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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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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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All lives end; all hearts are broken

Caring is not an advantage

Met up with my friend the other night.

Her: He’s telling me to not fight and he’ll promise to give me the apartment.
Me: He broke the trust covenant where he stood in front of alla your friends and said he’d love you until one of you were dead. You’re both alive, which makes him a liar.
Her: So, what do I do?
Me: When someone breaks the trust covenant, you can never trust anything he or she says. What should you do? Stop trusting him first. Everything else comes second.

That’s pretty much alla her story that I feel comfortable telling you since it’s her story to tell.

So, I’ll end that part here.

When all is said and done, the price of love is heartache.

After all, what is grief if not love with no place to go?

While grief and loss with horror and death is generally worse, loss is still loss and grief is still grief.

Ergo, I do understand that she struggles, even though her loss is very different from mine.

In Sherlock, Mycroft Holmes says something to his younger brother Sherlock who, compared to Mycroft, is the more emotional of the two.

Mycroft said, All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage.

Often think that Mycroft’s not wrong. There’s no advantage in caring about people, in fact, it’s a disadvantage to care.

And yet, we’re all programmed to do so.

Sometimes I think it’s a glitch in our programming and other times, I don’t.

Just wish that, sometimes, I didn’t feel all the things I do as deeply as I do.

But this is the price to be human so I pay it, hoping that I can afford it for as long as I can.

Her: (wiping her eyes) I’m sorry. I don’t mean to cry.
Me: Don’t apologize for your genuine emotion. I’m always just a bad memory from crying myself.

Location: a playground with the Steeles and the Firecracker, eating 20 cheeseburgers and having a diet coke
Mood: pensive
Music: Is this something I should be letting go? (Spotify)
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Making concessions

Not actually doing it

Pez has been busy with life so I’d not seen her in a while; of course, that’s her story to tell so I’ll end here on that point.

But I convinced her to swing by the gym the other day so we could catch up.

There, Chad – who’d not seen her in a while as well – gave her her blue belt, finally.

This was something he wanted to do last December but Pez has just been busy, like I said.

We got lunch after rolling.

Me: I’ve been in the mood for a gyro lately. Mediterrian work for you?
Her: Sure! (watching me order a salad) Wait, I thought you wanted a gyro.
Me: This is essentially a gyro but without the bread – you gotta make concessions at 50.

Later on that night, I met up Chad again, the Firecracker, the NFL Player and his wife, and some others for dinner and drinks around the way.

They were going to catch the second installment of Dune but the Firecracker and I couldn’t make it.

NFL Player: The kids’ll be fine. They won’t even know you’re missing.
Me: Let’s not be ridiculous; I’m his favourite person in the world.
Him: (later) Last chance to change your mind.
Me: This is how Child Services gets involved.

They all left but the Firecracker and I still had a solid half-an-hour before we had to head back so we grabbed a drink at my old haunt Malachy’s, which just went through a large renovation.

Me: I feel like a fatty.
Her: It’s 100 calories!
Me: Yeah, but it’s a 100 calories I don’t need to have.
Her: Do you want me to order the hard seltzer for you?
Me: Nah, I’m pretty secure in my manhood. Hopefully, she won’t grab a pink can for me, though.

It was red.

Like I said, I daydream a lot about living somewhere else alla time.

But I don’t think I’d ever actually do it.

Location: the gym, getting my butt handed to me
Music: been telling everyone I’m fine but I feel like I lost my mind (Spotify)
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Sliding into the weekend

Not no law breakers

Her: You know you’re high when you’re googling “How to plant a paw paw tree in front of your apartment building in NYC.”
Me: This has to go on the blog.
Her: Put in a disclaimer that it’s legal to be high in NYC.
Me: What?
Her: I’m not no law breaker, Lo. (later) This is only funny to us now. We’ll think we’re so lame when we’re sober.

She wasn’t wrong.

The friend that let us stay at her Vienna pad came to the city for a visit so we met up with her at Sarabeth’s for a quick brunch.

