Trying to be better

The kid is in first grade

It’s weird having the kid back in school again. I feel as if no time has passed this summer but so much has.

And yet, here we are, in a new grade, with new classmates and teachers. Picking him up the first day, I met his teacher for the first time.

Me: So how did he do?
Her: Well, you obviously know how social he is. He made a lot of new friends pretty quickly.
Me: Yup, that sounds like him.

He does have some social anxiety when we first show up to anything, but I encourage him to feel whatever he feels.

Him: I’m sorry I’m scared, Papa.
Me: (shaking head) No. Don’t ever apologize for your honest feelings. You’re always entitled to your true feelings, kid, and no one – not even me – is allowed to tell you that you can or cannot feel something that you honestly feel.

This actress named Charlotte Cushman once said, To try to be better is to be better.

Suppose I tell the kid these kinda things in the hopes that he’ll try to be ok and, maybe, that will be enough to make him ok.

I just want him to be ok.


Alla that sounds very sensible but the truth is that I question my own feelings about any number of things.

And yet, I try my best to not get down on myself for feeling what I feel.

And what I don’t feel.

Her: Why?
Me: I don’t know. I just know I’m not your guy.
Her: Well, thanks for telling me, I guess. (later) I didn’t even want dessert.

It’s still a work in progress. I’m trying.

Looking back at women I’ve dated, there are at least three women that I know that married the very next guy they dated after me.

That’s just off the top of my head.

Suppose, after me, it became very clear what they did and didn’t want in their life, for better or worse.

Writing that made me laugh. Perhaps I’m just so awful that some people needed to marry the very next person to get me outta their systems.

Maybe trying to be better isn’t enough after all.

Someone just rang my doorbell from my building. He found a crowbar on the floor in the hallway and it’s pretty clear, someone was trying to break into one of the units here.

I should really move to the burbs.

Location: in my apartment building
Mood: exhausted
Music: been feeling lazy, I’ve been going crazy (Spotify)
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Trapped in a Spider’s Web

Sometimes, you gotta say…

Him: This is what you do, Logan. You survive things.
Me: I’m tired of surviving things, man. I wanna live. I’ve been a shell of myself for the past seven years. I wanna live.
Him: You will. You’re the strongest guy I know.
Me: But I don’t want to be. I’m tired of being the strongest guy people know. I just wanna be a normal dude with a family and a boring fucking life. Why is that so much to ask?

In my life, I’ve had a number of horrors. Some turned out to be fine, like when I thought I had testicular cancer but I didn’t.

The first real horror was when a family friend stole my life’s savings at 34. Six-figures. At that moment, I thought I had hit rock bottom. Was too young to realize that there’s always more room for down.

My father dying was a horror as well. But, we all understood that he lived a good long life.

Of course, we all wished he lived longer and died more peacefully. But wishes are for children. And I stopped being a child decades ago.

Alison dying was the most horrific thing that has ever happened to me up to this point. It still gives me nightmares. It always will.

But two weeks ago, someone stole my phone number – not my phone, my phone number – and that was the start of a horror that was nowhere as near as bad as Alison and my dad dying but far worse than losing my life’s savings at 34.

So much worse. You have no fucking idea.

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to fix everything but it felt like being trapped in a spider’s web. I could move, but I knew it was just a matter of time before the inevitable.

Just like when I was 34, it’ll be years before I return to the level I lost and I feel, some new horror is waiting for me.

The thing that kept me up the most was that I had no one to help.

While friends like Chad and Miller were constantly checking on me…

Him: I’m at the beach, homie. Just checking in.
Me: I’ve got ok moments and awful moments. I still can’t wrap my head around how much I lost. It’s mind boggling.

…it’s not the same as a partner in life.

Don’t think I’ve ever felt as alone as I have in the last two weeks. It made me realize exactly where I am in life with many things.

I guess I’ve been sleepwalking longer than I care to admit. But, if nothing else, I’m awake now.

The thing that hurt the most was that the boy had his “graduation” the week everything went down and, even though I was physically there, mentally, I missed the whole thing.

He’s been away so I’ve the time to clean up my life and this here blog. If you click a link and find it broken, it’s probably due to this thing.

(c) Associated Press

But then I read the news this morning that they’ve been finding children’s bodies in the rubble in Florida and I realized that this was nothing compared to the grief these families were dealing with.

There’s always more room for down, so I’m grateful for what I have; the friends and family I have, among other things.

Years ago, when I thought I hit rock bottom – which seems laughable in hindsight – Bryson put both of his hands on my shoulders and said, as gently and as seriously as possible, “Logan, sometimes, you just gotta say, ‘Fuck it.’ Fuck this shit, man.”

Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Still is.

