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Books that made me, me

Some more fiction

Rarely read fiction anymore. I used to read fiction voraciously but I’ve so little time these days that it’s been years since I read something with a plot and characters.

Read the entirety of John Grisham’s novels from 1990-1999. That’s the last time I remember reading fiction, although I’m sure I did in the 2000s – I just don’t remember.

It’s a shame because this fella named Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said, You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.

There’s a lotta truth to that.

Think that I’m the person I am today because of the books I read when I was a kid. After all, my summers were spent in the library.

A handful of books spring to mind immediately when I think of books that profoundly affected me.

Some, I already wrote about at length including:

  • The Godfather (sophmore year, college)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (high school)
  • Les Miserables (high school)
  • The Little House series (grammar school)
    • Honestly, I read these books because I was always hungry and they had the most vivid descriptions of food. I still remember the description of the kids cooking pig’s tail and making maple candy. This is probably at least part of the reason I’m a fatty-fat-fat.
  • The Great Brain series (grammar school)
    • This one taught me the value of hustle, something that I took to heart immediately after reading the book and literally never stopped.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (high school)
    • I keep thinking about the saloon owner and his relationship with his wife for reasons that are mine alone, but I digress.

Lately, I find myself remembering books I read in late grammar school and junior high school, just because I want the kid to read them, someday.

On that note, I recently spoke at his school. But that’s an entry for another time.

Two books that really fucked with my head growing up were:

Tuck Everlasting
This is about a little girl that met a boy about her age, but he’s really 104 years old. He’s immortal and she wants to be immortal like him, but he tells her it’s a curse. The ending really messed me up but it made me realize for the first time that I would die someday.

And it was the first book where the boy and girl didn’t have a happy ending.

I think it was the start of me wanting to do something important because I knew my time here was limited.

It also meant that I never wanted to live forever.

In light of all that’s happened in my life, I think that all the more lately. I feel I’m just waiting around to die, already.

Bridge to Terabithia
Now, this messed me up because I’d never read about a main character dying before. The heroes always lived and won. This was the first book where that wasn’t the case and it made me realize that the good guys lose as much as win.

If these two books didn’t help, in some small way, prepare me for the last few fucked up years of my life, I dunno what did.

Speaking of bridges, since I have you, maybe you can help me find two books from grammar school that I just cannot remember the author nor title of because I was a little kid.

The first book was about a young boy in Manhattan that would sneak out and climb one of the bridges (the Manhattan Bridge?) in the middle of the night and just sit and think.

I used to sneak out of my house and just on random corners to think, because of this book.

When I first moved to Manhattan (Times Square) as a young adult, people would always wanna go out to parties or bars and meet people.

Me? I’d sit at the corner of W 46th Street and 6th Avenue and chat up whoever was there around midnight.

When I moved here, I used to sit on my stoop and make small talk with whomever.

Did I ever tell you that I met the doctor at a phone booth in Columbia and the German Girl at my local dive bar?

So much of my life has been chance encounters. Including Alison.

Don’t think I ever told that the girl in this entry was her.

She was my ship in the night.

Ah, fuck me.


Sorry.

Anywho, the second book was about a group of kids that found a key which turned out to fit into a hole in a stone wall. Inside the wall (the key was really a hook that hooked onto a box) was essentially a time capsule.

That book is probably part of why I write this blog.

Because I think that, maybe long after I’m gone, someone will find this and it’ll be a time capsule of some rando’s life in the early 2000s.

Gotta make sure someone pays the internet hosting bills, I guess.

Location: 5PM tonight, chatting with a buddy about the people we love, dying, on W 77th
Mood: thoughtful
Music: we should go get lost in the big wide world (Spotify)
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Normal / Not Normal

Doing the best I can

There’s a joke I love that goes:

A genie appears before a man and says, I’ll give you half-a-million dollars, but only on the condition that the person you hate most in the world gets a million dollars.

And the fella goes, That doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t I want one-and-a-half million dollars?

For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been breaking out into these insane hives every night, to the point I was literally ripping my skin off, cancelling dates, and not leaving my house.

The above pic is me on a good night. My sheets were bloody in the mornings.

It sometimes happened in the daytime as well, but for sure happened at night, for some reason. Without fail.

It, finally, started spreading on my face last week, which was terrifying.

Blamed it on a million things, including a rando date I went on right before things started going south.

