That’s a joke, of course. But I did just turn 50 this past week, so it’s not quite as funny as it’s been in the past.
The pic above is of me when I was a few days old.
Man, it’s a kick in the head to get my mind around that I was once that infant in the picture above some 50 years ago.
Realize that I probably don’t look 50 to you, which is fine because I don’t look 50 to me.
In fact, when I think of 50, I think of Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley (who’s actually 58 in the clip below):
It’s funny because a lotta my friends tell me that they use me as an example of what 50 might be like for them.
This is my friend Hawk, who – like a lotta my friends – only texts me on my bday, but that’s fine, I’m always thrilled to hear from them.
Spent a lotta time wondering what I would write about to commemorate this momentous occasion and the best thing I could come up with was the five concepts that changed my life the most.
1. Invest in the S&P 500
One of my summer jobs in college was helping two accountants do paperwork for a company called Ziff-Davis, where I ended up working at after college. They asked me to come in on the weekend and said they’d buy lunch. As a poor college kid, that was enough, so I did.
While I was there, we got to talking about investing and they told me to just dump every spare cent I ever made into the S&P 500.
Basically, “S&P” is “Standard and Poor,” think of them like the New York Times, except they only report about companies. And one thing they do is list the 500 biggest companies – in terms of how much they’re worth – at any given time.
When, say, Company 498 becomes Company 502, it’s kicked out, and some other company becomes 498.
A fella named John Bogle figured out that if you invested money evenly into each of the 500 companies, you’d end up making about 11.8% annually.
If you invested $1,000 a year for 50 years, you woulda “spent” $50,000 but you would end up with $2,505,311.97, or $2,455,311.97 profit.
There are hundreds of funds that track the S&P 500 for little or no money.
Started doing that 30 years ago, when I was 20. My life woulda been radically different if I never took that weekend gig.
Think they got me turkey club both days.
In any case, you should probably start investing ASAP, if you haven’t done it yet.
2. Do pushups – or something – every morning
I was a pretty fat kid from 10 to 14 – when I was 14, I was 5 foot 3 inches and 185 pounds with a 44-inch waist.
I went on a fast for four months – legit stopped eating, cold – and dropped down to 120 pounds and a 28-inch waist.
I’m now 50 years old with a 28-inch waist.
It all started when I stopped eating completely to reset my brain and started working out. When I first did it, I could barely do two pushups.
By the time I was 18, I was doing 100 pushups without issue. I just banged out 79 pushups in 60 seconds a few weeks ago.
Look, I don’t really do pushups anymore because I kept needing more. I’m in the gym like 10 hours a week these days.
You don’t gotta do pushups, you can do situps, you can run, you can walk for 30 minutes. Whatever.
But you gotta do something.
Otherwise, you’ll definitely look your age.
3. Learn to cook and stop eating stuff made by machines
OK, I admit that I eat quite a lotta things made by machines, like protein bars and stuff.
But I make sure that at least three out of every four meals I eat, I’ve made most of it myself.
This way, you know what you’re putting into your body.
Her: (finishes singing a song and turns to look at me) Do you think I’m weird? Me: (nodding) Oh, yeah. Totally. Her: Oh… Me: (laughing) You’re adorkable!
This past weekend, I had a few things really stop me in my tracks. None were what you might call, “good,” but neither were they “terrible.”
They were, however, things that made me radically reassess my life and look at things very differently.
All three are gonna mean that my life is gonna change drastically and I’m not sure how it’ll all shake out.
The smallest of the three – and the only one I can really tell you about – is that the Firecracker and I got into our first real big fight but it was really about nuthin.
Honestly though, most fights are about nuthin, if you think about it in the grand scheme of things.
In any case, my takeaway, though, was her style of fighting. It worked well with my style of fighting such that the whole things – while arduous – was over and done by the evening. That’s a net positive.
I suppose, in life, you gotta take all the net positives you can.
The other two events I’m still sorting it all out in my head. But really big changes are ahead for the Lo family, lemme tell ya.
Ultimately, though, I’m trying to go back to my old mindset from a decade ago and accepting the world as it is, not as I wish it to be.
It’s funny, suppose I started upgrading my OS ages ago but it got interrupted with alla the tragedies.
It never stopped loading into my brain, though.
It’s still loading now, I think.
