Memories of a chocolate teapot

Seeing the world but once

Me: What’s wrong?
Him: Annie doesn’t want to play with me. Can we go?
Me: OK, let’s go to another playground.

I’ve noticed something interesting about the kids that my son is closest to – they’re all hapas like him.

Dunno if this is some subconscious thing or because there are so many hapas running around the Upper West Side.

This lady named Louise Glueck once said, “We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.”

I couldn’t agree with that statement more. I think that, by the time we’re 14 or so, we know the broad contours of what we like and we don’t like.

For example, there was this little girl named Christine that I used to hang out with all the time growing up. We were both maybe six or seven, way before any real rational emotion was possible, but all I knew was that I loved hanging out with her.

She was blond with coloured eyes. Just like Alison.

I tell my friends to always be careful that they aren’t controlled by their 14 year-old impulses. But sometimes, you can’t help it – I’m no different.

In any case, the way I look at it, I have nine years to shape this kid’s perception of the world and I feel I’m already running outta time.

As much as possible, I try to have him the see the world for what it is – both the good and the bad – rather than what someone else wants him to see, what’s for sale.

The things he values now, he’ll value the rest of his life so I try for him to value things that are innately valuable. Those things that cannot be taken from you, like skills and kindness.

Because, in some way, we’re all prisoners of our 14 year-old selves.

Him: Isn’t that cool?
Me: It’s about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Him: (laughing) What does that mean?
Me: Think about it, kid. It’ll come to you.

Then again, he may just be fine.

After all, he’s not just my kid, he’s Alison’s too. And maybe he won’t be quite as lonely as I was, growing up.

Me: Are you ok that Annie didn’t want to play with you?
Him: (nodding) I’ll meet someone else. (later) This is Sandy, papa, she lives on West 74th.
Me: (laughing) Hello Sandy who lives on West 74th. Why don’t you two play and I’ll watch your scooters?

Location: earlier today, watching some scooters by some stone elephants
Mood: hopeful
Music: All you got to do is blink your eyes and the years go by like that (Spotify)
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The middle place

Clearly, that’s me

I bought my son an instrument because he promised that he’d practice it if I got it for him.

Me: How’s the instrument playing going? Well or not well?
Him: The middle place.

I believe I’ve been tricked.

Still, it’s hard to be too mad at him. He has a way with words – like a 65 year-old Italian man.

Him: What’s for dinner?
Me: Grilled Thai-lime pork and sweet potatoes.
Him: That smells lovely. Thank you for making all the food.

Although he’s probably had his fill with me as well.

Him: I was dreaming…
Me: (interrupting) The past-tense of “to dream” is “dreamt.” Unless you’re speaking about a past-imperfect where…
Him: (rolls eyes, interrupts) In any case…
Me: (shrugging) OK, that’s a valid response.

He’s still a kid, though, which makes me happy.

Case-in-point, I stopped by a friend’s place with the kid for a play date for him, the other day.

Before I knew it, we were watching a play starring the kids and killing 1.5 bottles of wine (the adults).

Her: You brought Moscato? That’s what my mother who’s a 70 retiree drinks.
Me: Clearly, that’s me.

And then everything went down with my uncle. Here’s the governor of NJ saying a few kind words about him specifically…

…as well as a nice article written in the local paper.

Like I always say, thank goodness for the good souls.

MJ: What’re you doing Lo Lo? I’m in Central Park near ya.
Me: I’m with the kiddo but you’re welcome to stop by. You have to wear a mask if you do, just FYI. Although I suppose you had it so that’s probably not even necessary for us here.
Him: I’ll come say hi.

Location: in front of my door with a half-gallon of eggshell white
Mood: distracted
Music: I know I always break your heart(Spotify)

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Bright-line rules

Life is easier when decisions are made for you

Him: Regular shipping is free but it’ll take 7-12 days to get to you.
Me: What about 2-day shipping?
Him: That’ll cost as much as the sled.
Me: OK, I’ll take that, please.
Him: Are you sure? You might get it as soon as five days.
Me: I’m sure. Thank you.

Ended up ordering a sled via express mail; it was an astronomical sum to pay for a $10 slab of plastic. But I promised the kid I’d get him one before all the snow melted so I had to keep my promise.

