A Non-Linear System

Checking in

One of my oldest and dearest friends called me the other day.

Me: What’s up? How’ve you been?
Him: (laughing) OK. I heard about your uncle and your anniversary and I wanted to check in on you.
Me: Thanks man, it’s been a rough few weeks.
Him: I know, that’s why I’m calling. (later) I should mention that I was in the ER two weeks ago. They’re still not 100% what happened but I was there for five days.
Me: Holy shitballs, what happened?
Him: I was feeling pain in my stomach like crazy so I went to the ER and told the attendant that I was in a tremendous amount of pain. Like a 7 or 8. He said, “You don’t look like you’re in a lot of pain.”
Me: What did you say?
Him: I told him, “That’s cause I’m not a whiney-ass bitch.”
Me: (laughing) Yeah, that sounds like you.

A large dose of antibiotics cleared him out enough that they didn’t have to cut him open. But he’s gotta go back for more tests.

Him: I didn’t wanna tell you because…
Me: Dude, the past two weeks, I was a whiney-ass bitch. It’s good you didn’t tell me. I absolutely wouldn’t have handled it well.
Him: (quietly) Then I’m glad I didn’t tell you.

He’s been through his own stuff. He’s one of the people that I told you lost his mother recently. He understands grief.

Me: The fucked up thing is that, unlike most people, I understand that life is a non-linear system. I get that. Bad things happen and the life you expect isn’t promised you. But…I never expected my life – and Alison’s – to be quite so non-linear.
Him: It is a non-linear system, yeah. But we have some things like our family and good friends.
Me: You know, if there is a god, he fucking hates us. Or maybe he’s just a racist asshole.
Him: (laughing) Maybe, Logan. Maybe.

Location: today, walking with a friend in the sun, looking for Joe
Mood: non-linear
Music: ah shit, am I winner yet? (Spotify)
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Party of Two

How real it seems

It was a surreal weekend just because my pipes were banging like no tomorrow so I couldn’t get any good sleep.

A random tenant ringing my doorbell in the middle of the night to complain about the laws of thermodynamics didn’t help matters.

Me: It’s a closed system so that that with every rise in temperature, there’s a commensurate rise in pressure. We have to be below X pounds per square inch, which we are right now.
Her: (irritated) What happens if the pressures goes above that level?
Me: The boiler explodes and we all die, either from the explosion itself, or the subsequent collapse of the building. I’m going back inside now.

Saturday morning, met up with a whole raft of buddies for an early morning roll at a friend’s place. Pez and her fella came and I rolled with her. She came to win.

Her: (catches me in an armbar)
Me: Don’t do it – I have a child!
Her: (laughs) Like I care.

The same fella that gave me a lift last time gave me a lift back this time but only to the station, cause I felt bad. I went past Lviv’s joint; she’s actually moving back home permanently so she’s been hitting me up to see how I’m doing.

Her: I just had this weird thought on my walk that every husband has been rejected by some other chick in the past.
Me: I have this similar thing that’s part of a joke I heard: “For every girl you meet, someone out there is thinking, “Man, not my problem any more.”

Mouse missed the kid so she came by on Sunday to spend about an hour with him; it gave me a chance to dash off to the supermarket to prep for the snowstorm that’s coming.

There’s something about being a single parent in the city that I find so anxiety-producing. If something happened to me, the kid would have to find a way to get in touch with someone.

Me: Did you have fun?
Him: Yes! We had silly time and serious time. (thinking) I love her.
Me: I understand that.

Speaking of anxiety-producing, a woman I met the other day who has a kid the same age as mine wrote me to tell me that her sitter got COVID.

Her: It wasn’t good, was it?
Me: You don’t want it, lemme tell ya.

That made me revisit this entry I wrote about my getting COVID last year. Man, I felt so lonely and scared that time. Literally thought I was going to die.

I reread that part where Alison visited me in a fevered dream and it made me cry. Because I remembered how real it seemed.

