Fuck that. Here’s my last post.

I don’t know what we are supposed to do when people die, but I am taking this moment to enjoy memories of the brief time I spent with Julia. She was an outgoing and wonderful woman. The world could use more Julia Bean in it — I just wish the world weren’t so stupid as to take her from us.



None of this is real.

This is what you might tell yourself in the hospital at Dartmouth. You might plead. Please, at least do that.

I’ve never had a headache before, so when my nurse says, “Go to the hospital if it’s a 10 out of 10,” I call the ambulance. They give me water and I leave at 12:39 and smoke outside and let first dude go on by before getting a ride from second dude. Second dude is fine. I go to Philadelphia in the morning.

Bill answers the phone. “Tom,” he says.

“Let me ask you something,” this to the woman next to me. Too aggressive, intrusive, abrasive. Whatever. I’m smoking.

“Do you believe in God?”

She says yah. Yadda yadda, leaves. I don’t honestly care. Fundamentally, I’m selfish and in trying to solve other people’s problems, I’m simply trying to exempt myself from them.

I’m an asshole like that.

I would like to say this. So long. I am not going anywhere, but I’m going to write that novel now. If you’d like to know where I end up, email me at tomohare3 {at} gmail.whatever. I might tell you, but probably not.

This has been fun, otherwise.

a bad imitation of a ghost

I don’t quite know when I noticed the wailing from across the street, but I only pinpointed the apartment building it was coming from today. Diagonal from me, red brick, four stories. Above a pizza place and across the street from the deli that doesn’t sell beer and has given me food poisoning twice from their bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. NB, do not get them if you’re ever so inclined. The deli is next to a coffee shop/ice cream parlor/donut shop, which is dumb and twee because who wants ice cream in the winter, dude?

Not the wailing man.

The wailing man sounds like a bad imitation of a ghost.

From my fire escape you witness the gentrification of Crown Heights. To the left, an ugly pastel building with balconies used as storage units, a mixture of couples and small (“Baby, we really need to think about getting a bigger place.”) babies, and couples with dogs. To the right, an old yellowed out WWI-era  (I’m making that up — not good with architecture) lump of pragmatism. The foundation of the latter is painted with this red that sweats at sunset.

The kids in front of the latter building are loud. They are impossibly loud. Most of them are under balls-dropping age, and I can deal with it. But one of them is either 1) an older-brother with an inferiority complex, or 2) I dunno, his balls dropped and it’s that much annoying when he yells.

And they yell a lot. A lot. Because they are kids and they are OUT. SIDE. and there is basketball, and there is baseball, and soccer, and so many things to do on the SIDEWALK and get excited about. “AUHHHHHFHHGHHHHH, YOU MOTHERFUCKER.” That’s the post-pubescent one.

I hate him the most. And of course, I used to be just like him.

The heat here in the winter is good. Reliable. So is the hot water. Those count as pluses. So does: no roaches. Granted, you’re facing north, which isn’t ideal, but the sun does set directly in your eyes in the late spring and early summer, so you basically don’t need an alarm clock. If you’re a light sleeper, windows open or not, you definitely won’t need an alarm clock, because there’s a methadone clinic a few doors down and, sadly, the people who frequent it are both very punctual and very loud about that fact starting around, oh… I dunno. 6:45 or so?

There are four apartments on every floor. Four times four equals sixteen. So you live with sixteen people. You all have studios. It’s been reported that yours is among the better ones from the people who’ve seen some of the other ones, and I believe it. (Or, rather, you believe it. Because you did the walk-through, too, and you had a checkbook, duh.) You will be incredibly annoyed by the two people who lock their bikes up in the hallway on the second floor railing because the hallways aren’t particularly wide, you travel a lot, and at four-damn-thirty-in-the-goddamn-morning, please Jesus, just let me roll my roller-bag.

We are basically a college dorm. There are the ladies on the first floor, the one Irish dude on the second, the dude below me who’s kind somewhere on the autism spectrum, the black lady who just chills, and I dunno the fourth. She sometimes leaves when I do and puts out her trash.