At least there was lots of music all weekend, between the Firecracker and my son singing.
This is his latest – Emily, another parent from his school, thinks he would rock the talent show. He says he’s too shy.
I dunno, I think he’d be pretty good.
Him: (sadly) Do I have to do it? Me: Only if you want, kid. Him: Oh. OK. I don’t want to. Too many people. Me: Maybe someday. Him: (nodding) Maybe.
The Firecracker had a happy hour with her co-workers the other day and invited me to come along.
I was flattered that she wanted me to meet them. The last time anyone introduced me to their coworkers in a social setting was years ago, although I did stop by an office here and there.
Unfortunately, I’d gotten hit with a MASSIVE hike in my monthly real estate taxes, which threw me and alla my plans for a loop.
Honestly, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how much more I’m paying per month to live in the same damn place I’ve been in for years.
In any case, I’m never late for these kinda things but, because I was juggling a buncha things related to this unexpected new bill, I was 15 minutes late.
Felt awful about that. The Firecracker and her coworkers were all seated in a nearly empty bar when I arrived.
Me: (breathlessly) So sorry I’m late. What’s the topic of discussion besides my tardiness? Co-Worker1: We were talking about Greece and olives. Me: (taking a seat) Lovely! Do you remember back when there was that whole pink slime nonsense where people were up-in-arms over putting lye in meat? I told several people that, historically, olives cannot be consumed without soaking them in lye first. They didn’t believe me but thank goodness for Google.
It was all pretty fun after that.
Me: Sorry I have to drink and run. Single parenting and alla that. (reach for my wallet) Her Boss: (waving his hand) It’s on me, really. Me: Dammit, I shoulda ordered more expensive stuff.
Because we both had to pick up our kids, and we lived in the same hood, we left together.
Her: (walking outside with me) OMG, you really are good in social settings. Me: Like I said, you can bring me anywhere, anytime, and cut me loose. I’ll make friends. I have zero social anxiety. Her: Seriously!
During the happy hour, I felt like the Firecracker was proud that she was sitting there with me. She was legit bragging about me, which was something that’s not happened to me in ages.
In fact, I’ve been a shady secret for so many people for a long time, for reasons that I understand – and I myself often caused.
Gotta say, it was refreshing to be the opposite of a shady secret. She was saying, This is my fella.
On that note, even though we were super early in whatever this thing was/is between us, we chatted about what we were hoping for and doing.
The details of that talk are kinda private and somewhat irrelevant.
But when it comes to dating – at least in modern America – there’re really only three choices:
Me: So, what now, then? Cards down, all in? Or we rolling the dice again? Her: (shaking head) No. I told you – I wanna keep you. Me: What about your rotation? Her: There’s no more rotation. I cut the last guy loose yesterday. Cards down, I’m all in, Logan Lo. Me: (nodding) I was hoping you’d say that, Firecracker. All in, then. We’re all in.
Me: With every tragedy, you get bonus tragedies. Her: What are bonus tragedies? Me: (shaking head) All the other shit that comes with your initial tragedy. Like, I assume after a divorce, there’s all this stupid paperwork you have to do. And you have to move. And you have to explain what happened to people. It’s all bullshit bonus. I’m sorry.
Getting the kid a passport is different for me than most parents. I know this because my sister just got passports for her kids.
Both parents have to sign off on getting a kid a passport so that one parent can’t secretly do it, receive the passport, and abscond with the child.
But when you’re a widower, you have to bring in proof that you’re a widower. Which means that I have to dig up both my marriage license and Alison’s fucking death certificate.
Lemme tell you – because I hope it’s a lifetime before you have to do such a thing – looking for, finding, and then touching something like a death certificate for someone you loved deeply is about emotionally equivalent to touching a hot pan repeatedly.
It’s not gonna kill you but fuck all if it doesn’t hurt like hell.
Clerk: Here’s his picture! I do this a lot but, wow, your son’s super cute. Me: Thanks. He…he takes after his mom.
The Firecracker wanted to cook dinner for me the other day, so she stopped by and took over the kitchen.
The last time someone cooked dinner for me in my own apartment was years ago.
Gotta say, it was nice. More than nice.
Me: I was gonna say that I was worried it would be dry since you didn’t brine it, but these came out great. Did you use a thermometer? Her: (shaking head) No, just practice.