Did I tell you that I wrote out a goodbye letter to the kid on my phone while I was on the floor? I looked at it recently and it was sad and disjointed. I was thinking of cleaning it up and posting it here. Maybe.

Mouse wrote once that she felt that I came across as lonely in terms of friends but that’s not at all what I feel. I feel lonely in terms of family. It’s hard, being a party of two.

Him: Is anyone coming by for dinner?
Me: No, it’s just me. Is that ok?
Him: Yes! Can I have some ice cream for dessert?
Me: (laughing) So close, kid. So close. Have an orange.
Him: (sadly) OK, if you say so.

Location: home
Mood: exhausted
Music: my heart says, follow through (Spotify)

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Too little is better than too much

We know our own

We had a gas scare in the area that meant we were waiting for an all-clear for a while so I brought him with me to the supermarket.

I dunno why I’m unable to talk to him like he’s a kid. I just…can’t. I’ve never been around kids before.

Him: What does it mean that a banana’s not ripe?
Me: An unripe banana has large molecules called oligosaccharides which are too big to digest. When a banana ripens, those oligosaccharides break down into simpler glucose molecules that you can digest, which manifest as the brown dots on the skin, which – as you can see – are not there.
Him: What happens if you eat something that’s not ripe?
Me: Bad things, kiddo. Bad stomach things.
Him: Oh. Ok, papa.

As I write this out, all I can think is, “Hopefully, he’ll have friends.” Then again, I didn’t growing up and I turned out fine.

Fine(ish).

Mostly fine.

Alison thought I was great, albeit with a giant, giant head.

Speaking of friends, I’ve been helping a buddy with a new hobby; something that I used to do years ago but just stopped doing for a variety of reasons. But he loves it. He gave me a buzz today.

Him: I met one of our kind today.
Me: Get outta here. How?
Him: At the gym. I was just making small talk and I mentioned what I do in my spare time.
Me: And what did he say?
Him: (laughing) He said demons know their own.

On that note, my only friend in that life’s been MIA since COVID. Wanna know the crazy thing? I don’t even know his real name after 20 years.

How’s that for a kick in the head?

Finally, a girl I’ll call Curls is going to start teaching the kid to fight. I’ve been chatting with a ton of people – including two of the highest ranking people in kali – about how to train this boy to be safe.

And the grand poo-bah told me: Remember too little training is better than too much at that age.

He’s the main man so I took his word to heart. Plus, I think the kid’ll have more fun with Curls and Chad than me.

Between the friends and family, I wonder if I’m better with people around or not.

After all, men go crazy in congregations,…

Location: home, making steak for my son, who’d rather have a bologna sandwich
Mood: tired
Music: …they only get better one by one. (Spotify)
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Remember who survives

Dissected and discussed

Him: What’s wrong?
Me: Papa’s seen things like this before, and it’s…it’s never good.
Him: Are you scared?

We were doing his math problems when I stopped and watched the news.

Copyright AP

When 9/11 went down, I remember almost every minute of it. I called my brother and woke him up, much to his annoyance. But that annoyance turned to horror and disgust once he and I slowly realized what was happening.

Together, on the phone, our worlds changed. I was glad to have shared that moment with him.

Copyright AP

I felt that today watching the television with my son. That disgust and horror, knowing that I was watching history unfold with him – something that will be dissected and discussed for years, decades, centuries to come.

And he and I saw it together.

And yet, for all the lessons of history, it’s always the mindless mob that repeats it, again, and again, and again.

Copyright AP

But, I was glad to have shared this with my family. Just as I was glad to share the horrors of 9-11 with my brother.

I feel I owe this boy all the knowledge I’ve accumulated in my otherwise unremarkable life. That’s the debt I owe him as his father, what all good parents owe their children.

It’s sad, the lesson I gave him today was one that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to tell him until years from now. But I suppose he saw the unease on my face.

