He never feels bad about what he did (Step 2), and, not only doesn’t do Step 3 either – try to make it better – he always doubles-down.

For example, he was always talking about his female “best friend.” While I know the girlfriend, I finally met the “best friend” at a party one night and she told me, “We’re not best friends, we barely talk. He’s just always been infatuated with me.”

The thing is, she might’ve once legitimately’ve been a close friend. But that stopped when he got jealous one day and bailed on her in a foreign country.

Two years later, he ran into her and did Step 3 – by pretending everything was fine – but never he did steps 1 and 2. The thing is, he caused an injury to that relationship that never healed. And now, never will. Too much time has passed.

Full disclosure – the best friend was honestly quite nice. And oblivious that the acquaintance was going around town calling her his best friend.

But it was only after we finally met that I realized that her being his best friend was all just a ruse; he told everyone that because he just wanted an excuse to be around her, even when he was dating other people, just in case an opportunity arose for him.

The opportunity actually happened – after a decade – when he got drunk and made a sloppy pass at his best friend at this party.

With his girlfriend there.

And the best friend’s boyfriend there as well.

The girlfriend demanded that he finally admit that they weren’t best friends and to defriend all the rando women that he kept picking up. That’s a whole different story.

Not only did he not apologize and not defriend anyone, he doubled-down and broke up with her.

How’s that for a kick in the head?

I guess everyone – him, his girlfriend, the mythical best friend, and everyone that saw him make this drunken pass at the party – finally knew what only he knew: He didn’t love his girlfriend and had been holding a torch for his supposed best friend the entire time. Ten years.

Why do I care? Well, I hate injustice.

But I also hate this whole situation because it goes against everything I know to be true; men and women can – and should – be friends. But people like this screw it up for the rest of us.

I’ve got so many female friends that I’ve not only never made a pass at, we’ve never come close. Even when massive amounts of alcohol are involved.

I feel bad for his ex, she wasted three years of her life with him. She loved him completely, and her life story would break your heart.

Me riding past the Hudson Yards and The Shed.

See, she actually supported the dude while he was a struggling student and one day, he won this prize. Instead of giving it to her, he ended up giving it to this random girl he met just a few weeks earlier.

Even when the girlfriend found out about the prize, she still stayed with him because he had an admittedly rough life, just like Michael Scott.

And she was madly in love with him. He literally bragged to people that he went on this date with this girl. It was hilarious to him. He showed me a text where he wrote his best friend, “At least I squeezed in two dates before I got caught.”

Like I said, he never apologizes and can’t help but double-down.

It’s a goddamn shame.

I mean, she’s an idiot, but it’s still a goddamn shame. That kind of loyalty and love is rare; if you’re lucky enough to find someone that’s always on your side, you should protect it with all you got.

Education’s expensive though. At least she finally learned and moved on. To quote one of my exes, Everyone’s got a red line.

This is getting super long, so I’ll finish it up tomorrow. I got a lotta time on my hands to think. And write.

Speaking of female friends, I just finished writing this when KG Betty wrote me.

We’ve known each other a decade as well. I crashed at her place a buncha times and she at mine. Never kissed her or anything ever. I just don’t get how other people live. For serious.

Cause, my relationship with KG Betty is valuable to me, I won’t jeopardize that for something stupid.

Her: Finally! I heard you got sick, I was worried about you.
Me: It’s good to hear from you. How’s life in Korea?
Her: (laughing) Much better than where you are, Logan. You guys are in trouble.

Podcast Version: Doubling-Down, Pt 1
Location: yesterday, riding past my possible pasts
Mood: free
Music: What a shame, we coulda had a good thing (Spotify)
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Isolation Days 5-6: A gaping yaw

Getting outta Dodge…again

Him: Where are we going?
Me: (as upbeat as possible) To see your aunt!
Him: Yay!

The redheaded babysitter and my regular babysitter have been the only company that the boy and I’ve had the last four days.

Because I manage my building, I realized that – with the possible exception of two people on one of the upper floors – there was no one else in my building.