She found this bobby pin in my room and I could tell it bothered her.
Me: It’s definitely old. I have no idea who left it here. Her: But why is it out? Me: The kid probably put it there. Her: But why do you even have it? Me: (shrugging) I hate throwing things away. It seems wasteful. Just a poor kid’s mentality. (joking) I should really have a lost and found for all the rando jewelry and stuff that people leave here. Her: (glares) Me: This is probably a good time for me to stop talking. I should probably shut up. I’ll shut up now. (pause) I don’t know why I’m still talking. Her: (nodding) Yeah…
If anyone’s looking for my foot, I found it in my mouth.
Her: It’s fine. We’ve only known each other four weeks. Me: In my defense, you said, “Let’s not give this a name.” Her: I know what I said, Lo. I’m allowed to change my mind. Me: (nodding) Yes, yes you are.
I don’t write about most of my dates these days because social media in 2023 is a lot different than in was in 2006 and people get annoyed, even if there’s no real identifying information.
But also because they all start blending together into that soupy grey I dislike so much.
The same, “So, what do you do, who do you know, blah, blah, blah,” gets monotonous.
Me: So, Jane, what brought you to New York? Her: Ann. My name is Ann. Me: (nodding) This is going well.
But every so often, someone cuts through the hazy grey and gives me some colour.
I cancelled two other dates this week, although one was kinda mutual, but something about the blue-eyed blonde from my neighborhood made me not, despite my not feeling the best, what with all the medical issues popping up.
Plus, she really made everything super easy for me by agreeing to meet up at a bar just a few blocks south of my pad.
She was sitting at the bar in red with her back to me when I showed up. The seat next to her was open so I slid into it.
She turned to me and looked at me with eyes the colour of faded blue jeans. And you know I’ve always loved that.
We both looked at each other and laughed.
Her: (smiling) Hi, Logan! Me: (laughing) Hello, Firecracker. Don’t you look nice. Her: You too.
With some dates, conversation’s a struggle.
The actual exchanges are usually fine but it’s really the quality of the segues that make a conversation interesting or desultory.
Lemme tell you that the odds are much improved when someone has an easy laugh and upbeat enthusiasm.
Her: (mischievously) Anything you want to tell me? Me: I take it you found the blog? Her: (laughing) It’s the first thing that showed up when I googled you. Me: (shrugging) I never mention it because it’s so easy to find. Her: You date a lot. Me: (nodding) I do. I like to say that I’m like Harvard. Anyone can apply, not everyone makes the cut.
Her: I’m like this dorky girl that’s attractive Me: (chidingly) Ah, you admit you’re hot. Her: Oh yeah, I’m hot.
Actually brought her to the same two bars that I brought my buddy, the Frenchman. Just because it was familiar and easy.
Too much of my life, lately, has been strange and difficult.
Me: Do you want to go to another bar? Her: So, I take it this is going well? Me: This is going well. (shaking head) Shit, I’m in trouble. Her: Because I’m a buxom blonde? Me: Well, yes. And you’re sweet. I like kindness. Kindness is hot because douchebag is forever.
We first met up at 7PM and didn’t call it a night until 3AM. Those are the types of interactions I hope for and it’s so rare it happens.
Her: You’re an onion. [Every time I think I get you, there’s another layer.] Me: I’ll take that as a compliment. (later) Thanks for a lovely evening. Her: Same. Me: I honestly never do this but…I don’t suppose you want to grab dinner [this week]? Her: (smiling) Sure. It’s a date. Goodnight, Logan Lo. Me: (nodding) Goodnight, Firecracker.
Like most of you, I spent NYE 2021 alone – completely alone – because of COVID. NYE 2022 wasn’t much better because of COVID, as well.
This year was the first proper NYE I’ve had in quite a while; it was just me and two friends.
Got there first, where I opened the door for a girl with crutches.
My friends showed up not soon afterward.
Sister1: (wearing a gold lamé blouse) Happy New Year, Logan! Me: Thanks, same! You know, I was just thinking that not enough people wear lamé on the regular.
It was totally last minute; we were supposed to just meet up for drinks at 6:45 and I was gonna see RE Mike, but the food was good…
…the drinks were solid, and the crowd and company were great…
…plus, there was live jazz so, before you knew it, we were toasting 2023.
