One car ride, five trains…

…and one short walk

After we finished dinner and cleaned up, I gave Nate a bath and helped him get to bed. He wanted me to stay but I told him I couldn’t.

I understand how hard it is for a parent to tell a child no for something they both want.

Well, now I do, I mean. It’s something I don’t think I ever fully appreciated before.

Her mom drove me to the train station to head home. We talked in the car.

Earlier that night, I imitated Alison’s voice and some of her mannerisms and her mom laughed because I got it right. That’s a nice memory for me to have. Alison woulda laughed too.

We all miss her terribly.

At the train station, there were three girls trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the tracks because the train was arriving in five minutes. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know where my phone was.

After four minutes of frantic searching, I had my mother-in-law call it and found I had dropped it when I stepped out of the car. We could hear the train approaching.

Her: Grab it and go, I’ll stay in case you miss it.
Me: OK, thanks!

I ran breathlessly to the other side of the train tracks where the three girls from earlier looked at me quizzically.

They must’ve wondered why I waited until the very last minute to get there.

The first leg of the trip was quiet, as my trips go. A guy was trying to pick up a girlie but otherwise, the train was empty.  It’s always empty when I travel these days.

But Mouse kept me company via messages, though.

I was still thinking of Alison and everything when I got out at Newark Penn Station to transfer to the other train when I noticed two signs.

The first said that the train to Penn Station was cancelled; the next one was in 22 minutes.

The second sign said that there was a PATH train leaving in two minutes. Made a snap  judgement, took out my Metrocard, and caught the PATH train just as the doors were closing.

Unfortunately, it was headed to the World Trade Center, way south of my pad. So, when I got to Jersey City, I transferred to a second PATH train to Hoboken, Alison’s old town.

I took that to 33rd Street and transferred to the N train.

Got off that and transferred to the red line. Then I walked to my pad.

One car ride, five trains, and one short walk later I was home.

Harold. I’m back,” I said.

He didn’t answer me. He never does.

Just need to make it past New Year’s and I’m good for five months.

Easy.

Location: my empty home
Mood: bad again
Music: got a ticket to ride but she don’t care (Spotify)
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Sharing Thanksgiving traditions

Not an unreasonable ask

Mother-in-law: You prefer dark meat, right? Legs and thighs?
Me: Yup.
Her: Good, because they’re all yours – we all prefer chicken breasts.
Me: Sweeeeeeet.

Mouse gave me a lift to see the boy and Alison’s family the day before Thanksgiving.

She’s been working non-stop since she started her new gig so I essentially drove while she conducted an interview in the passenger seat via her laptop. It was pretty impressive, I gotta say.

The boy ran out and gave me this huge hug and I could tell he wanted to give Mouse one as well but we all agreed that, while he was with my in-laws, there couldn’t be any physical contact with anyone.

So they stayed socially distant and chatted for a bit before she had to leave. She was only there for a few minutes before she made the long trek home.

The timing worked out perfectly because my sister-in-law was staying over Thanksgiving night so I had the guest room to myself that night.

A slight negative was that Mouse and I got into another argument on the phone after everyone went to bed, but, like the last one, it wasn’t a bad one.

Her: I just wish we could disagree on things without it becoming a war every time.
Me: That’s not an unreasonable ask. I’ll try to do better.

She’s just great, honestly. But I suppose that’s a post for another time.

Sister-in-law: How are you still eating?
Me: I believe in myself. Tonight, I’m carbing out like mad.

One silly but meaningful thing about Alison was that she told me that her family had three roasted chickens instead of turkey for Thanksgiving – cause no one really liked turkey.

I remember that I told that to my mom shortly after Alison and I had our first Thanksgiving together and my mother’s reaction was priceless.

Mom: Wait, can you do that?
Me: It’s not like you get arrested if you don’t have turkey. We should do that too – no one likes turkey here either.
Her: Really?!

Ever since then, we didn’t have turkey either. I like that, having a little shared tradition with my families.

As an aside, Mouse’s family doesn’t do turkey either.