Right around when I came to that realization, my sister-in-law called to check in on us and said that there was a chance that the mayor would be shutting down all non-essential travel. While I read that this wasn’t likely, I still felt this really cold dread.

You see, if anything happened to me, the boy would be all alone in the building. I could fall down the stairs (again), cut my my head open (again), get sick and pass out (again), or any number of things.

That’s when I hit the grief button (again). If Alison was here, at least it would be the three of us. But I didn’t feel safe being alone with just the two of us so we got outta Dodge (again).

Me: We’re out the door. What do you need from me, if anything?
Her: Just bring some extra clothes and I’ll bring them to my parents. Who knows how long he’ll be there?
Me: OK. We’re already on the subway.

I was about the same age as the boy when the Blackout of 1977 happened. I remember that my parents didn’t seem like themselves that day, even all these years later.

Didn’t want the boy to hear or feel any anxiety as I took him out of the city, so I played a version of “lava” with him to try to not have him touch anything. That was fine while it lasted.

Him: I’m tired of this game.
Me: (sighing)
Him: You’re doing (imitates a sigh) again.
Me: (nodding)

We were the only ones in our car.

I only saw my sister for a moment as I buckled the kid into the child seat and dashed off to catch the train back.

Me: Please try to be good, ok?
Him: OK. Bye, papa! (waves)

Told Pac that I’d support his mom’s business – Noona Noodles – while things were sketch.

Me: Should I head to your mom’s?
Him: Nah, she’s not picking up.
Me: Actually, fuck it, I’m here. Lemme see if she’s open.

She was – place was dead quiet. I was the only customer in the whole joint. Picked up some Vietnamese pho and a 40 on the way back, for no particular reason.

Woulda picked up more food but it’s just me. It was delicious.

Tried to be as productive as I could: Did my taxes, submitted my census form, and finally got around to cleaning up some digital files.

Found some pics of my family before everything went to shit. That’s an entry for another day.

On my last one pound jar of peanut butter to boot. Went through two jars in five days.

I already miss the boy. But he’s safer there than in an empty NYC apartment building with just me. Growing up with no friends, I’m used to being by my lonely. But this feels different. Finding those pictures didn’t help.

It’s a gaping yaw of existential loneliness that only comes with profound moments of grief that I can’t quite seem to explain.

Her: What are you going to do?
Me: Seeing as I’m here in this building by myself, I’m going to go to the back room and randomly scream for a bit.
Her: (laughs)

Location: an empty UWS apartment building
Mood: inebriated
Music: standin’ out there alone. A yearning, yeah, and it’s real
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What to do about the boy?

I wish it worked that way

Me: Do you wanna watch it now?
Her: Sure.

A little while ago, Mouse mentioned that she never saw Forrest Gump so I convinced her to watch it. It’s kinda hard to explain why it’s so endearing; you just gotta watch it to understand it.

I’ve always liked it on a personal level because I could relate to one important theme: The things that you think are holding you back as a child are actually the things that push you forward as an adult.

In the movie, young Forrest can’t walk properly so he has to wear these heavy braces. Because of them, his already outsider status is made all the worse. One day, while out with his best girl, he’s attacked by some local bullies. This is where the famous line, “Run, Forrest, Run!” happens.

So he runs. And while he runs, his braces tear off and he finds that he can run faster than anything because the years of carrying all that extra weight on his legs made them strong. It’s his ability to run that set off every good thing in his life. He never stops.

People don’t seem to believe me when I tell them I was a super fat kid. I don’t look like it at all. In  my head, I still carry that weight with me.

Yet, I think that almost every good thing about me came from my being fat. I started on a diet at 14 and, like Forrest, never stopped; I’ve been watching everything I eat for over three decades. I know exactly how much fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates I eat and have for 32+ years.

I’ve also been exercising and stretching for that long. I’m more flexible than most people half my age and regularly pass for someone in my early 30s despite almost pushing 50. I also regularly physically fight people – literally – half my age.

It also turns out that it’s not just your body that ages as the years pass but your mind as well. There, the diet has helped me as well, but so has other childhood misfortune.

