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A Birthday Celebration for the Firecracker

Old and Crotchety

Her: One day, someone’s gonna look at the two of us and think, “What is that young-looking person doing with that old-looking person.”
Me: I’ll still think you’re beautiful, even when you’re old-looking.
Her: I was talking about you! You’re the old one in that scenario.
Me: (laughing) Let’s not be ridiculous here. I don’t age. 

It was the Firecracker’s birthday the other day.

Since both kids were around, I just got some ramen for everyone.

She wanted a cake but I’m trying to avoid carbs – yes, I had some ramen, just go with it – so we compromised with a huge cupcake for her and a slice of cake for the boys.

But we were thwarted in our attempts to go low(er)-carb for her birthday when her office gave her a dozen donuts.

I mighta eaten a few before I took the pic below.

It’s gonna be my own birthday soon.

51. What a kick in the head.

Then again, it’s better than the alternative.

Her: Look, when you’re old and crotchy, and complaining about something you read in the papers, the gubernatorial race, of obnoxious kids, I’m still going to be young and vibrant.
Me: I’ll most likely be reading reddit, but otherwise: Accurate.

Location: earlier today, Central Park, playing hooky with the boy
Mood: hungry, what else?
Music: So what, we’re a littlе drunk, let’s go home togethеr (Spotify)
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Locking and unlocking

Good Vibes Only

I unlocked a new level the other day.

A woman, let’s call her Jill, that occasionally watches my son for me has a copy of my keys and she left something here the other day.

She told me she’d swing by one afternoon but I forgot to put it in the calendar.

Fast forward to a rando day recently and I’d stepped outta the bathroom in my birthday suit as the kid was in school.

It was at that exact moment that she decided to show up and our eyes locked like a 1930s western or a 1980s rom-com.

She’s not originally from America so the conversation below is edited slightly.

Her: Logan! I texted!
Me: OMG! I was in the shower!
Her: I can see!
Me: No, I mean I didn’t…I should go back into the bathroom.
Her: Yes!

I tell myself that I’ve either advanced Chinese-American relations with her people or set them back.

Suppose only time will tell.

Edit: I was supposed to head over to my friend Lisa’s big birthday bash this past weekend but my other sitter had to cancel.

Jill was one of at least seven sitters that I called and she couldn’t make it.

So, I’m gonna say the Chinese-American relations may be damaged here…

Location: yesterday, a scavenger hunt in the rain in the UWS
Mood: peckish
Music: let’s make this house our home (Spotify)
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I finally understand

Just one day

I was in my local supermarket when I ran into one of the cashiers, Lucy, in the produce section.

Her: (walking up to me holding a cup of coffee and put it down) I understand now. About your wife. My…my husband died.
Me: What?! Good god, I’m so sorry.
Her: (nodding) He was sick for a while. I thought he would be ok but…he didn’t let me know how bad it was.
Me: (putting down groceries and giving her a hug) I’m so sorry. We’re never ready, are we?
Her: (shaking head) No. I didn’t think he would go.

I went home, got a red envelope, stuffed a few bucks into it and went back to give it to her.

Her: No, no, I’m fine, really.
Me: (gently) I’m sure you’re fine. This is just for lunch. Make sure you eat, ok?
Her: (taking it) OK. Thank you.
Me: I wanna tell you that it’ll be ok. It won’t be. But you have to keep telling yourself that it will be. After a while, it’ll be kinda ok.

The rest is her story to tell but I was in my own head for a while after that.

Then, I was walking with the kid and he turned to me said the most profound thing:

Flowers may bloom again, but a person never has the chance to be young again.

Assume he learned it in Chinese class (花有重开日,人无再少年) because he certainly never learned it from me.

But then…

Him: Flowers come back. Why can’t mommy come back?
Me: I dunno. I dunno.
Him: I wish she would come back. Just once. Just for a day, even. (trailing off). She can’t come back, not even for one day? Just one day?
Me: Man, if only, kid. If only…

That was a hard walk.

We have hard walks, sometimes.

