Sewer

Massol Dental and My Mom

A little while ago, when Alison was in the ER for the umpteenth time, two buddies of mine showed up despite my telling them not to.

I think that most of my friends must have read that because my Facebook and email exploded after my last post with people wanting to meet up.

It was flattering but I told them all that I was busy with the kid, which is the truth.

But even then: Three people are swinging by while the kid’s asleep this week, another friend came by already, the ABFF told me she was stopping by as well, and this sweet girl – who’s also a pro-fighter – from my new gym wrote me this really upbeat message. Some of the mothers I know also boosted my ego as well:

Her: When you’re ready to date again, I have someone for you.
Me: This *just* happened!
Her: I didn’t even know you were dating again when you told me that you were exclusive with Gymgirl! Anyway, what are your thoughts on pharmacists?
Me: They give me drugs, what’s there not to like?

Of course, all this was balanced out by my mom:

Her: You’re single again?
Me: Yeah, it’ll be fine, I’ve been…
Her: Oh no! Can you function by yourself? What about the baby?
Me: Thanks, mom. (nodding slowly) That’s just what I needed right now.

Speaking of my mom, she sent this to my brother (in blue) recently, who sent it to me with a title: I’m. 46. Years. Old.

Told my brother that it doesn’t matter how big the kid gets, he’s always gonna be my little guy.

On that note, I had to scramble to find someone to take care of the kid while I went to the dentist for a final fix. Ending up having my cousin from the Cornell trip come by.

Me: Have you ever taken care of a kid while he’s being potty trained?
Her: (dismissively) I have two dogs. It’ll be fine.
Me: I literally have nothing to say about that.

The dentist is actually the wife of another friend of mine from the gym: Massol Dental, NYC. Honestly, it was the nicest dentist’s office I’d ever been to – much better than my usual dental joints. It felt kinda like a spa but with teeth drills.

She was amazingly nice and I probably spent way too much time pestering her for childrearing advice because she has sons, while most of the people from my daily life have daughters.

Me: I didn’t know parenting would be so gross.
Her: Oh, it’s gonna be gross for a long time.
Me: (nodding) OK, good to know.

Eventually, she got to the task at hand.

Me: You’re lovely, really, but I hate being here.
Dentist: We get that all the time. Open wide…
Assistant: (later) Do you want to hold these [foam stress relievers]? They’re for children but…
Me: (mouth numb, nodding) Sewer.
Her: Here you go.

I’m 45 in less than a week but I got a birthday cake today after all.

OK, my mom may have a point…

Location: earlier today, a plush leather dentist’s chair
Mood: amused
Music: you can’t get what you want, but you can get me
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Self-destruction

Fiction, by Logan Lo


Nothing in this blog entry actually happened. Just writing some fiction.

An old friend rang me the other day to accuse me of trying to ruin his business and life. Found it so strange because that requires a level of hatred that I don’t feel for anyone. It’s hard to feel anything these days. For anything and anyone.

Me: To be clear, if I wanted to ruin you, I’d want you to know it was me. You wouldn’t have to call to ask. You’d know.

Hatred is actually the farthest thing I feel for him. You see, he and his wife raised more than anyone for Alison when she was sick. I owe a debt to him and his family.

But he’s also extremely difficult.

Don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation in the 18 years I’ve known him. He talks to you rather than with you.

Him: Wait, I’m not done.
Me: You do realize you’ve said 10 words for every one of mine, yes?

In many ways, he’s a classic bully: He uses his position in life to demean and belittle others.

He’s never been unkind to me – far from it – but like Trump, you kinda want someone to say to him, Dude, you know these are people, right? What you’re doing is wrong.

Like Johnny, what I actually feel for him is a mixture of affection, gratitude, and disappointment.

Mutual friend: You mean pity. You pity him. That’s not what you’re supposed to feel for a friend.
Me: I feel obligated to try to help him. For everything he’s done for me and my family.
Him: (gently) You’ve done that. He’ll only change if he wants to and he said, straight up, he’d rather lose everything and end up homeless than change. You’ve done your part.

Also like Johnny, the punishment for his cruelty is that he doesn’t get to hang out with me.

I’m running outta time. Don’t have time or energy to waste on anything or anyone that doesn’t make me better. And, by extension, my son.

The fact that someone wants to destroy him makes me more comfortable in my decision to cut him out.

Think about the level of hatred it would take to have someone spend weeks – if not months – of their time plotting how to unravel everything you’ve worked for.

And if someone has that level of animosity for you, think about how many people simply dislike you.

I’ve always lived my life – including the womanizing – with the credo, “Leave people better off having met you than not.”

