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
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Falling to the level of our training

Defining things

Me: Can you pack stuff for a picnic and I’ll meet you in the park? It’s beautiful today.
The Gymgirl: Pier?
Me: Perfect. I was also thinking of getting us half a roast duck.
Her: Woo-hoo!

I had run down to Chinatown for a haircut and some food but the weather was so nice that we made last minute lunch plans.

We’d not been out in a few days because we both got sick with a stomach bug so it was nice getting out.

We’d also not been able to get to the gym, which we both wanted to do.

This fella named Archilochus once said that, We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.

In a way, at our gym, we’re both training for something that will hopefully never happen. But I thought about that quote for a different reason.

You see, if not for this blog, I’m not really sure how much I would have remembered about our meeting.

Don’t remember much from the last several years. My mother-in-law thinks it’s because I slept so little and sleep is when your memories are set.

This is probably a good thing. There are horrors I experienced with Alison that I don’t wanna remember. But there are things I wish I did remember. About Alison. About the boy. About the Gymgirl.

All I know is that, after Alison died, I could barely function. So I just did that which I trained myself to do – after all, you are what you constantly do and after years of womanizing,* that’s what I defaulted to.

Well, that and drink to excess.

And as the fog of all the alcohol, craziness, and misery slowly faded, the Gymgirl came into focus and what I thought initially as another disposable relationship became anything but.

My life and luck has been – admittedly – complete s__t. But she and the boy are welcome outliers to my otherwise execrable existence.

Me: I wanted to say thank you. For everything. For all the things you do around here. With me, with the kid.
Her: Of course. (laughing) It’s not a big deal. But what brought this on?
Me: (shrugging) No reason. Life. Just…thanks.
Her: You’re welcome, Logan.

*Alison hated when I used that word: Womanizing.

But I don’t know a more appropriate word. I don’t think what I did/do really falls squarely in the realm of dating, or pick-up, or what have you – for reasons that are my own. They’re different things to me.

And once I met Alison, I stopped so I never spent any time thinking of a different word.

And once again, I’ve stopped. So it remains the most appropriate word I have.

Location: noon, yesterday, Pier I in NYC
Mood: grateful
Music: we’ll never know when, when we’ll run out of time
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You can’t be afraid if you laugh

If only something was enough

Old Fashioned with Rye

Met up with RE Mike the other night at a bar in midtown. Had myself an Old Fashioned with Rye and met some folks.

The usual summer swing.

Church in Manhattan

Lately, the press is all about Robin Williams’ suicide. There’s a number of a things going around that somehow glamorizes the whole notion of suicide in general, which bothers me no end.

Years ago, I wrote about a much less well-known comedian named Richard Jeni doing the same thing.

Felt then, as I feel now, what a colossal waste.

And the other time I wrote about suicide was with another comedian named Richard Gethard, who’s thankfully still alive.

I like Richard Gethard. I liked Richard Jeni. And I grew up watching Robin Williams – remember seeing him first appear as Mork on Happy Days back when it first came out. They made me laugh.

Stephen Colbert once said that, “If you are laughing, you can’t be afraid.” That’s one of the truest statements there are. I suppose that it’s why the people that have some of the saddest experiences laugh the hardest. It’s the only way they survive.

Sometimes, though, I think people just get tired of being afraid. And sometimes it’s not enough.

If I could have wished them something, woulda wished them something that was enough.

————-

Here’s a really good page on suicide, including the main question, “Are you thinking of committing suicide?”

Location: prepping for travel
Mood: disappointed
Music: Oh how can I survive? Will I make this drop this dive?
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Logan’s 40

Joy inevitably comes

The Grace Building in NYC

Like you, I was glued to the television watching the bombings in Boston.

The first thought that came to mind were words I can’t print here, but they rhymed with “mothers that drive trucks.”

My second was: The people that point and the people that run in. Around every tragedy, you will find the people that point and the people that run in.

The people that point are the ones that use a tragedy to push their own personal agendas: Religious, political, or simply, look at me because I will be different than all the others because I need to be noticed.

Regarding this pointing, on FB I had a two guys talk about all the people that die in Afghanistan and that it somehow means we shouldn’t mourn the people here. But that was pretty much the extent of it.

