Emotionally is a different matter

Intellectually, I know

My buddy Ricky stopped by my pad the other day because he was in the neighborhood…

Me: The Firecracker baked cookies, you want one?
Him: Sure! (later) Is that real milk [in the coffee]?
Me: Shoot, yes. I shoulda thought about that.

…and Bryson gave me a ring to see how I was doing. I’m guessing they read up on my mom and wanted to make sure we were all ok.

Bryson: Dude, next time, before you rent a car, gimme a call. I’m happy to pick you up and get you to your mom.
Me: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. But, what’s going on with you?
Him: Nah, man, I didn’t call to talk about me, I called to check in on you.

I’m grateful for old friends that check in with me to make sure that I’m ok.

Speaking of being ok, I’ve been seeing a therapist for some time now.

She asked me this past week the details of what happened with Alison.

Me: Oh, I thought I told you.
Her: You only told me that she died and your struggles with everything. You never told me the details.

So, I did.

About halfway through it all, I realized that she was crying. By the time I wasdone, she was pretty emotional – well, as emotional as a professional can get.

Her: (drying her eyes) That’s a lot for you to have dealt with.
Me: She dealt with more.
Her: Well, thank you for sharing with me. And you should be kinder to yourself.

Told her that I felt guilty that I was alive and got to spend alla this time with the kid and she didn’t.

She only got to hold him once.

Just writing that sentence fills me with both sadness, anger, guilt, and a bevy of other emotions I can’t fully express with my limited vocabulary.

Her: There’s useful guilt and useless guilt.
Me: (nodding) I know. Intellectually, I know. Emotionally is a different matter.

Such a different matter.

Location: In my head again for a bit
Mood: worn-down
Music: My mind, it likes replaying my regrets all night. My pain, I hide (Spotify)
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Critical thinking isn’t the most important thing

It’s issue spotting

Me: Hello, hot blonde.
Her: Hello, handsome old Chinese man.
Me: The “old” was really not necessary.
Her: But accurate!

I’ve said repeatedly that my major goal for the boy is teaching him critical thinking.

Unfortunately, the recent (massive) hurricanes and flooding happening here in the US – and abroad – around has made me reassess the contours of that.

I recently decided that critical thinking is secondary to a more basic skill: Issue spotting – which is determining if there’s even a problem in the first place.

Came to this realization seeing how many people I know in life that deny climate change.

As an aside, all self-identify as Republicans and many have a religious bent, which makes me feel all the more foolish for ever voting republican and ever being religious at all.

In any case, back in law school, I remember that everyone is taught two basic skills:

      1. Issue spotting, and then
      2. issue solving.

It’s always in that order because all law school exams – especially the bar exam – essentially tests on both whereby, if you’re unable to spot the issue in the first place, your chance of correctly answering the question is nil.

This is where I’m finding we are as a society; half of the people are concerned about answering the issue, whereas the other half denies that an issue even exists, often pointing to one lone dissenter and ending the argument there for them.

There’s no ability to critically think about a solution because people can’t even see that there’s a problem that needs solving.

This is terrifying, on so many levels.

And it’s happening everywhere and all at once.

Me: You don’t think it’s an issue that you’re 35 years old and have nothing saved for retirement?
Him: (puzzled) Retirement is like 30 years away; I have plenty of time.
Me: JFC…sit down. I need to explain a lotta things to you.

Location: my stoop, chatting with a friend that stopped by to check up on me
Mood: beyond busy
Music: don’t overthink it – like all my problems, I don’t have one (Spotify)
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Coming in threes?

School again

Him: I’m a little worried.
Me: That’s normal. Everything’ll be fine.
Him: You promise?
Me: Yup. Promise.

The kid started school recently. The Firecracker was sweet enough to make that sign for him you see above.

Her: (beaming) AND, I laminated it too.
Me: You’re the best!

He was anxious the day before and I tried my best to reassure him, but I get it.

