Too little is better than too much

We know our own

We had a gas scare in the area that meant we were waiting for an all-clear for a while so I brought him with me to the supermarket.

I dunno why I’m unable to talk to him like he’s a kid. I just…can’t. I’ve never been around kids before.

Him: What does it mean that a banana’s not ripe?
Me: An unripe banana has large molecules called oligosaccharides which are too big to digest. When a banana ripens, those oligosaccharides break down into simpler glucose molecules that you can digest, which manifest as the brown dots on the skin, which – as you can see – are not there.
Him: What happens if you eat something that’s not ripe?
Me: Bad things, kiddo. Bad stomach things.
Him: Oh. Ok, papa.

As I write this out, all I can think is, “Hopefully, he’ll have friends.” Then again, I didn’t growing up and I turned out fine.

Fine(ish).

Mostly fine.

Alison thought I was great, albeit with a giant, giant head.

Speaking of friends, I’ve been helping a buddy with a new hobby; something that I used to do years ago but just stopped doing for a variety of reasons. But he loves it. He gave me a buzz today.

Him: I met one of our kind today.
Me: Get outta here. How?
Him: At the gym. I was just making small talk and I mentioned what I do in my spare time.
Me: And what did he say?
Him: (laughing) He said demons know their own.

On that note, my only friend in that life’s been MIA since COVID. Wanna know the crazy thing? I don’t even know his real name after 20 years.

How’s that for a kick in the head?

Finally, a girl I’ll call Curls is going to start teaching the kid to fight. I’ve been chatting with a ton of people – including two of the highest ranking people in kali – about how to train this boy to be safe.

And the grand poo-bah told me: Remember too little training is better than too much at that age.

He’s the main man so I took his word to heart. Plus, I think the kid’ll have more fun with Curls and Chad than me.

Between the friends and family, I wonder if I’m better with people around or not.

After all, men go crazy in congregations,…

Location: home, making steak for my son, who’d rather have a bologna sandwich
Mood: tired
Music: …they only get better one by one. (Spotify)
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Re-Assembling Things

Projects I didn’t want

After over 10 months, my son finally played with someone his own age the other day; a young girl named Izzy he met at the park.

It was sweet and unexpected; unexpected because he was scheduled to meet up with the ABFF’s kids over the weekend, and I assumed they’d be first. But, I suppose, like father, like son.

I wrote the ABFF before we left.

Me: What’s the food and alcohol situation like?
Her: Pizza. Corona Lite, Sweet Action, white vino.
Me: I’m down. We may be a bit after six but order me a slice or two as well.

One of the very last things that Alison and I did together was build the kid’s nursery.

She was super pregnant but so excited to welcome this kid into the world and have everything be just perfect. I did most of the building but she cleaned and assembled smaller things.

It’s one of the reasons that I was so reluctant to paint.

Alison bought this really great dresser that she spent days researching to make sure it fit just right and got good ratings. Unfortunately, the part that keeps the drawer from shooting out snapped just after everything went to hell.

I vaguely recall calling their customer service to buy that plastic part and the woman I spoke to said that I needed to buy the entire side of the dresser.

Me: So lemme get this straight, instead of being able to buy a dollar’s worth of plastic and metal, I need to buy an entire other side of the dresser, dismantle my entire dresser, and replace the side – which is fine – just to keep the drawer from flying out?
Her: Yes.
Me: Well, that sounds ridiculous. Would you do that?
Her: (laughing) No sir, I would not.

It was fine. This was during the craziness of Alison’s cancer so I was just careful. But, because the kid’s been away so long, I forgot about the drawer and pulled it too hard, causing the drawer to fly out and almost hit me. He was eating brekkie so he was fine but I decided to buy a new one that day.

I ended up just picking out a wider dresser that was the same height. Now, the day that the kid and I were supposed to see the ABFF, the new dresser arrived. Of course.

Unlike last time, I was going to have to put this together myself. I figured I’d head up to the ABFF’s, chill with them for a bit, and then come down and spend the remainder of the night putting it together.

But on the way out the door, Chad gave me a ring.

Him: Hey, I’m in your area and wanted to see if you wanted to get some food.
Me: Dude, I will buy you dinner if you’re willing to help me put together a dresser.
Him: Works for me.