Sister1: It’s 10:50PM! Me: Welp, I guess we’re staying here. I need another drink.
The two of them are in the growing group of people that don’t want to be in this blog, which I get, which is why I’m trying to keep the conversation as non-identifiable as possible.
Still, the first sister had a list of really insightful questions which led to some pretty deep conversations I wish I could share with you.
One of which ended like this:
Me: I’m thinking 2023 might be the year I finally lose my virginity. Sister2: (laughing) Did you go to church summer camp? Is that why? Me: No [to the second question] BUT I did go to summer camp, once actually. Of course, because it was me, it was because of a girl, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Her: I think that Christian boy in you is still there, somewhere. Me: And that’s where you’re wrong. He died the day my wife died. But we can change the subject…
Because of that, I came to a realization the next morning – and a pretty wild one at that, which deserves its own entry.
It’s part of the reason I decided to upgrade my OS in the first place.
I spoke at length with my therapist about my realization today.
Me: An acquaintance of mine told me a little while back that, in all the years he’s known me, he’d never seen my level of rage that I am these days. He said that, when it comes out, I’m a completely different person. I didn’t realize how long I’ve been angry for. Therapist: And now? Me: I’m still angry, of course. At the unfairness of it all. But, it’s not blinding rage anymore. Her: I hear it in your voice. Me: What? Her: The quiet.
Her: I’m sorry about your wife. Me: So am I. All my gods look like her. Her: What does that mean? Me: Nuthin. (brightening) Let’s play a game…
It’s the first day of 2023.
I’m writing this on a computer that I first built when Alison was still alive and upgraded repeatedly, such that there’s nuthin left of the original computer, just like I talked about in my Ship of Theseus.
One thing that I did after the hack was to upgrade the operating system of that computer from Windows 10 to Windows 11, something I did with great reluctance.
Still working through the pros and cons of that, but I note that I went through Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 on this machine before finally arriving here.
Just like the philosophical exercise of the Ship of Theseus, the question remains if there’s anything left of the original computer that I originally built all those years ago.
Speaking of philsophy, this blog has, more than anything, been my own personal repository of how I see the world, kinda like Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.
Suppose my operating system has always been based on German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who was introduced to me in my 20s by the Devil.
One of my earliest blog entries spoke about a quote that served me well my entire life: With increased intelligence comes increased capacity for pain.
When Alison, my dad, and another relative got sick – all at the same time – and I essentially gave up my career(s) to try (and fail) to save them, then lost Gradgirl and Mouse, I think that the truth of that statement is why I’m here writing you now.
Schopenhauer’s worldview was that life is, at its core, suffering.
Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom. – Arthur Schopenhauer
At no point in this blog – through all the highs and lows – did my baseline OS change; it was always run on some variant of Schopenhauer.
And you know my feeling about those who’s worldview never changes. I can’t be a hypocrite.
All this, despite the fact that some baseline beliefs of his contradicted directly with my own heart’s desire.
For example, I’ve always wanted family and family, by definition, requires children. Yet Schopenhauer, like my billionaire buddy, feels that “Bearing children into this world is like carrying wood into a burning house.”
Schopenhauer, as the base operating system of my life, was ill-equipped to deal with the overwhelming sadness and despair of it all, for various reasons.
For example, Schopenhauer’s world view of Wille zum Leben respected love like one respects a dangerous animal, but it doesn’t deal with love, which I both respect and submit to.
To Schopenhauer, love is an illogical means to an important end: The extension of our very species.
I understand that but, having loved and lost in the profound ways I have, I think it’s an idealized version of what humans are actually capable of.
While it’d be nice to live a life purely pragmatically, the way humans are designed, it’s not practical. Because emotions exist and aren’t going away.
I need an OS that reflects that reality.
The Devil’s gone from my life and, while I appreciate all that he’s shown me in the world, the OS he helped build for me doesn’t work with who I am now, especially given all that’s happened.
Moreover, I want more for my son. Assuming that Schopenhauer was correct, and our universe is only what we experience through our mental facilities – our operating system – then I plan on giving my son the best one I can.
After close to 30 years of working on myself, I think that answer lies in Stoicism. Not “stoicism” with a lower-case “s,” rather the full philosophy of Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. – Marcus Aurelius
I don’t think, at all, that Schopenhauer was wrong, or that the last three decades of my life were wasted. Rather, I think that it’s served its purpose for what I needed for that time and that version of me. Now, I have a new purpose – the boy – and that requires a new way of thinking.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca
It’s still early yet in all this. Just like it’s early in the new year.