How many did you have? Make note of those people. Those are the ones that want, desperately, to be heard.

Regarding the people that run in, that was on full display that day as Patton Oswalt eloquently noted. It gives me some hope for our kind. I hope he’s right that that the people that run in outnumber the others. The ones that harm. The ones that point.

Today, I’m 40.

Had this whole long rant about being so old and creaky but instead, let me simply sum it up by saying this: I’m old and I’ve seen a lot more things than I’ve ever wanted to see.

The world is an ugly place. But it is made bearable by the good souls. The ones that bring us grace and mercy.

The fact that I’ve only had two really stomach turning posts on FB since this thing happened is a small indicator, I think, that I’ve managed to have more good souls than not in my corner of the world.

Years ago, wrote about Bernard Malamud who said that Life is a tragedy full of joy.

Having been on this planet for 40 short and long years, I’ve learned that tragedy inevitably comes, but the joy also comes.

And so I wait for the joy. Hope you do as well.

And like every year on (or close to) my birthday, I ask you to wish me a happy birthday, all of you bastards that read me and never say anything.

Here’s my stupid mug at almost 40. I would have taken one recently but I’ve been beat.

Logan Lo

Location: with family in my slice of the world
Mood: hopeful
Music: Don’t you keep me waiting for that day
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Clear

 

Went for a walk with my girl downtown this past weekend. Maybe that’s what made me sick again. Was worth it though. There’re few things in life as a walk down Central Park and Broadway on a nice day. Saw a girl in a cat costume with a hula hoop.

Been taking all of the junk I found cleaning my cellar and selling it on ebay, craigslist, you name it. Found this one dress with a price tag that said $14,000 in there and more computers than y’can shake a stick at.

Some things I remember, some things I have no idea how they got there. Story of my life, yeah?

In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes said to Watson that the mind’s like an attic – you can only have so much crap in it before you run outta room.

Einstein echoed this when he said that, Never memorize what you can look up in books.

But I digress, point is that I’m tossing a lotta old stuff to make room for new stuff.

Still sick – my head’s stuffy. But I’m trying to clear things out. Wanna unclutter my mind and suppose that starts with uncluttering everything else.

Location: 16:00 yest, Grand Central
Mood: still @#$@#$ sick
Music: Singing to my pillow, I woke up out of tune.

Glory Days

I know something you don’t know

Inigo Montoya: I admit it, you are better than I am.
Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
Inigo Montoya: Because I know something you don’t know.

When you get beat up as often as I did as a kid, you either get all decked out in black and go Columbine, or you just learn how to fight. And for those of you that know me, I never do anything half-assed.

Bryson’s one of my best friends and was a striker like me. He outweighed me by 20-40 pounds but I was fast and flexible. We were always toe-to-toe. Until he started grappling. So I started too.

Then, a little after 9/11, I got injured. A kimura gone horribly wrong. Doc said I could either get surgery and lose 10% of my range of motion or rehab it and lose as little as 2%. Chose the latter. He said it’d take up to four years. It took seven. Stopped watching NHB stuff cause it made me sad. Didn’t wanna be one of those guys that spent his time talking about his glory days.

During those seven years, Bryson worked to the point that he’s a Pan-American Bronze Medalist. And he knew something his opponents didn’t – that as good as he was on the ground, he was even better on his feet. I knew that. My jaw knew that. Me? I stopped. Got fat. Settled down with a girlie.

The only place I’m still better than Bryson’s with a sword. But even then, he’s almost my match. We both know he’s better than me, he’s just too polite to ever say it. Some days, forget that I’m 35. Then my body reminds me. The last time I felt good about my right lead was in the mid-90s.

We spoke recently and he told me that he just got a similar injury. He finds out next week if he can roll again. I understood. Told him that he got seven years on me and he agreed. Small comfort, I know.

After we got off the phone, sat back and remembered when we weren’t old men. Instead, we’re in the muddy backyard of my college house. He’d swing on by, we’d laugh. Then we’d knuckle up and roll.

Man in Black: And what is that?
Inigo Montoya: I…am not left-handed.

Location: my parent’s living room
Mood: nostalgic
Music: hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it

My corner in and of the world

Happy Birthday!

 

No lie, this video chokes me up.

