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personal

I finally understand

Just one day

I was in my local supermarket when I ran into one of the cashiers, Lucy, in the produce section.

Her: (walking up to me holding a cup of coffee and put it down) I understand now. About your wife. My…my husband died.
Me: What?! Good god, I’m so sorry.
Her: (nodding) He was sick for a while. I thought he would be ok but…he didn’t let me know how bad it was.
Me: (putting down groceries and giving her a hug) I’m so sorry. We’re never ready, are we?
Her: (shaking head) No. I didn’t think he would go.

I went home, got a red envelope, stuffed a few bucks into it and went back to give it to her.

Her: No, no, I’m fine, really.
Me: (gently) I’m sure you’re fine. This is just for lunch. Make sure you eat, ok?
Her: (taking it) OK. Thank you.
Me: I wanna tell you that it’ll be ok. It won’t be. But you have to keep telling yourself that it will be. After a while, it’ll be kinda ok.

The rest is her story to tell but I was in my own head for a while after that.

Then, I was walking with the kid and he turned to me said the most profound thing:

Flowers may bloom again, but a person never has the chance to be young again.

Assume he learned it in Chinese class (花有重开日,人无再少年) because he certainly never learned it from me.

But then…

Him: Flowers come back. Why can’t mommy come back?
Me: I dunno. I dunno.
Him: I wish she would come back. Just once. Just for a day, even. (trailing off). She can’t come back, not even for one day? Just one day?
Me: Man, if only, kid. If only…

That was a hard walk.

We have hard walks, sometimes.

My kid’s a lot more mature than other kids his age. Sometimes, I think of him like he’s a little man.

Dunno if this is a good thing or not. I’m thinking not.

Wish he was just a kid without alla this weight on him.

It’s too much weight for a little kid like him to carry.

Don’t want a little man. Not yet.

Just want him to be a little kid for a little bit longer.

Location: On West End Avenue, finding myself at a loss for words
Mood: contemplative
Music: been gone far too long (Spotify)
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personal

Come with me

The emperor of all maladies

Her: I like room temperature soda.
Me: I only realized now that I’m dating a psychopath.

Not been sleeping well for a while now. It’s a long story.

Been thinking about Alison and my dad a lot lately for a whole buncha reasons we don’t need to get into, but one small reason is Princess Kate.

The fact that she and King Charles both have cancer should be a wake up call to everyone for a simple reason:

If two people that have the best of everything – healthcare, food, trainers, etc. – can get cancer, anyone can.

You definitely can.

In the 1970s, a fella you never heard of named Kotaku Wamura was the mayor of a Japanese town you never heard of, Fudai.

When Warmura was a kid in 1933, he saw a tsunami kill 439 people in Fudai and made a kid’s promise to himself – he would prevent this from ever happening to Fudai ever again.

When he became mayor in 1970, through sheer force of will, he convinced the town to erect a 51-foot-high gate as a public works project.

He, and his supporters were mocked mercilessly as fools.

Fast forward some 40+ years to the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, which I wrote about before, and killed over 19,000 people and destroyed at least 45 towns and cities.

Except Fudai.

Because of one person, almost nothing happened to the town. One unfortunate man died, and their port was nearly destroyed.

But the village and almost all its people were almost completely unscathed.

Not a day goes by without someone saying something chiding about what I eat, how I live, or what I do.

“You eat that much peanut butter?”
“Sardines? Fish, out of a can?! Disgusting!”
“Do you really need to roll around with sweaty men every day?”
“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”

Essentially, the argument I hear is always something that starts with, “Everyone…”

“Everyone eats carbs, Logan.”
“Everyone microwaves plastics, Logan.”
“Everyone eats late, Logan.”

Yeah, and everyone is getting cancer – greater than 1 outta 3 these days: If you’re a dude, the chance is 41%, a woman, the chance is 39%.

That is fucking insane.

Something is fucked in our lives and we’re all dying of cancer. I dunno what it is but I’m trying to go where science is telling me to go.

And I still might get it because the odds are shit.

But I’m gonna do everything I can to try to avoid it if possible.

You should too.

Wamura died in 1997 at age 88 and never saw that he was right. But he was right.

And I think I’m right here; just like Wamura didn’t know when the next tsunami would be, he knew it would come eventually just like I know cancer will touch alla us at some point if it hasn’t already.

Cancer doesn’t give a shit if you’re a king, a princess, a new mother, or a nobody.

It’s here to end – or at least massively fuck up – your life, if you don’t do something about it.

I’m not the one that’s living an extreme life, IMHO.

To me, the people living an extreme life are the ones that know that there’s a close to 50/50 chance at getting the emperor of all maladies and doing nuthin meaningful about it.

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, getting sugared-out
Mood: baffled
Music: I had to rock the boat so I could ride the wave (Spotify)
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personal

All lives end; all hearts are broken

Caring is not an advantage

Met up with my friend the other night.

Her: He’s telling me to not fight and he’ll promise to give me the apartment.
Me: He broke the trust covenant where he stood in front of alla your friends and said he’d love you until one of you were dead. You’re both alive, which makes him a liar.
Her: So, what do I do?
Me: When someone breaks the trust covenant, you can never trust anything he or she says. What should you do? Stop trusting him first. Everything else comes second.

That’s pretty much alla her story that I feel comfortable telling you since it’s her story to tell.

So, I’ll end that part here.

When all is said and done, the price of love is heartache.

After all, what is grief if not love with no place to go?

While grief and loss with horror and death is generally worse, loss is still loss and grief is still grief.

Ergo, I do understand that she struggles, even though her loss is very different from mine.

In Sherlock, Mycroft Holmes says something to his younger brother Sherlock who, compared to Mycroft, is the more emotional of the two.

Mycroft said, All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage.

Often think that Mycroft’s not wrong. There’s no advantage in caring about people, in fact, it’s a disadvantage to care.

And yet, we’re all programmed to do so.

Sometimes I think it’s a glitch in our programming and other times, I don’t.

Just wish that, sometimes, I didn’t feel all the things I do as deeply as I do.

But this is the price to be human so I pay it, hoping that I can afford it for as long as I can.

Her: (wiping her eyes) I’m sorry. I don’t mean to cry.
Me: Don’t apologize for your genuine emotion. I’m always just a bad memory from crying myself.

Location: a playground with the Steeles and the Firecracker, eating 20 cheeseburgers and having a diet coke
Mood: pensive
Music: Is this something I should be letting go? (Spotify)
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personal

I eat shadows

and do other things with rainbows

An old friend of mine reached out to me the other day.

Her: I thought of you. I thought, “If Logan could survive everything he survived, I can survive this.”
Me: (nodding) You totally can. Even when we don’t wanna survive things, we do. We’re meant to struggle and scuffle until we’re breathless and weak.
Her: (sadly) I trusted him. I can’t believe that he did this. I keep wondering if I…
Me: You didn’t do anything wrong. This is a him problem, not a you problem.
Her: But…he’s my life.
Me: You lived a solid 32 years without knowing he existed. How could someone you’ve known seven outta 38 years be your entire life?
Her: (sighing) You’re right. I know you’re right. (laughing) When did you get so smart?
Me: Sometime in the mid-90s I think.
Her: It still amazes us that you’re still here.
Me: It amazes me too. Somehow, I’ve learned to eat shadows and shit rainbows.
Her: (laughs, takes a deep breath, then sighs)

Location: looking for a Level 4 ballistic plate in a playground
Mood: irritated
Music: Running from your bad decisions (Spotify)
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personal

How you do anything…

…is how you do everything

My trip to Austria highlighted the fact that my life is very different now than when I was younger.

For one, the only real luggage I have is not one, but two garment bags – the first being the red one I brought all over the world for close to the past 30 years.

Still works great, btw.

The second is in the form of a shoulder bag.

The reason both are garment bags is because, in my youth, couldn’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t need a suit, or at least a nice dress shirt, when I traveled.

This time around, I had nonea those things and the rolling garment bag left a lot to be desired.

The Firecracker’s stuff didn’t fit it all that great and there was a lotta wasted space because of how it’s configured.

So, I started looking for luggage.

Jesus christ, are there a lotta options out there.

To narrow things down, I started only looking at luggage that had “YKK” zippers on them because that’s an indicator of quality to me.

What I noticed was that they were, by-and-large, about 20-30% more than luggage that didn’t have – or didn’t state that they had – YKK zippers.

This just supported my decision to buy one from that group because of another saying I like:

How do you do anything is how you do everything.

In other words, if a company cares enough to spend the extra money to use YKK zippers in their luggage, they probably care enough to do other things right and more thoughtfully.

Obviously, like all sayings, there are exceptions to it but it’s generally true, for the most part.

Been telling the kid things like this now that he’s getting older and can understand such things.

And this particular saying is pretty applicable to him because of his personality.

    • On the positive side, the kid is relentlessly upbeat and excitable.
    • On the negative side, because of his joie de vivre, he tends to rush at things and not really focus when he needs to.

So, I’ve been trying to tell him to slow down, which is hard for a kid like him.

It’s a work in progress.

Him: Done!
Me: That was fast. Lemme see…OK, well, you got every single thing wrong here.
Him: What?! I added up everything and checked my answer.
Me: Yes, I see that. Your math is right, but the instructions said round your answer to the nearest 10. You didn’t do that. So, yes, you got all the *math* right in all eight of them, but you got the *answers* wrong in all eight of them.
Him: That’s not fair!
Me: Listen carefully, kid: Life’s not fair. Accept that and your life will be better than most people. Now, slow down. Notice things. If you do that, you’ll be different from most of the world.
Him: What if I don’t wanna be different?
Me: Look, if you’re different, you can be irreplaceable. And if you’re irreplaceable…your life will be better still. And that’s all I want for you. Slow down.

This is the one I got.

I like red.

Location: 18th Street, getting floored because of my dislocated toe
Mood: ouchie
Music: Yeah, I want that red velvet (Spotify)
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personal

Trying to not be heated

Fiddling

The kid started swimming lessons again.

He seems to be enjoying himself.

While he’s doing great, I’ve been sick lately.

Spent most of the week in bed but one thing I had to do was crack open my computer because it was randomly shutting down.

Figured the CPU was overheating so I slapped on a Noctua heatsink and fan, which seems to have fixed the problem.

Speaking of overheating, evidently, the idea that humans are, on average 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is a relatively modern conclusion.

The very latest health research seems to indicate that the new average is about a degree cooler at between 97.5 and 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

At least since 2019, I’ve been averaging about 97.3 degrees but lately, I’ve been drifting even lower – above is what it was this morning.

There seems to be two major theories for this:

    1. People are larger now, which generally results in lower body temperature, and/or
    2. People are just less chronically inflamed.

Can’t speak for the world-at-large but I gotta think that my lower temps are because I’ve lowered my overall inflammation since I wasn’t super big to begin with.

When Alison first got sick, I did a baseline reading for myself and found that I was consistently around 97.9 degrees but, since her illness, I spent a good amount of time and energy trying to reduce my inflammation overall, resulting in temps I wrote above.

This past week, I’ve been ridonk sick with some weird cold. Mainly fatigue and coughing but my temps maxed out at 99.6 degrees.

Kept wondering if I had a fever.

Technically speaking, a fever is anything above 100.4 degree Fahrenheit.

But the question is is, if I’m a full degree lower than normal, is a fever now something above 99.4 degrees?

In any case, I’m better today; the last four days were spent in bed but today I felt well enough to cook for the kid – the Firecracker spent most of the week cooking for him.

As the years go on, more and more people ask me how I stay so young looking.

Obviously, genetics have a lot to do with it. So does the fact that I’ve been on a diet for 36+ years.

But, in terms of recent changes I’ve made, that’s all been focused on my reducing my systemic inflammation to try and combat cancer.

The unexpected benefit is that I think I’m literally slowing down my aging even more.

In any case, reducing my inflammation means:

Just like my computer shutting down when it overheated, I think that people don’t realize just how damaging being inflamed – thus, over-heated – is for their overall health.

These are the kinda things I think about when I’m sick.

Her: How’s the patient?
Me: Blargh.
Her: Are you resting? No computer fiddling?
Me: There might be some fiddling going on.

Location: home, making a rasher of bacon because I’m cranky and it’s easy
Mood: see above
Music: they always say, “Don’t it always seem to go'” (Spotify)
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personal

Just wear a hat

That doesn’t make any real sense

The mayor office announced congestion pricing the other day.

There were more cops than protestors but I suppose that’s a good thing.

At least everyone was dressed warmly – it’s been brick around here, lately.

If I told you that I opened up a can of coke and was shocked that no soda came out anywhere but the hole on top, you would think I was just being strange.

Obviously, if I opened a can of soda, the only place any soda would come out of would be the hole I created when I opened the can, yeah?

Conversely, if I didn’t open the can of soda, no soda would come out.

All this seems elementary, no?

But what if I said to you something like, “You should wear a hat because most of your body heat comes from your head?”

To me, it sounds precisely the same as if I said, “Most soda comes outta the can from the hole you made.”

Do you know why most of your body heat comes off your head when your head’s not covered?

Because: Your head’s not covered and the rest of your body is.

Like, if you go out into a wintery day, fully dressed, including gloves and boots – guess where most of your body heat would escape?

That’s right: Your head. Because it’s not covered and the rest of your body is.

So, it’s technically true that, “Most of your body heat comes from your head.”

But that’s super misleading.

It has the air of truth but only a little bit of actual truth to it.

It’s more accurate to say, “Heat’s gonna escape from your head because that’s the part of your body that’s not covered up.”

This has driven me mad for decades.

DECADES!

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Location: next door, having my third plate of shrimp and checking out heavy machinery
Mood: warm
Music: Baby, you can steal my sheets (Spotify)
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Dreaming of Green Grass and Shade

Hobos and Whores

The Firecracker and I trade off on cooking duties, which is nice – although she and I do have very different approaches to cooking on certain things.

Me: Do you know how to make a white gravy?
Her: Of course, I’m from the south.
Me: With a roux?
Her: Well, how else?
Me: (shrugging) I prefer a roux but sometimes if I’m rushed, I’ll use corn starch from time-to-time.
Her: Ew, Lo! That’s for hobos and whores.


Because she is originally from the south, there are some things about New York City that are really appealing to her…

Her: (at Times Square) Wait, that’s a real Lichtenstein?
Me: Yup – a million people walk under it every single day and never notice it.

…but there are definitely things that don’t.

Her: Don’t you want trees and mountains and lakes?
Me: I have Central and Riverside Parks!
Her: (rolling eyes) C’mon, Lo – you know that’s not the same.

Now, I do sometimes wish the kid had green grass and shade, but he does have his time in NJ…

…although I do admit that what he’s accustomed to playing around with in Manhattan isn’t ideal.


Then again, it’s still worlds better than what I grew up around, I suppose.

Still, as long as the kid’s safe, happy, and healthy, I don’t really need much.

Although, I do find myself worrying about him as much as my parents worried about me, I suppose.

Me: Get down from there!
Him: It’s fine! I climb here all the time.
Me: Just get down!
Him: OK! (jumps down) What? You didn’t say I couldn’t jump down.
Me: (grumble)

Location: the big city – Union Square and the Upper Best Side, where else?
Mood: I could sleep for days
Music: All these buildings and mountains, slowly they’ll arise (Spotify)

Categories
personal

In Search of PawPaws

I cannot oversell them

Her: Wait, you wrote two entries but didn’t write what you were searching for? Man, you know how to draw out the suspense.
Me: (laughing) It’s not that, I just felt it deserved its own entry.

So, I never told you what the goal of my quest the other day was.

The asimina triloba plant is related to the sweetsop or cherimoya fruit plants, which are pretty popular in Australia and Asia and are essentially tropical fruit.

But the asimina triloba – or paw-paw/pawpaw/paw paw (there’s no official spelling) – is super unique in that it’s essentially a tropical fruit that can only grow in cold climates, including in New York.

AND it’s the largest the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States.

My quest was to get my hands on some paw-paw fruit.

For years decades, I’ve been dreaming about having some – evidently, they grow wild all over the joint BUT they’re (a) extremely hard to cultivate for mass market and (b) extremely hard to transport.

And the reason for both is that they don’t ripen very well off the tree, so you have to get them while they’re ripe but once they’re ripe, they’re super soft and easy to bruise/destroy.

Found this out myself the hard way but first, lemme back up a bit.

See, I was randomly doomscrolling on IG the other day when I came across this post from a fella in New Paltz:

Decided that it was worth the trip, and the day, to finally try some out.

When I got there, it was a decidedly underwhelming experience in that it was just a lone – but very nice – fella just standing in front of an empty lot with a plastic table and boxes of fruit.

Me: Can I get these four?
Him: Sure, just put them on the scale…3.5 pounds, at $12 a pound, that’s $42, please?
Me: OK!

These were the biggest, nicest ones I could find.

I’ve never spent $42 on four pieces of fruit in my life, but I figured that I’d been waiting to try these for decades, so it was worth it.

Now, I resisted the urge to eat them right then and there – a group of young men did not and happily chomped down right then and there – and brought them home in my bag, along with everything else, to try them there.

I was gutted when I opened my bag and found one completely smashed opened.

Like I said, that’s why you almost never find them for sale; they’re super difficult to transport without destroying them.

Since they were like $10 each, I salvaged what I could and ate that one first.

It was…amazeballs.

This was the smashed one that I cleaned up the best I could and ate as soon as I got home.

Alla the talk about them being creamy and custardy and a combo of banana and mango with more banana-like texture was spot on.

Her: Wow, that’s really good.
Me: Yeah, I’m gonna have to find a way to get more.

For the rest of the week, I ate the rest, about half at a time.

The kid – thankfully – thought they were good but preferred strawberries.

Me: More for me then!

And since they were all fulla seeds, I’m gonna see if I can grow some trees from them and maybe get them to my sister or mom to grow in their yard in Queens.

These were just amazing. I cannot oversell them.

If you manage to get your hands on some – ideally for less than $12 a pound – you totally should.

I’ll let you know how the tree-growing goes.

Location: another quest for $5 beer and a shot of whiskey with the Firecracker in Hell’s Kitchen
Mood: super beat or still coming down with something
Music: I’m holding on to this hope that I have (Spotify)

Categories
personal

Being ancient

Running into old ghosts and possible pasts

Told you once that I used to work on Times Square.

That entry was a long time ago – I had just started seeing Alison then – and when I wrote that, my working at Times Square was almost a decade before that.

Well, when I went to see that Broadway show with the Firecracker, I showed her my old office.

Me: See that building there? I worked there for years. Had a perfect view of Times Square back then. And I lived just four blocks from work. I could wake up at 9:10 for a 9:30 meeting.
Her: I’m so jealous! I can’t imagine that.

I can’t either, actually. That was almost three decades ago.

Did you know that, Cleopatra’s reign (ending 30 BCE) is closer to today, about 2,050 years, than to the construction of the pyramids, which were probably built about 2630 BCE, or 2,600 years before she started ruling Egypt?

In other words, when Cleopatra was born, the pyramids were already 2,600 years old/ancient.

In some ways, I look around the city and feel that about myself.

People think that I’m old with life experiences but they have no idea how old I actually am and how many different lives I’ve led.

Alla them here, in the Big City.

For example, while waiting in line to watch Merrily We Roll Along, I pointed out the Belasco Theatre.

Me: I took my bar review class there.
Her: Right there? In the theatre?
Me: (nodding) Yup. It was like a solid month, five days a week, for eight hours a day.

That’s the thing about living in the same place for five decades. There are old ghosts everywhere.

Everything reminds me of some possible past, whether I want it to or not.

Location: home, realizing I forgot to get the kid tickets to a show. He’ll be so bummed.
Mood: disappointed
Music: drop your drink, then they bring you more (Spotify)
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