You don’t have a soul…

…You are a soul

Four people I know – two acquaintances and two dear friends – lost their moms in the same number of weeks.

Rang the friend I’ve known the longest just recently to check in.

Bryson: I didn’t make it in time to see her. I was three goddamn hours away when I got the call. Because I know – because of what I’ve seen – I told them to do what they had to do with the body. I didn’t want to remember her that way.
Me: You don’t have to explain to me. You know, we don’t have souls. We *are* souls, we *have* bodies. You wanted to remember her soul – who she was to you – not her body. You made the right choice. If I could do it all over again…
Him: You should write that down. That was beautiful, thank you.
Me: It’s true. And true things are often beautiful. I’m sorry, brother. When I say, “I understand,” you know I do.
Him: Yeah, I know.

The boy’s been noticing that I’ve been sighing a lot.

Boy: Why do you (exhales sharply) so much?
Me: Because I think of your mama a lot these days. All the time, but more than usual these days.
Him: I miss her.
Me: Me too. But she gave me you and that makes it all a little better.
Him: I love mommy. To the moon and back.
Me: (sighing) Me too.
Him: You did it again.
Me: (nodding slightly) So I did. (boy leans over and hugs me)

Made me realize how lucky I am to still be able to ring up my mom at will so I did and told her I was going to see her this weekend.

Her: How about Sunday?
Me: That’s perfect.

As for my friend Bryson, told him I’d be there with rum any time he wanted.

Me: The kid’s away this weekend so if you’ve got time, I’m there.
Him: Thanks. I gotta clear up a few things but yeah. You know, we’ve known each other 30 years?
Me: Now you’re just being mean. (laughing) On a related-ish note, I lost 20 pounds! I’m so damn gorgeous now, if I were gay, I’d date myself.
Him: (laughs)
Me: I’ll see you soon, brother.
Him: See you soon, brother.

Right after I wrote this, I found out that Kirk Akahoshi passed away from stage four pancreatic cancer. He leaves behind a young wife named Jacki.

I know exactly what Jacki’s going through right now and I don’t envy her one bit.

It never goes away, that feeling of loss, helplessness, and anger.

It’s a horror and it’s all shit.

May she weather it the best she can. I hope she’s surrounded by good souls.

Here’s more of their story.

Location: the basement of my brain, again
Mood: gutted
Music: I will love you till my dying day
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Scaffolding and seasons

Like the finger pointing to the moon

Me: We should have a chat at some point soon.
Him: That sounds serious
Me: (shrugging) It’s not to me, but it might be to you.

In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee said, “It is like the finger pointing to the moon…”

He was paraphrasing the Shurangama Sutra, where the Buddha noted that, if someone points to the moon, don’t just look at the finger, because you’ll either:

      1. Miss the moon, or
      2. Think the finger is the moon

Got into an argument with someone recently and I said something in passing over the length of argument.

Found out from someone else that he mistook the passing remark as the crux of the argument. He mistook the finger for the moon.

Me: Wait, what…?! (rolling eyes) Oh for f___’s sake…THAT was his takeaway?

At some point, it’s meaningless trying to communicate to some people because you’re speaking English and they’re speaking Martian.

 

The boy’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been looking at all the people I’ve collected since he was born and everything went to hell.

Some people I’ve met have changed the path of my life, others have merely come and gone from my Venn Diagram, although I’m grateful for the experience, good or ill.

Boy: (in front of Grey’s Papaya on 72nd) The scaffolding. It’s gone. It looks different.
Me: Yes. Scaffolding is only supposed to be there a little while and then you take it down.
Him: Why?
Me: The building needed help for a while. And now it’s ok again.

Some people in your life are permanent while others are only seasons.

Figuring which ones are which, that’s the difficult part, I guess.

Location: earlier this morning, listening to the boy read to his class
Mood: nostalgic
Music: They say people in your life are seasons

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PSA: How to apologize

So, this is chivalry

It’s no great secret to say that a lotta people hated my old coach.

He knew it as well when he couldn’t figure out who, of his former students, tried to shut down his business.

Him: Was it you?
Me: I’m a lawyer. If I wanted you shut down, you’d be shut down. Plus, I’d want you to know it was me. (pause) You know both these things I’ve just said are true.

Wasn’t me because I was too busy trying not to kill myself and raise my son.

As I write these words, I’m amazed he thought he anything mattered enough to me to even bother. I think I was still sleeping with a bottle of rum next to me those days.

