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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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Nothing like sewage in the kitchen

Grossed out

Do you remember when I told you about my upstairs neighbor’s toilet leaking into my kitchen some 14 years ago?

Never told you details about it but one thing that drove the workmen at the time crazy was that the original builders that first put in that toilet seem to have stuffed greased up newspapers into the gap between the waste pipe and the cement because there was a gap there.

The second set of workmen “fixed” the issue some 20 years later, sealed up my ceiling, and that was the last that I thought of it until about two weeks ago.

And the reason for that is that two weeks ago, I wrote in this entry that I climbed up to check out the same spot and was on “top of my refrigerator, looking at a huge crack and some mold.”

Well, it turns out that the workmen were, among other things, hypocrites.

Note the grossly stained stuffed plastic bags to the right of the pipe.

Because instead of removing the old, incorrectly seated flange – the part that connects a waste pipe to a toilet – pouring fresh concrete and then reinstalling a new flange they ended up stuffing plastic bags into the gap themselves and installing a toilet over the whole thing.

You can see a bit of the light from my kitchen shine up even with the plastic bags in place.

Welp, the plastic bags finally deteriorated enough from 14 years of water and waste such that sewage – urine and fecal matter – soaked through my ceiling and came pouring down.

It was precisely as gross and as nasty as you’re imagining it.

Worse, actually, because I keep my cookware – pots, pans, Instant Pot, food processor, etc – on top of my fridge.

Me: Clearly, I have to burn my entire unit to the ground.
Plumber: (laughs) Well, maybe just toss all your cookware?
Me: You think!?

After the plumber removed the plastic bags, you can see the light from my kitchen shine up.

The unit owners, though, are friends of mine and sent a plumber to come by yesterday and he did what he could but he said that he could only do a temporary fix since the floor was uneven and that was outta his skillset.

Him: Do you have cardboard?
Me: Sure, why?
Him: Well, either I have to seal it to keep critters out or…
Me: Nope, nope, nope, nope – here’s some cardboard.

After he left, I slapped on double gloves and double masks and cleaned the whole thing.

After about two hours, most of the most disgusting stuff was gone but the smell of urine was palpable even after scrubbing everything.

My fear is that some dried under the fridge and I’ll need to empty it out, have the whole thing pulled out, and then clean under it.

So, home ownership hasn’t been the best this week.

Here’s hoping twice in 14 years will be the limit of my ceiling caving in.

Location: Another basement apartment on WEA and W 80th Street, avoiding two dogs.
Mood: grossed TF out
Music: I’ll keep waiting, and, someday (Spotify)
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Run-of-the-mill Calamities

Everything keeps breaking down

I was rolling with my buddy Cruise the other day when I felt this sharp pain in my left foot and looked down, horrified to see my middle toe bent 90 degrees…in the wrong direction.

Holy shit! I said.

I’d put that pain at a solid 5, if 1 was nuthin and 10 was the worse pain in my life.

Without even thinking, I reached over and yanked it back into place, which shot my pain level up to a 10 but only for a second before it dropped down to a managable 2.

So, this whole week, I’ve been hobbling around with my toes taped up.

But it’s not just me, the kid’s been dealing with his own foot pain lately.

We went to an indoor gym the other day – something I’ll tell you about later – and he spent hours running around the place.

Figure he musta gotten a blister from all the activities so we were both hobbling around for a bit.

On a larger level, things in the building have been a mess too.

Things keeps breaking around the building so I gotta find people to come in and fix them.

To make matters worse, the hot water for the whole building completely stopped for some reason.

Only after the plumbers arrived did we figure out that it was the boiler’s mixing valve – which mixes the 212-degree water with city tap water to get hot water for our building – that called it quits.

After a full day of waiting around and some five hours of work, we finally had hot water again.

The kid helped out too, since I had to be in the basement, he was the one that measured the temps for us in the bathroom.

Him: It’s 130 degrees, dad!
Me: That’s too much, lemme know when it’s less.
Him: (two minutes later) It’s 129 degrees now!
Me: (laughing) OK, that’s only marginally helpful, kid. I meant like 120 or less?
Him: Oh, you shoulda said that.
Me: Fair. That’s on me.