When I was nearly broke after college, my roommate Joe asked me to deliver an envelope to someone and made me promise that I would. I did and ended up losing it.

Him: There was $3,500 in it, Logan!
Me: I’ll get it back to you by tomorrow.
Him: (shakes head) You’re gonna get me $3,500 tomorrow? How?
Me: I’ll find a way.

And I did.

The hows and whys are a wholly different story, but I kept my word.

Handed him an envelope the very next day with $3,500 in it in 1998, when $3,500 meant something.

Ate tuna fish for about a year afterward and I was known as the guy in law school that always had a can of tuna fish in his bag.

Still can’t really eat tuna fish all that much.

I think this is all because of that story about Apollo and his son I told you about a while back. I remember reading that and wanting to be a person of my word, no matter the cost. I would draw the line at my son’s life, but up to that…

Years ago, Rain – who argued with me as much as anyone – got drunk once and told everyone that if he had one call in jail in Panama, he would call me. Because he knew that, if I told him I’d take care of it, it’d be taken care of.

Your reputation is your brand and I try to stay on-brand as much as possible, because it defines me to everyone else, but also because it defines me to me.

Our reputations bring us places.

It also just makes life a lot easier because my rules are bright lines that tell me the choice that I have to make. I have no say in the matter.

After Alison died, I was a shell of the person I once was but my rules helped me operate when I could only operate at fractional capacity.

If that.

Spent the past few days making up for the day I didn’t have the sled. Today, while we were out, I met a young Asian father with two kids sledding down the hill on a pizza box.

Me: Hey, man, do you wanna borrow my sled? I was in your exact situation just a few days ago.
Him: (walking towards me) Oh, that’s really kind of you. (leaning in, lowering voice) Actually, I’m going to decline because…
Me: (interrupting) COVID?
Him: (laughing, whispering) Ah, yeah, no. I just don’t want them to know how good a real sled is because I don’t think I can get one for them.
Me: (nodding) I get it.
Him: Thanks though, you’re the only one that offered.
Me: No problem. Lemme know if you change your mind.

He didn’t. As for the kiddo, after a few rough sled rides, I insisted that he wear a helmet – also courtesy of Cappy.

Eventually, he got the hang of everything.

Me: Do you like your sled?
Son: I love it! Thank you.
Me: You’re welcome. I always keep my promises. Remember that, kid. Be someone that people can trust.
Him: OK, papa!

Location: earlier today, this perfect hill
Mood: much better
Music: Thought I couldn’t live without you(Spotify)

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That was unexpected

Frivolous conversation

This cartoonist named Mell Lazarus once said that The secret of dealing successfully with a child is not to be its parent.

Dunno about that but I do think treating a child like a child has it’s limitations.

When I went to see my son, I brought him a marble run game that the ABFF got him. He ended up just loving it.

It was actually really nice to just sit there and play with him, figuring out this this puzzle together.

He’s more and more verbal every time I see him.

Him: (when the toy got jammed for the first time) That was unexpected.
Me: (laughing to mother-in-law) Whoa, where did he pick that up from?
MIL: You, Logan!

People find it funny that I don’t talk to him like a child, but I remember hating being talked to like a child, even when I was a child. Found it patronizing.

Plus, everything I’ve read about child development indicates that children pick up things far better than one might imagine.

So, I talk to him the way I might talk to someone my age(ish).

Then again, I’m starting to remember being made fun of for how I talked when I was a kid. Still, all the things that made me weird then, I think kinda make me interesting as an adult. I think.

Besides, I’m not really one for frivolous conversation.

Me: For what it’s worth, I told you that I couldn’t be trusted in affairs of the heart. I told you that I wasn’t your person.
Contestant: I hoped.
Me: I’m sorry. That’s where you went wrong.

By the time you read this entry, I should have 100,000 views on that video.

I needed a better fitting shirt and to slouch less. Blargh.

Anywho, here’s a song for your Labour Day weekend. And subscribe to my playlist if you want more tunes.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier this morning, waving goodbye to my favourite little human
Mood: pained
Music: in the living room, turn it up until we feel it boom (Spotify)
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Sweet Dreams

I’m sorry

Luciano’s mom reached out to me over the weekend and filled me in on some more information.

I didn’t know what to say. What does one say, but, “I’m sorry?”