Me: I’m concerned. There’s a difference. Lions are bigger and stronger then people. So are bears and…giraffes (Editor’s note: I wasn’t ready for this conversation, giraffes were the only big thing I could think of besides whales – I shoulda said whales). But people are always the most dangerous because we can out think alla them. The smarter you are, the safer you are. Remember that. Remember who survives. The intelligent survive.

Copyright AP

Location: home, watching the tube like it was porn. Which I suppose it is.
Mood: horrified
Music:
Do you believe in what you see?
(Spotify)
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Meant to be

You should have picked 7

Me: That’s me in Germany.
Him: You look exactly the same. What are you a vampire?!
Me: (laughing) Here, take this belt, it’s too big for me.
Him: I think I like that (mustard) colour.
Me: Good. Basic black is for basic bitches.

I’ve got a small group of people that I mentor. I remember being young and not knowing a thing about anything, really.

My first seismic shift happened when I met my first real girlfriend. As a poor kid from Queens, she was the daughter of a connected restaurateur. Our first date, she brought me to a restaurant at Rockefeller Center where a burger was $20 (a fortune at the time).

She also gave me a Fendi automatic watch for Xmas when I was 17. She basically taught me how to dress. She was pure evil, but she changed me for the better in many regards.

Then, when I was college, I met Buckley who first me taught me about computer and networks. That was life-altering. I just wished him a happy birthday tonight.

Him: Thanks! It’s the end of my 48th trip around the sun. I’m thankful that we’re still on this ride together
Me: Jesus Christ. I met you when we were teenagers. Welp, the world is definitely better with you in it, homie.

Cappy made sure I had a place to live and helped me make life-long friends that I still consider my safe-harbor. He just called me too.

Him: We’ll stop by on the 26th with clothes for the boy.
Me: I’ll be here.

I also met Joe who let me crash in his pad off Times Square for $300 a month. Yup, you read that right. We were roomies for years after college and he taught me how real New Yorkers lived in Manhattan. A woman I met and chat with regularly last year is best friends with his ex-wife. What a small world.

While in Manhattan, I met Bobby, Johnny, and the Devil, who introduced me to the clubs and the colorful side of NYC life.  They also taught me how to dress and walk into an expensive restaurant and not feel out of place. All three are gone for my life now. I only miss one of them and hope he’s still alive.

I dated the doctor, who got me into this building, and worked with me to buy it – along with her mom. We all actually still talk because we’re part of the same tribe.

I met my old boss at CNET, Kirk, who taught me sales and tech and why a naturally aspirated straight-6 engine is so cool. I also met Jim there, who threw me into the legal tech fire and got me meeting with CEOs and fighting fortune 100 companies (I won).

After everything went down with Alison, he sent me on a trip to Bermuda.

My boss, whom I just chatted with today as well, taught me how to be a better lawyer, far beyond anything I learned in law school. He also sued my biggest frenemy for me ages ago. We won that too.

Paul and Will helped me end up with Alison. I just saw Paul today.

Me: Man, that hair’s still wild.
Him: Yeah, I gotta see a barber somehow.

And, of course, there was Alison herself. All the blog entries from her first appearance to this one was her influencing my life. She still does; she reminds me what I’m worth.

People try to convince me that I’m not worth all that much, but she thought I was just tops.

On that note, a touchstone of my life has always been to leave people better off having met me than not. Those people left me better off; most by coming into it, some by coming in and leaving.

The hope is that I can help some people figure out who they were meant to be.

And then maybe I can take my lessons and help the one I love most in the world become who he’s meant to be.

Him: I picked 11.
Me: You shoulda picked 7. Because that’s the most likely number with two dice.
Him: Can I go now?
Me: (laughs) Sure.

Location: home, dreaming of family
Mood: hopeful
Music: They say through time I’ll find some healing but the clock goes slow (Spotify)
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IOQ: Indicators of Quality

Zippers, Steak, or Chicken?

