A copy of a copy of a copy

My insomnia’s much better these days

Mannequin heads
There’s this weird thing with insomnia: Everyone that has it seems to try and top someone else that has it with stories of how bad theirs is.

I think that some are resistant to getting better – at least at some level – because that would be an admission that it’s not actually that bad.

I can admit that was definitely me in my 20s and most of my 30s. Wore my insomnia like a badge of honor. It made me miserable but also let me do things that most people couldn’t because I felt I had 13 months a year to get things done, while other people had only 12.

But, at 41, I’m starting to realize the costs. Mainly that I just don’t remember things that well for most of that time.

Wrote in my private diary almost a decade ago this line from Fight Club that goes: With insomnia, nothing’s real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.

There are outlines but nothing is distinct.

I meet people who are kinda familiar from that period but mostly not. I remember things, kinda.

You know, I remember buying my apartment but not really. It’s like someone else bought it and I watched it happen on TV and left the room a buncha times.

Happy to say that my worst nights of insomnia these days are about on par with my regular nights of insomnia. Most weeks, manage to sleep pretty well. Had some insomnia the other day but still managed to get five hours of sleep.

Much better these days.

It’s like when I got HD television for the first time and realized that I’d been watching a fuzzy picture in black and white all these years.

Wish it was clearer, though, all of my fuzzy yesterdays.

Mood: better
Music: early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn
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The Past and the Virginia Tidewater Accent

Why is it the Top 40?


Did you ever wonder why the music countdown was always the Top 40? Why not the top 30, or 50?

The reason is because early jukeboxes could only hold 40 songs. So, decades later, we’re still constrained by figures and things that are no longer relevant.

I think about that a good deal: Why things are the way they are.

As I teach my fencing art and continue to wrassle, I’m ever vigilant to wonder if things are done for a good reason or if that’s just how things have always been done – and if the latter, why.

The core of the fulfilled life is the life that wonders why. And I think we all – in our own way – wonder about our purpose.

On a related note, I found the video above fascinating because you can hear how accents changed over time – how a UK accent can become an American Southern accent over time.

It’s a great commentary on how environment and time affects things to make the so different from what they once were that they’re no longer recognizable as what they once were.

On the flip side, though, I probably lie awake too long at wondering.

Lie Awake

Location: a building with someone that is starkers
Mood: irritated
Music: It’s simple and eternal, the sum of where we’re made
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The one with the barber brainteaser and Nighthawks

And I’m selling my Edward Hopper: Nighthawks


There this old joke/brainteaster I heard once where a stranger arrives at a small town and needs a haircut. There are only two barbers in town so he visits both of them.

The first one he goes to has a terrible haircut and looks like a mess. The second one has a perfect head of hair. The man immediately turns around and goes back to the first barber who had the terrible haircut – why?

While you’re thinking about that, I’ve been sick and have been fighting a lot of insomnia. I got up the other day to bake some cookies.

Was awake enough so that it was me and not Sleepy Logan.

Back to the brainteaser – it’s not that hard; if there are only two barbers there, the first barber must have gotten his hair cut at the second barber and vice versa. So the first barber’s terrible haircut is because of the skill of the second barber.

There are tons of logical issues with that but if you have a kid, it’s a good one to ask.

Which brings me to the picture above. The wife and I decided a while ago to buy each other one ornament a year for Christmas. That’s what she bought me.

She tends to buy me fun, homey-type ornaments while I buy her elegant classy ones. And the reason is the same – I tend to think of her as very classic and proper while I’m a lot more casual.

She bought it from Carolyn’s Christmas at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Their ornaments are made in the Andes Mountains “using age-old methods of sculpting bread dough.” So it’s an ornament made of food, which I find kinda appropriate for me.

Apparently, they were super nice and spent a good amount of time getting the wording (“The Lo’s!”) just right so I thought they deserved a little mention here.

On a different matter entirely, I’m selling my Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper; it’s a framed poster print in a dark brown hardwood frame. It measures 44″ x 32″ and I paid $300 for it a few years ago (and it’s in perfect condition since it just hung there) but can sell it for half that.

Here’s an entry on it that I wrote back in the day; I still love the painting but it’s a little dark for our living room now.

If anyone in NYC’s interested, lemme know.

OK, off to drink some more hot liquids and have a cookie.