The truth is, you want to say, “I’m sorry that the world is so fucked up and people like Luciano and Alison are gone but shit-heads like Trump and his progeny still exist. There’s no God and if there is one, he’s a giant asshole and he can go fuck himself.”

But in the end, all you can ever say is, “I’m sorry,” and hope it’s enough.

Speaking of which…

Me: I guess I should take these letters off.
Chad: Do you want me to help?
Me: No. I’ll do it myself. Just…distract me will you?
Him: Sure, I’ll do a dance. (thinking) You should take a picture.
Me: (starting the process) I already did, but thanks.
Him: I’m sorry, Logan.
Me: (nodding)

When Alison moved in, she wanted to paint the boy’s room but I convinced her not to. It was too much trouble, I said. We had already agreed on painting the master bedroom and living room so she relented on what was the guest room.

I kept the paint cans for those two rooms, 11 years after Alison and I got them.

It’s hard letting things go.

The boy’s room, though, was painted by a lovely girl name Abbie in September of 2004, almost exactly 16 years ago. That was the last time it was painted. Abbie painted it when patterns were all the rage but it now made the room look dated.

To the point that, when Mouse lived here, she also asked to paint it, and I said no again. This time for a slightly different reason.

You see, Alison and I put up these stickers that read, “Sweet Dreams.” It was just a random idea that Alison had and she surprised me with the lettering. I still remember her, pregnant and carefully measuring and adjusting the words so that they would be perfect. Which they were – perfectly balanced and exactly in the center of the crib.

That was her in a nutshell.

Now, she always had meant for them to be temporary but once she died, I couldn’t bear the thought of taking them down.

But the boy’s growing up. And he should have a room that he can have for the next 16 years if he wanted, not the room Abbie wanted 16 years ago.

So, this past Sunday, I took the lettering down with Chad. Then Mouse came by and the three of us painted the whole thing.

While we were waiting for it to dry, we went out for food.

Me: Are you two tired of Vietnamese yet?
Them: Nope, not yet.

We ran into an old friend of mine while we were out but I suppose that’s an entry for another time.

Then we came back and we marveled at the room.

Neither of them had ever painted before. It wasn’t perfect but we were happy with it afterward – we didn’t do any of the molding as I figured we’d do that some other time.

But it was good. I think Alison would have liked it.

Hopefully, the boy will.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, at 84th, asking for Ariel
Mood: much better
Music: Hold your head up, keep your head up, (Spotify)
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She’s on an adventure

Where I’m supposed to be

The boy: Papa!!
Me: (grabbing him) There’s my little guy! How are you? Did you miss papa?
Him: (laughs, shakes head) Nooooooooooooo…
Me: (feigning pain, shaking head) Hurtful.  Hurtful.  (brightening) Well, I missed you.
Him: Where’s Mouse?
Me: She’s…she’s on an adventure!
Him: In Brooklyn?
Me: (nodding) Yes! In Brooklyn.
Him: When she gonna be back?
Me: (frowning) Oh, I don’t know. She might be gone for a while. Adventures sometimes take a long time.
Him: Oh. (frowning) I miss her.
Me: Of course, I do too. And, I know for a fact that she misses you. She’s definitely going to see you again, don’t you worry.
Him Good! I love her like a…toothbrush!
Me: (laughing) I’m gonna take that as a compliment to her and tell you that I know that she loves you like TWO toothbrushes.
Him: That’s silly! (thinking, quiet) Papa, will you go on an adventure too?
Me: (imitating him, shakes head) Nooooooooooooo… I belong with you.
Him: (laughs, sings loudly) ♪♫♬I belong to you, you belong to me, you’re my sweetheart…♪♫♬
Me: (nodding) Always, boy. (hugging him) Always.

Location: home, where I’m supposed to be
Mood: convinced
Music: think of what it might have been

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Getting your way

My Big Head

My brother’s in town and, despite him being on a carb-free diet too, we both indulged because the Gymgirl’s away so that means a break from the diet.

Him: Ok…just one slice.
Me: …maybe two. We’ll see. I mean, if the kid doesn’t finish his, I gotta, right?

Thought of Gradgirl recently because I got into a discussion with someone about the book Getting to Yes. It’s one of my faves.

Went through it with Gradgirl for one of her electives; there’s a part that goes something like, You don’t want to win your argument, you want to get your way.