Still, he left school that first day with nothing but smiles.

Here’s hoping it’s another good year.

Alison would be so proud.

Speaking of Alison, when things went down with her, they also went down with my dad, and my cousin.

Both my dad and she died within 90 days of each other from cancers they never should’ve had: Alison passed from a cancer that generally kills old Caucasian men, my dad from lung cancer despite never smoking nor having any reason to get it.

This past weekend, in the span of 24 hours, my mom fell and took a nasty hit to her head, an uncle got into a terrible car accident (but survived), and another uncle up and died.

All within 24 hours.

People keep saying to me that bad news comes in threes and I do my best to chalk that up to pure superstition.

Still, it’s very odd and sad that it’s bearing out.

So, this past weekend, I dropped everything and rented a car for four hours to see my mom for 20 mins.

Man, NYC is the only place where it takes 90 minutes to drive 14 miles.

My mom’s ok, btw. She’s just very worried about everyone else.

Oh, and I detest people that use other people’s tragedies to garner sympathy for themselves – when Alison and my dad got sick, so many people lamented how concerned they were on social media and did jack shit for us.

The situation with my uncles is very sad but the grief is mainly borne by their immediate families and not me.

I always say that I don’t like to tell other people’s stories, only my own, so I’ll leave the details of everything to them.

Like my mom, I’m sad for them and worried for everyone left.

To end on a lighter note, I’d been on the hunt for purple (fleshed) potatoes for a few weeks now and stopped by a local Asian grocery for literally 6 minutes – because that’s all the time I had before I had to return the car – to see if they had some.

But they didn’t and I didn’t have enough time to go to any other stores.

The kid did make a new friend, though.

Location: shooting Scenic Fights all damn day
Mood: panicked, not about the elbow
Music: our tragedy binds what our ignorance hides – we all wind up here together (Spotify)
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My 18 Year-Old Toilet from Hell

Believing it

I think people move a lot in NYC – or in general.

Like, the Firecracker’s moved six times in the last decade.

Me: Wild.
Her: Yup.

My college buddy and I moved into my current apartment waaaay back in 1996, but we ended up buying it in 2004, which is still almost 20 years ago.

Been here ever since.

Anywho, in November of 2004, we gutted one of the bathrooms ourselves and hired a contractor to fix it up, including putting in a new toilet and vanity.

We ended up buying the Kohler Rialto K-3386 for $349, which is roughly $19 a year, amortized across these 18 some years.

Now, the seat on that bad boy cracked so I decided to just swap it out – the first time since it was installed in 2004.

Welp, that started a long journey that ended up with my getting rid of the entire toilet.

See, the reason we got this toilet was because it was the absolute smallest toilet you could buy that was still mass produced.

BUT, because it’s so small, it had a special mechanism to attach the lid to the toilet. I did not realize this until it was too late.

Evidently, I’m not the only one.

I’m living in an interesting period of my life right now in that I’m aware that I won’t be here forever.

After all, Everybody knows they are going to die, but no one really believes it.

Figure that, at some point, this pad will be the boy’s and I wanna limit his frustration.

Was gonna buy the kit to replace the toilet but, having read up horror stories of people doing all that only to crack their decades old toilet, I just decided to toss the whole thing.

Enter my buddy Wally who said he would do it for free.

Him: Just the hands-on experience is enough.
Me: Absolutely not!

I’m frequently surprised how many really lovely people I’ve met in my life, and he’s one of them, for sure.

So, last weekend, he and I discovered just how gross removing a 20 year old toilet could be.

Yes, this is super gross looking – that’s what bits of wax ring looks like over a flange after 20 something years.

One thing that we did was remove the old wax ring that seals the gap between the flooring and the toilet.

Him: Sorry, I got some on the floor.
Me: Dude, no need to apologize, this stuff is getting everywhere.

What shoulda been like a two-hour project, turned out to be four hours because so much had rusted in place and needed replacing.