In any case, it’s puzzling how someone can be so compassionate to some and yet so cruel to others. But many of my close friends are complicated.

Me: A relative of mine said that he thought I was a sociopath.
The Half Man: I disagree with that. A sociopath lacks empathy. You’re one of the most empathetic people I know.
Me: Perhaps it’s something else then? Or maybe he’s just wrong.

I wonder what others – Johnny, The Devil, him – see in me, both good and ill.

Me: What does that say about me?
Gymgirl: I don’t know. Maybe it was Alison that kept you from turning into them?
Me: Maybe. Then what am I without her?

Still, I’m not able to cut off all the deeply flawed friends I have. Because I see my reflection in them. I need them for some reason.

And they each have their own twisted humanity, in their own strange ways.

The funny thing is, that I did spend weeks – months – plotting to destroy someone that I did hate. But it wasn’t him.

Months ago…

The Devil: Are you sure you want to do this?
Me: (ignoring him) The three coins are worth about $20,000. (placing a USB stick on the coins) This has almost a whole bitcoin that I used to buy black market meds for Alison. It’s worth about $17,000. Both are untraceable and cash equivalent. The rest of the money is in trust for the kid and he’ll get that once I’m gone.
Him: I’m a thief and womanizer, not this thing you ask me to do.
Me: We both know what you’re capable of.
Him: That was in war and when it was my job. Neither is true here.
Me: I’ll find just someone else.
Him: You don’t have anyone else, that’s why you came to me. (laughs) But suppose we do this? I just wanna ask one thing: (leans in) Without you here, without Alison, who’ll protect your boy from someone like me? People, like us.
Me: (startled, angry) You’ll never meet him. Just like you never met her.
Him: Ah, there you are. (stands up) Pull yourself together, Logan. Raise your son. When you’re ready, we’ll talk again. (takes a gold coin, pockets it, turns to leave) I earned this. See you soon, brother.

I’m better now.

Don’t hate myself quite that much any more.

Location: home, sick
Mood: unsettled
Music: son, if you can hold on, if you can hold on, hold on
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Go nuts

You can’t just eat peanut butter all day


My son is definitely my kid.

When my mother-in-law stayed with me, she marveled that I ate an entire jar of peanut butter every 4-5 days. Nate may beat me.

Me: Kid, you can’t just eat peanut butter all the time…
Son: (refuses to eat dinner, throws it)
Me: (exasperated) You can’t…you can’t just eat…nevermind. (sighs, goes to kitchen) I give up. Here (handing him a spoon , bowl, and an open jar) go nuts.
Him (takes spoon, beams)
Me: Not literally nuts, per se – a peanut is a legume. (shakes head) Man, I hope you’re a nice, nerdy kid when you grow up.
Him: (smiles)

Was planning on seeing some other friends in Harlem for the fights on Saturday when I got a call.

Daisy: I’m thinking of coming over later.
Me: What if I have plans?
Her: You’ll break them for me.
Me: Dammit, this is true. (thinking) OK, bring food cause I got nuthin but rum, peanut butter, and baby food.

Location: home, in front of some peanut butter
Mood: resigned
Music: Oh no – having trouble finding out which way to go
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Thanks, George

Let’s hope 2017 is better

Clocks in a New York City flea market

As a break from my usual tales of woe, lemme tell you some stories.

In sixth grade, the girl I had a crush on wore a shirt that said GO GO. Had no idea what it was about but, of course, I had to find out. No internet meant asking the popular kids, who just rolled their eyes because I never heard about WHAM!

Got my hands on a tape of them and I thought that they were ok. They were no Beatles but not altogether terrible.

Found out later that, as a child, George Michael was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to him.

And here’s why it matters to me that he just died: It was honestly, the first time I really thought that the trajectory of my life might be different than it was. That even though I was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to me, that it didn’t always have to be that way.

So I kept listening to him, impressed that he wrote and produced almost all of what he sang.

Enough that, when I had scraped together enough scratch from busing tables at the local Italian joint, the first two CDs I ever bought were Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun and Wham’s Music from the Edge of Heaven.

That girl that I had a crush on and I grew up together so that, when Faith came out, we were pretty good friends. By then, I’d decided that George was the coolest guy in the world. I bought shiny aviator glasses like he wore in the video. Because that’s what kids do.

The crush girl told me I looked like a bug. Told her that if it was good enough for George, it was good enough for me. He was old news, she said – but not to me.

Listened to I Knew You Were Waiting by George Michael and Aretha Franklin as I wrote my college essay. It was one of the few songs he didn’t write but that didn’t matter that much to me.

