Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 3b

A night out in LA

It took a bit longer than we expected to get back to our hotel – and it was probably twice the price of taking a regular Uber cab back, but worth it, in terms of fun.

We napped for a bit and then got dressed to meet up with some friends.

Her: What’s the dress code? (puts on a bracelet)
Me: You look nice with your bling and all.
Her: (laughs) Thanks. Where’s your bling?
Me: You are my bling.

We then tried to figure out how to sneak in one more meal before we met up with everyone.

Me: Let’s go to Philippe’s – it’s right by where we need to be.
Her: What’s “Philippe’s?”
Me: They invented the French Dip Sandwich.
Her: What’s a French Dip Sandwich?

So I told her the story while we went there and also pulled up this video for her.

Me: They have sawdust on the floor – that’s a sign of quality in my book.

On the ride there, I put on an audiobook I read before but she hadn’t – Blink by Malcom Gladwell.

Me: What do you think of it?
Her: I like it!

We got to the restaurant and immediately inhaled a lamb sandwich.

We then put in an order for: A bowl of chili – of course – a bowl of cream of brocoli soup, some pickled eggs, a diet coke, and a mug of hot chocolate.

Server: Do you want whipped cream on that?
Me: Do I! (server was confused) That means, yes. Yes, I would like some whipped cream on that.

We were still pretty stuffed from all the chix we had earlier but we don’t mess around when it comes to food.

Afterword, we walked over to see my friend Paul.

I remember that, the last time I saw him, after we parted, I went to bed thinking of Alison and the California sun

I sighed a lot in California when people couldn’t hear me.

We met him at a joint called General Lee in Chinatown.

Me: You can’t miss us – I’m wearing a red leather jacket and she’s wearing a yellow leather jacket.
Paul: So I’ll look for Power Rangers.
Me: That’s the look we’re going for.

He and the Gymgirl really hit it off, which I would have expected since they’re both just great people.

Him: (to Gymgirl) I’m glad to meet you. (thinking) I could tell that he was better after he met you.
Her: Thank you, that’s really nice.
Me: Yeah, I was pretty messed up.

We had a few more drinks before heading over to a party where our mutual LJ friend Lexxy-Pie was.

Me: Cm’here you handsome devil, I haven’t seen you in ages.

This is how I look with too many drinks

Paul – who’s in the liquor trade and just came out with his top shelf Nankai Shochu (which is really a rum in my book) – told me that the hottest bartender in LA was slinging drinks.

He got us a constantly rotating variety of rum drinks all night.

Met some really interesting people and had a lotta conversations but those stories are mostly other people’s so we’ll end this entry here.

Me: Did you have a good time?
Her: Yes. Paul and your friends are really nice. Did you?

Gotta say that I felt a little guilty having such a nice time in LA with the Gymgirl and without Alison and without the boy.

It makes no logical sense, I know, and yet I felt it. But then I reminded myself that no one is promised tomorrow.

Me: (shrugging) Of course. I was with you.

Location: in front of a powerpoint presentation I need to finish
Mood: full
Music: no, we’re not promised tomorrow
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 3a

Grappling with some scooters and Zankou’s Chicken

Actually, one of the first things we did after we checked into the hotel was to look at a grappling school just a few blocks from the hotel.

Me: Wow, it’s only two blocks away from here. Did you plan that out?
Her: (pause) Yes?

We were planning on seeing a few schools but I neglected to factor in the holidays so we only got to visit the one. But  we were fine with that because it was so nice and welcoming.

In fact, the woman that worked at the front desk used to live just two blocks from me.

Her: I loved the Upper West Side.
Me: Correction, it’s the Upper BEST Side.

The main instructor is a pretty famous practitioner named Ryron (pronounced “he-ron”) who was just the nicest guy.

We spent two really enjoyable but challenging hours there early on Saturday before we went back to the hotel to get changed.

Her: That was a lot of fun.
Me: I know! I think we’ve been brainwashed to think that grappling schools are fulla screaming and impatient instructors (because of our old instructor).

