2013 Year in Review / New Oceans

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore

Me: (CRASH!)
Her: (running to room) Did you fall down again?
Me: (from floor) My leg gave out from under me.

At the end of 2012, said that there was one part of the body that is called two different things, depending on how it’s held. This time, I’m starting out talking about my leg.

In The Man in the Iron Mask, one of the Three Musketeers – Porthos – was six feet from the ocean and freedom but found that he couldn’t move his legs.

“Oh, oh!” murmured he, “there is my fatigue seizing me again! I can walk no farther! What is this?”

He holds himself up by the sides of the wall before finally collapsing and dying.

When I was a kid, it didn’t make sense to me that he couldn’t control his legs. In my situation, my good leg had fallen asleep and my bad leg was just weak so down I went. While getting up, I thought of that story.

Started out this year by talking about how there’s no word that means, Becomes stronger when stressed and how a fella named Talab coined the phrase Anti-fragile. Which is good because there were plenty of low points this past year – some happened around us like my aunt passing and the Boston bombings happened around my birthday.

Some other pretty bad things happened to us personally, and I suppose that’s something I’ll tell you about some day.

But we had a lot of good times too.

There were the outings like to museums in the beginning and end of the year. And a trip to Bermuda in-between. We even stayed at a hotel just a few blocks from our house.

We also had friends come visit us, like the one that came down from Maine with lobsters in tow. And those I went to see, like when my buddy and I went to ComicCon for the first time.

And speaking of food, there was so much of it. Southern food near me, hot dogs in the middle of the ocean, Australian meat pies (but from NYC),  pizza around the way, and bar food in midtown, just to name a few.

And drink, both the usual rum fare like pina coladas in Jersey, daiquiris and the occasional Old Fashion to round things out.

To keep me from becoming a huge fatty-fat-fat, kept wrasslin and fencing.  On that note, my BJJ coach opened up his own school called Radical MMA in midtown.

It was a big step for him and a lifelong dream. So I sent him one of my favourite quotes from Lord Chesterfield that goes, Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

I like it cause it reminds me that we have to fight the inertia and take our chances in life. To lose sight of that comfortable shore.

In the Man in the Iron Mask, Porthos struggles and can’t get back up to his feet. Even with the help of his friends. He can see the ocean but cannot reach it. At some point, that’s our fate, I suppose.

For now, I can still struggle to my feet and do.

And I am humbled to have friends and family to help me along the way.

It’s almost 2014, what new oceans can we find?

Her: (holding out her hand) Here, let me help you.
Me: (taking hand) Thanks. (laughing) Man…I’m so old.

Location: at the end of one year, ready for another
Mood: hopeful
Music: What are you doing, New Year’s Eve?
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2012 Year in Review / Hands and Fists

One part of the body has two names, depending on how it’s held

The hand/fist is the one part of your body that has two completely different names depending on how it’s positioned.

In 2012, an article was published by The Journal of Experimental Biology noted that our fists are the human equivalent of a cat’s claws or a snake’s fangs – weapons created when needed and put away when not.

Other primates cannot make a true fist, whereby the hand is fully closed without any gap so as to create a small mass of force four times more powerful than if it were not shut.

If you think about it, we use one primarily to nurture and create and the other primarily to punish and destroy.

The hand holds other hands to cross the street, to hold pen to write, to reach out and help.

The fist is thrown in anger, clenches a gun to shoot, extends a knife to slash.

Yes, occasionally a hand can slap and a fist can sculpt but work with me here.

I bring this up as a lead to my 2012 year in review.

For me, it started off in January with me thinking that I cannot stop. In 2012, I didn’t really.

Then came February and I finally published my book, The Men Made of Stone, and gave a few lectures. It was also when I read about people that they say wouldn’t hurt a fly. But that’s never true is it?

In March I said that we are who we are because of to whom we are born.

Then I took off for Malaga, Spain with my wife – whom I finally said was named Alison – in April to give a lecture.

In May, I got a bike from a dirt scooter pro and went to a funeral and thought about the things that no one can take away from us.