Plus, I never reached hate so much as pity and disappointment.

But I realized recently exactly what it was about him that bothered people on a visceral level while my son was watching Daniel Tiger: I don’t think that he ever learned how to properly apologize.

An apology consists of three steps:

      1. The words: “I’m sorry.”
      2. Some manifestation of contrition: “I feel awful about what I did; there’s no excuse.”
      3. And then some overt act to try make things right again.

Whenever he did anything untoward, he would either blame the other person, not mention it, or – and this was the best we could hope for – perhaps offer to buy us a lunch (step 3).

Don’t recall Steps 1 and 2 ever happening. Spoke to a few other former students and they agreed with me.

The last time we spoke, I asked him how he could be ok with so many people hating him – enough that someone was willing to ruin his life and business. He said he was fine with it.

That blew my mind.

Don’t mind being ignored – I wished for that as a kid. But to be hated so deeply by so many people who have known you for years shows a level of sociopathy that I don’t want anything to do with.

Who wants to be friends with someone that’s so ok with being hated?

Then again, I didn’t leave so much as I was asked to leave. In a very teenage sorta way:

Me: Wait, are you kicking me out?
Him: I’m not kicking you out, I just don’t think this is the gym for you.
Me: So, you’re kicking me out.
Him: No, I just don’t think this is the gym for you.
Me: So, I can come when one of the other instructors are here?
Him: No. It’s not a good fit.

You see, he told the Gymgirl/Mouse that if she dated anyone in the gym, he would kick the male out. If nothing else, he follows through.

This is despite the fact that she was a full-grown 28 year-old adult with brothers and a living father (which I only mention because it seems he thinks a male must be part of a female’s decision-making process). No matter, he knew best and he would make decisions on her personal life for her and she had no say.

It’s a special form of sexism that I, as a womanizer and a feminist, found repulsive. He called it chivalry.

I’ve always believed you don’t treat someone differently because they were or weren’t born with a particular organ.

You certainly don’t make decisions about their personal life if you’re being paid monthly to provide a service.

Mentioned this to my cousin, another former student, the other day.

Her: Wait, he said that? That’s so gross. I hate that.
Me: You and me both.

He never apologized to Mouse, or me, or anyone else for his poor behaviour. I wonder if it bothers him in the least.

Then again, we think he’s a sociopath so probably not.

I’m always surprised how many people have opinions on how two other consenting adults live their lives.

Oh well, not my circus, not my monkeys…

Here’s a picture of us just because I’m being petty. And she looks pretty in it.

Location: earlier today, another gym with three other former students
Mood: annoyed
Music: Burn all them bridges down, to the ground, cos I won’t be coming this way again.

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What you’re willing to show them

The things we see and don’t see

Her: I don’t believe you. Prove it.

Been super busy with a few projects that I’ll tell you about in due time.

Actually found out that only one of my legal lectures is still up as they retire them after three years.

Still, on the one remaining one I’ve got, I have over 1,000 4.5 star ratings from other lawyers. So that was nice to see.

Do you remember when I told you that the sun isn’t yellow, it’s white – just like all other stars?

Likewise, the sky is actually purple and blue, we just see it as blue.

Mentioned to someone that I was a lawyer once a while ago and she didn’t believe me at all.

It was strange. Remember being oddly offended by that but now I realize that I’m partly to blame cause people see what they want to see, yes. But they also see what you’re willing to show them.

Lately, I’ve been running into issues with how people – friends, acquaintances, strangers – view me. Partly because of the legal and weapons videos, partly because it’s just come up.

In the past, been pretty good at hiding a lot of my life but I’m at an age where I just don’t give a damn anymore. So that’s been interesting.

Then again, we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

I have been spending time with one young lady that seems to see me in a mostly positive light. Mostly.

Her: Okay, boo boo.
Me: Did you just call me “boo boo?”
Her: No, boo boo.

Location: an hour ago, on a motorcycle
Mood: ambivalent
Music: you got to leave and I have to be me

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Another side of me

Hiding who we really are

I like Greek myths because they spoke something to the young me. They still do.

In one myth, Apollo once swore to his half-mortal son that he would do anything he wanted because he loved him. So his son said that he wanted to see Apollo as he truly was.

Apollo, the sun god, knew that no mortal – even a half-deity – could look directly at him and survive. But he promised his son.

Promises are serious business. Perhaps moreso between fathers and sons.

So Apollo put on his darkest attire and his smallest rays and let his son see him as he truly was.

