Isolation Days 16-18: Not sure what’s me

(Virtually) Drinking with Friends

I spend my days completely alone, overthinking everything.

But, ever since I put up my virtually drinking with friends, others have reached out to me to do the same, which I appreciate and do when I’m mentally able to do it.

It’s nice to seeing who checks in on you.

RW: Happy Hour on zoom at 5:30p!
Me: I’m in.

Of course, I check in on some people as well…

Me: What’s going on with you?
NM: Do you know I moved?
Me: You might’ve told me. I don’t remember a lot of the past few years. Except for the things I don’t wanna remember – that stuff I remember.

Still others are mutual…

Me: We’re finally chatting! How’s quarantine?
KT: Well, I’m an essential worker so I don’t know. I’m back to work on Monday. Hey, we’re dressed alike!

Still others are as if it’s business as usual…

CV: Wait, I must’ve told you about this. It was back when I lived in Westchester.
Me: Dude, if it happened in the last five years, you probably did. I just don’t remember. I don’t remember a lotta things from the last five years.
CV: OK, here’s what happened…
Me: (later) I don’t hate him like you guys. I just think he’s lame.

Not everything was fun and games, though. Some interactions just drag me further into my head, even when it’s not intentional.

Him: One of my friends couldn’t do another shift at the hospital. So, I covered for him.
Me: (sighing) On the one hand, I’m proud of you that you’re helping people. On the other hand…
Him: I know. I’ll be careful.

I didn’t take pictures of alla them. Some I forgot…

Her: So, I’m dating someone.
Me: That’s great, how’d…
Her: (interrupting) Not really. I was just about to break up with him and then all this happened.
Me: (laughing) Only you, HEI…

…others I remembered but misplaced the pictures, and still others refused to let me take pics.

Her: God, no, Logan! I’m on day 10 of quarantine. You’re lucky I’m even video-chatting with you.
Me: (scoffing) Look at me, I look like a shaggy dog. I should shave.

The one that most affected me, though, had to do with the girl from this entry, way back when. An immediate family member of hers has the same cancer as Alison, glioblastoma.

Her: Are you ok talking about this?
Me: No. But I will. If I can help, I will.

Can’t seem to escape it. It’s everywhere these days; death, Alison’s cancer, cancer in general, and health issues like this pandemic. It grinds me down.

How do you escape your own thoughts? I’m a prisoner in my own head.

Me: I don’t believe there’s a god. If there is, he either hates us or is fat, orange, and stupid and only likes his fat, orange, and stupid creations.
Her: Well, it does seem like he has favorites, that’s for sure.

I try to stop eating and drinking by 6:30 every night. It’s part of intermittent fasting. Lost four pounds since this whole thing started.

But lately, I find myself drinking later and later. I tell myself that it’s only for now. Then again, I tell myself a lotta things.

Her: I’m surprised you’re all by yourself and didn’t find someone to keep you company. That doesn’t seem like you.
Me: I’m trying to avoid everyone these days. Besides, I’m  not sure what’s me anymore, anyways.

Location: a couch, being told about the Tiger King
Mood: weird
Music: I’m all but a victim in my prison head (Spotify)
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Hacking it

Seeking efficiencies

Been sick for the past week or so. Damn, that party really took it all out of me – prob more the setup than the actual party, TBH.

Coughed so hard that I blew out a blood vessel in my eye the other day.

But it’s also given me time to think.

When I was a kid – 11, maybe? – there was a store we all called Angie’s that sold these flying saucer type toy guns for, say, $2.00. But they were always sold out of them.

One day, found a store that sold them for $1. Figured I’d sell them for $1.50, a 50% markup but still 25% less than Angie.

So I took all of my savings, bought every gun I get my hands on, and brought them back to Queens.

Took me a while, but I ultimately sold alla them. My dad asked me where I got all the scratch I had and I sheepishly told him.

Afterward, he smiled, reached into his pocket and gave me double the amount I made.

Him: You made an honest dollar and you helped people. You get rewarded for doing things like that.

That was my very first business deal and I remember it to this day.

I bring it up for two reasons. The first is that I was chatting with my buddy Cable. He asked me about my past.