And at least three hours trying to clean up the ridonk mess. Ridonk.

Buuuuut, afterward, this is what my bathroom looked like.

It’s a slightly longer toilet – 27.5″ from the wall versus 25.5″ but it’s now dual flush and is probably gonna be good until I’m 70.

I’m aware the flaps are up on the bolt for the seat. Too lazy to retake this picture.

Then it’s the kid’s problem, not mine.

Boy: That’s so cool!
Me: Glad you think so, kid.
Him: I’m gonna watch YouTube.
Me: (sighing) Yup.

It’s fate after almost 20 years of loyal service – oh, the ignominy!

Location: the kid’s BJJ class, watching him take an elbow to the face (accidentally)
Mood: panicked, not about the elbow
Music: I’ll be back home one day, before long (Spotify)
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A Night at the MOMA, DUMBO, and Solas Pt3

Being a world-class jerk

It was a pretty hot night for alla our activities but the Firecracker’s kid and my own were starting school soon, so we figured we’d make the most of our last summer weekend sans kids.

After our tiff at the Time Out Market, we probably were a little more subdued than we woulda preferred but it was what it was.

Leaving DUMBO was a maze; we ended up going several blocks outta our way in the wrong direction before we finally made it back on track.

We finally hopped the train, but it was the wrong one. Still, it meant that we could talk a bit.

Her: You can be a world-class jerk sometimes.
Me: Sorry about that.

We had everything sorted out by the time we got to where we needed to be, though.

It’d been a while since I saw my buddy at his bar; he was one of the first of my friends to ever meet the Firecracker.

It’s always nice catching up with the people there. Kimo, the bouncer, just came back from Egypt.

Her: It’s one of my dreams to visit there.
Him: You two should go there; you’d live like kings.
Me: What about the political climate?
Him: (shrugging) You’d never notice anything was off. You’re tourists; the country lives on tourists. You’ll be fine…

We ordered a few drinks but the Firecracker’s always pretty popular with bartenders, who got her some free drinks.

And, it seems she’s pretty popular with the patrons too – every time I walked away, I came back and some new guy was hitting on her.

Her: I love this place – I feel like a queen!
Me: (grumble)

The bartender poured us a round of tequila shots, which was super nice of him, BUT the Firecracker and tequila didn’t really get along, so I took her shot.

Then my buddy showed up and gave us both big hugs and we caught up.

Me: How are the dating apps treating you?
Him: They keep crashing! I’m fine in real life.
Me: You can do both!

Afterward, he got us a few rounds of shots as well. By the end of the night, I was two sheets to the wind.

We finally started home late – well, late for us, anywho.

Thus ended our summer.

The kids both started school that week but that’s a wholly different entry, entirely.

Location: the kid’s school, waiting on line for him and getting devoured by mosquitoes
Mood: ridonk busy
Music: All night long, went to every bar, underneath the stars (Spotify)
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A Night at the MOMA, DUMBO, and Solas Pt2

Spending the kids’ college funds

As much as we wanted to stay at the MOMA all night, we had other things to do.

RE Mike sent us an invite to head to Time Out Market but he wasn’t gonna be able to join.

Her: One of these days, I’ll actually meet him.
Me: If you’re lucky!

We walked over to Rockefeller Center to hop the train there down to DUMO.

But not before first getting the Firecracker a bottle of water.

Her: Guess how much this bottle was, Lo. $4!
Me: Well, there goes the kid’s college fund.

It wasn’t long before we made our way there, though.

The walls were lined with more modern pop art than we’d seen at the MOMA, so that was a nice artistic addenda to our evening.

Neither she nor I had ever been to the Time Out Market.

We just got some drinks and sat down to enjoy the weather and the night.

Didn’t realize I captured two helicopters at once in this shot.

Which is not to say things were perfect, as we found ourselves in an argument over something totally random.

