Bermuda 2013: NCL Breakaway Tour Pt 2

More pictures of the ship, Bermuda, and rum

This is where we spent a week of our lives.

We splurged for a balcony cabin which was great – except we had a screaming child next door.

All. Seven. Days.

I would frequently step out onto the balcony and see the dad standing there looking depressed. Wanted to say something about the kid but it was clear that he was suffering enough.

So I gave him the dude nod, which he returned, and we both went on with our lives.

We didn’t spend too much time actually in Bermuda because we’d been there a number of times before. But we did make it to a rocky beach for a pina colada in a plastic cup by the shore.

I think it’s a requirement.

Also took a stroll to the Commissioner’s House at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

But really, the thing with taking a cruise is that, while the ship is docked, you pretty much have it to yourself. That meant reading at in the library in peace and quiet.

That’s what we nerds do.

..and maybe a drink or three at the Maltings Bar where I had a glass of Barcardi Oakheart rum for the first time.

Not bad.

We saw Rock of Ages (again), a dance show call Burn the Floor and a few other things.

Ended our trip listening to this singer named Annika Odegard, who was good enough that I bought her album.

But ultimately, there’s only so much lounging, drinking, and eating one can do.

Her: I think I’m done.
Me: Me too. I’m ready to get home.

Location: In fronta papers again.
Mood: less relaxed
Music: Take my hand, live while you can
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Bermuda 2013: NCL Breakaway Tour Pt 1

Another Cruise to Bermuda


Went to Bermuda for a week again on the NCL Breakaway, which was awesome.

For those of you that don’t cruise, we like it because it’s essentially a floating hotel with entertainment and food as part of the ticket price. The Breakaway is brand new with a New York City theme, how could I resist?

That plus, from my apartment, it only takes 20 minutes to get to the dockyards.

And this particular ship had two hot dog stands on board. This may have been a deciding factor as I have an affinity for such things.

Which is not to say that we didn’t go to some of the other restaurants on board such as the Shanghai’s Noodle Bar…

…for a bowl of noodles…

But really, it’s me we’re talking about.

A hot dog and a rum drink – maybe a Dark and Stormy or a Mojito – is all I really need for a vacation.

More pics tomorrow.

For now, I’m gonna dream about mixed drinks – with or without umbrellas – on sunnier shores right now before I fire up an excel spreadsheet.

Location: back in my apartment
Mood: relaxed
Music: Tomorrow’s back to work and down to sanity
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Scytales On the Dark Side

Imagine if we could send messages to ourselves

Him: It’s funny, isn’t it? How something like a song can snap you back to a time in your life?
Me: I don’t think I’ve heard that song in decades.

A scytale’s just a stick that’s of a certain thickness.

A scytale
A scytale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you took, say, a belt, and wrapped it around a stick and then proceeded to write across it, it would make a rudimentary code. While wrapped around the stick, you could read it normally but unwrap it and it would just be a jumble of letters unless you had a stick of the same diameter.

Spartans and the Athenians use to write to each other in this code. Somehow got onto the topic of codes with my wife.

Me: I used to write these coded letters to myself.
Her: Why yourself?
Me: (laughing) No one’d ever play with me as a kid. No one ever wants to play with the really fat minority nerd. So I just wrote them to myself.
Her: (patting me on the head) It’s hard being a kid.

This all came about because my brother called me to talk about that song above and our childhood in general. It was rough for both of us but for different reasons.

However, my one saving grace may have been my insomnia. Because it’s all very hazy. I just remember being lonely a lot but not really discrete things about it. I wonder if he had such a buffer.

In any case, I think my wife feels sorry for that version of me. And in a weird way, I do too. Because he’s me but he is not I.

But I remember that version of me sitting and listening to that song and wishing he could sing.

Sorry kid, 28 years later, we still can’t.

But we can do things I never dreamt I’d be able to do. And have the most amazing life.

Still, while I am very grateful for everything I have, I did wonder what it would be like if I could send a coded message to my younger self. After all, listening to that message was like him talking to me.

I’d send two, actually:

  • One would tell him that everything would be fine: Everything is the same but different. The acne would clear up, the fat would go away, and sheer terror of life would stop. Just stop.
  • Of course, the other would tell him to buy Apple stock when it was $7 a share like there was no tomorrow.

I’m no sentimental fool.