Him: Is it true?
Me: You really wanna know?
Him: Yeah, tell me.
Me: OK, make yourself comfortable. (15 minutes later) …and I did what any good Chinese boy would do; I sunk it all into real estate.
Him: I’ve always wondered about that. That explains so much.

I call it hacking: I hack my life.

Another example: The program that I use the most is something called Dropbox – my buddy Rick told me about it…10 years ago?

It’s free for 2GB of space; the next step up is $120 a year.

I did the math and figured out that if I used the free referral link they had, I could buy ad space on Google to advertise my referral code. Some rando would get an extra 500mb, I would get an extra 500mb, and Dropbox would get a new customer. Win-win-win.

Even cooler, I had a $100 credit for Google cost-per-click buys, so I used that, and netted…well, check out below:

So, for $0 across a decade, I’ve had 28.2GB of Dropbox space. The max is actually 16GB, but I hacked that too. That’s another story.

I’m not so much bragging – ok, I am, but it takes me 10-35 years for me to brag/talk about stuff – so much as I’m trying to explain what fascinates and drives me.

In The Godfather, Vito saw the world as two groups: pezzonovante or puppets.

Don Corleone: … I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That’s my life, I don’t apologize for that. But I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, something.
Michael: Another pezzonovante.

But I’ve always felt there was a third option: Someone in the margins of society, exploiting inefficiencies while maybe making life a little better.

Those are my people: The Devil. Rain. Sheridan. We’re the hustlers that eat-what-we-kill. There’re few of us left. The grey men.

This is all prelude to the second reason I’m walking down nostalgia lane with you: A business associate recently presented me with a problem for which I think I have an elegant solution. It’s a gamble. But I believe in my power to hack things. So does she.

In some ways, it was that belief that crushed my soul the past few years; I think I felt the weight of Alison and my father’s death even more heavily because I felt I should have figured it out.

“It” being cancer. How fucking arrogant is that?

That’s what I’ve prided myself on my entire life; seeing things that other people didn’t see. I consumed every medical article I could get my hands on to try to hack that fucking thing.

In the end, I bought Alison and my dad a few more months/years, but at such a cost. Yet another bit of guilt for my soul to enjoy.

Him: You can’t hold yourself responsible for them dying of cancer.
Me: (drunk) Yeah? (laughing) Watch me…

And I hated myself so much for being able to figure out alla these meaningless bullshit things like Dropbox and toy guns, but not figure out the things that might have saved the people I loved.

I’m only now able to take solace in the fact that it was a fool’s errand, but at least it was borne of love. And I’m nuthin if not an arrogant fool for love…

In any case, I have a new puzzle to fill my otherwise dull and vicious life.

The stakes are more than toy guns but less than cancer. If I figure it out, I’ll tell you all about it.

In about 10-30 years.

Me: There’s actually a lot more. But that’s enough for today. Every day, we choose the life we’re gonna live. I choose to set myself apart. In my head, I’m in the world, but separate from it.

Location: bed
Mood: coffee/cough-y
Music: Staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end

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Sorry, Wrong Meeting

What wins I can get

Been working for and with startups since I was in my late teens. Some of them became huge entities, others pretty big deals. Most, however, fizzled out with little-to-nothing to show for themselves.

Many of them paid me in stock options or some form of equities. You see, I remember reading about Robert X. Cringley as a kid and was determined not to make the same mistake he did – passing up the opportunity to be on the ground floor of a major world player.

Although, I kinda did that when I turned down being an early employee of Cnet to go to law school. But that’s neither here nor there.

In any case, a legal client of mine just got acquired by a public entity which means that I actually have stock in a company that’s worth something. It’s nothing huge, at all.

Still, it’s something new and a win. I’ll take any weekday wins I can get.

Her: What does this mean?
Me: It means that I can get that monthly Metrocard I’ve been saving up for.

Speaking of lawyers, been talking to a whole slew of them lately, for a variety of reasons.