When I got to college, the two albums of my freshman year were Naughty by Nature and George’s Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Dude never released Volume 2. I woulda bought it.

Discussing music, my first freshman writing teacher said George wasn’t that great. He was no Beatle and, to her, somewhat terrible. I said she should give it a chance. She gave me a B+ instead.

It was always Waiting for that Day from that’s meant the most to me. Don’t think he ever even released a video for it but there’s a part that goes:

I just sit here on this mountain thinking to myself
You’re a fool boy
Why don’t you go down
Find somebody
Find somebody else
My memory serves me far too well

It dovetails nicely with a Chinese story I told you once about a man who sat on a mountain waiting sixty years for a flower to bloom as penance for betraying the woman he loved.

Suppose we’re all waiting for someone and someday. I heard that the man George loved the most in his life died just six months after he met him, which I always thought was terribly sad. His mom passed from cancer when he was just 34.

That’s the thing with tragedy, it gives you depth, but at such a price.

Maybe that’s why the songs I loved from him the most were about waiting and longing, two things I knew well growing up and, unfortunately, even now.

As it turns out, the person that I was waiting for in my mountain of brick and mortar was Alison. I wait for her still.

But I digress. Rumor has it that he died overweight and alone. That really bothers me. Perhaps it’s because that’s how I imagined I’d be now when I was a kid.

I could go on for a while. Just lemme say: George, you were the soundtrack to my childhood and you gave me hope that my life might be different for the better. And it was. In some ways, it still is, and others, far worse than I could have imagined.

Thanks for the hope, man. As for me, I hope you find the love the next life that eluded you in this one.

Me: I think my very favorite song from him is I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.
Her: I don’t like that song.
Me: How are we married?!


Crap, Debbie Reynolds died also. It’s like all the little bits of my childhood are determined to go before the year’s out.

This song sums up my thoughts as to her:

Here’s to 2017; let’s hope its better for everyone.

\’

Location: lying on the floor, listening to George, trying to get some relief for my @#$@#$ back
Mood: nostalgic
Music: Seems to me the peace I search to find ain’t going to be mine
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It’s been a year; here’s what happened that night

Searching for NED

Alison pregnant

As I write this, Alison sits outside talking to the baby.

A year ago around this time, she and I excitedly hopped a cab to the hospital a few blocks away to have our first child. This was after years of disappointments. That’s a picture of her above just before the big day.

Didn’t tell you all about her being pregnant because we’d been disappointed, oh, so many times.

Words can’t really describe how it felt during that time. To say that we were excited and happy doesn’t really doesn’t do justice to amount of joy we had.

Nate’s birth was, thankfully, quiet and uneventful. But Alison was…off.

She was clumsy, which has always been my role in the relationship. She was never clumsy. But we all just attributed it to her being a first time mother.

Five short days later, she said simply, “Something’s wrong” and collapsed, shaking into a terrifying full seizure.

The ambulance came and took her away to the exact same hospital that we were just at to give birth to Nate. I went with her. After several anxious hours in the ER, the doctor said that her blood looked “great.” We breathed a sign of relief.

But, there’s something on your CAT scan.

To this day, dunno why he didn’t lead with that.

A few anxiety and tear filled days later, another young doctor pulled me into his room and he pulled up her MRIs.

Even as a lay person, I immediately knew something was wrong. The cancer looked as it were half her brain.

Me: Is she dying?
Doctor: (coughing) Well…we’re all dying, aren’t we?

I wanted to punch him in his cowardly face. We weren’t getting the most emotionally intelligent doctors here. It didn’t matter anyway. I knew the moment I saw the picture. We only had a few months.

Got up and walked over and somehow told her what it was. She didn’t believe me at first. It must be some mistake, she said. But it wasn’t.

Words can’t really describe how it felt during that time. To say that we were anxious and terrified really doesn’t do justice to the amount of heartbreak we had.

Unbelievably, I had to repeat the process several gut-wrenching times over the next few months.

Dunno how much time I spent with her. Could have been an hour. Could have been thirty.

Then I told her that I had to go to the bathroom. Walked out the door and asked a nurse where the nearest one was.

Out the door to the right, and then another right. It’ll be on your left.

Thanked her, made a right, another right, and stepped into the bathroom on the left. Walked into the stall, and sat there by myself and said, “What the f___?”

Dunno how much time I spent there. Could have been a minute. Could have been thirty.

Afterward, got up, walked over to the sink, and told myself that I could do this. That she could do this. Splashed cold water on myself to make sure it wasn’t all a bad dream and I needed to wake up. It wasn’t. Repeated it just in case.

