To know them

Is to love them

Mouse and I’ve been fighting. Hard to say why, exactly.

I tell you that as background to the following conversation.

Me: I need a favour. My uncle died and I need to know if you can watch the boy and lend me your car on Monday so I can say, “goodbye.”
Her: What time?
Me: 9AM to 1PM or so?
Her: OK. I’m sorry about your uncle.
Me: I am too. And thank you.

And that’s Mouse in a nutshell. To know her is to love her.

She came by, right on time, and immediately started chilling with the boy while I dashed off in my black suit and shirt to go someplace that no one ever wants to go.

Didn’t sleep a wink the night before so I got there in a complete haze.

When I arrived, I texted my cousins – the two children of my uncle and a third from my other uncle, his older brother. It was the first time I saw all of them since Alison and I got married.

I sat outside in the cold car trying to steel myself to enter. I called Mouse, ostensibly to check in on the boy.

Her: Are you ok?
Me: Honestly? No.
Her: You got this. We’ll be here when you get back.
Me: OK.

So I went in.

I said hi to my uncle’s son first and wanted to say hi to the daughter and my aunt but I couldn’t. I just stood quietly in the corner.

Funerals should always be about the person that died, not some rando that shows up and makes a scene so I composed myself as best I could.

After a bit, I walked over to the daughter, and then my aunt, who sat with my other cousin, and said hello. I’d still not really walked up to my uncle yet. I was putting that off.

I told my aunt I was sorry and she just nodded. She looked old and she never looks old. Rather, she looked shellshocked and I knew that look. Think I looked that way for most of 2017.

Finally gathered up the courage to go to my uncle and when I saw him, I had to laugh. He wore a suit but under the suit was a red CARVEL tee-shirt.

Of course, that was so perfectly him. He was so proud of his store and his work.

My mom told me to tell him some things from her…

I’m sorry you had to go through this. You didn’t deserve it. But you’re with grandma and grandpa now. And if you see my dad, please tell him we miss him, terribly. And we miss you.

…but I added my own little thing.

You never met Alison but you would have loved her. She always said she couldn’t wait for the three of us to head over to Carvel and eat as much ice cream as we possibly could. If you see her, tell her the boy and I love her so very much. She’ll want some ice cream, but not plain vanilla. Ah, the boy and her woulda both loved you and you, them.

Don’t remember much else. I did see a dozen women show up, crying. These were all the girls he hired across 30+ years. I overheard one woman say that she met her husband at that ice cream shop and that she loved my uncle.

Realized then that that was the reason he was my favourite uncle: To know him was to love him. Just like my mom, my dad, Alison, and all the people I’ve loved in my life.

On the way back, I got lost – even with GPS – at least three times.

And when I tried to gas up Mouse’s whip, my card was declined but then my phone rang asking me if I would authorize the charge.

I clicked yes and bam, it worked.

Wonder what tiny but amazing things the kid’ll see that I’ll never see.

Me: I should be back by 2.
Her: We didn’t eat lunch yet.
Me: Don’t wait for me, there’s some brined pork in the…
Her: We’re waiting for you to come back and make us lunch.
Me: Done. It’s a deal.

Location: earlier this week, Hamilton, NJ, thinking of rocky roads
Mood: heavy
Music: not asking for a miracle(Spotify)

Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

My baby brother ran away

Goodnight, JoJo

My uncle died from COVID yesterday, just after noon. That’s him with my grandma and how I picture both of them in my head. I loved them both, very much.

My mother said the saddest thing when she told me. What she said in Chinese was, My little brother ran away.

That’s what broke me that day. He was my uncle, but he was her baby brother.

He was actually my favourite uncle because he always seemed thrilled to see us. He owned and operated a Carvel in NJ for decades and none of us ever saw him without coming back with a cooler full of ice cream.

The mayor of that town wrote a nice little something about him.

He was as good and decent a human being as the universe allows, just like my mom and everyone else from her family.

He didn’t deserve to die and certainly not like this. COVID. But I suppose that’s true for the vast majority of the people that die from this stupid virus.

His family – my cousins and aunt – are grieving because this came out of left field for them.

It’s not my story to tell so I’ll stop here.

As for me, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. Because, while I grieve for my uncle’s death, I really grieve more for Alison’s.

You see, whenever some tragedy happens, you also get some bullshit bonus.

