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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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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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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 piñata 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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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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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 3 – Admiring the hustle

Combined, we’re 100 years old!

The next day, we woke up pretty early and headed out to Santa Monica.

The Firecracker’s kid is obsessed with trains and wanted pictures/videos of the LA metro system so, for the first time in my life, I took the Los Angeles Subway.

We got onto the Wilshire/Western Station and tried to pay with a TAP card that we bought but it didn’t work so I jumped the turnstile.

Me: Never thought I’d be jumping turnstiles at 51.
Her: Just don’t get arrested!
Me: Well, we paid for the fare, the reader just couldn’t read it.

I don’t feel guilty about it because of that.

The station itself was a ghost town. The Firecracker was decidedly less enthused than her son woulda been.

Her: Well, I took pictures and video. We can just go back up and take an Uber.
Me: We’re in it. We might as well head out to Santa Monica on this.
Her: OK, well, if nothing else, we’re saving a ton, and you can get some writing done.
Me: This is very true.

So, we did.

It was pretty quick, but also much less trafficked than what we were used to back home in NYC.

Me: I think LA people are self-selecting, which is why no one uses the subway here.
Her: How so?
Me: I assume most people that decide to live in LA love the sun and outdoors, which is why they come here. Well, these types of people are probably not keen on traveling around underground and away from the sun.

It was actually a pretty quick trip to Santa Monica, where we checked into our hotel, Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica.

The room was nice; we splurged for it since we spent two nights with my bro.

Me: The shampoo is peppermint, the conditioner is cilantro, and the body wash is sage.
Her: Great, you’ll smell like a salad.
Me: Luckily, that’s precisely what I was going for.

Once we got there, my good buddy Lorin – from whom I got the name of the character for 72nd to Canal – swung by to pick us up.

I’d last gone to Versailles Cuban like two decades ago with my buddies Francis and Cindy.

Wanted the Firecracker to try the food there, so off we went.

Unfortunately, there was a massive bike ride for earth day, so we had to spend quite a while trying to find parking et al, eventually cutting through a street fair…

…before we were finally able to eat.

The food was just as delicious as I remembered it.

Gotta remember to go to things again before decades go by.

Afterward, Lorin drove us to the Original Muscle Beach at Santa Monica because he’s a former acrobat and still keeps his skills sharp, despite pushing 50, like me.

Me: Can we watch you do some acrobatics?
Him: You two are gonna do some with me!

He wasn’t lying.

Me: Combined, we’re 100 years old! I think we look great, all things considered.
Firecracker: You’re the tower of old!
Me: Thanks.

Afterward, we went to walk the pier but not before watching the cops arrest a fella for selling BBQ outta a supermarket cart without a license.

Me: If nuthin else, you gotta admire the hustle.
Her: Very true.

After we watched that for a bit, we made our way to the pier…

…where we saw a fella banging out some Louis Armstrong and Prince…

…and made another furry friend…

…who seems to have seen better days.

But it was cloudy and overcast…

…so, we walked over to the Promenade where we saw someone driving on the street in a boat.

We walked to a bar where we grabbed a quick drink, or three…

…and checked out the Promenade, including watching some buskers (see, more hustle)…

…and meeting my mannequin doppelganger…

…before heading back to the beaches of Santa Monica to meet up with my buddy Paul, his wife, and their kids.

Him: You know, I think I have the single worst nickname out of your blog.
Me: It wasn’t my best work, no.
Firecracker: He tries.

I feel we look pretty close to how we looked almost exactly a decade ago.

After that, very full day, we were looking forward to heading home.

I was trying to fix something on the camera when the Firecracker accidentally hit the shutter button.

Location: A NYC playground surrounded by kids and pigeons. Not sure which I find more taxing.
Mood: caffeinated
Music: How I hate to spend the evening on my own (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 2 – Champagne Breakfast at Tiffany’s

A crispy potato delight

Woke up the next morning and immediately thought of my usual Lucky Boy brekkie, of course, so, off we went.

But not before meeting a new friend.

Right next to Lucky Boy is the very first Trader Joe’s so we had to stop for a picture.

We finally got to Lucky Boy and I got a breakfast BLT and a double cheeseburger.

Three people commented on my jacket, positively.

Her: I just want to say, that is a great jacket on you.
Me: Thank you! My brother doesn’t think so.
Her: (laughing) He’s wrong.

Our bellies full, we walked over to Old Pasadena to check things out.

But first we needed some coffee and pastries.

Once we were fully caffeinated, we continued our walk.

Her: Wait, is that a Tiffany’s?! Can we go in?
Me: …yes?
Her: I’m going to look at engagement rings…because.
Me: Noted.

Do not read into this.