Fuck it. It is what it is. I survive shit. Even when I don’t wanna survive shit, I do. I eat grief every fucking day and have for the past decade. A little more won’t change shit.

That’s all I’ll say on the matter.

Back to the usual nuthin soon.

Location: home, looking for some papers and a goddamn mosquito because, of course, there’s a goddamn mosquito here
Mood: fuck it
Music: Sorry, I’m not home right now (Spotify)
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True things are often awful

Is that cocaine?

Him: I’m afraid.
Me: It’s ok to be afraid. But we live our lives despite the fear, not just with it, ok?
Him: Ok, papa. I’ll be brave.
Me: That’s my boy. Don’t be afraid. Let’s go on an adventure.

Almost one year later, I finally went for a reasonably long bike ride with the kid. We went up Riverside up to about 140th. Pac was across the river in NJ and I had half-a-mind to go there but I wanted to slowly ease the kid into riding the bike.

He reminded me of Rerun on Peanuts.

Him: That was so much fun! Can we do it again tomorrow?
Me: Yup! Remember that life is on the other side of fear. Life is always on the other side of fear, kid. Everything you’ll ever want, is always on the other side of fear.
Him: I don’t understand.
Me: You will.

We ended up going again the very next day all the way down to Charles Street. God, I love that kid.

That pic way down below is him belting some Rolling Stones at a birthday party we went to afterward.

My buddy Ian’s an actor and he needed help filming a reel for an audition. It didn’t take too much time and was pretty interesting, I gotta say.

Him: This is a lead part.
Me: Great, if you get it, I can borrow money?
Him: (later) Thanks, man. This was a huge help. Wait, is that cocaine?
Me: What? No, it’s from national donut day.

Been helping another buddy deal with massive changes that’s been happening in his life.

Me: It’s like that Hemmingway line I like so much: Life is gradually and then suddenly.
Him: (thinking) I hate to say it, but it’s probably a good thing this happened.
Me: You know that, if humans died out, Earthlings would probably look like crabs?
Him: What?
Me: Crabs. If left to their own devices, living things tend to become crabs. Because organisms – individually and wholly separate from each other – become crab-like through evolution. It’s survival of the fittest, and the fittest animal on a planet that’s 70% water is a crab. So animals that look like they’re related, aren’t. They just figured out that they should be crabs.
Him: That’s crazy.
Me: I’m telling you this because you and I independently, and without consultation, came to the same conclusion. While this is terrible that it happened, on whole, for us, it was a benefit. It’s awful to say, but true things are often awful.

Location: Charles Street, with the boy
Mood: excited
Music: she loves cocaine and the nineteen seventy-five (Spotify)
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Trust is the coin of the realm

Are you Logan?

While walking the other day…

Him: Hey, are you Logan?
Me: Who wants to know?
Him: Hey man, I’m just a ScenicFights fan.
Me: Get outta town!

Interestingly, it happened pretty much exactly where someone else recognized me for 72nd to Canal, about fourteen years ago(!).

And, in a decade, I’ve gone from being a corporate lawyer lecturing in front of the Paris Bar to being known as the guy explaining why you can’t unzip another human being with a hammer.

Wonder what Alison and my dad woulda thought of alla this.

It’s pretty wild but if you go to the last Scenic Fights video that went up, you’ll see that Chad made a cool little (improvised) call-to-action, where he basically tells the audience that, for their entertainment, he will put me in a triangle choke, essentially by putting his crotch in my face.

In less than a week, we increased our subscribers by 6,000+ to 116,000, and garnered close to 1,300 comments, the vast majority of which were sending me condolences.

To paraphrase our producer, if there was ever a masterclass given for calls-to-action, Chad would be mentioned for his.

Check out the comments, cause some of them are hilarious.

Decided that I wasn’t going to accept any more setups because they’ve always been a disaster. Always. Since I was a kid.

Me: I could give you the line that it’s not you, it’s me, but I feel that’s unnecessary.
Her: Yeah, it’s you.
Me: (nodding) Fair.

A friend of mine asked me how I met so many women in my life so I told him. Now, he’s on a tear like I’ve never seen – you would not believe it if I told you.

Actually, maybe you would…

One thing I did ask him, though, was to stick with some of my rules; the second of which is brutal honesty and the first of which is: Leave people better off having met us than not.

In other words, we’re not trying to hurt anyone. But I think I’m breaking that rule myself.

For example, the girl I went on that date with last week stayed on my mind all week but it’s a lot more complex than that.

So, I need to figure some things out before I start involving other people in the mess I call my life.

Speaking of messes and brutal honesty, the kid lied twice recently.

