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Memorial Day 2024

New Traditions

For the third year in a row, went to see my college buddies out in Long Island for a Memorial Day BBQ at Gar and Wynn’s.

Like I’ve been saying lately, really do appreciate all of these new traditions that the boy and I have these days.

So, the Firecracker, her kid, my kid, and I, all headed out to see everyone.

The trip was uneventful but it was nice having both kids come for the first time.

We ran into my buddy Cappy and his family on the train when we got out and, within 30 minutes, alla the kids were living their best lives in the pool.

My kid and the Firecracker’s kid were having a blast as well.

But I was mainly focused on the food…

…which was seriously plentiful, as always.

Pretty much ate nonstop the whole time I was there.

Him: We also ordered a three-foot sub.
Me: Sweeeeeet! What’s everyone else gonna eat?

For my birthday, my buddy Thor got me a killer bottle of Clase Azul Reposado Tequila.

Now, I’m not normally a tequila drinker but, damn if it wasn’t the smoothest tequila I’d ever had in my life.

So, I ended up buy a few bottles as gifts because it’s such a pretty bottle and brought one of them with me.

Her: Are we shooting these?
Me: Absolutely not! It’s too good to shoot!

For her part, the Firecracker took some Patron and made Palomas for everyone.

It seemed as soon as we finished one course of food, a new course of stuff came out.

Of course, the kids stuck to the classics.

There was even a crawfish boil but, by then, I was pretty stuffed.

Him: Damn, Logan, where do you put it all?
Me: It’s all about believing in yourself.

Like the past couplea years, Cappy brought dessert – a killer apple pie…

…and a matcha cream pie that I’d never had before but enjoyed so much that I ate the entire slice myself.

Now, the weather the day before and the day after was just the pits but that day, the weather was just perfect.

But the kids were getting tired, so we finally left, along with Cappy and his family as well.

Some 12 hours after we first left the pad, we walked back into the pad.

Him: I’m so tired, do I have to take a shower?
Me: (gently) Yeah, kid. But you’ll sleep like a brick tonight.
Him: (tired) OK, if you say so…

He really did.

Like I said, I really appreciate these new traditions we have.

Here’s hoping the kid appreciates it too.

As an aside, we took the 10-Story Escalator – the largest in the MTA system in NYC right now – at Grand Central.

Man, even sped up 10X, this thing was crazy long.

Location: 5:55 PM tonight – a playground with my laughing kid
Mood: injured
Music: Swimming in our clothes when the beach was closed (Spotify)
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Alison’s been gone seven years

How is that even possible?

New York’s a strange place.

The kid and I were walking up Broadway the other day and someone dropped an entire jar of pickles on the ground and no one batted an eye.

Everywhere I look, things are a mess or broken.

Everything is chaos and atrophy.

Or, at least, I’m noticing it more these days.

Probably because I’m a broken mess and my mind is all chaos and atrophy.

Alison died exactly seven years ago.

How is that even fucking possible?

Me: I realized something the other day: I may live another 40, 50 years. All that time without Alison.
Therapist: And how does that make you feel?
Me: (thinking) Pretty empty. Then again, these past seven years seemed to dash by.
Her: (at the end of the session) Are you ok?
Me: Yeah. It’s fine. I cry all the time.
Her: This is the first time you’ve cried in one of our sessions.
Me: Is that right? Well, I cry all the time. (shaking head) These years have gone by so fast.

Suppose life will be over before I know it.

It’s hurts to know that I’m gonna end up being an old man one day, and she never got that chance.

I’ve always wished it was me and not her.

Think I always will.


Editor note: I’ll be taking a mental health day for Sunday/Monday, so I’ll post again on Tuesday night.

Location: Stuck in my head again
Mood: heartbroken
Music: It was a big-big world, but we thought we were bigger (Spotify)
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Date night in Chinatown

An early dinner at Nom Wah

The kids were away and, like I said, I’ve been hankering for Chinese, Japanese, and Greek food lately.

Me: We may end up going to Big Wong. I’ll figure it out once I get there.
Her: Soup dumplings are always a good idea
Me: (in Chinatown) There’s zero line at Nom Wah!

For those of you not from NYC, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is one of the very first Chinese dim sum restaurants in America, opened in 1920.

The children of the last generation of owners decided to update the marketing to include social media but not update much else and it’s worked; there are tons of videos about it like this one from Bon Appetit:

Or this one from Munchies:

Or this one from PBS:

Alla this attention means that there’s always a line going around the block.

