Salvaging broken things

The Gymgirl did my family a kindness

Me: What are you doing?
Her: Nothing…

The weather’s been absolutely brutal here in the City. It’s made my injury, which was (kinda) getting better, excruciating.

I was out today because I put in a bid for a portfolio of work that I wasn’t expecting to win and yet I did. So, suddenly, I find myself working again as if nothing’s happened in the past three years. And yet, so much has.

On that note, the boy accidentally broke the little grey ceramic owl from this entry, and crushed a little part of me at the same time.

But you can’t get mad at a toddler for being a toddler.

Still, I remember when Alison bought them for his room, before he was born. I teased her about her obsession with owls.

In any case, I was so busy that day that I didn’t have time to mourn the loss of it, though it stayed in the back of my mind.

The Gymgirl was here when the owl broke and she swept up the pieces. I assumed that she threw them away but I found out that she saved them.

When I came home the other night, I found her sitting at the table with some epoxy and all the pieces trying to glue them all together.

Ultimately, she did and put the grey owl back where it belonged in the boy’s room.

I loved those owls because Alison got them for the boy – because she loved him even before he was born. And now also because the Gymgirl did something so kind for us.

I once said that kindness is valuable because it’s so rare. I value kindness above all other traits because it’s such an attractive quality. It’s why I loved Alison so.

As for the Gymgirl, she has an uncanny knack for salvaging broken things. A boy could fall for a girl like her.

Because, like I said, all good relationships have these secret kindnesses that keep people together.

Me: Thank you. (thinking) That means a lot to me.
Her: It’s no big deal. (shrugging) It’s not perfect but I think it’s good.
Me: No, it’s perfect. Thank you.

Location: Antartica, I think
Mood: freezing but happy with my owls
Music: When they say only fools rush in, then I may be foolish
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All grown-ups were once children…

…but only few of them remember it

Me: (in LA making an early reservation) We’re the only people of our age that eat this early.
Gymgirl: (laughing) “Our age?!” There is no “our age.” We’re almost two decades apart on age.
Me: Well, this trip is ruined.

Now that I finally finished up my LA Travelogue, we can get back to the mundane day-to-day.

Didn’t do anything beyond try to catch up sleep for New Year’s Eve. Some other stuff happened but that’s an entry for some other time.

There’s a stomach bug going around NYC. Both the Gymgirl and the kid caught it in a spectacular fashion.

Her: (holding the boy) This is number three. We’re running out of clean sheets for him.
Me: I’ll figure out what to do about the bed, can you take care of him again?
Her: (looking down at her clothes, covered in vomit) Sure, I’ve got a whole system now.

She’s been really wonderful with the kid, and with me.

Me: I mentioned Alison a lot in the blog recently, I hope you don’t mind.
Her: (shakes head) I never mind.

I feel Alison would approve; in some ways, the Gymgirl treats him a lot more like Alison would than I do in that she’s strict but kind whereas I’m the softie.

Her: You’re clearly the weakest link. And he knows it.
Me: He’s my little guy!
Her: See! Weakest link…

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whom I mention in this blog quite often, once said that, All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.

Me: I dunno if he’ll like that.
Her: He will. You don’t remember your childhood, because you’re ancient. I still do.
Me: That’s hurtful

But I think bullied children, for better or worse, remember their childhoods quite clearly.

Again, the trick is figuring out which parts of your past to bring with you to your future.

It’s part of why I try not to mention the kid too much.

Because I want him to have his own story, separate from mine, Alison’s, and the Gymgirl’s. I don’t wanna give him the baggage of countless pictures and stories that he may or may not want out there in the world.

I remember my mom and dad – who were always proud of me – showing off pictures and stories about me.

I remember hating that, the way all kids hate things like that.

I made my own mistakes and lived my own life and I want him to be able to live his as well, without me trying to live it for him.

Which is not to say that I don’t wanna talk about him all the time. Because I love him like a fat kid loves cake. More, even.

Me: (worried) Is he ok?
Her: Go to sleep Logan, I’ll stay with him.
Me: Maybe I should stay.
Her: I can sleep anywhere, you know that. I’ll sleep on the couch, next to him. (gently) Go. I got this.

Location: last night, surrounded by wet laundry at 1AM
Mood: so tired
Music: Salt on my baby’s cheek
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Days 5 & 6

It’s good to be home


We grabbed some food and coffee around the Avalon Hotel for Christmas eve right before checkout.