After we got cleaned up, we ended up taking an Uber to a Zankou Chicken.

Driver: I haven’t seen anyone read an actual paper in years.
Me: I’m as old as dirt.

Interestingly, while we were there, it was the first time I’ve ever asked anyone to take a picture of us and they said no.

Woman: I’d rather not.
Me: That’s unexpected, but ok.

Instead of taking a car back, the Gymgirl suggested that we take one of the several electric scooters around us. It took us a few tries but we ultimately got two going.

Unfortunately, while mine was pretty zippy…

…hers was decidedly not:

There’s more but you know that I don’t like to write super long entries so I’ll have to continue this tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a video of Ryron (the guy on the bottom) and his brother Renner, doing what they do:

 

Location: heading out to see some friends with the boy
Mood: hungry
Music: they shine for you and all the things that you do
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 2

A night walk in Beverly Hills

Brother: I have eggs, hash browns, and bread.
Me: Do you have bacon?
Him: No. Do you want bacon?
Me: We’re not gonna say no to bacon.

Rarely sleep in but this day, I seriously slept in. Didn’t wake up until 8AM – but for perspective, that’s 11AM out in NYC.

To be fair, we didn’t go to sleep until 2AM there – which is 5AM here – but still, it was unlike me

When we woke up, we met my brother’s (female) roommate, Vic, who was nice enough to cook two huge plates of food.

Me: I don’t suppose you have coffee?
Her: (takes out five different types of coffee) Here, take your pick.
Me: You’re my type of roommate.

My brother had an appointment that day so the Gymgirl and I took a cab to the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. We got settled in and, before long, it was already time for dinner.

Me: What’s near us?
Her: (after a few minutes on her phone) Citizen? It’s a restaurant not that far from us.
Me: I kinda want another burger.
Her: How about this; why don’t get some food and a drink there and then we can get some burgers afterward?
Me: Done!

It was right next door to Spago. We were kinda still on NYC time so we got there early. There was almost no one else in the joint.

Waitress: Do you want to sit by the fireplace?
Gymgirl: Heck yeah.

Turns out the grill didn’t have any gas so she got a new canister. She was struggling a bit with it so I helped her get it ready.

Waitress: Thanks for the help!
Me: As long as it doesn’t explode.

We ordered some appetizers and drinks. Some really nicely dressed people sat next to us so I offered to take their pictures.

Woman: That’s really nice of you. Sure!
Me: Anytime – we’re always asking people to take pics of us.

I actually forgot to bring my camera so most of these shots were taken with my phone. It’s a shame but better than nuthin, I suppose.

In any case, we were chatting with the waitress some and she told us that it was their very last night in business. It was closing that night.

Waitress: …so you came at a good time.
Me: Evidently.

Afterward, we got up and walked over to the nearby Fatburger, which is actually my favourite burger joint in LA.

Me: Do you want a burger too?
Gymgirl: (confused) Um, yeah?
Me: Right. What was I thinking?

Afterward we took a walk down North Canyon Drive and walked through the Beverly Cañon Gardens, where we took a million pics…

…and through the Montage Beverly Hills where we took another million pics…

…and finally stopped by a drugstore where we bought an inexpensive but delicious bottle of white.

Me: Man, there’s something about being able to buy wine in a drugstore.

We ended up drinking the whole thing in the hotel that night.

Oh, on the way back, the Gymgirl fell in love with a puppy that seemed to like her a lot as well.

It was indifferent to me so, clearly, there was something wrong with it.

There’s a tiny bit more but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Or maybe the day after that.

Location: in front of a pile of paperwork. A pile.
Mood: hungry looking at these food pics
Music: hands up, people, get with the show
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 1b

Making a Corolla look like a Ford Fiesta

While I was up in the air, I decided to get the wifi on my phone – the one thing I had on me beside my clothes and my wallet – to see how The Gymgirl was faring with the bag recovery.

Turns out, pretty well. She somehow got in touch with the person at NJ Transit and convinced them to (a) Find our bags, and (b) put them on to a return train.

