Logan’s 46: The Guard dies

…it does not surrender


It’s my birthday today.

I remember for years that I used to say, Wish me a Happy Birthday, alla you bastards that read me and never say anything.

The last time I said that was 2014, before everything went to hell.

This year, I pour out my soul to you with a simple admission: After Alison died, three words kept ringing in my addled head over-and-over again: The Guard dies.

The Guard dies.
The Guard dies.
The Guard dies.

I said those three words to myself hundreds thousands of times after she died. I would fall asleep to those words in my head and wake up to them as well.

I plotted for months on how to do it the right way, if there could ever be such a thing.

Because, I promised her parents and you that I would keep her safe. And I failed.

I failed you. I failed her parents. And, most unbearably of all, I failed her.

Failure has a price and I’ve always been driven to pay my debts.

There’s an apocryphal story about the Old French Guard during the Battle of Waterloo when the Middle Guard turned and ran, a solider from the Old Guard asked the general if they should run as well.

The general replied, La Garde meurt, elle ne se rend pas.

The Guard dies, it does not surrender.

In my drug/alcohol/grief/anger-fueled haze, I only remembered the first part.

Alison was my charge and I failed her so it was only fitting that I follow her. Because, wherever she went, I was always close behind.

It’s remarkably selfish and self-centered, I know. I wasn’t thinking clearly then.

But, due to a number of interesting bureaucratic twists and people like my mother-in-law, my father, Daisy, Gradgirl, and – of course – the Gymgirl, the fog slowly lifted.

And I remembered the boy. I am so ashamed to say that I forgot him in my grief.

Well, more appropriately – in my head – he was better off with people that were functioning, and I was clearly not functioning.

Moreover, I was so focused on Alison needing me that I didn’t really consider that he needed me.

Interestingly, the thing that really pulled me out of this mindset was a conversation with my mother-in-law one day. She said that I needed to raise the boy and that she would help but that he was my responsibility. I suspect she had some idea where my mind was.

In any case, that triggered a memory of a conversation that Alison and I once had: She told me that, if we were ever in an accident and I was given the option to save her or the child, she would never forgive me if I saved her.

And that, in turn, caused me to remember the rest of the quote: … it does not surrender. That’s when I realized that leaving would be surrender, not staying.

I lost my charge. But she had a charge too, one that she cared about more than herself: The boy. So, even if he weren’t my son, he would still be my charge because he was Alison’s.

Because she loved him more than anything, including her own life.

The boy’s given me something as well: A chance for me to redeem myself and my failure.

Essentially, the general was saying that the Guard does not run or surrender to overwhelming odds. It either does its job or dies trying. Like Alison did.

I’m 46 today. If ever there was an Old Guard, it’s me.

And the Old Guard does not surrender.

Him: Will you come get me today? From school?
Me: Of course. What am I gonna do, leave you there? That’d be silly.
Him: (laughs) That’d be silly! You’re silly, papa.
Me: (nodding) Yes.

Location: this afternoon, my blue bathroom, thinking of my possible pasts
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I’ve lost my place. I’m close behind
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Speaking toddler

Can you hear me?


We’ve all been sick so I put on Singing in the Rain for the Gymgirl and the kid.

Him: (after opening credits) It’s over…
Me: It just started!

On that note, the Gymgirl and I have been having a competition of sorts as to who understands toddler more.

Him: (unintelligible)
Me: What?
Her: He said he was done and wanted to watch television.
Me: How on earth did you get that?
Her: (shrugs) You’re old. He and I are closer in age. We speak the same language.

Actually, the boy speaks with some interesting turns of phrases:

When the boy was in his room: I’m here if you need me.
When I gave the boy a time out: Let’s talk about this.
When heading to school: Are we running late?

Again, he’s three years old.

Suppose he’s parroting myself, the Gymgirl, or some other adult. Still, it really floors me because there was a time I was worried he wouldn’t speak at all.

Although he did leave me speechless the other day.

Him: (gets a stool and climbs to the top) Mom! Mom! Mommy! Can you hear me?
Me: Wha…what are you doing, kiddo?
Him: I wanted to see what happens.
Me: Oh. OK. (pause) I’m sorry, kid.
Him: (laughing) Why are you sorry?
Me: No reason. I just am. (smiling) Cm’on. I gotta start dinner. Keep me company.