Location: desk, wrapping up for the deal
Mood: sick
Music: Lately I’m obsessed and I need the rest. I hope that you’re impressed
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Travelogue: Comic Con New York City 2013 Pt. 2

More pictures of cosplayers – now with beer

My Twitter post from last night at 3AM:

“Are you sure it’s decaf?” I asked the waitress.
“Yes,” she replied.
#liars #insomniastinks #hate #rage #chili

Continuing from my Comic Con post yesterday, after walking around for a few hours, we decided to try to get some food.

Him: Check out the Korean food stand over there. I love Korean food.
Me: Me too. (thinking) Actually, I love food in general.

Me: There’s a German food joint about 10 blocks up.
Him: 10 blocks? That’s a walk, man.
Me: We can work off the beer we’ll be drinking.
Him: Good point.

When we get to the exits, the escalators are broken.

Cosplayer: You all have to turn back, the escalators are broken.
Me: (irritated) Escalators don’t break! They become stairs! (see video below)


After two sets of broken escalators, we eventually, we make it out and head over to Hallo Berlin.

Him: What’s good?
Me: What are your thoughts on fish?
Him: I like fish.
Me: Maybe an order of sausages and an order of fish?
Him: We’ll need more food than that.

Me: Wanna try a Berliner Weisse flavoured beer? It’s a little girly but who’s gonna know?
Him: Sure.

Me: Hey, that was cool. Thanks a lot, man.
Him: No problem.

Mitch Hedberg: An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs.

 

Location: in front of coffee #6
Mood: so tired
Music: You conform to what society says and I conform to me
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Another rough stretch of insomnia

Who knows what battles we’ll have today?

Her: He looks good.
Me: He does. Goodbye Sal. Say hello to Dino.

Spent Thursday getting to the wake and then went the next day to the funeral. All funerals are the same in the sadness but unique in the details.

And that’s all I’ll say on the subject.

On a different point entirely, had a sleepless stretch from Thursday through last night.

Interestingly, the face of the world changed with a sleepless night. Not my sleepless night, the night of a man named Darius.

Almost exactly 2,344 years ago, at the Battle of Gaugamela – which is an amazing story for a million reasons – Alexander the Great went to sleep the night before the battle and Darius of the Persian Empire did not.

The Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander's Decisive ...
The Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander’s Decisive Movement, 331 B.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moreover, Alexander told his men to get some sleep while Darius told his men to stay awake in case of a nighttime raid.

After that single battle was over, Alexander took over Babylon and gained half of the Persian Empire. Darius escaped with his life only to be murdered and betrayed by his men soon afterward. That lack of sleep the night before cost Darius and his men everything.

I think of that story from time-to-time when I’m up at night. Last night, slept for just under seven hours – the most in a week – so I feel a good deal better but still, not quite myself.

Coincidentally, my sister just wrote me to ask if she could crash at my apartment for a few hours because of her insomnia.

I’d like us all to get some rest.

Because who knows if we have to go to battle today?

Wife: (laughing) I can tell when you haven’t had sleep.
Me: How?
Her: You start talking funny. (imitates my voice)
Me: I’m always worried I start sounding crazy. (sighing) I need to get some sleep.

Location: in front of a lotta coffee
Mood: anxious
Music: Sometimes it feels just like I’m falling in the ocean
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Goodbye Big Nick’s, you’ll be missed

Change is the only constant in life


I first moved into my neighborhood 17 years ago.

Back then it was kinda dive-y but I was younger and stupider then. Back then, the legendary P&G Bar – which you might know from the Runaway Bride or any number of other films – and the Yogi’s Bar were typical for the neighborhood.

Al Pachino’s Needle Park took place just a few blocks from my doorstep and the film the Warriors had shots all over my hood including the 95th Street Station exterior shots.

The Panic in Needle Park
The Panic in Needle Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Trump moved into the area and fixed up the pier and they installed the new subway station at West 73rd Street, the place really took off.

As you know, I don’t lament the passing of old New York all that much; after all, no one that was born poor wants to stay poor.

But last week, my old haunt, Big Nicks closed. Their menu was as big as a book and if you wanted a bagel, slice of pizza, foot-long hotdog, and a side of gyro with chili at 2:34 AM, they had it. With a Fosters beer, for some strange reason.

As an insomniac, wrote a lot of stuff there; a lot of The Men Made of Stone was done in front of greasy plates there.