There, we met a fella named Richard…

Him: …Queens. You?
Me: I’m from Queens as well!

…who was nice enough to offer us up some champagne in Tiffany crystal on a literal silver platter with white gloves.

Me: Well, technically, it *is* 2PM for us.
Her: This is true!

The Firecracker and I chatted with Richard for a bit more before we left his fine company.

The Firecracker stopped into another store and tried on some clothing.

Her: What do you think?
Me: You look great!
Her: I’m gonna wear this out.

And she did just that.

Afterward, we stopped in a quiet alleyway, and I got some writing done.

And met another new friend.

We decided to head over to the super wealthy part of Pasadena and check out the multi-million-dollar mansions there.

The coolest thing about them were so many of them had fruit trees everywhere – we saw figs, tons of oranges, limes, and more.

Plus, there were cool things like aloe just growing on the sidewalks.

Although, not everything we saw on the street was fruit.

Me: Someone did not have a good day.

The fruit was definitely nicer to see.

We went back to my brother’s and crashed for a bit, before waking up and having a crapton of Chinese food, mainly dumplings.

Me: There is no soup in these soup dumplings!
Her: They’re just dumplings now.
Me: Blargh.

We ended up playing a buncha board games, including Scattagories.

Our question was: Beginning with “M,” something that you get from a vending machine.

Me: Munchos.
Her: Munchies?
Me: Munchos! They’re a crispy potato delight.

The jet lag was real, so we crashed pretty early.

Location: earlier today, Newark, NJ
Mood: sore
Music: We pulled up for some west coast passion (Spotify)
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2600Hz and a Filet Mignon

Significant but unknown

The NFL Player and my buddy Thor took the Firecracker and myself out to Porterhouse for my birthday again.

Him: I assume you’ll have an Old Fashioned with Rye.
Me: I like what I like.

This time, everyone came with their significant others, which was nice.

We all chatted about the earthquake and the eclipse…

…amongst other things.

Him: Logan always has some random fact.
Me: This is true. Did you know that, when I was a kid, Cap’n Crunch gave away a plastic whistle that oscillated at exactly 2,600Hz, which was the exact frequency of NYC payphones so that if you blew one before a call, you could make free calls anywhere in the world? [ED: I misspoke, it was the frequency for all AT&T phones, not just NYC, because they ran a monopoly on pay phones across the country].
Her: How do you remember all this stuff?
Me: (shrugging) I don’t get out much.

As that article I linked above notes, Apple – and the iPhone you’re most likely reading this upon – would not have existed but for the existence of that whistle.

I love these kinda significant but often unknown stories.

In any case, the dinner, and the conversation, was great, as usual.

The NFL Player and his wife went to Africa and showed us pics. It was all pretty cool.

The people sitting in the table next to us were also having a birthday celebration, so there were lots of rounds of, “Happy Birthday.”

Like I said before, there are worse ways to turn 51.

Let’s see how this decade goes.

Location: Crenshaw, Los Angeles
Mood: hungry and annoyed
Music: She wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a secondhand store (Spotify)
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My first earthquake and eclipse

Did you feel that?

Her: (calling from office) Did you feel that?!
Me: Wait, you felt that too?
Her: Yes! It was an earthquake.
Me: Get outta town, no way!

In my 51 years on this planet, I’ve never experienced an earthquake nor an eclipse.

Welp, last month, I experienced both.

The earthquake felt like an enormous truck rumbling in front of my apartment for a solid 20 seconds or so but literally nuthin else happened.

That was it.

It was very strange. I thought, “Could that be an earthquake?” but then I dismissed that idea outta hand until the Firecracker called me.

Now, if that wasn’t enough, a few days later, I experienced my first solar eclipse.

Spent a solid few hours trying to hunt down a pair of safety glasses.

I thought the Firecracker had her own so I also had to spend some time getting her some as well.

And then the tenant that lived in the apartment above me wrote me.

Her: Hey Logan, super random question! Did you get any of the eclipse glasses?
Me: Come to us at 77th and Amsterdam right now? We’re in the huge playground. I’ll send you a pin to put into your mapping program

And so she joined us for the event.This is literally the best shot I could get of the eclipse itself, with a safety filter on.

Just as interesting, though, was watching everyone else marvel at what was going on.

Firecracker: It’s the whole place getting dark that I find the most interesting.

For me, it was just nice to experience it with my son, the Firecracker, and my friends.

I wonder if he’ll remember it.

On that note, I wonder what he’ll remember from all these crazy events like the earthquake, the eclipse, the pandemic, etc.

I’ll ask him someday and let you know.

Location: Somewhere over Colorado, hoping my laptop doesn’t run outta charge
Mood: excited
Music: everything we wanted to, in the moonlight where we’re trying to (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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