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Mouse started a new job so, even over the weekend, she was busy with one thing or another. Still, we did have a pretty nice weekend until she had to head back home.

Nice being a relative term.

Her: I was looking through some of our chats and…we sound psychotic.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Because in between texts, I guess we end up seeing or talking to each other. Like, one set of texts is like, “I hate you, I never want to talk to you ever again!” and the next is like, “Do you want steak or chicken for dinner?”
Me: Did we decide on steak of chicken?

A buddy of mine is looking to upgrade his wardrobe over Black Friday and I told him that, while I do have the occasional name-brand product, I almost never purchase anything based on names.

Instead, I look for (a) clothes that fit me well that are (b) made of quality materials. I told him that I figure out the latter through indicators of quality.

Stupidly simple, just like my three-step life algorithm, but you’d be surprised how many people mess this up too.

For example, whenever I buy clothes that have zippers on them, I look for YKK zippers. This is because YKK makes really, really good zippers that cost more than regular zippers.

So when I see two things that I like equally well, but one has a YKK zipper, I usually end up buying the YKK one.

See, I figure that, if a company cares enough to use higher quality zippers, they probably care about the details like stitching and fabric weave. It’s the little things that matter to me.

Cause it’s the little things that are indicators of quality.

Ditto for shoes. I look for full- or top-grain “leather uppers,” which are essentially real leather shoes, versus “man-made uppers,” which are basically plastic shoes. The brand rarely makes a difference to me.

My sneakers are almost always cloth so I can toss them in the washer on the reg. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than $30 for a pair of sneakers.

Someone just stopped me the other day to ask me where I got my powder blue ones from. I told him, honestly, on eBay.

The most expensive things I wear on the regular – I rarely wear my suits anymore – are my three no-name but bespoke leather jackets.

I picked the lining, the leather, and the color for alla them. Most importantly, for me, is that the sleeves and waist are tailored because I’ve got a pretty slim waist (pro) and short T-Rex arms (con).

And the one I like the most is my red one because it has white pick stitching.

Nobody notices this kinda stuff, but I do.

That’s the thing: As I get older, I find myself caring a lot less about things that other people notice and a lot more about things that I notice.

Man, I’m so bummed I ripped the sleeve on it.

Speaking of noticing things…

Me: Your hair is crazy!
Mouse: Yeah, it’s crazy like the 80s so it must remind you of your childhood.
Me: It kinda does.

Location: home, trying to get my apartment above 30% humidity
Mood: excited to see my son
Music: In her eyes I see the sea (Spotify)
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I want to have an argument

We’re about to find out

Her: How spicy is Sundubu-jjigae?
Me: We’re about to find out.

We’d just left the studio and she was ok but I was still really hungry. Since she’s on a mostly meat-diet, we ended up heading over to a Korean joint in Billyburg.

As for the answer to her question above, it turns out – at least for her – pretty spicy. Luckily, we also got some sashimi and some Korean tacos in honor of Pac.

We asked the waitress to take a picture of us and she tried her best. This is the best shot of the lot that she took.

At least she was very nice.

Afterward, we headed home. As we pulled up in front of my pad, she asked me if we could have an argument.

Me: OK.
Her: Look, I’m ok with things not being defined but I’m impressed how long you can be with things not being defined.
Me: Like you said, we seem to get along better when we’re not together.

It was raining so hard in NYC that night that we got a tornado warning. Which kinda matched what was going on inside her whip.

But, all-in-all, it was nice actually, chatting arguing with her under the stormy rain.

Sometimes you need a little rain to clear things up.

Afterward, I thanked her for the ride and all the company.

Me: It’s getting late, you should head home.
Her: Yeah.
Me: So, where are we now?
Her: I guess I’ll just see you later on this week.
Me: That’d be nice. See you then.

And then I went home and sat on my white couch thinking about all my possible pasts again.

