Bad luck is better than worse luck

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from

Fire in the UWS
A few days ago, rented a car to go that birthday party and also pick up a buddy from the airport.

Unfortunately, the tiny compact car I’d reserved had a dead battery.

So I called up the car rental company and told them that they needed to get me a replacement.

Customer Care: I’m so sorry about that! The only thing we have is an SUV. Do you want that? No additional charge.
Me: Sure, I’ll take anything. I just gotta go.

After losing about twenty minutes, the wife and I were on our way.

But during this time, the snow began to fall. It was only supposed to be an inch or so but it was clear that it’d be more.

A lot more.

Me: We gotta go.
Her: OK, let’s start saying our goodbyes.

Not long after arriving, we were back on the road. Had to call up my buddy and say we weren’t coming to get him.

Thankfully, we had that larger car so getting back home wasn’t all that bad.

This writer named Cormac McCarthy once said that, You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

The thing is, it’s rare to actually realize that this is the case. This was one of those rare times.

But really, you could go through your whole life thinking you had terrible luck while, in reality, you’re far better off than if you had gotten what you wanted in the first place.

Moon in the daytime

Alternatively, you could always try and see the positive, however, small, of everything that’s ever happened to you.

This poet warrior – and I think that it’s telling he was a poet and warrior – named Mizuta Masahide once had a poem that went:

Since my house burned down
I now own a better view
of the rising moon

But there’s an even shorter translation I prefer. I told you about it once. It goes:

Barn’s burnt down —
now
I can see the moon.

Location: last night, shoveling all that damn snow
Mood: thoughtful
Music: She is running to stand still
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Bookending

I’m in a funny place, mentally

Child's Birthday Cake
February’s over and it’s been heady.

It was strange in that there were two children’s birthday parties and one death. The children are young: one’s my nephew, who turned one; the other, my niece, who turned two. The death was that of a college buddy about my age, 43.

It was the first time I’d been to any child’s birthday party since I was a kid. And the death was the first time someone I knew well, who was my age, passed.

In any case, my nephew’s birthday party was in Queens, my niece’s was in NJ. It was bitterly cold both days. The kind where every inhale burns the inside of your lungs.

And for the one in NJ, got the added bonus of being caught in a snowstorm so that meant a slow crawl home.

All that traveling gives a fella time to think.

Thought mainly of the bookending of life in these events: Two children starting their journey in the world, one young man finishing his.

Wonder how the children will spend the time they’ll have; wonder how I’ll spend the time I have left.

Clock in West Village, NYC

Oddly, my brother called me last night talking about that very subject.

Told him that I’m pretty content with my life. Wish I had more scratch and less injuries, but, on the whole, I don’t have a ton to complain about. After all, I won the lottery where it really counts.

But I’m turning 42 in less than two months, which makes me think about my own life more and more. I suppose I’ll tell you about that some day.

Of course, it’s all time and tide. We just don’t know what either will bring us.

But, I hope good things.

Man at the birthday party: Have a safe trip home, old man.
Me: (leaving) That’s just cruel.

Children's cupcakes (purple)

Location: yesterday, crawling to the Lincoln Tunnel
Mood: thoughtful
Music: away from you, it froze me deep inside. So come back
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Goodbye, Bobby

A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

Clock in Upper West Side, NYC
An old friend of mine passed last week.

He was the first person I ever met in college. Met him outside of the dorms queuing for one thing or another. He was from Virginia.

Never met an Asian kid from Virginia before. At that point, I’d never really been out of the City. Don’t think I’d even been to the Bronx or Staten Island yet.

We became pretty good friends through the years. Bombed my econ class because a group of us were playing cards late into the night.

Ended up going to the same law school, just at different times. We also ended up living in the same neighborhood so we constantly either met up or ran into each other.

But in 2001 we had an argument and stopped talking. It wasn’t a terrible argument, per se. Just the kind where both people’re irritated enough to stop talking for a while.

Your typical super-important argument about nuthin.

We met up a few years later at a wedding where I was a groomsman and he was the best men.

Me: Hey, your tie’s crooked. (fixing it)
Him: Ah, thanks. I was worried it’d be weird between us.

We sat at the same table, and were pleasant. We said we’d reconnect again but never got around to it.

That’s the thing with old ghosts; you always run into them in the big City. Figured I’d just run into him again one day, like I do the rest of the world. And we’d be cool again.

But I never did. Now, I never will.

Every time someone dies, I think of that Thomas Mann quote, A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

Right now, I’m on an email list filled with names I’ve not seen in years.

Some people are heading down to the funeral, some are sending flowers. My friends and I are sending an arrangement.

Can’t really imagine what his parents are going through. Don’t want to. When I heard he died, after the initial shock wore off, I thought of my own parents. I’d never want them to have to go through that.

What a thing to bear.

I wish I did actually give him a call. Or he gave me one. Or we did run into each other like people do here.

Life gets in the way. That is, until it gets out of the way.