[Note to self: Send flowers to said rando.]

But I had a wild talk with my therapist that honestly blew my mind.

Her: You don’t find this interesting? How you’re – right now – dealing with the two things that hurt the last two major women in your life?
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Well, you had a talk with Mouse in your car where you finally – after years of poor communication – understand why she’s so upset with you and you suddenly develop these hives that you’ve never had. And they’re debilitating. Then, that following weekend, you probably suffered a brain injury (concussion). The first one is Mouse’s painful life situation, and the second one is Alison’s – obviously, both to a much lesser degree than each. You’ve been struggling with both ever since.
Me: Wait, do you think I wanted to get tossed onto my head or develop hives?
Her: (shaking head) No, of course not, but it happened. I don’t think you wanted any of this, for them or for you. But, again, it happened. I just find it interesting. Don’t you? (later, gently) You have a relatively recent pattern of trying to save people you care about and failing, and then blaming yourself for that failure.
Me: (laughing) I have a friend that calls me “Captain Save A-Ho.” He means it as a joke but he says he does think I try to help people long after I should stop.
Her: (nodding) You need to be ok with the fact you tried your best. With Alison, with your Dad, with Mouse, you did the best you could with [what life gave all of you].
Me: Life is a non-linear system.
Her: You didn’t give any of their suffering to them. Life gave it to them. And you. Even though none of you deserved any of it.
Me: Oh…I’m sorry…we went over our time.
Her: (shaking head) That’s ok, Logan. (picking up her papers) Be nicer to yourself. You didn’t want any of this, any more than any of them wanted what happened to them. Thank you for today. I’ll see you next week.
Me: (nodding) Thanks, doc. See you next week.

I shit you not, the hives stopped that day. 

Not sure if it was coincidence or what. Slept like a brick for 10 hours and woke up with my skin totally normal and feeling…normal.

Well, as normal as a fella like me gets.

Location: my pad, writing this, sans hives
Mood: normal?
Music: Why do you want me? (Spotify)
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I wanna live

Life-changing

We had a Scenic Fights shoot a month ago on 9/11 and Pac had to do a throw. But, like I said, that throw went bad and he essentially dropped me straight down on my head.

Even though I landed directly on to the top of my head, because of the speed he was going at, and the height (maybe three feet off the ground), while it hurt like hell, I was ok enough to get up and finish my scenes.

This past Sunday, because Pez was able to watch the kid, I was able to do another shoot but, in hindsight, maybe it woulda been better if I’d not been able to make it.

First of all, I started getting an outbreak of hives. Think it mighta been a friend’s perfume because I remember my throat tightening when I met up with her.

Her: Are you ok?
Me: (coughing) I’ve not been ok for years now.

It’s been a solid week since then and things are about the same if not worse.

Now have a newfound level of respect and empathy for Mouse, who’s been dealing with this kinda stuff her whole life.

Still, I decided to just suck it up and go. The director had me go buy a mock-turtleneck to hide everything.

But that’s not even why the shoot was awful.

Before everything went to hell. I should wear more purple.

See, Pac was supposed to do this joke throw and, during a practice throw, he fully picked me up, at least five feet off the floor.

He misjudged the angle – and the there was some communication issues between him and the director – and he ended up dropping me on my neck onto the crash pad.

Despite there being three inches of normal padding and six inches of the crash pad, because of the force and angle, I legit thought I was gonna be paralyzed.

Haven’t been that terrified about anything since the kid went to the hospital and, of course, Alison before that.

Screamed out in pain and Pac later told me that the entire room went quiet with mouths agape.

Chad: (later) I remember watching that and thinking, We all just watched a man lose his body right now.

Went completely into my head and, for a terrifying 5-10 seconds, could not feel my feet.

Pac later told me that I was babbling that I couldn’t feel my feet but that I was wiggling them the whole time. In hindsight, he thought that was funny.

Him: Of course, at the time, I was horrified.

It took a solid five minutes or so for me to come to my senses. Pac said he immediately came over and put his hands on my chest and neck to make sure I was alive.

Don’t remember that at all.

The entire shoot paused for a solid 45 minutes – which we never do, as we’re usually racing for 10-14 hours straight with a 30 min break for food – so I could get my bearings.

Was pretty cloudy-headed and in intense pain for the rest of the shoot, although I did burst out laughing once I realized that I wasn’t paralyzed.

Only managed to finish two scenes before I had to head home. The rest of the night was ice packs and ibuprofen.

Don’t recall what I said to Pez at all when I saw her later on that night.

Pac felt awful about it, and everyone checked in on me that night and the next day, which was nice.

It was honestly life-changing. In light of what Mouse said to me earlier the previous week, I gave Pac a ring.

Him: Dude, I felt awful for you but I was also feeling sick that I might have crippled you.
Me: Yeah. (thinking) If anything good came out of this, I remember thinking, “I hope I die instead of being crippled for the rest of my life and be a burden to the kid.” But then I realized also that I really, really didn’t want to die.

Reached out to Gradgirl, in a manner of speaking. She’s not contacted me back, dunno if she ever will.

I’m not even sure it’s her getting my messages because we always communicated via this specialized app. It could be someone else entirely getting them or maybe she’s just deleting them as they come in.

But I hope maybe she’ll read one or two and maybe hate me just a little less.

She was a friend when I needed one and I hope I can be one to her, somehow, someday.

It’s funny, I thought a buncha things lying there – mainly the kid, of course.

Shit, he’s gonna be so fucked up.

In my haze, I also remember thinking, Alison’s gonna be so mad at me if I died and left the kid alone.

But I also thought of Mouse and Gradgirl too. Mainly, that I hoped I wouldn’t die with them hating me.

Him: (laughing) So, all thoughts of suicide are gone?
Me: (nodding) So gone, man. I don’t want to die at all. Was thinking that there’s so much I still want to do. With the kid, with a lotta things.
Him: So, you should be thanking me then.
Me: (laughing) I wouldn’t go that far, Pac…

Location: my gym, hoping I’m ok
Mood: itchy, achy, and annoyed
Music: I’m waking up again and I feel half alive (Spotify)
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Still ever the skillest and killest, Pt 1

Burying dead things

It’s been an odd week.

Some relatively recent friends (formally) exited my Venn Diagram while others came back for a visit.

Years ago, the Devil told me, “We’re not friends. We’re friendly, but we’re not friends. There’s a difference. Don’t get it twisted, kid.”

Found myself saying similar those exact words to someone else at a Japanese restaurant this past week and – for a moment, at least – I was my old self again.

Me: For what it’s worth, it was mature of you to reach out to me to talk. I never woulda myself because it’s not in my nature.
Him: (slowly nodding) I only know you after Alison…died. I’m still getting used to who you really are.
Me: Gotta be honest, I don’t care. But, our interests are aligned: What you want and what I want are the same. Let’s just get the job done. Whatever personal feelings we have towards the other are irrelevant. (later) To be clear, I felt I owed you a debt. I consider the debt paid – in full. I don’t owe you shit. But, it cut both ways, you don’t owe me shit either. I just wanna come in, do my shit, and leave. We’re both professionals, let’s act as such.
Him: As skilled as you are with a knife, you cut better with words than anyone I know.

It was perfectly eloquent and cruel, but I suppose it was true and I deserved it.

After all, he’s right. I’m ever the skillest with my sharp objects, the killest with my blunt instruments.

Fuck it. I’m getting tired of apologizing for and hiding who and what I am.

A woman I dated briefly dropped me a line earlier this month and then again this week.

She made me laugh.


And then Rain hit me up to chat about stuff. Oddly, someone just asked me earlier today if he and I were still in contact.

There’s definitely something weird in the air. In any case, it was good catching up with him.

Me: Jesus Christ – you have hair! And it’s grey!
Him: Man, you look exactly the same. I can’t believe you still have all your hair and it’s black.
Me: I’m as surprised as you are.

We got onto the topic of buying some grass-fed beef together because…of course we did.


Weirder still, a girl I met on the train three years ago randomly dropped me a line recently as well.

What on earth is going on?


It’s was Pac’s birthday this past weekend.

Had a hangover for the first time in over a decade but I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.

Location: earlier today, my kitchen, baking two dozen cookies and a pan of lasagna for my favourite tiny human
Mood: Same as the song
Music: Well, fuck ’em, fuck ’em, fuck ’em all (Spotify)
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Still speaking Martian, Pt 2

Lovely imposter syndrome

It was Rain’s birthday recently, so if you see him, wish him a good one?

Years ago, he told me about this comedy skit where there’s this guy that has a speech impediment where he can only speak in a sarcastic voice, which makes his life totally miserable and lonely.

Rain told me about it and then I told you about it.

Finally found it, if you’re interested.

It’s not like I didn’t want to have friends.

I just talked like a weird 49-year-old Chinese-American man with a Queens accent…when I was 13. That was my speech impediment.

Met a pretty girl once in 7th Grade. Told her she looked lovely. And she and her friends called me a weirdo and worse.

As an aside, I say lovely all the goddamn time now.

In junior high, the closest I had to friends were a girl named Julia and a guy named Phil. I’ll tell you about them someday but, not for a while because I wasn’t exactly kind to them.

And the reason was because I started making friends here and there.

I did this by reading books like How to Win Friends and Influence People and Think and Grow Rich.

Books are really amazing things. But I digress.

By the time I got to high school, I (kinda) started figuring out how to talk like everyone else. I always had a Queens accent but used words like lovely and idiosyncratic all the time – studying for the SATs didn’t help matters.

In many ways, I always felt the weight of imposter syndrome – as if someone people would figure out that I was super mechanical at being social.

Step 1: Introduce yourself by looking someone in the eye.
Step 2: Shake their hand.
Step 3: Repeat their name.
Step 4: Smile.

And so on.

Yet, for the most part, people didn’t figure out that I was a ghost in a machine, pretending to be human.

The girl I called “lovely” was named Stella.

She wrote in my junior high school yearbook that I shoulda asked her to the JHS prom. She went with a guy named Edwin instead. It was junior high school where I slimed down and started dressing better.

It was also then I learned that if you look good, people will talk to you, even if you talk like a weird 49-year-old Chinese-American man with a thick Queens accent.

Hence my being unkind to Julia and Phil. That is one of the earliest of my 10,000 regrets.

A much smaller regret was that, for years afterward, I wished that (a) I didn’t tell Stella she was “lovely,” and (b) I asked her out to the JHS prom.

Didn’t realize that I was speaking Martian while everyone else was speaking English.

I wanted desperately to be understood, like that guy in the video above, but I didn’t know how.

I’m bringing alla this up because the two arguments I had recently have been on my mind.

Both were with people that mattered to me in some way and in both, I couldn’t make myself understood. And I suppose the same was true in reverse.

35 years after Stella, they were speaking English and I was speaking Martian. Or vice versa.

One ended with me being told to leave in the rain, the other, being told to get out at a desolate intersection after midnight.

Everything I said was construed in the worst possible way and there was no way I could make myself understood.

I always say that we’re the prisoners of our 14-year-old selves. In both arguments, I felt like I was telling Stella she was lovely and all she heard was that I was weird.

Every so often, we feel the weight of the chains we forge for ourselves as kids.

I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. 

This is where I sat, waiting for the library to open.

In the end, the question really is, how much do we want to be understood and how much do we want to understand someone else.

These days, for me, most people aren’t worth the effort. I’d rather just be with my (e)books again.

But some people are worth the effort, even if you realize it too late.

Spoke to one of the women that helped me survive 2017 recently.

It wasn’t – at all – what you would call a “good” talk.

But she also didn’t tell me to go fuck myself, so I suppose that’s a net positive.

Location: West 79th Street, giving the boy a hug and telling him I’d see him soon
Mood: mute
Music: you do not need to speak (Spotify)
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Still speaking Martian, Pt 1

With a Queens accent

Him: I don’t wanna go to camp!
Me: I wish I had camp as a kid! (annoyed) For goodness sakes, why not?!
Him: (sadly) I don’t want to be away from you, Papa!

Well, I’m a jerk.

Just got back from a 12-hour Scenic Fights shoot. Pac, Chad, and the resta the crew are still there shooting.

I suppose that I’ll tell you more about the shoot some other time but Pac was there along with the producer, who – like Pac and me – grew up in Queens.

Pac: (insert very questionable language here)
Me: It’s funny. I spent years trying to hide my Queens accent and speech patterns and you highlight it.
Him: Why would you do that?
Me: (shrugging) Long story. You know, I stopped cursing when I was 18 and started up again just a few years ago?

Told you once that I read the entire side of a library once. But never told you why.

What were your summers like as a kid? Camp? Parties? Just hanging out with friends in a basement?

Mine were nuthin like that at all.

Like I said, I grew up poor. Really poor. Air conditioning was essentially non-existent.

But the local library had air conditioning and both my parents worked full time.

So, every summer from third to roughly seventh grade was about the same: I would wake up, eat, and walk to the library – either by myself or with my mom – and sit at the entrance of the library and wait for it to open.

Here’s what it looks like, same as it did when I was nine years old.

I knew the librarian there so well. She wore a red sweater no matter what the temperature was outside because, man, that AC inside was kicking.

I was always the only kid sitting outside, waiting for the library to open, unless my brother or sister were with me. Then I/we would go in and read.

I read until they kicked me out. They literally kicked me out every night. Although I did head home in the middle of the day for lunch.

This lady named Susan Wiggs once said that, “You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” And that makes sense to me because those books were my friends.

I read entire series of books – every single one of the Little House books, all the Narnia ones (The Horse and His Boy was always my fave – The Silver Chair sucked.), all the Great Brain books, all the Sherlock Holmes books, all the Tom Brown books, the entirety of the World Book Encyclopedia – for serious – all of Bullfinch’s Mythology, etc.

By the time I was 15, I was reading 750 words a minute. I still read about 650-750 words a minute.

I read the entire fucking wall. It took me four summers. But I read that whole goddamn wall.

These were my friends. My only friends, for most of my childhood.

It doesn’t make one well socialized. At least, not for a long while.

Ultimately, though, you either change, the world changes, or a little bit of both.

Him: Cursing is fucking great.
Me: (nodding) It’s fucking great.

I told the Counselor about my summers not that long ago. She found it both sad and endearing, which was really sweet of her.

There’s a point to alla this, though.

But it’s super late and my brain’s feels heavy, so I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow.

EDIT: Day after tomorrow. Got injured at the gym being dumb. Again.

Location: 8:42PM, just catching the train before having to wait 12 minutes for the next one, on 14th Street
Mood: nostalgic
Music: Every day’s another day to have the best day with you (Spotify)
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Just-ever-so-slightly

Controlling the effects

Saw my mom and sis this past weekend. They were happy to see us, I think.

The cat, less so…

Also saw the surgeon, his brother, and their families this past weekend at another dinner party.

Surgeon’s wife: You really should ask out French Dancer. Except, she’s really young.
Me: Yeah, really young. I’m busy enough as it is, anywho.
Her: Oh! What’s the latest?
Me: Where to begin?

A couple that I didn’t know was there and the wife commented that I was probably 34 vis-a-vis something else entirely.

Me: Well, you get a hug for that.
Her: Wait, how old are you?
Me: Almost 50.
Her: How is that possible?!
Me: (shrugging) Same as everyone else: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For 49 years.

I often marvel at how many really good souls I’ve met in my life.

While my luck – broadly speaking – is of the stripe most people don’t want, in that small regard, I consider myself lucky.

On a related point, there were about five women that I met after Alison died. They all had a hand in helping me pull myself outta my crazy and depression, to varying degrees.

Unfortunately, I was probably the worst version of myself so it’s no surprise that none of them are really on speaking terms with me. I get that.

It’s one of my 10,000 regrets.

On that point, Lviv rang me today. After everything that went down between us, I’m touched that she still finds the time to check in on me.

I told her, honestly, that I was grateful.

Me: Before you left, you said, very simply, “Love shouldn’t be this hard,” [about a messy situationship I was in]. I appreciate that and you. Thanks for that.
Her: Aww it’s good to hear, I just want you to be happy.

She didn’t realize what a profound effect her throwaway line had on me. In fact, it’s probably the main reason everything in my life has been so different – and better – these past several months.

Of course, she’s part of my possible pasts. I wonder what woulda happened between us if things were different.

I wonder about so many things that were just-ever-so-slightly outside of my control.

Boy: Why’s he so mean?
Me: I dunno, kid. Here’s the thing, though: You can’t control other people and how they treat you. But you can control how you let things affect you. Pretty soon, you won’t care. So, you can start not caring right now.
Him: OK. I’ll try.

Location: earlier today, chatting up a tall singer named Izzy in a park
Mood: hopeful
Music: I’m out of my mind but I’m feeling just fine (Spotify)
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Questionable and Complex

Palsgraf

Her: I showed my friend your picture and told her that you’re almost 49. She said, “He looks 32!” And she’s Asian!
Me: Whoa, now that’s a compliment.
Her: I’ll send it to you so you can frame it in your room.
Me: God, yes please…

I’m turning 49 in a week. On the one hand, I realize that not everyone gets to celebrate turning a year older so I’m lucky to have the chance.

On the other hand, every passing year gives me anxiety, not so much that I’ll die – although there is that – so much as I feel I’m running out of time to give the boy the tools I think he’ll need to navigate this world.

In some way, this blog itself is a tool for him.

I try to write as honestly as I can so that he can get what knowledge he can about why I am as I am and how I think.

Suppose time will tell if this is a good or terrible idea.

Her: You’re not worried about all the stuff you write about?
Me: No. Because I write about life and life itself is questionable and complex. If nothing else, he’ll read this blog and know that Alison and I loved him and I loved her. That works for me.

Her: I’m just visiting a few different schools. Wait, you’re the knife guy!
Me: What? (laughs) I’ve never had anyone call me that before.
Her: Really? But you are the knife guy, yeah?
Me: So it would seem.

There’s a place called the Summer Palace (頤和園; Yíhéyuán) that was the pinnacle of luxury and glory back in the days of Imperial China.

The legend goes – and this might just be pure sexism against someone that was actually awful but also happened to be a woman – that the Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled funds from the Chinese Navy to pay for work with it.

At the time, the Chinese navy was supposed to be the strongest navy in all of Asia. But when the Japanese invaded and the navy was totally trounced, the truth was uncovered – all of their technological and personnel advancements were just fluff.

Regardless if it was the Dowager or someone/something else embezzling the money, the money that was supposed to get to the military, never made it there.

Here, we’re seeing the same thing in Russia versus Ukraine. Just like China was supposed to easily beat Japan, Russia was supposed to easily beat Ukraine. But how does a politician like Putin own things like $700 million yachts?

I suspect the same way the Dowager could afford a second palace.

In 2022, China is still struggling to be the equal of the west, because of this national theft.

Think that that 2122’s Russia – provided we didn’t annihilate the world via nukes by then – will still be struggling with cascading consequences of what’s happening right now.

Who the fuck needs a second palace or a $700 million yacht?

There’s a name that instantly pulls every lawyer in America back to their first year of law school: Palsgraf.

It’s a long story, but it too is a story of unforeseen, cascading consequences.

The last time I said that name was close to a quarter century ago.

Her: How would you prove the chain of causation in that?
Me: Well, this is first time in my life, I’ve been on a date and the phrase, “Chain of causation” was used. Have you ever dated a lawyer before, Counselor?
Her: God, no.
Me: Yeah, I never fished off the company pier before. Oh wait, you’re gonna make me say it…
Her: What?
Me: Palsgraf.
Her: Oh, no! You said it! (laughs)

Location: A park, trying to get out of a conversation with a different pretty girl because she was freaking me out
Mood: more conflicted than ever, but for totally different reasons
Music: Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it (Spotify)
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The Mouse that Roared

Punching above our weight classes

My son’s eczema seems to be getting progressively worse and it’s alarming.

I’ve, unfortunately, had a lotta experience in watching someone I care about suffer from it. Watching my son trying to deal with it is just awful.

It was originally just a small patch on his back but now it covers large amounts of his body and he’s always asking me to scratch him.

Him: Stop, stop!
Me: Why?
Him: I have to scratch. (does so) I’m sorry I keep stopping.
Me: (shaking head) Don’t apologize for that. I’m sorry you’re uncomfortable.

I’ve now spent a small fortune on ointments, creams, and bath additions as well reading up on any number of things that are supposed to ameliorate things, with limited effectiveness.

Oddly, oatmeal seems to help matters, at least according to what I’ve been reading and what I know.

So, in addition to giving this kid regular oatmeal baths, which he tends to enjoy save for his annoyance with taking baths in general, I’ve been baking him oatmeal cookies and feeding him bowls of oatmeal like there’s no tomorrow.

The hope is that, once summer arrives, he’ll do much better.

In the meantime, I’m spending waaaay too much time reading up on the matter and feeling for everyone that has to deal with this nonsense.

On an unrelated point, and very separate from the horrors that we’re watching unfold in Ukraine, I’ve been thinking a lot about the novel, The Mouse That Roared.