The third floor is me, my neighbor to the right, and I dunno, some other people. And the fourth is a wasteland, except that one time I dropped a dude my keys because he said he lived here and I believed him (because that would be one hell of a lie), and it turns out he does and just locked himself out, and needed to take his dog for a walk.

I think his name is David.

The hallways are aqua blue with a pumpkin trim. Not the best combo, but I don’t pick the colors, I just paint them. As mentioned at length, and once more, for emphasis, they are also narrow. The interior apartment walls are a very faint, inoffensive blue. Each of them has a dishwasher, which I fail to understand. If you live in a studio apartment and you need a dishwasher, you have serious time-management problems.

That I took the apartment with the fire escape, the wailing man, the methadone clinic, the horrible regular children, etc. — that I took this apartment I’m fine with. The ones facing south might grow better oregano, but when this dorm burns, I don’t have to jump three stories onto concrete.

There is a lease on my counter top. The counter top is granite. My lease says, “Well? Once more for old time’s sake?” My head says, “Duh,” and my heart says, “Wait a minute.” I haven’t signed it yet. I’m still thinking.

Ongoing Montreal Part 1

You see, you might wonder, as you pass the elderly man who used to live in your neighborhood as you’re strolling down St. Laurent on a cloudy day in June —
June-uary, they called it in Portland when it happened, and it did — if he might not also remember you. Ten years ago. Nine at best. When you were still not a stranger here.

In more than four years here, I learned how to master two phrases. (I’ve probably said this before, which makes this fitting, in a literary way.)

  • Je ne parle pas francais.
  • Quell heur est-il?

Maybe, also:

  • Un pichet de Boreale rousse, si tu plait.

It’s the fact that I’m so good at saying, “Je ne parle pas francais” that gets me into trouble. That just rolls off the tongue like U’s off of W’s. A woman, her small daughter, and her smaller son approached me today at the airport in Montreal. They wanted to use my phone. I don’t really know what had happened to theirs, and I was going to be like, “Sure, yeah, mine’s got gas in it,” but then I remembered I was in Canada. And that this was a terribly expensive proposition. And that if I’d seemed so approachable so must a lot of other people with phone plans that don’t charge $2/minute to make a call while roaming.

So I said, “Desole, je ne parle pas francais.”

And she looked at me as though I had just put up three fingers wrong at the end of Inglourious Basterds, as though I’d sunk my own battleship with that tell. And she replied in kind — maybe? — and I was like, “Seriously, lady, I just went to McGill. That’s the only phrase they really teach you there.”

She asked a French woman who also said no, and I was like, really why would you say “no” you were just looking at it whatever excuse you’re babbling can’t possibly be true this is kind of gross i’m going to walk over there now.

Maybe it was the politest interaction of all time. Je ne parle pas francais.

And the hours were always, of course, ticking. First in the morning, which had really been the night, because I binge-watched that “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” show instead of sleeping. I also slowly, slowly packed. Like a pair of underwear one show and a dress shirt the next, concluded by twenty minutes of thinking I hadn’t done enough and rushing around and getting anxious, me calling a cab two and a half hours early just because I was going to CANADA and that’s INTERNATIONAL — which of course led to the inevitable let down of me not noticing 1) I was TSA pre-checked, and 2) proceeding to wait inside the airport for 45 minutes more than necessary.

I could have at least taken a nap, is my point.

I did, though, so I’m just whining because I can. I dozed for about an hour, leaning against the window, my window-aisle combo-coach seat all to myself, or whatever the fuck. I guess other people had to live there, too. I couldn’t, for the life of me, get comfortable. The “NY-based flight attendants (sic — there was only one!)” flirted kinda like old-style (?) gratuitously with the Delta Diamond guy in front of me, and I wanted to be like, “Hey. Hey! I’m Delta Silver and you should see some of the schmoes I’ve seen make diamond, pal!”

I actually didn’t want to say any of that at all. I just made it up. But I did think that playing that role for a guy who probably just flies around the country selling people widgets all the time was kinda fun.

Anyway. We landed in a plane and we didn’t die.

There are no planes here. Is one thing. Also? Where are the black people? Also, why are your Customs People so slow? They took a really long time with the black dude in front of me. I looked like a person who hadn’t 1) slept in 24 hours, 2) put a comb through his hair in 48, and 3) had a green vegetable in 72. I spent twenty seconds, tops, with them.