You see, I had no friends as a kid. And we were poor so that meant every summer, I was home alone with my siblings with no air conditioner and no cable. So I went to the library every single day from the moment it opened – often until the moment it closed.

Remember sitting outside, alone, waiting for the librarian to come to open it. This wasn’t just for one summer, this was for years.

I remember that I decided to read every single book on the east side of this library (the children’s section). Took me three or four summers but I did it.

Every. Single. Goddamn. Book.

And when I did, I had no one to tell. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone that.

The thing is, that enabled me to know things that other kids didn’t know. Like:

Again, already outsider status is made all the worse.

Yet, once again, the things that made me weird, makes me interesting now.

Alison: (the first time we were on the phone together) I’m doing a crossword puzzle. It’s asking me for Caesar’s first name but Julius doesn’t fit.
Me: That’s because it’s his middle name. His first name was “Gaius.”

She told me that she set me apart that moment.

Which brings me to my current existential crisis: What to do about the boy?

Do you remember when I told you that zebras cannot be tamed and that I’m grateful for my adversaries? Well, I don’t want him to be near lions and I don’t want him to have any adversaries.

And yet, I know he needs them.

I don’t want him to be fat, nor do I want him to be friendless, nor do I want to strap weights onto his ankles. But adversity makes us better – if we survive it.

Just like art only happens with restraint, all I know from personal experience is that excelling comes from limitations. But the boy will grow up in the heart of Manhattan, by Central Park, surrounded by the wealthy and the lucky. And with friends.

How do I make him anti-fragile? Or is that out of the hands of a parent and only left to life and chance?

Then again, perhaps he’s been dealt enough blows already with the loss of Alison. I feel guilty alla time that he only has me, a sleepless and strange old man, to keep him company and raise him.

Perhaps that’s enough adversity for a lifetime and I should give him as comfortable a life as I can.

But I find myself unable to do that.

Him: I wish mommy was here.
Me: Me too, all the time.
Him: (thinking) Can I have ice cream?
Me: No.
Him: Why?
Me: Because. You can’t have anything you want, just because you ask for it. That’s not how life works. I wish it worked that way, but it doesn’t.

Location: alone with the boy and my thoughts
Mood: conflicted again
Music: Tell me, won’t you miss Manhattan?
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Hacking it

Seeking efficiencies

Been sick for the past week or so. Damn, that party really took it all out of me – prob more the setup than the actual party, TBH.

Coughed so hard that I blew out a blood vessel in my eye the other day.

But it’s also given me time to think.

When I was a kid – 11, maybe? – there was a store we all called Angie’s that sold these flying saucer type toy guns for, say, $2.00. But they were always sold out of them.

One day, found a store that sold them for $1. Figured I’d sell them for $1.50, a 50% markup but still 25% less than Angie.

So I took all of my savings, bought every gun I get my hands on, and brought them back to Queens.

Took me a while, but I ultimately sold alla them. My dad asked me where I got all the scratch I had and I sheepishly told him.

Afterward, he smiled, reached into his pocket and gave me double the amount I made.

Him: You made an honest dollar and you helped people. You get rewarded for doing things like that.

That was my very first business deal and I remember it to this day.

I bring it up for two reasons. The first is that I was chatting with my buddy Cable. He asked me about my past.

Him: Is it true?
Me: You really wanna know?
Him: Yeah, tell me.
Me: OK, make yourself comfortable. (15 minutes later) …and I did what any good Chinese boy would do; I sunk it all into real estate.
Him: I’ve always wondered about that. That explains so much.

I call it hacking: I hack my life.

Another example: The program that I use the most is something called Dropbox – my buddy Rick told me about it…10 years ago?

It’s free for 2GB of space; the next step up is $120 a year.

I did the math and figured out that if I used the free referral link they had, I could buy ad space on Google to advertise my referral code. Some rando would get an extra 500mb, I would get an extra 500mb, and Dropbox would get a new customer. Win-win-win.