I last read it when I was in grade school, maybe, so I’m sure I’ll get some of the details wrong, but it’s essentially the satirical story of a tiny nation that decides to start a war with the US in the hopes of losing and having the US rebuild them, stronger and better.

The kicker, however, is that they win and have no idea what to do after they’ve won.

It’s a bit like the Joker’s speech in The Dark Knight where Joker tells Two-Face that he’s just a dog chasing cars.

I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it.

Just like the British were unprepared for America winning the Revolutionary War, the Soviets were beaten by the Finns in WWII – fighting on skis of all things – the Koreans thrashed the Japanese Empire in 1592, and modern America was essentially beaten by Vietnam, I wonder if Ukraine has a chance to not just claw back its original territory from Russia but also regain Crimea and any other regions that Russia annexed.

If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that it’s difficult to adequately gauge the effects of (a) motivation, (b) home court advantage, and (c) luck on expected outcomes.

Let’s hope the Ukrainians continue to punch (way) above their weight.

And FWIW, I’m pretty sure the Ukrainians can figure out what to do if they do get back what’s rightfully theirs.

On a completely unrelated matter, we finally have a new Scenic Fights video up, this time regarding Atomic Blonde.

Give it a go?

I’m not sure what I’m doing in that still above…

Location: 7PM, the kitchen, making duck confit for a six-year old that wants McDonalds
Mood: irritated that I have to compete against McDonalds
Music: Remedy, running through the red lights (Spotify)
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Categories
personal

Love is the eye of the storm

That’s why I asked

It’s been busy lately, for a number of reasons.

Red: I should tell you I’m married.
Me: That would have been useful information to have prior to this.
Her: We have an open relationship.
Me: I’m glad you found your person. Unfortunately, that’s not my bag.
Her:  I’ve never [had someone just say no].
Me: Life is nothing if not unexpected. I’m a terrible person, to be sure. But I don’t fuck with marriage.

Blue: Do you really want to know?
Me: That’s why I asked.
Her: Both my parents died and I was 16. So it was either leave school or be homeless. I made a choice. That’s probably why I’m [so successful now].
Me: That’s called a “Hobson’s Choice,” because you really had no choice at all. And I’m sorry.
Her: Don’t be. You didn’t do anything. And everything worked out.
Me: (shrugging) I’m sorry because I’m human. And some people’s human experience is much worse than others.
Her: I appreciate that, after all you’ve been through, you still have empathy for others.
Me: (laughing) How could I not? 

Green/White: I was married. Twice. Are you sure you want to hear about it?
Me: That’s why I asked.
Her: (shrugging) The first one, I was just a kid and it ended early. But the second one just ended right before the pandemic. He had his own trauma and the deal was that he would go to therapy after we got married.
Me: I assume he didn’t.
Her: (bitterly) No. You can tell I’m still angry about it. Sorry.
Me: Don’t apologize for your genuine emotions. You earned them. So, you’re entitled to them.


White: There wasn’t a straw in my drink.
Me: OK. (thinking) Ah, you think I put something into it.
Her: Well…
Me: (taking a sip of her drink) If I end up passing out because someone – not me – roofied your drink, just make sure I get into a cab toward the upper west side?

Black: It’s like a job. Once or twice a week, I wake up, switch on an app, answer a few dozen stupid/boring questions from a buncha stupid/boring guys, and then go on with my week.
Me: Ah, modern romance. Where do I stack up?
Her: (laughing) Are you sure you want to know?
Me: That’s why I asked.
Her: Charming. Handsome.  But shallow. Unable to commit.
Me: (nodding) Seems accurate.

Me: Well, I don’t mean this sound overly romantic, but if you’ll allow me to be maudlin and sentimental…
Her: Let’s hear it.
Me: (nodding) The universe, all of reality, is a storm. Love is the eye of that storm; the one bit of peace in an otherwise cruel and dispassionate world that doesn’t give a shit if we live or die. We’re born naked and confused, without claws, teeth, or fur. Nothing. We only survived because someone loved us enough to make sure we did. I don’t get why someone would want less than that. It’s like someone turning down a billion dollars. Yet, they throw away love for stupid shit as if it isn’t the most rare and valuable thing in existence. And that, Counselor, is what I want. Something I had once and was taken from me.

Location: Solas, of course
Mood: exhausted
Music: Put your arms ’round my neck, and your heart on my chest (Spotify)
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