Essentially, the book was saying that people want to win an argument to the point that they lose sight of what they truly wanted in the first place.

In fact, the full name of the book is: Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. – I bolded the last part, because the last part is the “getting your way” part.

For example, I hate Trump. But I want him to succeed, because if he’s successful, the country’s successful. Those that want him to fail miss out on the bigger point that we, as a country, fail if he fails.

He’s still a(n enormous) douchebag, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anywho, I mentioned wanting to get my way with my friend who looks at this line of thinking like some sort character defect on my part.

It’s because he never read Getting to Yes. To him, the only way for me to win, is for some other party to lose. Evidently, he’s never heard of win-win.

See, I told him that I was going to install a signal repeater for my sister – and me so I could record some shows – but my sister told me she didn’t need or want one.

But I was just going to install it anyway since I measured the signal strength and I knew she was one storm away from it totally failing on her one day.

Anywho, I never got around to getting it set up and she just wrote me last week that her antenna failed, which I knew it would.

Had I installed it, we both woulda gotten what we wanted; television. Instead, neither of us have it now – it’s pure lose-lose. The earliest I can head out to her is a few weeks from now.

Of course, all this is in theory.

The reality of negotiation breaks down when your major daily adversary’s a three-year old, who has no issue with playing dirty.

Son: This has spinach. I don’t want it.
Me: But it’s *mostly* egg with just a little spinach. Don’t you want to grow up big and strong? Just try…
Him: No! (pause) You have a big, big head.
Me: What?! Where did that come from?
Him: (laughing) You have a big, big head. (points at my head)
Me: Why are you saying that?
Him: Because…you have a big, big head. (laughs)
Me: (grumble, eats spinach eggs)

Location: yesterday, running around with friends
Mood: understanding
Music: I can’t do this again, do this again

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Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Bearing the weight

Boy: Papa, it’s raining.

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you sleep in your room. You’re almost three. I’ve written you twice before. I should write you more.

I’ve been sleeping better lately. I dream a lot but I’m a terrible sleeper. Your mother didn’t have this problem. I hope, in this regard, you take after her.

There are things that I hope you’ll take from me, and things I hope you’ll take from her.

The most important thing I want you to take from both us is the ability to bear the weight of the world.

If you ever read through this blog, I want you to tell you two things:

  1. Papa probably made up most of it; and,
  2. I talk about bearing things, quite a bit.

I always thought I could bear more pain – emotional and otherwise – than most. Then I met your mother.

She was, and remains, the bravest and strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never met anyone who bore as much as she did.

I hope never to meet another, because to watch it is soul-crushing.

The first time your mother and I spoke on the phone, she was unkind to me. But she immediately called me to apologize and ask how she could make it better.

I told her, “You get points in life for being brave.” I think I loved her at that moment. There is nothing more attractive than bravery.

You’ll meet a lot of people in this life that have all the trappings of bravery: They yell the loudest, act the craziest, threaten the most. They are many things, but they are not brave.

The truth is, we are made in our sleep and by our lonely. Bravery is quiet and happens when no one looks or notices.

And bravery requires you to bear things you don’t wanna: Disappointment, pain, ridicule, and loss.

We’ve lost so much, you and I.

There will be times when you can’t bear it any more and you’ll want to cry.

I want you to remember that rain happens when clouds can’t bear the weight they carry.

Likewise, tears happen when people can’t bear the weight they carry. So put it down and cry for a bit.

It’s ok to cry. Papa cries a lot when no one looks or notices. Papa carries a lotta weight, you see.

Anyway, once you’re done crying, you pick up the weight again. Because life is nothing if not bearing the weight of the world.

The world will teach you things like anger, greed, hatred, and cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I’m so sorry. I wish so many things were different.

But here – in the four walls of our small Manhattan apartment – I’ll try and teach you curiosity, patience, and kindness. With those things and bravery, you’ll be able to bear the world.

And always remember that you get points in life for being brave.

Love,

Pop

Me: Yes. The clouds can’t bear the weight anymore. But it’s ok. They will again and then it’ll be sunny again.
Him: Sunny again… I like the sun. (thinking) Papa doesn’t like the sun.
Me: (laughing) That’s not wrong.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

Location: home with the boy
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I love you oh so well

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It’s May. I hate May.