Once about practicing his instrument and once about scribbling on the walls. Regarding the latter, it was obvs it was him because I’m 48 and my scribbling on the wall days are long past. He denied both at first but then admitted to them.

Me: I’d rather you tell the truth, even if it’s something bad.
Him: Why? You’ll be mad.
Me: Having someone mad at you is ok as long as you’re honest. “Trust is the coin of the realm. Everything else is details.” (George Shultz.)
Him: What does that mean?
Me: It means that if you’re someone that people trust, people will always accept you. Everyone wants to be with people they can trust.

I have a packed schedule all week. I’m:

      • training two groups of corporate people in self-defense/kali
      • having two private training sessions
      • helping a buddy work on his audition reel
      • trying to find some time to head to the law firm
      • childrearing as per use
      • helping a buddy with his business idea
      • trying to see about a girl

All of that stems from people trusting me to get the job done.

On the plus side, it’s nice that so many people want me to help them with things. On the negative side, there are only so many hours in the day.

Me: Lies are complex. Truth is simple. All things being equal, the more you lie, the more complex your life becomes. The more you tell the truth, the simpler your life becomes.
Him: I’ll won’t lie again.
Me: (laughing) You will. It’s the nature of people and we’re people. But, if you do lie about something, make sure it’s worth the cost of the lie and the subsequent complexity you’ve introduced into your life.
Him: I don’t understand.
Me: You will. I’ll make sure you understand.

Location: in front of a stack of weapons. A stack.
Mood: violent and busy
Music: I can wait for you (if you want me to) (Spotify)
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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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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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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

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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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

If you want something done…

…get a busy person to do it

There’s a saying I like that goes something like, If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

The day after furiously bailing water because of the flooding and then wiping stuff down, I was physically drained but my network had been giving me intermittent problems. So, I figured, since I was exhausted, I should just take care of that too.

To wit, I converted my traditional router set up to a mesh-router setup. It took six hours because it turns out that TWO of the three units I got were defective.

Me: (at midnight) So, what do I do now?
Customer Service: We’ll send you out two replacement ones today.
Me: Sweeeeet.

Surprisingly, I managed to get an old unit working again so, with two mesh units running, I crashed hard.

Woke up the next day and looked over at my computer case.

It was this cool glass and metal case called the Phanteks Evolv Shift ITX (this is the mesh version which isn’t as cool looking) but it was just slightly larger than I needed, at an internal capacity of 22 liters. So, a while ago, I got the 19.9 liter Cougar QBX case instead – much plainer looking but also much smaller.

I painted the front cherry red just cause I like pretty things.

Beer in hand, I gutted the Evolv and shoved everything – literally and figuratively – into the QBX.

Then, if all that weren’t enough, I needed to get some sandbags as a hedge against the thunderstorm that we’re supposed to be getting in tomorrow and Mouse just happened to in the area with a van earlier last week.

Me: Wait, can you drive me over to Amsterdam and 74th?
Her: Sure, get in.

Ended up getting ten 50-pound bags of sand and hauled them back to my pad.

Then, just today – in 95 degree weather – I put that quarter ton of sand into 14 sandbags and laid those out, installed an autosensing water pump, as well as a 50 gallon water barrel – molded into a tasteful white planter, of course.

Like I said, I like pretty things.

Speaking of pretty things, Mouse came by to roll with Chad and me over the weekend and, afterward, I treated myself to a film with her as a small reward.

Me: I saw this movie in theatres when it came out. You were negative 3 years old .
Mouse: Did it cost a penny?

I really should stop watching films with other people and just watch them alone.

Note that if you’re at all interested in SFFPCs, there’s a  Reddit thread I just found today on the topic.

Podcast Version
Location: today, my back yard, filling bags of sand for what seemed like forever
Mood: exhausted, man, exhausted
Music: you can take me home (Spotify)
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Owing a debt

Mother is the name of God

Podcast Version

Him: Why do you stay in contact with her and people like him?
Me: I owe them a debt. Anyone that shows a kindness to my family, I owe a debt.

My head’s quiet again.

That’s more than I can say about the state of the nation, what with a pandemic, murder hornets, cannibal rats, state-sponsored murder, and now race riots.

The thing is: I get it. As my buddy from my gym said, you never get over the anger. And what’s the anger all about? Inequity.

It’s bullshit that Alison died so young, so close to her dream of finally – finally – getting a family. Bullshit.

I said earlier that I couldn’t watch the whole video. I stopped when Floyd cried out for his mother.

That broke my heart. As a regular, run-of-the-mill-normal human being, it broke my heart. That someone could die for no fucking reason whatsoever.

And what crushed it to powder was the thought that in the darkest moments of his life, my son will cry out for me. Because he didn’t know Alison.

And I’m half the person she was. You see, Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of children.