Her: The woman said to meet the 5:40 conductor on the platform at the first car.
Me: Hopefully, they found the right bags.
Her: (laughing) I doubt there was someone else that left a blue bag and a red bag on that train.

She took the train back to the platform, stood in the rain, and ran up to the first conductor, who was – amazingly – holding both of our bags.

Her: I literally cried for joy for the first time in my life.

But she wasn’t done yet as the next flight was in 45 minutes.

Her: I have my ticket so I will go straight for security. Running to catch the plane. Wish me luck!

Somehow, on the busiest travel day of the year, she got to her gate in 40 minutes, but the gate was supposed to close 15 minutes before the flight took off.

Me: You gonna make it?
Her: Sprinted from TSA to gate 95 in 4 min…and they aren’t even boarding.
Me: God, I’m so impressed.
Her: Don’t be, I’m sweating waterfalls.

Turns out the flight was delayed a few minutes so she made it – with all of our bags in tow.

As for me, I landed in LAX and told my brother, who was supposed to pick me up, to not come for another two hours so he didn’t have to make two trips to grab the Gymgirl as well.

When he finally came to pick us up…

Me: I’m starving. Where’s the nearest burger joint?
Him: Carl’s Jr, right outside LAX?
Me: Let’s go.

I got a half pound burger and wolfed it down as I chatted with him. This is where I mention that he’s an iPhone snob.

Me: I wanna show you something. (taking out phone) This is Android skinned with a Windows launcher. So it’s like what Windows woulda been had they made their own Android phone.
Him: Why would you do that?
Me: (shrugging) Just to piss you off.
Him: (shaking head) That’s like taking a Corolla and making it look like a Ford Fiesta.

The Gymgirl finally touched down and I picked her up a half-pound burger – animal style, of course – for her.

Me: God, I’m proud of you.
Her: Eating. No talky.

We both finally arrived at my brother’s pad, some 12 hours after we first left our place in Manhattan. We’d only just arrived and already had a full adventure.

I thought about the last time I was there. Alison and I said she’d come with me the next time I went. I sighed but then my brother made me laugh.

Me: (to brother) What do you have in the form of diet Coke?
Him: (handing me one) A Diet Coke?

Location: on my white couch
Mood: rested
Music: over love and over hate, through this iron sky
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 1a

Not a great start

Me: I gotta say, your problem-solving abilities never cease to amaze me.
Gymgirl: I’m great under pressure. It’s regular life where I’m a disaster.
Me: This is true.

The Gymgirl and I headed out to California to see my brother for the holidays. It was kinda last minute cause she had some vacation time to use up and I always wanted to see my brother over the holidays because he’s often away from family then.

We left pretty early with the kid from NYC to Newark in order to meet up with my mother-in-law out in NJ so the kid could spend the holidays with her and Alison’s family.

This ended up being a good choice because, with alla our attention focused on the kid…we left our bags on the train.

Her: Wait, where are our bags?
Me: Holy @#$@balls! (turning back towards train)
Her: (turning to the boy) Ignore that. Papa’s doing stuff. Let’s go get something to read over there.

When I say our bags, I mean all our clothes, three computers (long story), my fanciest camera with my fanciest lens, plus our Xmas gifts for each other.

The Gymgirl sprang to action and immediately got in contact with the station manager at the train terminus.

Afterward…

Gymgirl: OK, here’s what we’re going to do – you’re going to get the kid to your mother-in-law and get on the plane. I’m going to head down to Trenton and either get a later flight tonight or book at hotel, get a car, and get a flight tomorrow.
Me: That doesn’t make any sense, why should you do that versus me?
Her: I’m the one that suggested we put them on the top rack instead of keeping them on us. Plus, you need to get the kid to your MIL and it’s weird if I stay over with your brother while you run around.

Ultimately, I got the kid where he needed to be and got on the plane to see my brother. The Gymgirl was off to fix things. It was all nuts.

Spent the flight wondering if the entire trip was ruined.