I’d had a pretty rough night of sleep the night because we were out drinking and doing all types of (legal) pharmaceuticals, but I rallied as best I could.

Waiter: Can I get you all something to dri..
Me: (interrupting) Coffee.
Firecracker: Lots of coffee.
Me: Lots of coffee.

The kids came with, so it was a treat for them as well.

Him: Do they have burgers?
Me: They have sliders.
Him: What’s a slider?
Me: Like a small burger.
Him: That’s what I want! Slider, slider, slider…

I def needed the coffee.

The Firecracker could see that I was struggling so she offered to take the kids to the playground so I could nap.

Man, did I crash hard.

These are the kinda weekends that count as winners for me these days: Good food, fun conversation, childcare, and a solid nap.

Her: Feeling better?
Me: Much, thanks!
Her: Anytime, Lo.

Location: Red Farm, with the Firecracker, Chad, and the NFL Player
Mood: Sotted
Music: Cancel your reservations, no more hesitations this is on (Spotify)
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Gonna be a spry 92

That’s what I tell myself

My friends rented out the entire association, so we had the run of things.

The kids went upstairs to the animal/game room; I think I had seen it briefly once ages ago.

As for me, I was mainly interested in shoveling as much food as I humanly could into my piehole.

But as soon as I finished one thing, other things came out, so I probably definitely overindulged.

The Surgeon’s mom gave a really nice speech towards the end.

The Firecracker and I chatted about it in between my aforementioned stuffing of le face.

Firecracker: Can you imagine your baby boy turning 50?
Me: Not at all.
Her: You probably won’t even be alive then – although I probably will be.
Me: I’ll be a spry 92!
Her: (rolls eyes)

We woulda stayed longer but the rain was really coming down and I had an all-day shoot with the Scenic fights guys the very next day so we left before a lotta the other people.

The kid: Do we have to go?
Me: It’s late AND it’s gonna be daylight savings so you’re gonna go to bed like at midnight tonight as it is.
Him: (eyes open in wonderment) Really?! Wow, that’s so late.
Me: (nodding) Yup, and that’s why we gotta leave.

The very next day – with less than four hours sleep – I had an all-day Scenic Fights shoot.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned and I’m now running from the law.

I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

Location: earlier today, watching my son do a hip-throw and then take side control to mount
Mood: busy
Music: I’m lucky I’ve got good people helpin’ me out (Spotify)
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Turning 50 at the Downtown Association

Maybe. Someday.

Her: Wow, this place is beautiful.
Me: (nodding) Yeah. (thinking) This is the first time I’ve been back in like 13 years.

The surgeon turned 50 the other night so the kid, the Firecracker, and I all got dressed up and headed south to the Downtown Association to celebrate.

It was raining cats and dogs when we left the house.

I was actually a member there briefly in 2011 and I mentioned it in passing before.

Then things started going off the rails with me and Alison so that was just one of a million things that changed in my life.

Walking back in, I was shocked how little it had changed in all this time; I suppose that’s part of the allure of places like that.

The Boy: This bathroom is bigger than our apartment!
Me: You’re not wrong, kid.

He’s not wrong.

The party was mostly relatives and close friends so I was touched that I was included in the count.

The Firecracker had a good time as well, chatting with someone else in her profession.

Her: She knew she wanted to work internationally early on. I thought about it, myself.
Me: Maybe we’ll do that someday.
Her: Maybe. Someday.

One of the people I knew there has known the Surgeon for 44 years.

Me: When did you meet him?
Him: (laughing) When I was seven!
Me: (shaking head in amazement) Man, the oldest friend I have, I’ve known since I was 16 (the Professor).

The kid had a blast as he’s been hanging with Steele and the Surgeon’s kids for years now.

The Surgeon hired a magician and the kids were enthralled.

The Boy: How did he do that?! I was looking right at it.
Me: (laughing) You got me…

Of course, the kid was pretty interested in the food as well, because he’s my kid.

Then again, I was pretty interested in the food as well.