On a macro level, the manhole cover a few blocks south of my pad blew off completely because of some fire under Amsterdam Avenue.

Smoke and firemen were everywhere.

Now, this happened just south of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and everyone just heard this loud but muffled BOOM.

I’m pretty certain I’m not the only person that thought the worst.

But it wasn’t terrorism, just the run-of-the-mill calamities that NYC always has.

Which, in this day and age, is probably the best we can hope for.

Location: earlier, at a Halloween party that we’ve been going to for the past four years now
Mood: not salty
Music: hold onto me, cause I’m a little unsteady (Spotify)

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personal

Emotionally is a different matter

Intellectually, I know

My buddy Ricky stopped by my pad the other day because he was in the neighborhood…

Me: The Firecracker baked cookies, you want one?
Him: Sure! (later) Is that real milk [in the coffee]?
Me: Shoot, yes. I shoulda thought about that.

…and Bryson gave me a ring to see how I was doing. I’m guessing they read up on my mom and wanted to make sure we were all ok.

Bryson: Dude, next time, before you rent a car, gimme a call. I’m happy to pick you up and get you to your mom.
Me: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. But, what’s going on with you?
Him: Nah, man, I didn’t call to talk about me, I called to check in on you.

I’m grateful for old friends that check in with me to make sure that I’m ok.

Speaking of being ok, I’ve been seeing a therapist for some time now.

She asked me this past week the details of what happened with Alison.

Me: Oh, I thought I told you.
Her: You only told me that she died and your struggles with everything. You never told me the details.

So, I did.

About halfway through it all, I realized that she was crying. By the time I wasdone, she was pretty emotional – well, as emotional as a professional can get.

Her: (drying her eyes) That’s a lot for you to have dealt with.
Me: She dealt with more.
Her: Well, thank you for sharing with me. And you should be kinder to yourself.

Told her that I felt guilty that I was alive and got to spend alla this time with the kid and she didn’t.

She only got to hold him once.

Just writing that sentence fills me with both sadness, anger, guilt, and a bevy of other emotions I can’t fully express with my limited vocabulary.

Her: There’s useful guilt and useless guilt.
Me: (nodding) I know. Intellectually, I know. Emotionally is a different matter.

Such a different matter.

Location: In my head again for a bit
Mood: worn-down
Music: My mind, it likes replaying my regrets all night. My pain, I hide (Spotify)
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Coming in threes?

School again

Him: I’m a little worried.
Me: That’s normal. Everything’ll be fine.
Him: You promise?
Me: Yup. Promise.

The kid started school recently. The Firecracker was sweet enough to make that sign for him you see above.

Her: (beaming) AND, I laminated it too.
Me: You’re the best!

He was anxious the day before and I tried my best to reassure him, but I get it.

Still, he left school that first day with nothing but smiles.

Here’s hoping it’s another good year.

Alison would be so proud.

Speaking of Alison, when things went down with her, they also went down with my dad, and my cousin.

Both my dad and she died within 90 days of each other from cancers they never should’ve had: Alison passed from a cancer that generally kills old Caucasian men, my dad from lung cancer despite never smoking nor having any reason to get it.

This past weekend, in the span of 24 hours, my mom fell and took a nasty hit to her head, an uncle got into a terrible car accident (but survived), and another uncle up and died.

All within 24 hours.

People keep saying to me that bad news comes in threes and I do my best to chalk that up to pure superstition.

Still, it’s very odd and sad that it’s bearing out.

So, this past weekend, I dropped everything and rented a car for four hours to see my mom for 20 mins.

Man, NYC is the only place where it takes 90 minutes to drive 14 miles.

My mom’s ok, btw. She’s just very worried about everyone else.

Oh, and I detest people that use other people’s tragedies to garner sympathy for themselves – when Alison and my dad got sick, so many people lamented how concerned they were on social media and did jack shit for us.

The situation with my uncles is very sad but the grief is mainly borne by their immediate families and not me.

I always say that I don’t like to tell other people’s stories, only my own, so I’ll leave the details of everything to them.

Like my mom, I’m sad for them and worried for everyone left.

To end on a lighter note, I’d been on the hunt for purple (fleshed) potatoes for a few weeks now and stopped by a local Asian grocery for literally 6 minutes – because that’s all the time I had before I had to return the car – to see if they had some.