That leaves me with two dive bars left in the UWS.

There’s this poem in Chinese I like that goes:

shao xiao li jia lao da hui, xiang yin wu gai bin mao shuai.
er tong xiang jian bu xiang shi ,xiao wen ke cong he chu lai.
少 小 离 家 老 大 回, 乡 音 无 改 鬓 毛 衰.
儿 童 相 见 不 相 识, 笑 问 客 从 何 处 来?

Basically, this dude leaves his hometown and comes back an old man for the first time in decades. He sees children playing and laughing – like he did with his childhood friends – but they’re not him, and they’re not his friends.

But they’re just like him and them when they were kids.

And they call out to him: Hello stranger! And it’s nostalgic and sad in the sense that he’s now a stranger in his own hometown – it doesn’t recognize him and he doesn’t recognize it.

I think one day I’ll leave here and everything will have changed and be like I remember it, but not.

Suppose that’s true anywhere.

More practically: Dammit, there’s no place else now to get a bagel, slice of pizza, foot-long hotdog, a side of gyro,  with chili and a Fosters Beer at 2:34 AM.

I wish some things stayed the same.

Not all. Just some.

In other news, went to see the folks last night. It looked and felt like spring.

Location: the UWS that’s changing too fast for me
Mood: busy
Music: Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
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Things to help me sleep / Insomnia is like alcoholism

I have a ritual I do to help me to sleep


You could pretty much sum up this entire blog with the following set of words:

  • Dating
  • Rum/Chili
  • Observations
  • Family
  • Insomnia

While the first four things are (generally) good things, that last one is assuredly not. It’s wretched misery.

Insomnia has been an unwelcome constant throughout my life but I had a breakthrough a few years ago when I started thinking of it being similar to alcoholism.

After all, an alcoholic has to accept that (a) he’s an alcoholic, (b) at any moment it can take over every aspect of his life, and (c) it’s not a personal thing – it affects everyone around him.

So it is with insomnia.

I still get invited to a lot of things; a by-product of my old credo to never turn down an invitation.

But do turn them down now. Because I have a set of rules to keep control of the insomnia.

I:

  • Have a curfew – anything that’s not an ebook reader is turned off by 10PM and I’m in bed by 10:30 PM.
  • Stop drinking anything with caffeine after 3PM.
  • Stop eating after 7PM.
  • Try to take a bath when I have time.
  • Read before bed and in bed. I also keep a book nearby to help.
  • Exercise at least four days a week. More if I have the time.
  • Take melatonin every night. Harder stuff if I need it.
  • Stretch and meditate/pray for a few minutes every night.
  • Keep a different types of blankets on hand so I’m always comfortable.
  • Keep my phone or something to write on next to my bed so I’m not awaking telling myself to remember something.

The good byproduct of my insomnia is that I speak rudimentary German, I often find chili waiting for me when I wake up, and I look pretty good for a 40 year old.

And the bad? Well, you know those invitations you send out on Facebook to be friends with someone? Many of those are unanswered.

Can’t blame them. I was a truly terrible person when I didn’t sleep. You know how short tempered and irritable you are when you haven’t slept?

That was the majority of the 90s and 2000s for me.

I want to say, I’m sorry. It wasn’t me, it was the lack of sleep.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s like alcoholism. It was me. It was the worst version of me, but it was me.

You can apologize all you want but in the end, you’re the one that chose to pick up the bottle. I’m the one that didn’t treat it like something that was ruining my life and people around me.

But like everything else, I’m trying to do better.

There’s slightly less chili in the house but it’s a fair trade. I’m down to about one terribly sleepless night a week.

Her: How’d you sleep?
Me: (grumble)

Location: gonna see El for dinner
Mood: achy
Music: think I’m breaking down and I’m afraid to sleep
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Laraha, Valencia, Curaçao, and Superman

Nurture versus Nature or Superman the Shoe Salesman

Nighttime Shot of Malaga Spain
After the Boston bombings, there were a number of people I knew that immediately spouted their conspiracy theories. And several of them argued that Americans somehow brought this upon themselves.

Of course, they are Americans but hold themselves separate and superior from the rest of us. Which is odd because several of them stopped formal education at high school.

The most recent events in London made me think of the whole nature versus nurture argument.

And oranges.