I’ve been in this little town for 45 years and I’ve never gone in, actually.

But the other day we lucked out and there was zero line and we got superstar seating.

Her: This is what happens when you eat like an old man at 5:30PM.
Me: But…no line!

We were both starving so we ordered a ton of food…

…really, so much food.

We managed to eat almost everything – so good.

Afterward, we had some wine and beer that we slowly enjoyed while chatting when a waiter came up to us and said that there were lots of people waiting; sure enough, there was a long line that went to the neighboring street.

So, we left and, because the kids were away, we headed to a speakeasy that was hidden behind a coke machine called The Basement.

Since it was still early, we easily got a seat…

…and ordered some drinks, which were excellent but…

…she was mainly interested in the kettle corn they gave us.

Her: Ask for more.
Me: Me? Why don’t you ask for more?
Her: Oh, I will.

She’s wasn’t lying.

Her: Do you wanna play some beer pong?
Me: I’m beat, I just wanna sit.
Her: You’re no fun.
Me: Accurate.

Her: We’ll be home and in bed by 10PM.
Me: I know. It’s glorious.

It really was.

Location: earlier today, coughing up a pollen-infused lung on 77th
Mood: hopeful
Music: deep down in my heart, there’s a hole (Spotify)
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Naked hope

Wait for it

Her: It’s gonna overflow!
Me: It’ll be fine.
Her: It’s gonna overflow! We should get something.
Me: It’ll be fine.
Her: (momentarily) It didn’t overflow! You were right.
Me: I was just hoping.

This qualifies as middle-aged excitement.

And I always tell myself that things will be ok, even when I have no idea if they will be.

It’s just naked hope.

All these decades later, it’s still just naked hope and I still don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

For reasons that we don’t need to get into, had to leave my gym recently and join another one.

All-in-all, it’s fine because there are so many great schools in the city, I was able to join another one less than 48 hours later but it’s a bummer that I had to say goodbye to alla my friends from my old spot.

I also have a lotta really seasoned BJJ people to coach me while I make the transition, like Bryson, Giph, and the Frenchman, who’s a black belt himself.

Speaking of the Frenchman, he headed up my way and we – the kid, the Firecracker, him, and me – all grabbed some food around the way.

Because it’s May, and I hate May, been eating a lotta Greek, Japanese, and Chinese food because that’s comfort food for me.

Although I do try to slip in a salad or two here and there since beach weather is coming up.

Have to lose about 5-8 pounds from alla my traveling and eating, but I’m already down about three pounds with the new gym.

Another Mother’s Day and Alison’s birthday down.

Just need to make it to June and then past August and I can breathe a little easier until next May.

Location: my old gym earlier today, shooting some Scenic Fights stuff
Mood: sleep-deprived
Music: Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear (Spotify)
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Fontana’s in Queens

Reminding him of me

I’d been trying for months to see my family but my sister has been doing a lotta construction on the place so I haven’t seen them since Thanksgiving, despite their living in the same city.

But we recently got a chance to head over to wish my mom a Happy Mother’s Day.

Evidently, my mom’s bestie stopped by and dropped off some Greek pastries; the Firecracker never had any so I gave her one of my faves.

The below is a diple from my mom’s BFF – her daughter, Mary, told me the name, which I never knew.

Her: This is so good!
Me: Yup, I grew up eating that stuff.

The very first place that I ate at in Queens when we first moved there and I was like eight or nine in the early 80s (!!) was a Greek joint called Fontana’s where I had my very first gyro.

I’ve had gyro/shwarmas all over the world but, to me, Fontana’s is what a gyro should taste like.

And the fact that Greeks like the Surgeon and Steel both agree says a lot – they were both competitive swimmers and they would also hit up Fontana’s whenever they were close.

Figured it was time for the kid and the Firecracker to give it a whirl, so we picked some up on my mom’s dime.

Ordered a pizza and gyros from the very same guy that’s been serving us since at least 1992.

My dad and I used to LOVE going there.

Remember once I had work out in Queens and he picked me up and told me to open the glove compartment with a mischievous grin; inside were two Fontana’s gyros.

I never eat there without thinking of my dad.

Wonder what will remind my kid of me?

Me: What do you think?
Son: It’s soooo good! Is it a taco?
Me: (laughing) It’s a gyro. But I get why you might think that.