Him: Nope, he’s still a republican, despite everything. He’s been one for 30 years, he’s not changing now.
Me: Do you know what the definition of “stubborn” is?
Him: I think so?
Me: It’s, “Not changing course despite good arguments or reasons to do so.” That’s the difference between [your client] and us [lawyers]. We don’t waste our time on a losing issue. 
Him: (joking) Unless they pay full-freight, which he kinda does. And all lawyers are grey. That’s why people hate us.
Me: (nodding) I’m nuthin if not the grey man. Speaking of hate, did you ever watch The Jeffersons when you were a kid? 
Him: I know of it, never really watched it, though.
Me: There was an episode called Sorry, Wrong Meeting. George is at a meeting fulla white racists and one of them gets a heart attack. George hates them but decides he can’t let the guy die so he gives the guy CPR and saves his life. When the guy comes to and realizes that it was a black person that saved his life, he tells his son: “You should have let me die.” Whenever I hear the word ‘stubborn,’ I think of that. They’ll die before they just let their petty nonsense go and have a peaceful life. Your client’s no different from the farmers going bankrupt but continuing to vote for Trump.
Him: Thank god for that! We’d starve if not for people like them. (laughing) You know, the animal most closely associated with stubbornness is an ass?
Me: (nodding) Maybe that’s why they sit where they sit and we sit where we sit.

Was planning to surprise Gradgirl this past weekend in Paris when I realized neither of us are the people we once were, which is probably a good thing, all things considered.

Need to listen to that voice in my head more often.

Location: home, asking her how the boy did today
Mood: ambitious
Music: I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you

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I sit where I sit and you sit where you sit

Lowe alley

When Alison passed, I made a conscious decision to not see old friends. They all knew Alison to varying degrees and I didn’t want to be reminded of her. Of the life I lost.

Also, I was planning on hurting myself. So I didn’t want them to be in more pain if I did.

Instead, I started hanging out with my gym friends and other people that knew only distantly.

Figured that if I was gonna go, they’d all get over it pretty quickly.

The diseased mind is pretty diseased.

I’m much better now.

Interestingly, I’m now legitimately friends with a lotta of these people, whom I thought of as just scaffolding. Most of them are far younger than me, so they ask me for advice and I give it when I think I have something useful to say.

Then put it all away in the vault. Unless I put it up in this here blog.

A woman I know is seeing two fellas, both of whom don’t want anything serious, as she says as well. But she thinks that one of them is developing feelings for her.

Her: So, should I stop seeing him?
Me: No. You’re not a stalker.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: It means that you’re not trying to read his mind. He said he wants it casual and to see other people. You have to take that at face value.
Her: I get the feeling…
Me: (interrupting) Stop. Don’t say what dude stalkers and rapists say. Things like, “I know she really wants me. She’s just being coy.” Or whatever. When people tell you what they want – or don’t want – you should believe them. People tell you what they’re all about if you listen.

After she left I started thinking that I should take my own advice when an old friend contacted me.

Him: How’s the kid?
Me: He’s good. Just waiting for him to be old enough to make some scratch and start pulling his own weight around here.
Him: (laughs) You becoming a tiger mom?
Me: No. But he’s the best parts of me and Alison. He could be someone.
Him: You coulda been someone. You chose to be like everyone else.
Me: I chose to have quiet life with the woman I loved and a kid or two if we were lucky. We weren’t. That’s why you sit where you sit and I sit where I sit.
Him: Didn’t you once say, We make our own luck in this world?
Me: I did. Before I realized that everything I touch turns to shit.
Him: Not everything. (thinking) And maybe that’s what he’ll want: A normal life.
Me: If he does, I hope he gets it. One of us should. I’d rather it be him anywho. I’d bear it all, if I knew he’d be ok. Alison too. She said if she knew that what she was going through was taking pain from him, she’d do a million times over.
Him: (sighs, nods) Yeah.

