Goldfish are limited to the size of their bowl 2

Be Better

Close to a decade ago, I wrote this entry about how goldfish are only small because of the bowls we put them in. Without being in a small bowl, they can grow up to enormous sizes.

Case in point, just the other day, a nine-pound goldfish was found in a lake. They figured that someone didn’t wanna keep it anymore but also couldn’t just flush it down the toilet so they tossed it into Oak Grove Lake in Greenville, South Carolina. Without any constraints, it just grew to a massive size.

I was talking to a buddy of mine the other night and he told me that cut out a raft of friends. Mainly because they didn’t like the fact that he was changing.

As he was telling me this, I remembered Johnny and alla the other friends that I cut loose throughout the years. That same time that I cut him loose, I cut a mutual friend of ours loose too.

He had accused me of trying to ruin his business but I told him that I was a seasoned lawyer; if I wanted him shut down, he’d be shut down.

Me: I found it insulting that he thought I would try to shut him down and fail versus actually have him shut down.
Him: (laughing) That’s funny. What happened next?
Me: I told him the truth –  that his punishment was that he didn’t get to hang out with me. That’s punishment enough.

They were all holding me back in one way or another and I couldn’t have that. I couldn’t allow that.

Life limits you enough; you don’t need those around you holding you down too.

My friend’s bummed that he had to cut them out but I think we both knew he had to.

After all, we’re the average of the five people that we spend the most time with and these people – all good guys – just didn’t see the world the way he did. It’s as simple and complex as that, because your friends mirror you.

Your friends have to grow with you or you’re left with only two unpleasant options:

      1. Not grow.
      2. Outgrow them.

He picked the latter.

The ending of any relationship is sad, the more meaningful the relationships are, the sadder the ending is. I should know.

Me: You ok?
Him: I think so. I feel free, I don’t want to go back to the way I was.
Me: And you shouldn’t want to. Trying to be better than you were yesterday isn’t something you should ever be ashamed of.

Location: today, being threatened with a linguini
Mood: better
Music: tell myself to be better and I just can’t help but hope (Spotify)
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A Non-Linear System

Checking in

One of my oldest and dearest friends called me the other day.

Me: What’s up? How’ve you been?
Him: (laughing) OK. I heard about your uncle and your anniversary and I wanted to check in on you.
Me: Thanks man, it’s been a rough few weeks.
Him: I know, that’s why I’m calling. (later) I should mention that I was in the ER two weeks ago. They’re still not 100% what happened but I was there for five days.
Me: Holy shitballs, what happened?
Him: I was feeling pain in my stomach like crazy so I went to the ER and told the attendant that I was in a tremendous amount of pain. Like a 7 or 8. He said, “You don’t look like you’re in a lot of pain.”
Me: What did you say?
Him: I told him, “That’s cause I’m not a whiney-ass bitch.”
Me: (laughing) Yeah, that sounds like you.

A large dose of antibiotics cleared him out enough that they didn’t have to cut him open. But he’s gotta go back for more tests.

Him: I didn’t wanna tell you because…
Me: Dude, the past two weeks, I was a whiney-ass bitch. It’s good you didn’t tell me. I absolutely wouldn’t have handled it well.
Him: (quietly) Then I’m glad I didn’t tell you.

He’s been through his own stuff. He’s one of the people that I told you lost his mother recently. He understands grief.

Me: The fucked up thing is that, unlike most people, I understand that life is a non-linear system. I get that. Bad things happen and the life you expect isn’t promised you. But…I never expected my life – and Alison’s – to be quite so non-linear.
Him: It is a non-linear system, yeah. But we have some things like our family and good friends.
Me: You know, if there is a god, he fucking hates us. Or maybe he’s just a racist asshole.
Him: (laughing) Maybe, Logan. Maybe.

Location: today, walking with a friend in the sun, looking for Joe
Mood: non-linear
Music: ah shit, am I winner yet? (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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Deserts, Kathleen, and the Aneyoshi tablet

You’ll most likely drown in the desert

Pac hit me up the other day:

Him: I’m looking to buy a product that has polyurethane as a material, but it’s got a P65 warning on it. how much should I be worried about this product?
Me: Hard to say; lots of people think that Prop65 goes overboard but the rise of cancer throughout the nation means that something is definitely not normal. For me, I tend to err on the side of safety whenever I can.

Pac’s an athlete. He boxes, has a purple belt in BJJ, a black belt in judo, and was a high school wrestler.