But they didn’t and I didn’t have enough time to go to any other stores.

The kid did make a new friend, though.

Location: shooting Scenic Fights all damn day
Mood: panicked, not about the elbow
Music: our tragedy binds what our ignorance hides – we all wind up here together (Spotify)
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It’s time to come home

Not that lawyer any more

Me: The problem is that you’re homeless and a stranger in a strange land. You’re not valued by him and never will be. But your friends and family are here.
Her: I can’t afford to live in NYC any more, Logan. I don’t have a job and I’m not 20 anymore.
Me: Plenty of people – your parents and mine – came here with less and spoke even shittier English than you…
Her: (laughs)
Me: …they all survived. They all thrived. It’s time.

A dear friend of mine, who moved away to be with the man of her dreams suddenly found herself in a nightmare.

She gave up everything – her home, her friends, her family, and her job, to be with this fella.

That’s her story to tell so I’ll end that part here.

But I told her things that I never told anyone.

Never told you either.

Because I not only lost both my families in 2017, but I also lost my career.

Never told you, but when I lectured in Malaga, over a decade ago, my topic was the right of publicity versus the right of privacy.

In it, I wrote about Gwen Stefani/No Doubt legal case where she allowed her likeness to be used for one thing but not another.

With the rise of computational power, we’re rapidly coming to a point where we don’t need an actual actor or singer but merely their likeness to create art. And that will open up a whole new world of possibilities, both for good and bad. – Logan

Right now, a major part of the whole writer/actor’s strike is the fear that their likeness will be used by a studio for, potentially, eternity.

Watched one lawyer talk about it, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry and jealous – because the focus of my entire practice was going to be about the intersection of the rights of publicity and privacy.

I knew a decade ago that this current AI crisis was coming and I wanted to be at the forefront of it all.

Her: Holy shit, you were ahead of the curve, Logan!
Me: Yeah, by over a decade. I’m gonna be honest with you, I threw myself a pity party last week thinking that coulda been me.

That fucking cancer took almost everything from Alison and me.

12 years of work, poof. Gone.

I’m still a lawyer but I’m not…that lawyer anymore.

I secretly used pictures of Alison throughout my lecture.

But Alison and I were dealt our shitty cards and we had no other choice but to play them.

After all, that’s what Alison did. Felt I had to respect her sacrifices and do the same.

I just said that the fucking cancer took almost everything.

Almost because I still had the boy.

Somehow, through all my chemicals and madness, I sobered up enough to remember him and how much he meant to Alison, and me.

Knew I had to make a home for him with me, however incomplete and inelegant that was.

That kid saved me and, together, we made this sad place – which was full of some seriously unspeakable and fucked-up things – a happy(ish) home for both of us.

And I told my friend all this just to let her know that it’s possible.

It’s possible to overcome the blow, even when it seems so unlikely.

Me: I’m not making light of your situation. It’s gonna be shitty and hard. But I just want you to know that you can survive this. You can survive this blow. Because, somehow, I did.
Her: (silence then laughing) I can’t believe I’m saying this but you’re making a lotta sense.
Me: (laughing) I’m as surprised as you are. (pause) Listen, X, it’s done. That place isn’t your home, not anymore. But here, you matter to a lotta people. Me included.
Her: (sighing) OK, Logan. Lemme think about it.
Me: Do that. It’s time to come home.


Location: home, waiting for people to pick up things up
Mood: better
Music: I only wish my words could just convince myself (Spotify)
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The one with the singing

Still loading

Her: (finishes singing a song and turns to look at me) Do you think I’m weird?
Me: (nodding) Oh, yeah. Totally.
Her: Oh…
Me: (laughing) You’re adorkable!

This past weekend, I had a few things really stop me in my tracks. None were what you might call, “good,” but neither were they “terrible.”

They were, however, things that made me radically reassess my life and look at things very differently.

All three are gonna mean that my life is gonna change drastically and I’m not sure how it’ll all shake out.

The smallest of the three – and the only one I can really tell you about – is that the Firecracker and I got into our first real big fight but it was really about nuthin.