But I spent the last month reexamining my life and need to discard the things that aren’t working for me anymore, if they ever did, and find things that do work.
Don’t think you’ll notice any drastic changes here, per se. Just little things for myself as I try to give myself and – by extension, the boy – the tools I’ll need to be the best version of myself.
Man conquers the world by conquering himself. – Zeno
I’m still me, but I wonder how much of who and what I am/was is still there or if I’m a completely new being altogether, just like this computer I type alla this out on.
On that note, let’s start the new year off with a song.
This is by a young woman named King Princess that my brother introduced to me a little while ago.
Can’t put my finger on it, but it always makes me dream that my life might be better than it is.
Maybe it’s the line that goes, “I will keep on waiting for your love,” which goes directly against Schopenhauer’s distant respect of the concept of love.
Because love’s not only something I respect, but also something I want – to both give and receive – so it’s worthy of patience and time.
Even if it never comes my way again.
Here’s to 2023 and changing for the better.
Her: (surprised) Why did you do that? Me: (shrugging) Seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Her: (laughing) OK. (pause) You can do it again.
They just moved offices so it was the first time seeing the new space.
The building it’s in is actually connected to Grand Central itself so I literally didn’t even leave the station to get to the office.
Which is probably for the best because winter’s here in full force these days.
I wonder if this is my last move with them.
Boss: Bloomberg News wants to talk to you about the blog entry you wrote for the company website. Me: Get outta town! Him: (laughing) No, seriously. We can talk about it more after dinner.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to ring them until a few days later and, by then, they’d already spoken to another IP lawyer on the matter.
Her: Logan, you’ve got to be the most interesting person I know. Me: I wouldn’t mind it being a little less interesting, honestly.
It’s funny, before everything started going to hell in 2014, I woulda killed to be interviewed in a national press like Bloomberg News and I woulda called that night if I coulda.
It’s part of the reason why I was able to lecture in Paris and Malaga – I got in touch with people right away.
Nowadays, though, all that seems to be less important to me. Other things occupy my mind.
Me: I’m so sorry I have to run. I gotta get the kid. Her: Oh, we all understand. He’s so cute! Me: (nodding) I’m legally required to watch over him until he’s 16 but his being cute helps. Her: Oh Logan, you’re all talk. Me: Yeah, the day he moves out, I’m gonna be a wreck.
Him: Papa! You look nice again! Me: (laughing) Glad to see you’re always surprised by this, kiddo.
Read somewhere that actors get tired of talking about the films that they’re famous for – in his case, Goodfellas – but are happier talking about their latest project.
In this sample size of one, I’d say that’s true.
I bring this up because, as cool as Scenic Fights is – and it’s hella cool – it’s never what I wanted to be known for.
The fact I could fight was something I kept to myself for 30 years. It was just my own personal little joy.
I only did Scenic Fights as a favour to one of the producers and, while I’m glad I did, I do miss the anonymity of being just a grey man from time-to-time.
I’d have been happy to have died an old man keeping that a secret, amongst all my other secrets.
Having said that, I’ve always wanted to be known as a good writer. Unlike fighting or cooking or the law anything else, it’s the one thing where I don’t feel massive impostor syndrome.
I feel I can actually write well, and my hope is always that I can connect with someone through time and space through these squiggly lines.
Pac went further though.
He told me that a group of people overheard the conversation and asked about me.
Before Pac could respond, the woman – whom I never met – turned and told them the story of how Alison and I met, got married, and how she got sick, and ultimately, how she died.
Pac was surprised that she knew so much about me without having known me.
Him: (laughing) Crazy, complete strangers from the other side of the country know you. Man, your ego must be HUGE right now. Me: It’s always huge but…it’s more than that. Alison’s biggest fear was that she’d be forgotten. The fact that people remember her and think fondly of her, even after all these years, means the world to me. Him: Well, your blog did that. And she’s definitely not going to be forgotten by you or anyone else that’s read it. Me: Well then, it’s worth every moment I put into it then. She deserves to be remembered. Even though, I’d like to forget things.
I’m remembering things. This is both good and bad.