Location: on my way to other latitudes
Mood: pleased
Music: like a dream, make me feel crazy
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Things to help me sleep / Insomnia is like alcoholism

I have a ritual I do to help me to sleep


You could pretty much sum up this entire blog with the following set of words:

  • Dating
  • Rum/Chili
  • Observations
  • Family
  • Insomnia

While the first four things are (generally) good things, that last one is assuredly not. It’s wretched misery.

Insomnia has been an unwelcome constant throughout my life but I had a breakthrough a few years ago when I started thinking of it being similar to alcoholism.

After all, an alcoholic has to accept that (a) he’s an alcoholic, (b) at any moment it can take over every aspect of his life, and (c) it’s not a personal thing – it affects everyone around him.

So it is with insomnia.

I still get invited to a lot of things; a by-product of my old credo to never turn down an invitation.

But do turn them down now. Because I have a set of rules to keep control of the insomnia.

I:

  • Have a curfew – anything that’s not an ebook reader is turned off by 10PM and I’m in bed by 10:30 PM.
  • Stop drinking anything with caffeine after 3PM.
  • Stop eating after 7PM.
  • Try to take a bath when I have time.
  • Read before bed and in bed. I also keep a book nearby to help.
  • Exercise at least four days a week. More if I have the time.
  • Take melatonin every night. Harder stuff if I need it.
  • Stretch and meditate/pray for a few minutes every night.
  • Keep a different types of blankets on hand so I’m always comfortable.
  • Keep my phone or something to write on next to my bed so I’m not awaking telling myself to remember something.

The good byproduct of my insomnia is that I speak rudimentary German, I often find chili waiting for me when I wake up, and I look pretty good for a 40 year old.

And the bad? Well, you know those invitations you send out on Facebook to be friends with someone? Many of those are unanswered.

Can’t blame them. I was a truly terrible person when I didn’t sleep. You know how short tempered and irritable you are when you haven’t slept?

That was the majority of the 90s and 2000s for me.

I want to say, I’m sorry. It wasn’t me, it was the lack of sleep.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s like alcoholism. It was me. It was the worst version of me, but it was me.

You can apologize all you want but in the end, you’re the one that chose to pick up the bottle. I’m the one that didn’t treat it like something that was ruining my life and people around me.

But like everything else, I’m trying to do better.

There’s slightly less chili in the house but it’s a fair trade. I’m down to about one terribly sleepless night a week.

Her: How’d you sleep?
Me: (grumble)

Location: gonna see El for dinner
Mood: achy
Music: think I’m breaking down and I’m afraid to sleep
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Revenge of the Green Dragons

Scorsese tells a gangster story we all (kinda) knew growing up


Got a message from my sister the other day; she said she overheard someone talking about a new film that Martin Scorsese and Andrew Lau were working on called, Revenge of the Green Dragons.

It’s about two young men seeking revenge as they make their way through the New York City’s Chinatown underworld.

If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same basic idea as my book, The Men Made of Stone.

However, this isn’t a mere coincidence, in fact, it goes to the heart of why I was so irritated at Kirkus Indie when they said that they would assign me a “qualified reviewer” to review my work.

By qualified reviewer, it implies a reader of crime fiction. After all, a reader of children’s books is probably not going to like the amount of violence in a noir crime thriller.

But anyone that reads crime fiction would know that The Men Made of Stone was based on actual events. Moreover, these actual events were recounted in a somewhat famous New Yorker article by Fredric Dannen named – you guessed it – Revenge of the Green Dragons.

Therein lies the nexus.

Martin Scorsese on the set of The Departed.
Martin Scorsese on the set of The Departed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never read Dannen’s article but I knew all about the Green Dragons and similar gangs growing up because any Asian-American in Queens and Manhattan during the 80s and 90s knew something about them.

Now, there’s a joke I tell all the time: Do you know the nerds growing up that were never picked to be on a team? Well, I was the guy that those nerds beat up.

As an adult, though, I found there’s one small benefit to being a nerdy nobody growing up; it meant that could fade into the background and listen and observe. Since most of these stories were second, third, and fourth-hand knowledge, that meant that I was probably getting highly exaggerated versions of what was actually going on.

Perfect for any budding writer.

When it came time to write my book, it was a fictionalized account of fictionalized accounts of actual events – as well as a combining of the stories of the Green Dragons, the Born to Kill Gang and the London Kray Brothers.