Ended up on my knees again in June with clenched fists and someone offered me a hand. Also started teaching my fencing class.

Read about yet another shooting in July and wondered why we are so violent.

Went on another trip in August, this time in the other direction to LA.

Then got injured in September and had the operation to fix that injury in October. Managed to write a pretty well-read article on online dating while I was healing up.

Hobbled to a wedding in November but not before voting Democrat for the first time ever.

Finally, was horrified, but not shocked, in December.

Throughout this year – like all my years, I suppose – been able to split my life between the hands and the fists. While I’m grateful for my dumb luck, wish the times with my fists were less; neither clenched with rage nor sadness.

As for 2013, I hope for myself – as I do you – that you’ll have far more experiences that involve your hands than your fists.

Check that; I hope that for us, regardless of the year.

OK, see you next year! (That joke never gets old…)

Location: at the end of a sad year
Mood: hopeful
Music: What are you doing, New Year’s Eve?
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2011 Year in Review / Thanks

CS Lewis once said that, The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.

With the utmost respect to Mr. Lewis, there’s something about the world, when you get a certain age, where hours seem to drag but the years seem to fly by. 2011’s almost over and it feels like it just began.

In 2011, I:

  1. Made five resolutions. Kept three of them.
  2. Got married. (!)
  3. Got food poisoning for the third time in my life.
  4. Turned 38. (!)
  5. Had a second wedding celebration.
  6. Had a third wedding celebration wedding celebration and a fourth one as well. Man, we are just fulla ourselves – and then traveled to Europe to give some lectures.
  7. Nuthin really happened in July, just a lotta quiet summer weekends in NYC. But man, was it hot.
  8. Went to Bermuda, then dealt with Irene.
  9. Gave another lecture and spent a lotta time in the Down Town Association.
  10. Finished my manuscript. (!)
  11. Had my first Thanksgiving without going to my parents and instead had it with my wife (and sister-in-law – both of which I’ve not had in previous Thanksgivings).
  12. Made this here self-referential blog entry.

There are a few things that I keep to myself that I don’t put here just for a small semblance of privacy.

For example, I had six resolutions actually, the sixth was to marry Heartgirl. But I couldn’t actually put that up when I made those resolutions.

On the topic of Heartgirl, don’t think that I’ve ever said I love her publicly. Love is a word we all banter around; for example, I love rum and chili. Not together, per se, but conceivably even then.

Think it’s kinda obvious how I feel but maybe that’s just what it is in my head. But I do. Love her, that is.

She’s who I’ve been looking for since I was a fat kid in Flushing, NY. My person I can’t put inna words. And I’ve tried many times and yet I can’t.

So I won’t try. Instead, lemme say again that life’s a tragedy fulla joy and that she’s my greatest joy. She’s also funny, smart, and easy on the eyes, all of which doesn’t hurt.

Finally, I want to say thanks to her. For being the person to whom I don’t gotta prove my worth and for making sure I always have someone with whom to spend New Year’s Eve.

As for you, as always, thanks for reading.

Well then, it’s almost 2012.

Off we go…(!)

Location: the end of 2011
Mood: psyched
Music: Ah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same

business personal

2011 – Who ready? I’m ready.

Two years ago, said that my feet were pointed home. It’s been quite a slog, what with the economy and all the drama the past several years.

Said it lotsa times that all of your troubles can be neatly packed into health, wealth, & relationships.

Lemme add to that with a quote from a clergyman named Edward Everett who said, “Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds – all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.” It’s hard, to be right here, right now.

Think for the past several years, been bearing all three types of all three times at once. Think I spent the last two years mentally unloading as much as possible to just concentrate on the troublesa right now – which, admittedly, isn’t much. This is a good thing.

There was this study called The Fox Farm Experiment where they found that if you stress dogs out about their survival they began to look more and more like wolves/foxes; and it happened hella fast.

Think that’s true for us too. When we bear all three types and of all three times at once, we turn greyer and more vicious. It’s just a survival thing, I think, and probably a necessary thing. But who wants to be greyer and vicious forever?