Like at my house, I carved the chicken. I figure they know I can handle a knife.

Sister-in-law: (to my son) Do you want pie a la mode? That means pie with ice cream.
Him: Yes!
Her: Which one do you want? Pumpkin or Apple pie?
Him: Pumpkin!
Me: Then I’ll have the apple pie and we can try each other’s.
Him: OK!

The boy sang to me the entire time I was there. Although, to be fair, he sang to everyone.

Heading home was the start a ridiculous 2.5 hour adventure, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Location: in my head again
Mood: a bit better
Music: I’ll often stop and think about them (Spotify)
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Not for better

These memories lose their meaning

Son: I like that song.
Me: (nodding slowly) I love that song. I always think of your mom when I hear it.
Him: (laughing) Papa…you sound funny.

I went to see the boy for Thanksgiving. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

While I was there, we went for a drive and we were playing the Beatles when In my Life came on. That picture above is him singing some Beatles songs in Alison’s childhood driveway.

Exactly a decade earlier, I wrote a blog entry about that song and I mentioned that Alison/Heartgirl and I went to my parents for Thanksgiving. She always went home for the holiday but she came with me to mine. Because she loved me so.

My father was there. I remember he was happy to have Alison and me there. That’s Alison laughing at the face I was making.

We played board games – Taboo – after dinner. Alison loved playing board games. Games of all types, actually.

That’s her with the buzzer ready to buzz in my ear in case I messed up.

That was the first Thanksgiving my entire family was together. It was also the last. The boy’s never been with everyone and never will. Shit, fuck me.

I loved her so. I loved my father so.

I hate the holidays so.

Me: (clearing throat, forcing smile) Oh, I just had something in my throat. I love you the most, you know?
Him: I love you too, papa.
Me: Thank you.
Him: (laughing) You sound funny again!
Me: (nodding)

In my life
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I’ll love you more
In my life I’ll love you more

Location: hell
Mood: not well
Music: In my life I’ll love you more (Spotify)
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IOQ: Indicators of Quality

Zippers, Steak, or Chicken?

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Mouse started a new job so, even over the weekend, she was busy with one thing or another. Still, we did have a pretty nice weekend until she had to head back home.

Nice being a relative term.

Her: I was looking through some of our chats and…we sound psychotic.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Because in between texts, I guess we end up seeing or talking to each other. Like, one set of texts is like, “I hate you, I never want to talk to you ever again!” and the next is like, “Do you want steak or chicken for dinner?”
Me: Did we decide on steak of chicken?

A buddy of mine is looking to upgrade his wardrobe over Black Friday and I told him that, while I do have the occasional name-brand product, I almost never purchase anything based on names.

Instead, I look for (a) clothes that fit me well that are (b) made of quality materials. I told him that I figure out the latter through indicators of quality.

Stupidly simple, just like my three-step life algorithm, but you’d be surprised how many people mess this up too.

For example, whenever I buy clothes that have zippers on them, I look for YKK zippers. This is because YKK makes really, really good zippers that cost more than regular zippers.

So when I see two things that I like equally well, but one has a YKK zipper, I usually end up buying the YKK one.

See, I figure that, if a company cares enough to use higher quality zippers, they probably care about the details like stitching and fabric weave. It’s the little things that matter to me.

Cause it’s the little things that are indicators of quality.

Ditto for shoes. I look for full- or top-grain “leather uppers,” which are essentially real leather shoes, versus “man-made uppers,” which are basically plastic shoes. The brand rarely makes a difference to me.

My sneakers are almost always cloth so I can toss them in the washer on the reg. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than $30 for a pair of sneakers.

Someone just stopped me the other day to ask me where I got my powder blue ones from. I told him, honestly, on eBay.

The most expensive things I wear on the regular – I rarely wear my suits anymore – are my three no-name but bespoke leather jackets.

I picked the lining, the leather, and the color for alla them. Most importantly, for me, is that the sleeves and waist are tailored because I’ve got a pretty slim waist (pro) and short T-Rex arms (con).