I told the ABFF that I wouldn’t be staying, said hello to all the girls, and then dashed down where Chad and spent the next four hours trying to decipher some seriously bad directions.

It was pretty late so I told him to just go and I’d wrap things up – together, we did a solid 80% of everything that needed to get done so I just did the last 20% myself until late in the evening and then the rest the next day. It took most of the second day to put everything in place and clean the joint up.

The last thing I did was attach the dresser to the wall. Because Alison asked me to make the place childproof.

Her: Promise me that you’ll always keep him safe.
Me: Of course. And you know I never break a promise.
Her: I know, that why I married you and that’s why I asked.

And that’s also why it had to be the same height, so I could use the same mounting bracket to attach it to the wall.

It was super sad. Everything changes on me when I wish I could just have some stability and sense in the world.

On that note, my mother-in-law keeps telling me to take apart the crib and put it away but I’ve been resisting it.

Alison took a picture of me building it on September 13, 2015, at 6:35PM.

Somehow, in my head, I kept thinking that maybe I’d be able to give the kid a baby sister or brother somehow but that seems unlikely. So, I guess that’s my next project.

Soon. Really.

Location: home, sitting in the front room staring at all the changes
Mood: reluctantly accepting
Music: he tried to reassemble it (Spotify)
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It’s spring in January

It isn’t hell

Speaking of FOMO and not caring, last year I threw Chad and Mouse a joint bday party but this year, Chad just swung by on his actual bday and I just got the two of us a massive amount of Vietnamese food.

Him: Somehow, they knew it was my birthday and gave me two cans of coke.
Me: (puzzled) Yeah – I told them.
Him: Oh…

He only recently started getting a taste for good alcohol so I taught him how to make Hemmingway’s favourite drink, the daiquiri. At least, my version of it.

We pounded about four of them each and just discussed his new hobby, which is a wholly different conversation.

Me: I baked cupcakes.
Him: Thanks!
Me: They’re mainly for the kid, but I saved you one for your born day.
Him: I’ll take it.

Another friend stopped by this week; she was just in the city to train but the gym wasn’t open that day so I invited her to come here to shower and clean up.

Me: Do you want brekkie?
Her: Oh, I couldn’t…
Me: (rolling eyes) You’re a guest, are you hungry?
Her: I could eat.
Me: A heart-attack sandwich it is then.

Like I said, I have no shortage of friends. It’s the shortage of family that weighs on me the most.

Speaking of family, do you know the Roman/Greek myth of the seasons centers around family?

Essentially, the goddess Ceres – from whom we get the word “cereal” – was the goddess of grain and harvest. Her daughter, Proserpina, was kidnapped by Pluto and she refused to allow anything to grow until her child was returned.

Eventually, she was, but Proserpina had eaten six pomegranate seeds and, because of that, had to live in hell for six months out of the year.

During this time, Ceres despaired and so came winter until her child was back and spring could return again.

The boy came home this week – after all this time – and it was spring once again, at least in a tiny UWS apartment.

Me: He’s home!!!
Him: (inspecting the house) The bathroom’s dirty. Grandma’s bathroom is cleaner.
Me: (laughing) Everyone’s a critic. Also, to be fair, no one’s bathroom is as clean as grandma’s…

Ridic easy daquiri
One shot of light rum
1/2 a lime, freshly squeezed
1.5-2 TBS agave
Soda water
ice

Squeeze half a lime into a highball and mix in the agave and shot of rum until it’s thoroughly blended. Fill the highball halfway with ice and then the remainder with soda water. Gently stir to combine. Pound.

Repeat until every person of the opposite sex looks beautiful.

Location: home, without any rum but plus one boy
Mood: tired but content
Music: It’s so cruel what your mind can do (Spotify)
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Hell isn’t hell if you’re there too

I’m the dumb girl

Don’t think I’ve ever spent a New Year’s Eve completely alone.

In 2006, I went to a restaurant around the way with Alison called Citrus. It’s now called Playa Betty.

In 2016, I spent it in the hospital with Alison. As I did on 2015. She felt bad I was spending New Year’s Eve with her there.

Her: You should be out there having fun. Or at least be with our son.
Me: Heaven wouldn’t be heaven if you weren’t there and hell wouldn’t be hell if you were. You’re here, I’m here. It’s how it’s supposed to be.

That was her; even with cancer, she was worried about me and my happiness.