Her: The coffee was free!
Me: Why?
Her: (shrugging) Christmas?

And then had some traditional Christmas Persian food.

But we got in one last swim pool before we got ready to go.

The Gymgirl has an odd way to sunbathe:

Afterward, we met up with my brother and his girl for dinner at a Chinese joint near him.

Him: I think we ordered too much food.
Me: I don’t think so. The Gymgirl and I eat a lot.
Him: Why don’t we see if the food we already ordered is enough.
Me: (30 minutes later) I think we need more food.
The Gymgirl: We need more food.
Me: See?

The owner gave us a calendar for the new year.

The rest of the night was them singing karaoke. Everyone else had a good singing voice so I just let them sing while I enjoyed it.

Me: Sing for me, you singing monkeys!
Brother: (laughing) Why would you say such a thing?

The next day was Christmas. We woke up super late and the Gymgirl and I exchanged presents.

Me: Do you like it?
Her: I love it! No on has ever bought me anything like this.
Me: (laughing) Good. I like to be first.

Her gift to me was at home as it arrived late but she got me some Firefly-related things to tide me over.

My brother’s girl also got us a gift; a tiny waffle maker.

Girlfriend: It’s just a little something.
Me: It’s the perfect size for the kid. Thanks! Shoot, we didn’t get you anything…

Later, the Gymgirl and I went for a walk to do some reconnaissance and see what was open for dinner. We decided on some Thai food, followed by some coffee.

The rest of the night, we all played board games, like Midnight Taboo, which kinda made me realize how much The Gymgirl and I thought alike.

Me: Our friend V is covered in…
The Gymgirl: Tatoos!
Me: Yes!
Brother: What the heck?!

We woke up the next morning and stopped by Lucky Boy, the greasy spoon I went to the last time I was in town, for some brekkie before heading to the airport.

Unlike the trip there, the trip back went completely smoothly. When we landed, we took a cab home that was only five days old.

Me: This is the nicest cab I’ve ever been in. And I’m a native New Yorker. Can I take a picture of it?
Driver: But of course!

We got home and I sighed yet again.

The last time I went to California, Alison ran out to greet me when I returned by shouting, “He’s home, Logan’s home!

This time, as it was so late, it was completely quiet when we got back.

So I turned to the Gymgirl and said, “We’re home.”

“Yes,” she said, nodding, and putting down her bag, “it’s good to be home.”

Location: in front of screens all day
Mood: super busy
Music: Just tell me if you wanna go home
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Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Bearing the weight

Boy: Papa, it’s raining.

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you sleep in your room. You’re almost three. I’ve written you twice before. I should write you more.

I’ve been sleeping better lately. I dream a lot but I’m a terrible sleeper. Your mother didn’t have this problem. I hope, in this regard, you take after her.

There are things that I hope you’ll take from me, and things I hope you’ll take from her.

The most important thing I want you to take from both us is the ability to bear the weight of the world.

If you ever read through this blog, I want you to tell you two things:

  1. Papa probably made up most of it; and,
  2. I talk about bearing things, quite a bit.

I always thought I could bear more pain – emotional and otherwise – than most. Then I met your mother.

She was, and remains, the bravest and strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never met anyone who bore as much as she did.

I hope never to meet another, because to watch it is soul-crushing.

The first time your mother and I spoke on the phone, she was unkind to me. But she immediately called me to apologize and ask how she could make it better.

I told her, “You get points in life for being brave.” I think I loved her at that moment. There is nothing more attractive than bravery.

You’ll meet a lot of people in this life that have all the trappings of bravery: They yell the loudest, act the craziest, threaten the most. They are many things, but they are not brave.

The truth is, we are made in our sleep and by our lonely. Bravery is quiet and happens when no one looks or notices.

And bravery requires you to bear things you don’t wanna: Disappointment, pain, ridicule, and loss.

We’ve lost so much, you and I.

There will be times when you can’t bear it any more and you’ll want to cry.

I want you to remember that rain happens when clouds can’t bear the weight they carry.

Likewise, tears happen when people can’t bear the weight they carry. So put it down and cry for a bit.

It’s ok to cry. Papa cries a lot when no one looks or notices. Papa carries a lotta weight, you see.

Anyway, once you’re done crying, you pick up the weight again. Because life is nothing if not bearing the weight of the world.