And the one I like the most is my red one because it has white pick stitching.

Nobody notices this kinda stuff, but I do.

That’s the thing: As I get older, I find myself caring a lot less about things that other people notice and a lot more about things that I notice.

Man, I’m so bummed I ripped the sleeve on it.

Speaking of noticing things…

Me: Your hair is crazy!
Mouse: Yeah, it’s crazy like the 80s so it must remind you of your childhood.
Me: It kinda does.

Location: home, trying to get my apartment above 30% humidity
Mood: excited to see my son
Music: In her eyes I see the sea (Spotify)
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A fall day in the burbs

Confusing me

Her: I think we’re confusing everyone by hanging out all the time.
Me: You’re confusing me by us hanging out all the time!

Mouse told me to keep a day open for her this weekend because she wanted to bring me somewhere.

Her: And make sure to bring your camera.

So, early on Saturday, she picked me up and off we went to, what ended up being just eight minutes from my mom and sister’s house: The Fall Escape at Queens County Farm Museum.

It was just a thing for us to walk around and take pictures.

While there, we met two young ladies and we offered to take pictures of them if they took pictures of us.

The pictures they took weren’t great, but – like the waitress – they were very nice and tried their best.

Having said that, it was nice being out in the burbs with Mouse early on a fall weekend.

Me: I wish the boy was here with us.
Her: We’ll come back with him; now that we know how to get here, we can come anytime.

Afterward, I wanted to stop by to see my family but, as luck would have it, it was one of the few times I’ve ever left home without my phone so, when I stopped by to see them afterward, no one was there and I couldn’t reach them.

I really wanted to see my mom and was disappointed that I didn’t.

But by then we were starving and headed off to the same all-you-can-eat place that we’d been to a few times previously.

Walking out, I took the pic below and told Mouse, “If this is still here in 60 years, I’m coming here at 107 with you and Chad and we’re gonna make them regret this.”

Later that night, I called my mom.

Mom: We talked for over an hour!
Me: I know. I missed you.
Her: I miss you too.

Location: home, trying – and failing at – an arm-triangle
Mood: hard-to-say
Music: I know I’m someone to you (Spotify)

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I want to have an argument

We’re about to find out

Her: How spicy is Sundubu-jjigae?
Me: We’re about to find out.

We’d just left the studio and she was ok but I was still really hungry. Since she’s on a mostly meat-diet, we ended up heading over to a Korean joint in Billyburg.

As for the answer to her question above, it turns out – at least for her – pretty spicy. Luckily, we also got some sashimi and some Korean tacos in honor of Pac.

We asked the waitress to take a picture of us and she tried her best. This is the best shot of the lot that she took.

At least she was very nice.

Afterward, we headed home. As we pulled up in front of my pad, she asked me if we could have an argument.

Me: OK.
Her: Look, I’m ok with things not being defined but I’m impressed how long you can be with things not being defined.
Me: Like you said, we seem to get along better when we’re not together.

It was raining so hard in NYC that night that we got a tornado warning. Which kinda matched what was going on inside her whip.

But, all-in-all, it was nice actually, chatting arguing with her under the stormy rain.

Sometimes you need a little rain to clear things up.

Afterward, I thanked her for the ride and all the company.

Me: It’s getting late, you should head home.
Her: Yeah.
Me: So, where are we now?
Her: I guess I’ll just see you later on this week.
Me: That’d be nice. See you then.

And then I went home and sat on my white couch thinking about all my possible pasts again.

It was actually wasn’t just my conversation with Mouse that got me thinking, but also a conversation Chad and I had in between shoots.

It reminded me of something I wrote just before Alison got sick.

Me: You know…my life is nuthin at all like what I thought it would five years ago. Or ever. Everything’s such a mess. It’s hard not to think about what could have been.
Him: I know this isn’t what you wanted, but you’re doing the best you can. If nothing else, your son will think he’s got a cool dad.
Me: I hope so. That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing this. I hope you’re right.