Except for mine, that is. Fuckballs.

I counted the days. Alison lived exactly 13,893 days. HALF of what she was promised. What we were promised. The inequity makes my blood boil.

Alison and George are gone now, for no good reason whatsoever. So, I understand the rage.

But there’s another facet to the rage. And that’s the debt.

In 1847 – after the Trail of Tears – the Choctaw heard about the starving Irish during their potato famine and somehow, managed to scrape together and send $170 (about $5,000 today) to help these people strangers.

For every bit of inequity – where one isn’t given what one’s owed – there’s a flip side. There’s grace; that’s when you’re given something you didn’t earn.

When Alison was sick, the grace I saw, humbled me. To those people that helped us, my family owes them a debt. That’s it.

We owe them a debt.

The Choctaw owed the Irish no debt but they paid a value to someone in need. And 173 years later, the descendants of those with the debt paid back some of it.

I think I hold a special place of contempt in my heart for those in mixed-race relationships – particularly white male and Asian female relationships – where the white male doesn’t realize the debt he owes the African-American community.

Like the the officer that murdered Mr. Floyd, who is married to a Laotian woman.

That officer doesn’t realize the debt his family owes to the black community, that was regularly lynched for just looking at a white woman, and had to go to court to gain us all the right to marry any one of any race we wanted.

I was able to legally marry Alison because a white man named Loving – of all things – wanted to marry a black woman, named Mildred. My family would not exist but for Mildred and Loving. The debt every interracial couple owes to them cannot be overstated.

If you’re white and in a mixed-race relationship and you don’t feel any rage over what happened to Mr. Floyd and don’t recognize the debt you owe to that community then I gotta point it out to you now.

You owe them a debt.

But rage against inequity works both ways.

Chauvin’s wife just announced that she was divorcing him.

Podcast Version
Location: 95th and Broadway
Mood: angry
Music: so sick of being so lonely; miss all my family (Spotify)
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Damaged people are dangerous

They know they can survive

Well, my neighbors are back. So much for the afternoon screaming.

Years ago, I was casually talking to someone at my gym and I mentioned that I grew up poor.

A fella there overheard and scoffed.

Him: Nonea y’all know what it’s like to be poor.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Him: (shaking head) You’re not poor unless you’re black and’ve gone hungry.
Me: Well, one of those two applies to me. I’ve had sleep for dinner plenty of times.

I grew up before the microwave. Or, at least, before the microwave was affordable.

Both my parents worked, so I’d come home, alone, and unlock the door to our tiny apartment and go to the sink.

I’d go to the sink for two reasons: (1) To wash my hands, and (2) because my mom would always put two unopened cans of Chef Boyardee in a pot with hot water trickling out of the faucet to warm them up.

Ideally beef ravioli but, really, whatever was on sale; cheese ravioli was always such a disappointment.

Then again, I grew up wearing homemade clothes. My grandma knit those hats my brother and I are wearing in the pic above.

Anywho, my mom always left a note that said something like:

Please try to save some for your sister – I love you!

It was then that I realized that “serving size” was a joke. That was dinner. She wanted me to put it in a bowl but that just meant something else for me to do so I’d just eat it outta the can and tell her I washed the dish.

In hindsight, the canned spaghetti and meatballs were the worst.

I mean, I still ate it, but, yeah…

Watching the news these days, I’m reminded of things like that. People waiting in lines for food at the food banks.

I remember all the goddamn lines we stood on, growing up.

One fall day, my mom bundled my sister and me (my brother was away) in our warmest clothes and we stood in line for hours for something. I complained the entire time. Finally, she grabbed me by the shoulders and said:

They’re giving away free vaccine shots and we can’t afford to get you two shots any other way. If you want to eat tonight, you’ll wait.

And then she turned away and tried to hide the fact that she was crying.

Man, I felt awful at that moment.

I was 12? I’m 47 now and, while I don’t remember how the shot felt, I remember how making my mom feel inadequate felt.

As a parent now, I feel it all the more. I do what I can. They did what they could.

Realize it’s a luxury that I don’t have to worry about my next meal any more. If I want a party pack of tacos, I buy myself a goddamn party pack of tacos.

I have sleep for dinner these days outta choice, not necessity.

This lady named Josephine Hart once said something like: Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.

This pandemic is filling my head with such sad thoughts, I cannot even begin to tell you. But, perhaps that’s for the best.

Cause, I know I’m damaged.

If nuthin else, I survive shit, even when I don’t really wanna.

Podcast Version: Damaged People are Dangerous
Location: my empty apartment, now with lots of cheesecake
Mood: can’t look at another piece of cheesecake
Music: Man, I was dealt these cards and I played dem out (Spotify)
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