The world will teach you things like anger, greed, hatred, and cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I’m so sorry. I wish so many things were different.

But here – in the four walls of our small Manhattan apartment – I’ll try and teach you curiosity, patience, and kindness. With those things and bravery, you’ll be able to bear the world.

And always remember that you get points in life for being brave.

Love,

Pop

Me: Yes. The clouds can’t bear the weight anymore. But it’s ok. They will again and then it’ll be sunny again.
Him: Sunny again… I like the sun. (thinking) Papa doesn’t like the sun.
Me: (laughing) That’s not wrong.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

Location: home with the boy
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I love you oh so well
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Halloween 2018

The Nightmare Before New Year’s Day


It’s Halloween.

Thought about my first Halloween with Alison the other day. It was exactly 10 years ago today. That’s her shoulder in the pic at the bottom of this entry. She dyed her hair brown.

When everything went down in 2015, I remember thinking a lot about the movie title, The Nightmare before Christmas. That’s exactly what it was.

Can’t properly express to you the depth of the sadness and anxiety we all felt then. Probably for the best.

I remember hearing ages ago that Vincent Price was supposed to be Santa in the film but his wife passed away and he was “so grief-stricken that the director felt he sounded too sad for Santa.”

Man, I totally get that. I was a zombie for years while Alison was sick and continued after she passed. I was a shadow of myself.

Halloween fills me with a dread. Cause it’s the start of the holiday season.

My son was supposed to be born around Halloween but he wasn’t so Alison took a walk around the neighborhood that day.

She took these pictures in this entry.

She was so happy that day. She was in love, pregnant, and about to be a mother. Everything she ever wanted. And it all turned to shit a week later.

I worried for a while that the boy would feel my grief but I wear my painted faces in front of him to hide it as best I can.

Time’ll tell if it worked.

In any case, today, I’m going to dress up the boy and myself for Halloween. The Gymgirl’s coming too.

At the end of the day, I’ll take off my costume but I’ll keep my painted face on until New Year’s Day, so the kid doesn’t know how much I hate the holidays.

And I do so hate the holidays. Dunno if that’ll ever change.

Location: 2015, in my head
Mood: crestfallen
Music: Painted faces, fill the places I can’t reach
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Here until you’re ready

I lost my father this time last year

My father was supposed to teach the kid how to make sushi.

He was supposed to teach him Chinese and Japanese.

He was supposed to explain pi to him.

He was supposed to show him how to make eggs.

And he was supposed to show me stuff too. He was supposed to tell me how to be a good father.

I have an indescribable hole in my person, not having him or Alison here to help me with the boy. It’s like a Schrödinger’s cat paradox: I’ll never know who the boy woulda been in the presence of them, with their influence. Nor will I know what kinda father I woulda been with them here.

When you take someone away, you’re never the same person that you woulda been if they were there.

It’s a feeling of despairing empty grief that I can only describe like this: Imagine you spent the day making dinner for someone you love. All that excitement and preparation. They’re late. And then you get a phone call that starts, “Mr. Lo? I’m calling about your father. I’m sorry, but…”

Except it’s every moment of every day, twice as bad after dusk, and exponentially more on the 24th. That’s the day I lock myself in my apartment alone and put on my real face. The one the boy’s never seen.

They were both supposed to be here, Alison and my dad. Nuthin is like it was supposed to be. All our beautiful plans

I miss my dad. I miss my family. I made this goddamn dinner and no one’s here for it.

I wasn’t ready.

Fuck all, I’m never ready.

Me: (running in) What’s wrong?
Him: (quietly) I want papa.
Me: Are you afraid?
Him: (nods)
Me: (lying down next to crib) Don’t be afraid, Nate. I’m here. (sticks hand into crib, boy takes it) I’ll stay here until you fall asleep, ok?
Him: OK, papa. (closes eyes)
Me: (on the floor) Life is sweet, in spite of the misery. I’m here. And I’ll be here until you’re ready.

Location: with a large glass of mint-flavored whiskey thanks to the day and yet another scare. It’s always something.
Mood: hollowed
Music: It’s a crying shame. Who pulled you down again?
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The Captain and the Kid

Having Tea with the Kid

Me: I love you, kid.
Him: I love you too, papa.

Holy s__tballs! Well, this was the best night this month, which, let’s be honest, is a low bar.  Not gonna lie, I might’ve wept a little. Just a bit.

Got no one to share it with, so I share it with you.