I’ll add my not meeting up with him to my list of ten thousand regrets.

Goodbye, man. I’m so sorry to hear that you left us.

Me: Why would it be weird? We had an argument. People have arguments. We should meet up some time.
Him: Sure, that sounds good.

Location: in my head, back in college
Mood: sad
Music: Yesterday I got so old, it made me want to cry
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Unsettled

All you need is one thing off to leave you unsettled

Woman walking dog in snow in UWS, NYC
It’s been a long and strange week.

Said in the past that all of your life’s problems can be divided up into health, wealth, and relationships. You just need one of those to go wrong and it doesn’t matter how well the other two are going, you are unhappy.

In a similar sense, you have a rhythm to your day; all you need is one thing to be off-kilter and you’re unsettled.

The loss of my computer meant that I had to build a new one. Yes, I know that I can buy one cheaper and faster, but when you roll your own, you get the exact tool that fits your needs – and that’s what a computer is for me, a tool for my work.

In any case, after building it for a few days, a key component went bad and I had to take the whole thing apart. Right now, I’m waiting for a replacement part to come in.

This, in turn, has led to my home office being a constant mess, and me having to work on my a backup laptop or another computer, which leaves me further unsettled.

Then we had an unfortunate incident with a drunken house guest, which didn’t help matters.

So, unsettled.

This has been a very unsettled week.

Which is not to say that it’s been all bad.

Me: Hey, remember that project I’ve been bidding on? I got it!
Her: Whoa, that’s great news!

West 72nd Street and Broadway

With work getting busier, I’m thinking of cutting down the blog writing and focusing more on short things like Twitter and Instagram.

More on that later, I’ve gotta jet.

Location: Long Island, shortly
Mood: weary
Music: You were my best four years
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Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili

It’s been pretty cold here

Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.Photo credit: leitesculinaria.com

I’m writing this as I wait for a plumber to come and look at a pipe in my building. It’s so cold here that there’s a chunk of ice in an insulated pipe here in my apartment.

Supposed to be at a meeting at 11AM but instead, I’m sitting here as the temperature in the house slowly drops.

Tried to stay indoors as much as possible this past week or so but I had to head out for a number of things. During one of those things yesterday, I smashed my cell phone.

Again.

This time, though, there’s not gonna be a replacement. So irritated with myself.

Things just keep on breaking around me. Don’t think that electronics and I were meant to get along.

In any case, do you know just how cold is it here? It’s so cold that I’ve run through all the chili that was supposed to last me until March.

There’s a myth that gunfighter Kit Carson’s last words were: Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili. They weren’t, it was actually, Goodbye, friends. Adios, compadres.

But regardless, I can appreciate the sentiment.

While walking around in sub-zero temperatures yesterday, all I could think was, I’d rather be home with the wife and a hot bowl of red.

And if this plumber doesn’t show up soon, those may be my last thoughts as well.

Brrrrrrrrrrr!

Location: in my apartment, waiting
Mood: turning into an icicle
Music: Cold is the color of crystal the snow light
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Picking up the pieces we break

Ended up with a completely jacked computer

Asus ET2700 disassembled
Part of the reason I splurged on the new desk because – on the days that I work at home – I spend almost the entire day sitting there.

So if I’m going to spend money on anything, it should be a nice work space.

Similarly, a few years ago, I bought myself a really sweet computer. It was a single piece computer with a touchscreen; essentially, it was like having a 27″ table computer to work on. I loved that thing and it made working that much nicer.

Last week, I decided to upgrade the processor for a slight step up in power. I installed it during the mess of building out my desk and everything else and ended up blowing out my computer.

Complete black screen of death. There seems to be a string of completely destroyed computers in my life.

Meanwhile, I had a portfolio of work due to client so I had to do that on my office computer or my actual 10″ tablet (which is as fun as a root canal) while rushing back to (a) finish building out my home office and (b) trying to salvage my machine.

tl;dr: The furniture is essentially assembled but my computer has given up the ghost. So my physical and digital states are both a mess right now.

I ended up buying a set of parts – essentially, this exact list of components – to build myself a dual-booting Windows/Macintosh system.

This has been a really expensive and tiring few weeks. Hopefully, after I’m done, I’ll be happy I did it.

As always, it’s about making it to the other side.

 

Location: in the midst of computer and furniture parts
Mood: still so tired
Music: in the strangest places, picking up the pieces we break
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Got new office stuff for the first time in decades

Hard doing much with one good arm

West 72nd Street
My shoulder had been feeling slightly better, but then I slipped in the snow last week and landed on it.

Lemme tell you, there’ve been a handful of times when I’ve felt physical pain so strong that I was blinded; I literally couldn’t see a thing.

That time I cracked my tooth on an olive pit was one, another was when I tore my ACL, and last Monday with my shoulder was a third time.

Spent the next two days with an ice pack strapped to my shoulder and my arm in a sling.

41 is no fun.

———-

When I was working at my old company two decades ago, they expanded the space and ended up changing the desks and other office furniture.