Nope, still in this goddamn hospital. So I went out, made a right, then a left, and then sat with her for another week in that goddamn hospital.

Alison cried every hour after that. I cried every night. At the time, it was the worst period of my life. Didn’t realize that there could be – and was – far worse to come. Said it before, there’s always more room for down (and the link before this comment is to an entry where we lost yet another baby).

Yet things have somehow improved, slightly. At least to the point where Alison is stable, for now. For some, this would be enough but it’s not for me. Like Bligh, I want us to go home.

Wish we could go back into time before she was brittle, or to the future, to see how she and the boy are.

Brain cancer is something so deadly that, unlike other cancers, there’s no such thing as remission. Instead, the best you can hope for is something they call NED: No Evidence of Disease.

We’re not there. There’re two small pieces of tumor still in her head. Like bullet fragments inching towards her soul. I’ll never sleep soundly again until they’re gone. Until we see NED. Even then, I’ll always be uneasy.

But the doctors didn’t think that she was going to last more than a few months. So we’re slightly hopeful.

And, as I’ve done throughout my life, I’ll struggle with whether or not the hope is a good or bad thing. And we wait for NED.

Her: (a year ago today, crying) Will I die?
Me: I won’t lie to you; it’s not good. But I won’t let you. Be strong, ok? We got a kid now. He needs you.
Her: (through tears) It’s not fair. I only had a few days with him.
Me: You’re right, it’s not fair. But you’ll get more days. I promise. I’ll do whatever it takes for you to get more days.

Nate just a few seconds old

\’

Location: home, waiting for more tests
Mood: pensive
Music: build time machines to go and get us back, back before we were brittle
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Stay, Gold

Stay Gold

Gold Statue
My dad told me a story once of a man who had a block of gold. He buried it in his yard and would dig it up periodically to admire it before burying it again.

One day, someone stole it and the man was inconsolable. But his friends told him to paint a rock gold and look at that. Because he didn’t use the gold, there really wasn’t a difference between a piece of gold and rock painted gold.

The moral of the story was that money has value only when it’s used properly. But I always thought it a weird story – the man knew what was real gold and what was paint.

Ended up bringing my wife to the emergency room again this past week. Was hoping to avoid it but we didn’t have a choice.

I’ll simply say that this time, I didn’t collapse to my knees but it was still pretty horrible. Waiting to find out more information and the waiting is excruciating.

I’m a lawyer, amongst other things. Not a doctor nor a nurse. I’m not qualified to do much of what I’m actively doing now. But I’m also an auto-didactic.

And the thing I need to figure out is how to save my family. Amazingly, Alison is not the only person in my life with a life-threatening aggressive cancer. In fact, there are three people I love in my life with life-threatening illnesses.

All of which seem to be reaching their nadir at once.

I think I’m of above-average intelligence. Figure most people think the same about themselves.

Yet, what’s the point of all the intelligence in the world if I cannot use to save my family? It’s like that guy with the piece of gold – all my intelligence is useless if I can’t use for the only thing that I care about in this rotten world.

Ever read The Outsiders? There was a kid there named Ponyboy that read a poem called Nothing Gold Can Stay.

So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

His friend Johnny implored him to “stay gold” in a world that’ll hollow out anything of value in you.

In my tin life, my family is only thing of any real value and they are all suffering. The only thing I want is for them to somehow stay.

I have to figure out a way to make that happen.

 

\’

Location: heading to the east side
Mood: weak
Music: I want it real. Run away with me now
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Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili

It’s been pretty cold here

Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.Photo credit: leitesculinaria.com

I’m writing this as I wait for a plumber to come and look at a pipe in my building. It’s so cold here that there’s a chunk of ice in an insulated pipe here in my apartment.

Supposed to be at a meeting at 11AM but instead, I’m sitting here as the temperature in the house slowly drops.

Tried to stay indoors as much as possible this past week or so but I had to head out for a number of things. During one of those things yesterday, I smashed my cell phone.

Again.

This time, though, there’s not gonna be a replacement. So irritated with myself.

Things just keep on breaking around me. Don’t think that electronics and I were meant to get along.

In any case, do you know just how cold is it here? It’s so cold that I’ve run through all the chili that was supposed to last me until March.

There’s a myth that gunfighter Kit Carson’s last words were: Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili. They weren’t, it was actually, Goodbye, friends. Adios, compadres.

But regardless, I can appreciate the sentiment.

While walking around in sub-zero temperatures yesterday, all I could think was, I’d rather be home with the wife and a hot bowl of red.