Some new friends


This time last year was absolute f_____g hell.

I’ve been dreading the start of May since about three weeks ago. And now it’s here.

I hate everything about everything, I think.

That’s not completely true.

Someone told me that the people you hang out with most after having a kid are other parents. Remember thinking that made sense but I wasn’t really aware how true that was until I started caring for the boy myself.

There are three women that I chat to online or in RL on an almost daily basis.

Me: I have a new hobby since I’ve become a father.
Her: What’s that?
Me: Well, I prepare all this really great, expensive, organic food, show it to the boy, and then throw it right into the trash.

One is a Slavic woman, another Chinese, and a third, Caucasian that lives across the street from me. There are other great people, almost all women, that I see on a weekly basis but they’re the main ones.

All three were exactly the type of women that Alison would have liked. Witty, kind, and intelligent. And great parents.

Me: I was running late so I crossed in the middle of the street with the stroller. I feel guilty about that.
Her: (dismissively) Please, I do that all that time. If someone judges you, that means they don’t have a kid.

We met for drinks around the way the other night.  The owner musta liked us because that’s him taking a shot with us.

I’m grateful they’ve accepted me into their club. It’s funny because I must be an odd addition to this group of mothers. An otherwise sad and peculiar single father of this awesome little kid.

As for me, I feel like I’ve stepped into Alison’s shoes and I try to do what she woulda done. At least, what I think she woulda done.

It makes me sad because I’m certain they would all have been friends with her  and she them instead of me. I woulda preferred that so.

But I’m grateful that they’re my friends and help me feel like I’m doing something right. I also wish Alison was here so I could tell her about them. That we have that village here she wanted to have.

And maybe they could tell her that we’re ok.

Because Alison always worried about us and I wanted her to know that they think we’re ok.

Her: You’re doing great as a father.
Me: Am I? Thanks for letting me know. I worry. About everything.
Her: That’s called parenting. He’s such a happy kid. That’s why you’re doing great.
Me: It’s all we ever wanted for him. To be a good and productive member of society. (clearing throat) Thanks.

I’ll tell Alison if I ever see her again.

Oh, I’d love to see her again.

Location: in front of a new bottle of rum. It was new. It’s no longer new.
Mood: heartbroken
Music: Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

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Citrus Betty, the playa

Surviving it all

Me: (with kid in stroller) Can you pop the trunk?
Brother: Why don’t you just put him in the car seat?

My brother visited me the other day.

He used to come all of the time to see my dad. Now he comes to see my mom. He travels here from Cali and I wish I had more time to spend with him but I’m always taking care of the kid.

The week he came, I started potty training. It’s been tiring and gross, I’ll leave it at that. Also been sick. Seems like I’m constantly sick; kids his age are like sponges for germs so as soon as I’m over one cold, another one starts.

So I only got to see him one night and even then, we didn’t get to really spend any time together. But we all went out – him, me, the kid, and Gymgirl – and got some food at this joint called Playa Betty’s.

It used to be a Latin fusion place called Citrus. Was last there with Alison on December 31, 2008 at 11:30PM. I know the time because I wrote briefly about it here. We sat on the second floor and she and I both ate so much that we had to head home before it actually turned to 2009.

This is a picture I took that night. It’s not great but it’s all I got. She just laughed at something I said. I’m just hilarious.

And there I was at this new/old place earlier this week with our son and another woman and my brother.

Felt it kinda perfectly summed up my life now: Very different but with some unifying things. My brother has always been a constant in my life, and for that, I’m so grateful.

At his wedding (he’s single now) I joked that he was a year older than me. Said that I couldn’t imagine how he survived that year without me. Truth is, I’m not sure how I woulda survived all this without him.

As for me, I’m trying to move on as best I can. Mainly for the kid. Suppose it doesn’t really matter why I move on, just that I do.

And I’m always thankful for the good souls that keep me company along the way.

Nate: (pointing to his room while eating dinner) Mom! Mom!
Gymgirl: You want your mom? Let me get her for you. (gets up, goes to room and returns with Alison’s picture) Here you go. Mom!
Nate: (laughs, takes picture) Mom.

Location: In front of a potty
Mood: still injured, still heartbroken, still here
Music: In my heart, she left a hole

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