Like if you lose your job, the bullshit bonus might be that you can’t pay rent and also get kicked outta your apartment.

Or if you crash and destroy your car, the bullshit bonus might be that you can’t walk again.

The bullshit bonus that my uncle’s family has to deal with is stuff like who’s gonna manage the store and how are they gonna to set up the funeral?

I know this because I dealt with things like that too. I wasn’t ready. No one ever is.

This fucking cancer took so much from me, from my family.

Actually, it took my family.

I laughed when I wrote that last sentence. Because what else can one do?

That’s why it’s bullshit and why it’s bonus: Cause more just randomly shows up at your doorstep when you least expect it.

The bullshit bonus I hate the most is that I don’t grieve like normal people.

When my dad died, I felt like…20% of what I should have felt for this man I loved and that loved me so. I was his boy and he was my dad.

But all I could think was, “At least he lived longer than Alison.”

How. Fucked. Up. Is. That?

I loved my old man. God, I loved him. Like a fat kid loves cake.

And yet, all I could think about was all that Alison had been cheated out of. The same for Fouad. Nick. Kirk. My Uncle Jay. And now my Uncle Nelson, whom I used to call JoJo.

It’s not right. It’s not fair.

They deserved to be more than mirrors and magnifying glasses to Alison and yet, that’s all I can muster. And the guilt from that is just more bullshit bonus.

I’m rambling. I’m sorry.

Everything’s fucked up and nothing’s right in my head anymore. Nothing’s been right since November 2015.

My uncle took us all fishing once, when I was a kid.

I remember being so deliriously happy that day and I thought he was the coolest guy ever. He deserved so much more than this.

Son: You’re thinking of mommy.
Me: Yes. I’m thinking of family. How did you know?
Him: You went (breathes deeply)
Me: (nodding) You’re a smart boy.
Him: Are you sad?
Me: Now, how sad could I be? I have you.

Location: hell
Mood: guilty
Music: Get back to where you once belonged(Spotify)

Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

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)
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Hell isn’t hell if you’re there too

I’m the dumb girl

Don’t think I’ve ever spent a New Year’s Eve completely alone.

In 2006, I went to a restaurant around the way with Alison called Citrus. It’s now called Playa Betty.

In 2016, I spent it in the hospital with Alison. As I did on 2015. She felt bad I was spending New Year’s Eve with her there.

Her: You should be out there having fun. Or at least be with our son.
Me: Heaven wouldn’t be heaven if you weren’t there and hell wouldn’t be hell if you were. You’re here, I’m here. It’s how it’s supposed to be.

That was her; even with cancer, she was worried about me and my happiness.

This year, the most social I got was that my good friend Angel from Hong Kong dropped me a little message and I chatted with my friends around the way, whom I’ve spent the last few New Years‘ with.

Mouse dropped by with some flowers and tried to get me to see people, but I just wasn’t in the mood. Lviv dropped me a nice note, too.

Me: You feel good about this new year?
Her: I felt good being at home with family. I never had a chance to spend NYE in New York but this year, I didn’t have that FOMO feeling.

I suppose that’s it; there’s nothing to miss out on. I’m not lonely because I’m alone; I’m lonely because I don’t have my family.

So, I guess everything was how it was supposed to be.

On that note, here’s the saddest happy song in the world.

The girl keeps hoping the guy will get better but the guy knows he won’t be there to keep her company and feels terrible about it:

Soon you’ll be alone, sorry that you have to lose me

That was Alison. She wasn’t so much sad to go, as she was sad to leave me and the boy.

And I was the dumb girl in the song thinking everything would be ok.

Me: Happy New Year, Alison. I wish you were here.

 

Location: home, without any more rum
Mood: sober
Music: I don’t know why this has happened, (Spotify)
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Right. Our home.

It’s our home

Like the rest of you, I’m glued to my computer/phone/television checking to see if we have four more years of imbecility or something normal.

Suppose I’ll comment on that at some later date.


I’ve not posted because November’s a rough month for me; it was the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it. That’s when Alison first collapsed.

That’s all I’ll say about that.

I also ended up hurting my back doing jits, recently.

Mouse: You’re old.
Me: I am but I look great. Everything hurts, but still. (laughs)
Her: You keep laughing like that, you’re gonna hurt something else.