It was actually wasn’t just my conversation with Mouse that got me thinking, but also a conversation Chad and I had in between shoots.

It reminded me of something I wrote just before Alison got sick.

Me: You know…my life is nuthin at all like what I thought it would five years ago. Or ever. Everything’s such a mess. It’s hard not to think about what could have been.
Him: I know this isn’t what you wanted, but you’re doing the best you can. If nothing else, your son will think he’s got a cool dad.
Me: I hope so. That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing this. I hope you’re right.

Location: home, waiting out the storm
Mood: hopeful
Music: I know, somewhere deep in my soul, that love never lasts (Spotify)

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You get to decide

World Class

For the handful of readers that’ve been reading me since the beginning, I started this blog because I was dating this fairly well-known reporter and we broke up.

I thought I loved her, the way 20-somethings think love is like.

We had moments when I thought we might get back together but it wasn’t really what either of us really wanted. It wasn’t really her fault, I wasn’t a great boyfriend to her.

The ex, back when I was young and had a lotta hair.

I wanted Alison and I spent the next two years looking for her. When I met her, I was a lot nicer to her than the reporter because she was what I actually wanted.

Alison was everything I ever really wanted, actually. But that’s neither here nor there.

I mentioned to a friend that Jeff Bezos went to Princeton to study theoretical physics. The problem was that he was good at it.

Just like I was a good boyfriend to the reporter. I just wasn’t a great boyfriend to her. And Jeff Bezos wasn’t a great theoretical physicist.

The day Jeff Bezos realized that he was only ever going to be a good theoretical physicist was the day he started to become something great.

Asked another friend if he recognized anyone from the that picture you see above.

Him: Not really.
Me: Look at the fella in the middle. In the red sequins. That’s Dr. Dre.
Him: Holy shit!

Dr. Dre was part of a boy band called World Class Wreckin’ Cru (along with DJ Yella) and they sang funk. But WCWC was only ever going to ok – good-enough.

And Dre wanted to be great. He’s almost a billionaire right now. Even if you didn’t like NWA, or The Chronic, you probably like Beats headphones.

I told two people today that their setbacks might be setting them up for what they were really meant to be. Who they were really meant to be.

After all, you can’t shoot an arrow unless you draw it back first.

Alison’s favourite author was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said: There are no second acts in American lives.

I always loved Alison and always hated Fitzgerald. Onea the reasons is that quote, which is fulla shit.

Him: I’ve been thinking a lot about who I used to be and I don’t want to be that guy anyone. I don’t think I can be.
Me: Good. This is your chance to be the person you know you can be. You get to decide what your life is like.

I only got to live the life I always wanted for five days.

But, I suppose that there are people out there that didn’t even get that.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, having some rum with my coffee
Mood: not well
Music: On silver stars I wish and wish and wish (Spotify)

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The unexamined life

Building walls

Back when I was still focused on Alison, there was a young man named Rich who was just enamored with Trump.

Him: He wants to build a wall, protect the workers here.
Me: But most people don’t come into the US in a way where a wall would work.

It turns out that, the wall had been conceived by two consultants “to get Trump to remember to talk about immigration.”

Put another way, it wasn’t meant to ever be a literal thing, it was just meant as a shorthand to keep someone as jawdroppingly stupid as Trump on the right page to have something to talk about with immigration.

But he took it and ran with it.

Even though it didn’t make any sense. Even thought it didn’t do what it was ostensibly meant to do – keep out immigrants – it did what it was really meant to do, which was keep Trump talking about immigration.

You’ll note that he never mentions it or the wall anymore. But I digress.

I got into a FB tiff with a friend because I told her that rent regulation didn’t work. Because it doesn’t.

Do you know why rent regulation was invented? It was invented to stop an emergency: To keep WWII veterans from coming back and getting price gouged.

That was the emergency.

Do you know of any other 75-year-old emergencies? Kinda really stretches the concept of an “emergency,” yeah?