The son didn’t survive.

Suppose that Apollo hoped that the son would survive for the obvious reason but also because, hiding who you truly are is lonely.

There are parts of me that I only allude to or don’t mention at all. Not to you, not to anyone. There are things about me that friends I’ve known for over 20 years don’t know about me.

I’m not trying to hide anything per se. I just like to keep some parts of my private life private, whenever possible. Because I don’t think one group is ready to see me the way another group sees me.

Him: I didn’t know that about you.
Me: (shrugging) I know. It’s just part of who I am.

I don’t fit neatly into many boxes.

Suppose it’s related to my quest to satisfy the three things that Cellini said made a well-rounded man: Art, violence, and philosophy.

After all, we all have our three lives: Public, private, and secret.

It’s odd, in some ways, you are my reeds; things I tell my secrets to, but only in passing. It’d be nice to have someone that I could show all the parts of me to but it’s never happened. It’s come close, but never actually happened.

Doubt if it ever will – or if we’re even designed for such a thing.

CPK: It’s funny, we’ve known each other for years, but this is the first time we’ve ever spoken.
Me: I prefer it that way. Everyone has their sad stories, although some are sadder than others.

Still, every once in a while, I let people see some other facet of me, like when I told you about the GDPR lecture I gave last year, which I suppose goes into the philosophy section.

Or like in this video below, which is solidly in the violence category. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you this side of me:

On an un/related note, my coach Chad – the fella in the video with me – and I both legally changed our names the other day. Which is odd because we’re both on this video above with our old names.

He’s now Chad Andrew Vaźquez and I’m…well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out someday but you can just keep calling me Logan Lo here and in the videos moving forward.

After all, change takes time. I’ll tell you in time.

Speaking of time, 18 years ago I thought I saw the most horrific thing I’d ever see.

I was wrong.

Life has an endless supply of horrors, which itself, is horrifying.

Location: under a highway, trying to get away from a woman
Mood: conflicted
Music: been waiting for you for the whole week

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Grief can be fatal

The boy’s first picture

If there was a single moment that captured everything about my cleaning out Alison’s closet, it was when I found her Filofax, opened it, and something fluttered out.

For those of you that didn’t know her personally, this was a rarity. Because she was the single most organized and clean person I knew. Nothing fluttered out of anything when she was here because she always put everything away where it belonged.

But what fluttered out was a sonogram of the boy. Our first picture of him.

I remember walking into the room one day and catching her staring at it with a look of such love. Realize now that she musta taken out that sonogram a million times to just stare at her son.

Several friends and acquaintances have recently had babies. While I’m thrilled for them, it reminds me how much we’ve lost.

And I don’t think anyone except a mother could truly understand what must have gone through her mind when she was told she had cancer and would die.

Do you know the very first fucking thing she said to me was? Not about herself or even the cancer. It was,

I won’t see him grow up?

She cried for 24 hours straight after that. I didn’t think a body could cry so much. It was only five days after he was born. Fuck all.

Goddammit. Just typing that hit the pain button full-on and I’m trying not to be a basketcase.

So I put away the photo and try to not think about my most aching possible past.


Just watch the first four minutes. It’s worth it.

I’m putting stuff away cause, unchecked, grief can definitely be fatal. If not for Mouse and the boy, I wouldn’t be here.

In the past 45 days or so, a number of people that have been experiencing grief have reached out to me, exactly as I did to Leigh’s husband when Alison died. And like him, I’ve been trying to help as much as I can.

It’s hard. Cause I gotta dredge up things I’d rather not. But people like Leigh’s husband did that for me so I gotta do my part.

The thing is, you don’t know true grief until you feel it yourself.

And, while I wish you wouldn’t, you will, cause there’s nuthin you love that you won’t lose someday.

If you’re lucky, your grief will only be a small fraction of mine, which – trust me – is a blessing.

In fact one fella I spoke to whose wife died of cancer and left him with two boys told me, “Wow, I wouldn’t think it possible that someone had it worse; but you two’ve had it worse. I’m sorry.”

It’s a shitty achievement we’ve unlocked and one that I wished we didn’t, but, then again, I wish for a lotta things.

In any case, whenever I speak to someone about their grief, I’m reminded of the kid that said that I shoulda moved on after a year. As the video notes, you never move on; you move forward.

Evilly, I used to wish that she’d feel my grief for herself – like I said, I’m not a good person – but I was different then.