Honestly though, most fights are about nuthin, if you think about it in the grand scheme of things.

In any case, my takeaway, though, was her style of fighting. It worked well with my style of fighting such that the whole things – while arduous – was over and done by the evening. That’s a net positive.

I suppose, in life, you gotta take all the net positives you can.

The other two events I’m still sorting it all out in my head. But really big changes are ahead for the Lo family, lemme tell ya.

Ultimately, though, I’m trying to go back to my old mindset from a decade ago and accepting the world as it is, not as I wish it to be.

It’s funny, suppose I started upgrading my OS ages ago but it got interrupted with alla the tragedies.

It never stopped loading into my brain, though.

It’s still loading now, I think.

At least there was lots of music all weekend, between the Firecracker and my son singing.

This is his latest – Emily, another parent from his school, thinks he would rock the talent show. He says he’s too shy.

I dunno, I think he’d be pretty good.

Him: (sadly) Do I have to do it?
Me: Only if you want, kid.
Him: Oh. OK. I don’t want to. Too many people.
Me: Maybe someday.
Him: (nodding) Maybe.

Location: tonight, almost having a homemade apple pie in a bed that wasn’t mine
Mood: accepting
Music: You were only waiting for this moment to be free (Spotify)
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Super(glue)cuts

Another accident

Had a lotta plans this past weekend but, like mosta my plans, they didn’t turn out – at all – like I expected.

Not all of it was bad, but it certainly started out looking that way.

Suppose the main thing that happened was that I took a knee to my forehead at the gym and tore open a cut above my eye.

It wasn’t super deep but there was a ton of blood, which is pretty typical for facial cuts. People were telling me to head out to get stitches but I’d been here a few times before.

I quickly took a shower, cleaned the wound with alcohol, had my buddy Kevin run out to get some Krazy Glue, and got to work.

I’ve been using Super/Krazy Glue to stitch myself up for years. It works best on cuts that aren’t super deep and aren’t jagged – my particular cut hit these two criteria.

Laid down on a workout bench and had Chad and Katrina wash their hands – Chad’s dealt with things like draining cauliflower ears a buncha times and Katrina works at a dentist office so they seemed like the best choices.

Chad used two hands to squeeze the cut together and Katrina basically just glued my wound shut.

It took three tries but they stopped the bleeding and I avoided a trip to the ER/urgent care.

This is what it looked like immediately after they finished:

The last bits of the glue came off today and this is what I looked like a few hours ago – the cut healed perfectly and better than if I’d had stiches because there’s no additional scarring due to the stitches:

While that part turned out well, it all meant that I couldn’t head to the gym as much as I woulda normally while the kid was away.

So, I did a lotta baking, including making some bar-type cookies that I tried to cut using Alison’s old pizza wheel cutter.

Just like with the wine glass the other day, the handle snapped in my hand as I was using it and THE BLADE WENT RIGHT TOWARDS MY EYE.

Luckily, it turned somehow so I got slapped in the face with the side of the blade.

Seriously, my luck is something else.

Although, there was some good to getting injured as it meant that I could do other fun things instead of heading to the gym.

Her: You free on Friday?
Me: I am now.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow or something.

Location: NJ, getting my treasure
Mood: full, for once
Music: I try, I try, I really do (Spotify)
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More bonus I didn’t want

Having a home cooked meal at home

Me: With every tragedy, you get bonus tragedies.
Her: What are bonus tragedies?
Me: (shaking head) All the other shit that comes with your initial tragedy. Like, I assume after a divorce, there’s all this stupid paperwork you have to do. And you have to move. And you have to explain what happened to people. It’s all bullshit bonus. I’m sorry.

Getting the kid a passport is different for me than most parents. I know this because my sister just got passports for her kids.

Both parents have to sign off on getting a kid a passport so that one parent can’t secretly do it, receive the passport, and abscond with the child.

But when you’re a widower, you have to bring in proof that you’re a widower. Which means that I have to dig up both my marriage license and Alison’s fucking death certificate.

Lemme tell you – because I hope it’s a lifetime before you have to do such a thing – looking for, finding, and then touching something like a death certificate for someone you loved deeply is about emotionally equivalent to touching a hot pan repeatedly.