I think both of us were probably equally at fault here.

She might disagree.

Now, we had planned to end the night in the East Village by Solas but we were thinking that maybe we were just both hangry.

So, we went downstairs and ordered the first thing we both agreed on.

Her: What did you think?
Me: It was good. Not $50 good, but good.

We were both kinda beat but I hadn’t seen my buddy from Solas in a while so we headed there next.

Location: a wet playground with two tired boys
Mood: hangry, again
Music: Cheap wine in public places, good friends and bad locations (Spotify)
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A Night at the MOMA, DUMBO, and Solas Pt1: Running into a Starry Night

We could spend all day here

Me: You wanna do [the MOMA on] Friday?
Her: Definitely! MOMA is on my list of places to go. I’ve never been.

RE Mike reminded me that the MOMA had UNIQLO NYC Nights on Fridays and also invited us to a thingy in DUMBO right afterward.

Couldn’t remember the last time I’d been there, so I was looking forward to going.

Mainly wanted to see any Lichtensteins they had since I like pop art.

There’s a story there, but I’ll save it for some other time.

Unfortunately, they only had one small piece, but it was still nice.

I also wanted to check out the Mondrian pieces.

Me: In the 60s, people used to wear Mondrian dresses.
Her: Ah, when you were a kid. I can picture it.
Me: (grumble)

She was thrilled to see some of the Picasso pieces they had…

…and we both really liked the Warhol.

And, we were both really happy to see Monet’s Water Lillies in real life.

Her: Whoa! I had no idea how big it was.
Me: Me neither – that thing’s huge!
Her: I could spend all day here.

This isn’t Water Lillies – that’s a series of paintings and they are HUGE.

Unfortunately, we had to run to head out to DUMBO and started to look for the exit.

But, along the way, we saw a huge crowd of people.

Me: Wait…is that Starry Night?
Her: It is! We’ve got to see it!

I’d never seen a real Van Gogh up close and Starry Night was always my fave of alla his pieces.

Plus, it was the centerpiece of my lecture in Paris, and it was while discussing that, that someone stood up and started haranguing me in the middle of my lecutre.

But that’s really neither here nor there.

It was really wild to see the actual painting that I’d seen my entire life and in my studies.

We left the MOMA feeling pretty glad we went.

But we had an entire night ahead of us.

I’ll tell you all about it in the next couplea entries.

Location: the gym for the first time in a few days
Mood: busy waiting for the new school year
Music: Now I think I know, what you tried to say to me (Spotify)
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My idea of a perfect night

Met up with her cousin

Her: Do you wanna meet her?
Me: Sure! What about Chinese food in Chinatown?

The Firecracker’s cousin was in town for a few days so we decided to meet up with her.

Ever since the cruise, I’ve been wanting nuthin but Asian food. Don’t get me wrong – unlimited gyros and shrimp will always be a winner for me, but I just can’t go that long without having some real Asian food.

So, she agreed to meet us downtown at Golden Unicorn.

Firecracker: Should Logan just order?
Cousin: Sure, I’ll eat anything.
Me: Sweeet! OK, where to begin…

Ended up ordering all the classics, including Beef with Broccoli, which is not at all an authentic Chinese dish but it’s still something that I love.

Afterward, we headed to Whiskey Tavern for a drink but it was packed and super loud.

Me: I know – there’s a new bar south of us that I’ve been dying to try out: The Wallace Lounge.
Firecracker: Oh yeah! Let’s do that.
Cousin: I’m down for anything.

Before we knew it, we were in the oak-walled bar when the singer walked by in a slinky red dress.

Me: I think I know her.

It turns out, it was my friend Isabel, whom I’ve seen all up and down the Upper West Side.

Her cousin seemed to really enjoy being out and about in a laid-back kinda joint. We ended up just chatting for the rest of the evening before calling it a night.

Her: Did you have a good time?
Me: Sure! You cousin was nice and now we’re back at a reasonable hour.
Her: You’re so old, Lo.
Me: A nice night out with nice people, good food, great drinks, a live singer, and in bed and asleep before 11PM? That’s my idea of a perfect night.

Location: the gym for the first time in a few days
Mood: busy waiting for the new school year
Music: It’s so good to see you, you look very nice (Spotify)
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Beer, Dumplings, and a Concert in Alphabet City

Exploding Cans

My fridge’s been acting up again; this time, it gets waaaaaay too cold in the regular area.

Late the other night, the Firecracker and I heard this loud but muffled bang. Couldn’t figure it out until the next morning when I opened the fridge and found the below.

It froze two cans of soda both of which burst open but this one had the top blown clear off.

The Surgeon’s wife is actually a musician and she was part of a concert in Tompkins Square Park the other day.

Me: It’s in Alphabet City.
Boy: What’s Alphabet City?
Me: It was a place that was super dangerous when I was a kid but I guess we’re going to a concert there now.

It’s true. When I was a kid, there were places you went to get killed: Alphabet City and Long Island City were two of those places.

But the Surgeon’s kids were there and they just had a grand time.

Although, the boy and I ended up getting eaten alive by mosquitos.

Her: I’ve never had it happen when I wasn’t the one that was bitten the most.
Me: Great. (thinking) Maybe they were just in the mood for Chinese.
Her: (laughing) Maybe.

Afterward, we were all in the mood for Chinese, so I walked to Dumpling Man and ordered like $60 worth of dumplings.

It was a nice family run restaurant.

We also got a ton of beer.

Me: Shoot, we don’t have a bottle opener.
Steel: (laughing) I’m wearing Reefs, so I always have a bottle opener.
Firecracker: That’s wild!

Can’t tell you how nice it was to be in park on a sunny with friends, the kids, great food, and beer opened by a sandal.

You can’t put a price on things like that.

Afterward, we took the long walk back to Union Square.

Along the way, we walked past the first place Alison and I had dinner together, Horus Cafe.

It was the one where she teased and called me dumb.

Me: I went with your mommy.
Son: Really?
Me: It was a long time ago.
Him: Where was I?
Me: Not yet here. It was before you were born.
Him: Oh. We can come back here someday.
Me: I’d like that, kid.

Location: A street fair on Amsterdam and 79th
Mood: beat-down
Music: The truth in all my lies, the blue to all my skies (Spotify)
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A Burger and a Pool

Pak invited us out to a little thing he was having with his friends. His pad out in NJ has a pool so I brought the boy to go for a swim.

The boy and I were at my gym and I thought we had plenty of time to get out to NJ but there were alla these train delays so we RAN to catch the bus to NJ with just two minutes to spare.

While running to the right bus, the Firecracker met up with us.

Her: (laughing) I heard some weird slapping sound and I realized it was the two of you with your slippers, running.
Me: (breathless) We try to make an appearance.

We got there a bit late so everyone else was winding down but it was fine as the boy wanted to go swimming anywho.

Him: There are so many bees.
Me: Those are yellowjackets.
Him: Is that better?
Me: No.

I was so busy with the kid that I forgot to take pics. But trust me when I tell you that he had a grand time.

Told Pak and his girl about our cruise.

Me: There’s even a ship with a go-kart track.
Pak: Get outta here.
Me: Legit. Here. (show him a video)

Afterward, we went to Mitsuwa for – what else – more food…

Me: We come alla way here and you just want McDonalds?
Boy: Yes!
Me: (sighing) Fiiiine.

…before we went home.

It was a pretty nice day except we got devoured by mosquitos, which is exactly what happened the next day when we went on an impromptu trip to see the surgeon’s wife in concert.

But I’ll tell you about that in the next entry.

Location: The Wallace with the Firecracker and her cousin
Mood: slightly sotted
Music: I’m soaking up the good times now (Spotify)
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