Location: the gym with my kid, hearing someone say they shouldn’t pick their noses
Mood: achy
Music: No one has to know where we go, we go now (Spotify)
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Jury Duty 2024

Family around the way

When it comes to legal work, I’m essentially a pencil pusher.

Rarely, if ever, head into court.

In fact, the last time I went to court was five years ago for myself, my son, and former buddy of mine.

This time, I had jury duty, so I woke up cray early one days and headed off to courts downtown.

It was a madhouse down there because of Trump’s trials. The line to get in stretched around the block.

And there were protestors and counter-protestors, which meant at cacophony of chants and yelling.

After a few hours, I was excused, mainly because of my unfortunate situation.

Her: I’m sorry to hear about your wife.
Me: I’m sorry to tell you about it.
Her: (nodding and folding my letter) You’ll be called again in two years.
Me: Then I’ll see you in two years then.

Because the Firecracker’s sister and BIL live in the area, we’re often running into them here and there.

Just the other day, we ran into them while walking past a bar and just joined them.

The Firecracker’s lucky that she lives in the same neighborhood as someone in her immediate family.

I’d like to randomly run into family around the way too, if I could.

But I suppose I’ll just settle for some day-drinking.

Which I’ll need after this past weekend’s nonsense.

Location: a playground, avoiding pigeon poop
Mood: sneezy from the pollen
Music: Yeah, it might go sideways (Spotify)
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I’m sure she knows

Honest and for true

This entry is out of order; back to the regular nuthin in the next entry.

The Firecracker’s dad came into town this weekend and we met up with him on Saturday for a kid’s birthday party.

It was fine for the most part but then a parent snapped at my kid when he tried to break a piƱata with his foot when it fell down – like an 8 year old kid understands why whacking a piece of cardboard with a stick is ok but kicking it isn’t – and destroyed him in front of all the other kids.

It pretty much set the mood for the rest of the weekend for us.

He’d never cried at a birthday party before and, of course, it had to happen during the weekend of Mother’s Day and his mom’s birthday.

Obviously, there’s no way for the other parent to have known that.

But I hoped that, as a parent, she woulda known that people’s brains don’t fully develop until they’re 25. She was yelling at a kid for being a happy and excited kid.

At least he was and then he very much not.

If it wasn’t for the fact that she couldn’t have known and that she was a mom, I woulda been arrested.

Still, he was fine after a spell because I raised him to be resilient, but – man – I was steamed.

Him: She said I did it on purpose, but I didn’t. I was trying to help. (sadly) I’m the worst kid.
Me: Don’t ever say that. She doesn’t know you at all. You’re the best kid mom or I could ever ask for.
Him: Really?
Me: Honest and for true.

We then went to have dinner with the Firecracker’s family at a local taco joint that I’d been to before and then called it a night.

The next morning, despite it being Mother’s Day, the Firecracker got up bright and early to make her family and us a killer brekkie with a baked blueberry and apple oatmeal dish and a baked fritatta with feta and bacon.

The oatmeal bar

My kid liked it so much, he asked for seconds of everything and also asked for more the next day.

God, I love that kid – he’s just like me where we eat our feelings.

We all chatted at my place for hours until we had to meet up with the ABFF for dinner and to remember Alison.

The Firecracker and her kid came along.

The ABFF, her sister, and kids were beyond great.

We ordered a crap ton of Chinese food and, just like in years past, we decorated balloons for Alison.

This was probably the worst birthday/Mother’s Day yet for the kid because he feels the loss now.

Being humiliated and yelled at a birthday party probably didn’t help matters.

It was the hardest one for me for a while because it hit the kid so hard.

Him: (looking up at the ballon) How do we know she’ll get it?
Me: We hope.
Him: (nodding) I hope she knows I miss her.
Me: She knows. I’m sure she knows

Location: home, fulla dumplings and other carbs
Mood: livid
Music: I try to say goodbye and I choke (Spotify)
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Alison would have been 45

Little chance of that

Teacher: …that’s so great to hear about your mom! Who’s next? What about you, tell us about your mom (points at my son).
Him: She’s dead.
Her: What?!
Him: She’s dead. She died when I was a baby.
Her: (flustered) Oh, oh…I…
Him: Not everyone has a mother, [teacher’s name].

He’s way too mature for his age.

I fucking hate it, sometimes.

Mother Day sucks for the kid and myself.