Just based on what I’ve read, it seems that Lau and Scorsese’s story is their fictionalized based-on-actual-events account of the Green Dragons alone.

But because both stories are based on the same germ of truth, I’m wondering what overlap, if any, there will be. It’s a bit like a modern day, real-life Rashomon – another crime noir reference for those of you that follow the genre.

There is one overlap that I’m already aware of. The thing that infuriated me the most about Kirkus Reviews was that the reviewer said a scene in my book in a pool hall was “completely unrealistic.”

Except that pool hall scene actually happened.

In fact, here’s a video of that scene being shot for Lau and Scorsese’s version of that event four days ago.

In any case, knowing Scorsese and Lau’s prior work, I assume we’ll see the usual suspects of: Loyalty, honor, violence, and revenge – all the ingredients of a good story, IMHO – with the added bonus of it being about Asian-Americans.

Looks like a winner to me.

Oh, and here’s my completely fictionalized version of what happened:

 

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
 

Location: out in Queens, coincidentally
Mood: curious
Music: Difference is I’m throwing four, he’s throwing fifty (J cole)
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And in the “I knew it!” file…

Study shows that people that meet online are less likely to get divorced


A recent study came out that showed that:

  1. more than a third of people that marry met online, and
  2. are less likely to divorce.

This makes sense to me. As I said before, online dating is like having an aunt named Aunt eMatch saying, “I’ve got a girl I think you might like – and here’s her resume, a buncha pics, and a writing sample.”

While I didn’t meet my wife online, she represents exactly what I was looking for. And I’d been looking for her for a while. After all, we’re always looking for our people.

On a related point, because of a number of reasons, I have a good deal of twenty-something friends on FB. I’m always slightly amused and nauseated at how much the profess their undying love to each other, then have an online spat, and then sign on again to write egregiously bad poetry about soulmates.

Heard a joke once where someone said something like, Your soulmate is the guy that had the locker next to you in high school? What are the chances?!

Dating is tiring and depressing with occasionally bright spots of hope – mainly because it’s a constant stream of being disappointed and disappointing others. But just like anything of value, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be valuable.

The difficult and rare things are valuable.

I think a large part of divorces happen because either (a) someone wanted it easy, and/or (b) there wasn’t enough connection to begin with.

There’s no such thing as a soulmate. There is such thing as a lotta hard work and having enough in common to begin with.

Inadvertent comedy doesn’t hurt either.

Me: (entering room) Are you ok?
Her: I just accidentally typed in Wetflix instead of Netflix. (pause) I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

Location: about to run to an office in shorts and a tee-shirt
Mood: contented
Music: It’s still hard to wait around. The problem is this seems so easy to miss
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Core belief 3: You are what you decide to be

America is full of second acts

Don’t know if I mentioned why my bone is chipped in my right hand; it’s because one of my students whacked it with a sword a few weeks ago. The doc said rest was the best thing because of how it was hit.

So I spent the week continuing with spring cleaning.  Finally felt good enough to go back to the gym over the weekend.

Coach: There’s always something wrong with you!
Me: But I keep coming back.
Him: This is true.

I woke up one day years ago and decided to be a fencer. And now I am one.

Just like I decided one day to be a lawyer after being a network analyst.

Not that long ago, I decided to be a wrestler.

There’s this famous quote from the fella that wrote The Great Gatsby that goes: There are no second acts in American lives.

I’ll add it to the list of things that have the air of truth without any actual truth to it.

Because that’s pure hogwash.

It’s one of my core beliefs – and the truth – that America is nothing if not an endless series of new beginnings. My heroes inevitably tend to be examples of second acts, like the amazing Hedy Lamarr.

People decide to start on their second acts all the time. But the only difference among them is that some press on and others do not.

There’s this rather sentimental saying in the Brazilian Ju-Jitsu world that a black belt is merely a white belt that kept trying.

But unlike Fitzgerald’s saying, that one’s actually true.

And so, injured knee, injured neck, torn muscles, and fractured thumb, notwithstanding, I keep showing up. For no reason other than I choose to.

I’m finding that alone is makes all the difference.

Her: I asked my dad what he did about his arthritis.
Me: What did he say?
Her: He said he takes glucosamine and is more careful doing things. (pause) Oh, and he says he tries not to get whacked by swords.

 

Location: my room, which is about 100000 degrees
Mood: ambitious
Music: what I want and what I need, can finally be the same
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