My kid’s a lot more mature than other kids his age. Sometimes, I think of him like he’s a little man.

Dunno if this is a good thing or not. I’m thinking not.

Wish he was just a kid without alla this weight on him.

It’s too much weight for a little kid like him to carry.

Don’t want a little man. Not yet.

Just want him to be a little kid for a little bit longer.

Location: On West End Avenue, finding myself at a loss for words
Mood: contemplative
Music: been gone far too long (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Winston-Salem Pt. 4 – some Rain

We’ll see

We woke up on Easter and promptly went to a Starbucks to caffeine up.

The big reason why we went down to North Carolina was that a relative of the Firecracker’s had passed and the extended family was there to mourn and spread that relative’s ashes.

So, we did that on the last day.

I stayed in the car because I figured this was a private family event and this wasn’t really the time nor place to make formal introductions.

Afterward, we went to her aunt’s house where everyone celebrated the relative’s life as well as had Easter dinner.

Her extended family were also quite nice and I ate myself silly, taking a nap in her aunt’s sunny backyard.

Now, I’d been speaking to Rain this whole trip because he moved to a neighboring state down south.

Rain’s taken a huge 180 in his life and essentially changed from being the ultimate city boy to a farmer.

Legit, he’s a farmer now.

To wit, he wanted to give me some grass-fed beef from a cow he had slaughtered.

Him: This will be the freshest best beef you had in your life.
Me: Well, you already had me at free.

So, the Firecracker and I headed back to Walmart to get a cooler.

Gotta say that being in Walmart is a trip for a city boy like myself, who has yet to transition to becoming a farmer.

Literally, they had everything including guns and shotguns on display and various projectiles scattered about.

Me: I could live here. They have everything!
Her: Welcome to the south, babe.

We then went back and crashed, only to wake up a few hours later at the crack of ass to make the 12 hour trip back.

But we stopped off first at the parking lot of a Chick-fil-A where I met up with Rain, who arrived in this HUGE red pickup truck.

Me: You’re legit a farmer now.
Him: (taking sawdust outta his pockets) Yup.

He filled up the cooler with meat while the Firecracker and her kid went in to get some food. Presently, he and I went in as well and we shot this impromptu video below.

We chatted for just a few minutes before he had to get back on the road – I had to pick up my kid and we were still hours from where we needed to be.

After what seemed like forever, I got the kid…

Me: There you are! I missed you so much!
Him: Me too, papa! How was North Carolina?
Me: Good – but it woulda been better if you were there.

…and then made it home after being stuck in NYC traffic for a while.

She wants to do this trip every year and I’m not sure I can do that. But I see the appeal for her.

We’ll see.

Location: earlier today, stuck on 14th Street, waiting for mass transit
Mood: old
Music: Looking fine as hell in aisle four. Would you come over? (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Winston-Salem Pt. 3 – Stopping for BBQ

Hot damn, yeah!

We woke up relatively late to meet the Firecracker’s BIL and sister at a North Carolina BBQ joint called Lexington Barbecue.

Her: You’ll like it if you prefer dry rub to sauces.
Me: I like all types of BBQ.
Her: This is authentic southern BBQ!

I actually ended getting the fish.

BIL: Lemme get this straight, you come to a Carolina BBQ place and you get…fish?!
Me: I’m just gonna eat some of [the Firecracker’s] food – she never finishes.

Turns out she did.

BUT her niece didn’t want any of her food, so I ate that.

After we left, I took some pics outside when I heard a fella called out to me…

Him: Hey! Hey, man! You want some real pictures, come on into the smoker.
Me: Hot damn, yeah!

He was the pitmaster and also just a prince of a fella.

So were the two gents working back there as well.

The pitmaster pulled a piece of pork right outta the smoker and handed it to me.

Him: Whaddya think?
Me: (eating it) Jesus, that’s good.

We closed out the day having dinner with the Firecracker’s immediate family at the AirBnB that her sister was staying at.

The next day, we celebrated Easter and then headed back home but not before seeing an old friend.