Wrote his teachers and his afterschool instructors as well to remind them of our situation and I guess this teacher didn’t get the memo.

My kid was pretty fucked up when I got him.

Him: It’s not fair.
Me: It’s not.
Him: Why is she dead?
Me: (sighing) I wish I could give you a good answer.

Once again, Mother’s Day and Alison’s Birthday fall on the same day.

Which is about as shitty a coincidence as I could imagine.

Years ago…

Me: …being poor and hungry again, I think. And you? What are you most afraid of?
Alison: (thinking) Being forgotten, I suppose.
Me: (laughing) Well, as long as I’m alive, there’s little chance of that.

Yeah, as long as the kid and I are alive – for better or worse – there’s little chance of that.

Location: stuck in my brain, trying to get out
Mood: not ideal
Music: time to let the girl I love leave my dreams (Spotify)
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Caught “The Heart of Rock and Roll”

Nectarines

Her: Nectarines.
Me: Nectarines?! Nectarines are the oatmeal raisin cookie of the fruit world; no one picks up a nectarine hoping it’s a nectarine. Everyone hopes it’s peach and accept it’s a nectarine – just like people think it’s a chocolate chip cookie and accept it’s actually an oatmeal raisin cookie.
Her: (shaking head) Nope! Not me, I prefer nectarines.
Me: And just how long have you been a communist?
Her: A long time, apparently.

Right after we got back from LA, RE Mike invited us to one of the opening nights of the new musical, The Heart of Rock and Roll, which was with songs by Huey Lewis and the News.

I grew up listening to Huey, so I was looking forward to it; the last musical he got us into was pretty fun, so I expected the same.

This time, we got four tix so the Firecracker’s sister and BIL could come.

Of course, because it was RE Mike, the tix were great seats and comped.

While we were waiting for them on the line, we saw this reality show being filmed with a classic checkered cab.

You can see in the pic below the little camera attached to the rear trunk – the larger fella to the left to the cab kept people moving as the young lady did her bit and “hailed” the cab.

Me: There’s always something going on in the big city.
Her: Seriously.

When we finally got in, the Firecracker’s sister and BIL immediately bought everyone drinks, which we definitely appreciated, and then we saw the show.

Honestly, I’m a sucker for a optimistic and upbeat show. Life is sad enough as it to go out to be entertained with a lotta sadness and downbeats.

Me: This is so much better than the last musical we saw.
Her: Which one was that?
Firecracker: Merrily we roll along – neither of us really enjoyed it.

This was just a lot more mindless and fun. Which was what we were all in the mood for.

Me: What’d you all think?
Them: We liked it!

I need more mindless fun in my life.

Or even just mindlessness in general.

I’m in my head too much these days.

Location: Back in the Big Apple, wanting a gyro
Mood: busy again
Music: I want a new drug one that does what it should (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 4 – Donuts, burgers, nachos, and home

Everything we’d hoped it be

We didn’t really get a chance to enjoy our hotel at all so, for our last day, we decided to just spend a relaxing morning, lounging about.

Besides Lucky Boy, the other thing I always try to have when I’m in LA is a Fatburger – well, as luck would have it, there was one just down the street from our hotel room.

This may, or may not, have been planned.

Now, the Firecracker had been watching this really cool documentary about donuts – called The Donut King, about an immigrant who made a donut empire but decided to teach other immigrants how to do the same to better their lives – so I also went to the store named the Donut King right next door to FatBurger to get us some donuts and some heart attack sammies.

So, I left bright and early on the morning we were heading back to pick up some loot.

That’s me enjoying my 1/2-pound Fatburger with sweet potato fries. It was everything I’d hope it’d be.

We closed out the morning in the lobby with our Donut King donuts and a $10 cuppa coffee.

Me: That was $10?! Jesus Christ. Did you get a massage with it?
Her: Nope, just the coffee.
Me: (shakes head)

We had time to kill but we were pretty California-ed out so we hopped an Uber to the airport, where we just sat around and bickered over nachos until it was time to leave.

Six hours – and one incredibly smelly seatmate with next-level BO – later, we were home in the middle of the night.

Her: That was a fun trip, but I’m traveled out now. Looking forward to just staying home for a little bit.
Me: Same.

Location: the floor of my new gym, watching the kid try an armbar
Mood: way under-caffeinated
Music: In Santa Monica, you get your coffee from the coolest places on the promenade (Spotify)
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