The plan was for me to head out to NJ to spend Halloween with my son but before that happened, we had a cold snap here in NYC and my boiler wouldn’t start.

Turns out the computer had fried so I scrambled all day Friday to try to get a replacement computer.

Me: How much for a new one?
Representative: $5,000…
Me: Jesus Christ.
Him: …plus tax.
Me: Well, you gotta give me time to knock over a bank first.

I eventually found a distributer in deep Brooklyn for a little more than half that and went there with a friend to pick it up.

Afterward, Mouse drove me back because she was heading into the city. She led a conference call while I drove and it was impressive to say the least.

Me: Thanks for dropping everything for me. As usual.
Her: I try and help.

Finally got the computer back home and hired a guy to install it. That was another adventure of the stripe no one wants but that’s another matter entirely.

Then I dashed off to see my son in NJ for Halloween. Even though we couldn’t go out to trick-or-treat, my mother-in-law had a great idea to have Halloween indoors.

Essentially, each of us took a room and hid candy in it; the boy knocked on the door for each room and went on the hunt. He seemed to have a good time. The hope is that he doesn’t realize what he’s missing out on, which I suspect he doesn’t.

In some ways, I wonder if blissful ignorance is better. I know too much that I don’t wanna know.

Afterward, the plan was for him to come home with me for a few days for the first time in over half a year. But, it wasn’t at all what I’d hoped it would be.

I find certain things more cutting than I should, perhaps.

Me: Are you going to be ok away from your grandparents?
Him: I’m going to miss them a lot, but I’ll be happy to be in your home.
Me: No, it’s our home.
Him: Right. Our home.

Everything’s fucked up and not at all how it should be.

But it’s late, so I’ll tell you that part next week.

Podcast Version
Location: our home – his and mine
Mood: shitty
Music: I can’t believe she’s gone (Spotify)

Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

All the Wrong Ghosts

Keys

Johnny called me the other day. I didn’t pick up.

I called the Devil the other day. He didn’t pick up.

All the wrong ghosts haunt me.

Movie: “You have 212 more supplicants to see you.”
Me: (to wife) That’s why we have judges – they act on the king’s behalf because the king couldn’t possib…
Alison: I have to write down everything you tell me while watching movies and television and call it, Stuff my husband tells me during movies and television.

Did you ever wonder why “movie trailers,” are called that, even though they come before the movie?

Or why the Three Musketeers candy bar is called that, when it’s one single bar?

The former is because the trailer used to trail the main film but no one stuck around to watch them, so they switched it.

The latter’s because it used to be three different candy bars – chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry – until just after WWII when it cost too much to make all three flavours.

The thing is that these things just stick around, long after they make any sense to anyone.

In this post, I wrote about putting up a key holder for Alison and me. I never put up a picture of it because I was worried about someone being able to duplicate our keys from the picture so I never did.

But, after the gate incident with Pac, I replaced my locks, so it’s a moot point.

I took that picture up above with Alison on June 6, 2014 and told her that her spot would always be the first hook.

She hung up her keys at the end of October, 2015 and never took them down again. They’re still there now. If you ever come over, those are her keys.

I never touch them.

I always tell myself that this is the year I’ll take them down but I can’t bring myself to do it. Which makes no sense, I know.

But, neither do trailers or single chocolate bars called Three Musketeers.

It’ll be November soon. I’ll be drinking again then.

Who am I kidding? I’ve already started. Because.

Podcast Version
Location: this fucking house
Mood: not good
Music: Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me (Spotify)

Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.
Blogarama - Observations Blogs

In the gutter

My little human needs me

For reasons we don’t need to get into, I had to head to midtown just before 8PM the other night.

So, I hopped onto my scooter and zipped down 9th Avenue to the Penn Station area. I did what I had to do and then headed home.

Was going down West 33rd Street when there was a slight dip in the road, which I hit it perfectly.

And by perfectly, I mean that I went flying through the air – I was literally weightless for a moment. I crashed down into the street gutter, right next to a cop car.

I swear the two cops in the car both looked at me as if I had just messed up their drink order. It was a combination of puzzlement and wonder. They never left the car, and instead just turned away from me and waited for the light to change.

I got up and did a quick visual and mental check of myself. Most of my left side stung; nothing insanely painful but still pain.