I know a lotta athletes – obviously Chad is one, as is Mouse. Alison was one too.

None of them, however, is or was in as good a shape as Kathleen Heddle, who was an Olympic swimmer. She died recently, of cancer.

When I tell people that Alison died of cancer, I wonder what pops into their heads. Someone with a poor diet that was probably overweight and had bad habits, maybe?

That wasn’t her at all. She was absolutely gorgeous with a resting heart rate of 55 and a sleeping heart rate of 35. You read that right: 35.

Whenever we stayed at the ER, I could never get sleep because her alarm would go off at 35 and I would spring awake to press the silence button to give her an other 15 minutes of rest.

I pressed that fucking button at least 20 times a night, every goddamn night.

But I digress.

She used to run from my apartment to the George Washington Bridge more than once – ten miles roundtrip. She ate like an athlete too.

Yet she and Kathleen Heddle died of cancer. It’s madness. Alison was barely 35 when she was diagnosed; Kathleen died at 55.

If you think you can’t cancer, dude, Alison and Kathleen were the last people on the planet you would think would get cancer.

If they could get it and die, you absolutely can. So could I.

People think I’m peculiar because of how I live my life and what I eat. When Chad came by for his birthday, I made him a chocolate cupcake with almond flour.

You see, experience makes us act one way over another. So does the acceptance of information. As does willful ignorance.

When I read about Kathleen dying, I immediately thought of the Aneyoshi tablets. See, they’re these stones, hundreds of years old, that dot Japan’s coastlines. They simply say, “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

Because if you built a house below the stone markers, you would die when the next tsunami hit.

Yet people did just that, despite the warnings that these ancestors laid out for them.

Alison is a warning to you. Kathleen is a warning to you.

This whole blog since December 2015 is a warning to you. If you think you can’t get cancer, think again, because what you think you know about yourself and the world is probably bullshit.

Like the desert. You see all the films and television shows about people dying from heat and thirst; it’s logical yeah?

Of course people die of heat in the desert, Logan.

Are you ready for some crazy? Most people die in the desert by drowning. Legit.

That’s because, people assume the danger is dying of thirst so they prepare for that. They don’t – at all – prepare for the possibility of flash floods, which kill more people in the desert than the heat.

It’s just like the lawyer that told me I was stupid to buy International Paper during the dot-com boom.

The stupider people are, the more sure they are of themselves. But you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know that you don’t know it.

Me? I’m smart enough to know that I don’t understand shit. All I know that I have to do everything I can to try to keep my family safe. Somehow.

Boy: I want candy.
Me: Here’s an oatmeal cookie I baked instead.
Him: OK! (eats it) Yummy!
Me: Good. (sighing) Good.

Location: Riverrun, pushing my son on a swing, wishing everything was different
Mood: pensive
Music: I don’t think you know how I feel (Spotify)
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Liquid Paper, Trump, and talking fish

How do you tell a fish that it’s wet?

Boy: Add that, add that! (points)
Me: Which song?
Him: I’m a Believer. Oh, click the “Remastered” one.

The boy’s been home for a few weeks now and we’ve kinda gotten into a rhythm, although it still leaves a good deal to be desired.

On thing that I realize as a parent is just how different his life will be from mine, growing up.

I had the most random thought today when we were listening to Spotify; he asked me to put on I’m a Believer, which made me think of the Monkees, which made me think of Liquid Paper.

See, Liquid Paper was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, the mother of Monkee, Michael Nesmith.

Now, for those of you too young to know what I’m talking about, Liquid paper was essentially a small bottle of white paint – legit – that you used to paint over a mistake you made while typing something.

As I write this out, I realize how crazy that must sound to the Twitter generation but there you go.

And that’s kinda the point of this entry: How to even begin to explain things to people that need a ton of background information to even start to understand?

I mentioned this to a buddy the other day.

Me: It’s like trying to explain to a fish that it’s wet.
Him: What do you mean?
Me: Think about what that would be like. You have to first explain the existence of water – because he has no clue such a thing exists, it’s like explaining oxygen to a caveman – then you have to explain dryness, land, the earth, it goes on…

Here, I’d have to explain paint, typewriters, ink, letters, etc – all before I got to Liquid Paper.

Which brings me to a final point. I, stupidly, got into an online argument with a Trump supporter from my old church right when Trump got elected.

He was a nice enough fella but his ignorance was so profound that I found myself defriending him because I couldn’t figure out where to even begin explaining how little he understood about the nature of the world.