About two years ago, sat down and mapped out where I wanted to be – did it in this entry, even though there’s no explicit mention of it. See, y’can’t get to where you wanna be if y’don’t know where you’re going, yeah? Even through all the muck and mire, kept following that map and ended up starting the ascent earlier this year.

Just wanna keep on track for 2011.

To that end, spent the last few days refining my map for 2011 – suppose I’ll tell you about it soon enough. For now, lemme say, I’m excited for us.

It’s stupid, really – December 31st is an arbitrary day and essentially no different than any other. But we say it’s different, yeah? What we say of things in our heads make them real or not. Makes us wolves or men. So we say that 12/31’s when we reset and try something new, great or small.

Who ready? I’m ready. You ready?

Location: 2010
Mood: excited
Music: Came to party till I can’t no more Celebrate cuz that’s all I know
YASYCTAI: Make a new map (120 mins/3 pts)


The Debt and the Deuce

Bar in the Lower East Side, NYC


Me: Man, I’m lit. Think we each had a pitcher of beer and three glasses of rum.
Him: (nodding) Did I do the right thing?
Me: Y’know, whether or not you believe in the Bible, the concept’s relevant here. Say you owe me a thousand bucks. And I tell you the debt’s forgiven. But you show up one day showing off your iPhone. Even if I don’t wanna, I’m thinking, This #@#$@ owes me one grand. How does he have money to buy an iPhone? And if I invite y’out to eat, you’re thinking, Ah, I don’t wanna, he’s just trying to rub it in my face that I don’t got no dough. Even if I’m not.
Him: (nodding) So I did the right thing.
Me: (sighing) She broke the trust pact. Let’s say she worked late one night – even if she was being honest, you’d think, Is she really working late, or is something else going on? You did the right thing – for botha you. It’s why I left my girl. Not just for me but for her too.
Him: Still hard though.
Me: Not saying it isn’t. Just saying that someone’s gotta pay the debt, man. Sucks it’s you, but there you go. (laughing) Look, when I broke up with my ex, my buddy Rick swapped out her number with his own just in case I caved and called her. Want me to do the same?
Him: (grinning) Maybe.

Most times, it’s best to throw the deuce, say Peace out, and cut it deep, cut it quick, and cut it clean.

Cause it’s better to be the star of your own movie, than have a cameo in someone else’s.

Location: yest, Malachy’s on 72nd
Mood: completely lit
Music: now we ain’t wastin’ time no more cause time rolls by



My memory serves me far too well

Bar at the Soho Grand in NYC

Brother: Remember when he says, Now everybody’s talking about this new decade – that was 20 years ago.
Me: Yeah I remember. Was a freshman in college.
Him: (laughing) Well, now it the start of a new decade again.
Me: Technically next year’s the start of a new decade.

Nuthin exciting to tell you about the past week. The lady and I went out for a fine dinner and were in bed by the time the ball dropped.

What’d you do for 1999? Don’t recall it at all myself. Hafta add that to my lista fuzzy memories.

This time however, woke up early the next day to see the rents – they showed the lady picturesa me when I was a fatty-fat-fat.

Had to drop off the car; too expensive to keep a car in the city these days so that was onea the things that had to go for 2010.

Wrestled with a kid that was born the year I went to college. Demolished me, course. Spent the resta the weekend popping ibuprofen. Did manage to have a drink at the Soho Grand.

The “00s” are ending and the “10s” re beginning. It’s a sobering thought but I’ll never see the “00s” again.

Him: Technically, every year’s the start of a new decade. It’s like that Mitch Hedberg joke when a guy says to him, Lemme show you a picture of me when I was younger. And he goes, Technically, every picture of you’s a picture of you when you was younger.

Today, start working at an office for more scratch.

Still eat-what-you-kill but with a better view.

Lotsa changes for this new decade.

I’m still around, though. See you Thursday.