Me: OK, I gotta ask you something. At your wedding, I overate all the appetizers – after all, you had an entire table of lobsters – so, should I…?
Steele: (laughing) The [passed hors d’overs] are the appetizers and the main courses are [over there].
Me: Oh man, glad I asked.

The open bar was a nice touch as well.

There’s more but this entry’s getting long so I’ll write more tomorrow.

Location: Earlier today, two different guitar stores, trying to fix a broken Fender knockoff for the kid
Mood: exhausted
Music: Everyone tells me I’m crazy. Well maybe, well maybe I am (Spotify)
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Physical education and spite

Oh, yeah

I raise my son like my parents raised me – after all, it’s all I know.

But the one thing that I do differently is to give the boy a sense that physical education is as important as a mental one.

Now, my dad swam every single day for at least 90 minutes a day, for years.

Yet, he never emphasized physical fitness to me, something that I picked up myself after getting beaten up one-too-many times.

On that note, the boy’s really been excelling at his swimming lately.

And he also got his first stripe on his new belt.

Him: Are you proud of me?
Me: Super proud! But more importantly, are you proud of yourself?
Him: Yes!
Me: Good – because that’s really the most important thing.

As for me, I need to work out a lot more because I keep finding myself out and about.

The Frenchman and Bryson swung by my hood the other night, so we hit up my local dive bar and caught each other up on what been going down.

Him: How is deep fried cauliflower any better than French fries?
Me: Because it’s deep-fried cauliflower!
Both of them: (shake their heads)

I also filled in the Frenchman on why I pick my particular types of physical activities.

Frenchman: Wait, is that why you do BJJ?
Me: Yup! Bryson said I was too much a germaphobe to ever do anything like BJJ.
Bryson: So, Logan’s been doing BJJ all these years purely to prove me wrong.
Me: My level of petty spite is pretty spectacular.
Frenchman: And you’re really a germaphobe?
Bryson and me: (nodding) Oh, yeah.

Hey, it works is all I’m say’n…

Location: filming Scenic Fights all day at Paxibellum
Mood: exhausted
Music: I’m just gonna keep on dreaming’ of the way it used to be (Spotify)
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Swimming in the UES

Definitely a winner

Me: This is amazing!
Him: Yeah, well, I probably paid more than double what I would anywhere else just for the amenities.
Me: I’m not gonna lie, I’m definitely gonna try and take advantage of this.

My buddy Steele’s been living in the same apartment for well over a decade-and-a-half, which for his wife and him was fine but when their kid arrived, their apartment rapidly shrunk.

They spent a solid few years looking around for a suitable replacement but homes are tricky things because it’s gotta fill one’s need for the time being as well for the future.

But they managed to find a place with some crazy amenities so the Firecracker, her kid, my kid, and I all went out into the pouring raining this past Saturday to go check it out.

Him: Do you want a tour?
Me: Heck, yeah!

He wasn’t kidding when he said that the place had amenities.

They had a gym…

…a library……a lounge…

…a dance studio…

…a spa…

…and a pool.

The kid: We’re going swimming!?
Me: Yup! Looks that way.

The three boys spent a solid three hours in the pool while Steele made everyone cocktails.

So. Many. Cocktails.

Oh, they also had a theater room too. The Firecracker got the porters and doormen to try, unsuccessfully, to put on Scenic Fights.

Doorman: Wait, I think I’m already a subscriber.
The Kid: Papa, he’s a fan!
Me: (laughs) That’s great! I’m always worried that it’s mostly just my mom subscribing under different names and accounts.

Afterward, we ordered from Dave’s Hot Chicken and stuffed ourselves silly before we started heading home.

Because of alla Steele’s serious drinks, after we got back, both the Firecracker and I crashed hard; the kids crashed hard because they spent so many hours swimming.

So, as rainy weekends go, this was definitely a winner.

Him: What are we doing next weekend?
Me: You’ll just have to wait and see, kiddo.

Location: earlier today, a karaoke joint on West 32nd with the kid and alla his classmates.
Mood: beat
Music: gettin’ drunk in the mansions with you and you look so classy (Spotify)
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