Guy sitting next to me: Sorry, there’s no room in the overhead.
Me: (shrugging) No worries, I got nuthin to put there.

Location: back in NYC
Mood: tired
Music: the sky is a hazy shade of winter
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Logan discusses philosophy with toddlers

Making Choices

Me: (over dinner) It’s getting late. You can either take a bath and no TV, or take a shower and watch TV.
Boy: I want both.
Me: You have to choose.
Him: I don’t wanna choose.
Me: (putting down fork and leaning in) One day, you’ll wonder what life is all about. It’s this: Being alive means making choices. Only things that are alive can make choices; it’s what defines life.
Gymgirl: (laughing) I should write a book called, Logan discusses philosophy with toddlers.

The boy is getting bigger and smarter – he can count to 40 and can read about 70 words. And he’s always the happiest kid in the room.

I keep wondering what life for him would be like if Alison was still here. I don’t doubt it would be better, what I do wonder is if I’m doing a good enough job on my own – even with the help of the Gymgirl, Alison’s parents, my sister, and my mom.

It’s almost Christmas. So everything is simultaneously bright and dark. I’m trying to choose the former when I can but it’s never quite so easy.

Still, I’m here because I serve a purpose. I’ll stay until that purpose is over.

The requirement that one must choose is one of the taxes we gotta pay for being alright.

Me: (picking up fork and shrugging) Life is making choices. The sooner he learns this, the better off he’ll be.

Location: in an argument
Mood: sad
Music: oh, we’ll be a sight to see, back in the high life again
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Game nights

Trying to enjoy the holidays

The boy went to The New York Historical Society the other day for a children’s event. I couldn’t go with him. Cause it was the last museum that Alison and I went to together.

And we drove past it every time we went to the goddamn hospital.

Me: Did you have a good time?
Him: (nods enthusiastically)
Me: Good. I’m glad. I’ll go with you someday. Just not…now.
Him: (nods enthusiastically) OK, papa!

On a more upbeat note, been trying to enjoy the holidays however I can.

Some friends came by the pad for a game night. We were supposed to play some online games but my cousin and her fella were backed up with work and had to bail so we resorted to the usual board games with the usual bunch.

We ended up playing the following:

Good Cop, Bad Cop
Cards Against Humanity
Code Names

I’d usually include some conversation from a night like this but most of it isn’t PG so just lemme say that it was a lotta fun.

Me: We need to have a podcast called: Deep Questions, with Chad Blake.
Cuba: Do it!
Blake: What? I have a lotta questions.

Speaking of fun, went to my buddy’s birthday party at Panca in the West Village;  it’s a Peruvian restaurant owned by a Chinese dude downtown. Food was amazing.

The last time I went to his birthday party, Alison was there with me. I had a moment right before we walked in but RE Mike was there just at that moment so that pulled me outta my head.

In fact, the Gymgirl and my friends made the night so much better than I expected it would be.

I suppose that’s the thing about good friends/souls. They make life bearable.

Gymgirl: I’m gonna ask them if they have peanut butter for you.
Me: What? Don’t do that.
Her: I’m doing it.

She asked. They didn’t. Was still touched she tried.

Location: in front of SuckerPunch with the Gymgirl
Mood: rested
Music: You’ve got to take what’s due
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Serving singles and single servings

Put up the Christmas tree, finally


Put up my Christmas tree the other day. It was a lot better and a lot worse than I imagined it would be. Taking out all the ornaments was the most difficult part.

The one Alison and I loved most is one of me, her, and the kid. That’s the one I couldn’t bear to see.

Me: We were supposed to buy each other an ornament once a year. We only did it from 2013 to 2017. And never again.
Gymgirl: I’m sorry, Logan.
Me: Can you hang them for me? Is that ok?
Her: Of course. (takes them) I’ll be careful.

I keep them under my bed. Because if I have to run out of the house for some reason, I can easily grab them. They’re the most valuable things I own, you see.

The thing with having dated so much is that I run into old ghosts all the time. It’s an occupational hazard.