Rent regulation goes against basic economic principles: If you take away 45% of the supply – NYC is roughly 45% rent-regulated – then the remaining 55% becomes astronomically high. It makes it so that the people lucky enough to get it, get cheap rent, while everyone else subsidizes them.

After all, non-market income doesn’t change the fact that everything else – utilities, taxes, mortgages – is a market expense.

Study after study shows that rent regulation doesn’t work.

Just like study after study shows the wall won’t work.

I mentioned this and she wrote back, “So, you just want to fuck the poor, Logan?”

Rich, when I told him the wall won’t work said, “So, you just want to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals?”

I said once that I live by some basic rules: Is it true? seems like such a stupid one.

And yet, it’s the one that people mess up the most, I think.

My female friend wants to believe that rent regulation works and if I don’t believe that, I must want to “fuck the poor.”

Rich wants to believe that the wall works, and if I don’t believe that, I must want “to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals.”

Funny thing is that they both defriended me.

That’s what happens if you don’t ask yourself that simple basic question: Is it true?

The less you ask that question, the more you find things that are actually true, repulsive.

The truth becomes grotesque.

When you live an unexamined life, you start becoming part of the world’s problems.

You build walls, to protect the comforting untrue things from the repulsive true things. And people just become another ugly thing you don’t want to see.

Eh, I don’t blame them.

I find myself grotesque and I’d defriend me too if I had the chance.

Podcast Version
Location: still in this fucking house
Mood: homesick
Music: I was just guessing at numbers and figures (Spotify)

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We *all* have problems, Logan

Good luck and good day

Me: You want some Sriracha?
Chad: (covers his entire meal with it).
Mouse: That’s a lot of Sriracha!
Me: I’ve made him into a man now, Mouse.
Chad: (nods, doesn’t stop eating)

People keep calling me to help out with these projects and I take what work I feel I’m a right fit for or if I want to help someone out.

You know that I don’t advertise? Been working for myself for over two decades and I’ve never advertised anything ever beyond this blog, I suppose. Maybe a few things, here and there.

Huy Fong, the makers of Sriracha also never advertised. They got by purely on their reputation. Must be an Asian thing.

Anywho, a lawyer buddy of mine asked me to help out with a client so, as a favour to him, I reached out to her and sent her what I could do and what I would charge.

Her: That seems excessive for a few pages of paper.
Me: I couldn’t agree more. You can probably find someone much cheaper with the New York Country Bar Association. You can ring up a lovely woman named Hannah there at 212-267-6646, ext. 217 to find someone else.
Her: Wait, but…
Me: 212-267-6646, ext. 217. Hannah. With two H’s and two N’s. Good luck and good day, madam.

I know what I’m worth and I don’t have the time or interest in convincing anyone of my value.

On that note, last week was one of my busier work weeks in a while.

On the flip side, I can also remember sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Of course, that was before everything in my life turned to shit.

Speaking of sitting at home, like I said earlier, Chad broke his foot but he’s a teacher by nature, so he’s definitely going stir crazy locked in his pad.

And Cho just got a new whip.

So, I offered for them to come by – along with Mouse – and roll in exchange for some food and entertainment.

And on a random weekday night, they were here.

We were all grateful for the lesson and I think Chad was grateful to just be on a mat again. He literally walked in – or hobbled in – and lay on the mat for a moment and sighed.

Just like the first time he came over.

After our lesson, he asked if we had any questions.

Me: About what you just taught or life?
Chad: We don’t have that much time, Logan.
Me: Well, I’ve got a lot going on.
Him: We all have problems, Logan!
Me: You don’t have to yell.

Pro tip: If you see a bottle of Lao Gan Ma Crispy Chili, buy it. You’ll be ahead of the curve. Trust me on this.

It’ll be the next big thing.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, trying to break an arm
Mood: tired
Music: I don’t want somebody like you (Spotify)
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