Now I just feel pity for her cause she’s just a dumb kid that’s never dealt with it. For better or worse, she will feel it one day, and I don’t think she’s equipped to deal with it.

I barely was. I barely am.

Now, I did promise Alison that I’d be here to take care of her son.

I didn’t mean it then. But I do now. I do. Really. Although there are moments that take your breath away, and not in the good way.

Me: Goodnight, kiddo.
Boy: Mommy’s sick.
Me: What?
Him: She’s sick. She died. She won’t get better.
Me: (dumbstruck)
Him: I love mommy. But she died.
Me: (fuck me) Get some sleep.


As I was writing this, one of the two people I still mentor called me to tell me that he’s worried about cancer with his aunt that raised him.

Man, it really is the emperor of all maladies.

Location: Earlier today, midtown, wishing I had an electric scooter
Mood: thoughtful
Music: in your shirt, the pain it really hurts

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Messrs Everman, Cellini, and Vaźques

Unicorns: Artist, warrior, philosopher, and businessman

Her: Every father wants his son to be something. Do you know what you want him to be?

A buddy of mine named Vaźques stopped by the other day for some Cuban food and we chatted for a bit about the path of his life. He’s younger than me; and with that youth comes an open future.

I asked him if he played a musical instrument and he said no. Told him to consider it cause there was a fella named Cellini once said that a well-rounded man is an artist, warrior, and philosopher.

I’d personally add to that “businessman” but that’s just me.

In any case, I’d read about Cellini in seventh grade in social studies while discussing tank warfare (odd thing to remember, I know). Decided then I wanted to be that and spent the next 34 years trying.

The gold standard, IMHO, is a fella named Everman who was:

      • The guitar player for Nirvana and the base-player for Soundgarden and OLD.
      • A US Army Ranger and Green Beret
      • An Ivy League graduate with a degree in philosophy with Columbia university; he’s currently pursuing his masters degree in Military history.

I meet tons of dangerous people in my personal and professional life. They are clearly dangerous – they wear their lethality clearly and conspicuously, like scorpions. I’m only marginally impressed.

I also meet tons of hyper intelligent people in my personal and professional life. They talk about the latest million-dollar deal they just closed on or their latest cool project. Again, marginally impressed.

Finally, there is a small group of people I know that seek understanding over rote knowledge. A very small group. These people impress me a bit more, but only a bit.

At least they think of the cascading consequences of all their actions.

But there’s this incredible minority of people like Messrs Everman and Cellini that have achieved what I think encompasses what a man – or woman – should strive to be.

A man named Danaher – whom I met when he was a bouncer and I was a club promoter – and the Devil I consider as one of these people as well with both of them fulfilling that fourth requirement of “businessman.”

These are the real unicorns. To be in their presence is humbling because, in my mind, they understand what’s valuable and what’s just a waste of time.

We’re all given 24 hours, every day. It’s what they do with those hours that separates them from everyone else.

Honestly,  my children can be anything they want to be. Doctor, plumber, race car driver, whatever. As long as they are those three four things first.

As long as he’s a unicorn.

Me: Yes.

Location: the basement of my brain…plotting
Mood: ambitious
Music: could have stayed for more.
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Coffee makers, airplanes, and the people I know

The difference between knowledge and wisdom

Gymgirl: Shoot, I just realized I can’t bring a water bottle on the plane with me.
Me: Why don’t you have the water they give you?
Her: Do you know where that comes from?
Me: Well, at least have the coffee.
Her: It’s the same water.
Me: Actually, I have an interesting story about that…
Her: Can you tell me later? I’ve a ton to do.

Amazingly, the Gymgirl went on another trip recently. This time to Colorado to see her bestie for some skiing.

Did you know that airplane coffee makers are the reason behind a lot of plane delays? Like, a LOT of plane delays.

The reason is more complex than you might think but – for the sake of brevity – it’s like that Brown M&Ms story I told you about years ago:

It’s not so much the coffee maker but what the coffee maker represents.

Why isn’t the coffee maker working?

  • Is it electrical? If so, it’s on the same electrical circuit as the plane and you definitely don’t want a plane in the air with a faulty electrical circuit anywhere.
  • Is it water? That means no water for bathrooms, of course, but water is also linked to the cooling systems, amongst other things. Another major issue if you’re in the air.
  • Did someone forget something important, like the coffee itself? If so, what else did they forget?

It goes on. Like I said, it’s not the coffee maker, it’s what the coffee maker represents.

In some way, I look at life that way. I always wonder what something means. It’s part of why I never get a good night’s sleep.

A girl I dated once brought a book over that didn’t seem like her speed.

When I asked her why she had it, she said it was for a “co-worker,” but she had just left work. Why wouldn’t she just give it to the co-worker at work?

Here, I had a bit of knowledge: The girl had a book that seemed out of place. But knowledge, by itself, is meaningless because there’s a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom.

On Facebook, I’m still friends with a number of Trump supporters for various reasons who are given a set of data on a regular basis. Yet they somehow draw precisely the wrong conclusion each and every time.

Because they see data and think that equates to understanding. But the two are very different.

Anywho, it turns out that that the girl I was seeing was cheating on me  – she actually got that book for her ex and was planning on meeting him, for the third time, it turns out.

As for the current state of politics, I realize that I’m more irritated than anything else.

I’m irritated because, like I said, people tell you what they’re all about if you listen, and what they’re all about isn’t what I thought.

Location: dunno, but it feels like Antarctica here
Mood: freezing
Music: If I take you and your word, then I’m empty handed

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Rolling Stones gather no Confirmation Bias

Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires

Buskers at 50th St Subway Station NYC
While I enjoy Kanye West as an artist, as a human being, he seems like a lout.

So when a posting came up on Facebook that said that he did another douchebag thing, I shared it only to find out later it wasn’t true.

The thing is, I assume he’s a douchebag so when I read something that proves it, I immediately believe it.

What irritated me most about that was that I should’ve known better.

One of the few things I remember from my first year in Prof. Maas‘ Psych 101 Class – waaaaaay back in 1990 – was the idea of confirmation bias, which essentially echoes poet Jean De la Fontaine idea that Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.

So when the Rolling Stone article about the UVA rape case was found to be completely false over the weekend, I thought of Prof. Maas and De la Fontaine again.

Rolling Stone and the authors wanted to believe that colleges are a hotbed of rape and misbehavior and found evidence to prove their position.

Only they didn’t. Instead, they just made it harder for genuine rape cases to be believed.

I see it every single day on Facebook. People that have evidence that aspartame and tilapia will kill you, Obama is a secret Muslim, and that jet fuel cannot melt steel.

It’s a daily thing – and something I perpetuated myself with Kayne West, because I wanted to believe he’s a douchebag and found evidence to support this, even when I didn’t.

Beliefs are dangerous things and they cloud judgement, even from those that should know better.

Still, it’s better to appreciate this with the smaller, insignificant things, than to realize it with bigger, more meaningful things. Just ask Rolling Stone magazine.

 

Location: in midtown later at midday for some afternoon cognac
Mood: hopeful
Music: People around gotta find something to say now

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Robinson Crusoe died wishing he was on the island

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us

Home on an island in Bermuda
In my spare time, I’ve been writing a break-up book. Figured it’s the logical extension of the other two dating books I wrote

One thing I truly believe is to try to distance yourself from the pain of the breakup – or any pain, really – and try to appreciate the good things that come out of it.

While I don’t believe in that old saw that “everything happens for a reason,” I do believe what this poet named James Russell Lowell said:

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or by the handle.

I started blogging during a really bad period of my life. But during that period, I had some pretty fun nights, met some incredible people – some of whom are among my best friends today – and, of course, met my favorite person.

And during that time, I listened to songs from singers like KT Tunstall, Camera Obscura, and Imoegen Heap; now, whenever I hear anything from them, I’m reminded of that time. And I look back on it fondly.

Did you know that Robinson Crusoe was based on a real guy? He was a fella named Alexander Selkirk that ended up alone on an island for four years and four months. After he was rescued, he became a multimillionaire and celebrity.

But he realized that that time alone ended up being some of the best times in his life. He died wishing that he was back on his islands with his goats and his thoughts.

In fact, when he could live anywhere in the world, he lived in a cave by himself for a bit. And one of his last thoughts was, I am now worth 800 Pounds, but shall never be so happy, as when I was not worth a Farthing.

Now, this isn’t like my usual rambling post so much as it is a letter to a friend to whom I say this:

Most people handle life as they do bad weather: they wait for it to stop.

Don’t be most people, because you’re not most people.

Try to enjoy these difficult times while you can, as odd as that might sound. Because it’s only just for now and it’ll be over before you know it.

In any case, I’m always (not so secretly) on your side.

Location: back to the gym again
Mood: content
Music: that time of year, leave all our hopelessness aside

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