This year, the most social I got was that my good friend Angel from Hong Kong dropped me a little message and I chatted with my friends around the way, whom I’ve spent the last few New Years‘ with.

Mouse dropped by with some flowers and tried to get me to see people, but I just wasn’t in the mood. Lviv dropped me a nice note, too.

Me: You feel good about this new year?
Her: I felt good being at home with family. I never had a chance to spend NYE in New York but this year, I didn’t have that FOMO feeling.

I suppose that’s it; there’s nothing to miss out on. I’m not lonely because I’m alone; I’m lonely because I don’t have my family.

So, I guess everything was how it was supposed to be.

On that note, here’s the saddest happy song in the world.

The girl keeps hoping the guy will get better but the guy knows he won’t be there to keep her company and feels terrible about it:

Soon you’ll be alone, sorry that you have to lose me

That was Alison. She wasn’t so much sad to go, as she was sad to leave me and the boy.

And I was the dumb girl in the song thinking everything would be ok.

Me: Happy New Year, Alison. I wish you were here.

 

Location: home, without any more rum
Mood: sober
Music: I don’t know why this has happened, (Spotify)
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My 2020 Xmas

Christmas with my son

I saw my family for Xmas by way of mass transit and my sister-in-law.

When I got there, the boy was happy to see me but, perhaps, more anxiously awaiting the arrival of St. Nick.

I, however, was waiting for some delicious food…

Me: Even though it’s daytime, do you want to drink?
Sister-in-law: It’s Christmas – yes!

…which came rather quickly.

The place was all decked out for the holidays…

…and there was the prettiest girl by the fire.

But nonea that stopped the boy from waiting…

…and waiting…

…until he finally had to go to bed, like all little children do on Christmas Eve.

He somehow managed to sleep through the thunderstorm and the night, though. Patience paid off, though, because the next day, there were gifts waiting for him.

He got to pretend to be a scientist, among other things.

We adults played some board games. Did I ever tell you that I was on Cash Cab?

We had some antipasti to keeps us all fat and happy through Christmas Day.

And then it was time to go home. Mouse picked me up.

There’s more, I suppose, but that’s all I wanted to share.

Location: home, alone
Mood: super lonely
Music: It’s a mad world (Spotify)
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The 2020 Christmas Spirit

Bit of a Grinch

Son: But I don’t want to get a shot.
Me: Kid, no one wants to get a shot. But we do what we have to do to keep the people we love safe. Do you want to keep Mouse, Grandma, and Grandpa safe?
Him: (hesitatingly) Yes.
Me: Then you have to get a shot.
Him: (nodding sadly) OK. If you say so.

The kid was due for his annual checkup so Mouse picked me up and we went off to NJ to get him. It was so nice to have him home, if only for a bit.

We even put up the Christmas tree together. This is him putting up the first ornament.

It was the one that Alison I got together all those years ago. We even put it in the same place.

I told him the story of each of the ornaments that Alison and I got for each other. Well, I tried to at least.

Me: And this one…and this one…
Mouse: (gently) Do you want to go to the back room for a second?
Me: Yes.
Her: (turning to the boy) That was a special ornament. Your mom got it for your dad and you because she loved you both so much.

The boy was really brave at the doctor’s office. Impatient, even. I like to think that too was born of love.

Him: I just want my shot now.
Doctor: Oh! (to me) Do you want the shot or nasal spay?
Me: I was unaware the latter was an option. Heck, yeah we’ll take the nasal spray!

The boy was puzzled but – ultimately – thrilled, of course, that he didn’t need a shot. Because he was so ready to take the shot, I still gave him the chocolate I promised him.

Him: But I didn’t get the shot.
Me: You weren’t going to get chocolate because you got a shot, you were going to get chocolate because you were brave. You get points in life for being brave.
Him: Yay!!!

It was hard bringing him back. He’s mine. I want him here with me.

Speaking of thinking that Mouse is great – and catching up with people during the holidays – I also got a chance to catch up with KG Betty.

Me:…and now you’re caught up to everything.
Her: I have to say, I’m on Mouse’s side here.
Me: I can see that.

The boy’s doctor was right by the ABFF’s pad so I rang her but we missed each other. But we made up for it because she swung by with her sister, kids, and a bottle of rum in tow.

They actually sang – and danced to – Feliz Navidad outside my door in their matching jammies.