Even cooler, I had a $100 credit for Google cost-per-click buys, so I used that, and netted…well, check out below:

So, for $0 across a decade, I’ve had 28.2GB of Dropbox space. The max is actually 16GB, but I hacked that too. That’s another story.

I’m not so much bragging – ok, I am, but it takes me 10-35 years for me to brag/talk about stuff – so much as I’m trying to explain what fascinates and drives me.

In The Godfather, Vito saw the world as two groups: pezzonovante or puppets.

Don Corleone: … I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That’s my life, I don’t apologize for that. But I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, something.
Michael: Another pezzonovante.

But I’ve always felt there was a third option: Someone in the margins of society, exploiting inefficiencies while maybe making life a little better.

Those are my people: The Devil. Rain. Sheridan. We’re the hustlers that eat-what-we-kill. There’re few of us left. The grey men.

This is all prelude to the second reason I’m walking down nostalgia lane with you: A business associate recently presented me with a problem for which I think I have an elegant solution. It’s a gamble. But I believe in my power to hack things. So does she.

In some ways, it was that belief that crushed my soul the past few years; I think I felt the weight of Alison and my father’s death even more heavily because I felt I should have figured it out.

“It” being cancer. How fucking arrogant is that?

That’s what I’ve prided myself on my entire life; seeing things that other people didn’t see. I consumed every medical article I could get my hands on to try to hack that fucking thing.

In the end, I bought Alison and my dad a few more months/years, but at such a cost. Yet another bit of guilt for my soul to enjoy.

Him: You can’t hold yourself responsible for them dying of cancer.
Me: (drunk) Yeah? (laughing) Watch me…

And I hated myself so much for being able to figure out alla these meaningless bullshit things like Dropbox and toy guns, but not figure out the things that might have saved the people I loved.

I’m only now able to take solace in the fact that it was a fool’s errand, but at least it was borne of love. And I’m nuthin if not an arrogant fool for love…

In any case, I have a new puzzle to fill my otherwise dull and vicious life.

The stakes are more than toy guns but less than cancer. If I figure it out, I’ll tell you all about it.

In about 10-30 years.

Me: There’s actually a lot more. But that’s enough for today. Every day, we choose the life we’re gonna live. I choose to set myself apart. In my head, I’m in the world, but separate from it.

Location: bed
Mood: coffee/cough-y
Music: Staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end

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Sorry, Wrong Meeting

What wins I can get

Been working for and with startups since I was in my late teens. Some of them became huge entities, others pretty big deals. Most, however, fizzled out with little-to-nothing to show for themselves.

Many of them paid me in stock options or some form of equities. You see, I remember reading about Robert X. Cringley as a kid and was determined not to make the same mistake he did – passing up the opportunity to be on the ground floor of a major world player.

Although, I kinda did that when I turned down being an early employee of Cnet to go to law school. But that’s neither here nor there.

In any case, a legal client of mine just got acquired by a public entity which means that I actually have stock in a company that’s worth something. It’s nothing huge, at all.

Still, it’s something new and a win. I’ll take any weekday wins I can get.

Her: What does this mean?
Me: It means that I can get that monthly Metrocard I’ve been saving up for.

Speaking of lawyers, been talking to a whole slew of them lately, for a variety of reasons.

Him: Nope, he’s still a republican, despite everything. He’s been one for 30 years, he’s not changing now.
Me: Do you know what the definition of “stubborn” is?
Him: I think so?
Me: It’s, “Not changing course despite good arguments or reasons to do so.” That’s the difference between [your client] and us [lawyers]. We don’t waste our time on a losing issue. 
Him: (joking) Unless they pay full-freight, which he kinda does. And all lawyers are grey. That’s why people hate us.
Me: (nodding) I’m nuthin if not the grey man. Speaking of hate, did you ever watch The Jeffersons when you were a kid? 
Him: I know of it, never really watched it, though.
Me: There was an episode called Sorry, Wrong Meeting. George is at a meeting fulla white racists and one of them gets a heart attack. George hates them but decides he can’t let the guy die so he gives the guy CPR and saves his life. When the guy comes to and realizes that it was a black person that saved his life, he tells his son: “You should have let me die.” Whenever I hear the word ‘stubborn,’ I think of that. They’ll die before they just let their petty nonsense go and have a peaceful life. Your client’s no different from the farmers going bankrupt but continuing to vote for Trump.
Him: Thank god for that! We’d starve if not for people like them. (laughing) You know, the animal most closely associated with stubbornness is an ass?
Me: (nodding) Maybe that’s why they sit where they sit and we sit where we sit.