I’ll tell you that part next, if you’re interested.

Location: A sunny playground, trying to not get hit by a baseball
Mood: irritated
Music: mountains, slowly they’ll arise before our eyes (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Winston-Salem Pt. 2 – Thanks, Sugar!

Walking down Memory Lane

The next day, we got up bright and early to meet the Firecracker’s mom at a joint on the same block as our hotel called Heff’s Burger Club.

Me: They have diet Mountain Dew!
Her: It’s the south; we have diet Mountain Dew.

The Firecracker’s sister and BIL were both there and they’re both foodies so they suggested the joint.

Firecracker’s mom: I’ll sit next to Logan.
Me: Good life choice there, lady.

She was very nice, but didn’t like to take pictures so I wasn’t able to really capture much.

I ordered a full burger but I was still pretty hungry.

From my window in my hotel room, I’d noticed a hot chicken place across from my hotel.

Her: You want more food?
Firecracker: He’s always hungry, mom.

So, while they all enjoyed the gorgeous weather – it was close to the 80s – I had myself a medium-spice level chicken.

BIL: How is it?
Me: I shoulda ordered the mild; the first one was fine but the heat builds up and now I’m sweating.

Sweating, but enjoying my hot chix.

I woulda had more though…

…but we had other places to be.

Firecracker: We have to get some Krispy Kreme.
Me: Why?
Her: This is where they were created – Winston-Salem.
Me: Sold!

So, off we went.

The sign that indicated that the donuts were hot was turned off…

…but it turned out that they had just finished making a batch, so we ordered some hot ones.

I brought the peanut butter, knowing there would be a ton of sweets down south.

To say that it was good would be a massive understatement.

But I limited myself to “just” two.

Her: You’re on vacation.
Me: This is you being an enabler.

The Firecracker snapped a pic of me wearing one the paper hats.

I wanted to get her mom some flowers for the next day, so we stopped by a Walmart.

Her: What are you doing?
Me: $5 for two cubic feet of dirt? That’s a bargain.
Her: You’re buying dirt?! To bring home to NYC? From Winston-Salem North Carolina?!
Me: Evidently.

And I did.

We then drove by her old home…

Her: It’s been like 20 years since I’ve come here.
Me: How are you doing?
Her: I’m feeling some kinda way.

There’s more to that, but that’s her story to tell, so I’ll end that part here.

Afterward, we went to her high school, where she snapped the below picture.

Me: Imagine if I went here!
Her: You were already outta law school when this place was built.
Me: That wasn’t really necessary to point out.

Afterward, we met up with her BIL and sister again for drinks at the West Salem Public House, where I tried – and failed – to climb a tree.

See the pic on the bottom.

So, we just drank instead.

Of course, I got hungry so I dashed off to get some soul food but they closed as soon as I got there.

Me: Shoot – is there any place you can recommend?
Her: East of Texas across the lot is pretty popular.
Me: OK, but I just want you to know that I wanted you guys first.
Her: (laughs) Ah, thanks, sugar!

That’s where we closed out the night, with me stuffing myself silly.

All-in-all, it was a good second day there.

I’ll probably wrap this whole thing up in another entry or two, so I’ll see you in the next one.

Probably two more.

I eat a lot.

Location: Warby Parker in the UWS and Columbus, picking up two eclipse glasses for the eclipse this coming Monday
Mood: injured
Music: Something bout you really feels like home (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Winston-Salem Pt. 1

Radically Different Outfits

I’m writing this somewhere in the middle of Virginia.

This past weekend, the Firecracker, her kid, my kid, and I all piled into a car so I could meet her mom, who’s from the south.

Well, that’s not quite what happened. We got into our rental car and promptly got out because it reeked of cigarette smoke.

That ate up a lotta time for us and we also found out that the day we left, Obama, Clinton, and Biden were in town.

Getting outta the city’s always a bear but the visiting presidents and alla the rain made everything worse.

My son didn’t come with us down south as he wanted to stay at his grandparents, so we drove him out to NJ first to drop him off.