But there are no planes, and the loudness, such that it is, is terribly, remarkably, cunningly restrained.


I’ve lived in three places that I’ve loved. In chronological order: Montreal, Portland, New York. I’ve been extremely fortunate to get to know wonderful people in all three. New York has been the most incredibly difficult and rewarding experience of my life. I gave up all I dreamed about my whole life, realized that I was really good at certain things, really really really terrible at others, and so far I’ve made it. Maybe it’s just Jay-Z, but there isn’t anything I’ve seen that’s like New York.

Portland is the most photogenic monochrome music video I’ve ever seen. I love the people I met there. But aside from one or two, Mad Maxes in their own right, still able to pick up that lizard and shove it in their mouths instead of setting it free in the old growth to eat the plant culture that feeds the lower mammal culture which in turn feeds the larger, predatory animal culture, which maybe I dunno balances a food chain or whatever, who cares, go raise some chickens.

Portland is a beautiful twisted fantasy. Dreamt up by Ken Kesey and Steve Novick on acid while barbecuing with the guy in Grant’s pass with the giant sign on the 199 that says, and I fucking quote: “Get U.S out of the U.N”

Drops mic, American flag background, hundreds and hundreds of beauty all around.

I know why the fly fisherman votes against his own economic interests.

And then there is here. This first love. It’s funny, I always thought a woman named Liz was my first love. It’s funny because I don’t know that you ever have one. The thing that most defines this place for me is change.

Which is super cliche, I get it. Let me try and explain.

St. Laurent is like, I dunno, the Newbury St. of Montreal? The 5th Ave? Or would that be St. Denis?

 What it is, and what is undeniably true, is that it is the divider. Of east and west. I mean that literally, by the way. Not, “The west is better,” so much as “The East is a bit different.” I worked in contracting here for precisely one summer. I had just graduated. I was a stupid 22 year-old, much as I am a stupid 31-year old, and even I could see the difference! The nice old lady in NDG who didn’t want her feet to face the doorway, who showed me a clip of my graduation — my exact moment of graduation (McGill apparently put the whole ceremony on the site those days) — and, God, Jesus, that first time climbing over the top of a ladder. People just being like, “You’ll be fine! Don’t be a pussy about it!” Shit I would later repeat, even though I knew it was sexist, stupid, and detrimental. Shit that I would later repeat because, who cares? I’m not going to be a college. I’m going to try and get these people paid.

I believe, to this day, that Jack was the best boss I’ve ever had. Matteo comes close. No one in corporate comes within a mile. The thing about Jack, about Matteo, was that they knew that you weren’t going to get stuck in it like they did. They knew — and they showed it with the trust they put in us as 19, 21 year-old kids — that we’d be more than okay. That we’d maybe even flourish once or twice. I’ve probably told this story before, too, but, again, I don’t care:

Matteo, 6:30 in the morning: “Hey ToMAAS!.

Me: Holy fuck, god no, I promise I’ll get a cell phone.

Matteo: ToMAAS, I need yr help toDAY. To MAS.

Me: Matteo, holy shit, I just woke up you’ve got to be kidding me i can barely function let alone walk over to sling gatorade and hot dogs to high school kids i’ll die for crying out loud.

Matteo: I’ll pick you up!

I worked for two weeks in a kitchen in the more Centre part of Centreville. Some dude taught me how to make mashed potatoes and some dude was like, as I made twenty overcooked burgers for staff lunch, “The most important thing is that you didn’t freak out.”

The boss didn’t fire me, but I eventually had to come clean and say that I had no idea what Canadian labor (labour [sic]) law actually said, and so I think I maybe quit? I don’t even remember. All I know is dude would probably give me a decent recommendation today.


I walked by two of the holiest places in my history. The house where I became a man and the house where I there was no way to do it.

My last summer in Montreal, and God have Mercy may That not be So… My last summer, we watched the World Cup. And sometimes after a game, I’d just say, you know, kinda, “Fuck it.” The Portugese would inevitably win and the parade through my neighborhood would last for days, and I did NOT need to watch the game for that. I remember watching some goddamn game with a woman I liked, and she was rooting for the other team, and that kind of killed it.