Speaking of the kid, I try not to write about him cause I always try to remember what it was like when I was a kid: I didn’t want to be discussed and dissected in public.

But now I get why my parents did it. Cause parents love their kids so much that they wanna talk about them and show them off.

So I allow myself a post every so often.

When my sister-in-law brought him home the other day, the song Clocks came on and he knew all the words and that the band was “cold.”

No idea where he picked that up from; she had no idea either.* Kids are really like sponges.

A song I’ve been listening to a lot is a song called Imaginary Tea about a dad writing about having imaginary tea time with his daughter.

I loved you before I heard ever heard your voice
Before I even knew your name
I loved you before I saw those pretty eyes
I loved you right away

That’s precisely how I feel about the kid and if ever there was a song that summed up parenthood, it’s this song.

Speaking of parents and parenthood, the one-year anniversary of my dad passing will be this Friday.

The kid’ll be away and I’ll be locked in my room with my half-bottle of rum, which is all that’s left of the rum from the cruise.

Last year, I had people around. This year, it’s just me and Captain Morgan.

Holy s__tballs (again). What an awful month this has been.

Then again, everything around me seems to go to hell. I’ll take it, though, if that means the kid’ll be ok. Alison woulda felt the same way.

We’d suffer any sling and arrow if the kid’s ok.

Me: Do you wanna hear that song again?
Him: (nodding) Yes, papa.
Me: OK!

*edit: My mother-in-law told me they listen to the album in the car; mystery solved!

Location: surrounded by dishes
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made
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No place to go

Loss and threat of loss

ABFF: I read about the breakup and your insomnia, are you ok?
Me: Strictly, speaking, I haven’t been ok since November 8, 2015. But I’ll survive. After all, that’s what I do, right?

Wrote once that anxiety is fear of the hypothetical. But if you look at it from the fear side of the equation, there are really only two types of anxiety:

  1. Fear of loss
  2. Fear of the threat of loss

I’ve dealt with the horrible realization of some of the worst fears any human being can imagine. Repeatedly. And whenever I thought no horror could top what I was experiencing, life was like: Not done with you yet, man.

On a smaller scale, some fears regarding the Gymgirl were realized recently. As I said, everyone’s grief is grief to them, even when they’ve dealt with the worst-of-the-worst for so long.

After all, I adored the girl.

This blogger named Jamie Anderson wrote:

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.

The start of my insomnia was actually because the father of one of my oldest and dearest friends just passed away, in a similarly horrifying and grotesque way. I actually fell to my knees when I heard. Literally, my knees buckled. Because I knew everything he was feeling and felt it with him.

What happened with the Gymgirl happened the very next day and just added fuel to the fire.

Agony plus grief is, well, just a lotta f__king grief.

I sent my buddy the quote above in the hopes that understanding grief would make it a little more bearable. It did for me. Kindasortamaybe.

The plus side of this type of grief is clarity, i.e., the disappearance of anxiety. My buddy, I hope, has some peace cause the hypothetical becomes concrete.

Although, I’m sure he, like I, wish it were all concrete in the opposite direction. Then again, I wish for a lotta things. Like I wish I sold my bitcoin back at 20K.

For me, I now know all this information that I never knew before about my relationship with the Gymgirl. She knew, I didn’t, rather.

If nothing else, this new info allows me to see things in a different light, and that’s somehow better. Somehow.

Her: I’m sorry, Logan. You don’t have time for this.
Me: (dismissively) Don’t worry about me, I’ve been through this, so many times, before. Sometimes you’re the dumper, sometimes you’re the dumpee. I’ve always said that I prefer being the dumpee if given the choice.
Her: Why?
Me: (shrugging) Cause there’s nothing for me to do but take my ball and go home. Now she and I both know what’s in the other person’s head. It’s too bad we weren’t listening to each other this whole time.

Him: [The Gymgirl] sounded great. Can’t you two work it out?
Me: (rolling eyes) How do I do that? Make a 15-slide powerpoint presentation that starts: Reason 1 that the kid and I should be enough…? That’s not how it works. She’s an adult, I gotta respect the choices she makes. But there is an upshot to alla this.
Him: What’s that?
Me: (thinking) I now know that I can feel something for someone again that’s not Alison. That’s eye-opening. Was always worried that it would just be a parade of randos that I’d have to somehow explain to the boy.
Him: (amused) So, no parade of randos?
Me: Well, I didn’t say that. The boy has his own room, I could always…
Him: (laughing, interrupting) I’ve seen your powerpoint presentations. You should consider that first, Logan.