Me: (laughing) This is how people get arrested in NYC.
Daughter: Do you or Mouse want some candy?
Me: We do! But we won’t take any.
ABFF: Get into the Christmas spirit!

She was right; I suppose I’m a bit of a grinch these days as Christmas makes me feel probably the opposite of what I should be feeling.

Then again, I’m probably not the only one.

Me: Wanna watch the news? See if we still live in a democracy?
Mouse: Hold on, I gotta finish all this bullshit gift shopping first.
Me: Well, if that’s not the 2020 Christmas spirit, I dunno what is.

Location: my empty apartment, doing some bullshit gift shopping of my own
Mood: missing the boy
Music: Take a shot in the rain, one for the pain (Spotify)
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One car ride, five trains…

…and one short walk

After we finished dinner and cleaned up, I gave the boy a bath and helped him get to bed. He wanted me to stay but I told him I couldn’t.

I understand how hard it is for a parent to tell a child no for something they both want.

Well, now I do, I mean. It’s something I don’t think I ever fully appreciated before.

Her mom drove me to the train station to head home. We talked in the car.

Earlier that night, I imitated Alison’s voice and some of her mannerisms and her mom laughed because I got it right. That’s a nice memory for me to have. Alison woulda laughed too.

We all miss her terribly.

At the train station, there were three girls trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the tracks because the train was arriving in five minutes. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know where my phone was.

After four minutes of frantic searching, I had my mother-in-law call it and found I had dropped it when I stepped out of the car. We could hear the train approaching.

Her: Grab it and go, I’ll stay in case you miss it.
Me: OK, thanks!

I ran breathlessly to the other side of the train tracks where the three girls from earlier looked at me quizzically.

They must’ve wondered why I waited until the very last minute to get there.

The first leg of the trip was quiet, as my trips go. A guy was trying to pick up a girlie but otherwise, the train was empty.  It’s always empty when I travel these days.

But Mouse kept me company via messages, though.

I was still thinking of Alison and everything when I got out at Newark Penn Station to transfer to the other train when I noticed two signs.

The first said that the train to Penn Station was cancelled; the next one was in 22 minutes.

The second sign said that there was a PATH train leaving in two minutes. Made a snap  judgement, took out my Metrocard, and caught the PATH train just as the doors were closing.

Unfortunately, it was headed to the World Trade Center, way south of my pad. So, when I got to Jersey City, I transferred to a second PATH train to Hoboken, Alison’s old town.

I took that to 33rd Street and transferred to the N train.

Got off that and transferred to the red line. Then I walked to my pad.

One car ride, five trains, and one short walk later I was home.

Harold. I’m back,” I said.

He didn’t answer me. He never does.

Just need to make it past New Year’s and I’m good for five months.

Easy.

Location: my empty home
Mood: bad again
Music: got a ticket to ride but she don’t care (Spotify)
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Sharing Thanksgiving traditions

Not an unreasonable ask

Mother-in-law: You prefer dark meat, right? Legs and thighs?
Me: Yup.
Her: Good, because they’re all yours – we all prefer chicken breasts.
Me: Sweeeeeeet.

Mouse gave me a lift to see the boy and Alison’s family the day before Thanksgiving.

She’s been working non-stop since she started her new gig so I essentially drove while she conducted an interview in the passenger seat via her laptop. It was pretty impressive, I gotta say.

The boy ran out and gave me this huge hug and I could tell he wanted to give Mouse one as well but we all agreed that, while he was with my in-laws, there couldn’t be any physical contact with anyone.

So they stayed socially distant and chatted for a bit before she had to leave. She was only there for a few minutes before she made the long trek home.

The timing worked out perfectly because my sister-in-law was staying over Thanksgiving night so I had the guest room to myself that night.

A slight negative was that Mouse and I got into another argument on the phone after everyone went to bed, but, like the last one, it wasn’t a bad one.

Her: I just wish we could disagree on things without it becoming a war every time.
Me: That’s not an unreasonable ask. I’ll try to do better.

She’s just great, honestly. But I suppose that’s a post for another time.

Sister-in-law: How are you still eating?
Me: I believe in myself. Tonight, I’m carbing out like mad.

One silly but meaningful thing about Alison was that she told me that her family had three roasted chickens instead of turkey for Thanksgiving – cause no one really liked turkey.