Location: home, waiting out the storm
Mood: hopeful
Music: I know, somewhere deep in my soul, that love never lasts (Spotify)

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Weekend Scenic Fights Video Shoot Pt 2

I think I do

Mouse couldn’t join us for the first shooting day but she agreed to wake up early, pick me up from my pad, and then Chad from his pad, to take us out to Brooklyn.

Well, that was the plan anywho.

Her: Couldn’t find my wallet so I ran late. Can you cab it to Chad and I’ll pay for it?
Me: Shoot. I’ll take subway to Chambers street. Pick me up there? Leaving now. Chambers and West Broadway.

While on the train, a fella wasn’t wearing a mask and listening to music on his phone. Crappy music. After a bit, I politely asked him.

Me: Hey man, can you turn that down?
Him: You gonna make me?
Me: I’d rather not. But seriously, I don’t wanna listen to your music the whole way down.
Him: You wanna start something?
Me: I think I do.

After a lotta posturing, he backed off. And I left at 14th Street because that was closer to Mouse. Plus, I didn’t want to start my day either in the hospital or sending someone to the hospital.

Mouse picked up Chad first and then me and we high-tailed it out to Brooklyn where we shot all day.

It was funny because her car door broke when she picked up Chad at the last shoot – it was already messed up but he and I yanked it and destroyed it.

Her: Don’t touch that…!
Chad: (alarms go off) Oh shoot, I forgot.
Me: Oh man, they’re gonna kill us if we get into a car crash.

We managed to make it there in one piece AND also managed to Skype the kid in the middle of the day.

Chad: Hey, papi!
Him: Where are you all!?
Me: We’re at a studio. In Brooklyn.
Him: Near Mouse?
Her: (laughing) No, kiddo. Brooklyn’s pretty big.
Him: Oh! The sign behind you says, “No Smoking!”
Her: That’s right. Don’t worry, we’re not.

That was only for a few minutes. We were so busy shooting all day that we ended up not getting lunch until 4PM, at which point we were starving.

Me: What on earth are you guys doing (in the picture below)?

Headed over to the lunch truck from the day before, we ordered a whole mess of tacos.

The lights kept going out in the truck so they ended up cooking in the dark.

I kept asking the guy to write down our order but he ignored me. When we brought the food back, he left out J’s order completely.

Me: I knew it. I hate when people don’t write things down.
J: It’s fine, I won’t eat.
Me: It’s not fine. Here’s take half of our food. Mouse and I’ll just grab something to eat later.

Once the shoot was over, she and I went to a nearby Korean joint and had food there.

I realize that most of my blog entries are about us being ravenously hungry and never managing to get full.

But this is getting long so I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Location: this morning, a much quieter subway ride
Mood: better
Music: I was whole
Where did you go?
(Spotify)

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Weekend Scenic Fights Video Shoot Pt 1

Chinese BBQ

Spent this past weekend shooting a few more episodes of Scenic Fights, Fight Scene Breakdown with Chad and the other fellas.

The fella below is J, the producer and the one that thought up Fight Scene Breakdown with us. He was bummed he forgot his mask.

Before we went to the studio, though, Chad I met up in Chinatown early in the morning on the first day at NB Wing Wong Restaurant on Bowery.

Me: Have you ever had Chinese barbeque before?
Him: I don’t think so. What’s it like?
Me: It’s like barbeque, Chad.
Him: (laughing) No, I meant, what makes it Chinese?
Me: It’s sweet and salty slow grilled meats but with a little bit of Chinese spice. I’ll get us a variety.

We ended up getting two types of roasted pork, and two types of BBQ’d chicken, along with some wonton soup and veggies. We absolutely demolished everything.

We hopped an Uber and made our way to the studio in Queens where we shot a handful of episodes before trekking home on the subway.

Him: Whoa, look at all those food trucks! We shoulda eaten here.
Me: Let’s grab a menu so we can figure out what we want for tomorrow.

We had another full day of shooting but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Location: in my head, folding clothes with Alison and the boy
Mood: rough
Music: take a hit so I can forget(Spotify)

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Someone that believes in himself

Better than the alternative

I finally got my piña coladas the other day. No umbrella in it but beggars can’t be choosers.