Location: a law firm off Grand Central
Mood: excited
Music: Don’t you know that the years will come and go? (Spotify)



It’s been a wild decade

So this guy, his wife, and his son, go to the big city for the first time. They walk into the first big building they see. While the wife goes off to look at something, the man and son stare at an elevator. Never saw one before.

The two watch this old, weary woman make her way into one. They see the elevator doors close, bells and lights go off, and then the doors open and a beautiful woman steps out. The father’s mouth drops open and he turns quickly to his son and goes: Boy, go find you mama, right quick.

Old joke. But made me think that I came inna 2000 one way, came out a whole other. Kinda.

1999 – become a lawyer.
2000 – leave the only job I ever had to change the world. Enter girl.
2001 – sit in a room with a red brick wall and saw buildings come down. Exit girl.
2002 – enter girl.
2003 – start one of several companies.
2004 – buy my pad. Exit room with a red brick wall.
2005 – exit companies.
2006 – take a temp gig that lasts for three years. CashCab. Exit girl. Start blog.
2007 – 72Canal: good. Lose life savings; get in a car accident: bad.
2008 – grandmother passes. Never get to say goodbye. Enter Heartgirl.
2009 – still a lawyer. Move back to a room with a red brick wall. Heartgirl’s come with.


In Orange Sky, Alexi Murdoch says,

Yes, I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my brother and my sister standing by


I make light of my insomnia – and all of the things that bring it about – a lot.

But if I were truly honest with you, there were times that I thought that I couldn’t bear the thought of another sleepless night. Could not bear it.

And if not my brother and sister, wouldn’tve. Not sleeping for 48 hours’ll make you think of all sortsa crazy. Life’s hard enough without your people.

So I wish for your 2010-2019 that, if you’ve not found your person, you’ve at least found your people. They’re your mirrors and help you find see yourself. And, looking close, you see just how small your problems are in the big schema things.

Dunno what 2010-2019’s gonna be like – probably nuthin like I expect it. But it’s ok, got my people and my person.

See you in the next decade!

Ah, that joke never gets old, yeah?

Location: a room with red-brick walls
Mood: so very grateful
Music: but sister, you know I’m so weary



Location: 19:00 yest, cleaning out the fridge
Mood: weird
Music: oh, you don’t do me in siren song; yeah, anyone would drown

Hazel, Paul and I went to three, very different, parties last night. The first was near me with the most amazing views and the nicest folk. The above pic was from the party. I met a museum curator with a nice laugh and got to know the hostess, a sweetheart from church, a bit better. The crowds were maddening.

The second was in a 14th Street loft that was pitch-black, loud and not my scene. There, I ran into a girl I met randomly once. It turns out I kissed her friend. Super small world. I met a girl from Connecticut who drew me a picture. At the strike of midnight, I realized I was by myself again.

The third was in the financial district with some old friends – the best kind, yeah? Clark, a buddy from law school was there. He’s a MUCH better cook than me and taught me how to make the best baked brie and love Tabasco on anything. I wish I was sober enough to remember more.

Called it a night at 4AM. On the train ride home, I had a sotted discussion with a nice young couple

Her: We’ve been together eight years.
Me: Eight years? Why don’t you two lock it down?
Her: Because marriage is just a concept. What does it do?
Me: It keeps you from meeting a guy a like me, maybe.
Him: (laughing) You seem a like a nice enough guy.
Me: And that’s where you’re both wrong. (to guy) Lock her down. ‘fore she meets a fella like me. Don’t let my drunken charm fool either of you.

It’s true.

2008. Here’s hoping it’s less interesting but more fun.

Come with? Y’know you wanna…


Happy New Year!

(c) Nadya Mittenhat
Him: There’s no place like New York City.
Me: There really isn’t.


Just a female friend. But it looks like something more, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll take a pretty lie over the ugly truth most nights. Fridays in particular.

Anyway, speaking of pics, could you send me a pic of your New Year’s?

I wanna know how it was for you in your world.

Location: the ending of 2007, waiting for 2008
Mood: wishful
Music: I shine a little more lately