Location: meeting up with Joe and boy on 61st
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ve forgotten my past. I am only a mask, just a pretender
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My entire life

I was…

  • 6 when I had my first memory – it was about food (yoghurt) – and Alison was born.
  • 7 when I went to the hospital for a fever – imagine how smart I’d be if I never had it?
  • 8 when I had my first, of thousands, of gyros. Battlestar Galatica 1980 just aired.
  • 9 when I first saw the building that my father would eventually die in.
  • 10 when I killed something for the first time with my grandma, a chicken.
  • 11 when I read the book 1984.
  • 13 when my best friend left for college (long story). I lost 50 pounds and stopped being fat.
  • 14 when I learned how to drive with my dad and got my first job, a busboy.
  • 15 when I first noticed a girl that noticed me back. She said I was cute. No one that didn’t give birth to me ever said that to me before her. It was on the same block where I just had AYCE Korean food.
  • 16 when I had my first kiss with a girl that had a punk haircut. I was just awful to her.
      • As an aside, when I was in my mid-20s, I drove by her house and randomly decided to see if she was home. She was. I put on an apron and chopped up a ginormous chocolate bar into chips while she baked cookies. She kissed me on my cheek when I left and told me she forgave me. Never saw or heard from her again. Word is that she’s married in Colorado now and raises horses.
  • 17 when I got my first car and Mouse was born.
  • 18 when I started writing for serious.
  • 19 when the insomnia started for serious.
  • 20 when I got my first real job where I had a desk.
  • 21 when I started my own business. I still have it even now and it’s (usually) my primary source of income.
  • 22 when I started doing club work and met demons that looked human. Beat out PriceWaterhouse and IBM for a Madison Ave project that paid for my rent (and my landlord’s Ducati) for two years in one shot.
  • 23 when I went to law school with the scratch from the clubs and biz.
    • (23-25 didn’t exist because: Working and in law school)
  • 26 when I started in a law firm and stopped doing club work. Was 26.5 when I left and joined a Fortune 500 company. Passed the bar on the first try.
  • 27 when I got my first raise and promotion.
  • 28 when I flew around the world and some assholes flew fucking planes into my goddamn city. I also told someone that loved me that I didn’t love her and that I was sorry. She left my side of the country.
  • 29 when I left my only salaried job, met a German tourist at a dive bar, traveled around Europe with her, broke up, and started doing what I do now. These were busy years.
  • 30 when I met the first person I thought I loved. I was mistaken.
  • just 31 when I bought the pad I live in now with Harold and the boy.
  • 32 when I saw my grandparents for the last time because I always thought I’d have time.  We always think we’ll have time.
  • 33 when the woman I lived with left and I thought it was the lowest point of my life. I was mistaken. Again.
  • 34 wrote that a frog in a well knows nothing of the ocean. Been thinking of this a lot lately for reasons I’ll tell you about onea these days.
Me at 30

Between this entry you’re reading now, and the rest of my blog, you essentially have the sum of my life on your screen.

What a meaningless life I’ve lived before 2015.

But I know I’ve changed the course of some people’s lives and that of their families. I think at least two but I hope more –  cause no man’s an island – but I’d be ok if it were just two.

Speaking of two, I look at my little family of two and think to myself that I’m actually happy.

Because I love this kid and I have a purpose again. To make him into something Cellini might recognize. To teach him how to fight monsters. To let him know he’s so loved.

It’s not quite the family I’ve always wanted but he’s still the best thing I’ve got.

Me: What did you see today?
Him: Thunderbirds!
Me: (quizzically) A thunderbolt?
Him: No. (enunciating) A thun…der..bir..d.
Me: Ah, gotcha. “Thunderbird.” Man, Manhattan’s got it all, huh?

Location: earlier today, Riverside Park
Mood: relieved
Music: Give me a paper and a pen so I can write about my life of sin

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Butterfly or man?

Unexpected places

Him: Are you alive, Logan?
Me: Biologically? Yes. I respirate, ambulate, defecate, urinate, and – occasionally – fornicate. But everything’s a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy again. (looking at my hand) And my goddamn hands won’t stop shaking.

This fella named Zhuangzi once wrote that he had a dream that he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.

For the rest of his life, he wondered if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or whether he was a butterfly, dreaming he was a man.

Between that story and the that line about everything being a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy is how I’d describe functioning recently.

I use “functioning” loosely. Dunno what real and what’s for sale.