You see, my cousin, Ras, didn’t come with us the last time Cho, Mouse, Chad, and I went off to get seafood so she suggested we go there earlier this week.

Cho picked up Ras first and then Mouse and me. Chad wasn’t feeling well so he wasn’t going to come but Mouse rang him up and found out that he was fine and just being overly-cautious.

Mouse: You have 15 minutes to get dressed, we’re picking you up.
Him: I’ll need more than 15 minutes, I have to…
Her: (interrupting) You can just put on your makeup in the car. We’ve all done that. 15 minutes.

So off we went. It took us 15 minutes to travel the 10 blocks we needed to get out of Manhattan, and then 15 minutes to go the next 10 miles.

That’s driving in Manhattan for you.

While on the way to the restaurant, we saw this massive truck try to parallel park into this tiny spot.

Me: Now that’s someone that believes in himself.
Her: God, how small is his stuff that he needs a truck that big?

We ended up ordered the same thing we got last time.

Ras, Chad, and Henry: We’re stuffed.
Mouse and me: We’re ordering two more stone crabs, one snow crab, and potatoes.
Ras: You two are animals.

Mouse didn’t say a word for the next 20 minutes as she silently made those crabs regret being born.

I managed to say a few words in between bites and more piña coladas.

The next day, Mouse made made me a lunch of grilled fish with a low-carb creamy cauliflower risotto.

Now, she’s cooked for me before but this was honestly the best thing she ever made me – so much so that I asked her for the recipe.

What I got from my request was not only the recipe itself, but also vindication that it’s not just my mind that was going, because Mouse did to me, exactly what I did to her just a few weeks ago.

Me: Can you send me that recipe?
Mouse: Sure. (sends me the recipe, my phone beeps) Oh, you have a notification.
Me: Oh? Wait, that was was you texting me the recipe!
Her: What the heck!? I guess I’m getting old.

We all are. Getting old is a blessing, though – it’s better than the alternative.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, getting a gyro with my coach
Mood: hangry
Music: they don’t know about you and I(Spotify)

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So far and so fast…

Some judgement

Me: I can’t believe that I’m here with you yahoos instead of in Miami drinking a pina colada.
Frenemy: Wait, you’re telling me you’d rather have sun and beach than be here discussing our roofs?
Me: I’m as surprised as you are.
Him: Come by next week and we’ll get some coffee. It’s not a pina colada but still…

You see, Mouse got me tickets to Miami because she knows that November’s a rough month for me.

But, between the tropical storm on Sunday in Florida, the rising COVID rates, and me not getting anything done AND not spending time with the kid, we both felt it was best we not go.

Instead, Mouse got some work done and met up with me later on in the night on Saturday because I had to deal with more building drama.

But I wanted to be out and about earlier because of the Biden news and because the weather was perfect.

And because I was supposed to be on a sandy beach with a cocktail in my grubby little hands. (Obvs, I’m still upset about that).

I knew that Chad was on an Old Fashioned kick so I rang him.

Me: If I got you an Old Fashioned and a Philly Cheesesteak, could I convince you to head up here?
Him: Fuck, yeah.

It seems everyone else had the same idea because every joint we went to was booked solid. We finally ended up at Jake’s Dilemma near me. The waitress comped us shots – I seem to get comped shots a lot – because our food took forever.

Chad eventually made his way home and Mouse came by afterward just as I was pouring myself a tall glass of rum and diet Coke.

Her: That’s a lotta diet Coke
Me: I sense some judgement there
Her: You sense correctly

It ended up being a pretty good weekend after all. Not Miami good, but I’ll take what wins I can.

On a different matter entirely, Paul stopped by today for the first time since COVID went down and then our friend KTO sent this picture of the three of us that was taken exactly 12 years ago today.

Man, time flies. So far and so fast…

Podcast Version
Location: not a beach, lemme tell ya…
Mood: bummed
Music: keep on rolling even on the bad days (Spotify)

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