MIL: You want some coffee before you go?
Firecracker: Oh, I already have some in the car, thank you.
Me: I’d love some, but I go to the bathroom enough when I travel.

This turned out to be pretty true when I asked her a few hours later if she wanted to pull over to get a quick break.

Her: Nope – I’m gonna be a taskmaster here.
Me: Can I at least borrow your sunglasses to try and sleep a bit?
Her: (laughing) You’re gonna look great in my sunglasses.

She was wrong.

Tried to get some sleep in the car but that was pretty much impossible.

Somewhere in West Viginia, her kid got hungry so she finally pulled over and we searched around for a place to eat.

Her: I love seeing the country. Isn’t it beautiful and peaceful?
Me: It’s like when I went to college [in Cornell]. I gotta, say, though, this place is less bucolic and more like the land of strip malls.

I had a chicken sammie animal style at Chick-fil-A.

The next four hours or so were just like this.

We were making good time so for dinner, we ended up stopping by a joint called Holly Jo’s Creekside Grill.

The food was only ok but everyone was super nice and I can’t remember the last time I ate with Darth Vader.

The problem was probably that I ordered a salad. It was not a good salad.

Everything else was good, though.

It was pretty late when we pulled into our hotel in Winston-Salem – some 12 hours after we left that morning.

The hotel itself was pretty nice.

Me: Man, look at the size of this place! Real estate’s gotta be lot cheaper out here if this is just the lobby.
Her: Yup, Winston-Salem only has about 250,000 people.
Me: That’s not even as big as my family’s neighborhood in Queens.

The hotel room was pretty nice too.

When we got up the next morning, we were pretty amused to find that there were two conventions happening in the convention hall just a block from our hotel room:

The first was the Triad Anime Convention while the second was the North Carolina Youth & Hyphen Convention 2024.

Shall we say that the attendees of the respective events wore radically different outfits?

Firecracker: (talking about the Youth Convention ladies) Do you notice that they’re all wearing skirts down to their ankles?
Me: I do now. (pointing over at an anime convention girl in hot pants) They’re dressed pretty differently.
Her: Very. (shaking head) They should probably wear a little more.
Me: Nah, it’s America. People should dress how they want.
Her: It’s cold!
Me: This is true.

I didn’t take any pics of the latter but did of the former.

There’s more but I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Location: my room, getting ready for a trip down south
Mood: injured
Music: Won’t you roll with me, go with me, waste some time? (Spotify)
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Come with me

The emperor of all maladies

Her: I like room temperature soda.
Me: I only realized now that I’m dating a psychopath.

Not been sleeping well for a while now. It’s a long story.

Been thinking about Alison and my dad a lot lately for a whole buncha reasons we don’t need to get into, but one small reason is Princess Kate.

The fact that she and King Charles both have cancer should be a wake up call to everyone for a simple reason:

If two people that have the best of everything – healthcare, food, trainers, etc. – can get cancer, anyone can.

You definitely can.

In the 1970s, a fella you never heard of named Kotaku Wamura was the mayor of a Japanese town you never heard of, Fudai.

When Warmura was a kid in 1933, he saw a tsunami kill 439 people in Fudai and made a kid’s promise to himself – he would prevent this from ever happening to Fudai ever again.

When he became mayor in 1970, through sheer force of will, he convinced the town to erect a 51-foot-high gate as a public works project.

He, and his supporters were mocked mercilessly as fools.

Fast forward some 40+ years to the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, which I wrote about before, and killed over 19,000 people and destroyed at least 45 towns and cities.

Except Fudai.

Because of one person, almost nothing happened to the town. One unfortunate man died, and their port was nearly destroyed.

But the village and almost all its people were almost completely unscathed.

Not a day goes by without someone saying something chiding about what I eat, how I live, or what I do.

“You eat that much peanut butter?”
“Sardines? Fish, out of a can?! Disgusting!”
“Do you really need to roll around with sweaty men every day?”
“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”

Essentially, the argument I hear is always something that starts with, “Everyone…”

“Everyone eats carbs, Logan.”
“Everyone microwaves plastics, Logan.”
“Everyone eats late, Logan.”