I remember that I told that to my mom shortly after Alison and I had our first Thanksgiving together and my mother’s reaction was priceless.

Mom: Wait, can you do that?
Me: It’s not like you get arrested if you don’t have turkey. We should do that too – no one likes turkey here either.
Her: Really?!

Ever since then, we didn’t have turkey either. I like that, having a little shared tradition with my families.

As an aside, Mouse’s family doesn’t do turkey either.

Like at my house, I carved the chicken. I figure they know I can handle a knife.

Sister-in-law: (to my son) Do you want pie a la mode? That means pie with ice cream.
Him: Yes!
Her: Which one do you want? Pumpkin or Apple pie?
Him: Pumpkin!
Me: Then I’ll have the apple pie and we can try each other’s.
Him: OK!

The boy sang to me the entire time I was there. Although, to be fair, he sang to everyone.

Heading home was the start a ridiculous 2.5 hour adventure, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Location: in my head again
Mood: a bit better
Music: I’ll often stop and think about them (Spotify)
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Not for better

These memories lose their meaning

Son: I like that song.
Me: (nodding slowly) I love that song. I always think of your mom when I hear it.
Him: (laughing) Papa…you sound funny.

I went to see the boy for Thanksgiving. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

While I was there, we went for a drive and we were playing the Beatles when In my Life came on. That picture above is him singing some Beatles songs in Alison’s childhood driveway.

Exactly a decade earlier, I wrote a blog entry about that song and I mentioned that Alison/Heartgirl and I went to my parents for Thanksgiving. She always went home for the holiday but she came with me to mine. Because she loved me so.

My father was there. I remember he was happy to have Alison and me there. That’s Alison laughing at the face I was making.

We played board games – Taboo – after dinner. Alison loved playing board games. Games of all types, actually.

That’s her with the buzzer ready to buzz in my ear in case I messed up.

That was the first Thanksgiving my entire family was together. It was also the last. The boy’s never been with everyone and never will. Shit, fuck me.

I loved her so. I loved my father so.

I hate the holidays so.

Me: (clearing throat, forcing smile) Oh, I just had something in my throat. I love you the most, you know?
Him: I love you too, papa.
Me: Thank you.
Him: (laughing) You sound funny again!
Me: (nodding)

In my life
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I’ll love you more
In my life I’ll love you more

Location: hell
Mood: not well
Music: In my life I’ll love you more (Spotify)
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I want to have an argument

We’re about to find out

Her: How spicy is Sundubu-jjigae?
Me: We’re about to find out.

We’d just left the studio and she was ok but I was still really hungry. Since she’s on a mostly meat-diet, we ended up heading over to a Korean joint in Billyburg.

As for the answer to her question above, it turns out – at least for her – pretty spicy. Luckily, we also got some sashimi and some Korean tacos in honor of Pac.

We asked the waitress to take a picture of us and she tried her best. This is the best shot of the lot that she took.

At least she was very nice.

Afterward, we headed home. As we pulled up in front of my pad, she asked me if we could have an argument.

Me: OK.
Her: Look, I’m ok with things not being defined but I’m impressed how long you can be with things not being defined.
Me: Like you said, we seem to get along better when we’re not together.

It was raining so hard in NYC that night that we got a tornado warning. Which kinda matched what was going on inside her whip.

But, all-in-all, it was nice actually, chatting arguing with her under the stormy rain.

Sometimes you need a little rain to clear things up.

Afterward, I thanked her for the ride and all the company.

Me: It’s getting late, you should head home.
Her: Yeah.
Me: So, where are we now?
Her: I guess I’ll just see you later on this week.
Me: That’d be nice. See you then.

And then I went home and sat on my white couch thinking about all my possible pasts again.

It was actually wasn’t just my conversation with Mouse that got me thinking, but also a conversation Chad and I had in between shoots.

It reminded me of something I wrote just before Alison got sick.

Me: You know…my life is nuthin at all like what I thought it would five years ago. Or ever. Everything’s such a mess. It’s hard not to think about what could have been.
Him: I know this isn’t what you wanted, but you’re doing the best you can. If nothing else, your son will think he’s got a cool dad.
Me: I hope so. That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing this. I hope you’re right.

Location: home, waiting out the storm
Mood: hopeful
Music: I know, somewhere deep in my soul, that love never lasts (Spotify)

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