Gradgirl once told me: I could never love someone that wasn’t in love with me.

That was good advice.

I joke about the parade of randos but some people leave a deeper mark on my life than I care to admit.

Location: on a white couch with the boy
Mood: okay
Music: we are fools. Throw our lives away, for one happy day
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How did you sleep?

Alison made for the world

There’s a train track that passes under 149th Street between Roosevelt and 41st Avenues in Queens.

When I was a fat kid, another boy once told me that he would kill me.

Don’t remember why; do remember that I believed him.

I was terrified. To the point that I seriously contemplated hurling myself in front of that train to avoid that.

Remembered wondering what I should wear. How odd.

Suppose all bullied kids have had similar thoughts. It’s unbearably sad to me when I hear of one going through with it. And yet depression and suicide have made regular appearances in my life, not just with me but with those close to me.

Never had the nerve to make that final cut. A good thing.

The oddest thing about Alison’s passing is that, since at least March, I’ve gone in the opposite direction.

I’m terrified about getting injured or, even worse, dying. Need to survive to take care of the boy. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before – the need to survive – not even for Alison when we were deliriously in love.

Alison used to tell me alla time that she loved me like a fat kid loves cake. That always made me laugh.

Alison loved me. But she didn’t need me. Didn’t want her to.

(When Alison was pregnant and before the cancer)
Her: What if I need you?
Me: You don’t. I don’t want you to. You need to take care of the kid. A boy needs his mama.

And he still does. But she’s not here. Wish she was with ever atom in my body but she’s not.

I am, though. Man, I was supposed to be the backup if everything went to hell. Everything went to hell.

Now I’m it cause this kid needs me. Like, he literally cannot survive without me.

Nuthin – no one – has ever truly needed me before like he does now.

I’ve never felt such a heavy and awesome responsibility before. It’s terrifying, really. It’s as terrifying to me as that bully that threatened to kill me.

Yet, each morning, I push all of it to the side of my mouth.

Each morning, it’s the same: I wake up to the sound of him on the baby monitor: Papa! Daddy! Papa!

Each morning, I wish he was calling for her.

And each morning I get up, stagger to his door, take a deep breath, and straighten up. I smile my widest smile and say in the happiest, most awake voice I can muster as I open his door:

Good morning! How did you sleep?!

Him: (laughs) Papa! Daddy! (jumps up and down furiously in the bed, laughing)

And I think: God, I love this little person that Alison made for the world.

I love him like a fat kid loves cake. More, even.

Location: insomniaville
Mood: terrified
Music: I can barely define the shape of this moment in time
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It’ll never be ok

Just like that, I’m back

Woman: Mister. Mister. Are you ok?
Me: No.

This past week, I had a number of clients and friends contact all at once.
I’ve not really worked in any meaningful capacity in almost three years. But I’m right back as if nothing happened.

And yet, so much has happened.

Had a meeting on the Upper East Side with my buddy Steele’s wife for some work the other day and I’ve always prided myself on always being punctual.

She was on East 80th Street so I took the train to East 77th and got off.

When the train pulled into the station, I was so concerned about being on time that it didn’t occur to me that I’d been there. So many goddamn times.

I forgot that’s where the hospital was. The last hospital we went to.

As I walked up the stairs, saw it and my knees buckled. Ended up sitting on the stairs as I tried to catch my breath.

For those of you that know me in real life, that know my aversion to germs and dirt, picture me wearing one of my suits and sitting on a subway stairwell.

It was surreal.

Passerbys asked me if I was ok, if I needed help. Told them that I was beyond help.

Made it to my feet and made it to my friend’s door. Don’t even remember how.

Her: (opening door) Logan! Come on in. So good to…
Me: (interrupting) I forgot. (leaning against wall) I forgot this is where the hospital was. I…(chokes)
Her: (steps out, gives me a hug) It’s ok.
Me: It’s not. (shakes head) It’ll never be ok. (her baby cries)

Just like that. I’m right back as if nothing happened.


Steele and I chatted about it afterward.

Me: BTW, I’m sure the wife will tell you but I had a mini-breakdown in your apartment and may have scared your kid a bit.
Him: I can’t blame you. He’s gotta toughen up anyway…

Funeral Blues
by W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand
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