It’s not gonna kill you but fuck all if it doesn’t hurt like hell.

Like I said, it’s all bullshit bonus for shit you didn’t want in the first place.

Clerk: Here’s his picture! I do this a lot but, wow, your son’s super cute.
Me: Thanks. He…he takes after his mom.

The Firecracker wanted to cook dinner for me the other day, so she stopped by and took over the kitchen.

The last time someone cooked dinner for me in my own apartment was years ago.

Gotta say, it was nice. More than nice.

Me: I was gonna say that I was worried it would be dry since you didn’t brine it, but these came out great. Did you use a thermometer?
Her: (shaking head) No, just practice.

She found this bobby pin in my room and I could tell it bothered her.

Me: It’s definitely old. I have no idea who left it here.
Her: But why is it out?
Me: The kid probably put it there.
Her: But why do you even have it?
Me: (shrugging) I hate throwing things away. It seems wasteful. Just a poor kid’s mentality. (joking) I should really have a lost and found for all the rando jewelry and stuff that people leave here.
Her: (glares)
Me: This is probably a good time for me to stop talking. I should probably shut up. I’ll shut up now. (pause) I don’t know why I’m still talking.
Her: (nodding) Yeah…

If anyone’s looking for my foot, I found it in my mouth.

Her: It’s fine. We’ve only known each other four weeks.
Me: In my defense, you said, “Let’s not give this a name.”
Her: I know what I said, Lo. I’m allowed to change my mind.
Me: (nodding) Yes, yes you are.

Location: running into friends around Staples, asking how they were doing
Mood: pensive
Music: All of my demons keep me wide awake (Spotify)
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New Year’s Eve 2022/23

The Quiet

Had a very interesting and chill New Year’s Eve.

Like most of you, I spent NYE 2021 alone – completely alone – because of COVID. NYE 2022 wasn’t much better because of COVID, as well.

This year was the first proper NYE I’ve had in quite a while; it was just me and two friends.

Got there first, where I opened the door for a girl with crutches.

My friends showed up not soon afterward.

Sister1: (wearing a gold lamé  blouse) Happy New Year, Logan!
Me: Thanks, same! You know, I was just thinking that not enough people wear lamé on the regular.

It was totally last minute; we were supposed to just meet up for drinks at 6:45 and I was gonna see RE Mike, but the food was good…

…the drinks were solid, and the crowd and company were great…

…plus, there was live jazz so, before you knew it, we were toasting 2023.

Sister1: It’s 10:50PM!
Me: Welp, I guess we’re staying here. I need another drink.

The two of them are in the growing group of people that don’t want to be in this blog, which I get, which is why I’m trying to keep the conversation as non-identifiable as possible.

Still, the first sister had a list of really insightful questions which led to some pretty deep conversations I wish I could share with you.

One of which ended like this:

Me: I’m thinking 2023 might be the year I finally lose my virginity.
Sister2: (laughing) Did you go to church summer camp? Is that why?
Me: No [to the second question] BUT I did go to summer camp, once actually. Of course, because it was me, it was because of a girl, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Her: I think that Christian boy in you is still there, somewhere.
Me: And that’s where you’re wrong. He died the day my wife died. But we can change the subject…

Because of that, I came to a realization the next morning – and a pretty wild one at that, which deserves its own entry.

It’s part of the reason I decided to upgrade my OS in the first place.

I spoke at length with my therapist about my realization today.

Me: An acquaintance of mine told me a little while back that, in all the years he’s known me, he’d never seen my level of rage that I am these days. He said that, when it comes out, I’m a completely different person. I didn’t realize how long I’ve been angry for.
Therapist: And now?
Me: I’m still angry, of course. At the unfairness of it all. But, it’s not blinding rage anymore.
Her: I hear it in your voice.
Me: What?
Her: The quiet.

My buddy who lost his mom was 100% right, the anger never goes away. But I’m hoping the rage is gone.

Suppose only time will tell.

Y’know when you upgrade your computer’s OS, it goes like “73% completed,” or whatnot? I think I’m like 4% in.

It’s a start.

Location: earlier today, on 18th, wondering if I should roll
Mood: quiet
Music: my trust in God and man, no confession, no religion, don’t believe in modern love (Spotify)
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