The last two months have been rough but the last week has been absolutely surreal. I’ll tell you about what I can when I can.

However, some things are clearer in my head than they’ve been in a while, which I think is probably a good thing.

I once said that all of your life’s problems can be divided up into health, wealth, and relationships.

If one goes south, you’re a wreck. Two, you need to stop everything and right the ship. Three…you need help.

All three came down on me in the past 10 days in unexpected ways. Very unexpected ways.

But help comes from unexpected places too.

Fiction

Him: Here. (hands me cash)
Me: That’s a lot more than the gig required. Honestly, the kid coulda handled it himself. (thinking) If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying give me some pity scratch.
Him: (slight smile)That doesn’t sound like me. But I do think I owe you like $5K.
Me: That you earned. (thinking) Someone’s been breaking into alla my accounts. Is it you?
Him: I’m old school. You know I don’t do tech. (shaking head) I’m a businessman now. For everything you think of me…. Look, we were kids. I’m sorry.
Me: A chick I met at a party once told me that I hurt people and I laughed and said, “If I’m honest, how can I hurt anyone?” But I get it now. Everyone’s sorry for the awful things they do to others. I know I am. (laughing) You know, at this point in time, you may be the only friend that knows who I really am and stuck around?
Him: What’re you saying?
Me: I’m saying I  hope this isn’t a long con, man. I’m rough. I need sleep. I need scratch. I just wanna forget everyone and everything but the boy.
Him: You already got fucked by the world. For what it’s worth, I betrayed you when you were up. You have rules? I have fucking rules too. I don’t kick a man when he’s down. And you – friend – are the most down motherfucker I know. Like you said, it’s all just time and chance. We’re not kids anymore, hustling nickels and dimes. (sighing) Keep the money. Get some sleep, Logan.

/Fiction

Location: nightmareland, still
Mood: so exhausted
Music: It couldn’t be a dream, cause too real it all seems

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Twice as good

Friday Pt. 2

A few weeks ago, I changed all my locks. Here’s a bit of fiction that’s more interesting than, “I just wanted to.”

Me: (walking in) HOLY ____BALLS! What the ____, man!?
Him: (sitting on my couch) Hello, Logan. I was worried about you. You weren’t returning my messages.

We ended up chatting for a bit.

Me: Why do you care so much? Who am I to you?
Him: (laughing) You may be the last honest man in New York.  (thinking) In a city of bulls_____rs, you’re a man of your word. You’re unicorn. Who doesn’t wanna know a unicorn? Especially in my profession. (later) Like you said, rare things are valuable. That’s why.

/fiction

RE Mike, Caligirl, Daisy, and Gradgirl have all called me a unicorn in the past too. I thought that was interesting.

To continue from my last entry, I was supposed to meet up with someone at 1:30AM so I thought I’d take the long walk home when I realized I was in front of Kathy and Ricky’s. It was after midnight but I figured they were good friends.

We ended up having some fine aged rum on their roof.

Me: I’ve never been jealous of anyone. But you, Cappy, and the fellas have what I’ve always wanted, family.
Him: (joking) You were always with one hot women or another. That’s pretty good.
Me: (nodding) It’s pretty good. But it’s not family. (looking away) Family’s the one thing I don’t get. F__k all. (looking at watch) I gotta go.
Him: Can’t stay for another drink?
Me: No. I’ve gotta meet someone.

A little while later, I see another old friend. He was with a young man I’d not met before.

Him: Logan! Meet John.
John: So, you’re the Logan I’ve heard so much about. (smirking) Are you as good as he says you are?
Me: (sitting down) I’m half as good as I wanna be. (sighing) But twice as good as he says I am. Let’s see what you’ve got.

It was late when I get home. For reasons I can’t fully – or don’t wanna – explain, I slept on my couch.

“Slept” is a relative term. The insomnia’s definitely back and it’s not leaving anytime soon.

I feel dull and vicious again but don’t wanna be.

I’m Sleepy Logan again, also – swimming on dry land and hoping not to f__k up the real Logan’s life.

I’ll tell you a story about a dreamer and butterfly one day, but for now, I hope to sleep and dream of the people I love.