It’s April.

Me: I hate April and May.
The Gymgirl: May, I understand. But why April?
Me: It’s stupid but it’s because I know May is coming right up. Our birthdays were just about a month apart. I dread my birthday because I know we’re that much closer to May.
Her: (nods, puts her hand on my shoulder)

Location: 2:30PM today, Central Park with the boy
Mood: anxious
Music: used to talk with honest conviction
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Another health scare

It’s not a crate!

Mutual Friend: (concerned) You doing okay, buddy?
Me: I’m fine. I’m sure you have a friend that is a complete softie around kids. Well, whoever that person is, s/he’s got nuthin on Blaine, I think that if the kid had the vocabulary, Blaine woulda have given him an ice cream sundae, a beer, his ATM card and PIN, and the password to all his online accounts while we were out.
Him: Man, Uncle Blaine sounds awesome.

The Gymgirl and I decided to catch a film – last minute – and had a friend of ours watch the kid. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve done this.

Me: Now, no matter what he says or how much he cries, just leave him in the room and let him sleep.
Blaine: Sure.

We watched the film without issue and came back to find Blaine sitting alone of the couch in relative darkness.

Blaine: So, I changed his diaper like a champ…
Me: Oh, great.

Blaine:…but he also climbed out of his crate and fell. I think he’s ok.
Gymgirl: You should lead with that!

Blaine said that the kid started crying as soon as we left so he took him out and let him sit with him as they watched some television. For a toddler, that’s pure crack – there’s no going back from that. So after Blaine put him down to sleep, the kid wanted more of the good life…

Blaine: I heard him fall and cry so I ran in. I found him outside his crate…
Me: It’s not a crate! It’s a crib. People will think I keep my son in a cage.

Blaine: Crib, crate, cage, same thing.

Blaine’s one of the nicest people I know; in fact, he just had surgery that day and arrived in a cast to watch the kid just so we could catch the film. So it’s pretty impossible to be mad at him.

I mean, he carried this kid around with a cast on. Plus, we all knew that it was just bad luck that the kid decided to try his hand at climbing outta the crate crib with him and not us.

The boy managed to fall asleep so Blaine just left and we waited to see how the kid was in the morning. He seemed fine so we brought him to school. But the Gymgirl insisted that we get him x-rayed and researched places around the area.

The place that she went to last year had a machine so we went there. Took three hours but the kid didn’t have any broken bones but did dislocate his elbow (nursemaid’s elbow) that the doc tried to get back in but couldn’t.

So I rang up my friend Kris, who’s a pediatrician, and she said he probably got it in if the kid was able to raise his arm over his head, which he kinda was. The Gymgirl and I may also have done some things ourselves to make sure it was in properly.

The boy was not happy about any of this. But alls well that ends well.

Spoke to Blaine afterward:

Me: I think that the doc managed to get his elbow back in place because he’s been moving it a lot more.
Blaine: Man, I’m really relieved to hear this. I still feel horrible.
Me: He should be fine. Yesterday was no fun but that’s done with. Anywho, I’ll give you another update tonight. Just wanted to put your mind to a little rest.

These medical scares always wear me out more than you might imagine.

Or, perhaps, exactly as you might imagine.

Gymgirl: Are you OK?
Me: I will be. (thinking) Hey, thanks for everything.
Her: Of course. I love that kid.

Location: last week, another medical office
Mood: guess
Music: How long until we find our way In the dark and out of harm?
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Disposable relationships

Here we go again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we wait until the other remembers.

Ideally…

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

Location: Bicker-city
Mood: hopeful
Music: gonna hold on for the rest of my days
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

My PG-13 life

At least I get to live it


The Gymgirl gave me an (unintentional) black eye the other day in my gym class.

Gymgirl: Do you need ice?
Me: God, yes.

In a nutshell, her foot went into my eye and nose. It was decidedly unpleasant.

Gym owner: You’re fine. You’re not even bleeding…wait, nevermind, you’re bleeding.
Me: Oh, good, that’s a relief.