I put myself back together again and started to head home as the cops slowly pulled away. I’m guessing they figured I woulda motioned to them in some manner if I was hurt?

It was late enough that I didn’t have to worry too much about a car hitting me. If it was before COVID, I woulda had to worry about a second impact.

When I got home, I realized that my bag was ripped, a chunk of my thigh was scraped open, as were my shoulder, and a solid part of my left palm (click here if you wanna see my hand – which is how my leg looked as well). The rest of my body looked like my elbow, above.

I think nuthin really bad happened because I was wearing a helmet and managed to breakfall correctly.

The thing that bothered me the most was thinking that if I got hurt, the kid would be left alone in the world. That, and my stinging palm, kept me up for a while.

Need to be more mindful of things. My little human needs me.

Podcast Version
Location: at Verdi Square, ranting to a man of God
Mood: still ouch
Music: Maybe it’s in the gutter? (Spotify)
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Grief-Stricken

Chuck and Chad(wick)

Chuck, Cho, Chad, and Mouse came by on Friday to wish Chuck a safe trip back home.

Me: Well, I already spent thousands this month on my apartment and health so I figured, “Why not blow another $150 on a smokeless grill? What difference’s 150 bucks at this point?”
Chad: Makes sense.
Me: We should invite Chuck over for a last BBQ in NYC.
Him: Let’s do it.

For anyone that’s been to my pad before, they know that the air circulation is low-to-nonexistent. No matter what I try to pan-grill, my smoke alarm goes off and it’s a sauna most days of the year.

I’d gotten the grill a while ago and decided to christen it and wish Chuck a farewell at the same time.

We picked up burgers, kielbasa, kraut, cole slaw, roasted veggies, potato pancakes, and drinks around the way, bringing them back and grilling everything up. We were supposed to start around 5:30.

Mouse: (walking in at 7PM) Wait, you haven’t started eating yet?
Me: We started a bit late.
Her: I can see that.

After we were done eating, we watched an episode of a food channel, an episode of hot ones, and then got down to serious matters, like board games.

We started with SpotIt

Chad: My morale’s deflated.
Me: I gotta put that in the blog.

…before moving onto Exploding Kittens

Everyone: How could you have that many defuse cards and still lose, Logan?
Me: It’s a gift, really.

Chuck: I’m going to throw a hairy potato at you. And not one of the cards.

…and finishing up with the classic, Pictionary.

Guess what this is and click it to read the URL of it to see if you’re right (Chuck figured it out)

Note that we were all two-sheets-to-the-wind – except for Cho – because he was the only one driving. Which is why I found the following exchange so amusing:

Mouse: (drawing)
Cho: What is that? An eye?
Her: (nods)
Him: Eye circle?
Her: (shakes head)
Him: Eye globe?
Her: (eyes wild and wide, stabs picture)
Him: Eyeball?
Her: YES! It’s an eyeball! EYE GLOBE?! EYE CIRCLE?! WTF is an EYE GLOBE, CHO?!

Chad was laughing hysterically when he glanced at his phone and suddenly turned sober. “Oh, no!” he said.

Him: Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer. He was 43.
Me: What? (taking out phone, reading) Um, I need a second, fellas.

I went into the back room, sat down, and just cried. That’s how it works, you see. That’s how grief works.

One minute with you’re with your fave girlie and good friends, and the next minute you’re in the back pulling up pictures of people you know you love and that you’ll never see again and an actor that you never knew.

You never know when life’s gonna hit that grief button. But when it does, holy shit…

I always knew the word, “grief-stricken,” but I never truly appreciated the etymological brilliance of the word until that moment.

It’s actually so perfect with how it works as a word, you are literally stricken – hit, bludgeoned, injured, wounded, struck – with grief.

That’s what grief-stricken means. Grief hits you like a fucking baseball bat, and you’re left gasping for air.

I was literally laughing one moment and trying to cry as quietly as I could the next. That’s what grief-stricken means.

As for Chadwick, that’s a whole different matter that I need to work through.

Chad: (leaning in) I’m sorry, brother, I wasn’t thinking.
Me: (shaking head) Why are you sorry? It wasn’t you that took her from me.