You know?

What is my point? Here.

Here is Montreal.

There is a punching bag and two couches, one bigger than the other. Both Ikea. So is the dresser. And the desk upon which I’m writing. There’s a fan looking rather menacingly at me. An empty bottle of water. A set of contractor lights on a stand. Some fucking towels on top of the Ikea bureau. A single stool.  A full size mirror for sad-syruppy sucker-punching bag.

For a lot of us, even most of us — who’ve moved on, left, abandoned whatever it was we were pursuing there — Montreal remains this place — and it’s very much a “here” not a “there” — where even some of the people you believed in are probably still “here,” so to speak. They didn’t just say, “Meh, it was a dream and it didn’t happen and see you later.”

Shit, I saw Mark at a coffee shop today. His French is getting better.


I had just finished breakfast at the diner. Everyone else, it seemed, was finishing their Friday nights. Me, I like to go to bed early at the end of the week. Life is exhausting when you’re chronically depressed.

I nodded and he said what’s up. Then, five or ten seconds later as we strode past one another:

“Excuse me, do you have an extra cigarette?”

I ignored him, pretended I didn’t hear. A second time:

“Do you have a cigarette you can spare?”

It’s one of those things I can spare so I turned around. My new colleague Kait, who is in town for the BEA, expressed some disbelief when, upon being greeted by a beatboxer on the street yesterday evening, I gave him two bucks. “That’s really generous,” she said. “I have money now,” I replied.

And that’s the thing. I have money. I don’t need it anymore.

The man who’d asked for a cigarette was a paranoid schizophrenic. “Can I ask you something?” he said.


“Who do I look like?”

I thought for a second. “Some dude, I guess.”

“No, but really, I don’t look like Obama to you?”

He turned to show me a profile view of his face. He was wearing a sweatshirt and pajama pants. He pulled out his ID.

“This is going to say that I’m someone else, but I’m not really Jewish,” he said.

“Okay,” I said.

“I just got out of the Interfaith and they gave me a bunch of paperwork to go through, and I’m about to head to the shelter.” He was smoking a shitty cigar and clinging to his wallet. “I’ve got foodstamps and all that. You know, back when I was in DC — that’s the District of Columbia — Michelle was doing all the paperwork, and I can tell you about how I got into office, but right now I’m just struggling to get through this paperwork.”

He showed me his ID again.

“It says Zimmerman, but that’s not the right name,” he said.

I gave him a fist bump and said, “Try to get the help that you need.” Then I turned around and left him on the street.

The Good Times Are Killing Me

Ben said:

“You’re a narcissist. All you write about is yourself.” We argued about this for about an hour before we saw Mad Max. I don’t know how Mad Max is because I fell asleep. Apparently I tried to rest my feet on the gentleman in front of me.

Like any good narcissist worth his salt.

Last night, in the college dorm that is my apartment building, I slept with one of my neighbors. I don’t even know how it happened. All I know is that I landed at JFK, got a bunch of text messages, went to the bar, and ended up with someone in my bed. Shit happens.

This morning she was crying. She and her boyfriend just broke up. Like, right before she got to the bar. I don’t frankly feel bad about it, even though maybe I should. He sounds like kind of an asshole, if her story is true. So, whatever.

“There’s one direction in life, and it’s forward.” I don’t know if I was talking to her or myself. But what else do you say to a person who’s crying in your bed and covering her head with a pillow? “Happy birthday”?

When I convinced her to stand up we went to get breakfast. A lot of people would call it brunch. In fact, it was much more like lunch, considering I ate a chicken schwarma. But since it was my first meal of the day, it’s kinda breakfast, y’all.

She changed clothes in her apartment downstairs, and I hung out with her cat and admired her tits. We drank coffee and she asked me to marry her over and over again, and I felt bad because of course we all deserve that, or something, but I still told her no, that she was mourning, that a fling with me might be a part of that process, that that was okay, but that she should probably think things through a bit.

I left her at a table at a bar after brunch. We were outside and she had decided to ask someone else there to marry her. I couldn’t blame her, except that she picked a shitty bar to find a husband.