Yeah, and everyone is getting cancer – greater than 1 outta 3 these days: If you’re a dude, the chance is 41%, a woman, the chance is 39%.

That is fucking insane.

Something is fucked in our lives and we’re all dying of cancer. I dunno what it is but I’m trying to go where science is telling me to go.

And I still might get it because the odds are shit.

But I’m gonna do everything I can to try to avoid it if possible.

You should too.

Wamura died in 1997 at age 88 and never saw that he was right. But he was right.

And I think I’m right here; just like Wamura didn’t know when the next tsunami would be, he knew it would come eventually just like I know cancer will touch alla us at some point if it hasn’t already.

Cancer doesn’t give a shit if you’re a king, a princess, a new mother, or a nobody.

It’s here to end – or at least massively fuck up – your life, if you don’t do something about it.

I’m not the one that’s living an extreme life, IMHO.

To me, the people living an extreme life are the ones that know that there’s a close to 50/50 chance at getting the emperor of all maladies and doing nuthin meaningful about it.

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, getting sugared-out
Mood: baffled
Music: I had to rock the boat so I could ride the wave (Spotify)
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My stressful day…

…at the Hotel California

I write words and my brother writes music.

Years ago, he wrote me something while I was struggling. Dunno if I ever shared it with you.

I’d forgotten all about it because he sent it to me when I was still pretty muddle-headed but it came up between us, recently and I wanted to share.

He took words from my blog and put them to some electronica music he composed and called it: Logan’s Stressful Day.

In any case, here is below.

I definitely don’t have much musical talent – certainly nuthin like my mom and brother.

But it’s nice that my kid has it as well.

He’s actually going to be in the school talent show and he just started playing Hotel California recently – here’s his audition for it.

Just keep in mind that’s he’s only eight…

I joke with friends that I’m still hoping that he’ll be a surgeon or doctor versus a performer.

But in the end, I suppose I just want him happy and productive.

Although I do have some personal preferences.

Teacher: Your son (programmed) a game that my other students want to play. He has talent there.
Me: Great! I’ll take programmer, surgeon, or lawyer.
Her: (laughing) I’m sure one of those will happen.
Me: That’s the hope!

Location: my room, getting ready for a trip down south
Mood: injured
Music: And still those voices are calling from far away (Spotify)
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Sunday in Greenpoint

Searching for burgers

Her: What about that truck?
Me: (squinting) It looks like they have “respect, compassion, caring, and kindness,” but no burgers.

It was raining cats and dogs for part of the weekend and the other part was cold, so we met up with the Surgeon and Steele to head over to the Ferox Ninja Park in Brooklyn so the kid could get some exercise.

The Firecracker had to level up with some coffee first, though.

As soon as we arrived, I was hungry and started my quest for food.

We thought there was a food truck across from the park but it ended up being a volunteer group’s truck instead.

So, despite my wanting a burger for brekkie, we ended up heading to Compton’s Sandwich Shop instead and ordering a buncha breakfast wraps.

Me: Can you put bacon in them?
Him: Which one?
Me: All of them?

They ended up not doing that so I went back to say something. The manager apologized profusely and comped up like four kombucha drinks, which was nice.

Afterward, the kids spent the next three hours playing like crazy.

I, of course, got hungry again.

Him: Burgers?
Me: I’ve been wanting a burger all day – heck yeah!

We ended up ordering from this joint called Jubilee Marketplace in Greenpoint which is pretty well-known for amazingly good $2.50 burgers.

Think of small shake shack burgers.

Me: How many did you order?
Him: 20?
Me: Good call.

We ate 19 of them on a park bench in the chilly sun.

There was one left after we devoured them, and I took that one home for the kid for dinner.

All in all, not a bad way to spend the day.

Location: a musical with my son this morning by Ajna
Mood: angry
Music: I’m all messed up, I’m so out of line (Spotify)
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