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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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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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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Dinner with my mom’s BFF

My mom’s tribe

After we finished our coffee, we drove by this once-small mall that I used to go to – it expanded quite a bit over the last few years.

Me: When I used to come here, there were only two stores. Now look at it.
Her: Wow, it’s definitely not two stores anymore.

She wanted to get some decorations for her place for the coming holidays.

Her: I always wanted the space and money to have holiday decorations for all the holidays.
Me: That’s tough to do anywhere, let alone Manhattan.
Her: Oooh, look! Halloween decorations!

Afterward, we went to have dinner with my mom’s best friend, her daughter, Mary, and her daughter’s boyfriend.

I met Mary when she was like two years old, and she and my sister were great friends. Her dad, Nick, passed away a few years ago and I told you about him.

Actually, ran into her once years ago not too far from my pad and she got to meet my son, but he was maybe two years old himself at the time.

In any case, my mom’s best friend had been wanting to see my son for a while so we went to have dinner at her house.

We were supposed to order food in, but Mary’s mom had clearly spent all day cooking because there was so much killer food, including appetizers of meatballs that my kid devoured.

Me: Your mom was a major reason why I was fat.
Mary: What?! You can’t blame my mom for that.
Me: I loved everything she ever made, have zero self-control, and can’t take personal responsibility for my actions.

The kid actually ate so many of the meatballs that he didn’t want dinner, which I kinda figured.

The Firecracker and everyone got along just swimmingly, which I knew they would.

Mary said I helped her with her SATs, which I vaguely remember, but it seems like lifetimes ago.

Afterward, we all talked about how we met.

Me: I can’t stand the apps but it’s a part of modern life now.
Mary’s Boyfriend: I didn’t mind the apps that much.
Me: I do have to say that you meet people that you’d never meet otherwise.

I think it’s amazing that my mom and her best friend met and kept in touch all these years.

When my dad died, she was a constant source of comfort and the same was true when Nick died.

Find it pretty adorable that these two immigrant women who speak broken English found each other and have been in each other’s lives for all this time.

Like I said, we spend our lives looking for our tribe.

My mom and Mary’s mom found it in each other, and I think I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Me: Thanks so much for everything! Let’s do this again soon – 30 years is way too long.
Mary’s mom: Yes!
Me: I’ll schedule you in for 2033. Maybe August…

Location: surrounded by kids and water
Mood: excited
Music: bring back the water, let your ships roll in (Spotify)
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A Birthday and then Coffee

Adult Conversation

Because the kid and his cousins on my side have been getting sick constantly, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to see my mom and sis.

But it was my nephew’s birthday the other day so the Firecracker, the kid, and I all took a train ride out to their place the other day and had a kid’s birthday lunch with them.

The birthday boy wanted Burger King so that’s what we did.

Her: You ordered a Triple Whopper AND a chicken sandwich?!
Me: (sheepishly) It’s a small chicken sandwich.

I like to see my family but the Firecracker – because she’s from the south – just likes to be where there’re trees. So, she’s always happy to come with.

After the lunch, the Firecracker and I borrowed my mom’s car to take a drive out to my usual Long Island Barnes and Noble where we just got two cups of coffee and some peace and quiet.

Don’t get me wrong, we both love our kids.

But if you don’t have kids of your own, you can’t fully appreciate the joy of just having a cuppa joe and some adult conversations.

Although, some adult conversations are better than others.

Me: I rode that bus right there for over an hour to go to a date one time. I saw a movie…I think “Scrooged?”
Her: (shocked) Wow! You’re old! (laughs)
Me: (laughing) That has to go in the blog.
Her: I’m sorry! I normally don’t even think about the age difference, but you were on a date, and I was a toddler.

Afterward, we went to some other places and then met with some family friends I’ve known over four decades for dinner.

But this is getting long so I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.

Location: bed, listening to a radio blast outside, despite being 11 stories up
Mood: wide awake
Music: higher than a kite and I’ve been painting the sky (Spotify)
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A dive-y birtday in the UWS

Anchoring in the aways

It was the ABFF’s birthday the other day so I invited her and the Firecracker to a local dive bar because I’m classy like that.

It started off normal enough, with just some burgers, chips, and guac…

…and some boardgames.

Things started to go sideways – at least for me – when I got the table some jello shots.

Her: Oh man, I can’t remember the last time I had one of these.
Me: I think it was around the turn of the century for me.

Again, I’m nuthin if not classy.

And the waiter comped us some really gross fireball shots.

That’s when the carbs started happening.

Something about greasy carbs when I’m drinking makes me feel particularly gross and this was no exception.

I didn’t last too much longer after that.

While we did stay out for some four hours, the Firecracker was happy that we got home at a reasonable hour – although, based on our conversations, we probably shoulda ended earlier.

Firecracker: That’s one good thing about your being so old, we have early nights.
Me: Who are you calling old?!
Her: You, old man. (later) Look, if you want your anchor in my away, you’re gonna have to make sure my boat is floating.
Me: What does that even mean?!
Her: See, you’re old.

Location: home, surrounded by the kid and his friend, who kept tripping on stuff
Mood: still hungry after four tacos, two turkey sandwiches, three oranges, and a baga chips. I want more.
Music: joy up on my face. Oh, sunshine in an empty place (Spotify)
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I’m not an activist

The Dragon Combat Club

Last Thursday was hot and steamy in the city. If I had the option, I woulda stayed home all day.

But I didn’t have that option because my buddy Hen Z – who’s a Paxibellum student of both kali and BJJ – invited me to come to the premier of a short video about a group that he started, called the:

“Dragon Combat Club, a grassroots self-defense organization formed in the wake of brutal anti-Asian attacks. The film they made explores community solidarity, self-expression, and the fundamental right to be safe.”

So, at 7PM last week, made my way down to 87 Lafayette St, which actually turned out to be an abandoned Fire Station, number 31.

There, I ran into my buddies Katrina and Prin – both of whom take kali and BJJ at Paxibellum as well.

It was weird, I felt like a mini-celebrity because I met so many people that knew me from Scenic Fights.

Him: Hi! Are you…?
Me: (holding out hand) Logan, nice to meet you.
Him: I’ve seen all your videos!

Which makes sense because Scenic Fights and I were part of the germination of the concept of using weapons for self-defense.

I’d been watching Hen and his group grow from an idea to its current status as a community-based organization and I’m glad he’s doing it to try and be a positive influence for the Asian-American community.

The video itself was pretty cool, and relatively short – I’ve linked to it below and think it’s worth the 10 minutes that it runs.

For some reason, though, the organizers cut the fans for a solid 15 minutes or so in the beginning and the air conditioners weren’t doing much at all.

I was melting during that time and couldn’t really cool down much, even after they turned the fans back on.

Still, it was a good experience and one I’m glad to have been a part of, however ancillarily.

Speaking of Scenic Fights, this is a wild thing to wrap my head around, but it turns out that, just on YouTube, we’ve had over 101 million – 101 MILLION – views.

That’s full-on nuts.

Then again, I really do believe what I wrote below in my IG account:

Location: home, trying to hook up an eGPU via thunderbolt and a G29 steering wheel via that to a NUC for the boy
Mood: exhausted but fulla tacos
Music: woke up knowing where I am, if just a little bit (Spotify)
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