I sometimes wonder about defeat. As in, “Did it defeat me?” I don’t mean this in a “I’m gonna go off myself way,” because that’s dumb, so don’t, like, worry, Mom. I mean it more as a statement than a question. Yes, it won. There was no chance it wasn’t going to win.

This has to do with life, of course, but of course life is a pain in the ass. And to the extent that we all die, of course, life — whatever we wanna define that as — wins. Even if we blow this place to kingdom come, life’s probably on Mars or something. There’s water there. I dunno. Space is big. Look it up.

I took a walk in Greenpoint today before my meeting with my psych. I sat at a Superfund site and probably got even more cancer than I’m already smoking my way into. That’s not true. It was pretty looking at Manhattan and I didn’t go swimming or drink the water or anything. I just got a little sunburnt.

Or cancer, or whatever. Sunburns and cancer are pretty much the same.

It’s nice there. The first time I went I was on my bike-that-didn’t-get-stolen with a woman I was seeing on and off at the time. It was early winter and windy. Night time. I don’t even think we kissed, that’s how on and off it was.

Today, after my walk, I ate a chili kielbasa and had a beer and went to talk to my doctor. He’s basically just this chill dude who I hang out with once a month, and he gives me drugs that make me able to function. So that’s cool. Thanks, modern medicine and doctor who answered the phone that day when I was desperate.

He asked me how things were going, and I said, Oh, you know. Oh. Fine, great, everything hunky-dory as per usual. Because I don’t think I’ve ever answered that question honestly in my life. He’s in kind of a rush, and we’re just like, oh so you hooked up with your neighbor, and he’s typing, and I’m like, is that on my permanent record now? That I hooked up with my neighbor? Because that’s weird. And he’s all talking about his trip to Croatia, and I’m like, dude, are you getting a side piece while you’re in Croatia, because that’s kinda what it sounds like you’re saying to me? Because he’s all like, oh it’s this lady I met at a conference — also a psychiatrist, and she’s going to take me around the countryside and shit. And he’s also like, no no, I’m going to Vienna afterwards to see my partner and our daughter. And I’m like, internally here, heh, okay, probably none of my business, pal.

But that dude. One thing I like about him is that he’s crazy, too. We all are, of course. The amount of crazy shit enacted by so-called dignified people on a daily basis should be enough evidence for that claim. He simply isn’t afraid to hide it, and maybe encourages you to embrace your own. Of course, I’ve known him for almost two years. We have a rapport. I’m biased.

But you’re crazy.

They say there are five stages of grief. But that’s not right. There are five stages of life. From Wikipedia

  1. Denial — One of the first reactions is Denial, wherein the survivor imagines a false, preferable reality.

This is called childhood. Possibly parts of early adolescence.

  1. Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would God let this happen?”.

Adolescence. Yep.

  1. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Other times, they will use anything valuable against another human agency to extend or prolong the life. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.

Late adolescence through… Many people will stay here their whole lives.

  1. Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
    During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the certainty of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.

Here I am.

  1. Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
    In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.

When I mentioned this to my doctor — not verbatim, of course, but in broad strokes — he was writing my scrips and I didn’t really care if he listened. But he perked up a bit and said that he didn’t think I was depressed, actually. I asked him why I cry almost every day, and he told me that it was because I enjoyed it. Which I guess I do.

I watch a lot of stand-up comedy, too, guys.

At one point you either accept that you’re just as crazy as the rest, or you doom yourself to a life of smug satisfaction. A good friend of mine and I met this Spring in Portland for the first time in years and years — and this is a guy who used to work at a group home for a developmentally disabled community with me — and I think we both recognized that we were both batshit insane, no more stable, perhaps less so, than the people we used to take care of at work.

The important part about step five, above, is the implicit idea that just by playing you’ve already lost. You cannot lose if you do not play.

I think I stole that from The Wire. If so, gratitude to David Simon. Or whoever he stole it from.

Yeah, I just Googled, that’s totally stolen from The Wire.

Can you deal? I cited my source.

Here is the paradox of losing, which is also the paradox of life: Losing is the only part that makes winning worthwhile.

Here is the paradox of winning, which is also the paradox of life: You don’t.