And Superman.

Because there’s this orange from Spain called the Valencia orange that’s supposed to amazingly delicious and sweet. They were hybridized in America from orange trees in Valencia, which in turn came from India.
Valencia Orange, picture from Wikipedia

Those same trees were planted on the island of Curaçao, where the soil there caused these delicious, sweet, bright orange, oranges to transform – on their own – into small, bitter, green, “oranges.” They turned into the Laraha fruit.

These fruit are so bitter that it’s said that goats on the island would rather starve to death than eat them.

Let me stop for a second and paraphrase a joke that I heard once, which says that: If Krypton never exploded and Kal-El/Superman stayed on the planet, what if he became a shoe salesman?

After all, he’s only Superman because he came here; home he would have been Al Bundy.

As the son of recent immigrants, I wonder about my possible pasts: what if we never came here from Taiwan? Who would I be, what would I be? It’s pure dumb luck, my lot in this world.

Turning back to the recent events of England, it was odd hearing the attackers speak clear British English. Is there some inherent glitch in people like this or is a unique combination of nature and nurture. I’m guessing that’s the case.

Wonder what these people’s  lives would had been had they not gone to the UK. And what then?

I’ve no answer.

Suppose not everything that heads off to distant lands become better with time, like rum.

Location: heading to the gym
Mood: muggy
Music: Who killed tangerine? The prettiest girl I’ve ever seen
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Insomnia and a day of meetings on tap

Another sleepless night

Had a bunch of things I wanted to write about but a particularly bad bout of insomnia this week has made it so that everything’s hazy. A copy of a copy of a copy.

Last night a car alarm kept my entire building awake as well so that was beyond irritating. Wanted to go outside with a sledgehammer.

Now I’ve got to slap myself awake and prep for a day of meetings from 11AM to 7:30PM. No fun.

In some ways, NYC and I are in an abusive relationship. She treats me terribly but her charms are enough that I stay. Some of us are just nighthawks, I suppose.

Apparently Billy Joel feels the same way too; check out this vid with him and a random Vanderbuilt college kid named Michael Pollock that wants to play the piano with him.

Here’s the thing: If you never ask, there’s zero chance you’ll get what you want. The risk one takes by opening the mouth and asking changes everything.

Everything good comes from the asking. Michael Pollock asked to play and Joel said yes.

Guess it’s time for another meeting.

Why yes, I will have another cup of coffee…

Mood: ex-fricken-hausted
Music: so easy livin’ day by day Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
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John Fairfax killed a shark too

The limits of our imagination are the limits of our world

Bagpipes

When we meet people, we often describe them by what they do – like The Accountant, or The Schoolteacher.

Suppose it’s because we’re all know by what we do. If that’s the case, then, we can choose what it is we are.

I think that people that meet me in one part of my life are surprised by the other parts. Those that know me as a fencing instructor are probably surprised I’m a lawyer. My real estate clients are probably surprised I write.

The thing is that – I feel – the more someone respects me for being a lawyer, the less they believe I can fence.

There’s something about people that find it impossible to believe that someone can excel at two things. Let alone three, or more.

This fella named John Fairfax once rowed across the Atlantic by himself in two months. Since that was pretty well-documented, no one had a problem believing that he did that.

The problem happened when he said that during his trip, a giant mako shark attacked him so he killed it with a knife.

A reporter with the Miami Herald scoffed at this part of the story, which so pissed Fairfax off that Fairfax rented a boat, poured fish blood into the water, waited for a shark to come, killed that shark, then dragged the shark’s dead body to the steps of the Miami Herald and dumped it there.

The moral of the story is people scoff all of time when they meet someone who does something out of their own view of the world. It’s like that saying I love: A frog in a well knows nothing of the ocean.

My buddy Johnny was the guy that first taught me how to fight – I mean really taught me. He just bought a $19 million building in midtown Manhattan. My wrasslin coach also has an Ivy League Ph.D in Japanese history.

People find it hard to believe things they feel they couldn’t do. Their world is limited by their own beliefs in their own abilities.

In other words, their understanding of the world is limited by their imagination.

It’s hard to constantly stretch our imagination as we get older but I try. It helps having friends that dream too.

With nods to Michel Gondry, I’m not a very good sleeper.

But I dream a lot.

Mood: amused
Music: should have said long ago: You don’t know me
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