Or at least sleep. That’d be nice too.


I just washed all my color clothes with bleach and hot water. This is not good.

I’ll be posting a lot this week cause Sleepy Logan and I’ve been awake and doing stuff.

Lotsa stuff.

Only mildly interesting.

Location: between dusk and dawn
Mood: so goddamn tired
Music: Let the rain fall, I don’t care

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What will you do?

Sober and productive

I’ve got a ton going on in my life and it’s hard to sort it all out.

Mouse finally wrote me. The details are her story to tell, not mine. We had an agreement and I intend to stick to it until she tells me otherwise.

Speaking of sticking to things, I allowed myself to go on a constant string of benders for May as long as I was sober by June. Well, June’s fast approaching.

It’s a good thing, cause Pac and some other friends are worried about me. He brought over some fried chix the other day – which he knows I never turn down.

Me: Why are you so concerned? I’m a high-functioning drinker.
Him: That’s why I’m worried. I never see you sloppy drunk. You don’t turn red. You don’t slur your speech. You just…drink a ____ton. I’ve never seen someone drink as much as you and be that normal.
Me: That’s the power of rum. Plus I know my limits. (getting two glasses) Look, May’s almost over. (pouring him a drink) Almost. I’ll be fine.
Him: (takes it) OK…

Speaking of fried chicken, he actually cooked some the other day as well and insisted that I post something about it, so here’s a pic:

I’m joking, it was delicious. When he’s not almost blowing up my apartment, he’s a good friend.

Another buddy came by with a full bottle of rum this past weekend. He never drank rum before. We essentially finished off a bottle between the two of us; he brought the Pyrat below and we alternated between that and the Black Seal.

The next day, he wrote me.

Him: You were right, that rum has no hangover.

In many respects, he and I are in very similar situations with the women in our lives as both of us are kinda in limbo. Well, he still is.

Me: What will you do?
Him: Wait until she gets back and hope it works out. And if it doesn’t, go back out there.

I actually feel how worried everyone is, which I find surprising. Cause if I was gonna do anything, it woulda been a while ago.

Thanks to Mouse and the kid, I didn’t.

Another friend: May’s almost over and you survived it. And by yourself, too.
Me: Did I? Sometimes I wonder if little bits of me just die at a time insteada all at once. Maybe that’s why I’m not the person I used to be. 

The pastor from Vision Church also visited, as well as another buddy who – shockingly – never drinks. So I just had coffee and kombucha with them, respectively.

Because those were the most recent, I’ve been completely sober for a few days now.

Gotta say, it feels…odd. It’s like I was living in greyscale again and someone turned up the saturation, brightness, and contrast again.

In that time, I’ve:

      • Gone to the gym three times and did 100 pushups (not in a row) each day. That’s me, below, being choked out by Curt.
      • Read a crapton of stuff I’ve been saving up.
      • Replaced the deadbolt I’ve had for over 20 years on my gate with a new one, right quick.
        • Then replaced that deadbolt with a smart one that I unlock with my phone but only after using a Dremel to shave it into place.
      • Figured out a leak issue on my roof.
      • Finally fixed my washing machine with a screwdriver, a butter knife, $0.05 of compressed air, and $0.05 of WD-40.

I’m both sober and productive. And it’s not even June yet. I’m gonna call that a success, which, let’s face it, is a pretty low bar.

Still, I gotta say that I’m super proud of myself for fixing that washing machine.

It took three days – well, two days of drunkenly taking it apart with the first hour of the first day forgetting to unplug it, and then one sober day of reading the manual and fixing it. There was also a disastrous water overflow that reminded me of the night I met Mouse along with people from my gym. I was gonna post up half of this entry yesterday but had to clean up that spill (and troubleshoot the roof). But really that’s all beside the point; the main point is that it’s f

Fixed.

I’ll drink to that.

This is a super lengthy entry.

Was gonna tell you why I changed my lock but I’ll save that for another day.

Location: home, with a fully assembled and working washing machine, front gate, smart lock, and roof
Mood: sober – I know, I’m as surprised as you are
Music: I wish you well and hope you find whatever you’re looking for

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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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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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