Podcast Version
Location: alone in my apartment
Mood: Friday, grief-stricken
Music: Sooner or later in life, the things you love you loose (Spotify)
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

But wait, there’s more

Good having friends

After the plumbers left, I rang up my neighbor Vic, who’s helped me many times in the past – including when my radiator cracked and Alison was sick – to talk about patching up the massive holes the plumbers left.

The problem is that, while getting him, I got locked out of my apartment. Of course.

More accurately, the lock wouldn’t unlock because the casing around the lock was completely snapped off.

You see, when the firemen came to deal with the gas from Pac, they seriously weakened the housing for my lock, to the point that, when I locked my gate, the screws that kept the lock in place weren’t attached to anything; the metal itself had been crowbared open.

Anywho, I was locked out of my home for close to an hour until I finally managed to get the gate open by repeatedly trying to jiggle the lock back – somewhat – into place.

I couldn’t get in touch with Vic, so I called up another workman around the way.

Me: How much do you think a gate like this would cost to replace?
Workman: Easily a thousand dollars; these are all custom made. Your best bet is to find a welder but even that’ll be expensive with COVID.
Me: You’re fulla good news.
Him: (shrugs)

So, between the flooding, the broken AC, the continued flooding, the fall, the doctor’s visit, the jackhammering, and now the gate, this has been a decidedly annoying and expensive few weeks.

Now, I had been continuing to pay my gym fees during COVID because the owner’s such a good guy and he and his wife have been nuthin but super generous with me.

But, after all of the expenses piling up, I finally had to stop paying.

Me: Hey brother – I’m sorry to do this but I have to stop payments. Got hit with a flood that wiped me out.
Owner: Shit, sorry to hear about the flood! I’ve suspended your membership. Thanks for sticking with us for as long as you have.
Me: Dude, I was hoping to stick with you guys until you reopened. It’s been a rough few weeks.

Of course, my life’s been far, far worse. So, I suppose everything’s relative.

Plus, it’s good having friends like the gym owner and Vic on your side.

Vic: I can do that for you. And I’ll see if I can find a welder for you to try to fix the gate. Maybe a week after next?
Me: Man, you rock. For sure.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, seeing Gio at Columbus Circle
Mood: drained (of money)
Music: Please come to save me from myself again (Spotify)
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Where to begin?

Streaks of bad luck

It’s been a trying few weeks. Where to begin?

I’d been feeling off for a while. Cloudy headed, disoriented, etc. I thought maybe it was just allergies or I was getting a cold but no sneezing or coughing so I just chalked it up to my regular insomnia.

I met with some clients for the first time in a long while.

Him: How have you been?
Me: This is my first time wearing pants in months.

It was short, which was for the best because, as it turns out, after four sets of plumbers, the flooding issue was not fixed, so I didn’t have time to really focus on much beyond that.

After my last entry, it rained again and so I was out on a rickety wooden ladder furiously trying to pump water out of my patio beyond a retaining wall. I’m essentially about six feet off the ground, wearing shorts and boots, when the pressure from the pump knocks me down all six feet onto the brick floor.

I felt that I, for sure, either broke or sprained two fingers. I went about my day as normal but a few days later, the pain just kept increasing.

Mouse – who’s dealing with her own streak of bad luck – hit me up and insisted that I go see a doctor.

Her: Go to CityMD.
Me: I think it’s just a sprain. Gonna give it a day.
Her: Why bother with a day? Just take care of now. Go to the doc and avoid other problems.
Me: Fiiine. I’ll eat and then go.

Next thing you know, I’m back there.

Doc: (looking at fingers) These aren’t broken or sprained. Both are infected. Pretty seriously, actually. From the looks of them, they’ve been infected for at least four days now.
Me: Wait, what? So, it has nothing to do with the fall?
Her: Not if it happened just a day or two ago. I need to open them up.
Me: (sighing) Of course you do.
Her: I have to say, I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve never seen anyone with the exact same infection on two separate hands in two separate places.
Me: I like to go for the superlative.

Relax, it’s mostly iodine. Mostly.

It was painful and hard, but mainly because it brought back a flood of memories of Alison.

She endured what I endured but for every single day for years. That girl was tough as nails. I spent the rest of the day remembering stuff I didn’t wanna.

There’s more, but my fingers and soul are killing me. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow.

Podcast Version
Location: in front of a bottle of antibiotics
Mood: drained (literally!)
Music: I heard you fell off after a couple bad nights (Spotify)
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.