As it turned out, I was also moving to where I live right now so I ended up buying the desk, drawers, and bookshelf I was using in my then office for my home office.

I used them until last week when I finally decided up get new office furniture for myself.

It’s still a mess but I’ll take a picture of it once I’m done.

It hard building, organizing, and cleaning stuff with only one good arm.

Then again, I suppose it hard doing much with just one good arm.

Location: 3AM last night, wide-awake in bed
Mood: so tired
Music: Every Sunday’s getting more bleak, a fresh poison each week
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Kill what you eat

If you’re willing to eat meat, you should be willing to kill it

Me: The best part of a chicken is the back.
Him: (disgusted) I’m not eating that.
Me: More for me.

My parents grew up in a time and place where they’ve each had to kill something to eat, my mother in particular.

When I was little kid, I went to Taiwan to see her mother, my grandma, who showed me how to properly kill a chicken. I saw this chicken walking around one moment and decapitated the next. She then proceeded to butcher it in the alley behind the house, careful not to nick any of the intestines.

Her: You’ll wreck it, otherwise. Do it wrong and you’ll get poop everywhere.
Me: Poop?
Her: Poop. Everywhere.

She did all this while smoking a cigarette, which is neither here nor there – just comically funny to me.

In any case, I saw the above video a few days ago; a friend put it up. It bothers me. People who have no problem buying sausage and a visceral reaction to seeing a pig being “slaughtered” for that sausage.

That strikes me as wrong.

If you’re gonna eat something, you should be able to accept that you’re about to eat something that was once a living, breathing animal.

It part of the reason why I find just tossing away food of any type, particularly meat, troubling.

That was once a living thing. Living things should be treated with respect.

Halal Gyro food in NYC

Location: last night, 7PM, watching the game at a buddy’s
Mood: sore
Music: Gonna hunt you like an, an, an, an, an, animal
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Pictures of Snowmageddon 2015 in the UWS

The snowstorm that wasn’t all that bad

Grey's Papaya
The snowstorm only fell seven inches where I was.

But I didn’t know that’s how it’d be Monday morning; was supposed to go to a legal seminar out in Long Island but that was cancelled.

Bicycle in Upper West Side Snowstorm, Feb 26 2015 Night
The main part of the storm missed us.

Fairway Citarella Upper West Side Snowstorm, Feb 26 2015 Night

There’s something about the quiet when a snowstorm hits NYC. It’s unnerving how quiet it is.

You can actually hear the crunch of footsteps on the snow.

Couple Walking  Upper West Side Snowstorm, Feb 26 2015 Night

Because of where I live, I shovel my own snow. As soon as I did, several of my neighbors all asked if they could help.

I live in a pretty nice hood.

Storefront Upper West Side Snowstorm, Feb 27 2015 Day

Afterward, walked around a little more. The streets were empty because cars were prohibited from being out.

Broadway

Like I said, it’s unnerving how quiet it is in NYC after a snowstorm.

Broadway Amsterdam

Now we’re back to normal.

And I’m out the door for more meetings.

Location: Off to see another doctor
Mood: chilly
Music: Many years have passed since those summer days
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Iron fish, soup, kids, and mortgages

What you think makes you better is not what you think

Miso Soup
Me: My shoulder and leg are killing me today.
Her: I married you the day you broke.
Me: No backies.

There’s a massive “historic” snowstorm that’s supposed to hit my area today and it’s already started as I’m writing this.

I was supposed to have gone out to Long Island for a seminar but just got the cancellation notice late last night. Just as well since I dunno how I was gonna make it back in the snow, especially since my injuries aren’t healing like I wanted them to.

My buddy Bryson stopped by the other day and we grabbed a coffee around the way. We chatted about getting older, injuries, kids, and mortgages. Stuff old men talk about over coffee.

Speaking of kids, when I was a kid, I remembered a story about a greek doctor – maybe Asclepius – who cured people that had lethargy with this magic soup.

Centuries later, scientists recreated the ingredients of the soup and didn’t see anything particularly noteworthy about it.

But they then realized that he cooked the soup in an iron pot, creating an iron rich soup for people withe anemia. The cure had nothing to do with the ingredients of the soup itself, rather the vessel it was cooked in.

There’s a related story with how this one dude came up with an idea to cure Cambodians of anemia with a lucky fish made of iron cooked in soup. They wouldn’t do something as simple as put a piece of iron in their soup until it was shaped like something they recognized.

Environmentcircumstance, and pure dumb luck have so much more of an effect on things than I think most people realize, I think.

Getting back to my buddy, we talked about how most people think they have to be ready for having kids or a mortgage, but I think it’s the opposite of that: Getting kids or a mortgage makes you ready for kids or a mortgage.

Suppose that’s another post for another day.

Right now, my circumstances say I gotta run out into this snowy environment. Maybe I’ll take some pics.

Location: The Manhattan snow
Mood: hungry
Music: Stones and sunlit streets, demons on dark roads
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