Saw a woman I met years ago while going downtown the other day. She’s tall and beautiful so she’s hard to miss.

We spent an entire evening chatting and telling each other volumes of our lives and never exchanged numbers. Don’t remember her name.

All I remember was that she was unbearably sad and that I entertained her all night. I think we didn’t exchange anything because we both knew we weren’t each others person but we had that night.

I’ve had lots of single serving relationships in my life.

If I had the energy, I wish I could tell her that I understood now that you never really overcome the blow. You just keep trying to.

She disappeared onto the N train heading downtown and I took the R train to where I needed to be. When I got there, I  heard about another young lady that took her life.

Sometimes, you overcome the blow and sometimes the blow overcomes you.

God, I hate the holidays so.

Location: in front of the tree
Mood: sad
Music: We were young, we were beautiful
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Fiddlesticks

Random conversations with the Gymgirl and my son

Gymgirl: Man, you look good.
Me: I was just thinking the same thing.
Her: (smiles)
Me:…I do look good.

Feeling a bit run down cause the boy is waking me up at all hours of the night for no real reason.

Need to get some rest cause the Gymgirl and I are traveling together again, which reminded me of a conversation we had while we were staying at that hotel in Boston and I had forgotten to pack some earplugs for the trip:

Hotel representative: (on phone) Yes, Gymgirl’s an elite member, we’ll send that right up.
Me: Great, thanks! (turning to Gymgirl) You’re brilliant! Cm’here…
(5 seconds pass)
Hotel representative: (on phone) Um, I’m still here. You guys didn’t hang up.
Gymgirl: (bursting out laughing) Write this down for your blog!

Speaking of conversations of the inappropriate stripe, I used to say goddammit a lot for obvious reasons. But the kid was copying me so I stopped. The stopping has helped to a limited degree.

Me: Say, “Oh, fiddlesticks!”
Him: Oh, fiddlesticks!
Me: Great!
Him: (10 minutes later) Goddammit.
Me: Noooooooo! Fiddlesticks!! Fiddlesticks!
Him: (laughs) That’s funny.

A very limited degree.

He’s been staying over my sisters or mother-in-law’s at least half the weekends so hopefully that’ll help.

Gymgirl: We’re keeping him this weekend, right?
Me: Well, legally, I have to keep him for the next 16 years.

Still, the hope is that – at least linguistically – we’re all a good influence on him moving forward.

Gymgirl: OK, dude, I’ll be ready in five minutes.
Me: You’re sticking with “dude,” huh?
Her: Yeah, dude.

Well, that’s the hope, at least…

Location: my desk in the bedroom
Mood: tired
Music: no, there’s nothing not to love about me
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Only go up(side down)

Visiting inVisibleNY

Him: Every restaurant is all you can eat if you keep paying.

I’m continuing to sleep well so I’m gonna try and enjoy it for as long as I can.

Might’ve mentioned that I met the Gymgirl through my cousin so we see her and her fella a lot these days.

She has her own Friendsgiving get-together with her high school friends once a year and invited us along out in Long Island, which was fun. One of her friend quipped the above.

Later on that weekend, the Gymgirl told me about #inVisibleNY, which is/was a pop-up art installation in SoHo.

So we hopped the train, went down to Chinatown so I could get a cheap haircut and walked over to it. It was designed like a cell phone repair shop but didn’t actually fix phones; they just had these cool scenes where you could go in and take pics.

The young lady at the front desk played a very dour and irritated clerk but she was really quite nice.

Woman at desk: Are you really here to fix a phone?
Gymgirl: No.
Her: Great! (hands us a token) Have fun!

We actually did have a lotta fun.

Although most of our fun is really the conversations we have with each other.

“Fun” is a relative term.

Me: I don’t want your mom to hate me.
Her: Oh, don’t worry…she already does.
Me: Waitwhatnow?
Her: (dismissively) Look at it this way: You can only go up.

Of course, we know, there’s always room for more down.

Location: yesterday morning, running outdoors in slippers with a pecan pie
Mood: productive
Music: I have loved you like a fool
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