And now that Trump’s finally leaving office, I find myself sheepishly relieved that I don’t have to face the jaw-dropping stupidity and malice I had to deal with on a daily basis for the past four years.

I just have to explain to the kid how the world works.

Which I’m not even sure I can.

Him: Why did John Lennon die?
Me: Someone killed him.
Him: Why?
Me: I don’t know.
Him: Why did mommy die?
Me: I don’t know that either. There are some things, we can’t know.
Him: Why not?
Me: Let’s have lunch. Grilled cheese?
Him: Yes!
Me: Done.

Location: home, grilling up a cheese sandwich and trying to understand
Mood: unsettled
Music: I couldn’t leave her if I tried (Spotify)
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For serious, how did you not know?

An old modern fable

About a dozen years ago, I told you a story about a frog that met a snake. I friend told me years later that he heard a similar story but it was about a scorpion and frog and I liked that better so I’ll retell it.

See, this scorpion wants to cross a river and he spies a fat frog. So he asks it to carry him across. The frog goes, Screw you. You’re just gonna sting me.

To which the scorpion goes, Nah, we’ll both drown if I do that. That doesn’t make any sense.

So the frog shrugs his frog shoulders and figures that’s logical, lets the scorpion hop on, and off they go.

Midway through the river, the scorpion suddenly stings the frog, who goes, WTF!? Why’d you do that!? As the poison starts going through the frog’s body, the frog manages, Why? Now we’re both gonna die.

The scorpion nods, and says – just before he goes under, I’m sorry. It’s in my nature. You knew what I was when you picked me up.

In that entry, I talked about the betrayal of SA by Hitler and the betrayal of the Pakistani government by the Taliban.

Tonight, I just heard Trump’s speech condemning the people that are now facing trial and unemployment because of his exhortations and lies.

Of course, the orange one takes no responsibilities for what he’s done and those people are fucked. Or should be.

And I ask myself the same thing I always ask myself: How’d you not know? People tell you what they’re all about if you just listen.

Location: home, rolling with a buddy that just got her blue belt
Mood: better
Music: It’s such a drag to be on your own (Spotify)
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Remember who survives

Dissected and discussed

Him: What’s wrong?
Me: Papa’s seen things like this before, and it’s…it’s never good.
Him: Are you scared?

We were doing his math problems when I stopped and watched the news.

Copyright AP

When 9/11 went down, I remember almost every minute of it. I called my brother and woke him up, much to his annoyance. But that annoyance turned to horror and disgust once he and I slowly realized what was happening.

Together, on the phone, our worlds changed. I was glad to have shared that moment with him.

Copyright AP

I felt that today watching the television with my son. That disgust and horror, knowing that I was watching history unfold with him – something that will be dissected and discussed for years, decades, centuries to come.

And he and I saw it together.

And yet, for all the lessons of history, it’s always the mindless mob that repeats it, again, and again, and again.

Copyright AP

But, I was glad to have shared this with my family. Just as I was glad to share the horrors of 9-11 with my brother.

I feel I owe this boy all the knowledge I’ve accumulated in my otherwise unremarkable life. That’s the debt I owe him as his father, what all good parents owe their children.

It’s sad, the lesson I gave him today was one that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to tell him until years from now. But I suppose he saw the unease on my face.

Me: I’m concerned. There’s a difference. Lions are bigger and stronger then people. So are bears and…giraffes (Editor’s note: I wasn’t ready for this conversation, giraffes were the only big thing I could think of besides whales – I shoulda said whales). But people are always the most dangerous because we can out think alla them. The smarter you are, the safer you are. Remember that. Remember who survives. The intelligent survive.

Copyright AP

Location: home, watching the tube like it was porn. Which I suppose it is.
Mood: horrified
Music:
Do you believe in what you see?
(Spotify)
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IOQ: Indicators of Quality

Zippers, Steak, or Chicken?

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Mouse started a new job so, even over the weekend, she was busy with one thing or another. Still, we did have a pretty nice weekend until she had to head back home.

Nice being a relative term.

Her: I was looking through some of our chats and…we sound psychotic.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Because in between texts, I guess we end up seeing or talking to each other. Like, one set of texts is like, “I hate you, I never want to talk to you ever again!” and the next is like, “Do you want steak or chicken for dinner?”
Me: Did we decide on steak of chicken?

A buddy of mine is looking to upgrade his wardrobe over Black Friday and I told him that, while I do have the occasional name-brand product, I almost never purchase anything based on names.