Was planning to surprise Gradgirl this past weekend in Paris when I realized neither of us are the people we once were, which is probably a good thing, all things considered.

Need to listen to that voice in my head more often.

Location: home, asking her how the boy did today
Mood: ambitious
Music: I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you

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You didn’t know this?

Still done

Been bringing the kid to tests for a little while and speaking with other parents. Literally, every time I speak to another parent, I find out something I feel I shoulda known.

Gonna condense about five or six different conversations into just three for clarity.

Her: (breathless) Were you stuck on the train getting here too? I was worried we’d miss our test slot.
Me: Oh, I live right down the block. We kinda rolled outta bed and ended up here.
Her: You live right down the block?! We came here from Staten Island!
Me: Staten Island?! Why?!
Her: (confused) Anderson’s the gifted and talented school for the entire city. People from as far away as the Long Island border commute into the city for hours to get in. It’s like Stuyvesant or Bronx Science for middle schoolers. You didn’t know this?
Me: (slowly) Yes?

For a different test:

Him: If we make it in, we’d sell our home in Douglaston and try to squeeze the four of us into a one-bedroom in the area.
Me: You’d move here just for a music school?
Him: (puzzled) Special Music School is the only free music school in the city, maybe even the state. The lessons are valued at $10,000, per year, per student. AND it has the highest academic rankings in the city because they only accept 24 students a year so – even though it’s a music school – they were ranked number one out of every school in the city for common core, three years in a row.
Me: Wait, it’s ranked even better than Anderson, PS 87, and PS 199?
Her: For grades K-to-3, yes. Each child is essentially privately tutored for 12 years. You didn’t know this?
Me: Yes? (laughing) Now I feel I shoulda prepared him for these tests. I bought my place decades ago and kids weren’t on my mind at all. (later) My wife would have known this but she passed away a little while back.
Her: Oh! I’m so sorry to hear that.
Me: I’m sorry to say that.

Then it got weird:

Her: Sorry, I couldn’t help but overhear your other conversation. Are you single?
Me: (amused) According to Facebook, yes. But it’s complicated. Why?
Her: My cousin’s single and she’s an educator working with special needs kids. She’s always dreamed of living in the Upper West Side.
Me: (laughing) I’m both flattered and slightly insulted.
Her: (quickly) Don’t be! Your son’s adorable and I love your jacket!
Me: Good to know…

On the topic of interpersonal relationships, with my last entry, my female friend admits that she might be catching feelings for one of the two guys that she’s seeing.

Her: I dunno if I’m ready to jump into anything serious just yet but…
Me: Is he on your side?
Her: What does that mean?
Me: (thinking) When we first started dating, Alison’s best male friend once said something rude about me. I think he loved her. She told him to knock it off. He did it again one day on the phone, so she hung up on him, blocked his number, and stopped hanging out with him.
Her: Whoa!
Me: (laughing) Yeah. The kicker’s that I didn’t know for months. She just handled it totally on her own, I wasn’t involved at all. When I asked her about whatever happened to him, she just said, “He said something rude about you.” That was it. When I found out about it later, I figured she was my person and we married just a year later.
Her: That’s really cool.
Me: (nodding) If you find hidden kindnesses and love – meaning he’s secretly on your side – then, bam, you’re done. Take it and go. Unfortunately, if you find out he’s secretly not on your side…you’re still done. Just not in a good way. Either way, you’re done, though.

Location: 9AM yesterday, W 67th listening to him sing
Mood: freezing
Music: I’m secretly on your side

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