And if this plumber doesn’t show up soon, those may be my last thoughts as well.

Brrrrrrrrrrr!

Location: in my apartment, waiting
Mood: turning into an icicle
Music: Cold is the color of crystal the snow light
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A long and strange day

Doctors appointments, holiday parties, and violence

Scrubs at the doc's

Saw three doctors yesterday.

My day started at 5:30AM with a colonoscopy scheduled for 9AM. This meant a night of disgustingness the night before and then more of the same that morning.

Once I arrived, got right to work.

Doctor: I’m going to give you some anesthesia. It’ll feel like you had some wine. Do you want red or white?
Me: White. I’m more of a rum runner though.
Him: Rum we don’t have. See you in a little bit, Mr. Lo.

Woke up feeling pretty groggy. Got a Starburst afterward so there was that.

After I got home, got dressed and headed over to a completely different doctor’s office for an MRI for my shoulder. Turns out I have a torn infraspinatus in my left shoulder.

Doctor: Do you have any other questions?
Me: About life?
Her: (laughing) I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer all questions on life.

There was another doctor I saw but that’s a different matter. Then it was off to my office for our holiday party.

Having not eaten much in the last few days, devoured my weight in kosher sushi and pasta – an odd mix but perfect for a guy like me.

Co-Worker: You’re here? After seeing the doctor?
Me: THREE doctors. But I never miss a workday when there’s food involved.

Finally, headed out to teach my fencing class. Didn’t make it to bed until about midnight.

All-in-all a long and weird day that I’m glad is over.

Hope you have a much quieter, less eventful, and doctor-free next few days, folks.

Welcome to Greenwich Village NYC 2014

Location: home, resting
Mood: hungry
Music: Could we have kippers for breakfast?
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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Going down memory lane

William Street Subway Station NYC

Because I have all these deadlines, been all over the city the past few weeks again.

Similarly, my brother, who’s in town, has been driving around a few miles north of the city for a bit.

He actually managed to stop by where we grew up and took a buncha photos while he was up there, all of which took my breath away. Haven’t seen these places in 30+ years.

One picture stands out in my mind though, this one here. It’s panoramic so you can see what my street was like.

Here’s why it sticks out; that building is new but I still recognize the street and the entrance towards it. And I remember it clearly because my parents – who had no money for anything – would bring us there for our recreation.

To me, it was the the most exciting place on the planet for a six year old. I think I would go nuts at the prospect of going.

We would sit and read for hours. I suspect my mom left us there for a while because she figured no one would wanna kidnap two Chinese nerds.

But that was fine by me.

I wonder how much those years influenced my life. The sitting by my lonesome and just reading. My brother is the same way.

I’m looking forward to finishing up this spate of work for a number reasons – like to spend time with my wife and friends.

But I also want to sit by my lonesome and finish up a book I’ve been reading for a while now.

The more things change, yeah?

Location: my desk for now
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I may find myself delayed on the road to New Orleans
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The story of Tyre, Alexander, and the Elvis Barbershop

The Siege of Tyre and things that matter

Screen Shot of the Elvis Barbershop
Somewhere across the world, there’s a barbershop in Lebanon called the Elvis Barbershop. It’s located at the red marker you see above.

There’s nothing particularly interesting about the Elvis Barbershop except that I like its name – who names a barbershop “Elvis?”

It’s located in the city of Tyre, which is a peninsula off of the mainland.

Siege of Tyre.
Siege of Tyre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But it wasn’t always a peninsula. It was an island for probably millions of years when Alexander the Great came by in 332 BC.

Alexander (Al, to his friends) had taken over much of the area and this was the last bit to be conquered. But the inhabitants of Tyre refused to surrender because they were an island fort with 200 ft (60 meter) walls.

And they were so arrogant that they tossed Alexander’s ambassadors over the walls to their deaths.

So Al filled in the land between the mainland and the island, pulled his weapons over, and laid siege to the island – now peninsula – for 70  days.

Afterward, he conquered the city-fortress and destroyed everything.

Fast-forward 2,400 years and there’s a fella in the world – presumably named Elvis – that has a barbershop on the ground that Alexander laid. An act only ancillary to Al’s main goal still affects the world to this day.

I’ve mentioned Alexander the Great in this blog and buncha times, mainly because he had such a profound effect on the world and how I look it.

Thought about all this because someone contacted me and said that something I wrote affected his life.

I think we all hope that the things we do have some lasting good effect far beyond ourselves.

The hope that somewhere in our wicked, wicked childhoods, we must have done something good that means something to someone.

Location: off to wrassle
Mood: thrilled
Music: nothing comes from nothing
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