Instead, I look for (a) clothes that fit me well that are (b) made of quality materials. I told him that I figure out the latter through indicators of quality.

Stupidly simple, just like my three-step life algorithm, but you’d be surprised how many people mess this up too.

For example, whenever I buy clothes that have zippers on them, I look for YKK zippers. This is because YKK makes really, really good zippers that cost more than regular zippers.

So when I see two things that I like equally well, but one has a YKK zipper, I usually end up buying the YKK one.

See, I figure that, if a company cares enough to use higher quality zippers, they probably care about the details like stitching and fabric weave. It’s the little things that matter to me.

Cause it’s the little things that are indicators of quality.

Ditto for shoes. I look for full- or top-grain “leather uppers,” which are essentially real leather shoes, versus “man-made uppers,” which are basically plastic shoes. The brand rarely makes a difference to me.

My sneakers are almost always cloth so I can toss them in the washer on the reg. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than $30 for a pair of sneakers.

Someone just stopped me the other day to ask me where I got my powder blue ones from. I told him, honestly, on eBay.

The most expensive things I wear on the regular – I rarely wear my suits anymore – are my three no-name but bespoke leather jackets.

I picked the lining, the leather, and the color for alla them. Most importantly, for me, is that the sleeves and waist are tailored because I’ve got a pretty slim waist (pro) and short T-Rex arms (con).

And the one I like the most is my red one because it has white pick stitching.

Nobody notices this kinda stuff, but I do.

That’s the thing: As I get older, I find myself caring a lot less about things that other people notice and a lot more about things that I notice.

Man, I’m so bummed I ripped the sleeve on it.

Speaking of noticing things…

Me: Your hair is crazy!
Mouse: Yeah, it’s crazy like the 80s so it must remind you of your childhood.
Me: It kinda does.

Location: home, trying to get my apartment above 30% humidity
Mood: excited to see my son
Music: In her eyes I see the sea (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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The unexamined life

Building walls

Back when I was still focused on Alison, there was a young man named Rich who was just enamored with Trump.

Him: He wants to build a wall, protect the workers here.
Me: But most people don’t come into the US in a way where a wall would work.

It turns out that, the wall had been conceived by two consultants “to get Trump to remember to talk about immigration.”

Put another way, it wasn’t meant to ever be a literal thing, it was just meant as a shorthand to keep someone as jawdroppingly stupid as Trump on the right page to have something to talk about with immigration.

But he took it and ran with it.

Even though it didn’t make any sense. Even thought it didn’t do what it was ostensibly meant to do – keep out immigrants – it did what it was really meant to do, which was keep Trump talking about immigration.

You’ll note that he never mentions it or the wall anymore. But I digress.

I got into a FB tiff with a friend because I told her that rent regulation didn’t work. Because it doesn’t.

Do you know why rent regulation was invented? It was invented to stop an emergency: To keep WWII veterans from coming back and getting price gouged.

That was the emergency.

Do you know of any other 75-year-old emergencies? Kinda really stretches the concept of an “emergency,” yeah?

Rent regulation goes against basic economic principles: If you take away 45% of the supply – NYC is roughly 45% rent-regulated – then the remaining 55% becomes astronomically high. It makes it so that the people lucky enough to get it, get cheap rent, while everyone else subsidizes them.

After all, non-market income doesn’t change the fact that everything else – utilities, taxes, mortgages – is a market expense.

Study after study shows that rent regulation doesn’t work.

Just like study after study shows the wall won’t work.

I mentioned this and she wrote back, “So, you just want to fuck the poor, Logan?”

Rich, when I told him the wall won’t work said, “So, you just want to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals?”

I said once that I live by some basic rules: Is it true? seems like such a stupid one.

And yet, it’s the one that people mess up the most, I think.

My female friend wants to believe that rent regulation works and if I don’t believe that, I must want to “fuck the poor.”

Rich wants to believe that the wall works, and if I don’t believe that, I must want “to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals.”

Funny thing is that they both defriended me.

That’s what happens if you don’t ask yourself that simple basic question: Is it true?

The less you ask that question, the more you find things that are actually true, repulsive.

The truth becomes grotesque.

When you live an unexamined life, you start becoming part of the world’s problems.

You build walls, to protect the comforting untrue things from the repulsive true things. And people just become another ugly thing you don’t want to see.

Eh, I don’t blame them.

I find myself grotesque and I’d defriend me too if I had the chance.

Podcast Version
Location: still in this fucking house
Mood: homesick
Music: I was just guessing at numbers and figures (Spotify)

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