Sometimessome and I both agree that it’s often the foreigners, the outcasts, that love this country the most. I’ve been to other countries and young people that rant about the state and the past of this joint have got to travel somewhere and see how lucky we are here.

A dude named Anthony Walton once said that, America’s greatest strength, and its greatest weakness, is our belief in second chances, our belief that we can always start over, that things can be made better.

This country has treated my family well. Not by handouts (we took none) but by chances. We only ever wanted the chance. I’ve made so many horribly stupid, stupid mistakes in my life. And each time, it’s like I get another ticket to ride. Quite something, this joint.

I’m always forgiving people their stupid mistakes. Cause I want so badly to be forgiven mine.

This place suits me just right.

It’s a fantasy. The hope that my better day around the corner is at a corner in Germany. Or China. Elsewhere. Still, this is home.

Yeah, I wanna spend some time elsewhere. But I can’t imagine getting old anywhere else.

Happy Birthday.

Location: 15 mins ago, leaving a gin mill
Mood: sotted
Music: Let them say of me, I was one who believed

Sold I to the merchant ships

I consider our origins

Well I’ve gotten some…colorful emails based on my last post.

While both men and women read a lot more into it than intended, both seemed to disappointed in me for completely different reasons.

Primo Levi wrote in Survival in Auschwitz, that he carried a 100 pound soup pot because it gave him a few moments in the sun.

A guard gave him the gig for Italian lessons. So Levi taught him Dantes Inferno 26, which has the line, Considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.

Consider your origin; you were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.

Look, we’re human. We’re flawed. But we try. It’s our redemption song.

Dante and Levi both believed that we have some nobility somewhere – even after seeing their respective hells, yeah?

Location: 2PM yest, watching a rooster in Harlem
Mood: amused
Music: someday we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is – Bhagavad Gita

Caligirl: …then there are the serial daters. The guys that are always out and about.
Me: If I were honest, I’d tell you that that’s what I’m afraid of. See, I’ve only ever been in long-term relationships. I never really dated. I think I secretly worried that I might be good at it.
Her: (turning) And?
Me: (laughing) You tell me.

——

Him: You don’t think it’s strange, to have a site with your name on it all about you? And all the stuff you write – who reads it? I mean, you’re just you. You’re just a regular dude. You’re not like a celebrity or anything.
Me: “Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.
Him: What?
Me: (shrugging) It just means that in my head, I think I’m someone.

Location: still in front of this cracked screen
Mood: weird
Music: Must I always be waiting waiting on you?

Always Dreaming

I dream a lot, but I’m not a very good sleeper

 

But I don’t want to go among mad people, Alice remarked.
Oh, you can’t help that, said the Cat, we’re all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad.
How do you know I’m mad? said Alice.
You must be, said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.

Sometimes I have nice dreams.

Unfortunately, it’s rare because of my insomnia – and when I’m awake, I feel like I’m sleepwalking. But I daydream a lot.

And sometimes, my daydreams are just as real and just as nice when I’m up as when I sleep. I spend a lot of time in my head, you see.

An ex once told me that when she and I lived in the same neighborhood, she used to walk to my building, sit on my stoop, and whisper, Come out, come out…let’s have some fun.

The times I did randomly come out, she thought she had magic.

In my head, she doesn’t hate me, and I don’t hate myself, for how I treated her.

And, in my head, my other ex is wrong and my insides do match my outsides.

But you can never change what another person does or thinks. Only yourself. I know that.

Still, being ambulatory for 18 hours a day means that I spend a lot of time there. In my head, I mean.

I know, I know – what if I get stuck there? I suppose large polite men in clean white coats will take me away. Funny, sometimes I think I’m just one more sleepless night away from that. I’ve been up for…I don’t know how long now…

Hey, you’d visit me, yeah?

Shake your head with that, “Oh, so sad, he had so much promise,” look on your face before you shuffle off?

But sometimes I wonder, which way is worse.

Because, you see, in my head, I’m quite happy.

Michel Gondry said, I dream a lot, but I’m not a very good sleeper.

I love that. The knowing that it’s not just me.

Come out, come out…let’s have some fun…

Location: physically, an ugly hotel bed in 14202, mentally…
Mood: awake
Music: one more, you’re nuts