I’m literally getting my ass kicked by all the women I know in life.

Which leads me to believe that Life itself is a woman because, I’m definitely getting my ass kicked by her.

The nurse that Alison liked the most during IVF called me the other day.

Nurse: It literally took me a week to get up the nerve to call you.
Me: I’m so glad you did. Alison adored you.
Her: (exhales) Thank you. I wasn’t sure how you’d be speaking to me.
Me: Yeah, I get it.

It was mostly admin stuff. But I was glad to hear her voice.

She left me a voicemail before but my voicemail transcribes messages to me so the last time I actually heard her voice, I was with Alison. And we were happy. Then everything went to shit.

Dunno why I always remind you of that. I should assume you know already.

Anywho, I often wonder if it’s fair to the Gymgirl that she’s with someone like me. I come with so much baggage.

Like my friend Somena once said, the key to a good relationship is to find someone whose baggage matches yours.

But I’m not sure I could bear knowing anyone with baggage that matches mine. And I’m grateful that the Gymgirl doesn’t have matching baggage. Suppose she is too.

Another group of friends were talking about television and movies the other day and I told them that I’m not sure I can handle anything beyond PG-13 these days.

Had to have a talk with another friend that didn’t understand why I was so upset by something he said. Casual things that people say mean different things to people like me.

Cause everything reminds me of something I don’t wanna be reminded of.

Wish everything were easier. But life itself isn’t easy so I’m SOL.

Then again, I get the chance to live it so I shouldn’t complain.

Me: Oh man, I missed you so much!
Son: I want a cookie.
Me: (nodding) You have your priorities.
Him: I missed you. I want a cookie.
Me: (nodding)

Location: bhavachakra
Mood: Groundhog-dayed
Music: I’ll let you in on something big. I am not a white teeth teen
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

She’s stuck

She’s not in Queens

The boy’s at my mother-in-law’s right now.

She’d written down the names of two friends on a piece of paper the other day. Looking at it, he said, “That says, ‘Mike’ and ‘Pat.'”

He’s only three and can read and do simple math. This makes me so proud but it also reminds me that he’s getting older and smarter. And he’s asking questions.

The problem is that he’s asking questions that I can’t answer. Questions I don’t wanna answer. Questions that I have no response for. Because there’s no response. No good response, rather.

Him: Papa, mom’s in … Queens.
Me: No…no…she’s not.
Him: Not in Queens?
Me: No. But it’s time for bed.
Him: (nodding)

That was a few months ago. A few weeks ago, he asked me:

Him: Why doesn’t mommy come?

Holy shitballs.

Lemme tell you that nothing – nothing – can prepare you for that question when you’re in my situation (and god, I hope you’re never in my situation). I completely chickened out and choked. Completely.

Me: She’s…stuck. She wants to be here but she’s stuck.
Him: She’s stuck? (nods) She’s stuck.

Told this to my mother-in-law who, to her credit, told me as gently as possible that Alison woulda wanted me to tell him the truth.

Alison and I talked about that years ago and we agreed to be honest with our kids about whatever we could.

Felt like such a coward. Have a hard time dealing with cowards and liars and here I was being both with my son.

After a bath a few weeks ago, he looked at me and said, without prompting:

Him: Mommy’s stuck.
Me: No. (shaking head) Papa…misspoke. She’s not stuck.
Him: She’s not stuck?

And I told him what no father should have to say to any three-year old, or any kid ever.

He nodded but didn’t understand. Which, I suppose, is a good thing. He will one day and that makes me feel sick. As for me, I went to the bathroom and pulled myself together. Kindasorta.

I love this boy and I don’t wanna tell him things like this but these were the cards we were dealt.

Thought about Hobbes and his whole “nasty, brutish, and short” quote. For some, it’s shorter than others. It’s that unfairness of it all that eats at me the most.

A good friend of mine told me that, when you lose someone, you feel this uncontrollable rage that pops up randomly. He said that it never goes away.

Wrote him today and told him that he’s never said anything truer in his life.

Location: stuck in my head
Mood: angry
Music: I can’t believe she’s gone
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

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
 Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

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
 Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

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
 Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

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
 Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs