Straight up…up

A fella can dream

Boy: Are you ok, daddy?
Me: Yes. I got lost in my head again is all.
Him: (nodding) OK, papa.

After a lotta soul-searching and talking to the mother-in-law, I set the kid up to take an IQ test for a specialized school here.

We met the tester in his office just off Columbus Circle, not far at all from where I got my ACL diagnosis. The tester was an older fella and sat the kid at a little table with alla these 3d plastic/wooden shapes on it.

He asked I would leave the room and sit outside. Was worried because the kid doesn’t do well with strangers, especially men. But he was cool.

Me: Papa’s right outside, ok?
Him: (nodding) OK, daddy.

And I paced in the waiting room. Cause that’s what I do.

30 minutes later, the boy opened the door with a big smile and said, “Come in, papa!”

The tester said I wouldn’t be given the results for a while but I was happy because both he and the kid seemed to be in good spirits.

The boy and I walked outside to the hallway and something about the door sign seemed familiar. That’s when I realized that it was the same medical center that Alison went for health problems before the cancer.

We were standing in the same hallway as she did once a month for years.

That took my breath away. Like alla these unexpected blows. And I struggled to keep my composure as we traveled home.

It was my father’s birthday this week, you see. And this was yet another sad something to think about.

Problem is, I can never stop thinking things. As I made dinner, I dropped two dishes and spilled his milk.

Afterward, I sat at my computer while the kid watched TV. There was a long message there from Mouse.

She was just telling me about this crazy solo trip she decided to take this month and finished with some unexpected kindness.

Swear, she reads my mind, sometimes. I didn’t know what to write back so I just dashed off something short and innocuous.

But I felt better. After all, somewhere, on the other side of the world, there’s this pretty girlie I was thinking of, who thought of me.

Anywho, everything’s a seesaw of emotions these days. Then again, I suppose up and down is better than just down.

Maybe someday, we’ll just get straight up…up.

A fella can dream, yeah?

Location: 3PMish, on a bus heading to Columbus Circle
Mood: conflicted
Music: don’t know what, I’ve got myself into

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My greatest award

And we sang…


Her: Logan – your son just read an email on my phone!
Me: Oh. Yeah. He reads.
Her: You need to get him tested!
Me: (slowly nodding) So I’ve been told

When he was two, I used to brag to all the other parents that he could read a word or two.

Now, I rarely mention it because that’s not what I want him to be known as; as someone different and odd.

But he has another characteristic that I am glad that people notice:

Another mother: I’m sending you these pics because he’s SUCH a happy boy!
Me: These are great, thank you!
Her: It’s such a joy hearing his laugh.

Gotta say, I wasn’t prepared for him to be able to read or do math this early. But I think I was more prepared for that than…how happy this kid is.

Man, lemme tell you, if you’re on the Upper West Side and you hear a kid laughing loudly and singing, “Joy to the world” on the top of his lungs, that’s my kid.

That’s nuts because – man – you don’t know the house of horrors this kid grew up in.

Take all your fears for the one you love the most in the world and imagine those fears come true. That was our life for years.

Fucking. Years.

If I’m proud of anything, I’m proud at my ability – and that of my mother-in-law – to hide alla the horror in our lives from him.

We should get a goddamn Oscar.

Swear, I could be fly like DeNiro and kill like Pacino. At least in one acting gig. But, at some point, you do gotta break character.

Him: Are you ok, papa?
Me: (quickly wiping eyes) Of course I am. Don’t be silly. I just … got lost in my head for a bit.
Him: (laughing) You can’t get lost in your head!
Me: (sighing) You’d be surprised, kid. (brightening) You’d be surprised.

Still, the fact that he’s as happy as he is, is my absolute proudest achievement, above and beyond any award or prize I’ve ever earned or could earn.

If he’s a happy, healthy, and productive toddler/boy/teen/young adult/man, then I did my job.

The guard dies, contently, knowing that he did his job.

Me: What do you want to eat?
Him: Can I have ice cream?
Me: That’s a lotta carbs but you were good today. Ok, you’ll get it if you do two things for me. First is tell me what time it is.
Him: (looking at clock) It’s 5:55.
Me: How many minutes until 6PM?
Him: Five!
Me: Yes! OK, second – sing me the chorus to Coachella.
Him: (laughs, sings) “In your head it’s Coachella every weekend…” 

Location: in my head, dreaming of lost chances, Coachella, and my possible pasts again
Mood: hopeful
Music: I miss the way that you laughed with me

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In the hospital again

No one else

Him: My tummy hurts. (cries)

My Labor Day began with a massive scare. Without getting into details, something happened that made my heart leap to my throat.

Me: Are you ok?
Him: No. (shakes head) No.

My pediatrician actually just closed her office so I couldn’t call her. Instead, I rang up my brother, who told me to take him to the ER in the morning, and another pediatrician buddy – Bryson’s wife – who told me:

Her: It’s probably nothing. (pause) But it could be intussusception – telescoping of gut. This has to be ruled out. I would bring him to the ER. Right now.

With two doctors telling me to get to the hospital, I was out the door in a shot. Or, I tried to, at the very least.

Him: No! I don’t feel well. I want to stay home.

I had never wanted to have another human being with me so much as that moment – with the exception of the last time I went to the ER with him.

With that, I ran about the house like a madman – getting him dressed, grabbing a car seat, etc. I think I tripped at least twice.

With one hand holding a baby car seat and my phone, and the other holding him, I stood on the corner of my block at midnight (I think) waiting for a stranger to bring us to the only hospital north of 42nd Street that I’ve not yet been to.

The boy, by his lonesome. He was a bit frightened.

After waiting hours, we were finally seen and cleared.

Doctor: We could run some more tests if you want, but I’m fairly certain it’s something viral that will pass his system at some point. It might take a while, but as long as you keep him hydrated and keep an eye on him, he should be fine.
Me: (relieved) Thanks, doc.
Him: Thanks, doc!!

I do note that he was a big hit with the nurses. He sang Love yourself to them.

Blue-Eyed Nurse: OMG, he’s made our night!

Then they finally let us go. And the experience made me feel relieved and yet terribly sad and lonely for reasons too complex for me to get into.

I think I stared at him the entire ride down.

Before we left, someone wished us good luck.

Me: I don’t…I don’t have the kind of luck that people want.
Green-Eyed Nurse: I don’t know anything about that, Mr. Lo. (gently) But he’s not you. He’s your little boy but he’s not you. He’ll be ok.
Me: (nodding) Thank you.
Her: I know about his mother. (pause) Is there anyo…
Me: No. (shaking head) It’s just me and him.

Location: The other night, 168th Street and Broadway
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I didn’t want anyone thinking I still care

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Afraid of the dark

Landslides take us down

Me: I forgot the anniversary of dad’s death.
Brother: I forgot too – until you brought it up.
Me: I feel guilty about that. I feel guilty about everything.

It was the anniversary of my dad’s death this past weekend. I actually went on a hike in Long Island to clear my head that day and somehow forgot it.

It’s a terrible thing, but when you lose someone you love that deeply, you can’t really think of them. You do everything in your power not to think of them.

And yet, late at night, I do. I don’t wanna. Because that gnawing anger and sense of loss is too much to bear and that’s when the insomnia creeps back in.

Two friends from the gym each gave me something to help me forget and sleep, and each worked for a while. But I ran out of one and the other ran out on me. And I’m left with … me.

I get how people become alcoholics or drug addicts. Pain is a difficult thing to bear in prolonged capacity. You blunt it however you can.

Used to be afraid of the dark because I thought I might not be alone when the lights were off.

Now I’m afraid of the dark because I am alone when the lights are off.

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

At least, though, you can scream out, “What the fuck?!” as loudly and as often as you want.

So there’s that.

Him: Why? He would never want to you to feel guilty about that. He’d want you to remember how he lived. Not how he died.

Wonder if my son will think I’m a good dad. Hope so.

Didn’t realize how much my dad musta wanted everything for us and how much it musta killed him that he couldn’t get us much when we were kids.

But he loved us. That was enough. Love’s enough, sometimes.

I get that now.

I get a lotta things now. The past few years have been a landslide of things I didn’t wanna know but now know.

The thing is, landslides take us down and bury us if we’re not careful.

So I struggle for breath.

It’s been over eight years of death, loss, and pain. And I still struggle for breath.

Location: chatting with a new friend on an orange chair
Mood: WTF
Music: Can I handle the seasons of my life?

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A poor imitation of myself

My own sense of self

Me: If, one day, you find out something horrible about me, I hope that you’ll remember that I was a good friend to you.
Him: How bad?
Me: Not murder or rape bad. But bad. I never said I was a good person. I like to think that I’m a good friend, though.

My friends wonder why I keep certain people in my life. I suppose it’s because – despite their faults – they’ve always been good and loyal to me. For the most part.

Told this to one of the people I mentor. Because, I think, he holds me in high esteem. And that worries me. Cause I’ve made so many mistakes in my life.

Do you know what Charlie Chaplin, Hugh Jackman, Adele, and Bryan Cranston all have in common? They’re all poor imitations of themselves.

For example, Charlie Chaplin entered into a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like competition. He came in 20th place. Same with the rest of them – you can click the links to read their stories.

There’s this line from Elton John’s Rocketman that goes, “I’m not the man you think I am at home.” That’s kinda how I look at myself these days.

You see, I realized that Mouse saw the worst parts of me and still stuck around for over 18 months. Spoke to her about it recently:

Me: Why did you stay so long?
Her: I was hoping. Then I stopped hoping.

It’s almost like I’m waking up from a nightmare and realized how crazy everything made me. How crazy I was.

Mouse sees me as this terrible version of myself and I can’t really blame her because – at best – I was a poor imitation of myself, of who I thought I was. At worst, I was exactly who she thought I was.

But maybe I can be better. I’d like to be better.

Fucking cancer took so much from me. Even my own sense of self.

I’d like to be the best version of myself again. For Mouse, for myself, for the boy.

I suppose, even if I come in 20th, at least that’ll be closer to who I thought I was versus who I actually was after everything went to hell.

Another friend/mentee:

Him: You’re the strongest guy I know, Logan.
Me: Sheyeah, I’m a goddamn rock. (shaking head) I’m not sure if you’re saying that seriously or not.
Him: I’m dead serious. I dunno many people that coulda gone through what you went through and be ok.
Me: That’s the thing: Am I OK? I think I am now, but I’m not sure. And that’s what’s scary.

Location: this afternoon, the 17th floor of 1 New York Plaza
Mood: regretful
Music: I think it’s gonna be a long long time

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On probation

Hoping I’ll do better

Exactly 37 minutes after Mouse asked me to come downtown, I found myself shaking hands with her boss. Mouse whispered in my ear:

Her: She’s one year younger than you.
Me: (nodding slowly) Great…

She ordered me an Old Fashioned and I barely got to start it when her coworker pulled me aside and we went outside to chat.

Coworker: You know, she really cares about you.
Me: The feeling’s mutual. She’s just super mad at me. Justifiably so, to a good extent.
Her: She is super mad. You weren’t very nice to her. But I’m still on your side.
Me: Why?
Her: (shrugging) She said that you made her who she is and I can tell she’s still hoping you’ll be better. If you want to be with her, you have to be nicer to her. Do better, Logan.
Me: (nodding) I’m trying. She met me at a weird and awful time.

We went back into the bar and Mouse sat next to me and asked:

Her: Why are you such a jerky-jerk?
Me: Like I said, you met me…
Her: (waves hand, rolls eyes) I know, I know. (later) My friends and family can’t stand you…
Me: I figured.
Her: …except for Co-Worker – which I don’t get at all – maybe Chai, and kinda Twin. You don’t listen to anyone. It’d be different if you’d just listen sometimes. (later) It’s crap out there. Since we broke up, I’ve met a block of wood and was set up with a puppy. (sighs) If you’d just listen…

We bounced from topic-to-topic before it was time to go.

She ended up drinking way too much so I brought her back to my place and put her in my guest bed, but not before plying her with copious amounts of water.

When she woke up the next day.

Her: (groan) What happened last night?
Me: You said lots of rando stuff.
Her: (worried) Did I do or say anything I shouldn’t have in front of my boss?
Me: (laughing) No. I don’t think so. How do you feel?
Her: Not great.
Me: Sorry. In any case, brekkie? I’ve been making a lotta shakshuka lately but with bacon.
Her: Dunno what that is but sure.

Interestingly, not too long after that, we met up with our coach and a group of buddies for some AYCE Korean food downtown.

Afterward, some of them came by my pad afterward for some drinks and board games. Then it was just Mouse and me.

There’s more but that’s all you need to know for now.

Location: Home with Ros and the boy
Mood: hopeful
Music: make them know that you’re with me

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A date with her in a blackout

Send me your location

As I mentioned earlier, Mouse and I saw each other over the blackout. We were originally going to get a bite to eat downtown and then hit up Solas again but the trains stopped at Times Square.

Me: Wanna walk to Koreatown?
Mouse: Sure.

The next thing you know, we’re in a private room in restaurant near the gym.

Her: This is so cool!
Me: (nodding) Yeah, but I’m starving.

We ended up getting mostly full there and then heading to the same bar we went to once before with some other friends.

In hindsight, I shoulda taken the opportunity to speak to her about things but I assumed she didn’t want to talk.

Evidently, I’m not good at reading her cues. Working on it.

Fast forward to this past week when she messaged me.

Her: Where are you?
Me: Just got back from the gym, why?
Her: I’m out with coworkers and my boss wants to meet you. Wanna come by?
Me: Right now? (thinking) Send me your location.
Her: Yes. Fraunces Tavern. Downtown.

Less than four minutes later, I was on a downtown train to see her, her co-workers, and her boss.

It was pretty interesting but this is getting long so I’ll tell you about it in the next entry.

In the meantime, here’s a vid I made for her blog but she can’t post videos for some reason so I’m posting it here.

It’s from when we went axe-throwing. She’s pretty good.

Location: earlier today, a children’s library with the kid
Mood: tired
Music: just need the time and place to come through

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Very different conversations

A little every day

Been seeing a ton of people lately. The fog in my head that’s been around for the past several months has lifted – mainly cause I’ve gotten some sleep. Like, real sleep.

So I wanna get things done.

Not everything’s been good. For example we had a small leak in my building that has turned into a major, major headache.

Him: You see this brick here?
Me: Yeah.
Him: (punches it, brick moves) Yeah, that shouldn’t do that.

The cost to fix is gonna wipe out my savings. Ah, the joys of homeownership.

On a happier note, spoke to an old buddy of mine, who was a lifelong New Yorker that somehow met and married a girl he met down south. Then, he up and left not that long ago to be with her.

Me: What’s life like in Virginia?
Him: It’s great. We’ve got 200 acres here.
Me: That’s insane. Don’t you miss New York at all?
Him: The New York I knew and loved is long gone. I had to leave. There wasn’t anything for me any more.
Me: So what are your days like?
Him: Usually in bed by 9PM or so, up by 6AM.
Me: And you’re surrounded by chickens?
Him: Surrounded. Oh, we have two emu.
Me: Who the f___k are you?!
Him: (laughs)

He says the key to a happy marriage is to miss each other a little every day. I get that.

More ghosts from my past came to visit. Kinda.

Her: I need to crash someplace. Is your son around?
Me: No…and no.
Her: What? Why not?
Me: Because, my life’s complicated enough and you would just complicate things more.
Her: (sighs) It’s you that makes things complicated, Logan.

Also saw RE Mike again.

Now that he knows I’m out-and-about again, he’s been sending me these really insane invites again, like old times, except we both have kids now.

I’ve actually only gone to a few things with him recently but the one I enjoyed most was a quiet drink and dinner with him and his infant son downtown.

We don’t really have that many serious conversations between us cause that’s not the nature of our relationship, save for when our fathers died.

Him: I just came from a buddy’s funeral. He…look, I need to know if you’re thinking of hurting yourself.
Me: Me? (laughing) I’m afraid to cross the street these days because I don’t wanna risk leaving the boy alone. (shaking head) No. I’m not. Honest.
Him: (sighing) Good. I couldn’t handle if I had to go to another friend’s funeral.
Me: I’m sorry, man. Sometimes people go through some dark things and come out the other side. Sometime they don’t. I’m sorry. (motioning to his son) They’re worth sticking around for.
Him: Yeah. (smiling at son) They are.

Location: in the middle
Mood: good? It’s been so long since I’ve been good I forgot what it’s like
Music: How did we get into this mess? Got so aggressive

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It’s time

There is a chance

The boy was at my mother-in-law’s for the 4th of July. As I said in the last entry, my 4th was awful. That’s because I spent it cleaning out Alison’s closet and wardrobe.

You see, I finally got some sleep the other day and I woke up knowing I had to do it.

When my dad died, my mom, to her credit, spent a solid month cleaning out alla his stuff. Everything.

Like I said, women are simply emotionally stronger than most men.

But I let Alison’s closet and wardrobe sit there.

Man, Alison was a wiz at maximizing space; everything was jam-packed but perfectly organized.

The past two years, I cleaned things here and there but never really did what my mom did and just cleaned it out.

Mentioned alla this to my MIL when I saw her. She always says the right thing.

Her: I’m glad. Save a few special things, and then put everything else into two garbage bags and donate it. Alison would have wanted you to do that.
Me: I know. If the roles were reversed, I’d want her to do it too.
Her:  Yes. (gently) Clean out her things, Logan. It’s time.
Me: (nodding)

It was excruciating. However bad you think it was, it was worse.

Ended up dropping off seven bags worth of things at the local Goodwill. Screamed at no one about that many times.

Took until after midnight but once it was all done, I felt different. Better.

There’s never any closure but I think all the reminders of her everywhere added to my underlying sadness and complicated things.

I also put away her pictures, although they’re still out in the boy’s room, where they should be.

It’s a start.

Him: People got to know you through your blog, and her as well. It’s clear to everyone that you loved her and always will love her. Some of what you wrote was like poetry. (thinking) But I’m glad you talked to your MIL. She’s the only person that can give you any real advice.
Me: Yeah. (thinking) It’s like a million years ago and like yesterday.
Him: (nodding) It’s good. You did the right thing (cleaning out Alison’s closet).

I saw Mouse briefly the other day when some friends got together for AYCE Korean food and some axe throwing.

She’s quite good at it. Wanted to tell her about the closet and wardrobe but it didn’t feel right.

Afterward, she and I decided to get some dessert and coffee together.

There was so much I wanted to say to her, but she handed me one of her headphone earbuds and we just listened to music on the ride over.

Dunno what the future holds for us, if anything, but I’d be lying if I said wasn’t happy to see her.

Me: It’s no excuse, but you met me at a weird and awful time in my life. 
Her: I know, Logan. But… (shakes head)
Me: No chance at all?
Her: (laughing) Like a moonshot chance.
Me: I’ll take that. (later) So, there is a chance.

Suppose you’ll have to read her blog to find details, if any. After all, it’s how I get most of my info about her these days.

Speaking of music, my brother sent me some song suggestions the other day, before I wrote my last entry.

Interestingly, one of the songs he said I should listen to was Be the One by Dua Lipa, and the lyrics actually work well with the story about The Taming of the Shrew, which I found interesting.

Maybe that’s just me.

Location: an emptier home
Mood: hopeful
Music: just another chance

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Whatever you need it to be

..it is. It’s the moon, then

Hope you had a good 4th of July.

I didn’t really. Probably one of the worst I ever had, mainly because I did a buncha things I’d been putting off for…years, really.

But around 8PM, I started feeling much better and thinking a lot clearer than I have in a while, for reasons we’ll get into a bit later, I suppose.

Billy Shakespeare wrote this play called The Taming of the Shrew* where this fella named Pete says, “Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!

The only problem is that it’s daytime and he’s talking about the sun (just to prove a point).

So his girl Kate says, “Dude, it’s daytime. That’s the sun.”

Pete: I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
Kate: I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
Buddy: (to Kate) Just say it’s the moon or we’ll never get outta here.
Kate: (to Pete) Sun, moon, whatever. Whatever you say it is, it is.

See, Kate’s kinda a stubborn know-it-all, whereas Pete just wants them to have a happy relationship.

So Pete decides to test Kate by saying something demonstrably false, and Kate, to her credit, realizes that it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right, as long as they have each other. So she says, essentially, “Whatever. If it makes you happy, I’ll say it and we can just move on with our lives.”

Someone once told me that I always have to be right. I don’t agree with that statement 100% but I see what they mean.

After all, what are you winning in life if you’re losing the really important stuff?

*Yes, I’m aware of the potentially misogynistic overtones of the story. But I’ve always liked this scene, where someone gives in because they know a happy relationship’s worth more. I get that. Here’s a slightly more modern – and reversed – take on the scene.

Location: surrounded by clothes, boxes, bags, and memories
Mood: rested
Music: right now there’s a war between the vanities

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